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We permit the publication of The Seven Sacraments.
W. B. ULLATHORNE,
Bishop of Birmingham.
Feast of Corpus Christi, 1856.
The right of translation is reserved in all countries where the
international copyright prevails.
St. Peter directs the faithful, that they should employ all care, to minister in their faith, virtue, and in their virtue KNOWLEDGE. Ignorance of the marvellous Work of God in the Redemption of Man, cannot be otherwise than a scandal and a disgrace, in one who expects to benefit by this Redemption. St. Paul writes, “ Brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant," and in another place, “I would have you to be wise in good, and simple in evil.”
The present little book upon the Seven Sacraments of the Church, is not by any means meant as a book of piety alone. It is rather intended as a book of general popular knowledge. It has been written with a view to make it interesting to a Christian, desiring to open his mind upon questions connected with the reasonableness and benefits of his faith. For it must be very unwise to leave knowledge to the mercy of chance, and to wish to sustain religion in the mind by piety alone. The Spirit of Knowledge is one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are given for the protection of Christian Life. Nothing, therefore, can well exceed the folly of the Christian, who imagines any part of the armour, which Divine Wisdom offers to him for his defence, to have become a snperfluous and useless thing.
The Apostle says, “ Put on the whole armour of God.”
The expression “Supernatural,” which will frequently be met with, is used to denote, that the justification to which the Divine Grace of the Sacraments raises us, is a gift of God above the condition of our nature. And it is of the very highest importance to fix the meaning of the term firmly in the mind. The whole tone and spirit of modern civilization is built upon the denial, that there either is, or can be, anything superior to itself, or indeed anything that is not of its own order of things in the world. Now the life of Divine Grace to which the Holy Sacraments of the Church raise the humblest and poorest members of the Church, eqnally with those the most exalted in worldly dignity, is not in the least, of the same order of things, with the world. It is called “ Supernatural," to signify that it is better and higher than that which is natural; and it is odious to the world, because the world refuses to believe that there is, or can be, anything higher and better than itself. It is on this point that the Faith of the Church, and the unbelief of the world, first begin to part company. And consequently those whose duty it is to watch over the Divine Gift of Faith, in the minds of all who are committed to their care, especially where they have charge of young minds, as yet quite unacquainted with the world, would gain a great advantage, if they would be careful to ground all their instructions upon the difference between the happiness of the Supernatural State of Grace, which is the gift of God, and the misery of the state of fallen nature, which is the fruit of the sin of man.
Youth, who have to grow up in a civilized state of society, will probably experience no trial of their faith, so continually
and so incessantly present, as the contradiction, of the numerous maxims, principles, and habitual tones of thought, which are accepted as current coin in what is termed civilized society, with the doctrines, maxims, and tone of thought, as taught by our Divine Lord. The young mind therefore cannot be too soon made aware of this contradiction, and cannot be too soon and too effectually brought up to love and abide by all that our Divine Lord has taught, and made firmly to disregard and despise all that is contrary to it in the world's doctrine, from the knowledge that Our Lord is greater than the world.
A distinctive feature also in the present little volume, is its pictorial character, and its reference to the types and figures of the Old Law. Types and figures are the invention, not of man, but of God Himself, and all experience shows their value as a subsidiary aid in the work of instruction, particularly in the point of their attractiveness to the youthful mind.
Bishop's House, Birmingham,
the Blessed Virgin. 1856.