If now we turn to St. Paul's famous triad of Christian Virtues—"Faith, Hope, and Charity"—we shall find that "These Three," when slightly transposed as Hope, Faith, and Charity, correspond exactly to the natural and universal Order of things already described, namely, End, Cause, Effect; or, in other words, Motive, Means, Use. It is the order in which our emotions become, or are formed into thoughts; and our thoughts become, or are formed into, actions. According to this Order, Hope stands first, because Hope, as it were, foresees the end and is one of the motive or willing powers of the mind. Hope is of the nature of intention or initiative. If we are intent on attaining any object on which we have set our affections, we hope for its attainment. Hope is thus of the nature of Love. Hope is wishing—wishing, that is to say, for something we love because we love it. Thus Hope is the reaching forth or aspiration of Love towards Love; therefore it is Love in its initial or motive state—Love expectant, Love, as it were, on tiptoe. Between the two words "Love" and "Charity" there is, in my mind, a difference. Love is Love in two senses, (1) in its latent state as a motive power or emotion, and (2) in its active state as an end or use; but Charity invariably means Love in its active or actualized state as an effect, use, accomplishment—in fact, Charity is Love in action. Faith stands second in order, because it implies knowledge, method, reason, plan—in short, means to an end. And Charity, or Love in action, stands third in order, because it is the working out, the actualization, the realization of the thing foreseen, sought, expected, or hoped for. Thus we have the three terms in their logical order or sequence:—
I. Purpose...Hope, or Love in expectation, aroused by man's need.
II. Plan...Faith, or Love subjected to Law in the Truth.
III. Execution...Charity, or Love actualized in Good Works.
According to this view, Hope is an emotion, i.e. an affection of the Heart; Faith is a principle, a process of reasoning, a thinking-out, by the Head; Charity is the carrying out of a plan by word or deed through the Body as an instrument. Thus every single act of our human life may be viewed and estimated under these three heads, namely, (1) the intention, (2) the means adopted, and (3) the use or end.
And, side by side with this triad of St. Paul's, we may place that equally familiar one of Christ's, namely, "The Way, the Truth, and the Life"—comprising, as it does, the whole gist of His Teaching and Life, and thus presenting a complete summary of Christianity. And it is most interesting and instructive to notice how the one triad exactly fits the other, and this because both are evidently conceived and constructed on precisely the same plan, namely, the Divine Order or Sequence of Things, that is; Motive, Means, End. As we have seen, the initiative or ideal conception of all human conduct is in the Heart, or emotional region; the planning or forming is in the Head, or intellectual region; and the execution or carrying out of the plan is in the Body, or sensuous region. Assuming that man exists by influx of the Divine Spirit, this influx enters through the Door of the human Heart. Over this door we have absolute control to open it or keep it shut just as we choose. Christ says to each one of us, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." He does not force His way into the human heart, nor does He enter without an invitation. He indeed desires to come in, for He knocks for admission, but He waits for us to respond. It is for us to open like door ourselves. And as the Heart or spiritual nature is the door or entrance, "The Way" of approach to our spiritual or moral nature, so the Head or intellectual nature is the Window or inlet appointed to admit the Light of Divine Wisdom to our intellectual nature or Understanding, and the Divine Wisdom is "The Truth." And as it is by our willing and conscious recognition of the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, and the entire surrender of our natural and spiritual life to their joint influence, that we can be said to live in the real sense of the word, this surrender of ourselves and the opening the door of our hearts to God is to realize the Divine Life. And thus "The Way," enlightened by "The Truth," leads us onward and upward unto "The Life" of Immortality.
Finally, if again we add to these two triads the three Attributes of Deity, as universally recognized in all the religions of the world, namely, (1) Omnipresence, as representing the Divine Being, Essence, First Cause, and Motive Power of all things as conveyed by the idea of Love-in-being; (2) Omniscience, as representing the Divine Wisdom, as conveyed by the idea of The Law, Plan, Form, or Reason (Logos); and (3,) Omnipotence, as representing the Divine Power or Operation, as conveyed by the idea of Life, or Love-in-action, we get a complete scheme which being put into the form of a tabular statement, as shown below, exhibits a symmetrical and orderly arrangement, relatively beautiful and absolutely true because embodying Eternal Verities.
Omnipresence, or Divine Love.
Hope, or Love in Expectation.
Omniscience, or Divine Wisdom
Faith, or Enlightened Reason.
Omnipotence, or Divine Power.
Charity, or Love in Action
Such is a rough Outline of the one simple Divine Plan which underlies all things in Heaven and Earth—the Key to that Universal Religion of future ages when all nations of the world shall sing with one accord:—"Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the Company of Heaven, we laud and magnify Thy Glorious Name; evermore praising Thee and saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of Thy Glory. Glory be to Thee, O Lord, Most High."
Seek thou for God elsewhere His face thou'lt never see.