On the Fruits of Obedience
Consider first, that one of the deepest wounds sin has left in the soul of man is a love of independence; a desire of being his own master; and of living, and acting, according to his own inclinations, without being controlled by rule, or law, or by the will of any other. Ah! here is the seat of pride, the throne of self-love, and the source of all the worst of our passions. Now the virtue that heals this wound is holy obedience, which strikes at the root of all these evils; inasmuch as it cast down that pride which always affects liberty and independence; drives self-love out of all its intrenchments; keeps all the passions under, by obliging them all to submit to the will and law of God, and to the command of every vicegerent of his; and ceases not till it has bound up that tyrant self-will, and laid him as a holocaust, to burn and evaporate on the altar of God. And are not these, my soul, most admirable fruits, which this blessed obedience produces, by a resolute subjection of our own will to the will of God, and to every lawful superior for God's sake?
Consider 2ndly, what mischief is continually produced in the soul by self-will wherever it reigns, to the end thou mayest set a greater value upon the virtue of obedience, which gets the victory over this hellish monster, the source of all our vices. Give ear to St. Bernard (Serm. 3 de Resurrect.), 'Self-will,' says he, 'is a perpetual enemy to God; it wages a most cruel war against him. What does God hate? What does he punish at any time but self-will: take away self-will, and there shall be no hell: for what is there that raging fire can take hold on but self-will? This fury attacks the Lord of majesty; it withdraws itself from his command, making itself its own master; and as much as lies in it, it robs him of all that is his.' He adds, that it sets no bounds to its pretensions, that 'the whole creation cannot satisfy its demands, that it sets itself up in opposition to the creator himself.' Yes, Christians, but this is not all: where this monster reigns it does not only fill the soul with all kinds of evils; it even blasts and corrupts the very best of her actions: inasmuch that where a man does not strive to overcome himself, and to subdue self-will, his virtue will be found to be false and counterfeit, and all his labours in the service of God or his neighbours useless and fruitless, as being only the productions of his own humour, his pride, and self-love; and not done for God. See then, my soul, how much it imports thee to get rid of this self-will, this mother of all mischief; and to acquire a perfect victory over it by the virtue of obedience.
Consider 3rdly, the other manifold blessings that attend the true children of obedience, as fruits of this excellent tree. A life of perpetual obedience is a perpetual victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil: according to that of the wise man, Prov. xxi. 28, 'an obedient man shall speak of victory: whereas the disobedient man is a slave to these enemies.' Obedience is a perpetual sacrifice, like a whole burnt-offering, by which a man offers his will and all its offspring to God. 'Tis a daily growing store of virtue and merit; it gives a double value to all our good actions, and consecrates the most indifferent, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, & c., and makes them highly acceptable in the sight of God. It leads us directly to God, and clearly points out to us, in everything, his holy will, the unerring rule of all our good. In fine, it brings the soul to a secure and sweet peace of mind, and to a certain paradise of contentment and joy in the Lord, and in the accomplishment of his blessed will: because the more the soul seeks and loves, follows and embraces by means of holy obedience, this divine will of her God, the more she relishes his sweetness; the more confidently she flings herself into his arms - and the more securely she leaves herself and all things else to his disposal, and commits all her pretensions and interest to him. O how truly wise then are all they that embrace with their whole souls this sweet yoke of obedience! They are walking in the royal highway that leads to peace here, and to heavenly bliss hereafter.
Conclude to set a great value upon this virtue of obedience, as the eldest daughter of humility, and the nursing mother of all other virtues. In every station of life obey them to whom God has given any authority over you, as God himself: 'tis his will you should do so, and he has never shown more remarkable judgments than upon those who have refused to obey the authority established by him. The Son of God, during his whole life, was not only obedient to his Father, but also to his own creatures, to the blessed Virgin, to St. Joseph, to every one in authority, and even to his very executioners. O let us learn to imitate him.