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CHAPTER XXVI

OF THE DESIRE TO KNOW THE BRIDEGROOM IN HIS NATURE

A Man who lives this life in its perfection, as it has here been shown, and who is offering up his whole life, and all his works, to the worship and praise of God, and who wills and loves God above all things, is often stirred by a desire to see, to know, and to prove what, in Himself, this Bridegroom Christ is; Who for man’s sake became man and laboured in love unto death, and delivered us from sin and the devil, and has given us Himself and His grace, and left us His sacraments, and has promised us His kingdom and Himself as an eternal wage; Who also gives us all that is needful for the body, and inward consolation and sweetness, and innumerable gifts of all kinds, according to the needs of each.

When a man beholds all this, he feels an unmeasured impulse to see Christ his Bridegroom, and to know Him as He is in Himself. Though he knows Him in His works, this does not seem to him enough. Then he must do as the publican Zaccheus did, who longed to see Jesus, who He was. He must run before the crowd, that is the multiplicity of creatures; for these make us so little and so low that we cannot see God. And he must climb up into the tree of faith, which grows from above downwards, for its roots are in the Godhead. This tree has twelve branches, which are the twelve articles of faith. The lower speak of the Divine Humanity, and of those things which belong to our salvation of soul and of body. The upper part of the tree tells of the Godhead, of the Trinity of Persons, and of the Unity of the Nature of God. And the man must cling to that unity, in the highest part of the tree; for there it is that Jesus must pass with all His gifts.

Here comes Jesus, and sees the man, and shows to him, in the light of faith, that He is according to His Godhead immeasurable and incomprehensible and inaccessible and abysmal, transcending every created light and every finite conception. And this is the highest knowledge of God which any man may have in the active life: that he should confess in this light of faith that God is incomprehensible and unknowable. And in this light Christ says to man’s desire: Make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house. This hasty descent, to which he is summoned by God, is nothing else than a descent through desire and through love into the abyss of the Godhead, which no intelligence can reach in the created light. But where intelligence remains without, desire and love go in. When the soul is thus stretched towards God, by intention and by love, above everything that it can understand, then it rests and dwells in God, and God in it. When the soul climbs with desire above the multiplicity of creatures, and above the works of the senses, and above the light of nature, then it meets Christ in the light of faith, and becomes enlightened, and confesses that God is unknowable and incomprehensible. When it stretches itself with longing towards this incomprehensible God, then it meets Christ, and is filled with His gifts. And when it loves and rests above all gifts, and above itself, and above all creatures, then it dwells in God, and God dwells in it.

This is the way in which we shall meet Christ on the summit of the active life. When you have laid the foundation of righteousness, charity, and humility; and have established on it a dwelling-place, that is, those virtues which have been named heretofore; and have met Christ through faith, by intention and by love; then you dwell in God and God dwells in you, and you possess the true active life.

And this was the first of which we would speak.

The end of the first book

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