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Declaring what Meditation and Contemplation are, and the difference that is betwixt them.
9. St. John Damascene (Lib. 3. de fide, c.24.) and other Saints say, that Prayer is a sallying out or elevation of the Mind to God. God is above all creatures, and the Soul cannot see him, nor converse with him, if it raise not it self above them all. This friendly conversation, which the Soul hath with God, that’s to say, in Prayer, is divided into Meditation and Contemplation.
10. When the Mind considers the Mysteries of our holy Faith with attention, to know the truth of them, reasoning upon the particulars, and weighing the circumstances of the same, for the exciting of affections in the Will; this mental discourse and pious Act is properly called Meditation.
11. When the Soul already knows the truth (either by a habit acquired through reasoning, or because the Lord hath given it particular light) and fixes the eyes of the Mind on the demonstrated truth, beholding it sincerely with quietness and silence, without any necessity of considerations, ratiocinations, or other proofs of conviction, and the will loves it, admiring and delighting it self therein; This properly is called the Prayer of Faith, the Prayer of Rest, Internal Recognition or Contemplation.
Which St. Thomas (2.2.q.180. Art. 3. p.4) with all the mystical Masters says, is a sincere, sweet, and still view of the eternal truth without ratiocination, or reflexion. But if the Soul rejoyces in, or eyes the effects of God in the creatures, and amongst them, in the humanity of our Lord Christ, as the most perfect of all, this is not perfect Contemplation, as St. Thomas (ibidem.) affirms, since all these are means for knowing of God as he is in himself: And although the humanity of Christ be the most holy and perfect means for going to God, the chief instrument of our salvation, and the channel through which we receive all the good we hope for, nevertheless the humanity is not the chief good, which consists in seeing God; but as Jesus Christ is more by his divinity than his humanity, so he that thinks and fixes his contemplation always on God (because the divinity is united to the humanity) always thinks on, and beholds Jesus Christ, especially, the contemplative man, in whom Faith is more sincere, pure and exercised.
13. As often as the end is obtained, the means cease, and when the Ship arrives in the Harbour the voyage is over. So if the Soul after it hath been toiled and carried by means of meditation, arrives at the stillness, tranquility, and rest of Contemplation, it ought then to cut off all reasonings, and rest quiet with an amorous attention, and simple Vision of God; seeing and loving him, sweetly rejecting all the imaginations that present themselves, calming the Mind in that Divine Presence, recollecting the Memory, and fixing it wholly on God, being contented with a general and confused knowledge, which is had by the Mediation of Faith, applying the whole Will to love him, wherein consists all their fruit of enjoyment.
14. St. Denis (Myst. Theol.) says, As for you, most dear Timothy, in applying your self to Mystical Speculations, abstract from the Senses and Operations of the Intellect; from all sensible and intelligible Objects, and Universally from all things that are, and are not; and in an unknown and inexpressible Way, as much as lies in the power of Man, raise your self to the Union of him, who is above all Nature and Knowledge. Thus far the Saint.
15. It concerns us then, to forsake all created, sensible, intelligible and affected Beings; and in short, every thing that is, and is not, that we may cast our selves into the loving Bosom of God, who will restore to us as much as we have left, increasing in us strength and power to love him more ardently, whose love will maintain it self within this Holy and Blessed Silence, which is of more worth than all Acts joined together
16. St. Thomas (Quest. 27. 2.ad secuedum ar.) says, It is the least thing, that the Understanding can know of God in this Life, but much what the Will can have of Love.
17. When the Soul attains to this state, it ought wholly to retreat within it self, in its own pure and profound Center; where the Image of God is, there is amorous attention, silence, the forgetfulness of all things, the application of the Will, with perfect resignation, hearing and talking with God hand to hand, and in such manner, as if there was no other but them two in the World.
18. Good reason have the Saints to say, that Meditation operates with toyl, and with fruit; Contemplation without toyl, with quiet, rest, peace, delight, and far greater fruit. Meditation sows, and Contemplation reaps; Meditation seeks, and Contemplation finds; Meditation chews the Food, Contemplation tasts and feeds on it.
19. All this was said by Mystical Bernard, upon these Words of our Savior; Querite & invenietis; pulsate & aperietur vobis. Lectio opponit ori solidum cibum, Meditatio frangit; Oratio japorem conciliat, Contemplatio est ipsa dulcedo que jucundat & resicit. Thus ye have an account what Meditation and Contemplation are, and the difference that occurs betwixt them.
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