Blessed are the Merciful for They Shall Obtain Mercy, by Father Basil William Maturin

a wood engraving print of The Prodigal Son being received by his father; by John Everett Millais, 1864; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; image swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThe last Beatitude, They that Hunger and Thirst after Justice, placed the soul under that law of self-discipline and self-denial by which it preserved and developed amidst its manifold desires the hunger and thirst after God. It is left gazing up into Heaven.

This Beatitude brings it down again to earth. For gazing into Heaven will not necessarily help to get us there. And hungering and thirsting after God necessitates working for Him.

For heaven and earth are bound together by the closest bonds, and if any one in his desire for Heaven would forget or neglect the work of earth, he will find that Heaven soon grows dim, or assumes a fantastic and unreal form. It is here amidst the conditions of our earthly life in which we find ourselves placed that our hunger for God is to be developed, and our conception of Heaven purified, spiritualised and made real.

For God is to be known and reached, not merely by prayer and immediate communion with Him, but by fulfilling the duties and obligations of life. We do not stand alone. Our life is interwoven with many people and many things; it is not the life of a pure spirit. We have bodies as well as souls. We have to act as well as to think and love, and though our thoughts may reach to Heaven they soon become vague, dreamy and deceptive unless they find an outlet through action.

And thus we are tied and bound to the people and things of earth by manifold claims and duties which we cannot neglect, except at the peril of losing our appetite for heavenly things.

There has been always a tendency with a certain type of mind to consider man as a purely spiritual being, and to ignore, or try to ignore, the body as an integral part of himself and the material things amidst which he is placed. Such a false conception of his nature and its conditions must always bring its own revenge. Thought must find expression in action. Speculation must be brought to the test of facts. And the highest spiritual aspirations of the soul will quickly evaporate in unreality and self-deception unless they crystallise in definite virtues and good deeds. “The first of all the commandments,” said our Lord, “is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, thy whole soul, and thy whole mind; and the second is like to this, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The love of God, therefore, does not rest in itself, it sends us forth to do kindly acts to man, If it finds no such expression, it is unreal and untrue.

“If ye love not your neighbour whom ye have seen, how can ye love God whom ye have not seen.” The love of Heaven, according to the apostle, the reality of our relationship to the unseen, is proved and tested by the reality of our relationship to the seen and tangible. The forces of Heaven are to be applied to and developed in the things of earth, It is indeed true that we cannot be judged merely by the things that we do. There is more in the heart of the poorest and humblest than he can express, but all that is in him tries to express itself and goes to make up the value of the act, just as the expression of the face is the outcome of countless aims, emotion and desires that lie behind.

Just as some scene of Nature has more in it than the combination of those things that make it up.

Thoughts that could not be packed into a single act,
  Fancies that broke through language and escaped,
All that I could not be, all men ignored in me –
  This I was worth to God whose wheel the pitcher shaped.

And thus we are bound on all sides to the men and things around us by the manifold claims of duty. And duty is that which we owe. It is the law of our relationships to all that we are in contact with. We do not make these for ourselves, no more than we make the physical laws by which we are surrounded. We find them here. I have a duty to everything I own, to every person I meet. I may fulfil it or not, as I please, but I cannot escape the penalty if I do not fulfil it. The broken law avenges itself upon the person who breaks it.

For all these duties, expressed as they may be in the terms of law, imply a law-giver. They are in fact the Will of God. “The Law,” says Saint Paul, “is holy.” And duty is a holy thing, bringing us into a true relationship with God. If the heart will carry us off in its fiery chariot to Heaven, duty brings us back to earth to test, to discipline and to educate us, In doing our duty and fulfilling the obligations of life, we are serving and learning to know God no less truly than in prayer. Through the many calls and claims of life our character gets rounded off in shapely form and due proportion, and our knowledge of God enlarged, widened and deepened. Peter on the house-top at Joppa had a mysterious vision; he was carried out of himself and lost for the moment in ecstasy. Then came the call of duty, the knock at the door, the intrusion of earth upon Heaven. Had he neglected the call of duty, which was in fact the appeal of some unknown fellow-creature, he would never have understood the purport of his mystic Communion with God. It was in carrying out the practical work of life that he learnt its meaning.

There are, no doubt, special vocations to a life devoted almost entirely to prayer, and those whom God calls to such a life He leads and disciplines in His own way, but except in such extraordinary cases, the manifold ties of life, the calls and claims of the people and things around us, are meant to be, not hindrances to communion with God, nor means of lessening our appetite for Divine things, but various ways through which the soul is to be trained in the knowledge of God. We have only to see the effect upon the character of a person who neglects his definite duties for prayer to know how great his loss is, and how his religion, when it is made an end in itself, instead of a means by which everything in life is sanctified and elevated, becomes distorted, unreal and a source of self-deception.

In the first Beatitude we are taught our relationship to all created things, and the ceaseless conflict that is involved in using them aright, lest the things which should have been for our use become to us an occasion of falling. The duty that is thus imposed upon each of us is one of the greatest sources of self-discipline, and to the man who is conscious of his own weakness and the need of Divine assistance it becomes a means of forcing him to prayer and communion with God.

He quickly learns that in this matter apart from God he can do nothing, and that he can only do his duty through the help of Christ who strengthens him.

But this Beatitude brings us into another world, A world more difficult to deal with, to know, and to understand. The world of men. We live amongst people, and we know what a power for good or bad they exercise upon us. A man may have learnt to be master in the world of things, and yet be very far from master in the world of people. We can perhaps steel ourselves to be indifferent to things. We can learn to do without many things that once were necessary to us; we can train ourselves to sit so loose to the things around us that they stir no desire in our hearts. But we cannot be indifferent to people. All that affects our relationships with men affects ourselves. We cannot drive a person out of our life as we can give up the use of something. The things around us are given us as our servants; we can shape and bend them as we will, we can use them for a time and cast them aside, we can exhaust them of all their value and then throw them away without a thought; but we cannot so use people. We cannot manipulate them as we like, we cannot brush them aside or ignore them. A man who has learnt to bend the forces of Nature to his will finds that he cannot bend or break a person. A strong man is often baffled by a little child, because he tries to treat it as he treats everything else around him as if it were his to mould and form as he pleases, Personality has a terrible power of inflicting vengeance upon any who would unduly interfere with its rights. It has rights, and those rights are sacred, and he who refuses to recognise them, though it be a father with his own child, will surely bear the almost ineffaceable marks of the wrong he has done branded upon his own character.

When we turn therefore from things to persons we find ourselves in a different world, and amongst forces and agents that have to be dealt with in a very different way. Here there is a subtle and illusive power that reacts in a startling way upon those who have to deal with it. A strange magnetism is exhaled from personality that repels and attracts and forms unexpected combinations, There is a sensitiveness of nature in relation to persons that has no parallel with anything else. You cannot live with another and be merely indifferent; the magnetism of personality draws or repels. You cannot ignore it, you feel it all over, not on this side or on that only, but you feel it all through your own personality. Try to ignore any person who is living in your house, and you will find it is impossible. His mere presence makes claims upon you which, if you refuse to recognise, hurt you, follow you about, crowd upon your mind, make you angry and embitter you. Personality is too aggressively positive to be merely set aside; it has a subtle way of asserting itself that you feel all over, causing a pleasure or pain the like of which is produced by nothing else. A broken bond of kinship or friendship will poison all the springs of life. A wound received from another person has a poignancy and persistence that hurts to the very heart’s core. The love of a person is unlike the love of anything or everything else in the world; it enlarges, expands and transforms the whole nature. Surround yourself with everything that is ordinarily supposed to bring happiness – health, wealth, culture, refinement; the presence of one uncongenial companion with which your life is bound up can ruin it all. Or lose everything that you have in the world – the presence of one whom you love can enable you to bear it with equanimity. No one, thank God, ever lived on earth wholly indifferent to and independent of others. If any one ever tried to do so he would find that the price of such independence was, that it made him inhuman. For better or for worse the life of each member of the human race is largely dependent upon his relations with others.

We need, therefore, to cultivate that attitude towards others that will enable us to draw out the best that is in them, and to lead them to draw out the best that is in us.

For we know full well that there are men who influence – often quite unconsciously – those with whom they are thrown for evil, and others whose influence is always for good. It has been a surprise to many a man to find how he rouses the worst passions – anger, jealousy, dislike – in those with whom he is thrown; men who display no such feelings towards others, There is something in him that irritates or repels or excites antagonism. It is difficult to say what it is, but there it is, and he goes through life a constant source of disquieting and disturbing influence, though he himself may be in his way a good man and one who strives to do his duty.

Now the Beatitude lays down the Law that is to control our relations with men for good, not for evil, and the effort to place ourselves under this Law will often disclose to us the cause of our failure, if we have failed in the past.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

It comes upon us perhaps as rather a surprise. There are other virtues that would at first sight seem more suitable. For this Beatitude, be it remembered, is the one that regulates our relations with the whole world of men for good, that we may deal well with them and they with us, That so far as in us lies we may make the men we meet better, not worse, and may meet at their hands with good, not evil.

We might expect to find a law that would directly control our passions, such as patience, self-control, large-hearted toleration, unselfishness,

But I think it will be found that the Beatitude includes and goes deeper than any or all of these together.

For what is needed is not merely a disposition that protects oneself from the dangers that arise through our intercourse with men, but one which goes much further, a disposition which checks the evil and draws out the best in others. The Beatitudes are not merely for the recluse, they are for men whose duty calls them out into the world to mix with men of all kinds, of different faiths and of no faith at all. And towards all whom we meet we have a duty; we are, as Catholics, not only the light of the world, but the salt of the earth, the leaven that is to leaven the whole mass. How often we come back after a morning’s prayer and resolution, followed by a day in which we are harried, irritated, set on edge by people, and feel as if it would be better to leave them all and try to serve God as best we can alone. But we know it is impossible. The ties that bind us to others are too deep and strong; the effort to break any one of them only reacts upon ourselves and loosens our relations with God. We have therefore not only to protect ourselves from the evil influences that are around us, we have to spread a good influence, to overcome the evil by good. A person may keep his temper with an angry man, and may rather irritate him than otherwise; one may be unselfish in one’s dealings with a very selfish person, and may only make him more selfish, We need to go further than that; we need to develop that kind of goodness which, even if it be only for the moment, tends to draw out the good that is in others, and to make them feel that goodness is at once stronger and more attractive than badness.

And the Beatitude of mercy sends us into the world with that characteristic which above all others disarms it and is in the greatest contrast to its spirit. Worldliness is essentially and aggressively selfish; it makes men hard and cruel, it gives no quarter and expects to get none. Its instinct is the struggle for life and the survival of the fittest; it transfers the law of the physical world to the world of human beings; it knows nothing of, or, if it does, it is afraid to trust, those finer qualities of human nature that as a matter of fact equip men better for the struggle of life and in the long run make them fitter to live. But when it comes in contact with these it is baffled and disarmed. It has no weapons to fight them. It is like a vulgar rich man in presence of a gentleman – it feels at a disadvantage. Human nature clad in all that is coarsest, most violent, most selfish, and thus equipped for the battle of life, in the presence of that same nature clad in the panoply of Christian virtues, is bewildered and subdued. It not only recognises a finer courage, a subtler strength, a nobler type, but it perceives its own weakness and failure. Like Goliath before David, it may brag and boast and bully, but it soon finds a strength with which its clumsy weapons are unable to cope, and it confesses itself defeated.

The old Roman Empire with all its consolidated strength brought the arms with which it had conquered the world to bear upon Christianity, but she found herself powerless to fight it; violence, brute strength, cruelty, were met by new weapons – gentleness, pity, charity – which not only conquered but converted her, and in three hundred years the battle was won and the empire became Christian.

Now this Beatitude is intended to effect these results, It not only places the Christian in his dealings with others under the law of mercy, that is gentleness, kindliness, sympathy, pitifulness, but it assures him that he will produce these same characteristics in others. The merciful shall obtain mercy. The kindly and gentle nature will meet with kindly treatment. Those who live under the Law of the Beatitude will, if it be but for a moment, disarm the most cruel and selfish and make them merciful.

It is based upon one great principle that runs through human nature, and that is the principle of responsiveness. Every man to a large extent makes his own world. We find people pretty much as we meet them. A reserved man lives in a world that seems closed against him. He knows little of what is going on in the minds of those around him. He does not receive the confidences of others because he does not give his confidence to them, and so he goes through a world which reflects his own way of treating it. He thinks it a cold, uncongenial, solitary place, where men may brood over their sorrows and enjoy their lonely joys, but where they must not expect much in the way of intimate companionship. And yet others find it a very different place – radiant with human kindness, warmed with loving sympathy, and enriched with manifold friendships; the barriers of reserve go down on all sides before them; people cannot resist their frankness and genial good-nature. Each of these men makes his own world. It is not that the lot of one is cast amongst uncongenial, and the lot of the other amongst congenial people, but that each finds people to a very large extent as he meets them. Coldness chills those whom warmth draws out and expands, It is not the fault of the earth that under the leaden skies and blighting frosts of winter it brings forth neither fruit nor flowers, The movements and growth of life are checked from without, under the first breath of spring it wakens and responds. So it is with the world of men, they are responsive with a superlative sensitiveness to that which they meet in others. A hard, domineering bully who frightens people into submission has a contempt for those whom he has forced to hide from him all the finer side of their nature. He has nothing in him to draw it out, and he ends in not believing in its existence. Yet it is all there to be shown to any one who will take the trouble to draw it out.

God be thanked, the meanest of His creatures has two soul sides,
One to face the world with, one to show a woman when he loves her.

Every one knows how different he is with some people from what he is with others; how some, quite unconsciously, shut him up within himself, how with others he is at his very best. There are dormant in every human being possibilities of various kinds, good and bad, which are blighted or developed by the people amongst whom they are thrown, I do not of course mean that this in any sense affects our responsibility in matters of right and wrong, but it is certainly true as regards the development of character and the unfolding of our gifts. Many a man would have been very different if the influences that surrounded his childhood and youth had been different. There are men with talents undeveloped, with powers that would have done good to their day and generation, unknown and unused through the self-distrust begotten by discouragement. Under more genial influences the world would have been the richer for their lives. I believe there are few whose whole view of life has not been affected by the stern or kindly influences of their early childhood, which threw them in upon themselves in timidity and reserve, or drew them out in genial confidence and sympathy with their fellow-creatures.

It is an interesting and instructive thing to listen to the criticism of two or three men upon ‘the same people; one can scarcely believe that it is the same people who are being criticised. They are the same people, but each man not only sees them in a different light, but for the moment draws out different sides of their character.

What a different world it looks to us all. We argue and try to lead others to see people as we do, but before they can do that they must be what we are. We make our own world, full of the kindness or unkindness, of the good or bad, of the love or hate which we bring to bear upon it.

Now it is upon this sensitive responsiveness of human nature that the Beatitude is based. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” “Go out,” it says, “into the world, with your heart full of gentleness and pity, and you will find the response of kindliness from others; you will not only protect yourself from being hardened, but you will draw out the gentler side of others.”

But while it is quite true that each man makes his own world, draws out for the moment one side or other of the people with whom he is thrown and sees the best or worst of them as the case may be, yet this of course is not the whole truth. There is existing in the world a vast and terrible amount of evil. The gentlest and kindliest of men, though they may personally experience little that is not good in those who are brought under the magic spell of their own loving hearts, know full well the evil that is in the world – none have known it better than the Saints. And evil can undoubtedly take very attractive forms, and can even make those who yield to its influence attractive. But it can also be very repulsive and loathsome and very hard to bear. And we have to deal with evil not in the abstract but in the concrete. We have to come in daily contact, into close intercourse with those upon whom evil has laid its disfiguring hand.

But it may be said, whatever the defects of our own day, it is certainly not wanting in the spirit of mercy, Indeed it might be considered one of its most marked characteristics. It is the age of tender-heartedness and pity. There are societies of all sorts formed for carrying out works of mercy and kindness to man and beast, societies for prevention of cruelty to children and to animals, antivivisection societies, etc. The age of cruelty is passed away, and under the more civilising influences of our time the age of mercy has taken its place. The human heart has become so sensitive that it cannot bear even the punishment of the guilty, and however great the criminal and however outrageous his crime, the sufferings that he has cost to others is forgotten in the wave of unhealthy sentiment that is awakened at the thought of his bearing the penalty of his sins, There is certainly no lack of pity amongst us today.

Yet it is well to bear in mind that a characteristic which seems to be a virtue is not really a virtue, unless it forms an essential part of the character as a whole, acting not merely under certain circumstances and with certain people, but always and with every one. A man is not charitable who loves his own friends but is indifferent to others, nay, he is not charitable if he is wanting in love to one individual; charity to be a virtue must be universal, it must be a characteristic of the person. So one would not call a man patient who was ever so patient in public life but irritable at home. Or broad-minded and tolerant who sympathised with every form of misbelief or unbelief, but was fiercely intolerant of dogmatic faith. Such partial and limited characteristics are to be found in every one; they are not necessarily the outcome either of effort or grace, they are merely the expression of natural inclination. A virtue to be such in the Christian sense of the word, must be universal in its operation and have its roots in the person.

And so it is with mercy. One may be very merciful in one’s judgments upon those who fail in some ways, and very unmerciful on those who fail in others. Many people are quite pitiless towards those whose temptations are not their own. Again one may be full of pity and toleration of the faults of those one loves, and absolutely intolerant of those one does not love. A man may be the most gentle man in the world towards those who are near and dear to him, and positively cruel to others. One who is pitiless or cruel to one person has not the virtue of mercy.

And it is not at all uncommon to find such partial exercise of mercy. There are those who display a morbid and sickly compassion towards the sufferings of animals who are entirely unmoved by the sufferings of their fellow-creatures. Many a woman shows infinitely more tenderness and care and compassion for her dog than she does for her overworked and uncared-for servants. It is well to tell such people plainly that their morbid sensitiveness and unhealthy affections have nothing whatever to do with the Christian virtue of mercy. Such people are, in fact, often not merciful at all, but cruel.

Cruelty, unkindness, indifference to the sufferings of one of God’s creatures, be it man or beast, destroys the virtue of mercy, or rather discloses the fact that it does not exist. Where the mercy of the Beatitude exists, it exists as an essential element of character, to be called forth by every or any form of sorrow or suffering or trouble with which it is brought in contact. It acts not upon certain kinds of suffering, or certain people, or under certain circumstances; it does not cut up the creatures of God into departments, pitying and feeling for some, but pitiless towards others. It is universal. It has only to see what is pitiful to feel pity. The person endowed with this virtue is one who always and everywhere displays it. It is a personal characteristic, making the whole man throughout his whole being sensitive, gentle, easily moved to compassion, whether to friend or foe, to man or beast. The whole character is softened by it. The maz is pitiful and compassionate, no element of hardness or unkindness is to be found in him. This is a very different thing from the spurious forms of mercy that are so common around us, and that so often bring this great virtue into contempt, displaying itself in sentimental emotion and not seldom in moral weakness. Such unworthy imitations bring a blessing neither upon those who display them nor upon those upon whom they are exercised.

And yet the very existence of these spurious forms of the mercy of the Beatitude bear witness to the fact that the virtue itself is not as simple a one as we might imagine. It very easily degenerates into weakness and softness, an excusing of what is definitely wrong, often a condoning of sin in compassion for the sinner. A mercy that from pity to man will tamper with the character and moral attributes of God is a mercy that in the long run must bring a curse rather than a blessing. The Catholic is put into the world to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the leaven that is to quicken the whole mass with the principles of Divine truth and holiness.

It were better for the world, if such a thing were possible, that no pity should ever be shown to man than that the principles of morality and Christian virtue should be tampered with, out of a false conception of mercy. When God revealed Himself to Moses on the Mount He revealed Himself as “the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, who will by no means clear the guilty”. On the cross mercy and truth met together. If it was the most perfect display of the infinite compassion of God towards the sinner, it was also an awful revelation of the grievousness of sin.

It would be but false mercy on God’s part to allow men to believe that His law could lightly be tampered with. God is all-holy, and His love and compassion towards sinful man cannot lead Him to condone sin or to lower the moral standard to suit man’s weakness. No sin can be forgiven till the sinner is penitent, that is, takes an attitude of antagonism towards sin, comes over in heart, however weak his will, to the side of the all-holy God. The infinite pity of God, the love displayed upon the Cross, great though it be, cannot pardon the impenitent, cannot bend the moral law and lower the standard of the world to save one person who still remains on the side of sin. The God who is full of compassion and mercy, is the God who is the hater of iniquity. However great His mercy it cannot mar the lustre of His holiness. It would be a moral disaster to the world if it did. Had God revealed to man only His infinite mercy and not His holiness, men would have gone on sinning with impunity in the belief that God was too merciful to punish sin, that His love was colourless and unmoral. He would have been treated as a father is treated by his wayward son, who knows that his love for him is too weak to resist his entreaties, and whose love only makes him more wanton and exacting.

The Cross stands out in the centre of Christendom as the Revelation of God’s love and holiness, yet in the face of that ever-present Revelation it is hard enough for man to realise the evil of sin and the holiness of God, What would the moral condition of the world have been without it? It is not as easy a thing as it seems for God to teach man the moral character of His mercy. That it would not be for his good but for his ruin if mercy were separated from justice. Even in the conduct of the State a mercy that would overshadow justice would be its ruin – “Stet justitia ruat coelum”.

The mercy therefore of which the Beatitude speaks, and upon which it utters a blessing, is the human counterpart of the mercy of God, It is a mercy penetrated with morality. A mercy aflame with the love of holiness, born of the love of the Holy One. However tender, pitiful, compassionate towards the sinner, it is instinct with justice and the sense of the hatefulness of sin. It is strong on the side of God and right. It can stoop very low, to the most degraded, the most sin bespattered, to those whom sin has trodden in the very mire, but it stoops with pity to raise them. It sympathises with the sinner, it never shows a particle of sympathy with sin. It keeps the lustre of its garments unstained while it walks through the haunts of vice and lives in an atmosphere hot and weighted with the fever of sin. It shines in the darkness and gives light to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death to guide their feet into the way of peace. It is therefore composed of two elements blended in perfect proportion – justice and compassion; justice alone may degenerate into hardness, compassion alone into softness and weakness, Blended together, justice gives tone and strength to compassion, and compassion takes the edge off justice. Mercy is therefore perfectly just and true and firm and strong. There is in it the perfect blending of tenderness and strength. It does not close its eyes to the reality and greatness of the evil, while it is full of tenderness to the evil-doer. None can speak more strongly of the grievousness of sin and of its terrible penalties than the merciful man. None sees with clearer eyes the real condition of things about him. Those to whom he shows mercy know full well that they cannot deceive him, that he is not a weakling with whom they can play tricks. He can condemn with fiery words what ought to be condemned and expose fraud with scorn. He can seem to those who do not know him even hard, though in fact there is no hardness in him.

For this mercy is not the mere natural pity of one man for another, It is supernatural. It is born of the soul’s union with God, The springs of its life are rooted in God Himself. It is the compassion, therefore, of a person essentially holy. And poor sinful man striving after holiness finds this gentleness and pity well forth from its holy source, From this source alone it can find its origin and preserve its purity and its strength. If it breaks away from it, it sinks down into all the frailty and weakness of mere human pity that can be swayed and moved and blinded by emotion, sentiment and ignorance. It loses its force and fibre, its Divine insight into the truth of things, it is no longer kindled with the light of justice, and may become a source of moral weakness, an instrument of evil rather than of good. We know but too well how much is said and done today in the name of mercy to lower the moral tone of Christians, Men are not supposed to be able to rise to the standard that has been kept before them for 2,000 years either of morals or of doctrine, and a weak and spurious mercy stretches forth its hands and tampers with the teaching and revelation of our Lord. Such mercy, though it be applauded for a moment, in the long run neither blesses nor is blest.

How then shall those who would go forth into the world so full of suffering and sorrow and above all so full of sin, keep unsullied and in the fulness of its vigour the Christian virtue of mercy.

1. They must ever be striving to see things in the light of God. To remember that even God’s love is the fruit of His holiness. That “our God is a consuming fire” however pitiful, compassionate and loving He is, and that in all our considerations of life, God must ever come first.

2. At the same time and as the outcome of this they must strive to cultivate pity and gentleness for all forms of suffering, and especially for those suffering under the slavery of sin, loving and pitying the sinner, however repulsive the sin. It is easy to sympathise with those whose sufferings and sins are the same as our own, but we must try to enter into the sufferings of those with whom we naturally feel no sympathy, even as our Lord did, for “we have not a High Priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin”. It is indeed those whose lives are most like His in purity and holiness, whose sympathies are strongest and widest, being unblunted by sin.

3. And this can be done by contemplating God’s goodness and mercy in our experience of His dealings with ourselves, Then, if we have sinned and repented, we see how mercy and truth have met together, justice and peace have kissed each other. If God can love me, so each of us must feel, whom can He not love? If God can pardon me, whom can He not pardon? The only sin we know in all its malice is our own, for we can see against what light and love it was committed. The love of God which we can alone fathom in all its length and breadth and depth and height is the love which He has shown to us. And we know that His love towards us was a love instinct with justice, demanding penitence and renewal of life, and leaving behind the suffering which sin has brought, to cleanse and purify the soul and unite it with Himself. We experience in our own persons the reconciliation of mercy and truth, the kiss of justice and peace, and this experience which outreaches all knowledge attained by theological studies or the teaching of the wisest and the best, sends us out into the world to show mercy to all men, and to assist in raising the poor out of the dust and the beggar from the dunghill to set them amongst the princes, even amongst the princes of the people, and to gain for ourselves the fullness of the blessing of the Beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”.