THE following treatise of Blessed Thomas More may be justly styled unknown, for it is now transcribed for the first time from the black letter type of Rastell's edition of 1517. Written in 1522, soon after More's promotion to knighthood, while he was living amidst the splendours of Henry VIII's court, De Quatuor Novissimis might be the work of a Carthusian monk or of some austere solitary of the desert. It possesses for us a twofold interest: it illustrates the holy martyr's general tone of mind even from his early years; and it remains as a very lofty example of pre-reformation books of devotion. The author's ready wit and genial humour mingled with his deep consciousness of the vital truths of Christian life make us regret that the treatise is unfinished; but it is well worth perusal even as it stand. It is the best of More's ascetical works. The Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation and the Treatise Upon the Passion, though of greater length and containing many fine passages, do not possess the peculiar charm of this little treatise. As the late Father Bridgett appropriately remarked, "Blessed Thomas More stands quite alone among the ascetic writers of the Church; for while he is not inferior to the best ecclesiastics in his use of Holy Scripture, his knowledge of the human heart, his analysis of the workings of passion and counter-workings of grace, he considered it his layman's privilege to use a livelier style and to illustrate his matter with abundance of merry stories." Saint Thomas More comments on Saint Augustine's proposition of gladness in sorrow: "Lo the holy doctor, St Austin, exhorting penitents and repentant sinners to sorrow for their offences, sayeth unto them: "Sorrow," saith this holy man, "and be glad of thy sorrow." In vain should he bid him be glad of his sorrow if man in sorrow could not be glad. But this holy father sheweth by this counsel not only that a man may be joyful and glad for all his sorrow, but also that he may be and hath cause to be glad because of his sorrow." Saint Thomas More discussed the seven deadly sins as part of this holy treatise. More comments on Eve's pride and gluttony: "Now have we to consider how this part of our medicine, that is to wit the remembrance of death, may be applied to the cure and help of gluttony, which is a beastly sickness and an old sore. For this was in the beginning joined with pride in our mother Eve, who beside the proud appetite that she had to be by knowledge made in manner a goddess, yet took she such delight also in the beholding of the apple that she longed to feel the taste. And so entered death at the windows of our own eyes into the house of our heart, and there burnt up all the goodly building that God had wrought therein." Following the teachings of the Fathers of the Church Saint Thomas concludes: "For no man doubteth but sloth and lechery be the very daughters of gluttony. And then needs must it be a deadly enemy to the soul, that bringeth forth two such daughters, of which either one killeth the soul eternally-I mean not the substance of the soul but the wealth and felicity of the soul, without which it were better never to have been born."
Binding Type: Paperback
Author: More, Thomas
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Size: 9.02h x 5.98w x 0.23d
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