The privileges of virtue which we considered in the preceding chapters are the spiritual blessings accorded to the just in this life, independently of the eternal reward of Heaven. As, however, there may be some who, like the Jews of old, cling to the things of the flesh rather than to those of the spirit, we shall devote this chapter to the temporal blessings which the virtuous enjoy.
The Wise Man says of wisdom, which is the perfection of virtue, that “length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and glory.” (Prov. 3:16). Perfect virtue, then, possesses this double reward with which she wins men to her allegiance, holding out to them with one hand the temporal blessings of this life, and with the other the eternal blessings of the life to come. Oh, no; God does not leave His followers in want! He who so carefully provides for the ant, the worm, the smallest of His creatures, cannot disregard the necessities of His faithful servants.
I do not ask you to receive this upon my word, but I do ask you to read the Gospel according to St. Matthew, in which you will find many assurances and promises on this subject. “Behold the birds of the air,” says Our Savior, “for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? . . . Be not solicitous, therefore, saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathen seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye, therefore, first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:26, 31-33).
“Fear the Lord, all ye his saints,” the psalmist sings, “for they that fear him know no want. The rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good.” (Ps. 33:10-11). “I have been young, and now am old, and I have not seen the just forsaken nor his seed seeking bread.” (Ps. 36:25).
If you would satisfy yourself still further concerning the temporal blessings conferred on the just, read the divine promises recorded in Deuteronomy: “If thou wilt hear the voice of the Lord thy God, to do and keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, the Lord thy God will make thee higher than all the nations that are on the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon thee and overtake thee, if thou hear his precepts. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy The womb, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the droves of thy herds, and the folds of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy barns and blessed thy stores. Blessed shalt thou be coming in and going out. The Lord shall cause thy enemies that rise up against thee to fall down before thy face; one way shall they come out against thee, and seven ways shall they flee before thee. The Lord will send forth a blessing upon thy storehouses, and upon all the works of thy hands, and will bless thee in the land that thou shalt receive.