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CHAP. XX.

 

In which is shewed how this Nothing is the ready way to obtain Purity of Soul, perfect Contemplation, and the rich Treasure of Peace internal.

 

196. The way to attain that high state of a Mind reformed, whereby a man immediately gets to the greatest Good, to our first Original, and to the highest Peace, is his Nothingness: Endeavour, O Soul, to be always buried in that misery. This Nothing, and this acknowledged Misery, is the means by which the Lord works wonders in thy Soul. Cloath thy self with this Nothing, and with this Misery, and see that this Misery and this Nothing be thy continual Food and Habitation, even to the casting down thy self low therein; and then I assure thee, that thou being in that manner, the Nothing, the Lord will be the Whole in thy Soul.

197. Why, thinkest thou, do infinite Souls hinder the abundant Current of the divine gifts? ‘Tis only because they would be doing something, and have a desire to be great: all this is to come away from internal Humility, and from their own Nothing; and therefore they prevent those wonders which that infinite goodness would work in ‘em. They betake themselves to the very gifts of the Spirit, and there they stick, that they may come out from the Center of Nothing, and so the whole Work is spoil’d. They seek not God with truth, and therefore they find him not: For know thou must, that there is no finding of Him, but in the undervaluing of our own selves, and in nothing.

198. We seek our selves every time we get out of our Nothing; and therefore we never get to quiet and perfect Contemplation. Creep in as far as ever thou canst into the truth of thy Nothing, and then nothing will disquiet thee: Nay, thou wilt be humble and ashamed, losing openly thy own reputation and esteem.

199. O what a strong Bulwark wilt thou find of that Nothing! Who can ever afflict thee, if once thou dost retire into that Fortress? Because the Soul which is despised by it self, and in its own knowledg is Nothing, is not capable of receiving Grievance or Injury from any Body. The Soul which keeps within its Nothing, is internally silent, lives resign’d in any torment whatsoever, by thinking it less than what it doth deserve: It shuns the suspition of a Neighbour, never looks at other folks faults, but its own is free from abundance of Imperfections, and becomes Commander of great Virtue. Whilst the Soul keeps still and quiet in its nothing, it perfects it, it enriches it, the Lord draws his own Image and Likeness in it, without any thing to hinder it.

200. By the way of Nothing thou must come to lose thy self in God (which is the last degree of perfection) and happy wilt thou be, if thou canst so lose thy self; then thou wilt get thy self again, and find thy self most certainly. In this same Shop of Nothing, Simplicity is made; interior and infused recollection is possessed, quiet is obtained, and the heart is cleansed from all manner of imperfections. O what a Treasure wilt thou find, if thou shalt once fix thy habitation in Nothing and if thou once gettest but I’snugg into the Center of Nothing, thou will never concern thy self with any thing that is without (the great ugly large step that so many thousand Souls do stumble at) unless it be as thy Office may call thee to it.

201. If thou dost but get shut up in Nothing, (where the blows of adversity can never come) nothing will vex thee or break thy peace. This is the way of getting to the command of thy self, because perfect and true dominion doth only govern in Nothing: with the Helmet of Nothing thou will be too hard for strong temptations and the terrible suggestions of the envious enemy. [I defie all the Quakers in England to match this incomparable piece of Nonsence and Enthusiastick Cant.]

202. Knowing that thou art nothing, that thou canst do nothing, and art worth just nothing, thou wilt quietly embrace passive drynesses, thou wilt endure horrible desolations; thou wilt undergo spiritual martyrdoms and inward torments. By means of this Nothing thou must die in thy self, many ways, at all times, and all hours.

203. Who must awaken the Soul out of that sweet and pleasant Sleep, if once it comes to take a Nap in Nothing? This is the way that David got a perfect annihilation, without so much as knowing it. Ad nihilum redactus sum de nescivi, Psal. 17. Keeping thy self in Nothing, thou wilt bar the door against every thing that is not God; thou wilt retire also from thine own self, and walk toward that internal solitude, where the Divine Spouse speaks in the Heart of his Bride, teaching her high and divine Wisdom. Drown thy self in this Nothing, and there shalt thou find a holy Sanctuary against any Tempest whatsoever.

204. By this way must thou return to the happy state of Innocence forfeited by our first Parents. By this Gate thou must enter into the happy land of the living, where thou wilt find the greatest Good, the breath of Charity, the beauty of Righteousness, the streight Line of Equity and Justice, and, in sum, every jot and tittle of Perfection. Lastly, do not look at nothing, desire nothing, will nothing, nor endeavour nothing, and then in every thing thy Soul will live repos’d, with quiet and enjoyment.

205. This is the way to get purity of Soul, perfect contemplation and peace internal; walk therefore in this safe path, and endeavour to overwhelm thy self in this Nothing, endeavour to lose thy self, to sink deep into it, if thou hast a mind to be annihilated, united and transformed.

 

 

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