AMONGST the innumerable benefits which we have received from Thy munificent hands, our God and Lord, that which holds the first place, and whereby Thou hast most clearly shown the boundless love which Thou hast towards us, consists in giving us Thy only-begotten Son. For, as Thy holy apostle says, He "Who gave us His Son, how shall He not with Him give us all other things?"[Rom. viii. 32., imperfect representation] How will He deny to us what we ask of Him Who so freely surrendered Himself, and therewith gave us all blessings? and if the benefits received oblige us to love our Benefactor, I should begin to consider the abundance of good things which Thou hast conferred upon me that Thou mightest be loved by me, since Thou hast given Thyself for me, a gift which proceeds from the purest love, according to Thy saying to Nicodemus, "God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son for it".[John iii. 16.] This is the Supreme Good, the infinite Good, the most Divine, which Thou hast designed for us, in giving us Thy Son as a proof and manifestation of the ineffable love wherewith Thou lovest us. The medium and flowing fountain of infinite graces was the Incarnation of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by which He became man in our mortal and suffering flesh. This lesson I have to read with those eyes and that reflection wherewith Moses beheld the burning bush,[Exod. iii. 2.] in which was depicted the working of this mystery; for just as the fire showed itself amongst the thorns of the bush without burning or consuming it, so to the Divine Person of Thy Son didst Thou unite our humanity without consuming it, though the fire of Thy Divine Love did burn therein. In fire also was that wonderful work revealed to Ezechiel;[Exech. i. 4,27.; xiii. 2.] for in the midst of the fire he beheld a form of Electron,[note 1] which is the finest gold of 20 carats, to represent the glory and excellence of our humanity, which shone with marvellous powers and wonders, and was exalted over every, created thing. In the fire and in the midst thereof this mystery was revealed; for this Divine work flows from that Divine Fire of Love which Thou entertainest towards us; and so I have to consider it and try to approach it, as to a fire, in order to receive the warmth of Divine love which overcomes the coldness of my heart. The more thoroughly I see into this lesson the more I find myself approaching the fire, whereby Thy holy love ought to increase in my breast, to burn there in living flames of the fire of love. Here my heart will halt and rest without passing on any farther, extracting Divine riches therefrom until I come to the end of my desires. The first living coal of love which is there given to me is to discern the time at which this mercy is promised to man, and the end for which it is granted to him. Amongst many other revelations made to the holy prophets who declared that Thou, O Lord, wert about to give us Thy only-begotten Son, one of the principal was that which Isaias uttered when Achaz[Isa. vii. 10-12.] was king. That most impious king was placed in great distress, and Jerusalem was on the point of being destroyed, but Thou being desirous of relieving it, didst send the prophet Isaias with a message of comfort; and in order that he might be assured of the Divine promise the prophet gave the king the choice of selecting any sign whatever in the heavens or on the earth, by the fulfilment of which he would know that Thou wouldst truly deliver him, as the prophet told him, and that he should be freed from all the fear which possessed him. The wicked king understood that if he asked for any miracle in the heavens, such as that the sun should arrest his course or turn backward, or that the earth should open itself, that God would be glorified and that His people would be converted to Him and would worship Him as their true Lord; and not desiring this result, but endeavouring to hinder it, he chose to continue in his fear and danger and to ask for neither sign nor miracle. Then Isaias lifted up his voice, and being full of zeal for the honour of God, said, "Do ye take it for a small thing to weary the servants of God by inflicting on them imprisonment, tortures and death, and was not this enough, but you must become the enemies and opponents of God in His own Person and Honour, obstructing the witness of His Divinity? Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign by which He will be much more glorified and exalted, far beyond all that this people could give of honour and praise. Behold! hearken and wonder, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, Who shall be called Emmanuel, which signifies God with us." O wonderful word which affirms for what end this deed was done. What is this end, then? Why was it needful for God to become Man? Because man did not desire His honour and glory, and even endeavoured to hinder it though even at the risk of his own life. For love of man, Thou, my God, didst desire to impart the greatest of Thy gifts and to constitute it the greatest that man could receive, viz., by giving him Thy only-begotten Son made true Man. From whence, O Lord, proceeds this great munificence which Thou showest to the world, but from that infinite charity and love of Thine, since the greatest of Thy gifts is promised in a season of sin and rebellion? What reason was there that the prophet should speak any more after man had desired to obstruct and impede the honour of God? Most certainly it would have been perfectly just that he should command the earth to open and that the workers of such wickedness should go down alive into hell; and yet this does not take place, but he promises that the heavens shall be opened and that God shall descend to the earth and should become true Man. So that if thou, my soul, dost consider the Incarnation of thy Spouse, Jesus Christ, as revealed by Isaias, and also contemplate it in reference to that moment when the first man offended his Creator, thou wouldst always find thyself in the midst of the fire of love. Adam offended the Divine Majesty,[Gen. iii. 11, 22, 24.] and we with him; he hindered the honour and glory of God and our translation to the Paradise of His Kingdom without dying. Yet God did not deal with the question of our condemnation; but seeing that the counsel of His love concerning those who were to be saved was hindered, the Eternal Father offered His Son. Consider that God the Father said at the moment of Adam's transgression: Since thou settest thyself in opposition to the glory of those My creatures whom I so greatly love, I offer My only-begotten Son that He may die and pay the penalty of this sin. He must become Man, not, as is consistent with the honour of the only-begotten Son of the Father, immortal and impassible; but I give Him that He may go in the form of a servant, like that which His brethren bear, that He may die and they may be saved.

1. "Electro," a mixed metal of four parts gold and one of silver, much valued by the ancients. [back]