FROM MARY MAGNIFYING GOD. BY WILLIAM HUMPHREY, OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE OBLATES OF ST. CHARLES. AD 1873
Let us look for a moment at the original Divine idea.
According to it, man was to be immortal. There was to be no dissolution of the bond that bound together soul and body in the oneness of one human life. Because immortal, he was to be also impassible. There was to be none of that physical suffering which precedes and issues in death. Old age would indeed come upon him, but without aught of senility, decrepitude, or decay. There was in him no seed of disease, no intrinsic principle of dissolution.
And as with the body, so also with the soul of man. As there was to be no physical, so also there was to be no mental suffering; no agonies of perplexity and doubt; none of that dejection and despondency which culminates in despair; no timidity and fear; no sadness and sorrow; no remorse for the past, no grief for the present, and no anxiety and foreboding for the future. He had the gift of felicity; and its result was calm and tranquillity of soul, and joy and peace.
Moreover, of the original Divine intention, there was to be no cloud of ignorance to overshadow and enshroud his soul like a dreary mist, or a dismal haze that intercepts the glad sunshine. His understanding was to be undarkened, and to possess the gift of knowledge—not that knowledge which we gain by study, and acquire by labour and toil, by the travail of the weary brain; but a God-given, infused knowledge, shed into the soul by its Maker.
But this beautiful, bountiful, munificent Divine ideal was destroyed by the will of man. He thwarted the creative intention of his Maker. He transgressed the Divine law; and in virtue of that transgression death entered into the world, and with death the suffering that precedes it—the pain and disease, the physical torture, and the agonies, that excruciate the corruptible body.
Added to these, and in their train, came agony of soul, that mental torture that transcends all tortures of the flesh; there came perplexity and doubt,. disquiet and unrest and remorse of conscience, melancholy brooding over present evils, and fearful forebodings as to what the veiled future might have in store. Henceforth also men's understandings were darkened, their wills were depraved, and their memories were at the first a blank. They had sinned through the senses, through the seeing of the eye, and the hearing of the ear, and henceforth their spirits were to be in subjection to their senses. They were to have no knowledge in their understandings, no conceptions in their memories that did not enter by the avenue of the senses. All their knowledge of the outer world, and of the Creator of that world, was to be come by in this way.
Even that supernatural knowledge which constitutes the object of Divine faith was to be acquired by this method and in this manner: , faith Cometh by hearing.'
The truths of faith would be apprehended and embraced by the intellect, and would find therein their residence and home; but they would not be mere passive indwellers. Their existence there would not be inactive and inert. They would be mainsprings and motive powers; they would act upon and influence the will. The intellect would be practical as well as speculative; and as such it
would be termed and become the conscience then the will, operating and acting in obedience to the dictates of the reason, would regain its old supremacy, and exercise dominion over the whole sensitive nature, over all the inferior powers and faculties of soul and body.