“WHO WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED”
God wishes that we should all be saved, as the Apostle assures us when he says God will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4). And although He sees so many sinners who deserve hell, He does not wish any of them to be lost but that they be restored to grace by penance and saved. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance (2 Peter iii. 9).
He who has a good heart cannot but feel compassion for the afflicted, and wish to see all men happy. But who has a heart as good as the Lord’s? He by His nature is infinite goodness, and hence it is that God by His nature has an extreme desire to deliver us from every evil, and render us happy in all things, nay, even to be partakers of His own happiness.
God wishes that we should all be saved, as the Apostle assures us: God … who will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4). And although He sees so many sinners who deserve hell, He does not wish that any of them should be lost, but that they should be restored to grace by penance, and be saved. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance (2 Peter iii. 9). But before delivering us from the punishment we have deserved, and dispensing His graces, God wishes to be besought in prayer. “By prayer,” says St. Laurence Justinian, “the wrath of God is suspended, His vengeance is delayed, and pardon finally procured.” Oh how great are the promises which God makes to him who prays! Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee (Ps. xlix. 15). Cry to me, and I will hear thee (Jer. xxxiii. 3). You shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you (Jo. xv. 7). Theodoret says that Prayer though being but one, can do all things. And let us bear in mind that when we pray and ask things conducive to salvation not even our sins can prevent our receiving the graces which we beg — For every one that asketh receiveth (Matt. vii. 8). Jesus Christ here says that whoever asks, be he just or sinner, shall receive. Wherefore did David say: For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee (Ps. lxxxv. 5). Hence, in order to excite us to prayer, the Apostle St. James tells us: But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not (James i. 5).
He giveth to all men abundantly. When a man asks a favour of another whom he may have formerly injured, the latter usually reproaches him with the injury that has been done him; but not so God — He upbraideth not. When we beg of Him some grace for the good of our souls, He never reproaches us with the offences we have committed; but He hears us, and consoles us as though we had always served Him faithfully. Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name, said our Lord one day to His disciples, and today He says the same thing to us: Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full (Jo. xvi. 24). As if He were to say: Do you complain of Me? You have only yourselves to blame, for you have not asked graces of Me, and therefore you have not received them. Ask of Me, henceforward, what you please, and it shall be granted you, and if you have not merit sufficient to obtain it, ask it of My Father in My Name, that is, through My merits, and whatever it be, I promise that you shall obtain it. Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you (Jo. xvi. 23). The princes of the earth, says St. John Chrysostom, give audience only to a few, and that seldom; but access can always be had to God by every one, at all times, and with the assurance of a favourable hearing.
Rely, then, upon these great promises, so often repeated by Our Lord in the Scriptures; and let us ever remember to beg of Him those graces which are necessary for salvation — namely, the pardon of our sins, perseverance in grace, His holy love, resignation to His Divine will, a happy death, and Paradise. By prayer we shall attain all; without prayer we shall have nothing. What the holy Fathers and Theologians commonly say — namely, that prayer is necessary for adults, as a means of salvation, comes to this, that it is impossible for any one to be saved without prayer.
Let us pray, then, and pray with great confidence in that Divine promise by which, says St. Augustine, God has made Himself our Debtor. He has promised; He cannot be wanting in His promise. Let us seek and hope, and we must be saved. No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded (Ecclus. ii. 11). There never has been and never will be found any one to hope in the Lord and be lost. He is the Protector of all who trust in him (Ps. xvii. 31).