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SHOWING HOW ONE IS LIKE UNTO GOD THROUGH GRACE AND UNLIKE UNTO GOD THROUGH MORTAL SIN
Now consider this thought earnestly; for if you understand well that which I will now tell you, and that which I have told you, you will have understood all the Divine truth which any creature can teach you, and far more besides. Otherwise does our spirit keep itself in that same unity when it is conceived as acting or working: for then it exists in itself as in its created and personal being. This is the source of the higher powers, and here there are beginning and end of all the creaturely works which are worked in a creaturely way, both in nature and above nature. Yet here the unity does not work forasmuch as it is unity; but all the powers of the soul, in what way soever they work, derive their strength and their power from their proper source, that is, from the unity of the spirit, where it dwells in its personal being.
In this unity, the spirit must always either be like unto God through grace and virtue, or unlike unto God through mortal sin. For, that man has been made after the likeness of God, means that he has been created in the grace of God; the which grace is a God-formed light, which shines through us and makes us like to God; and without this light, which makes us God-like, we cannot be united with God supernaturally, even though we cannot lose the image of God nor our natural unity with Him5858 This is the scholastic doctrine of the lumen gloriae. See Introduction, p. xxv. . If we lose the likeness, that is, the grace of God, we are damned. And therefore, whenever God finds within us some capacity for the reception of His grace, it is His pleasure and His free goodness to make us through His gifts, full of life, and like unto Him. This always happens whenever we turn to Him with our whole will; for at that very moment, Christ comes to us and in us, both with means and without means, that is, with the virtues and above the virtues. And He impresses His image and His likeness in us, namely Himself and His gifts: and He redeems us from sin, and makes us free and like unto Himself. And in that same working, through which God redeems us from sins, and makes us free and like unto Him through charity, the spirit immerses itself in fruitive love5959 “Onsinct die gheest hem selven in ghebrukeliker minnen”—the spirit, as regards its separate consciousness, drowns and loses itself in the Eternal Love of God. This immersion, self-mergence, or sinking of the spirit into the One which is its home, is the “completing opposite” of that other action of grace, which thrusts the self out with its powers as a free and energetic instrument of the Divine Will: thus perfecting the soul’s dual likeness to God, in work and in rest. Compare Ch. LXIII, “The Gift of Understanding.” . And here there take place a meeting and a union which are without means and above nature, and wherein our highest blessedness consists. Although all that He gives us from love and free goodness is natural to God, for us, according to our condition, it is accidental and supernatural. For before, we were strangers and unlike unto God; and afterwards, becoming like Him, have received union with God.
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