|The THIRD Book||
Miguel de Molinos: English Printing 1688.
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T H E
Which leads the Soul to the fruition of Inward Peace.
The Third Book.
Of Spiritual Martyrdoms whereby God Purges Souls;
of Contemplation, infused and passive;
of Perfect Resignation, Inward Humility, Divine Wisdom,
True Annihilation, and Internal Peace.
C H A P. I.
The Difference between the Outward and Inward Man.
1. THERE are two sorts of Spiritual Persons, Internal and External: these seek God Without, by Discourse, by Imagination and Consideration: they endeavour mainly to get Vertues, many Abstinences, Maceration of Body, and Mortification of the Senses: they give themselves to rigorous Penance; they put on Sack-cloth, chastise the flesh by Discipline, endeavour silence, bear the presence of God, forming him present to themselves in their Idea of him, or their Imagination, sometimes as a Pastor, sometimes as a Physician, and sometimes as a Father and Lord: they delight to be continually speaking of God, very often making fervent Acts of Love; and all this is Art and Meditation: by this way they desire to be great, and by the power of voluntary and exteriour Mortifications, they go in quest of sensible Affections and warm Sentiments, thinking that God resides only in them, when they have 'em. This is the External Way, and the Way of Beginners, and though it be good, yet there is no arriving at Perfection by it; nay, there is not so much as one step towards it, as Experience shews in many, that after fifty years of this external exercise, are void of God, and full of themselves, having nothing of spiritual Men, but just the name of such.
2. There are others truly Spiritual, which have passed by the beginnings of the Interiour Way which leads to Perfection and Union with God; and to which the Lord called 'em by his infinite Mercy, from that outward Way, in which before they exercised themselves. These men retired in the inward part of their Souls, with true Resignation into the Hands of God, with a total putting off and forgetting even of themselves; do always go with a rais'd Spirit to the Presence of the Lord, by the means of pure Faith, without Image, Form or Figure, but with great assurance founded in tranquility and rest Internal: in whose infused meeting and entertainment, the spirit draws with so much force, that it makes the Soul contract inwardly, the Heart, the Body and all the Powers of it.
3. These Souls, as they are already passed by the interiour Mortification, and have been cleansed by God with the Fire of Tribulation, with infinite and horrible Torments, all of them ordained by his hand, and after his way, are Masters of themselves, because they are intirely subdued and denied; which makes them live with great Repose and internal Peace: and although in many occasions they feel Resistance and Temptations, yet they become presently Victorious, because being already Souls of Proof, and indued with Divine Strength, the motions of Passions cannot last long upon them; and although vehement Temptations and troublesome Suggestions of the Enemy may persevere a long time about them, yet they are all conquer'd with infinite gain; God being he that Fights within them.
4. These Souls have already procured themselves a great Light, and a true Knowledge of Christ our Lord, both of his Divinity and his Humanity: They exercise this infused Knowledge with a quiet Silence in the inward entertainment, and the superiour part of their Souls, with a Spirit free from Images and external Representations, with a love that is pure and stripped of all Creatures; they are raised also from outward Actions to the love of Humanity and Divinity; so much as they enjoy, they forget, and in all of it they find that they love their God with all their Heart and Spirit.
5. These blessed and sublimated Souls take no pleasure in any thing of the World, but contempt and in being alone, and in being forsaken and forgotten by every body: They live so disinterested and taken off, that though they continually receive many supernatural Graces, yet they are not changed, no not at those inclinations, being just as if they had not received 'em, keeping always in the in-most of their Hearts a great lowliness and contempt of themselves; always humbled in the depth of their own unworthiness and vileness: In the same manner they are always quiet, serene, and possessed with evenness of mind in Graces and Favours extraordinary, as also in the most rigorous and bitter Torments. There is no News that chears 'em; no Success that makes them sad; Tribulation never disturbs them; nor does the interiour, continual and divine Communication make 'em vain and conceited; they remain always full of holy and filial Fear, in a wonderful Peace, Constancy and Serenity.
C H A P. II.
Pursues the Same.
6. IN the external Way they take care to do continual Acts of all the Vertues, one after another, to get to the attainment of 'em: They pretend to purge Imperfections with Industries, proportionable to Destruction; they take care to root up Interests, one after another, with a different and contrary Exercise. But though they endeavour never so much, they arrive at nothing: because we cannot do any thing which is not Imperfection and Misery.
7. But in the Inward Way and loving Entertainment in the Presence Divine, as the Lord is he that works, Vertue is established, Interests are rooted up, Imperfections are destroy'd and Passions removed; which makes the Soul free unexpectedly, and taken off, when occasions are represented, without so much as thinking of the good which God of his infinite Mercy prepared for 'em.
8. It must be known that these Souls, though thus Perfect, as they have the true Light of God, yet by it they know profoundly, their own miseries, weakness and imperfections, and what they yet want to arrive at Perfection, towards which they are walking; they are afflicted and abhor themselves; they exercise themselves in a loving fear of God, and contempt of themselves, but with a true Hope in God, and Dis-confidence in themselves. The more they are humbled with true contempt and knowledge of themselves, the more they please God, and arrive at a singular respect and veneration in his Presence. Of all the good Works that they do, and of all that they continually suffer, as well within as without, they make no manner of account before that Divine Presence.
9. Their continual Exercise is, to enter into themselves, in God, with quiet and silence; because there is his Center, Habitation and Delight. They make a greater account of this interiour Retirement, than of speaking of God; they retire into that interiour and secret Center of the Soul, to know God and receive his Divine Influence, with fear and loving reverence; if they go out, they go out only to know and despise themselves.
10. But know that few are the Souls which arrive at this happy State; because few there are that are willing to embrace contempt, and suffer themselves to be Refined and Purified; upon which account, although there are many that enter into this interiour Way, yet 'tis a rare thing for a Soul to go on, and not stick upon the entrance. The Lord said to a Soul, "This Inward Way is tread by few; 'tis so high a Grace, that none deserves it; few walk in it, because 'tis no other than a Death of the senses; and few there be that are willing so to Die and be Annihilated; in which disposition this so soveraign a Gift is founded."
11. Herewith thou wilt undeceive thy self, and perfectly know the great difference which there is between the external and internal Way, and how different that Presence of God is which arise from Meditation, from that which is Infused and Supernatural, arising from the interior and infused Intertainment, and from passive Contemplation; and lastly, you will know the great difference which is between the outward and inward Man.
C H A P. III.
The means of obtaining Peace Internal, is not the Delight of Sense nor Spiritual Consolation, but the denying of Self-love.
12. IT is the saying of S. Bernard, That to serve God, is nothing else but to do Good and suffer Evil. He that would go to Perfection by the means of sweetness and consolation, is mistaken: You must desire no other Consolation from God, than to end your Life for his sake, in the state of true Obedience and Subjection. Christ our Lord's way was not that of Sweetness and Softness, nor did he invite us to any such, either by his words or Example, when he said, He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and let him take up his Cross and follow me, ( St. Matth. 24. 26.) The Soul that would be United to Christ, must be conformable to him, following him in the way of suffering.
13. Thou wilt scarce begin to relish the sweetness of Divine Love in Prayer, but the Enemy with his deceitful Craftiness will be kindling in thy Heart desires of the Desert and Solitude, that thou mayest without any bodies hindrance spread the sails to continual & delightful Prayer. Open thine eyes and consider that this counsel and desire is not conformable to the true counsel of Christ our Lord, who has not invited us to follow the sweetness and comfort of our own Will, but the denying of our selves, saying, Abneget semetipsum: As if he should say, He that will follow me, and come unto Perfection, let him part with his own Will wholly, and leaving all things, let him intirely submit to the Yoke of Obedience and Subjection, by means of Self-denyal, which is the truest Cross.
14. There are many Souls dedicated to God, which receive from his Hand great Thoughts, Visions, and mental Elevations, and yet for all that, the Lord keeps from 'em, the Grace of working Miracles, understanding hidden Secrets, foretelling future Contingencies, as he communicates these things to other Souls which have constantly gone through Tribulations, Temptations, and the true Cross, in the state of perfect Humility, Obedience and Subjection.
15. O what a great Happiness is it for a Soul to be subdued and subject! what great Riches is it to be Poor! what a mighty honour to be despised! what a height is it to be beaten down! what a comfort is it to be afflicted! what a credit of knowledge is it to be reputed Ignorant! and finally, what a Happiness of Happinesses is it to be Crucified with Christ! This is that lot which the Apostle gloried in, Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi (Gal. 6. 14.) Let others boast in their Riches, Dignities, Delights and Honours; but to us there is no higher honour, than to be denied, despised and crucified with Christ.
16. But what a grief is this, that scarce is there one Soul which despises spiritual pleasures and is willing to be denied for Christ, imbracing his Cross with love, Multi sunt vocati; pauci vero electi, ( Matt. 22.) says the Holy Ghost: many are they who are call'd to perfection, but few are they that arrive at it: because they are few who imbrace the Cross with patience, constancy, peace and resignation.
17. To deny ones self in all things, to be subject to another's judgment, to mortifie continually all inward passions, to annihilate ones self in all respects, to follow always that which is contrary to ones own will, appetite and judgment, are things that few can do: many are those that teach 'em, but few are they that practise 'em.
18. Many Souls have undertaken, and daily do undertake, this Way; and they persevere all the while they keep the sweet relish of their primitive Fervour; but this sweetness and sensible delight is scarce done, but presently, upon the overtaking of a Storm of Trouble, Temptation and Dryness (which are necessary things to help a man up the high Mountain of Perfection) they falter and turn back: a clear sign that they sought themselves, and not God or Perfection.
19. May it please God, that the Souls which have had light, and been called to an inward peace, and by not being constant in dryness and tribulation and temptation, have started back may not be cast into outer darkness, with him that had not on him a wedding garment; although he was a servant, for not being disposed, giving himself up to self-love.
20. This Monster must be vanquished, this seven-headed beast of self-love must be beheaded, in order to get up to the top of the high mountain of peace. This Monster puts his head every-where; sometimes it gets amongst Relations, which strangely hinder with their conversation; to which nature easily let's it self be lead; sometimes it gets with a good look of gratitude, into passionate affection, and without restraint, towards the Confessor; sometimes into affection to most subtle Spiritual vain-glories and temporal ones, and niceties of honour; which things stick very close; sometimes it cleaves to spiritual pleasures, staying even in the gifts of God, and in his graces freely bestowed; sometimes it desires exceedingly the preservation of health, and with disguise, to be used well, and its own proper profit, and conveniences; sometimes it would seem well, with very curious subtilties: and lastly, it cleaves with a notable propensity, to its own proper judgment and opinion in all things; the roots of which are closely fixed in its own will: All these are effects of Self-love, and if they be not denied, impossible it is that a man should ever get up to the height of perfect Contemplation, to the highest, happiest of the loving Union, and the lofty Throne of Peace Internal.
C H A P. IV.
Of two Spiritual Martyrdoms, wherewith God cleanseth the Soul that he unites with Himself.
21. NOW you shall know that God uses two ways for the Cleansing of the Souls which he would perfect and enlighten, to unite 'em closely to himself: The first (of which we will treat in this and the following Chapter) is with the bitter Waters of Afflictions, Anguish, Distress, and inward Torments. The second is, with the burning Fire of an inflamed Love, a Love impatient and hungry: Sometimes he makes use of both in those Souls which he would fill with Perfection; sometimes he puts 'em into the strong steeping of Tribulations, and inward and outward Bitterness, scorching 'em with the Fire of rigorous Temptation; sometimes he puts 'em into the Crucible of anxious and distrustful Love, making 'em fast there with a mighty force; because so much the greater as the Lord would have the Illumination and Union of a Soul to be, so much the more strong is the Torment and the Purgation; because all the Knowledge and Union with God, arises from suffering, which is the truest proof of Love.
22. O that thou would'st understand the great Good of Tribulation! This is that which blots out Sins, cleanses the Soul, and produces Patience: this in Prayer inflames it, inlarges it, and puts it upon the exercise of the most sublime act of Charity: this rejoyces the Soul, brings it near to God, calls it to, and gives it entrance into Heaven: The same is that which tries the true Servants of God, and renders 'em sweet, valiant and constant: that is it which makes God hear 'em with speed. Ad dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi & exaudivit me, (Ps. 119.) 'Tis that which Annihilates, Refines and Perfects 'em: and finally, this is that which of Earthly, makes Souls Heavenly, of Human, Divine, transforming 'em and uniting 'em in an admirable manner with the Lord's Humanity and Divinity. It was well said by St. Augustine, That the Life of the Soul, upon Earth is Temptation. Blessed is the Soul which is always opposed, if it doth constantly resist Temptation. This is the means which the Lord makes use of to Humble it, to Annihilate it, to Spend it, to Mortifie it, to Deny it, to Perfect it, and fill it with his Divine Gifts: By this means of Tribulation and Temptation he comes to Crown and Transform it. Perswade thy self that Temptations and Fightings are necessary for the Soul, to make it Perfect.
23. O blessed Soul, if thou knowest how to be constant and quiet in the Fire of Tribulation, and would'st but let thy self be washed with the bitter Waters of Affliction, how quickly would'st thou find thy self rich in heavenly Gifts; how soon would the Divine Bounty make a rich Throne in thy Soul, and a goodly Habitation for thee to refresh and solace thy self in it!
24. Know that this Lord hath his repose no where but in quiet Souls, and in those in which the Fire of Tribulation and Temptation hath burnt up the dregs of Passion, and the bitter Water of Afflictions hath washed off the filthy spots of inordinate Appetites; in a word, this Lord reposes not himself any where, but where Quietness reigns, and Self-love is banished.
25. But thou wilt never arrive at this happy State, nor find in thy Soul the precious Pledge of Peace Internal, although thou hast gotten the better of the External Senses by the Grace of God, till it become purified from the disordered Passions of Concupiscence, Self-esteem, Desire and Thoughts, how spiritual soever, and many other Interests and secret Vices, which lye within the very Soul of thee, miserably hindering the peaceable entrance of that great Lord into it, who would be united and transformed with thee.
26. The very Vertues acquired, and not purified, are a hindrance to this great Gift of the Peace of the Soul: and more, the Soul is clogged by an inordinate desire of sublime Gifts, by the Appetite of feeling spiritual Consolation, by sticking to Infused and Divine Graces, intertaining it self in 'em, and desiring more of 'em, to enjoy 'em, and finally, by a desire of being great.
27. O how much is there to be purified in a Soul that must arrive at the holy Mountain of Perfection, and of Transformation with God! O how disposed, naked, denied, annihilated ought the Soul to be, which would not hinder the entrance of this Divine Lord into it, nor his continual Communication.
28. This disposition of preparing the Soul, in its bottom, for Divine Entrance, must of necessity be made by the Divine Wisdom. If a Seraphim is not sufficient to purifie the Soul, how shall a Soul that is frail, miserable and without experience, ever be able to purifie it self?
29. Therefore the Lord himself will dispose thee and prepare thee passively by a way thou understandest not, with the Fire of Tribulation and inward Torment, without any other disposition on thy side, than a consent to the internal and external Cross.
30. Thou wilt find within thy self a passive dryness, darkness, anguish, contradictions, continual resistance, inward desertions, horrible desolations, continual and strong suggestions, and vehement temptations of the Enemy; finally, thou wilt see thy self so afflicted, that thou wilt not be able to lift up thy Heart, being full of sorrow and heaviness, nor do the least act of Faith, Hope or Charity.
31. Here thou wilt see thy self forlorn and subject to Passions of impatience, anger, rage, swearing, and disordered appetites, seeming to thy self the most miserable Creature, the greatest Sinner in the World, the most abhorred of God, deprived and stript of all Vertue, with a pain like that of Hell, seeing thy self afflicted and desolate, to think that thou hast altogether lost God; this will be thy cruel cutting and most bitter torment.
32. But though thou shalt see thy self so oppressed, seeming to thy self to be proud, impatient and wrothful; yet these temptations shall lose their force and power upon thee, they shall have no place in thy Soul, by a secret Vertue, the soveraign Gift of inward Strength, which rules in the in-most part of it, conquering the most affrightening punishment and pain, and the strongest temptation.
33. Keep constant, O blessed Soul, keep constant; for it will not be as thou imaginest, nor art thou at any time nearer to God, than in such cases of desertion; for although the Sun is hid in the Clouds, yet it changes not its place, nor a jot the more loses its brightness. The Lord permits this painful desertion in thy Soul, to purge and polish thee, to cleanse thee and dis-robe thee of thy self; and that thou mayest in this manner be all his, and give thy self wholly up to him, as his infinite Bounty is intirely given to thee, that thou mayest be his delight; for although thou dost groan, and lament, and weep, yet he is joyful and glad in the most secret and hidden place of thy Soul.
C H A P. V.
How important and necessary it is, to the interiour Soul, to suffer blindfold this first and Spiritual Martyrdom.
34. TO the end that the Soul of Earthly may become Heavenly, and may come to that greatest good of Union with God, it is necessary for it to be purified in the Fire of Tribulation and Temptation: And although it be true, and a known and approved Maxim, That all those that Serve the Lord, must suffer troubles, persecutions and tribulations: yet the happy Souls which are Guided by God, by the secret way of the interiour Walk, and of purgative Contemplation, must suffer above all, strong and horrible Temptations and Torments, more bitter than those wherewith the Martyrs were crowned in the Primitive Church.
35. The Martyrs, besides the shortness of their Torment, which hardly endured days, were comforted, with a clear light and special help, in hope of the near and sure Rewards. But the desolate Soul that must dye in it self, and put off, and make clean its Heart, seeing it self abandoned by God, surrounded by temptations, darkness, anguish, affliction, sorrows and rigid drowths, doth taste of Death every moment in its painful Torment and tremendous Desolation, without feeling the least comfort, with an affliction so great, that the pain of it seems nothing else but a Death prolonged, and a continual Martyrdom: wherein with great reason it may be said, that although there be many Martyrs, yet there are few Souls which follow Christ our Lord with Peace and Resignation in such Torments.
36. Then it was men that Martyr'd 'em; and God comforted their Souls: but now it is God that afflicts and hides himself; and the Devils, like cruel Executioners, have a thousand ways to torment the Soul and Body, the whole Man being Crucified within and without.
37. Thy sorrows will seem to thee insuperable, and thy afflictions past the power of comfort, and that Heaven rains no more upon thee: thou wilt feel thy self begirt with griefs, and besieged with sorrows Internal, from the darkness of thy powers, from the weakness of discourses: strong Temptations will afflict thee, painful distrusts and troublesome scruples; nay Light and Judgment will forsake thee.
38. All the Creatures will give thee trouble; spiritual Counsels will bring thee pain; the reading of Books, how holy soever, will not comfort thee, as it used to do: If they speak to thee of Patience, they will exceedingly trouble thee: the fear of losing God through thy unthankfulness and want of returns, will torment thee to the Soul; if thou groanest and beggest help of God, thou will find, instead of comfort, inward reproof and dis-favour; like another Canaanitish Woman, to whom he made no answer at first, and then treated her as the Creature he was speaking of.
39. And although at this time the Lord will not abandon thee, because it would be impossible to live one moment without his help, yet the succour will be so secret that thy Soul will not know it, nor be capable of hope and consolation; nay, it will seem to be without remedy; suffering, like condemned persons, the pains of Hell, ( Circumdederunt me dolores mortis, & pericula inferni invenerunt me, Ps. 114 ) and it would change 'em, as such, with a violent Death, which would be a great comfort; but (like those) the end of those afflictions and bitternesses will seem impossible.
40. But if thou, O blessed Soul, should'st know how much thou art beloved and defended by that Divine Lord, in the midst of thy living torments, thou wouldst find 'em so sweet, that it would be necessary that God should work a Miracle, to let thee live. Be constant, O happy Soul, be constant and of good courage; for however intolerable thou art to thy self, yet thou wilt be protected, inriched, and beloved by that greatest Good, as if he had nothing else to do, than to lead thee to Perfection, by the highest steps of love: and if thou do'st not turn away but perseverest constantly, without leaving off thy undertaking, know, that thou offerest to God the most accepted Sacrifice; so, that if this Lord were capable of pain, he would find no ease till he has completed this loving Union with thy Soul.
41. If from the Chaos of Nothing, his Omnipotence has produced so many wonders, what will he do in thy Soul, created after his own Image and Likeness, if thou keepest constant quiet, and resigned, with a true knowledge of thy Nothing? Happy Soul, which, even when 'tis disturbed, afflicted and disconsolated, keeps steady there within, without going forth to declare exteriour Comfort.
42. Afflict not thy self too much, and with inquietude, because these sharp Martyrdoms may continue; persevere in Humility, and go not out of thy self to seek aid; for all the good consists in being silent, suffering, and holding patience with rest and resignation: there wilt thou find the Divine strength to overcome so hard a warfare: he is within thee that fightest for thee: and he is strength it self.
43. When thou shalt come to this painful state of fearful desolation, weeping and lamentation are not forbidden thy Soul, whilest in the upper part of it, it keeps resigned. Who can bear the Lord's heavy hand without tears and lamentation? That great Champion Job, even he lamented; so did Christ our Lord, in his forsakings: but their weepings were accompanied with resignation.
44. Afflict not thy self, though God do crucifie thee and make tryal of thy fidelity; imitate the Woman of Canaan, who being rejected and injured, did importune and persevere, humbling her self and following him, though she were treated as she was. It is necessary to drink the cup and not go back: if the scales were taken from thine eyes, as they were from St. Paul's, thou would'st see the necessity of suffering and glory, as he did; esteeming more the being Crucified, than being an Apostle.
45. Thy good luck consists not in injoying, but in suffering with quiet and resignation. St. Teresa appeared after her death to a certain Soul, and told it, that she had only been rewarded for her pain; but had not received one dram of reward for so many Extasies and Revelations and Comforts that she had here enjoyed in this World.
46. Although this painful martyrdom of horrible desolation and passive purgation be so tremendous, that with reason it hast gotten the name of Hell amongst mystick Divines, (because it seems impossible to be able to live a moment with so grievous a torment; so that with great reason it may be said, that he that suffers it, lives dying, and dying lives a lingering death) yet know, that it is necessary to endure it, to arrive at the sweet, joyous and abundant riches of high contemplation and loving union: and there has been no holy Soul, which has not passed through this spiritual martyrdom and painful torment. St. Gregory the Pope, in the two last Months of his Life; St. Francis of Assize two years and a half; St. Mary Maudlin of Pazzi five years; St. Rose of Peru fifteen years; and after such miracles, as made the world amazed, St. Dominick suffer'd it even till half an hour of his happy exit.
C H A P. VI.
47. THE other more profitable and meritorious martyrdom in Souls already advanced in perfection and deep contemplation, is, a fire of divine love, which burns the soul and makes it painful with the same love: sometimes the absence of its beloved afflicts it; sometimes the sweet, ardent and welcome weight of the loving and divine Presence torments it: This sweet martyrdom always makes it sigh sometimes if it enjoys and has its beloved, for the pleasure of having him; so that it cannot contain it self; other times, if he does not manifest himself, through the ardent anxiety of seeking, finding and enjoying him: all this is panting, suffering and dying for love.
48. O that thou could'st but come to conceive the contrariety of accidents that an inamour'd Soul suffers! the combate so terrible and strong on one side; so sweet and melting and amiable on the other! the martyrdom so piercing and sharp with which love torments it; and the cross so painful and sweet withal, without ever being in the mind of getting free from it whil'st thou liv'st!
49. Just so much as light and love increases, just so much increases the grief in seeing that good absent, which it loves so well. To feel it near it self is enjoyment; and never to have done knowing and possessing, it, consumes its life: it has food and drink near its mouth, whil'st it wants either, and cannot be satisfied: it sees it self swallowed up and drown'd in a sea of love, whil'st the powerful hand that is able to save it, is near it; and yet doth not do it; nor doth it know when he will come, who it so much does desire.
50. Sometimes it hears the inward voice of its beloved, which courts and calls it; and a soft and delicate whisper, which goes forth from the secret of the Soul, where it abides, which pierces it strongly, even like to melt and dissolve it, in seeing how near it hath him within it self, and yet how far off from it, whil'st it cannot come to possess him. This intoxicates it, imbases it, scares it, and fills it with unsatisfiableness: and therefore love is said to be as strong as death, whil'st it kills just as that doth.
C H A P. VII.
Inward Mortification and Perfect Resignation are necessary for obtaining Internal Peace.
51. THE most subtle Arrow that is shot at us from Nature, is, to induce us to that which is unlawful, with a pretence, that it may be necessary and useful. O how many Souls have suffer'd themselves to be lead away, and have lost the spirit by this guilded Cheat! Thou wilt never taste the delicious Manna [ Quod nemo novit, nisi qui accipit, (Apoc. ch. 2.)] unless thou dost perfectly overcome thy self even to die in thy self; because he who endeavours not to die to his Passions, is not well disposed to receive the Gift of Understanding, without the infusion whereof it is impossible for him to go in into himself and be changed in his Spirit; and therefore those that keep without having nothing of it.
52. Never disquiet thy self for any accident: for inquietude is the door by which the Enemy gets into the Soul to rob it of its peace.
53. Resign and deny thy self wholly; for though true self-denial is harsh at the beginning, 'tis easie in the middle and becomes most sweet in the end.
54. Thou wilt find thy self far from Perfection, if thou dost not find God in every thing.
55. Know that pure, perfect and essential Love consists in the Cross, in self-denial and resignation, in perfect humility, in poverty of spirit, and in a mean opinion of thy self.
56. In the time of strong temptation, desertion and desolation, 'tis necessary for thee to get close into thy center, that thou may'st only look at and contemplate God, who keeps his throne and his abode in the bottom of thy Soul.
57. Thou wilt find impatience and bitterness of heart to grow from the depth of sensible, empty and mortified love.
58. True love is known, with its effects, when the Soul is profoundly humbled, and desires to be truly mortified and despised.
59. Many there be, who, however they have been dedicated to Prayer, yet have no relish of God; because in the end of their Prayers, they are neither mortified nor attend upon God any longer: for obtaining that peaceable and continual attending, 'tis necessary to get a great purity of mind and heart, great peace of soul, and an universal resignation.
60. To the simple and the mortified, the recreation of the senses is a sort of death: they never go to it, unless compelled by necessity and edification of their neighbours.
61. The bottom of our soul, you will know, is the place of our happiness. There the Lord shews us wonders: there we ingulf and lose our selves in the immense ocean of his infinite goodness, in which we keep fixt and unmoveable. There, there resides the incomparable fruition of our Soul and that eminent and sweet rest of it. An humble and resign'd Soul, which is come to this bottom, seeks no more than meerly to please God, and the holy and loving spirit teaches it every thing with his sweet and enlivening Unction.
62. Amongst the Saints there are some gigantick ones, who continually suffer with patience indispositions of body, of which God takes great care. But high and sovereign is their gift, who by the strength of the Holy Ghost, suffer both internal and external crosses with content and resignation. This is that sort of holiness so much the more rare, as it is more precious in the sight of God. The spiritual ones, which walk this way, are rare: because there are few in the world, who do totally deny themselves, to follow Christ crucified, with simpleness and bareness of spirit, through the lonesome and thorny ways of the Cross, without making reflexions upon themselves.
63. A Life of Self-denial is above all the Miracles of the Saints; and it doth not know whether it be alive or dead; lost or gained; whether it agrees or resists: this is the true resigned Life. But although it should be a long time before thou comest to this state, and thou should'st think not to have made one step towards it, yet affright not thy self at this, for God uses to bestow upon a Soul that Blessing in one moment, which was denied it for many years before.
64. He that desires to suffer blindfold, without the comfort of God or the creatures, is gotten too far onwards to be able to resist unjust accusations which his enemies make against him, even in the most dreadful and interior desolation.
65. The spiritual man that lives by God, and in him, is inwardly contented in the midst of his adversities; because the Cross and Affliction are his Life and Delight.
66. Tribulation is a great treasure, wherewith God honours those that be his, in this life: therefore evil men are necessary for those that are good; and so are the Devils themselves, which by afflicting us do try to ruine us: but instead of doing us harm, they do us the greatest good imaginable.
67. There must be tribulation to make a man's life acceptable to God; without it, 'tis like the Body without the Soul, the Soul without Grace, the Earth without the Sun.
68. With the wind of tribulation God separates, in the floor of the Soul, the Chaff from the Corn.
69. When God crucifies in the inmost part of the Soul, no creature is able to comfort it; nay, comforts are but grievous and bitter crosses to it. And if it be well-instructed in the laws and discipline of the ways of pure love, in the time of great desolation and inward troubles, it ought not to seek abroad among the creatures for comfort, nor lament it self with them, nor will it be able to read Spiritual Books: because this is a secret way of getting at a distance from suffering.
70. Those Souls are to be pitied, who cannot find in their hearts to believe, that Tribulation and Suffering is their greatest Blessing. They who are perfect ought always to be desirous of dying and suffering, being always in a state of death and suffering: vain is the man who doth not suffer: because he is born to toyl and suffering; but much more the Friends and Elect of God.
71. Undeceive thy self, and believe, that in order to thy Soul's being totally transformed with God, it is necessary for it to be lost and be denied in its life, sense, knowledge, and power; and to die living, and not living; dying, and not dying; suffering, and not suffering; resigning up, and not resigning up it self, without reflecting upon any thing.
72. Perfection, in its followers, receives not its glories but by Fire and Martyrdom, Griefs, Torments, Punishments and Contempt, suffered and endured with gallantry and courage; and he that would have some place to set his feet on and rest himself, and does not go beyond the reason of reason and of sense, will never get into the secret cabinet of knowledge, though by reading he may chance to get a taste and relish the understanding of it.
C H A P. VIII.
Pursues the Same Matter.
73. YOU must know, that the Lord will not manifest himself in thy Soul, till it be denied in it self, and dead in its senses and powers: nor will it ever come to this state, till being perfectly resigned, it resolves to be with God all alone; making an equal account of Gifts and Contempts, Light and Darkness, Peace and War. In summ, that the Soul may arrive at perfect quietness and supreme internal peace, it ought first to die in it self, and live only in God and for him: and the more dead it shall be in it self, the more shall it know God: but if it doth not mind this continual denying of it self and internal mortification, it will never arrive at this state, nor preserve God within it; and then it will be continually subject to accidents and passions of the mind, such as are judging, murmuring, resenting, excusing, defending, to keep its honour and reputation, which are enemies to Perfection, Peace, and the Spirit.
74. Know that the diversity of states amongst those that be spiritual, consists only in dying all alike; but in the happy, which die continually, God hath his honour, his blessing and delights here below.
75. Great is the difference which is between doing, suffering, and dying; doing is delightful and belongs to beginners; suffering, with desire, belongs to those who are proficients; dying always in themselves, belongs to those who are accomplished and perfect; of which number there are very few in the world.
76. How happy wilt thou be, if thou hast no other thought, but to die in thy self! thou wilt then become not only victorious over thine enemies, but also over thy self: in which victory thou wilt certainly find pure love, perfect peace, and divine wisdom.
77. It is impossible for a man to be able to think and live mystically in a simple understanding of the divine and infused wisdom, if he does not first die in himself by the total denying of sense, and the reasonable appetite.
78. The true lesson of the spiritual man, and that which thou oughtest to learn, is, to leave all things in their place, and not meddle with any, but what thy office may bind thee to: because the Soul which leaves every thing to find God, doth then begin to have all in the eternity it seeks.
79. Some Souls there are, who seek repose: others without seeking have the pleasure of it; others have a pleasure in pain; and others seek it. The first do as good as nothing; the second are in the way towards it; the third run, and the last fly.
80. The disesteem of delights, and the counting of 'em torment, is the property of a truly mortified man.
81. Enjoyment and Internal Peace are the Fruits of the Spirit Divine; and no man gets 'em into his possession, if in the closet of his soul he is not a resigned man.
82. Thou seest that the displeasures of the good pass presently away; but for all that, endeavour never to have 'em, nor to stop in 'em: for they damnifie thy health, disturb thy reason, and disquiet thy spirit.
83. Amongst other holy Counsels which thou must observe, remember well this that follows: Look not upon other mens faults, but thine own: keep silence with a continued internal conversation: mortifie thy self in all things and at all hours, and by this means thou wilt get free from many imperfections, and make thy self Commander of great Vertues.
84. Mortifie thy self in not judging ill of any body at any time; because the suspicion of thy neighbour disturbs the purity of heart, discomposes it, brings the Soul out and takes away its repose.
85. Never wilt thou have perfect resignation, if thou mind'st human respects, and reflectest upon the little idol of what people say. The Soul that goes by the inward way, will soon lose it self, if once it come to look at reason amongst the creatures, and in commerce and conversation with 'em. There is no other reason, than not to look at reason; but to imagine that God permits grievances to fall on us, to humble and annihilate us and make us live wholly resigned.
86. Behold how God makes greater account of a Soul that lives internally resigned, than of another that doth miracles, even to the raising of the dead.
87. Many Souls there are, which, though they exercise Prayer, yet because they are not mortified, are always imperfect and full of self-love.
88. Hold it for a true maxim, that no body can do a grievance or injury to a Soul despised by it self, and one that is nothing in its own account.
89. Finally, be of hope, suffer, be silent, and patient: let nothing affright thee: all of it will have a time to end: God only is he that is unchangeable: patience brings a man in every thing. He that hath God, hath all things; and he that hath him not, hath nothing.
C H A P. IX.
For the obtaining of Internal Peace, 'tis necessary for the Soul to know its misery.
90. IF the Soul should not fall into some faults, it would never come to understand its own misery, though it hears men speak and reads spiritual Books; nor can it ever obtain precious peace, if it does not first know its own miserable weakness: because there the remedy is difficult, where there is no clear knowledge of the defect. God will suffer in thee sometimes one fault, sometimes another, that by this knowledge of thy self, seeing thee so often fallen, thou may'st believe that thou art a meer nothing; in which knowledge and belief true peace and perfect humility is founded: and that thou may'st the better search into thy mystery and see what thou art, I will try to undeceive thee in some of thy manifold imperfections.
91. Thou art so quick and nice, that it may be if thou dost but trip as thou walkest or findest thy way molested, thou feelest even Hell it self: if thou are denied thy due or thy pleasure opposed, thou presently briskest up with a warm resentment of it. If thou spiest a fault in thy neighbour, instead of pitying him, and thinking that thou thy self art liable to the same failing, thou indiscreetly reprovest him; if thou seest a thing convenient for thee and canst not compass it, thou growest sad and full of sorrow; if thou receivest a slight injury from thy neighbour, thou chidest at him and complainest for it: insomuch that for any trifle thou art inwardly and outwardly discomposed and losest thy self.
92. Thou would'st be penitent, but with another's patience; and if the impatience still continues, thou layest the fault with much pains upon thy companion, without considering, that thou art intolerable to thy self: and when the rancour is over, thou cunningly dost return to make thy self vertuous, giving documents and relating spiritual sayings with artifice of wit, without mending thy past faults. Although thou willingly dost condemn thy self, reproving thy faults before others, yet this thou dost more to justifie thy self with him that sees thy faults, that thou may'st return again afresh to the former esteem of thy self, than through any effect of perfect humility.
93. Other times thou dost subtilly alledge, that it is not through fault but zeal of justice, that thou complainest of thy neighbour. Thou believest for the most part that thou art vertuous, constant and courageous, even to the giving up thy life into the tyrant's hand, solely for the sake of divine love; yet thou canst scarce hear the least word of anger but presently thou dost afflict and trouble and disquiet thy self. These are all industrious engines of self-love and the secret pride of thy soul. Know therefore that self-love reigns in thee, and that from purchasing this precious peace, that is thy greatest hindrance.
C H A P. X.
In which is shewed and discovered what is the false humility,
and what the true; with the effects of 'em.
94. THOU must know that there are two sorts of humility; one false and counterfeit, the other true. The false one is theirs, who, like water which must mount upward, receive an external fall and artificial submission, to rise up again immediately. These avoid esteem and honour, that so they may be took to be humble; they say of themselves, that they are very evil, that they may be thought good; and though they know their own misery, yet they are loth that other folks should know it. This is dissembled humility, and feigned, and nothing but secret pride.
95. Theirs is the true humility, which have gotten a perfect habit of it; these never think of it, but judge humbly of themselves; they do things with courage and patience; they live and dye in God; they mind not themselves nor the Creatures; they are constant and quiet in all things; they suffer molestation with joy, desiring more of it, that they may imitate their dear and despised Jesus; they covet to be reputed trifles and sport by the World; they are contented with what God alots 'em, and are convinced of their faults with a pleasing shame; they are not humbled by the counsel of Reason, but by the affection of the Will; there is no honour that they look after, nor injury to disturb 'em.; no trouble to vex 'em; no prosperity to make 'em proud; because they are always immovable in their Nothing, and in themselves with absolute peace.
96. And that thou mayst be acquainted with interiour and true Humility, know, that it doth not consist in external Acts, in taking the lowest place, in going poor in cloathes, in speaking submissively, in shutting the eyes, in affectionate sighing, nor in condemning thy ways, calling thy self miserable, to give others to understand that thou art humble: It consists only in the contempt of thy self, and the desire to be despised, with a low and profound knowledge, without concerning thy self, whether thou art esteemed humble or no, though an Angel should reveal such a thing to thee.
97. The torrent of Light wherewith the Lord with his Graces inlightens the soul, doth two things: It discovers the Greatness of God, and at the same time the Soul knows its own stench and misery, insomuch, that no Tongue is able to express the depth in which it is overwhelmed, being desirous that every one should know its Humility, and 'tis so far from vain-glory and Complacency, as it sees that Grace of God to be the meer Goodness of him, and nothing but his Mercy, which is pleased to take pity on it.
98. Thou shalt never be hurt by Men or Devils, but by thy self, thy own proper Pride, and the violence of thy Passions; take heed of thy self, for thou of thy self, art the greatest Devil of all to thy self.
99. Have no Mind to be esteemed, when God incarnate was called Fool, Drunkard, and said to have a Devil. O the Folly of Christians! that we should be willing to enjoy Happiness, without being willing to imitate him on the Cross, in Reproaches, Humility, Poverty, and in other Vertues!
100. The truly humble Man is at rest and ease in his Heart; there he stands the Tryal of God, and Men, and the Devil himself, above all reason and discretion, possessing himself in Peace and Quietness, looking for, with all Humility, the pure pleasure of God, as well in Life as Death: Things without do no more disquiet him, than if they never were. The Cross to him, and even Death it self, are Delights, though he make no such shew outwardly: But oh! who do we speak of? for few there are of these sort of humble Men in the whole World!
101. Hope thou, and desire, and suffer, and dye without any Bodies knowing it; for herein consists the humble and perfect Love. O how much Peace wilt thou find in thy Soul, if thou dost profoundly humble thy self, and even hugg Contempt!
102. Thou wilt never be perfectly humble, though thou knowest thy own Misery, unless thou desirest that all Men should know it: then thou wilt avoid Praises, embrace Injuries, despise every thing, that makes a fair shew, even to thine own self: and if any Tribulation come upon thee, blame none for it; but Judge that it comes from God's Hand, as the Giver of every Good.
103. If thou would'st bear thy Neighbours faults, cast thine Eyes upon thine own: and if thou thinkest to thy self, that thou hast made any Progress in Perfection by thy self, know that thou art not humble at all, nor hast yet made one step in the way of the Spirit.
104. The degrees of Humility, are the qualities of a Body in the Grave; that is, to be in the lowest place, buried like one that's dead, to stink, and be corrupted to it self, to be dust, and nothing in ones own account; finally, if thou would'st be Blessed, learn to despise thy self, and to be despised by others.
C H A P. XI.
Maxims to know a simple, humble, and true Heart.
105. ENCOURAGE thy self to be Humble, embracing Tribulations as Instruments of thy Good; rejoyce in Contempt, and desire that God may be thy only Refuge, Comfort and Protector.
106. None, let him be never so great in this World, can be greater than he that is in the eye and favour of God: and therefore the truly humble Man despises whatever there is in the World, even to himself, and puts his only trust and repose in God.
107. The truly humble Man suffers quietly and patiently internal troubles, and he is the Man that makes great way in a little time, like one that sails before the Wind.
108. The truly humble Man finds God in all things; so that whatever contempt, injury or affront comes to him by means of the Creatures, he receives it with great peace and quiet Internal, as sent from the Divine Hand, and loves greatly the instrument with which the Lord tries him.
109. He is not yet arrived at profound Humility that is taken with Praise, though he does not desire it, nor seek it, but rather avoids it: because to an humble Heart praises are bitter crosses although it be wholly quiet and immovable.
110. He has no internal Humility who doth not abhor himself, with a mortal, but withal a peaceable and quiet hatred: But he will never come to possess this treasure, that has not a low and profound knowledge of his own vileness, rottenness and misery.
111. He that is upon excuses and replies, has not a simple and humble heart, especially if he dost this with his Superiours: because replys grow from a secret pride that reigns in the Soul; and from thence the total ruine of it.
112. Perfidiousness supposes little submission, and this less humility; and both together they are the fuel of inquietude, discord and disturbance.
113. The humble heart is not disquieted by imperfections, though these do grieve it to the Soul; because they are against its loving Lord: nor is he concerned that he cannot do great things; for he always stands in his own Nothing and Misery; nay, he wonders at himself, that he can do any thing of Vertue, and presently thanks the Lord for it, with a true knowledge that it is God that doth all, and remains dissatisfied with what he does himself.
114. The truly humble man, though he see all, yet he looks upon nothing to judge it, because he judge ill only of himself.
115. The truly humble man doth always find an excuse to defend him that mortifies him, at least in a sound intention: Who therefore would be angry with a Man of good intention?
116. So much (nay more) doth false humility displease God, as true Pride does; because that is Hypocrisy besides.
117. The truly humble Man, though every thing falls out contrary to him, is neither disquieted nor afflicted at it; because he is prepared, and thinks he deserves no less; he is not disquieted under troublesome Thoughts, wherewith the Devil seeks to torment him, nor under temptations, tribulations and desertions, but rather acknowledges his unworthiness, and is affected that the Lord chastises him by the Devil's means, though he be a vile instrument; all he suffers seems nothing to him, and he never doth a thing that he thinks worth any great matter.
118. He that is arrived at perfect and inward Humility, although he be disturbed at nothing, as one that abhors himself, because he knows his imperfection in every thing, his ingratitude and his misery, yet he suffers a great Cross in induring himself. This is the sign to know true humility of Heart by. But the happy Soul which is gotten to this holy hatred of it self, lives overwhelmed, drowned and swallowed up in the depth of its own Nothing; out of which the Lord raises him by communicating Divine Wisdom to him, and filling him with Light, Peace, Tranquility and Love.
C H A P. XII.
Inward solitude is that which chiefly brings a Man to the purchase of Internal Peace.
119. KNOW that although exteriour Solitude doth much assist for the obtaining internal Peace, yet the Lord did not mean this, when he spake by his Prophet, ( Hos. 2.14.) I will bring her into solitude, and speak privately to her: But he meant the interiour Solitude, which joyntly conduces to the obtaining the precious Jewel of Peace Internal. Internal Solitude consists in the foregetting all the Creatures, in disengaging ones self from 'em, in a perfect nakedness of all the affections, desires, thoughts, and one's own will. This is the true Solitude where the Soul reposes with a sweet and inward serenity in the arms of its chiefest good.
120. O what infinite room is there in a Soul that is arrived at this divine Solitude! O what inward, what retired, what secret, what spacious, what vast distances are there within a happy Soul that is once come to be truly Solitary! There the Lord converses and communicates himself, inwardly with the Soul: there he fills it with himself, because it is empty; cloaths it with Light, and with his Love, because it is naked; lifts it up, because 'tis low; and unites it with himself, and transforms it, because it is alone.
121. O delightful Solitude, and Giver of eternal Blessings! O Mirrour, in which the eternal Father is always beheld! There is great reason to call thee Solitude; for thou art so much alone, that there is scarce a Soul that looks after thee, that loves and knows thee. O Divine Lord! How is it that Souls do not go from Earth to this Glory! How come they to lose so great a good, through the only love and desire of created things! Blessed Soul, how happy wilt thou be, if thou do'st but leave all for God! seek him only, breathe after none but him, let him only have thy sighs. Desire nothing, and then nothing can trouble thee; and if thou do'st desire any good, how spiritual soever it be, let it be in such a manner, that thou mayest not be disquieted, if thou missest it.
122. If, with this liberty, thou wilt give thy Soul to God, taken off from the World, free and alone, thou wilt be the happiest creature upon Earth; because the most High has his secret habitation in this holy Solitude; in this Desert and Paradise, is enjoyed the conversation of God, and it is only in this internal Retirement that that marvellous, powerful and divine Voice is heard.
123. If thou would'st enter into this Heaven of Earth, forget every care and every thought; get out of thy self, that the love of God may live in thy Soul.
124. Live as much as ever thou canst, abstracted from the Creatures; dedicate thy self wholly to thy Creator, and offer thy self in Sacrifice with Peace and Quietness of Spirit: Know, that the more the Soul disrobes it self, the more way it makes into this interiour Solitude, and becomes cloathed with God, and the more lonesome and empty of it self the Soul gets to be, the more the divine Spirit fills it.
125. There is not a more blessed Life than a solitary one; because in this happy Life, God gives himself all to the Creature, and the Creature all to God by an intimate and sweet union of Love. O how few are there that come to relish this true Solitude!
126. To make the Soul truly Solitary, it ought to forget all the Creatures, and even it self; otherwise it will never be able to make any near approach to God. Many men leave and forsake all things, but they do not leave their own liking, their own will, and themselves; and therefore these truly solitary ones are so few; wherefore if the Soul does not get off from its own Appetite and Desire, from its own will, from spiritual Gifts, and from repose even in the Spirit it self, it never can arrive at this high felicity of internal Solitude.
127. Go on, blessed Soul! go on, without stop, towards this blessedness of internal Solitude: See how God calls thee to enter into thy inward Center, where he will renew thee, change thee, fill thee, cloathe thee, and shew thee a new and Heavenly Kingdom, full of joy, peace, content and serenity.
C H A P. XIII.
In which is shewed what infused and passive Contemplation, is, and its wonderful Effects.
128. YOU must know, that when once the Soul is habituated to internal Recollection, and acquired Contemplation, that we have spoken of; when once 'tis mortified, and desires wholly to be denied its Appetites; when once it efficaciously embraces internal and external Mortification, and is willing to die heartily to its passions and its own ways, then God uses to take it alone by it self, and raise it more than it knows, to a compleat repose, where he sweetly and inwardly infuses in it his Light, his Love and his Strength, inkindling and inflaming it with a true disposition to all manner of Vertue.
129. There the Divine Spouse, suspending its Powers, puts it to sleep in a most sweet and pleasant rest: There it sleeps, and quietly receives and enjoys (without knowing it ) what it enjoys, with a most lovely and charming Calm: There the Soul raised and lifted up to this passive State, becomes united to its greatest Good, without costing it any trouble or pains for this Union: There in that supream Region, and sacred Temple of the Soul, that greatest Good takes its Complacency, manifests it self, and creates a relish from the Creature, in a way above Sense and all human understanding: There also only the pure Spirit, who is God, (the purity of the Soul being uncapable of sensible things) rules it, and gets the mastership of it, communicating to it its illustrations, and those Sentiments which are necessary for the most pure and perfect Union.
130. The Soul coming to it self again from these sweet and divine Embracings, becomes rich in light and love, and a mighty esteem of the divine Greatness, and the knowledge of its own Misery, finding it self all changed divinely, and disposed to embrace, to suffer, and to practice perfect Vertue.
131. A simple, pure, infused, and perfect Contemplation, therefore is a known and inward manifestation which God gives of himself, of his goodness, of his Peace, of his sweetness, whose object is God, pure, unspeakable, abstracted from all particular thoughts, within an inward silence: but it is God that delights us, God that draws us, God that sweetly raises us in a spiritual and pure manner, an admirable gift, which the divine Majesty bestows to whom he will, as he will, and when he will, and for what time he will, though the state of this Life be rather a state of the cross of Patience, of Humility, and of Suffering, than of enjoying.
132. Never wilt thou enjoy this divine Nectar, till thou art advanced in Vertue and inward Mortification; till thou doest heartily endeavour to fix in thy Soul a great Peace, Silence, Forgetfulness and internal Solitude: How is it possible to hear the sweet, inward and powerful Voice of God in the midst of the noise and tumults of the Creatures? And how can the pure spirit be heard in the midst of Considerations and discourses of Artifice? If the Soul will not continually die in it self, denying it self to all these Materialities and Satisfactions, the Contemplation can be no more but a meer Vanity, a vain Complacency and Presumption.
C H A P. XIV.
Pursues the Same Matter.
133. GOD doth not always communicate himself with equal abundance in this sweetest and infused Contemplation: sometimes he grants this Grace more than he doth at other times; and sometimes he expects not that the Soul should be so dead and denied, because this Gift being his meer Grace, he gives it when he pleases, and as he pleases; so that no general rule can be made of it, nor any rate set to his Divine Greatness: nay, by means of this very Contemplation he comes to deny it to annihilate and die.
134. Sometimes the Lord gives greater Light to the Understanding; sometimes greater Love to the Will. There is no need here for the Soul to take any pains or trouble; it must receive what God gives it, and rest united, as he will have it; because His Majesty is Lord, and in the very time that he lays it asleep, he possesses and fills it, and works in it powerfully and sweetly, without any industry or knowledge of its own: insomuch, that before ever it is aware of this so great Mercy, it is gained, convinced, and changed already.
135. The Soul which is in this happy state, hath two things to avoid, the Activity of human Spirit, and Interestedness: Our human Spirit is unwilling to die in it self, but loveth to be doing and discoursing after its way, being in Love with its own Actions. A Man has need to have a great Fidelity, and a divesting himself of Selfishness, to get a perfect and passive Capacity of the Divine Influences; the continual habits of operating freely, which it has, are a hindrance to its Annihilation.
136. The second is Interestedness in Contemplation it self: Thou must therefore procure in thy Soul a perfect divesting of all which is not God, without seeking any other end or interest, within or without, but the Divine Will.
137. In a word, the manner that thou must use, on thy part, to fit thy self for this pure, passive, and perfect Prayer, is, a total and absolute Consignment of thy self into the hands of God, with a perfect Submission to his most holy Will, to be busied according to his Pleasure and Disposition, with a perfect Resignation.
138. Thou must know, that few be the Souls which arrive at this infused and passive Prayer; because few of 'em are capable of these Divine Influences with a total Nakedness and Death of their own Activity and Powers; those only which feel it, know it so, that this perfect Nakedness is acquired (by the help of God's Grace) by a continual and inward Mortification, dying to all its own Inclinations and Desires.
139. At no time must thou look at the effects which are wrought in thy Soul, but especially herein; because it would be a hindrance to the divine operations, which enrich it, so to do: all that thou hast to do is to pant after Indifference, Resignation, Forgetfulness, and, without thy being sensible of it; the greatest good will leave in thy Soul a fit disposition for the practice of vertue, a true Love of the Cross of thy own Contempt, of thy Annihilation, and greater and stronger desires still of thy greater Perfection, and the most pure and affective Union.
C H A P. XV.
Of the two means, whereby the Soul ascends up to infused Contemplation,
with the Explication of what and how many the steps of it are.
140. THE means whereby the Soul ascends to the felicity of Contemplation and Affective Love, are two; the Pleasure, and the Desires of it. God uses at first to fill the Soul with sensible Pleasures; because 'tis so frail and miserable, that, without this preventive Consolation, it cannot take wing towards the fruition of Heavenly things. In this first step it is disposed by Contrition, and is exercised in Repentance, meditating upon the Redeemer's Passion, rooting out diligently all worldly Desires and vicious Courses of Life: because the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the faint-heart, the delicate never conquer it, but those that use violence and force with themselves.
141. The second is the Desires. The more the things of Heaven are delighted in, the more they are desired; and from thence there do ensue upon spiritual Pleasures, Desires of enjoying heavenly and divine Blessings, and contempt of worldly ones. From these Desires arises the inclination of following Christ our Lord, who said, I am the way, (St. John 14. 6); the steps of his imitation, by which a Man must go up, are Charity, Humility, Meekness, Patience, Poverty, Self-contempt, the Cross, Prayer, and Mortification.
142. The steps of infused Contemplation are three. The first is Satiety. When the Soul is fill'ed with God, it conceives a Hatred to all worldly things; then 'tis quiet and satisfied only with Divine Love.
143. The second is Intoxication. And this step is an excess of Mind, and an Elevation of Soul, arising from Divine Love and Satiety of it.
144. The third is Security. This step turns out all fear: the Soul is so drencht with Love divine, and resigned up in such a manner to the divine good pleasure, that it would go willingly to Hell, if it did but know it so to be the Will of the Most High. In this step it feels such a certain Bond of the divine Union, that it seems to it an impossible thing, to be separated from its beloved, and his infinite Treasure.
145. There are six other steps of Contemplation, which are these, Fire, Union, Elevation, Illumination, Pleasure, and Repose. With the first the Soul is inkindled, and being inkindled, is anointed; being anointed, is raised; being raised, Contemplates; Contemplating, it receives Pleasure; and receiving Pleasure, it finds Repose. By these steps the soul rises higher, being abstracted and experienced in the Spiritual and Internal Way.
146. In the first step, which is Fire, the Soul is illustrated, by the means of a divine and ardent ray, in kindling the affections divine, and drying up those which are but human. The second is the Unction, which is a sweet and spiritual Liquor, which diffusing it self all the Soul over, teaches it, strengthens it, and disposes it to receive and contemplate the divine Truth: and sometimes it extends even to nature it self, corroborating it by Patience, with a sensible Pleasure that seems celestial.
147. The third is the Elevation of the Inner Man over it self, that it may get fittest to the clear fountain of pure Love.
148. The fourth step, which is Illumination, is an infused knowledge, whereby the Soul contemplates sweetly the divine Truth, rising still from one clearness to another, from one light to another, from knowledge to knowledge, being guided by the Spirit Divine.
149. The fifth is a Savoury Pleasure of the divine Sweetness, issuing forth from the plentiful and precious Fountain of the Holy Ghost.
150. The sixth is a sweet and admirable Tranquility, arising from the conquest of Fightings within, and frequent Prayer; and this, very, very few have Experience of. Here the abundance of Joy, and Peace is so great, that the Soul seems to be in a sweet sleep, solacing and reposing it self in the Divine breast of Love.
151. Many other steps of Contemplation there are, as Extasies, Raptures, Melting, Delinquium's, Glee, Kisses, Embraces, Exultation, Union, Transformation, Expousing, and Matrimony, which I omit to explain, to give no occasion to Speculation: And because there are whole Books which treat of these Points; though they are all for him who finds nothing of 'em, any more than a blind Man doth of Colour, or a deaf Man of Musick. In a word, by these steps we get up to the Chamber and repose of the pacifick King and the true Solomon.
C H A P. XVI.
Signs to know the Inner Man, and the Mind that's Purged.
152. THE Signs to know the Inner Man by, are four. The first, If the understanding produce not other Thoughts than those which stir up to the light of Faith; and the Will is so habituated, that it begets no other Acts of Love than of God, and in order to him. The second, If, when he ceases from an External Work, in which he was employed, the Understanding and the Will are presently and easily turned to God. The third, if in entering upon Prayer, he forgets all outward things, as if he had not seen nor used 'em. The fourth, If he carries himself orderly towards outward things, as if he were entering into the World again, fearing to embroil himself in Business, and naturally abhorring it, unless when Charity requires it of him.
153. Such a Soul as this is free from the outward Man, and easily enters into the interiour Solitude, where it sees none but God and it self in him: loving him with quiet and peace and true Love. There in that secret Center, God is kindly speaking to it, teaching it a new Kingdom, and true Peace and Joy.
154. This Spiritual, abstracted and retired Soul hath its Peace no more broken, though outwardly it may meet with Combats; because through the infinite distance, tempests do never reach to that serenest Heaven within, where pure and perfect Love resides; and though sometimes it may be naked, forsaken, fought against and desolate, this is only the fury of the storm, which threatens and rages no where but without.
155. This secret Love within, hath four effects: The first is called Illumination, which is a savoury and experimental Knowledge of the greatness of God, and of its own nothing. The second is Inflammation, which is an ardent desire of being burnt, like the Salamander, in this kind and divine Fire. The third is Sweetness, which is a peaceable, joyful, sweet and intimate Fruition. The fourth, is a swallowing up of the Powers in God; by which immersion the Soul is so much drencht and filled with God, that it can't any longer seek, or will any thing, but its greatest and infinite good.
156. From this fullest Satiety, two effects arise. The first is, a great Courage to suffer for God. The second is, a certain hope or assurance that it can never lose him, nor be separated from him.
157. Here in this internal retirement, the beloved Jesus hath his Paradise, to whom we may go up, standing and conversing on the Earth. And if thou desirest to know who he is, who is altogether drawn to this inward retirement, with enlightened Exemplification in God, I tell thee, it is he that in adversity, in discomfort of Spirit, and in the want of necessities stands firm and unshaken. These constant and inward Souls are outwardly naked and wholly diffused in God, whom they continually do Contemplate: they have no spot; they live in God and of himself; they shine brighter than a thousand Suns; they are beloved by the Son of God; they are the darlings of God the Father, and elect Spouses of the Holy Ghost.
158. By three signs is a Mind that is purged, to be known, as St. Thomas says in a Treatise of his. The first sign is Diligence, which is a strength of Mind, which banishes all neglect and sloth, that it may be disposed with Earnestness and Confidence to the pursuit of Vertue. The second is Severity; which likewise is a strength of Mind against Concupiscence, accompanied with an ardent love of roughness, vileness and holy Poverty. The third is Benignity and Sweetness of Mind, which drives away all rancour, envy, aversion and hatred against ones Neighbour.
159. Till the Mind be purged, the Affection purified, the Memory naked, the Understanding brightened, the Will denied and set a fire, the Soul can never arrive at the intimate and affective Union with God, and therefore because the Spirit of God is purity it self, and light and rest, the Soul, where he intends to make his abode, must have great Purity, Peace, Attention and Quiet. Finally the precious Gift of a purged Mind, those only have, who with continual Diligence do seek Love and retain it, and desire to be reputed the most vile in the World.
C H A P. XVII.
Of Divine Wisdom.
160. DIVINE Wisdom is an intellectual and infused Knowledge of the Divine Perfections and things Eternal; which ought rather to be called Contemplation than Speculation. Science is acquired and begets the knowledge of Nature. Wisdom is infused and begets the Knowledge of the Divine Goodness. That desires to know what is not to be attained unto without pains and sweat: This desires not to know what it doth know, although it understands it all. In a word, the Men who are scientifical entertain themselves in the knowledge of the things of the World; and the wise live swallowed up in God himself.
161. Reason enlightened in the Wise is a high and simple elevation of Spirit, whereby he sees, with a clear and sharp sight all that is inferiour to him, and what concerns his Life and Estate. This is that which renders the Soul simple, illustrated, uniform, spiritual, and altogether introverted, and abstracted from every created thing. This moves and draws away with a sweet Violence, the hearts of the humble and teachable, filling them with abundance of sweetness, peace, and pleasantness. Finally, the wise Man says of it, that it brought him all good things at once. Venerunt mihi omnia bona pariter cum illa, ( Wisd. 7. II.)
162. You must know, that the greatest part of Men lives by Opinion, and judges according to the deceivableness of Imagination and Sense: but the Man that's wise judges of every thing according to the real verity, which is in it; whose business is to understand, conceive, penetrate into, and transcend every created being, even to himself.
163. 'Tis a great property of a wise Man to do much and say little.
164. Wisdom is discovered in the works and words of the wise; because he being absolute master of all his passions, motions, and affections is known in all his doings, like a quiet and still water, in which wisdom shines with clearness.
165. The understanding of mystical truths is secret and shut up from Men who are purely Scholastical, unless they be humble; because it is the Science of Saints, and none know it but those which heartily love and seek their own Contempt: Therefore the Souls, who by imbracing this means, get to be purely mystical and truly humble, dive even to the profoundest apprehensions of the Divinity: and the more sensually men do live according to flesh and blood, the greater distance are they at from this mystical Science.
166. Ordinarily it is seen that in the man which hath much scholastical and speculative Knowledge, divine Wisdom doth not predominate; yet they make an admirable composition, when they both meet together. The men of Learning, who by God's Mercy have attained to this mystick Science, are worthy of Veneration and Praise in Religion.
167. The external actions of the mystical and wise, which they do rather passively than actively, though, they are a great torment to 'em, yet are ordered prudently by 'em, by number, weight, and measure.
168. The Sermons of Men of Learning, who want the Spirit, though they are made up of divers stories, elegant descriptions, acute discourses, and exquisite Proofs, yet are by no means the word of God; but the word of Men, plated over with false Gold: These Preachers spoil Christians, feeding 'em with wind and vanity, and so they are, both of 'em, void of God.
169. These Teachers feed their Hearers with the wind of hurtful subtilties, giving 'em stones instead of Bread, leaves instead of Fruit, and unsavoury Earth mixt with poisoned Honey instead of true Food. These are they that hunt after honour, raising up an idol of reputation and applause, instead of seeking God's Glory, and the spiritual Edification of Men.
170. Those that preach with Zeal and sincerity, preach for God. Those that preach without 'em, preach for themselves. Those that preach the word of God with spirit, makes it take impression in the Heart; but those that Preach it without spirit, carry it no farther than to the ear.
171. Perfection doth not consist in teaching it, but in doing it; because he is neither the greatest Saint, nor the wisest Man, that knows the Truth most, but he that practices it.
172. 'Tis a constant Maxim, That Divine Wisdom begets Humility; and that which is acquired by the Learned, begets Pride.
173. Holiness does not consist in forming deep and subtle conceits of the Knowledge and attributes of God, but in the Love of God, and in self-denial. Therefore 'tis frequentlier observed, that Holiness is more amongst the simple, and humble, than among the learned. How many poor old Women are there in the World, which have little or nothing of human science, but are rich in the love of God! How many Divines do we see that are over head and ears in their vain Wisdom, and yet very bare in things of true Light and Charity!
174. Remember that 'tis always good to speak like one that learns, and not like one that knows: Count it a greater Honour to be reputed a meer Ignoramus, than a man of Wisdom and Prudence.
175. However, the Learned, who are purely speculative, have some little Sparks of Spirit, yet these do not fly out from the simple bottom of eminent and divine Wisdom, which hath a mortal hatred to Forms and Species's: the mixing of a little Science is always a hindrance to the eternal, profound, pure, simple, and true Wisdom.
C H A P. XVIII.
Treating of the Same.
176. THERE are two ways which lead to the knowledge of God. The one remote, the other near: The first is called Speculation; the second, Contemplation. The Learned, who follow Scientifical Speculation by the Sweetness of sensible Discourses, get up to God by this means, as well as they can, that by this help they may be able to love him: But none of those who follow that way which they call Scholastical, ever arrives by that only, to the Mystical Way, or to the Excellence of Union, Transformation, Simplicity, Light, Peace, Tranquility and Love, as he doth, who is brought by the Divine Grace by the mystical way of Contemplation.
177. These men of Learning, who are meerly scholastical, don't know what the Spirit is, nor what it is to be lost in God: nor are they come yet to the taste of the sweet Ambrosia which is in the inmost depth and bottom of the Soul, where it keeps its Throne, and communicates it self with incredible, intimate and delicious affluence: Nay, some there are which do e'en condemn this mystical Science, because they neither do understand nor relish it.
178. The Divine who doth not taste the sweetness of Contemplation, has no other reason to give for it, but because he enters not by the Gate which St. Paul points to, when he says, Si quis inter vos videtur sapiens esse, stultus fiat ut sit sapiens, ( I Cor. 3.18 ). If any one among ye seem to himself to be wise, let him become a fool that he may be wise; let him shew his humility by reputing himself ignorant.
179. 'Tis a general Rule; and also a Maxim in Mystick Theology, That the Practice ought to be gotten before the Theory. That there ought to be some experimental Exercise of supernatural Contemplation, before the search of the knowledge, and an enquiry after the full apprehension of it.
180. Although the mystical Science does commonly belong to the humble and simple, yet notwithstanding that, men of Learning are not uncapable of it, if they do not seek themselves nor set any great value upon their own artificial knowledge; but more, if they can forget it, as if they never had it, and only make use of it, in its own proper place and time, for preaching and disputing when their turn comes, and afterwards give their minds to the simple and naked Contemplation of God, without form, figure or consideration.
181. The Study, which is not ordered for God's glory only, is but a short way to Hell; not through the Study, but the Wind of Pride, which begets it. Miserable is the greatest part of Men at this time, whose only Study is to satisfie the unsatisfiable curiosity of Nature.
182. Many seek God and find him not; because they are more moved by curiosity than sincere, pure and upright intention: they rather desire Spiritual Comforts than God himself; and as they seek him not with truth, they neither find God nor Spiritual Pleasures.
183. He that does not endeavour the total denying of himself, will not be truly abstracted; and so can never be capable of the truth and the light of the Spirit. To go towards the mystical Science, a man must never meddle with things which are without, but with prudence, and in that which his Office calls him to. Rare are men who set a higher price upon hearing than speaking? But the wise and purely mystical Man never speaks but when he cannot help it; nor doth he concern himself in any thing but what belongs to his Office, and then he carries himself with great Prudence.
184. The Spirit of Divine Wisdom fills men with Sweetness, governs them with Courage, and enlightens those with excellence who are subject to its direction. Where the Divine Spirit dwells, there is always simplicity and a holy Liberty. But Craft and Double-mindedness, Fiction, Artifices, Policy and worldly Respects, are Hell it self to wise and sincere men.
185. Know that he who would attain to the Mystical Science, must be denied and taken off from five things: 1. From the Creatures. 2. From Temporal things. 3. From the very Gifts of the Holy Ghost. 4. From himself. 5. He must be lost in God. This last is the compleatest of all; because that Soul only that knows how to be so taken off, is that which attains to being lost in God, and only knows where to be in safety.
186. God is more satisfied with the affection of the Heart, than that of Worldly Science. 'Tis one thing to cleanse the Heart of all that which captivates and pollutes it, and another to do a thousand things, though good and holy, without minding that purity of Heart which is the main of all for attaining of Divine Wisdom.
187. Never wilt thou get to this Sovereign and Divine Wisdom, if thou hast not strength, when God cleanseth thee in his own time, not only of thy adherency to Temporal and Natural Blessings, but further, to Supernatural and Sublime ones, such as internal Communications, Extasies, Raptures, and other gratuitous Graces, whereon the Soul rests and entertains it self.
188. Many Souls come short of arriving to quiet Contemplation, to divine Wisdom and true Knowledge, notwithstanding that they spend many Hours in Prayer, and receive the Sacrament every day; because they do not subject and submit themselves wholly and entirely to him that hath Light, nor deny and conquer themselves, nor give up themselves totally to God, with a perfect divesting and disinteresting of themselves: In a word, till the Soul be purified in the Fire of Inward Pain, it will never get to a State of Renovation, of Transformation, of perfect Contemplation, of divine Wisdom and affective Union.
C H A P. XIX.
Of true and perfect Annihilation.
189. THOU must know that all this Fabrick of Annihilation hath its foundation but in two Principles. The first is, to keep ones self and all worldly things in a low esteem and value; from whence the putting in practice of this Self-divesting, and of Self-renunciation and forsaking all created things, must have its rise, and that with the affection, and in deed.
190. The second Principle must be a great esteem of God, to love, adore and follow him without the least interest of ones own, let it be never so holy. From these two Principles will arise a full conformity to the Divine Will. This powerful and practical conformity to the Divine Will in all things, leads the Soul to Annihilation and Transformation with God, without the mixture of Raptures, or external Extasies, or vehement Affections: This way being liable to many illusions, with the danger of weakness and anguish of the understanding, by which path there is seldom any that gets up to the top of perfection, which is acquired by t'other safe, firm and real way, though not without a weighty Cross; because therein the Highway of Annihilation and Perfection is founded; which is seconded by many gifts of Light and divine Effects, and infinite other Graces, gratis datę, yet the Soul that is annihilated must be uncloathed of it all, if it would not have 'em be a hindrance to it in its way to Deification.
191. As the Soul makes continual progress from its meanness, it ought to walk on to the practice of Annihilation, which consists in the abhorring of Honour, Dignity and Praise; there being no reason that Dignity and Honour should be given to Vileness and a meer Nothing.
192. To the Soul that is sensible of its own Vileness, it appears an impossible thing to deserve any thing; 'tis rather confounded and knows it self unworthy of Vertue and Praise: it embraces with equal courage all occasions of Contempt, Persecution, Infamy, Shame and Affront; and as truly deserving of such reproaches, it renders the Lord thanks, when it lights upon such occasions, to be treated as it deserves; and knows it self also unworthy, that he should use his Justice upon it; but above all, 'tis glad of contempt and affront, because its God gets great glory by it.
193. Such a Soul as this always chooses the lowest, the vilest, and the most despised degree, as well of place, as of cloathing, and of all other things, without the least affectation of singularity; being of the opinion, that the greatest Vileness is beyond its deserts, and acknowledging it self also unworthy even of this. This is the practice that brings the Soul to a true Annihilation of it self.
194. The Soul that would be perfect, begins to mortifie its Passions; and when 'tis advanced in that Exercise, it denies it self; then with the Divine Aid, it passes to the State of Nothing, where it despises, abhors and plunges it self upon the knowledge that it is nothing, that it can do nothing, and that it is worth nothing. From hence springs the dying in it self, and in its senses, in many ways, and at all hours; and finally, from this spiritual Death the true and perfect Annihilation derives its original; insomuch, that when the Soul is once dead to its will and understanding, 'tis properly said to be arrived at the perfect and happy state of Annihilation, which is the last disposition for Transformation and Union, which the Soul it self doth not understand, because 'twould not be annihilated if it should come to know it. And although it do get to this happy state of Annihilation, yet it must know that it must walk still on, and must be further and further purified and annihilated.
195. You must know, that this Annihilation, to make it perfect in the Soul, must be in a man's own Judgment, in his Will, in his Works, Inclinations, Desires, Thoughts, and in it Self: so that the Soul must find it self dead to its Will, Desire, Endeavour, Understanding and Thought; willing, as if it did not will; desiring, as if it did not desire; understanding, as if it did not understand; thinking, as if it did not think, without inclining to any thing, embracing equally Contempts and Honours, Benefits and Corrections. O what a happy Soul is that which is thus dead and annihilated! It lives no longer in it self, because God lives in it: And now it may most truly be said of it, that it is a renewed Phoenix; because 'tis changed, spiritualized, transformed and deified.
C H A P. XX.
In which is shewed how this Nothing is the ready way to obtain Purity of Soul,
perfect Contemplation, and the rich Treasure of Peace internal.
196. THE way to attain that high state of a Mind reformed, whereby a man immediately gets to the greatest Good, to our first Original, and to the highest Peace, is his Nothingness: Endeavour, O Soul, to be always buried in that misery. This Nothing, and this acknowledged Misery, is the means by which the Lord works wonders in thy Soul. Cloathe thy self with this Nothing, and with this Misery, and see that this Misery and this Nothing be thy continual Food and Habitation, even to the casting down thy self low therein; and then I assure thee, that thou being in that manner the Nothing, the Lord will be the Whole in thy Soul.
197. Why, thinkest thou, do infinite Souls hinder the abundant Current of the divine gifts? 'Tis only because they would be doing something, and have a desire to be great: all this is to come away from internal Humility, and from their own Nothing; and therefore they prevent those wonders which that infinite goodness would work in 'em. They betake themselves to the very gifts of the Spirit, and there they stick, that they may come out from the Center of Nothing, and so the whole Work is spoil'd. They seek not God with truth, and therefore they find him not: For know thou must, that there is no finding of Him, but in the undervaluing of our own selves, and in Nothing.
198. We seek our selves every time we get out of our Nothing; and therefore we never get to quiet and perfect Contemplation. Creep in as far as ever thou canst into the truth of thy Nothing, and then no thing will disquiet thee: Nay, thou wilt be humble and ashamed, losing openly thy own reputation and esteem.
199. O what a strong Bulwark wilt thou find of that Nothing! Who can ever afflict thee, if once thou dost retire into that Fortress? Because the Soul which is despised by it self, and in its own knowledge is Nothing, is not capable of receiving Grievance or Injury from any Body. The Soul which keeps within its Nothing, is internally silent, lives resign'd in any torment whatsoever, by thinking it less than what it doth deserve: It shuns the suspition of a Neighbour, never looks at other folks faults but its own, is free from abundance of Imperfections, and becomes Commander of great Virtue. Whilst the Soul keeps still and quiet in its nothing, it perfects it, it enriches it, the Lord draws his own Image and Likeness in it, without any thing to hinder it.
200. By the way of Nothing thou must come to lose thy self in God (which is the last degree of perfection) and happy wilt thou be, if thou canst so lose thy self; then thou wilt get thy self again, and find thy self most certainly. In this same Shop of Nothing, Simplicity is made; interior and infused Recollection is possessed, Quiet is obtained, and the Heart is cleansed from all manner of Imperfections. O what a Treasure wilt thou find, if thou shalt once fix thy habitation in Nothing and if thou once gettest but snugg into the Center of Nothing, thou will never concern thy self with any thing that is without (the great ugly large step that so many thousand Souls do stumble at) unless it be as thy Office may call thee to it.
201. If thou dost but get shut up in Nothing, (where the blows of adversity can never come) nothing will vex thee or break thy peace. This is the way of getting to the command of thy self, because perfect and true dominion doth only govern in Nothing: with the Helmet of Nothing thou will be too hard for strong temptations and the terrible suggestions of the envious enemy.
202. Knowing that thou art nothing, that thou canst do nothing, and art worth just nothing, thou wilt quietly embrace passive drynesses, thou wilt endure horrible desolations; thou wilt undergo spiritual martyrdoms and inward torments. By means of this Nothing thou must die in thy self, many ways, at all times, and all hours.
203. Who must awaken the Soul out of that sweet and pleasant Sleep, if once it comes to take a Nap in Nothing? This is the way that David got a perfect annihilation, without so much as knowing it. Ad nihilum redactus sum de nescivi, Psal. 17. Keeping thy self in Nothing, thou wilt bar the door against every thing that is not God; thou wilt retire also from thine own self, and walk toward that internal solitude, where the Divine Spouse speaks in the Heart of his Bride, teaching her high and divine Wisdom. Drown thy self in this Nothing, and there shalt thou find a holy Sanctuary against any Tempest whatsoever.
204. By this way must thou return to the happy state of Innocence forfeited by our first Parents. By this Gate thou must enter into the happy land of the living, where thou wilt find the greatest Good, the breath of Charity, the beauty of Righteousness, the straight Line of Equity and Justice, and, in sum, every jot and tittle of Perfection. Lastly, do not look at nothing, desire nothing, will nothing, nor endeavour nothing, and then in every thing thy Soul will live repos'd, with quiet and enjoyment.
205. This is the way to get purity of Soul, perfect contemplation and peace internal; walk therefore in this safe path, and endeavour to overwhelm thy self in this Nothing, endeavour to lose thy self, to sink deep into it, if thou hast a mind to be annihilated, united and transformed.
C H A P. XXI.
Of the high Felicity of internal Peace, and the wonderful Effects of it.
206. THE Soul being once annihilated and renewed with perfect nakedness, finds in its superiour part a profound peace, and a sweet rest, which brings it to such a perfect Union of Love, that it is joyful all over. And such a Soul as this is already arrived to such a happiness, that it neither wills nor desires any thing but what its Beloved wills; it conforms it self to this Will in all emergencies, as well of comfort as anguish, and rejoyces also in every thing to do the Divine Good Pleasure.
207. There is nothing but what comforts it; nor doth it want any thing, but what it can well want: To die, is enjoyment to it; and to live, is its joy. It is as contented here upon Earth, as it can be in Paradise; it is as glad under privation, as it can be in possession; in sickness as it can be in health; because it knows that this is the Will of its Lord. This is its life, this is its glory, its paradise, its peace, its repose, its rest, its consolation and highest happiness.
208. If it were necessary to such a Soul as this, which is gotten up by the steps of annihilation to the region of peace, to make its choice, it would choose desolation before comfort, contempt before honour; because the loving Jesus made great esteem of reproach and pain: if it first endured the hunger of the blessings of Heaven, if it thirsted for God, if it had the fear of losing him, the lamentation of heart, and the fighting of the Devil; now things are altered, and hunger is turned into satisfying, the thirst into satiety, the fear into assurance, the sadness into joy, the weeping into merriment, and the fierce fighting into the greatest peace. O happy Soul, that enjoys here on earth so great a felicity! Thou must know, that these kinds of Souls (though few they are) be the strong Pillars which support the Church, and such as abate the divine indignation.
209. And now this Soul that is entered into the heaven of peace, acknowledges it self full of God and his supernatural gifts, because it lives grounded in a pure Love, receiving equal Pleasure in light and darkness, in night and day, in affliction and consolation. Through this holy and heavenly indifference, it never loses its peace in adversity, nor its tranquility in tribulations, but sees it self full of unspeakable enjoyments.
210. And although the Prince of Darkness makes all the assaults of Hell against it, with horrible temptations, yet it makes head against 'em, and stands like a strong Pillar; no more happening to it by 'em, than happens to a high mountain and a deep valley in the time of storm and tempest.
211. The valley is darkened with thick clouds, fierce tempests of hail, thunder, lightning and hail-stones, which looks like the picture of Hell: at the same time the lofty Mountain glitters by the bright beams of the Sun, in quietness and serenity, continuing clear, like Heaven, immovable and full of Light.
212. The same happens to this blessed Soul; the valley of the part below is suffering tribulations, combats, darkness, desolations, torments, martyrdoms and suggestions; and at the same time, on the lofty mountain of the higher part of the Soul, the true Sun casts its beams; it enflames and enlightens it; and so it becomes clear, peaceable, resplendent, quiet, serene, being a meer ocean of Joy.
213. So great therefore is the quiet of this pure Soul, which is gotten up the mountain of tranquility, so great is the peace of its spirit, so great the serenity and chearfulness that is within, that a remnant and glimmering of God do rebound even to the outside of it.
214. Because in the throne of quiet are manifest the perfections of spiritual beauty; here the true light of the secret and divine Mysteries of our holy faith, here perfect humility, even to the Annihilation of it self, the amplest resignation, chastity, poverty of spirit, the sincerity and innocence of the Dove, external modesty, silence and internal fortitude, liberty and purity of heart; here the forgetfulness of every created thing, even of it self, joyful simplicity, heavenly indifference, continual Prayer, a total nakedness, perfect disinterestedness, a most wise contemplation, a conversation of Heaven; and lastly, the most perfect and serene peace within, of which this happy Soul may say what the wise man said of Wisdom, that all other Graces came along in the company with her. Venerunt mihi omnia bona pariter cum illa. (Wisd. 7. 11.)
215. This is the rich and hidden treasure, this is the lost groat of the Gospel; this is the blessed life, the happy life, the true life, and the blessedness here below. O thou lovely greatness that passest the knowledge of the sons of men! O excellent supernatural life, how admirable and unspeakable art thou, for thou art the very draught of blessedness! O how much dost thou raise a soul from earth, which loses in its view all things of the vileness of earth! thou art poor to look upon; but inwardly thou are full of wealth: thou seemest low, but art exceeding high; in a word, thou art that which makest men live a life divine here below. Give me, O Lord, thou greatest goodness, give me a good portion of this heavenly happiness and true peace, that the World, sensual as it is, is neither capable of understanding nor receiving. Quem mundus non potest accipere.
C H A P. XXII.
A mournful Exclamation and lamentable Moan to God for the Small Company of Souls
that arrive at Perfection, the Loving Union and the Divine Transformation.
216. O Divine Majesty, in whose presence the Pillars of Heaven do quake and tremble! O thou Goodness, more than infinite, in whose love the Seraphins burn! give me leave, O Lord, to lament our blindness and ingratitude. We all live in Mistakes, seeking the foolish world, and forsaking thee, who art our God. We all forsake thee, the Fountain of Living Waters, for the stinking Dirt of the World.
217. O we children of men, how long shall we follow after lying and vanity? Who is it that hath thus deceived us, that we should forsake God our greatest good? Who is it that speaks the most truth to us? Who is it that loves us most? Who defends us most? Who is it that doth more to shew himself a Friend, who more tender to shew himself a Spouse, and more good to be a Father? that our blindness should be so great, that we should all forsake this greatest and infinite goodness?
218. O Divine Lord! what a few Souls are there in the World, which do serve thee with perfection! how small is the number of those, who are willing to suffer, that they may follow Christ crucified, that they may embrace the Cross, that they may deny and contemn themselves! O what a scarcity of Souls is there, which are disinterested and totally naked! how few are those Souls which are dead to themselves and alive to God, which are totally resigned to his divine good pleasure! How few those, who are adorn'd with simple obedience, profound knowledge of themselves; and true humility! how few those, which with an entire indifference give up themselves into the hands of God, to do what he pleases with 'em! how few are there of those pure Souls which be of a simple and disinterested heart, and which, putting off their own understanding, knowledge, desire and will, do long for self-denial and spiritual death! O what a scarcity of Souls is there which are willing to let the Divine Creator work in 'em a mind to suffer, that they may not suffer, and to die, that they may not die! How few are the Souls which are willing to forget themselves, to free their hearts from their own affections, their own desires, their own satisfactions, their own love and judgments! that are willing to be led by the highway of self-denial and the internal way! that are willing to be annihilated, dying to themselves and their senses! that are willing to let themselves be emptied, purified and uncloathed, that God may fill and cloathe and perfect 'em! In a word, how small, O Lord, is the number of those Souls which are blind, deaf and dumb and perfectly contemplative!
219. O the shame of us the Children of Adam! who, for a thing of meer vileness, do despise true felicity, and hinder our greatest good, the rich treasure and infinite goodness! Great reason has Heaven to lament, that there are so few Souls to follow its precious path-way. Vi Sion lugent, eo quod non sint qui veniant ad solennitatem . ( Lam. 1.4 )
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