18e. Virtues

The Greek name for the virtues, who compose the second choir of the second hierarchy, is the word from which our adjective dynamic is derived, and implies force or energy. Who is not familiar with the terrific energy displayed by dynamite, or with the uses of the dynamo, the name of which are words of the same origin?

Virtue on the other hand, is a word of Latin derivation, and although we most commonly associate it with moral qualities and moral excellence (as when we speak of the virtue of humility, or of a man of tried virtue) yet the word, even in English, sometimes is employed of mere physical qualities. Thus we say that there is a virtue in certain herbs; and so in Latin, doubtless by an abuse of the term, as Cicero observes, the worth or value even of an irrational object, as a horse or tree, is called virtus. In Holy Scripture, and particularly in the New Testament, this use is quite common, and the Latin word virtutes is rendered in our version by miracles or mighty works.

The virtues, then, are those blessed spirits whom God commonly employes for the working of signs and miracles, that is, for whatever is outside the regular order of events established by Providence, as often as the government and preservation of the human race may call for some extraordinary effect. It would not be necessary that in such cases their intervention should be recognized. Men might not be away that anything preternatural has happened, and yet as such circumstances may frequently arise, it need not surprise us that one of the heavenly choirs is specially deputed for this purpose, without preventing the occasional employment of angels of the higher or lower orders, for such extraordinary effects.

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