Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XI.: THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY EVIDENCED BY ITS EFFECTS ON THE INTERIOR LIFE OF CHRISTIANS. - The Triumph of the Cross
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CHAPTER XI.: THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY EVIDENCED BY ITS EFFECTS ON THE INTERIOR LIFE OF CHRISTIANS. - Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross 
The Triumph of the Cross, trans. from the Italian, edited, with an Introduction by the Very Rev. Father John Procter, S.T.L. With a frontispiece portrait of the author (London: Sands & Co., 1901).
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THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY EVIDENCED BY ITS EFFECTS ON THE INTERIOR LIFE OF CHRISTIANS.
We have, to the best of our poor ability, proved the truth of the Faith by arguments founded on the internal and external causes of the Christian life. We will next proceed to demonstrate its truth by its effects on this life. Its chief interior effect is peace and joy of spirit, and liberty of soul. We see this effect exemplified in the Saints of former times (when there was more fervour than at present). They enjoyed a serenity and peace of mind which enabled them, not only to remain unshaken in the midst of affliction, but even to rejoice at martyrdom.
Now, as this joy in the midst of tribulation increases in them in proportion as they draw nearer to Christ, we see that peace of soul can only be attained by union with God, the last end and only satisfaction of the human heart, in whom alone we can find rest. Those who are closely united to Him have such firm hope of enjoying happiness after this life, that they make no account of the good things of this world, and fear neither persecution nor loss of life, but eagerly look forward to death, as the passage to eternal bliss. And God, though He is everywhere, dwells specially in such souls as these, by His grace and love, and by the gift of contemplation. He sustains them by His presence, delivering them from all fear, and giving them such liberty of spirit, that they are neither cast down by adversity, nor uplifted by prosperity.
This peace, joy, and freedom of soul cannot proceed from any natural human power, weakened as we are by sensuality and ignorance. It must be a supernatural gift of God, causing us to lift our eyes to the Divine light and the beatitude promised to us.
We can prove that this peace of soul is caused by union with God, if we reason in the following manner. The soul is one, and all its powers spring from it. If, then, the soul be fixed on the operation of one power, it cannot attend to the operation of another; just as in intense contemplation the operations of the senses are suspended, and in great physical pain or enjoyment the understanding is no longer exercised. Hence, humanly speaking, it would be quite impossible that, in the midst of intense bodily torture, the intellect should enjoy peace and happiness. And, yet, we behold this phenomenon in innumerable martyrs, of both sexes, and of every rank of life. Of course the sages of this world will adduce examples of a few individuals, who, although not Christians, have experienced the same ecstacy in the midst of sufferings. But the Christians in whom this miracle has been wrought are innumerable, and the least child who is a true Christian is superior to all the heathen saints, whose erroneous judgment and perverted affections are conspicuous in their writings. Thus, this power of rejoicing in the midst of suffering, is not natural; it is a supernatural gift of God. This again is a proof of the veracity of Christianity. For were the Faith of Christ (which is the cause of these wonderful effects), proved to be false, it would not come from God, and Christians would thus be left to their natural weakness, and involved in many errors.
The more virtuously a man lives, the more clearly he discerns the truth, and the better he loves good and hates evil and falsehood. If, then, the religion of Christ were not true, Christians would live in error, and their persistence in adoring Christ as God would be criminal. But experience shows us that Christians are confirmed in their faith, and enjoy peace, and joy, and liberty of soul in proportion to their virtue. This would certainly not be the case were Christianity a falsehood.
The truth of our Faith is also confirmed by the example of the many religious of both sexes, who in these days, as well as in past times, have from desire of perfection left friends and kinsfolk, riches, pleasure, and even their own will, and have retired into a cloister in some far-off land, where, submitting to strangers, they have promised to observe poverty, to possess nothing save with the permission of their superior, to preserve chastity of soul and body, to fast and watch as much as their weakness will permit, and to practise obedience to all commands. Thus, they renounce worldly possessions, earthly happiness and their own will; and yet they live as joyfully, and take as much delight in praising God, as if they had all that earth can give. With one consent they acknowledge that all their peace and joy of soul is based on the Faith in Jesus Crucified. And we cannot repute them as fools, since among them are not only ignorant persons, but men renowned for learning, prudence, and judgment, who would, were their Faith false, speedily recognise their error. Hence, we must reckon that the cause of this wonderful effect is the religion of Christ, which is not false but true.
As these religious, being in a state of life wherein a high degree of perfection is attainable, make every effort to advance in perfection, it follows that they are more fitted than are other men to receive heavenly illumination. Were the faith false, it would not be possible for its falsehood to be disguised during so many centuries, and among so many worthy men; nor could these men confirm their religion every hour in their hearts, by their words, their works, and their innumerable writings; nor, being in the greatest subjection, live in such spiritual liberty and joy.
Again. Every cause does, as far as possible, direct its effect to its end, especially when the effect is disposed to receive the influx of its cause. Hence, God, being supremely good, conducts all things to their end, unless they are hindered, by their unfitness, from attaining to it. Now, as no better disposition for attaining to beatitude can be found than the life of religious, it follows that they must be guided by God to beatitude, and that their peace and joy are a participation of beatitude. As this aptitude for beatitude springs from the Faith of Christ, and increases in proportion to the growth of that Faith, it is clear that the Faith cannot be false, or God would be fostering errors and spurious joy in the souls of well-disposed men, and would thus be leading them astray.
All joy again is based on love, which is that first act of the appetite and will, on which all other acts depend. Now, as the happiness of religious is not centred on worldly goods, which they have relinquished, and as they unanimously acknowledge that the well-spring of their joy is the Faith of Christ and the hope of another life, they cannot be living in error. For, the uprightness of their life would cause them to perceive their mistake; and thus would banish their peace of mind. But we see that they experience quite contrary effects, which prove that the Faith of Christ is true.