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CHAPTER VII.

HOW THE DESIRE TO EXALT AND MAGNIFY GOD SEPARATES US FROM INFERIOR PLEASURES, AND MAKES US ATTENTIVE TO THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS.

The love of benevolence, then, causes in us a desire, more and more to increase the complacency which we take in the divine goodness; and to effect this increase, the soul sedulously deprives herself of all other pleasure that she may give herself more entirely to taking pleasure in God. A religious man asked the devout Brother Giles, one of the first and most holy companions of S. Francis, in what work he could be most agreeable to God: he answered by singing: "One to one," which he afterwards explained, saying, "Give ever your whole soul which is one, to God who is one." The soul pours itself out by pleasures, and the diversity of these dissipates and hinders her from being able to apply herself attentively to the pleasure which she ought to take in God. The glorious S. Paul reputed all things as dung and dirt in comparison of his Saviour. And the sacred spouse is wholly for her well-beloved only: My beloved to me and I to him. And if the soul that stands thus holily affected meet with creatures never so excellent, yea though they were angels, she makes no delay with them, save only what she needs for the help and furtherance of her desire. Tell me then, says she to them, tell me, I conjure you, have you seen him whom my soul loveth?244244Cant. iii. 3. The glorious lover Magdalen met the angels at the sepulchre, who doubtless spoke to her angelically, that is most sweetly, but she, on the contrary, wholly ruthful, could take no content, either in their sweet words or in the glory of their garments, or in the all-heavenly grace of their deportment, or in the most delightsome beauty of their faces, but all steeped in tears: They have taken away my Lord, says she, and I know not where they have laid him:245245John xx. 13. and, turning about, she saw her sweet Saviour, but in form of a gardener, with whom her heart cannot be satisfied, for full of the love of the death of her Master, 216flowers she will have none, nor consequently gardeners; she has within her heart the cross, the nails, the thorns; she seeks her crucified. Ah! my dear sir gardener, says she, if perchance you have planted my well-beloved deceased Lord amongst your flowers, as a crushed and withered lily, tell me quickly and I, I will carry him away. But no sooner had he called her by her name, than, wholly melting with delight, O God! says she, my Master! Nothing can content her, nor angels' company delight her, no nor yet her very Saviour's, unless he appear in that form in which he had stolen her heart. The kings could not content themselves either in the beauty of Jerusalem or in the magnificence of Herod's court, or in the brightness of the star; their heart seeks the little cave and the little child of Bethlehem. The mother of fair loving and the spouse of most holy love cannot stay among their kinsfolks and acquaintance; they still walk on in grief, seeking after the only object of their delight. The desire to increase holy complacency cuts off all other pleasure, to the end that it may more actively practise that to which the divine benevolence excites it.

Now still more to magnify this sovereign well-beloved, the soul goes ever seeking his face: that is, with an attention more and more careful and fervent, she keeps noting every particular of the beauties and perfections which are in him, making a continual progress in this sweet searching out of motives, which may perpetually urge her to a greater complacency in the incomprehensible goodness which she loves. So David in many of his heavenly psalms recites one by one the works and wonders of God, and the sacred spouse ranges, in her divine canticles, as a well-ranked army, all the perfections of her beloved, one after another, to provoke her soul to most holy complacency, thereby more highly to magnify his excellence, and also to subject all other spirits to the love of her beloved so dear.

 


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