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A Sequel to the same matter.
107. This true Doctrine serves not only for the time of Prayer, but also after it is over, by Night and by Day, at all Hours, and in all the daily Functions of thy Calling, thy duty and Condition. And if thou tell me, that many times thou forgettest during a whole day, to renew thy resignation, I answer, that though it seem to thee, that thou are diverted from it, by attending the daily occupations of thy Vocation, as Studying, Reading, Preaching, Eating, Drinking, doing Business, and the like; thou art mistaken; for the one destroys not the other, nor by so doing doest thou neglect to do the Will of God, nor to proceed in virtual Prayer, as St. Thomas says.
108. Because these occupations are not contrary to his Will, nor contrary to thy Resignation, it being certain, that God would have thee to Eat, Study, take Pains, do Business, &c. So that to perform these Exercises, which are conform’d to his Will and Pleasure, thou departest not out of his Presence, nor from thine own Resignation.
109. But if in Prayer, or out of it thou should’st willingly be diverted or distracted, suffering thy self deliberately to be transported into any Passion; then it will be good for thee to revert to God, and return into his Divine Presence, renewing the purest of Faith and Resignation. However it is not necessary to exert those Acts, when thou findest thy self in dryness, because dryness is good and holy, and cannot, how severe soever it be, take from thy Soul the Divine Presence, which is established in Faith. Thou oughtest never to call dryness distraction, because in beginners it is want of sensibility, and in proficient abstractedness, by means whereof, if thou bear it out with constancy, resting quiet in thine own emptiness, thy Soul will become more and more inward; and the Lord will work wonders in it.
110. Strive then when thou comest from Prayer, to the end thou mayst return to it again, not to be distracted, nor diverted; but to carry thy self with a total resignation to the Divine Will, that God may do with thee and all thine, according to his heavenly pleasure, relying on him as on a kind and loving Father. Never recal that Intention, and though thou beest taken up about the Affairs of the Condition wherein God hath placed thee, yet thou’lt still be in Prayer in the Presence of God, and in perpetual Resignation. Therefore St. John Chrysostom said (Super, 5. ad Thessolon.), A just man leaves not off to Pray, unless he leaves off to be Just. He always prays, who always does well; the good desire is Prayer, and if the desire be continued, so is also the Prayer.
111. Thou’lt understand all that has been said, by this clear Example, when a man begins a Journey to Rome, every step he makes in the Progress is voluntary, and nevertheless it is not necessary, that at every step he should express his desire, or exert a new act of the Will, saying, I am going to Rome, I go to Rome: Because, by vertue of that first intention he had of travelling to Rome, the same Will still remains in him; so that he goes on without saying so, though he does not without intending so; you’ll clearly find, besides, that this Traveller, with one single and explicit of the Will and Intention, travel, speaks, hears, sees, reasons, eats, drinks, and does several other things, without any interruption to his first intention, not yet of his actual journying to Rome.
112. It is just so in the contemplative Soul: A man having once made the resolution of doing the Will of God, and of being in his Presence, he still perseveres in that act, so long as he recals not the same, although he be taken up in hearing, speaking, eating, or in any other external good work or function of his Calling and Quality. St. Thomas Aquinas expresseth all this in few words (Contra Gentiles; l.3.c.I38.Vn 2.), Non enim Oportet quod qui propter deum aliquod iter arripuit, in qualibet parte itineris de Deo cogitet actu.
113. Thou’lt say, that all Christians walk in this Exercise, because all have Faith, and may although they be not internal fulfil this Doctrine especially such as go in the external Way of Meditation and Retiocination. It is true, all Christians have Faith, and more particularly they who Meditate and Consider: But the Faith of those who advance by the inward Way, is much different, because it is a lively Faith, universal and indistinct, and by consequent, more practical, active, effectual, and illuminated; insomuch as the Holy Ghost enlightens the Soul that is best disposed, most, and that Soul is always best disposed, which holds the Mind recollected; so proportionably to the Recollection the Holy Ghost Illuminates. And albeit is be true, that God communicates some light in Meditation, yet it is so scanty and different from that which he communicates to the Mind, recollected in a pure and universal Faith, that the one to the other, is no more than like two or three Drops of Water in respect of an Ocean: since in Meditation two or three particular Truths are communicated to the Soul; but in the internal Recollection, and the Exercise of pure and universal Faith, the Wisdom of God is an abundant Ocean which is communicated in that obscure, simple, general and universal Knowledge.
114. In like manner Resignation is more perfect in these Souls, because it springs from the internal and infused Fortitude, which grows as the internal Exercise of pure Faith, with Silence and Resignation, is continued: In the manner that the Gifts of God’s Spirit grow in contemplative Souls; for though these divine Gifts are to be found in all those that are in a State of Grace, nevertheless, they are, as it were, dead, without strength, and in a manner infinitely different from these which reign in contemplative Persons, by reason of their illustration, vivacity and efficacy.
115. From all which, be perswaded, that the inward Soul, accustomed to go daily at certain hours to Prayer, with the Faith and Resignation I have mentioned to thee, walks continually in the Presence of God. All holy, expert and mystical Masters, teach this true and important Doctrine, because they have all had one and the same Master, who is the Holy Ghost.
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