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CHAPTER IX: That the Working of our Lord Jesus in the Reforming of a Soul, is divided into four times, which are: Calling, Justifying, Magnifying and Glorifying

LO, I have told thee a little, how, if thou covet to be reformed in feeling, thou shalt dispose thyself towards thy forthgoing. Nevertheless I do not say that thou canst do thus of thyself; for I know well that it is our Lord Jesus that bringeth all this to the end where He pleaseth. For He only, through His grace, stirreth up a soul, and bringeth it first into this darkness and then into light, as the Prophet saith: Sicut tenebrae ejus ita et lumen ejus. 207207    Ps. 138. That is, just as the light of knowing and the feeling of spiritual love is from Jesus, just so the darkness, that is, the forsaking of worldly love, is from Him, for He doth all. He formeth and reformeth. He formeth only by Himself, but He reformeth us with us; for grace given, and the applying our will to grace doth work all this. And in what manner this is done, St Paul rehearses thus: Quos Deus praescivit, &c.—Those whom God foreknew should be made conformable to the Image of His Son, those He called; and whom He called those He justified; and whom He justified those He glorified.208208    Rom. 8. Though these words may be understood of all chosen souls in the lowest degree of charity, who are reformed only in faith; nevertheless they may be understood more especially of those souls that are reformed in feeling, to whom our Lord God showeth great plenty of grace, and is much more busy about them; for they are in a special manner His own children, who bear the full shape and the likeness of His Son Jesus. In these words St Paul divideth the working of our Lord into four times.

The first is the time of calling of a soul from worldly vanity, and that time is often easy and comfortable; for in the beginning of turning such a man that is disposed to much grace, is so quickly and so feelingly inspired, and feeleth often so great sweetness of devotion, and hath so many tears in compunction that he thinketh sometimes that he is half in Heaven; but this ease passeth away after for a time. And then cometh the second time, namely, the time of justifying, which is laborious. For when he beginneth to go forth mightily in the way of righteousness, and setteth his will fully against all sin outward and inward, and stretcheth out his desires to virtues and to the love of Jesus, then feeleth he much letting both within himself from the frowardness and hardness of his own will, and from without through the temptation of his enemy, that he is oft in full great torment, and that is no wonder: for he hath so long been crooked towards the false love of the world, that he cannot be made straight, as a crooked staff cannot be made even, unless it be cast and wrought by the fire. Therefore our Lord Jesus, knowing what is fit for a froward soul, suffereth it to be tormented and letted by sundry temptations, and to be tried soundly by spiritual tribulations that all the rust of uncleanness may be burnt out of it. And this shall be done both inwardly with fears and doubts and perplexities that it shall almost fall into despair, and shall seem as it were forsaken of God, and wholly left in the hands of the fiend (saving only a little secret trust that it shall have in the goodness and mercy of God, for that secret trust our Lord leaveth in such a soul, though he go never so far from it, by the which the soul is borne up from despair, and saved from spiritual mischief), and outwardly also it shall be mortified and pained in the sensuality, either by divers sicknesses, or by feeble tormentings of the enemy; or else by a secret working of God the silly soul through feeling and bearing of the wretched body shall be so pained that it shall despair almost of suffering or continuing in the body, unless our Lord Himself keep it therein. And yet, notwithstanding, the soul had rather be in all this pain than to be blinded with the false love of the world, for that would be hell to such a soul; but the suffering of this manner of pain is only Purgatory, and therefore he suffereth it gladly. And he would not put it away though he might, because it is so profitable. All this doth our Lord in great profit to a soul to drive it out of its sensuality, that it may receive spiritual light; for after this, when a soul is thus mortified, and brought from worldly love into this darkness, that it hath no more savour nor delight of worldly liking than of a straw, but thinketh it bitter as wormwood, then cometh the third time of Magnifying: and that is, when a soul is reformed in feeling in part, and receiveth the gift of perfection, and the grace of Contemplation, and that is a time of great rest; for then is Jesus more familiar with a soul.

And after this cometh a fourth time of Glorifying; that is, when a soul shall be fully reformed in the bliss of heaven. For these souls that are thus called from sin, and thus Justified, or else on any other manner by divers trials both through fire and water, and afterwards are thus magnified, they shall be glorified. For our Lord shall then give them fully what they coveted here; and more than they could covet; for He shall raise them above all other chosen souls, to be equal with cherubim and seraphim, seeing they passed all other in knowing and loving of God here in this life.

Therefore he that will come to this magnifying must not be afraid of this justifying, for that is the way; for our Lord saith by His Prophet a word of great comfort to all such souls that are tried with the fire of tribulation thus: Puer meus noli timere, &c.—My child, if thou pass through fire fear not, for the flame shall not hurt thee.209209    Isa. 43. It shall cleanse thee from all fleshly filth, and make thee able to receive spiritual fire of the love of God, and this must first be done; for as I said before it cannot otherwise be reformed in feeling.

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