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ON GOD IN THE SOUL
This has done me a great deal of good, and it has affected me much and opened my eyes in many ways. It is an ennobling thing to think that God is more in the soul of man than He is in aught else outside of Himself. They are happy people who have once got a hold of this glorious truth. In particular, the Blessed Augustine testifies that neither in the house, nor in the church, nor anywhere else, did he find God, till once he had found Him in himself. Nor had he need to go up to heaven, but only down into himself to find God. Nay, he took God to heaven with him when at last he went there.
Now consider what our Master teaches us to say: ‘Our Father which art in heaven.’ Think you it concerns you little to know where and what that heaven is, and where your Heavenly Father is to be sought and found? I tell you that for vagrant minds it matters much not only to believe aright about heaven, but to procure to understand this matter by experience. It is one of those things that strongly bind the understanding and recollect the soul. You already know that God is in all places: in fine, that where God is there heaven is, and where His Majesty most reveals Himself there glory is. Consider again what Saint Augustine said, that he sought God in many places, till at last he came to find Him within himself. You need not go to heaven to see God, or to regale yourself with God. Nor need you speak loud as if He were far away. Nor need you cry for wings like a dove so as to fly to Him. Settle yourself in solitude, and you will come upon God in yourself. And then entreat Him as your Father, and relate to Him your troubles. Those who can in this manner shut themselves up in the little heaven of their own hearts, where He dwells who made heaven and earth, let them be sure that they walk in the most excellent way: they lay their pipe right up to the fountain. To keep the eyes shut is an excellent practice in prayer, because it is a summons and an assistance to turn the eyes of the soul within, where God dwells and waits in Christ to be gracious. Account thus, that there is a great and beautiful palace in your soul; that its structure is all of gold and precious stones; that your gifts and graces are those shining stones, and that the greater your virtues are the more those precious stones sparkle. And, also, that in this palace the Great King is your guest. He sits on the innermost seat of your heart, and holds it to be His best and bravest throne. This will seem to some a silly fiction. And yet, if you will believe it, fiction as it is, it will help you much; you especially who are women. For we women sorely want such assistance to our thoughts. And, God grant that it be only women who need such assistance to show them how base is the use they make of themselves. There should be some difference between us, both men and women, and the brute beasts. The brute beasts are nowhere said to be temples of God, and they are nowhere called to account because their god is their belly. O great God, I tremble to see that I have written such a page as the above, being such a wretch as I am. My daughters, in their own goodness, will be tempted to think that all this is true of myself, and that is a terrible thought to me. On the other hand, it is true of God and their own souls. Now let men pass a thousand censures on me, and on my way of teaching the truth. What of that, if only God and His ways be a little better known and loved! My sisters, the King is in His palace all this time. There are hostile invasions of His borders, and inroads made into His territories, but He abides all the time on His throne. I smile at the weakness and unworthiness of all those comparisons of palaces, and thrones, and shining stones, and enemies on the border. They in no way satisfy me. But I am a woman, and I can find out no better words for you women. Think and say of my words what you please. The thing that I have spoken to you is the truth.
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