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CHAPTER I

COME now, thou poor child of man, turn awhile from thy business, hide thyself for a little time from restless thoughts, cast away thy troublesome cares, put aside thy wearisome distractions. Give thyself a little leisure to converse with God, and take thy rest awhile in Him. Enter into the secret chamber of thy heart: leave everything without but God and what may help thee to seek after Him, and when thou hast shut the door, then do thou seek Him. Say now, O my whole heart, say now to God, I seek Thy face; Thy face, Lord, 6do I seek.1111   Ps. xxvii. 9. Come now then, O Lord my God, teach Thou my heart when and how I may seek Thee, where and how I may find Thee? O Lord, if Thou art not here, where else shall I seek Thee? but if Thou art everywhere, why do I not behold Thee, since Thou art here present? Surely indeed Thou dwellest in the light which no man can approach unto.1212   1 Tim. vi. 16. But where is that light unapproachable? or how may I approach unto it since it is unapproachable? or who shall lead me and bring me into it that I may see Thee therein? Again, by what tokens shall I know Thee, in what form shall I look for Thee? I have never seen Thee, O Lord my God; I know not Thy form. What shall I do then, O Lord most high, what shall I do, banished as I am so far from Thee? What shall Thy servant do that is sick for love of Thee, and yet is cast away from Thy presence?1313   Ps. li. ii. He panteth to behold Thee, and yet Thy presence is very far from him. He longeth to approach unto Thee, and yet Thy dwelling-place is unapproachable. He desireth to find Thee, yet he knoweth not Thy habitation. He would fain seek Thee, yet he knoweth not Thy face. O Lord, Thou art my God, Thou art my Lord; and I have never beheld Thee. Thou hast created me and created me anew, and all good things that I have, hast Thou bestowed upon me, and yet I have never known Thee. Nay, I was created 7to behold Thee, and yet have I never unto this day done that for the sake whereof I was created. O miserable lot of man, to have lost that whereunto he was created! O hard and terrible condition! Alas, what hath he lost? what hath he found? what hath departed from him? what hath continued with him? He hath lost the blessedness whereunto he was created, and he hath found the misery whereunto he was not created; that without which nothing is happy, hath departed from him, and that hath continued with him which by itself cannot but be miserable. Once man did eat angels’ food,1414   Ps. lxxviii. 26. after which he now hungereth; now he eateth the bread of affliction, which then he knew not. Alas for the common woe of man, the universal sorrow of the children of Adam! Our first father was filled with abundance, we sigh with hunger; he was rich, we are beggars. He miserably threw away that in the possession whereof he was happy, and in the lack whereof we are miserable; after which we lamentably long and alas! abide unsatisfied. Why did he not keep for us, when he might easily have kept it that the loss whereof so grievously afflicts us? Wherefore did he so overcloud our day, and plunge us into darkness? Why did he take from us our life, and bring upon us the pains of death? Wretches that we are, whence have we been driven out and whither? From our native country into banishment, from the 8vision of God into blindness, from the joy of immortality into the bitterness and horror of death. How sad the change from so great good to so great evil! Grievous is the loss, grievous the pain, grievous everything. But alas for me, one of the miserable children of Eve, cast far away from God! What did I begin? and what have I accomplished? At what did I aim? and unto what have I attained? To what did I aspire? and where am I now sighing? I sought good, and behold, trouble.1515   Jer. xiv. 19. I aimed at God, and have stumbled upon myself. I sought rest in my secret chamber, and I have found tribulation and grief in the inmost parts. I desired to laugh for gladness of spirit and am constrained to roar for the disquietness of my heart.1616   Ps. xxxviii. 8. I hoped for joy and behold increase of sorrow. How long, O Lord, how long? How long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget us, how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from us?1717   Ps. xiii. 1. When wilt Thou turn and hearken unto us? When wilt thou enlighten our eyes and show us Thy face? When wilt Thou restore Thy presence to us? Turn and took upon us, O Lord: hearken unto us, enlighten us, show us Thyself. Restore to us Thy presence that it may be well with us; for without Thee it goeth very ill with us. Have pity upon our labours and strivings after Thee, for without Thee we can do nothing. Thou callest us; help us to obey the call. I beseech Thee, O Lord, that I may not despair in my sighing, but 9may draw full breath again in hope. My heart is embittered by its desolation; with Thy consolation, I beseech Thee, O Lord, make it sweet again. I beseech Thee, O Lord, for in my hunger I have begun to seek Thee, suffer me not to depart from Thee fasting. I have come to Thee fainting for lack of food; let me not go empty away. I have come to Thee, as the poor man to the rich, as the miserable to the merciful, let me not return unsatisfied and despised: and if before I be fed, I sigh, grant me that, though after I have sighed, I may be fed. O Lord, I am bent downwards, I cannot look up: raise me up, that I may lift mine eyes to heaven. My iniquities are gone over my head, they overwhelm me; they are like a sore burden too heavy for me to bear.1818   Ps. xxxviii. 4. Deliver me, take away my burden, lest the pit of my wickedness shut its mouth upon me: grant unto me that I may look upon Thy light, though from afar off, though out of the deep. I will seek Thee, with longing after Thee. I will long after Thee in seeking Thee, I will find Thee by loving Thee, I will love Thee in finding Thee. I confess to Thee, O Lord, and I give thanks unto Thee, because Thou hast created in me this Thine image, that I may remember Thee, think upon Thee, love Thee1919   St Anselm is here thinking of a favourite thought of his. I will try to state it as simply as I can. If a man at any time looks into himself, he is aware that he is thinking of something; he is conscious of two things; himself who thinks and what he is thinking of. This last may be himself too; he may be thinking of himself. Nay, it must always be himself in a sense, because it is his own idea or thought of other things that he has before him, when he thinks of them; not the things as they may be unthought of, but as they are in his mind. Now the consciousness of self as thinking, St Anselm always calls memory or memory of self; because it is in memory that we are chiefly aware of ourselves as being the same who yesterday did or felt one thing and to-day do or feel something else, and yet are the same in both cases; and the consciousness of what we are thinking about, our thought as distinguished from our self, he calls our understanding or understanding of self; because that is the end and upshot of our thinking, thoroughly to understand what we think about, and at last, so to put it, to understand ourselves and all that is in our minds and thoughts. But we should not care to do this if we did not have an interest in what we think about, and unless this interest carried us through as it were, and so St Anselm says that there would be no use or purpose in memory and understanding unless the object of them were either loved or else hated or rejected. And so the permanent nature of the mind is a trinity of self-consciousness (or, as St Anselm says, memory), understanding, and love; for love is the intensest form of the interest which continues without rejecting to contemplate any object. And therein he sees in the human mind an image of the Divine. For if we try to think of a Being which is eternally all which we are trying to be, and perfectly that which we are imperfectly (and we are of course only conscious of our imperfection in virtue of the notion of such a perfect Being with which we contrast ourselves) we shall think of this Being as conscious of Himself, as having before Him all that is in His mind, not as something not perfectly grasped or comprehended, hut as wholly land completely what He is in Himself, indissolubly united with Himself; a Thought not unexpressed but adequately uttered and so called a Word; a Word the complete expression of Himself, as real a person as Himself, as a Son with His Father; and this Word or Son loved with a love which is no mere feeling of the lover who remains distinct from the love he bears; but a love which is all that Himself is: and is fully and adequately reciprocated by its object: a Spirit of mutual Love, therefore, proceeding equally from both the Father and the Son: in other words a Trinity such as the Christian theology describes. Hence St Anselm sees in the trinity of memory, understanding and love in the human mind the truest image of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in God.: but so darkened is Thine image in me 10by the smoke of my sins that it cannot do that whereunto it was created, unless Thou renew it and create it again. I seek not, O Lord, to search out Thy depth, but I desire in some measure to understand Thy truth, which my heart believeth and loveth. Nor do I seek to 11understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand. For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand.2020   Is. vii. 9, rendered in our version, If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established; and in the Vulgate, Si non credideritis, non permanebitis; but here, as often by mediæval writers, quoted from St Augustine in the form Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis, If ye will not believe, ye shall not understand, according to the Septuagint version of the words.

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