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Pursues the Same Matter.
133. God doth not always communicate himself with equal abundance in this sweetest and infused Contemplation: sometimes he grants this Grace more than he doth at other times; and sometimes he expects not that the Soul should be so dead and denied, because this Gift being his meer Grace, he gives it when he pleases, and as he pleases; so that no general rule can be made of it, nor any rate set to his Divine greatness: nay, by means of this very Contemplation be comes to deny it to annihilate and dye.
134. Sometimes the Lord gives greater light to the understanding; sometimes greater love to the will. There is no need here for the Soul to take any pains or trouble; it must receive what God gives it, and rest united, as he will have it; because His Majesty is Lord, and in the very time that he lays it asleep, he possesses and fills it, and works in it powerfully and sweetly, without any industry or knowledge of its own: insomuch, that before ever it is aware of this so great Mercy, it is gained, convinced, and changed already.
135. The Soul which is in this happy state, hath two things to avoid, the activity of human Spirit, and interestedness: Our humane Spirit is unwilling to dye in it self, but loveth to be doing and discoursing after its way, being in Love with its own Actions. A Man had need to have a great fidelity, and devesting himself of selfishness, to get a perfect and passive Capacity of the Divine Influences; the continual habits of operating freely, which it has, are a hindrance to its annihilation.
136. The second is interestedness in contemplation it self: Thou must therefore procure in thy Soul a perfect devesting of all which is not God, without seeking any other end or interest, within or without, but the Divine Will.
137. In a word, the manner that thou must use, on thy part, to fit thy self for this pure, passive, and perfect Prayer, is, a total and absolute consignment of thy self into the hands of God, with a perfect submission to his most holy Will, to be busied according to his Pleasure and Disposition, with a perfect resignation.
138. Thou must know, that few be the Souls which arrive at this infused and passive Prayer; because few of ‘em are capable of these divine influences with a total nakedness and death of their own activity and Powers, those only which feel it, know it so, that this perfect nakedness is acquired (by the help of God’s Grace) by a continual and inward mortification, dying to all its own inclinations and desires.
139. At no time must thou look at the effects which are wrought in thy Soul, but especially herein; because it would be a hindrance to the divine operations, which enrich it, so to do: all that thou hast to do is to pant after indifference, resignation, forgetfulness, and, without thy being sensible of it; the greatest good will leave in thy Soul a fit disposition for the practice of vertue, an true love of the Cross of thy own contempt, of thy Annihilation, and greater and stronger desires still of thy greater Perfection, and the most pure and affective Union.
Of the two means, whereby the Soul ascends up to infused Contemplation, with the Explication of what and how many the steps of it are.
140. The means whereby the Soul ascends to the felicity of Contemplation and Affective Love, are two; the Pleasure, and the Desires of it. God uses at first to fill the Soul with sensible Pleasures; because ‘tis so frail and miserable, that, without this preventive Consolation, it cannot take wing towards the fruition of Heavenly things. In this first step it is disposed by Contrition, and is exercised in Repentance, meditating upon the Redeemer’s Passion, rooting out diligently all worldly desires and vicious Courses of Life: because the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the faint-heart, the delicate never conquer it, but those that use violence and force with themselves.
141. The second is the Desires. The more the things of Heaven are delighted in, the more they are desired; and from thence there do ensue upon spiritual Pleasures, desires of enjoying heavenly and divine Blessings, and contempt of worldly ones. From these desires arises the inclination of following Christ our Lord, who said, I am the way, (St. John 14. 6) the steps of his imitation, by which a Man must go up, are Charity, Humility, Meekness, Patience, Poverty, Self-contempt, the Cross, Prayer, and Mortification.
142. The steps of infused Contemplation are three. The first is Satiety. When the soul is fill’ed with God, it conceives a Hatred to all worldly things; then ‘tis quiet and satisfied only with Divine Love.
143. The second is intoxication. And this step is an excess of Mind, and an Elevation of Soul, arising from Divine Love and satiety of it.
144. The third is Security. This step turns out all fear: the soul is so drencht with love divine, and resigned up in such a manner to the divine good pleasure, that it would go willingly to Hell, if it did but know it so to be the will of the most high. In this step it feels such a certain Bond of the divine Union, that it seems to it an impossible thing, to be separated from its beloved, and his infinite Treasure.
145. There are six other steps of Contemplation, which are these, Fire, Union, Elevation, Illumination, Pleasure, and Repose. With the first the Soul is inkindled, and being inkindled, is anointed; being anointed, is raised; being raised, Contemplates; Contemplating, it receives Pleasure; and receiving Pleasure, it finds repose. By these steps the soul rises higher, being abstracted and experienced in the Spiritual and Internal way.
146. In the first step, which is Fire, the Soul is illustrated, by the means of a divine and ardent ray, in kindling the affections divine, and drying up those which are but humane. The second is the Unction, which is a sweet and spiritual Liquor, which diffusing it self all the Soul over, teaches it, strengthens it, and disposes it to receive and contemplate the divine truth: and sometimes it extends even to nature it self, corroborating it by patience, with a sensible pleasure that seems celestial.
147. The third is the Elevation of the Inner Man over it self, that it may get fittest to the clear fountain of pure love.
148. The fourth step, which is Illumination, is an infused knowledge, whereby the Soul contemplates sweetly the divine truth, rising still from one clearness to another, from one light to another, from knowledge to knowledge, begin guided by the Spirit Divine.
149. The fifth is a Savoury Pleasure of the divine sweetness, issuing forth from the plentiful and precious fountain of the Holy Ghost.
150. The sixth is a sweet and Admirable tranquility, arising from the conquest of Fightings within, and frequent Prayer; and this, very, very few have Experience of. Here the abundance of Joy, and Peace is so great, that the soul seems to be in a sweet sleep, solacing and reposing it self in the Divine breast of Love.
151. Many other steps of Contemplation there are, as Extasies, Raptures, Melting, Delinquium’s, Glee, Kisses, Embraces, Exultation, Union, Transformation, Expousing, and Matrimony, which I omit to explain, to give no occasion to Speculation: And because there are whole Books which treat of these Points; though they are all for him who finds nothing of ‘em, any more than a blind Man doth of Colour, or a deaf Man of Musick. In a word, by these steps we get up to the Chamber and repose of the pacifick King and the true Solomon.
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