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existence, which she has selected, in preference to all other possible natures, for the one whereby to unite herself with finite being. That selection was one of an unlimited and most gratuitous love ; it made the type and law of entire creation to be one who would be so closely resembling us human beings,—and what an honour! We are told in holy Writ, that the most high and almighty Creator created Wisdom before all things, and created her in the Holy Ghost; and, that taking her as his type, and number, and measure, he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh. When the fulness of the appointed time came, this Wisdom herself was to come, giving to all creation, of which she was the head and centre, its purpose and meaning: she was to blend and unite with the infinite homage, which resulted from her own divine personality, the homage of every existing creature; and thus give perfection to the external glory of the Father by her own adoration, which was to be eternal and infinite. Once this happy time is come, and there will appear that human nature, chosen by divine Wisdom, from the beginning, to be his created form,to be the instrument of that homage to the Father, which, as we were just saying, will be perfect and divine, because of the personal union of this created nature with the Nature of God the Son. Eternal Wisdom will thus be one with the Son of the purest of Virgins; the nuptial-song will be taken up by all creatures, both in earth and heaven ; and through this Son of Man, who will then be called the Spouse, Wisdom will continue, to the end of time, in the soul of every individual of the human race, (that is, of every soul that does not refuse the honour,) the ineffable mystery of his divine marriage with our nature.
He wishes, then, to unite himself with each one of
us; but what means will he adopt for this deifying union ? Of all the Sacraments, which our Lord might have instituted after his Incarnation, in the supposition of man's not forfeiting his state of innocence,—there is not one, says Suarez, which has so many probabilities on its side, as the Eucharist; there is not one which, in itself, is so desirable, and is more independent on sin; for the notion of expiation, which, in our present state, lingers about It, as the memorial of our Jesus' Passion, may be prescinded from, without affecting the essence of the Sacrament, that essence being, the Real Presence of our Lord, and the close union whereby he unites us to himself.' It is the same with the Eucharist as a Sacrifice: the primary notion of Sacrifice, as we shall see further on, does not absolutely include the idea of sin. So that, when Christ, as the head of the human family, comes into this world, to offer up a Sacrifice, in the name of us all, that Sacrifice will be one which is worthy of his Father and himself. Spouse as he is, and, by virtue of the divine unction, Priest, too; 1t 18 by the Eucharist, as a Sacrifice, that he will act in this twofold character, for by that Sacrifice, he brings the human race into union with himself by the embrace of the sacred Mysteries : and, when he has divinised it by union with himself, making it one boay with himself, of which he is the Head, he ones his Eternal Father.
But, for the coming of the Spouse, the Bridegroom, there must be a numerous retinue, to do him and tell his praises, when the day arrives 1 entrance into the banquet-hall; and from Pon, the time when earth, being peopled enoug have ready for her King-Priest a court that is, of him, so many ages are to intervene! What will? that is, what will Wisdom be doing in the inte
i De Sacram. Disp. iii. sect. 3.
We have already seen how, in the early days of creation, he played before his Father, and was all transported with delight. But, when the work was done, the Creator withdrew into the repose and rest of the seventh day. Seated on his Father's right hand, in the splendours of the Saints, will Wisdom wait inactive for that day to come, when he, who has begotten him before the day-star, and has betrothed him to human nature, shall send him down to this earth, there to consummate the alliance, for which he has been eternally longing ? The sacred Scriptures give a very different description of him, during the time preceding his actual coming. They tell us, that Wisdom is so active, though so gentle, that He is more active than all active things, and was everywhere, and put himself in every place, and in the Prophets, so that he was easily found by them that wanted to find him ; he even anticipated their research, and was more ready to show himself, than they could possibly be to find him. If any soul was intent, like some early riser, to find him, he soon met such a seeker; nay, himself went about seeking for such as were worthy of him, and, when he met them, in the ways, here or there in this wide world, this beautiful Wisdom would show himself to them with all the cheerfulness of earnestness. Thus do the Scriptures describe Wisdom as engaged during the ages preceding his Incarnation ; he does not, as yet, quit the throne of glory on which he sitteth, lighting up all heaven with his beauty,- but he is preparing the day of his Marriage, and that by impressing it on man's mind and notice in every possible way; he meets him at every turn, to speak of it, to tell him of how he, Wisdom, loves him; he selects certain symbols, whereby to show the generations then living a picture of the wondrous mysteries he intended to achieve when the time came. Let us take one of these symbols for our lesson to-day, that we, too, may lose not a particle of what our Jesus has ever done to make himself known. But before we go further, let us listen to the Scripture character drawn of this beautiful Wisdom : He is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God's majesty, and the image of his goodness; holy, one, manifold, subtle, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing ali spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile? And now to a choice symbol, chosen by our Jesus, whereby he spoke of himself, before he came to the Nuptials.
The Lord God, says Scripture, had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning, wherein he intended to place Man, whom he was not to create till the sixth day. In the midst of this paradise, there grew a tree of singular beauty; it was a tree to which God had attached a great mystery, and its name was the Tree of Life. A river, with four streams, watered this garden of delights;2 and this river was shown, later on, to St. John, as a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. This twofold symbol of the Tree and the River bear no allusion to future sin ; they had been put in Paradise, the abode of innocence, before man himself; and, therefore, are portions of the primitive plan of God; and, therefore, in themselves, signify nothing, and symbolise nothing, but what has reference, first and foremost, to the state of innocence. Now, an ancient writer, published under the name of St. Ambrose, says, “the Tree of Life in the midst of aradise, is Christ in the midst of his Church." 4
then," says St. Augustine, “ Christ was the Tree
Life; neither would God have man to live in Paradise, without his having mysteries of things “ spiritual presented to him under corporal forms. “ In the other trees, therefore, he had food; but in " that one (of Life), he had a sacred symbol (sacra“ mentum). And what was it that is symbolised, but “ Wisdom ? of which it is said, She is a Tree of Life “ to them that lay hold on her. . . For it is right " to give to Christ, the name of a thing which had “ been previously made, that it should signify him.” 2 St. Hilary, too, bears testimony to this same traditional interpretation. After quoting the same text from Proverbs, he says: “ Wisdom, which is Christ, “ is called the Tree of Life, because, as we are taught “by the authority of the Prophets, on account of its “ being a symbol (sacramentum) of his future Incar“nation and Passion. . . Our Lord compared “himself to a Tree, when he said : .... A Tree " is known by its fruit... This Tree, then, is “living; yea, not living only, but rational also, for “it gives its fruit when it wills, (and, as the Psalm " says), in its own time. . . . And what is that “ time? That of which the Apostle speaks, when he “ says, that God might make known unto us the mystery " of his will, according to his good pleasure which he “had purposed in him, in the dispensation of the “ fulness of times : ... the dispensation of the fruit, “ then, is reserved for the fulness of times." 3 But what is to be the Fruit of this Tree,—the leaves of which fall not off,4 and are for the healing of the nations, what is to be the Fruit, but divine Wisdom, in his own very self and substance ? In his divine form, he is the food of the Angels too; but he is to be that of man in his two Natures, that thus, by his Flesh, reaching man's soul, he may fill that soul with his divinity, as it was beautifully expressed in the Office composed by Blessed Juliana.
Wisd. vii. 22-26; vi. 13-17; ix. 4, 10. 2 Gen. ü. 8-10.
3 Apoc. xxi. 1. 4 Append. Ambros. In Apocalyps. c. ii. v. 7.