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The PREFACE.

 

Third Advertisement.

 

What is the Difference betwixt the Acquired and Active Contemplation, and the Infused and Passive. With the Signs whereby it is known, when God will have the Soul to pass from Meditation, to Contemplation.

 

20. There are moreover two ways of Contemplation: The one is Imperfect, Active and Acquired; The other Infused and Passive. The Active (whereof we have treated hitherto) is that which may be attained to by our Diligence, assisted with Divine Grace; we gathering together the Faculties and Senses, and preparing our selves by every way that God would have. So says Boias and Arnaia.

21. St. Bernard (Psal. 85) recommends this Active Contemplation, discoursing upon these Words, Audiam quid loquatur in me Deus. And he says Optimam partem elegit Maria, licet non minoris (fortasse) meriti sit apud Deum humilis conversatio Marthæ, sed de electione Maria laudatur: quoniam illa omnino (quo ad nos spectat) eligenda, hæc vero si injungitur patienter est toleranda.

22. In like manner St. Thomas (Secund.q.182. art. 2.&3.) inculcates this acquired contemplation in the following words; Quanto homo animam suam, vel alterius propinquius deo conjungit, tanto sacrificium est deo magis acceptum, unde magis acceptum est deo quod aliquis animam suam & aliorum applicet contemplationi quam actioni. Very clear Words to stop the Mouth of those who condemn acquired contemplation.

23. How much the nearer a man approaches his own Soul, or the Soul of another to God, so much the more acceptable is the Sacrifice to God; from whence it is inferred (concludes the same Saint) that the application of a man’s own Soul, or the procuring that of anothers to Contemplation, is more acceptable to God, than the applying of the same to Action. It cannot be said, that the Saint speaks here of infused Contemplation, because it is not in the power of man, to apply himself to the infused, but to the acquired.

24. Though it be said, that we may with the Lord’s help, set our selves to acquired contemplation; nevertheless, no man ought of his own Head to be so bold, as to pass from the state of Meditation to this, without the counsel of an expert Director, who shall clearly know whether his Soul be called by God to this inward way; or for want of a Director, the Soul it self is to know it by some Book, that treats of these Matters, sent to him by Divine Providence, for discovering that, which without knowing what it was, he experimentally felt within his own Heart. But though by means of the light which that Book gives him he may obtain assurance enough, to leave Meditation for the quiet of contemplation, yet his Soul will still retain an ardent desire of being more perfectly instructed.

25. And to the end it may receive good Instruction in order to that point, I’ll here give it the Signs whereby it shall know that call to contemplation. The first and chief is, an inability to meditate, and if the Soul meditate, it will perform it with much disquiet and irksomness, provided that proceed not from the indisposition of Nature, or a melancholy Humour, or a Dryness, springing from the want of Preparation.

26. It will be known not to be any of these defects, but rather a true call, when that Soul passes a Day, a Month; nay, and many Months, without being able to discourse in Prayer. The Lord guides the Soul by Contemplation (says the holy Mother Teresa) and the Mind finds it self much disabled from meditating the Passion of Christ, since Meditation is nothing else but a seeking of God; the Soul once finding him, and retaining the Custom of seeking him of new, by the operation of the Will, it will not be baffled with the Intellect. Thus far the Saint.

27. The second Sign is, that though it is wanting in sensible Devotion, yet it covets Solitude, and avoids conversation.

The third, that the reading of godly Books is usually tedious to it, because they speak not of the Internal Sweetness that is in its Heart, tho’ it know it not.

The fourth, that though it find it self destitute of ratiocination, yet it hath a firm purpose of persevering in Prayer. The fifth is, that it will experience a sense (with great confusion) of it self, abhorring guilt, and entertaining a higher esteem of God.

28. The other Contemplation is perfect and infused. Wherein (as St. Teresa says) God speaks to a man, sequestrating his intelect, questioning his thought, and seizing (as they say) the word in his mouth; so that if he would, he cannot speak, but with great pain. He understands, that without the noise of words, the Divine Master is instructing him, suspending all his powers and faculties, because if at that time they should operate, they would do more hurt than good. These rejoyce, but know not how they rejoyce; the Soul is inflamed with love, and conceives not how it loves; it knows that it enjoys what it desires, and knows not the manner of that enjoyment; well it knows, that that is not enjoyment which the intellect longs for. The Will embraces it, without understanding how; but being unable to understand any thing, perceives it is not that good, which can be merited by all the labours put together which are suffered upon earth for gaining it. It is a gift of the Lord of the Soul, and of Heaven, who in the end gives as he is, and to whom he pleases as he pleases: Such is his Majesty in this, that it does every thing, and his operation is above our nature. All this we have from holy Mother, in her Way to Perfection, chap. 25. From whence it follows, that this Contemplation is infused, and freely given by the Lord to whom he pleases.

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