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CHAP. IV.

 

Of two Spiritual Martyrdoms, wherewith God cleanseth the Soul that he unites with Himself.

 

21. Now you shall know that God uses two ways for the Cleansing the Souls which he would perfect and enlighten, to unite ‘em closely to himself: The first (of which we will treat in this and the following Chapter) is with the bitter Waters of Afflictions, Anguish, Distress, and inward Torments. The second is, with the burning Fire of an inflamed Love, a Love impatient and hungry: Sometimes he makes use of both in those Souls which he would fill with Perfection; sometimes he puts ‘em into the strong steeping of Tribulations, and inward and outward Bitterness, scorching ‘em with the Fire of rigorous Temptation; sometimes he puts ‘em into the Crucible of anxious and distrustful Love, making ‘em fast there with a mighty force; because so much the greater as the Lord would have the Illumination and Union of a Soul to be, so much the more strong is the Torment and the Purgation; because all the Knowledge and Union with God, arises from suffering, which is the truest proof of Love.

22. O that thou would’st understand the great Good of Tribulation! This is that which blots out Sins, cleanses the Soul, and produces Patience: this in Prayer inflames it, inlarges it, and puts it upon the exercise of the most sublime act of Charity: this rejoyces the Soul, brings it near to God, calls it to, and gives it entrance into Heaven: The same is that which tries the true Servants of God, and renders ‘em sweet, valiant and constant: that is it which makes God hear ‘em with speed. Ad dominum, cum tribularer, clamavi & exaudivit me, (Ps. 119.) ‘Tis that which Annihilates, Refines and Perfects ‘em: and finally, this is that which of Earthly, makes Souls Heavenly, of Humane, Divine, transforming ‘em and uniting ‘em in an admirable manner with the Lord’s Humanity and Divinity. It was well said by St. Augustine, That the Life of the Soul, upon Earth is Temptation. Blessed is the Soul which is always opposed, if it doth constantly resist Temptation. This is the means which the Lord makes use of to Humble it, to Annihilate it, to Spend it, to Mortifie it, to Deny it, to Perfect it, and fill it with this Divine Gifts: By this means of Tribulation and Temptation he comes to Crown and Transform it. Perswade thy self that Temptations and Fightings are necessary for the Soul, to make it Perfect.

23. O blessed Soul, if thou knowest how to be constant and quiet in the Fire of Tribulation, and would’st but let thy self be washed with the bitter Waters of Affliction, how quickly would’st thou find thy self rich in heavenly Gifts; how soon would the Divine Bounty make a rich Throne in thy Soul, and a goodly Habitation for thee to refresh and solace thy self in it!

24. Know that this Lord hath his repose no where but in quiet Souls, and in those in which the Fire of Tribulation and Temptation hath burnt up the dregs of Passion, and the bitter Water of Afflictions hath washed off the filthy spots of inordinate Appetites; in a word, this Lord reposes not himself any where, but where Quietness reigns, and Self-love is banished.

25. But thou wilt never arrive at this happy State, nor find in thy Soul the precious Pledge of Peace Internal, although thou hast gotten the better of the External Senses by the Grace of God, till it become purified from the disordered Passions of Concupiscence, Self-esteem Desire and Thoughts, how spiritual soever, and many other Interests and secret Vices, which lye within the very Soul of thee, miserably hindring the peaceable entrance of that great Lord into it, who would be united and transformed with thee.

26. The very Vertues acquired, and not purified, are a hindrance to this great Gift of the Peace of the Soul: and more, the Soul is clogged by an inordinate desire of sublime Gifts, by the Appetite of feeling spiritual Consolation, by sticking to Infused and Divine Graces, intertaining it self in ‘em, and desiring more of ‘em, to enjoy ‘em, and finally, by a desire of begin great.

27. O how much is there to be purified in a Soul that must arrive at the holy Mountain of Perfection, and of Transformation with God! O how disposed, naked, denied, annihilated ought the Soul to be, which would not hinder the entrance of this Divine Lord into it, nor his continual Communication.

28. This disposition of preparing the Soul, in its bottom, for Divine Entrance, must of necessity be made by the Divine Wisdom. If a Seraphim is not sufficient to purifie the Soul, how shall a Soul that is frail miserable and without experience, ever be able to purifie it self?

29. Therefore the Lord himself will dispose thee and prepare thee passively by a way thou understandest not, with the Fire of Tribulation and inward Torment, without any other disposition on thy side, than a consent to the internal and external Cross.

30. Thou wilt find within thy self a passive dryness, darkness, anguish, contradictions, continual resistance, inward desertions, horrible desolations, continual and strong suggestions, and vehement temptations of the Enemy; finally, thou wilt see thy self so afflicted, that thou wilt not be able to lift up thy Heart, being full of sorrow and heaviness, nor do the least act of Faith, Hope or Charity.

31. Here thou wilt see thy self forlorn and subject to Passions of impatience, anger, rage, swearing, and disordered appetites, seeming to thy self the most miserable Creature, the greatest Sinner in the World, the most abhorred of God, deprived and stript of all Vertue, with a pain like that of Hell, seeing thy self afflicted and desolate, to think that thou hast altogether lost God; this will be thy cruel cutting and most bitter torment.

32. But though thou shalt see thy self so oppressed, seeming to thy self to be proud, impatient and wrothful; yet these temptations shall lose their force and power upon thee, they shall have no place in thy Soul, by a secret Vertue, the soveraign Gift of inward Strength, which rules in the in-most part of it, conquering the most affrightening punishment and pain, and the strongest temptation.

33. Keep constant, O blessed Soul, keep constant; for it will not be as thou imaginest, nor art thou at any time nearer to God, than in such cases of desertion; for although the Sun is hid in the Clouds, yet it changes not its place, nor a jot the more loses its brightness. The Lord permits this painful desertion in thy Soul, to purge and polish thee, to cleanse thee and dis-robe thee of thy self; and that thou mayest in this manner be all his, and give thy self wholly up to him, as his infinite Bounty is intirely given to thee, that thou mayest be his delight; for although thou dost groan, and lament, and weep, yet he is joyful and glad in the most secret and hidden place of thy Soul.

 

 

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