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CHAPTER XVII.

HOW SERVILE FEAR REMAINS TOGETHER WITH HOLY LOVE.

Although, however, the lady we spoke of will not leave her needle in her work after it is finished, yet as long as there remains anything to be done in it, if any other occurrence make her stop, she will leave the needle sticking in the pink, the rose, or the pansy which she is embroidering, so as to have it more ready when she returns to her work. In like manner, Theotimus, while the Divine Providence is about the embroidery of virtues and the work of divine love in our souls, there is always a mercenary or servile fear left in them, till charity, being come to perfection, takes out this pricking needle and puts it back, as it were, in its cushion. In this life, therefore, wherein our charity will never come to such perfection that it shall be exempt from peril, fear is always necessary, and even while we thrill with joy by love, we must tremble with apprehension by fear. Serve ye the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto him with trembling.555555Ps. i. 11.

Our great father Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to choose a wife for his only son Isaac: Eliezer went, and by Divine inspiration made choice of the fair and chaste Rebecca, whom he took back with him. But this wise maiden quitted Eliezer as soon as she met Isaac; and being introduced into the tent of Sara, she remained his spouse for ever. God often sends servile fear as another Eliezer (and Eliezer is interpreted, help of God) to arrange the marriage between the soul and sacred love. But though the soul comes under the conduct of fear, she does not mean to espouse it; for, in fact, as soon as the soul meets with love, she unites herself unto it, and quits fear.

Yet as Eliezer after his return remained in the house, in the service of Isaac and Rebecca, so fear, having led us to holy love, remains still with us, to serve both love and the loving soul as occasion requires. For though the soul be just, yet is she oft set upon by extreme temptations, and love, all courageous 515as it is, has enough to do to sustain the assault, by reason of the disadvantage of the place wherein it is, which is the heart of man, changeable and subject to the mutiny of the passions. In that case, therefore, Theotimus, love employs fear in the fight, making use of it to repulse the enemy. The brave prince Jonathan, when going to attack the Philistines amidst the obscurity of the night, would have his armour-bearer with him, and those that he killed not, his armour-bearer killed5565561 Kings xiv. 1. So love wishing to carry out some bold enterprise, uses not only its own motives, but also the motives of servile and mercenary fear; and the temptations which love does not strike down are overthrown by the fear of being damned. If a temptation to pride, avarice, or some voluptuous pleasure attack me:—Ah! I will say, shall it be possible, that for things so vain, my soul would quit the grace of her well-beloved? But if this will not serve, love will call fear to its aid:—Ah! dost thou not see, miserable heart, that if thou give way to this temptation the horrible flames of hell await thee, and that thou losest the eternal inheritance of heaven? A man makes use of anything in extreme necessities, as the same Jonathan did, when passing the sharp rocks, which were between him and the Philistines, he not only used his feet, but went scrambling and creeping on hands and feet as best he could.

Even therefore as mariners who sail out with a fair wind and in fair weather, do yet never forget the cables, anchors, and the other things required in time of hazard and tempest, in like manner the servant of God, though he enjoy the sweet repose of holy love, must never be unprovided with the fear of God's judgments, to help himself therewith amidst the storms and assaults of temptation. Or, again, as the skin of an apple, which in itself is of small esteem, is yet very useful for preserving the apple which it covers; so servile fear, which of its own nature is of little worth in comparison with love, is yet very serviceable for preserving it during the dangers of this mortal life. And as he who gives a pomegranate gives it indeed for the seeds and juice which are contained in its but 516yet gives also the skin as a necessary accompaniment of it; so, although the Holy Ghost amongst his sacred gifts bestows a loving fear upon the souls which are his, that they may fear God in piety as their father and their spouse, yet does he not fail to add mercenary and servile fear, as an accessary to the other which is more excellent. So Joseph sending to his father many loads of all the riches of Egypt, gave him not only the treasures, but withal the asses that bore them.

Now although mercenary and servile fear is very necessary for this mortal life, yet is it unworthy to have any part in the immortal, where there will be an assurance void of fear, a peace without apprehension, a repose free from anxiety. Yet the services which this servile and mercenary fear shall have done to love will be there rewarded; so that though these fears, as another Moses and another Aaron, enter not into the land of promise, yet shall their posterity and works enter: and as to the fear of children and the fear of spouses, they will hold their rank and place, not to cause any distrust or trouble in the soul, but to make her admire and reverence with submission the incomprehensible Majesty of this omnipotent Father, and this Spouse of Glory. The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls. . . . The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever.557557Ps. xviii. 8, 10.

 


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