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"He Merits Love": Hugh of St Victor on Learning the Loveliness of God


"The difference between the love of God and the love of the world is this: the love of this world seems sweet at the outset, but has a bitter end; the love of God, by contrast, is bitter to begin with, but is full of sweetness in its end... Let us then see what we can do to attain the love of God, for he will integrate and stabilize our hearts, he will restore our peace and give us ceaseless joy.


“But nobody can love that which he does not know; and so, if we desire to love God, we must first make it our business to know him, and this especially since he cannot be known without being loved. For so great is the beauty of his loveliness that no one who sees him can fail to love him.

"A man who wants to make himself acquainted with another person's character and inmost thoughts gets on to friendly terms with him, and is often at his house and in the company of those who are his intimates. And if he perceives this man's affairs to be well and wisely ordered, he at once becomes the more certain of his excellence, and immediately considers him worthy of his love because he knows that he has found such patent proofs of his worth.


"Let us likewise, therefore, inquire where God dwells, where his abode may be; let us interrogate his friends concerning him. If he is wise, if he is faithful, then he merits praise. If he is kind, if he is merciful, if he is humble, then he merits love. He is wise if he governs his house well. He is faithful if it is not in him to deceive those who serve him. If he freely pardons those who sin, then he is kind. If he is pitiful to persons in affliction, then he is merciful. And he is lowly if he rules his subjects not by oppressing but by helping them."


On the Moral Interpretation of Noah's Ark I.3