Venerable Louis of Granada

CHAPTER 1

The First Motive which obliges us to practice Virtue and to serve God:

His Being in itself, and the excellence of His Perfections

Two things, Christian reader, particularly excite the will of man to good. A principle of justice is one, the other the profit we may derive therefrom. All wise men, therefore, agree that justice and profit are the two most powerful inducements to move our wills to any undertaking. Now, though men seek profit more frequently than justice, yet justice is in itself more powerful; for, as Aristotle teaches, no worldly advantage can equal the excellence of virtue, nor is any loss so great that a wise man should not suffer it rather than yield to vice. The design of this book being to win men to virtue, we shall begin by showing our obligation to practice virtue because of the duty we owe to God. God being essentially goodness and beauty, there is nothing more pleasing to Him than virtue, nothing He more earnestly requires. Let us first seriously consider upon what grounds God demands this tribute from us.

But as these are innumerable, we shall only treat of the six principal motives which claim for God all that man is or all that man can do. The first; the greatest, and the most inexplicable is the very essence of God, embracing His infinite majesty, goodness, mercy, justice, wisdom, omnipotence, excellence, beauty, fidelity, immutability, sweetness, truth, beatitude, and all the inexhaustible riches and perfections which are contained in the Divine Being.

All these are so great that if the whole world, according to St. Augustine, were full of books, if the sea were turned to ink, and every creature employed in writing, the books would be filled, the sea would be drained, and the writers would be exhausted before any one of His perfections could be adequately expressed. The same Doctor adds, "Were any man created with a heart as large and capacious as the hearts of all men together, and if he were enabled by an extraordinary light to apprehend one of the divine attributes, his joy and delight would be such that, unless supported by special assistance from God, he could not endure them.

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