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VERSE 1. Who will give thee to me for a brother, sucking the breasts of my mother! that I might find thee without and kiss thee, and yet not be despised?
The Spouse demands a further sinking into deeper union. Though the transformed soul is in a permanent and enduring union,
she is nevertheless like a spouse engaged about the concerns of the household, who must go hither and thither, though she
does not cease to be the spouse. But beyond this, there are moments when the heavenly Bridegroom is pleased to embrace and
caress His Bride more closely. This is what she now demands. Who will give me, she cries, My Spouse, who is also my brother, for we sucked the breasts of my mother, that is, the Divine Essence?4949
John of the Cross gives another equally true and very beautiful turn to this passage (Canticles between the Bridegroom and His Bride. Stanza 28).
When, she says, sucking the breasts of my mother, she means sucking out, drying up and extinguishing in me the appetites and passions, which are the breasts and milk of our mother Eve, in the flesh. These are a hindrance in this state. Then having found Thee alone without, that is, outside of everything and of myself, in solitude and nakedness of spirit, and, my appetites being destroyed, I may there kiss Thee in the stillness, and thus my nature, purified of every temporal, natural or spiritual imperfection, may be made one with Thine, without the intervention of any other means than love. This is only accomplished in the spiritual marriage, and is the kiss which God receives from the soul. Here no one despises nor dares to assault it, so that it is not annoyed either by the devil, the flesh, the world, or its appetites, but that word is fulfilled in it, The winter is past, the rains are over and gone, and the flowers have appeared upon the earth.— Canticle ii. 11. Since He has hidden me with Himself in 118God, I draw with Him without ceasing at the breasts of Divinity. But, in addition to this inconceivable advantage, I would find Him alone without, that I might enjoy his tender caresses whereby I am more deeply sunk in Him. She also asks another grace which is not granted until late; that the outward may be changed and transformed like the inward; for the interior is changed a long time in advance of the exterior, so that for a considerable time certain slight weaknesses remain, which serve to conceal the abundance of grace, and do not displease the Bridegroom. They are, nevertheless, a sort of weakness that excites the contempt of the creature. Let Him so transform my exterior then, cries the Spouse, that I shall not be despised! What I ask is for the glory of God, and not for my own gain, for I am not able to regard myself any longer.
2. I will lay hold upon thee and bring thee into my mother’s house; there thou shalt teach me, and I will give thee a bowl of spiced wine, and new wine of my pomegranates.
The soul finding herself thus intimately connected with God, experiences two things. One is, that her Bridegroom is in her as she is in Him, just as an empty vase thrown into the ocean is full of the same water by which it is surrounded, and contains without comprehending that within which it is contained, so that the soul who is borne by her Bridegroom bears Him also. And whither does she bear Him? thither only where she can go: she bears Him into the bosom of her Father, which is her 119 mother’s house, that is the place of her birth. The other thing which she experiences is, that there He instructs her, bestowing upon her the knowledge of His secret things, which is only given to the favorite Spouse, to whom He teaches every truth that is necessary for her to know, or with which, from the excess of His love, He desires that she should be acquainted. O wonderful knowledge! communicated with but little stir, in the ineffable but ever eloquent silence of the Divinity. The Word unceasingly speaks to the soul, and instructs her in such way as to shame the most enlightened teachers.
But in proportion as He teaches the soul, insinuating Himself by degrees more and more into her, and continually enlarging her passive capacity, the faithful soul causes Him to drink of her spiced wine and of the new wine of her pomegranates. This is the fruit of charity in her, for she perpetually offers up to Him everything which He confers upon her, in the greatest purity. There is a constant flux and reflux of intercommunications; the Bridegroom bestowing upon the Bride and the Bride rendering to the Bridegroom. O incomparable Spouse! shall I say it? Thou art partaker of the intercourse of the Holy Trinity, for thou receivest without ceasing and renderest as incessantly what thou receivest.
3. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
As we have before said, God has two arms with which He holds and embraces the Spouse; one is His omnipotent protection, by which He supports her; the other is the perfect love with which He embraces her, and this holy embrace is no other than the enjoyment of Himself and essential union. When the Spouse here declares that His hand should embrace her, she is not speaking of something that has not taken place, but is yet to come to pass, since she received this divine embrace with the nuptial kiss; but she speaks of it as always present and always to come, since it shall be continued throughout eternity.120
4. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until she please.
The Bridegroom charges three separate times that His love be not awaked from her sleep, because there are three different sorts of interior slumber. The first is in the union of the powers, in which she enjoys a sleep of a powerful ecstasy, which extends much over the senses. He then begs that she may not be awakened, because this sleep is then of use to detach the senses from the objects which they loved impurely, and thus to purify them.
The second is the sleep of mystical death, where she expires in the arms of love.5050The mystics tell us that there are three characteristics of the dead; they are shrouded, buried, and then trodden under foot, until the day of judgment. It is a striking description of the insensibility of the dead; and we may be confident that we are wholly dead to nature if we discover by this test that these requisites exist perfectly in us, and are truly fulfilled in every point. When men shall do with us, whether by the instigation of the Devil or by the permission of God, whatsoever they will, without its causing in us the slightest thought as to its bearing upon ourselves, and this in time as well as in eternity, we may conclude ourselves to be dead as to them. Let us see to it, then, whether we be dead or only dying, for the difference between these two states is immeasurable. It is true enough that they who suffer constant agonies are very near to death, but, for all that, they may never wholly die; and it seems to me that it is one of the rarest things in the world to find a man in these latter times who in so entirely dead that he may be likened to a corpse in the particulars I have cited above.—John of St. Sampson, Spirit of Carmel, ch. 12.How rare it is among spiritual persons to find one who is really stripped of everything! Where shall we find the poor in spirit, detached from the love of every creature? We must go to the end of the world before we can find this precious pearl.—Imitation of Jesus Christ. Book ii., ch. 11. Neither is He willing she should be disturbed in this, until she awakes of herself by the all-powerful voice of God, summoning her from the tomb of death to the spiritual resurrection.
The third is the slumber of repose in God, permanent, lasting; an ecstatic rest, but sweet, calm and enduring, occasioning no alteration in the senses, the soul having passed into God by her happy deliverance from self. This is a rest from which she shall never be disturbed. He would not that His beloved should 121be interfered with in any of their slumbers, but that they should be permitted to be at rest, for they sleep in His arms.
The first repose is a promised rest, of which pledges are given; the second is a rest bestowed, and the third is a rest confirmed, whereof there shall be no further interruption. Not that it could not be broken, for she is still at liberty, and the Bridegroom would not say until she please, if she had no longer the power to will it; but after a union of this kind, except we suppose the extremist ingratitude and infidelity, she would never do so.
In the meanwhile the Divine Bridegroom, while He eulogizes His Spouse and permits others to praise her in his presence, desires at the same time continually to instruct her. In order to show her that nothing but a vain self-complacency and contempt of others can give rise to so deplorable a result as a departure from Him, He, in the next verse, sets before her the baseness of her origin and the vileness of her nature, so that she may never lose sight of her humility.
5. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, replete with delights, leaning upon the arm of her beloved? I raised thee up under the appletree; there thy mother was corrupted, there was she deflowered that brought thee forth.
The soul has come up gradually from the desert since she abandoned it; not only the desert of pure faith, but of self. She runs over with delights because she is full, and like a vessel filled to the brim with water from the spring, runs over on all sides for the supply of those about her. She is no longer self-supported, and hence she no longer fears the abundance of these delights. She does not fear being overthrown, for her Well-beloved, who sheds them into her bosom, carries them Himself with her, and suffers her to walk, leaning upon Him.
O precious gain, the loss of all created stays! God Himself is received for our sole support, in exchange for them!
I raised thee up under the appletree. I drew thee from the sleep of mystical death, raising thee from self, from thine own 122corruption and from the spoiled and corrupted nature which thy mother gave thee by her sin. For all the operations of God in the soul tend towards two things: one, to deliver it from its actual wickedness and the malignity of its depraved nature, the other, to restore it to God as fair and as pure as it was before Eve fell under the power of the seducer. In her innocence, Eve belonged to God without any self-appropriation; but she suffered herself to be violated, withdrawing herself from God to commit prostitution with the Devil, and we have all partaken of the evil consequences of that act. We come into the world like illegitimate children, who have no idea of their real Father, and who cannot be recognized as belonging to God until they are legitimated by baptism. But even then they have still the traces of that wretched sin; they retain a malign quality opposed to God, until He, by long, powerful and repeated operations removes it, drawing the soul out of self, depriving it of all its infection, re-endowing it with the grace of innocence, and causing it to be lost in Him. He thus raises it from under the appletree, and innocent being, from the very place where its mother, human nature, had been corrupted.
6. Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as hell; the lights thereof are lights of fire and flames.
The Bridegroom invites the Spouse to set Him as a seal upon her heart; for as He is the source of her life, He ought also to be its seal. It is He who hinders her from ever leaving so blessed a state; she is then the fountain sealed, which none but Himself can either open or shut. He desires also that she should set Him as a seal upon her exterior and her works, so that everything may be reserved for Him and nothing may move without His directions. She is then a garden enclosed for her Bridegroom, which He shuts and no man opens, and opens and no man shuts (Rev. iii. 7). For love, says the Bridegroom, is as strong as death, to do what he pleases in His beloved. He is strong as death, inasmuch as He causes her to die 123to everything that she may live to Him only. But jealousy is cruel as hell, and therefore He encloses His Spouse so carefully. So strong is His desire for her utter devotion to Himself, that if we conceive her guilty of the infidelity of withdrawing her abandonment, a supposition as melancholy as it is difficult, she would be instantaneously repulsed from Him into hell by the excess of His indignation. The lamps are lamps of fire which enlighten while they burn, and consume while giving light.—O Lamb, who openest and shuttest the seven seals! (Rev. v. 5) so seal up Thy Beloved that she may no more go forth except by and for Thee; for she is Thine by an everlasting marriage.
7. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it; if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
If the manifold waters of afflictions, contradictions, miseries, poverty and distresses have not been able to quench the love of this soul, it is not to be supposed that the floods of abandonment to the Divine Providence could do it, for it is they that preserve it. If a man has had courage enough to abandon all the substances of his house and himself also that he may possess this pure love, which can only be acquired by the loss of all the rest, it is not to be believed that, after so generous an effort to acquire a good which he values above all other things, and which in truth is worth more than the whole universe, he will afterwards so underrate it as to return to what he had abandoned. It is not possible; God by this shows us the assuredness and persistence of this state, and how difficult it is for a soul who has reached it, ever to leave it again.
8. We have a little sister and she hath no breasts; what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
The Spouse is so happy with her Bridegroom that they have all things in common between them. She speaks with Him of the affairs of other souls, and converses familiarly with Him as 124though of their household matters. What shall we do, she says, for this soul, still little and tender, who is our sister by reason of her purity and simplicity; (she refers to all like her in the person of one). What shall be done for her in the day when I must begin to communicate with her? For as yet she hath no breasts, nor sufficient inclination for the divine marriage; she is not in a condition to assist others; how shall we do with her? This is the way in which the Spouse should consult with Jesus on behalf of souls.
9. If she be a wall, we will build upon it bulwarks of silver; if she be a door we will frame it with boards of cedar.
The Bridegroom replies: if she be already a wall of confidence through a well established passivity, we will begin to build upon her bulwarks of silver, for her defence against the enemies of this advanced state, which are human reason, reflection and the subtlety of self-love. But, if she is as yet but a door, just beginning to emerge from multiplicity to enter into simplicity, we will frame her with graces and virtues which shall have the beauty and solidity of cedar.
10. I am a wall, and my breasts like towers; then was I in his eyes as one that found favor.
The Spouse, in ecstasies at the instruction and promise which she has just received from the mouth of the Bridegroom, instances herself as an example of the success of this plan. I am myself, she cries, a wall of such strength and my breasts are like a tower, which may serve as an asylum and defence to a multitude of souls and which keeps me also in assurance, since I was in His eyes as one that had found peace in God that shall never be lost.
11. The Peaceable One hath a vineyard, which hath people in it; he delivered it to keepers, each one brings for the fruit thereof a thousand pieces of silver.
It seems, O my God, as though Thou hadst taken pleasure in forestalling all the doubts and objections that could possibly 125arise. It might be supposed that this soul, no longer possessing herself and no more performing any works, no longer had any merit. Thou, O God, art this God of Peace, that has a vineyard whereof the principal care is entrusted to Thy Spouse, and the Spouse herself is the vineyard. She is placed in a spot which is called people; for Thou hast rendered Thy Spouse fruitful and mother of an innumerable people. Thou hast commissioned Thine angels as the keepers, and it brings in a great profit both to Thee, O God, and to the soul herself. Thou givest her the privilege of using and partaking of the fruits; she has the advantage of being scarcely any longer in danger of losing or of displeasing Thee, and, at the same time, of not ceasing to profit and to merit ever.
12. My vineyard is before me; Thou, O Peaceable, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof, two hundred.
The chaste Spouse no longer declares as she formerly did: I have not kept my vineyard. It was then a vineyard, the charge of which men desired to impose upon her contrary to the will of God; but, as to this one, committed to her as it is by her Bridegroom, ah! what care does she not expend upon it! All things which are in the order of God, agree perfectly well with all kinds of employments, whether interior or exterior, and everything is done with wonderful facility, as soon as the person who is charged with it is brought into perfect liberty. The faithfulness of the Spouse is worthy of all admiration: for, though she watches with so much care the cultivation and care of the vineyard, she nevertheless leaves the whole revenue to the Bridegroom, giving the keepers an equitable salary, but retaining nothing for herself. Perfect love does not know what it is to consider self-interest.
13. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice; cause me to hear it.
The Bridegroom invites his Spouse to speak in his behalf, and to enter actually upon the Apostolic life by teaching others. 126 Thou, O my Spouse, He says, that dwellest in the gardens, in the ever-flowered parterres of the Divinity, where thou hast not ceased to dwell since the winter has passed, thou hast been in gardens as beautiful for the variety of the flowers with which it was adorned as for the excellence of the fruits which abound there; thou, O My Spouse, whom I keep constantly with Me in these gardens of delights, leave, for a moment, the rest full of sweetness and silence which thou there enjoyest, and cause Me to hear thy voice, for thy companions hearken.
In these words the Bridegroom requires of His Spouse two things equally admirable. One, that she may depart from the profound silence in which she has hitherto remained. During the whole time of faith and her loss in God, she remained in great silence, because it was necessary to reduce her entire being into the simplicity and unity of God alone; now that she is entirely confirmed in this oneness, He desires to bestow upon her, as a fruit of her completed state, the admirable harmony of multiplicity and unity, wherein the multiplicity does not interfere with the unity nor the unity with the multiplicity. He desires that she should add to the silent word of the centre, which is the state of unity, the outward praise of the mouth. This is a faint image of what will take place in glory, where, after the soul has been absorbed for ages in an ineffable silence ever eloquent of the Divinity, she will receive her glorified body, which will give sensible praise to the Lord. Thus, after the resurrection, the body will have its own language of praise, which will add to the happiness and not diminish the peace of the soul.
In this life even, when the soul is perfected in a oneness which can no more be interrupted by external actions, the mouth of the body is endued with a praise appropriate to it, and the beautiful harmony between the silent word of the soul and the sensible speech of the body constitutes the perfection of praise. The soul and the body render praise conformable to what they are; the praise of the mouth alone is not praise; thus God says by the Prophet, This people honoreth me with their lips but have removed their heart far from me (Is. xxix. 13). The praise which comes purely from the depths of the soul, being dumb, 127and so much the more so as it is more perfect, is not an absolutely complete adoration; for man being composed of soul and body, both should join in giving praise. The perfection of adoration then, is, that the body shall give forth its praise of such sort that far from interrupting the deep and ever eloquent silence of the centre of the soul, it rather increases it, and that the silence of the soul shall be no hindrance to the utterance of the body, which knows how to render appropriate worship to its God. Thus perfect adoration, both in time and eternity, has reference to this resurrection of the exterior word in unity with the interior.
But the soul, accustomed to deep and ineffable silence, is fearful of interrupting it, and thus has some difficulty in resuming the exterior word. Wherefore the Bridegroom, to rid her of this imperfection, is obliged to invite her to let her voice be heard. Cause me to hear thy voice, He exclaims. It is time to speak; to speak to Me with thy bodily voice, that thou mayest praise Me as thou hast learned to do during thy admirable silence. There is besides an interior and wholly unspeakable word, God endowing the soul with liberty of conversing with Him at times according to His good pleasure, with great facility.
He invites her also to talk to souls about interior things, and to teach them what to do that they may be agreeable to Him. It is one of the principal functions of the Spouse, to instruct and teach the interior life to the beloved of the Bridegroom, who have not as near access to Him as the Shulamite.
This, then, is what the Bridegroom desires of the Spouse; that she address Him both with heart and voice, and that she speak to others for Him.
14. Flee away, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
The soul having now no other interest than that of the Bridegroom, either for self or for any other creature, and who can will nothing except His glory, seeing something which dishonors Him, cries out, Flee away, my Beloved! Leave these 128places which offer Thee no perfume. Come to those souls who are as mountains of spices, raised above the fetid vapors corrupted by the wickedness of this world. These mountains owe their sweetness to the odor of the exquisite virtues which Thou hast planted in them, and it is only in such souls that Thou wilt find true repose.
The soul, arrived at this point, enters so fully into the interests of the Divine Righteousness, both in respect to herself and others, that she can desire no other fate for herself, nor for any other, than that which the Divine Righteousness would allot, both for time and eternity. She has at the same time a more perfect charity than ever before for the neighbor, serving him now for God only, and in the will of God. But though she is always ready to be cursed for her brethren, like St. Paul (Rom. ix. 3), and is incessantly laboring for no other end than their salvation, she is nevertheless indifferent as to her success. She would not be afflicted either at her own damnation or at that of any other creature, regarded from the point of view of God’s Righteousness. What she cannot bear is, that God should be dishonored, because He has set love in order within her; since then she has entered into the purest affections of perfect charity.
We must not suppose that the soul in the state of this Spouse is constantly eager for the sensible presence and sweet and
continual enjoyment of the Bridegroom. By no means. She was once in that state of perfection in which she ardently longed
for that delightful possession; it was necessary then to attract her on in her progress towards Him; but now it would be an imperfection which she must not entertain; her Well-beloved,
in truth, possessing her perfectly in her essence and powers, in a very real and unchangeable manner, above all time and place
and means. She has no more to do with sighing for seasons of distinct and conscious enjoyment; and, besides, she is in such
an absolute state of abandonment as to everything, that she could not fasten a desire of any kind upon anything whatever,
not even upon the delights of Paradise.5151
It seems to me very easy to understand that one who places his happiness in God alone, can no longer desire his own felicity.
None but he who dwells in God by love can place all his happiness in God alone; and when the soul is thus disposed, it desires
no other felicity than that of God in Himself and for Himself; and thus no enjoyment with an end of self, not even the glory
of heaven, can be a source of satisfaction, nor consequently an object of desire. Desire is ever the child of Love; if my
love be in God alone, and for Himself alone, without respect to self, my desires will be in Him alone, and equally pure of
This desire in God no longer presents the vivacity of the former desire of love, resulting from an absence of the thing desired; it has the quietness and repose of a desire completely filled and satisfied. For God being infinitely perfect and forever blessed, and the happiness of the soul consisting in this perfection and blessedness of God, its desires cannot manifest the restlessness of unsatisfied wants, but must present the repose of one who has no ungratified wish. This, then, is the foundation of the soul’s state, and this is the reason that it does not perceive in itself all the good desires of those who still love God from a regard to self, nor of those who love and seek self in the affection which they manifest for God.
It must not be supposed, however, that God cannot implant such dispositions and desires in the soul as may seem good to Himself. Thus He sometimes causes it to feel the weight of its tabernacle and to exclaim: I am in a strait betwixt two, desiring to depart and to be with Christ which is far better (Phil. i. 23); and at another, under the constraining influence of love for the brethren, and of an absolute freedom from every selfish consideration, it will cry out: I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren (Rom. ix. 3). These apparently contradictory feelings are perfectly reconciled in the depths of the souls which never change, so that, though the essential happiness of the soul consists in the blessedness of God in and for Himself, in which all the perceptible desires of the soul are merged and swallowed up, still God excites in it from time to time such desires as seem to Him best. But they are not like those of the former days, which had their seat in the selfish will, but they are stirred up and excited by God Himself, without any thought on the part of the soul. He holds it so immovably turned towards Himself, that He is the author of its desires as well as of all its other acts, without any aid from the soul, and even without its knowledge, unless He reveals them to it directly or by means of the words which it is led to address to others. A desire having reference to self is the necessary result of a will still unpurified from self; but as the whole design of God is to destroy the will of the creature by making it one with His own, so He must at the same time necessarily absorb and destroy every self-originated desire.
There is still another reason why God takes away and implants in the soul, at His own good pleasure, the desires of which it is conscious. Designing to confer some blessing upon it, He first infuses a desire for it that He my hear and grant its request. Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble, Thou wilt prepare their heart. Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear. (Psalm x. 17). He prepares the heart and grants the request. Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalm xxxvii. 4). The Spirit making intercession in and for it, its desires and requests are those of the Holy Ghost (Rom. viii. 26). and Jesus Christ dwelling in it declares, I know that Thou hearest me always (John xi. 42). An intense desire for death in such a soul would be almost certainly followed by death. The desire of humiliation is far below a desire to enjoy God, yet since it has pleased God to humble me greatly by means of slander, He has infused into me a great thirst for humiliations. I call it a thirst to distinguish it from desire.
At other times He inclines the soul to pray for particular things when it is perfectly conscious that the prayer is not originated in its own will but in the will of God; for it is not free to pray for whom it pleases, nor when it pleases, but when it prays its requests are always heard and granted. This produces no self-gratulation in it; the soul is perfectly aware that it is He who possesses it, that prays and grants His own petitions. All this seems to me infinitely clearer in my own mind than I can make it in words—Justifications, i. 180. And this state is even 129the evidence that she is possessed at the centre. This is why she here testifies to the Bridegroom that she is satisfied He should go where He pleases, visit other hearts, gain them, purify them, and perfect them in all the mountains and hills of the church; that He should take His delight in souls of spices, embalmed in grace and virtue; but, for herself, she has nothing to ask or desire of Him except He himself be the author of the emotion. Does she therefore despise or reject the divine visits 130and consolators? not at all; she has too much respect and submission for the work of God to do that; but such graces are no longer adapted to her state, annihilated as she is, and established in the enjoyment of the centre; having lost all her will in the will of God, she can no longer will anything. This is beautifully expressed in the verse cited.
So great is the indifference of this soul, that she cannot lean either to the side of enjoyment or deprivation.5252
To bless God and to thank Him for every event of His Providence is, in truth, a great attainment in holiness. But while we
leave to God alone the care of willing and doing in us, by us and through us, just what He pleases, without any solicitude
as to what is going on, though we perceive it distinctly—if we can at the same time occupy our hearts and fix our attention
upon the Divine gentleness and goodness, adoring it with thanksgiving, not in its effects or in the events it ordains, but
in itself and in its own infinite excellence, we shall be engaged in a far higher and more blessed employment.
The daughter of a skilful physician lay in a continued fever, and knowing the deep attachment and singular love her father had for her, she said to one of her young friends: I feel a great deal of pain, but the thought of a remedy for it never crosses my mind, for I know nothing of their curative virtues. I might desire one thing when quite another was what I required. Do I not do well, then, to leave the whole care of that matter to my father, who does know, and who can and will do for me whatever is necessary for my recovery? I should do wrong to think about it, for he will think for me; I should do wrong to wish for anything, for he will see that I have everything that is good for me. I will wait, and let him will whatever he thinks best; my only occupation shall be to look to him, to testify my filial love to him, and to manifest my implicit confidence in his love. Her father asked her if she did not desire to be bled, in order to recover? I am thine, my father, she replied; I know not what I ought to desire in order to get well; thou must both will and do for me of thy good pleasure; as for me, it is enough for me to love and honor thee with all my heart as I do. Behold now her arm bandaged, and her father opening the vein with his lancet; but while he cuts and the blood flows, his daughter never turns her eyes from her fathers face to behold her bleeding arm, but keeps them fixed upon his countenance with a look of affection, saying nothing, except an occasional expression, my father loves me, and l am wholly his. When all was over she did not thank him, but only repeated the same expressions of her attachment and filial confidence—St. Francis of Sales, on the Love of God. Book ix., ch. 15. Death and life 131are equally acceptable; and although her love is incomparably stronger than it ever was before, she cannot, nevertheless, desire Paradise, because she remains in the hands of her Bridegroom, as among the things that are not. Such is the effect of the deepest annihilation.
Although she is in this state more than ever fitted for the help of souls, and serves with extreme care those sent to her
by the Bridegroom, she cannot have a desire to assist others, nor can she even do it without the special direction of Providence.5353
The greater the purity and simplicity of a
substance, the more extended is its usefulness. Nothing can be purer or simpler
than water, and what a vast range of uses does it present on account of its
fluidity! Having no sensible qualities of its own, it is ready to receive all
sorts of impressions with facility; tasteless in it self, it may be infinitely
varied in flavor; colorless, it becomes susceptible of every color in turn. Thus
it is with the Spirit and Will in a state of simplicity and purity; having
neither flavor nor color derived from self, God is the author of whatever of
either they may manifest, just as the water owes its scent or its hue to the will of Him who prepared it. It is not correct,
however, to say that the water, however flavored or however colored, is in itself possessed of these qualities, inasmuch as
they are but accidental and impressed upon it from without, and it is its very quality of freedom from taste and color that
enables it to exhibit every variety of both. I feel this to be the state of my soul; it can no longer distinguish or take
knowledge of anything in itself or as belonging to itself, and this constitutes its purity; but it receives everything bestowed
upon it, just as it comes, without holding any part of it as for itself.
Should you ask of this water, what are its properties? it would reply, that its property is to have none at all. But, you may reply, I have seen you of a red color; I dare say, it would answer, but I am not, for all that, red. I am not so by nature, nor do I reflect upon what is done with me either in imparting to me flavor or color.
It is the same with form as with color. As water is fluid and yielding, it instantly and exactly assumes the form of the vessel in which it is placed. Had it consistence and properties of its own, it could not thus take every form, receive every taste, exhibit every flavor and appear of every hue.—Madame Guyon, Justifications, i. 184. 132
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