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 IV. Of The Decay And Ruin Of Charity.
Ch 7. That We Must Avoid All Curiosity, And Humbly Acquiesce In God's Most Wise Providence.
The human spirit is so weak that when it would look too curiously into the causes and reasons of God's will it embarrasses and entangles itself in the meshes of a thousand difficulties, out of which it has much to do to deliver itself; it resembles smoke, for as smoke ascends it gets more subtle, and as it grows more subtle it vanishes. In striving to raise our seasonings too high in divine things by curiosity we grow vain or empty in our thoughts, and instead of arriving at the knowledge of truth, we fall into the folly of our vanity.
But above all we are unreasonable towards Divine providence in regard to the diversity of the means which he bestows upon us to draw us to his holy love, and by his holy love to glory. For our temerity urges us ever to inquire why God gives more means to one than to another; why he did not amongst the Tyrians and Sidonians the miracles which he did in Corozain and Bethsaida, seeing they would have made as good use of them; and, in fine, why he draws one rather than another to his love.
O Theotimus ! my friend, never, no never, must we permit our minds to be carried away by this mad whirlwind, nor expect to find a better reason of God's will than his will itself, which is sovereignty reasonable, yea, the reason of all reasons, the rule of all goodness, the law of all equity. And although the Holy Ghost, speaking in the Holy Scripture, gives reason in divers places of almost all we can wish to know of what this divine providence does in conducting men to holy love and eternal salvation, yet on various occasions he shows that we must in no wise depart from the respect which is due to his will, whose purpose, decree, good-pleasure, and sentence we are to adore; and he being sovereign judge and sovereignty equitable, it is not reasonable that at the end he manifest his motives, but it is sufficient that he say simply -- for reasons.
And if charity obliges us to bear so much respect
to the decrees of sovereign courts, composed of
corruptible judges, of the earth and earthly, as to
believe that they were not made without motives,
though we know these not - ah! Lord God, with what a
loving reverence ought we to adore the equity of thy
supreme providence which is infinite in justice and
So that the divine Apostle thus concludes the long
discourse which he had made concerning it: 0 the
depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the
knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his
judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who
hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his
counsellor?(2) By which exclamation he testifies that
God does all things with great wisdom, knowledge and
reason; yet so, that, as man has not entered into the
divine counsels, whose judgments and designs are
placed infinitely above our reach, we ought devoutly
to adore his decrees as most just, without searching
out their motives. These he keeps in secret to
himself, in order to keep our understanding in
respect and humility to ourself.
We see sometimes twins, of whom one is born alive and receives Baptism, the other in his birth loses his temporal life, before being regenerated to the eternal, and consequently the one is heir of heaven, the other is deprived of the inheritance. Now why does divine providence give such different fates to one equal birth? Truly it might be answered that ordinarily God's providence does not violate the laws of nature, so that one of these twins being strong, and the other too feeble to support the labour of his delivery, the latter died before he could be baptized, the other lived; divine providence not willing to stop the course of natural causes, which on this occasion were the reason why the one was deprived of Baptism.
And truly this is a perfectly solid answer. But, following the advice of the divine S. Paul, and of S. Augustine, we ought not to busy our thoughts in this consideration, which, though it be good, yet in no respect enters into comparison with many others which God has reserved to himself, and will show us in heaven. "Then," says S. Augustine, "the secret shall end why rather the one than the other was received, the causes being equal as to both, and why miracles were not done amongst those who in case they had been done would have been brought to repentance, and were done amongst such as would will not to believe them."
And in another place the same saint, speaking of
sinners, some of whom God leaves in their iniquity
while others he raises, says: "Now why he retains the
one and not the other, it is not possible to
comprehend, nor lawful to inquire, since it is enough
to know that it is by him we stand and that it is not
by him we fall." And again: "This is hidden and far
removed from man's understanding, at least from
Could one speak more holily Theotimus of so holy a
mystery? Indeed these are the words of a most saintly
and prudent Doctor of the Church.