The Discipline of the Affections, by Father Basil William Maturin

Most of the heresies that have opposed the Church in her process through the world have arisen from the undue pressing of one side or one part of the Truth. For the Truth of the Christian Faith can generally be stated in the form of a paradox. And any failure to keep perfect balance and proportion in these statements results in error. The history of the struggles of the early ages is the history of the wonderful instinct with which the Church ever preserved the mean between the extremes towards one or other of which the human mind tended in the definition of the doctrines of the Faith.

In the definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, on the one side were the Sabellians, who in their effort to preserve the idea of the Unity of the Godhead sacrificed the Threefold Personality; on the other the Tritheists, who pressed the doctrine of the Three Persons into that of three separate and distinct Gods.

Between these two stood the Church, preserving the Truth and rejecting the extremes of both. The Godhead is one in Three Persons. The Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and yet not three Gods but one God.”

So, again, in the doctrine of the Incarnation. The mind faltered before this great doctrine, and bent now towards one side now towards the other. Some, according to their natural temperament or their sense of the needs of man, pressed the Godhead of Christ to the injury of His perfect Manhood Others sacrificed the perfection of His Manhood to what they believed essential to His Godhead; or yet again, so defined the union of the Godhead and Manhood as to destroy the Unity of His Person.

But amidst all these controversies that spread over several hundred years, ranging from gross heresy to the nicest and most delicate overpressure or understatement of a Truth, the Church ever kept the balance between the extremes of the contending parties, and taught that Christ is perfect God and perfect man,” and that the Union was effected “not by confusion of substance but by Unity of Person”.

So, again, with the doctrines of human life. There has always been, long before they were clearly defined and condemned, a tendency in certain minds towards Calvinism on the one side or Pelagianism on the other. Some, looking upon the nature of man, have felt most keenly its inherent badness, others its inherent goodness, and the one have formulated their belief in the extreme doctrine of Calvinism, the other of Pelagianism. But the Church recognising fully all the evil and all the good that is in man, taught that his nature is neither wholly bad nor wholly good, but that he is a being created in the Image of God, but fallen, and that without God’s grace he cannot attain to his perfection.

Again, in regard to man’s spiritual life. There have been those who have taught that man’s greatest act is to be still and to leave God to work within him; that man can do nothing, God must do all. On the other hand, there have been others who, feeling the intensity of their own struggle and little sense of supernatural help, have taught that man must fight as best he can his own battles. And the Church, recognising what was true, and rejecting what was erroneous and exaggerated in each, taught the Truth in the great paradox of Saint Paul: Work out your own salvation, for it is God that worketh in you

There is the same danger of this pressing of part of a truth in the practical life. Man has many sides to his nature, and his conscience must take them all under its care. If he neglects part he will find that he has injured the whole, for all are a part of the one Person. It is true in more senses than one that the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of thee Every member of the body must be used for the welfare of the whole organism. And every side of life must be used if a man is to be at his best Indeed, if any one sets himself to develop merely one side, he will find that he fails to perfect even that side, for it needs many things that come to it from other quarters. One man determines to develop the social side and altogether neglects the religious, but he finds in time that the social side fails in its perfection through the lack of just those things that religion alone could give him. Another neglects the social side for religion, and he soon finds that his religion becomes fanciful, fantastic and deceptive unless it be brought in contact with the hard facts of human life and experience. Another determines that he will give his life to the training and development of his reason alone, but he learns, perhaps too late, that he is not merely a reasoning but a moral being, and that the reason isolated and separated from the rest of his nature suffers vengeance at the hands of those powers which as its fellow-workers would have helped and perfected it.

There is the same danger in the struggle with sin and the effort to form virtues. Many people who set themselves to conquer one fault and give their whole minds to this will find, if they are not careful, that they have only fallen into another.

For virtue cannot thrive in the narrow soil of one department of the soul’s life, unnourished by the streams that should flow into it from all sides, and unpruned by the hand that watches over and labours for the enrichment of the whole. Every Christian virtue has more sides than one, and is a more complicated and delicately balanced thing than we imagine. It has to look, as it were, towards God and towards man; towards the person in whom it dwells and towards others; towards itself and its place in the soul and its relations with other virtues; it has to be tended in its growth by the intellect as well as by the will and affections, and has to endure much severe pruning at the hand of reason; it must be able to live in the open and bear the hard dealings of the rough world, and it must grow in the silence of prayer and the Presence of God. There may be such a thing as the overgrowth of one virtue to the crowding out of others that are equally or perhaps more necessary. Or, on the other hand, we may develop a virtue in one department of life to the neglect of all others. It is not uncommon to find a man a very different being in his domestic relations from what he is in public life. There are not a few who are thoroughly truthful and honest in all the concerns of life except in the conduct of their business. But a virtue is not a Christian virtue if it is exercised with exceptions. It must have its roots in the person and spread through every department of the soul’s life.

In the effort to conquer our faults, therefore, we have to be on our guard against the danger of being one-sided. For the very virtues that we may be striving for are not so simple as they seem, and the materials of which they are formed, if not mixed in exact proportion, may produce not a virtue but a fault. Humility is the perfect blending of the very highest and the lowliest thoughts of oneself. The humble man is conscious at once of his own nothingness and of his exaltation as God’s creature whom He would unite to Himself. And he somehow contrives with the deepest sense of his own unworthiness to maintain a dignity that wins respect; if he leaves out this self-respect his humility is not true humility, and ends in self-degradation. Meekness is the blending of gentleness and strength – a strength that has been won by victory over self and passion, and a gentleness that is the witness that this victory is the outcome of no harshness and bitterness towards self or the world, but of love. Test true meekness by the severest trials to which it can be put, and you will find in it no flaw of weakness or harshness, but a dauntless courage of the loftiest kind and an inexhaustible gentleness. So with charity. Christian charity is not a blind disregard of facts, a refusal to see things as they are, a condoning of the sins of others. It is the love of the sinner springing from the love of God which necessitates the hatred of sin. There is a great deal of spurious charity in the world making excuse for sin or explaining it away, devoid of strength and virility, and often mixed with insincerity and unreality. True Christian charity blends in perfect proportion justice and love.

Thus we might go on and see how every virtue involves the balancing and blending of characteristics that seem at first sight almost opposite, and thus embrace the whole many-sided nature of man and keep him exact and well-proportioned. There is more truth than we realise in the saying, “Every vice is a virtue carried to extremes.”

Now, for the training of our character here on earth each of us has two spheres of discipline and activity. We have our life and duty to ourselves, and we have our life in its relationship to others. A duty is a debt, something that we owe. This debt is not of our own making; it is a law under which we find ourselves placed – a law, indeed, which we are free to keep or to break, but which if we break we must bear the consequences, and the immediate consequence is some moral loss to ourselves. I cannot with impunity violate my duty to myself for the dearest ties of friendship, or the closest bond of kinship, and I cannot violate my duty to others for any advantage to myself. The law of self-development can never be, though it sometimes may seem to be, in conflict with the law that regulates my relationship with others. There is a sense in which one must never sacrifice oneself for others, any more than one may sacrifice others for oneself God has so ordered it that the welfare and perfection of the individual is bound up with others: “It is not good for man to be alone Except in the case of a very special and marked vocation man is meant to be and to live as one of a multitude bound to it by many ties, and yet at the same time he must guard and shield his own life so that it does not lose itself in others. Let a man isolate himself from others, and he soon becomes eccentric and morbid and loses the true perspective of things and gets a distorted view of life. Let him throw himself unguarded into the crowd, and he quickly loses his own individuality and becomes soft and plastic. From the moment in which consciousness awakens, on throughout the whole course of life, our duties to others and our relations with them become more involved and far-reaching, and our duty to self more peremptory and exacting.

And consequently in the life of every man whose character is developing on its proper lines, there will be found to co-exist two apparently contradictory characteristics – dependence and independence. These two must blend and harmonise in due proportion as life advances. The man who is recklessly indifferent to others bears the mark of failure stamped upon him, and he who is wholly dependent loses all individuality and all power of influence in the world. This is true of those who are naturally strongest or weakest, and it applies equally to women and men. It is a constant surprise and delight to find these two characteristics co-existing often where we least expect it The strong man whose most prominent characteristic is individuality, leadership, the power to stand alone, in proportion as he is influenced by religion will be found to have a surprising consideration for others. There is in him no reckless indifference to the men he has to deal with, he does not glory in isolation and trampling upon their opinions, but he feels and recognises their rights. As we get to know him better another side of his character discloses itself, rich with the ties of many friendships and a large toleration, and open to many influences that soften and widen and enlarge his whole nature. Who does not know such men, and feel the contrast between them and those who delight in differing from others and in forcing their own opinions and in standing apart and alone.

And on the other hand, how many who seem most weak and easily influenced, when it comes to a question of principle show a strength that can resist the world.

It is the harmonising of these two apparently opposite characteristics, balancing one another and correcting one another, that produces such exquisite and delicate results. The roughness and independence which is the natural danger of the strong man gives place to a considerateness, a readiness to be influenced, a delicate sensitiveness that is all the more attractive because of its unexpectedness. And the most dependent and naturally weak is protected from colourless insipidity by a moral strength that rounds the character off and saves it.

A healthy life, therefore, should have its roots spread deep and wide in the soil of the human family, and its whole nature open to the manifold interests and influences and associations of the world around it, and at the same time an ever-deepening sense of the claims of God, of conscience and of Truth, so that it never likes to part company with its fellow-men, but is strong enough to stand against the whole world at the command of duty.

Now this dependence of our nature upon others, by which we are meant to be humanised and kept from going off into eccentricities of thought and action, is secured for us in many ways, and amongst others by the fact that in the two strongest and deepest feelings in our nature we cannot stand alone.

Man was made for eternal happiness, and if he refuses it he must have eternal sorrow. Joy and sorrow, therefore, are no superficial things, they are the heights and the depths of our nature. And it is a strange thing that whatever else each of us can keep to himself independently of the whole world, no man is independent in his joys or his sorrows. The veriest stranger whom we have never seen before can for a moment cloud our happiness or cast a ray of sunshine through the darkness. The passing of a fellow-creature in the street, a face seen for a moment in a crowd, can haunt one for days with a feeling of distress. Any one can rob me for a moment at least of my joy, any one can give me some momentary passing pleasure. A word, a look, and I bear about with me for the whole day an open wound; or again, some kindly word of encouragement opens a spring of joy that makes the whole world look brighter while it lasts. I doubt if any combination of mere circumstances can give us such happiness or sorrow as one human being can give. No bodily pain is half so acute as the pain which one man can inflict upon another, and no happiness is so deep as that which comes from human fellowship. The presence of one person can destroy the happiness which every circumstance of life combines to produce, and the saddest and most unhappy surroundings can be forgotten or transformed by the presence of a loving friend. What a power lies in personality. All the events, surroundings, consolations and sufferings of life sink into insignificance before it A little child can do more to gladden its mother’s heart than everything the world has to give her. Two human beings wrapped in one another’s love can see the world go to wreck and ruin without a sigh. And truly “the light of the whole world dies when love is gone”. Yes, one person has more power to give joy or sorrow to another than all the wealth and influence in the world. The heart cannot rest or find its satisfaction in these things; a person steps in amongst them and changes them all. The presence of an unloving husband or wife has often turned all the wealth and material comforts and social enjoyments the world has to give into ashes. And pinching poverty and constant ill-health and grinding work have been transformed by the presence of love.

It is undoubtedly true, each of us, men and women, irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are, hold within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others. We cannot help it or escape from it. The power is in us inalienably almost from birth to death; in us because we are persons; and we are responsible for the use we make of it Indeed, so mysterious is this power that the very presence of a person who does not realise his responsibility is often the source of the keenest pain of all. What greater misery is there than to be linked to another who ignores you, who shows neither interest nor concern in your doings, neither blames nor approves, neither loves nor hates, but freezes you up by the blight of an absolute indifference. It would be easier to bear aggressive dislike. The failure to exercise the power to give happiness to others is not merely negative in its results, it is the source of the most positive suffering of all. Thus there is no escape from the responsibility involved in the possession of this power. Not to use it where it is due is to destroy all happiness.

Strange power, indeed, to be committed to such weak and unworthy hands, yet there could be but one thing worse, that none amid interfere with the joys and sorrows of others. We might envy their happiness and pity their sorrows, but we could not help them. It would be a world of isolated individuals wrapped in inviolable selfishness; each must take care of himself and the world must go its way.

Now this power of giving happiness and sorrow to others springs mainly from two great passions that exist in every member of the human race – Love and Hate. There is no one without them. They are the strongest and deepest powers we possess. It is by these the world is ruled. It is doubtless true that every great movement depends upon thought; the conflict that effects a great revolution is a conflict of ideas, and the revolution is the victory of one set of ideas over the other. But the masses will not be moved by philosophical conceptions; they are moved by passion, and philosophy has to be translated into the hot language of feeling before the multitude are stirred. The crowds surging through the streets of Paris on the eve of the great Revolution knew little and cared little about the speculations of a dreamy philosopher; those ideas had come to them in the practical form of paying off old scores. Cold speculation was on fire with human Passion and the face of Society was changed.

Love and hate, then, are the most universally felt and the most easily excited of all the powers of our nature, and it is mainly by these that the happiness and sorrows of others are affected. The presence of love wherever it is, in however obscure a person, will at least do something towards lightening the sorrows and securing the happiness of others; and hate equips the most insignificant with an instrument that works sorrow.

And yet both of these are, equally, Divine gifts. “Love is of God,” says Saint John, “and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God, for God is Love.” But love involves and necessitates hate. God hates evil, and such hatred must be an essential attribute of God. The power of hatred then is as truly a Divine gift to man created in the Image of God, and as necessary an element in the Christian character as Love is. “O ye that love the Lord,” said the Psalmist of old, “see that ye hate the thing that is evil.” He that is incapable of hating is so because he is incapable of loving. The intensity of the power of hating will always be in proportion to the power of loving. We feel instinctively that a man who cannot hate, whose anger and moral indignation can never be roused, is a poor creature. A strong man will always be strong in his likes and dislikes. All this may, and as a matter of fact, generally does, work evil. But it is not essentially evil but good. Love can work evil as truly as hate can, for it may be exercised on an unworthy object and in a wrong way, but it is not therefore an evil thing, and no more is hate. They are both part of the equipment of man’s nature. They work together, they grow together, and together they die.

And the instrument with which hatred fights its battles is Anger. And Anger, too, is an essential part of man’s nature, as it is also a Divine attribute. If man is to be Godlike, created as he is in His image, he must be like Him in this too. We read of “the wrath of God”. We are told that our Lord “looked about upon them with anger”; nay, it is an Apostolic precept, “Be ye angry and sin not.” And yet, if I were to ask what has hurt the affections, broken the hearts and ruined the homes of men more than perhaps anything else, you would tell me that it was Anger. And yet no man is worth the name of man who does not sometimes get angry. Indeed, the anger of no one is perhaps to be feared as the anger of the just and good. How is this?

Anger is the sword which God puts into man’s hand to fight the great moral battles of life. The more he loves God the more he will love good and hate all that assaults or tries to undermine good. And as he was created to love God, and all else in God, so he was only to hate all that was opposed to that love. And into the hands of hatred was given the glittering and sharp-edged sword of Anger to fight its battles, that is to assault and drive off every approach of evil. Without anger hatred could but smoulder in the heart. It needs an instrument of defence and attack, and this was given it by God, a power for good, that does not hurt the man who uses it aright, but makes him strong and keeps him safe.

But man, alas! can turn away from God and live for himself, or for the things of earth, and in so doing he changes the centre around which the orbit of his life was meant to move, from God to self He becomes self-centred. But in turning from God he loses none of the powers of his nature. He finds himself therefore possessed of manifold gifts and endowments, all of which were meant to aid him in that moral and spiritual life which leads to God as its end. And these gifts he now uses for himself. And finding in his hand the sword of Anger he seizes it and fights with it his own battles, not the great moral battles for which alone it was intended. He draws it and strikes at everything that hinders him in the pursuit of his own ends, everything that touches his self-love. He uses it for purposes the very reverse of those for which God gave it to him. He can use it to oppose good and to establish evil. Yes, a wild mob with flashing swords of Anger, drawn in reckless madness around the Cross, striking and wounding the all-holy Son of God, crying “this is the Heir, come let us kill him that the inheritance may be ours”; this was indeed the most supreme and most dramatic moment in which men used against God the weapon He put into their hands to fight His battles. The weapon of Anger, let us never forget, is good, God-given, though it may be drawn in a most unworthy cause. It is not the anger that is bad, it is the ill-use to which it is put.

The peevish ill-temper of a vain woman is essentially the same thing as the splendid moral indignation of the saint. One is used as God meant it to be used, the other is abused for man’s unworthy purposes. In the one case the use of it strengthens the steady arm that wields it, and it loses none of its sharpness and lustre in the use; in the other case every blow weakens the hand that strikes, and the weapon itself with hacked edge and broken blade forfeits its strength and its glory. There is nothing more noble than the moral indignation of a good man against what is hateful to God. Is there anything more humiliating than the wild and reckless blows of a proud and selfish man, dealt by the blunted and dishonoured sword of his misused temper?

It will be seen from what has just been said that if we would control our anger so as to prevent its being a source of suffering to others and of injury to ourselves we shall never really succeed merely by the effort to check it, however faithfully we may try. Still more hopeless would be the effort to destroy it altogether. We could not destroy it even if we would, and if we did we should inflict an irreparable injury upon our character. We need it as an essential part of our moral equipment. It is to be controlled rather than killed; to be sanctified to the service of God.

We must strive to check it and control it, no doubt, but if we are ever to succeed we must do more than that. We must strive to conquer that which is the cause of its abuse, and that, as we have seen, is the reign of self in the soul – the living for self instead of for God. As we choose God as the end of our life, more and more steadily every part of our nature will fall into place, and work for the development of the soul as His creature and in His service. The battle with our anger must be both direct and indirect – direct, to check and restrain it when it arises, like a man who has got into the habit of putting his hand to his sword on every occasion on which he is vexed; indirect, by the constant effort to dethrone self and set God in its place. Only as this is effected can any victory over temper be lasting, or a victory that “does not destroy but fulfills”. Only so can we feel sure that we do not lose any of the fire and force of our nature with which God has endowed it A perfect victory over anger does not make the man who gained it colourless, tame or effeminate, no more than it injures a piece of machinery to put back into its place some part that had got out of gear, and by its displacement and undue prominence hindered the work of the machine. Saul of Tarsus, the hot-headed and intolerant persecutor, lost none of his fife and energy when he became the “slave of Jesus Christ”. Saint John the Apostle of love was the “Son of Thunder” to the very end.

It is therefore no easy task. The man who is the slave of anger has allowed that hatred which was originally but the hatred of evil, which is but the other side of love to God, to break away from this love and to exist apart and to act independently. It has no longer anything to do with the love of God. It has passed over to the side of self. Even when it does rise up in anger against evil, it becomes largely a personal feeling of bitterness and irritation. Such hatred has lost its savour, and it is of such that the Apostle speaks – “the anger of man worketh not the justice of God.” It is not, so to speak, the sharp edge of love, it is rather its enemy. The love of God begets a holy and ennobling hatred of evil, but no hatred, not even such hatred of sin, will ever beget the Love of God.

Therefore to win anger back to be the instrument of the soul’s proper warfare, the heart must return to its true home and shelter in God. Loving God, the soul will love all in and for God, and will hate only what God hates, and will draw the sword of Anger, sharpened and polished once more by faithful discipline, in the sacred warfare of Justice and Truth.

And if anger and hatred are the cause of suffering, love is the unfailing source of happiness. However ungainly and uninteresting a person may be in other ways, love can transform him; however humble and ungifted, it endows him with an irresistible power. A man may resist argument or force and feel the stronger for it, but no one ever yet felt the stronger for resisting pure love. One who can be conquered by no other power can be conquered by this, and the vanquished is not humbled by his defeat, nor the victor elated by his victory. It is the one thing that binds more closely the conquered and the conqueror. For love was made to win, and all things were made to yield to it. It is the bond that holds the Hosts of Heaven together and binds them to the Throne of God, and wherever on earth there is lasting union love has made it It can never rest short of possession, and to gain possession it will break through every barrier. It is love which brought God down from heaven that He might unite Himself to roan and lift him up, and this same Divine frenzy when once it has entered the human heart will not rest till it enters into the possession of God Himself and sits with Christ in heavenly places. What strength it has given to the weak, what courage to the most timid, enabling them “to bear all things, endure all things hope all things, believe all things,” that they may find rest in God.

This indeed is what love was given us for, to raise us into union with the Infinite, to give us power to conquer the world.

But if we lose sight of God and live for some earthly end we do not lose this mighty force. We hold it as an integral part of our nature, and we are free to use it as we please. No doubt it loses much of its power and exhausts and wears out the nature that misuses it, but still, even at its weakest it is great By it we rise or fall, and bind ourselves to God or to earth. It quickens and stimulates every faculty to fight for the possession of that which it desires.

Love in the hands of an unprincipled and irresponsible man becomes therefore a most dangerous weapon, and if anger and hatred have their victims so has love. A power that can conquer the world in the hands of a man who has the instincts of a savage is a terrible power. Therefore to bring happiness to its possessor and to the world it must be disciplined; without discipline, the stronger it is the fiercer it is.

But you say, love does not go or come at my bidding, it acts spontaneously, I cannot help loving. And yet God lays His commands even upon our hearts: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart”. He would not bid us do what is impossible. To bid us love Him is not only to assure us that we can, but to forbid the love of all that would take us from Him. It is the “first and chief of all the commandments”.

Love is not a mere blind passion, it must be controlled by reason. “Love has eyes,” and the eye of the heart is the reason. But it is in its first movements that the outgoing of the heart must be controlled, later on it may be impossible. There is a moment in the growth of any undue or unlawful affection when, with comparatively little effort, it could be checked, when conscience and reason give their warning, and if the will exerts itself all will be well; if such warnings are neglected the heart quickly breaks away from all control and becomes the most violent of the passions. It is by the yielding in things small and insignificant in themselves, each one of which could have been easily resisted, that love becomes an unruly passion and a source of suffering and misery to its victim and to the world.

And, on the other hand, it is by small things often, that the love which we owe to others is gradually killed out You may allow your mind to dwell upon the veriest trifles – some little mannerism, some natural defect, the tone of the voice – in a person with a lovable and generous nature, till all the affection you once had and which you owe as a duty is destroyed.

But as it is with anger, so it is with love. In so far as the soul deflects from God as its true end, so far will it find these great powers which God gave it for edification become a source of destruction. No one can keep his heart in order except by turning it first to God. The power that is in it is too strong merely to be restrained; it needs an outlet, and the outlet is the infinite Being of God. To try to rule one’s heart in the lesser things of life while its whole current is misdirected, is folly. If the river breaks from its channel, and does not hear and obey the call of the ocean, its strength becomes a source of danger. And if the heart be not turned to God, everything that makes it a power for good can make it a power for evil – the intensity of its affection, its loyalty, its fidelity, all these remain to be expended on unworthy or unlawful objects.

Therefore the affections can only be really disciplined as the current of the soul streams Godward. It is not merely with this or that sin, by excess or defect of love, that we have to deal. To try to love a little more or a little less in such cases would be a vain task. We must look deeper. Only as we try to love God aright can we love man aright; only by turning our heart steadily towards God shall we be able to set its movements right towards man.

Now one great school of the affections is the Moral Law. The Ten Commandments. Our Lord interprets the whole Law as teaching the love of God and the love of man. You will notice the order – not first the love of man, but first the love of God. “This is the first and great commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, thy whole mind, thy whole soul, and thy whole strength. The second is like unto it” (and necessarily flows from it): “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” It is by placing ourselves under certain laws of commandment and prohibition that the heart becomes trained to turn towards its true end. These commandments say nothing directly about love. But they forbid that which destroys it, and direct certain practices which tend to develop it aright Love is there; like a stream it is ever flowing; it needs to be directed into its proper channel, and the soul needs to be warned against that which destroys it.

Take, then, the first four commandments which teach us our duty to God. Obey these, and the love of God will deepen in your heart; violate them, and your heart will turn away from God. You must allow no rival to God in your heart: “Thou shalt have no other God before Me”. You must give the worship of your heart to God; you must learn to reverence His holy name, and you must dedicate certain times to His service. Violate one or all of these, and your love to God will fail or die; obey them, and the stream of your affections will flow in its true channel – Godward. How true to experience it is that the loss of all love to God can be traced to the breach of one or more of these commandments. Some idol is set up in the heart which becomes His rival; the worship of His holy name is neglected; the spirit of lowly reverence is lost; the times which should be devoted to His service are neglected, and God has ceased to be loved. And it is only by the observance of the first commandment that we can keep the second. The more we love God the more we shall love man, the less we love God the less we shall, in the true sense of the word, love man; our love will become capricious, fitful, unreliable, not charity but passion. If you feel that your love for your fellow-men is dying out in the fumes of selfishness, there is but one way to revive it – strive for, pray for, the love of God. As the heart turns towards its source it will be quickened and expanded. There is no true, no lasting spirit of charity apart from the practice of Religion.

Therefore we cannot keep the commandments which comprise our duty to men, unless we are keeping those which teach us our duty to God. And these last educate and discipline our affections towards one another, They begin with the first duty of children to their parents, and regulate and control the outgoings of the heart towards others, forbidding hate, lust, selfishness, insincerity, covetousness; controlling unlawful desires, checking passion in its first banning, and thus keeping the heart pure and its currents flowing in their proper channels.

Ask yourself, if you find that you fail in charity, whether by loving in a wrong way or by failing to love as you ought, by loving too much or loving too little, ask if there is any one of the ten commandments you are deliberately breaking. Are you yielding to anger or sensuality, or selfishness, or unkindness in speech, or discontent, or envy and jealousy? All these, or any of them, injure or wholly destroy that spirit of charity which is the Love of God manifesting itself in the human heart towards its fellow-creatures.

Love must thus be trained and disciplined, and the “Law is the schoolmaster”. Obey the Law, place yourself under its commands and restraints, and your love will cease to be passion, and guided by reason it will be a source of blessing to yourself and to the world.