Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XV.: THE TRUTH OF CHRIST'S TEACHING IS PROVED BY HIS GOODNESS. - The Triumph of the Cross
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CHAPTER XV.: THE TRUTH OF CHRIST’S TEACHING IS PROVED BY HIS GOODNESS. - 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 CHRIST’S TEACHING IS PROVED BY HIS GOODNESS.
We have shown that Jesus of Nazareth surpasses, in wisdom and in power, all men and all heathen deities. Hence, if we believe in the existence of any god, He only can be that God. It will next be our duty to prove His Divinity by arguments founded on His goodness, and to show that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Good and the End of human life. And we must premise that all human operations, i.e., such as proceed from free will, are effected for some end; for appetite always tends to that which either is good, or appears to be good. It cannot tend to two things as to its ultimate end; for it is so fully satisfied by its last end, that it can desire nothing which is not ordered thereto. Now, as men, though not all of the same opinion or endowed with the same degree of knowledge, are yet all of the same nature, they must all tend to the same end, which is happiness; although, from their difference of condition, they do not all place their happiness in the same thing. If, then, we can prove that Christ is the Last End, to which all nature tends, it will be clear that He must be the very Truth, the First Cause, the Supreme Good, and in fact the true God.
In order to make this argument more clear, we must remember, that, when one thing tends naturally to another as to its end, it will be hindered in the attainment of this end, if it be joined by another thing of a contrary nature. Thus, if a heavy thing move towards its centre, it will be impeded in its course if it be joined to a light thing whose tendency it is to go upwards. Thus birds, whose bodies are heavy, are nevertheless raised aloft by their wings; whereas, a merely heavy thing moves swiftly towards its centre. Now, as man is composed of a corporeal and a spiritual nature, it happens, that, while his spiritual nature tends to true beatitude, his senses disturb and trouble him in the pursuit of his end; and, although they cannot force him to evil, they often incline him to inordinate desires. From these molestations, and from the weakness of his understanding, arise the divers human conceptions of happiness. If we would learn, by means of man’s natural desire, in what his beatitude consists, we must not consider the desires and inclinations of such as live like beasts, but of such as live according to reason. Just as, if we want to see whether heavy things move downwards or upwards, we must not choose birds as a test; but must select something completely heavy. We may learn what is the Last End of man by examining the desires of such as have purified themselves from the defilement of the senses, and who live according to reason. And as no life is so pure and so reasonable as the Christian life, we can, from the desires common to Christians, learn what is the Last End of man. Now, as Christians unite in an intense love for Christ Crucified, as the Last End of human life, it follows that we cannot reasonably hold that any but Christ can be the Last End of man.
Again. Man’s last end is his ultimate perfection; and the more perfect he becomes, the nearer does he approach to his end. Now, nothing causes man to become so perfect in life and in contemplation, as does Jesus Christ Crucified; and they who least resemble Him and are the most remote from Him, are the worst and most imperfect of men. He, therefore, must be the Last End of human life.
Further. The desire of the last end is natural to everything, and is ineradicable. When, therefore, men, who are purged from vice desire something, they love it so much that all other things appear to them as nought in comparison with the object of their desire. They would rather die than relinquish their pursuit of it. Now, as the life of true Christians is a pure life, and as they desire Christ Crucified with so steadfast a desire that they would sacrifice life itself rather than lose His love, and would most gladly die for His sake, it is manifest that Christ is the Supreme Truth and the Last End of human life. Our argument is further strengthened by the fact, that nothing is so steadfastly desired as He. For when men love other things, they love them not more than themselves, but for their own satisfaction; and would rather abandon them than die for their sake.
We see, likewise, how all things of the same species incline naturally to the same end; as all heavy things tend towards their centre. Therefore, Christ must be the Last End of human life, since nothing has been pursued by men with the same ardour and constancy, that they have shown in following Him. This is the reason why Christians are so closely united together; for we see that they love Jesus Christ above all things. For His sake they likewise love each other, of whatsoever race and country they may be; and the more their faith in Christ increases, the stronger grows their brotherly love. This could not be the case were their faith not true. For fallacy and error cause, not harmony, but discord.
Again. The soul enjoys greater happiness in proportion as, by love and contemplation, it draws nearer to its last end. But the happiness enjoyed by Christians far surpasses all pleasures of understanding and sense. This truth is proved by the invincible constancy of the martyrs, who went to death rejoicing and exulting; by the numberless monks and hermits who, relinquishing all things, and living in the practice of the greatest austerity, have yet enjoyed incomparable happiness; and by the numerous philosophers who have found such delight in the study of Holy Scripture, that, in order to devote themselves to it, they have abandoned every other branch of learning. Hence we see that the joy which souls find in Christ exceeds all other happiness. If, then, felicity be synonymous with proximity to our last end, Christ, in whom all happiness is found, must be the Last End of human life.
In order to comprehend, collectively, all the properties of our Last End we reason thus. As all things of the same species tend naturally to the same end, be it proximate or ultimate, it follows that men, who are all of the same species, must be fitted for some one thing which is the common end of human life. Now, all men agree in professing that they tend towards a last end; but they differ as to that wherein their last end is to be found. But since the happiness of mankind consists in the act of understanding, it is natural to conclude that this last end is to be found in that thing, towards which they who live the most rationally and whose affections are the most purified do uniformly incline; that to which they steadfastly adhere, loving it better than themselves; delighting in it; drawing from it sanctity of ways and brightness of heavenly life; and being raised by its influence so far above this world, that, in comparison with their end, they repute all earthly things as worthless. Now, as all these wonderful effects have never been produced in man by any, save by Christ Crucified, He must be the Last End of human life.
But why do we insist on so self-evident a truth knowing, as we do, that it is the property of Good to communicate itself, and that the graces and blessings diffused by Christ over mankind are absolutely unequalled? His coming has purged the world from error, filled it with sanctity and virtue, and communicated to all His followers happiness which no earthly thing could give. His supreme goodness is further shown by the promptitude and liberality wherewith He not only forgives sinners, but so enriches them with His gifts, that where sin did abound, grace has much more abounded, and they who return to Him from their sins are enabled to lead a virtuous life and enjoy their pristine peace and happiness, whereas they who forsake Him lose all tranquillity of mind. What further proof do we require that Christ is the Supreme Good, and the Last End of man?