My substance was not hid from you, when I was made in secret, and curiously worked in the lowest parts of the earth.…
God, being one, the author of nature as of grace, worketh harmoniously in both His kingdoms. And as in other ways, so in this: in both He createth and hath created by a single act; in both He carrieth on His work, silently yet in majesty. God created us, gave us life once, and then preserves it. Men grow in stature (blessed are they if in wisdom, too), they know not how; they eat, they drink, they sleep, are nourished, they know not how; and so day by day, and year by year, pass through the stages of life, through childhood, youth, to manhood, and mature years.
So should it be in our re-creation. In Holy Baptism He re-creates us in His own image; passes His hand upon us, puts the first germ of spiritual life within us, to grow, be nourished, expand, flower, bear fruit, until it take into itself all our old nature, and we become wholly new. "Fearfully indeed and wonderfully are we made;" a marvel to the blessed angels and to ourselves. Strange, through what variety of accidents, griefs, joys, terrors, fears, death, life, His encircling providence girding us round shall have fenced in our way; and He who has all creation at His command shall have made all creation, good and bad, great and small, natural and moral, the holiness of angels and men and the malice of Satan, work together to the salvation of His elect.
And this amazing everlasting work is going on continually. "Which day by day were fashioned." It is the very marvellousness of God's works in nature, in the Church, in each single soul, that they go on so noiselessly. "Axe and hammer are not heard," but the house of the Lord is raised without hands. Day by day we rise, and night by night tie down, and see not, except rarely, the growth of others or our own. Did we make ourselves, we might well be concerned that we see not what we are becoming; now we may trust that, although in secret, still we are being fashioned into "a vessel fit for the Master's use." Still, although we know not where we are, how much has been, or is being, wrought in us; what our progress, we must know that something is being wrought. We may not be conscious that we are growing in grace, but we must be that we are acting under grace. We may not see how direr our path is (that we shall see as it becomes straighter), but if we are moving upward we must make efforts, and feel them. Pray we for the grace of God to do each single act, as He shall will, to His glory, and He will lead us whither as yet we know not.
But although God forms us day by day, yet are there, from time to time, seasons of larger growth, as in nature so in grace. God, in His mercy, gives us fresh starting points in our Christian race. Some such most of us perhaps have passed; too many, it is to be feared, have wasted. Such are childhood's earliest trials. The bitter fruits we have felt in ourselves from some one sin of childhood, some neglect of God's loud warning or His call, may make us sorrowfully estimate the deep value of such calls, had we obeyed. Such periods, again, when used aright, are Holy Confirmation and the first Communion. Yea, so full is this of the richness of God's treasure, that thoughtful persons have said that none ever went far astray whose first Communion was diligently prepared for, and received and treasured holily. And when these and other seasons have been wasted, God in His mercy visits us anew, but mostly in an austere form. "A mighty and strong wind" must "rend the rock" of our stony heart "before the Lord" ere He can speak to us in the "still small voice."