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CHAPTER XXII. How One Should Live An Interior and Godly Life.
The Servant.—Lord, many are the rules, many the ways of a godly life, the one is so, the other so. Many and various are the ways. Lord, the Scriptures are inexhaustible, their precepts innumerable. Teach me, O Eternal Wisdom, in a few words, out of the abyss of all the things they contain, to what I ought chiefly to hold fast in the way of a truly pious life.
Eternal Wisdom.—The truest, most useful, and most practical doctrine for thee in all the Scriptures that, in a few words, will more than amply convince thee of all the truth requisite for the attainment of the summit of perfection in a godly life, is this doctrine: Keep thyself secluded from all mankind, keep thyself free from the influence of all external things, disenthrall thyself from all that depends on chance or accident, and direct thy mind at all times on high in secret and divine contemplation, wherein, with a steady gaze from which thou never swervest, thou hast Me before thy eyes. And as to other exercises, such as poverty, fasting, watching, and every other castigation, bend them all to this as to their end, and use just so much and so many of them as may advance thee to it. Behold, thus wilt thou attain to the loftiest pitch of perfection, that not one person in a thousand comprehends, because, with their end in view, they all continue in other exercises, and so go astray the long years.
The Servant.—Lord, who can exist in the unswerving gaze of Thy divine vision at all times?
Eternal Wisdom.—No one who lives here below in this temporal scene. This has been said to thee only that thou mightest know at what thou shouldst aim, after what thou shouldst strive, to what thou shouldst turn thy heart and mind. And if ever thou losest sight of it, let it be to thee as if thy eternal salvation were taken away from thee; and do thou speedily turn to it again, so that thou mayest again obtain possession of it; and then must thou look carefully to thyself, for, if it escape from thee, thou art like a sailor from whose grasp the oars in a strong swell have slipped, and who does not know whither he shall direct his course. But if thou mayest not as yet have a constant abiding place in divine contemplation, let the perpetually repeated collecting of thy wandering thoughts, and the assiduous withdrawing of thyself to engage in it, procure thee constancy so far as it is possible. Listen, listen, My child, to the faithful instructions of thy faithful Father. O give heed to them! Shut them up in the bottom of thy heart; think Who it is that teaches thee all this, and how very much in earnest He is. Dost thou wish to become ever more and more faithful? Then set My precepts before thy eyes. Wherever thou sittest, standest, or walkest, think that I am present to thee, and that I either admonish or converse with thee. O, My child, keep within thyself keep thyself pure, disengaged, and retired. See, in this way wilt thou become conscious of My words; that good, too, will be made known to thee which, as yet, is greatly hidden from thee.
The Servant.—O, Eternal Wisdom, praised be Thou for ever! Ah, my Lord and most faithful friend, if I would not do it otherwise, Thou wouldst yet force me to do it with Thy sweet words and Thy gentle teaching. Lord, I ought and will do my very best towards it.
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