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CHAP. III.

 

The means of obtaining Peace Internal, is not the Delight of Sense nor Spiritual Consolation, but the denying of Self-love.

 

12. It is the saying of S. Bernard, That to serve God, is nothing else but to do Good and suffer Evil. He that would go to Perfection by the means of sweetness and consolation, is mistaken: You must desire no other Consolation from God, than to end your Life for his sake, in the state of true Obedience and Subjection. Christ our Lord’s way was not that of Sweetness and Softness, nor did he invite us to any such, either by his words or Example, when he said, --He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and let him take up his Cross and follow me, (St. Matth. 24. 26.) The Soul that would be United to Christ, must be conformable to him, following him in the way of suffering.

13. Thou wilt scarce begin to relish the sweetness of Divine Love in Prayer, but the Enemy with his deceitful Craftiness will be kindling in thy Heart desires of the Desert and Solitude, that thou mayest without any bodies hindrance spred the sails to continual & delightful Prayer. Open thine eyes and consider that this counsel and desire is not conformable to the true counsel of Christ our Lord, who has not invited us to follow the sweetness and comfort of our own Will, but the denying of our selves, saying, Abneget semetipsum: As if he should say, He that will follow me, and come unto Perfection, let him part with his own Will wholly, and leaving all things, let him intirely submit to the Yoke of Obedience and Subjection, by means of Self-denyal, which is the truest Cross.

14. There are many Souls dedicated to God, which receive from his Hand great Thoughts, Visions, and mental Elevations, and yet for all that, the Lord keeps from ‘em, the Grace of working Miracles, understanding hidden Secrets, foretelling future Contingencies, as he communicates these things to other Souls which have constantly gone through Tribulations, Temptations, and the true Cross, in the state of perfect Humility, Obedience and Subjection.

15. O what a great Happiness is it for a Soul to be subdued and subject! what great Riches is it to be Poor! what a mighty honour to be despised! what a height is it to be beaten down! what a comfort is it to be afflicted! what a credit of knowledge is it to be reputed Ignorant! and finally, what a Happiness of Happinesses is it to be Crucified with Christ! This is that lot which the Apostle gloried in, Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi) (Gal. 6. 14.) Let others boast in their Riches, Dignities, Delights and Honours; but to us there is no higher honour, than to be denied, despised and crucified with Christ.

16. But what a grief is this, that scarce is there one Soul which despises spiritual pleasures and is willing to be denied for Christ, imbracing his Cross with love, Multi sunt vocati; pauci vero electi, (Matt. 22.) says the Holy Ghost: many are they who are call’d to perfection, but few are they that arrive at it: because they are few who imbrace the Cross with patience, constancy, peace and resignation.

17. To deny ones self in all things, to be subject to another’s judgment, to mortifie continually all inward passions, to annihilate ones self in all respects, to follow always that which is contrary to ones own will, appetite and judgment, are things that few can do: many are those that teach ‘em, but few are they that practise ‘em.

18. Many Souls have undertaken, and daily do undertake, this Way; and they persevere all the while they keep the sweet relish of their primitive Fervour; but this sweetness and sensible delight is scarce done, but presently, upon the overtaking of a Storm of Trouble, Temptation and Dryness (which are necessary things to help a man up the high Mountain of Perfection) they falter and turn back: a clear sign that they sought themselves, and not God or Perfection.

19. May it please God, that the Souls which have had light, and been called to an inward peace, and by not being constant in dryness and tribulation and temptation, have started back may not be cast into outer darkness, with him that had not on him a wedding garment; although he was a servant, for not being disposed, giving himself up to self-love.

20. This Monster must be vanquished, this seven-headed beast of self-love must be beheaded, in order to get up to the top of the high mountain of peace. This Monster put his head every-where; sometimes it gets amongst Relations, which stranglely hinder with their conversation; to which nature easily let’s it self be lead; sometimes it gets with a good look of gratitude, into passionate affection, and without restraint, towards the Confessor; sometimes into affection to most subtle Spiritual vain-glories and temporal ones, and niceties of honour; which things stick very close; sometimes it cleaves to spiritual pleasures, staying even in the gifts of God, and in his graces freely bestowed; sometimes it desires exceedingly the preservation of health, and with disguise, to be used well, and its own proper profit, and conveniences; sometimes it would seem well, with very curious subtilties: and lastly, it cleaves with a notable propensity, to its own proper judgment and opinion in all things; the roots of which are closely fixed in its own will: All these are effects of Self-love, and if they be not denied, impossible it is that a man should ever get up to the height of perfect Contemplation, to the highest, happiess of the loving Union, and the lofty Throne of Peace Internal.

 

 

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