The Principles of the Beatitudes, by Father Basil William Maturin

the Blessed Sacrament altar by Rodolfo Vantini and by Michelangelo Grigoletti in the New Cathedral in Brescia, Italy; photographed on 15 December 2020 by Wolfgang Moroder; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsOne of the greatest achievements of the human mind in modern times has been the discovery that underlying and controlling all the apparently disconnected phenomena of nature is Law. For ages the universe presented to men a vast panorama of constant change, each of its phenomena standing alone, some of these changes coming in orderly sequence, many of them apparently capricious. The silent heavens and the storm-swept earth, what had they to say to one another? The seasons marched with steady tread, but often indeed interrupted and held back by violent outbursts that betokened the presence of some angry God. But why the changes followed in regular sequence was known no more than why the sun rose and set, or why the wind blew from north or south.

It has been the result of careful and patient study to discover that underlying all the phenomena of Nature and governing all her actions, there is Law. Caprice gives way, the more we know her, to order, and order is the result of Law. We feel so sure of this now that we are certain that her most fitful moods and her most exceptional acts can be reduced to the controlling power of law. Of some of the laws as yet we know little or nothing, but of their existence we have no doubt. Indeed, so great is the change that has passed over the human mind within the last few years that it would baffle the imagination of a man of ordinary education to conceive of any part of the universe, however distant, in which Law did not reign, Through the length and breadth of her vast domain, into the minutest parts of her system, like nerves in the human body, run the forces that rule her alike in the infinitely small or in the infinitely great, and as the nerves convey the commands of the will, so, behind these forces, stands a mighty Will whose rule they represent and carry out.

It is the same in the moral world. We know less of the laws that govern the workings of the mind and heart and will, but we know enough to feel confident that this higher and more mysterious world forms no exception to the principle of law and order that reigns everywhere in the physical universe. Whatever we may allow ourselves to think in moments of discouragement at our own failures, or at times when we seem to see the darker side of human life and the degradation of character and the triumph of evil, yet in calmer moments of reflection and insight we know full well that character is not the mere result of the accident of circumstances and environment, nor the product of the action of external forces, Within the mysterious world of personality Law reigns, and controls the movement of every thought, the growth of every desire, the development of every passion. The poor creature of impulse tossed hither and thither by every uncontrolled desire and passion, the plaything of circumstance and external influences, has sunk to this state, in which personality has become but the loose bond that holds together the most destructive forces, as truly under the control of Law as the strongest and most self-controlled. Did we but know these laws more accurately, we could analyse and define every step by which the prodigal falls and by which the noblest rise and grow strong.

Yet however limited our knowledge of psychology, every one of us knows enough to be fully aware of the fact whenever we violate any of the laws of our moral nature. Those laws cannot be broken without a protest which vibrates throughout our whole being. The broken law inflicts a pain, in a way, more acute and more lasting than any physical pain, and it may be questioned whether there is any joy that is greater than that which suffuses the soul when for the sake of fidelity to the law of its moral being it makes some costly sacrifice. It is good no doubt to know as much as can be known about these laws and the method of their action; it is good to understand the working of the machinery of our inmost being; but our nature by God’s goodness is so constituted that it works, so to speak, automatically, and gives its clear and sharp protest against any infringement of her laws.

And the same principle of Law reigns also in the spiritual sphere. It would be difficult to imagine that the God of law and order had exempted our nature from the government of Law in its highest operations. And yet there are not a few who while they are orderly and regular in every other department of life seem to think that the spiritual life is to be an exception. The proper dread of anything like mechanicalness or routine becomes exaggerated into a rejection of all method, system or regularity in spiritual things, They refuse to lay down rules for prayer or the frequenting of the sacraments. They profess that their relations with God can be controlled by no rule and ought to be the spontaneous utterance of Love, and that it is useless to try and force themselves to pray simply because it is the hour of prayer, just as much as it would be useless to bind themselves to certain times for conversation with a friend; that to force themselves to receive the sacraments because a certain day in the week or month has come round is to run the risk of pure formalism in the holiest actions of life. The soul will not rise to order, and if it has not risen, we had better wait till it does.

But such arguments, while it is easy to see and respect the truth in them, ignore the fact that the spiritual life is a Life, a Life imparted to the soul, which has to be tended, developed, nourished, disciplined. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a seed which a man took and cast into a field and which grows by its own laws, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” This life is imparted in Baptism, strengthened in Confirmation, nourished in Holy Communion, healed and cleansed in the Sacrament of Penance, As the natural life must be fed, developed and disciplined, if it is to attain to its full strength and usefulness, so must the spiritual life. And as the natural life, if neglected, will run to seed, so will the spiritual life.

It is necessary, therefore, that there should be order and system in the spiritual life, as necessary as in the physical or intellectual. He who will only eat when he is hungry and eat only what he likes will soon fall into ill-health. And he who only studies and thinks when he is in the humour for it, will soon find his intellectual life fall into decay. And he who prays and receives the sacraments only when he feels drawn to it, will soon find his spiritual desires and vision grow weak and dim and uncertain and gradually die away.

But, moreover, the necessity for this external habit of order and discipline is based upon the principle that the spiritual life is itself controlled by Law.

There is nothing more beautiful than the infinite variety of the lives of the Saints. Each is a study, indeed we may say a revelation, in itself. There does not seem to be any fixed rule that binds them, any method upon which their lives are formed. Each stands alone, letting his life flow forth in a reckless torrent that is apparently controlled only by the uncontrollable passion of love to God and love to man. There is a daring, a freedom and a freshness that is startling. A liberty that surprises, perhaps a little scandalises, more timid natures, The ordinary plodders on the well-worn path to Heaven are not prepared to find these Saints plunge into thickets and climb by unknown paths, and outstrip them by their very daring and their dominant individualism; they, to all appearance, take liberties with prescribed methods, show a fearlessness of the ordinary dangers that beset the spiritual life and exhibit a confidence in God that looks to timid eyes startlingly like presumption; yet somehow they come out right, they succeed where others fail, and leave the rest of the world far behind. Indeed not only are the lives of the Saints marked by this extraordinary variety and individualism, but the same virtues in different men are so markedly different that often we can scarcely recognise them as the same. The zeal of Saint Paul, in its inexhaustible energy, content with nothing short of the world as its sphere, and the zeal of Saint John, the great contemplative, seem scarcely to have one characteristic in common. It would be difficult to compare the humility of Saint Francis of Assisi with, say, the humility of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, each gives us his own revelation of the same virtue, stamped deeply with his own personality. Or compare again the Spirit of Prayer – the very source and fountain of all spiritual life – as portrayed by Saint John of the Cross and by the exercises of Saint Ignatius. Each draws with a master’s hand, according to his own experience, his method of communing with God, and the most striking thing is their dissimilarity.

1. And yet, with all this freedom and individualism the lives of the Saints did not develop by haphazard efforts to be good. They were not the mere result of individual souls trying each in his own original way to draw near to God. As we get beneath the surface and examine their lives more carefully we shall find that they were each and all built upon and developed under a system of laws as truly as the organic world of life, What more varied, what more apparently free than life? yet it grows, develops and matures by law, So does the spiritual life of the Saints, Law in the highest sense is not opposed to liberty, it is the principle upon which liberty is based. Saint James speaks of the Christian as being judged by “the perfect law of liberty”. In proportion as we violate any of the laws of our physical, moral or intellectual nature we lose some of our freedom of action; in proportion as we know and obey their laws we are free. Perfect health, and vigour of mind and body depend upon perfect conformity to law And perfect spiritual liberty, the possession of the power of complete spiritual self-expression and action, depends upon perfect conformity to those laws upon which the spiritual life is based and by which it matures. The cramped and timid scrupulousness of many a Christian’s life is the result of the lack of the knowledge of or obedience to these laws. “The Truth,” in every sphere, “shall make you free.” The wonderful largeness and daring, and, if I may say so, roominess, of the lives of the great Saints sprang from the elasticity and adaptableness of their individual characters when brought into complete response to the laws of the spiritual life. As the great musician handles his instrument with an ease and freedom that astonishes one less skilled.

And the laws of the spiritual life, like the laws of the physical life, are common to all. The infinite variety of character is, partly at least, the result of the difference of material and temperament upon which these laws are acting. Just as the same forces in Nature – light, heat, electricity – produce different effects upon different substances.

So in the spiritual life the fundamental laws are the same for all. If we could analyse the characters of those who have attained to the most different forms of sanctity, we should find notwithstanding their infinite variety that all were governed by the same principles, Take to pieces the most varied and complicated forms of organic life, and we shall be able to trace the growth and structure of all of them to a few laws common to all. So we may trace to the operation of the same spiritual laws the sanctity and hiddenness of the cloistered contemplative, and the zeal of the missionary; the silence of the hermit, and the fervour that inspires the burning eloquence of the apostolic preacher. It was the same principle that drove Saint Anthony into the wilderness that sent Saint Francis into the towns and villages of Italy. Under the moulding power of the same law Saint Ignatius drilled and disciplined his great army of the Society of Jesus to deal with the cultured world of his day, and Saint Theresa drew her daughters out of the world and placed them behind grills and barriers to plead for the world they left, and to do penance for it in a life hidden with Christ in God, Saint Francis Xavier in a life of unwearied activity preaching to the heathen, and Saint John of the Cross, or Saint Peter of Alcantara, shutting themselves out from the world in a life of mystic contemplation, were very different types of men in many ways, and very different in the circumstances of their lives, yet they were the product of the self-same laws.

Many no doubt have grown in holiness without any technical or scientific knowledge of these laws, For as all the forces of Nature run up into and are the expression of the Will of God – “Creation’s secret force Himself unmoved all motion’s source” – so do all the laws of the spiritual life run into one great force – the love of God – the love of the Law-Giver. As our Lord summed up the Decalogue – in the love of God, “and that which is like unto it,” the love of man, So, many a humble and unlettered Saint has instinctively and almost unconsciously learnt, in the absorbing passion of his love to God, to conform himself to those laws of the spiritual life which he could not define or analyse. He simply followed as the love of God led him. Yet if we could analyse his life and the method by which the virtues that adorn his character have matured and ripened, we could trace them to the action of those laws which are common to all.

It is, I think, a great help to remember this. To remember that the spiritual life is not an exceptional department of life, dependent largely upon emotion and largely upon circumstances over which we have no control. But that it is a life, possessed by us all, growing and developing under laws which are made known to us, to which, if we will conform, the result must be attained. If each of us had to strive on in his own way, and perhaps as none ever strove before; if holiness were a purely individual thing, and depended upon wild and random efforts to control ourselves and to draw near to God, we might well despair. But if, as is undoubtedly true, order reigns amidst all the variety of the spiritual world, if the spiritual life depends upon conformity to certain laws, and we have not to discover these laws for ourselves, but they are revealed to us, so that we know them with an absolute certainty, a certainty if possible more assured than that of the physical world around us, inasmuch as they are revealed to us by God Himself, then we have but to place ourselves under obedience to these laws and to bring our life into conformity with them, and holiness is assured and certain.

Let us once grasp this and it changes the whole aspect of life, It makes it possible for all, What an encouragement to one wearied out with vain efforts that seem to bring him no nearer to God or to give him more power over himself, to be told that there is a way which leads to life; that there are laws by obeying which he will grow in holiness, and that his failure springs from ignorance of, or lack of submission to, these laws.

And these laws our Lord has given us in the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount. He has there analysed in advance the Christian life of perfection and disclosed to us the laws that govern it. He tells us the secret of Beatitude. If we would gain the Beatitude we must place ourselves under the law that develops it. Let the law work itself out and the blessing must follow.

Every rule therefore of self-discipline and prayer which individuals make for themselves should have some relation to these laws, they should have as their object the bringing of oneself more entirely under their control, that they may work themselves into one’s whole nature. The law of poverty of spirit is the key-note of the spiritual life. It is the first step that the soul must take if it would enter upon the path that leads to the blessings promised by our Lord. But each person must bring himself under obedience to the law in his own way. What would help one would not necessarily help another. For temperament, circumstances, education and many other things must be taken into consideration, and so with the rest.

But the great thing is to have the law clearly before one. To know what one is aiming at, and the result that is to be expected. If a man knows that undue attachment to created things clouds the vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that poverty of spirit, the keeping oneself free and allowing none of these things to master him is the condition of possessing it, then he knows what he is to aim at. The issue is clear. He is not fighting as one that beats the air, but his energies are concentrated and the struggle is definite. He must be left to carry out the struggle in his own way. There are no prescribed rules. There is no straight road upon which all the world can walk to Heaven. There is in all the teaching of our Lord a singular absence of detail – great principles are laid down, but each has to work them out for himself. But it is all-important that those who are striving should have very definitely before them what it is they are striving for. And the Beatitudes considered as the laws of perfection reveal this and make both the end, and the means of attaining the end, quite clear. A harsh asceticism may end in stripping one of everything in this world and giving nothing in its place, but an asceticism that has as its end the possession of heavenly riches can be neither harsh nor fruitless. Self-repression, self-effacement, self-distrust, practised for no definite end, or on the general principle that one ought to annihilate oneself, often ends in making a person feeble and characterless and one that is generally and rightly annihilated by those around him; but that self-conquest fought for in the name of meekness makes one strong and gives as its reward the possession of the earth. Mourning for mourning’s sake and with the fundamentally false idea that God Almighty is more pleased with us when we are sad than when we are glad produces the grumbler, the cynic and the pessimist, but the mourning that looks for and will be satisfied with nothing but the Divine Comforter takes all the bitterness and gloom out of sorrow – and so on.

In the one case men do not see what they are striving for, the heart, the life, the inspiring force is wanting, in the other case the struggle is for a definite end and prosecuted with unfailing purpose. The law under which they would place themselves stands clearly defined before their eyes.

But so strong and so potent a factor in the struggle is individual character and temperament that every man engaged in the conflict may be fighting in a different way for the same end, sometimes in ways that seem opposite.

For instance, one who is naturally hard and stern and takes a certain pleasure in dealing cruelly with himself, will soon learn that if he is to gain the blessing of the poor in spirit he must become gentle; that Heaven does not open its doors to those who hate, even if the hatred be only directed against themselves or the material things of God’s creation. He must learn to deny himself for love, not hatred, and the effort to place himself under the law of poverty gradually but surely eliminates every remnant of harshness from his nature.

On the other hand, one who is by nature soft and self-indulgent will find that he must brace himself and learn to be stern and unyielding with himself in the school of poverty. Thus two men striving for the same virtue and with the same ideal before them strive in directly opposite ways. But each knows what his aim is, and so he makes his own rules, and practises with a view to that end.

Thus the Beatitudes keep before us the principles that are to rule our lives if we would follow the example of our Lord. If ye would be perfect, said Christ, follow Me, and if we would follow Him it must be not by a mere copying of His words and acts, but by ruling ourselves by the inner principles which governed His life.

2. But again, the Beatitudes, it will be noticed, say nothing about sin. They command us rather to aim at virtue. There is a vast difference between doing right and not doing wrong. A person may not do anything very wrong and may nevertheless be quite colourless and characterless. Indeed it is possible that to do what is definitely sinful may need more character than simply not to do wrong. Goodness is not a negative but an intensely positive thing. It is energetic, active, strong. The very word virtue implies effort. Effort of the most constant and strenuous kind. There are no such things as negative virtues, The powers of our mind and body were not given us that we might simply keep them from mischief and hold them in check so that they should not harm ourselves or others. They were all given us for action. The tongue to speak, the eye to look, the hand to work, the heart to love, the mind to think, the will to choose. Everything about us speaks of an output of power. Life is to flow forth through mind and body. The body is the machinery through which the inner force is to express itself, The most mortified life is not a passive life. It is rather one in which the whole nature has been brought under the control of the will, and the will under obedience to God. It is the life of one who has died to sin that he might live to righteousness, It is the Resurrection life, a life in which all our powers are used for the very highest purposes. Mortification is a dying that we may live; a refraining from evil that we may do good. To die to evil is indeed so far as it goes good, but if there be no new direction into which the energy of life is turned, it is to be feared that the evil will soon regain control. The unclean spirit that is cast out of a man waits till he finds the house of the soul empty, and then “he goeth and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first”. The effort merely not to do wrong may, and often does, lead to greater sin. The listless, uninterested and unoccupied life is the most dangerous of all. It is better to be interested in frivolities than to be interested in nothing. Life is too strong merely to be held in check. For life is movement, and movement implies direction, and the moving stream that is simply held back will soon sweep away the barriers that restrain it with a mad and reckless torrent.

Therefore the only remedy against doing evil is to do good. To use the gifts we have in the service of God, to overcome vice by virtue. There is in fact no intermediate state of inactivity in which having driven away evil we rest, before employing ourselves in doing good. Disease will only be overcome by health, light by darkness, The mind is won from wrong thoughts by right thoughts, the heart from the love of evil by learning to love good. The current of life cannot be stopped, it can but be directed into another channel.

And thus the Beatitudes say nothing about sin, but they imply a great deal, for they are addressed to sinners, yet only speak of virtue. They bid the followers of Christ overcome evil by good. The lover of the world is to overcome the world by gaining possession of a better world. The man who would gain power by self-assertion, is to gain a better power by meekness, The man of sorrows is not to sink into melancholy but to seek the consolation of the Divine Comforter.

They all speak of a vivid, active, intense life, a clearly defined and positive aim, a turning from evil todo good, a search for happiness in right which wrong has failed to give. They utter no blessing upon negativeness. Even the mortification and self-discipline that they involve is lost sight of in the brilliant light of the Beatitude which they promise. As Saint Paul says of our Lord, “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross”.

3. But again, this positive principle reaches further. It declares to us that each of these virtues has behind it a definite spiritual consolation which the virtue itself brings to the soul. As the virtue is developed it suffuses the soul with the glow of its Beatitude. In proportion as you have the spirit of poverty Heaven will lie open to you. Meekness will put you in possession of the earth from which you have turned away. Mourning gains for you heavenly comfort. The virtue is the channel through which these blessings flow in upon the soul.

We have the right therefore to look for these rewards of virtue, We are not to fight our way through the trials and temptations of earth, strengthened to endure them only by the thought that we shall soon be done with them and the reward of Heaven will then be ours. No, we are to strive for these virtues with the assurance that they will bring us their own special rewards here on earth. As the virtue is formed it fills the soul with the sweet perfume of its blessing. In the natural order even, virtue is its own reward; that is to say in proportion as one is true to the order of nature one gains the blessing which order brings. The man who is just, prudent, temperate, will be a happier man than he who is not. But he who is living according to the principles of the supernatural order, finds amidst his struggles here on earth and his sufferings the rewards of Heaven.

There is a natural purity that brings tranquility of mind and clearness of thought and a deepening of affection, and there is a purity of another order that gives to the soul the vision of God. There is a poverty that gives a man power over himself and over others, the poverty of the man who for the sake of gaining strength diminishes his outward wants to the fewest possible, but there is a poverty that opens Heaven to man. But as the virtues inculcated by the Beatitudes are all supernatural, so are the blessings which they bring. As the soul therefore rises under the action of grace and prayer and develops those virtues which belong to the supernatural order, it will find that it has already attained a reward which is not of earth.

Such a view of the happiness of the Christian life is very different from, and far more inspiring than, that which comes from the mere sense of duty which has been the sole principle that has ruled many. There are not a few who act and speak as if the pleasant things were always wrong and the unpleasant things mostly right, who feel it a reason sufficient in itself for not doing a thing that they like it. Before their eyes there ever stretches the dreary and barren road of duty, encircled on all sides by the rich and fair pastures that are forbidden. As soon even as a duty becomes a pleasure they feel that it has begun to lose its value. Such is not the teaching of our Lord in the Beatitudes. He would have men realize that the pathway of virtue is rich with happiness, that the struggle after the virtues which He commands is the struggle after the truest, highest and most enduring form of happiness, Each virtue gained makes the Heaven of eternity more real by giving to the soul some new foretaste of the joys of Heaven here on earth.

It is then no stern stoic view of duty that inspires the man who aims after Christian perfection, but the vision of the supernatural, rising before his eyes; gifts of the supernatural endowing him with substantial blessings, There is a joy that is ever closely followed by the dark shadow of regret, and there is a sorrow that wakens the soul first to the possibility and then to the reality of Divine consolation. Men can face that sorrow with calmness as they enter beneath its shadow if they have the certainty that in its gloom they shall have the sweetest of all comforts. There is a self-assertion that, inconsiderate of the claims of others, pushes out of its path all that comes in its way and gains its end to find itself alone and dissatisfied; and there is a gentleness that ever considers the claims of others more than its own, and ends by gaining all and more than all that it gave up, even the possession of the earth, while it is refreshed with the abundance of peace.

The Beatitudes thus disclose to us the blessings that lie hidden in the rugged pathway of virtue, and bid us boldly and gladly face difficulties for the joy that lies before us. It is no stern and gloomy religion that our Lord teaches, but one full of present consolations and capable of kindling the noblest enthusiasm. The Christian whose life is all sadness, and whose only hope lies beyond the grave, may then be sure that there is something amiss in his life or in his method. We know upon the highest authority that though the demands upon the soul are great and ever increasing, yet that the blessings even in this life are still greater. Indeed we may go further, we may test the reality of the virtue by the reality of the blessing. If we have none of the rewards of the Beatitudes it is because we have not the virtues which they command. We are as little capable of having the blessings without the virtues as we are of having the virtues without the blessings, They are inseparably linked together. Therefore, however poor in spirit, if our poverty merely shuts out the comforts of earth and does not open to us any of the joys of Heaven, we may be sure it is not the poverty of which the Beatitude speaks. So if our mourning leaves our heart in gloom and despondency it is not the mourning of the Beatitude. As well might the student persuade himself that study which never brings the reward of increased knowledge or power of thought is real study. On the contrary, the student in entering upon his studies knows well that the goal towards which he aims is knowledge, and that every step of his path is blessed by an opening of the mind and some fresh increase of knowledge that stimulates and inspires him.

So must the Christian, in the school of perfection, have true foretastes of the Heaven which is his aim in the blessings which flow out upon him in the acquisition of each virtue which fits him for it. The old law pointed out the curse of sin, the new law points out the blessings of virtue. The old law blocked the road to sin by a threat, the new law opens the door to virtue with a blessing. There are passions and inclinations in man’s nature that when gratified bring a moment’s thrill of pleasure, followed by an ever deepening misery. The old Law set up fences against the outgoing of life in these directions, and upon these fences wrote stern prohibitions, and a warning that all such indulgences would meet with a curse. There are aspirations in man’s nature after aims far beyond its reach, there are ideals that haunt the mind of possibilities that experience seems to prove to be impossible – the Beatitudes point the way to the realization of these ideals, They mark clearly and definitely the road that must be trodden, and the entrance to that road being narrow and painful, and since human nature shrinks at the cost which it demands, upon these sign-posts are written the promises of many blessings. Men could to a certain extent find out for themselves the curse and misery of sin, but it needed Revelation to show it in its fulness, and it needed the sanctions of the law to warn men when Nature would seek a wrong outlet for its enjoyment. So men could find out for themselves that virtue in the long run brings more lasting happiness than vice, but it needed the clear voice of Revelation, amidst the seductions of temptation, to substantiate and quicken this instinct, and it needed the Finger of God to point out clearly the pathway of perfection which men could not find out for themselves. In a world in which riches is an almost unfailing source of power and an almost universal object of adulation, it needs something more than a possibility or a guess to induce a man to turn his back upon it all and to assure him, and himself to believe, that happiness lies in exactly the opposite direction. Yet this the Christian can do. He can do it with a certainty that is free from a doubt or a hesitation. He knows it upon the authority of God, and that authority, if he needs anything more, has been tested and proved by a long line of witnesses. He can tread the hard and barren road of self-denial and poverty when as yet no faintest sign of that other Kingdom towards which he has turned his gaze is to be seen upon the horizon, with calmness and certainty, He can strip himself of all the world holds most worth possessing while as yet he sees nothing of these other riches which faith tells him are more true and lasting, and face the barrenness that surrounds him, saying to himself, “I do not hope, I know that I am on the road to true happiness”. He does not look with the eye of envy upon the wealth that others possess. He willingly and deliberately abandons all prospect of such possessions. The path upon which he has set out is clear and well defined, hard beaten with the footprints of a vast multitude, not one of whom has ever found that he was misled.

So it is with each of the Beatitudes. They are the doors thrown open by the Hand of our Lord for men to walk forth in life upon the true road to happiness upon which lurk no deceptions, and in the hearts of those who pass through these doors there are no doubts, no fears of deception. They cannot be deceived. The sign-posts which guide them at every turn are written by the Finger of God; others are deceived. Many who have believed they could find happiness in the attainment of wealth, or the satisfaction of their ambitions, or in the joys of the domestic life, have in the end missed their aim, and even though they may have gained what they set before them they have found in it only restlessness and dissatisfaction. But those who have ruled their lives by the laws of the Beatitudes, have been guided by One who has never yet misled any one who has submitted his life to that divinely revealed rule.

To many at first sight it seems as if it were contrary to nature. Poverty, mourning, meekness, persecution. But he who tries it will find that though it is above the power of unaided nature, it is not contrary to but in strict conformity to nature. It ennobles, enriches, sanctifies, perfects our nature. For nature cannot find its final satisfaction in the things of earth. The Beatitudes lift man up to God and then force him to turn back again to the world from whose fascination and power he is set free, to help it and to bless it. They are the laws of life, not of a solitary ascetic living as a hermit who, if such a thing were possible, seeks his own sanctification regardless of the welfare of his brethren. No, they are the laws of life, of men who live and move and have their being amongst their fellow-creatures, who make the world the better and men the happier by their existence, who cannot ignore or forget others, who having found the key to happiness for themselves have found it for others also. The men who are fittest to live. The best type of men in every sense of the word and in every relation of life. The men who see time in the perspective of eternity, who see the creatures in the light of the Creator, who having gained complete mastery over themselves can be misled by no false ambition, who having faced sorrow and suffering have learned the true secret of courage and the true source of consolation, who possess the earth, not through self-assertion but by meekness, who in the vision of God are proof against the delusions and fascinations of the senses, who never intrude themselves in the way of others, nor cross their ambitions, nor stimulate their envy, but go about through a world of strife and selfishness as peacemakers, Place such men in any position and they are above reproach or suspicion. They will ever be the strongest, the most fearless, the possessors of the truest liberty. Their nature set free from mere temporal interests and ambitions, devoid of selfishness, purified from the taint of sensuality, uplifted above the world, so as to take the largest and highest views of all things, is fittest to do the work of life in the best and noblest way. These are the men formed by the laws of the Beatitudes. They have found the key to true happiness, and they are a blessing to the world in which they live.