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CHAPTER LIX

SHOWING HOW ONE POSSESSES GOD IN UNION AND REST, ABOVE ALL LIKENESS THROUGH GRACE

This meeting and this union, which the loving spirit achieves in God and possesses without means, must take place in the essential intuition, deeply hidden from our understanding; unless it be an effective understanding according to the way of simplicity6060    By the “effective understanding” Ruysbroeck probably meant the faculty, sometimes called the “higher reason” or “pure intellect” which the Victorine mystics described as “beyond and beside reason,” and whereby the mind contemplates intellectibilia: the “invisible things which may not be comprehended by human reason.” Cf. Richard of St Victor, Benjamin Major, bk. i. caps. 6 and 7. . In the fruition of this unity we shall rest evermore, above ourselves and above all things. From this unity, all gifts, both natural and supernatural, flow forth, and yet the loving spirit rests in this unity above all gifts; and here there is nothing but God, and the spirit united with God without means. In this unity we are taken possession of by the Holy Ghost, and we take possession of the Holy Ghost and the Father and the Son, and the whole Divine Nature: for God cannot be divided. And the fruitive tendency of the spirit6161    “Ghebrukelike gheneychtheit.” This, one of Ruysbroeck’s favourite terms, is generally translated “inclination”; but really includes the meaning—so characteristic of his doctrine—of a perceptual willed and active tending or drawing-nigh of the spirit to the enjoyment and possession of God: and instinctive effort of the soul to achieve its goal. It is the tendency immortalised in St Augustine’s saying, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart can find no rest except in Thee.” (Confessions, bk. i. cap. 7.) , which seeks rest in God above all likeness, receives and possesses in a supernatural way, in its essential being, all that the spirit ever received in a natural way. All good men experience this; but how it is, this remains hidden from them all their life long if they do not become inward and empty of all creatures. In that very moment in which man turns away from sin, he is received by God in the essential unity of his own being, at the summit of his spirit, that he may rest in God, now and evermore. And he also receives grace, and likeness unto God, in the proper source of his powers, that he may evermore grow and increase in new virtues. And as long as this likeness endures in charity and in virtues, so long also endures the union in rest. And this cannot be lost save only by mortal sin.


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