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spiration of the eternal Paraclete, to the glory and praise of God, and for the constant instruction of mankind to the world's end. The mind of Christ will, as it were, be laid open before her; and as she gazes in loving admiration, at once her faith will be nourished and her gratitude inflamed. She will discern, at a glance, the prominent points of our Lord's teaching; and will readily distinguish between those truths which He desired to impress on the very centre of our souls, and those upon which He judged it expedient to maintain a mysterious reserve. She will share in the tears, and in the joy of her Redeemer, and will be admitted to the contemplation of their secret cause; she will note the objects of His praise, and of His censure; she will minutely recognise what it is that He commands, what it is that He forbids, what especial considerations He would have her to keep continually before her.”
In presenting this little volume to the Catholic reader, in the spirit of the above remarks, as an aid to meditation, the Editor would not have it supposed that he looks upon it as adapted, in any way, to supersede the daily use of books expressly written to facilitate that excellent practice. Mental, like vocal prayer, may be used in two ways: on the one hand, as confined to fixed times; on the other, as occasional and ejaculatory. Over and above the regular morning meditation, there not seldom occur, through the course even of a busy day, brief. intervals, in which the mind is free to pursue some
religious line of thought. In order, then, not to lose such precious opportunities, what more acceptable than to have at hand, within the compass of a small pocket volume, a repertory of eternal truths, each presenting salient points for thought, or unlocking some secret train of sanctifying associations ? Such, among other works, is that universal favourite, The Following of Christ. But where is the volume that can for a moment compare, in depth, elevation, comprehensiveness, and suggestiveness, with the book, so to say, of Christ Himself, — with those divine sentences which, flowing immediately from His all-sacred Heart, are, as He Himself declares, Spirit and Life?
“The Word of God,” remarks the great M. Olier, " that is to say, that Word which God speaks within Himself, is incomprehensible; for God is eternally speaking all that He is, and all that He knows; and this is immense — illimitable. Nevertheless, in the Holy Scriptures there reach us some brief syllables of that which is ever being uttered within the infinite bosom of the Father; and by their aid we apprehend, although but inadequately, the thoughts of God. * * * It is our Lord's desire that we should receive Him, the Word made flesh, as our Teacher sent from the everlasting Father, who from all eternity has communicated to Him that which He in turn imparts to us in time. Ipsum audite. 'Hear ye Him.' Even still Jesus speaks to us : ‘All things whatsoever I have heard from my Father, I have made known unto you.' As often as we read the New Testament, our Lord would have us to gather and treasure up for our guidance some sacred maxim from His own divine lips, that so we may live in the very depths of His soul a hidden, a spiritual, an interior life. This is what He desires to see in us. He must needs live and reign alone in our hearts, there to serve and glorify His Father. May it please His goodness and mercy to establish this His life within us! Solus regnet et vivat Jesus in nobis !”
The admirable Da Ponte, in his introductory chapter on mental prayer, thus enlarges upon the manner in which we ought to meditate upon our Lord's own words: “ The second form of praying is upon words, by taking for matter of meditation some psalm of David, or some sentence of our Saviour Christ, or some prayer or hymn of the Church, ruminating every word by itself, and drawing forth the spirit and affection that is in them. In another way are those words to be meditated which God speaks to man, than those which man speaks to God; the former, as a man that hears God, who is his Master, Lawgiver, Counsellor, Protector, and Rewarder ; hearing Him with desire to learn what He teaches; to execute what He commands; to follow what He counsels; to fear what He threatens; to hope for what He promises; and to love Him for what He says : the latter, with that spirit with which they were spoken by him who first uttered them. * This second form of prayer is most proper for those
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that walk in the illuminative way, pursuing the knowledge and understanding of the truths of faith, there. by to increase in spirit; and we shall explain the practice of it in the second and third part, meditating in this way on the Salutation of the Angel, on the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin, on the Our Father, and upon certain sentences and prayers of our Lord Jesus Christ; upon whose words we will always meditate with more attention, because, as the Spouse said, 'His lips are as lilies dropping choice myrrh,' that is, they teach most excellent virtue, the first and most surpassing of all other: and as St. Peter said, His words are the words of eternal life;' and our Lord Himself says that His words are spirit and life. And, therefore, whosoever meditates them as is fitting, shall draw forth from them abundance of spirit, and most pure life of grace, by which he may be made worthy of life everlasting.”
Some may feel that a didactic arrangement of our Lord's words would have rendered this little book more serviceable to them; but to this its very materials presented an insuperable obstacle. God, as the philosophers say, exists under no genus; and so, too, it may be said of the thoughts and of the words of God. The profundity of their meaning rejects all adequate category. Classification suits not with the infinite. At any rate, if the greater number of our Lord's sentences admit of being systematised, yet so to deal with the whole body of them seemed impossible, without reducing at least a portion to intellectual limitations unworthy of their divine immensity. “Peradventure thou wilt comprehend the steps of God, and wilt find out the Almighty perfectly. He is higher than Heaven; and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than hell; and what wilt thou know? The measure of Him is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.” On the other hand, there is this advantage in the historical order, that it not only serves to reveal the interior mind of our Lord more naturally and progressively, but also, to those who are familiar with the circumstances under which each memorable word was uttered (and for such principally is this little book intended), it exhibits to a great extent an epitome of His divine exterior life,that sacred exemplar, the vivid impression of which cannot be too often renewed within us.
In conclusion, the Editor is not without a hope that the very novelty of aspect under which the present compilation exhibits our dear Saviour's words, will tend to invest those sacred words themselves with an additional significance in the hearts and minds even of those to whom the New Testament is a daily and familiar resource. It may happen that the devout peruser of this little volume will be even surprised with himself here and there to find in what prominent relief it brings out certain portions of our Lord's teaching; as, for instance, the singular and solemn contrast between the words which our blessed Lord spoke while yet in the flesh, and those which issued from His sacred lips after His resurrection ;