I N these pages St Vincent de Paul appears as one of what might be called the modern school of saints-as one of those who had realised with mind and heart the significance of the change of principle and temper introduced by the renaissance dividing the old order from the new, and inaugurating that conflict between them which men of faith believe to be directed to the saving of what is best in both, to the elimination of what is faulty, and so to their eventual reconciliation and assumption into something higher than either.
He may not have been without that hankering after the ages of simple faith which besets every sensitive soul at times; yet his instinctive sagacity told him that the sun will neither stand still nor go back upon its course for all our tender longings; that God fulfils Himself in many ways; that if we would in any degree shape the world better we must begin by shaping ourselves to it as we find it. His attitude towards that new world was not one of blind hostility, but of just and even sympathetic discrimination, of willingness to use and foster and profit by every little beginning of goodness, every little glimmer of truth.
It is principally as almost the originator of the modern organisation of charitable works that he is deserving of special study, and as offering therein a solution to some very difficult problems.
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