The Divine Love
The two treatises De Laude Caritatis and
De Amore Sponsi ad Sponsam
Hugh of St Victor
Translated by A Religious of C.S.M.V.
Edited by Matthew C. Dallman
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CHARITY MAN’S ROAD TO GOD
You say, “I have already chosen; by what road shall I run? that I may reach my soul?” We run to God along the road of God.
You say, “I cannot run along a road I do not know; give me companions, that I may not stray.” With those who are already running on the road of God, you too must run His road; you cannot have better companions on the road than those who have been running on it for a long time already and, having long experience of running and being used to strenuous exercise, are not afraid of straying, nor of falling by the way.
“What, then, is the road of God,” you say, “and who are they who run therein?” The ways of the Lord are straight, and the righteous walk therein. Righteousness, therefore, is the way; and, in case you are disturbed at my speaking of runners and now of walkers, walking quickly, let me tell you, is the same as running. He did the like who said, I have run the way of Thy commandments, (Ps 119:23) and in another place, Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way, and walk in the law of the Lord. (Ps 1:1) He meant you to regard walking and running as meaning the same thing; he does not mean to make himself out as being more blessed than the blessed.
So, then, you know the road, you know who your companions are to be along the road, you know a heritage awaits you in your native land. You know the road by which you are to go, with whom you are to go, and where you are to rest. The way by which you are to go is righteousness. Those with whom you are to go are those who love and follow after righteousness. And your journey’s end, wherein you are to rest, is both the Author of righteousness and the Fountain of life. No road is straighter than righteousness; no company is better than that of righteous men; no rest is quieter than God. Travel in confidence, travel with speed, that you may quickly reach your goal and rest in bliss. To travel fast is to love ardently.
See, then, how your whole welfare hangs on charity. Through charity you choose the road, through charity you run the road, through charity you reach your native land. Shall I tell you how you choose the road of righteousness by charity alone? If any man love Me, says the Lord, he will keep My words; (Jn 14:23) of the same word in another place we read, Thy word is truth; (Jn 17:17) and of truth again the psalmist says, I have chosen the way of truth, I have not forgotten Thy judgements. (Ps 119:30) So if the word of God is truth, surely the way of truth is chosen through that charity, whereby the Lord’s word is fulfilled.
Is, then, the way of righteousness not chosen without charity, nor run without it either? Hear the witness of the same psalmist whom I quoted just now; I ran the way of Thy commandments, he says, when Thou didst enlarge my heart. (Ps 119:32) For what is a heart enlarged, but a heart flaming with love and filled with charity? By charity, therefore, the heart is enlarged, and with a heart enlarged the way of righteousness is run. So you choose by charity, you run by charity, you grasp your object and enjoy by charity. God is Charity, says the apostle John, and he that dwelleth in charity dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 Jn 4:16) He therefore who has charity has God, possessed God, abides in God.
Forward to CHAPTER FIVE