St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Catholic belief, prayers and spiritual teaching
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
|TREATISE ON THE LOVE OF GOD|
By St Francis de Sales
Book II. The History Of The Generation And Heavenly Birth Of Divine Love.
Ch 4. Of The Supernatural Providence Which God Uses Towards Reasonable Creatures.
All God's works are ordained to the salvation of men and angels; and the order of his providence is this, as far as, by attention to the Holy Scriptures and the doctrine of the Fathers, we are able to discover and our weakness permits us to describe it.
God knew from all eternity that he could make an
innumerable multitude of creatures with divers
perfections and qualities, to whom he might
communicate himself, and considering that amongst all
the different communications there was none so
excellent as that of uniting himself to some created
nature, in such sort that the creature might be
engrafted and implanted in the divinity, and become
one single person with it, his infinite goodness,
which of itself and by itself tends towards
communication, resolved and determined to communicate
himself in this manner. So that, as eternally there
is an essential communication in God by which the
Father communicates all his infinite and indivisible
divinity to the Son in producing him and the Father
and the Son together producing the Holy Ghost
communicate to him also their own singular divinity;
- so this sovereign sweetness was so perfectly
communicated externally to a creature, that the
created nature and the divinity, retaining each of
them its own properties, were notwithstanding so
united together that they were but one same person.
Then having selected for this happiness the sacred humanity of our Saviour, the supreme providence decreed not to restrain his goodness to the only person of his well-beloved Son, but for his sake to pour it out upon divers other creatures, and out of the mass of that innumerable quantity of things which he could produce, he chose to create men and angels to accompany his Son, participate in his graces and glory, adore and praise him for ever. And inasmuch as he saw that he could in various manners form the humanity of this Son, while making him true man, as for example by creating him out of nothing, not only in regard of the soul but also in regard of the body; or again by forming the body of some previously existing matter as he did that of Adam and Eve, or by way of ordinary human birth, or finally by extraordinary birth from a woman without man, he determined that the work should be effected by the last way, and of all the women he might have chosen to this end he made choice of the most holy virgin Our Lady, through whom the Saviour of our souls should not only be man, but a child of the human race.
Furthermore the sacred providence determined to
produce all other things as well natural as
supernatural in behalf of Our Saviour, in order that
angels and men might, by serving him, share in his
glory; on which account, although God willed to
create both angels and men with free-will, free with
a true freedom to choose evil or good, still, to show
that on the part of the divine goodness they were
dedicated to good and to glory, he created them all
in original justice, which is no other thing than a
most sweet love, which disposed, turned and set them
forward towards eternal felicity.
He also clearly foresaw that the first man would abuse his liberty and forsaking grace would lose glory, yet would he not treat human nature so rigorously as he determined to treat the angelic. It was human nature of which he had determined to take a blessed portion to unite it to his divinity. He saw that it was a feeble nature, a wind which goeth and returneth not, (1) that is, which is dissipated as it goes. He had regard to the surprise by which the malign and perverse Satan had taken the first man, and to the greatness of the temptation which ruined him. He saw that all the race of men was perishing by the fault of one only, so that for these reasons he beheld our nature with the eye of pity and resolved to admit it to his mercy.
But in order that the sweetness of his mercy might be adorned with the beauty of his justice, he determined to save man by way of a rigorous redemption. And as this could not properly be done but by his Son, he settled that he should redeem man not only by one of his amorous actions, which would have been perfectly sufficient to ransom a million million of worlds: but also by all the innumerable amorous actions and dolorous passions which he would perform or suffer till death, and the death of the cross, to which he destined him.
He willed that thus he should make himself the
companion of our miseries to make us afterwards
companions of his glory, showing thereby the riches
of his goodness, by this copious, abundant,
superabundant, magnificent and excessive redemption,
which has gained for us, and as it were reconquered
for us, all the means necessary to attain glory, so
that no man can ever complain as though the divine
mercy were wanting to any one.