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CHAPTER VI: That the Gift of Love, amongst all other Gifts of Jesus, is most worthy and most profitable. And how Jesus doth all that is well done in His lovers, only for Love. And how Love maketh the exercise of all virtues and all good Deeds light and easy
ASK, then, of God nothing but this gift of love, which is the Holy Ghost. For among all the gifts that our Lord giveth there is none so good, nor so profitable, so worthy nor so excellent as this is. For there is no gift of God that is both the giver and the gift, but this gift of love; and, therefore, it is the best and the worthiest. The gift of prophecy, the gift of working miracles, the gift of great knowledge and counsel, and the gift of great fasting, or of great penance doing, or any other such, are great gifts of the Holy Ghost, but they are not the Holy Ghost, for a reprobate and damnable soul may have all these gifts as well as an elect soul. And, therefore, all these kinds of gifts are not greatly to be desired or cared for much. But the gift of love is the Holy Ghost, God Himself, and Him can no soul have and withal be damned; for that gift alone saveth from damnation, and maketh it God’s son, and a receiver237237 Perceiver. of the heavenly heritage. And that love, as I have said before, is not the affection of love that is created in a soul, but it is the Holy Ghost Himself, that is, love uncreated, that saveth a soul. For He first giveth Himself to that soul before the soul loveth Him, and He formeth the affection in the soul, and maketh the soul to love Him only for Himself. And not only so, but also by this gift the soul loveth itself, and her neighbour as herself only for God. And this is the gift of love that maketh the distinction betwixt chosen and reprobate souls. And this gift maketh perfect peace betwixt God and a soul, and uniteth all blessed creatures wholly in God; for it maketh Jesus for to love us, and us Him also, and each of us to love one another in Him.
Covet this gift of love principally, as I have said; for if He please out of His grace to give it thee on that manner, it shall open and enlighten the reason of thy soul, to see verity, that is God, and spiritual things. And it shall stir up thy affections wholly and fully for to love Him. And it shall work in thy soul only as He will, and thou shalt behold Jesus reverently, with softness of love, and see how He worketh. Thus commanded He by His Prophet that we should do, saying thus: Vaacaate et videte quoniam ego sum Deus.—Cease ye, and see that I am God.238238 Ps. 45. That is, ye that are reformed in feeling, and have your inner eye opened into sight of spiritual things, cease ye sometime from outward working, and see that I am God. That is, see only how I, Jesus, God and Man, do; behold ye Me, for I do all, I am love, and for love I do all that I do, and ye do nought. And that this is truth, I shall show you, for there is no good deed done by you, nor good thought felt in you, but what is done by Me. That is, through power and wisdom and love mightily, wisely and lovely, else it is no good deed. But now it is true that I, Jesus, am both power and wisdom and blessed love, and ye are naught, for I am God. Therefore may you easily see that I do all your good deeds, and all your good thoughts, and all your good loves in you, and ye do right nought. And yet, nevertheless, be all these good deeds called yours. Not because ye work them principally, but for that I give them unto you for love that I bear to you. And, therefore, since I am Jesus, and for love do all this, cease then ye from beholding of yourselves, and set yourselves at nought, and look on Me, and see that I am God, for I do all this. This is somewhat of the meaning of that verse of David before said.
See then and behold what love worketh in a chosen soul, which he reformeth in feeling to his likeness, when the reason is enlightened to the spiritual knowing of Jesus, and to the feeling of His love. Then bringeth love into the soul the perfection of virtues, and turneth them all into quietness,239239 Softness. and into liking, as it were, without working of the soul; for the soul striveth not much for the getting of them, as it did before; but it hath them easily, and feeleth them restfully, only through the gift of love, that is, the Holy Ghost. And that is a very great comfort, and gladness unspeakable, when she feeleth suddenly in herself (and scarce knows how) the virtues of humility and patience, sobriety and staidness,240240 Sadness. chastity and purity and love to her neighbour. And all other virtues which were sometimes travaillous,241241 Laboursome. painful and hard for to keep, are now turned into easiness,242242 Softness. and liking, and into wonderful lightness, insomuch that she thinketh it no mastery nor difficulty to keep every virtue, but it is most pleasing to him to keep it, and all this is made by love.
Other men that stand in the way of common charity, and are not yet got so far in grace, but work under the command of reason, they strive and fight all day against sins for the procuring of virtues; and sometimes they be above, and sometimes beneath as wrestlers are.
These men do full well, they have virtues in reason, and will, not in savour, nor in love. For they fight with themselves as it were by their own might for them; therefore cannot they fully have rest, nor perfectly the higher hand. Nevertheless they shall have great reward,243243 Full mede. but they are not yet humble enough. They have not yet put themselves altogether into God’s hand, for they see Him not yet. But a soul that hath spiritual sight of Jesus taketh no great care of striving for virtues for that time. He is not busy about them particularly, but he maketh it all his business to keep that sight, and that beholding of Jesus which it hath for to hold the mind stably thereto, and bind his love only to it, that it fall not from it, but forget all other things as much as it can. And when it doth thus, then is Jesus verily Master against all sins, and overshadoweth it with His blessed presence, and getteth it all virtues. And the soul is so comforted and so borne up with the restful244244 Soft. feeling of love that it hath of the sight of Jesus, that it feeleth no great disease outwardly. And thus doth love generally slay all sins in a soul, and reformeth it in the new feelings of virtues.
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