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CHAPTER III.

HOW, WHILE THE WHOLE HEART IS EMPLOYED IN SACRED LOVE, YET ONE MAY LOVE GOD IN VARIOUS WAYS, AND ALSO MANY OTHER THINGS TOGETHER WITH HIM.

He who says all, excludes nothing, and yet a man may be wholly God's, wholly his father's, wholly his mother's, wholly his prince's, wholly his commonwealth's, his children's, his friends' so that being all to each, yet he is all to all. This so happens because the duty by which a man is all to one, is not contrary to the duty by which a man is all to another.

415

Man gives himself wholly by love, and gives himself as much as he loves. He is therefore in a sovereign manner given to God when he loves the divine goodness sovereignly. And having once made this donation of himself, he is to love nothing that can remove his heart from God. Now never does any love take our hearts from God, save that which is contrary unto him.

Sara is not offended when she sees Ismael about her dear Isaac, so long as his play does not go on to striking and hurting the boy: and the divine goodness is not offended by seeing in us other loves besides his, so long as we preserve for him the reverence and submission due to him.

In heaven, Theotimus, God will truly give himself to us wholly, and not in part, since he is a whole that has no parts, yet will he give himself in different ways, and in as many different ways as there are blessed souls. This will so happen because, while giving himself all to all and all to each, he will never give himself wholly either to one in particular or to all in general. Now we shall give ourselves to him, according to the measure in which he gives himself to us: for we shall see him indeed face to face, as he is in his beauty; and shall love him heart to heart, as he is in his goodness: yet all will not see him with an equal clearness, nor love him with an equal sweetness: but every one will see and love him, according to the particular measure of glory which the divine Providence has prepared for him. We shall all equally have the fulness of divine love, but still the fulnesses will be unequal in perfection. The honey of Narbonne is sweet, and so also is that of Paris: both of them are full of sweetness, but the one of a better, more delicate and richer sweetness: and though both of them are entirely sweet, yet neither contains all sweetness. I do homage to my sovereign prince, as also to my immediate superior: I engage then to each of them all my fealty, and I do not engage it to either of them totally: for in that which I give to the sovereign, I do not exclude that which I pay to the subaltern, and in that of the subaltern, I do not include that of the sovereign. Wherefore it is no wonder that, if in heaven (where these words, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, shall be so excellently 416practised) there are great differences in love, in this mortal life there should be many.

Theotimus, among those who love God with all their heart not only do some love him more and some less, but even one and the same person often exceeds himself in this sovereign exercise of loving God above all things. Apelles did better one time than another, sometimes he surpassed himself; for though commonly he gave all his art and all his attention to painting Alexander the Great, yet he did not always give them so totally and entirely but that there remained other efforts to make, in which he used not a greater art or a greater affection but used them more actively and perfectly. He always employed all his genius to paint these pictures of Alexander well, because he used it without reserve, yet sometimes he employed it more effectively and happily. Who knows not that in this holy love progress is possible, and that the end of the Saints is crowned with a more perfect love than their beginning?

Now according to the expression of the holy Scriptures, to do a thing with all one's heart means simply to do it with good heart and without reserve. O Lord, says David, I have sought thee with my whole heart. I have cried with all my heart, O Lord, hear me,443443Ps. cxviii. and the holy Word testifies that he had truly followed God with his whole heart; and yet, notwithstanding this, it affirms also of Ezechias, that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah,444444Kings xviii. 5. neither before nor after him, that he was united to God and strayed not from him. Afterwards treating of Josias it says that there was no king before him like unto him that returned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength, according to all the law of Moses, neither after him did there arise any like him.445445Kings xxiii. 25. Mark then, I pray you, Theotimus, mark how David, Ezechias and Josias, loved God with all their hearts, and yet not all three equally, because no one of them had his like in this love, as the sacred text says. All three loved him, each of them with all his heart; yet, not one nor all together loved him totally, but each one in his particular way; so that as all the three were alike in 417this, that they gave each his whole heart, so were they unlike in their manner of giving it; yea, there is no doubt that David, to take him by himself, was far different from himself in this love; and that with his second heart which God created pure and clean in him, and with his right spirit which God renewed in his bowels by most holy penitence, he sang the canticle of his love far more melodiously than ever he had done with his first heart and his first spirit.

All true lovers are equal in this, that all give all their heart to God, and with all their strength, but they are unequal in this, that they give it diversely and in different manners, whence some give all their heart, with all their strength, less perfectly than others. This one gives it all by martyrdom, this, all by virginity, this, all by poverty, this, all by action, this, all by contemplation, this, all by the pastoral office; and whilst all give it all by the observance of the commandments, yet some give it with less perfection than others.

Yea, even Jacob who was called in Daniel the holy one of God,446446Dan. iii. 35. and whom God declares himself to have loved, protests that he had served Laban with all his strength, and why did he serve Laban, but to obtain Rachel, whom he loved with all his strength? He serves Laban with all his strength, he serves God with all his strength; he loves Rachel with all his strength, he loves God with all his strength: yet withal he loves not Rachel as God, nor God as Rachel; he loves God as his God, above all things and more than himself; he loves Rachel as his wife, above all other women, and as himself. He loves God with an absolutely and sovereignly supreme love; and Rachel with a supreme nuptial love. Nor is the one love contrary to the other, since that of Rachel does not violate the privileges and sovereign prerogatives of the love of God.

So that our love to God, Theotimus, takes its worth from the eminence and excellence of the motive for which, and according to which, we love him; in that we love him for his sovereign infinite goodness, as God, and because he is God. Now one drop of this love is worth more, has more power, and deserves 418more esteem, than all the other loves that can ever enter into the hearts of men or amongst the choirs of angels. For while this love lives, it reigns and bears the sceptre over all the affections, making God to be preferred in its will before all things, indifferently, universally, and without reserve.

 


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