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CHAPTER VII. HOW LOVELY GOD IS.
The Servant.—Lord, let me reflect on that divine passage, where Thou speakest of Thyself in the Book of Wisdom: “Come over to Me, all ye that desire Me, and be filled with My fruits. I am the Mother of fair love; My spirit is sweet above honey and the honeycomb. Wine and music rejoice the heart, but the love of wisdom is above them both.33 Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 24, 26, 27; xl. 20
Ah, Lord! Thou canst show Thyself so lovely and so tender, that all hearts must needs languish for Thee and endure, for Thy sake, all the misery of tender desire; Thy words of love flow so sweetly out of Thy sweet mouth, and so powerfully affect many hearts in their days of youthful bloom, that perishable love is wholly extinguished in them. O my dear Lord, this it is for which my soul sighs, this it is which makes my spirit sad, this it is about which I would gladly hear Thee speak. Now, then, my only elected Comforter, speak one little word to my soul, to Thy poor handmaid; for, lo! I am fallen softly asleep beneath Thy shadow, and my heart watcheth.
Eternal Wisdom.—Listen, then, my son, and see, incline to Me thy ears, enter wholly into thy interior, and forget thyself and all things. I am in Myself the incomprehensible good, which always was and always is, which never was and never will be uttered. I may indeed give Myself to men’s hearts to be felt by them, but no tongue can truly express Me in words. And yet, when I, the Supernatural, immutable good, present Myself to every creature according to its capacity to be susceptible of Me, I bind the sun’s splendour, as it were, in a cloth, and give thee spiritual perceptions of Me and of My sweet love in bodily words thus: I set Myself tenderly before the eyes of thy heart; now adorn and clothe thou Me in spiritual perceptions and represent Me as delicate and as comely as thy very heart could wish, and bestow on Me all those things that can move the heart to especial love and entire delight of soul. Lo! all and everything that thou and all men can possibly imagine of form, of elegance, and grace, is in Me far more ravishing than any one can express, and in words like these do I choose to make Myself known. Now, listen further: I am of high birth, of noble race; I am the Eternal Word of the Fatherly Heart, in which, according to the love-abounding abyss of My natural Sonship in His sole paternity, I possess a gratefulness before His tender eyes in the sweet and bright-flaming love of the Holy Ghost. I am the throne of delight, I am the crown of salvation, My eyes are so clear, My mouth so tender, My cheeks so radiant and blooming, and all My figure so fair and ravishing, yea, and so delicately formed, that if a man were to lie in a glowing furnace till the day of judgment, only to have one single glance at My beauty, he would not deserve it. See, I am so deliciously adorned in garments of light, I am so exquisitely set off with all the blooming colours of living flowers, that all May-blossoms, all the beautiful shrubs of all dewy fields, all the tender buds of the sunny meads, are but as rough thistles compared to My adornment.
In the Godhead I play the game of bliss,
Such joy the angels find in this,
That unto them a thousand years
But as one little hour appears.
All the heavenly host follow Me entranced by new wonders, and behold Me; their eyes are fixed on Mine; their hearts are inclined to Me, their minds bent on Me without intermission. Happy is he who, in joyous security, shall take Me by My beautiful hand, and join in My sweet diversions, and dance for ever the dance of joy amid the ravishing delights of the kingdom of heaven! One little word there spoken by My sweet mouth will far surpass the singing of all angels, the music of all harps, the harmony of all sweet strings. My faithfulness is so made to be loved, so lovely am I to be embraced, and so tender for pure languishing souls to kiss, that all hearts ought to break for My possession. I am condescending and full of sympathy and always present to the pure soul. I abide with her in secret, at table, in bed, in the streets, in the fields. Turn Myself whichever way I will, in Me there is nothing that can displease, in Me is everything that can delight the utmost wishes of thy heart and desires of the soul. Lo! I am a good so pure, that he who in his day only gets one drop of Me regards all the pleasures and delights of this world as nothing but bitterness; all its possessions and honours as worthless, and only fit to be cast away; My beloved ones are encompassed by My love, and are absorbed into the One Thing alone without imaged love and without spoken words, and are taken and infused into that good out of which they flowed. My love can also relieve regenerate hearts from the heavy load of sin, and can give a free, pure, and gentle heart, and create a clean conscience. Tell Me, what is there in all this world able to outweigh this one thing? For he who gives his heart wholly to Me lives joyfully, dies securely, and obtains the kingdom of heaven here as well as hereafter.
Now, observe, I have assuredly given thee many words, and yet My beauty has been as little touched by them as the firmament by thy little finger, because no eye has ever seen My beauty, nor ear heard it, neither has it ever entered any heart. Still let what I have said to thee be as a device to show thee the difference between My sweet love and false, perishable love.
The Servant.—Ah! Thou tender, delicious, wild flower, Thou delight of the heart in the embracing arms of the pure loving soul, how familiar is all this to him who has even once really felt Thee; but how strange is it to that man who knows Thee not, whose heart and mind are still of the body! O, Thou most heart-felt incomprehensible good this is a precious hour, this is a sweet moment, in which I must open to Thee a secret wound which my heart still bears from Thy sweet love. Lord, plurality in love is like water in the fire. Lord, Thou knowest that real fervent love cannot bear duality. Alas! Thou only Lord of my heart and soul, my heart desires that Thou shouldst have a particular love for me, and that I should be particularly pleasing to Thy divine eyes. O Lord, Thou hast so many hearts that ardently love Thee, and are of much account with Thee. Alas! my sweet and tender Lord, how stands it with me in this matter?
Eternal Wisdom.—My love is of that sort which is not diminished in unity, nor confounded in multiplicity. I am as entirely concerned and occupied with thee alone, with the thought how I may at all times love thee alone, and fulfill everything that appertains to thee, as though I were wholly disengaged from all other things.
The Servant.—O rare! O wonderful! whither am I borne, how am I gone astray! how is my soul utterly dissolved by the sweet friendly words of my beloved! Oh, turn away Thy bright eyes from me, for they have overcome me.44 Cant. vi. 5 Wherever was there a heart so hard, a soul so lukewarm, so cold as, when it heard Thy sweet living words, so exceedingly fiery as they are, was not fain to melt and kindle in Thy sweet love! O wonder of wonders! that he who thus sees Thee with the eyes of his soul, should not feel his very heart dissolve in love. How right blessed is he who bears the name of Thy Spouse, and is so! What sweet consolations and secret tokens of Thy love must not he eternally receive from Thee! O thou sweet virgin St. Agnes, thou fair wooer of Eternal Wisdom! how well couldst thou console thyself with thy dear Bridegroom, when thou didst say, “His blood has adorned my cheeks as with roses.” O gentle Lord, that my soul were but worthy to be called Thy wooer! And were it indeed possible that all delights, all joy and love, that this world can afford, might be found united in one man, how gladly would I renounce him for the sake of that name! How blessed is that man, that ever he was born into the world, who is named Thy friend, and is so! Oh, if a man had even a thousand lives, he ought to stake them at once for the sake of acquiring Thy love. Oh, all ye friends of God, all ye heavenly host, and thou dear virgin St. Agnes, help me to pray to Him: for never did I rightly know what His love was. Alas! thou heart of mine, lay aside, put away all sloth, and see if, before thy death, thou mayest advance so far as to feel His sweet love. O thou tender beautiful Wisdom! O my elected one! What a truly right gracious love Thou canst be above all loves else in the world! How very different is Thy love and the love of creatures! How false is everything that appears lovely in this world and gives itself out to be something, as soon as one really begins to know it. Lord, wherever I might cast my eyes I always found something to disgust me; for, if it was a fair image, it was void of grace; if it was fair and lovely, it had not the true way; or if it had indeed this, still, I always found something either inwardly or outwardly, to which the entire inclination of my heart was secretly opposed. But Thou art beauty with infinite affability, Thou art grace in shape and form, the word with the way, nobility with virtue, riches with power, interior freedom and exterior brightness, and ONE thing Thou art which I have never found in time, namely, a power and faculty of perfectly satiating every wish and every ardent desire of a truly loving heart. The more one knows Thee, the more one loves Thee; the more acquainted one is with Thee, the more friendly one finds Thee. Ah me! what an unfathomable, entirely pure, good Thou art! See how deceived all those hearts are that fix their affections on anything else! Ah! ye false lovers, flee far from me, never come near me more. I have chosen for my heart that one only love in which my heart, my soul, my desire, and all my powers can alone be satiated with a love that never dissolves away. Oh Lord, could I but trace Thee on my heart! could I but melt Thee with characters of gold into the innermost core of my heart and soul, so that Thou mightest never be eradicated out of me! Oh, misery and desolation! that ever I should have troubled my heart with such things! What have I gained with all my lovers, but time lost, forfeited words, an empty hand, few good works, and a conscience burdened with infirmity? Slay me, rather, in Thy love, O Lord, for from Thy feet I will never more be separated.
Eternal Wisdom.—I go forth to meet those who seek Me, and I receive with affectionate joy such as desire My love. All that thou canst ever experience of My sweet love in time, is but as a little drop to the ocean of My love in eternity.
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