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The third way of a poor, perfect life, when you contemplate God internally, is, that a man do not fly from what may kill him in spiritual things.
The third way, which belongeth to a poor life, wherein you see God inwardly, is to give yourself up and not flee all that killeth man spiritually. This is expressed by being spiritually dead, so that a man is despised by all creatures and judged and condemned; now, a man ought not to fly from this if he wisheth thoroughly to die to his nature. Whoso flieth this steppeth aside from the way of poverty and of a pure life.225
Now this is so, because man hath cast himself through sins into the hatred of God, and this hatred must be rooted out by the hatred of creatures. Whoso is most hated in his repentance of sins, to him will his sins be most surely forgiven; and in proportion as man seeketh the love of creatures he departeth from the divine love, for creaturely love and godly love cannot subsist together. Thus he who is hated by the creature in a natural way is loved by God in a spiritual way; for no truly poor man is ever loved by any creature in a natural way, nor doth he love any one by nature; this is because he dieth continually to his nature, in him and in other men, and hence no one findeth anything to love in him naturally. For it is meet and lit that natural men who live devoted to their bodily nature should always hate him. For like loveth its like; therefore he who wisheth that he should never be loved unrightly, should take heed that he always die to his nature, in him and in other men, for what then is loved in him is God. And whoso is loved by natural men, that is a sign that he is not yet dead to his nature. For what natural men love is the luxury of nature, and when they do not find that, they do not love. It is therefore a good sign that a man rejoice when he is hated, for this no sinner can feel. He should give up all likeness with natural love, then divine love is alway 226his object, and he is only loved through divine love. For no one loveth another save when he findeth some likeness to himself in him, both by nature and grace; hence, when the likeness of nature is quite gone, there remaineth only the likeness of grace; and hence, whoso dieth to all likeness of nature, his flow or efflux is divine love, and his influx or ebb is also divine love. It happens thus that men not dead to themselves often love by nature, weening it is by grace, and when they are blamed for this, they are troubled and wax wrath; by this they should know that their love is natural. For right divine love is at all times patient, and suffereth all things; it letteth itself quite well be hated, but it hateth no one, and construeth all things for the best; but men not dead to themselves are always agitated in contradiction, and distracted from their peace.
A man must also endure all judgment? that fall upon him, and this prepareth him also for a poor life. If a man is to be freed from all the judgments which a man hath deserved, he must be judged; and by the judgment, that he patiently endureth, the judgment of God is taken away from him. This is necessary for those who belong to God—that they should be prepared by manifold judgments. Therefore Christ said, “It is needful that scandal should come, but woe 227to him through whom it cometh.”150150 Matt. xviii. 7. Therefore is it necessary that virtue should be guarded by contradiction and judgment; and whoso is not judged, that is a sign that he never worked proper virtue, for the highest virtue that man can work is most attacked by judgment; and whoso fleeth judgment fleeth virtue. In fact, the man who wisheth to live most perfectly must be judged by all men, for they do not stand in the same nearness to perfection. Every man praiseth his own, and what is unlike his own is not praised by him; and hence he judgeth all that is not like to him.
Therefore let no man omit any virtue through any judgment, and say, I will spare my fellow-man, that I be not a stumblingblock to him; or again, I will leave virtue for God. I answer to this, that a true virtue is never a cause of stumbling to any one, but it is a cause of setting all men upright, and guarding them from all falls. Whoso falleth through virtue is like a man whom a physician physics and who dieth of it. A man who doth not better himself by good works can never better himself by bad works, and the omission to do a good work is a bad work; therefore no one is bettered by the neglect of a pure virtue. And whoso leaveth a virtue for the sake of judgment, he feareth more bodily injury to himself than the spiritual injury of other people; for true virtue 228bringeth no injury, but it alway bringeth use. And whoso neglecteth virtue out of fear, this is a sign that he never obtained real virtue, which springeth out of divine love, for “in divine love there is no fear,” as St. John saith.151151 1 John iv. 18. Therefore the man dead to creatures accomplisheth virtue, even if the pains of hell were to fall upon him. For he worketh no virtue either from fear of hell or for the sake of heaven, but alone from pure love of God; and he will gladly suffer what falleth upon him, and it is the greatest joy to Mm thus to suffer, like the twelve apostles, who rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer through Christ. Therefore whoso hath divine love letteth no virtue be omitted, and suffereth every one to judge as much as he will; and he looketh to all that is pleasing to God, and not to what pleaseth people.
When a man hath still an eye to other people, and to what pleaseth them, his eye is not clear, therefore his work is not pure: for the creature blindeth, and God maketh seeing. He, therefore, who wisheth to see perfectly must turn his eye away from all creatures, and alone to God. After this all his works are pure virtue, and whatever falleth then upon him is for his best. No one should be guilty of this, that he goeth out of his best and followeth the best of other men; and this is because, when a man followeth 229his best in the most perfect manner, he doeth what is best for all in the most perfect manner. As Christ saith, “When am raised up, behold I draw all things after me.”152152 John xii. 32. Now, therefore, whoso is raised with Christ above all earthly things, draweth all things with him aloft, where is Christ, and that is the very best for all men. And who doth not take his best therein, this is his fault, as he is not worthy of Him; but no one must omit virtue for any unworthy object, and if he were to omit a virtue, he would fall into this same unworthiness. And God’s honour doth not lie in this that I am sparing with virtue on account of my fellowman, but that I fulfil all virtue, and I ought to endure whatever judgment may fall upon me, and that is the honour of God. For these same judgments make me a powerful judge at the last day, over all those who judge me here. Of this Christ spake: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”153153 Matt. vii. 1. Now, whoso judgeth another here in good works, gives him power to judge himself. Of this Paul spake: “Whoso judgeth his brother, heapeth judgment on himself.”154154 Rom. ii. 1. Therefore let no man be frightened because he is judged; for all his detects are thereby taken away from him, which only leave him henceforth the feeling of repentance.
It may now be asked if man with his virtues cannot in any way give an occasion 230of falling to his fellow-man. I say, where there is a true virtue, which is perfectly worked by divine love, this is no cause of falling; and whatever judgment falleth upon it is nothing else than a revelation of truth and justice. But the good work that taketh place out of fear or natural causes and natural likeness and an unprepared ground is an impure work; the greater the impurity the greater is the cause of falling to fellow-men; and whoso overthroweth his fellow-man with such works is guilty of his fall; these good works must often be left for the purpose of helping a fellow-man. Because these good works, through an improper intention, are changed into bad works, so that they are no longer good, but they are bad, and therefore they must be left; but good works that take place from right divine love are altogether pure, nor are they a cause of stumbling to our fellowmen, and therefore they are not to be left.
It might now be said, Could not an evil work be wrought from love, so that though the intention is to God, yet the work is evil? I say that all right works of love are good, and not evil.155155 1 Cor. xiii. 5. St. Paul saith this, that “divine love worketh no evil.” But many a man weeneth that he worketh from love when it is not love, therefore his works are ofttimes evil. For divine love is ordained according to a necessary aim, and when a 231man worketh works of love without order or necessity, love loseth its name, and a work lacking love taketh place. But such works are not entitled to reward; for Paul saith, “If I lack charity, I am nothing.”156156 1 Cor. xiii. 2. Therefore is it a great necessity that men should know how they should work works of love, and should let drop works lacking charity. Few men are found who know this art, to work the works of love in perfection.
A right work of love hath four kinds of ordinances. First is the law of Holy Church; the second order is that of the natural law; and these two ordinances meet in one law, and their law is measure, and the measure applieth to outer works, and whoso doth not attain to measure in his works of love, spoileth his work. Now, this is the measure, a mean or medium between little and much; and whoso always hitteth the mean in his works of love, his works are ordered and ordained according to divine love. Thus it is not a work of love to give to a man who doth not need it, for the giver doth not work according to the mean, which is here the necessity; for necessity is the object of gifts and their mean or measure, and hence it is not a virtue that a rich man should give to another rich man. Just as little is it a virtue that you give to eat to a man who is full, or to a drunken man to drink, as it is to give temporal goods 232to a rich man. There is indeed a little of virtue in this, Give to me and I will give to you. But God giveth no reward for this, for it is no work of love. Nor is it a properly ordered work of love, that a man should fast above the power of nature, so that his nature is injured by it; it is also not good that a man should eat beyond necessity, but a medium and measure should be kept in all things, and whoso observeth the mean in all his works, keepeth the commandments of Holy Church and of nature. Of this St. Bernard speaketh: “The best thing that a man can do is to keep order in nature and spirit.”157157 It is Guigo (in Epis. ad fratres de monte Dei. lib. 1. c. 11) who says: “Modus in omnibus habendus est,” whereas our author confounds him with St. Bernard. For all things have order, and whosoever taketh away their order from things, taketh their being; and whoso breaketh proper order in his works of love, he infringeth the divine love, and his works are rather evil than good. For Christ saith, “There is no one good save God,” and therefore nothing is good, save it be done in God, and nothing is done in God save according to order. The third order according to which a proper work of love should be worked is the order of the Holy Gospel; the fourth order is divine. And these two orders have one aim, which is God; for the order of the Holy Gospel admonisheth to external freedom from temporal things, which are not God, and the divine ordinance admonisheth to an internal freedom from all things that are not God. And whoso keepeth both these ordinances rightly in his works, he worketh always without 233mediation, in God and for God. This is because a perfect man, who liveth according to the order of the Gospel and according to divine order, is stripped of all creatures, inwardly and outwardly; hence God is his object, without mediation; for all means are departed, therefore also his works are without mediation, for they are worked without and above all creatures in God. And therefore Christ said, “Whoso leaveth not all that he hath, cannot be My disciple.” He says “all things,” and not to leave a part and keep a part, for this aims at natural means. But He saith we should leave all things and keep nothing, and this aims at God without any mediation. And he is a true disciple of God if he goeth only to the divine school, in which he learneth all truth, and if God alone is his schoolmaster, and teacheth him to work all his works according to divine order. Christ also saith: “Whoso doth not leave father and mother and sister, and all other things, is not worthy of Me.”158158 Here the author combines several verses of different Gospels: Luke xiv. 26, “If a man doth not hate his father and mother, his brethren and sisters;” and again, Matt. x. 38, “he is not worthy of me.” In truth, whose selfhood cleaveth to a thing that is not simply God, let this thing be as small as you please, maketh himself thereby unworthy of a great God; for worth and dignity subsist in likeness, and whoso cleaveth to his selfhood is unlike to God.
The Sacrament of our Lord is God and man. Whoso wisheth to receive Christ here worthily, must as far as possible be like unto 234Him. As the Humanity is here pure, so must be also the man who receiveth Him in His externals be clear of all temporal things; and as God is here pure, so also must the spirit be freed from all things which are not purely godlike. In this way is the Sacrament worthily received. Christ saith, “Whoso doth not leave all, is not worthy of Me.” Such a one alone receiveth the fruit in the most perfect manner, for he hath nothing in himself that can hinder him from this fruit. He can therefore go every day and receive his own food; no one can do this properly but he alone. Whoso would refuse him this food would take from him his Fatherly inheritance, that Christ hath left him through His death, to live upon it and still his desire. Whoso goeth otherwise to the table of the Lord than in true reality, he goeth not as a child to his fatherly inheritance. You can withhold from him his inheritance without sin, so long till he hath been chosen as a legitimate child of the covenant; such must hold themselves back from the Holy Sacrament till they are better prepared. They must have awe of the judgment of people, as it is not yet their proper inheritance, for they can be judged rightfully. If they still go up to receive, they give scandal and are thus guilty, for they take what is not their property. But the true children of the covenant, whose inheritance it is, need not omit for the sake of any man, unless their own heart did not consent to it. They must then turn to their Father, and keep to their inheritance. 235No one giveth them scandal if they use their inheritance; but they do not only use it, but divide it with all men who desire it. They need not hold in awe any judgment, for no one can deny their right. They must hold fast their inheritance, and if they let it be denied them, they prove thereby no love to their Father, but would make themselves illegitimate children. Whoso were to withhold from them the Sacrament, would be like unto a man whom a housefather inviteth to himself as guest, offereth him meat and drink, and accepts nothing from him therefor; but the guest driveth the host from his table, upsetting meat and drink, so that they must both fast. A wise and determined house-father would not pardon the guest, and if he were to do so, he would be a fool and a coward, who never possessed a manly character, and is not worthy to eat his meat. Whoso now knoweth that God feedeth him with Himself, let him eat and drink without fear, and let every one murmur and judge as he will; he giveth right to himself, to God, and to all men. But if he omitteth it on account of murmuring and judgments, he showeth that he is no child of the covenant, and that he doth not rightfully eat this food.
Some say you ought to consider your fellowmen and omit it for God’s sake. Whoso goeth 236worthily to the table of the Lord, giveth alms to the whole of Christendom, and to each one is given according to his worthiness. But whoso omitteth it giveth nothing to any one, and letteth all men hunger. Whoso blameth a good man for receiving the Body of Christ maketh himself unworthy of all the good of the whole of holy Christendom; but the highest good of Christendom is this, that good men receive the Body of Christ. Now, he who sinneth and maketh himself unworthy in the highest, maketh himself also unworthy in small things; whoso treateth God with dishonour, he dishonoureth also all the saints. On account of this unworthiness of his Censor no one should omit the Sacrament, in order that all other men should not have to answer for it if one sinneth. If he omitteth it when he ought to do it, he falleth into the same unworthiness in which he is who blameth him. In doing thus he followeth him more than God, therefore he hath more likeness to his blamer than to God. He also showeth no use to him or any one if he omitteth it. Whoso standeth on a weak tree, which is shaken by a vehement wind, must fall down, and if he falleth not at the first gust of wind, he falleth after another; but as he must needs fall, it is better that he should fall through the first than through a following gust. But to receive the Body of Christ is an occasion of falling to no one; it is his own wickedness which is in him, and if it is not revealed in this, it will be revealed in 237another work, and therefore he cannot escape. It is quite right that such persons should be judged, for it is the greatest work to receive the Body of Christ, and man in his weakness cannot prepare himself worthily for it; therefore it is necessary that he should be helped, in order that he may the sooner step up to it worthily. God permitteth that a judgment should fall upon him; these judgments make him pure, so that he may the more worthily receive the Body of the Lord: if any one flee these judgments, he will not let himself be prepared for it. Hence it belongeth to a poor life that a man be judged, in order then to be free, that he may commune with God immediately and work out each virtue in the most perfect manner.
Man must also suffer every persecution, which helpeth very much to a poor life. Man, through Adam’s fall and his defects, is full of sinful leanings, which hinder him from his best; this inrooted leaning and these defects must be rooted out by sufferings. Whoso doth not overcome Adam through sufferings, never attaineth to a pure poor life; whoso giveth him occasion to suffer helpeth him to this end. God willeth not that anything should be rooted out in man without sufferings; all that is untrue must disappear through these. He also lendeth no gifts if the ground for them is not purified by sufferings. Holy Writ saith, 238“No evil remaineth unpunished, and no good unrewarded.”159159 In the margin stands Augustine. If all evil is rooted out by suffering, then all good is given; therefore also Christ wished to suffer, that through His suffering all evil might be done away and all good given. Whoso suffereth most in his sufferings, has also the most use from the Passion of our Lord; but whoso fleeth this, fleeth his everlasting blessedness, as through nothing doth man come nearer to his blessedness than through sufferings. Suffering purifieth man as fire doth gold; the gold that is most burned in the fire is also the purest. So is it also with man; whoso suffereth most becometh also purest, whoso is purest is also nighest God, and thus suffering is the greatest gift that God lendeth here in time, for through this you come nighest to Him.
But no one is worthy of suffering except he who suffereth in the highest degree of divine love; he who hath not this is also not worthy. God letteth sinners suffer little upon earth; on the other hand, good men must suffer much, and if- any one is wise, he accepteth suffering more joyfully than if he received all the riches of the earth; for temporal good robbeth man of everlasting happiness if he tarries in it with joy. But temporal good giveth him suffering if he suffereth from love; he is also a fool who leaveth the good and chooseth the evil. Yet many fools are found 239on earth who desire and seek temporal good, but flee sufferings, therefore they are the wisest before the world and the most foolish before God. If God were to give sufferings to worldly-minded men, but temporal good to good men, He would act like one who were to kill his friend but would keep his foes alive, and give them, moreover, what they desired. Nothing bringeth more life into the soul than suffering. It rooteth out all that bringeth death to the soul, and when the deathly is thus removed, nothing more remaineth than life. Thus the most severe suffering begetteth the greatest joy, as joy springeth from suffering.
It may now be asked, Which suffering is better that which man hath occasioned to himself or what other people have wrought, or what God inflicts upon him? Just as much as it is better that God should bless man than that man should make himself happy, so much better is also the suffering that other people cause him and that God inflicts upon him than that which he occasions himself. Further, that suffering is the best where the greatest patience is called forth; but patience is greater when you suffer at the hands of others than when it is caused by yourself. A man easily endureth himself, but, on the contrary, he doth not so easily endure another.240
It may be said: if, then, the suffering that is inflicted on us by others is better than that which we inflict on ourselves, it is also better that we should not seek any suffering, but allow it to be applied to us; and thus, therefore, the suffering of rich people is better, as they do not seek it, than that of poor people, who seek it? But I say thus: That suffering is the best which is endured in true love, and this is certainly greater love if you seek suffering from love, than if you fly from it out of fear. But rich folk flee from sufferings, whether caused by themselves or others. The rich man is much more loved than hated, therefore no one doeth injury to him, save he himself. But the man truly poor in spirit thrusteth himself into every suffering, he fleeth his sins, as such sufferings give no reward, and he seeketh that others should do him injury, as he hath reward from this. Your own proper suffering cometh from a man’s own sins, and he suffereth quite rightly who liveth in sins, as each sin begetteth a special spiritual suffering. But if rich folk suffer thus, they have yet no merit unless they avoid the sins; if, however, they live in sins, they must endure severe sufferings. A suffering of this kind is like unto that of hell, for the more you suffer the worse you become; this happeneth to sinners; the more they suffer through their sins, the more wicked they become, and they fall continually 241more into them in order to get free from suffering; the more they flee external suffering, the more are they punished internally. Even if they have no external punishment, they are yet tortured internally by their sins, and complain of their great sufferings. They think it ought to bring them merit, because people say that suffering is good; but it is more a beginning of hellish torments than a preparation for heaven; for as good men have a foretaste of everlasting joys, so have sinners a foretaste of everlasting torments, as everlasting joy is begotten in virtue, and everlasting torment in sins. Therefore that suffering alone bringeth merit which out of love is borne with patience and for the sake of the truth. Such sufferings are sought by good men, therefore their suffering is also well pleasing to God.
Nothing bringeth man nearer to God than Buffering, and indeed for this reason, because suffering rooteth out all that is hateful and ungrateful to God in man, and thus man must remain free from all hatred and must love God. Therefore Christ saith through David: “I am with him in tribulation; I will deliver him, and glorify him; I will give him a long life, and show him My salvation.”160160 Ps. xci. 15-16. “I am with him in suffering “meaneth that you have always God present in suffering. Nay, God cometh with suffering to man, and 242cannot come better to him; man is thus freed from all that is not God; he adhereth to God only, and God enlighteneth him with the light of His glory, and filleth him with everlasting blessedness, which is Himself. His suffering is like a wine-press in which grapes are pressed in wine making. If the grape is pressed, what is in it floweth from it; if it is sweet, sweet wine floweth forth, if sour, sour wine. So is it also if man is pressed by suffering, what is in him floweth from him. If he is a virtuous man, when he is seized by suffering, only divine sweetness issueth from him, which was hidden in him; it becometh manifest, so that he giveth good noble wine to drink to all men, and he can say, “Come all to me, ye that thirst, ye shall all be filled and satisfied with my own wine.”161161 This seems to be a free rendering of Eccles. xxiv. 26: “Transite ad me omnes qui concupiscitis me et a generationibus meis implemini.” With this sweetness he now presseth into all things, he maketh them all good, and also receiveth the best. He disturbeth no man, and no man can trouble him; thus hath he then much likeness with God, if he remaineth quite immovable in his mind. Christ said also, “Blessed are they that are persecuted for justice’ sake, for they shall be called the children of God; blessed are ye when men hate you and persecute you; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for your reward shall be great in heaven.”162162 Matt. v. 10, 11. “Blessed,” He saith, “are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake,” and this is because persecution, hatred, and contempt bring salvation to man, and whoso 243doth not suffer this findeth also not happiness. No man can bless himself; if he is to be blessed, he must be holpen to this; this help rather than his works saveth him. Therefore also Jesus said, “Rejoice in the days of adversity, for your reward is great in heaven,” that is, such a reward will be given to man as he could not have merited by his works. Therefore let no man be sorrowful in suffering, for it taketh away all sorrow, and procureth all peace. Good people are the most cheerful, because they have most sufferings, and the pressing winepress causeth the hidden joy to overflow. That is indeed a noble life, when man alway rejoiceth and is never thoroughly sorrowful.
Nevertheless our Lord saith, “My soul is sorrowful unto death.”163163 Matt. xxvi. 38. How then can good people be always gladsome? There are two kinds of sorrow, first, a sorrow that ariseth from our sins; but Jesus and good souls have not this sorrow. The other sorrow is more one of compassion, and ariseth from the love of man; Jesus had this, and also all the pious. This sorrow can well subsist with divine joy, and he who loveth his neighbour most, and hath compassion with him, in him ariseth the greatest divine joy. Even though the good man must feel sufferings on account of its defects, this taketh place from divine love, and his suffering is not like that of the 244sinner, in whom the pangs of hell always are born, but his suffering cometh out of love, and begetteth divine joy. Whoso doth not rejoice in suffering giveth evidence that it is not fruit-bearing. St. Paul saith, “Rejoice in the Lord alway,”164164 Phil. iv. 4. and in another place he saith again, “Be joyful.” “Rejoice in the Lord alway; “this meaneth that man should abide in everlasting joy in the Lord, but a joy issuing from a pure conscience. Whoso hath this joy, that is a sign that God dwelleth in his heart, who revealeth Himself in love and joy. Thus good souls cannot show much sadness, for God hath taken away from them all sadness, and hath taken the place of this in them; but where God is there is perpetual joy. “Be ye joyful,” that is, as often as a man meeteth a suffering, he should always have a peculiar joy. That is then a sign that God answereth him in all things, and always cometh to meet him with new gifts. Every suffering endured from love and with joy bringeth fresh gifts; and he who rejoiceth alway in suffering, proveth that God is always giving to him, and that no gift escapeth him. Fresh gifts bring fresh joys, and the joy is known by the gift; for no one rejoiceth if you take from him, but if you give to him. God giveth continually to good men, so they constantly also feel joy.
But it will be said that Jesus called those accursed who always live in joy here,165165 Luke vi. 25. how 245can then good people always have such joy? Our Lord only calls those accursed who have their joy and their delight in this moment of time; this sham delight is sinful, therefore God rejecteth it. But the joy of the good doth not issue from the moment of time but from eternity, not from sin but from virtue. They do not procure this joy for themselves, but God giveth it to them.
It might again be said, If good people always have joy what is then their suffering? for suffering and joy cannot subsist together. I reply, Man is made up of body and soul, and each hath its separate work. But when the body rejoiceth in temporal things and sins, the spirit sorroweth, and sinners have this joy and sadness. Again, when the spirit rejoiceth in God, the body sorroweth in time, and this joy and sadness have good people. And the suffering of the body which they have in time bringeth them to life everlasting. Moreover, the joy that they have is the fruit of suffering, and thus suffering and joy subsist together, and the greater the suffering of the body, the greater is the joy of the spirit. That they can rejoice in sufferings is a sign that they belong to eternal life. Never was there to any man a divine joy in suffering, if he belonged to hell. From this cause also sinners have an everlasting sadness in their joy. The fruit of their temporal lust is much more a sham and a vain fancy than a 246truth. It is also in truth no joy but everlasting torment. These men, the more external delight they have, the more are they inwardly tortured. And this is a sign that they do not belong to God. For luck in this time is an affair of everlasting ill luck. He therefore who puffeth himself up with temporal luck is like unto a thief who rejoiceth when he is led over a green meadow; and so long as he is on the green meadow he thinketh it is well with him, but as soon as he hath passed over the meadow they hang him on the gallows, and all his joy is gone. So also it happeneth with the sinner who rejoiceth in this short time, and is afterwards hanged on the everlasting hellish gallows. And this is right, for they are thieves and steal from God what is His own. For all that they have is from God, and they give nothing back to Him, and therefore are they rightly hanged. And whoso is puffed up with good luck is puffed up because he is a thief and has to be hanged. Thus luck in time is a cause of hell and ill-luck, and pain a cause of everlasting life.
The remark might now be made: There be many good folk on earth who yet have little suffering, must they then on that account have less reward? I say, Whoso is a true friend of God is never without temporal suffering—he suffereth alway. This happeneth in a fourfold way. One suffering is in the works, another in the will, a third in 247the spirit, and a fourth in God, and each bringeth about a separate joy. The first suffering that a man endureth is from outer accidents. Thus God inflicts on man sickness, or condemnation, or letteth a man fall into poverty, so that he is exposed to hunger, thirst, and misery and insult, and whatever other sufferings he endureth he endureth all through God, and a right good man is seldom without such suffering; he must needs always suffer something. If such suffering were entirely withdrawn from him he would stray from the way to the kingdom of heaven. And let him know it or not, he must endure suffering in several ways. For on the road of God you must always go by your own strength, and yet no man can do this always unless God help him and give him power and power alway floweth into the soul through suffering. Whoso lacketh suffering lacketh strength, and whoso lacketh strength cannot always go of himself; but whoso cannot always go of himself, steppeth aside from the way of God. Hence good people must always suffer, that they may always have strength to go of themselves, and this they suffer privately or openly. It cometh often to pass that good men be hated privately, and that the worst things are said of them. Thus are they prepared by private sufferings. All this steadieth them on the way of God, and bringeth them great reward, and therefore Christ spake, “Rejoice in the day when ye are hated, for your reward shall be great in heaven.” What 248He speaketh of the day is said of the light of truth. For as the sun enlighteneth the day, so suffering enlighteneth the reason to know the truth, therefore David said, “Suffering giveth understanding.”166166 Instead of David, Denifle suggests Isaiah, for at xxviii. 19 occurs the passage, “Vexatio dabit intellectual auditui,” “and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.” Compare No. 83. Therefore the men most tried by suffering are they of the most understanding. This is because suffering giveth to a man to know everything as it is. And it revealeth the secret nature of things. But what is revealed is also known. Now voluptuous delight and temporal luxury darken the reason, in the darkness of creatures, so that it becometh quite blind and loseth its natural discretion, and this is seen well in the love of the world. But suffering gathereth up the soul from all things that are not God into itself; and it loveth the truth, and in the light which is the spirit and God in the spirit, and in no other way can a man know the truth better than in suffering. This is because the sweetness of temporal things covereth the reason with darkness. But the bitterness of temporal things strippeth from the reason all darkness of creatures, as the knowledge of the truth is a going apart from all natural things. The sweetness of material things causeth the reason to cleave unto them, but the bitterness of things causeth the reason to turn away from all things, and thus suffering causeth detachment, and bringeth to the knowledge of the naked truth. Whoso would be right wise let him go to the school of suffering. For therein 249each thing showeth itself as it is, and of this Gregory speaketh, “Whatever was hid in man when suffering cometh, it is revealed.”167167 Qualiter unusquisque apud se lateat, contumelia illata probat. In this way man cometh to a knowledge of himself and of all things in sufferings, as Paul saith, “Through much tribulation must we enter the kingdom of God.”168168 In the margin Act. ix. See Acts xiv. 22. For this kingdom of God consists in this, that we know God in us and know ourselves in God. But we know God in us and ourselves in God when all things that are not God are driven out of us with suffering, and thus God alone remaineth known in us. Therefore a teacher saith, “Whoso wish to live intimately with Christ must suffer persecution.”169169 In the margin Paulus ad Thimoth. 2. Comp. II. 3-12. For suffering is driven out by suffering; and when a man hath endured all suffering he is free from all suffering, and thus he liveth in Christ intimately, that is, in right rest and peace of his heart. But whoso fleeth suffering is never free from suffering, that is because the ground of his heart never becomes clear, and thus the heart is always troubled. For all trouble must pass away with suffering, and therefore good people must always have some suffering, that they may always continue pure. For while man is in time he cannot always continue without sinful propensity, and sinful propensities must each one root out, and whosoever suffereth most, this is a sign that God loveth him most, especially removeth his sins, and maketh him pure from all sinful accidents. Hence suffering is a noble plant that 250quickly healeth the wounds of man. But to fools this plant hath not a pleasant smell, they turn away their noses from it and flee away. Therefore they must always be distressed, and moreover poor and unhappy, and right reprobate fools. But the richer and nobler they be in time, the greater fools without doubt. Therefore good people must always endure sufferings, that all folly may drop away from them, and that their reward may be always assigned them. Of this the wise man saith, “These are they whom we held as fools and mocked at them, but now are they counted among the sons of God.”170170 In margin: Sapientia Vo. Comp. Book of Wisd., v. 4, 5.
Secondly, man must have Buffering in the will, and what faileth him in works, he must fulfil in the will. This cometh to pass in this wise: when a man turneth into himself, and in the light of faith seeth the love of our Lord, which compelled Him to suffer such great martyrdom for him, then an answering love springeth up in man, who out of right love for our Lord would atone and make good all that which He hath suffered for his sake, and thus he falleth with the will on all the sufferings that might be inflicted upon him, and those he is willing again to suffer through and for Christ. Then his desire for suffering is greater than for all the things that are in time, and out of genuine answering love he throws off all that may bring him pleasure, comfort, and joy, and giveth himself a lack 251of all bodily delight and comfort, and of all creaturely joy, that he might repay Christ for a part of His sufferings. And this beginning of poverty is a sure way to a perfect life; and after a good beginning followeth easily a good middle course and a good end.
It is wonderful that these beings are never abandoned by God; they have begun in love, which is Christ, and Jesus must support them, and keep them with him for eternity. It also happens that their seduction will be attempted by nature, but the will bound to God with the determination to give up all things, can resist all other temptations. Such men then are the servants of God. All that bringeth the good to default is that their own will was never serious, for when a man standeth on his own responsibility he must fall, and cannot remain upright. But he who forceth on himself the atonement for the sufferings of Jesus, this earnest determination is aided by God, who raiseth him to godliness, and never letteth him fall again into a human will: this determination can therefore resist deadly falls. The following giveth us an example:—“A king who hath an enemy seeketh to catch him, and if he getteth him into his power he punisheth him, taketh his goods from him, and perchance killeth him.” So is it also with the “will,” when man standeth on it unaided. It is the enemy of God, God seeketh to get it into his power, He sendeth forth scouts, and those are the men who announce the word 252of God, and the warnings of conscience which God giveth: if the man through the light of his reason is led to recognise all that he had formerly sought he waxeth wrathful, and wisheth to leave all evil and that is a cause of evil. Thus now God persecuteth him, punisheth him with mental and external sufferings, taketh from him all his goods and greed; He killeth him entirely, and draweth all away from him which is deadly and not of God; thus is earthly attraction crushed and conquered by God. Those are blessed who thus die in God, as St. John says, “Blessed are those who die in God” (Rev. xiv. 13).
That worketh a great love which through the sufferings of our Lord is kindled by the burning fire of the Holy Ghost. This love forceth the volition, to suffer all pains that are forthcoming in atonement for the One who loved man so strongly. He now turneth all things to bring suffering upon him, and that which He cannot bring to him in action he bringeth to himself mentally: the will then bringeth before him all the torments suffered by our Lord, all the sufferings endured by the saints, and all that men must yet suffer. He uniteth himself in this with complete affection, and the wish to have suffered all things, or to suffer more. This love maketh the will receptive of all the advantage which is to be found in the agony of our Lord, and sufferings of all saints and pious souls. The following is to be read anent the holy Martin, 253that he, although not executed with the sword, hath none the less not lost the martyr’s crown, because he suffered in the wish, what the martyrs suffered in the flesh, and because it gave him pain that he could not suffer bodily.171171 Martin occurs in the margin. The passage is traced by Denifle to the Breviary on the Festival of St. Martin, 11th Nov. (Brev. Rom. antiphon. in 2 vesp. at Magn.; Brev. O.P. antiph. super Ps. in I vesp.): “O sanctissima anima, quam etsi gladius persecutoris non abstulit, tamen palmam martyrii non amisit. See above, No. 44, Part L and No. 51, Part II.; and Sylvius, Comment, in Summam, S. Thom. tom. it p. 151, ad 7 (ed. Venetiis, 1726). In this way many good people are able to be companions of the martyrs, when they have willed to suffer all their martyrdoms; but they must also bear in mind, that when they tramp in the footsteps of our Lord and of the saints they must endure in the love of God all sufferings that cross their path, however cruel, and with a firm will wish that they may suffer more. Thus can a man partake of all suffering.
But on the other hand, he who demandeth suffering and yet always attempteth to avoid it in action doth not present himself in the form of our Lord, which showeth that his desire was not complete (earnest), and he will therefore not take part in all sufferings. Man must, so long as he can work anything, work the work prescribed by God; first, when he hath accomplished all things, and desireth nothing more, God worketh instead of himself, and then for the first time beginneth the godly work in entirety, because the man in fact is freed from his own works. He beareth also now, though sinless, a suffering; what he can suffer he suffereth, what doth not occur to him he seeketh to suffer; love maketh the sufferings of strangers as his own, not one 254but all. Were God to impart him less than if he had suffered all he would not have rewarded him justly; but this is to be understood as essential and not as accidental reward, because essential reward is that one understandeth and loveth the pure truth. If in a perfect will is also an unbounded love of absolute truth, if absolute truth is the greatest reward, then the wish with love of suffering gains all essential reward. The object is simple, therefore also the reward. Some truly say, when a man hath come to complete truth he cannot increase it, because complete truth is simple, and he who once hath it hath it completely, and nothing can be wanting to him. True it is that in respect to the difference in number one cannot increase it, but in its simplicity and purity one can increase it so long as we live in time; the simpler and purer we are, the more we are able to understand absolute truth. If the man in the first attempt after absolute truth seeth not at once the highest pinnacle of pure internal simplicity, he can also not at once understand this truth; and as he increaseth in this singleness of purpose his reward will also increase. As his volition separateth itself from things to the one unity, which is God, after an essential manner, he therefore also increases in absolute reward; according as his spirit is united with God so also increaseth his absolute sanctity. When the will getteth into the condition that he increaseth in absolute reward, then he embraceth all good works with 255love, all virtues and sufferings, and perfects it all with charity (love). By love therefore he draweth forth the best fruit, and adheres to it, for it is God the fountain of all things; he compelleth God with this true love to place him as a co-worker in all good works in an essential manner. Whoever were to know what a hidden treasure he is bringing to himself by an humble and devoted will, would not stand on his own will, because with love he arrives at that point to which angels’ reason does not reach, in the beginning without end. The beginning of God, which is, however, without beginning, no one can know except God. Him can the will alone love in the past, and therefore God must reward him, as if he himself had always been, and as if he had always loved.
We can here make use of the expression of Augustin, “What one doth not understand one doth not love,”172172 See Part I., p. 10, No. 14. Thus love springeth from the understanding. If, therefore, the eternity of God is beyond understanding, is it therefore impossible by volition to love His eternity? I answer, love is twofold, one springeth from the understanding, and with this will one cannot love Him in His eternity; the other ariseth from faith, and loveth Him for the sake of His eternity. As we can and must believe that God is without beginning and without end, so also can the will love Him entirely from the light of faith, as an always 256existing and everlasting God. According as the will loveth Him, so also will He reward it; He loveth it indeed as if it had been an eternal will, and equal will be the recompense. As Christ says, “With the same measure that ye measure out, will also be measured back, and a heaped up and overflowing measure will they give into your lap.” Equal measure is equal love; God giveth not less to the soul than she loveth Him; He will measure out to her according to the summit of His love. The heaped up, overflowing measure is God Himself; when also the will understands God then more superfluity remaineth to her than she can comprehend; and in this godlike abundance the will hath more joy than in that which it comprehendeth. But God rewards the will with eternal love, for the will doth not rouse itself to love God, but the Holy Ghost is the love from which the will loveth, and as the Holy Ghost is without beginning or end, so also it loveth God without beginning and without end. But the will loves God thus in the love of the Holy Ghost only, when it has raised itself above the beginning and end of the creature world. If this is the case, then it goeth forth in the unending God, with whom there is neither beginning nor end. Then man loveth all in an essential manner, and will accordingly be rewarded. All suffering that hath been suffered and will yet be suffered, he wisheth may also occur to him; for the sake of the sufferings of Jesus Christ let him add his own sufferings, so that the suffering and reward may be complete. 257St. Paul had this love when he said, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is troubled, and I am not troubled? Yes, I am all things to all men. that I might make you all holy.”173173 The only passage resembling this is Rom. xii. 15. Flere cum flentibus citieren.
The third suffering abideth in the soul, when the spirit of man is seized by the godly Spirit, with the mantle of His love wound round it, so that he dependeth to it. The band of divine love is then so delightful to him that all other things revolt him; and if he meeteth anything, which is not from the love of the Holy Ghost, it paineth him. All that he seeth and heareth, and which is not divine, is a sad and unspeakable scathe.
When David saith,174174 This passage cannot be found in the Psalms, but in Proverbs xii. 21. “There shall no evil happen to the just.” Schmidt, p. 130, infers from the whole passage, that the soul united with God will, according to the author, never more be troubled; it is raised above all that is changeable, &c. In this case Denifle thinks that Schmidt can only have read the passage from Scripture, for from the context follows exactly the contrary. “The righteous will not be troubled,” that referreth to temporal things, which make him troubled and unclean; but this suffering of a clean soul is caused by all things that are not God, and it thereby causeth the soul to purify and retain purity. When anything sinful crosseth the spirit, it is of necessity that it should be met with bitterness; this bitterness (hostility) driveth away the unholy onslaught, and retaineth the soul in its cleanliness. If the soul is free from all sinful impressions, if it standeth in the form 258of divinity, then it findeth itself in the righteousness in which God had originally formed it. It has arrived there through grace, and it is not troubled, for it hath passed beyond where grief can reach, it hath united itself with that which is all rapture and joy, he revelleth, and no more sadness can approach him. Thus meaneth David when he saith, “The righteous cannot be troubled.” Secondly, nothing could trouble the righteous unless God were stolen away; thus only the tearing away of his righteousness could trouble him. But so long as man liveth in time so long will he be persecuted, therefore he feeleth trouble and bitterness. But this trouble doth not injure the righteous, but rather holdeth him in his righteousness. Thirdly, the righteous man will also not be troubled when he existeth in the complete enjoyment of his righteousness. But this cannot be completely the case in time, but only in eternity. So long, therefore, as man is here below, so long his soul must be troubled, because he hath no power to enjoy his righteousness; but this trouble is also not destructive, but driveth him towards this complete righteousness. When there is hunger and thirst there is also trouble. Fourthly, the righteous man will not be troubled when his soul is given up to God, when all worldliness hath disappeared, and divinity standeth alone before him, in which he findeth joy. But if the man throweth a glance on his neighbour of human kind and seeth his misery he must then suffer with 259him. But such trouble doth not hinder the righteous, for righteousness springeth from charity. In the Gospel it is written of Jesus, “Jesus shuddered in spirit, and was troubled.” This was sympathy which he had for us. Fifthly, the righteous soul is unable to be troubled when all created objects are set aside and it is wrapped in the uncreated, which is God, where it alone findeth peace and sufficiency. But when the interest of the man concentrateth itself in created objects, which lead the soul not to God, then the spirit is troubled, because its sanctity is not fashioned and formed in that shape, he is, therefore, not able to be quiet *of spirit; but even this disturbance of the spirit is not destructive, for it gradually driveth away all things that, are not God, until God finally alone abideth with him. But at the same lime when perchance a man hath for a time peace through the perception of reason, that is not complete rest but a natural one.
This peace had also the pagans; they put away all earthly things that they might enjoy bodily peace; therefore also the spirit was of joy, although not its true joy. But this natural joy should be avoided, and it should alone be sought in God; those who stand by this joy are more like unto the Gentiles than like Christ. It is possible, and also often 260happeneth, that a man putteth away all to have peace of spirit without obstacles, and therefore it is rather difficult to separate these natural pagan men from the Christian and divine; both of them avoid all earthly things, both have a similar life; they love poverty and venerate the Creator; both of them attempt externally to imitate the picture of our Lord; but inwardly they are unlike. Objects and forms are the aims of the natural men, they find their happiness in them; but the divine seek their happiness in the humanity and godliness of Christ, they come out from Him and they return to Him. But let no man attempt to find the difference between these two men, unless he hath divine light in his nature and is directed in spirit, lest he should attach sins to holy people. The best side should be looked on in all intentions, and no one should be pronounced wicked of whom the rottenness cannot here be known.
But if some one loveth a natural man (man of the world) as if he were a divine man, will God then reward him as if he were a true one? I answer, It is better that one should love a man who bears the name of a Christian, if he is good or bad, than that one should dislike and hate him, as God rewards love in any form more than if a man is without it; 261but love must be general, not directed to one individual nor intermittent. Who at the same time can love a worldly or ordinary man strongly, and yet keep God in view, hath but an impeded and forced love, for all attachments make an obstacle. But the man who loveth all his neighbours equally, without personal interest, hath a true love, which God will also reward. But if a man loveth another as if he were good, when he is not so, it would be unjust for God to reward him, because as love springeth from understanding, if that understanding is an unjust one so also is the love, therefore God rewardeth him not. It also happeneth that a man loveth another because he holdeth him as good, whilst another holdeth him as bad. God then gives more reward to the man who held him as wrong, if justly, than to the man who held him as right. Thus love becometh better according as it is lighted by divinity, and the more it is drawn away the less in value it becomes. It certainly does occur that one man is drawn to another by blind love, holding him for righteous when it is not the case; whereas another, being better awakened, does not act to him according to blind love, but loveth him according to his worth. This love is much nobler than the first blind love, God accordingly rewards it more thoroughly.262
But a reversed view may here be taken. Thus love doth not come entirely from the understanding, but also from faith. Therefore if one man hath more faith than another, and loveth him from that reason, because he holdeth him for good, should God not reward him more than another who hath not so much faith, and therefore doth not love him so much? I answer, The man hath only so much real faith as he obtaineth from divine light; to whom the light faileth, faileth also the faith. He who hath learnt to know divine truth best hath also the truest faith; but no one hath this except the man who hath understood essential truth, and who loveth from complete faith; this love is the most useful and most worthy. It also happeneth that a man trusteth another, holding him to be righteous, and loving him, but he doth not exactly understand why he loveth him; whilst another hath no trust in him, doth not hold him as righteous, and doth not love him, and understandeth what he should believe; and this hostility is nobler and more useful than that love, for God doth not reward a false faith when some one believes a thing that is not true; it is, on the contrary, almost faithlessness and sinful, rather than perfection; such love is not rewarded by God which springs from faithlessness. Thus Jesus said, “Take heed of false prophets, that come to 263you in sheep’s clothing, but are inwardly raging wolves.” They are false prophets who point to themselves as respectable (righteous), but who are really bad; and holding such men as good is rather unrighteous than righteous. Jesus adviseth us to defend ourselves from them, therefore it is bad. In the latter time false teachers shall rise up and preach, but he who believeth in them showeth that he is not good. He who liketh the superficially righteous man (hypocrite), and holds him for good, is certainly not righteous himself; he is certainly, as a teacher saith, “a fool, that believeth anything or everything.”
The light of faith is above all understanding; a man requireth no reason with faith, for he is raised above it. Men without understanding believe truly; God giveth them therefore the same reward as to the awakened. Is it, therefore, not necessary to understand to believe because faith is simple? Understanding is twofold; one is required for faith, the other is faith itself. The first is that a man should understand the articles of faith and the teachings of Christ. Whosoever knoweth the teaching and liveth according to it, in him the fruit of the doctrine is revealed by which he will be known, because the tree is known by its fruit; if the man cometh to understanding, then he at once beginneth to 264believe, and it is certain that the faith is true. But the men who have not lived according to the doctrines of our Lord, also do not know the fruits of His teachings, and they also therefore do not know whether they believe rightly or wrongly. They believe only from hearsay, therefore their faith is not complete, and they can easily err. As now their faith is incomplete, so also is their love. The second understanding which perfect men have is united with faith (is one); when a man acteth on the doctrines of Christ in life, bringing all things into one, and this one into unity of knowledge in the light of faith, that is God, and where faith springs from faith, he penetrates into the hidden darkness of the pure divinity. His understanding consisteth then in suffering, but his faith is working with God. But this faith in God worketh on the understanding with burning love, this love feeleth it, and this feeling is its understanding; what is beyond it is true faith. Then the man is a true Christian, but not before. Who then, therefore, is not led forward by the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and by all virtue, until he without any distinction is brought to this oneness, he cannot have real faith; his faith is of course manifold, but it is not true; therefore also his love, which springs from it, is not right265
The best and only way to arrive at the true faith, which contains all love, is that man should be monopolised with the doctrines of our Lord, and lead a holy life; that he should be illumined with the teachings of Jesus, in order to know the awakening spirit and believe it. From this faith man must love without any attachment, then he loveth not men alone, but also the image and life of our Lord, which love is always good and meritorious. Even if such a man who were loved in the image and life of our Lord were still hampered with defects, he would not lose the reward. Christ said, “He who taketh up a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive the reward of a prophet.” He who discovereth that a man walketh on the road of Christ he should love him as a follower of Christ, he then receives the reward of a disciple of Christ. We should not only look on the image but also on the works, for there is the greatest importance. He who loveth outside the life of Christ his love is of the world or worldliness; this is wasted and bad; that which is not a pure truth and love is a pain to the spirit. He who will not be deceived with false lights and unrighteous loves must strive that his spirit may be emptied of all falsity, and that it may be inflamed by the love of the Holy Ghost. If the spirit standeth in purity everything showeth itself in its true 266light; if it is good the spirit remaineth in peace, if it is bad it loseth its peace: thus good men recognise all things through peace. In a pure heart nothing can err, evil must show itself, for that heart is like unto a clean looking-glass, in which one seeth all things which are held before it, and as everything is it showeth to the eye. So it is also with a pure spirit, which is united with God. God permitteth nothing to approach which could destroy the unity, what is of no value there will be thrown out. Pure men require not to see all things with difference of form, for appearances cause disturbance if one attendeth to them long; fallacy is treated by external forms, and the evil spirit clothes himself in them. In simplicity let a man take note of his heart, and let God work without any external images in this way the eye of reason remaineth clean and unmixed, and no mistake can occur; the evil spirit liketh not this purity, and flieth from it. The man who hath purity remaineth untempted by evil, for God worketh in a pure soul, and illumines it with the flame of divine love, and imparts His love to it. If the powers of evil feel this they avoid it as a thief flieth from the light in a house where he will steal. The sorcery of the devil is nothing else than a mixing up with sense and worldliness and its images, but if one avoideth these, if one throweth away all material images and interests then the enemy findeth no space.267
But if man turn again to the senses he is befooled by the evil spirit, thus those men who live a life of the senses cannot long persist without a fall, for they have no refuge where they can stay. For God is the refuge of all men, and God doth not work in the senses nor in images, but He draweth away all the senses, and driveth out all images, and then he is the dwelling-place of man and his refuge against deadly falls. But those who do not stand withdrawn from their sensuality and stripped of all images they are on the verge of a fall, and it is a wonder if they still keep their footing. For this reason it is an absolute necessity that the senses be withdrawn into the highest reason and penetrate therewith into God, and thus you stand alone without a deadly fall. And if it were possible that the senses were always drawn in under the highest reason, and the reason were directed to God, a man thus placed would stand always untouched by death, and without venial sins, and would stand in original justice, in which God created the first man. Again, they who live in the senses cannot guard themselves against sins, and this is because all sensuality is death-giving, therefore they who live in sensuality live in death, and thus they cannot guard themselves against death, hence they must needs fall. The spirit that is raised above all things in God draweth 268up the senses with it, and turneth them as it is also turned, and maketh them subject to itself as it also is subject to God; and while there is obedience the spirit hath rest in God; but when the senses are rebellious in disobedience to the spirit the spirit is troubled and deprived of peace, and this is then a suffering of the spirit.
The fourth suffering that a man must have is in God. This happeneth when all unlikeness falleth away from the spirit through grace, and it is placed in a likeness when it is receptive of the work of God, and in this receptiveness God worketh, and the spirit suffereth the work of God.
There are two kinds of work in the soul, one is of reason and of grace, the other is essential and divine.
The first or reasonable work is when the
reason courseth through all things with the
distinction of images (ideas or conceptions),
and findeth God in all things. For God is a 269good that hath flown into all things, and thus
man offereth himself to serve all things that
he may find God; and the reason calleth this
an inworking reason, and it giveth to each
thing its own proper thing that belongeth to
it, and thus it findeth God in all things. For
whoso could take things in the order, according to which God hath ordained them, would
find God in all things. The cause why we do
not find God in things is that we seek things
without order, and with disorder we lose God
in things. Now, as order is a matter of finding, so disorder is a matter of losing; but if
the reason seeketh all things in proper order,
it findeth a present God. And when it findeth God it forgetteth things and cleaveth to
God alone, and it perceiveth that all things
are unquiet, and that perfect rest is in God
alone. Therefore she lifteth herself above all
things and seekest God out of all things; and
this cometh to pass by a working out of the
images which she hath drawn into herself
from creatures. And thus she freeth and
strippeth herself from all creaturely imagery,
and as the reason before drew in the images
of creatures, that she might find God in them,
so now she worketh off all the images of creatures that she may find an unveiled God.
This, therefore, is called a working off reason,175175 Compare Eckhart, 19. 29; and Eckhart the
Younger, in the Tractate of the Working and
the Possible Reason, edited by Preger, in Sitzung’s Berichten of the Phil. Hist. Class of the
Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences, 1871, p.
But Preger overlooked the fact that already, more than twenty years earlier, attention had been directed to a Low German MS. of this Tractate (Four Writings of John Rusbroek, Hanover, 1848, p. xxxvi.), which ought to have been made the basis of the restoration of the text, because, as Preger himself confesses, the Tractate is not of High but Low German origin.
Respecting the Possible and Working Reason, see further, Greith, p. 163. The same theme is treated in an unpublished sermon of the Mystic, Helwic von Germar, “Der lesemeister was zu Erforte.” With reference to the doctrine itself, C. Werner (Der Heilige Thomas von Aquino, iii. 656) finds in it a false Gnosis, and Steffensen (Gelzer Protest. Monathsbl. xi. 274) says it is to be reckoned as the boldest speculation that can be found among the German Mystics. But Denifle pronounces that neither one nor the other of these views is true. He conceives that this view is based on the scholastic doctrine of the intellectus agens and the contemplatio pura. According to the Schoolmen, if a contemplatio without images of the fancy is possible, and if the intellectus agens has, according to the nature of light, the special function to enlighten the fancies or Phantasmata and to make what is intelligible in them perceptible to the mind, then in this case, during the contemplatio, the intellectus agens remains quiescent, and the essential imageless knowledge is then imparted to the spirit, without any co-operation on its part, as St. John of the Cross teaches (p. 515, ed. Mad. 1672), and from whence can it be imparted save from God? This view, continues Denifle, has nothing to do either with the views of William of Paris or Henry of Ghent respecting the intellectus agens, nor with those of Alexander of Aphrodisius and the Arabian peripatetics. On the contemplatio pura see Sandaeus, l.c. p. 144. 2 foll. for she casteth off all things, that she may be free from all works, and God be alone the working Master. This is also all of grace in an angelic light.
After this the godlike work goeth on; that is, when the reason has cut off all images of creatures, has unclothed itself from all created images, God cometh into the soul and placeth Himself in the stead of the working reason and worketh His works; in this case the reason is called a passive or suffering reason, for it suffereth what God worketh. And then and thus all works are worked in one work, and as all things are enclosed in God, so He encloseth all things in one work that He worketh in the soul. The soul hath received the eternal Word, when it is free from all else. If it hath entered the divine essence with ardent love it begetteth the Son in the Godhead.
This divine birth in the soul is, however, twofold, an internal and external. It is the internal, when the soul embraced by the divine light penetrateth into the divine heart, its heart and all its powers become a nutriment of the divine heart, so that it loseth at once its heart and its powers, and hath nothing more of them. But in return God giveth to the soul His heart and His powers, and the heart of the soul now is a godlike heart, and no more a human heart. Thus the heart liveth always in an ardour of the divine fire, is penetrated by it, so that it becometh faint 271through love, for human power faileth, so that all the members fall into weakness. And must needs be that this come to pass, for where the divine power shall work human power must become lost, as this is only inclined to error and sin. If this defective power is no more at hand God can pour out His power into the soul without hindrance. Therefore God sendeth the fire of His love into the heart that all evil may be consumed, all disorderly powers may be ordered, all defects may be healed, and an unlikeness removed. Then all things lose their proper form, and are transformed into godlike forms, as also Jesus said, “Behold I make all things new.”176176 In the margin Apoc. Rev. xxi. 5; Eph. iv. 22, 24. This taketh place also when God dwelleth in the soul, for thus He ordereth everything as He will have it, and maketh new that which is old. Therefore St. Paul admonisheth us, “Put off the old man and put on the new man, which is shapen after God, in holiness, justice, and truth.” This old man is put off and a new man put on when God the Father begetteth His Son in the soul. By this birth He reneweth all that was fallen, and all cometh back again to its first nobility. Thus, then, man is created after God in holiness, justice, and truth, and is called a new man. Christ saith also, “If ye do not become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of God;” that is, unless a man be born again as a child of God he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. And as he 272is newly born internally so it cometh to pass also outwardly; the external man is transformed, so that he is deiform, or like in form unto God. As he had before offered hie members instruments of luxury, so now he devoteth them to the service of God in holiness and justice. As everything is new inwardly so it becometh also outwardly; as this divine fire inflameth the heart and consumeth inwardly all unlikeness, ordaining the powers for the best, so also the divine fire passeth over to the body, consumeth all sinful leaning, driveth it on to virtue and to all good works, and thus it arriveth at its original justice; he is called a new man who is created in righteousness after the likeness of God.
Thus this man is passive or suffering in this birth, and God worketh all in him. For this reason Jesus also said, “None is good, save God alone.” No man’s work is good, save that from God and by God. It is also the best thing that a man be free from all work, and let God alone work and suffer it If God is the working and man the passive being, then all is placed at rest in him. God’s working in the soul is essential; it springeth out of the divine essence, and is fulfilled in the essence of the soul. By the divine work all evil that was ever exercised is rooted out of the soul. Punishment and guilt are remitted 274to the man, for when God revealeth Himself to the soul, all besides must give way, and God be alone let reign; and nothing can reign there save God.
Thus is it possible that man be preserved from deadly and venial sins, and this in a sixfold way.
First, man is overwhelmed with divine power, whereby all his powers are strengthened! If the divine birth is fulfilled in the essence of the soul, it passeth over into all its powers; each receiveth divine power to resist all that is against God. It is needful that the divine power work in us, for by human strength no one can resist sins. But man receiveth this divine power, when all his powers turn to the divine birth, which is brought about in the depths of the soul. But if each power seeketh to accomplish its work without turning to the birth, they cannot receive godly power. For whoso wisheth to receive anything from another, he must be nigh unto him; therefore all the powers must be united, waiting for the divine birth. All that bringeth good men to fall is mostly, that they take too much interest in unnecessary things, and thereby scatter their powers. The more they do this the more the divine power escapes 274them, and thus they must fall. Holy Writ saith, “The just falleth at least seven times a day,” that is, he doth not constantly perceive the divine birth in the soul. If the powers were to always persist in this they would all always receive this divine power, and would be warded from falling.
Further, the second way to be preserved from venial sins is, that the lower powers be always subordinate to the higher powers; this keepeth man in his original justice, as Adam was. He fell by the lower powers turning away from the higher. This happeneth still to-day. When man turneth to sensuality without hearkening to the higher powers he falleth. But if he exerciseth an external work, while he listeneth to his reason, he doth not fall, nor doth his work bear the name of sinful. Though it is brought about by the senses, yet the reason hath more part in it than the senses. Therefore it is called a reasonable work, and is a virtue. Let him who doth not wish to fall look with every work, whether internal or external, to his higher reason, then his work becometh a virtue, and is more divine than human. Man’s works are sensual when blindly brought about without the reason. Through these man falleth, and these man ought not to have. Therefore is it also said: “It is right that a man 275be free of all work, namely, of sensual works, which are sinful.” Such works are man’s proper own, but virtuous works are called God’s works. God is alone the source of all good, therefore whatever good must be worked must spring from Him and end in Him. If the senses stand under the highest powers, and thus stand under God, they can obtain divine power to resist all defects.
Thirdly, man is guarded from venial sins when his will is entirely united to the divine will, and when the reason heareth always God’s will in all things, and liveth according to it. By this giving up of one’s own will man is capable of receiving all divine gifts; he is strengthened thereby to be able to resist everything that is not God. God only dowereth His will in us, and what is not His will is also not able to receive any gift. If the will of God liveth entirely in him, and if he have entirely given up his own will, he is able to receive all gifts; what he asketh God will he also receive. If he asketh that God may shield him from all sins against His holiest will, this taketh place, but if he still fall into a fault, this happens according to the will of God, not, however, as if the will of God consented to faults, but God inflicteth it on him, that man may learn to know his weakness, and may be put down in true humility, 276through which alone he can keep his footing against every fall. It is very hurtful if a man findeth his will without God’s will, and holdeth himself to be somebody with much complacency. That this complacency may be killed out, and man come to the knowledge of his own weakness, God suffereth even a good man to fall, that he may be guarded from a greater fall. If now man is entirely dead to his own will, God becometh his life; not he liveth any more, but God liveth in him, and guardeth him from deadly falls.
Fourthly, a man is guarded from venial sins when he always employeth the proper measure in all things; whoso always observeth the proper measure in his words and works will not fail. For faults and sins come from this, that you take too much or too little, and through too much or too little arise faults.177177 The opposite of virtue, compare No. 78. Aristotle teaches, Nic. Eth. 1006. 633: Τῆς μὲν κακίας ἡ ὑπερβολὴ και ἡ ἐλλειψισ τῆς δ᾽ ἀρετῆς ἡ μεσότης. He who doeth that which he ought to do, and omitteth what he ought to omit, to him God is alway present, and God is always in the midst. Of this also the Gospel speaketh: “Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples.”178178 Luke xxiv. 36. Jesus, that is salvation, stood in the midst of His disciples, that is the disciples reconciled by grace, received their salvation from the midst of the Godhead. Whoso were to have such order, that he would always take the medium or the right measure 277in all his words and works, would always find God. Yet it is said, we must draw near to God with mediation? This drawing nigh to and finding God is twofold. One lieth in the creature and in its works, here God is found in mediation, for God is in the midst of all creatures, and whosoever cometh there with his works findeth God. The other finding is that of God only, apart from all creatures in His simple being. But he only findeth God thus, who is the man freed from all creatures and their works. But if man busieth himself with creatures and their works, in creation, he must keep measure in the midst, and arriveth thus at God through God. He must observe this, if he wisheth to be freed from defects and to find God outside all things.
Fifthly, man is guarded from venial sins by voluntary poverty, inward and outward; for true poor men stand alway in suffering, and if such men fall with a fault or defect, their suffering removeth it directly. A teacher saith “Be careless about the defects of poor people, for what lacketh in them, is cancelled again by poverty.”179179 St. Gregory says: Et cum quoslibet pauperes nonnulla reprehensibilia perpetrare conspicitis, nolite despicere, quia fortasse quod superfluitas tenuissimae pravitatis inquinat, caminus paupertatis purgat (Homil. 40. in Evang. No. 6). Poverty also protecteth specially against faults, for if any one beggeth a poor man for a gift, he cannot give it, but doth not commit a fault in refusing the beggar; whereas they who have temporal goods, if they are begged and they refuse, 278these sin. They show a want of pity and a hardness, and this is a sin. Poverty is farther good against sins, for temporal possession giveth much occasion thereto; and since poor men are free from this property, they have no such motive for sin and can also exercise no sins, as a heathen teacher already said: “When the cause faileth, the work also faileth.”180180 The Schoolmen express this principle thus: Remota causa, removetur effectus. Nothing is without a cause, and nothing can lead astray him who hath not any cause. Lastly, poverty also guardeth against sins, for when a man hath parted with all things he hath a perfect will to all virtue, and whoso willeth all virtue he opposeth all and every vice; a perfect will hath the power to resist all vices, it exerciseth all virtues and denieth instantly all sins. If he yet faileth, it is not his will, therefore no sin, for sin taketh place with the will, as St. Austin saith: “If there were no will, there would be no sin.”181181 De vera religione, c. 14, No. 27: Usque adeo peccatum voluntarium est malum ut nullo modo sit peccatum, si non sit voluntarium. Therefore he who hath not given up all things hath also not the power to will all virtues, for so long as man is hindered by outward things, he cannot bring forth virtue in acts. But whoso hath turned all to virtue, getteth the power of the will, to will all virtues and to abandon every vice. They who are tainted with temporal possession cannot do this.
Sixthly, a man in guarded from temporal sins by his own heart when it is inflamed 279with the love-fire of the Holy Ghost, for this consumeth all unlikeness in man, making him pure from all sins. Love and hatred cannot subsist together. If a man loveth, he must leave all that begetteth hatred, namely, sin; as long as he now loveth, he liveth also without sin. St. Paul saith, “Charity is a consuming fire.”182182 This passage is in allusion to Heb. xii. 29.
If now the love of the Holy Ghost destroyeth all sin, they who have received the Holy Ghost live always free from sins, for the gift that the Holy Ghost giveth abideth eternally; and St. John also saith, “Whoso is born of God cannot sin.”183183 1 John iii. 9. But I say that man must be viewed in two lights, according to his internal and external man. The gift of the Holy Ghost is received by the internal man this also destroyeth sins in the interior, and guardeth him farther from sins; but the outer man, on the other hand, is not receptive of the gifts, and will also not receive them, and therefore never be without venial sins; he is somewhat like unto time; but time is? fluctuating and defective, therefore also must his senses be defective and inclined to sin. Thus, therefore, the external man cannot live without venial sins save when his senses are drawn into the internal man, and this is found in God; so long as this lasteth, man is without sin, outwardly and inwardly, for whatever defects the sins may yet have are consumed 280by the fire of love. Were it possible that the senses were always drawn in by the internal man, he would always be united to God, and man would remain without sin; and for this reason, because sin is nothing else than a turning away from God and a leaning to creatures. But if the whole man be turned to God, no sin is brought to pass as long as this lasteth; but if he returneth to himself to the service of the senses, he will certainly fail again, and this without paying attention to the spirit, so that man forgetteth his duty entirely, and committeth faults and sins. But if man accomplisheth all his works, outwardly or inwardly, according to the statutes of his reason, lighted up with divine light, he would seldom fall into a sin; he would refer all his doing and suffering to the praise of God. This is worked by the ardent love of the Holy Ghost, which entirely inflameth him, driveth away all darkness, and enlighteneth him, so that he can accomplish all for the honour of God; it giveth him power to do all things, to give up all things that are against God, and to obtain all that is godly. This goodness of the Holy Ghost filleth him also with goodness, so that he receiveth all from the Holy Ghost The goodness of the Holy Ghost penetrates his heart and all his members, and filleth each; whatever was bitter and harsh in them must give way; and there abideth with man only goodness, which shieldeth him from all the bitterness of sin.281
If such a man really committeth a sin from forgetfulness, and perceiveth it, he suffereth pain again more than another who were to commit a venial sin: for this reason, because he who hath tasted sweetness is more disgusted at bitterness than he who hath not yet tasted the former. So is it also with the men who love God; all things are bitter to them on account of the great sweetness of the Holy Ghost; what to another man is joyful is to such a man painful; nothing is dearer to him than to love God in the most perfect manner. Moreover, all is bitter to a good man; but this bitterness leadeth to purity and greater love, and God inflicts on many good men that they falter, in order to be brought to greater purity, and to love Him the more earnestly. Paul saith, “Where sin abounds there doth grace abound.”184184 Rom. v. 20. Paul also saith, “All turneth to good to them that love God.”185185 Rom. viii. 28. For whoso loveth another giveth him the best. God loveth them who love Him, therefore giveth He to them always the best. If now such a man fall into a sin, this doth not come to pass through what is best, as though sin were a good, but it showeth to man his weakness, and bringeth him to humility; nor is this because sin enlighteneth man to self-knowledge; it is the cause that what is hidden should be made known. The light enlighteneth the darkness of sins, and thus then man attaineth unto the 282knowledge of his weakness, submits himself humbly to God, and to men for the sake of God. In this humility he standeth secure against falling, which would have brought him scathe. This is occasioned by the love of the Holy Ghost; through this all his defects are shown to man, it boweth him down before God, and guardeth him from sins. Thus, then, must man suffer and endure all if he wisheth to attain unto a God-seeing, poor life.
The fourth way that leadeth to a poor life is when man hath exercised himself in all virtues, with inner consideration of the Passion which our Lord hath undergone, by which he attaineth unto true rest and to the peace of heart. This is the fourth way to a perfect, poor life, which therefore is nothing else than a careful ward over all that which happeneth to man, whether spiritual or bodily, that he may receive it in such wise that the spirit doth not suffer scathe, but find itself always immediately in simple purity.
To this end man must turn himself away from all outward exercise, and exercise himself inwardly; for all outward exercise goeth over to en azures, all inward to God. Whoso therefore wisheth to find God must enter into 283himself, and seek Him within. Whoso seeketh God without may indeed find Him with creatures, but in this lieth not true blessedness; but if he seeketh God in himself, he findeth Him apart from all creatures, in His pure, simple essence, and in this lieth true blessedness. St. Austin saith: “Lord, when I knew Thee first, I knew that Thou art a good that hath entered into all creatures; and I gave myself up to the service of all created things, in order to find Thee in them, but so long as the seeking lasted my heart was alway in unrest. But, when I knew Thee better, I knew that Thou art a good that is without all creatures; I took myself apart from them, in order to find Thee alone outside all creatures. Then was my heart quiet; for it is disquieted save if it rest in Thee, for Thou hast created us solely for Thyself.”186186 This passage does not occur in the same form in St. Augustine. It is made up of different extracts, as Enarr. in Psal. 41. Nos. 7, 8.—Confess. 7. 10. No. 16 and 1. 1.
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