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7. For there are three that bear record in beaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft: and these three are one.
8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which he hath teftified of his Son.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
HE Christian religion confiders its profeffors as newly born to God either by the water of baptifm, or the tears of repentance; and therefore exhorts them, by St. Peter, to fuck in the milk of his holy word, and to imprint in their minds its great mysteries, to the end that, by preferving the grace, either received in baptifm, or by repentance, they may advance in virtue. As new-born babes, defire the fincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, 1 Pet. ii. 2.
And, because they will find in their way most potent enemies, that endeavour to put a stop to their progress, fhe arms them with faith, by which all the faints have gloriously triumph'd over the world, and happily purchased heaven.
And St. John, in the prefent epiftle, affures us, that our faith is the most proper weapon to conquer the world, and all those enemies, that, with it, confpire our ruin: This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith: For faith is the first principle, the foundation of all good works, the univerfal inftrument to acquire virtue, and to repel all temptations to vice. Without faith, we are flaves to nature, a prey to pleasure, and
and wholly given up to the government of sense and paffion; we not only lie open to the treachery of the world, but even dote on its treafon; put on its chains, not only without reluctancy, but even with pleasure.
But when we are born of God by a lively faith, when we firmly believe thofe great truths Chrift revealed to the apoftles, and they to us; then we are fenced againft all the charming affaults of the world, and enabled not only to refift, but to overcome its follicitations. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. It perfuades us to fubdue our flesh, to mortify our unruly appetites, and to poftpone present happiness to the expectation of a future felicity: for who firmly be lieves there is another region beyond this, and that our fouls will live, when our bodies lie in the grave, that their condition in the next world will answer the lives we lead in this, that the good fhall enjoy an eternity of happiness, and the bad an endless mifery; whofoever, I fay, believes fuch a punishment will follow fin, and fuch a reward virtue, has a fufficient motive to avoid the one, and to practise the other.
Let the world offer a true believer all its treafures of wealth, grandeur, and pleasure, fet out in the most charming appearance; he will look upon them with contempt and difdain, as falfe lights that only fhine to lead him into a precipice, and then vanish; he will efteem all thofe things that affect the fenfes, as corruptible, fleet, and fading, and, by confequence, not to bear any proportion with thofe eternal pleasures and glory, God has promis'd for those who contemn them, or with the torments that follow the criminal enjoyment of them. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
It was this article of faith, that gave courage to the martyrs to confefs Chrift before tyrants, and ftrength to fuffer for his name all the torments that malice could invent, or rage inflict: they were convinced, that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that fhall be revealed; and this enabled them to bear up against the most cruel tortures, and in patience to poffefs their fouls, Luke xxi. 19.
In a word, faith is the fource and foul of all fupernatural virtues with faith they rife, without it they fall into nothing: patience vanifhes, humility retires, hope staggers, and charity dies; so that without it we become examples of blindness, weaknefs, mifery and fin.
But, if faith in Jefus Chrift overcomes the world, as St. John affirms; Who is be that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jefus is the Son of God? how comes it that fo many, who profefs Chriftianity, are flaves to the world? that they espouse its maxims, and obey all its commands? one would think, by their conduct, Chriftendom was no less infidel than America, and that faith was as great a ftranger to Europe, as in our Saviour's time to Jewry. When the Son of man cometh, fhall be find faith on the earth? Luke
It is true, however, many believe Chrift is God;, that he died for the fins of the world; nay, they credit all the articles of faith, all the rules of morality he has revealed; yet this alone is not that faith, which overcometh the world; it must be animated by charity, enlivened by thofe virtues, Chrift recommended to our practice; without these acceffories, our faith is dead, and thofe, that go no farther than fpeculation, are but half Chriftians; they are of the religion of thofe, that profess him
with their tongues, and deny him by their actions; they are mere impoftors, as St. Ambrofe fays.
That faith may influence our actions, we muft frequently meditate upon thofe truths Chrift hath revealed; we muft imprint them in our memories, and engrave them on our hearts; a lively apprehenfion of those joys, he has prepared for those that love him, will give us an averfion to those the world can either give or promife; and the contemplation of that fire he has kindled for those, that difobey his commands, will fright us into obedience; in fine, the profpect of the reward will invite us to the exercife of all virtues, and that of the punishment will deter us from vice.
Increase, O Lord, my faith: give me a faith not dead, which will only ferve to render me more criminal, but a faith animated with perfect charity, which will not only conform my understanding to thy revelations, but excite efficaciously my will to an exact compliance with all thy commands.
GOSPEL of St. John, Chap. xx. Verse
19. Then the fame day at evening, being the firft day of the week, when the doors were shut, where the difciples were affembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jefus and food in the midft, and faith unto them, Peace be unto you.
20. And when he had fo faid, he fhewed unto them his hands and his fide. Then were the difciples glad, when they faw the Lord.
21. Then faid Jefus to them again, Peace be unto you, as my Father bath fent me, even fo fend I you.
22. And when he had faid this, he breathed on them, and faith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghoft.
23. Whofe foever fins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whofe foever fins ye retain, they are retained.
24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jefus came. 25. The other difciples therefore faid unto him, We have feen the Lord. But he faid unto them, Except I fhall fee in his hands the print of the into the print of the nails, his fide, I will not be
nails, and put my finger and thrust my hand into lieve.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
UR bleffed Saviour, after his glorious refurrection, appeared to his difciples feldomer than they defired, but often enough to confirm them in the faith of his Divinity, to reveal those truths he commanded them to preach, and to model the government of his Church.
He conquered death by dying; the third day after, he triumph'd over it by rising, not only in a ftate of life but of glory, and the fame day revived the drooping faith of his dear apostles by a double appearance; firft, to Mary Magdalen, and, fecondly, in the evening to all the apostles, except St. Thomas who was abfent: Then the fame day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut, where the difciples were affembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jefus, and flood in the midft.
He honoured Magdalen with the firft vifit, because she loved much, Luke vii. 47. Since her converfion, all criminal love was wholly turned into divine; her heart was more in her Saviour's breast than in her own; and she seemed divided from her felf, when feparated from him: this made her repair to the fepulchre betimes; and when