THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
by Thomas a Kempis
THE FIRST BOOK
ADMONITIONS PROFITABLE FOR THE SPIRITUAL LIFE -
OF THE IMITATION OF CHRISTAND OF CONTEMPT OF THE WORLD
AND ALL ITS VANITIES -
HE that followeth me shall not walk in darkness* saith the Lord. These arethe words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life andcharacterif we seek true illuminationand deliverance from all blindness ofheart. Let it be our most earnest studythereforeto dwell upon the life ofJesus Christ. -
* John viii. 12. -
2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy menand such as have HisSpirit find therein the hidden manna. * But there are many whothough theyfrequently hear the Gospelyet feel but little longing after itbecause theyhave not the mind of Christ. Hethereforethat will fully and with true wisdomunderstand the words of Christlet him strive to conform his whole life to thatmind of Christ. -
* Revelations ii. 17. -
3. What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion concerning the HolyTrinityif thou lack humilityand be thus displeasing to the Trinity? Forverily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good lifewhich maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skilful inthe definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bibleand the sayings of allthe philosopherswhat should all this profit thee without the love and grace ofGod? Vanity of vanitiesall is vanitysave to love Godand Him only to serve.That is the highest wisdomto cast the world behind usand to reach forward tothe heavenly kingdom.
4. It is vanity then to seek afterand to trust inthe riches that shallperish. It is vanitytooto covet honoursand to lift up ourselves on high.It is vanity to follow the desires of the flesh and be led by themfor thisshall bring misery at the last. It is vanity to desire a long lifeand to havelittle care for a good life. It is vanity to take thought only for the lifewhich now isand not to look forward to the things which shall be hereafter. Itis vanity to love that which quickly passeth awayand not to hasten whereeternal joy abideth.
5. Be ofttimes mindful of the saying* The eye is not satisfied with seeingnor the ear with hearing. Strivethereforeto turn away thy heart from thelove of the things that are seenand to set it upon the things that are notseen. For they who follow after their own fleshly lustsdefile the conscienceand destroy the grace of God. -
* Ecclesiastes i. 8.
OF THINKING HUMBLY OF ONESELF -
THERE is naturally in every man a desire to knowbut what profitethknowledge without the fear of God? Better of a surety is a lowly peasant whoserveth Godthan a proud philosopher who watcheth the stars and neglecteth theknowledge of himself. He who knoweth himself well is vile in his own sight;neither regardeth he the praises of men. If I knew all the things that are inthe worldand were not in charitywhat should it help me before Godwho is tojudge me according to my deeds?
2. Rest from inordinate desire of knowledgefor therein is found muchdistraction and deceit. Those who have knowledge desire to appear learnedandto be called wise. Many things there are to know which profiteth little ornothing to the soul. And foolish out of measure is he who attendeth upon otherthings rather than those which serve to his soul's health. Many words satisfynot the soulbut a good life refresheth the mindand a pure conscience givethgreat confidence towards God.
3. The greater and more complete thy knowledgethe more severely shalt thoube judgedunless thou hast lived holily. Therefore be not lifted up by anyskill or knowledge that thou hast; but rather fear concerning the knowledgewhich is given to thee. If it seemeth to thee that thou knowest many thingsandunderstandest them wellknow also that there are many more things which thouknowest not. Be not high-mindedbut rather confess thine ignorance. Whydesirest thou to lift thyself above anotherwhen there are found many morelearned and more skilled in the Scripture than thou? If thou wilt know and learnanything with profitlove to be thyself unknown and to be counted for nothing.
4. That is the highest and most profitable lessonwhen a man truly knowethand judgeth lowly of himself. To account nothing of one's selfand to thinkalways kindly and highly of othersthis is great and perfect wisdom. Evenshouldest thou see thy neighbour sin openly or grievouslyyet thou oughtest notto reckon thyself better than hefor thou knowest not how long thou shalt keepthine integrity. All of us are weak and frail; hold thou no man more frail thanthyself.
OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH -
HAPPY IS the man whom Truth by itself doth teachnot by figures andtransient wordsbut as it is in itself. * Our own judgment and feelings oftendeceive usand we discern but little of the truth. What doth it profit to argueabout hidden and dark thingsconcerning which we shall not be even reproved inthe judgmentbecause we knew them not? Ohgrievous follyto neglect thethings which are profitable and necessaryand to give our minds to things
which are curious and hurtful! Having eyeswe see not. -
* Psalm xciv. 12; Numbers xii. 8. -
2. And what have we to do with talk about genus and species! He to whom theEternal Word speaketh is free from multiplied questionings. From this One Wordare all thingsand all things speak of Him; and this is the Beginning whichalso speaketh unto us. * No man without Him understandeth or rightly judgeth.The man to whom all things are onewho bringeth all things to onewho seethall things in onehe is able to remain steadfast of spiritand at rest in God.O Godwho art the Truthmake me one with Thee in everlasting love. It weariethme oftentimes to read and listen to many things; in Thee is all that I wish forand desire. Let all the doctors hold their peace; let all creation keep silencebefore Thee: speak Thou alone to me. -
* John viii. 25 (Vulg.). -
3. The more a man hath unity and simplicity in himselfthe more things andthe deeper things he understandeth; and that without labourbecause hereceiveth the light of understanding from above. The spirit which is puresincereand steadfastis not distracted though it hath many works to dobecause it doth all things to the honour of Godand striveth to be free fromall thoughts of self-seeking. Who is so full of hindrance and annoyance to theeas thine own undisciplined heart? A man who is good and devout arrangethbeforehand within his own heart the works which he hath to do abroad; and so isnot drawn away by the desires of his evil willbut subjecteth everything to thejudgment of right reason. Who hath a harder battle to fight than he who strivethfor self-mastery? And this should be our endeavoureven to master selfandthus daily to grow stronger than selfand go on unto perfection.
4. All perfection hath some imperfection joined to it in this lifeand allour power of sight is not without some darkness. A lowly knowledge of thyself isa surer way to God than the deep searchings of man's learning. Not that learningis to be blamednor the taking account of anything that is good; but a goodconscience and a holy life is better than all. And because many seek knowledgerather than good livingtherefore they go astrayand bear little or no fruit.
5. O if they would give that diligence to the rooting out of vice and theplanting of virtue which they give unto vain questionings: there had not been somany evil doings and stumbling-blocks among the laitynor such ill living amonghouses of religion. Of a suretyat the Day of Judgment it will be demanded ofusnot what we have readbut what we have done; not how well we have spokenbut how holily we have lived. Tell mewhere now are all those masters andteacherswhom thou knewest wellwhilst they were yet with youand flourishedin learning? Their stalls are now filled by otherswho perhaps never have onethought concerning them. Whilst they lived they seemed to be somewhatbut nowno one speaks of them.
6. Oh how quickly passeth the glory of the world away! Would that their lifeand knowledge had agreed together! For then would they have read and inquiredunto good purpose. How many perish through empty learning in this worldwhocare little for serving God. And because they love to be great more than to behumbletherefore they "have become vain in their imaginations." Heonly is truly greatwho hath great charity. He is truly great who deemethhimself smalland counteth all height of honour as nothing. He is the trulywise manwho counteth all earthly things as dung that he may win Christ. And heis the truly learned manwho doeth the will of Godand forsaketh his own will.
OF PRUDENCE IN ACTION -
WE must not trust every word of others or feeling within ourselvesbutcautiously and patiently try the matterwhether it be of God. Unhappily we areso weak that we find it easier to believe and speak evil of othersrather thangood. But they that are perfectdo not give ready heed to every news-bearerfor they know man's weakness that it is prone to evil and unstable in words.
2. This is great wisdomnot to be hasty in actionor stubborn in our ownopinions. A part of this wisdom also is not to believe every word we hearnorto tell others all that we heareven though we believe it. Take counsel with aman who is wise and of a good conscience; and seek to be instructed by onebetter than thyselfrather than to follow thine own inventions. A good lifemaketh a man wise toward Godand giveth him experience in many things. The morehumble a man is in himselfand the more obedient towards Godthe wiser will hebe in all thingsand the more shall his soul be at peace.
OF THE READING OF HOLY SCRIPTURES -
IT is Truth which we must look for in Holy Writnot cunning of words. AllScripture ought to be read in the spirit in which it was written. We must ratherseek for what is profitable in Scripturethan for what ministereth to subtletyin discourse. Therefore we ought to read books which are devotional and simpleas well as those which are deep and difficult. And let not the weight of thewriter be a stumbling-block to theewhether he be of little or much learningbut let the love of the pure Truth draw thee to read. Ask notwho hath saidthis or thatbut look to what he says.
2. Men pass awaybut the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Withoutrespect of persons God speaketh to us in divers manners. Our own curiosity oftenhindereth us in the reading of holy writingswhen we seek to understand anddiscusswhere we should pass simply on. If thou wouldst profit by thy readingread humblysimplyhonestlyand not desiring to win a character for learning.Ask freelyand hear in silence the words of holy men; nor be displeased at thehard sayings of older men than thoufor they are not uttered without cause.
OF INORDINATE AFFECTIONS -
WHENSOEVER a man desireth aught above measureimmediately he becomethrestless. The proud and the avaricious man are never at rest; while the poor andlowly of heart abide in the multitude of peace. The man who is not yet whollydead to selfis soon temptedand is overcome in small and trifling matters. Itis hard for him who is weak in spiritand still in part carnal and inclined tothe pleasures of senseto withdraw himself altogether from earthly desires. Andthereforewhen he withdraweth himself from thesehe is often sadand easilyangered too if any oppose his will.
2. But ifon the other handhe yield to his inclinationimmediately he isweighed down by the condemnation of his conscience; for that he hath followedhis own desireand yet in no way attained the peace which he hoped for. Fortrue peace of heart
is to be found in resisting passionnot in yielding to it. And thereforethere is no peace in the heart of a man who is carnalnor in him who is givenup to the things that are without himbut only in him who is fervent towardsGod and living the life of the Spirit.
OF FLEEING FROM VAIN HOPE AND PRIDE -
VAIN is the life of that man who putteth his trust in men or in any createdThing. Be not ashamed to be the servant of others for the love of Jesus Christand to be reckoned poor in this life. Rest not upon thyselfbut build thy hopein God. Do what lieth in thy powerand God will help thy good intent. Trust notin thy learningnor in the cleverness of any that livesbut rather trust inthe favour of Godwho resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.
2. Boast not thyself in thy riches if thou hast themnor in thy friends ifthey be powerfulbut in Godwho giveth all thingsand in addition to allthings desireth to give even Himself. Be not lifted up because of thy strengthor beauty of bodyfor with only a slight sickness it will fail and wither away.Be not vain of thy skilfulness or abilitylest thou displease Godfrom whomcometh every good gift which we have.
3. Count not thyself better than otherslest perchance thou appear worse inthe sight of Godwho knoweth what is in man. Be not proud of thy good worksfor God's judgments are of another sort than the judgments of manand whatpleaseth man is ofttimes displeasing to Him. If thou hast any goodbelieve thatothers have moreand so thou mayest preserve thy humility. It is no harm tothee if thou place thyself below all others; but it is great harm if thou placethyself above even one. Peace is ever with the humble manbut in the heart ofthe proud there is envy and continual wrath.
OF THE DANGER OF TOO MUCH FAMILIARITY -
OPEN not thine heart to every manbut deal with one who is wise and fearethGod. Be seldom with the young and with strangers. Be not a flatterer of therich; nor willingly seek the society of the great. Let thy company be the humbleand the simplethe devout and the gentleand let thy discourse be concerningthings which edify. Be not familiar with any womanbut commend all good womenalike unto God. Choose for thy companions God and His Angels onlyand flee fromthe notice of men.
2. We must love all menbut not make close companions of allIt sometimesfalleth out that one who is unknown to us is highly regarded through good reportof himwhose actual person is nevertheless unpleasing to those who behold it.We sometimes think to please others by our intimacyand forthwith displeasethem the more by the faultiness of character which they perceive in us.
OF OBEDIENCE AND SUBJECTION -
IT is verily a great thing to live in obedienceto be under authorityandnot to be at our own disposal. Far safer is it to live in subjection than in aplace of authority. Many are in obedience from necessity rather than from love;these take it amissand repine for small cause. Nor will they gain freedom ofspiritunless with all their heart they submit themselves for the love of God.Though thou run hither and thitherthou wilt not find peacesave in humblesubjection to the authority of him who is set over thee. Fancies about placesand change of them have deceived many.
2. True it is that every man willingly followeth his own bentand is themore inclined to those who agree with him. But if Christ is amongst usthen itis necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace.Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust nottoo much to thine own opinionbut be ready also to hear the opinions of others.Though thine own opinion be goodyet if for the love of God thou foregoest itand followest that of anotherthou shalt the more profit thereby.
3. Ofttimes I have heard that it is safer to hearken and to receive counselthan to give it. It may also come to pass that each opinion may be good; but torefuse to hearken to others when reason or occasion requireth itis a mark ofpride or wilfulness.
OF THE DANGER OF SUPERFLUITY OF WORDS -
AVOID as far as thou canst the tumult of men; for talk concerning worldlythingsthough it be innocently undertakenis a hindranceso quickly are weled captive and defiled by vanity. Many a time I wish that I had held my peaceand had not gone amongst men. But why do we talk and gossip so continuallyseeing that we so rarely resume our silence without some hurt done to ourconscience? We like talking so much because we hope by our conversations to gainsome mutual comfortand because we seek to refresh our wearied spirits byvariety of thoughts. And we very willingly talk and think of those things whichwe love or desireor else of those which we most dislike.
2. But alas! it is often to no purpose and in vain. For this outwardconsolation is no small hindrance to the inner comfort which cometh from God.Therefore must we watch and pray that time pass not idly away. If it be rightand desirable for thee to speakspeak things which are to edification. Evilcustom and neglect of our real profit tend much to make us heedless of watchingover our lips. Neverthelessdevout conversation on spiritual things helpeth nota little to spiritual progressmost of all where those of kindred mind andspirit find their ground of fellowship in God.
OF SEEKING PEACE OF MIND AND OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS -
WE may enjoy abundance of peace if we refrain from busying ourselves with thesayings and doings of othersand things which concern not ourselves. How can heabide long time in peace who occupieth himself with other men's mattersandwith things without himselfand meanwhile payeth little or rare heed to theself within? Blessed are the single-heartedfor they shall have abundance ofpeace.
2. How came it to pass that many of the Saints were so perfectsocontemplative of Divine things? Because they steadfastly sought to mortifythemselves from all worldly desiresand so were enabled to cling with theirwhole heart to Godand be free and at leisure for the thought of Him. We aretoo much occupied with our own affectionsand too anxious about transitorythings. Seldomtoodo we entirely conquer even a single faultnor are wezealous for daily growth in grace. And so we remain lukewarm and unspiritual.
3. Were we fully watchful of ourselvesand not bound in spirit to outwardthingsthen might we be wise unto salvationand make progress in Divinecontemplation. Our great and grievous stumbling-block is thatnot being freedfrom our affections and desireswe strive not to enter into the perfect way ofthe Saints. And when even a little trouble befalleth ustoo quickly are we castdownand fly to the world to give us comfort.
4. If we would quit ourselves like menand strive to stand firm in thebattlethen should we see the Lord helping us from Heaven. For He Himself isalway ready to help those who strive and who trust in Him; yeaHe provideth forus occasions of strivingto the end that we may win the victory. If we lookupon our progress in religion as a progress only in outward observances andformsour devoutness will soon come to an end. But let us lay the axe to thevery root of our lifethatbeing cleansed from affectionswe may possess oursouls in peace.
5. If each year should see one fault rooted out from uswe should go quicklyon to perfection. But on the contrarywe often feel that we were better andholier in the beginning of our conversion than after many years of profession.Zeal and progress ought to increase day by day; yet now it seemeth a great thingif one is able to retain some portion of his first ardour. If we would put someslight stress on ourselves at the beginningthen afterwards we should be ableto do all things with ease and joy.
6. It is a hard thing to break through a habitand a yet harder thing to gocontrary to our own will. Yet if thou overcome not slight and easy obstacleshow shalt thou overcome greater ones? Withstand thy will at the beginningandunlearn an evil habitlest it lead thee little by little into worsedifficulties. Ohif thou knewest what peace to thyself thy holy life shouldbring to thyselfand what joy to othersmethinketh thou wouldst be morezealous for spiritual profit.
OF THE USES OF ADVERSITY -
IT is good for us that we sometimes have sorrows and adversitiesfor theyoften make a man lay to heart that he is only a stranger and sojournerand maynot put his trust in any worldly thing. It is good that we sometimes endurecontradictionsand are hardly and unfairly judgedwhen we do and mean what isgood. For these things help us to be humbleand shield us from vain-glory. Forthen we seek the more earnestly the witness of Godwhen men speak evil of usfalselyand give us no credit for good.
2. Therefore ought a man to rest wholly upon Godso that he needeth not seekmuch comfort at the hand of men. When a man who feareth God is afflicted ortried or oppressed with evil thoughtsthen he seeth that God is the morenecessary unto himsince without God he can do no good thing. Then he is heavyof hearthe groanethhe crieth out for the very disquietness of his heart.Then he groweth weary of lifeand would fain depart and be with Christ. By allthis he is taught that in the world there can be no perfect security or fulnessof peace.
OF RESISTING TEMPTATION -
SO long as we live in the worldwe cannot be without trouble and trial.Wherefore it is written in JobThe life of man upon the earth is a trial. * Andtherefore ought each of us to give heed concerning trials and temptationsandwatch unto prayerlest the devil find occasion to deceive; for he neversleepethbut goeth about seeking whom he may devour. No man is so perfect inholiness that he hath never temptationsnor can we ever be wholly free fromthem. -
* Job vii. 1 (Vulg.).
2. Yetnotwithstandingtemptations turn greatly unto our profiteventhough they be great and hard to bear; for through them we are humbledpurifiedinstructed. All Saints have passed through much tribulation andtemptationand have profited thereby. And they who endured not temptationbecame reprobate and fell away. There is no position so sacredno place sosecretthat it is without temptations and adversities.
3. There is no man wholly free from temptations so long as he livethbecausewe have the root of temptation within ourselvesin that we are born inconcupiscence. One temptation or sorrow passethand another cometh; and alwayswe shall have somewhat to sufferfor we have fallen from perfect happiness.Many who seek to fly from temptations fall yet more deeply into them. By flightalone we cannot overcomebut by endurance and true humility we are madestronger than all our enemies.
4. He who only resisteth outwardly and pulleth not up by the rootshallprofit little; nayrather temptations will return to him the more quicklyandwill be the more terrible. Little by littlethrough patience and longsufferingthou shalt conquer by the help of Godrather than by violence andthine own strength of will. In the midst of temptation often seek counsel; anddeal not hardly with one who is temptedbut comfort and strengthen him as thouwouldest have done unto thyself.
5. The beginning of all temptations to evil is instability of temper and wantof trust in God; for even as a ship without a helm is tossed about by the wavesso is a man who is careless and infirm of purpose temptednow on this sidenowon that. As fire testeth ironso doth temptation the upright man. Oftentimes weknow not what strength we have; but temptation revealeth to us what we are.Neverthelesswe must watchespecially in the beginnings of temptation; forthen is the foe the more easily masteredwhen he is not suffered to enterwithin the mindbut is met outside the door as soon as he hath knocked.Wherefore one saith-
Check the beginnings; once thou might'st have cured
But now 'tis past thy skilltoo long hath it endured. -
For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestionthen the strongimaginationafterwards pleasureevil affectionassent. And so little bylittle the enemy entereth in altogetherbecause he was not resisted at thebeginning. And the longer a man delayeth his resistancethe weaker he growethand the stronger groweth the enemy against him.
6. Some men suffer their most grievous temptations in the beginning of theirconversionsome at the end. Some are sorely tried their whole life long. Somethere are who are tempted but lightlyaccording to the wisdom and justice ofthe ordering of Godwho knoweth the character and circumstances of menandordereth all things for the welfare of His elect.
7. Therefore we ought not to despair when we are temptedbut the morefervently should cry unto Godthat He will vouchsafe to help us in all ourtribulation; and that He willas St. Paul saithwith the temptation make a wayto escape that we may be able to bear it. * Let us therefore humble ourselvesunder the mighty hand of God in all temptation and troublefor He will save andexalt such as are of an humble spirit. -
* 1 Corinthians x. 13. -
8. In temptations and troubles a man is provedwhat progress he
hath madeand therein is his reward the greaterand his virtue doth themore appear. Nor is it a great thing if a man be devout and zealous so long ashe suffereth no affliction; but if he behave himself patiently in the time ofadversitythen is there hope of great progress. Some are kept safe from greattemptationsbut are over-taken in those which are little and commonthat thehumiliation may teach them not to trust to themselves in great thingsbeingweak in small things.
ON AVOIDING RASH JUDGMENT -
LOOK well unto thyselfand beware that thou judge not the doings of others.In judging others a man laboureth in vain; he often errethand easily fallethinto sin; but in judging and examining himself he always laboureth to goodpurpose. According as a matter toucheth our fancyso oftentimes do we judge ofit; for easily do we fail of true judgment because of our own personal feeling.If God were always the sole object of our desirewe should the less easily betroubled by the erring judgment of our fancy.
2. But often some secret thought lurking within usor even some outwardcircumstanceturneth us aside. Many are secretly seeking their own ends in whatthey doyet know it not. They seem to live in good peace of mind so long asthings go well with themand according to their desiresbut if their desiresbe frustrated and brokenimmediately they are shaken and displeased. Diversityof feelings and opinions very often brings about dissensions between friendsbetween countrymenbetween religious and godly men.
3. Established custom is not easily relinquishedand no man is very easilyled to see with the eyes of another. If thou rest more upon thy own reason orexperience than upon the power of Jesus Christthy light shall come slowly andhardly; for God willeth us to be perfectly subject unto Himselfand all ourreason to be exalted by abundant love towards Him.
OF WORKS OF CHARITY -
FOR no worldly good whatsoeverand for the love of no manmust anything bedone which is evilbut for the help of the suffering a good work must sometimesbe postponedor be changed for a better; for herein a good work is notdestroyedbut improved. Without charity no work profitethbut whatsoever isdone in charityhowever small and of no reputation it bebringeth forth goodfruit; for God verily considereth what a man is able to domore than thegreatness of what he doth.
2. He doth much who loveth much. He doth much who doth well. He doth well whoministereth to the public good rather than to his own. Oftentimes that seemethto be charity which is rather carnalitybecause it springeth from naturalinclinationself-willhope of repaymentdesire of gain.
3. He who hath true and perfect charityin no wise seeketh his own goodbutdesireth that God alone be altogether glorified. He envieth nonebecause helongeth for no selfish joy; nor doth he desire to rejoice in himselfbutlongeth to be blessed in God as the highest good. He ascribeth good to none saveto God onlythe Fountain whence all good proceedethand the Endthe Peacethe joy of all Saints. Ohhe who hath but a spark of true charityhath verilylearned that all worldly things are full of vanity.
OF BEARING WITH THE FAULTS OF OTHERS -
THOSE things which a man cannot amend in himself or in othershe oughtpatiently to bearuntil God shall otherwise ordain. Bethink thee that perhapsit is better for thy trial and patiencewithout which our merits are but littleworth. Nevertheless thou oughtestwhen thou findeth such impedimentstobeseech God that He would vouchsafe to sustain theethat thou be able to bearthem with a good will.
2. If one who is once or twice admonished refuse to hearkenstrive not withhimbut commit all to Godthat His will may be done and His honour be shown inHis servantsfor He knoweth well how to convert the evil unto good. Endeavourto be patient in bearing with other men's faults and infirmities whatsoever theybefor thou thyself also hast many things which have need to be borne with byothers. If thou canst not make thine own self what thou desirethhow shalt thoube able to fashion another to thine own liking. We are ready to see others madeperfectand yet we do not amend our own shortcomings.
3. We will that others be straitly correctedbut we will not be correctedourselves. The freedom of others displeaseth usbut we are dissatisfied thatour own wishes shall be denied us. We desire rules to be made restrainingothersbut by no means will we suffer ourselves to be restrained. Thustherefore doth it plainly appear how seldom we weigh our neighbour in the samebalance with ourselves. If all men were perfectwhat then should we have tosuffer from others for God?
4. But now hath God thus ordainedthat we may learn to bear one another'sburdensbecause none is without defectnone without a burdennone sufficientof himselfnone wise enough of himself; but it behoveth us to bear with oneanotherto comfort one anotherto helpinstructadmonish one another. Howmuch strength each man hath is best proved by occasions of adversity: for suchoccasions do not make a man frailbut show of what temper he is.
OF A RELIGIOUS LIFE -
IT behoveth thee to learn to mortify thyself in many thingsif thou wiltlive in amity and concord with other men. It is no small thing to dwell in areligious community or congregationand to live there without complaintandtherein to remain faithful even unto death. Blessed is he who hath lived a goodlife in such a bodyand brought it to a happy end. If thou wilt stand fast andwilt profit as thou oughtesthold thyself as an exile and a pilgrim upon theearth. Thou wilt have to be counted as a fool for Christif thou wilt lead areligious life.
2. The clothing and outward appearance are of small account; it is change ofcharacter and entire mortification of the affections which make a trulyreligious man. He who seeketh aught save God and the health of his soulshallfind only tribulation and sorrow. Nor can he stand long in peacewho strivethnot to be least of all and servant of all.
3. Thou art called to endure and to labournot to a life of ease andtrifling talk. Here therefore are men tried as gold in the furnace. No man canstandunless with all his heart he will humble himself for God's sake.
OF THE EXAMPLE OF THE HOLY FATHERS
CONSIDER now the lively examples of the holy fathersin whom shone forthreal perfectness and religionand thou shalt see how littleeven as nothingis all that we do. Ah! What is our life when compared to theirs? Theysaintsand friends of Christ as they wereserved the Lord in hunger and thirstincold and nakednessin labour and wearinessin watchings and fastingsinprayer and holy meditationsin persecutions and much rebuke.
2. O how many and grievous tribulations did the ApostlesMartyrsConfessorsVirginsendure; and all others who would walk in the footsteps ofChrist. For they hated their souls in this world that they might keep them untolife eternal. O how strict and retired a life was that of the holy fathers whodwelt in the desert! what long and grievous temptations they did suffer! howoften were they assaulted by the enemy! what frequent and fervid prayers didthey offer unto God! what strict fasts did they endure! what fervent zeal anddesire after spiritual profit did they manifest! how bravely did they fight thattheir vices might not gain the mastery! how entirely and steadfastly did theyreach after God! By day they labouredand at night they gave themselvesofttimes unto prayer; yeaeven when they were labouring they ceased not frommental prayer.
3. They spent their whole time profitably; every hour seemed short forretirement with God; and through the great sweetness of contemplationeven theneed of bodily refreshment was forgotten. They renounced all richesdignitieshonoursfriendskinsmen; they desired nothing from the world; they ate thebare necessaries of life; they were unwilling to minister to the body even innecessity. Thus were they poor in earthly thingsbut rich above measure ingrace and virtue. Though poor to the outer eyewithin they were filled withgrace and heavenly benedictions.
4. They were strangers to the worldbut unto God they were as kinsmen andfriends. They seemed unto themselves as of no reputationand in the world'seyes contemptible; but in the sight of God they were precious and beloved. Theystood fast in true humilitythey lived in simple obediencethey walked in loveand patience; and thus they waxed strong in spiritand obtained great favourbefore God. To all religious men they were given as an exampleand they oughtmore to provoke us unto good livings than the number of the lukewarm tempteth tocarelessness of life.
5. O how great was the love of all religious persons at the beginning of thissacred institution! O what devoutness of prayer! what rivalry in holiness! whatstrict discipline was observed! what reverence and obedience under the rule ofthe master showed they in all things! The traces of them that remain until nowtestify that they were truly holy and perfect menwho fighting so bravely trodthe world underfoot. Now a man is counted great if only he be not atransgressorand if he can only endure with patience what he hath undertaken.
6. O the coldness and negligence of our timesthat we so quickly declinefrom the former loveand it is become a weariness to livebecause of sloth andlukewarmness. May progress in holiness not wholly fall asleep in theewho manytimes hast seen so many examples of devout men!
OF THE EXERCISES OF A RELIGIOUS MAN -
THE life of a Christian ought to be adorned with all virtuesthat he may beinwardly what he outwardly appeareth unto men. And verily it should be yetbetter within than withoutfor God is a discerner of our heartWhom we mustreverence with all our hearts wheresoever we areand walk pure in His presenceas do the angels. We ought daily to renew our vowsand to kindle our hearts tozealas if each day were the first day of our conversionand to say"Help meO Godin my good resolutionsand in Thy holy serviceand grantthat this day I may make a good beginningfor hitherto I have donenothing!"
2. According to our resolution so is the rate of our progressand muchdiligence is needful for him who would make good progress. For if he whoresolveth bravely oftentimes falleth shorthow shall it be with him whoresolveth rarely or feebly? But manifold causes bring about abandonment of ourresolutionyet a trivial omission of holy exercises can hardly be made withoutsome loss to us. The resolution of the righteous dependeth more upon the graceof God than upon their own wisdom; for in Him they always put their trustwhatsoever they take in hand. For man proposethbut God disposeth; and the wayof a man is not in himself. * -
* Jeremiah x. 23. -
3. If a holy exercise be sometimes omitted for the sake of some act of pietyor of some brotherly kindnessit can easily be taken up afterwards; but if itbe neglected through distaste or slothfulnessthen is it sinfuland themischief will be felt. Strive as earnestly as we maywe shall still fall shortin many things. Always should some distinct resolution be made by us; andmostof allwe must strive against those sins which most easily beset us. Both ourouter and inner life should be straitly examined and ruled by usbecause bothhave to do with our progress.
4. If thou canst not be always examining thyselfthou canst at certainseasonsand at least twice in the dayat evening and at morning. In themorning make thy resolvesand in the evening inquire into thy lifehow thouhast sped to-day in worddeedand thought; for in these ways thou hast oftenperchance offended God and thy neighbour. Gird up thy loins like a man againstthe assaults of the devil; bridle thine appetiteand thou wilt soon be able tobridle every inclination of the flesh. Be thou never without something to do; bereadingor writingor prayingor meditatingor doing something that isuseful to the community. Bodily exerciseshowevermust be undertaken withdiscretionnor are they to be used by all alike.
5. The duties which are not common to all must not be done openlybut aresafest carried on in secret. But take heed that thou be not careless in thecommon dutiesand more devout in the secret; but faithfully and honestlydischarge the duties and commands which lie upon theethen afterwardsif thouhast still leisuregive thyself to thyself as thy devotion leadeth thee. Allcannot have one exercisebut one suiteth better to this man and another tothat. Even for the diversity of season different exercises are neededsome suitbetter for feastssome for fasts. We need one kind in time of temptations andothers in time of peace and quietness. Some are suitable to our times ofsadnessand others when we are joyful in the Lord.
6. When we draw near the time of the great feastsgood exercises should berenewedand the prayers of holy men more fervently besought. We ought to makeour resolutions from one Feast to anotheras if each were the period of ourdeparture from this worldand of entering into the eternal feast. So ought weto prepare ourselves earnestly at solemn seasonsand the more solemnly to liveand to keep straightest watch upon each holy observanceas though we were soonto receive the reward of our labours at the hand of God.
7. And if this be deferredlet us believe ourselves to be as yet
ill-preparedand unworthy as yet of the glory which shall be revealed in usat the appointed season; and let us study to prepare ourselves the better forour end. Blessed is that servantas the Evangelist Luke hath itwhomwhen theLord cometh He shall find watching. Verily I say unto you He will make him rulerover all that He hath. * -
* Luke xii. 4344
OF THE LOVE OF SOLITUDE AND SILENCE -
SEEK a suitable time for thy meditationand think frequently of the merciesof God to thee. Leave curious questions. Study such matters as bring thee sorrowfor sin rather than amusement. If thou withdraw thyself from triflingconversation and idle goings aboutas well as from novelties and gossipthoushalt find thy time sufficient and apt for good meditation. The greatest saintsused to avoid as far as they could the company of menand chose to live insecret with God.
2. One hath said"As oft as I have gone among menso oft have Ireturned less a man." This is what we often experience when we have beenlong time in conversation. For it is easier to be altogether silent than it isnot to exceed in word. It is easier to remain hidden at home than to keepsufficient guard upon thyself out of doors. Hethereforethat seeketh to reachthat which is hidden and spiritualmust go with Jesus "apart from themultitude." No man safely goeth abroad who loveth not to rest at home. Noman safely talketh but he who loveth to hold his peace. No man safely ruleth buthe who loveth to be subject. No man safely commandeth but he who loveth to obey.
3. No man safely rejoiceth but he who hath the testimony of a good consciencewithin himself. The boldness of the Saints was always full of the fear of God.Nor were they the less earnest and humble in themselvesbecause they shoneforth with great virtues and grace. But the boldness of wicked men springethfrom pride and presumptionand at the last turneth to their own confusion.Never promise thyself security in this lifehowsoever good a monk or devout asolitary thou seemest.
4. Often those who stand highest in the esteem of menfall the moregrievously because of their over great confidence. Wherefore it is veryprofitable unto many that they should not be without inward temptationbutshould be frequently assaultedlest they be over confidentlest they be indeedlifted up into prideor else lean too freely upon the consolations of theworld. O how good a conscience should that man keepwho never sought a joy thatpasseth awaywho never became entangled with the world! O how great peace andquiet should he possesswho would cast off all vain careand think only ofhealthful and divine thingsand build his whole hope upon God!
5. No man is worthy of heavenly consolation but he who hath diligentlyexercised himself in holy compunction. If thou wilt feel compunction within thyheartenter into thy chamber and shut out the tumults of the worldas it iswrittenCommune with your own heart in your own chamber and be still. * Inretirement thou shalt find what often thou wilt lose abroad. Retirementif thoucontinue thereingroweth sweetbut if thou keep not in itbegettethweariness. If in the beginning of thy conversation thou dwell in it and keep itwellit shall afterwards be to thee a dear friendand a most pleasant solace.-
* Psalm iv. 4. -
6. In silence and quiet the devout soul goeth forward and learneth the hiddenthings of the Scriptures. Therein findeth she a fountain of tearswherein towash and cleanse herself each nightthat she may grow the more dear to herMaker as she dwelleth the further from all worldly distraction. To him whowithdraweth himself from his acquaintance and friends God with His holy angelswill draw nigh. It is better to be unknown and take heed to oneself than toneglect oneself and work wonders. It is praiseworthy for a religious man to goseldom abroadto fly from being seento have no desire to see men.
7. Why wouldest thou see what thou mayest not have? The world passeth awayand the lust thereof. The desires of sensuality draw thee abroadbut when anhour is pastwhat dost thou bring homebut a weight upon thy conscience anddistraction of heart? A merry going forth bringeth often a sorrowful returnanda merry evening maketh a sad morning? So doth all carnal joy begin pleasantlybut in the end it gnaweth away and destroyeth. What canst thou see abroad whichthou seest not at home? Behold the heaven and the earth and the elementsforout of these are all things made.
8. What canst thou see anywhere which can continue long under the sun? Thoubelievest perchance that thou shalt be satisfiedbut thou wilt never be able toattain unto this. If thou shouldest see all things before thee at oncewhatwould it be but a vain vision? Lift up thine eyes to God on highand pray thatthy sins and negligences may be forgiven. Leave vain things to vain menandmind thou the things which God hath commanded thee. Shut thy door upon theeandcall unto thyself Jesus thy beloved. Remain with Him in thy chamberfor thoushalt not elsewhere find so great peace. If thou hadst not gone forth norlistened to vain talkthou hadst better kept thyself in good peace. But becauseit sometimes delighteth thee to hear new thingsthou must therefore suffertrouble of heart.
OF COMPUNCTION OF HEART -
IF thou wilt make any progress keep thyself in the fear of Godand long notto be too freebut restrain all thy senses under discipline and give notthyself up to senseless mirth. Give thyself to compunction of heart and thoushalt find devotion. Compunction openeth the way for many good thingswhichdissoluteness is wont quickly to lose. It is wonderful that any man can everrejoice heartily in this life who considereth and weigheth his banishmentandthe manifold dangers which beset his soul.
2. Through lightness of heart and neglect of our shortcomings we feel not thesorrows of our soulbut often vainly laugh when we have good cause to weep.There is no true liberty nor real joysave in the fear of God with a goodconscience. Happy is he who can cast away every cause of distraction and bringhimself to the one purpose of holy compunction. Happy is he who putteth awayfrom him whatsoever may stain or burden his conscience. Strive manfully; customis overcome by custom. If thou knowest how to let men alonethey will gladlylet thee alone to do thine own works.
3. Busy not thyself with the affairs of othersnor entangle thyself with thebusiness of great men. Keep always thine eye upon thyself first of alland giveadvice to thyself specially before all thy dearest friends. If thou hast not thefavour of menbe not thereby cast downbut let thy concern be that thouholdest not thyself so well and circumspectlyas becometh a servant of God anda devout monk. It is often better and safer for a man not to have many comfortsin this lifeespecially those which concern the flesh. But that we lack divinecomforts or feel them rarely is to our own blamebecause we seek notcompunction of heartnor utterly cast away those comforts which are vain andworldly.
4. Know thyself to be unworthy of divine consolationand worthy rather ofmuch tribulation. When a man hath perfect compunctionthen all the world isburdensome and bitter to him. A good man will find sufficient cause for mourningand weeping; for whether he considereth himselfor pondereth concerning hisneighbourhe knoweth that no man liveth here without tribulationand the morethoroughly he considereth himselfthe more thoroughly he grieveth. Grounds forjust grief and inward compunction there are in our sins and viceswherein welie so entangled that we are but seldom able to contemplate heavenly things.
5. If thou thoughtest upon thy death more often than how long thy life shouldbethou wouldest doubtless strive more earnestly to improve. And if thou didstseriously consider the future pains of hellI believe thou wouldest willinglyendure toil or pain and fear not discipline. But because these things reach notthe heartand we still love pleasant thingstherefore we remain cold andmiserably indifferent.
6. Oftentimes it is from poverty of spirit that the wretched body is soeasily led to complain. Pray therefore humbly unto the Lord that He will givethee the spirit of compunction and say in the language of the prophetFeed meO Lordwith bread of tearsand give me plenteousness of tears to drink. * -
* Psalm lxxv. 5.
ON THE CONTEMPLATION OF HUMAN MISERY -
THOU art miserable wheresoever thou artand whithersoever thou turnestunless thou turn thee to God. Why art thou disquieted because it happeneth notto thee according to thy wishes and desires? Who is he that hath everythingaccording to his will? Neither Inor thounor any man upon the earth. There isno man in the world free from trouble or anguishthough he were King or Pope.Who is he who hath the happiest lot? Even he who is strong to suffer somewhatfor God.
2. There are many foolish and unstable men who say"See what aprosperous life that man hathhow rich and how great he ishow powerfulhowexalted." But lift up thine eyes to the good things of heavenand thoushalt see that all these worldly things are nothingthey are utterly uncertainyeathey are wearisomebecause they are never possessed without care and fear.The happiness of man lieth not in the abundance of temporal things but amoderate portion sufficeth him. Our life upon earth is verily wretchedness. Themore a man desireth to be spiritualthe more bitter doth the present lifebecome to him; because he the better understandeth and seeth the defects ofhuman corruption. For to eatto drinkto watchto sleepto restto labourand to be subject to the other necessities of natureis truly a greatwretchedness and affliction to a devout manwho would fain be released and freefrom all sin.
3. For the inner man is heavily burdened with the necessities of the body inthis world. Wherefore the prophet devoutly prayeth to be freed from themsayingDeliver me from my necessitiesO Lord. * But woe to those who know nottheir own miseryand yet greater woe to those who love this miserable andcorruptible life. For to such a degree do some cling to it (even though bylabouring or begging they scarce procure what is necessary for subsistence) thatif they might live here alwaysthey would care nothing for the Kingdom of God.-
* Psalm xxv. 17. -
4. Oh foolish and faithless of heartwho lie buried so deep in worldlythingsthat they relish nothing save the things of the flesh! Miserable ones!they will too sadly find out at the lasthow vile and worthless was that whichthey loved. The saints of God and all loyal friends of Christ held as nothingthe things which pleased the fleshor those which flourished in this lifebuttheir whole hope and affection aspired to the things which are above. Theirwhole desire was borne upwards to everlasting and invisible thingslest theyshould be drawn downwards by the love of things visible.
5. Lose notbrotherthy loyal desire of progress to things spiritual. Thereis yet timethe hour is not past. Why wilt thou put off thy resolution? Arisebegin this very momentand say"Now is the time to do: now is the time tofightnow is the proper time for amendment." When thou art ill at ease andtroubledthen is the time when thou art nearest unto blessing. Thou must gothrough fire and water that God may bring thee into a wealthy place. Unless thouput force upon thyselfthou wilt not conquer thy faults. So long as we carryabout with us this frail bodywe cannot be without sinwe cannot live withoutweariness and trouble. Gladly would we have rest from all misery; but becausethrough sin we have lost innocencewe have lost also the true happiness.Therefore must we be patientand wait for the mercy of Goduntil this tyrannybe overpastand this mortality be swallowed up of life.
6. O how great is the frailty of manwhich is ever prone to evil! To-daythou confessest thy sinsand to-morrow thou committest again the sins thoudidst confess. Now dost thou resolve to avoid a faultand within an hour thoubehavest thyself as if thou hadst never resolved at all. Good cause have wetherefore to humble ourselvesand never to think highly of ourselvesseeingthat we are so frail and unstable. And quickly may that be lost by ournegligencewhich by much labour was hardly attained through grace.
7. What shall become of us at the endif at the beginning we are lukewarmand idle? Woe unto usif we choose to restas though it were a time of peaceand securitywhile as yet no sign appeareth in our life of true holiness.Rather had we need that we might begin yet afreshlike good novicesto beinstructed unto good livingif haply there might be hope of some futureamendment and greater spiritual increase.
OF MEDITATION UPON DEATH -
VERY quickly will there be an end of thee here; take heed therefore how itwill be with thee in another world. To-day man isand to-morrow he will be seenno more. And being removed out of sightquickly also he is out of mind. O thedulness and hardness of man's heartwhich thinketh only of the presentandlooketh not forward to the future. Thou oughtest in every deed and thought so toorder thyselfas if thou wert to die this day. If thou hadst a good consciencethou wouldst not greatly fear death. It were better for thee to watch againstsinthan to fly from death. If to-day thou art not readyhow shalt thou beready to-morrow? To-morrow is an uncertain day; and how knowest thou that thoushalt have a to-morrow?
2. What doth it profit to live longwhen we amend so little? Ah! long lifedoth not always amendbut often the more increaseth guilt. Oh that we mightspend a single day in this world as it ought to be spent! Many there are whoreckon the years since they were convertedand yet oftentimes how little is thefruit thereof. If it is a fearful thing to dieit may be perchance a yet morefearful thing to live long. Happy is the man who hath the hour of his death
always before his eyesand daily prepareth himself to die. If thou hast everseen one dieconsider that thou also shalt pass away by the same road.
3. When it is morning reflect that it may be thou shalt not see the eveningand at eventide dare not to boast thyself of the morrow. Always be thoupreparedand so live that death may never find thee unprepared. Many diesuddenly and unexpectedly. For at such an hour as ye think notthe Son of Mancometh. * When that last hour shall comethou wilt begin to think verydifferently of thy whole life pastand wilt mourn bitterly that thou hast beenso negligent and slothful. -
* Matthew xxiv. 44. -
4. Happy and wise is he who now striveth to be such in life as he would fainbe found in death! For a perfect contempt of the worlda fervent desire toexcel in virtuethe love of disciplinethe painfulness of repentancereadiness to obeydenial of selfsubmission to any adversity for love ofChrist; these are the things which shall give great confidence of a happy death.Whilst thou art in health thou hast many opportunities of good works; but whenthou art in sickness I know not how much thou wilt be able to do. Few are madebetter by infirmity: even as they who wander much abroad seldom become holy.
5. Trust not thy friends and kinsfolknor put off the work of thy salvationto the futurefor men will forget thee sooner than thou thinkest. It is betterfor thee now to provide in timeand to send some good before theethan totrust to the help of others. If thou art not anxious for thyself nowwhothinkest thouwill be anxious for thee afterwards? Now the time is mostprecious. Now is the accepted timenow is the day of salvation. Butalas! thatthou spendest not well this timewherein thou mightest lay up treasure whichshould profit thee everlastingly. The hour will come when thou shalt desire onedayyeaone hourfor amendment of lifeand I know not whether thou shaltobtain.
6. Ohdearly belovedfrom what danger thou mightest free thyselffrom whatgreat fearif only thou wouldst always live in fearand in expectation ofdeath! Strive now to live in such wise that in the hour of death thou mayestrather rejoice than fear. Learn now to die to the worldso shalt thou begin tolive with Christ. Learn now to contemn all earthly thingsand then mayest thoufreely go unto Christ. Keep under thy body by penitenceand then shalt thou beable to have a sure confidence.
7. Ahfoolish one! why thinkest thou that thou shalt live longwhen thouart not sure of a single day? How many have been deceivedand suddenly havebeen snatched away from the body! How many times hast thou heard how one wasslain by the swordanother was drownedanother falling from on high broke hisneckanother died at the tableanother whilst at play! One died by fireanother by the swordanother by the pestilenceanother by the robber. Thuscometh death to alland the life of men swiftly passeth away like a shadow.
8. Who will remember thee after thy death? And who will entreat for thee?Workwork nowoh dearly belovedwork all that thou canst. For thou knowestnot when thou shalt dienor what shall happen unto thee after death. While thouhast timelay up for thyself undying riches. Think of nought but of thysalvation; care only for the things of God. Make to thyself friendsbyvenerating the saints of God and walking in their stepsthat when thou failestthou mayest be received into everlasting habitations. * -
* Luke xvi. 9. -
9. Keep thyself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earthto whom thethings of the world appertain not. Keep thine heart freeand lifted up towardsGodfor here have we no continuing city. * To Him direct thy daily prayers withcrying and tearsthat thy spirit may be found worthy to pass happily afterdeath unto its Lord. Amen. -
* Hebrews xiii. 14.
OF THE JUDGMENT AND PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED -
IN all that thou doestremember the endand how thou stand before a strictjudgefrom whom nothing is hidwho is not bribed with giftsnor acceptethexcusesbut will judge righteous judgment. O most miserable and foolish sinnerwho art sometimes in fear of the countenance of an angry manwhat wilt thouanswer to Godwho knoweth all thy misdeeds? Why dost thou not provide forthyself against the day of judgmentwhen no man shall be able to be excused ordefended by means of anotherbut each one shall bear his burden himself alone?Now doth thy labour bring forth fruitnow is thy weeping acceptablethygroaning heardthy sorrow well pleasing to Godand cleansing to thy soul.
2. Even here on earth the patient man findeth great occasion of purifying hissoul. When suffering injuries he grieveth more for the other's malice than forhis own wrong; when he prayeth heartily for those that despitefully use himandforgiveth them from his heart; when he is not slow to ask pardon from others;when he is swifter to pity than to anger; when he frequently denieth himself andstriveth altogether to subdue the flesh to the spirit. Better is it now topurify the soul from sinthan to cling to sins from which we must be purgedhereafter. Truly we deceive ourselves by the inordinate love which we beartowards the flesh.
3. What is it which that fire shall devoursave thy sins? The more thousparest thyself and followest the fleshthe more heavy shall thy punishment beand the more fuel art thou heaping up for the burning. For wherein a man hathsinnedtherein shall he be the more heavily punished. There shall the slothfulbe pricked forward with burning goadsand the gluttons be tormented withintolerable hunger and thirst. There shall the luxurious and the lovers ofpleasure be plunged into burning pitch and stinking brimstoneand the enviousshall howl like mad dogs for very grief.
4. No sin will there be which shall not be visited with its own properpunishment. The proud shall be filled with utter confusionand the covetousshall be pinched with miserable poverty. An hour's pain there shall be moregrievous than a hundred years here of the bitterest penitence. No quiet shall bethereno comfort for the lostthough here sometimes there is respite frompainand enjoyment of the solace of friends. Be thou anxious now and sorrowfulfor thy sinsthat in the day of judgment thou mayest have boldness with theblessed. For then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before theface of such as have afflicted him and made no account of his labours. * Thenshall he stand up to judgehe who now submitteth himself in humility to thejudgments of men. Then shall the poor and humble man have great confidencewhile the proud is taken with fear on every side. -
* Wisd. v. 1. -
5. Then shall it be seen that he was the wise man in this world
who learned to be a fool and despised for Christ. Then shall all tribulationpatiently borne delight uswhile the mouth of the ungodly shall be stopped.Then shall every godly man rejoiceand every profane man shall mourn. Then theafflicted flesh shall more rejoice than if it had been alway nourished indelights. Then the humble garment shall put on beautyand the precious robeshall hide itself as vile. Then the little poor cottage shall be more commendedthan the gilded palace. Then enduring patience shall have more might than allthe power of the world. Then simple obedience shall be more highly exalted thanall worldly wisdom.
6. Then a pure and good conscience shall more rejoice than learnedphilosophy. Then contempt of riches shall have more weight than all the treasureof the children of this world. Then shalt thou find more comfort in havingprayed devoutly than in having fared sumptuously. Then thou wilt rather rejoicein having kept silence than in having made long speech. Then holy deeds shall befar stronger than many fine words. Then a strict life and sincere penitenceshall bring deeper pleasure than all earthly delight. Learn now to suffer alittlethat then thou mayest be enabled to escape heavier sufferings. Provefirst herewhat thou art able to endure hereafter. If now thou art able to bearso littlehow wilt thou be able to endure eternal torments? If now a littlesuffering maketh thee so impatientwhat shall hell-fire do then? Behold of asurety thou art not able to have two Paradisesto take thy fill or delight herein this worldand to reign with Christ hereafter.
7. If even unto this day thou hadst ever lived in honours and pleasureswhatwould the whole profit thee if now death came to thee in an instant? Alltherefore is vanitysave to love God and to serve Him only. For he who lovethGod with all his heart feareth not deathnor punishmentnor judgmentnorhellbecause perfect love giveth sure access to God. But he who stilldelighteth in sinno marvel if he is afraid of death and judgment. Neverthelessit is a good thingif love as yet cannot restrain thee from evilthat at leastthe fear of hell should hold thee back. But he who putteth aside the fear of Godcannot long continue in goodbut shall quickly fall into the snares of thedevil.
OF THE ZEALOUS AMENDMENT OF OUR WHOLE LIFE -
BE thou watchful and diligent in God's serviceand bethink thee often whythou hast renounced the world. Was it not that thou mightest live to God andbecome a spiritual man? Be zealousthereforefor thy spiritual profitforthou shalt receive shortly the reward of thy laboursand neither fear norsorrow shall come any more into thy borders. Now shalt thou labour a littleandthou shalt find great restyea everlasting joy. If thou shalt remain faithfuland zealous in labourdoubt not that God shall be faithful and boundful inrewarding thee. It is thy duty to have a good hope that thou wilt attain thevictorybut thou must not fall into security lest thou become slothful orlifted up.
2. A certain man being in anxiety of mindcontinually tossed about betweenhope and fearand being on a certain day overwhelmed with griefcast himselfdown in prayer before the altar in a churchand meditated within himselfsaying"Oh! if I but knew that I should still persevere" andpresently heard within him a voice from God"And if thou didst know itwhat wouldst thou do? Do now what thou wouldst do thenand thou shalt be verysecure." And straightway being comforted and strengthenedhe committedhimself to the will of God and the perturbation of spirit ceasedneither had hea mind any more to search curiously to know what should befall him hereafterbut studied rather to inquire what was the good and acceptable will of Godforthe beginning and perfecting of every good work.
3. Hope in the Lord and be doing goodsaith the Prophet; dwell in the landand thou shalt be fed * with its riches. One thing there is which holdeth backmany from progress and fervent amendmenteven the dread of difficultyor thelabour of the conflict. Nevertheless they advance above all others in virtue whostrive manfully to conquer those things which are most grievous and contrary tothemfor there a man profiteth most and meriteth greater grace where he mostovercometh himself and mortifieth himself in spirit. -
* Psalm xxxvii. 3. -
4. But all men have not the same passions to conquer and to mortifyyet hewho is diligent shall attain more profitalthough he have stronger passionsthan another who is more temperate of dispositionbut is withal less fervent inthe pursuit of virtue. Two things specially avail unto improvement in holinessnamely firmness to withdraw ourselves from the sin to which by nature we aremost inclinedand earnest zeal for that good in which we are most lacking. Andstrive also very earnestly to guard against and subdue those faults whichdisplease thee most frequently in others.
5. Gather some profit to thy soul wherever thou artand wherever thou seestor hearest good examplesstir thyself to follow thembut where thou seestanything which is blameworthytake heed that thou do not the same; or if at anytime thou hast done itstrive quickly to amend thyself. As thine eye observethothersso again are the eyes of others upon thee. How sweet and pleasant is itto see zealous and godly brethren temperate and of good discipline; and how sadis it and grievous to see them walking disorderlynot practising the duties towhich they are called. How hurtful a thing it is to neglect the purpose of theircallingand turn their inclinations to things which are none of their business.
6. Be mindful of the duties which thou hast undertakenand set always beforethee the remembrance of the Crucified. Truly oughtest thou to be ashamed as thoulookest upon the life of Jesus Christbecause thou hast not yet endeavoured toconform thyself more unto Himthough thou hast been a long time in the way ofGod. A religious man who exercises himself seriously and devoutly in the mostholy life and passion of our Lord shall find there abundantly all things thatare profitable and necessary for himneither is there need that he shall seekanything better beyond Jesus. Oh! if Jesus crucified would come into our heartshow quicklyand completely should we have learned all that we need to know!
7. He who is earnest receiveth and beareth well all things that are laid uponhim. He who is careless and lukewarm hath trouble upon troubleand sufferethanguish upon every sidebecause he is without inward consolationand isforbidden to seek that which is outward. He who is living without discipline isexposed to grievous ruin. He who seeketh easier and lighter discipline shallalways be in distressbecause one thing or another will give him displeasure.
8. O! if no other duty lay upon us but to praise the Lord our God with ourwhole heart and voice! Oh! if thou never hadst need to eat or drinkor sleepbut wert always able to praise Godand to give thyself to spiritual exercisesalone; then shouldst thou be far happier than nowwhen for so many necessitiesthou must serve the flesh. O! that these necessities were notbut only thespiritual refreshments of the soulwhich alas we taste too seldom.
9. When a man hath come to thisthat he seeketh comfort from no
created thingthen doth he perfectly begin to enjoy Godthen also will hebe well contented with whatsoever shall happen unto him. Then will he neitherrejoice for much nor be sorrowful for littlebut he committeth himselfaltogether and with full trust unto Godwho is all in all to himto whomnothing perisheth nor diethbut all things live to Him and obey His every wordwithout delay.
10. Remember always thine endand how the time which is lost returneth not.Without care and diligence thou shalt never get virtue. If thou beginnest togrow coldit shall begin to go ill with theebut if thou givest thyself untozeal thou shalt find much peaceand shalt find thy labour the lighter becauseof the grace of God and the love of virtue. A zealous and diligent man is readyfor all things. It is greater labour to resist sins and passions than to toil inbodily labours. He who shunneth not small faults falleth little by little intogreater. At eventide thou shalt always be glad if thou spend the day profitably.Watch over thyselfstir thyself upadmonish thyselfand howsoever it be withothersneglect not thyself. The more violence thou dost unto thyselfthe morethou shall profit. Amen.
THE SECOND BOOK
ADMONITIONS CONCERNING THE INNER LIFE -
OF THE INWARD LIFE -
THE kingdom of God is within you* saith the Lord. Turn thee with all thineheart to the Lord and forsake this miserable worldand thou shalt find restunto thy soul. Learn to despise outward things and to give thyself to thingsinwardand thou shalt see the kingdom of God come within thee. For the kingdomof God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghostand it is not given to the wicked.Christ will come to theeand show thee His consolationif thou prepare aworthy mansion for Him within thee. All His glory and beauty is from withinandthere it pleaseth Him to dwell. He often visiteth the inward man and holdethwith him sweet discoursegiving him soothing consolationmuch peacefriendship exceeding wonderful. -
* Luke xvii 21. -
2. Go tofaithful soulprepare thy heart for this bridegroom that he mayvouchsafe to come to thee and dwell within theefor so He saithif any manloveth me he will keep my words: and my Father will love himand we will comeunto him and make our abode with him. * Givethereforeplace to Christ andrefuse entrance to all others. When thou hast Christthou art richand hastsufficient. He shall be thy provider and faithful watchman in all thingssothat thou hast no need to trust in menfor men soon change and swiftly passawaybut Christ remaineth for ever and standeth by us firmly even to the end. -
* John xiv. 23. -
3. There is no great trust to be placed in a frail and mortal maneventhough he be useful and dear to usneither should much sorrow arise within usif sometimes he oppose and contradict us. They who are on thy side to-daymayto-morrow be against theeand often are they turned round like the wind. Putthy whole trust in God and let Him be thy fear and thy loveHe will answer forthee Himselfand will do for thee what is best. Here hast thou no continuingcity * and wheresoever thou artthou art a stranger and a pilgrimand thoushalt never have rest unless thou art closely united to Christ within thee. -
* Hebrews xiii 14. -
4. Why dost thou cast thine eyes hither and thithersince this is not theplace of thy rest? In heaven ought thy habitation to beand all earthly thingsshould be looked upon as it were in the passing by. All things pass away andthou equally with them. Look that thou cleave not to them lest thou be takenwith them and perish. Let thy contemplation be on the Most Highand let thysupplication be directed unto Christ without ceasing. If thou canst not beholdhigh and heavenly thingsrest thou in the passion of Christ and dwell willinglyin His sacred wounds. For if thou devoutly fly to the wounds of Jesusand theprecious marks of the nails and the spearthou shalt find great comfort intribulationnor will the slights of men trouble thee muchand thou wilt easilybear their unkind words.
5. Christ alsowhen He was in the worldwas despised and rejected of menand in His greatest necessity was left by His acquaintance and friends to bearthese reproaches. Christ was willing to suffer and be despisedand darest thoucomplain of any? Christ had adversaries and gainsayersand dost thou wish tohave all men thy friends and benefactors? Whence shall thy patience attain hercrown if no adversity befall thee? If thou art unwilling to suffer anyadversityhow shalt thou be the friend of Christ? Sustain thyself with Christand for Christ if thou wilt reign with Christ.
6. If thou hadst once entered into the mind of Jesusand hadst tasted yeaeven a little of his tender lovethen wouldst thou care nought for thine ownconvenience or inconveniencebut wouldst rather rejoice at trouble brought upontheebecause the love of Jesus maketh a man to despise himself. He who lovethJesusand is inwardly true and free from inordinate affectionsis able to turnhimself readily unto Godand to rise above himself in spiritand to enjoyfruitful peace.
7. He who knoweth things as they are and not as they are said or seem to behe truly is wiseand is taught of God more than of men. He who knoweth how towalk from withinand to set little value upon outward thingsrequireth notplaces nor waiteth for seasonsfor holding his intercourse with God. The inwardman quickly recollecteth himselfbecause he is never entirely given up tooutward things. No outward labour and no necessary occupations stand in his waybut as events fall outso doth he fit himself to them. He who is rightlydisposed and ordered within careth not for the strange and perverse conduct ofmen. A man is hindered and distracted in so far as he is moved by outwardthings.
8. If it were well with theeand thou wert purified from evilall thingswould work together for thy good and profiting. For this cause do many thingsdisplease thee and often trouble theethat thou art not yet perfectly dead tothyself nor separated from all earthly things. Nothing so defileth andentangleth the heart of man as impure love towards created things. If thourejectest outward comfort thou wilt be able to contemplate heavenly things andfrequently to be joyful inwardly.
OF LOWLY SUBMISSION -
MAKE no great account who is for thee or against theebut mind only thepresent duty and take care that God be with thee in whatsoever
thou doest. Have a good conscience and God will defend theefor he whom Godwill help no man's perverseness shall be able to hurt. If thou knowest how tohold thy peace and to sufferwithout doubt thou shalt see the help of the Lord.He knoweth the time and the way to deliver theetherefore must thou resignthyself to Him. To God it belongeth to help and to deliver from all confusion.Oftentimes it is very profitable for keeping us in greater humilitythat othersknow and rebuke our faults.
2. When a man humbleth himself for his defectshe then easily pacifiethothers and quickly satisfieth those that are angered against him. God protectethand delivereth the humble manHe loveth and comforteth the humble manto thehumble man He inclineth Himselfon the humble He bestoweth great graceandwhen he is cast down He raiseth him to glory: to the humble He revealeth Hissecretsand sweetly draweth and inviteth him to Himself. The humble man havingreceived reproachis yet in sufficient peacebecause he resteth on God and noton the world. Reckon not thyself to have profited in anywise unless thou feelthyself to be inferior to all.
OF THE GOODPEACEABLE MAN -
FIRST keep thyself in peaceand then shalt thou be able to be a peacemakertowards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a well-learned. A passionateman turneth even good into evil and easily believeth evil; a goodpeaceable manconverteth all things into good. He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of nonebut he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many suspicionsand isneither quiet himself nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often saith what heought not to sayand omitteth what it were more expedient for him to do. Heconsidereth to what duties others are boundand neglecteth those to which he isbound himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyselfand then mayest thourighteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour.
2. Thou knowest well how to excuse and to colour thine own deedsbut thouwilt not accept the excuses of others. It would be more just to accuse thyselfand excuse thy brother. If thou wilt that others bear with theebear thou withothers. Behold how far thou art as yet from the true charity and humility whichknows not how to be angry or indignant against any save self alone. It is nogreat thing to mingle with the good and the meekfor this is naturally pleasingto alland every one of us willingly enjoyeth peace and liketh best those whothink with us: but to be able to live peaceably with the hard and perverseorwith the disorderlyor those who oppose usthis is a great grace and a thingmuch to be commended and most worthy of a man.
3. There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also with othersand there are who neither have peace nor suffer others to have peace; they aretroublesome to othersbut always more troublesome to themselves. And there arewho hold themselves in peaceand study to bring others unto peace;neverthelessall our peace in this sad life lieth in humble suffering ratherthan in not feeling adversities. He who best knoweth how to suffer shall possessthe most peace; that man is conqueror of himself and lord of the worldthefriend of Christand the inheritor of heaven.
OF A PURE MIND AND SIMPLE INTENTION -
BY two wings is man lifted above earthly thingseven by simplicity andpurity. Simplicity ought to be in the intentionpurity in the affection.Simplicity reacheth towards Godpurity apprehendeth Him and tasteth Him. Nogood action will be distasteful to thee if thou be free within from inordinateaffection. If thou reachest after and seekestnothing but the will of God andthe benefit of thy neighbourthou wilt entirely enjoy inward liberty. If thineheart were rightthen should every creature be a mirror of life and a book ofholy doctrine. There is no creature so small and vile but that it showeth us thegoodness of God.
2. If thou wert good and pure withinthen wouldst thou look upon all thingswithout hurt and understand them aright. A pure heart seeth the very depths ofheaven and hell. Such as each one is inwardlyso judgeth he outwardly. If thereis any joy in the world surely the man of pure heart possesseth itand if thereis anywhere tribulation and anguishthe evil conscience knoweth it best. Asiron cast into the fire loseth rust and is made altogether glowingso the manwho turneth himself altogether unto God is freed from slothfulness and changedinto a new man.
3. When a man beginneth to grow lukewarmthen he feareth a little labourand willingly accepteth outward consolation; but when he beginneth perfectly toconquer himself and to walk manfully in the way of Godthen he counteth asnothing those things which aforetime seemed to be so grievous unto him.
OF SELF-ESTEEM -
WE cannot place too little confidence in ourselvesbecause grace andunderstanding are often lacking to us. Little light is there within usand whatwe have we quickly lose by negligence. Oftentimes we perceive not how great isour inward blindness. We often do ill and excuse it worse. Sometimes we aremoved by passion and count it zeal; we blame little faults in others and passover great faults in ourselves. Quickly enough we feel and reckon up what webear at the hands of othersbut we reflect not how much others are bearing fromus. He who would weigh well and rightly his own doings would not be the man tojudge severely of another.
2. The spiritually-minded man putteth care of himself before all cares; andhe who diligently attendeth to himself easily keepeth silence concerning others.Thou wilt never be spiritually minded and godly unless thou art silentconcerning other men's matters and take full heed to thyself. If thou thinkwholly upon thyself and upon Godwhat thou seest out of doors shall move theelittle. Where art thou when thou art not present to thyself? and when thou hastoverrun all thingswhat hath it profited theethyself being neglected? If thouwouldst have peace and true unitythou must put aside all other thingsandgaze only upon thyself.
3. Then thou shalt make great progress if thou keep thyself free from alltemporal care. Thou shalt lamentably fall away if thou set a value upon anyworldly thing. Let nothing be greatnothing highnothing pleasingnothingacceptable unto theesave God Himself or the things of God. Reckon asaltogether vain whatsoever consolation comes to thee from a creature. The soulthat loveth God looketh not to anything that is beneath God. God alone iseternal and incomprehensiblefilling all thingsthe solace of the soulandthe true joy of the heart.
OF THE JOY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE -
THE testimony of a good conscience is the glory of a good man.
Have a good conscience and thou shalt ever have joy. A good conscience isable to bear exceeding muchand is exceeding joyful in the midst ofadversities; an evil conscience is ever fearful and unquiet. Thou shalt restsweetly if thy heart condemn thee not. Never rejoice unless when thou hast donewell. The wicked have never true joynor feel internal peacefor there is nopeacesaith my Godto the wicked. * And if they say "we are in peacethere shall no harm happen unto usand who shall dare to do us hurt?"believe them notfor suddenly shall the wrath of God rise up against themandtheir deeds shall be brought to noughtand their thoughts shall perish. -
* Isaiah lvii. 21. -
2. To glory in tribulation is not grievous to him who loveth; for suchglorying is glorying in the Cross of Christ. Brief is the glory which is givenand received of men. Sadness always goeth hand in hand with the glory of theworld. The glory of the good is in their conscienceand not in the report ofmen. The joy of the upright is from God and in Godand their joy is in thetruth. He who desireth true and eternal glory careth not for that which istemporal; and he who seeketh temporal gloryor who despiseth it from his heartis proved to bear little love for that which is heavenly. He who careth forneither praises nor reproaches hath great tranquillity of heart.
3. He will easily be contented and filled with peacewhose conscience ispure. Thou art none the holier if thou art praisednor the viler if thou artreproached. Thou art what thou art; and thou canst not be better than Godpronounceth thee to be. If thou considerest well what thou art inwardlythouwilt not care what men will say to thee. Man looketh on the outward appearancebut the Lord looketh on the heart: * man looketh on the deedbut Godconsidereth the intent. It is the token of a humble spirit always to do welland to set little by oneself. Not to look for consolation from any created thingis a sign of great purity and inward faithfulness. -
* 1 Samuel xvi. 7. -
4. He that seeketh no outward witness on his own behalfshoweth plainly thathe hath committed himself wholly to God. For not he that commendeth himself isapprovedas St. Paul saithbut whom the Lord commendeth. * To walk inwardlywith Godand not to be held by any outer affectionsis the state of aspiritual man. -
* 2 Corinthians x. 18.
OF LOVING JESUS ABOVE ALL THINGS -
BLESSED is he who understandeth what it is to love Jesusand to despisehimself for Jesus' sake. He must give up all that he loveth for his BelovedforJesus will be loved alone above all things. The love of created things isdeceiving and unstablebut the love of Jesus is faithful and lasting. He whocleaveth to created things will fall with their slipperiness; but he whoembraceth Jesus will stand upright for ever. Love Him and hold Him for thyfriendfor He will not forsake thee when all depart from theenor will Hesuffer thee to perish at the last. Thou must one day be separated from allwhether thou wilt or wilt not.
2. Cleave thou to Jesus in life and deathand commit thyself unto Hisfaithfulnesswhowhen all men fail theeis alone able to help thee. ThyBeloved is suchby naturethat He will suffer no rivalbut alone will possessthy heartand as a king will sit upon His own throne. If thou wouldst learn toput away from thee every created thingJesus would freely take up His abodewith thee. Thou wilt find all trust little better than lost which thou hastplaced in menand not in Jesus. Trust not nor lean upon a reed shaken with thewindbecause all flesh is grassand the goodliness thereof falleth as theflower of the field. * -
* Isaiah xl. 6. -
3. Thou wilt be quickly deceived if thou lookest only upon the outwardappearance of menfor if thou seekest thy comfort and profit in othersthoushalt too often experience loss. If thou seekest Jesus in all things thou shaltverily find Jesusbut if thou seekest thyself thou shalt also find thyselfbutto thine own hurt. For if a man seeketh not Jesus he is more hurtful to himselfthan all the world and all his adversaries.
OF THE INTIMATE LOVE OF JESUS -
WHEN Jesus is present all is well and nothing seemeth hardbut when Jesus isnot present everything is hard. When Jesus speaketh not withinour comfort isnothing worthbut if Jesus speaketh but a single word great is the comfort weexperience. Did not Mary Magdalene rise up quickly from the place where she weptwhen Martha said to herThe Master is come and calleth for thee? * Happy hourwhen Jesus calleth thee from tears to the joy of the spirit! How dry and hardart thou without Jesus! How senseless and vain if thou desirest aught beyondJesus! Is not this greater loss than if thou shouldst lose the whole world? -
* John xi. 28. -
2. What can the world profit thee without Jesus? To be without Jesus is thenethermost helland to be with Jesus is sweet Paradise. If Jesus were with theeno enemy could hurt thee. He who findeth Jesus findeth a good treasureyeagood above all good; and he who loseth Jesus loseth exceeding muchyeamorethan the whole world. Most poor is he who liveth without Jesusand most rich ishe who is much with Jesus.
3. It is great skill to know how to live with Jesusand to know how to holdJesus is great wisdom. Be thou humble and peaceable and Jesus shall be withthee. Be godly and quietand Jesus will remain with thee. Thou canst quicklydrive away Jesus and lose His favour if thou wilt turn away to the outer things.And if thou hast put Him to flight and lost Himto whom wilt thou fleeandwhom then wilt thou seek for a friend? Without a friend thou canst not livelongand if Jesus be not thy friend above all thou shalt be very sad anddesolate. Madly therefore doest thou if thou trusteth or findest joy in anyother. It is preferable to have the whole world against theethan Jesusoffended with thee. Therefore of all that are dear to theelet Jesus bespecially loved.
4. Let all be loved for Jesus' sakebut Jesus for His own. Jesus Christalone is to be specially lovedfor He alone is found good and faithful aboveall friends. For His sake and in Him let both enemies and friends be dear totheeand pray for them all that they may all know and love Him. Never desire tobe specially praised or lovedbecause this belongeth to God alonewho hathnone like unto Himself. Nor wish thou that any one set his heart on theenor dothou give thyself up to the love of anybut let Jesus be in thee and in everygood man.
5. Be pure and free within thyselfand be not entangled by any createdthing. Thou oughtest to bring a bare and clean heart to Godif thou desirest tobe ready to see how gracious the Lord is. And in truthunless thou be preventedand drawn on by His gracethou wilt not attain to thisthat having cast outand dismissed all elsethou alone art united to God. For when the grace of Godcometh to a manthen he becometh able to do all thingsand when it departeththen he will be poor and weak and given up unto troubles. In these thou art notto be cast down nor to despairbut to rest with calm mind on the will of Godand to bear all things which come upon thee unto the praise of Jesus Christ; forafter winter cometh summerafter night returneth dayafter the tempest a greatcalm.
OF THE LACK OF ALL COMFORT -
IT is no hard thing to despise human comfort when divine is present. It is agreat thingyea very greatto be able to bear the loss both of human anddivine comfort; and for the love of God willingly to bear exile of heartand innought to seek oneselfnor to look to one's own merit. What great matter is itif thou be cheerful of heart and devout when favour cometh to thee? That is anhour wherein all rejoice. Pleasantly enough doth he ride whom the grace of Godcarrieth. And what marvelif he feeleth no burden who is carried by theAlmightyand is led onwards by the Guide from on high?
2. We are willing to accept anything for comfortand it is difficult for aman to be freed from himself. The holy martyr Laurence overcame the love of theworld and even of his priestly masterbecause he despised everything in theworld which seemed to be pleasant; and for the love of Christ he calmly sufferedeven God's chief priestSixtuswhom he dearly lovedto be taken from him.Thus by the love of the Creator he overcame the love of manand instead ofhuman comfort he chose rather God's good pleasure. So also learn thou to resignany near and beloved friend for the love of God. Nor take it amiss when thouhast been deserted by a friendknowing that we must all be parted from oneanother at last.
3. Mightily and long must a man strive within himself before he learnaltogether to overcome himselfand to draw his whole affection towards God.When a man resteth upon himselfhe easily slippeth away unto human comforts.But a true lover of Christand a diligent seeker after virtuefalleth not backupon those comfortsnor seeketh such sweetnesses as may be tasted and handledbut desireth rather hard exercisesand to undertake severe labours for Christ.
4. Whenthereforespiritual comfort is given by Godreceive it with givingof thanksand know that it is the gift of Godnot thy desert. Be not lifteduprejoice not overmuch nor foolishly presumebut rather be more humble forthe giftmore wary and more careful in all thy doings; for that hour will passawayand temptation will follow. When comfort is taken from theedo notstraightway despairbut wait for the heavenly visitation with humility andpatiencefor God is able to give thee back greater favour and consolation. Thisis not new nor strange to those who have made trial of the way of Godfor withthe great saints and the ancient prophets there was often this manner of change.
5. Wherefore one said when the favour of God was present with himI said inmy prosperity I shall never be moved* but he goeth on to say what he feltwithin himself when the favour departed: Thou didst turn Thy face from meand Iwas troubled. In spite whereof he in no wise despairethbut the more instantlyentreateth Godand saithUnto TheeO Lordwill I cryand will pray unto myGod; and then he receiveth the fruit of his prayerand testifieth how he hathbeen heardsayingThe Lord heard me and had mercy upon methe Lord was myhelper. But wherein? Thou hast turned my heaviness into joyThou hast put offmy sackcloth and girded me with gladness. If it was thus with the great saintswe who are poor and needy ought not to despair if we are sometimes in the warmthand sometimes in the coldfor the Spirit cometh and goeth according to the goodpleasure of His will. Wherefore holy Job saithThou dost visit him in themorningand suddenly Thou dost prove him. *(2) -
* Psalm xxx. 6.
*(2) Job vii. 18. -
6. Whereupon then can I hopeor wherein may I trustsave only in the greatmercy of Godand the hope of heavenly grace? For whether good men are with megodly brethren or faithful friendswhether holy books or beautiful discourseswhether sweet hymns and songsall these help but littleand have but littlesavour when I am deserted by God's favour and left to mine own poverty. There isno better remedythenthan patience and denial of selfand an abiding in thewill of God.
7. I have never found any man so religious and godlybut that he feltsometimes a withdrawal of the divine favourand lack of fervour. No saint wasever so filled with raptureso enlightenedbut that sooner or later he wastempted. For he is not worthy of the great vision of Godwhofor God's sakehath not been exercised by some temptation. For temptation is wont to go beforeas a sign of the comfort which shall followand heavenly comfort is promised tothose who are proved by temptation. As it is writtenTo him that overcometh Iwill give to eat of the tree of life. * -
* Revelation ii. 7. -
8. Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to bear adversities.And temptation followethlest he be lifted up because of the benefit. The devilsleepeth not; thy flesh is not yet dead; thereforecease thou not to makethyself ready unto the battlefor enemies stand on thy right hand and on thyleftand they are never at rest.
OF GRATITUDE FOR THE GRACE OF GOD -
WHY seekest thou rest when thou art born to labour? Prepare thyself forpatience more than for comfortsand for bearing the cross more than for joy.For who among the men of this world would not gladly receive consolation andspiritual joy if he might always have it? For spiritual comforts exceed all thedelights of the worldand all the pleasures of the flesh. For all worldlydelights are either empty or uncleanwhilst spiritual delights alone arepleasant and honourablethe off spring of virtueand poured forth by God intopure minds. But no man can always enjoy these divine comforts at his own willbecause the season of temptation ceaseth not for long.
2. Great is the difference between a visitation from above and false libertyof spirit and great confidence in self. God doeth well in giving us the grace ofcomfortbut man doeth ill in not immediately giving God thanks thereof. Andthus the gifts of grace are not able to flow unto usbecause we are ungratefulto the Author of themand
return them not wholly to the Fountain whence they flow. For grace everbecometh the portion of him who is grateful and that is taken away from theproudwhich is wont to be given to the humble.
3. I desire no consolation which taketh away from me compunctionI love nocontemplation which leadeth to pride. For all that is high is not holynor iseverything that is sweet good; every desire is not pure; nor is everything thatis dear to us pleasing unto God. Willingly do I accept that grace whereby I ammade humbler and more wary and more ready to renounce myself. He who is madelearned by the gift of grace and taught wisdom by the stroke of the withdrawalthereofwill not dare to claim any good thing for himselfbut will ratherconfess that he is poor and needy. Give unto God the thing which is God's* andascribe to thyself that which is thine; that isgive thanks unto God for Hisgracebut for thyself alone confess thy faultand that thy punishment isdeserved for thy fault. -
* Matthew xxii. 21. -
4. Sit thou down always in the lowest room and thou shalt be given thehighest place. * For the highest cannot be without the lowest. For the highestsaints of God are least in their own sightand the more glorious they aresomuch the lowlier are they in themselves; full of grace and heavenly glorytheyare not desirous of vainglory; resting on God and strong in His mighttheycannot be lifted up in any wise. And they who ascribe unto God all the goodwhich they have received"seek not glory one of anotherbut the glorywhich cometh from God only" and they desire that God shall be praised inHimself and in all His Saints above all thingsand they are always striving forthis very thing. -
* Luke xiv. 10. -
5. Be thankfulthereforefor the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy toreceive greater. Let the least be unto thee even as the greatestand let thatwhich is of little account be unto thee as a special gift. If the majesty of theGiver be considerednothing that is given shall seem small and of no worthforthat is not a small thing which is given by the Most High God. Yeathough Hegave punishment and stripeswe ought to be thankfulbecause He ever doth forour profit whatever He suffereth to come upon us. He who seeketh to retain thefavour of Godlet him be thankful for the favour which is givenand patient inrespect of that which is taken away. Let him pray that it may return; let him bewary and humble that he lose it not.
OF THE FEWNESS OF THOSE WHO LOVE THE CROSS OF JESUS -
JESUS hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdombut few bearers of His Cross.He hath many seekers of comfortbut few of tribulation. He findeth manycompanions of His tablebut few of His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Himfew are willing to undergo anything for His sake. Many follow Jesus that theymay eat of His loavesbut few that they may drink of the cup of His passion.Many are astonished at His Miraclesfew follow after the shame of His Cross.Many love Jesus so long as no adversities happen to them. Many praise Him andbless Himso long as they receive any comforts from Him. But if Jesus hideHimself and withdraw from them a little whilethey fall either into complainingor into too great dejection of mind.
2. But they who love Jesus for Jesus' sakeand not for any consolation oftheir ownbless Him in all tribulation and anguish of heart as in the highestconsolation. And if He should never give them consolationnevertheless theywould always praise Him and always give Him thanks.
3. Oh what power hath the pure love of Jesusunmixed with any gain or loveof self! Should not all they be called mercenary who are always seekingconsolations? Do they not prove themselves lovers of self more than of Christwho are always seeking their own gain and advantage? Where shall be found onewho is willing to serve God altogether for nought?
4. Rarely is any one found so spiritual as to be stripped of all selfishthoughtsfor who shall find a man truly poor in spirit and free of all createdthings? "His value is from afaryea from the ends of the earth." Aman may give away all his goodsyet that is nothing; and if he do many deeds ofpenitenceyet that is a small thing; and though he understand all knowledgeyet that is afar off; and if he have great virtue and zealous devotionyet muchis lacking unto himyeaone thing which is the most necessary to him of all.What is it then? That having given up all things besideshe give up himself andgo forth from himself utterlyand retain nothing of self-love; and having doneall things which he knoweth to be his duty to dothat he feel that he hath donenothing. Let him not reckon that much which might be much esteemedbut let himpronounce himself to be in truth an unprofitable servantas the Truth HimselfsaithWhen ye have done all things that are commanded yousaywe areunprofitable servants. * Then may he be truly poor and naked in spiritand beable to say with the ProphetAs for meI am poor and needy. *(2) Neverthelessno man is richer than heno man strongerno man freer. For he knoweth both howto give up himself and all thingsand how to be lowly in his own eyes. -
* Luke xvii. 10.
*(2) Psalm xxv. 16.
OF THE ROYAL WAY OF THE HOLY CROSS -
THAT seemeth a hard saying to manyIf any man will come after Melet himdeny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me. * But it will be much harderto hear that last sentenceDepart from meye wickedinto eternal fire. *(2)For they who now willingly hear the word of the Cross and follow itshall notthen fear the hearing of eternal damnation. This sign of the Cross shall be inheaven when the Lord cometh to Judgment. Then all servants of the Crosswho inlife have conformed themselves to the Crucifiedshall draw nigh unto Christ theJudge with great boldness. -
* Matthew xvi. 24.
*(2) Matthew xxv. 41. -
2. Why fearest thou then to take up the cross which leadeth to a kingdom? Inthe Cross is healthin the Cross is lifein the Cross is protection fromenemiesin the Cross is heavenly sweetnessin the Cross strength of mindinthe Cross joy of the spiritin the Cross the height of virtuein the Crossperfection of holiness. There is no health of the soulno hope of eternal lifesave in the Cross. Take up thereforethy cross and follow Jesus and thou shaltgo into eternal life. He went before thee bearing His Cross and died for theeupon the Crossthat thou also mayest bear thy cross and mayest love to becrucified upon it. For if thou be dead with Himthou shalt also live with Himand if thou be a partaker of His sufferings thou shalt be also of His glory.
3. Behold everything dependeth upon the Crossand everything lieth in dying;and there is none other way unto life and to true inward peaceexcept the wayof the Holy Cross and of daily mortification. Go where thou wiltseekwhatsoever thou wiltand thou shalt find no higher way above nor safer waybelowthan the way of the Holy Cross. Dispose and order all things according tothine own will and judgmentand thou shalt ever find something to suffer eitherwillingly or unwillinglyand thus thou shalt ever find thy cross. For thoushalt either feel pain of bodyor tribulation of spirit within thy soul.
4. Sometimes thou wilt be forsaken of Godsometimes thou wilt be tried bythy neighbourand which is morethou wilt often be wearisome to thyself. Andstill thou canst not be delivered nor eased by any remedy or consolationbutmust bear so long as God will. For God will have thee learn to suffertribulation without consolationand to submit thyself fully to itand bytribulation be made more humble. No man understandeth the Passion of Christ inhis heart so well as he who hath had somewhat of the like suffering himself. TheCross therefore is always readyand every where waiteth for thee. Thou canstnot flee from it whithersoever thou hurriestfor whithersoever thou comestthou bearest thyself with theeand shalt ever find thyself. Turn thee aboveturn thee belowturn thee withoutturn thee withinand in them all thou shaltfind the Cross; and needful is it that thou everywhere possess patience if thouwilt have internal peace and gain the everlasting crown.
5. If thou willingly bear the Crossit will bear theeand will bring theeto the end which thou seekesteven where there shall be the end of suffering;though it shall not be here. If thou bear it unwillinglythou makest a burdenfor thyself and greatly increaseth thy loadand yet thou must bear it. If thoucast away one crosswithout doubt thou shalt find another and perchance aheavier.
6. Thinkest thou to escape what no mortal hath been able to avoid? Which ofthe saints in the world hath been without the cross and tribulation? For noteven Jesus Christ our Lord was one hour without the anguish of His Passionsolong as He lived. It behoovedHe saidChrist to suffer and to rise from thedeadand so enter into his glory. * And how dost thou seek another way thanthis royal waywhich is the way of the Holy Cross? -
* Luke xxiv. 46. -
7. The whole life of Christ was a cross and martyrdomand dost thou seek forthyself rest and joy? Thou art wrongthou art wrongif thou seekest aught butto suffer tribulationsfor this whole mortal life is full of miseriesand setround with crosses. And the higher a man hath advanced in the spirittheheavier crosses he will often findbecause the sorrow of his banishmentincreaseth with the strength of his love.
8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise afflictedis not withoutrefreshment of consolationbecause he feeleth abundant fruit to be growingwithin him out of the bearing of his cross. For whilst he willingly submittethhimself to itevery burden of tribulation is turned into an assurance of divinecomfortand the more the flesh is wasted by afflictionthe more is the spiritstrengthened mightily by inward grace. And ofttimes so greatly is he comfortedby the desire for tribulation and adversitythrough love of conformity to theCross of Christthat he would not be without sorrow and tribulation; for hebelieveth that he shall be the more acceptable to Godthe more and the heavierburdens he is able to bear for His sake. This is not the virtue of manbut thegrace of Christ which hath such power and energy in the weak fleshthat what itnaturally hateth and fleeth fromthis it draweth to and loveth through fervourof spirit.
9. It is not in the nature of man to bear the crossto love the crosstokeep under the body and to bring it into subjectionto fly from honourstobear reproaches meeklyto despise self and desire to be despisedto bear alladversities and lossesand to desire no prosperity in this world. If thoulookest to thyselfthou wilt of thyself be able to do none of this; but if thoutrustest in the Lordendurance shall be given thee from heavenand the worldand the flesh shall be made subject to thy command. Yeathou shalt not evenfear thine adversary the devilif thou be armed with faith and signed with theCross of Christ.
10. Set thyselfthereforelike a good and faithful servant of Christtothe manful bearing of the Cross of thy Lordwho out of love was crucified forthee. Prepare thyself for the bearing many adversities and manifold troubles inthis wretched life; because so it shall be with thee wheresoever thou artandso in very deed thou shalt find itwherever thou hide thyself. This it must be;and there is no means of escaping from tribulation and sorrowexcept to bearthem patiently. Drink thou lovingly thy Lord's cup if thou desirest to be Hisfriend and to have thy lot with Him. Leave consolations to Godlet Him do asseemeth best to Him concerning them. But do thou set thyself to enduretribulationsand reckon them the best consolations; for the sufferings of thispresent time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall berevealed in us* nor would they be even if thou wert to endure them all. -
* Romans viii. 18. -
11. When thou hast come to thisthat tribulation is sweet and pleasant tothee for Christ's sakethen reckon that it is well with theebecause thou hastfound paradise on earth. So long as it is hard to thee to suffer and thoudesirest to escapeso long it will not be well with theeand tribulations willfollow thee everywhere.
12. If thou settest thyself to that thou oughtestnamelyto suffer and todieit shall soon go better with theeand thou shalt find peace. Though thoushouldest be caught up with Paul unto the third heaven* thou art not on thataccount secure from suffering evil. I will show himsaith Jesuswhat greatthings he must suffer for My Name's sake. *(2) It remaineththereforeto theeto sufferif thou wilt love Jesus and serve Him continually. -
* 2 Corinthians xii. 2.
*(2) Acts. ix. 16. -
13. Oh that thou wert worthy to suffer something for the name of Jesushowgreat glory should await theewhat rejoicing among all the saints of Godwhatbright example also to thy neighbour! For all men commend patiencealthough fewbe willing to practise it. Thou oughtest surely to suffer a little for Christwhen many suffer heavier things for the world.
14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to lead the life of a dying man.And the more a man dieth to himselfthe more he beginneth to live towards God.None is fit for the understanding of heavenly thingsunless he hath submittedhimself to bearing adversities for Christ. Nothing more acceptable to Godnothing more healthful for thyself in this worldthan to suffer willingly forChrist. And if it were thine to choosethou oughtest rather to wish to sufferadversities for Christthan to be refreshed with manifold consolationsforthou wouldest be more like Christ and more conformed to all saints. For ourworthiness and growth in grace lieth not in many delights and consolationsbutrather in bearing many troubles and adversities.
15. If indeed there had been anything better and more profitable to thehealth of men than to sufferChrist would surely have shown it by word andexample. For both the disciples who followed Himand all who desire to followHimHe plainly exhorteth to bear their crossand saithIf any man will comeafter Melet him deny himself and take up his crossand follow Me. * So nowthat we have thoroughly read and studied all thingslet us hear the conclusionof the whole matter. We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom ofGod. *(2) -
* Luke ix. 23.
*(2) Acts xiv. 21.
THE THIRD BOOK
ON INWARD CONSOLATION -
OF THE INWARD VOICE OF CHRIST TO THE FAITHFUL SOUL -
I WILL hearken what the Lord God shall say within me. * Blessed is the soulwhich heareth the Lord speaking within itand receiveth the word of consolationfrom His mouth. Blessed are the ears which receive the echoes of the softwhisper of Godand turn not aside to the whisperings of this world. Blessedtruly are the ears which listen not to the voice that soundeth withoutbut tothat which teacheth truth inwardly. Blessed are the eyes which are closed tothings withoutbut are fixed upon things within. Blessed are they who searchinward things and study to prepare themselves more and more by daily exercisesfor the receiving of heavenly mysteries. Blessed are they who long to haveleisure for Godand free themselves from every hindrance of the world. Think onthese thingsO my souland shut the doors of thy carnal desiresso mayestthou hear what the Lord God will say within thee. -
* Psalm lxxxv. 8. -
2. These things saith thy Beloved"I am thy salvationI am thy peaceand thy life. Keep thee unto Meand thou shalt find peace." Put away theeall transitory thingsseek those things that are eternal. For what are alltemporal things but deceitsand what shall all created things help thee if thoube forsaken by the Creator? Therefore put all things else awayand give thyselfto the Creatorto be well pleasing and faithful to Himthat thou mayest beable to attain true blessedness.
WHAT THE TRUTH SAITH INWARDLY WITHOUT NOISE OF WORDS -
SPEAK Lordfor thy servant heareth. * I am Thy servant; O give meunderstanding that I may know Thy testimonies. Incline my heart unto the wordsof Thy mouth. *(2) Let thy speech distil as the dew. The children of Israelspake in old time to MosesSpeak thou unto us and we will hearbut let not theLord speak unto us lest we die. *(3) Not thusO Lordnot thus do I praybutrather with Samuel the prophetI beseech Thee humbly and earnestlySpeakLordfor Thy servant heareth. Let not Moses speak to menor any prophetbutrather speak ThouO Lordwho didst inspire and illuminate all the prophets;for Thou alone without them canst perfectly fill me with knowledgewhilst theywithout Thee shall profit nothing. -
* 1 Samuel iii. 9.
*(2) Psalm cxix. 125.
*(3) Exodus xx. 19. -
2. They can indeed utter wordsbut they give not the spirit. They speak withexceeding beautybut when Thou art silent they kindle not the heart. They giveus scripturesbut Thou makest known the sense thereof. They bring us mysteriesbut Thou revealest the things which are signified. They utter commandmentsbutThou helpest to the fulfilling of them. They show the waybut Thou giveststrength for the journey. They act only outwardlybut Thou dost instruct andenlighten the heart. They waterbut Thou givest the increase. They cry withwordsbut Thou givest understanding to the hearer.
3. Therefore let not Moses speak to mebut ThouO Lord my GodEternalTruth; lest I die and bring forth no fruitbeing outwardly admonishedbut notenkindled within; lest the word heard but not followedknown but not lovedbelieved but not obeyedrise up against me in the judgment. SpeakLordforThy servant heareth; Thou hast the words of eternal life. * Speak unto me forsome consolation unto my soulfor the amendment of my whole lifeand for thepraise and glory and eternal honour of Thy Name. -
* John vi. 68.
HOW ALL THE WORDS OF GOD ARE TO BE HEARD WITH HUMILITY
AND HOW MANY CONSIDER THEM NOT -
"MY Sonhear My wordsfor My words are most sweetsurpassing all theknowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this world. My words are spiritand they are life* and are not to be weighed by man's understanding. They arenot to be drawn forth for vain approbationbut to be heard in silenceand tobe received with all humility and with deep love." -
* John vi. 63. -
2. And I said"Blessed is the man whom Thou teachestO Lordandinstructest him in Thy lawthat Thou mayest give him rest in time of adversity* and that he be not desolate in the earth." -
* Psalm xciv. 13. -
3. "I" saith the Lord"taught the prophets from thebeginningand even now cease I not to speak unto all; but many are deaf andhardened against My voice; many love to listen to the world rather than to Godthey follow after the desires of the flesh more readily than after the goodpleasure of God. The world promiseth things that are temporal and smalland itis served with great eagerness. I promise things that are great and eternalandthe hearts of mortals are slow to stir. Who serveth and obeyeth Me in allthingswith such carefulness as he serveth the world and its rulers? -
Be thou ashamedO Sidonsaith the sea; *
And if thou reason seekesthear thou me.
For a little reward men make a long journey; for eternal life many willscarce lift a foot once from the ground. Mean reward is sought after; for asingle piece of money sometimes there is shameful striving; for a thing which isvain and for a trifling promisemen shrink not from toiling day andnight." -
* Isaiah xxiii. 4. -
4. "ButO shame! for an unchangeable goodfor an inestimable rewardfor the highest honour and for a glory that fadeth not awayit is irksome tothem to toil even a little. Be thou ashamed thereforeslothful and discontentedservantfor they are found readier unto perdition than thou unto life. Theyrejoice more heartily in vanity than thou in the truth. Sometimesindeedtheyare disappointed of their hopebut my promise faileth no mannor sendeth awayempty him who trusteth in Me. What I have promised I will give; what I have saidI will fulfil; if only a man remain faithful in My love unto the end. Therefoream I the rewarder of all good menand a strong approver of all who are godly.
5. "Write My words in thy heart and consider them diligentlyfor theyshall be very needful to thee in time of temptation. What thou understandest notwhen thou readestthou shalt know in the time of thy visitation. I am wont tovisit Mine elect in twofold mannereven by temptation and by comfortand Iteach them two lessons day by daythe one in chiding their faultsthe other inexhorting them to grow in grace. He who hath My words and rejecteth themhathone who shall judge him at the last day." -
A PRAYER FOR THE SPIRIT OF DEVOTION -
6. O Lord my GodThou art all my goodand who am I that I should dare tospeak unto Thee? I am the very poorest of Thy servantsan abject wormmuchpoorer and more despicable than I know or dare to say. Nevertheless rememberOLordthat I am nothingI have nothingand can do nothing. Thou only art goodjust and holy; Thou canst do all thingsart over all thingsfillest allthingsleaving empty only the sinner. Call to mind Thy tender merciesand fillmy heart with Thy graceThou who wilt not that Thy work should return to Theevoid.
7. How can I bear this miserable life unless Thy mercy and grace strengthenme? Turn not away Thy face from medelay not Thy visitation. Withdraw not ThouThy comfort from melest my soul "gasp after thee as a thirsty land."Lordteach me to do Thy willteach me to walk humbly and uprightly beforeTheefor Thou art my wisdomwho knowest me in truthand knewest me before theworld was made and before I was born into the world.
HOW WE MUST WALK IN TRUTH AND HUMILITY BEFORE GOD -
"MY Son! walk before Me in truthand in the simplicity of thy heartseek Me continually. He who walketh before Me in the truth shall be safe fromevil assaultsand the truth shall deliver him from the wiles and slanders ofthe wicked. If the truth shall make thee freethou shalt be free indeedandshalt not care for the vain words of men:"
2. Lordit is true as Thou sayest; let itI pray Theebe so with me; letThy truth teach melet it keep me and preserve me safe unto the end. Let itfree me from all evil and inordinate affectionand I will walk before Thee ingreat freedom of heart.
3. "I will teach thee" saith the Truth"the things which areright and pleasing before Me. Think upon thy sins with great displeasure andsorrowand never think thyself anything because of thy good works. Verily thouart a sinnerliable to many passionsyeatied and bound with them. Of thyselfthou always tendest unto nothingthou wilt quickly fallquickly be conqueredquickly disturbedquickly undone. Thou hast nought whereof to glorybut manyreasons why thou shouldest reckon thyself vilefor thou art far weaker thanthou art able to comprehend.
4. "Letthereforenothing which thou doest seem to thee great; letnothing be grandnothing of value or beautynothing worthy of honournothingloftynothing praiseworthy or desirablesave what is eternal. Let the eternaltruth please thee above all thingslet thine own great vileness displease theecontinually. Feardenounceflee nothing so much as thine own faults and sinswhich ought to be more displeasing to thee than any loss whatsoever of goods.There are some who walk not sincerely before mebut being led by curiosity andpridethey desire to know my secret things and to understand the deep things ofGodwhilst they neglect themselves and their salvation. These often fall intogreat temptations and sins because of their pride and curiosityfor I amagainst them.
5. "Fear thou the judgments of Godfear greatly the wrath of theAlmighty. Shrink from debating upon the works of the Most Highbut searchnarrowly thine own iniquities into what great sins thou hast fallenand howmany good things thou hast neglected. There are some who carry their devotiononly in bookssome in picturessome in outward signs and figures; some have Mein their mouthsbut little in their hearts. Others there are whobeingenlightened in their understanding and purged in their affectionscontinuallylong after eternal thingshear of earthly things with unwillingnessobey thenecessities of nature with sorrow. And these understand what the Spirit of truthspeaketh in them; for He teacheth them to despise earthly things and to loveheavenly; to neglect the world and to desire heaven all the day and night."
OF THE WONDERFUL POWER OF THE DIVINE LOVE -
I BLESS TheeO Heavenly FatherFather of my Lord Jesus Christfor thatThou hast vouchsafed to think of mepoor that I am. OFather of Mercies andGod of all comfort* I give thanks unto Theewho refreshest me sometimes withthine own comfortwhen I am unworthy of any comfort. I bless and glorify Theecontinuallywith thine only begotten Son and the Holy Ghostthe Paracleteforever and ever. O Lord GodHoly lover of my soulwhen Thou shalt come into myheartall my inward parts shall rejoice. Thou art my glory and the joy of myheart. Thou art my hope and my refuge in the day of my trouble. -
* 2 Corinthians i. 3. -
2. But because I am still weak in love and imperfect in virtueI need to bestrengthened and comforted by Thee; therefore visit Thou me often and instructme with Thy holy ways of discipline. Deliver me from evil passionsand cleansemy heart from all inordinate affectionsthatbeing healed and altogethercleansed withinI may be made ready to lovestrong to suffersteadfast toendure.
3. Love is a great thinga good above all otherswhich alone maketh everyheavy burden lightand equaliseth every inequality. For it beareth the burdenand maketh it no burdenit maketh every
bitter thing to be sweet and of good taste. The surpassing love of Jesusimpelleth to great worksand exciteth to the continual desiring of greaterperfection. Love willeth to be raised upand not to be held down by any meanthing. Love willeth to be free and aloof from all worldly affectionlest itsinward power of vision be hinderedlest it be entangled by any worldlyprosperity or overcome by adversity. Nothing is sweeter than lovenothingstrongernothing loftiernothing broadernothing pleasanternothing fulleror better in heaven nor on earthfor love was born of God and cannot rest savein God above all created things.
4. He who loveth flyethrunnethand is glad; he is free and not hindered.He giveth all things for all thingsand hath all things in all thingsbecausehe resteth in One who is high above allfrom whom every good floweth andproceedeth. He looketh not for giftsbut turneth himself to the Giver above allgood things. Love oftentimes knoweth no measurebut breaketh out above allmeasure; love feeleth no burdenreckoneth not laboursstriveth after more thanit is able to dopleadeth not impossibilitybecause it judgeth all thingswhich are lawful for it to be possible. It is strong therefore for all thingsand it fulfilleth many thingsand is successful where he who loveth not failethand lieth down.
5. Love is watchfuland whilst sleeping still keepeth watch; though fatiguedit is not wearythough pressed it is not forcedthough alarmed it is notterrifiedbut like the living flame and the burning torchit breaketh forth onhigh and securely triumpheth. If a man lovethhe knoweth what this voicecrieth. For the ardent affection of the soul is a great clamour in the ears ofGodand it saith: My Godmy Beloved! Thou art all mineand I am all Thine.
6. Enlarge Thou me in lovethat I may learn to taste with the innermostmouth of my heart how sweet it is to loveto be dissolvedand to swim in love.Let me be holden by lovemounting above myself through exceeding fervour andadmiration. Let me sing the song of lovelet me follow Thee my Beloved on highlet my soul exhaust itself in Thy praiseexulting with love. Let me love Theemore than myselfnot loving myself except for Thy sakeand all men in Thee whotruly love Theeas the law of love commandeth which shineth forth from Thee.
7. Love is swiftsincerepiouspleasantgentlestrongpatientfaithfulprudentlong-sufferingmanlyand never seeking her own; forwheresoever a man seeketh his ownthere he falleth from love. Love iscircumspecthumbleand upright; not weaknot ficklenor intent on vainthings; soberchastesteadfastquietand guarded in all the senses. Love issubject and obedient to all that are in authorityvile and lowly in its ownsightdevout and grateful towards Godfaithful and always trusting in Him evenwhen God hideth His facefor without sorrow we cannot live in love.
8. He who is not ready to suffer all thingsand to conform to the will ofthe Belovedis not worthy to be called a lover of God. It behoveth him wholoveth to embrace willingly all hard and bitter things for the Beloved's sakeand not to be drawn away from Him because of any contrary accidents.
OF THE PROVING OF THE TRUE LOVER -
"MY Sonthou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love."
2. WhereforeO my Lord?
3. "Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thyundertakingsand too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong loverstandeth fast in temptationsand believeth not the evil persuasions of theenemy. As in prosperity I please himso in adversity I do not displease.
4. "The prudent lover considereth not the gift of the lover so much asthe love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more than the valueandsetteth all gifts lower than the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in thegiftbut in Me above every gift.
5. "All is not lostthough thou sometimes think of Me or of My saintsless than thou shouldest desire. That good and sweet affection which thousometimes perceivest is the effect of present grace and some foretaste of theheavenly country; but hereon thou must not too much dependfor it goeth andcometh. But to strive against the evil motions of the mind which come to usandto resist the suggestions of the devilis a token of virtue and great merit.
6. "Therefore let not strange fancies disturb theewhencesoever theyarise. Bravely observe thy purpose and thy upright intentions towards God. It isnot an illusion when thou art sometimes suddenly carried away into raptureandthen suddenly art brought back to the wonted vanities of thy heart. For thoudost rather unwillingly undergo them than cause them; and so long as theydisplease thee and thou strivest against themit is a merit and no loss.
7. "Know thou that thine old enemy altogether striveth to hinder thypursuit after goodand to deter thee from every godly exerciseto witthecontemplation of the Saintsthe pious remembrance of My passionthe profitablerecollection of sinthe keeping of thy own heartand the steadfast purpose togrow in virtue. He suggesteth to thee many evil thoughtsthat he may work inthee weariness and terrorand so draw thee away from prayer and holy reading.Humble confession displeaseth himand if he were able he would make thee tocease from Communion. Believe him notnor heed himthough many a time he hathlaid for thee the snares of deceit. Account it to be from himwhen hesuggesteth evil and unclean thoughts. Say unto him'Depart unclean spirit; puton shamemiserable one; horribly unclean art thouwho bringest such things tomine ears. Depart from medetestable deceiver; thou shalt have no part in me;but Jesus shall be with meas a strong warriorand thou shalt standconfounded. Rather would I die and bear all sufferingthan consent unto thee.Hold thy peace and be dumb; I will not hear thee morethough thou plottest moresnares against me. The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom then shall Ifear? Though a host of men should rise up against meyet shall not my heart beafraid. The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer.' * -
* Psalms xxvii. 1-3; xix 14. -
8. "Strive thou like a good soldier; and if sometimes thou fail throughweaknessput on thy strength more bravely than beforetrusting in My moreabundant graceand take thou much heed of vain confidence and pride. Because ofit many are led into errorand sometimes fall into blindness well-nighirremediable. Let this ruin of the proudwho foolishly lift themselves upbeto thee for a warning and a continual exhortation to humility."
OF HIDING OUR GRACE UNDER THE GUARD OF HUMILITY. -
"MY Sonit is better and safer for thee to hide the grace of devotionand not to lift thyself up on highnor to speak much thereofnor to value itgreatly; but rather to despise thyselfand to fear as though this grace weregiven to one unworthy thereof. Nor must thou depend too much upon this feelingfor it can very quickly be turned into its opposite. Think when thou art in astate of grace how miserable and poor thou art wont to be without grace. Nor isthere advance in spiritual life in this alonethat thou hast the grace ofconsolationbut that thou humbly and unselfishly and patiently takest thewithdrawal thereof; so that thou cease not from the exercise of prayernorsuffer thy other common duties to be in anywise neglected; rather do thy taskmore readilyas though thou hadst gained more strength and knowledge; and donot altogether neglect thyself because of the dearth and anxiety of spirit whichthou feelest.
2. "For there are many whowhen things have not gone prosperous withthembecome forthwith impatient or slothful. For the way of a man is not inhimself* but it is God's to give and to consolewhen He willand as much asHe willand whom He willas it shall please Himand no further. Some who werepresumptuous because of the grace of devotion within themhave destroyedthemselvesbecause they would do more than they were ablenot considering themeasure of their own littlenessbut rather following the impulse of the heartthan the judgment of the reason. And because they presumed beyond what waswell-pleasing unto Godtherefore they quickly lost grace. They became poor andwere left vilewho had built for themselves their nest in heaven; so that beinghumbled and stricken with povertythey might learn not to fly with their ownwingsbut to put their trust under My feathers. They who are as yet new andunskilled in the way of the Lordunless they rule themselves after the counselof the wisemay easily be deceived and led away. -
* Jeremiah x. 23. -
3. "But if they wish to follow their own fancies rather than trust theexperience of othersthe result will be very dangerous to them if they stillrefuse to be drawn away from their own notion. Those who are wise in their ownconceitsseldom patiently endure to be ruled by others. It is better to have asmall portion of wisdom with humilityand a slender understandingthan greattreasures of sciences with vain self-esteem. It is better for thee to have lessthan much of what may make thee proud. He doeth not very discreetly who givethhimself entirely to joyforgetting his former helplessness and the chaste fearof the Lordwhich feareth to lose the grace offered. Nor is he very wiseaftera manly sortwho in time of adversityor any trouble whatsoeverbearethhimself too despairinglyand feeleth concerning Me less trustfully than heought.
4. "He who in time of peace willeth to be oversecure shall be oftenfound in time of war overdispirited and full of fears. If thou knewest alwayshow to continue humble and moderate in thyselfand to guide and rule thine ownspirit wellthou wouldest not so quickly fall into danger and mischief. It isgood counsel that when fervour of spirit is kindledthou shouldest meditate howit will be with thee when the light is taken away. Which when it doth happenremember that still the light may return againwhich I have taken away for atime for a warning to theeand also for mine own glory. Such a trial is oftenmore useful than if thou hadst always things prosperous according to thine ownwill.
5. "For merits are not to be reckoned by thisthat a man hath manyvisions or consolationsor that he is skilled in the Scripturesor that he isplaced in a high situation; but that he is grounded upon true humility andfilled with divine charitythat he always purely and uprightly seeketh thehonour of Godthat he setteth not by himselfbut unfeignedly despisethhimselfand even rejoiceth to be despised and humbled by others more than to behonoured."
OF A LOW ESTIMATION OF SELF IN THE SIGHT OF GOD -
I WILL speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. If I count myself morebehold Thou standest against meand my iniquities bear true testimonyand Icannot gainsay it. But if I abase myselfand bring myself to noughtand shrinkfrom all self-esteemand grind myself to dustwhich I amThy grace will befavourable unto meand Thy light will be near unto my heart; and allself-esteemhow little soever it beshall be swallowed up in the depths of mynothingnessand shall perish for ever. There Thou showest to me myselfwhat Iamwhat I wasand whither I have come: so foolish was I and ignorant. * If Iam left to myselfbehold I am nothingI am all weakness; but if suddenly Thoulook upon meimmediately I am made strongand filled with new joy. And it isgreat marvel that I am so suddenly lifted upand so graciously embraced byTheesince I am always being carried to the deep by my own weight. -
* Psalm lxxiii. 22. -
2. This is the doing of Thy love which freely goeth before me and succourethme in so many necessitieswhich guardeth me also in great dangers and snatchethmeas I may truly sayfrom innumerable evils. For verilyby loving myselfamissI lost myselfand by seeking and sincerely loving Thee aloneI foundboth myself and Theeand through love I have brought myself to yet deepernothingness: because ThouO most sweet Lorddealest with me beyond all meritand above all which I dare ask or think.
3. Blessed be ThouO my Godbecause though I be unworthy of all ThybenefitsThy bountiful and infinite goodness never ceaseth to do good even toingrates and to those who are turned far from Thee. Turn Thou us unto Thyselfthat we may be gratefulhumbleand godlyfor Thou art our salvationourcourageand our strength.
THAT ALL THINGS ARE TO BE REFERRED TO GODAS THE FINAL END -
"MY SonI must be thy Supreme and final endif thou desirest to betruly happy. Out of such purpose thy affection shall be purifiedwhich toooften is sinfully bent upon itself and upon created things. For if thou seekestthyself in any matterstraightway thou wilt fail within thyself and growbarren. Therefore refer everything to Me first of allfor it is I who gave theeall. So look upon each blessing as flowing from the Supreme Goodand thus allthings are to be attributed to Me as their source.
2. "From Me the humble and greatthe poor and the richdraw water asfrom a living fountainand those who serve Me with a free and faithful spiritshall receive grace for grace. But he who will glory apart from Meor will bedelighted with any good which lieth in himselfshall not be established in truejoynor shall be enlarged in heartbut shall be greatly hindered and throwninto tribulation. Therefore thou must not ascribe any good to thyselfnor lookupon virtue as belonging to any manbut ascribe it all unto Godwithout whomman hath nothing. I gave allI will receive all againand with greatstrictness require I the giving of thanks.
3. "This is the Truthand by it the vanity of boasting is put toflight. And if heavenly grace and true charity shall enter into theethereshall be no envynor straitening of the heartnor shall any self-love takepossession of thee. For divine charity conquereth all thingsand enlargeth allthe powers of the soul. If thou art truly wisethou wilt rejoice in Me alonethou wilt hope in Me alone; for there is none good but onethat is God* Whois
to be praised above all thingsand in all things to receive blessing."-
* Luke xviii. 19.
THAT IT IS SWEET TO DESPISE THE WORLD AND TO SERVE GOD -
NOW will I speak againO my Lordand hold not my peace; I will say in theears of my Godmy Lordand my Kingwho is exalted above allOh how plentifulis Thy goodness which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee! * But what artThou to those who love Thee? What to those who serve Thee with their wholeheart? Truly unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of TheewhichThou bestowest upon those who love Thee. In this most of all Thou hast showed methe sweetness of Thy charitythat when I was notThou madest meand when Iwandered far from TheeThou broughtest me back that I might serve Theeandcommandedst me to love Thee. -
* Psalm xxxi. 21. -
2. O Fountain of perpetual lovewhat shall I say concerning Thee? How shallI be unmindful of Theewho didst vouchsafe to remember meeven after I pinedaway and perished? Thou hast had mercy beyond all hope upon Thy servantandhast showed Thy grace and friendship beyond all deserving. What reward shall Irender Thee for this Thy grace? For it is not even unto all to renounce thisworld and its affairsand to take up a religious life. For is it a great thingthat I should serve Theewhom every creature ought to serve? It ought not toseem a great thing to me to serve Thee; but rather this appeareth to me a greatand wonderful thingthat Thou vouchsafest to receive as Thy servant one so poorand unworthyand to join him unto Thy chosen servants.
3. Behold all things which I have are Thineand with them I serve Thee. Andyet verily it is Thou who servest merather than I Thee. Behold the heaven andthe earth which Thou hast created for the service of men; they are at Thybiddingand perform daily whatsoever Thou dost command. Yeaand this islittle; for Thou hast even ordained the Angels for the service of man. But itsurpasseth even all these thingsthat Thou Thyself didst vouchsafe to ministerunto manand didst promise that Thou wouldest give Thyself unto him.
4. What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy manifold mercies? Oh thatI were able to serve Thee all the days of my life! Oh that even for one day Iwere enabled to do Thee service worthy of Thyself! For verily Thou art worthy ofall serviceall honourand praise without end. Verily Thou art my Godand Iam Thy poor servantwho am bound to serve Thee with all my strengthnor oughtI ever to grow weary of Thy praise. This is my wishthis is my exceeding greatdesireand whatsoever is lacking to mevouchsafe Thou to supply.
5. It is great honourgreat glory to serve Theeand to despise all for Thysake. For they shall have great grace who of their own will shall submitthemselves to Thy most holy service. They who for Thy love have cast away everycarnal delight shall find the sweetest consolation of the Holy Ghost. They whoenter the narrow way of life for Thy Name's sakeand have put away all worldlycaresshall attain great liberty of spirit.
6. Oh grateful and delightsome service of Godwhereby man is made truly freeand holy! Oh sacred condition of the religious servantwhich maketh man equalto the Angelswell-pleasing unto Godterrible to evil spiritsand acceptableto all faithful ones! Oh service to be embraced and ever desiredin which thehighest good is promisedand joy is gained which shall remain for evermore!
THAT THE DESIRES OF THE HEART ARE TO BE EXAMINED AND GOVERNED -
"MY Sonthou hast still many things to learnwhich thou hast not welllearned yet."
2. What are theyLord?
3. "To place thy desire altogether in subjection to My good pleasureand not to be a lover of thyselfbut an earnest seeker of My will. Thy desiresoften excite and urge thee forward; but consider with thyself whether thou artnot more moved for thine own objects than for My honour. If it is Myself thatthou seekestthou shalt be well content with whatsoever I shall ordain; but ifany pursuit of thine own lieth hidden within theebehold it is this whichhindereth and weigheth thee down.
4. "Bewarethereforelest thou strive too earnestly after some desirewhich thou hast conceivedwithout taking counsel of Me; lest haply it repentthee afterwardsand that displease thee which before Pleasedand for whichthou didst long as for a great good. For not every affection which seemeth goodis to be forthwith followed; neither is every opposite affection to beimmediately avoided. Sometimes it is expedient to use restraint even in gooddesires and wisheslest through importunity thou fall into distraction of mindlest through want of discipline thou become a stumbling-block to othersor lestby the resistance of others thou be suddenly disturbed and brought to confusion.
5. "Sometimesindeedit is needful to use violenceand manfully tostrive against the sensual appetiteand not to consider what the flesh may ornot will; but rather to strive after thisthat it may become subjecthoweverunwillinglyto the spirit. And for so long it ought to be chastised andcompelled to undergo slaveryeven until it be ready for all thingsand learnto be contented with littleto be delighted with things simpleand never tomurmur at any inconvenience."
OF THE INWARD GROWTH OF PATIENCEAND OF THE STRUGGLE
AGAINST EVIL DESIRES -
O LORD GodI see that patience is very necessary unto me; for many things inthis life fall out contrary. For howsoever I may have contrived for my peacemylife cannot go on without strife and trouble.
2. "Thou speakest trulyMy Son. For I will not that thou seek such apeace as is without trialsand knoweth no adversities; but rather that thoushouldest judge thyself to have found peacewhen thou art tried with manifoldtribulationsand proved by many adversities. If thou shalt say that thou artnot able to bear muchhow then wilt thou sustain the fire hereafter? Of twoevils we should always choose the less. Thereforethat thou mayest escapeeternal torments hereafterstrive on God's behalf to endure present evilsbravely. Thinkest thou that the children of this world suffer noughtor butlittle? Thou wilt not find it soeven though thou find out the most prosperous.
3. "'But' thou wilt say'they have many delightsand they followtheir own willsand thus they bear lightly their tribulations.'
4. "Be it sogrant that they have what the list; but how long
thinkest thouwill it last? Beholdlike the smoke those who are rich inthis world will pass awayand no record shall remain of their past joys. Yeaeven while they yet livethey rest not without bitterness and weariness andfear. For from the very same thing wherein they find delightthence theyoftentimes have the punishment of sorrow. Justly it befalleth themthat becauseout of measure they seek out and pursue pleasuresthey enjoy them not withoutconfusion and bitterness. Oh how shorthow falsehow inordinate and wicked areall these pleasures! Yet because of their sottishness and blindness men do notunderstand; but like brute beastsfor the sake of a little pleasure of thiscorruptible lifethey incur death of the soul. Thou thereforemy songo notafter thy lustsbut refrain thyself from thine appetites. * Delight thou in theLordand He shall give thee thy heart's desire? *(2) -
* Ecclesiastes xviii. 30.
*(2) Psalm xxxvii. 4. -
5. "For if thou wilt truly find delightand be abundantly comforted ofMebehold in the contempt of all worldly things and in the avoidance of allworthless pleasures shall be thy blessingand fulness of consolation shall begiven thee. And the more thou withdrawest thyself from all solace of creaturesthe more sweet and powerful consolations shalt thou find. But at the first thoushalt not attain to themwithout some sorrow and hard striving. Long-accustomedhabit will opposebut it shall be overcome by better habit. The flesh willmurmur again and againbut will be restrained by fervour of spirit. The oldserpent will urge and embitter theebut will be put to flight by prayer;moreoverby useful labour his entrance will be greatly obstructed."
OF THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE IN LOWLY SUBJECTION AFTER THE
EXAMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST -
"MY Sonhe who striveth to withdraw himself from obediencewithdrawethhimself also from graceand he who seeketh private advantagesloseth thosewhich are common unto all. If a man submit not freely and willingly to one setover himit is a sign that his flesh is not yet perfectly subject to himselfbut often resisteth and murmureth. Learn therefore quickly to submit thyself tohim who is over theeif thou seekest to bring thine own flesh into subjection.For the outward enemy is very quickly overcome if the inner man have not beenlaid low. There is no more grievous and deadly enemy to the soul than thou artto thyselfif thou art not led by the Spirit. Thou must not altogether conceivecontempt for thyselfif thou wilt prevail against flesh and blood. Because asyet thou inordinately lovest thyselftherefore thou shrinkest from yieldingthyself to the will of others.
2. "But what great thing is it that thouwho art dust and nothingnessyieldest thyself to man for God's sakewhen Ithe Almighty and the Most Highwho created all things out of nothingsubjected Myself to man for thy sake? Ibecame the most humble and despised of menthat by My humility thou mightestovercome thy pride. Learn to obeyO dust! Learn to humble thyselfO earth anddayand to bow thyself beneath the feet of all. Learn to crush thy passionsand to yield thyself in all subjection.
3. "Be zealous against thyselfnor suffer pride to live within theebut so show thyself subject and of no reputationthat all may be able to walkover theeand tread thee down as the day in the streets. What hast thouOfoolish manof which to complain? WhatO vile sinnercanst thou answer thosewho speak against theeseeing thou hast so often offended Godand many a timehast deserved hell? But Mine eye hath spared theebecause thy soul was preciousin My sight; that thou mightest know My loveand mightest be thankful for Mybenefits; and that thou mightest give thyself altogether to true subjection andhumilityand patiently bear the contempt which thou meritest."
OF MEDITATION UPON THE HIDDEN JUDGMENTS OF GODTHAT WE
MAY NOT BE LIFTED UP BECAUSE OF OUR WELL-DOING -
THOU sendest forth Thy judgments against meO Lordand shakest all my boneswith fear and tremblingand my soul trembleth exceedingly. I stand astonishedand remember that the heavens are not clean in thy sight. * If Thou chargestThine angels with follyand didst spare them nothow shall it be unto me?Stars have fallen from heavenand what shall I dare who am but dust? They whoseworks seemed to be praiseworthyfell into the lowest depthsand they who dideat Angels' foodthem have I seen delighted with the husks that the swine doeat. -
* Job xv. 15. -
2. There is therefore no holinessif Thou O Lordwithdraw Thine hand. Nowisdom profitethif Thou leave off to guide the helm. No strength availethifThou cease to preserve. No purity is secureif Thou protect it not. Noself-keeping availethif Thy holy watching be not there. For when we are leftalone we are swallowed up and perishbut when we are visitedwe are raised upand we live. For indeed we are unstablebut are made strong through Thee; wegrow coldbut are rekindled by Thee.
3. Ohhow humbly and abjectly must I reckon of myselfhow must I weigh itas nothingif I seem to have nothing good! Ohhow profoundly ought I to submitmyself to Thy unfathomable judgmentsO Lordwhen I find myself nothing elsesave nothingand again nothing! Oh weight unmeasurableoh ocean which cannotbe crossed overwhere I find nothing of myself save nothing altogether! Wherethenis the hiding-place of glorywhere the confidence begotten of virtue? Allvain-glory is swallowed up in the depths of Thy judgments against me.
4. What is all flesh in Thy sight? For how shall the clay boast against Himthat fashioned it? * How can he be lifted up in vain speech whose heart issubjected in truth to God? The whole world shall not lift him up whom Truth hathsubdued; nor shall he be moved by the mouth of all who praise himwho hathplaced all his hope in God. For they themselves who speakbeholdthey are allnothing; for they shall cease with the sound of their wordsbut the truth ofthe Lord endureth for ever. *(2) -
* Psalm xxix. 16.
*(2) Psalm cxvii. 2.
HOW WE MUST STAND AND SPEAKIN EVERYTHING THAT WE DESIRE -
"MY Sonspeak thou thus in every matter'Lordif it please Theeletthis come to pass. Lordif this shall be for Thine honourlet it be done inThy Name. Lordif thou see it good for meand approve it as usefulthen grantme to use it for Thy honour. But if thou knowest that it shall be hurtful untomeand not profitable for the health of my soultake the desire away from me'!For not every desire is from the Holy Ghostalthough it appear to a man rightand good. It is difficult to judge with certainty whether a good or an evilspirit move thee to desire this or thator whether thou art moved by thine ownspirit. Many have been deceived at the lastwho seemed at the beginning to bemoved by a good spirit.
2. "Thereforewhatsoever seemeth to thee desirablethou must alwaysdesire and seek after it with the fear of God and humility of heartand most ofallmust altogether resign thyselfand commit all unto Me and say'Lordthouknowest what is best; let this or that beaccording as Thou wilt. Give whatThou wiltso much as Thou wiltwhen Thou wilt. Do with me as Thou knowestbestand as best shall please Theeand as shall be most to Thine honour. Placeme where Thou wiltand freely work Thy will with me in all things. I am inThine handand turn me in my course. BeholdI am Thy servantready for allthings; for I desire to live not to myself but to Thee. Ohthat I might liveworthily and perfectly.'" -
A PRAYER TO BE ENABLED TO DO GOD'S WILL PERFECTLY -
3. Grant me Thy gracemost merciful Jesusthat it may be with meand workin meand persevere with meeven unto the end. Grant that I may ever desireand wish whatsoever is most pleasing and dear unto Thee. Let Thy will be mineand let my will alway follow Thineand entirely accord with it. May I chooseand reject whatsoever Thou dost; yealet it be impossible for me to choose orreject except according to Thy will.
4. Grant that I may die to all worldly thingsand for Thy sake love to bedespised and unknown in this world. Grant unto meabove all things that I candesireto rest in Theeand that in Thee my heart may be at peace. Thou art thetrue peace of the heartThou alone its rest; apart from Thee all things arehard and unquiet. In Thee alonethe supreme and eternal GodI will lay me downin peace and take my rest. * Amen. -
* Psalm iv. 9.
THAT TRUE SOLACE IS TO BE SOUGHT IN GOD ALONE -
WHATSOEVER I am able to desire or to think of for my solaceI look for itnot herebut hereafter. For if I alone had all the solaces of this worldandwere able to enjoy all its delightsit is certain that they could not endurelong. WhereforeO my soulthou canst be fully comforted and perfectlyrefreshedonly in Godthe Comforter of the poorand the lifter up of thehumble. Wait but a little whilemy soulwait for the Divine promiseand thoushalt have abundance of all good things in heaven. If thou longest tooinordinately for the things which are nowthou shalt lose those which areeternal and heavenly. Let temporal things be in the useeternal things in thedesire. Thou canst not be satisfied with any temporal goodfor thou wast notcreated for the enjoyment of these.
2. Although thou hadst all the good things which ever were createdyetcouldst not thou be happy and blessed; all thy blessedness and thy felicitylieth in God who created all things; not such felicity as seemeth good to thefoolish lover of the worldbut such as Christ's good and faithful servants waitforand as the spiritual and pure in heart sometimes tastewhose conversationis in heaven. * All human solace is empty and short-lived; blessed and true isthat solace which is felt inwardlyspringing from the truth. The godly maneverywhere beareth about with him his own ComforterJesusand saith unto Him:"Be with meLord Jesusalways and everywhere. Let it be my comfort to beable to give up cheerfully all human comfort. And if Thy consolation fail melet Thy will and righteous approval be alway with me for the highest comfort.For Thou wilt not always be chidingneither keepest Thou Thine anger forever." *(2) -
* Philippians iii. 20.
*(2) Psalm cii. 9.
THAT ALL CARE IS TO BE CAST UPON GOD -
"MY Sonsuffer me to do with thee what I will; I know what is expedientfor thee. Thou thinkest as a manin many things thou judgest as human affectionpersuadeth thee."
2. Lordwhat Thou sayest is true. Greater is Thy care for me than all thecare which I am able to take for myself. For too insecurely doth he stand whocasteth not all his care upon Thee. Lordso long as my will standeth right andfirm in Theedo with me what Thou wiltfor whatsoever Thou shalt do with mecannot be aught but good. Blessed be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in darkness:blessed also be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in light. Blessed be Thou if Thouvouchsafe to comfort meand always blessed be Thou if Thou cause me to betroubled.
3. "My Son! even thus thou must stand if thou desirest to walk with Me.Thou must be ready alike for suffering or rejoicing. Thou must be poor and needyas willingly as full and rich."
4. LordI will willingly bear for Thee whatsoever Thou wilt have to comeupon me. Without choice I will receive from Thy hand good and evilsweet andbitterjoy and sadnessand will give Thee thanks for all things which shallhappen unto me. Keep me from all sinand I will not fear death nor hell. Onlycast me not away for evernor blot me out of the book of life. Then notribulation which shall come upon me shall do me hurt.
THAT TEMPORAL MISERIES ARE TO BE BORNE PATIENTLY AFTER
THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST -
"MY Son! I came down from heaven for thy salvation; I took upon Me thymiseries not of necessitybut drawn by love that thou mightest learn patienceand mightest bear temporal miseries without murmuring. For from the hour of Mybirthuntil My death upon the CrossI ceased not from bearing of sorrow; I hadmuch lack of temporal things; I oftentimes heard many reproaches against Myself;I gently bore contradictions and hard words; I received ingratitude forbenefitsblasphemies for My miraclesrebukes for My doctrine."
2. Lordbecause Thou wast patient in Thy lifeherein most of all fulfillingthe commandment of Thy Fatherit is well that Imiserable sinnershouldpatiently bear myself according to Thy willand as long as Thou wilt have itsoshould bear about with me for my salvationthe burden of this corruptiblelife. For although the present life seemeth burdensomeit is neverthelessalready made very full of merit through Thy graceand to those who are weak itbecometh easier and brighter through Thy example and the footsteps of Thysaints; but it is also much more full of consolation than it was of oldunderthe old Testamentwhen the gate of heaven remained shut; and even the way toheaven seemed more obscure when so few cared to seek after the heavenly kingdom.But not even those
who were then just and in the way of salvation were ablebefore Thy Passionand the ransom of Thy holy Deathto enter the kingdom of heaven.
3. Oh what great thanks am I bound to give Theewho hast vouchsafed to showme and all faithful people the good and right way to Thine eternal kingdomforThy way is our wayand by holy patience we walk to Thee who art our Crown. IfThou hadst not gone before and taught uswho would care to follow? Ohhow farwould they have gone backward if they had not beheld Thy glorious example!Behold we are still lukewarmthough we have heard of Thy many signs anddiscourses; what would become of us if we had not such a light to help us followThee?
OF BEARING INJURIESAND WHO SHALL BE APPROVED
AS TRULY PATIENT -
"WHAT sayest thouMy Son? Cease to complain; consider My suffering andthat of My saints. Thou hast not yet resisted unto blood. * It is little whichthou sufferest in comparison with those who have suffered so many thingshavebeen so strongly temptedso grievously troubledso manywise proved and tried.Thou oughtest therefore to call to mind the more grievous sufferings of othersthat thou mightest bear thy lesser ones more easilyand if they seem not tothee littlesee that it is not thy impatience which is the cause of this. Butwhether they be little or whether they be greatstudy to bear them all withpatience. -
* Hebrews xii. 4. -
2. "So far as thou settest thyself to bear patientlyso far thou dostwisely and art deserving of the more merit; thou shalt also bear the more easilyif thy mind and habit are carefully trained hereunto. And say not 'I cannot bearthese things from such a mannor are things of this kind to be borne by meforhe hath done me grievous harm and imputeth to me what I had never thought: butfrom another I will suffer patientlysuch things as I see I ought to suffer.'Foolish is such a thought as thisfor it considereth not the virtue. ofpatiencenor by whom that virtue is to be crownedbut it rather weighethpersons and offences against self.
3 "He is not truly patient who will only suffer as far as seemeth rightto himself and from whom he pleaseth. But the truly patient man considereth notby what man he is triedwhether by one above himor by an equal or inferiorwhether by a good and holy manor a perverse and unworthy; but indifferentlyfrom every creaturewhatsoever or how often soever adversity happeneth to himhe gratefully accepteth all from the hand of God and counteth it great gain: forwith God nothing which is borne for His sakehowever smallshall lose itsreward.
4. "Be thou therefore ready for the fight if thou wilt have the victory.Without striving thou canst not win the crown of patience; if thou wilt notsuffer thou refusest to be crowned. But if thou desirest to be crownedstrivemanfullyendure patiently. Without labour thou drawest not near to restnorwithout fighting comest thou to victory."
5. Make possible to meO Lordby grace what seemeth impossible to me bynature. Thou knowest how little I am able to bearand how quickly I am castdown when a like adversity riseth up against me. Whatsoever trial of tribulationmay come to memay it become unto me pleasing and acceptablefor to suffer andbe vexed for Thy sake is exceeding healthful to the soul.
OF CONFESSION OF OUR INFIRMITY AND OF THE MISERIES OF THIS LIFE -
I WILL acknowledge my sin unto Thee; * I will confess to TheeLordmyinfirmity. It is often a small thing which casteth me down and maketh me sad. Iresolve that I will act bravelybut when a little temptation comethimmediately I am in a great strait. Wonderfully small sometimes is the matterwhence a grievous temptation comethand whilst I imagine myself safe for alittle space; when I am not consideringI find myself often almost overcome bya little puff of wind. -
* Psalm xxxii. 5. -
2. BeholdthereforeO Lordmy humility and my frailtywhich is altogetherknown to Thee. Be merciful unto meand draw me out of the mire that I sink not* lest I ever remain cast down. This is what frequently throweth me backward andconfoundeth me before Theethat I am so liable to fallso weak to resist mypassions. And though their assault is not altogether according to my willit isviolent and grievousand it altogether wearieth me to live thus daily inconflict. Herein is my infirmity made known to methat hateful fancies alwaysrush in far more easily than they depart. -
* Psalm lix. 16. -
3. Oh that Thoumost mighty God of IsraelLover of all faithful soulswouldst look upon the labour and sorrow of Thy servantand give him help in allthings whereunto he striveth. Strengthen me with heavenly fortitudelest theold manthis miserable fleshnot being yet fully subdued to the spiritprevail to rule over me; against which I ought to strive so long as I remain inthis most miserable life. Oh what a life is thiswhere tribulations andmiseries cease notwhere all things are full of snares and of enemiesfor whenone tribulation or temptation goethanother comethyeawhile the formerconflict is yet raging others come more in number and unexpected.
4. And how can the life of man be lovedseeing that it hath so many bitterthingsthat it is subjected to so many calamities and miseries. How can it beeven called lifewhen it produces so many deaths and plagues? The world isoften reproached because it is deceitful and vainyet notwithstanding it is noteasily given upbecause the lusts of the flesh have too much rule over it. Somedraw us to lovesome to hate. The lust of the fleshthe lust of the eyesandthe pride of lifethese draw to love of the world; but the punishments andmiseries which righteously follow these thingsbring forth hatred of the worldand weariness.
5. Butalas! an evil desire conquereth a mind given to the worldandthinketh it happiness to be under the nettles * because it savoureth not norperceiveth the sweetness of God nor the inward gracefulness of virtue. But theywho perfectly despise the world and strive to live unto God in holy disciplinethese are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to all who truly denythemselves and see clearly how grievously the world errethand in how many waysit is deceived. -
* Job xxx. 7.
THAT WE MUST REST IN GOD ABOVE ALL GOODS AND GIFTS -
ABOVE all things and in all things thou shalt rest alway in the LordO mysoulfor he himself is the eternal rest of the saints. Grant memost sweet andloving Jesusto rest in Thee above every creatureabove all health and beautyabove all glory and honourabove all power and dignityabove all knowledge andskilfulnessabove all riches and artsabove all joy and exultationabove allfame and praiseabove all sweetness and consolationabove all hope andpromiseabove all merit and desireabove all gifts and rewards which Thoucanst give and pour forthabove all joy and jubilation which the mind is ableto receive and feel; in a wordabove Angels and Archangels and all the army ofheavenabove all things visible and invisibleand above everything which ThouO my Godart not.
2. For ThouO Lordmy Godart best above all things; Thou only art theMost High. Thou only the AlmightyThou only the All-sufficientand the Fulnessof all things; Thou only the All-delightsome and the All-comforting; Thou alonethe altogether lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the Most Exalted andMost Glorious above all things; in Whom all things areand wereand ever shallbealtogether and all-perfect. And thus it falleth short and is insufficientwhatsoever Thou givest to me without Thyself or whatsoever Thou revealest ordost promise concerning Thyselfwhilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed:since verily my heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely contentexcept it restin Theeand go beyond all gifts and every creature.
3. O my most beloved SpouseJesus Christmost holy lover of my soulRulerof this whole Creationwho shall give me the wings of true libertythat I mayflee to Thee and find rest? Oh when shall it be given me to be open to receiveThee to the fulland to see how sweet Thou artO Lord my God? When shall Icollect myself altogether in Theethat because of Thy love I may not feelmyself at allbut may know Thee only above every sense and measurein measurenot known to others. But now I ofttimes groanand bear my sad estate withsorrow; because many evils befall me in this vale of miseries which continuallydisturb and fill me with sorrowand encloud mecontinually hinder and fill mewith careallure and entangle methat I cannot have free access to Theenorenjoy that sweet intercourse which is always near at hand to the blessedspirits. Let my deep sighing come before Theeand my manifold desolation on theearth.
4. O JesusLight of Eternal Glorysolace of the wandering soulbefore Theemy mouth is without speechand my silence speaketh to Thee. How long will myLord delay to come unto me? Let Him come unto meHis poor and humble oneandmake me glad. Let Him put forth His handand deliver His holy one from everysnare. ComeOh come; for without Thee shall be no joyful day or hourfor Thouart my joyand without Thee is my table empty. I am miserableand in a mannerimprisoned and loaded with fettersuntil Thou refresh me by the light of Thypresenceand give me libertyand show Thy loving countenance.
5. Let others seek some other thing instead of Theewhatsoever it shallplease them; but for my part nothing else pleaseth or shall pleasesave Thoumy Godmy hopemy eternal salvation. I will not hold my peacenor cease toimploreuntil Thy grace returnand until Thou speak to me within.
6. "Beholdhere I am! BeholdI come to theefor thou didst call Me.Thy tears and the longing of thy soulthy humbleness and contrition of hearthave inclined Meand brought Me to thee."
7. And I said LordI have called upon Theeand I have longed to enjoy Theebeing ready to reject everything for Thy sake. For Thou didst first move me toseek Thee. Thereforeblessed be ThouO Lordwho has wrought this good workupon Thy servantaccording to the multitude of Thy mercy. What then hath Thyservant to say in Thy presencesave to humble himself greatly before Theebeing alway mindful of his own iniquity and vileness. For there is none likeunto Thee in all marvels of heaven and earth. Excellent are Thy workstrue areThy judgmentsand by Thy Providence are all things governed. Therefore praiseand glory be unto TheeO Wisdom of the Fatherlet my mouth and my soul and allcreated things praise and bless Thee together.
OF THE RECOLLECTION OF GOD'S MANIFOLD BENEFITS -
OPENO Lordmy heart in Thy lawand teach me to walk in the way of Thycommandments. Grant me to understand Thy will and to be mindful of Thy benefitsboth general and specialwith great reverence and diligent meditationthatthus I may be able worthily to give Thee thanks. Yet I know and confess that Icannot render Thee due praises for the least of Thy mercies. I am less than theleast of all the good things which Thou gavest me; and when I consider Thymajestymy spirit faileth because of the greatness thereof.
2. All things which we have in the soul and in the bodyand whatsoeverthings we possesswhether outwardly or inwardlynaturally or supernaturallyare Thy good giftsand prove Theefrom whom we have received them allto begoodgentleand kind. Although one receiveth many thingsand another feweryet all are Thineand without Thee not even the least thing can be possessed.He who hath received greater cannot boast that it is of his own meritnor lifthimself up above othersnor contemn those beneath him; for he is the greaterand the better who ascribeth least to himselfand in giving thanks is thehumbler and more devout; and he who holdeth himself to be viler than allandjudgeth himself to be the more unworthyis the apter for receiving greaterthings.
3. But he who hath received fewer giftsought not to be cast downnor totake it amissnor to envy him who is richer; but rather ought he to look untoTheeand to greatly extol Thy goodnessfor Thou pourest forth Thy gifts sorichlyso freely and largelywithout respect of persons. All things come ofThee; therefore in all things shalt thou be praised. Thou knowest what is bestto be given to each; and why this man hath lessand that moreis not for usbut for Thee to understandfor unto Thee each man's deservings are fully known.
4. WhereforeO Lord GodI reckon it even a great benefitnot to have manythingswhence praise and glory may appear outwardlyand after the thought ofmen. For so it is that he who considereth his own poverty and vilenessoughtnot only to draw therefrom no grief or sorrowor sadness of spiritbut rathercomfort and cheerfulness; because ThouLordhast chosen the poor and humbleand those who are poor in this worldto be Thy friends and acquaintance. Sogive all Thine apostles witness whom Thou hast made princes in all lands. Yetthey had their conversation in this world blamelessso humble and meekwithoutany malice or deceitthat they even rejoiced to suffer rebukes for Thy Name'ssake* and what things the world hateththey embraced with great joy. -
* Acts v. 41. -
5. Therefore ought nothing so much to rejoice him who loveth Thee and knowethThy benefitsas Thy will in himand the good pleasure of Thine eternalProvidencewherewith he ought to be so contented and
comfortedthat he would as willingly be the least as any other would be thegreatestas peaceable and contented in the lowest as in the highest placeandas willingly held of small and low account and of no name or reputation as to bemore honourable and greater in the world than others. For Thy will and the loveof Thine honour ought to go before all thingsand to please and comfort himmorethan all benefits that are given or may be given to himself.
OF FOUR THINGS WHICH BRING GREAT PEACE -
"MY Sonnow will I teach thee the way of peace and of trueliberty."
2. DoO my Lordas Thou sayestfor this is pleasing unto me to hear.
3. "StriveMy Sonto do another's will rather than thine own. Choosealways to have less rather than more. Seek always after the lowest placeand tobe subject to all. Wish always and pray that the will of God be fulfilled inthee. Beholdsuch a man as this entereth into the inheritance of peace andquietness."
4. O my Lordthis Thy short discourse hath in itself much of perfectness. Itis short in words but full of meaningand abundant in fruit. For if it werepossible that I should fully keep itdisturbance would not so easily arisewithin me. For as often as I feel myself disquieted and weighed downI findmyself to have gone back from this teaching. But ThouWho art Almightyandalways lovest progress in the soulvouchsafe more gracethat I may be enabledto fulfil Thy exhortationand work out my salvation. -
A PRAYER AGAINST EVIL THOUGHTS -
5. O Lord my Godbe not Thou far from memy Godhaste Thee to help me*for many thoughts and great fears have risen up against meafflicting my soul.How shall I pass through them unhurt? how shall I break through them? -
* Psalm lxxi. 12. -
6. "I" saith He"will go before theeand make the crookedplaces straight." * I will open the prison doorsand reveal to thee thesecret places. -
* Isaiah xlv. 2. -
7. DoLordas Thou sayest; and let all evil thoughts fly away before Thyface. This is my hope and my only comfortto fly unto Thee in all tribulationto hope in Theeto call upon Thee from my heart and patiently wait for Thyloving kindness. -
A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MIND -
8. Enlighten meBlessed Jesuswith the brightness of Thy inner lightandcast forth all darkness from the habitation of my heart. Restrain my manywandering thoughtsand carry away the temptations which strive to do me hurt.Fight Thou mightily for meand drive forth the evil beastsso call I alluringluststhat peace may be within Thy walls and plenteousness of praise within Thypalaces* even in my pure conscience. Command Thou the winds and the stormssay unto the sea"Be still" say unto the stormy wind"Hold thypeace" so shall there be a great calm. -
* Psalm cxxii. 7. -
9. Oh send forth Thy light and Thy truth* that they may shine upon theearth; for I am but earth without form and void until Thou give me light. Pourforth Thy grace from above; water my heart with the dew of heaven; give thewaters of devotion to water the face of the earthand cause it to bring forthgood and perfect fruit. Lift up my mind which is oppressed with the weight ofsinsand raise my whole desire to heavenly things; that having tasted thesweetness of the happiness which is from aboveit may take no pleasure inthinking of things of earth. -
* Psalm xliii. 3. -
10. Draw me and deliver me from every unstable comfort of creaturesfor nocreated thing is able to satisfy my desire and to give me comfort. Join me toThyself by the inseparable bond of lovefor Thou alone art sufficient to himthat loveth Theeand without Thee all things are vain toys.
OF AVOIDING OF CURIOUS INQUIRY INTO THE LIFE OF ANOTHER -
"MY Sonbe not curiousnor trouble thyself with vain cares. What isthat to thee? Follow thou Me. * For what is it to thee whether a man be this orthator say or do thus or thus? Thou hast no need to answer for othersbutthou must give an answer for thyself. Why therefore dost thou entangle thyself?BeholdI know all menand I behold all things which are done under the sun;and I know how it standeth with each onewhat he thinkethwhat he willethandto what end his thoughts reach. All things therefore are to be committed to Me;watch thou thyself in godly peaceand leave him who is unquiet to be unquiet ashe will. Whatsoever he shall do or sayshall come unto himfor he cannotdeceive Me. -
* John xxi. 12. -
2. "Trouble not thyself about the shadow of a great namenor about thefriendship of manynor about the love of men towards thee. For these thingsbeget distraction and great sorrows of heart. My word should speak freely untotheeand I would reveal secretsif only thou didst diligently look for Myappearingand didst open unto Me the gates of thy heart. Be sober and watchunto prayer* and humble thyself in all things." -
* 1 Peter iv. 7.
WHEREIN FIRM PEACE OF HEART AND TRUE PROFIT CONSIST -
"MY SonI have saidPeace I leave with youMy peace I give unto younot as the world giveth give I unto you. * All men desire peacebut all do notcare for the things which belong unto true peace. My peace is with the humbleand lowly in heart. Thy peace shall be in much patience. If thou heardest Meand didst follow My voicethou shouldest enjoy much peace." -
* John xiv. 27. -
2. What then shall I doLord?
3. "In everything take heed to thyself what thou doestand what thousayest; and direct all thy purpose to thisthat thou please Me aloneanddesire or seek nothing apart from Me. Butmoreoverjudge nothing rashlyconcerning the words or deeds of othersnor meddle with matters which are notcommitted to thee; and it may be that thou shalt be disturbed little or rarely.Yet never to feel any disquietnor to suffer any pain of heart or bodythisbelongeth not to the present lifebut is the state of eternal rest. Thereforecount not thyself to have found true peaceif thou hast felt no grief; nor thatthen all is well if thou hast no adversary; nor that this is perfect if allthings fall out according to thy desire. Nor then reckon thyself to be anythinggreator think that thou art specially belovedif thou art in a state of greatfervour and sweetness of spirit; for not by these things is the true lover ofvirtue knownnor in them doth the profit and perfection of man consist."
4. In what thenLord?
5. "In offering thyself with all thy heart to the Divine Willin notseeking the things which are thine ownwhether great or smallwhether temporalor eternal; so that thou remain with the same steady countenance in giving ofthanks between prosperity and adversityweighing all things in an equalbalance. If thou be so brave and long-suffering in hope that when inward comfortis taken from theethou even prepare thy heart for the more enduranceandjustify not thyselfas though thou oughtest not to suffer these heavy thingsbut dost justify Me in all things that I appointand dost bless My Holy Namethen dost thou walk in the true and right way of peaceand shalt have a surehope that thou shalt again behold My face with joy. For if thou come to an uttercontempt of thyselfknow that then thou shalt enjoy abundance of peaceas muchas is possible where thou art but a wayfaring man."
OF THE EXALTATION OF A FREE SPIRITWHICH HUMBLE PRAYER MORE
DESERVETH THAN DOTH FREQUENT READING -
LORDthis is the work of a perfect mannever to slacken his mind fromattention to heavenly thingsand among many cares to pass along as it werewithout carenot after the manner of one indifferentbut rather with theprivilege of a free mindcleaving to no creature with inordinate affection.
2. I beseech Theemy most merciful Lord Godpreserve me from the cares ofthis lifelest I become too much entangled; from many necessities of the bodylest I be taken captive by pleasure; from all obstacles of the spiritlest I bebroken and cast down with cares. I say not from those things which the vanity ofthe world goeth about after with all eagernessbut from those miserieswhichby the universal curse of mortality weigh down and hold back the soul of thyservant in punishmentthat it cannot enter into liberty of spiritso often asit would.
3. O my Godsweetness unspeakableturn into bitterness all my fleshlyconsolationwhich draweth me away from the love of eternal thingsand wickedlyallureth toward itself by setting before me some present delight. Let notO myGodlet not flesh and blood prevail over melet not the world and its shortglory deceive melet not the devil and his craftiness supplant me. Give mecourage to resistpatience to endureconstancy to persevere. Grantin placeof all consolations of the worldthe most sweet unction of Thy Spiritand inplace of carnal lovepour into me the love of Thy Name.
4. Beholdfood and drink and clothingand all the other needs appertainingto the support of the bodyare burdensome to the devout spirit. Grant that Imay use such things with moderationand that I be not entangled with inordinateaffection for them. To cast away all these things is not lawfulbecause naturemust be sustainedbut to require superfluities and things which merely ministerdelightthe holy law forbiddeth; for otherwise the flesh would wax insolentagainst the spirit. In all these thingsI beseech Theelet Thy hand guide andteach methat I in no way exceed.
THAT PERSONAL LOVE GREATLY HINDERETH FROM THE HIGHEST GOOD -
"MY Sonthou must give all for alland be nothing of thine own. Knowthou that the love of thyself is more hurtful to thee than anything in theworld. According to the love and inclination which thou hasteverything more orless cleaveth to thee. If thy love be puresincerewell-regulatedthou shaltnot be in captivity to anything. Do not covet what thou mayest not have; do nothave what is able to hinder theeand to rob thee of inward liberty. It iswonderful that thou committest not thyself to Me from the very bottom of thyheartwith all things which thou canst desire or have.
2. "Why art thou consumed with vain sorrow? Why art thou wearied withsuperfluous cares? Stand thou by My good pleasureand thou shalt suffer noloss. If thou seekest after this or thatand wilt be here or thereaccordingto thine own advantage or the fulfilling of thine own pleasurethou shalt neverbe in quietnor free from carebecause in everything somewhat will be foundlackingand everywhere there will be somebody who opposeth thee.
3. "Therefore it is not gaining or multiplying of this thing or thatwhich advantageth theebut rather the despising it and cutting it by the rootout of thy heart; which thou must not only understand of money and richesbutof the desire after honour and vain praisethings which all pass away with theworld. The place availeth little if the spirit of devotion is wanting; nor shallthat peace stand long which is sought from abroadif the state of thy heart iswithout the true foundationthat isif it abide not in Me. Thou mayest changebut thou canst not better thyself; for when occasion ariseth and is acceptedthou shalt find what thou didst fly fromyea more." -
A PRAYER FOR CLEANSING OF THE HEART AND FOR HEAVENLY WISDOM -
4. Strengthen meO Godby the grace of Thy Holy Spirit. Give me virtue tobe strengthened with might in the inner manand to free my heart from allfruitless care and troubleand that I be not drawn away by various desiresafter any things whatsoeverwhether of little value or greatbut that I maylook upon all as passing awayand myself as passing away with them; becausethere is no profit under the sunand all is vanity and vexation of spirit. * Ohhow wise is he that considereth thus! -
* Ecclesiastes ii. 11. -
5. Give meO Lordheavenly wisdomthat I may learn to seek Thee above allthings and to find Thee; to relish Thee above all things and to love Thee; andto understand all other thingseven as they areaccording to the order of Thywisdom. Grant me prudently to avoid the flattererand patiently to bear withhim that opposeth me; for this is great wisdomnot to be carried by every windof wordsnor to give ear to the wicked flattering Siren; for thus do we gosafely on in the way we have begun.
AGAINST THE TONGUES OF DETRACTORS -
"MY Sontake it not sadly to heartif any think ill of theeand sayof thee what thou art unwilling to hear. Thou oughtest to think worse ofthyselfand to believe no man weaker than thyself. If thou walkest inwardlythou wilt not weigh flying words above their value. It is no small prudence tokeep silence in an evil time and to turn inwardly unto Meand not to betroubled by human judgment.
2. "Let not thy peace depend upon the word of men; for whether theyjudge well or ill of theethou art not therefore any other man than thyself.Where is true peace or true glory? Is it not in Me? And he who seeketh not toplease mennor feareth to displeaseshall enjoy abundant peace. Frominordinate love and vain fear ariseth all disquietude of heartand alldistraction of the senses."
HOW WHEN TRIBULATION COMETH WE MUST CALL UPON AND BLESS GOD -
BLESSED be thy nameO Lordfor evermorewho hast willed this temptationand trouble to come upon me. I cannot escape itbut have need to flee untoTheethat Thou mayest succour me and turn it unto me for good. Lordnow am Iin tribulationand it is not well within my heartbut I am sore vexed by thesuffering which lieth upon me. And nowO dear Fatherwhat shall I say? I amtaken among the snares. Save me from this hourbut for this cause came I untothis hour* that Thou mightest be glorified when I am deeply humbled and amdelivered through Thee. Let it be Thy pleasure to deliver me; *(2) for what canI do who am poorand without Thee whither shall I go? Give patience this timealso. Help meO Lord my Godand I will not fear how much soever I be weigheddown. -
* John xii. 27.
*(2) Psalm xl. 16. -
2. And now amid these things what shall I say? LordThy will be done. I havewell deserved to be troubled and weighed down. Therefore I ought to bearwouldthat it be with patienceuntil the tempest be overpast and comfort return. Yetis Thine omnipotent arm able also to take this temptation away from meand tolessen its power that I fall not utterly under iteven as many a time past thouhas helped meO Godmy merciful God. And as much as this deliverance isdifficult to meso much is it easy to TheeO right hand of the most Highest.
OF SEEKING DIVINE HELPAND THE CONFIDENCE OF OBTAINING GRACE -
"MY SonI the Lord am a stronghold in the day of trouble. * Come untoMewhen it is not well with thee. -
* Nahum i. 7. -
"This it is which chiefly hindereth heavenly consolationthat thou tooslowly betakest thyself unto prayer. For before thou earnestly seekest unto Methou dost first seek after many means of comfortand refresheth thyself inoutward things: so it cometh to pass that all things profit thee but littleuntil thou learn that it is I who deliver those who trust in Me; neither besideMe is there any strong helpnor profitable counselnor enduring remedy. Butnowrecovering courage after the tempestgrow thou strong in the light of Mymerciesfor I am nighsaith the Lordthat I may restore all things not onlyas they were at the firstbut also abundantly and one upon another.
2. "For is anything too hard for Meor shall I be like unto one whosaith and doeth not? Where is thy faith? Stand fast and with perseverance. Belong-suffering and strong. Consolation will come unto thee in its due season.Wait for Me; yeawait; I will come and heal thee. It is temptation which vexeththeeand a vain fear which terrifieth thee. What doth care about future eventsbring theesave sorrow upon sorrow? Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.* It is vain and useless to be disturbed or lifted up about future things whichperhaps will never come. -
* Matthew vi. 34. -
3. "But it is the nature of man to be deceived by fancies of this sortand it is a sign of a mind which is still weak to be so easily drawn away at thesuggestion of the enemy. For he careth not whether he deceive and beguile bytrue means or false; whether he throw thee down by the love of the present orfear of the future. Therefore let not thy heart be troubledneither let it beafraid. Believe in Meand put thy trust in My mercy. * When thou thinkestthyself far removed from MeI am often the nearer. When thou reckonest thatalmost all is lostthen often is greater opportunity of gain at hand. All isnot lost when something goeth contrary to thy wishes. Thou oughtest not to judgeaccording to present feelingnor so to take or give way to any grief whichbefalleth theeas if all hope of escape were taken away. -
* John xiv. 27; Psalm xiii. 5. -
4. "Think not thyself totally abandonedalthough for the time I havesent to thee some tribulationor have even withdrawn some cherishedconsolation; for this is the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. And without doubt itis better for thee and for all My other servantsthat ye should be proved byadversitiesthan that ye should have all things as ye would. I know thy hiddenthoughts: and that it is very needful for thy soul's health that sometimes thoube left without relishlest perchance thou be lifted up by prosperityanddesirous to please thyself in that which thou art not. What I have given I amable to take awayand to restore again at My good pleasure.
5. "When I shall have givenit is Mine; when I shall have taken awayIhave not taken what is thine; for every good gift and every perfect gift * isfrom me. If I shall have sent upon thee grief or any vexationbe not angrynorlet thy heart be sad; I am able quickly to lift thee up and to change everyburden into joy. But I am just and greatly to be praisedwhen I do thus untothee. -
* James i. 17. -
6. "If thou rightly considerand look upon it with truththou oughtestnever to be so sadly cast down because of adversitybut rather shouldst rejoiceand give thanks; yeaverily to count it the highest joy that I afflict theewith sorrows and spare thee not. As My Father hath loved Meso love I you; *thus have I spoken unto My beloved disciples: whom I sent forth not unto worldlyjoysbut to great strivings; not unto honoursbut unto contempt; not untoeasebut to labours; not unto restbut to bring forth much fruit withpatience. My sonremember these words." -
* John xv. 9.
OF THE NEGLECT OF EVERY CREATURETHAT THE CREATOR MAY BE FOUND -
O LORDI still need more graceif I would arrive where neither man nor anyother creature may hinder me. For so long as anything keepeth me backI cannotfreely fly unto Thee. He desired eagerly thus to flywho criedsayingOh thatI had wings like a dovefor then would I flee away and be at rest. What is morepeaceful than the single eye? And what more free than he that desireth nothingupon earth? Therefore must a man rise above every creatureand perfectlyforsake himselfand with abstracted mind to stand and behold that ThoutheCreator of all thingshast among Thy creatures nothing like unto Thyself. Andexcept a man be freed from all creatureshe will not be able to reach freelyafter Divine things. Therefore few are found who give themselves tocontemplationbecause few know how to separate themselves entirely fromperishing and created things.
2. For this much grace is necessarywhich may lift up the soul and raise itabove itself. And except a man be lifted up in the spiritand freed from allcreaturesand altogether united to Godwhatsoever he knowethwhatsoever evenhe hathit mattereth but little. He who esteemeth anything great save the oneonly incomprehensibleeternalgoodshall long time be little and lie low. Forwhatsoever is not God is nothingand ought to be counted for nothing. Great isthe difference between a godly manilluminated with wisdomand a scholarlearned in knowledge and given to books. Far nobler is that doctrine whichfloweth down from the divine fulness abovethan that which is acquiredlaboriously by human study.
3. Many are found who desire contemplationbut they do not strive topractice those things which are required thereunto. It is also a greatimpedimentthat much is made of symbols and external signsand too little ofthorough mortification. I know not how it isand by what spirit we are ledandwhat we who would be deemed spiritual are aiming atthat we give so greatlabour and so eager solicitude for transitory and worthless thingsand scarcelyever gather our senses together to think at all of our inward condition.
4. Ahme! Forthwith after a little recollection we rush out of doorsand donot subject our actions to a strict examination. Where our affections are set wetake no heedand we weep not that all things belonging to us are so defiled.For because all flesh had corrupted itself upon the earththe great delugecame. Since therefore our inmost affections are very corruptit followeth ofnecessity that our actions also are corruptbeing the index of a deficientinward strength. Out of a pure heart proceedeth the fruit of good living.
5. We demandhow much a man hath done; but from how much virtue he actedisnot so narrowly considered. We ask if he be strongrichhandsomecleverwhether he is a good writergood singergood workman; but how poor he may bein spirithow patient and gentlehow devout and meditativeon these thingsmany are silent. Nature looketh upon the outward appearance of a mangraceturneth its thought to the heart. The former frequently judgeth amiss; thelatter trusteth in Godthat it may not be deceived.
OF SELF-DENIAL AND THE CASTING AWAY ALL SELFISHNESS -
"MY Sonthou canst not possess perfect liberty unless thou altogetherdeny thyself. All they are enslaved who are possessors of richesthey who lovethemselvesthe selfishthe curiousthe restless; those who ever seek aftersoft thingsand not after the things of Jesus Christ; those who continuallyplan and devise that which will not stand. For whatsoever cometh not of Godshall perish. Hold fast the short and complete saying'Renounce all thingsandthou shalt find all things; give up thy lustand thou shalt find rest.' Dwellupon this in thy mindand when thou art full of itthou shalt understand allthings."
2. O Lordthis is not the work of a daynor children's play; verily in thisshort saying is enclosed all the perfection of the religious.
3. "My sonthou oughtest not to be turned asidenor immediately castdownbecause thou hast heard the way of the perfect. Rather oughtest thou to beprovoked to higher aimsand at the least to long after the desire thereof. Ohthat it were so with theeand that thou hadst come to thisthat thou wert nota lover of thine own selfbut wert ready always to My nodand to his whom Ihave placed over thee as thy father. Then shouldest thou please Me exceedinglyand all thy life should go on in joy and peace. Thou hast still many things torenouncewhich if thou resign not utterly to Methou shalt not gain what thouseekest. I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the firethat thou mayest berich* that is heavenly wisdomwhich despiseth all base things. Put away fromthee earthly wisdomand all pleasurewhether common to menor thine own. -
* Revelation iii. 18. -
4. "I tell thee that thou must buy vile things with those which arecostly and great in the esteem of men. For wonderfully vile and smallandalmost given up to forgetfulnessdoth true heavenly wisdom appearwhichthinketh not high things of itselfnor seeketh to be magnified upon the earth;many honour it with their lipsbut in heart are far from it; it is indeed theprecious pearlwhich is hidden from many."
OF INSTABILITY OF THE HEARTAND OF DIRECTING THE AIM TOWARDS GOD -
"MY Sontrust not thy feelingfor that which is now will be quicklychanged into somewhat else. As long as thou livest thou art subject to changehowsoever unwilling; so that thou art found now joyfulnow sad; now at peacenow disquieted; now devoutnow indevout; now studiousnow careless; now sadnow cheerful. But the wise manand he who is truly learned in spiritstandethabove these changeable thingsattentive not to what he may feel in himselforfrom what quarter the wind may blowbut that the whole intent of his mind maycarry him on to the due and much-desired endFor thus will he be able to remainone and the same and unshakenthe single eye of his desire being steadfastlyfixedthrough the manifold changes of the worldupon Me.
2. "But according as the eye of intention be the more pureeven so willa man make his way steadfastly through the manifold storms. But in many the eyeof pure intention waxeth dim; for it quickly resteth itself upon anythingpleasant which occurrethand rarely is any man found altogether free from theblemish of self-seeking. So the Jews of old came to Bethanyto the house ofMartha and Marythat they might see not Jesusbut Lazaruswhom he had raisedfrom the dead. * Therefore must the eye of the intention be cleansedthat itmay be single and rightand above all things which come in its waymay bedirected unto Me."
* John xii. 9.
THAT TO HIM WHO LOVETH GOD IS SWEET ABOVE ALL THINGS
AND IN ALL THINGS -
BEHOLDGod is mineand all things are mine! What will I moreand what morehappy thing can I desire? O delightsome and sweet world! that isto him thatloveth the Wordnot the worldneither the things that are in the world. * MyGodmy all! To him that understandeththat word sufficethand to repeat itoften is pleasing to him that loveth it. When Thou art present all things arepleasant; when Thou art absentall things are wearisome. Thou makest the heartto be at restgivest it deep peace and festal joy. Thou makest it to thinkrightly in every matterand in every matter to give Thee praise; neither cananything please long without Thee but if it would be pleasant and of sweetsavourThy grace must be thereand it is Thy wisdom which must give unto it asweet savour. -
* John ii. 15. -
2. To him who tasteth Theewhat can be distasteful? And to him who tastethThee notwhat is there which can make him joyous? But the worldly wiseandthey who enjoy the fleshthese fail in Thy wisdom; for in the wisdom of theworld is found utter vanityand to be carnally minded is death. But they whofollow after Thee through contempt of worldly thingsand mortification of thefleshare found to be the truly wise because they are carried from vanity toverityfrom the flesh to the spirit. They taste that the Lord is goodandwhatsoever good they find in creaturesthey count it all unto the praise of theCreator. Unlikeyeavery unlike is the enjoyment of the Creator to enjoymentof the Creaturethe enjoyment of eternity and of timeof light uncreated andof light reflected.
3. O Light everlastingsurpassing all created lightsdart down Thy ray fromon high which shall pierce the inmost depths of my heart. Give purityjoyclearnesslife to my spirit that with all its powers it may cleave unto Theewith rapture passing man's understanding. Oh when shall that blessed andlonged-for time come when Thou shalt satisfy me with Thy presenceand be untome All in all? So long as this is delayedmy joy shall not be full. Stillahme! the old man liveth in me: he is not yet all crucifiednot yet quite dead;still he lusteth fiercely against the spiritwageth inward warsnor suffereththe soul's kingdom to be in peace.
4. But Thou who rulest the raging of the seaand stillest the waves thereofwhen they ariserise up and help me. Scatter the people that delight in war. *Destroy them by Thy power. Show forthI beseech TheeThy mightand let Thyright hand be glorifiedfor I have no hopeno refugesave in TheeO Lord myGod. -
* Psalm lxviii. 30.
THAT THERE IS NO SECURITY AGAINST TEMPTATION IN THIS LIFE -
"MY Sonthou art never secure in this lifebut thy spiritual armourwill always be needful for thee as long as thou livest. Thou dwellest amongfoesand art attacked on the right hand and on the left. If therefore thou usenot on all sides the shield of patiencethou wilt not remain long unwounded.Above allif thou keep not thy heart fixed upon Me with steadfast purpose tobear all things for My sakethou shalt not be able to bear the fierceness ofthe attacknor to attain to the victory of the blessed. Therefore must thoustruggle bravely all thy life throughand put forth a strong hand against thosethings which oppose thee. For to him that overcometh is the hidden manna given* but great misery is reserved for the slothful. -
* Revelation ii. 17. -
2. "If thou seek rest in this lifehow then wilt thou attain unto therest which is eternal? Set not thyself to attain much restbut much patience.Seek the true peacenot in earth but in heavennot in man nor in any createdthingbut in God alone. For the love of God thou must willingly undergo allthingswhether labours or sorrowstemptationsvexationsanxietiesnecessitiesinfirmitiesinjuriesgainsayingsrebukeshumiliationsconfusionscorrectionsdespisings; these things help unto virtuethese thingsprove the scholar of Christ; these things fashion the heavenly crown. I willgive thee an eternal reward for short labourand infinite glory for transientshame.
3. "Thinkest thou that thou shalt always have spiritual consolations atthy will? My Saints had never suchbut instead thereof manifold griefsanddivers temptationsand heavy desolations. But patiently they bore themselves inalland trusted in God more than in themselvesknowing that the sufferings ofthis present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall berevealed in us. * Wouldst thou have that immediately which many have hardlyattained unto after many tears and hard labours? Wait for the Lordquit thyselflike a man and be strong; be not faint-heartednor go aside from Mebutconstantly devote thy body and soul to the glory of God. I will reward theeplenteouslyI will be with thee in trouble." *(2) -
* Romans viii. 17.
*(2) Psalm xci. 15.
AGAINST VAIN JUDGMENTS OF MEN -
"MY Sonanchor thy soul firmly upon Godand fear not man's judgmentwhen conscience pronounceth thee pious and innocent. It is good and blessed thusto suffer; nor will it be grievous to the heart which is humbleand whichtrusteth in God more than in itself. Many men have many opinionsand thereforelittle trust is to be placed in them. But moreover it is impossible to pleaseall. Although Paul studied to please all men in the Lordand to become allthings to all men* yet nevertheless with him it was a very small thing that heshould he judged by man's judgment." *(2) -
* 1 Corinthians ix. 22.
*(2) 1 Corinthians iv. 3. -
2. He laboured abundantlyas much as in him layfor the building up and thesalvation of others; but he could not avoid being sometimes judged and despisedby others. Therefore he committed all to Godwho knew alland by patience andhumility defended himself against evil speakersor foolish and false thinkersand those who accused him according to their pleasure. Neverthelessfrom timeto time he repliedlest his silence should become a stumbling-block to thosewho were weak.
3. "Who art thouthat thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die?To-day he isand to-morrow his place is not found. Fear God and thou shalt notquail before the terrors of men. What can any man do against thee by words ordeeds? He hurteth himself more than theenor shall he escape the judgment ofGodwhosoever he may be. Have thou God before thine eyesand do not contendwith fretful words. And if for the present thou seem to give wayand to sufferconfusion which thou hast not deservedbe not angry at thisnor by impatiencediminish thy reward; but rather look up to Me in heavenfor I am able todeliver thee from all confusion and hurtand to render to every man accordingto his works."
OF PURE AND ENTIRE RESIGNATION OF SELFFOR THE
OBTAINING LIBERTY OF HEART -
"MY Sonlose thyself and thou shalt find Me. Stand still without allchoosing and all thought of selfand thou shalt ever be a gainer. For moregrace shall be added to theeas soon as thou resignest thyselfand so long asthou dost not turn back to take thyself again."
2. O Lordhow often shall I resign myselfand in what things shall I losemyself?
3. "Always; every hour: in that which is littleand in that which isgreat. I make no exceptionbut will that thou be found naked in all things.Otherwise how canst thou be Mine and I thineunless thou be inwardly andoutwardly free from every will of thine own? The sooner thou dost thisthebetter shall it be with thee; and the more fully and sincerelythe more thoushalt please Meand the more abundantly shalt thou be rewarded.
4. "Some resign themselvesbut with certain reservationsfor they donot fully trust in Godtherefore they think that they have some provision tomake for themselves. Some again at first offer everything; but afterwards beingpressed by temptation they return to their own devicesand thus make noprogress in virtue. They will not attain to the true liberty of a pure heartnor to the grace of My sweet companionshipunless they first entirely resignthemselves and daily offer themselves up as a sacrifice; without this the unionwhich bringeth forth fruit standeth not nor will stand.
5. "Many a time I have said unto theeand now say againGive thyselfupresign thyselfand thou shalt have great inward peace. Give all for all;demand nothingask nothing in return; stand simply and with no hesitation inMeand thou shalt possess Me. Thou shalt have liberty of heartand thedarkness shall not overwhelm thee. For this strive thoupray for itlong afteritthat thou mayest be delivered from all possession of thyselfand nakedlyfollow Jesus who was made naked for thee; mayest die unto thyself and liveeternally to Me. Then shall all vain fancies disappearall evil disturbingsand superfluous cares. Then also shall immoderate fear depart from theeandinordinate love shall die."
OF A GOOD GOVERNMENT IN EXTERNAL THINGSAND OF HAVING
RECOURSE TO GOD IN DANGERS -
"MY Sonfor this thou must diligently make thy endeavourthat in everyplace and outward action or occupation thou mayest be free withinand havepower over thyself; and that all things be under theenot thou under them; thatthou be master and ruler of thy actionsnot a slave or hirelingbut rather afree and true Hebrewentering into the lot and the liberty of the children ofGodwho stand above the present and look upon the eternalwho with the lefteye behold things transitoryand with the right things heavenly; whom temporalthings draw not to cleave untobut who rather draw temporal things to do themgood serviceeven as they were ordained of God to doand appointed by theMaster Workmanwho hath left nought in His creation without aim and end.
2. "And if in any chance of life thou stand not in outward appearancesnor judgest things which are seen and heard by the fleshy sensebut straightwayin every cause enterest with Moses into the tabernacle to ask counsel of God;thou shalt hear a divine response and come forth instructed concerning manythings that are and shall be. For always Moses had recourse to the tabernaclefor the solving of all doubts and questionings; and fled to the help of prayerto be delivered from the dangers and evil deeds of men. Thus also oughtest thouto fly to the secret chamber of thy heartand earnestly implore the divinesuccour. For this cause we read that Joshua and the children of Israel weredeceived by the Gibeonitesthat they asked not counsel at the mouth of theLord* but being too ready to listen to fair speecheswere deceived bypretended piety." -
* Joshua ix. 14.
THAT MAN MUST NOT BE IMMERSED IN BUSINESS -
"MY Sonalways commit thy cause to Me; I will dispose it aright in duetime. Wait for My arrangement of itand then thou shalt find it for thyprofit."
2. O Lordright freely I commit all things to Thee; for my planning canprofit but little. Oh that I did not dwell so much on future eventsbut couldoffer myself altogether to Thy pleasures without delay.
3. "My Sona man often striveth vehemently after somewhat which hedesireth; but when he hath obtained it he beginneth to be of another mindbecause his affections towards it are not lastingbut rather rush on from onething to another. Therefore it is not really a small thingwhen in small thingswe resist self."
4. The true progress of man lieth in self-denialand a man who deniethhimself is free and safe. But the old enemyopposer of all good thingsceasethnot from temptation; but day and night setteth his wicked snaresif haply hemay be able to entrap the unwary. Watch and praysaith the Lordlest ye enterinto temptation. * -
* Matthew xxvi. 41.
THAT MAN HATH NO GOOD IN HIMSELFAND NOTHING WHEREOF TO GLORY -
LORDwhat is man that Thou art mindful of himor the son of man that Thouvisitest him? * What hath man deservedthat Thou shouldest bestow thy favourupon him? Lordwhat cause can I have of complaintif Thou forsake me? Or whatcan I justly allegeif Thou refuse to hear my petition? Of a truththis I maytruly think and sayLordI am nothingI have nothing that is good of myselfbut I fall short in all thingsand ever tend unto nothing. And unless I amhelped by Thee and inwardly supportedI become altogether lukewarm andreckless. -
* Psalm viii. 4. -
2. But ThouO Lordart always the sameand endurest for everalways goodrighteousand holy; doing all things wellrighteouslyand holilyanddisposing all in Thy wisdom. But I who am more ready to go forward thanbackwardnever continue in one staybecause changes sevenfold pass over me.Yet it quickly becometh better when it so pleaseth Theeand Thou puttest forthThy hand to help me; because Thou alone canstaid without help of manandcanst so strengthen me that my countenance shall be no more changedbut myheart shall be turned to Theeand rest in Thee alone.
3. Whereforeif I but knew well how to reject all human consolationswhether for the sake of gaining devotionor because of the necessity by which Iwas compelled to seek Theeseeing there is no man who can comfort me; thencould I worthily trust in Thy graceand rejoice in the gift of new consolation.
4. Thanks be to Theefrom whom all comethwhensoever it goeth well with me!But I am vanity and nothing in Thy sighta man inconstant and weak. What thenhave I whereof to gloryor why do I long to be held in honour? Is it not fornought? This also is utterly vain. Verily vain glory is an evil plaguethegreatest of vanitiesbecause it draweth us away from the true gloryandrobbeth us of heavenly grace. For whilst a man pleaseth himself he displeasethThee; whilst he gapeth after the praises of manhe is deprived of true virtues.
5. But true glory and holy rejoicing lieth in glorying in Thee and not inself; in rejoicing in Thy Namenot in our own virtue; in not taking delight inany creaturesave only for Thy sake. Let thy Namenot mine be praised; let Thyworknot mine be magnified; let Thy holy Name be blessedbut to me let noughtbe given of the praises of men. Thou art my gloryThou art the joy of my heart.In Thee will I make my boast and be glad all the day longbut for myself let menot glory save only in my infirmities. * -
* 2 Corinthians xii. 5. -
6. Let the Jews seek the honour which cometh from one another; but I will askfor that which cometh from God only. * Truly all human gloryall temporalhonourall worldly exultationcompared to Thy eternal gloryis but vanity andfolly. O God my Truth and my MercyBlessed Trinityto Thee alone be allpraisehonourpowerand glory for ever and for ever. Amen. -
* John v. 44.
OF CONTEMPT OF ALL TEMPORAL HONOUR -
"MY Sonmake it no matter of thineif thou see others honoured andexaltedand thyself despised and humbled. Lift up thine heart to Me in heavenand then the contempt of men upon earth will not make thee sad."
2. O Lordwe are in blindnessand are quickly seduced by vanity. If I lookrightly within myselfnever was injury done unto me by any creatureandtherefore I have nought whereof to complain before Thee. But because I have manytimes and grievously sinned against Theeall creatures do justly take armsagainst me. Therefore to me confusion and contempt are justly duebut to Theepraise and honour and glory. And except I dispose myself for thisnamelyto bewilling that every creature should despise and desert meand that I should beesteemed altogether as nothingI cannot be inwardly filled with peace andstrengthnor spiritually enlightenednor fully united to Thee.
THAT OUR PEACE IS NOT TO BE PLACED IN MEN -
"MY Sonif thou set thy peace on any person because thou hast highopinion of himand art familiar with himthou shalt be unstable and entangled.But if thou betake thyself to the ever-living and abiding Truththe desertionor death of a friend shall not make thee sad. In Me ought the love of thy friendto subsistand for My sake is every one to be lovedwhosoever he bewhoappeareth to thee goodand is very clear to thee in this life. Without Mefriendship hath no strength or enduranceneither is that love true and purewhich I unite not. Thou oughtest to be so dead to such affections of belovedfriendsthat as far as in thee lieththou wouldst rather choose to be withoutany companionship of men. The nearer a man approacheth to Godthe further herecedeth from all earthly solace. The deeper also he descendeth into himselfand the viler he appeareth in his own eyesthe higher he ascendeth towards God.
2. "But he who attributeth anything good to himselfhindereth the graceof God from coming to himbecause the grace of the Holy Ghost ever seeketh thehumble heart. If thou couldst make thyself utterly nothingand empty thyself ofthe love of every creaturethen should it be My part to overflow unto thee withgreat grace. When thou settest thine eyes upon creaturesthe face of theCreator is withdrawn from thee. Learn in all things to conquer thyself for thyCreator's sakethen shalt thou be able to attain unto divine knowledge. Howsmall soever anything beif it be loved and regarded inordinatelyit holdethus back from the highest goodand corrupteth."
AGAINST VAIN AND WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE -
"MY Sonlet not the fair and subtle sayings of men move thee. For thekingdom of God is not in wordbut in power. * Give ear to My wordsfor theykindle the heart and enlighten the mindthey bring contritionand they supplymanifold consolations. Never read thou the word that thou mayest appear morelearned or wise; but study for the mortification of thy sinsfor this will befar more profitable for thee than the knowledge of many difficult questions. -
* 1 Corinthians iv. 20. -
2. "When thou hast read and learned many thingsthou must always returnto one first principle. I am He that teacheth man knowledge* and I give untobabes clearer knowledge than can be taught by man. He to whom I speak will bequickly wise and shall grow much in the spirit. Woe unto them who inquire intomany curious questions from menand take little heed concerning the way of Myservice. The time will come when Christ will appearthe Master of masterstheLord of the Angelsto hear the lessons of allthat is to examine theconsciences of each one. And then will He search Jerusalem with candles*(2)and the hidden things of darkness *(3) shall be made manifestand the arguingsof tongues shall be silent. -
* Psalm xciv. 10.
*(2) Zephaniah i. 12.
*(3) 1 Corinthians iv. 5. -
3. "I am He who in an instant lift up the humble spiritto learn morereasonings of the Eternal Truththan if a man had studied ten
years in the schools. I teach without noise of wordswithout confusion ofopinionswithout striving after honourwithout clash of arguments. I am He whoteach men to despise earthly thingsto loathe things presentto seek thingsheavenlyto enjoy things eternalto flee honoursto endure offencesto placeall hope in Meto desire nothing apart from Meand above all things to love Meardently.
4. "For there was onewho by loving Me from the bottom of his heartlearned divine thingsand spake things that were wonderful; he profited more byforsaking all things than by studying subtleties. But to some I speak commonthingsto others special; to some I appear gently in signs and figuresandagain to some I reveal mysteries in much light. The voice of books is onebutit informeth not all alike; because I inwardly am the Teacher of truththeSearcher of the heartthe Discerner of the thoughtsthe Mover of actionsdistributing to each manas I judge meet."
OF NOT TROUBLING OURSELVES ABOUT OUTWARD THINGS -
"MY Sonin many things it behoveth thee to be ignorantand to esteemthyself as one dead upon the earthand as one to whom the whole world iscrucified. Many things also thou must pass by with deaf earand must ratherthink upon those things which belong unto thy peace. It is more profitable toturn away thine eyes from those things that displeaseand to leave each man tohis own opinionthan to give thyself to discourses of strife. If thou standwell with God and hast His judgment in thy mindthou wilt verily easily bear tobe as one conquered."
2. O Lordto what have we come? Behold a temporal loss is mourned over; fora trifling gain we labour and hurry; and spiritual loss passeth away intoforgetfulnessand we rarely recover it. That which profiteth little or nothingis looked afterand that which is altogether necessary is negligently passedby; because the whole man slideth away to outward thingsand unless he quicklyrecovereth himself in outward things he willingly lieth down.
THAT WE MUST NOT BELIEVE EVERYONEAND THAT WE ARE
PRONE TO FALL IN OUR WORDS -
LORDhe thou my help in troublefor vain is the help of man. * How oftenhave I failed to find faithfulnesswhere I thought I possessed it. How manytimes I have found it where I least expected. Vain therefore is hope in menbutthe salvation of the justO Godis in Thee. Blessed be thouO Lord my Godinall things which happen unto us. We are weak and unstablewe are quicklydeceived and quite changed. -
* Psalm lx. 11. -
2. Who is the man who is able to keep himself so warily and circumspectly asnot sometimes to come into some snare of perplexity? But he who trusteth inTheeO Lordand seeketh Thee with an unfeigned heartdoth not so easily slip.And if he fall into any tribulationhowsoever he may be entangledyet veryquickly he shall be delivered through Theeor by Thee shall be comfortedbecause Thou wilt not forsake him that trusteth in Thee unto the end. A friendwho continueth faithful in all the distresses of his friend is rare to be found.ThouO LordThou alone art most faithful in all thingsand there is noneother like unto Thee.
3. Ohhow truly wise was that holy soul which said"My mind issteadfastly fixedand it is grounded in Christ." * If thus it were withmethe fear of man should not so easily tempt menor the arrows of words moveme. Who is sufficient to foresee all thingswho to guard beforehand againstfuture ills? If even things which are foreseen sometimes hurt uswhat canthings which are not foreseen dobut grievously injure? But wherefore have Inot better provided for myselfmiserable that I am? Whytoohave I given suchheed to others? But we are mennor are we other than frail meneven though bymany we are reckoned and called angels. Whom shall I trustO Lordwhom shall Itrust but Thee? Thou art the Truthand deceivest notnor canst be deceived.And on the other handEvery man is a liar*(2) weakunstable and frailespecially in his wordsso that one ought scarcely ever to believe what seemethto sound right on the face of it. -
* St. Agatha
*(2) Psalm cxvi. 11; Romans iii. 4. -
4. With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to beware of menand thata man's foes are they of his own household* and that we must not believe ifone say unto us Lo hereor Lo there. *(2) I have been taught by my lossand Othat I may prove more careful and not foolish hereby. "Be cautious"saith some one: "be cautiouskeep unto thyself what I tell thee." Andwhilst I am silent and believe that it is hid with mehe himself cannot keepsilence concerning itbut straightway betrayeth me and himselfand goeth hisway. Protect meO Lordfrom such mischief-making and reckless men; let me notfall into their handsnor ever do such things myself. Put a true and steadfastword into my mouthand remove a deceitful tongue far from me. What I would notsufferI ought by all means to beware of doing. -
* Matthew x. 1736.
*(2) Matthew xxiv. 23. -
5. Ohhow good and peacemaking a thing it is to be silent concerning othersand not carelessly to believe all reportsnor to hand them on further; how goodalso to lay one's self open to fewto seek ever to have Thee as the beholder ofthe heart; not to be carried about with every wind of wordsbut to desire thatall things inward and outward be done according to the good pleasure of Thywill! How safe for the preserving of heavenly grace to fly from human approvaland not to long after the things which seem to win admiration abroadbut tofollow with all earnestness those things which bring amendment of life andheavenly fervour! How many have been injured by their virtue being made knownand too hastily praised. How truly profitable hath been grace preserved insilence in this frail lifewhichas we are toldis all temptation andwarfare.
OF HAVING CONFIDENCE IN GOD WHEN EVIL WORDS ARE CAST AT US -
"MY Sonstand fast and believe in Me. For what are words but words?They fly through the airbut they bruise no stone. If thou are guiltythinkhow thou wouldst gladly amend thyself; if thou knowest nothing against thyselfconsider that thou wilt gladly bear this for God's sake. It is little enoughthat thou sometimes hast to bear hard wordsfor thou art not yet able to bearhard blows. And wherefore do such trivial matters go to thine heartexcept that
thou art yet carnaland regardest men more than thou oughtest? For becausethou fearest to be despisedthou art unwilling to be reproved for thy faultsand seekest paltry shelters of excuses.
2. "But look better into thyselfand thou shalt know that the world isstill alive in theeand the vain love of pleasing men. For when thou fleestaway from being abased and confounded for thy faultsit is plain that thou artneither truly humble nor truly dead to the worldand that the world is notcrucified to thee. But hearken to My wordand thou shalt not care for tenthousand words of men. Beholdif all things could be said against thee whichthe utmost malice could inventwhat should it hurt thee if thou wert altogetherto let it goand make no more account of it than of a mote? Could it pluck outa single hair of thy head?
3. "But he that hath no heart within himand hath not God before hiseyesis easily moved by a word of reproach; but he who trusteth in Meandseeketh not to abide by his own judgmentshall be free from the fear of men.For I am the Judge and the Discerner of all secrets; I know how the thing hathbeen done; I know both the injurer and the bearer. From Me went forth that wordby My permission this hath happenedthat the thoughts of many hearts may berevealed. * I shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but beforehand I havewilled to try them both by a secret judgment. -
* Luke ii. 35. -
4. "The testimony of men often deceiveth. My judgment is true; it willstandand it shall not be overturned. It commonly lieth hidand only to few incertain cases is it made known; yet it never errethnor can erralthough itseem not right to the eyes of foolish men. To Methereforemust men haverecourse in all judgmentand must not lean to their opinion. For there shall noevil happen to the just* whatsoever may be sent to him by God. Even thoughsome unjust charge be brought against himhe will care little; noragainwillhe exult above measureif through others he be clearly vindicated. For heconsidereth that I am He who try the hearts and reins*(2) who judge notoutwardly and according to human appearance; for often in Mine eyes that isfound blameworthy which in the judgment of men is held worthy of praise." -
* Proverbs xii. 21.
*(2) Psalm vii. 9. -
5. O Lord GodO judgejuststrongand patientwho knowest the frailtyand sinfulness of menbe Thou my strength and my whole confidence; for my ownconscience sufficeth me not. Thou knowest what I know not; and therefore ought Iunder all rebuke to humble myselfand to bear it meekly. Therefore mercifullyforgive me as often as I have not done thisand grant me the next time thegrace of greater endurance. For better unto me is Thine abundant pity for theattainment of Thy pardonthan the righteousness which I believe myself to havefor defence against my consciencewhich lieth wait against me. Although I knownothing against myselfyet am I not hereby justified* because if Thy mercywere removed awayin Thy sight should no man living be justified. *(2) -
* 1 Corinthians iv. 4.
*(2) Psalm cxliii. 2.
THAT ALL TROUBLES ARE TO BE ENDURED FOR THE SAKE OF ETERNAL LIFE -
"MY Sonlet not the labours which thou hast undertaken for Me breakthee downnor let tribulations cast thee down in any wisebut let my promisestrengthen and comfort thee in every event. I am sufficient to reward thee aboveall measure and extent. Not long shalt thou labour herenor always be weigheddown with sorrows. Wait yet a little whileand thou shalt see a speedy end ofthine evils. An hour shall come when all labour and confusion shall cease.Little and short is all that passeth away with time.
2. "Do earnestly what thou dost; labour faithfully in My vineyard; Iwill be thy reward. Writereadsingweepbe silentprayendure adversitiesmanfully; eternal life is worthy of all these conflictsyeaand of greater.Peace shall come in one day which is known to the Lord; which shall be neitherday nor night* but light eternalinfinite clearnesssteadfast peaceandundisturbed rest. Thou shalt not say thenWho shall deliver me from the body ofthis death? *(2) nor cry outWoe is mefor my sojourning is prolonged*(3)because death will be utterly destroyedand there shall be salvation which cannever failno more anxietyhappy delightsweet and noble society. -
* Zechariah xiv. 7.
*(2) Romans vii. 24.
*(3) Psalm cxx. -
3. "Ohif thou sawest the unfading crowns of the Saints in heavenandwith what great glory they now rejoicewho aforetime were reckoned by thisworld contemptibly and as it were unworthy of lifetruly thou wouldstimmediately humble thyself even to the earthand wouldst desire rather to be insubjection to allthan to have authority over one; nor wouldst thou long forpleasant days of this lifebut wouldst more rejoice to be afflicted for God'ssakeand wouldst esteem it gain to be counted for nought amongst men.
4. "Ohif these things were sweet to thy tasteand moved thee to thebottom of thine hearthow shouldst thou dare even once to complain? Are not alllaborious things to be endured for the sake of eternal life? It is no smallthingthe losing or gaining the Kingdom of God. Lift up therefore thy face toheaven. BeholdI and all My Saints with Mewho in this world had a hardconflictnow rejoiceare now comfortedare now secureare now at peaceandshall remain with Me evermore in the Kingdom of My Father."
OF THE DAY OF ETERNITY AND OF THE STRAITNESSES OF THIS LIFE -
OH most blessed mansion of the City which is above! Oh most clear day ofeternity which the night obscureth notbut the Supreme Truth ever enlighteneth!Day always joyfulalways secure and never changing its state into those whichare contrary. Oh would that this day might shine forthand that all thesetemporal things would come to an end. It shineth indeed upon the Saintsglowingwith unending brightnessbut only from afar and through a glassupon those whoare pilgrims on the earth.
2. The citizens of heaven know how glorious that day is; the exiled sons ofEve groanbecause this is bitter and wearisome. The days of this life are fewand evilfull of sorrows and straitswhere man is defiled with many sinsensnared with many passionsbound fast with many fearswearied with manycaresdistracted with many questioningsentangled with many vanitiescompassed about with many errorsworn away with many laboursweighed down withtemptationsenervated by pleasurestormented by poverty.
3. Oh when shall there be an end of these evils? When shall I be deliveredfrom the wretched slavery of my sins? When shall I be mindfulO Lordof Theealone? When shall I rejoice in Thee to the full? When shall I be in true libertywithout any impedimentwithout any burden on mind or body? When shall there besolid peacepeace immovable and securepeace within and withoutpeace firm onevery side? Blessed Jesuswhen shall I stand to behold Thee? When shall I gazeupon the glory of Thy kingdom? When shalt Thou be to me all in all? Oh whenshall I be with Thee in Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared from the foundationof the world for them that love Thee? I am left destitutean exile in a hostilelandwhere are daily wars and grievous misfortunes.
4. Console my exilemitigate my sorrowfor towards Thee all my desirelongeth. For all is to me a burdenwhatsoever this world offereth forconsolation. I yearn to enjoy Thee intimatelybut I cannot attain unto it. Ilong to cleave to heavenly thingsbut temporal things and unmortified passionspress me down. In my mind I would be above all thingsbut in my flesh I amunwillingly compelled to be beneath them. Sowretched man that I amI fightwith myselfand am made grievous even unto myselfwhile the spirit seeketh tobe above and the flesh to be beneath.
5. Oh how I suffer inwardlywhile with the mind I discourse on heavenlythingsand presently a crowd of carnal things rusheth upon me whilst I pray. MyGodbe not Thou far from menor depart in wrath from Thy servant. Cast forthThy lightning and scatter them; send out Thine arrows* and let all delusionsof my enemy be confounded. Recall my senses unto Thyselfcause me to forget allworldly things; grant me quickly to cast away and despise the imaginations ofsin. Succour meO Eternal Truththat no vanity may move me. Come unto meOHeavenly Sweetnessand let all impurity flee from before Thy face. Pardon mealsoand of Thy mercy deal gently with mewhensoever in prayer I think onanything besides Thee; for truly I confess that I am wont to be continuallydistracted. For often and oftenwhere in the body I stand or sitthere Imyself am not; but rather am I therewhither I am borne by my thoughts. Wheremy thought isthere am I; and there commonly is my thought where that which Ilove is. That readily occurreth to mewhich naturally delightethor pleaseththroughcustom. -
* Psalm lxxi. 12. -
6. Wherefore Thouwho art the Truthhast plainly saidWhere your treasureisthere will your heart be also. * If I love heavenI gladly meditate onheavenly things. If I love the worldI rejoice in the delights of the worldand am made sorry by its adversities. If I love the fleshI am continuallyimagining the things which belong to the flesh; if I love the spiritI amdelighted by meditating on spiritual things. For whatsoever things I loveonthese I readily converse and listenand carry home with me the images of them.But blessed is that man who for Thy sakeO Lordis willing to part from allcreatures; who doth violence to his fleshly nature and crucifieth the lusts ofthe flesh by the fervour of his spiritso that with serene conscience he mayoffer unto Thee a pure prayerand be made worthy to enter into the angelicchoirshaving shut out from himselfboth outwardly and inwardlyall worldlythings. -
* Matthew vi. 21.
OF THE DESIRE AFTER ETERNAL LIFEAND HOW GREAT BLESSINGS ARE
PROMISED TO THOSE WHO STRIVE -
"MY Sonwhen thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness to be pouredinto thee from aboveand longest to depart from the tabernacle of this bodythat thou mayest contemplate My glory without shadow of turningenlarge thineheartand take in this holy inspiration with all thy desire. Give most heartythanks to the Supreme Goodnesswho dealeth with thee so graciouslyvisiteththee so lovinglystirreth thee up so ferventlyraiseth thee so powerfullylest thou sink down through thine own weightto earthly things. For not bythine own meditating or striving dost thou receive this giftbut by the solegracious condescension of Supreme Grace and Divine regard; to the end that thoumayest make progress in virtue and in more humilityand prepare thyself forfuture conflictsand cleave unto Me with all the affection of thy heartandstrive to serve Me with fervent will.
2. "My Sonoften the fire burnethbut the flame ascendeth not withoutsmoke. So also the desires of some men burn towards heavenly thingsand yetthey are not free from the temptation of carnal affection. Thus therefore theyare not acting with an altogether simple desire for God's glory when they prayto Him so earnestly. Suchtoois oftentimes thy desirewhen thou hastimagined it to be so earnest. For that is not pure and perfect which is taintedwith thine own self-seeking.
3. "Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to thyselfbut whatis acceptable and honourable unto Me; for if thou judgest rightlythou mustchoose and follow after My appointment rather than thine own desire; yearatherthan anything that can be desired. I know thy desireand I have heard thy manygroanings. Already thou longest to be in the glorious liberty of the children ofGod; already the eternal home delighteth theeand the heavenly country full ofjoy; but the hour is not yet come; there remaineth still another seasoneven aseason of warfarea season of labour and probation. Thou desirest to be filledwith the Chief Goodbut thou canst not attain it immediately. I AM that Good;wait for Meuntil the Kingdom of God shall come.
4. "Thou must still be tried upon earthand be exercised in manythings. Consolation shall from time to time be given theebut abundantsatisfying shall not be granted. Be strong thereforeand be thou brave both inworking and in suffering things which are against thy nature. Thou must put onthe new manand be changed into another man. Thou must often do what thouwouldst not; and thou must leave undone what thou wouldst do. What pleasethothers shall have good successwhat pleaseth thee shall have no prosperity.What others say shall be listened to; what thou sayest shall receive no heed.Others shall ask and receive; thou shalt ask and not obtain. Others shall begreat in the report of menbut about thee shall nothing be spoken. To othersthis or that shall be entrusted; thou shalt be judged useful for nought.
5. "For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with sadness; and itis a great thing if thou bear it silently. In this and many like things thefaithful servant of the Lord is wont to be triedhow far he is able to denyhimself and bring himself into subjection in all things. Scarcely is thereanything in which thou hast need to mortify thyself so much as in seeing thingswhich are adverse to thy will; especially when things are commanded thee to bedone which seem to thee inexpedient or of little use to thee. And because thoudarest not resist a higher powerbeing under authoritytherefore it seemethhard for thee to shape thy course according to the nod of anotherand to foregothine own opinion.
6. "But considerMy Sonthe fruit of these laboursthe swift endandthe reward exceeding great; and thou shalt find it no pain to bear them thenbut rather the strongest solace of thy patience. For even in exchange for thistrifling desire which thou hast readily forsakenthou shalt always have thywill in Heaven. There verily thou shalt find all that thou wouldstall thatthou canst long for. There thou shalt have all good within thy power without thefear of losing it. There thy willever at one with Mineshall desire nothingoutwardnothing for itself. There no man shall withstand theenone shallcomplain of theenone shall hindernothing shall stand in thy path; but allthings desired by thee shall be present togetherand shall refresh thy wholeaffectionand fill it up even to the brim. There I will glory for the scornsuffered herethe garment of praise for sorrowand for the lowest place athrone in the Kingdomfor ever. There shall appear the fruit of obediencethelabour of repentance shall rejoiceand humble subjection shall be crownedgloriously.
7. "Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of all men; nor letit trouble thee who said this or who ordered that; but take special heed thatwhether thy superiorthy inferioror thy equalrequire anything from theeoreven show a desire for it; take it all in good partand study with a good willto fulfil the desire. Let one seek thisanother that; let this man glory inthisand that man in thatand be praised a thousand thousand timesbutrejoice thou only in the contempt of thyselfand in Mine own good pleasure andglory. This is what thou art to long foreven that whether by life or by deathGod may be ever magnified in thee." * -
* Philippians i. 20.
HOW A DESOLATE MAN OUGHT TO COMMIT HIMSELF INTO THE HANDS OF GOD -
O LORD Holy Fatherbe Thou blessed now and evermore; because as Thou wilt soit is doneand what Thou doest is good. Let Thy servant rejoice in Theenot inhimselfnor in any other; because Thou alone art the true joyThou art my hopeand my crownThou art my joy and my honourO Lord. What hath Thy servantwhich he received not from Theeeven without merit of his own? Thine are allthings which Thou hast givenand which Thou hast made. I am poor and in miseryeven from my youth up* and my soul is sorrowful unto tearssometimes also itis disquieted within itselfbecause of the sufferings which are coming upon it.-
* Psalm lxxxviii. 15. -
2. I long after the joy of peace; for the peace of Thy children do I beseechfor in the light of Thy comfort they are fed by Thee. If Thou give peaceifThou pour into me holy joythe soul of Thy servant shall be full of melodyanddevout in Thy praise. But if Thou withdraw Thyself as too often Thou art wonthe will not be able to run in the way of Thy commandmentsbut rather he willsmite his breast and will bow his knees; because it is not with him as yesterdayand the day beforewhen Thy candle shined upon his head* and he walked underthe shadow of Thy wings*(2) from the temptations which beset him. -
* Job xxix. 3.
*(2) Psalm xvii. 8. -
3. O Fatherrighteous and ever to be praisedthe hour cometh when Thyservant is to be proved. O beloved Fatherit is well that in this hour Thyservant suffer somewhat for Thy sake. O Fatherevermore to be adoredas thehour cometh which Thou foreknewest from everlastingwhen for a little while Thyservant should outwardly bow downbut always live inwardly with Thee; when fora little while he should be little regardedhumbledand fail in the eyes ofmen; should be wasted with sufferings and weaknessesto rise again with Thee inthe dawn of the new lightand be glorified in the heavenly places. O HolyFatherthou hast ordained it soand so hast willed it; and that is done whichThou Thyself hast commanded.
4. For this is Thy favour to Thy friendthat he should suffer and betroubled in the world for Thy love's sakehow often soeverand by whomsoeverand whosoever Thou hast suffered it to be done. Without Thy counsel andprovidenceand without causenothing cometh to pass on the earth. It is goodfor meLordthat I had been in troublethat I may learn Thy statutes* andmay cast away all pride of heart and presumption. It is profitable for me thatconfusion hath covered my facethat I may seek to Thee for consolation ratherthan unto men. By this also I have learned to dread Thine unsearchable judgmentwho afflictest the just with the wickedbut not without equity and justice. -
* Psalm cxix. 71. -
5. Thanks be unto Theebecause Thou hast not spared my sinsbut hast beatenme with stripes of loveinflicting painsand sending troubles upon me withoutand within. There is none who can console meof all things which are underheavenbut Thou onlyO Lord my GodThou heavenly Physician of soulswho dostscourge and hast mercywho leadest down to hell and bringest up again. * Thydiscipline over meand Thy rod itself shall teach me. -
* Job xiii. 2. -
6. BeholdO beloved FatherI am in Thy handsI bow myself under the rod ofThy correction. Smite my back and my neck that I may bend my crookedness to Thywill. Make me a pious and lowly discipleas Thou wert wont to be kindthat Imay walk according to every nod of Thine. To Thee I commend myself and all thatI have for correction; better is it to be punished here than hereafter. Thouknowest all things and each of them; and nothing remaineth hid from Thee inman's conscience. Before they arethou knowest that they will beand Thouneedest not that any man teach Thee or admonish Thee concerning the things whichare done upon the earth. Thou knowest what is expedient for my profitand howgreatly trouble serveth unto the scrubbing off the rust of sin. Do with meaccording to Thy desired good pleasureand despise not my life which is full ofsinknown to none so entirely and fully as to Thee alone.
7. Grant meO Lordto know that which ought to be known; to love that whichought to be loved; to praise that which pleaseth Thee mostto esteem that whichis precious in Thy sightto blame that which is vile in Thine eyes. Suffer menot to judge according to the sight of bodily eyesnor to give sentenceaccording to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to discern in truejudgment between visible and spiritual thingsand above all things to be everseeking after the will of Thy good pleasure.
8. Oftentimes the senses of men are deceived in judging; the lovers of theworld also are deceived in that they love only visible things. What is a manbetter because by man he is reckoned very great? The deceiver deceiveth thedeceiverthe vain man the vainthe blind man the blindthe weak man the weakwhen they exalt one
another; and in truth they rather put to shamewhile they foolishly praise.For as humble St. Francis saith"What each one is in Thine eyesso muchhe isand no more."
THAT WE MUST GIVE OURSELVES TO HUMBLE WORKS WHEN WE ARE
UNEQUAL TO THOSE THAT ARE LOFTY -
"MY Sonthou art not always able to continue in very fervent desireafter virtuesnor to stand fast in the loftier region of contemplation; butthou must of necessity sometimes descend to lower things because of thineoriginal corruptionand bear about the burden of corruptible lifethoughunwillingly and with weariness. So long as thou wearest a mortal bodythoushalt feel weariness and heaviness of heart. Therefore thou oughtest to groanoften in the flesh because of the burden of the fleshinasmuch as thou canstnot give thyself to spiritual studies and divine contemplation unceasingly.
2. "At such a time it is expedient for thee to flee to humble andexternal worksand to renew thyself with good actions; to wait for My comingand heavenly visitation with sure confidence; to bear thy exile and drought ofmind with patienceuntil thou be visited by Me againand be freed from allanxieties. For I will cause thee to forget thy laboursand altogether to enjoyeternal peace. I will spread open before thee the pleasant pastures of theScripturesthat with enlarged heart thou mayest begin to run in the way of Mycommandments. And thou shalt say'The sufferings of this present time are notworthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.'" * -
* Romans viii. 18.
THAT A MAN OUGHT NOT TO RECKON HIMSELF WORTHY OF CONSOLATION
BUT MORE WORTHY OF CHASTISEMENT -
O LORDI am not worthy of Thy consolationnor of any spiritual visitation;and therefore Thou dealest justly with mewhen Thou leavest me poor anddesolate. For if I were able to pour forth tears like the sea still should I notbe worthy of Thy consolation. Therefore am I nothing worthy save to be scourgedand punishedbecause I have grievously and many a time offended Theeand inmany things have greatly sinned. Thereforetrue account being takenI am notworthy even of the least of Thy consolations. But Thougracious and mercifulGodwho willest not that Thy works should perishto show forth the riches ofThy mercy upon the vessels of mercy* vouchsafest even beyond all his owndeservingto comfort Thy servant above the measure of mankind. For Thyconsolations are not like unto the discoursings of men. -
* Romans ix. 23. -
2. What have I doneO Lordthat Thou shouldst bestow any heavenly comfortupon me? I remember not that I have done any goodbut have been ever prone tosin and slow to amendment. It is true and I cannot deny it. If I should sayotherwiseThou wouldst rise up against meand there would be none to defendme. What have I deserved for my sins but hell and everlasting fire? In verytruth I confess that I am worthy of all scorn and contemptnor is it fit that Ishould be remembered among Thy faithful servants. And although I be unwilling tohear thisnevertheless I will for the Truth's sakeaccuse myself of my sinsthat the more readily I may prevail to be accounted worthy of Thy mercy.
3. What shall I sayguilty that I am and filled with confusion? I have nomouth to utterunless it be this word alone"I have sinnedLordI havesinned; have mercy upon meforgive me." Let me alonethat I may takecomfort a little before I go whence I shall not return even to the land ofdarkness and the shadow of death. * What dost Thou so much require of a guiltyand miserable sinneras that he be contriteand humble himself for his sins?In true contrition and humiliation of heart is begotten the hope of pardonthetroubled conscience is reconciledlost grace is recovereda man is preservedfrom the wrath to comeand God and the penitent soul hasten to meet each otherwith a holy kiss. *(2) -
* Job x. 2021.
*(2) Luke xv. 20. -
4. The humble contrition of sinners is an acceptable sacrifice unto TheeOLordsending forth a smell sweeter far in Thy sight than the incense. This alsois that pleasant ointment which Thou wouldst have poured upon Thy sacred feetfor a broken and contrite heart Thou hast never despised. * There is the placeof refuge from the wrathful countenance of the enemy. There is amended andwashed away whatsoever evil hath elsewhere been contracted. -
* Psalm li. 17
THAT THE GRACE OF GOD DOTH NOT JOIN ITSELF TO THOSE WHO
MIND EARTHLY THINGS -
"MY Sonprecious is My graceit suffereth not itself to be joined withoutward thingsnor with earthly consolations. Therefore thou oughtest to castaway all things which hinder graceif thou longest to receive the inpouringthereof. Seek a secret place for thyselflove to dwell alone with thyselfdesire the conversation of no one; but rather pour out thy devout prayer to Godthat thou mayest possess a contrite mind and a pure conscience. Count the wholeworld as nought; seek to be alone with God before all outward things. For thoucanst not be alone with Meand at the same time be delighted with transitorythings. Thou oughtest to be separated from thy acquaintances and dear friendsand keep thy mind free from all worldly comfort. So the blessed Apostle Peterbeseecheththat Christ's faithful ones bear themselves in this world asstrangers and pilgrims. * -
* 1 Peter ii. 11. -
2. "Oh how great a confidence shall there be to the dying man whom noaffection to anything detaineth in the world? But to have a heart so separatedfrom all thingsa sickly soul doth not yet comprehendnor doth the carnal manknow the liberty of the spiritual man. But if indeed he desire to be spirituallymindedhe must renounce both those who are far offand those who are nearandto beware of no man more than himself. If thou perfectly conquer thyselfveryeasily shalt thou subdue all things besides. Perfect victory is the triumph overoneself. For whoso keepeth himself in subjectionin such manner that thesensual affections obey the reasonand the reason in all things obeyeth Mehetruly is conqueror of himselfand lord of the world.
3. "If thou desire to climb to this heightthou oughtest to start
bravelyand to lay the axe to the rootto the end that thou mayest pull upand destroy the hidden inordinate inclination towards thyselfand towards allselfish and earthly good. From this sinthat a man loveth himself tooinordinatelyalmost everything hangeth which needeth to be utterly overcome:when that evil is conquered and put under footthere shall be great peace andtranquillity continually. But because few strive earnestly to die perfectly tothemselvesand do not heartily go forth from themselvestherefore do theyremain entangled in themselvesand cannot be raised in spirit above themselves.But he who desireth to walk at liberty with Memust of necessity mortify allhis evil and inordinate affectionsand must cling to no creature with selfishlove."
OF THE DIVERSE MOTIONS OF NATURE AND OF GRACE -
"MY Sonpay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of Gracebecause they move in a very contrary and subtle mannerand are hardlydistinguished save by a spiritual and inwardly enlightened man. All men indeedseek goodand make pretence of something good in all that they say or do; andthus under the appearance of good many are deceived.
2. "Nature is deceitful and draweth awayensnarethand deceiveth manyand always hath self for her end; but Grace walketh in simplicity and turnethaway from every appearance of evilmaketh no false pretencesand doeth allentirely for the sake of Godin whom also she finally resteth.
3. "Nature is very unwilling to dieand to be pressed downand to beovercomeand to be in subjectionand to bear the yoke readily; but Gracestudieth self-mortificationresisteth sensualityseeketh to be subduedlongeth to be conqueredand willeth not to use her own liberty. She loveth tobe held by disciplineand not to have authority over anybut always to liveto remainto have her being under Godand for God's sake is ready to be humblysubject to every ordinance of man.
4. "Nature laboureth for her own advantageand considereth what profitshe may gain from another; but Grace considereth morenot what may be usefuland convenient to selfbut what may be profitable to the many.
5. "Nature willingly receiveth honour and reverence; but Gracefaithfully ascribeth all honour and glory to God.
6. "Nature feareth confusion and contemptbut Grace rejoiceth to suffershame for the name of Jesus.
7. "Nature loveth ease and bodily quiet; Grace cannot be unemployedbutgladly embraceth labour.
8. "Nature seeketh to possess things curious and attractiveandabhorreth those which are rough and cheap; Grace is delighted with things simpleand humbledespiseth not those which are roughnor refuseth to be clothed withold garments.
9. "Nature hath regard to things temporalrejoiceth in earthly lucreis made sad by lossvexed by any little injurious word; but Grace reachethafter things eternalcleaveth not to those which are temporalis not perturbedby lossesnor embittered by any hard wordsbecause she hath placed hertreasure and joy in heaven where nought perisheth.
10. "Nature is covetousand receiveth more willingly than she givethloveth things that are personal and private to herself; while Grace is kind andgenerousavoideth selfishnessis contented with a littlebelieveth that it ismore blessed to give than to receive.
11. "Nature inclineth thee to created thingsto thine own fleshtovanities and dissipation; but Grace draweth to God and to virtuesrenouncethcreaturesfleeth from the worldhateth the desires of the fleshrestrainethvagariesblusheth to be seen in public.
12. "Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in which the sensesmay have delight; but Grace seeketh to be comforted in God aloneand to havedelight in the chief good above all visible things.
13. "Nature doeth everything for her own gain and profitcan do nothingas a free favourbut hopeth to attain something as good or betteror somepraise or favour for her benefits; and she loveth that her own deeds and giftsshould be highly valued; but Grace seeketh nothing temporalnor requireth anyother gift of reward than God alone; neither longeth she for more of temporalnecessities than such as may suffice for the attaining of eternal life.
14. "Nature rejoiceth in many friends and kinsfolkshe boasteth ofnoble place and noble birthshe smileth on the powerfulflattereth the richapplaudeth those who are like herself; but Grace loveth even her enemiesand isnot lifted up by the multitude of friendssetteth no store upon high place orhigh birthunless there be greater virtue therewith; favoureth the poor manmore than the richhath more sympathy with the innocent than with the powerful;rejoiceth with the truthfulnot with the liar; always exhorteth the good tostrive after better gifts of graceand to become by holiness like unto the Sonof God.
15. "Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of trouble; Grace bearethwant with constancy.
16. "Nature looketh upon all things in reference to herself; strivethand argueth for self; but Grace bringeth back all things to God from whom theycame at the beginning; ascribeth no good to herself nor arrogantly presumeth; isnot contentiousnor preferreth her own opinion to othersbut in every senseand understanding submitteth herself to the Eternal wisdom and the Divinejudgment.
17. "Nature is eager to know secrets and to hear new things; she lovethto appear abroadand to make experience of many things through the senses; shedesireth to be acknowledged and to do those things which win praise andadmiration; but Grace careth not to gather up new or curious thingsbecause allthis springeth from the old corruptionwhereas there is nothing new or lastingupon earth. So she teacheth to restrain the sensesto shun vain complacency andostentationto hide humbly those things which merit praise and real admirationand from everything and in all knowledge to seek after useful fruitand thepraise and honour of God. She desireth not to receive praise for herself or herownbut longeth that God be blessed in all His giftswho out of unmingled lovebestoweth all things."
18. This Grace is a supernatural lightand a certain special gift of Godand the proper mark of the electand the pledge of eternal salvation; itexalteth a man from earthly things to love those that are heavenly; and itmaketh the carnal man spiritual. So far therefore as Nature is utterly presseddown and overcomeso far is greater Grace bestowed and the inner man is dailycreated anew by fresh visitationsafter the image of God.
OF THE CORRUPTION OF NATURE AND THE EFFICACY OF DIVINE GRACE -
O LORD my Godwho hast created me after thine own image and similitudegrant me this gracewhich Thou hast shown to be so great and so necessary forsalvationthat I may conquer my wicked naturewhich draweth me to sin and toperdition. For I feel in my flesh the law of sincontradicting the law of mymindand bringing me into captivity to the obedience of sensuality in manythings; nor
can I resist its passionsunless Thy most holy grace assist meferventlypoured into my heart.
2. There is need of Thy graceyeaand of a great measure thereofthat mynature may be conqueredwhich hath alway been prone to evil from my youth. Forbeing fallen through the first man Adamand corrupted through sinthepunishment of this stain descended upon all men; so that Nature itselfwhichwas framed good and right by Theeis now used to express the vice and infirmityof corrupted Nature; because its motion left unto itself draweth men away toevil and to lower things. For the little power which remaineth is as it were onespark lying hid in the ashes. This is Natural reason itselfencompassed withthick cloudshaving yet a discernment of good and evila distinction of thetrue and the falsethough it be powerless to fulfil all that it approvethandpossess not yet the full light of truthnor healthfulness of its affections.
3. Hence it isO my Godthat I delight in Thy law after the inward man*knowing that Thy commandment is holy and just and good; reproving also all eviland the sin that is to be avoided: yet with the flesh I serve the law of sinwhilst I obey sensuality rather than reason. Hence it is that to will to do goodis present with mebut how to perform it I find not. *(2) Hence I ofttimespurpose many good things; but because grace is lacking to help mine infirmitiesI fall back before a little resistance and fail. Hence it cometh to pass that Irecognize the way of perfectnessand see very clearly what things I ought todo; but pressed down by the weight of my own corruptionI rise not to thethings which are more perfect. -
* Romans vii. 1222. 25.
*(2) Romans vii. 18. -
4. Oh how entirely necessary is Thy grace to meO Lordfor a goodbeginningfor progressand for bringing to perfection. For without it I can donothingbut I can do all things through Thy grace which strengtheneth me. * Otruly heavenly gracewithout which our own merits are noughtand no gifts ofNature at all are to be esteemed. Artsrichesbeautystrengthwiteloquencethey all avail nothing before TheeO Lordwithout Thy grace. Forthe gifts of Nature belong to good and evil alike; but the proper gift of theelect is grace- that islove- and they who bear the mark thereof are heldworthy of everlasting life. So mighty is this gracethat without it neither thegift of prophecy nor the working of miraclesnor any speculationhowsoeverloftyis of any value at all. But neither faithnor hopenor any other virtueis accepted with Thee without love and grace. -
* Philippians iv. 13. -
5. O most blessed grace that makest the poor in spirit rich in virtuesandrenderest him who is rich in many things humble in spiritcome Thoudescendupon mefill me early with Thy consolationlest my soul fail through wearinessand drought of mind. I beseech theeO Lordthat I may find grace in Thy sightfor Thy grace is sufficient for me* when I obtain not those things whichNature longeth for. If I be tempted and vexed with many tribulationsI willfear no evilwhile Thy grace remaineth with me. This alone is my strengththisbringeth me counsel and help. It is more powerful than all enemiesand wiserthan all the wise men in the world. -
* 2 Corinthians xii. 9. -
6. It is the mistress of truththe teacher of disciplinethe light of theheartthe solace of anxietythe banisher of sorrowthe deliverer from fearthe nurse of devotionthe drawer forth of tears. What am I without itsave adry treea useless branchworthy to be cast away! "Let Thy gracethereforeO Lordalways prevent and follow me and make me continually given toall good worksthrough Jesus ChristThy Son. Amen."
THAT WE OUGHT TO DENY OURSELVESAND TO IMITATE CHRIST BY
MEANS OF THE CROSS -
MY Sonso far as thou art able to go out of thyself so far shalt thou beable to enter into Me. As to desire no outward thing worketh internal peacesothe forsaking of self inwardly joineth unto God. I will that thou learn perfectself-denialliving in My will without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: Iam the waythe truthand the life. * Without the way thou canst not gowithout the truth thou canst not knowwithout the life thou canst not live. Iam the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the Truth which thou oughtest tobelieve; the Life which thou oughtest to hope for. I am the Way unchangeable;the Truth infallible; the Life everlasting. I am the Way altogether straightthe Truth supremethe true Lifethe blessed Lifethe uncreated Life. If thouremain in My way thou shalt know the Truthand the truth shall make thee free*(2) and thou shalt lay hold on eternal life. -
* John xiv. 6.
*(2) John viii. 32. -
2. "If thou wilt enter into lifekeep the commandments. * If thou wiltknow the truthbelieve in Me. If thou wilt be perfectsell all that thou hast.If thou wilt be My discipledeny thyself. If thou wouldst possess the blessedlifedespise the life which now is. If thou wilt be exalted in heavenhumblethyself in the world. If thou wilt reign with Mebear the cross with Me; foronly the servants of the cross find the way of blessedness and of truelight." -
* Matthew xix. 1721. -
3. O Lord Jesuforasmuch as Thy life was straitened and despised by theworldgrant unto me to imitate Thee in despising the worldfor the servant isnot greater than his lordnor the disciple above his master. * Let Thy servantbe exercised in Thy lifebecause there is my salvation and true holiness.Whatsoever I read or hear besides itit refresheth me notnor giveth medelight. -
* Matthew x. 24. -
4. "My sonbecause thou knowest these things and hast read them allblessed shalt thou be if thou doest them. He who hath My commandments andkeepeth themhe it is that loveth Meand I will love himand will manifestMyself to him* and I will make thou to sit down with Me in My Father'sKingdom." -
* John xiv. 21. -
5. O Lord Jesuas Thou hast said and promisedeven so let it be unto meand grant me to prove worthy. I have received the cross at Thy hand; I havecarried itand will carry it even unto deathas
Thou hast laid it upon me. Truly the life of a truly devoted servant is acrossbut it leadeth to paradise. I have begun; I may not return back nor leaveit.
6. Comemy brotherslet us together go forward. Jesus shall be with us. ForJesus' sake have we taken up this crossfor Jesus' sake let us persevere in thecross. He will be our helperwho was our Captain and Forerunner. Behold ourKing entereth in before usand He will fight for us. Let us follow bravelyletno man fear terrors; let us be prepared to die bravely in battleand let us notso stain our honour* as to fly from the cross. -
* 1 Mac. ix. 10.
THAT A MAN MUST NOT BE TOO MUCH CAST DOWN WHEN HE
FALLETH INTO SOME FAULTS -
"MY Sonpatience and humility in adversities are more pleasing to Methan much comfort and devotion in prosperity. Why doth a little thing spokenagainst thee make thee sad? If it had been morethou still oughtest not to bemoved. But now suffer it to go by; it is not the firstit is not newand itwill not be the lastif thou live long. Thou art brave enoughso long as noadversity meeteth thee. Thou givest good counsel alsoand knowest how tostrengthen others with thy words; but when tribulation suddenly knocketh atthine own doorthy counsel and strength fail. Consider thy great frailtywhichthou dost so often experience in trifling matters neverthelessfor thy soul'shealth these things are done when they and such like happen unto thee.
2. "Put them away from thy heart as well as thou canstand iftribulation hath touched theeyet let it not cast thee down nor entangle theelong. At the leastbear patientlyif thou canst not joyfully. And althoughthou be very unwilling to hear itand feel indignationyet check thyselfandsuffer no unadvised word to come forth from thy lipswhereby the little onesmay be offended. Soon the storm which hath been raised shall be stilledandinward grief shall be sweetened by returning grace. I yet livesaith the Lordready to help theeand to give thee more than wonted consolation if thou putthy trust in Meand call devoutly upon Me.
3. "Be thou more calm of spiritand gird thyself for greater endurance.All is not frustratedthough thou find thyself very often afflicted orgrievously tempted. Thou art mannot God; thou art fleshnot an angel. Howshouldst thou be able to remain alway in the same state of virtuewhen an angelin heaven felland the first man in paradise? I am He who lifteth up themourners to deliveranceand those who know their own infirmity I raise up to myown nature."
4. O Lordblessed be Thy wordsweeter to my mouth than honey and thehoneycomb. What should I do in my so great tribulations and anxietiesunlessThou didst comfort me with Thy holy words? If only I may attain unto the havenof salvationwhat matter is it what things or how many I suffer? Give me a goodendgive me a happy passage out of this world. Remember meO my Godand leadme by the right way unto Thy Kingdom. Amen.
OF DEEPER MATTERSAND GOD'S HIDDEN JUDGMENTS WHICH ARE
NOT TO BE INQUIRED INTO -
"MY Sonbeware thou dispute not of high matters and of the hiddenjudgments of God; why this man is thus leftand that man is taken into so greatfavour; why also this man is so greatly afflictedand that so highly exalted.These things pass all man's power of judgingneither may any reasoning ordisputation have power to search out the divine judgments. When therefore theenemy suggesteth these things to theeor when any curious people ask suchquestionsanswer with that word of the ProphetJust art ThouO Lordand trueis Thy judgment* and with thisThe judgments of the Lord are trueandrighteous altogether. *(2) My judgments are to be fearednot to be disputed onbecause they are incomprehensible to human understanding. -
* Psalm cxix. 137.
*(2) Psalm xix. 9. -
2. "And be not given to inquire or dispute about the merits of theSaintswhich is holier than anotheror which is the greater in the Kingdom ofHeaven. Such questions often beget useless strifes and contentions: they alsonourish pride and vain glorywhence envyings and dissensions arisewhile oneman arrogantly endeavoureth to exalt one Saint and another another. But to wishto know and search out such things bringeth no fruitbut it rather displeaseththe Saints; for I am not the God of confusion but of peace; * which peaceconsisteth more in true humility than in self-exaltation. -
* Corinthians xiv. 33. -
3. "Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection to these Saintsor those; but this is human affection rather than divine. I am He Who made allthe Saints: I gave them graceI brought them glory; I know the merits of everyone; I prevented them with the blessings of My goodness. * I foreknew my belovedones from everlastingI chose them out of the world; *(2) they did not chooseMe. I called them by My grace. drew them by My mercyled them on through sundrytemptations. I poured mighty consolations upon themI gave them perseveranceIcrowned their patience. -
* Psalm xxi. 3.
*(2) John xv. 19. -
4. "I acknowledge the first and the last; I embrace all with inestimablelove. I am to be praised in all My Saints; I am to be blessed above all thingsand to be honoured in every one whom I have so gloriously exalted andpredestinedwithout any preceding merits of their own. He therefore that shalldespise one of the least of these My peoplehonoureth not the great; because Imade both small and great. * And he who speaketh against any of My Saintsspeaketh against Meand against all others in the Kingdom of Heaven." -
* Wisd. vi. 8. -
They are all one through the bond of charity; they think the same thingwillthe same thingand all are united in love one to another.
5. "But yet (which is far better) they love Me above themselves andtheir own merits. For being caught up above themselvesand drawn beyondself-lovethey go all straightforward to the love of Meand they rest in Me inperfect enjoyment. There is nothing which can turn them away or press them down;for being full of Eternal Truththey burn with the fire of inextinguishablecharity. Therefore let all carnal and natural men hold their peace concerningthe state of the Saintsfor they know nothing save to love their own personal
enjoyment. They take away and add according to their own inclinationnot asit pleaseth the Eternal Truth.
6. "In many men this is ignorancechiefly is it so in those whobeinglittle enlightenedrarely learn to love any one with perfect spiritual love.They are still much drawn by natural affection and human friendship to these orto those: and as they reckon of themselves in lower mattersso also do theyframe imaginations of things heavenly. But there is an immeasurable differencebetween those things which they imperfectly imagineand these things whichenlightened men behold through supernatural revelation.
7. "Take heedthereforeMy sonthat thou treat not curiously thosethings which surpass thy knowledgebut rather make this thy business and giveattention to itnamelythat thou seek to be foundeven though it be theleastin the Kingdom of God. And even if any one should know who were holierthan othersor who were held greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven; what shouldthat knowledge profit himunless through this knowledge he should humblehimself before Meand should rise up to give greater praise unto My name? Hewho considereth how great are his own sinshow small his virtuesand how farhe is removed from the perfection of the Saintsdoeth far more acceptably inthe sight of Godthan he who disputeth about their greatness or littleness.
8. "They are altogether well contentif men would learn to be contentand to refrain from vain babbling. They glory not of their own meritsseeingthey ascribe no good unto themselvesbut all unto Meseeing that I of myinfinite charity have given them all things. They are filled with so great loveof the Divinityand with such overflowing joythat no glory is lacking tothemneither can any felicity be lacking. All the Saintsthe higher they areexalted in glorythe humbler are they in themselvesand the nearer and dearerare they unto Me. And so thou hast it written that they cast their crowns beforeGod and fell on their faces before the Lamband worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever. * -
* Revelation iv. 10; v. 14. -
9. "Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heavenwho know notwhether they shall be worthy to be counted among the least. It is a great thingto be even the least in Heavenwhere all are greatbecause all shall becalledand shall bethe sons of God. A little one shall become a thousandbutthe sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. For when the disciplesasked who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaventhey received noother answer than thisExcept ye be converted and become as little childrenyeshall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But whosoever shall humble himselfas this little childthe same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."* -
* Matthew xviii. 3. -
10. Woe unto them who disdain to humble themselves willingly with the littlechildren; for the low gate of the kingdom of Heaven will not suffer them toenter in. Woe also to them who are richwho have their consolation here; *because whilst the poor enter into the kingdom of Godthey shall standlamenting without. Rejoice ye humbleand exult ye poorfor yours is thekingdom of God if only ye walk in the truth. -
* Philippians ii. 21.
THAT ALL HOPE AND TRUST IS TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE -
O LORDwhat is my trust which I have in this lifeor what is my greatestcomfort of all the things which are seen under Heaven? Is it not ThouO Lord myGodwhose mercies are without number? Where hath it been well with me withoutThee? Or when could it be evil whilst Thou wert near? I had rather be poor forThy sakethan rich without Thee. I choose rather to be a pilgrim upon the earthwith Thee than without Thee to possess heaven. Where Thou artthere is heaven;and where Thou are notbehold there death and hell. Thou art all my desireandtherefore must I groan and cry and earnestly pray after Thee. In short I canconfide fully in none to give me ready help in necessitiessave in Thee aloneO my God. Thou art my hopeThou art my trustThou art my Comforterand mostfaithful in all things.
2. All men seek their own; * Thou settest forward only my salvation and myprofitand turnest all things unto my good. Even though Thou dost expose me todivers temptations and adversitiesThou ordainest all this unto my advantagefor Thou are wont to prove Thy beloved ones in a thousand ways. In which provingThou oughtest no less to be loved and praisedthan if Thou wert filling me fullof heavenly consolations. -
* Luke vi. -
3. In TheethereforeO Lord GodI put all my hope and my refugeon Thee Ilay all my tribulation and anguish; because I find all to be weak and unstablewhatsoever I behold out of Thee. For many friends shall not profitnor stronghelpers be able to succournor prudent counsellors to give a useful answernorthe books of the learned to consolenor any precious substance to delivernorany secret and beautiful place to give shelterif Thou Thyself do not assisthelpstrengthencomfortinstructkeep in safety.
4. For all things which seem to belong to the attainment of peace andfelicity are nothing when Thou art absentand bring no felicity at all inreality. Therefore art Thou the end of all goodand the fulness of Lifeandthe soul of eloquence; and to hope in Thee above all things is the strongestsolace of Thy servants. Mine eyes look unto Thee* in Thee is my trustO myGodFather of mercies. -
* Psalm cxli. 8. -
5. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly blessing that it may become Thyholy habitationand the seat of Thy eternal glory; and let nothing be found inthe Temple of Thy divinity which may offend the eyes of Thy majesty. Accordingto the greatness of Thy goodness and the multitude of Thy mercies look upon meand hear the prayer of Thy poor servantfar exiled from Thee in the land of theshadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of Thy least servant amid so manydangers of corruptible lifeand by Thy grace accompanying medirect it by theway of peace unto its home of perpetual light. Amen.
THE FOURTH BOOK
OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR
A DEVOUT EXHORTATION TO THE HOLY COMMUNION -
The Voice of Christ -
Come unto Meall ye that labour and are heavy ladenand I will
refresh you* saith the Lord. The bread that I will give is My flesh which Igive for the life of the world. *(2) Takeeat: this is My Bodywhich is givenfor you; this do in remembrance of Me. *(3) He that eateth My flesh and drinkethMy blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. The words that I speak unto youthey arespiritand they are life. *(4) -
* Matthew xi. 28.
*(2) John vi. 51.
*(3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii 19.
*(4) John vi. 51. 63.
WITH HOW GREAT REVERENCE CHRIST MUST BE RECEIVED -
The Voice of the Disciple -
THESE are Thy wordsO ChristEternal Truth; though not uttered at one timenor written together in one place of Scripture. Because therefore they are Thywords and trueI must gratefully and faithfully receive them all. They areThineand Thou hast uttered them; and they are mine alsobecause Thou didstspeak them for my salvation. Gladly I receive them from Thy mouththat they maybe more deeply implanted in my heart. Words of such great grace arouse meforthey are full of sweetness and love; but my own sins terrify meand my impureconscience driveth me away from receiving so great mysteries. The sweetness ofThy words encourageth mebut the multitude of my faults presseth me down.
2. Thou commandest that I draw near to Thee with firm confidenceif I wouldhave part with Theeand that I receive the food of immortalityif I desire toobtain eternal life and glory. Come unto Mesayest Thouall that labour andare heavy ladenand I will refresh you. Ohsweet and lovely word in the ear ofthe sinnerthat ThouO Lord my Goddost invite the poor and needy to theCommunion of Thy most holy body and blood. But who am IO Lordthat I shouldpresume to approach unto Thee? Behold the heaven of heavens cannot contain Theeand yet Thou sayestCome ye all unto Me.
3. What meaneth this most gracious condescensionthis most lovelyinvitation? How shall I dare to comewho know no good thing of myselfwhence Imight be able to presume? How shall I bring Thee within my houseseeing that Iso often have sinned in Thy most loving sight? Angels and Archangels stand inawe of Theethe Saints and just men fear Theeand Thou sayestCome unto Me!Except ThouLordhadst said itwho should believe it true? And except Thouhadst commandedwho should attempt to draw near?
4. BeholdNoahthat just manlaboured for a hundred years in building thearkthat he might be saved with the few; and Ihow shall I be able in one hourto prepare myself to receive the Builder of the world with reverence? MosesThyservantThy great and especial friendmade an ark of incorruptible woodwhichalso he covered with purest goldthat he might lay up in it the tables of thelawand Ia corruptible creatureshall I dare thus easily to receive Theethe Maker of the Law and the Giver of life? Solomonthe wisest of the kings ofIsraelwas seven years building his magnificent temple to the praise of ThyNameand for eight days celebrated the feast of its dedicationoffered athousand peace offeringsand solemnly brought up the Ark of the Covenant to theplace prepared for itwith the sound of trumpets and great joyand Iunhappyand poorest of mankindhow shall I bring Thee into my housewho scarce knowhow to spend half an hour in devotion? And oh that it were even one half hourworthily spent!
5. O my Godhow earnestly these holy men strove to please Thee! And alas!how little and trifling is that which I do! how short a time do I spendwhen Iam disposing myself to Communion. Rarely altogether collectedmost rarelycleansed from all distraction. And surely in the saving presence of Thy Godheadno unmeet thought ought to intrudenor should any creature take possession ofmebecause it is not an Angel but the Lord of the Angelsthat I am about toreceive as my Guest.
6. Yet there is a vast difference between the Ark of the Covenant with itsrelicsand Thy most pure Body with its ineffable virtuesbetween thosesacrifices of the lawwhich were figures of things to comeand the truesacrifice of Thy Bodythe completion of all the ancient sacrifices.
7. Wherefore then do I not yearn more ardently after Thy adorable presence?Why do I not prepare myself with greater solicitude to receive Thy holy thingswhen those holy Patriarchs and Prophets of oldkings also and princeswith thewhole peoplemanifested so great affection of devotion towards Thy DivineService?
8. The most devout king David danced with all his might before the Ark ofGodcalling to mind the benefits granted to his forefathers in days past; hefashioned musical instruments of various sortsput forth Psalmsand appointedthem to be sung with joyplayed also himself ofttimes on the harpbeinginspired with the grace of the Holy Ghost; he taught the people of Israel topraise God with the whole heartand with unity of voice to bless and praise Himevery day. If so great devotion was then exercisedand celebration of divinepraise was carried on before the Ark of the Testimonyhow great reverence anddevotion ought now to be shown by me and all Christian people at the ministeringof the Sacramentat receiving the most precious Body and Blood of Christ.
9. Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of departed Saintsandrejoice to hear of their deeds and to look upon the beautiful buildings of theirshrines. And beholdThou art present here with meO my GodSaint of SaintsCreator of men and Lord of the Angels. Often in looking at those memorials menare moved by curiosity and noveltyand very little fruit of amendment is borneawayespecially when there is so much careless trifling and so little truecontrition. But here in the Sacrament of the AltarThou art present altogetherMy Godthe Man Christ Jesus; where also abundant fruit of eternal life is givento every one soever that receiveth Thee worthily and devoutly. But to this nolevity drawethno curiositynor sensualityonly steadfast faithdevout hopeand sincere charity.
10. O Godinvisible Creator of the worldhow wondrously dost Thou work withushow sweetly and graciously Thou dealest with Thine electto whom Thouofferest Thyself to be received in this Sacrament! For this surpasseth allunderstandingthis specially draweth the hearts of the devout and enkindleththeir affections. For even thy true faithful ones themselveswho order theirwhole life to amendmentoftentimes gain from this most excellent Sacramentgreat grace of devotion and love of virtue.
11. Oh admirable and hidden grace of the Sacramentwhich only Christ'sfaithful ones knowbut the faithless and those who serve sin cannot experience!In this Sacrament is conferred spiritual graceand lost virtue is regained inthe souland the beauty which was disfigured by sin returneth again. So greatsometimes is this grace that out of the fulness of devotion givennot only themind but also the weak body feeleth that more strength is supplied unto it.
12. But greatly must we mourn and lament over our lukewarmness andnegligencethat we are not drawn by greater affection to become
partakers of Christin whom all the hope and the merit of those that are tobe saved consist. For He Himself is our sanctification and redemption. * He isthe consolation of pilgrims and the eternal fruition of the Saints. Therefore itis grievously to be lamented that many so little consider this health-givingmysterywhich maketh heaven glad and preserveth the whole world. Alas for theblindness and hardness of man's heartthat he considereth not more thisunspeakable giftand even slippeth down through the daily useintocarelessness. -
* 1 Corinthians i. 30. -
13. For if this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place onlyandwere consecrated only by one priest in the whole worldwith what great desirethinkest thouwould men be affected towards that place and towards such apriest of Godthat they might behold the divine mysteries celebrated? But noware many men made priests and in many places the Sacrament is celebratedthatthe grace and love of God towards men might the more appearthe more widely theHoly Communion is spread abroad over all the world. Thanks be unto TheeO goodJesusEternal Shepherdwho hast vouchsafed to refresh uspoor and exiledoneswith Thy precious Body and Bloodand to invite us to partake these holymysteries by the invitation from Thine own mouthsayingCome unto Meye wholabour and are heavy ladenand I will refresh you.
THAT THE GREATNESS AND CHARITY OF GOD IS SHOWN TO MEN
IN THE SACRAMENT -
The Voice of the Disciple -
TRUSTING in Thy goodness and great mercyO LordI draw nearthe sick tothe Healerthe hungering and thirsting to the Fountain of lifethepoverty-stricken to the King of heaventhe servant to the Lordthe creature tothe Creatorthe desolate to my own gentle Comforter. But whence is this untomethat Thou comest unto me? Who am I that Thou shouldest offer me Thyself? Howdoth a sinner dare to appear before Thee? And how dost thou vouchsafe to come tothe sinner? Thou knowest Thy servantand Thou knowest that he hath in him nogood thing for which Thou shouldest grant him this grace. I confess thereforemine own vilenessI acknowledge Thy goodnessI praise Thy tendernessand Igive Thee thanks for Thine exceeding great love. For Thou doest this for Thineown sakenot for my meritsthat Thy goodness may be more manifest unto meThycharity more abundantly poured out upon meand Thy humility more perfectlycommended unto me. Therefore because this pleaseth Thee and Thou hast commandedthat thus it shall beThy condescension pleaseth me also; and oh that mineiniquity hinder it not.
2. O most sweet and tender Jesuswhat reverencewhat giving of thanks isdue to Thee with perpetual praise for the receiving of Thy sacred Body andBloodthe dignity whereof no man is found able to express. But what shall Ithink upon in this Communion in approaching my Lordwhom I am not able worthilyto honourand nevertheless whom I long devoutly to receive? What shall bebetter and more healthful meditation for methan utter humiliation of myselfbefore Theeand exaltation of Thine infinite goodness towards me? I praiseTheeO my Godand exalt Thee for evermore. I despise myselfand cast myselfdown before Thee into the deep of my vileness.
3. BeholdThou art the Saint of saints and I the refuse of sinners; beholdThou stoopest unto me who am not worthy to look upon Thee; beholdThou comestunto meThou willest to be with meThou invitest me to Thy feast. Thou willestto give me the heavenly food and bread of angels to eat; none otherin truththan ThyselfThe living breadwhich didst descend from heaven; and givest lifeto the world. * -
* John vi. 51 -
4. Beholdwhence this love proceedeth! what manner of condescension shinethforth herein. What great giving of thanks and praise is due unto Thee for thesebenefits! Oh how salutary and profitable Thy purpose when Thou didst ordainthis! How sweet and pleasant the feast when Thou didst give Thyself for food! Ohhow admirable is thy workingO Lordhow mighty Thy powerhow unspeakable Thytruth! For Thou didst speak the wordand all things were made; and this is donewhich Thou hast commanded.
5. A thing wonderfuland worthy of faithand surpassing all theunderstanding of manthat ThouO Lord my Godvery God and very mangivestThyself altogether to us in a little bread and winegivest and art so ourinexhaustible food. ThouO Lord of allwho hast need of nothinghast willedto dwell in us through Thy Sacrament. Preserve my heart and my body undefiledthat with a joyful and pure conscience I may be able very often to [celebrateand] * receive to my perpetual health. Thy mysterieswhich Thou hastconsecrated and instituted both for Thine own honourand for a perpetualmemorial. -
* The words in brackets are only suitable for a priest. -
6. RejoiceO my souland give thanks unto God for so great a gift andprecious consolationleft unto thee in this vale of tears. For so oft as thoucallest this mystery to mind and receivest the body of Christso often dostthou celebrate the work of thy redemptionand art made partaker of all themerits of Christ. For the charity of Christ never groweth lessand thegreatness of His propitiation is never exhausted. Thereforeby continualrenewal of thy spiritthou oughtest to dispose thyself hereunto and to weighthe great mystery of salvation with attentive consideration. So greatnewandjoyful ought it to appear to thee when thou comest to communionas if on thisself-same day Christ for the first time were descending into the Virgin's womband becoming manor hanging on the crosssuffering and dying for the salvationof mankind.
THAT IT IS PROFITABLE TO COMMUNICATE OFTEN -
The Voice of the Disciple -
BEHOLD I come unto TheeO Lordthat I may be blessed through Thy giftandbe made joyful in Thy holy feast which ThouO Godof Thy goodness hastprepared for the poor. * Behold in Thee is all that I can and ought to desireThou art my salvation and redemptionmy hope and strengthmy honour and glory.Therefore rejoice the soul of Thy servant this dayfor unto TheeO Lord Jesusdo I lift up my soul. *(2) I long now to receive Thee devoutly and reverentlyIdesire to bring Thee into my houseso that with Zacchaeus I may be countedworthy to be blessed by Thee and numbered among the children of Abraham. My soulhath an earnest desire for Thy Bodymy heart longeth to be united with Thee. -
* Psalm lxviii. 10.
*(2) Psalm lxxxvi. 4.
2. Give me Thyself and it sufficethfor besides Thee no consolationavaileth. Without Thee I cannot beand without Thy visitation I have no powerto live. And therefore I must needs draw nigh unto Thee oftenand receive Theefor the healing of my soullest haply I faint by the way if I be deprived ofheavenly food. For so Thoumost merciful Jesuspreaching to the people andhealing many sickdidst once sayI will not send them away to their own homeslest they faint by the way. * Deal therefore now to me in like mannerfor Thouleft Thyself for the consolation of the faithful in the Sacrament. For Thou artthe sweet refreshment of the souland he who shall eat Thee worthily shall bepartaker and inheritor of the eternal glory. Necessary indeed it is for mewhoso often slide backwards and sinso quickly wax cold and faintto renewcleanseenkindle myself by frequent prayers and penitences and receiving of Thysacred Body and Blood lest haply by too long abstinenceI fall short of my holyresolutions. -
* Matthew xv. 32. -
3. For the imaginations of man's heart are evil from his youth* and exceptdivine medicine succour himman slideth away continually unto the worse. TheHoly Communion therefore draweth us back from eviland strengtheneth us forgood. For if I now be so negligent and lukewarm when I communicate [orcelebrate]how should it be with meif I receive not this medicineand soughtnot so great a help? [And though I am not every day fit nor well prepared tocelebrateI will nevertheless give diligent heed at due seasonto receive thedivine mysteriesand to become partaker of so great grace]. For this is the oneprincipal consolation of a faithful soulso long as it is absent from Thee inmortal bodythat being continually mindful of its Godit receiveth its Belovedwith devout spirit. -
* Genesis viii. 21. -
4. Oh wonderful condescension of Thy pity surrounding usthat ThouO LordGodCreator and Quickener of all spiritsdeignest to come unto a soul so poorand weakand to appease its hunger with Thy whole Deity and Humanity. Oh happymind and blessed soulto which is granted devoutly to receive Thee its LordGodand in so receiving Thee to be filled with all spiritual joy! Oh how greata Lord doth it entertainhow beloved a Guest doth it bring inhow delightful aCompanion doth it receivehow faithful a Friend doth it welcomehow beautifuland exalted a Spouseabove every other Beloveddoth it embraceOne to beloved above all things that can be desired! Oh my most sweet Belovedlet heavenand earth and all the glory of thembe silent in Thy presence; seeingwhatsoever praise and beauty they have it is of Thy gracious bounty; and theyshall never reach unto the loveliness of Thy NameWhose Wisdom is infinite. * -
* Psalm cxlvii. 5. -
THAT MANY GOOD GIFTS ARE BESTOWED UPON THOSE
WHO COMMUNICATE DEVOUTLY -
The Voice of the Disciple -
O LORD my Godprevent Thou Thy servant with the blessings of Thy sweetnessthat I may be enabled to draw near worthily and devoutly to Thy gloriousSacrament. Awaken my heart towards Theeand deliver me from heavy slumber.Visit me with Thy salvation that I may in spirit taste Thy sweetnesswhichplentifully lieth hid in this Sacrament as in a fountain. Lighten also mine eyesto behold this so great mysteryand strengthen me that I may believe it withundoubting faith. For it is Thy wordnot human power; it is Thy holyinstitutionnot the invention of man. For no man is found fit in himself toreceive and to understand these thingswhich transcend even the wisdom of theAngels. What portion then shall Iunworthy sinnerwho am but dust and ashesbe able to search into and comprehend of so deep a Sacrament?
2. O Lordin the simplicity of my heartin good and firm faithandaccording to Thy willI draw nigh unto Thee with hope and reverenceand trulybelieve that Thou art here present in the SacramentGod and man. Thou willesttherefore that I receive Thee and unite myself to Thee in charity. Wherefore Ibeseech Thy mercyand implore Thee to give me Thy special graceto this endthat I may be wholly dissolved and overflow with love towards Theeand no moresuffer any other consolation to enter into me. For this most high and mostglorious Sacrament is the health of the soul and the bodythe medicine of allspiritual sicknesswhereby I am healed of my sinsmy passions are bridledtemptations are conquered or weakenedmore grace is poured into mevirtuebegun is increasedfaith is made firmhope is strengthenedand charity isenkindled and enlarged.
3. For in this Sacrament Thou hast bestowed many good things and stillbestowest them continually on Thine elect who communicate devoutlyO my GodLifter up of my soulRepairer of human infirmityand Giver of all inwardconsolation. For Thou pourest into them much consolation against all sorts oftribulationand out of the deep of their own misery Thou liftest them up to thehope of Thy protectionand with ever new gracedost inwardly refresh andenlighten them; so that they who felt themselves to be anxious and withoutaffection before Communionafterwards being refreshed with heavenly food anddrinkfind themselves changed for the better. And even in such wise Thoudealest severally with Thine electthat they may truly acknowledge and clearlymake proof that they have nothing whatsoever of their ownand what goodness andgrace come to them from Thee; because being in themselves coldhard of heartindevoutthrough Thee they become ferventzealousand devout. For who isthere coming humbly to the fountain of sweetnesscarrieth not away thence atthe least some little of that sweetness? Or who standing by a large firefeeleth not from thence a little of its heat? And Thou art ever a full andoverflowing fountaina fire continually burningand never going out.
4. Wherefore if it is not suffered to me to draw from the fulness of thefountainnor to drink unto satisfyingyet will I set my lips to the mouth ofthe heavenly conduitthat at least I may receive a small drop to quench mythirstthat I dry not up within my heart. And if I am not yet able to bealtogether heavenly and so enkindkled as the Cherubim and Seraphimyet will Iendeavour to give myself unto devotionand to prepare my heartthat I may gainif it be but a little flame of the divine firethrough the humble receiving ofthe life-giving Sacrament. But whatsoever is wanting unto meO merciful JesusMost Holy Saviourdo Thou of Thy kindness and grace supplywho hast vouchsafedto call all unto TheesayingCome unto meall ye that are weary and heavyladenand I will refresh you.
5. I indeed labour in the sweat of my faceI am tormented with sorrow ofheartI am burdened with sinsI am disquieted with
temptationsI am entangled and oppressed with many passionsand there isnone to help methere is none to deliver and ease mebut ThouO Lord GodmySaviourto whom I commit myself and all things that are minethat Thou mayestpreserve me and lead me unto life eternal.
Receive me unto the praise and glory of Thy namewho hast prepared Thy Bodyand Blood to be my meat and drink. GrantO Lord God my Saviourthat withcoming often to Thy mysteries the zeal of my devotion may increase.
OF THE DIGNITY OF THIS SACRAMENTAND OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRIEST -
The Voice of the Beloved -
IF thou hadst angelic purity and the holiness of holy John the Baptistthouwouldest not be worthy to receive or to minister this Sacrament. For this is notdeserved by merit of man that a man should consecrate and minister the Sacramentof Christand take for food the bread of Angels. Vast is the mysteryand greatis the dignity of the prieststo whom is given what is not granted to Angels.For priests onlyrightly ordained in the churchhave the power of consecratingand celebrating the Body of Christ. The priest indeed is the minister of Godusing the Word of God by God's command and institution; nevertheless God isthere the principal Author and invisible Workerthat to whom all that Hewilleth is subjectand all He commandeth is obedient.
2. Therefore thou must believe God Almighty in this most excellent Sacramentmore than thine own sense or any visible sign at all. And therefore with fearand reverence is this work to be approached. Take heed therefore and see what itis of which the ministry is committed to thee by the laying on of the Bishop'shand. Behold thou art made a priest and art consecrated to celebrate. See nowthat thou do it before God faithfully and devoutly at due timeand shew thyselfwithout blame. Thou hast not lightened thy burdenbut art now bound with astraiter bond of disciplineand art pledged to a higher degree of holiness. Apriest ought to be adorned with all virtues and to afford to others an exampleof good life. His conversation must not be with the popular and common ways ofmenbut with Angels in Heaven or with perfect men on earth.
3. A priest clad in holy garments taketh Christ's place that he may pray untoGod with all supplication and humility for himself and for the whole people. Hemust always remember the Passion of Christ. He must diligently look uponChrist's footsteps and fervently endeavour himself to follow them. He must bearmeekly for God whatsoever ills are brought upon him by others. He must mourn forhis own sinsand for the sins committed by othersand may not grow careless ofprayer and holy oblationuntil he prevail to obtain grace and mercy. When thepriest celebratethhe honoureth Godgiveth joy to the Angelsbuildeth up theChurchhelpeth the livinghath communion with the departedand maketh himselfa partaker of all good things.
AN INQUIRY CONCERNING PREPARATION FOR COMMUNION -
The Voice of the Disciple -
WHEN I consider Thy dignityO Lordand mine own vilenessI tremble veryexceedinglyand am confounded within myself. For if I approach notI fly fromlife; and if I intrude myself unworthilyI run into Thy displeasure. What thenshall I doO my GodThou helper and Counsellor in necessities.
2. Teach Thou me the right way; propound unto me some short exercisebefitting Holy Communion. For it is profitable to know how I ought to prepare myheart devoutly and reverently for Theeto the intent that I may receive ThySacrament to my soul's health [or it may be also for the celebrating this sogreat and divine mystery].
OF THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCEAND PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT -
The Voice of the Beloved -
ABOVE all things the priest of God must draw nighwith all humility of heartand supplicating reverencewith full faith and pious desire for the honour ofGodto celebrateministerand receive this Sacrament. Diligently examine thyconscience and with all thy might with true contrition and humble confessioncleanse and purify itso that thou mayest feel no burdennor know anythingwhich bringeth thee remorse and impedeth thy free approach. Have displeasureagainst all thy sins in generaland specially sorrow and mourn because of thydaily transgressions. And if thou have timeconfess unto God in the secret ofthine heartall miseries of thine own passion.
2. Lament grievously and be sorrybecause thou art still so carnal andworldlyso unmortified from thy passionsso full of the motion ofconcupiscenceso unguarded in thine outward sensesso often entangled in manyvain fanciesso much inclined to outward thingsso negligent of internal; soready to laughter and dissolutenessso unready to weeping and contrition; soprone to ease and indulgence of the fleshso dull to zeal and fervour; socurious to hear novelties and behold beautiesso loth to embrace things humbleand despised; so desirous to have many thingsso grudging in givingso closein keeping; so inconsiderate in speakingso reluctant to keep silence; sodisorderly in mannersso inconsiderate in actions; so eager after foodso deaftowards the Word of God; so eager after restso slow to labour; so watchfulafter talesso sleepy towards holy watchings; so eager for the end of themsowandering in attention to them; so negligent in observing the hours of prayerso lukewarm in celebratingso unfruitful in communicating; so quicklydistractedso seldom quite collected with thyself; so quickly moved to angerso ready for displeasure at others; so prone to judgingso severe at reproving;so joyful in prosperityso weak in adversity; so often making many goodresolutions and bringing them to so little effect.
3. When thou hast confessed and bewailed these and thy other shortcomingswith sorrow and sore displeasure at thine own infirmitymake then a firmresolution of continual amendment of life and of progress in all that is good.Then moreover with full resignation and entire will offer thyself to the honourof My name on the altar of thine heart as a perpetual whole burnt-offeringevenby faithfully presenting thy body and soul unto Meto the end that thou mayestso be accounted worthy to draw near to offer this sacrifice of praise andthanksgiving to Godand to receive the Sacrament of My Body and Blood to thysoul's health. For there is no oblation worthierno satisfaction greater forthe destroying of sinthan that a man offer himself to God purely and entirelywith the oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion. If aman shall have done what in him liethand shall repent him trulythen howoften soever he shall draw nigh unto Me for pardon and graceAs I livesaiththe LordI have no pleasure in the death of a sinnerbut rather that he shouldbe convertedand live. All his transgressions that he hath committedtheyshall not be mentioned unto him. * -
* Ezekiel xviii2223.
OF THE OBLATION OF CHRIST UPON THE CROSSAND
OF RESIGNATION OF SELF -
The Voice of the Beloved -
AS I of my own will offered myself unto God the Father on the Cross for thysins with outstretched hands and naked bodyso that nothing remained in Me thatdid not become altogether a sacrifice for the Divine propitiation; so alsooughtest thou every day to offer thyself willingly unto Me for a pure and holyoblation with all thy strength and affectionseven to the utmost powers ofthine heart. What more do I require of thee than thou study to resign thyselfaltogether unto Me? Whatsoever thou givest besides thyselfI nothing care forfor I ask not thy giftbut thee.
2. As it would not be sufficient for thee if thou hadst all things except Meeven so whatsoever thou shalt give Meif thou give Me not thyselfit cannotplease Me. Offer thyself to Meand give thyself altogether for Godso shallthy offering be accepted. Behold I offered Myself altogether to the Father fortheeI give also My whole body and blood for foodthat thou mightest remainaltogether Mine and I thine. But if thou stand in thyselfand offer not thyselffreely to My willthy offering is not perfectneither shall the union betwixtus be complete. Therefore ought the freewill offering of thyself into the handsof God to go before all thy worksif thou wilt attain liberty and grace. Forthis is the cause that so few are inwardly enlightened and made freethat theyknow not how to deny themselves entirely. My word standeth sureExcept a manforsake allhe cannot be My disciple. * Thou thereforeif thou wilt be Mydiscipleoffer thyself to Me with all thy affections. -
* Luke xiv. 33.
THAT WE OUGHT TO OFFER OURSELVES AND ALL THAT IS OURS TO GOD
AND TO PRAY FOR ALL. -
The Voice of the Disciple -
LORDall that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. * I desire tooffer myself up unto thee as a freewill offeringand to continue Thine forever. Lordin the uprightness of mine heart I willingly offer *(2) myself toThee to-day to be Thy servant for everin humble submission and for a sacrificeof perpetual praise. Receive me with this holy Communion of Thy precious Bodywhich I celebrate before Thee this day in the presence of the Angels invisiblysurroundingthat it may be for the salvation of me and of all Thy people. -
* 1 Chronicles xxix. 11.
*(2) 1 Chronicles xxix. 17. -
2. LordI lay before Thee at this celebration all my sins and offences whichI have committed before Thee and Thy holy Angelsfrom the day whereon I wasfirst able to sin even unto this hour; that Thou mayest consume and burn themevery one with the fire of Thy charityand mayest do away all the stains of mysinsand cleanse my conscience from all offenceand restore me to Thy favourwhich by sinning I have lostfully forgiving me alland mercifully admittingme to the kiss of peace.
3. What can I do concerning my sinssave humbly to confess and lament themand unceasingly to beseech Thy propitiation? I beseech Theebe propitious untome and hear mewhen I stand before TheeO my God. All my sins displease megrievously: I will never more commit them; but I grieve for them and will grieveso long as I livesteadfastly purposing to repent me trulyand to makerestitution as far as I can. ForgiveO Godforgive me my sins for Thy holyName's sake; save my soulwhich Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.Behold I commit myself to Thy mercyI resign myself to Thy hands. Deal with meaccording to Thy loving kindnessnot according to my wickedness and iniquity.
4. I offer also unto Thee all my goodnessthough it is exceedingly littleand imperfectthat Thou mayest mend and sanctify itthat Thou mayest make itwell pleasing and acceptable in Thy sightand ever draw it on towardsperfection; and furthermore bring me safelyslothful and useless poor creaturethat I amto a happy and blessed end.
5. Moreover I offer unto Thee all pious desires of the devoutnecessities ofparentsfriendsbrotherssistersand all who are dear to meand of thosewho have done good to meor to others for Thy love; and those who have desiredand besought my prayers for themselves and all belonging to them; that all mayfeel themselves assisted by Thy graceenriched by consolationprotected fromdangersfreed from pains; and that being delivered from all evils they mayjoyfully give Thee exceeding thanks.
6. I offer also to Thee prayers and Sacramental intercessions for thosespecially who have injured me in aughtmade me sador spoken evil concerningmeor have caused me any loss or displeasurefor all those also whom I have atany time made saddisturbedburdenedand scandalizedby words or deedsknowingly or ignorantly; that to all of us alikeThou mayest equally pardon oursins and mutual offences. Take awayO Lordfrom our hearts all suspicionindignationangerand contentionand whatsoever is able to injure charity anddiminish brotherly love. Have mercyhave mercyLordon those who entreat Thymercy; give grace to the needy; and make us such that we may be worthy to enjoyThy graceand go forward to the life eternal. Amen.
THAT HOLY COMMUNION IS NOT LIGHTLY TO BE OMITTED -
The Voice of the Beloved -
THOU must frequently betake thee to the Fountain of grace and divine mercyto the Fountain of goodness and all purity; to the end that thou mayest obtainthe healing of thy passions and vicesand mayest be made stronger and morewatchful against all temptations and wiles of the devil. The enemyknowing whatprofit and exceeding strong remedy lieth in the Holy Communionstriveth by allmeans and occasions to draw back and hinder the faithful and devoutso far ashe can.
2. For when some set about to prepare themselves for Holy Communiontheysuffer from the more evil suggestions of Satan. The very evil spirit himself (asis written in Job)cometh among the sons of God that he may trouble them by hisaccustomed evil dealingor make them over timid and perplexed; to the intentthat he may diminish
their affectionsor take away their faith by his attacksif haply he mayprevail upon them to give up Holy Communion altogetheror to come thereto withlukewarm hearts. But his wiles and delusions must not be heededhowsoeverwicked and terrible they be; but all his delusion must be cast back upon his ownhead. The wretch must be despised and laughed to scorn: neither must HolyCommunion be omitted because of his insults and the inward troubles which hestirreth up.
3. Often also too much carefulness or some anxiety or other touchingconfession hindereth from obtaining devotion. Do thou according to the counselof wise menand lay aside anxiety and scruplebecause it hindereth the graceof God and destroyeth devotion of mind. Because of some little vexation ortrouble do not thou neglect Holy Communionbut rather hasten to confess itandforgive freely all offences committed against thee. And if thou hast offendedany manhumbly beg for pardonand God shall freely forgive thee.
4. What profiteth it to put off for long time the confession of thy sinsorto defer Holy Communion? Cleanse thyself forthwithspit out the poison with allspeedhasten to take the remedyand thou shalt feel thyself better than ifthou didst long defer it. If to-day thou defer it on one accountto-morrowperchance some greater obstacle will comeand so thou mayest be long timehindered from Communion and become more unfit. As soon as thou canstshakethyself from thy present heaviness and slothfor it profiteth nothing to belong anxiousto go long on thy way with heaviness of heartand because ofdaily little obstacles to sever thyself from divine things: nay it is exceedinghurtful to defer thy Communion longfor this commonly bringeth on great torpor.Alas! there are somelukewarm and undisciplinedwho willingly find excuses fordelaying repentanceand desire to defer Holy Communionlest they should bebound to keep stricter watch upon themselves.
5. Alas! how little charitywhat flagging devotionhave they who so lightlyput off Holy Communion. How happy is hehow acceptable to Godwho so livethand in such purity of conscience keepeth himselfthat any day he could be readyand well inclined to communicateif it were in his powerand might be donewithout the notice of others. If a man sometimes abstaineth for the sake ofhumility or some sound causehe is to be commended for his reverence. But ifdrowsiness have taken hold of himhe ought to rouse himself and to do what inhim lieth; and the Lord will help his desire for the good will which he hathwhich God specially approveth.
6. But when he is hindered by sufficient causeyet will he ever have a goodwill and pious intention to communicate; and so he shall not be lacking in thefruit of the Sacrament. For any devout man is able every day and every hour todraw near to spiritual communion with Christ to his soul's health and withouthindrance. Nevertheless on certain days and at the appointed time he ought toreceive the Body and Blood of his Redeemer with affectionate reverenceandrather to seek after the praise and honour of Godthan his own comfort. For sooften doth he communicate mysticallyand is invisibly refreshedas he devoutlycalleth to mind the mystery of Christ's incarnation and His Passionand isinflamed with the love of Him.
7. He who only prepareth himself when a festival is at hand or customcompellethwill too often be unprepared. Blessed is he who offereth himself toGod for a whole burnt-offeringso often as he celebrateth or communicateth! Benot too slow nor too hurried in thy celebratingbut preserve the good receivedcustom of those with whom thou livest. Thou oughtest not to produce wearinessand annoyance in othersbut to observe the received customaccording to theinstitution of the elders; and to minister to the profit of others rather thanto thine own devotion or feeling.
THAT THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST AND THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
ARE MOST NECESSARY TO A FAITHFUL SOUL -
The Voice of the Disciple -
O MOST sweet Lord Jesushow great is the blessedness of the devout soul thatfeedeth with Thee in Thy banquetwhere there is set before it no other foodthan Thyself its only Belovedmore to be desired than all the desires of theheart? And to me it would verily be sweet to pour forth my tears in Thy presencefrom the very bottom of my heartand with the pious Magdalene to water Thy feetwith my tears. But where is this devotion? Where the abundant flowing of holytears? Surely in Thy presence and in the presence of the holy Angels my wholeheart ought to burn and to weep for joy; for I have Thee in the Sacrament verilypresentalthough hidden under other form.
2. For in Thine own Divine brightnessmine eyes could not endure to beholdTheeneither could the whole world stand before the splendour of the glory ofThy Majesty. In this therefore Thou hast consideration unto my weaknessthatThou hidest Thyself under the Sacrament. I verily possess and adore Him whom theAngels adore in heaven; I yet for a while by faithbut they by sight andwithout a veil. It is good for me to be content with the light of true faithand to walk therein until the day of eternal brightness dawnand the shadows offigures flee away. * But when that which is perfect is comethe using ofSacraments shall ceasebecause the Blessed in heavenly glory have no need ofSacramental remedy. For they rejoice unceasingly in the presence of Godbeholding His glory face to faceand being changed from glory to glory *(2) ofthe infinite Godthey taste the Word of God made fleshas He was in thebeginning and remaineth for everlasting. -
* Cant. ii. 17.
*(2) 2 Corinthians iii. 18. -
3. When I think on these wondrous thingseven spiritual comfort whatsoeverit be becometh sore weariness to me; for so long as I see not openly my Lord inHis own GloryI count for nothing all which I behold and hear in the world.ThouO Godart my witness that nothing is able to comfort meno creature isable to give me restsave ThouO my Godwhom I desire to contemplateeverlastingly. But this is not possibleso long as I remain in this mortalstate. Therefore ought I to set myself unto great patienceand submit myselfunto Thee in every desire. For even Thy SaintsO Lordwho now rejoice withThee in the kingdom of heavenwaited for the coming of Thy glory whilst theylived herein faith and great glory. What they believedthat believe I; whatthey hopedI hope; whither they have attained tothither through Thy gracehope I to come. I will walk meanwhile in faithstrengthened by the examples ofthe Saints. I will have also holy books for comfort and for a mirror of lifeand above them all Thy most holy Body and Blood shall be for me a special remedyand refuge.
4. For two things do I feel to be exceedingly necessary to me in this lifewithout which this miserable life would be intolerable to me; being detained inthe prison of this bodyI confess that I need two thingseven food and light.Thou hast therefore given to me who am so weakThy sacred Body and Bloodforthe refreshing of my soul and bodyand hast set Thy Word for a lantern to myfeet. * Without these two I could not properly live; for the Word of God is the
light of my souland Thy Sacrament the bread of life. These may also becalled the two tablesplaced on this side and on thatin the treasury of Thyholy Church. One table is that of the Sacred Altarbearing the holy breadthatis the precious Body and Blood of Christ; the other is the table of the DivineLawcontaining holy doctrineteaching the true faithand leading steadfastlyonwards even to that which is within the veilwhere the Holy of Holies is. -
* Psalm cxix. 105 -
5. Thanks be unto TheeO Lord JesusLight of Light everlastingfor thattable of holy doctrine which Thou has furnished unto us by Thy servants theProphets and Apostles and other teachers. Thanks be to TheeO Creator andRedeemer of menwho to make known Thy love to the whole world has prepared agreat supperin which Thou hast set forth for good not the typical lambbutThine own most Holy Body and Blood; making all Thy faithful ones joyful withthis holy banquet and giving them to drink the cup of salvationwherein are allthe delights of Paradiseand the holy Angels do feed with usand with yethappier sweetness.
6. Oh how great and honourable is the office of the prieststo whom it isgiven to consecrate the Sacrament of the Lord of majesty with holy wordstobless it with the lipsto hold it in their handsto receive it with their ownmouthand to administer it to others! Oh how clean ought those hands to behowpure the mouthhow holy the bodyhow unspotted the heart of the priesttowhom so often the Author of purity entereth in! From the mouth of the priestought naught to proceed but what is holywhat is honest and profitablebecausehe so often receiveth the Sacrament of Christ.
7. His eyes ought to be single and pureseeing they are wont to look uponthe Body of Christ; the hands should be pure and lifted towards heavenwhichare wont to hold within them the Creator of heaven and earth. To priests is itspecially said in the LawBe ye holyfor I the Lord your God am holy. * -
* Leviticus xix. 2. -
8. Assist us with Thy graceO Almighty Godthat we who have taken upon usthe priestly officemay be able to converse worthily and devoutly with Thee inall purity and good conscience. And if we are not able to have our conversationin such innocency of life as we oughtyet grant unto us worthily to lament thesins which we have committedand in the spirit of humility and full purpose ofa good willto serve Thee more earnestly for the future.
THAT HE WHO IS ABOUT TO COMMUNICATE WITH CHRIST OUGHT TO
PREPARE HIMSELF WITH GREAT DILIGENCE -
The Voice of the Beloved -
I AM the Lover of purityand Giver of sanctity. I seek a pure heartandthere is the place of My rest. Prepare for Me the larger upper room furnishedand I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples. * If thou wilt thatI come unto thee and abide with theepurge out the old leaven*(2) and cleansethe habitation of thy heart. Shut out the whole worldand all the throng ofsins; sit as a sparrow alone upon the house-top*(3) and think upon thytransgressions with bitterness of thy soul. For everyone that loveth prepareththe best and fairest place for his belovedbecause hereby the affection of himthat entertaineth his beloved is known. -
* Mark xiv. 1415.
*(2) 1 Corinthians v. 7.
*(3) Psalm cii. 7. -
2. Yet know thou that thou canst not make sufficient preparation out of themerit of any action of thineeven though thou shouldest prepare thyself for awhole yearand hadst nothing else in thy mind. But out of My tenderness andgrace alone art thou permitted to draw nigh unto My table; as though a beggarwere called to a rich man's dinnerand had no other recompense to offer him forthe benefits done unto himbut to humble himself and to give him thanks. Dotherefore as much as lieth in theeand do it diligentlynot of customnor ofnecessitybut with fearreverenceand affectionreceive the Body of thybeloved Lord Godwho vouchsafeth to come unto thee. I am He who hath calledthee; I commanded it to be done; I will supply what is lacking to thee; come andreceive Me.
3. When I give the grace of devotiongive thanks unto thy God; it is notbecause thou art worthybut because I had mercy on thee. If thou hast notdevotionbut rather feelest thyself drybe instant in prayercease not togroan and knock; cease not until thou prevail to obtain some crumb or drop ofsaving grace. Thou hast need of MeI have no need of thee. Nor dost thou cometo sanctify Mebut I come to sanctify thee and make thee better. Thou comestthat thou mayest be sanctified by Meand be united to Me; that thou mayestreceive fresh graceand be kindled anew to amendment of life. See that thouneglect not this gracebut prepare thy heart with all diligenceand receivethy Beloved unto thee.
4. But thou oughtest not only to prepare thyself for devotion beforeCommunionthou must also keep thyself with all diligence therein afterreceiving the Sacrament; nor is less watchfulness needed afterwardsthan devoutpreparation beforehand: for good watchfulness afterwards becometh in turn thebest preparation for the gaining more grace. For hereby is a man made entirelyindisposed to goodif he immediately return from Communion to give himself upto outward consolations. Beware of much speaking; remain in a secret placeandhold communion with thy God; for thou hast Him whom the whole world cannot takeaway from thee. I am He to whom thou oughtest wholly to give thyself; so thatnow thou mayest live not wholly in thyselfbut in Mefree from all anxiety.
THAT THE DEVOUT SOUL OUGHT WITH THE WHOLE HEART TO YEARN AFTER
UNION WITH CHRIST IN THE SACRAMENT -
The Voice of the Disciple -
WHO shall grant unto meO Lordthat I may find Thee aloneand open all myheart unto Theeand enjoy Thee as much as my soul desireth; and that no man mayhenceforth look upon menor any creature move me or have respect unto mebutThou alone speak unto me and I unto Theeeven as beloved is wont to speak untobelovedand friend to feast with friend? For this do I praythis do I longforthat I may be wholly united unto Theeand may withdraw my heart from allcreated thingsand by means of Holy Communion and frequent celebration maylearn more and more to relish heavenly and eternal things. AhLord Godwhenshall I be entirely united and lost in Theeand altogether forgetful of myself?Thou in meand I in Thee; * even so grant that we may in like manner continuetogether in one. - * John xv. 4. -
2. Verily Thou art my Belovedthe choicest among ten thousand* in whom mysoul delighteth to dwell all the days of her life. Verily Thou art myPeacemakerin Whom is perfect peace and true restapart from Whom is labourand sorrow and infinite misery. Verily Thou art a God that hidest ThyselfandThy counsel is not with the wickedbut Thy Word is with the humble and thesimple. O how sweetO Lordis Thy spiritwho that Thou mightest manifest Thysweetness towards Thy childrendost vouchsafe to refresh them with the breadwhich is full of sweetnesswhich cometh down from heaven. Verily there is noother nation so greatwhich hath its gods drawing nigh to themas ThouourGodart present unto all Thy faithful ones*(2) unto whom for their dailysolaceand for lifting up their heart unto heavenThou givest Thyself fortheir food and delight. -
* Cant. v. 10.
*(2) Deuteronomy iv. 7. -
3. For what other nation is there so renowned as the Christian people? Orwhat creature is so beloved under heaven as the devout soul to which Godentereth inthat he may feed it with His glorious flesh? O unspeakable grace! Owonderful condescension! O immeasurable love specially bestowed upon men! Butwhat reward shall I give unto the Lord for this gracefor charity so mighty?There is nothing which I am able to present more acceptable than to give myheart altogether unto Godand to join it inwardly to Him. Then all my inwardparts shall rejoicewhen my soul shall be perfectly united unto God. Then shallHe say unto me"If thou wilt be with MeI will be with thee." And Iwill answer Him"VouchsafeO Lordto abide with meI will gladly bewith Thee; this is my whole desireeven that my heart be united untoThee."
OF THE FERVENT DESIRE OF CERTAIN DEVOUT PERSONS TO RECEIVE
THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST -
The Voice of the Disciple -
O HOW great is the abundance of Thy sweetnessO Lordwhich Thou hast laidup for them that fear Thee. When I call to mind some devout persons who drawnigh to Thy SacramentO Lordwith the deepest devotion and affectionthenvery often I am confounded in myself and blush for shamethat I approach Thinealtar and table of Holy Communion so carelessly and coldlythat I remain so dryand without affectionthat I am not wholly kindled with love before TheemyGodnor so vehemently drawn and affected as many devout persons have beenwhoout of the very earnest desire of the Communionand tender affection of heartcould not refrain from weepingbut as it were with mouth of heart and bodyalike panted inwardly after TheeO GodO Fountain of Lifehaving no power toappease or satiate their hungersave by receiving Thy Body with all joyfulnessand spiritual eagerness.
2. O truly ardent faith of thosebecoming a very proof of Thy SacredPresence! For they verily know their Lord in the breaking of breadwhose heartso ardently burneth within them * when Jesus walketh with them by the way. Ahme! far from me for the most part is such love and devotion as thissuchvehement love and ardour. Be merciful unto meO Jesusgoodsweetand kindand grant unto Thy poor suppliant to feel sometimesin Holy Communionthoughit be but a littlethe cordial affection of Thy lovethat my faith may growstrongermy hope in Thy goodness increaseand my charityonce kindled withinme by the tasting of the heavenly mannamay never fail. -
* Luke xxiv. 32. -
3. But Thy mercy is able even to grant me the grace which I long forand tovisit me most tenderly with the spirit of fervour when the day of Thy goodpleasure shall come. Foralthough I burn not with desire so vehement as theirswho are specially devout towards Theeyetthrough Thy graceI have a desireafter that greatly inflamed desirepraying and desiring to be made partakerwith all those who so fervently love Theeand to be numbered among their holycompany.
THAT THE GRACE OF DEVOTION IS ACQUIRED BY HUMILITY AND SELF-DENIAL -
The Voice of the Beloved -
THOU oughtest to seek earnestly the grace of devotionto ask it ferventlyto wait for it patiently and faithfullyto receive it gratefullyto preserveit humblyto work with it diligentlyand to leave to God the time and mannerof heavenly visitation until it come. Chiefly oughtest thou to humble thyselfwhen thou feelest inwardly little or no devotionyet not to be too much castdownnor to grieve out of measure. God ofttimes giveth in one short moment whatHe hath long time denied; He sometimes giveth at the end what at the beginningof prayer He hath deferred to give.
2. If grace were always given immediatelyand were at hand at the wishitwould be hardly bearable to weak man. Wherefore the grace of devotion is to bewaited for with a good hope and with humble patience. Yet impute it to thyselfand to thy sins when it is not givenor when it is mysteriously taken away. Itis sometimes a small thing which hindereth and hideth grace; (if indeed thatought to be called small and not rather greatwhich hindereth so great a good);but if thou remove thisbe it small or greatand perfectly overcome itthouwilt have what thou hast asked.
3. For immediately that thou hast given thyself unto God with all thineheartand hast sought neither this nor that according to thine own will andpleasurebut hast altogether settled thyself in Himthou shalt find thyselfunited and at peace; because nothing shall give thee so sweet relish anddelightas the good pleasure of the Divine will. Whosoever therefore shall havelifted up his will unto God with singleness of heartand shall have deliveredhimself from every inordinate love or dislike of any created thinghe will bethe most fit for receiving graceand worthy of the gift of devotion. For wherethe Lord findeth empty vessels* there giveth He His blessing. And the moreperfectly a man forsaketh things which cannot profitand the more he dieth tohimselfthe more quickly doth grace comethe more plentifully doth it enterinand the higher doth it lift up the free heart. -
* 2 Kings iv. -
4. Then shall he seeand flow togetherand wonderand his heart shall beenlarged within him* because the hand of the Lord is with himand he hath puthimself wholly in His handeven for ever. Lothus shall the man be blessedthat seeketh God with all his heartand receiveth not his soul in vain. Thisman in receiving the Holy Eucharist obtaineth the great grace of Divine Union;because he hath not regard to his own devotion and comfortbutabove alldevotion and comfortto the glory and honour of God. -
* Isaiah lx. 5.
THAT WE OUGHT TO LAY OPEN OUR NECESSITIES TO CHRIST AND
TO REQUIRE HIS GRACE -
The Voice of the Disciple -
O MOST sweet and loving Lordwhom now I devoutly desire to receiveThouknowest my infirmity and the necessity which I sufferin what evils and vices Ilie; how often I am weighed downtempteddisturbedand defiled. I come untoThee for remedyI beseech of Thee consolation and support. I speak unto Theewho knowest all thingsto whom all my secrets are openand who alone art ableperfectly to comfort and help me. Thou knowest what good thing I most stand inneed ofand how poor I am in virtues.
2. BeholdI stand poor and naked before Theerequiring graceand imploringmercy. Refresh the hungry suppliantkindle my coldness with the fire of Thyloveilluminate my blindness with the brightness of Thy presence. Turn thou allearthly things into bitterness for meall grievous and contrary things intopatienceall things worthless and created into contempt and oblivion. Lift upmy heart unto Thee in Heavenand suffer me not to wander over the earth. BeThou alone sweet unto me from this day forward for everbecause Thou alone artmy meat and drinkmy love and joymy sweetness and my whole good.
3. Oh that Thou wouldest altogether by Thy presencekindleconsumeandtransform me into Thyself; that I may be made one spirit with Theeby the graceof inward unionand the melting of earnest love! Suffer me not to go away fromThee hungry and dry; but deal mercifully with meas oftentimes Thou hast dealtwondrously with Thy saints. What marvel if I should be wholly kindled from Theeand in myself should utterly failsince Thou art fire always burning and neverfailinglove purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding.
OF FERVENT LOVE AND VEHEMENT DESIRE OF RECEIVING CHRIST -
The Voice of the Disciple -
WITH the deepest devotion and fervent lovewith all affection and fervour ofheartI long to receive TheeO Lordeven as many Saints and devout personshave desired Thee in communicatingwho were altogether well pleasing to Thee bytheir sanctity of lifeand dwelt in all ardent devotion. O my GodEternalLovemy whole GoodHappiness without measureI long to receive Thee with themost vehement desire and becoming reverence which any Saint ever had or couldhave.
2. And although I be unworthy to have all those feelings of devotionyet doI offer Thee the whole affection of my hearteven as though I alone had allthose most grateful inflamed desires. Yeaalsowhatsoever things a pious mindis able to conceive and long forall these with the deepest veneration andinward fervour do I offer and present unto Thee. I desire to reserve nothingunto myselfbut freely and entirely to offer myself and all that I have untoThee for a sacrifice. O Lord my Godmy Creator and Redeemer! with suchaffectionreverencepraiseand honourwith such gratitudeworthinessandlovewith such faithhopeand purity do I desire to receive Thee this dayasThy most blessed Motherthe glorious Virgin Maryreceived and desired Theewhen she humbly and devoutly answered the Angel who brought unto her the gladtidings of the mystery of the Incarnation. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; beit unto me according to thy word. * -
* Luke i. 38. -
3. And as Thy blessed forerunnerthe most excellent of SaintsJohn Baptistbeing full of joy in Thy presenceleapt while yet in the womb of his motherfor joy in the Holy Ghost; and afterwards discerning Jesus walking amongst menhumbled himself exceedinglyand saidwith devout affectionThe friend of thebridegroomwho standeth and heareth himrejoiceth greatly because of thebridegroom's voice; * even so I wish to be inflamed with great and holy desiresand to present myself unto Thee with my whole heart. Whence alsoon behalf ofmyself and of all commended to me in prayerI offer and present unto Thee thejubilation of all devout heartstheir ardent affectionstheir mentalecstasiesand supernatural illuminations and heavenly visionswith all thevirtues and praises celebrated and to be celebrated by every creature in heavenand earth; to the end that by all Thou mayest worthily be praised and glorifiedfor ever. -
* John iii. 29. -
4. Receive my prayersO Lord my Godand my desires of giving Thee infinitepraise and unbounded benedictionwhichaccording to the multitude of Thineunspeakable greatnessare most justly due unto Thee. These do I give Theeanddesire to give every day and very moment; and with beseechings and affectionatedesires I call upon all celestial spirits and all Thy faithful people to joinwith me in rendering Thee thanks and praises.
5. Let all peoplesnationsand tongues praise Theeand magnify Thy holyand sweet-sounding Namewith highest jubilations and ardent devotion. And letall who reverently and devoutly celebrate Thy most high Sacramentand receiveit with full assurance of faithbe accounted worthy to find grace and mercywith Theeand intercede with all supplication for me a sinner; and when theyshall have attained unto their wished-for devotion and joyous union with Theeand shall depart full of comfort and wondrously refreshed from Thy holyheavenly tablelet them vouchsafe to be mindful of mefor I am poor and needy.
THAT A MAN SHOULD NOT BE A CURIOUS SEARCHER OF THE SACRAMENTBUT
A HUMBLE IMITATOR OF CHRISTSUBMITTING HIS SENSE TO HOLY FAITH -
The Voice of the Beloved -
THOU must take heed of curious and useless searching into this most profoundSacramentif thou wilt not be plunged into the abyss of doubt. He that is asearcher of Majesty shall be oppressed by the glory thereof. * God is able to domore than man can understand. A pious and humble search after truth is to beallowedwhen it is always ready to be taughtand striving to walk after thewholesome opinions of the fathers. -
* Proverbs xxv. 27. (Vulg.)
2. Blessed is the simplicity which leaveth alone the difficult paths ofquestioningsand followeth the plain and firm steps of God's commandments. Manyhave lost devotion whilst they sought to search into deeper things. Faith isrequired of theeand a sincere lifenot loftiness of intellectnor deepnessin the mysteries of God. If thou understandest not nor comprehendest the thingswhich are beneath theehow shalt thou comprehend those which are above thee?Submit thyself unto Godand humble thy sense to faithand the light ofknowledge shall be given theeas shall be profitable and necessary unto thee.
3. There are some who are grievously tempted concerning faith and theSacrament; but this is not to be imputed to themselves but rather to the enemy.Care not then for thisdispute not with thine own thoughtsnor make answer tothe doubts which are cast into thee by the devil; but believe the words of Godbelieve His Saints and Prophetsand the wicked enemy shall flee from thee.Often it profiteth muchthat the servant of God endureth such things. For theenemy tempteth not unbelievers and sinnersbecause he already hath securepossession of them; but he tempteth and harasseth the faithful and devout byvarious means.
4. Go forward therefore with simple and undoubting faithand draw nigh untothe Sacrament with supplicating reverence. And whatsoever thou art not enabledto understandthat commit without anxiety to Almighty God. God deceiveth theenot; he is deceived who believeth too much in himself. God walketh with thesimplerevealeth Himself to the humblegiveth understanding to babesopeneththe sense to pure mindsand hideth grace from the curious and proud. Humanreason is weak and may be deceived; but true faith cannot be deceived.
5. All reason and natural investigation ought to follow faithnot toprecedenor to break it. For faith and love do here especially take the highestplaceand work in hidden ways in this most holy and exceeding excellentSacrament. God who is eternal and incomprehensibleand of infinite powerdothgreat and inscrutable things in heaven and in earthand His wonderful works arepast finding out. If the works of God were of such sort that they might easilybe comprehended by human reasonthey should no longer be called wonderful orunspeakable. - -