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Chapter XIII.

Showing How The Love Of God Enters Into The Soul, When It Is Empty Of The Love Of The Creatures.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.—1 John 2:15.

He that desires to become the habitation of God, must first divest himself of the love of the world, and then exercise himself in the love of God. No man can receive the one, without quitting the other; or be 403 filled with the Spirit of God, before he be emptied of the spirit of the world. As the magnet by a touch draws iron to it; so God first touches, with his divine love, the soul which he intends to draw and unite to himself.

2. Now this divine love is so great, that, like the sun, it shines upon all; yea, it shines more universally than the sun itself, displaying itself equally upon all men. So that it is not the fault of God, who is pure light, and pure love, but of men, if they do not perceive or enjoy it. For when God approaches men with the highest love, and most ardent affection, he generally finds their hearts full of the love of the world, and all uncleanness, that is, of covetousness, pride, lust, hatred, envy, and evil thoughts, which force him to retire and to withdraw his graces from them. Whence it appears, that since God is ready, like the sun in the firmament, to communicate the rays of his light freely to every purified soul, it is not His fault, but theirs, if they are not enlightened by it. As, therefore, we know these things, let us keep ourselves from the love of the world, and turn to the living God, watching diligently unto prayer; let us labor earnestly for the love of God in Christ, by which we are united to him. Let us knock at the door of his holy wounds, and from thence expect salvation. If we do this, God will open to us, and give us admission into that high state of uniting love, in which we shall be refreshed with all the treasures of God. And who can doubt that the God of mercy, the fountain of happiness, will fill the heart of man with greater and more substantial joys, than any which this perishing world can afford?

3. Whosoever, therefore, loves God, shall be loved by all the saints and holy angels. If I love God, then I share in the love of all the inhabitants of the city of God, a love that far surpasses the highest degree of worldly affection. And as all the heavenly host have the highest love of God, and rejoice in his honor, so is their joy proportionably great at every step of our conversion, and their happiness is enhanced by every advance which we make in the love of God.

4. Now one evidence of divine love is this, that we use the creatures with fear and humility. He that is endued with a habit of divine love, whether he eat or drink, or whatever he doth, doth everything like a dutiful son, with reverence and fear, having his eye constantly fixed upon the glory of his Heavenly Father. 1 Cor. 10:31. From this fear of God flow the many deep sighs and passionate groans of the devout soul, which, by degrees, raise him from earth to heaven. For he discovers so many corruptions and impurities in himself, obstructing the light and quenching the flames of the Holy Spirit, that he is forced to cry out with St. Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. 7:24. And truly, these sighs and groanings must frequently ascend to the mercy-seat of God, that by the assistance of divine grace we may bear up, and not faint under the manifold miseries of this wretched state, and the pressure of a vile earthly body. Thus did all the holy men of old time when they labored under the sense of spiritual infirmities: they raised their broken spirits unto God by devout sighs, penitential tears, and humble acknowledgments of their misery, which reverted into their own bosoms with a large increase of grace and spiritual strength. He that does not sincerely 404 seek after God, but has his soul intent on something else besides him, shall never find him. On the other hand, he that seeks him alone, in the integrity of his heart, shall surely find him, and be admitted to all the blessings and happiness that are to be found in the presence of God. He that seeks God in truth, finds God, and all things that are God's; and whosoever seeks for nothing else, and looks for nothing else but God only, unto him God manifests himself, and confers upon him all whatsoever is laid up in his divine heart, that the same may as properly be said to belong to man, as to God.

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