Contents

i

TREATISE

ON THE

LOVE OF GOD

ii
St. Francis DeSales

St. Francis de Sales

1567-1622

Bishop, Founder of the Visitation

and Doctor of the Church

iii

TREATISE

ON THE

LOVE OF GOD

By

St. Francis de Sales

DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

 

 

Translated by

Rev. Henry Benedict Mackey, O.S.B.

Under the Direction and Patronage of His Lordship the

Right Rev. John Cuthbert Hedley, O.S.B.

BISHOP OF NEWPORT

 

 

 

"A truly admirable book, which has as many admirers of the sweetness of its author as it has readers. I have carefully arranged that it shall be read throughout our Society, as the universal remedy for all feeble ones, the good of slothful ones, the stimulus of love, and the ladder of those who are tending to perfection. Oh! that all would study it as it deserves! There should be no one to escape its heat."

—St. Vincent de Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC.

Rockford, Illinois 61105

iv

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published in approximately 1884 by Burns & Oates, Limited, London and Benziger Brothers, New York as Volume II of the series "Library of St. Francis de Sales." This edition photographically reproduced from the Third Edition by arrangement with Burns & Oates.

 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 95-60646

 

ISBN 0-89555-526-3

 

Cover illustration: Portrait of St. Francis de Sales by J. J. Owens (early 20th century), based on the Turin portrait. Courtesy of De Sales Resource Center, Niagara Falls, New York.

 

Printed and bound in the United States of America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC.

P.O. Box 424

Rockford, Illinois 61105

1997

v

DEDICATION

I have dedicated this work to the Mother of dilection and to the Father of cordial love, as I dedicated the Introduction to the Divine child who is the Saviour of lovers and the love of the saved. And as women, while they are strong and able to bring forth their children with ease, choose commonly their worldly friends to be godfathers, but when their feebleness and indisposition make their delivery hard and dangerous invoke the Saints of heaven, and vow to have their children stood to by some poor body or by some devout soul in the name of S. Joseph, S. Francis of Assisi, S. Francis of Paula, S. Nicholas, or some other of the blessed, who may obtain of God their safe delivery and that the child may be born alive: so I, while I was not yet bishop, having more leisure and less fears for my writings, dedicated my little works to princes of the earth, but now being weighed down with my charge, and having a thousand difficulties in writing, I consecrate all to the princes of heaven, that they may obtain for me the light requisite, and that if such be the Divine will, these my writings may be fruitful and profitable to many.

Annecy, the day of the most loving Apostles

S. Peter and S. Paul, 1616.

 

 

 

BLESSED BE GOD.

 

—St. Francis de Sales

From The Preface (Pages 15-16)

 

 

 

 

 

vivii

TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION.


 

THE following Treatise presents, at first sight, considerable difficulties. They do not arise from any defect in the Saint's mode of expression, but are inherent in his subject and manner of treatment, "going deep down into the roots" of the Love of God. Thus he speaks in his Preface, and continues: "The first four books, and some chapters of the others might doubtless have been omitted without disadvantage to such souls as seek only the practice of holy love. . . . I have been forced to say many things which will appear more obscure than they are. The depths of science are always somewhat hard to sound." But he tells us that the state of the minds of his age required this deeper treatment; and whatever may be thought as to the best way of presenting modern religious teaching to an age so ignorant, so shallow and so unthinking as is our own with regard to spiritual truths, there can be no question that this masterpiece of the chief doctor of ascetic theology must not be brought down to our level, but that we must raise ourselves towards it. The necessity of giving some explanation of the sequence of its doctrine, and of the difficulties which occur, must be our chief excuse for daring to place words of ours by the side of this finished work of S. Francis de Sales.

A second reason lies in the fact that the "Treatise on the Love of God" was, with others of his writings, the chief subject of the celebrated controversy between Fénélon and Bossuet. There can be little doubt that this lowered the authority of the work. Not because the mere fact of a discussion seemed to throw over it an air of unsafeness or viiisuspicion. Descriptions of the sublime and mysterious operations of the soul under the influence of grace are always capable of being misunderstood, and "wrested" from their proper sense, and no Christian mystic, from S. Paul downwards, has escaped this danger. The shameless abuse of the Saint's authority by the Jansenists left it eventually quite unimpaired. Hence the mistakes of Molinos, Père Lacombe, Madame Guyon, and even of Fénélon himself would have thrown no permanent discredit on this treatise, if Bossuet had defended it in a proper spirit and with full knowledge and discretion. Incredible as the fact may seem, it is nevertheless true that neither Fénélon nor Bossuet had properly studied the works in dispute. The former went to them prepossessed. His opinions were already formed, and he merely sought a confirmation of them. He read in a most superficial manner. He precipitately chose out what seemed to suit his purpose, and neglected important statements and obvious interpretations which were inconsistent with it. He even went so far in what must be called a sincere dishonesty of misapprehension, as to insist on clinging to mistakes he had fallen into through using Bailly's Lyons edition of the "Conferences" (1628), which Bossuet had proved to be spurious. Bossuet, on his side, admits that he had not previously read it properly, he only studied what seemed necessary to answer his opponent, and lacked that high complete knowledge of S. Francis's teaching as a whole which was necessary for taking a proper view of details and parts. Indeed he only then (1695) began those profounder studies of mystic theology which enabled him later to write his treatises on matters which to S. Francis, by the experience of sanctity more even than by the studies of a lifetime, were as familiar as the sights and sounds of home. Hence it came about that while he easily justified the teaching of the Saint, he not only failed to give the full influence of his genius and authority to unassailably establish its triumphant reputation, but on the contrary he incidentally disparaged it. He says, for instance: "S. Francis is a great saint, and I have always maintained ixthat his doctrine which is objected against us is entirely for us as to the matters in question: but we must not therefore make him infallible, and it cannot be forgotten that he has shown more good intention than knowledge on some points." Fortunately Bossuet mentions these points, and the reader shall see directly Bossuet's entire misapprehension of the Saint's meaning, and meanwhile "it cannot be forgotten" that while Bossuet refused the title "infallible" to S. Francis, for whom no one claims it, he refused it to the successor of S. Peter to whose office it really belongs. Bossuet says further: "According to the spirit of his time he had perhaps less read the Fathers than the modern Scholastics." Did Bossuet remember that he was speaking of the age of Sirmond, of Bellarmine, of Venerable Canisius, and, we may say, of Petavius? Francis was a master and a leader of his age, and, as is clear from this Treatise alone, was excellently versed both in the Fathers and the Scholastics, if any distinction is to be made between them. In conclusion, Bossuet presumes to say: "In these places and in some others his theology might be more exact and his principles more sure . . . . one would not follow him in certain condescensions which I will not particularize." In this also it will be shown that Bossuet is most unjust, but for the present we may consider that he neutralizes his own objection, when in the same sentence he says: "As director of souls he is truly sublime." In answer to these attacks, Fénélon gladly changed places with Bossuet, but his hasty defence was not so complete as the charges were unwarranted and presumptuous.11For our authorities and full information on this important controversy we refer our readers to the admirable "Dissertation," by Baudry, in the supplementary volume (ix.) of Migne's edition of the "Works of S. Francis and S. Jane Frances." There is an anonymous dissertation in vol. vi. which bears on the same subject.

We shall briefly touch upon these controverted points as they occur among the difficulties of the Treatise. Of these difficulties Book I. contains by far the largest proportion, and we will give an abstract of this Book sufficiently complete to xprevent the necessity, not indeed of studying it, but, of a too laborious study.22The following part of our Introduction—viz., the analysis of Books i., ii., will probably be found more intelligible and useful after reading the Saint's text.

In this first Book the Saint treats in general of the will and its affections, in particular of its chief affection, love, and of the will's natural inclination towards a sovereign love of God.

The first chapter is to show that the unity required for the beauty of that assemblage of perfections called man, lies in this, that all his powers are grouped round the will and subordinated to it. Then (c. 2) it is shown that the will exercises its authority in different ways, according to the different nature of human powers. It governs: (a) exterior movements, at its pleasure, like slaves; (b) the senses and corporal functions, by a certain management, like horses or hawks; (c) the fancy, memory, understanding, by direction and command, like wife and children, who are able to disobey if they choose; (d) the sensual appetite (c. 3), in the same manner as the last-named; it is still less under the will's control, but there is no moral guilt so long as the will refuses to consent to or adopt its wrong desires. Then are described the twelve movements of this sensual appetite,—viz., desire, hatred, hope, &c., which are called perturbations or passions. They are all forms of the chief, and, in a sense, the only passion, love. These passions are left in man on purpose to exercise his will. A universal experience, testified to in effect even by those who pretend to deny it, such as the Stoics, proves that these movements are necessary qualities of human nature. Love being (c. 4) the root of the others their action is good or bad according as the love is rightly or wrongly placed. Nay the very will is bad or good according to its love; and its supremacy does not lie in this that it can reject all love, but in this that it can choose amongst the loves presented to it, by directing the understanding to consider one more favourably or more attentively than another. In the xiwill, now defined (c. 5) as "the reasonable appetite," there are affections, that is, movements or forms of love, similar to the passions of the sensual appetite. Having different and higher objects they often run counter to the passions, and the reasonable will often forces a soul to remain in circumstances most repugnant to its sensual inclinations. These affections or tendencies of the will are divided into four classes according to their dignity, that is, the dignity of their objects:  1°. Natural affections, where the word natural is not used in opposition to supernatural (as in this sense the next class would also be natural), but to signify those first and spontaneous affections which by the very natural constitution of our reason arise from the perception of sensible goods. Indeed the word sensible exactly explains his use of the word natural, provided that we carefully remember that he is speaking not of the movements of the merely sensual appetite or concupiscence which are anterior to reason, but of our reasonable and lawful affections for sensible goods. Such are the affections we have for health, food, agreeable society.  2°. Reasonable affections, where it will now easily be understood that the word, which could be applied also to the preceding class, is restricted to those which are par excellence reasonable, that is, the affections which arise in the spiritual part of reason, from the light of nature indeed, but from the higher light of nature—such as the affections for the moral virtues.  3°. Christian affections, which spring from the consideration of truths of the Christian revelation, such as affections for poverty, chastity, heavenly glory.  4°. Divine, or (entirely) supernatural affections which God effects in us, and which tend to him as known by a light entirely above that of nature. These supernatural affections are primarily three: love for the beautiful in the mysteries of faith, love for the useful in the promises of hope, and love for the sovereign good which is the Divinity.

The essential supremacy of divine love is proved (c. 6), and there follows a wondrous description in four chapters of the nature and qualities of love in general. Divine love or xiicharity is not defined till chapter 13, and is not specifically described till the last chapter of Book II.

There are (c. 7) five points in the process of love:  1. Natural affinity of the will with good.  2. Delectation or complacency in it.  3. A movement, following this complacency, towards union.  4. Taking the means required for union.  5. Union itself.33This division is the connecting chain of the whole Treatise, and it will be found that each Book treats of one or more of its parts. Thus the three following Books are on point 3, Book v. on point 2, Books vi.–ix. on points 4 and 5 (viz., union by affective and by effective love), x.–xii. on point 3. It is in 2 and 3, complacency and movement, that love more properly consists, and most precisely in 3, the movement or outflowing of heart. Complacency has appeared to some to be the really essential point of love, but it is not so, because love is a true passion or affection, that is, a movement. Complacency spreads the wings, love actually flies. When the object loved is present and the lover has but to grasp it, the love is called a love of complacency, because complacency has no sooner produced the movement of love than it ends in a second complacency. When the object is absent, or, like God, not as present as it may become, the tending, advancing, aspiring movement is called a love of desire, that is, the cupidity of what we have not but hope to have. After certain exquisite distinctions between various kinds of desires, he returns (c. 8) to the correspondence or affinity with good which is the root of love, and which consists not exclusively in resemblance, but in a certain relation between things which makes them apt to union for their mutual perfection. Finally, coming to union and the means thereto, it is exquisitely proved (c. 9) that love tends to union but (c. 10) to a spiritual union, and that carnal union, instead of being an expression of true love or a help to it, is positively a hindrance, a deviation, a degradation.

The next two chapters (11, 12) treat the important distinction between the two parts of the soul, the inferior and the superior. It will clear matters to notice that the Saint xiiimeans the two parts of the reasonable soul, and that in the first two paragraphs of chapter 11 he simply says that his distinction does not refer to the soul as a mere animating principle, or, again, as the principle of that life which man shares with plants and animals. He speaks of the human soul as such, that is, as having the gift of reason.

Even the inferior part of the soul truly reasons and wills (so that his distinction of inferior and superior is not the distinction between concupiscence and reason), but it is inferior because it only reasons and wills according to data furnished by the senses: the superior part reasons and wills on intellectual and spiritual considerations. But it must be noticed that these considerations are not necessarily supernatural. The distinction between the inferior and the superior part of the reasonable soul is quite independent of revelation: it rests on the distinction between what we have called the lower light of nature and that higher light which, for instance, heathen philosophers used, when, for love of country or moral virtue, they chose to submit to sensible pain or even to death which their lower reason would direct them to avoid. The existence of this lower reason is clearly shown in Our Blessed Saviour's prayer in the garden. Willing and praying are acts of reason, yet in this case they were acts of a lower reason which Christ permitted to manifest itself, but which had to give way to higher considerations.

Now the inferior part of reason forms by itself one degree of the reason, but the superior part has three degrees; in the lowest of which we reason according to higher natural light, or as the Saint calls it, "human sciences," in the next according to faith, and in the highest we do not properly reason, but, "by a simple view of the understanding, and simple acquiescence," or assent, "of the will" we correspond with God's action, when he spreads faith, hope and charity in this supreme point of our reasonable soul. The distinction corresponds exactly with that made in chapter 5, into natural, reasonable, Christian and divine. The Saint there spoke of xivaffections or tendencies, he here speaks of reasonings and willings which are the fulfilment of those tendencies. We may remark here, as an instance of the superficial way in which Fénélon and Bossuet studied this Treatise, that they take a totally different ground of distinction in separating the soul into superior and inferior (viz., sensible perception and intellectual cognition), and yet do not perceive that they are differing from the Saint.44Certain expressions on p. 50 require explanation. It is there said that in the superior part of the soul there are two degrees of reason—the answer is that the Saint for the moment puts out of consideration the lowest degree of the higher reason, and concerns himself with the two supernatural degrees. And a little lower down he speaks of the action of faith "in the inferior part of the soul," but he really means in the lower one of the two highest degrees. To sum up (cc. 11, 12): in man there are some powers altogether below reason; and reason, which is of course one and simple in itself, has four degrees, according to the rank of the objects presented for its consideration and love,—sensible things, spiritual things known by the light of nature, spiritual things known by the revelation of Christ, and spiritual knowledge communicated by the immediate communication of God's light. Between the last and the last but one there is not exactly a difference of rank in the objects, but a difference in clearness of perception and strength of acceptance.

Having finished this subject, which is to some extent a digression, the Saint returns to the consideration of love, and gives (c. 13) its two main divisions,—viz., love of cupidity when we love good for our own sake, and love of benevolence when we love good for its sake—i.e. love of self-interest and disinterested love. He has already, in chapter 7, sub-divided the love of cupidity into love of benevolence and love of desire, according as the loved good is present or absent, and now he applies the same division and the same ground of division to the love of benevolence. This also is either a love of complacency or a love of desire according as the good is present to or absent from the person we love: we rejoice in the good he xvalready has, we desire him the good he has not. This double form of the love of benevolence, besides occurring frequently throughout, enters particularly into the structure of Book V., and is importantly needed for the full understanding of Book VIII. It is necessary here to point out that whereas he has just placed the names complacency and desire under the generic head, benevolence, he afterwards uses the word benevolence, specifically, instead of desire, as if dividing benevolence into complacency, and benevolence proper. This use of the word in the sense of desire agrees with its etymology,—bene-volentia, bien-veuillance, well-wishing.

Cupidity alone is exercised in the inferior reason, but in the superior reason both find place. The love of God for his own sake which is necessary for eternal life belongs exclusively to the supreme degree of the superior reason, but the Saint teaches (as Bossuet has clearly shown against Fénélon) that there is a reasonable, high love of cupidity, that is, a love of God as good to us, even in the highest degree and supreme point of the spirit. This indeed is the precise motive of Christian hope, which must be kept subordinate to disinterested love, but can only be separated from it by abstraction and by a non-permanent act.

The love of benevolence is called friendship when it is mutual. This friendship has degrees. When it is beyond all comparison with other friendships, supereminent, sovereign, it is called charity—the friendship or mutual love of God and man.

The Saint shows (c. 14.) that to employ the word love instead of charity is not against the use of Scripture, and he mentions one reason for his preferring the word love which gives us an important help to the understanding of the Treatise. It is, he says, because he is speaking for the most part not of the habitual charity, or state of friendship between God and the soul in grace, but of actual charity, that is, of the acts of love which at once express and increase the state of charity. Even in the three following books, in which he is speaking of the xviformation, or progress, or loss, of habitual charity, he is still chiefly concerned with the acts by which this is done.

In the remaining four chapters preparation is made for the account of the communication of grace and charity to the soul. He shows (c. 15) that there is a natural affinity of the soul with its God which is the root of love; that thus, by a glorious paradox, God and man need one another for their mutual perfection; that we have (c. 16) a natural inclination to love God above all things; that (c. 17) we cannot fulfil this inclination by natural powers; but (c. 18) that still the inclination is not left in our hearts for nothing, as it makes possible the communication of grace, and is the handle by which grace takes hold of us.

It is chiefly against these three chapters that Bossuet's animadversions are directed. He accuses the Saint of two errors:  1°. in saying (p. 61) that God would give grace to one who did his best by the forces of nature as certainly as he would give a further grace to one who corresponded with a first grace;  2°. of saying (p. 57) that in the state of original justice our love of God would not be supernatural.

Fénélon misapprehends the Saint's meaning, and gives a very confused, imperfect answer to the two objections. The real answer to the first is that Bossuet is quite outside the question. S. Francis is not speaking of the step by which a man passes from the natural to the supernatural order, but of the process by which his natural inclination to love God above all things ripens into that actual love of him above all things which belongs still to the natural order.55It is true that elsewhere (Book iv. c. v.) S. Francis says, after S. Thomas and S. Francis Xavier, that God is sure to give grace to those who fulfil the natural law, but, since in the state of fallen nature the natural law itself cannot be fully observed without grace, there is already supposed in the hearts of such persons the existence of grace which draws the further grace. This the Saint expressly states (xi. 1).

Bossuet falls into a somewhat similar error in his second objection. S. Francis is considering, separately, the natural xviilove of God which those would have who might be in the state of original justice, who would, of course, by the very terms, have supernatural love. Not only is Bossuet's criticism ridiculously irrelevant, but his language, to ears which have heard the Saint declared "Doctor of the Church," sounds almost like impertinence. "What," he says, "would this humble servant of God have done if it had been represented to him that in the state of original justice we should have loved God supernaturally? Would he not have confessed that he was forgetting the most essential condition of that state?" And it is after these mistakes that Bossuet complacently observes: "These opinions rectify themselves in practice when the intention is good;" and "In some points his theology might be more exact and his principles more sure."

Book II. describes the generation of charity, which, being supernatural, must be created in the soul as a new quality. And after two introductory chapters, the remaining twenty are evenly divided between the history of the action of God in bestowing, and the action of man in appropriating this gift. The two introductory chapters, which seem at first sight somewhat foreign to the subject of the book, are directed to put steadily and unmistakeably before us the truth that when theologians speak of many perfections, many acts, a most various order of decrees and execution, this is only according to the human method of viewing, and that our God is really but one perfection and one act, which is himself. This truth is developed partly also to introduce a description of the perfections of the God of whose love the Saint is speaking. At the end of the Treatise he refers to these chapters as his chief treatment of the chief motive of love—the infinite goodness of God in himself.

After this caution and preface, he begins (c. 3) his account of the action of God in the production of charity. He speaks, first, of God's providence in general, including under this title his actual providing or foreseeing, his creating, and his governance. Then (c. 4) he comes to the divine decree to xviiicreate Christ's Humanity, angels and men for him, inferior creatures for men—following here the Scotist teaching that Christ would have become man (though of course he would not have died) even if Adam had not sinned. God decreed to create angels and man in the supernatural state of charity, and, foreseeing that some angels and the whole nature or race of man would fall from this state, God decreed to condemn the former, but to redeem the latter by his Son's death, making the state of redemption a hundred times better than the state of innocence. God decreed (c. 6) special favours, such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary, for certain rare creatures who were to come nearest to his Son, and then for men in general an immense abundance and universal showers of grace, an all-illuminating light. He gives a whole exquisite chapter (c. 8) to show the sincerity and strength of the desire God thus manifests that we should love him, and then comes (c. 9) to the effecting this desire by preventing our hearts with his grace, taking hold of our natural inclination to love him. We can (c. 10) repulse his grace, not because (c. 11) there is anything wanting in God's offer, but (c. 12) as an inevitable consequence of our having free-will; in case we accept it, we begin to mingle our action with God's. Here we must remark that the Saint is not concerned with the sacramental action of God which creates or re-creates charity in the soul by baptism or penance, still less does he treat the semi-miraculous production of charity by Baptism in souls which have not yet the use of reason, but he speaks of the intellectual and moral process or set of acts by which a soul gifted with the use of reason is conducted from infidelity to faith and charity, he treats of the justification which is made by love even before the actual reception of a Sacrament.

Our first act under divine inspiration is (c. 13) the consenting to those first stirrings of love which God causes in the soul even before it has faith. Then (c. 14) comes the production of faith. This may follow after argument and the acceptance of the fact of miracles, but it is not precisely an effect of these. xixSuch things make truths of faith extremely credible, but God alone makes them actually believed. And the effect is from God not only in this sense that the extremest effort of natural intelligence could not attain to faith, but also because a moving of the will is required and is contained in the intellectual act of faith itself, what the Saint calls an affectionate sentiment of complacency in the beauty and sweetness of the truth accepted, so that faith is an acquiescence, an assent, an assurance. The Jews saw the force of the argument from Christ's miracles, but they did not assent to the conclusion because they loved it not. Hence faith includes a certain commencement of love in the will, but a love not as yet enough for eternal life.

Then (cc. 15, 16, 17) comes the production of hope, which brings yet closer to charity. As soon as faith shows the divine object of man's affections, there arises a movement of complacency and desiring love. This desire would be a torment to us unless we had an assurance that we might obtain its object. God gives this assurance by his promise, and this promise, while it makes desire stronger, causes at the same time a sense of calm which the Saint calls the "root" of hope. From it spring two movements or acts of the soul, the one by which she expects from God the promised happiness, and this is really the chief element of hope—esperer, the other by which she excites herself to do all that is required on her part—aspirer. This aspiration is the condition but not the positive ground of our esperation (to coin a word). That is to say, we may not expect the fruition of God except in so far as we have a courageous design to do all we can; then, we may infalliby expect it, yet still ever from the pure mercy of God. Hope, then, is defined "an expecting and aspiring love," or "the loving complacency we take in the expecting and seeking our soverign good." It is then a distinct advance in love. Faith includes a beginning of love in the movement of the will though its real seat is the intelligence; hope is all love, and its seat is the will. However hope as such is still insufficient, because, however noble, xxit is a love of cupidity, and not that love of God for his own sake which is necessary for eternal life. By it we love God sovereignly, because we desire him above all other goods, yet our love is not sovereign, because it is not the highest kind of love. The Saint is of course speaking of the action of hope before charity. Hope remains also after charity, existing, as we have said, in the very heights of perfect love, and after charity its acts merit before those of every other virtue.

Then comes the production of penitence or repentance. He distinguishes (c. 18) first, a merely human repentance; secondly, a religious repentance belonging to the merely natural order; thirdly, a supernatural inferior repentance, which (c. 19) is good but insufficient; and fourthly (c. 20), perfect repentance, that is, sorrow for sin arising from the loving consideration of the sovereignly amiable goodness which has been offended thereby. This is not precisely charity, because charity is, precisely, a movement towards union, whereas repentance is, precisely, a movement of separation (from sin); but though it is not precisely charity and therefore has not the sweetness of charity, it has the virtue and uniting property of charity, because the object of its movement of separation from sin is union with God. In practice there is no means, or need, to distinguish, because perfect repentance is always immediately followed or preceded by charity, or else the one is born within the other.

The Saint then reminds us (c. 21) that all this has been done by the loving action of God's grace, which, after awakening our souls and inspiring them to pray has brought them through faith and hope to penitence and perfect love. In conclusion (c. 22) he describes charity.

Book III. treats of the progress and perseverance of the soul in charity on earth, and of the perfection of triumphant charity in heaven. We have only one remark to make on this book. The Abbé Baudry expresses surprise that the Saint when speaking (c. 2) of the increase of charity by good works does not mention its increase by the Sacraments. But xxihe includes them under the name good-works, and in Book IV., c. 4, where he sums up this part of Book III. mentions them explicitly. He does not dwell on them because his object in chapter 2 is to show how easy God has made the increase of charity. He takes therefore as his examples the smallest works, such as the giving a cup of cold water, and he leaves us to draw the conclusion that the faithful and loving reception of God's Sacraments would â fortiori increase love. Still it is true that neither here nor elsewhere does he treat the Sacraments except quite incidentally, and the explanation of this fact gives us a further insight into the true character and object of the Treatise. He is concerned with the action of grace in general, not with its action by particular means; he is more concerned with the interior movements of man under grace than with the effects worked on him, as it were from outside; and, as he is treating of actual charity, he is more concerned with the good acts for which God gives (whether by Sacraments or in any other way) an increase of grace, than he is concerned with the actual reception of the grace. We mention this to show that one must not be surprised at not finding a fuller treatment of, for instance, the Blessed Eucharist. We must also remember that this Treatise supposes the "Introduction to a Devout Life" as a foundation. And though he only introduces the Sacraments incidentally, he does not fail to speak of them frequently, and with such magnificent praises as we should expect from the Saint of love. As when he says (ii. 22) that the communication of Christ's body and blood is the very consummation of the charity he is writing of, and the crown of God's love-dealings with us; or as when he says, speaking of the return of the penitent soul to reunite herself, immediately, with her God: "Go and cry God's mercy in the very ear of your confessor" (ix. 7).

Book IV. describes the relations of love and sin. The following five Books treat of the exercise of benevolence in its generic sense—the sovereign love of God for his own sake.

xxii

Book V. treats in general of the double action or manifestation of this love,—in complacency, and in benevolence in its specific sense, that is, desire.

Books VI. and VII. treat of union with God by affection, that is, by prayer; the former treating of meditation, and of contemplation as far as union, the latter of union itself. The various degrees of the prayer of quiet are treated in these books, and Quietists bring forward passages from them, as from other parts of the Saint's works, in support of their extravagant system of annihilation of the powers and of purely passive prayer. We have said elsewhere66"Four Essays on the Life and Writings of S. Francis de Sales," Essay III. p. 88. as much as we think it necessary to say to overthrow these allegations. But it is important to show that Fénélon was utterly wrong in appealing to the Saint's authority in support of his erroneous doctrine on this point in his "Maximes des Saints." Bossuet has exposed these errors and given a full explanation of the passages cited from S. Francis; particularly in the 8th and 9th Books of his "Instruction pastorale sur les états d’oraison." The Saint expresses in this as in all things the very teaching of the Church. He rightly teaches that there is, even short of suspension and ecstasy, a kind of prayer in which God takes into his own hands the powers of the soul, and produces in it acts far above the ordinary operations of faith, hope and charity. When God lifts a soul to this prayer, and also to some extent in preparation and expectancy of this elevation, the will acts, by a placing of itself (remise) in the hands of God, and even continues to act, though insensibly: hence the soul is not purely passive, but the action of God is so mighty, and so far beyond all proportion to that of the will, that S. Francis says this is "as it were passive." And as the soul must offer itself to be lifted, and must co-operate with God, therefore also must it help to acquire and preserve that "quiet" which is the condition of God's operation: it must abstain from intrusive acts of reasoning and from other acts of the will, especially from violent ones. xxiiiBut this prayer, however frequent, long, uninterrupted, absorbing, it may become, is of itself a non-permanent state, and not of the nature of a habit, but is always an act of charity. And far from saying that for perfection it is necessary to be raised to and to keep oneself in this state, the Saint teaches in a hundred places that the soul, however perfect, must exercise itself in all ordinary acts of prayer, faith, hope, petition, which are only put on one side for the time in which God has raised it. The practice of S. Jane Frances, whose authority was invoked even more speciously than that of her saintly director by the advocates of passive prayer, bears on this. We are told that: "She wrote out and signed with her blood a long prayer which she had composed of petitions, praises, thanksgivings, for general and particular favours, for relations and friends, for the living and the dead, in fine for all intentions to which she considered herself obliged, with the Credo of the Missal, also signed with her blood. She carried this in a little bag night and day round her neck, and she had made a loving covenant with Our Lord that whenever she pressed this to her heart she should be taken to have made all the acts of faith, the thanks and the petitions she had written."77From her life by Maupas, quoted by Bossuet in the "Instr. Past. sur les états d’oraison," viii. And, at last, prayer is not a character of perfection, but a means to it, and the two following statements of S. Francis in his second Conference absolutely settle the whole question as to his teaching. "It happens often enough that Our Lord gives these quietudes and tranquillities to souls that are far from perfection." . . . . and on the other hand: "There are persons who are very perfect to whom Our Lord has never given such sweetnesses nor such quietudes; who do all with the superior part of the soul, and make their will die in the will of God by main force, and with the supreme point of the reason; and this death is the death of the cross, much more excellent than that other, which should rather be called a slumber than a death."

xxiv

As in treating affective love Book VII. completes Book VI., so in treating effective love Book VIII., which treats of obedience to the already signified will of God, is completed by Book IX., which treats of indifference, or the state of perfect readiness to accept all that God's good-pleasure may choose to send us.

On the doctrine of indifference we venture again to refer the reader to our Essay88Pp. 82-4. just quoted. We add a few words to show how completely Fénélon erred in appealing to this Treatise to support his extravagant and condemned propositions that indifference extends to eternal salvation as our salvation, and to virtuousness as such. The Saint expressly teaches that while God's glory must be our principal end, we may, indeed we must—our nature so requires—desire salvation and virtue as good also in themselves. Much less can we acquiesce in a supposed decree of damnation, with that species of absolute act which Fénélon requires as the last test of the disinterestedness of love.99The Saint is careful to qualify any ambiguous statement (as in ix. 4) by declaring that he speaks "par imagination de chose impossible." With regard to eternal salvation, we have only to study the sentiments the Saint places in the hearts and mouths of those whose love is refined to its highest point at the moment of death (v. 10, vii. 11, 12). He has a chapter to prove that the preceding desire of heaven increases the enjoyment of it (iii. 10); and he teaches that not only mercenary hope but also servile fear remain in the soul as part of its habit of charity so long as it is in this life (xi. 17). With regard to virtues he says (xi. 13): "Let us love the particular virtues, but principally because they are agreeable to God;" and: "We must make this heavenly good-pleasure the soul of our actions, loving the goodness and beauty of virtue principally because it is agreeable to God." Here the word "principally" is the key of the whole question.

Bossuet triumphantly vindicates1010In the same "Instruction, &c." the Saint's doctrine on xxvindifference, but has a very ill-judged criticism on his use of the word. He is quite right in saying that indifference is only a degree of resignation, but he forgets how far ordinary resignation is below indifference. Bossuet gives a full explanation of all the passages alleged by Fénélon from S. Francis, but he was hampered, as Fénélon was totally misled, by Maupas's erroneous account of S. Francis's famous temptation to despair.

Of the remaining three books, Book X. is dedicated entirely to the commandment of loving God above all things; Books XI. arid XII. are on the theory and practice of the particular virtues. Indeed it must be remembered that the object of the Treatise, even in its speculative parts, is exclusively practical. And as we have shown that in its theory it is free from error, so we may now be allowed to indicate some of its glorious truths, particularly with regard to the practice of holy living.

It is not a book, like other spiritual books, treating only a section or a single element of the devout life, but it is one by which and on which the whole spiritual life can be formed; it is, with the "Introduction to a Devout Life," a perfect book, a "complete food," containing all the ingredients necessary for spiritual sustenance.

It contains in the first place an immense mass of instruction, dogmatic and moral, on the science of the love of God. It treats not only in broad outline but also in subtle detail of God and the soul, this world and the world to come, grace and free-will, holiness and sin, commandments and counsels, ordinary virtue and perfection, all questions of prayer; it treats the virtues in detail, not only the virtue of charity in all its parts, but also faith, hope and fear, zeal, obedience, resignation. The direct course of the Treatise takes us through all these, and they are not only treated fully in themselves, but so treated as to bring out in illustrating them a hundred related truths. A whole theology of Mary might be gathered as we pass along; her Immaculate Conception (ii. 3), her graces and privileges (iii. 8.; ix. 14.; vii. 13, 14), her praise of God (v. 11), her heavenly death (vii. 13, 14). A new light is thrown on the xxvisense of Holy Scripture, and on the principles and actions of the Saints.

But, in the second place, we more particularly wish to point out some of his practical principles and rules, the manner of loving and serving God. The most important of these is what may be called the Saint's general idea or philosophy of life. It begins thus: "We know by faith that the divinity is an incomprehensible abyss of all perfection. . . . . And this truth which faith teaches we consider attentively by meditation, regarding this immensity of goods which are in God. . . . . Now when we have made our understanding very attentive to the greatness of the goods which are in this divine object, it is impossible that our will should not be touched with complacency in this good . . . . and especially when we see amidst his perfections that of his infinite love excellently shining" (v. 1, 2.). The loving soul does not stay in complacency but goes on to benevolence, wishing her God all possible goods; but as she is at the very same time exulting in the thought that nothing is wanting to him, she can at first but spend herself in desiring him what he already has, in desiring to be able to give him something, and in praises, ever rising higher and higher until at last she finds a sort of rest in the sense that her utter inability to desire him anything which he has not, or to praise him fully, is the best proof of the infinity of the goods he has. This delight in God and these loving desires are an important part of her service, but they would be barren if she did not go further. She turns, then, to her own powers, and finds that exercising them in herself by internal acts of prayer (affective love), and outside herself, amid creatures, by external acts of the virtues (effective love), she can increase the glory of her beloved, not in itself, but in and by herself. Thus the various interior and exterior acts are brought into one, and the soul's life consists, on the one hand, in "a continual progress in the sweet searching out of motives which may continually urge her" (v. 7), and, on the other hand, in acts of prayer, in obedience, and in submission. She "employs every occasion," "does xxviieverything most perfectly," and, by the practice of Intention, Offering, and Ejaculatory Prayer (according to methods minutely described in Book XI. 13, 14, 20, and throughout Book XII.), subordinates and ranges every interior movement and every exterior action to the service of divine love.

This "view" of life, this continual gazing at the beloved Master for whom we work, this regarding the acts of life as a mere series of acts or offerings of love, is the very central point of the ascetic teaching of S. Francis. It not only gives the nobleness, the intensity, the meritoriousness of charity to every act, but it gives also at the same time a great simplicity and largeness, preserving the soul from formality and from getting lost or wearied in the multitudinous details and minute practices of the spiritual life; it creates a loving detachment and liberty of spirit, with a readiness to follow every slightest indication of God's will. Finally, it gives order to our various duties. For instance, it puts in their proper place, in serene majesty above the cavils of worldlings, the works of religion and "piety." These are the immediate services of the beloved, the first effects of charity, and therefore charity itself teaches that: "Amongst all virtuous actions we should carefully practise those of religion and reverence to divine things, those of faith, hope and the most holy fear of God;—often talking of heavenly things, thinking of and aspiring after eternity, frequenting churches and holy services, reading spiritual books, observing the ceremonies of the Christian religion; for holy love feeds at will amid these exercises, and spreads its graces and properties more abundantly over them than over the simply human virtues" (xi. 3). Yet there is no fanaticism. The human virtues find their proper place at the proper time, and, inferior in themselves, are raised by love, that is, by the fact that for the time they are the will of God, to the highest rank in the eyes of the loving soul,—"For in little and low exercises, charity is practised not only more frequently, but also as a rule more humbly, and therefore more profitably and more holily" (xii. 6). He has two glorious chapters on the truth that legitimate xxviiioccupations, be they even in court or camp, hinder not the practice of divine love. "Curiosity, ambition, disquiet, together with inadvertence to, or not considering, the end for which we are in this world, are the causes why we have a hundred times more hindrances than affairs; and it is these embarrassments, that is, the silly, vain, superfluous undertakings with which we charge ourselves that turn us from the love of God, and not the true and lawful exercise of our vocations" (xii. 4.). In the one great principle of doing all for love we have signalized two conditions or negative aspects of the same.  1°. The intellect must be kept "very attentive." As the Saint says in the "Introduction to a Devout Life" (v. 17), so here, consideration "is supposed throughout the entire work," the whole edifice is built on it, and therefore the want of it, "inconsidération," is the ruin of the whole spiritual life (xi. 7.) This "consideration" need not be called by the alarming name of mental prayer, but whatever it is called it consists in a most serious attention to spiritual truths according to the capacity of the individual: there must be one great esteem, and therefore the energy of the intellect cannot be given primarily to anything else. So (2°) in the will, there must be but one great affection, one aim, one desire—"One to one." "The desire of exalting God separates from inferior pleasures" (v. 7); and: "to have the desire of sacred love we must cut off other desires" (xii. 3). "Those souls who ever abound in desires, designs and projects never desire holy celestial love as they ought:" "He who aspires to heavenly love must carefully reserve for it his leisure, his spirit, and his affections:"—words which should be written in letters of flame for the guidance of such as seek the right way to perfection.

We will not stay to give examples of his more particular principles with regard to prayer, but we select a few with regard to the virtues. The truly loving heart not only observes the commandments, but loves the observance, of them (viii. 5). "Inclination is neither vice nor virtue. . . . . How many by natural disposition are sober, simple, silent, even chaste? All this seems to be virtue, but it is not, until on such natural xxixhumours we have grafted free and voluntary consent:" The whole chapter "On the imperfection of the virtues of the pagans" (xi. 7.) is of the most practical importance at the present day. The general, but surely most constraining, principle of mortification,—that other pleasures and other desires must be put down for the sake of divine love,—is applied to the interior in such more particular methods as this:—irregular affections can be put down either on the principle of curing contraries by contraries, or on the principle of curing likes by likes: the inclination to trust in earthly things may be overcome either by thinking of the vanity of earthly hopes or of the solidity of heavenly hopes; desire of riches or of sensual pleasure may be kept down either by the contempt of them or by the esteem of heavenly goods, "as fire is extinguished either by water or by lightning" (xi. 20). It is applied to the exterior thus: "It is useless to give orders of abstinence to the palate, but the hands must be ordered to furnish the mouth with meat and drink only in such and such a measure. . . . . If we desire our eyes not to see we must turn them away, or (he has just compared our sensual appetite to a hawk) cover them with their natural hood . . . . it would be folly to command a horse not to wax fat, not to grow, not to kick,—to effect all this, stop his corn" (i. 2). In this connection, and to show how beautiful, how consistent, and how feasible his teaching is, it should be studied with his life, as his life should be explained by his teaching. That his extraordinary and almost unreasonable meekness sprang from no weakness or ignorance, but was founded on the deepest wisdom and sincere humility, we realize when we study his teaching (x.) on zeal and anger. His extremely affectionate expressions towards his friends find their justification in the truth that "the union to which love aspires is spiritual" (i. 10). The ground of his missionary spirit and life is found in v. 9, and the whole work is the explanation of his absolute devotion of himself to the loving service of God and his neighbour.

In the third place, the Treatise contains a full exposition of xxxthe motives for serving God, the why of a spiritual life. This is all reduced to the one great motive of the infinite perfections—especially the amiableness, the love, the goodness of God—brought before us in a hundred ways. His mere descriptions are enough to bring home this motive to the heart that reads them with attention, but the Saint himself puts them together (xii., 11, 12) with the exact method of applying them. But besides the direct treatment of the motives, the Treatise is pervaded by a heavenly persuasive unction, which ever urges them. This is why S. Vincent calls it "the goad of the slothful and the stimulus of love." While S. Francis seems only to be making us clearly understand what virtue is, he at the same time makes us esteem and love it; his reasons for loving God and practising virtue are not cold, dry logic, but reach the heart, and command assent; and while he is apparently only fixing our attention on the way to practise virtue he is at the same time gently but effectively touching the springs of the will to make us love and prepare to effect it. But besides this continual stimulation he has direct exhortations; he stops, as it were, in his course to preach. One chapter is headed: "An exhortation to the amorous submission which we owe to the decrees of divine Providence" (iv. 8). Another is his exposition of S. Paul's,—"The charity of Christ presseth us." Another—"An exhortation to the sacrifice we ought to make to God of our free-will" (xii. 10). And other chapters, though not precisely in the form of exhortations, contain the virtue of them. Such are the chapters "On condolence and complacency in the Passion of Our Lord" (v. 5); on the "Marvellous history of a gentleman who died of love on Mount Olivet" (vii. 12); and the last chapter of all: "That Mount Calvary is the true academy of love."

But, in the fourth place, this Treatise is not only a manual and a guide to perfection, but it is also a meditation-book, and a prayer-book. In such chapters as those just mentioned the devout soul will find all the materials of most excellent meditations;—not only deep pregnant thoughts, but also a very xxxifountain of affections and ejaculations, most pressing movements of the will, and most effective resolutions. The summing up of motives, and method of using them is already in the very form of meditation. But almost every chapter could be used as such. For instance, if one wished to strengthen the groundwork of love—the realization of the perfections of God—after thinking out Book v. cc. 1. 2., he could add Book i. cc. 15, 18, Book ii. cc. 1, 2, 8, 15, 22, and Book iii. cc. 11, 12, 13. This Book III. furnishes grand meditations on heaven, and every Book is full of the excellences of charity, than which no consideration could be more touching or more practical.

Then, the Treatise is a prayer-book. Very frequently the Saint ends his chapter with an exquisite prayer, himself giving the expression of the ardours with which he has filled our hearts. All Book V. is a prayer;—for instance, c. 5 on the Passion, c. 6 on Desires. Profound dogma, having permeated the intellect, exhales itself, as it were, to God on the apex of the spirit in such burning words as his—"Ah! then I am not made for this world, &c." (i. 15), or—"Ah! Jesus, who will give me grace to be one single spirit with thee, &c!" (vii. 3.)

We have now to speak of our text and rendering. We have followed the text of Vivès's edition of the "Œuvres Complètes," which, with a little improvement from subsequent editions, is a reproduction of the original work, published at Lyons by Rigaud in 1616. We therefore follow in our quotations the spelling and accentuation of the old French. We have of course used the ordinary Catholic translation of the Bible, except where the Saint leaves the Vulgate for the Septuagint or the Hebrew, which he occasionally does, not, as he says, to get the true sense, but "to explain and confirm the true sense." We have consulted the originals for the citations from the Fathers, but the Saint himself quotes them with a certain freedom, and we have not thought it necessary to give the exact references, as the student can easily find them in Vivès or Migne. It has been decided to omit or modify in xxxiithis popular edition a few sentences in which the Saint refers to certain delicate matters—in particular to certain Bible narratives which to his original readers were matters of familiar knowledge—with the happy simplicity of his day. As he says in his Preface, "it is of extreme importance to remember the age in which one writes," and there can be no doubt that if he had been writing for this age he would have consulted its requirements, and would have conformed to the universal practice of modern spiritual writers by forbearing reference to these subjects. He only introduces them incidentally and merely for the purpose of illustrating his main argument. The omissions or alterations taken altogether would not amount to more than two pages.1111They occur in i. 5, 10; iv. 10; v. 1; vi. 15; vii. 1; viii. 1; ix. 10; x. 7, 9; xi. 4, 10, 11, 14.

We are acquainted with only two English versions of the Treatise. The first was made by Father Car, from the eighteenth French edition,1212"A Treatise of the Love of God." Written in French by B. Francis de Sales, Bishope and Prince of Geneva. Translated into English by Miles Car, priest of the English Colledge of Doway. The eighteenth edition. Printed at Doway by Gerard Pinchon, at the sign of Coleyn, 1630. and we had at first intended to take this as the basis of ours; but when we came to actually test it by the original, we determined to make our translation completely independent of it, and in many parts we did not refer to it at all. As to the substance of the work it is satisfactory; though there are many slight omissions, and a few somewhat serious mistakes. As to style, taken by itself, it is a good and a very interesting specimen of the racy, vigorous English of that day; but taken as a translation, the rendering is unwarrantably free, and Father Car's manner is far too rugged to represent that of the Saint, which is always graceful and flowing, even when the thought is closest and the passion strongest. Father Car gives the structure correctly, but his manipulation of conjunctions and adverbs, particularly in the more argumentative parts, is painfully cumbrous. We should expect his diction to be archaic, but some of his words are xxxiiiquite obsolete1313We would gladly have reintroduced such a fine old word as "yert," which represents the now untranslateable eslan or eslancement.. He is occasionally mistaken in his use of words, as when he translates bonté, "bounty," instead of "goodness;" he makes curious mistakes in words which are spelt nearly alike.1414For instance nuisance as if it were naissance; jeusnes et veilles, as if they were jeunes et vieilles. We have laboured to preserve his delightful air of antiqueness, which is singularly appropriate to the Saint's work.

The modern English translation, which was made, we believe, early in the present century by an Irish lady, and which has been reprinted by various publishers, is not worth criticizing. It is not so much a translation as a very bad adaptation. A good deal of the substance of the book is left out, and the translator, who was not properly acquainted either with the Saint's language or her own, substitutes her style for his. We have no hesitation in saying that there is not a page without important errors on commission or omission.

We may add a few words on our own work. It is sometimes said that a translation should read as if it were composed in the language in which it appears, and, again, that a translator must not attend immediately to the words of his text, but must, in the first place, aim at producing the same impression on the minds of his readers as the author would produce on the minds of those for whom he originally wrote. We cannot but consider both these rules or principles to be fallacious. A Frenchman, for instance, is different from an Englishman, and there are many words which necessarily make a very different impression, according as they fall on a French or on an English mind. So, again, the French tongue has national peculiarities and differences which an English translator may not ignore, but which he cannot represent in strict accordance with the genius of his own tongue. S. Francis's work would have been totally different, both in itself and in its effect, if he had been an Englishman writing for his countrymen in their xxxivnative language. The most that a translator can do is to put the foreign reader in as good a position as he would be in if he had a familiar knowledge of the original. When an Englishman having a familiar knowledge of French reads a book written in that language, he does not indeed usually advert to the expression therein of the national characteristics—vivacity, use of gesture, frequent expression of emotion, strong sense of personality—because he has for the time put on his French form of mind, but there is certainly a latent sense of foreignness, of which he becomes conscious when these peculiarities are exaggerated, as in such a writer as Victor Hugo.

We say this in explanation of the general structure of the work, which could not be altered without being revolutionized, but as regards particular words and phrases, we have tried our best to spare our readers the disagreeable jar which is caused by the introduction of a foreign idiom. In this matter the Treatise presents less difficulty than is found in the more colloquial writings, because its argument is very substantial, and its text largely consists of quotations from the Holy Scriptures, the Fathers, and philosophers. The difficulty lies deeper, and one must be extremely careful, in obliterating Gallicisms, not to injure or destroy what belongs to the very texture of the style. S. Francis's work cannot be made to read as easily as do the empty, superficial writings of the day, or to appear in a spick-and-span modern English dress. He is a classic, he is a master of thought, having his individual characteristics, who wrote scientifically on profoundest religious truths three ages back.

His style is old-world, antique. Words with him have more of their fresh native simplicity than they now retain after having done service for three hundred years. Some of them he was the first to bring out of their classic use into modern circulation. Hence, we make no difficulty in using such words as "contemplation," "sensible," "civil," in their original and more proper sense, as English religious writers of his age—Hooker, Taylor or Milton—used them.

xxxv

Again, he is scientific—theological and philosophical. He writes a Treatise. The world, which is only interested in its own matters, will not admit the rights of the scientific writer on religion. Catholics of the English-speaking race are placed at a double disadvantage, on account of the small proportion their numbers bear to the mass of their countrymen. But surely we are not to acquiesce in allowing terms to be prohibited which are necessary or useful for properly and safely expressing the distinctive truths of our religion: there is an interest at stake not merely literary, but religious, and also patriotic. We claim, therefore, the right to use, for instance, the words "religion," "religious," "professed," in our technical Catholic sense, for the state and the persons of those who have bound themselves to the service of God by vow.

S. Francis also had his special characteristics, which, therefore, are not French but Salesian. He was slightly old-fashioned, even in his own time. He was a patriarch of French literature, and devoted, in language as in other things, to the old times, though so glorious a pioneer of the new. He is simple in expression amongst the simple. But each word is charged with thought and reflection, and sometimes an exclamation which one might at first be tempted to suppress as a French superfluity, turns out to be a "word," and welded into the substance of the phrase. He was a Saint, also, and what would be an exclamation in others is an ejaculation in him.

But, after all, our object is devotional and not literary; we are far from wishing to indulge any literary fancies or crotchets and have no intention of straining our principles of translation. Our one aim is to make the true teachings of S. Francis de Sales accessible, profitable, and attractive to English readers, and so to contribute our poor efforts to advance the divine Art of Holy Loving.

 

 

Weobley,

Feast of our most holy Father S. Benedict, 1884.

xxxvixxxvii

TABLE OF CONTENTS.


 

PAGE
Translator's Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
vii

The Author's Dedicatory Prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1
The Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3
BOOK I.
CONTAINING A PREPARATION FOR THE WHOLE TREATISE.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

That for the beauty of human nature God has given the government of all the faculties of the soul to the will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

17
II.

How the will variously governs the powers of the soul. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

19
III.

How the will governs the sensual appetite. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

21
IV.

That love rules over all the affections and passions, and even governs the will, although the will has also a dominion over it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

24
V.

Of the affections of the will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

26
VI.

How the love of God has dominion over other loves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

29
VII.

Description of love in general. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

30
VIII.

What kind of affinity (convenance) it is which excites love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

35
IX.

That love tends to union. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

37
X.

That the union to which love aspires is spiritual. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

39
XI.

That there are two portions in the soul, and how. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

45
XII.

That in these two portions of the soul there are four different degrees of reason. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

48
XIII.

On the difference of loves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

51
XIV.

That charity may be named love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

52
XV.

Of the affinity there is between God and man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

54
XVI.

That we have a natural inclination to love God above all things. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

56
xxxviii
XVII.

That we have not naturally the power to love God above all things. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

58
XVIII.

That the natural inclination which we have to love God is not useless. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

61
BOOK II.
THE HISTORY OF THE GENERATION AND HEAVENLY BIRTH OF DIVINE LOVE.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

That the divine perfections are only a single but infinite perfection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

63
II.

That in God there is but one only act, which is his own divinity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

66
III.

Of the divine providence in general. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

69
IV.

Of the supernatural providence which God uses towards reasonable creatures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

73
V.

That heavenly providence has provided men with a most abundant redemption. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

76
VI.

Of certain special favours exercised by the divine providence in the redemption of man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

78
VII.

How admirable the divine providence is in the diversity of graces given to men. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

81
VIII.

How much God desires we should love him. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

83
IX.

How the eternal love of God prevents our hearts with his inspirations in order that we may love him. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

86
X.

How we oftentimes repulse the inspiration, and refuse to love God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

89
XI.

That it is no fault of the divine goodness if we have not a most excellent love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

91
XII.

That divine inspirations leave us in full liberty to follow or repulse them. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

94
XIII.

Of the first sentiments of love which divine inspirations cause in the soul before she has faith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

98
XIV.

Of the sentiment of the divine love which is had by faith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

101
XV.

Of the great sentiment of love which we receive by holy hope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

104
XVI.

How love is practised in hope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

106
XVII.

That the love which is in hope is very good, though imperfect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

109
XVIII.

That love is exercised in penitence, and first, that there are divers sorts of penitence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

112
xxxix
XIX.

That penitence without love is imperfect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

115
XX.

How the mingling of love and sorrow takes place in contrition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

117
XXI.

How our Saviour's loving attractions assist and accompany us to faith and charity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

121
XXII.

A short description of charity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

124
BOOK III.
OF THE PROGRESS AND PERFECTION OF LOVE.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

That holy love may be augmented still more and more in everyone of us. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

127
II.

How easy our Saviour has made the increase of love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

129
III.

How a soul in charity makes progress in it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

132
IV.

Of holy perseverance in sacred love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

138
V.

That the happiness of dying in heavenly charity is a special gift of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

141
VI.

That we cannot attain to perfect union with God in this mortal life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

143
VII.

That the charity of saints in this mortal life equals, yea sometimes surpasses, that of the blessed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

145
VIII.

Of the incomparable love which the Mother of God, our Blessed Lady, had. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

147
IX.

A preparation for the discourse on the union of the blessed with God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

150
X.

That the preceding desire will much increase the union of the blessed with God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

153
XI.

Of the union of the blessed spirits with God, in the vision of the Divinity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

154
XII.

Of the eternal union of the blessed spirits with God, in the vision of the eternal birth of the Son of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

157
XIII.

Of the union of the blessed with God in the vision of the production of the Holy Ghost. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

159
XIV.

That the holy light of glory will serve for the union of the blessed spirits with God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

161
XV.

That there shall be different degrees of the union of the blessed with God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

163
xl
BOOK IV.
OF THE DECAY AND RUIN OF CHARITY.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

That as long as we are in this mortal life we may lose the love of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

165
II.

How the soul grows cold in holy love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

168
III.

How we forsake divine love for that of creatures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

171
IV.

That heavenly love is lost in a moment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

174
V.

That the sole cause of the decay and cooling of charity is in the creature's will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

176
VI.

That we ought to acknowledge all the love we bear to God to be from God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

178
VII.

That we must avoid all curiosity, and humbly acquiesce in God's most wise providence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

182
VIII.

An exhortation to the amorous submission which we owe to the decrees of divine providence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

186
IX.

Of a certain remainder of love that oftentimes rests in the soul that has lost holy charity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

189
X.

How dangerous this imperfect love is. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

192
XI.

A means to discern this imperfect love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

193
BOOK V.
OF THE TWO PRINCIPAL EXERCISES OF HOLY LOVE WHICH CONSIST IN COMPLACENCY AND BENEVOLENCE.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

Of the sacred complacency of love; and first of what it consists. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

196
II.

How by holy complacency we are made as little infants at our Saviour's breasts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

199
III.

That holy complacency gives our heart to God, and makes us feel a perpetual desire in fruition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

203
IV.

Of the loving condolence by which the complacency of love is still better declared. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

207
V.

Of the condolence and complacency of love in the Passion of our Lord. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

210
VI.

Of the love of benevolence which we exercise towards our Saviour by way of desire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

212
VII.

How the desire to exalt and magnify God separates us from inferior pleasures, and makes us attentive to the divine perfections. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

215
xli
VIII.

How holy benevolence produces the praise of the divine well-beloved. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

217
IX.

How benevolence makes us call all creatures to the praise of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

220
X.

How the desire to praise God makes us aspire to heaven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

222
XI.

How we practise the love of benevolence in the praises which our Saviour and his Mother give to God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

224
XII.

Of the sovereign praise which God gives unto himself, and how we exercise benevolence in it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

228
BOOK VI.
OF THE EXERCISES OF HOLY LOVE IN PRAYER.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

A description of mystical theology, which is no other thing than prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

231
II.

Of meditation—the first degree of prayer or mystical theology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

235
III.

A description of contemplation, and of the first difference that there is between it and meditation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

239
IV.

That love in this life takes its origin but not its excellence from the knowledge of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

241
V.

The second difference between meditation and contemplation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

244
VI.

That contemplation is made without labour, which is the third difference between it and meditation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

247
VII.

Of the loving recollection of the soul in contemplation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

251
VIII.

Of the repose of a soul recollected in her well-beloved. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

254
IX.

How this sacred repose is practised. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

257
X.

Of various degrees of this repose, and how it is to be preserved. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

259
XI.

A continuation of the discourse touching the various degrees of holy quiet, and of an excellent abnegation of self which is sometimes practised therein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

261
XII.

Of the outflowing (escoulement) or liquefaction of the soul in God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

265
XIII.

Of the wound of love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

268
XIV.

Of some other means by which holy love wounds the heart. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

272
XV.

Of the affectionate languishing of the heart wounded with love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

275
xlii
BOOK VII.
OF THE UNION OF THE SOUL WITH HER GOD, WHICH IS PERFECTED IN PRAYER.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

How love effects the union of the soul with God in prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

281
II.

Of the various degrees of the holy union which is made in prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

286
III.

Of the sovereign degree of union by suspension and ravishment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

289
IV.

Of rapture, and of the first species of it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

294
V.

Of the second species of rapture. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

295
VI.

Of the signs of good rapture, and of the third species of the same. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

298
VII.

How love is the life of the soul, and continuation of the discourse on the ecstatic life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

301
VIII.

An admirable exhortation of S. Paul to the ecstatic and superhuman life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

304
IX.

Of the supreme effect of affective love, which is the death of the lovers; and first, of such as died in love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

307
X.

Of those who died by and for divine love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

310
XI.

How some of the heavenly lovers died also of love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

311
XII.

Marvellous history of the death of a gentleman who died of love on Mount Olivet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

314
XIII.

That the most sacred Virgin Mother of God died of love for her son. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

318
XIV.

That the glorious Virgin died by an extremely sweet and tranquil death. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

321
BOOK VIII.

OF THE LOVE OF CONFORMITY, BY WHICH WE UNITE OUR WILL TO THE WILL OF GOD, SIGNIFIED UNTO US BY HIS COMMANDMENTS, COUNSELS AND INSPIRATIONS.

CHAP. PAGE
I.

Of the love of conformity proceeding from sacred complacency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

325
II.

Of the conformity of submission which proceeds from the love of benevolence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

327
III.

How we are to conform ourselves to that divine will, which is called the signified will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

329
xliii
IV.

Of the conformity of our will to the will which God has to save us. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

332
V.

Of the conformity of our will to that will of God's which is signified to us by his commandments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

334
VI.

Of the conformity of our will to that will of God which is signified unto us by his counsels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

337
VII.

That the love of God's will signified in the commandments moves us to the love of the counsels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

340
VIII.

That the contempt of the evangelical counsels is a great sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

343
IX.

A continuation of the preceding discourse. How every one, while bound to love, is not bound to practise, all the evangelical counsels, and yet how every one should practise what he is able. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

346
X.

How we are to conform ourselves to God's will signified unto us by inspirations, and first, of the variety of the means by which God inspires us. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

349
XI.

Of the union of our will with God's in the inspirations which are given for the extraordinary practice of virtues; and of perseverance in one's vocation, the first mark of inspiration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

352
XII.

Of the union of man's will with God's in those inspirations which are contrary to ordinary laws; and of peace and tranquillity of heart, second mark of inspiration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

356
XIII.

Third mark of inspiration, which is holy obedience to the Church and superiors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

359
XIV.

A short method to know God's will.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

362
BOOK IX.
OF THE LOVE OF SUBMISSION, WEREBY OUR WILL IS UNITED TO GOD'S GOOD-PLEASURE.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

Of the union of our will to that divine will which is called the will of good-pleasure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

365
II.

That the union of our will with the good-pleasure of God takes place principally in tribulations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

367
III.

Of the Union of our will to the divine good-pleasure in spiritual afflictions, by resignation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

371
IV.

Of the union of our will to the good-pleasure of God by indifference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

373
V.

That holy indifference extends to all things. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

375
xliv
VI.

Of the practice of loving indifference, in things belonging to the service of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

377
VII.

Of the indifference we are to have as to our advancement in virtues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

381
VIII.

How we are to unite our will with God's in the permission of sins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

385
IX.

How the purity of indifference is to be practised in the actions of sacred love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

388
X.

Means to discover when we change in the matter of this holy love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

390
XI.

Of the perplexity of a heart which loves without knowing whether it pleases the beloved. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

392
XII.

How the soul amidst these interior anguishes knows not the love she bears to God: and of the most lovefull death of the will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

395
XIII.

How the will being dead to itself lives entirely in God's will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

398
XIV.

An explanation of what has been said touching the decease of our will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

400
XV.

Of the most excellent exercise we can make in the interior and exterior troubles of this life, after attaining the indifference and death of the will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

403
XVI.

Of the perfect stripping of the soul which is united to God's will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

406
BOOK X.
OF THE COMMANDMENT OF LOVING GOD ABOVE ALL THINGS.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

Of the sweetness of the commandment which God has given us of loving him above all things. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

410
II.

That this divine commandment of love tends to heaven, yet is given to the faithful in this world. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

413
III.

How, while the whole heart is employed in sacred love, yet one may love God in various ways, and also many other things together with him. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

414
IV.

Of two degrees of perfection with which this commandment may be kept in this mortal life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

418
V.

Of two other degrees of greater perfection, by which we may love God above all things. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

421
VI.

That the love of God above all things is common to all lovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

425
VII.

Explanation of the preceding chapter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

427
xlv
VIII.

A memorable history to make clearly understood in what the force and excellence of holy love consist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

430
IX.

A confirmation of what has been said by a noteworthy comparison. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

434
X.

That we are to love the divine goodness sovereignly above ourselves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

437
XI.

How holy charity produces the love of our neighbour. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

440
XII.

How love produces zeal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

442
XIII.

How God is jealous of us. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

444
XIV.

Of the zeal or jealousy which we have for our Lord. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

448
XV.

Advice for the direction of holy zeal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

451
XVI.

That the example of certain saints who seem to have exercised their zeal with anger, makes nothing against the doctrine of the preceding chapter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

455
XVII.

How our Lord practised all the most excellent acts of love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

460
BOOK XI.

OF THE SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY WHICH SACRED LOVE HOLDS OVER ALL THE VIRTUES, ACTIONS AND PERFECTIONS OF THE SOUL.

CHAP. PAGE
I.

How agreeable all virtues are to God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

464
II.

That divine love makes the virtues immeasurably more agreeable to God than they are of their own nature. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

467
III.

That there are some virtues which divine love raises to a higher degree of excellence than others. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

470
IV.

That divine love more excellently sanctifies the virtues when they are practised by its order and commandment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

472
V.

How love spreads its excellence over the other virtues, perfecting their particular excellence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

475
VI.

Of the excellent value which sacred love gives to the actions which issue from itself, and to those which proceed from the other virtues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

478
VII.

That perfect virtues are never one without the other. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

481
VIII.

How charity comprehends all the virtues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

485
IX.

That the virtues have their perfection from divine love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

489
X.

A digression upon the imperfection of the virtues of the pagans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

491
XI.

How human actions are without worth when they are done without divine love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

496
xlvi
XII.

How holy love returning into the soul, brings back to life all the works which sin had destroyed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

499
XIII.

How we are to reduce all the exercise of the virtues, and all our actions to holy love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

503
XIV.

The practice of what has been said in the preceding chapter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

506
XV.

How charity contains in it the gifts of the Holy Ghost. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

509
XVI.

Of the loving fear of spouses; a continuation of the same subject. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

511
XVII.

How servile fear remains together with holy love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

514
XVIII.

How love makes use of natural, servile and mercenary fear. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

516
XIX.

How sacred love contains the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost, together with the eight beatitudes of the Gospel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

521
XX.

How divine love makes use of all the passions and affections of the soul, and reduces them to its obedience. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

524
XXI.

That sadness is almost always useless, yea contrary to the service of holy love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

528
BOOK XII.
CONTAINING CERTAIN COUNSELS FOR THE PROGRESS OF THE SOUL IN HOLY LOVE.
CHAP. PAGE
I.

That our progress in holy love does not depend on our natural temperament. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

533
II.

That we are to have a continual desire to love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

534
III.

That to have the desire of sacred love we are to cut off all other desires. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

536
IV.

That our lawful occupations do not hinder us from practising divine love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

538
V.

A very sweet example on this subject. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

539
VI.

That we are to employ in the practice of divine love all the occasions that present themselves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

540
VII.

That we must take pains to do our actions very perfectly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

542
VIII.

A general means for applying our works to God's service. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

543
IX.

Of certain other means by which we may apply our works more particularly to the love of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

545
X.

An exhortation to the sacrifice which we are to make to God of our free-will. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

548
XI.

The motives we have of holy love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

551
XII.

A most useful method of employing these motives. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

552
XIII.

That Mount Calvary is the academy of love. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

554
xlvii

TREATISE

ON THE

LOVE OF GOD

 

 

 

 

xlviii1

Dedicatory Prayer


MOST holy Mother of God, vessel of incomparable election, Queen of sovereign dilection, thou art the most lovely, the most loving and most beloved of all creatures! The love of the heavenly Father found its good pleasure in thee from all eternity, destining thy chaste heart to the perfection of holy love, to the end that one day thou mightest love his only Son with unique motherly love as he had done from all eternity with unique fatherly love. O Saviour Jesus, to whom could I better dedicate words on thy love, than to the most amiable heart of the well-beloved of thy soul?

But O all triumphant Mother! Who can cast his eyes upon thy majesty without seeing at thy right hand him whom for the love of thee thy Son deigned so often to honour with the title of father, having united him unto thee by the celestial bond of a most virginal marriage, that he might be thy coadjutor and helper in the charge of the direction and education of his divine infancy? O great S. Joseph! Most beloved spouse of the well-beloved Mother, ah! how often hast thou borne in thy arms the love of heaven and earth, while, inflamed with the sweet embraces and kisses of this Divine child, thy soul melted away with joy while he tenderly whispered in thy ears (O God what sweetness!) that thou wast his great friend and his well-beloved father.

Of old the lamps of the ancient temple were placed upon golden lilies. O Mary and Joseph, Pair without peer! Sacred lilies of incomparable beauty, amongst which the well-beloved 2feeds himself and feeds all his lovers—ah! if I may give myself any hope that this love-writing may enlighten and inflame the children of light, where can I better lay it than amongst your lilies, wherein the Sun of Justice, the splendour and brightness of the eternal light, did so sovereignly recreate himself that he there fulfilled the delights of the ineffable love of his heart towards us? O well-beloved mother of the well-beloved Son, O well-beloved spouse of the well-beloved mother! Prostrate before the feet of you who bore my Saviour, I dedicate and consecrate this little work of love to the immense greatness of your love. Ah! I conjure you by the heart of your sweet Jesus, King of hearts, whom your hearts adore—animate my heart, and all hearts that shall read this writing, by your all powerful favour with the Holy Ghost, that henceforth we may offer up in holocaust all our affections to his divine goodness, to live, die, and live again for ever, amid the flames of this heavenly fire, which Our Lord your son has so much desired to kindle in our hearts, that he never ceased to labour and sigh for this until death, even the death of the cross.

3

VIVE JÉSUS.


PREFACE.

THE Holy Ghost teaches that the lips of the heavenly Spouse, that is The Church, resemble scarlet and the dropping honeycomb,1515Cant. iv. to let every one know that all the doctrine which she announces consists in sacred love; of a more resplendent red than scarlet on account of the blood of the spouse whose love inflames her, sweeter than honey on account of the sweetness of the beloved who crowns her with delights. So this heavenly spouse when he thought good to begin the promulgation of his law, cast down upon the assembly of those disciples whom he had deputed for this work a shower of fiery tongues, sufficiently intimating thereby that the preaching of the gospel was wholly designed for the inflaming of hearts.

Represent to yourself beautiful doves amidst the rays of the sun; you will see their plumage break into as many different colours as you change your point of viewing them; because their feathers are so fitted to display the light, that when the sun comes to spread his splendour on them, a multitude of reflections are made, producing a great variety of tints and glancing colours, colours so agreeable to the eye that they surpass all other colours, even the enamel of richest jewels; colours so resplendent and so delicately gilded that the gilding makes their own colours more bright than ever; for it was this sight which made the royal prophet say If you sleep among the midst of lots; you shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and the hinder parts of her back with the paleness of gold.1616Ps. lxvii. 14. The Church is indeed adorned with an excellent variety of teachings, 4sermons, treatises and spiritual books, all very beautiful and pleasant to the sight by reason of the admirable mingling which the Sun of Justice makes of his divine wisdom with the tongues of his pastors, which are their feathers, and with their pens, which sometimes hold the place of tongues, and form the rich plumage of this mystic dove. But amongst all the divers colours of the doctrine which she displays, the fine gold of holy Charity is everywhere spread, and makes itself excellently visible, gilding all the science of the saints with its incomparable lustre, and raising it above every other science. All is love's, and in love, for love, and of love, in the holy Church.

But as we are not ignorant that all the light of the day proceeds from the sun and yet we ordinarily say that the sun does not shine, except only when it openly sends out its beams here or there; in like manner, though all Christian doctrine be about sacred love, yet we do not honour all theology indifferently with the title of this divine love, but only those parts of it which regard the birth, nature, properties and operations thereof in particular.

Now it is true that divers writers have already handled this subject; above all those ancient Fathers, who as they did lovingly serve God so did they speak divinely of his love. O how good it is to hear S. Paul speak of heavenly things, who learned them even in heaven itself, and how good to see those souls who were nursed in the bosom of love write of its holy sweetness! For this reason those amongst the schoolmen that discoursed the most and the best of it, did also most excel in piety. S. Thomas has made a treatise on it worthy of S. Thomas; S. Bonaventure and B. Denis the Carthusian have made divers most excellent ones on it under various titles, and as for John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, Sixtus Senensis speaks of him thus: "He has so worthily discoursed of the fifty properties of divine love which are described in the course of the Canticle of Canticles, that he alone would seem to have taken proper account of the affections of the love of God." Truly this man was extremely learned, judicious and devout.

And that we may know this kind of writings to be made more successfully by the devotion of lovers than by the learning 5of the wise, it has pleased the Holy Ghost that many women should work wonders in it. Who has ever better expressed the heavenly passions of sacred love, than S. Catharine of Genoa, S. Angela of Foligno, S. Catharine of Siena, S. Mechtilde?

In our age also many have written upon this subject, whose works I have not had leisure to read distinctly but only here and there so far forth as was requisite to discover whether this book might yet find place. Father Louis of Granada, that great doctor of piety, has placed a treatise of the love of God in his Memorial, which is sufficiently commended in saying it is his. Diego Stella, of the Order of S. Francis, made another, which is very effective and profitable for prayer. Christopher Fonseca, an Augustinian, brought out one still larger, wherein he has many excellent things. Father Louis Richeome of the Society has also published a book under the title of The Art of Loving God by his Creatures, and this author is so amiable in his person and in his beautiful writings that doubtless he is even more so when writing of love itself. Father John of Jesus Maria, a discalced Carmelite, has composed a little book which is also called The Art of Loving God, and which is much esteemed. That great and celebrated Cardinal Bellarmine has also lately issued a little book entitled: The Ladder for Ascending unto God by his Creatures, which cannot be but admirable coming from that most learned hand and most devout soul, who has written so much and so wisely in the Church's behalf. I will say nothing of the Parenetic of that river of eloquence1717M. Camus. who flows at present through all France in the multitude and variety of his sermons and noble writings. The close spiritual consanguinity which my soul has contracted with his, when by the imposition of my hands he received the sacred character of the episcopal order, to the great happiness of the diocese of Belley and to the honour of the Church, besides a thousand ties of a sincere friendship which fasten us together, permits me not to speak with praise of his works, amongst which this Parenetic of divine love was one of the first sallies of the matchless wealth of intellect which every one admires in him.

6

We see further a goodly and magnificent palace which the R. Father Laurence of Paris, a Capuchin preacher, erected in honour of heavenly love, which being finished will be a complete course of the Art of loving well. And lastly the B. Mother (S.) Teresa of Jesus, has written so accurately of the sacred movements of love in all the books she has left us, that one is amazed to see so much eloquence masked under such profound humility, such great solidity of wit in such great simplicity: and her most learned ignorance makes the knowledge of many learned men appear ignorant, who after long and laborious study have to blush at not understanding what she so happily puts down touching the practice of holy love. Thus does God raise the throne of his power upon the ground of our infirmity, making use of weak things to confound the strong.18181 Cor. i. 27.

And although, my dear reader, this Treatise which I now present you, comes far short of those excellent works, without hope of ever running even with them, yet have I such confidence in the favour of the two heavenly lovers to whom I dedicate it, that still it may be in some way serviceable to you, and that in it you will meet with many wholesome considerations which you would not elsewhere so easily find, as again you may elsewhere find many beautiful things which are not here. Indeed, it even seems to me that my design is not the same as that of others except in general, inasmuch as we all look towards the glory of holy love. But this you will see by reading it.

Truly my intention is only to represent simply and naïvely, without art, still more without false colours, the history of the birth, progress, decay, operations, properties, advantages and excellences of divine love. And if besides this you find other things, these are but excrescences which it is almost impossible for such as me who write amidst many distractions to avoid. But still I think that there will be nothing without some utility. Nature herself, who is so skilful a workwoman, intending to produce grapes, produces at the same time, as by a prudent inadvertence, such an abundance of leaves and branches, that there are very few vines which have not in their season to be pruned of leaves and shoots.

7

Writers are often treated too harshly: the censures that are passed on them are given hastily, and very often with more incorrectness than they committed imprudence in hastening to publish their writings. Precipitation of judgment greatly puts in danger the conscience of the judge, and the innocence of the accused. Many write amiss and many censure foolishly. The kindness of the reader makes his reading sweet and profitable. And, my dear reader, to have you more favourable, I will here give you an explanation of some points which might peradventure otherwise put you out of humour.

Some perhaps will think that I have said too much, and that it was not requisite to go so deep down into the roots of the subject, but I am of opinion that heavenly love is a plant like to that which we call Angelica, whose root is no less odoriferous and wholesome than the stalk and the branches. The four first books and some chapters of the rest might without doubt have been omitted, without disadvantage to such souls as only seek the practice of holy love, yet all of it will be profitable unto them if they behold it with a devout eye: while others also might have been disappointed not to have had the whole of what belongs to the treatise of divine love. I have taken into consideration as I should do, the state of the minds of this age: it much imports to remember in what age we are writing.

I cite Scripture sometimes in other terms than those of the ordinary edition (the Vulgate). For God's sake, my dear reader do me not therefore the wrong to think that I wish to depart from that edition. Ah no! For I know the Holy Ghost has authorized it by the sacred Council of Trent, and that therefore all of us ought to keep to it: on the contrary I only use the other versions for the service of this, when they explain and confirm its true sense. For example what the heavenly spouse says to his spouse: Thou hast wounded my heart:1919Cant. iv. 9. is greatly illustrated by the other version: Thou hast taken away my heart, or, Thou hast snatched away and ravished my heart. That which our Saviour said: Blessed are the poor in spirit: is much amplified and cleared by the Greek: Blessed are the beggars in spirit: and so with others.

8

I have often cited the sacred Psalmist in verse, and this to recreate your mind and on account of the ease with which I could do it, by the beautiful translation of Phillip des Portes, Abbot of Tiron. This however I have sometimes departed from; not of course thinking I could improve the verses of this famous poet (for I should be too impertinent if never having so much as thought of this kind o£ writing, I should pretend to be happy in it in an age and condition of life which would oblige me to retire from it in case I had ever been engaged therein), but in some places where the sense might be variously taken, I have not followed his verse, because I would not follow his sense, as in Psalm cxxxii., where he has taken a certain Latin word for the fringe of the garment which I thought ought to be taken for the collar, wherefore I have translated it to my own mind.

I have said nothing which I have not learned of others, yet it is impossible for me to remember whence I had everything in particular, but believe me, if I had taken any lengthy and remarkable passages out of any author, I would make it a matter of conscience not to let him have the deserved honour of it, and to remove a suspicion which you may conceive against my sincerity in this matter, I warn you that the 13th chapter of Book VII. is extracted from a sermon which I delivered at Paris at S. John's en Grève upon the feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, 1602.

I have not always expressed the sequence of the chapters, but if you notice you will easily find the links of their connection. In that and several other things I had a care to spare my own leisure and your patience. After I had caused the Introduction to a Devout Life to be printed, my Lord Archbishop of Vienne, Peter de Villars, did me the favour of writing his opinion of it in terms so advantageous to that little book and to me, that I should never dare to rehearse them: and exhorting me to apply the most of my leisure to the like works, amongst many rare counsels he favoured me with, one was that as far as the matter would permit I should always be short in the chapters. For as, said he, travellers knowing that there is a fair garden some twenty or twenty-five paces out of their way, readily turn aside 9so short a distance to go see it, which they would not do if it were further distant; even so those who know that there is but little distance between the beginning and end of a chapter do willingly undertake to read it, which they would not do though the subject were never so delightful, if a long time were required for the reading of it. And therefore I had good reason to follow my own inclination in this respect since it was agreeable to this great personage who was one of the most saintly prelates and learned doctors that the Church has had in our age, and who at the time that he honoured me with his letter was the most ancient of all the doctors of the faculty of Paris.

A great servant of God informed me not long ago that by addressing my speech to Philothea in the Introduction to a Devout Life, I hindered many men from profiting by it: because they did not esteem advice given to a woman, to be worthy of a man. I marvelled that there were men who, to be thought men, showed themselves in effect so little men, for I leave it to your consideration, my dear reader, whether devotion be not as well for men as for women, and whether we are not to read with as great attention and reverence the second Epistle of S. John which was addressed to the holy lady Electa, as the third which he directs to Caius, and whether a thousand thousand Epistles and excellent Treatises of the ancient fathers of the Church ought to be held unprofitable to men, because they are addressed to holy women of those times. But, besides, it is the soul which aspires to devotion that I call Philothea, and men have souls as well as women.

Nevertheless, to imitate the great Apostle in this occasion, who esteemed himself a debtor to every one, I have changed my address in this treatise and speak to Theotimus, but if perchance there should be any woman (and such an unreasonableness would be more tolerable in them) who would not read the instructions which are given to men, I beg them to know that Theotimus to whom I speak is the human spirit desirous of making progress in holy love, which spirit is equally in women as in men.

This Treatise then is made for a soul already devout that she may be able to advance in her design, and hence I have been forced 10to say many things somewhat unknown to the generality, and which will therefore appear more obscure than they are. The depths of science are always somewhat hard to sound, and there are few divers who care and are able to descend and gather the pearls and other precious stones which are in the womb of the ocean. But if you have the courage fairly to penetrate these words which I have written, it will truly be with you as with the divers, who, says Pliny, see clearly in the deepest caves of the sea the light of the sun: for you will find in the hardest parts of this discourse a good and fair light. Moreover, as I do not follow them that despise books treating of a certain supereminently perfect life, so for my part, I do not speak of such a supereminence; for I can neither censure the authors, nor authorize the censors of a doctrine which I do not understand.

I have touched on a number of theological questions, proposing simply, not so much what I anciently learnt in disputations, as what attention to the service of souls, and my twenty-four years spent in holy preaching have made me think most conducive to the glory of the Gospel and of the Church.

For the rest some men of note in various places have signified to me that certain little books have been published simply under the first letters of their author's name which are the same as mine. This made some believe that they were my works, not without some little scandal to such as supposed thereby that I had bidden adieu to my simplicity, to puff up my style with pompous words, my argument with worldly conceit, and my conceptions with a lofty and plumed eloquence. For this cause my dear reader, I will tell you, that as those who engrave or cut precious stones, having their sight tired by keeping it continually fixed upon the small lines of their work, are glad to keep before them some fair emerald that by beholding it from time to time they may be recreated with its greenness and restore their weakened sight to its natural condition,—so in this press of business which my office daily draws upon me I have ever little projects of some treatise of piety, which I look at when I can, to revive and unweary my mind.

However, I do not profess myself a writer; for the dulness of my spirit and the condition of my life, subject to the service 11and requirements of many, would not permit me so to be. Wherefore I have written very little and have published much less, and following the counsel and will of my friends I will tell you what I have written that you may not attribute the praises of another's labours to him who deserves none for his own.

It is now nineteen years since that, being at Thonon, a small town situated upon the Lake of Geneva, which was then being little by little converted to the Catholic faith, the minister, an adversary of the Church, was proclaiming everywhere that the Catholic article of the real presence of our Saviour's body in the Eucharist destroyed the symbol and the analogy of faith (for he was glad to mouth this word analogy not understood by his auditors, in order to appear very learned; and upon this the rest of the Catholic preachers with whom I was pressed me to write something in refutation of this vanity. I did what seemed suitable, framing a brief meditation upon the Creed to confirm the truth: all the copies were distributed in this diocese where now I find not one of them.

Soon afterwards his Highness came over the mountains, and finding the bailiwicks of Chablais, Gaillard and Ternier, which are in the environs of Geneva, well disposed to receive the Catholic faith which had been banished thence by force of wars and revolts about seventy years before, he resolved to re-establish the exercise thereof in all the parishes, and to abolish that of heresy, and whereas on the one side there were many obstacles to this great blessing from those considerations which are called reasons of State, and on the other side some persons as yet not well instructed in the truth made resistance against this so much-desired establishment, his Highness surmounted the first difficulty by the invincible constancy of his zeal for the Catholic religion, and the second by an extraordinary gentleness and prudence. For he had the chief and most obstinate called together, and made a speech unto them with so lovingly persuasive an eloquence that almost all, vanquished by the sweet violence of his fatherly love towards them, cast the weapons of their obstinacy at his feet, and their souls into the hands of Holy Church.

And allow me, my dear readers I pray you, to say this word 12in passing. One may praise many rich actions of this great Prince, in which I see the proof of his valour and military knowledge, which with just cause is admired through all Europe. But for my part I cannot sufficiently extol the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in these three bailiwicks which I have just mentioned, having seen in it so many marks of piety, united with so many and various acts of prudence, constancy, magnanimity, justice and mildness, that I seemed to see in this one little trait, as in a miniature, all that is praised in princes who have in times past with most fervour striven to advance the glory of God and the Church. The stage was small, but the action great. And as that ancient craftsman was never so much esteemed for his great pieces as he was admired for making a ship of ivory fitted with all its gear, in so tiny a volume that the wings of a bee covered all, so I esteem more that which this great Prince did at that time in this small corner of his dominions, than many more brilliant actions which others extol to the heavens.

Now on this occasion the victorious ensigns of the cross were replanted in all the ways and public places of those quarters, and whereas a little before there had been one erected very solemnly at Annemasse close to Geneva, a certain minister made a little treatise against the honour thereof, which was a burning and venomous invective, and to which therefore it was deemed fit to make answer. My Lord Claude de Granier, my predecessor, whose memory is in benediction, imposed the burden upon me according to the power which he had over me, who beheld him not only as my Bishop but also as a holy servant of God. I made therefore this answer, under the title: Defence of the Standard of the Cross, and dedicated it to his Highness, partly to testify unto him my most humble submission, and partly to render him some small thanksgiving for the care which he took of the Church in those parts.

Now lately this Defence has been reprinted under the prodigious title of Panthalogy, or Treasure of the Cross: a title whereof I never dreamed, as in truth I am not a man of that study and leisure, nor of that memory, to be able to put together so many pieces of worth in one book as to let it deserve the name of 13Treasure or Panthalogy, besides I have a horror of such insolent frontispieces:

A sot, or senseless creature we him call,

Who makes his portal greater than his hall.

In the year 1602, were celebrated at Paris, where I was, the obsequies of that magnanimous prince Philip Emanuel of Lorraine, Duke of Mercœur, who had performed so many brave exploits against the Turks in Hungary that all Christianity was bound to conspire to honour his memory. But especially Madam Mary of Luxembourg, his widow, did for her part all that her heart and the love of the deceased could suggest to her to make his funeral solemn. And because my father, grandfather, and great grandfather had been brought up pages to the most illustrious princes of Martigues her father and his predecessors, she regarded me as an hereditary servant of her house; and made choice of me to preach the funeral sermon in that great celebration, where there were not only several Cardinals and Prelates but a number of princes also, princesses, marshals of France, knights of the Order,2020Of the Holy Spirit. (Tr.) and even the Court of Parliament in a body. I made then this funeral oration and pronounced it in this great assembly in the great Church of Paris, and as it contained a true abridgment of the heroic feats of the deceased prince, I willingly had it printed, at the request of the widow-princess, whose request was to me a law. I dedicated this piece to Madam the Duchess of Vendôme, as yet a girl, and a very young princess, yet one in whom were very clearly to be recognized the signs of that excellent virtue and piety which now adorn her, and which show her to be worthy of the bringing forth and educating by so devout and pious a mother.

While this sermon was in the press, I heard that I had been made Bishop, so that I came here to be consecrated and to begin residence. And at first there was pointed out to me the necessity of instructing Confessors on some important points. For this reason I wrote twenty-five instructions, which I had printed to get them more easily spread amongst those to whom I directed them; since then they have been reprinted in various places.

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Three or four years afterwards I published the Introduction to a Devout Life, upon the occasion and in the manner which I have put down in the preface thereof: regarding which I have nothing to say to you, my dear reader, save only that though this little book has generally had a gracious and kind acceptance, yes even amongst the most grave prelates and doctors of the Church, yet it did not escape the rude censure of some who did not merely blame me but bitterly attacked me in public because I tell Philothea that dancing is an action indifferent in itself, and that for recreation's sake one may make quodlibets; and I, knowing the quality of these censors, praise their intention which I think was good. I should have desired them however to please to consider that the first proposition is drawn from the common and true doctrine of the most holy and learned divines, that I was writing for such as live in the world and in courts; that withal I carefully inculcate the extreme dangers which are found in dancing;—and that as to the second proposition it is not mine, but S. Louis's, that admirable king, a doctor worthy to be followed in the art of rightly conducting courtiers to a devout life. For, I believe if they had weighed this, their charity and discretion would never have permitted their zeal, how vigorous and austere soever, to arm their indignation against me.

And therefore, my dear reader, I conjure you to be gracious and good to me in reading this Treatise. And if you find the style a little (though I am sure it will be but a very little) different from that which I used in the Defence of the Cross, know that in nineteen years one learns and unlearns many things, that the language of war differs from that of peace, and that a man uses one manner of speech to young apprentices and another to old fellow-craftsmen.

My purpose here is to speak to souls that are advanced in devotion. For you must know that we have in this town a congregation of maidens and widows who, having retired from the world, live with one mind in God's service, under the protection of his most holy Mother, and as their purity and piety of spirit have oftentimes given me great consolation, so have I striven to return them the like by a frequent distribution of the holy word which I have announced to them as well in public sermons as in 15spiritual conferences, and this almost always in presence of some religious men and people of great piety. Hence I have often had to treat of the most delicate sentiments of piety, passing beyond that which I had said to Philothea: and I owe a good part of that which now I communicate to you to this blessed Society because she who is the mother of them and rules them, knowing that I was writing upon this subject, and yet that scarcely was I able to accomplish it without God's very special assistance, and their continual urging, took a constant care to pray and get prayers for this end, and holily conjured me to pick out all the little morsels of leisure which she judged might be spared here and there from the press of my hindrances and to employ them in this. And because this soul is in that consideration with me which God knows, she has had no little power to animate me in this occasion. I began indeed long ago to think of writing on holy love, but that thought came far short of what this occasion has made me produce, an occasion which I declare to you thus simply and in good faith, in imitation of the ancients, that you may know that I write only as I get the chance and opportunity, and that I may find you more favourable. It is said amongst the Pagans that Phidias never represented anything so perfectly as the gods, nor Apelles as Alexander. One is not always equally successful: if I fall short in this treatise, let your goodness make progress and God will bless your reading.

To this end I have dedicated this work to the Mother of dilection and to the Father of cordial love, as I dedicated the Introduction to the Divine child who is the Saviour of lovers and the love of the saved. And as women, while they are strong and able to bring forth their children with ease, choose commonly their worldly friends to be godfathers, but when their feebleness and indisposition make their delivery hard and dangerous invoke the saints of heaven, and vow to have their children stood to by some poor body or by some devout soul in the name of S. Joseph, S. Francis of Assisi, S. Francis of Paula, S. Nicholas, or some other of the blessed, who may obtain of God their safe delivery and that the child may be born alive:—so I, while I was not yet bishop, having more leisure and less fears for my writings, dedicated my little works to princes of the 16earth, but now being weighed down with my charge, and having a thousand difficulties in writing, I consecrate all to the princes of heaven, that they may obtain for me the light requisite, and that if such be the Divine will, these my writings may be fruitful and profitable to many.

Thus my dear reader I beseech God to bless you and to enrich you with his love. Meanwhile from my very heart I submit all my writings, my words and actions to the correction of the most holy Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, knowing that she is the pillar and ground of truth,21211 Tim. iii. 15. wherein she can neither be deceived nor deceive us, and that none can have God for his father who will not have this Church for his mother.

 

 

 

 

 

Annecy, the day of the most loving Apostles

S. Peter and S. Paul. 1616.

 

 

 

Blessed be God.


17

THE LOVE OF GOD.


BOOK I.

CONTAINING A

PREPARATION FOR THE WHOLE TREATISE.

CHAPTER I.

THAT FOR THE BEAUTY OF HUMAN NATURE GOD HAS GIVEN THE GOVERNMENT OF ALL THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL TO THE WILL.

Union in distinction makes order; order produces agreement; and proportion and agreement, in complete and finished things, make beauty. An army has beauty when it is composed of parts so ranged in order that their distinction is reduced to that proportion which they ought to have together for the making of one single army. For music to be beautiful, the voices must not only be true, clear, and distinct from one another, but also united together in such a way that there may arise a just consonance and harmony which is not unfitly termed a discordant harmony or rather harmonious discord.

Now as the angelic S. Thomas, following the great S. Denis, says excellently well, beauty and goodness though in some things they agree, yet still are not one and the same thing: for good is that which pleases the appetite and will, beauty that which pleases the understanding or knowledge; or, in other words, good is that which gives pleasure when we enjoy it, 18beauty that which gives pleasure when we know it. For which cause in proper speech we only attribute corporal beauty to the objects of those two senses which are the most intellectual and most in the service of the understanding—namely, sight and hearing, so that we do not say, these are beautiful odours or beautiful tastes: but we rightly say, these are beautiful voices and beautiful colours.

The beautiful then being called beautiful, because the knowledge thereof gives pleasure, it is requisite that besides the union and the distinction, the integrity, the order, and the agreement of its parts, there should be also splendour and brightness that it may be knowable and visible. Voices to be beautiful must be clear and true; discourses intelligible; colours brilliant and shining. Obscurity, shade and darkness are ugly and disfigure all things, because in them nothing is knowable, neither order, distinction, union nor agreement; which caused S. Denis to say, that "God as the sovereign beauty is author of the beautiful harmony, beautiful lustre and good grace which is found in all things, making the distribution and decomposition of his one ray of beauty spread out, as light, to make all things beautiful," willing that to compose beauty there should be agreement, clearness and good grace.

Certainly, Theotimus, beauty is without effect, unprofitable and dead, if light and splendour do not make it lively and effective, whence we term colours lively when they have light and lustre.

But as to animated and living things their beauty is not complete without good grace, which, besides the agreement of perfect parts which makes beauty, adds the harmony of movements, gestures and actions, which is as it were the life and soul of the beauty of living things. Thus, in the sovereign beauty of our God, we acknowledge union, yea, unity of essence in the distinction of persons, with an infinite glory, together with an incomprehensible harmony of all perfections of actions and motions, sovereignly comprised, and as one would say excellently joined and adjusted, in the most unique and simple perfection of the pure divine act, which is God Himself, immutable and invariable, as elsewhere we shall show.

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God, therefore, having a will to make all things good and beautiful, reduced the multitude and distinction of the same to a perfect unity, and, as man would say, brought them all under a monarchy, making a subordination of one thing to another and of all things to himself the sovereign Monarch. He reduces all our members into one body under one head, of many persons he forms a family, of many families a town, of many towns a province, of many provinces a kingdom, putting the whole kingdom under the government of one sole king. So, Theotimus, over the innumerable multitude and variety of actions, motions, feelings, inclinations, habits, passions, faculties and powers which are in man, God has established a natural monarchy in the will, which rules and commands all that is found in this little world: and God seems to have said to the will as Pharao said to Joseph: Thou shalt be over my house, and at the commandment of thy mouth all the people shall obey.2222Gen. xli. 40. This dominion of the will is exercised indeed in very various ways.

 

CHAPTER II.

HOW THE WILL VARIOUSLY GOVERNS THE POWERS OF THE SOUL.

A Father directs his wife, his children and his servants by his ordinances and commandments, which they are obliged to obey though they are able not to obey; but if he have servants and slaves, he rules them by force which they have no power to contradict; his horses, oxen and mules he manages by industry, binding, bridling, goading, shutting in, or letting out.

Now the will governs the faculty of our exterior motion as a serf or slave: for unless some external thing hinder, it never fails to obey. We open and shut our mouth, move our tongue, our hands, feet, eyes, and all the members to which the power of this movement refers without resistance, according to our wish and will.

But as for our senses and the faculties of nourishing, growing, 20and producing, we cannot with the same ease govern them, but we must employ industry and art. If a slave be called he comes, if he be told to stop, he stops; but we must not expect this obedience from a sparrowhawk or falcon: he that desires it should return to the hand must show it the lure; if he would keep it quiet he must hood it. We bid our servant turn to the right or left hand and he does it, but to make a horse so turn we must make use of the bridle. We must not, Theotimus, command our eyes not to see, our ears not to hear, our hands not to touch, our stomach not to digest, or our body not to grow, for these faculties not having intelligence are not capable of obedience. No one can add a cubit to his stature. We often eat without nourishing ourselves or growing; he that will prevail with these powers must use industry. A physician who has to do with a child in the cradle commands him nothing, but only gives orders to the nurse to do such and such things, or else perchance he prescribes for the nurse to eat this or that meat, to take such and such medicine. This infuses its qualities into the milk which enters the child's body, and the physician accomplishes his will in this little weakling who has not even the power to think of it. We must not give the orders of abstinence, sobriety or continency unto the palate or stomach, but the hands must be commanded only to furnish to the mouth meat and drink in such and such a measure, we take away from or give our faculties their object and subject, and the food which strengthens them, as reason requires. If we desire our eyes not to see we must turn them away, or cover them with their natural hood, and shut them, and by these means we may bring them to the point which the will desires. It would be folly to command a horse not to wax fat, not to grow, not to kick,—to effect all this, stop his corn; you must not command him, you must simply make him do as you wish.

The will also exercises a certain power over the understanding and memory, for of many things which the understanding has power to understand and the memory has power to remember, the will determines those to which she would have her faculties apply themselves, or from which divert themselves. It is true she cannot manage or range them so absolutely as she does the 21hands, feet or tongue, on account of the sensitive faculties, especially the fancy, which do not obey the will with a prompt and infallible obedience, and which are necessarily required for the operations of the understanding and memory: but yet the will moves, employs and applies these faculties at her pleasure though not so firmly and constantly that the light and variable fancy does not often divert and distract them, so that as the Apostle cries out: I do not the good which I desire, but the evil which I hate.2323Rom. vii. 15. So we are often forced to complain that we think not of the good which we love, but the evil which we hate.

 

CHAPTER III.

HOW THE WILL GOVERNS THE SENSUAL APPETITE.

The will then, Theotimus, bears rule over the memory, understanding and fancy, not by force but by authority, so that she is not infallibly obeyed any more than the father of a family is always obeyed by his children and servants. It is the same as regards the sensitive appetite, which, as S. Augustine says, is called in us sinners concupiscence, and is subject to the will and understanding as the wife to her husband, because as it was said to the woman: Be under thy husband, and he shall have dominion over thee,2424Gen. iii. 16. so was it said to Cain, that the lust of sin should be under him and he should have dominion over it.2525Ib.iv. 7. And this being under means nothing else than being submitted and subjected to him. "O man," says S. Bernard, "it is in thy power if thou wilt to bring thy enemy to be thy servant so that all things may go well with thee; thy appetite is under thee and thou shalt domineer over it. Thy enemy can move in thee the feeling of temptation, but it is in thy power if thou wilt to give or refuse consent. In case thou permit thy appetite to carry thee away to sin, then thou shalt be under it, and it shall domineer over thee, for whosoever sinneth is made the servant of sin, but before thou sinnest, so long as sin gets 22not entry into thy consent, but only into thy sense, that is to say, so long as it stays in the appetite, not going so far as thy will, thy appetite is subject unto thee and thou lord over it." Before the Emperor is created he is subject to the electors' dominion, in whose hands it is to reject him or to elect him to the imperial dignity; but being once elected and elevated by their means, henceforth they are under him and he rules over them. Before the will consents to the appetite, she rules over it, but having once given consent she becomes its slave.

To conclude, this sensual appetite in plain truth is a rebellious subject, seditious, restive, and we must confess we cannot so defeat it that it does not rise again, encounter and assault the reason; yet the will has such a strong hand over it that she is able, if she please, to bridle it, break its designs and repulse it, since not to consent to its suggestions is a sufficient repulse. We cannot hinder concupiscence from conceiving, but we can from bringing forth and accomplishing, sin.

Now this concupiscence or sensual appetite has twelve movements, by which as by so many mutinous captains it raises sedition in man. And because ordinarily they trouble the soul and disquiet the body; insomuch as they trouble the soul, they are called perturbations, insomuch as they disquiet the body they are named passions, as S. Augustine declares. They all place before themselves good or evil, the former to obtain, the latter to avoid. If good be considered in itself according to its natural goodness it excites love, the first and principal passion; if good be regarded as absent it provokes us to desire; if being desired we think we are able to obtain it we enter into hope; if we think we cannot obtain it we feel despair; but when we possess it as present, it moves us to joy.

On the contrary, as soon as we discover evil we hate it, if it be absent we fly it, if we cannot avoid it we fear it; if we think we can avoid it we grow bold and courageous, but if we feel it as present we grieve; and then anger and wrath suddenly rush forth to reject and repel the evil or at least to take vengeance for it. If we cannot succeed we remain in grief. But if we repulse or avenge it we feel satisfaction and satiation, which is a pleasure of triumph, for as the possession of good gladdens the 23heart, so the victory over evil exalts the spirits. And over all this multitude of sensual passions the will bears empire, rejecting their suggestions, repulsing their attacks, hindering their effects, or at the very least sternly refusing them consent, without which they can never harm us, and by refusing which they remain vanquished, yea in the long run broken down, weakened, worn out, beaten down, and if not altogether dead, at least deadened or mortified.

And Theotimus, this multitude of passions is permitted to reside in our soul for the exercise of our will in virtue and spiritual valour; insomuch that the Stoics who denied that passions were found in wise men greatly erred, and so much the more because they practised in deeds what in words they denied, as S. Augustine shows, recounting this agreeable history. Aulus Gellius having gone on sea with a famous Stoic, a great tempest arose, at which the Stoic being frightened began to grow pale, to blench and to tremble so sensibly that all in the boat perceived it, and watched him curiously, although they were in the same hazard with him. In the meantime the sea grew calm, the danger passed, and safety restoring to each the liberty to talk and even to rally one another, a certain voluptuous Asiatic reproached him with his fear, which had made him aghast and pale at the danger, whereas the other on the contrary had remained firm and without fear. To this the Stoic replied by relating what Aristippus, a Socratic philosopher, had answered a man, who for the same reason had attacked him with the like reproach; saying to him: As for thee, thou hadst no reason to be troubled for the soul of a wicked rascal: but I should have done myself wrong not to have feared to lose the life of an Aristippus. And the value of the story is, that Aulus Gellius, an eye-witness, relates it. But as to the Stoic's reply contained therein, it did more commend his wit than his cause, since bringing forward this comrade in his fear, he left it proved by two irreproachable witnesses, that Stoics were touched with fear, and with the fear which shows its effects in the eyes, face and behaviour, and is consequently a passion.

A great folly, to wish to be wise with an impossible wisdom Truly the Church has condemned the folly of that wisdom which 24certain presumptuous Anchorites would formally have introduced, against which the whole Scripture but especially the great Apostle, cries out: We have a law in our body which resisteth the law of our mind.2626Rom. vii. 23. "Amongst us Christians," says the great S. Augustine, "according to holy Scripture and sound doctrine, the citizens of the sacred city of Gods living according to God, in the pilgrimage of this world fear, desire, grieve, rejoice." Yea even the sovereign King of this city has feared, desired, has grieved and rejoiced, even to tears, wanness, trembling, sweating of blood; though in him as these were not the motions of passions like ours, the great S. Jerome, and after him the School durst not use the name, passions, for reverence of the person in whom they were, but the respectful name, pro-passions. This was to testify that sensible movements in Our Saviour held the place of passions, though they were not such indeed, seeing that he suffered or endured nothing from them except what seemed good to him and as he pleased, which we sinners cannot do, who suffer and endure these motions with disorder, against our wills, to the great prejudice of the good estate and polity of our soul.

 

CHAPTER IV.

THAT LOVE RULES OVER ALL THE AFFECTIONS, AND PASSIONS, AND EVEN GOVERNS THE WILL, ALTHOUGH THE WILL HAS ALSO A DOMINION OVER IT.

Love being the first complacency which we take in good, as we shall presently show, it of course precedes desire; and indeed what other thing do we desire, but that which we love? It precedes delectation, for how could we rejoice in the enjoyment of a thing if we loved it not? It precedes hope, for we hope only for the good which we love: it precedes hatred, for we hate not evil, except for the love we have for good: nor is evil evil but because it is contrary to good. And, Theotimus, it is 25the same with all the other passions and affections; for they all proceed from love, as from their source and root.

For which cause the other passions and affections, are good or bad, vicious or virtuous, according as the love whence they proceed is good or bad; for love so spreads over them her own qualities, that they seem to be no other than this same love. S. Augustine reducing all these passions and affections to four, as did also Boetius, Cicero, Virgil, with the greatest part of the ancients:—"Love," says he, "tending to the possession of what it loves, is termed concupiscence or desire; having and possessing it it is called joy; flying that which is contrary to it, it is named fear; but if this really seizes it and it feels it, love is named grief, and consequently these passions are evil if the love be evil, good if it be good. The citizens of the heavenly city fear, desire, grieve, love, and because their love is just, all their affections are also just. Christian doctrine subjects the reason to God that he may guide and help it, and subjects all these passions to the spirit, that it may bridle and moderate them and so convert them to the service of justice and virtue. The right will is good love, the bad will is evil love;"2727De Civ. Dei, xiv. ix. that is to say, in a word, Theotimus, love has such dominion over the will as to make it exactly such as it is itself.

The wife ordinarily changes her condition into that of her husband, becoming noble if he be noble, queen if he be king, duchess if he be duke. The will also changes her condition according to the love she espouses; if this be carnal she becomes carnal, if this be spiritual she is spiritual, and all the affections of desire, joy, hope, fear, grief, as children born of the marriage between love and the will, consequently receive their qualities from love. In short, Theotimus, the will is only moved by her affections, amongst which love, as the primum mobile and first affection, gives motion to all the rest, and causes all the other motions of the soul.

But it does not follow hence that the will does not also rule over love, seeing that the will only loves while willing to love, and that of many loves which present themselves she can apply 26herself to which she pleases, otherwise there would be no love either forbidden or commanded. She is then mistress over her loves as a maiden over her suitors, amongst whom she may make election of which she pleases. But as after marriage she loses her liberty and of mistress becomes subject to her husband's power, remaining taken by him whom she took, so the will which at her own pleasure made election of love, after she has chosen one remains subject to it. And as the wife is always subject to the husband whom she has chosen as long as he lives, and if he die regains her former liberty to marry another, so while a love lives in the will it reigns there, and the will is subject to its movements, but if this love die she can afterwards take another. And again there is a liberty in the will which the wife has not, and it is that the will can reject her love at her pleasure, by applying her understanding to motives which make it displeasing, and by taking a resolution to change the object. For thus, to make divine love live and reign in us, we kill self-love, and if we cannot entirely annihilate it at least we weaken it in such a way that though it lives yet it does not reign in us. As, on the contrary, in forsaking divine love we may adhere to that of creatures, which is the infamous adultery with which the Divine lover so often reproaches sinners.

 

CHAPTER V.

OF THE AFFECTIONS OF THE WILL.

There are no fewer movements in the intellectual or reasonable appetite which is called the will, than there are in the sensitive or sensual, but the first are customarily named affections, the latter passions. The philosophers and pagans did in some manner love God, the state, virtue, sciences; they hated vice, aspired after honours, despaired of escaping death or calumny, were desirous of knowledge, yea even of beatitude after death. They encouraged themselves to surmount the difficulties which cross the way of virtue, dreaded blame, avoided some faults, avenged public injuries, opposed tyrants, without any self-interest. Now all these movements were seated in the reasonable part, 27since the senses, and consequently, the sensual appetite, are not capable of being applied to these objects, and therefore these movements were affections of the intellectual or reasonable appetite, not passions of the sensual.

How often do we feel passions in the sensual appetite or concupiscence, contrary to the affections which at the same time we perceive in the reasonable appetite or will? How clearly was shown at one and the same time the action of the pleasure of the senses and the displeasure of the will, in that young martyr mentioned by S. Jerom, who, forced to bear the attacks of sensuality, bit off a piece of his tongue and spat it in his tempter's face? How often do we tremble amidst the dangers to which our will carries us and in which it makes us remain? How often do we hate the pleasure in which the sensual appetite takes delight, and love the spiritual good with which that is disgusted? In this consists the war which we daily experience between the spirit and the flesh: between our exterior man, which is under the senses, and the interior which is under the reason; between the old Adam who follows the appetites of his Eve, or concupiscence, and the new Adam who follows heavenly wisdom and holy reason.

The Stoics, as S. Augustine remarks,2828De Civ. Dei, xiv. denying that the wise man can have passions, appear to have confessed that he has affections, which they term eupathies, or good passions, or, as Cicero called them, constancies: for they said the wise man did not covet but desired, had not glee but joy; that he had no fear, but only foresight and precaution, so that he was not moved except by reason and according to reason: for this cause they peremptorily denied that a wise man could ever be sorrowful, that being caused by present evil, whereas no evil can befal a wise man, since no man is hurt but by himself, according to their maxim. And truly, Theotimus, they were not wrong in holding that there are eupathies and good affections in the reasonable part of man, but they erred much in saying that there were no passions in the sensitive part, and that sorrow did not touch a wise man's heart: for omitting the fact that they 28themselves were troubled in this kind (as was just said), how could it be that wisdom should deprive us of pity, which is a virtuous sorrow and which comes into our hearts in order to make them desire to deliver our neighbour from the evil which he endures? And the wisest man of all paganism, Epictetus, did not hold this error that passions do not rise in the wise man, as S. Augustine witnesses, showing further that the Stoics' difference with other philosophers on this subject was but a mere dispute of words and strife of language.

Now these affections which we feel in our reasonable part are more or less noble and spiritual, according as their objects are more or less sublime, and as they are in a more eminent department of the spirit: for there are affections in us which proceed from conclusions gained by the experience of our senses; others by reasonings from human sciences; others from principles of faith; and finally there are some which have their origin from the simple sentiment of the truth of God, and acquiescence in his will. The first are called natural affections, for who is he that does not naturally desire health, his provision of food and clothing, sweet and agreeable conversation? The second class of affections are named reasonable, as being altogether founded upon the spiritual knowledge of the reason, by which our will is excited to seek tranquillity of heart, moral virtues, true honour, the contemplation of eternal things. The third sort of affections are termed Christian, because they issue from reasonings founded on the doctrine of Our Lord, who makes us love voluntary Poverty, perfect Chastity, the glory of heaven. But the affections of the supreme degree are named divine and supernatural because God himself spreads them abroad in our spirits, and because they regard God and aim at him, without the medium of any reasoning, or any light of nature, as it will be easy to understand from what we shall say afterwards about the acquiescences and affections which are made in the sanctuary of the soul. And these supernatural affections are principally three: the love of the mind for the beautiful in the mysteries of faith, love for the useful in the goods which are promised us in the other life, and love for the sovereign good of the most holy and eternal divinity.

 

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CHAPTER VI.

HOW THE LOVE OF GOD HAS DOMINION OVER OTHER LOVES.

The will governs all the other faculties of man's soul, yet it is governed by its love which makes it such as its love is. Now of all loves that of God holds the sceptre, and has the authority of commanding so inseparably united to it and proper to its nature, that if it be not master it ceases to be and perishes.

Ismael was not co-heir with Isaac his younger brother, Esau was appointed to be his younger brother's servant, Joseph was adored, not only by his brothers, but also by his father, yea, and by his mother also, in the person of Benjamin, as he had foreseen in the dreams of his youth. Truly it is not without mystery that the younger of these brethren thus bear away the advantage from the elder. Divine love is indeed the last begotten of all the affections of man's heart, for as the Apostle says: That which is animal is first; afterwards that which is spiritual:29291 Cor. xv. 46.—but this last born inherits all the authority, and self-love, as another Esau is deputed to his service; and not only all the other motions of the soul as his brethren adore him and are subject to him, but also the understanding and will which are to him as father and mother. All is subject to this heavenly love, who will either be king or nothing, who cannot live unless he reign, nor reign if not sovereignly.

Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were supernatural children; for their mothers, Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel, being sterile by nature, conceived them by the grace of the divine goodness, and for this cause they were established masters of their brethren. Similarly, divine love is a child of miracle, since man's will cannot conceive it if it be not poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost. And as supernatural it must rule and reign over all the affections, yea, even over the understanding and will.

And although there are other supernatural movements in the soul,—fear, piety, force, hope,—as Esau and Benjamin were supernatural children of Rachel and Rebecca, yet is divine love 30still master, heir and superior, as being the son of promise, since in virtue of it heaven is promised to man. Salvation is shown to faith, it is prepared for hope, but it is given only to charity. Faith points out the way to the land of promise as a pillar of cloud and of fire, that is, light and dark; hope feeds us with its manna of sweetness, but charity actually introduces us into it, as the Ark of alliance, which makes for us the passage of the Jordan, that is, of the judgment, and which shall remain amidst the people in the heavenly land promised to the true Israelites, where neither the pillar of faith serves as guide nor the manna of hope is used as food.

Divine love makes its abode in the most high and sublime region of the soul, where it offers sacrifice and holocausts to the divinity as Abraham did, and as our Saviour sacrificed himself upon the top of Calvary, to the end that from so exalted a place it may be heard and obeyed by its people, that is, by all the faculties and affections of the soul. These he governs with an incomparable sweetness, for love has no convicts nor slaves, but brings all things under its obedience with a force so delightful, that as nothing is so strong as love nothing also is so sweet as its strength.

The virtues are in the soul to moderate its movements, and charity, as first of all the virtues, governs and tempers them all, not only because the first in every species of things serves as a rule and measure to the rest, but also because God, having created man to his image and likeness, wills that as in himself so in man all things should be ordered by love and for love.

 

CHAPTER VII.

DESCRIPTION OF LOVE IN GENERAL.

The will has so great a sympathy with good that as soon as she perceives it she turns towards it to delight therein as in her most agreeable object, to which she is so closely allied that her nature cannot be explained except by the relation she has thereto, just as one cannot show the nature of what is good except by the affinity it has with the will. For, tell me, 31Theotimus, what is good but that which every one wills. And what is the will, if not the faculty which bears us towards and makes us tend to good or what the will believes to be such?

The will then perceiving and feeling the good, by the help of the understanding which proposes it, feels at the same time a sudden delight and complacency at this meeting, which sweetly yet powerfully moves her towards this pleasing object in order to unite herself with it, and makes her search out the means most proper to attain this union.

The will then has a most close affinity with good; this affinity produces the complacency which the will takes in feeling and perceiving good; this complacency moves and spurs the will forward to good; this movement tends to union; and in fine the will moved and tending to union searches out all the means necessary to get it.

And in truth, speaking generally, love comprises all this together, as a beautiful tree, whose root is the correspondence which the will has to good, its foot is the complacency, its trunk is the movement, its seekings, its pursuits, and other efforts are the branches, but union and enjoyment are its fruits. Thus love seems to be composed of these five principal parts under which a number of other little pieces are contained as we shall see in the course of this work.

Let us consider, I pray you, the exercise of an insensible love between the loadstone and iron; for it is the true image of the sensible and voluntary love of which we speak. Iron, then, has such a sympathy with the loadstone that as soon as it feels the power thereof, it turns towards it; then it suddenly begins to stir and quiver with little throbbings, testifying by this the complacency it feels, and then it advances and moves towards the loadstone striving by all means possible to be united to it. Do you not see all the parts of love well represented in these lifeless things?

But to conclude, Theotimus, the complacency and the movement towards, or effusion of the will upon, the thing beloved is properly speaking love; yet in such sort that the complacency is but the beginning of love, and the movement or effusion of the heart which ensues is the true essential love, so that the one 32and the other may truly be named love, but in a different sense: for as the dawning of day may be termed day, so this first complacency of the heart in the thing beloved may be called love because it is the first feeling of love. But as the true heart of the day is measured from the end of dawn till sunset, so the true essence of love consists in the movement and effusion of the heart which immediately follows complacency and ends in union. In short, complacency is the first stirring or emotion which good causes in the will, and this emotion is followed by the movement and effusion by which the soul runs towards and reaches the thing beloved, which is the true and proper love. We may express it thus: the good takes, grasps and ties the heart by complacency, but by love it draws, conducts and conveys it to itself, by complacency it makes it start on its way, but by love it makes it achieve the journey. Complacency is the awakener of the heart, but love is its action; complacency makes it get up, but love makes it walk. The heart spreads its wings by complacency but love is its flight. Love then, to speak distinctly and precisely, is no other thing than the movement, effusion and advancement of the heart towards good.

Many great persons have been of opinion that love is no other thing than complacency itself, in which they have had much appearance of reason. For not only does the movement of love take its origin from the complacency which the heart feels at the first approach of good, and find its end in a second complacency which returns to the heart by union with the thing beloved,—but further, it depends for its preservation on this complacency, and can only subsist through it as through its mother and nurse; so that as soon as the complacency ceases love ceases. And as the bee being born in honey, feeds on honey, and only flies for honey, so love is born of complacency, maintained by complacency, and tends to complacency. It is the weight of things which stirs them, moves them, and stays them; it is the weight of the stone that stirs it and moves it to its descent as soon as the obstacles are removed; it is the same weight that makes it continue its movement downwards; and finally it is the same weight that 33makes it stop and rest as soon as it has reached its place. So it is with the complacency which excites the will: this moves it, and this makes it repose in the thing beloved when it has united itself therewith. This motion of love then having its birth, preservation, and perfection dependent on complacency, and being always inseparably joined thereto, it is no marvel that these great minds considered love and complacency to be the same, though in truth love being a true passion of the soul cannot be a simple complacency, but must needs be the motion proceeding from it.

Now this motion caused by complacency lasts till the union or fruition. Therefore when it tends to a present good, it does no more than push the heart, clasp it, join, and apply it to the thing beloved, which by this means it enjoys, and then it is called love of complacency, because as soon as ever it is begotten of the first complacency it ends in the second, which it receives in being united to its present object. But when the good towards which the heart is turned, inclined, and moved is distant, absent or future, or when so perfect a union cannot yet be made as is desired, then the motion of love by which the heart tends, makes and aspires towards this absent object, is properly named desire, for desire is no other thing than the appetite, concupiscence, or cupidity for things we have not, but which however we aim at getting.

There are yet certain other motions of love by which we desire things that we neither expect nor aim at in any way, as when we say:—Why am I not now in heaven! I wish I were a king; I would to God I were younger; how I wish I had never sinned, and the like. These indeed are desires, but imperfect ones, which, to speak properly, I think, might be called wishings (souhaits). And indeed these affections are not expressed like desires, for when we express our true desires we say: I desire (Je desire): but when we signify our imperfect desires we say: I should or I would desire (je desirerois), or I should like. We may well say: I would desire to be young; but we do not say: I desire to be young; seeing that this is not possible; and this motion is called a wishing, or as the Scholastics term it a velleity, which is nothing else but a 34commencement of willing, not followed out, because the will, by reason of impossibility or extreme difficulty, stops her motion, and ends it in this simple affection of a wish. It is as though she said: this good which I behold and cannot expect to get is truly very agreeable to me, and though I cannot will it nor hope for it, yet so my affection stands, that if I could will or desire it, I would desire and will it gladly.

In brief, these wishings or velleities are nothing else but a little love, which may be called love of simple approbation, because the soul approves the good she knows, and being unable to effectually desire she protests she would willingly desire it, and that it is truly to be desired.

Nor is this all, Theotimus, for there are desires and velleities which are yet more imperfect than those we have spoken of, forasmuch as their motions are not stayed by reason of impossibility or extreme difficulty, but by their incompatibility with other more powerful desires or willings; as when a sick man desires to eat mushrooms or melons;—though he may have them at his order, yet he will not eat them, fearing thereby to make himself worse; for who sees not that there are two desires in this man, the one to eat mushrooms, the other to be cured? But because the desire of being cured is the stronger, it blocks up and suffocates the other and hinders it from producing any effect. Jephte wished to preserve his daughter, but this not being compatible with his desire to keep his vow, he willed what he did not wish, namely, to sacrifice his daughter, and wished what he did not will, namely, to preserve his daughter. Pilate and Herod wished, the one to deliver our Saviour, the other his precursor: but because these wishes were incompatible with the desires, the one to please the Jews and Cæsar, the other, Herodias and her daughter, these wishes were vain and fruitless. Now in proportion as those things which are incompatible with our wishes are less desirable, the wishes are more imperfect, since they are stopped and, as it were, stifled by contraries so weak. Thus the wish which Herod had not to behead S. John was more imperfect than that of Pilate to free our Saviour. For the latter feared the calumny and indignation of the people and of Cæsar; the other feared to disappoint one woman alone.

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And these wishes which are hindered, not by impossibility, but by incompatibility with stronger desires, are called indeed wishes and desires, but vain, stifled and unprofitable ones. As to wishes of things impossible, we say: I wish, but cannot; and of the wishes of possible things we say: I wish, but will not.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

WHAT KIND OF AFFINITY (CONVENANCE) IT IS WHICH EXCITES LOVE.

We say the eye sees, the ear hears, the tongue speaks, the understanding reasons, the memory remembers, the will loves: but still we know well that it is the man, to speak properly, who by divers faculties and different organs works all this variety of operations. Man also then it is who by the affective faculty named the will tends to and pleases himself in good, and who has for it that great affinity which is the source and origin of love. Now they have made a mistake who have believed that resemblance is the only affinity which produces love. For who knows not that the most sensible old men tenderly and dearly love little children, and are reciprocally loved by them; that the wise love the ignorant, provided they are docile, and the sick their physicians. And if we may draw any argument from the image of love which is found in things without sense, what resemblance can draw the iron towards the loadstone? Has not one loadstone more resemblance with another or with another stone, than with iron which is of a totally different species? And though some, to reduce all affinities to resemblance, assure us that iron draws iron and the loadstone the loadstone, yet they are unable to explain why the loadstone draws iron more powerfully than iron does iron itself. But I pray you what similitude is there between lime and water? or between water and a sponge? and yet both of them drink water with a quenchless desire, testifying an excessive insensible love towards it. Now it is the same in human love; for sometimes it takes more strongly amongst persons of contrary qualities, than 36among those who are very like. The affinity then which causes love does not always consist in resemblance, but in the proportion, relation or correspondence between the lover and the thing loved. For thus it is not resemblance which makes the doctor dear to the sick man, but a correspondence of the one's necessity with the other's sufficiency, in that the one can afford the assistance which the other stands in need of: as again the doctor loves the sick man, and the master his apprentice because they can exercise their powers on them. The old man loves children, not by sympathy, but because the great simplicity, feebleness and tenderness of the one exalts and makes more apparent the prudence and stability of the other, and this dissimilitude is agreeable. On the other hand, children love old men because they see them busy and careful about them, and by secret instinct they perceive they have need of their direction. Musical concord consists in a kind of discord, in which unlike voices correspond, making up altogether one single multiplex proportion, as the unlikeness of precious stones and flowers makes the agreeable composition of enamel and diapry. Thus love is not caused always by resemblance and sympathy, but by correspondence and proportion, which consists in this that by the union of one thing to another they mutually receive one another's perfection, and so become better. The head certainly does not resemble the body, nor the hand the arm, yet they have such a correspondence and join so naturally together that by their conjunction they excellently perfect one the other. Wherefore, if these parts had each one a distinct soul they would have a perfect mutual love, not by resemblance, for they have none, but by their correspondence towards a mutual perfection. For this cause the melancholy and the joyous, the sour and the sweet, have often a correspondence of affection, by reason of the mutual impressions which they receive one of another by which their humours are reciprocally moderated.

But when this mutual correspondence is joined with resemblance, love without doubt is engendered much more efficaciously; for resemblance being the true image of unity, when two like things are united by a proportion to the same end it seems rather to be unity than union.

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The affinity then of the lover and the thing loved is the first source of love, and this affinity consists in correspondence, which is nothing else than a mutual relation, which makes things apt to unite in order to communicate to one another some perfection. But this will be understood better in the progress of our discourse.

 

CHAPTER IX.

THAT LOVE TENDS TO UNION.

The great Solomon describes, in an admirably delicious manner, the loves of the Saviour and the devout soul, in that divine work which for its excellent sweetness is named the Canticle of Canticles. And to raise ourselves by a more easy flight to the consideration of this spiritual love which is exercised between God and us by the correspondence of the movements of our hearts with the inspirations of his divine majesty, he makes use of a perpetual representation of the loves of a chaste shepherd and a modest shepherdess. Now making the spouse or bride begin first by manner of a certain surprise of love, he first puts into her mouth this ejaculation: Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.3030Cant. i. 1. Notice, Theotimus, how the soul, in the person of this shepherdess, has but the one aim, in the first expression of her desire, of a chaste union with her spouse, protesting that it is the only end of her ambition and the only thing she aspires after; for, I pray you, what other thing would this first sigh intimate? Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.

A kiss from all ages as by natural instinct has been employed to represent perfect love, that is, the union of hearts, and not without cause: we express and make known our passions and the movements which our souls have in common with the animals, by our eyes, eyebrows, forehead and the rest of our countenance. Man is known by his look,3131Eccli. xix. 26. says the Scripture, 38and Aristotle giving a reason why ordinarily it is only the faces of great men that are portrayed,—it is, says he, because the face shows what we are.

Yet we do not utter our discourse nor the thoughts which proceed from the spiritual portion of our soul, which we call reason, and by which we are distinguished from beasts, except by words, and consequently by help of the mouth; insomuch that to pour out our soul and open out our heart is nothing else but to speak. Pour out your hearts before God,3232lxi. 9. says the Psalmist, that is, express and turn the affections of your hearts into words. And Samuel's pious mother pronouncing her prayers so softly that one could hardly discern the motion of her lips: I have poured out my soul before the Lord,33331 Kings i. 15. said she. And thus one mouth is applied to another in kissing to testify that we would desire to pour out one soul into the other, to unite them reciprocally in a perfect union. For this reason, at all times and amongst the most saintly men the world has had, the kiss has been a sign of love and affection, and such use was universally made of it amongst the ancient Christians as the great S. Paul testifies, when, writing to the Romans and Corinthians, he says, Salute one another in a holy kiss.3434Rom. xvi. 16; 1 Cor. xvi. 20. And as many declare, Judas in betraying Our Saviour made use of a kiss to manifest him, because this divine Saviour was accustomed to kiss his disciples when he met them; and not only his disciples but even little children, whom he took lovingly in his arms; as he did him by whose example he so solemnly invited his disciples to the love of their neighbour, whom many think to have been S. Martial, as the Bishop Jansenius3535Of Ghent, uncle of the heretic, but himself an orthodox and esteemed writer. (Tr.) says.

Thus then the kiss being a lively mark of the union of hearts, the spouse who has no other aim in all her endeavours than to be united to her beloved, Let him kiss me, says she, with the kiss of his mouth; as if she cried out:—so many sighs and inflamed darts which my love throws out will they never impetrate that which my soul desires? I run—Ah! shall I never gain the prize towards which I urge myself, which is to be united heart 39to heart, spirit to spirit, to my God, my spouse my life? When will the hour come in which I shall pour my soul into his heart, and he will pour his heart into my soul, and thus happily united we shall live inseparable.

When the Holy Ghost would express a perfect love, he almost always employs words expressing union or conjunction. And the multitude of believers, says S. Luke, had but one heart and one soul.3636Acts iv. 32. Our Saviour prayed for all the faithful that they all may be one.3737John xvii. 21. S. Paul warns us to be careful to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."3838Eph. iv. 3. These unities of heart, of soul, and of spirit signify the perfection of love which joins many souls in one. So it is said that Jonathan's soul was knit to David's, that is to say, as the Scripture adds, He loved him as his own soul.13939 Kings xviii. 1. The great Apostle of France (S. Denis) as well according to his own sentiment as when giving that of his Hierotheus, writes a hundred times, I think, in a single chapter of the De Nominibus Divinis, that love is unifying, uniting, drawing together, embracing, collecting and bringing all things to unity! S. Gregory Nazianzen and S. Augustine say that their friends and they had but one soul, and Aristotle approving already in his time this manner of speech: "When," says he, "we would express how much we love our friends, we say his and my soul is but one." Hatred separates us, and love brings us into one. The end then of love is no other thing than the union of the lover and the thing loved.

 

CHAPTER X.

THAT THE UNION TO WHICH LOVE ASPIRES IS SPIRITUAL.

We must, however, take notice that there are natural unions, as those of similitude, consanguinity, and of cause and effect; and others which not being natural may be termed voluntary; for though they be according to Nature yet they are only made 40at our will: like that union which takes its origin from benefits—which undoubtedly unite him that receives them to the giver,—that of conversation, society and the like. Now natural union produces love, and the love which it produces inclines us to another and voluntary union, perfecting the natural. Thus the father and son, the mother and daughter, or two brothers, being joined in a natural union by the participation of the same blood, are excited by this union to love, and by love are borne towards a union of will and spirit which may be called voluntary, because although its foundation is natural, yet is its action deliberate. In these loves produced by natural union we need look for no other affinity than the union itself, by which Nature preventing the will, obliges it to approve, to love, and to perfect the union it has already made. But as to voluntary unions, which follow love, love is indeed their effective cause, but they are its final cause, as being the only end and aim of love. So that as love tends to union, even so union very often extends and augments love: for love makes us seek the society of the beloved, and this often nourishes and increases love; love causes a desire of nuptial union, and this union reciprocally preserves and increases love, so that in every sense it is true that love tends to union.

But to what kind of union does it tend? Did you not note, Theotimus, that the sacred spouse expressed her desire of being united to her spouse by the kiss, and that the kiss represents the spiritual union which is caused by the reciprocal communication of souls? It is indeed the man who loves, but he loves by his will, and therefore the end of his love is of the nature of his will: but his will is spiritual, and consequently the union which love aims at is spiritual also, and so much the more because the heart, which is the seat and source of love, would not only not be perfected by union with corporal things, but would be degraded.

It will not hence be inferred that there are not certain passions in man which, as mistleto comes on trees by manner of excrescence and over-growth, sprout up indeed amongst and about love. Nevertheless they are neither love, nor any part of love, but excrescences and superfluities thereof, which are so far from being suited to maintain or perfect 41love, that on the contrary they greatly harm it, weaken it, and at last, if they be not cut away, utterly ruin it: and here is the reason.

In proportion to the number of operations to which the soul applies herself (whether of the same or of a different kind) she does them less perfectly and vigorously: because being finite, her active virtue is also finite, so that furnishing her activity to divers operations it is necessary that each one of them have less thereof. Thus a man attentive to several things is less attentive to each of them: we cannot quietly consider a person's features with our sight, and at the same time give an exact hearing to the harmony of a grand piece of music, nor at the same instant be attentive to figure and to colour: if we are talking earnestly, we cannot attend to anything else.

I am not ignorant of what is said concerning Caesar nor incredulous about what so many great persons testify of Origen,—that they could apply their attention at the same time to several objects; yet every one confesses that according to the measure they applied it to more objects it became less for each one of them. There is then a difference between seeing, hearing and understanding more, and seeing, hearing, and understanding better, for he that sees better, sees less, and he that sees more, sees not so well: it is rare for those who know much to know well what they know, because the virtue and force of the understanding being scattered upon the knowledge of divers things is less strong and vigorous than when it is restrained to the consideration of one only object. Hence it is that when the soul employs her forces in divers operations of love, the action so divided is less vigorous and perfect. We have three sorts of actions of love, the spiritual, the reasonable, and the sensitive; when love exerts its forces through all these three operations, doubtless it is more extended but less intense, but when through one operation only, it is more intense though less extended. Do we not see that fire, the symbol of love, forced to make its way out by the mouth of the cannon alone, makes a prodigious flash, which would have been much less if it had found vent by two or three passages? Since then love is an act of our will, he that desires to have it, not only noble 42and generous, but also very vigorous and active, must contain the virtue and force of it within the limits of spiritual operations, for he that would apply it to the operations of the sensible or sensitive part of our soul, would so far forth weaken the intellectual operations, in which essential love consists.

The ancient philosophers have recognized that there are two sorts of ecstasies of which the one raises us above ourselves, the other degrades us below ourselves: as though they would say that man was of a nature between angels and beasts: in his intellectual part sharing the angelical nature, and in his sensitive the nature of beasts; and yet that he could by the acts of his life and by a continual attention to himself, deliver and emancipate himself from this mean condition, and habituating himself much to intellectual actions might bring himself nearer to the nature of angels than of beasts. If however he did much apply himself to sensible actions, he descended from his middle state and approached that of beasts: and because an ecstasy is no other thing than a going out of oneself, whether one go upwards or downwards he is truly in an ecstasy. Those then who, touched with intellectual and divine pleasures, let their hearts be carried away by those feelings, are truly out of themselves, that is, above the condition of their nature, but by a blessed and desirable out-going, by which entering into a more noble and eminent estate, they are as much angels by the operation of their soul as men by the substance of their nature, and are either to be called human angels or angelic men. On the contrary, those who, allured by sensual pleasures give themselves over to the enjoying of them, descend from their middle condition to the lowest of brute beasts, and deserve as much to be called brutal by their operations as men by nature: miserable in thus going out of themselves only to enter into a condition infinitely unworthy of their natural state.

Now according as the ecstasy is greater, either above us or below us, by so much more it hinders the soul from returning to itself, and from doing operations contrary to the ecstasy in which it is. So those angelic men who are ravished in God and heavenly things, lose altogether, as long as their ecstasy lasts, 43the use and attention of the senses, movement, and all exterior actions, because their soul, in order to apply its power and activity more entirely and attentively to that divine object, retires and withdraws them from all its other faculties, to turn them in that direction. And in like manner brutish men give up all the use of their reason and understanding to bury themselves in sensual pleasure. The first mystically imitate Elias taken up in the fiery chariot amid the angels: the others Nabuchodonosor brutalized and debased to the rank of savage beasts.

Now I say that when the soul practises love by actions which are sensual, and which carry her below herself, it is impossible that thereby the exercise of her superior love, should not be so much the more weakened. So that true and essential love is so far from being aided and preserved by the union to which sensual love tends, that it is impaired, dissipated and ruined by it. Job's oxen ploughed the ground, while the useless asses fed by them, eating the pasture due to the labouring oxen. While the intellectual part of our soul is employed in honest and virtuous love of some worthy object, it comes to pass oftentimes that the senses and faculties of the inferior part tend to the union which they are adapted to, and which is their pasture, though union only belongs to the heart and to the spirit, which also is alone able to produce true and substantial love.

Eliseus having cured Naaman the Syrian was satisfied with having done him a service, and refused his gold, his silver and the goods he offered him, but his faithless servant Giezi, running after him, demanded and took, against his master's pleasure, that which he had refused. Intellectual and cordial love, which certainly either is or should be master in our heart, refuses all sorts of corporal and sensible unions, and is contented with goodwill only, but the powers of the sensitive part, which are or should be the handmaids of the spirit, demand, seek after and take that which reason refused, and without leave make after their abject and servile love, dishonouring, like Giezi, the purity of the intention of their master, the spirit. And in proportion as the soul turns herself to such gross and sensible unions, so far does she divert herself from the delicate, intellectual and cordial union.

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You see then plainly, Theotimus, that these unions which tend to animal complacency and passions are so far from producing or preserving love that they greatly hurt it and render it extremely weak.

Basil, rosemary, marigold, hyssop, cloves, chamomile, nutmeg, lemon, and musk, put together and incorporated, yield a truly delightful odour by the mixture of their good perfume; yet not nearly so much as does the water which is distilled from them, in which the sweets of all these ingredients separated from their bodies are mingled in a much more excellent manner, uniting in a most perfect scent, which penetrates the sense of smelling far more strongly than it would do if with it and its water the bodies of the ingredients were found mingled and united. So love may be found in the unions proper to the sensual powers, mixed with the unions of intellectual powers, but never so excellently as when the spirits and souls alone, separated from all corporeal affections but united together, make love pure and spiritual. For the scent of affections thus mingled is not only sweeter and better, but more lively, more active and more essential.

True it is that many having gross, earthly and vile hearts rate the value of love like that of gold pieces, the most massive of which are the best, and most current; for so their idea is that brutish love is more strong, because it is more violent and turbulent, more solid, because more gross and terrene, greater, because more sensible and fierce:—but on the contrary, love is like fire, which is of clearer and fairer flame as its matter is more delicate, which cannot be more quickly extinguished than by beating it down and covering it with earth; for, in like manner, by how much more exalted and spiritual the subject of love is, by so much its actions are more lively, subsistent and permanent: nor is there a more easy way to ruin love than to debase it to vile and earthly unions. "There is this difference," says S. Gregory, "between spiritual and corporal pleasures, that corporal ones beget a desire before we obtain them, and a disgust when we have obtained them; but spiritual ones, on the contrary, are not cared for when we have them not, but are desired when we have them."

 

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CHAPTER XI.

THAT THERE ARE TWO PORTIONS IN THE SOUL, AND HOW.

We have but one soul, Theotimus, and an indivisible one; but in that one soul there are various degrees of perfection, for it is living, sensible and reasonable; and according to these different degrees it has also different properties and inclinations by which it is moved to the avoidance or to the acceptance of things. For first, as we see that the vine hates, so to speak and avoids the cabbage, so that the one is pernicious to the other; and, on the contrary, is delighted in the olive:—so we perceive a natural opposition between man and the serpent, so great that a man's fasting spittle is mortal to the serpent: on the contrary, man and the sheep have a wondrous affinity, and are agreeable one to the other. Now this inclination does not proceed from any knowledge that the one has of the hurtfulness of its contrary, or of the advantage of the one with which it has affinity, but only from a certain occult and secret quality which produces this insensible opposition and antipathy, or this complacency and sympathy.

Secondly, we have in us the sensitive appetite, whereby we are moved to the seeking and avoiding many things by the sensitive knowledge we have of them; not unlike to the animals, some of which have an appetite to one thing, some to another, according to the knowledge which they have that it suits them or not. In this appetite resides, or from it proceeds, the love which we call sensual or brutish, which yet properly speaking ought not to be termed love but simply appetite.

Thirdly, inasmuch as we are reasonable, we have a will, by which we are led to seek after good, according as by reasoning we know or judge it to be such. Now in our soul, taken as reasonable, we manifestly observe two degrees of perfection, which the great S. Augustine, and after him all the doctors, have named two portions of the soul, inferior and superior. That is called inferior which reasons and draws conclusions according to what it learns and experiences by the senses; and 46that is called superior, which reasons and draws conclusions according to an intellectual knowledge not grounded upon the experience of sense, but on the discernment and judgment of the spirit. This superior part is called the spirit and mental part of the soul, as the inferior is termed commonly, sense, feeling, and human reason.

Now this superior part can reason according to two sorts of lights; either according to natural light, as the philosophers and all those who have reasoned by science did; or according to supernatural light, as do theologians and Christians, since they establish their reasoning upon faith and the revealed word of God, and still more especially those whose spirit is conducted by particular illustrations, inspirations, and heavenly motions. This is what S. Augustine said, namely, that it is by the superior portion of the soul that we adhere and apply ourselves to the observance of the eternal law.

Jacob, pressed by the extreme necessity of his family, let Benjamin be taken by his brethren into Egypt, which yet he did against his will, as the sacred History witnesses. In this he shows two wills, the one inferior, by which he grieved at sending him, the other superior, by which he took the resolution to part with him. For the reason which moved him to disapprove his departure was grounded on the pleasure which he felt in his presence and the pain he would feel in his absence, which are grounds that touch the senses and the feelings, but the resolution which he took to send him, was grounded upon the reason of the state of his family, from his foreseeing future and imminent necessities. Abraham, according to the inferior portion of his soul spoke words testifying in him a kind of diffidence when the angel announced unto him the happy tidings of a son. Shall a son, thinkest thou, be born to him that is a hundred years old?4040Gen. xvii. 17. but according, to his superior part he believed in God and it was reputed to him unto justice.4141Ib. xv. 6. According to his inferior part, doubtless he was in great anguish when he was commanded to sacrifice his son: but according to his superior part he resolved courageously to sacrifice him.

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We also daily experience in ourselves various contrary wills. A father sending his son either to court or to his studies, does not deny tears to his departure, testifying, that though according to his superior part, for the child's advancement in virtue, he wills his departure, yet according to his inferior part he has a repugnance to the separation. Again, though a girl be married to the contentment of her father and mother, yet when she takes their blessing she excites their tears, in such sort that though the superior will acquiesces in the departure, yet the inferior shows resistance. We must not hence infer that a man has two souls or two natures, as the Manicheans dreamed. No, says S. Augustine, in the 8th book, 10th chapter, of his Confessions, "but the will inticed by different baits, moved by different reasons, seems to be divided in itself while it is pulled two ways, until, making use of its liberty, it chooses the one or the other: for then the more efficacious will conquers, and gaining the day, leaves in the soul the feeling of the evil that the struggle caused her, which we call reluctance (contrecœur)."

But the example of our Saviour is admirable in this point, and being considered it leaves no further doubt touching the distinction of the superior and inferior part of the soul. For who amongst theologians knows not that he was perfectly glorious from the instant of his conception in his virgin-mother's womb, and yet at the same time he was subject to sadness, grief, and afflictions of heart. Nor must we say he suffered only in the body, or only in the soul as sensitive, or, which is the same thing, according to sense: for he attests himself that before he suffered any exterior torment, or saw the tormentors near him, his soul was sorrowful even unto death. For which cause he prayed that the cup of his passion might pass away from him, that is, that he might be excused from drinking it; in which he manifestly shows the desire of the inferior portion of his soul; which, dwelling upon the sad and agonizing objects of the passion which was prepared for him (the lively image whereof was represented to his imagination), he desired, by a most reasonable consequence, the deliverance and escape from them, which he begs from his 48Father. By this we clearly see that the inferior part of the soul is not the same thing as the sensitive degree of it, nor the inferior will the same with the sensitive appetite; for neither the sensitive appetite, nor the soul insomuch as it is sensitive, is capable of making any demand or prayer, these being acts of the reasonable power; and they are, specially, incapable of speaking to God, an object which the senses cannot reach, so as to make it known to the appetite. But the same Saviour, having thus exercised the inferior part, and testified that according to it and its considerations his will inclined to the avoidance of the griefs and pains, showed afterwards that he had the superior part, by which inviolably adhering to the eternal will, and to the decree made by his heavenly Father, he willingly accepted death, and in spite of the repugnance of the inferior part of reason, he said: Ah! no, my Father, not my will, but thine be done. When he says my will, he speaks of his will according to the inferior portion, and inasmuch an he says it voluntarily, he shows that he has a superior will.

 

CHAPTER XII.

THAT IN THESE TWO PORTIONS OF THE SOUL THERE ARE FOUR DIFFERENT DEGREES OF REASON.

There were three courts in Solomon's temple. One was for the Gentiles and strangers who, wishing to have recourse to God, went to adore in Jerusalem; the second for the Israelites, men and women (the separation of men from women not being made by Solomon); the third for the priests and Levites; and in fine, besides all this, there was the sanctuary or sacred house, which was open to the high priest only, and that but once a year. Our reason, or, to speak better, our soul in so far as it is reasonable, is the true temple of the great God, who there takes up his chief residence. "I sought thee," says S. Augustine, "outside myself, but I found thee not, because thou art within me." In this mystical temple there are also 49three courts, which are three different degrees of reason; in the first we reason according to the experience of sense, in the second according to human sciences, in the third according to faith: and in fine, beyond this, there is a certain eminence or supreme point of the reason and spiritual faculty, which is not guided by the light of argument or reasoning, but by a simple view of the understanding and a simple movement of the will, by which the spirit bends and submits to the truth and the will of God.

Now this extremity and summit of our soul, this highest point of our spirit, is very naturally represented by the sanctuary or holy place. For, first, in the sanctuary there were no windows to give light: in this degree of the soul there is no reasoning which illuminates. Secondly, all the light entered by the door; in this degree of the soul nothing enters but by faith, which produces, like rays, the sight and the sentiment of the beauty and goodness of the good pleasure of God. Thirdly, none entered the sanctuary save the high priest; in this apex of the soul reasoning enters not, but only the high, universal and sovereign feeling that the divine will ought sovereignly to be loved, approved and embraced, not only in some particular things but in general for all things, nor generally in all things only, but also particularly in each thing. Fourthly, the high priest entering into the sanctuary obscured even that light which came by the door, putting many perfumes into his thurible, the smoke whereof drove back the rays of light to which the open door gave entrance: and all the light which is in the supreme part of the soul is in some sort obscured and veiled by the renunciations and resignations which the soul makes, not desiring so much to behold and see the goodness of the truth and the truth of the goodness presented to her, as to embrace and adore the same, so that the soul would almost wish to shut her eyes as soon as she begins to see the dignity of God's will, to the end that not occupying herself further in considering it, she may more powerfully and perfectly accept it, and by an absolute complacency perfectly unite and submit herself thereto. Fifthly, to conclude, in the sanctuary was kept the ark of alliance, and in that, or at least adjoining to it, the tables of the law, manna in a golden 50vessel, and Aaron's rod which in one night bore flowers and fruit: and in this highest point of the soul are found:  1. The light of faith, figured by the manna hidden in its vessel, by which we acquiesce in the truths of the mysteries which we do not understand.  2. The utility of hope, represented by Aaron's flowering and fruitful rod, by which we acquiesce in the promises of the goods which we see not.  3. The sweetness of holy charity, represented by God's commandments which charity contains, by which we acquiesce in the union of our spirit with God's, which we scarcely perceive.

For although faith, hope and charity spread out their divine movements into almost all the faculties of the soul, as well reasonable as sensitive, reducing and holily subjecting them to their just authority, yet their special residence, their true and natural dwelling, is in this supreme region of the soul, from whence as from a happy source of living water, they run out by divers conduits and brooks upon the inferior parts and faculties.

So that, Theotimus, in the superior part of reason there are two degrees of reason. In the one those discourses are made which depend on faith and supernatural light, in the other the simple acquiescings of faith, hope and charity. Saint Paul's soul found itself pressed by two different desires, the one to be delivered from his body, so as to go to heaven with Jesus Christ, the other to remain in this world to labour in the conversion of souls; both these desires were without doubt in the superior part, for they both proceeded from charity, but his resolution to follow the latter proceeded not from reasoning but from a simple sight, seeing and loving his master's will, in which the superior point alone of the spirit acquiesced, putting on one side all that reasoning might conclude.

But if faith, hope and charity be formed by this holy acquiescence in the point of the spirit, how can reasonings which depend on the light of faith be made in the inferior part of the soul? As, Theotimus, we see that barristers dispute with many arguments on the acts and rights of parties to a suit, and that the high parliament or senate settles all the strife by a positive sentence, though even after this is pronounced the advocates and auditors do not give up discoursing among themselves the 51motives parliament may have had:—even so, after reasoning, and above all the grace of God have persuaded the point and highest part of the spirit to acquiesce, and make the act of faith after the manner of a sentence or judgment, the understanding does not at once cease discoursing upon that same act of faith already conceived, to consider the motives and reasons thereof. But always the arguments of theology are stated at the pleading place and bar of the superior portion of the soul, but the acquiescence is given above, on the bench and tribunal of the point of the spirit. Now, because the knowledge of these four degrees of the reason is much required for understanding all treatises on spiritual things, I have thought well to explain it rather fully.

 

CHAPTER XIII.

ON THE DIFFERENCE OF LOVES.

Love is divided into two species, whereof one is called love of benevolence (or goodwill) the other of cupidity (convoitise). The love of cupidity is that by which we love something for the profit we expect from it. Love of benevolence is that by which we love a thing for its own good. For what other thing is it to have the love of benevolence for any one than to wish him good.

If he to whom we wish good have it already and possesses it, then we wish it him by the pleasure and contentment which we have to see him possessed of it, and hence springs the love of complacency, which is simply an act of the will by which it is joined and united to the pleasure, content and good of another. But in case he to whom we wish good have not yet obtained it we desire it him, and hence that love is termed love of desire.

When the love of benevolence is exercised without correspondence on the part of the beloved, it is called the love of simple benevolence; but when it is practised with mutual correspondence, it is called the love of friendship. Now mutual correspondence consists in three things; friends must love one 52another, know that they love one another, and have communication, intimacy and familiarity with one another.

If we love a friend without preferring him before others, the friendship is simple; if we prefer him, then this friendship will be called dilection, as if we said love of election, because we choose this from amongst many things we love, and prefer it.

Again, when by this dilection we do not much prefer one friend before others it is called simple dilection, but when, on the contrary, we much more esteem and greatly prefer one friend before others of his kind, then this friendship is called dilection by excellence.

If the esteem and preference of our friend, though great and without equal, do yet enter into comparison and proportion with others, the friendship will be called eminent dilection, but if the eminence of it be, beyond proportion and comparison, above every other, then it is graced with the title of incomparable, sovereign and supereminent dilection, and in a word it will be charity, which is due to the one God only. And indeed in our language the words cher, cherement, encherir,4242Meaning dear, dearly, to endear. The Saint's argument cannot be given in English. It rests on the connection between cher and charité, like the Latin carus and caritas. (Tr.) represent a certain particular esteem, prize or value, so that as amongst the people the word man is almost appropriated to the male-kind as to the more excellent sex, and the word adoration is almost exclusively kept for God as for its proper object, so the name of Charity has been kept for the love of God as for supreme and sovereign dilection.

 

CHAPTER XIV.

THAT CHARITY MAY BE NAMED LOVE.

Origin says somewhere4343Hom. I. in Can. that in his opinion the Divine Scripture wishing to hinder the word love from giving occasion of evil thoughts to the weak, as being more proper to signify a carnal passion than a spiritual affection, instead of this name of 53love has used the words charity and dilection, which are more honest. But S. Augustine having deeply weighed the use of God's word clearly shows that the name love is no less sacred than the word dilection, and that the one and the other signify sometimes a holy affection and sometimes also a depraved passion, alleging to this purpose different passages of Holy Scripture. But the great S. Denis, as excelling doctor of the proper use of the divine names, goes much further in favour of the word love, teaching that theologians, that is, the Apostles and their first disciples (for this saint knew no other theologians) to disabuse the common people, and break down their error in taking the word love in a profane and carnal sense, more willingly employed it in divine things than that of dilection; and, though they considered that both might be used for the same thing, yet some of them were of opinion that the word love was more proper and suitable to God than the word dilection. Hence the divine Ignatius wrote these words: "My love is crucified." And as these ancient theologians made use of the word love in divine things to free it from the taint of impurity of which it was suspected according to the imagination of the world, so to express human affections they liked to use the word dilection as exempt from all suspicion of impropriety. Wherefore one of them, as S. Denis reports, said: "Thy dilection has entered into my soul like the dilection of women."4444De Div. Nom. iv. § 12. The reference, of course, is to 2 Kings i. 26. S. Francis is careful to quote S. Denis, who used the Septuagint text, ἀγάπησις. The Vulgate does not mark the difference. (Tr.) In fine the word love signifies more fervour, efficacy, and activity than that of dilection, so that amongst the Latins dilection is much less significative than love: "Clodius," says their great orator, "bears me dilection, and to say it more excellently, he loves me." Therefore the word love, as the most excellent, has justly been given to charity, as to the chief and most eminent of all loves; so that for all these reasons, and because I intend to speak of the acts of charity rather than of its habit, I have entitled this little work, A Treatise of the Love of God.

 

54

CHAPTER XV.

OF THE AFFINITY THERE IS BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.

As soon as man thinks with even a little attention of the divinity, he feels a certain delightful emotion of the heart, which testifies that God is God of the human heart; and our understanding is never so filled with pleasure as in this thought of the divinity, the smallest knowledge of which, as says the prince of philosophers, is worth more than the greatest knowledge of other things; as the least beam of the sun is more luminous than the greatest of the moon or stars, yea is more luminous than the moon and stars together. And if some accident terrifies our heart, it immediately has recourse to the Divinity, protesting thereby that when all other things fail him, It alone stands his friend, and that when he is in peril, It only, as his sovereign good, can save and secure him.

This pleasure, this confidence which man's heart naturally has in God, can spring from no other root than the affinity there is between this divine goodness and man's soul, a great but secret affinity, an affinity which each one knows but few understand, an affinity which cannot be denied nor yet be easily sounded. We are created to the image and likeness of God:—what does this mean but that we have an extreme affinity with his divine majesty?

Our soul is spiritual, indivisible, immortal; understands and wills freely, is capable of judging, reasoning, knowing, and of having virtues, in which it resembles God. It resides whole in the whole body, and whole in every part thereof, as the divinity is all in all the world, and all in every part thereof. Man knows and loves himself by produced and expressed acts of his understanding and will, which proceeding from the understanding and the will, and distinct from one another, yet are and remain inseparably united in the soul, and in the faculties from whence they proceed. So the Son proceeds from the Father as his knowledge expressed, and the Holy Ghost as love breathed forth and produced from the Father and the Son, both the Persons being distinct from one another and from the 55Father, and yet inseparable and united, or rather one same, sole, simple, and entirely one indivisible divinity.

But besides this affinity of likenesses, there is an incomparable correspondence between God and man, for their reciprocal perfection: not that God can receive any perfection from man, but because as man cannot be perfected but by the divine goodness, so the divine goodness can scarcely so well exercise its perfection outside itself, as upon our humanity: the one has great want and capacity to receive good, the other great abundance and inclination to bestow it. Nothing is so agreeable to poverty as a liberal abundance, nor to a liberal abundance as a needy poverty, and by how much the good is more abundant, by so much more strong is the inclination to pour forth and communicate itself. By how much more the poor man is in want, so much the more eager is he to receive, as a void is to fill itself. The meeting then of abundance and indigence is most sweet and agreeable, and one could scarcely have said whether the abounding good have a greater contentment in spreading and communicating itself, or the failing and needy good in receiving and in drawing to itself, until Our Saviour had told us that it is more blessed to give than to receive.4545Acts xx. 35. Now where there is more blessedness there is more satisfaction, and therefore the divine goodness receives greater pleasure in giving than we in receiving.

Mothers' breasts are sometimes so full that they must offer them to some child, and though the child takes the breast with great avidity, the nurse offers it still more eagerly, the child pressed by its necessity, and the mother by her abundance.

The sacred spouse wished for the holy kiss of union: O, said she, let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.4646Cant. i. 1. But is there affinity enough, O well-beloved spouse of the well-beloved, between thee and thy loving one to bring to the union which thou desirest? Yes, says she: give me it; this kiss of union, O thou dear love of my heart: for thy breasts are better than wine, smelling sweet of the best ointment. New wine works 56and boils in itself by virtue of its goodness, and cannot be contained within the casks; but thy breasts are yet better, they press thee more strongly, and to draw the children of thy heart to them, they spread a perfume attractive beyond all the scent of ointments. Thus, Theotimus, our emptiness has need of the divine abundance by reason of its want and necessity, but God's abundance has no need of our poverty but by reason of the excellency of his perfection and goodness; a goodness which is not at all bettered by communication, for it acquires nothing in pouring itself out of itself, on the contrary it gives: but our poverty would remain wanting and miserable, if it were not enriched by the divine abundance.

Our soul then seeing that nothing can perfectly content her, and that nothing the world can afford is able to fill her capacity, considering that her understanding has an infinite inclination ever to know more, and her will an insatiable appetite to love and find the good;—has she not reason to cry out: Ah! I am not then made for this world, there is a sovereign good on which I depend, some infinite workman who has placed in me this endless desire of knowing, and this appetite which cannot be appeased! And therefore I must tend and extend towards Him, to unite and join myself to the goodness of Him to whom I belong and whose I am! Such is the affinity between God and man's soul.

 

CHAPTER XVI.

THAT WE HAVE A NATURAL INCLINATION TO LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL THINGS.

If there could be found any men who were in the integrity of original justice in which Adam was created, though otherwise not helped by another assistance from God than that which he affords to each creature, in order that it may be able to do the actions befitting its nature, such men would not only have an inclination to love God above all things 57but even naturally would be able to put into execution so just an inclination. For as this heavenly author and master of nature co-operates with and lends his strong hand to fire to spring on high, to water to flow towards the sea, to earth to sink down to its centre and stay there—so having himself planted in man's heart a special natural inclination not only to love good in general but to love in particular and above all things his divine goodness which is better and sweeter than all things—the sweetness of his sovereign providence required that he should contribute to these blessed men of whom we speak as much help as should be necessary to practise and effectuate that inclination. This help would be on the one hand natural, as being suitable to nature, and tending to the love of God as author and sovereign master of nature, and on the other hand it would be supernatural, because it would correspond not with the simple nature of man, but with nature adorned, enriched and honoured by original justice, which is a supernatural quality proceeding from a most special favour of God. But as to the love above all things which such help would enable these men to practise, it would be called natural, because virtuous actions take their names from their objects and motives, and this love of which we speak would only tend to God as acknowledged to be author, lord and sovereign of every creature by natural light only, and consequently to be amiable and estimable above all things by natural inclination and tendency.

And although now our human nature be not endowed with that original soundness and righteousness which the first man had in his creation, but on the contrary be greatly depraved by sin, yet still the holy inclination to love God above all things stays with us, as also the natural light by which we see his sovereign goodness to be more worthy of love than all things; and it is impossible that one thinking attentively upon God, yea even by natural reasoning only, should not feel a certain movement of love which the secret inclination of our nature excites in the bottom of our hearts, by which at the first apprehension of this chief and sovereign object, the will is taken, and perceives itself stirred up to a complacency in it.

It happens often amongst partridges that one steals away 58another's eggs with intention to sit on them, whether moved by greediness to become a mother, or by a stupidity which makes them mistake their own, and behold a strange thing, yet well supported by testimony!—the young one which was hatched and nourished under the wings of a stranger partridge, at the first call of the true mother, who had laid the egg whence she was hatched, quits the thief-partridge, goes back to the first mother, and puts herself in her brood, from the correspondence which she has with her first origin. Yet this correspondence appeared not, but remained secret, shut up and as it were sleeping in the bottom of nature, till it met with its object; when suddenly excited, and in a sort awakened, it produces its effect, and turns the young partridge's inclination to its first duty. It is the same, Theotimus, with our heart, which though it be formed, nourished and bred amongst corporal, base and transitory things, and in a manner under the wings of nature, notwithstanding, at the first look it throws on God, at its first knowledge of him, the natural and first inclination to love God which was dull and imperceptible, awakes in an instant, and suddenly appears as a spark from amongst the ashes, which touching our will gives it a movement of the supreme love due to the sovereign and first principle of all things.

 

CHAPTER XVII.

THAT WE HAVE NOT NATURALLY THE POWER TO LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL THINGS.

Eagles have a great heart, and much strength of flight, yet they have incomparably more sight than flight, and extend their vision much quicker and further than their wings. So our souls animated with a holy natural inclination towards the divinity, have far more light in the understanding to see how lovable it is than force in the will to love it. Sin has much more weakened man's will than darkened his intellect, and the rebellion of the sensual appetite, which we call concupiscence, does indeed disturb the understanding, but still it is against the will that it 56principally stirs up sedition and revolt: so that the poor will, already quite infirm, being shaken with the continual assaults which concupiscence directs against it, cannot make so great progress in divine love as reason and natural inclination suggest to it that it should do.

Alas! Theotimus, what fine testimonies not only of a great knowledge of God, but also of a strong inclination towards him, have been left by those great philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Trismegistus, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Seneca, Epictetus? Socrates, the most highly praised amongst them, came to the clear knowledge of the unity of God, and felt in himself such an inclination to love him, that as S. Augustine testifies, many were of opinion that he never had any other aim in teaching moral philosophy than to purify minds that they might better contemplate the sovereign good, which is the simple unity of the Divinity. And as for Plato, he sufficiently declares himself in his definition of philosophy and of a philosopher; saying that to do the part of a philosopher is nothing else but to love God, and that a philosopher is no other thing than a lover of God. What shall I say of the great Aristotle, who so efficaciously proves the unity of God and has spoken so honourably of it in so many places?

But, O eternal God! those great spirits which had so great an inclination to love it, were all wanting in force and courage to love it well. By visible creatures they have known the invisible things of God, yea even his eternal power also and divinity, says the Apostle, so that they are inexcusable. Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks.4747Rom. i. 20. They glorified him indeed in some sort, attributing to him sovereign titles of honour, yet they did not glorify him as they ought, that is, they did not glorify him above all things; not having the courage to destroy idolatry, but communicating with idolators, detaining the truth which they knew in injustice, prisoner in their hearts, and preferring the honour and vain repose of their lives before the honour due unto God, they grew vain in their knowledge.

60

Is it not a great pity, Theotimus, to see Socrates, as Plato reports, speak upon his deathbed concerning the gods as though there had been many, he knowing so well that there was but one only? Is it not a thing to be deplored that Plato who understood so clearly the truth of the divine unity should ordain that sacrifice should be offered to many gods? And is it not a lamentable thing that Mercury Trismegistus should so basely lament and grieve over the abolition of idolatry, who on so many occasions had spoken so worthily of the divinity? But above all I wonder at the poor good man Epictetus, whose words and sentences are so sweet in our tongue, in the translation which the learned and agreeable pen of the R. F. D. John of S. Francis, Provincial of the Congregation of the Feuillants in the Gauls, has recently put before us. For what a pity it is, I pray you, to see this excellent philosopher speak of God sometimes with such relish, feeling, and zeal that one would have taken him for a Christian coming from some holy and profound meditation, and yet again from time to time talking of gods after the Pagan manner! Alas! this good man, who knew so well the unity of God, and had so much delight in his goodness, why had he not the holy jealousy of the divine honour, so as not to stumble or dissemble in a matter of so great consequence?

In a word, Theotimus, our wretched nature spoilt by sin, is like palm-trees in this land of ours, which indeed make some imperfect productions and as it were experiments of fruits, but to bear entire, ripe and seasoned dates—that is, reserved for hotter climates. For so our human heart naturally produces certain beginnings of God's love, but to proceed so far as to love him above all things, which is the true ripeness of the love due unto this supreme goodness,—this belongs only to hearts animated and assisted with heavenly grace, and which are in the state of holy charity. This little imperfect love of which nature by itself feels the stirrings, is but a will without will, a will that would but wills not, a sterile will, which does not produce true effects, a will sick of the palsy, which sees the healthful pond of holy love, but has not the strength to throw itself into it. To conclude, this will is an abortion of good will, which has not the life of generous strength necessary to effectually 61prefer God before all things. Whereupon the Apostle speaking in the person of the sinner, cries out: To will good is present with me, but to accomplish that which is good I find not.4848Rom. vii. 18.

 

CHAPTER XVIII.

THAT THE NATURAL INCLINATION WHICH WE HAVE TO LOVE GOD IS NOT USELESS.

But seeing we have not power naturally to love God above all things, why have we naturally an inclination to it? Is not nature vain to incite us to a love which she cannot bestow upon us? Why does she give us a thirst for a precious water of which she cannot give us to drink? Ah! Theotimus, how good God has been to us! The perfidy which we committed in offending him deserved truly that he should have deprived us of all the marks of his benevolence, and of the favour which he deigned to our nature when he imprinted upon it the light of his divine countenance, and gave to our hearts the joyfulness of feeling themselves inclined to the love of the divine goodness: so that the angels seeing this miserable man would have had occasion to say in pity: Is this the creature of perfect beauty, the joy of all the earth?4949Lam. ii. 15.

But this infinite clemency could never be so rigorous to the work of his hands; he saw that we were clothed with flesh a wind which goeth and returneth not,5050Ps. lxxvii. 39. and therefore according to the bowels of his mercy he would not utterly ruin us, nor deprive us of the sign of his lost grace, in order that seeing this, and feeling in ourselves this alliance, and this inclination to love him, we should strive to do so, that no one might justly say: Who showeth us good things?5151Ps. iv. 6. For though by this sole natural inclination we cannot be so happy as to love God as we ought, yet if we employed it faithfully, the sweetness of the divine piety would afford us some assistance, by means of which we might make progress, and if we second this first assistance the paternal goodness of God would bestow upon us another greater, and 62conduct us from good to better in all sweetness, till he brought us to the sovereign love, to which our natural inclination impels us: since it is certain that to him who is faithful in a little, and who does what is in his power, the divine benignity never denies its assistance to advance him more and more.

This natural inclination then which we have to love God above all things is not left for nothing in our hearts: for on God's part it is a handle by which he can hold us and draw us to himself;—and the divine goodness seems in some sort by this impression to keep our hearts tied as little birds in a string, by which he can draw us when it pleases his mercy to take pity upon us—and on our part it is a mark and memorial of our first principle and Creator, to whose love it moves us, giving us a secret intimation that we belong to his divine goodness; even as harts upon whom princes have had collars put with their arms, though afterwards they cause them to be let loose and run at liberty in the forest, do not fail to be recognized by any one who meets them not only as having been once taken by the prince whose arms they bear, but also as being still reserved for him. And in this way was known the extreme old age of a hart which according to some historians was taken three hundred years after the death of Cæsar; because there was found on him a collar with Cæsar's device upon it, and these words: Cæsar let me go.

In truth the honourable inclination which God has left in our hearts testifies as well to our friends as to our enemies that we did not only sometime belong to our Creator, but furthermore, though he has left us and let us go at the mercy of our free will, that we still appertain to him, and that he has reserved the right of taking us again to himself, to save us, according as his holy and sweet providence shall require. Hence the royal prophet terms this inclination not only a light, in that it makes us see whither we are to tend, but also a joy and gladness,5252Ibid. 7. for it comforts us when we stray, giving us a hope that he who engraved and left in us this clear mark of our origin intends also and desires to reduce and bring us back thither, if we be so happy as to let ourselves be retaken by his divine goodness.


63

THE SECOND BOOK.

THE HISTORY OF THE GENERATION AND HEAVENLY BIRTH OF DIVINE LOVE.

CHAPTER I.

THAT THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS ARE ONLY A SINGLE BUT INFINITE PERFECTION.

When the sun rises red and soon after looks black, or hollow and sunk; or again when it sets wan, pale, and dull, we say it is a sign of rain. Theotimus, the sun is not red, nor black, nor grey, nor green: that great luminary is not subject to these vicissitudes and changes of colour, having for its sole colour its most clear and perpetual light which, unless by miracle, is invariable. But we use this manner of speaking, because it seems such to us, according to the variety of vapours interposed between him and our eyes, which make him appear in different ways.

In like manner we discourse of God, not so much according to what he is in himself, as according to his works, by means of which we contemplate him; for according to our various considerations we name him variously, even as though he had a great multitude of different excellences and perfections. If we regard him inasmuch as he punishes the wicked, we term him just; if as he delivers sinners from their misery, we proclaim him merciful; since he has created all things and done many wonders, we name him omnipotent; as exactly fulfilling his promises we call him true; as ranging all things in so goodly an order we call him most wise; and thus, continuing 64and following the variety of his works, we attribute unto him a great diversity of perfections. But, all the time, in God there is neither variety, nor any difference whatever of perfections. He is himself one most sole, most simple and most indivisible, unique perfection: for all that is in him is but himself, and all the excellences which we say are in him in so great diversity are really there in a most simple and pure unity. And as the sun has none of the colours which we ascribe unto it, but one sole most clear light surpassing all colour, and giving colour to all colours,—so in God there is not one of those perfections which we imagine, but an only most pure excellence, which is above all perfection and gives perfection to all that is perfect. Now to assign a perfect name to this supreme excellence, which in its most singular unity comprehends, yea surmounts, all excellence, is not within the reach of the creature, whether human or angelic; for as is said in the Apocalypse: Our Lord has a name which no man knoweth but himself:5353Apoc. xix. 12. because as he only perfectly knows his own infinite perfection he also alone can express it by a suitable name. Whence the ancients have said that no one but God is a true theologian, as none but he can reach the full knowledge of the infinite greatness of the divine perfection, nor, consequently, represent it in words. And for this cause, God, answering by the angel Samson's father who demanded his name, said: Why asketh thou my name which is wonderful?5454Judges xiii. 18. As though he had said: My name may be admired, but never pronounced by creatures; it must be adored, but cannot be comprehended save by me, who alone can pronounce the proper name by which truly and to the life I express my excellence. Our thoughts are too feeble to form a conception which should represent an excellence so immense, which comprehends in its most simple and most sole perfection, distinctly and perfectly, all other perfections in a manner infinitely excellent and eminent, to which our thoughts cannot raise themselves. We are forced, then, in order to speak in some way of God, to use a great number of names, saying that he is good, wise, omnipotent, true, just, holy, infinite, 65immortal, invisible;—and certainly we speak truly; God is all this together, because he is more than all this, that is to say, he is all this in so pure, so excellent and so exalted a way, that in one most simple perfection he contains the virtue, vigour and excellence of all perfection.

In the same way, the manna was one meat, which, containing in itself the taste and virtue of all other meats, might have been said to have the taste of the lemon, the melon, the grape, the plum and the pear. Yet one might have said with still greater truth that it had not all these tastes, but one only, which was its own proper one, but which contained in its unity all that was agreeable and desirable in all the diversity of other tastes: like the herb dodecatheos, which, says Pliny, while curing all diseases, is nor rhubarb, nor senna, nor rose, nor clove, nor bugloss, but one simple, which in its own proper simplicity contains as much virtue as all other medicaments together. O abyss of the divine perfections! How admirable art thou, to possess in one only perfection the excellence of all perfection in so excellent a manner that none can comprehend it but thyself!

We shall say much, says the Scripture, and yet shall want words: but the sum of our words is: He is all. What shall we be able to do to glorify him, for the Almighty himself is above all his works? The Lord is terrible, and exceeding great, and his power is admirable. Glorify the Lord as much as ever you can, for he will yet far exceed, and his magnificence is wonderful. Blessing the Lord, exalt him as much as you can: for he is above all praise. When you exalt him put forth all your strength, and be not weary: for you can never go far enough.5555Ecclus. xliii. 29 No, Theotimus, we can never comprehend him, since, as St. John says, he is greater than our heart.56561 John iii. 20. Nevertheless, let every spirit praise the Lord, calling him by all the most eminent names which may be found, and for the greatest praise we can render unto him let us confess that never can he be sufficiently praised; and for the most excellent name we can attribute unto him let us protest that his name surpasses all names, nor can we worthily name him.

 

66

CHAPTER II.

THAT IN GOD THERE IS BUT ONE ONLY ACT, WHICH IS HIS OWN DIVINITY.

There is in us great diversity of faculties and habits, which produce also a great variety of actions, and those actions an incomparable multitude of works. Thus differ the faculties of hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, moving, feeding, understanding, willing; and the habits of speaking, walking, playing, singing, sewing, leaping, swimming: as also the actions and works which issue from these faculties and habits are greatly different.

But it is not the same in God; for in him there is one only most simple infinite perfection, and in that perfection one only most sole and most pure act: yea to speak more holily and sagely, God is one unique and most uniquely sovereign perfection, and this perfection is one sole most purely simple and most simply pure act, which being no other thing than the proper divine essence, is consequently ever permanent and eternal. Nevertheless poor creatures that we are, we talk of God's actions as though daily done in great number and variety, though we know the contrary. But our weakness, Theotimus, forces us to this; for our speech can but follow our understanding, and our understanding the customary order of things with us. Now, as in natural things there is hardly any diversity of works without diversity of actions, when we behold so many different works, such great variety of productions, and the innumerable multitude of the effects of the divine might, it seems to us at first that this diversity is caused by as many acts as we see different effects, and we speak of them in the same way, in order to speak more at our ease, according to our ordinary practice and our customary way of understanding things. And indeed we do not in this violate truth, for though in God there is no multitude of actions, but one sole act which is the divinity itself, yet this act is so perfect that it comprehends by excellence the force and virtue of all the acts which 67would seem requisite to the production of all the different effects we see.

God spoke but one word, and in virtue of that in a moment were made the sun, moon and that innumerable multitude of stars, with their differences in brightness, motion and influence. He spoke and they were made.5757Ps. cxlviii. 5. A single word of God's filled the air with birds, and the sea with fishes, made spring from the earth all the plants and all the beasts we see. For although the sacred historian, accommodating himself to our fashion of understanding, recounts that God often repeated that omnipotent word: Let there be: according to the days of the world's creation, nevertheless, properly speaking, this word was singularly one; so that David terms it a breathing or spirit of the divine mouth;5858Ps. xxxii. 6. that is, one single act of his infinite will, which so powerfully spreads its virtue over the variety of created things, that it makes us conceive this act as if it were multiplied and diversified into as many differences as there are in these effects, though in reality it is most simply and singularly one. Thus S. Chrysostom remarks that what Moses said in many words describing the creation of the world, the glorious S. John expressed in a single word, saying that by the word, that is by that eternal word who is the Son of God, all things were made.59591 John i. 3.

This word then, Theotimus, whilst most simple and most single, produces all the distinction of things; being invariable produces all fit changes, and, in fine, being permanent in his eternity gives succession, vicissitude, order, rank and season to all things.

Let us imagine, I pray you, on the one hand, a painter making a picture of Our Saviour's birth (and I write this in the days dedicated to this holy mystery). Doubtless he will give a thousand and a thousand touches with his brush, and will take, not only days, but weeks and months, to perfect this picture, according to the variety of persons and other things he wants to represent in it. But on the other hand, let us look at a printer of pictures, who having spread his sheet upon the plate which has the same mystery of the Nativity cut in it, gives but 68a single stroke of the press: in this one stroke, Theotimus, he will do all his work, and instantly he will draw off a picture representing in a fine engraving all that has been imagined, as sacred history records it. Now though with one movement he performed the work, yet it contains a great number of personages, and other different things, each one well distinguished in its order, rank, place, distance and proportion: so that one not acquainted with the secret would be astonished to see proceed from one act so great a variety of effects. In the same way, Theotimus, nature as a painter multiplies and diversifies her acts according as the works she has in hand are various, and it takes her a great time to finish great effects, but God, like the printer, has given being to all the diversity of creatures which have been, are, or shall be, by one only stroke of his omnipotent will. He draws from his idea as from a well cut plate, this admirable difference of persons and of things, which succeed one another in seasons, in ages, and in times, each one in its order, as they were to be. For this sovereign unity of the divine act is opposed to confusion and disorder, and not to distinction and variety; these on the contrary it purposely uses, to make beauty from them, by reducing all differences and diversities to proportion, proportion to order, and order to the unity of the world, which comprises all things created, visible and invisible. All these together are called the universe, perhaps because all their diversity is reduced to unity as though one said "unidiverse," that is, one and diverse, one with diversity and diverse with unity.

To sum up, the sovereign divine unity diversifies all, and his permanent eternity gives change to all things, because the perfection of this unity being above all difference and variety, it has wherewith to furnish all the diversities of created perfections with their beings, and contains a virtue to produce them; in sign of which the Scripture having told us that God in the beginning said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons and for days and years,6060Gen. i. 14.—we see 69even to this day a perpetual revolution and succession of times and seasons which shall continue till the end of the world. So we learn that as he spoke and they were made, so the single eternal will of his divine Majesty extends its force from age to age, yea to ages of ages, to all that has been, is, or shall be eternally; and nothing at all has existence save by this sole most singular, most simple, and most eternal divine act, to which be honour and glory. Amen.

 

CHAPTER III.

OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN GENERAL.

God, then, Theotimus, needs not many acts, because one only divine act of his all-powerful will, by reason of its infinite perfection, is sufficient to produce all the variety of his works. But we mortals must treat them after the method and manner of understanding which our small minds can attain to; according to which, to speak of divine providence, let us consider, I pray you, the reign of the great Solomon, as a perfect model of the art of good government.

This great king then, knowing by divine inspiration that the commonwealth is to religion as the body to the soul, and religion to the commonwealth as the soul to the body, disposed with himself all the parts requisite as well for the establishment of religion as of the commonwealth. As to religion, he determined that a temple must be erected of such and such length, breadth, and height, so many porches and courts, so many windows and thus of all the rest which belonged to the temple; then so many sacrificers, so many singers and other officers of the temple. And as for the commonwealth he determined to make a royal palace and court for his majesty, and in this so many stewards, so many gentlemen and other courtiers; and, for the people, judges, and other magistrates who were to execute justice further, for the assurance of the kingdom, and securing of the public peace which it enjoyed, he arranged to have in time of 70peace a powerful preparation for war, and to this effect two hundred and fifty commanders in various charges, forty thousand horses, and all that great equipage which the Scripture and historians record.

Now having disposed and arranged in his mind all the principal things requisite for his kingdom, he came to the act of providing them, and thought out all that was necessary to construct the temple, to maintain the sacred officers, the royal ministers and magistrates, and the soldiers whom he intended to appoint, and resolved to send to Hiram for fit timber, to begin commerce with Peru6161According to the opinion not uncommon in. S. Francis's day. (Tr.) and Ophir, and to take all convenient means to procure all things requisite for the fulfilment and success of his undertaking. Neither stayed he there, Theotimus, for having made his project and deliberated with himself about the proper means to accomplish it, coming to the practice, he actually created officers as he had disposed, and by a good government caused provision to be made of all things requisite to carry out and to accomplish their charges. So that having the knowledge of the art of reigning well, he put it into practice, executed that disposition which he had made in his mind for the creation of officers of every sort, and provided in effect what he had seen it necessary to provide; and so his art of government which consisted in disposition, and in providence or foresight, was put into practice by the creation of officers and by actual government and good management. But inasmuch as the disposing is useless without the creation of officers, and creation also vain without that provident foresight which looks after what is needed to maintain the officers created or appointed; and since this maintaining by good government is nothing more than a providence put into effect, therefore not only the disposition but also the creation and good government of Solomon were called by the name of providence, nor do we indeed say that a man is provident unless he govern well.

Now, Theotimus, speaking of heavenly things according to the impression we have gained by the consideration of human things, we affirm that God, having had an eternal and most perfect 71knowledge of the art of making the world for his glory, disposed before all things in his divine understanding all the principal parts of the universe which might render him honour; to wit, angelic and human nature,—and in the angelic nature the variety of hierarchies and orders, as the sacred Scripture and holy doctors teach us; as also among men he ordained that there should be that great diversity which we see. Further, in this same eternity he provided and determined in his mind all the means requisite for men and angels to come to the end for which he had ordained them, and so made the act of his providence; and not stopping there, he, in order to effect what he had disposed, really created angels and men, and to effect his providence he did and does by his government furnish reasonable creatures with all things necessary to attain glory, so that, to say it in a word, sovereign providence is no other thing than the act whereby God furnishes men or angels with the means necessary or useful for the obtaining of their end. But because these means are of different kinds we also diversify the name of providence, and say that there is one providence natural, another supernatural, and that the latter again is general, or special, or particular.

And because hereafter, Theotimus, I shall exhort you to unite your will to God's providence, I would, while on this part of my subject, say a word about natural providence. God then, willing to provide men with the natural means necessary for them to render glory to the divine goodness, produced in their behalf all the other animals and the plants, and to provide for the other animals and the plants, he has produced a variety of lands, seasons, waters, winds, rains; and, as well for man as for the other things appertaining to him, he created the elements, the sky, the stars, ordaining in an admirable manner that almost all creatures should mutually serve one another. Horses carry us, and we care for them; sheep feed and clothe us, and we feed them; the earth sends vapours to the air; and the air rain to the earth; the hand serves the foot, and the foot the hand. O! he who should consider this general commerce and traffic which creatures have together, in so perfect a correspondence—with how strong an amorous passion for this sovereign wisdom would he be moved, crying out: Thy providence O 72great and eternal Father governs all things!6262Wisdom xiv. 3. S. Basil and S. Ambrose in their Hexaemerons, the good Louis of Granada in his introduction to the Creed, and Louis Richeome in many of his beautiful works, will furnish ample motives to loving souls profitably to employ this consideration.

Thus, dear Theotimus, this providence reaches all, reigns over all, and reduces all to its glory. There are indeed fortuitous cases and unexpected accidents, but they are only fortuitous or unexpected to us, and are of course most certain to the divine providence, which foresees them, and directs them to the general good of the universe. These accidents happen by the concurrence of various causes, which having no natural alliance one with the other, produce each of them its particular effect, but in such a way that from their concourse there issues another effect of a different nature, to which though one could not foresee it, all these different causes contributed. For example, it was reasonable to chastise the curiosity of the poet Æschylus, who being told by a diviner that he would perish by the fall of some house, kept himself all that day in the open country, to escape his fate, and as he was standing up bareheaded, a falcon which held in its claws a tortoise, seeing this bald head, and thinking it to be the point of a rock, let the tortoise fall upon it, and behold Æschylus dies immediately, crushed by the house and shell of a tortoise. This was doubtless a fortuitous accident, for this man did not go into the country to die, but to escape death, nor did the falcon dream of crushing a poet's head, but the head and shell of a tortoise to make itself master of the meat within: yet it chanced to the contrary, for the tortoise remained safe and poor Æschylus was killed. According to us this chance was unexpected, but in respect of the Divine providence which looked from above and saw the concurrence of causes, it was an act of justice punishing the superstition of the man. The adventures of Joseph of old were admirable in their variety and the way they passed from one extreme to the other. His brethren who to ruin him had sold him, were amazed to see that he had become viceroy, and were mightily apprehensive 73that he remained sensible of the wrong they had done him: but no said he: Not by your counsel was I sent hither, but by the will of God. You thought evil against me, but God turned it into good.6363Gen. xlv. 8; l. 20. You see, Theotimus, the world would have termed this a chance, or fortuitous event, which Joseph called a design of the sovereign providence, which turns and reduces all to its service. It is the same with all things that happen in the world yea, even with monstrosities, whose birth makes complete and perfect works more esteemed, begets admiration, provokes discussion, and many good thoughts; in a word they are in the world as the shades in pictures, which give grace and seem to bring out the colours.

 

CHAPTER IV.

OF THE SUPERNATURAL PROVIDENCE WHICH GOD USES TOWARDS REASONABLE CREATURES

All God's works are ordained to the salvation of men and angels; and the order of his providence is this, as far as, by attention to the Holy Scriptures and the doctrine of the Fathers, we are able to discover and our weakness permits us to describe it.

God knew from all eternity that he could make an innumerable multitude of creatures with divers perfections and qualities, to whom he might communicate himself, and considering that amongst all the different communications there was none so excellent as that of uniting himself to some created nature, in such sort that the creature might be engrafted and implanted in the divinity, and become one single person with it, his infinite goodness, which of itself and by itself tends towards communication, resolved and determined to communicate himself in this manner. So that, as eternally there is an essential communication in God by which the Father communicates all his infinite and indivisible divinity to the Son in producing him, and the Father and the Son together producing the Holy Ghost 74communicate to him also their own singular divinity;—so this sovereign sweetness was so perfectly communicated externally to a creature, that the created nature and the divinity, retaining each of them its own properties, were notwithstanding so united together that they were but one same person.

Now of all the creatures which that sovereign omnipotence could produce, he thought good to make choice of the same humanity which afterwards in effect was united to the person of God the Son; to which he destined that incomparable honour of personal union with his divine Majesty, to the end that for all eternity it might enjoy by excellence the treasures of his infinite glory. Then having selected for this happiness the sacred humanity of our Saviour, the supreme providence decreed not to restrain his goodness to the only person of his well-beloved Son, but for his sake to pour it out upon divers other creatures, and out of the mass of that innumerable quantity of things which he could produce, he chose to create men and angels to accompany his Son, participate in his graces and glory, adore and praise him for ever. And inasmuch as he saw that he could in various manners form the humanity of this Son, while making him true man, as for example by creating him out of nothing, not only in regard of the soul but also in regard of the body; or again by forming the body of some previously existing matter as he did that of Adam and Eve, or by way of ordinary human birth, or finally by extraordinary birth from a woman without man, he determined that the work should be effected by the last way, and of all the women he might have chosen to this end he made choice of the most holy virgin Our Lady, through whom the Saviour of our souls should not only be man, but a child of the human race.

Furthermore the sacred providence determined to produce all other things as well natural as supernatural in behalf of Our Saviour, in order that angels and men might, by serving him, share in his glory; on which account, although God willed to create both angels and men with free-will, free with a true freedom to choose evil or good, still, to show that on the part of the divine goodness they were dedicated to good and to glory, he created them all in original justice, which is 75no other thing than a most sweet love, which disposed, turned and set them forward towards eternal felicity.

But because this supreme wisdom had determined so to temper this original love with the will of his creatures that love should not force the will but should leave it in its freedom, he foresaw that a part, yet the less part, of the angelic nature, voluntarily quitting holy love, would consequently lose glory. And because the angelic nature could only commit this sin by an express malice, without temptation or any motive which could excuse them, and on the other hand the far greater part of that same nature would remain constant in the service of their Saviour,—therefore God, who had so amply glorified his mercy in the work of the creation of angels, would also magnify his justice, and in the fury of his indignation resolved for ever to abandon that woful and accursed troop of traitors, who in the fury of their rebellion had so villanously abandoned him.

He also clearly foresaw that the first man would abuse his liberty and forsaking grace would lose glory, yet would he not treat human nature so rigorously as he determined to treat the angelic. It was human nature of which he had determined to take a blessed portion to unite it to his divinity. He saw that it was a feeble nature, a wind which goeth and returneth not,6464Ps. lxxvii. 39. that is, which is dissipated as it goes. He had regard to the surprise by which the malign and perverse Satan had taken the first man, and to the greatness of the temptation which ruined him. He saw that all the race of men was perishing by the fault of one only, so that for these reasons he beheld our nature with the eye of pity and resolved to admit it to his mercy.

But in order that the sweetness of his mercy might be adorned with the beauty of his justice, he determined to save man by way of a rigorous redemption. And as this could not properly be done but by his Son, he settled that he should redeem man not only by one of his amorous actions, which would have been perfectly sufficient to ransom a million million of worlds: but also by all the innumerable amorous actions and dolorous passions which he would perform or suffer till death, 76and the death of the cross, to which he destined him. He willed that thus he should make himself the companion of our miseries to make us afterwards companions of his glory, showing thereby the riches of his goodness, by this copious, abundant, superabundant, magnificent and excessive redemption, which has gained for us, and as it were reconquered for us, all the means necessary to attain glory, so that no man can ever complain as though the divine mercy were wanting to any one.

 

CHAPTER V.

THAT HEAVENLY PROVIDENCE HAS PROVIDED MEN WITH A MOST ABUNDANT REDEMPTION.

Now when saying, Theotimus, that God had seen and willed first one thing and then secondly another, observing an order in his wills: I meant this in the sense I declared before, namely, that though all this passed in a most singular and simple act, yet in that act the order, distinction and dependence of things were no less observed than if there had been indeed several acts in the understanding and will of God. And since every well-ordered will which determines itself to love several objects equally present, loves better and above all the rest that which is most lovable; it follows that the sovereign Providence, making his eternal purpose and design of all that he would produce, first willed and preferred by excellence the most amiable object of his love which is Our Saviour; and then other creatures in order, according as they more or less belong to the service, honours and glory of him.

Thus were all things made for that divine man, who for this cause is called the first-born of every creature:6565Col. i. 15. possessed by the divine majesty in the beginning of his ways, before he made anything from the beginning.6666Prov. viii. 22. For in him were all things created in heaven, and on earth, visible, and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created 77by him and in him: And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from among the dead: that in all things he may hold the primacy.6767Col. i. 16. The principal reason of planting the vine is the fruit, and therefore the fruit is the first thing desired and aimed at, though the leaves and the buds are first produced. So our great Saviour was the first in the divine intention, and in that eternal project which the divine providence made of the production of creatures, and in view of this desired fruit the vine of the universe was planted, and the succession of many generations established, which as leaves or blossoms proceed from it as forerunners and fit preparatives for the production of that grape which the sacred spouse so much praises in the Canticles, and the juice of which rejoices God and men.

But now, my Theotimus, who can doubt of the abundance of the means of salvation, since we have so great a Saviour, in consideration of whom we have been made, and by whose merits we have been ransomed. For he died for all because all were dead, and his mercy was more salutary to buy back the race of men than Adam's misery was to ruin it. Indeed Adam's sin was so far from overwhelming the divine benignity that on the contrary it excited and provoked it. So that by a most sweet and most loving reaction and struggle, it received vigour from its adversary's presence, and as if re-collecting its forces for victory, it made grace to superabound where sin had abounded.6868Rom. v. 20. Whence the holy Church by a pious excess of admiration cries out upon Easter-eve: "O truly necessary sin of Adam which was blotted out by the death of Jesus Christ! O blessed fault, which merited to have such and so great a Redeemer!" Truly, Theotimus, we may say as did he of old, "we were ruined had we not been undone:" that is, ruin brought us profit, since in effect human nature has received more graces by its Saviour redeeming, than ever it would have received by Adam's innocence, if he had persevered therein.

For though the divine Providence has left in man deep marks of his severity, yea, even amidst the very grace of his mercy, 78as for example the necessity of dying, diseases, labours, the rebellion of sensuality,—yet the divine favour floating as it were over all this, takes pleasure in turning these miseries to the greater profit of those who love him, making patience spring from labours, contempt of the world from the necessity of death, a thousand victories from out of concupiscence; and, as the rainbow touching the thorn aspalathus makes it more odoriferous than the lily, so Our Saviour's Redemption touching our miseries, makes them more beneficial and worthy of love than original innocence could ever have been. I say to you, says Our Saviour, there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance,6969Luke xv. 7. and so the state of redemption is a hundred times better than that of innocence. Verily by the watering of Our Saviour's blood made with the hyssop of the cross, we have been replaced in a whiteness incomparably more excellent than the snow of innocence. We come out, like Naaman, from the stream of salvation more pure and clean than if we had never been leprous, to the end that the divine Majesty, as he has ordained also for us, should not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good,7070Rom. xii. 21. that mercy (as a sacred oil) should keep itself above judgment,7171James ii. 13. and his tender mercies be over all his works.7272Ps. cxliv. 9.

 

CHAPTER VI.

OF CERTAIN SPECIAL FAVOURS EXERCISED BY THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN THE REDEMPTION OF MAN.

God indeed shows to admiration the incomprehensible riches of his power in this great variety of things which we see in nature, yet he makes the infinite treasures of his goodness still more magnificently appear in the incomparable variety of the goods which we acknowledge in grace. For, Theotimus, he was not content, in the holy excess of his mercy, with sending to his 79people, that is, to mankind, a general and universal redemption, by means whereof every one might be saved, but he has diversified it in so many ways, that while his liberality shines in all this variety, this variety reciprocally embellishes his liberality.

And thus he first of all destined for his most holy Mother a favour worthy of the love of a Son who, being all wise, all mighty, and all good, wished to prepare a mother to his liking; and therefore he willed his redemption to be applied to her after the manner of a preserving remedy, that the sin which was spreading from generation to generation should not reach her. She then was so excellently redeemed, that though when the time came, the torrent of original iniquity rushed to pour its unhappy waves over her conception, with as much impetuosity as it had done on that of the other daughters of Adam; yet when it reached there it passed not beyond, but stopped, as did anciently the Jordan in the time of Josue, and for the same respect: for this river held its stream in reverence for the passage of the Ark of Alliance; and original sin drew back its waters, revering and dreading the presence of the true Tabernacle of the eternal alliance. In this way then God turned away all captivity from his glorious Mother, giving her the blessing of both the states of human nature; since she had the innocence which the first Adam had lost, and enjoyed in an excellent sort the redemption acquired for her. Whence as a garden of election which was to bring forth the fruit of life, she was made to flourish in all sorts of perfections; this son of eternal love having thus clothed his mother in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety,7373Ps. xliv. 10. that she might be the queen of his right hand, that is to say, the first of all the elect to enjoy the delights of God's right hand:7474Ps. xv. 11. so that this sacred mother as being altogether reserved for her son, was by him redeemed not only from damnation but also from all peril of damnation, he giving her grace and the perfection of grace, so that she went like a lovely dawn, which, beginning to break, increases continually in brightness till perfect daylight. Admirable redemption! master-piece of the redeemer! and first of all redemptions! by which the son with a 80truly filial heart preventing his mother with the blessings of sweetness, preserved her not only from sin as he did the angels, but also from all danger of sin and from everything that might divert or retard her in the exercise of holy love. And he protests that amongst all the reasonable creatures he has chosen, this mother is his one dove, his all perfect one, his all dear love, beyond all likeness and all comparison.

God also appointed other favours for a small number of rare creatures whom he would preserve from the peril of damnation, as is certain of S. John Baptist and very probable of Jeremias and some others, whom the Divine providence seized upon in their mother's womb, and thereupon established them in the perpetuity of his grace, that they might remain firm in his love, though subject to checks and venial sins, which are contrary to the perfection of love though not to love itself. And these souls in comparison with others, are as queens, ever crowned with charity, holding the principal place in the love of their Saviour next to his mother, who is queen of queens, a queen crowned not only with love but with the perfection of love, yea, what is yet more, crowned with her own Son, the sovereign object of love, since children are the crown of their father and mother.

There are yet other souls whom God determined for a time to leave exposed to the danger, not of losing their salvation, but yet of losing his love; yea he permitted them actually to lose it, not assuring them love for the whole time of their life, but only for the end of it and for a certain time preceding. Such were the Apostles, David, Magdalen and many others, who for a time remained out of God's grace, but in the end being once for all converted were confirmed in grace until death; so that though from that time they continued subject to some imperfections, yet were they exempt from all mortal sin, and consequently from danger of losing the divine love, and were sacred spouses of the heavenly bridegroom. And they were indeed adorned with a wedding garment of his most holy love, yet they were not crowned because a crown is an ornament of the head, that is, of the chief part of a person; now the first part of the life of this rank of souls having been subject to earthly love, they were not to be adorned with the crown of heavenly love, but it is sufficient 81for them to wear the robe, which fits them for the marriage bed of the heavenly spouse, and for being eternally happy with him.

 

CHAPTER VII.

HOW ADMIRABLE THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE IS IN THE DIVERSITY OF GRACES GIVEN TO MEN.

There was then in the eternal providence an incomparable privilege for the queen of queens, mother of fair love, and most singularly all perfect. There were also for certain others some special favours. But after this the sovereign goodness poured an abundance of graces and benedictions over the whole race of mankind and upon the angels, with which all were watered as with a rain that falleth on the just and unjust, all were illuminated as with a light that enlighteneth every man coming into this world; every one received his portion as of seed, which falls not only upon the good ground but upon the highway, amongst thorns, and upon rocks, that all might be inexcusable before the Redeemer, if they employ not this most abundant redemption for their salvation.

But still, Theotimus, although this most abundant sufficiency of grace is thus poured out over all human nature, and although in this we are all equal that a rich abundance of benedictions is offered to us all, yet the variety of these favours is so great, that one cannot say whether the greatness of all these graces in so great a diversity, or the diversity in such greatness, is more admirable. For who sees not that the means of salvation amongst Christians are greater and more efficacious than amongst barbarians, and again that amongst Christians there are people and towns where the pastors get more fruit, and are more capable? Now to deny that these exterior means were benefits of the divine providence, or to doubt whether they did avail to the salvation and perfection of souls, were to be ungrateful to the divine goodness, and to belie certain experience, by which we see that ordinarily where these exterior helps abound, the interior are more efficacious and succeed better.

82

In truth, as we see that there are never found two men perfectly resembling one another in natural gifts, so are there never found any wholly equal in supernatural ones. The angels, as the great S. Augustine and S. Thomas assure us, received grace according to the variety of their natural conditions; now they are all either of a different species or at least of a different condition, since they are distinguished one from another; therefore as many angels as there are, so many different graces are there. And though grace is not given to men according to their natural conditions, yet the divine sweetness rejoicing, and as one would say exulting, in the production of graces, infinitely diversifies them, to the end that out of this variety the fair enamel of his redemption and mercy may appear: whence the church upon the feast of every Confessor and Bishop sings "There was not found the like to him." And as in heaven no one knows the new name, save him that receives it,7575Apoc. ii. 17. because each one of the blessed has his own apart, according to the new being of glory which he acquires; similarly on earth every one receives a grace so special that all are different. Our Saviour also compares his grace to pearls, which as Pliny says are otherwise called unities, because each one of them is so singular in its qualities that two of them are never found perfectly alike; and as one star differeth from another in glory,76761 Cor. xv. 41. so shall men be different from one another in glory, an evident sign that they will have been so in grace. Now this variety in grace, or this grace in variety, composes a most sacred beauty and most sweet harmony, rejoicing all the holy city of the heavenly Jerusalem.

But we must be very careful never to make inquiry why the supreme wisdom bestows a grace rather upon one than another, nor why it makes its favours abound rather in one behalf than another. No, Theotimus, never enter into this curiosity, for having all of us sufficiently, yea abundantly, that which is requisite to salvation, what reason can any creature living have to complain if it please God to bestow his graces more amply upon one than another? If one should ask why God made melons larger than strawberries, or lilies larger than violets, why the 83rosemary is not a rose, or why the pink is not a marigold, why the peacock is more beautiful than a bat, or why the fig is sweet and the lemon acid,—one would laugh at his question, and say: poor man, since the beauty of the world requires variety it is necessary there should be difference and inequality in things, and that the one should not be the other. That is why some things are little, others big, some bitter, others sweet, the one more, the other less beautiful. Now it is the same in supernatural things. Every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that,77771 Cor. vii. 7. says the Holy Ghost. It is then an impertinence to search out why S. Paul had not the grace of S. Peter, or S. Peter that of S. Paul; why S. Antony was not S. Athanasius, or S. Athanasius S. Jerome; for one would answer to these inquiries that the church is a garden diapered with innumerable flowers; it is necessary then they should be of various sizes, various colours, various odours, in fine of different perfections. All have their price, their charm and their colour, and all of them in the collection of their differences make up a most grateful perfection of beauty.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

HOW MUCH GOD DESIRES WE SHOULD LOVE HIM.

Although our Saviour's redemption is applied to us in as many different manners as there are souls, yet still, love is the universal means of salvation which mingles with everything, and without which nothing is profitable, as we shall show elsewhere. The Cherubim were placed at the gate of the earthly paradise with their flaming sword, to teach us that no one shall enter into the heavenly paradise who is not pierced through with the sword of love. For this cause, Theotimus, the sweet Jesus who bought us with his blood, is infinitely desirous that we should love him that we may eternally be saved, and desires we may be saved that we may love him eternally, his love tending to our salvation 84and our salvation to his love. Ah! said he: I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?7878Luke xii. 49. But to set out more to the life the ardour of this desire, he in admirable terms requires this love from us. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.7979Matt. xxii. 37, 38. Good God! Theotimus, how amorous the divine heart is of our love. Would it not have sufficed to publish a permission giving us leave to love him, as Laban permitted Jacob to love his fair Rachel, and to gain her by services? Ah no! he makes a stronger declaration of his passionate love of us, and commands us to love him with all our power, lest the consideration of his majesty and our misery, which make so great a distance and inequality between us, or some other pretext, might divert us from his love. In this, Theotimus, he well shows that he did not leave in us for nothing the natural inclination to love him, for to the end it may not be idle, he urges us by this general commandment to employ it, and that this commandment may be effected, he leaves no living man without furnishing him abundantly with all means requisite thereto. The visible sun touches everything with its vivifying heat, and as the universal lover of inferior things, imparts to them the vigour requisite to produce, and even so the divine goodness animates all souls and encourages all hearts to its love, none being excluded from its heat. Eternal wisdom, says Solomon, preacheth abroad, she uttereth her voice in the streets: At the head of multitudes she crieth out, in the entrance of the gates of the city she uttereth her words, saying: O children, how long will you love childishness, and fools covet those things which are hurtful to themselves, and the unwise hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof: behold I will utter my spirit to you, and will show you my words.8080Prov. i. 20, 21, 22, 23. And the same wisdom continues in Ezechiel saying: Our iniquities and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them: how then can we live? Say to them: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.8181Ezech. xxxiii. 10, 12. 85 Now to live according to God is to love, and he that loveth not abideth in death.82821 John iii. 14. See now, Theotimus, whether God does not desire we should love him!

But he is not content with announcing thus publicly his extreme desire to be loved, so that every one may have a share in his sweet invitation, but he goes even from door to door, knocking and protesting that, if any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me:8383Apoc. iii. 20. that is, he will testify all sorts of good will towards him.

Now what does all this mean, Theotimus, except that God does not only give us a simple sufficiency of means to love him, and in loving him to save ourselves, but also a rich, ample and magnificent sufficiency, and such as ought to be expected from so great a bounty as his. The great Apostle speaking to obstinate sinners: Despisest thou, says he, the riches of his goodness, and patience, and long-suffering? Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God.8484Rom. ii. 4., 5. My dear Theotimus, God does not therefore employ a simple sufficiency of remedies to convert the obstinate, but uses to this end the riches of his goodness. The Apostle, as you see, opposes the riches of God's goodness against the treasures of the impenitent heart's malice, and says that the malicious heart is so rich in iniquity that he despises even the riches of the mildness by which God leads him to repentance; and mark that the obstinate man not only contemns the riches of God's goodness, but also the riches which lead to penance, riches whereof one can scarcely be ignorant. Verily this rich, full and plenteous sufficiency of means which God freely bestows upon sinners to love him appears almost everywhere in the Scriptures. Behold this divine lover at the gate, he does not simply knock, but stands knocking; he calls the soul, come, arise, make haste, my love,8585Cant. ii. 16. and puts his hand into the lock to try whether he cannot open it. If he uttereth his voice in 86the streets he does not simply utter it, but he goes crying out, that is, he continues to cry out. When he proclaims that every one must be converted, he thinks he has never repeated it sufficiently. Be converted, do penance, return to me, live, why dost thou die, O house of Israel?8686Ezech. xviii. 30. In a word this heavenly Saviour forgets nothing to show that his mercies are above all his works, that his mercy surpasses his judgment, that his redemption is copious, that his love is infinite, and, as the Apostle says, that he is rich in mercy, and consequently he will have all men to be saved; not willing that any should perish.87871 Tim. ii. 4.

 

CHAPTER IX.

HOW THE ETERNAL LOVE OF GOD PREVENTS OUR HEARTS WITH HIS INSPIRATIONS IN ORDER THAT WE MAY LOVE HIM.

I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee. And I will build thee again, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel.8888Jerem. xxxi. 3. These are the words of God, by which he promises that the Saviour coming into the world shall establish a new kingdom in his Church, which shall be his virgin-spouse, and true spiritual Israelite.

Now as you see, Theotimus, it was not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,8989Titus iii. 5. by that ancient, yea, eternal, charity which moved his divine Providence to draw us unto him. No man can come to me except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him.9090John vi. 44. For if the Father had not drawn us we had never come to the Son, our Saviour, nor consequently to salvation.

There are certain birds, Theotimus, which Aristotle calls apodes,9191i.e., Footless. [Tr.] because having extremely short legs, and feeble feet, they use them no more than if they had none. And if ever they light upon the ground they must remain there, so that they can never take flight again of their own power, because having 87no use of their legs or feet, they have therefore no power to move and start themselves into the air: hence they remain there motionless, and die, unless some wind, propitious to their impotence, sending out its blasts upon the face of the earth, happen to seize upon and bear them up, as it does many other things. If this happen, and they make use of their wings to correspond with this first start and motion which the wind gives them, it also continues its assistance to them, bringing them by little and little into flight.

Theotimus, the angels are like to those birds, which for their beauty and rarity are called birds-of-paradise, never seen on earth but dead. For those heavenly spirits had no sooner forsaken divine love to attach themselves to self-love, than suddenly they fell as dead, buried in hell, seeing that the same effect which death has on men, separating them everlastingly from this mortal life, the same had the angels' fall on them, excluding them for ever from eternal life. But we mortals rather resemble apodes: for if it chance that we, quitting the air of holy divine love, fall upon earth and adhere to creatures, which we do as often as we offend God, we die indeed, yet not so absolute a death but that there remains in us a little movement, besides our legs and feet, namely, some weak affections, which enable us to make some essays of love, though so weakly, that in truth we are impotent of ourselves to detach our hearts from sin, or start ourselves again in the flight of sacred love, which, wretches that we are, we have perfidiously and voluntarily forsaken.

And truly we should well deserve to remain abandoned of God, when with this disloyalty we have thus abandoned him. But his eternal charity does not often permit his justice to use this chastisement, but rather, exciting his compassion, it provokes him to reclaim us from our misery, which he does by sending us the favourable wind of his most holy inspirations, which, blowing upon our hearts with a gentle violence, seizes and moves them, raising our thoughts, and moving our affections into the air of divine love.

Now this first stirring or motion which God causes in our hearts to incite them to their own good, is effected indeed in us but not by us; for it comes unexpectedly, before we have either 88thought of it or been able to think of it, seeing we are not sufficient to think anything towards our salvation of ourselves as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,92922 Cor. iii. 5. who did not only love us before we were, but also to the end we might be, and might be saints. For which cause he prevents us with the blessings of his fatherly sweetness, and excites our souls, in order to bring them to holy repentance and conversion. See, I pray you, Theotimus, the prince of the Apostles, stupefied with sin in the sad night of his Master's passion; he no more thought of sorrowing for his sin, than though he had never known his heavenly Saviour. And as a miserable apode fallen to earth, he would never have been raised, had not the cock, as an instrument of divine providence, struck his ears with its voice, at the same instant in which his sweet Redeemer casting upon him a gracious look, like a dart of love, transpierced that heart of stone, which afterwards sent forth water in such abundance, like the ancient rock smitten by Moses in the desert. But look again and see this holy Apostle sleeping in Herod's prison, bound with two chains: he is there in quality of a martyr, and nevertheless he represents the poor man who sleeps amid sin, prisoner and slave to Satan. Alas! who will deliver him? The angel descends from heaven, and striking the great Saint Peter, the prisoner, upon the side, awakens him, saying: Arise quickly! So the inspiration comes from heaven like an angel, and striking upon the poor sinner's heart, stirs him up to rise from his iniquity. Is it not true then, my dear Theotimus, that this first emotion and shock which the soul perceives, when God, preventing it with love, awakens it and excites it to forsake sin and return unto him and not only this shock, but also the whole awakening, is done in us, and for us, but not by us? We are awake, but have not awakened of ourselves, it is the inspiration which has awakened us, and to awaken us has shaken and moved us. I slept, says that devout spouse, but my beloved, who is my heart, watched. Ah! see that it is he who awakens me, calling me by the name of our loves, and I know well by his voice that it is he. It is unawares and unexpectedly that God calls and awakens us by his 89holy inspiration, and in this beginning of grace we do nothing but feel the touch which God gives, in us, as S. Bernard says, but without us.

 

CHAPTER X.

HOW WE OFTENTIMES REPULSE THE INSPIRATION AND REFUSE TO LOVE GOD.

Wo to thee, Corozain, wo to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.9393Matt. xi. 21. Such is the word of Our Saviour. Hark I pray you, Theotimus, how the inhabitants of Corozain and Bethsaida, instructed in the true religion, and having received favours so great that they would effectually have converted the pagans themselves, remained nevertheless obstinate, and never willed to use them, rejecting this holy light by an incomparable rebellion. Certainly at the day of judgment the Ninivites and the Queen of Saba will rise up against the Jews, and will convict them as worthy of damnation: because, as to the Ninivites, though idolators and barbarians, at the voice of Jonas they were converted and did penance; and as to the Queen of Saba, she, though engaged in the affairs of a kingdom, yet having heard the renown of Solomon's wisdom, forsook all, to go and hear him. Yet the Jews, hearing with their ears the heavenly wisdom of the true Solomon, the Saviour of the world; seeing with their eyes his miracles; touching with their hands his virtues and benefits; ceased not for all that to be hardened, and to resist the grace which was proffered them. See then again, Theotimus, how they who had less attractions are brought to penance, and those who had more remain obdurate: those who have less occasion to come, come to the school of wisdom, and those who have more, stay in their folly.

Thus will be made the judgment of comparison, as all doctors have remarked, which can have no foundation save in this, that 90notwithstanding some have had as many calls as others have, or more, they will have denied consent to God's mercy, whereas others, assisted with the like, yea even lesser helps, will have followed the inspiration, betaking themselves to holy penance. For how could one otherwise reasonably reproach the impenitent with their impenitence, in comparison with such as are converted?

Certainly Our Saviour clearly shows, and all Christians in simplicity understand, that in this just judgment the Jews shall be condemned in comparison with the Ninivites, because those have had many favours and yet no love, much assistance and no repentance, these less favour and more love, less assistance and much penitence.

The great S. Augustine throws a great light on this reasoning, by his own arguments in Book XII. of the 'City of God,' Chapters vi., vii., viii., ix. For though he refers particularly to the angels, still he likens men to them in this point.

Now, after having taken, in the sixth chapter, two men, entirely equal in goodness and in all things, attacked by the same temptation, he presupposes that one resists, the other gives way to the enemy; then in the ninth chapter, having proved that all the angels were created in charity, stating further as probable that grace and charity were equal in them all, he asks how it came to pass that some of them persevered, and made progress in goodness even to the attaining of glory, while others forsook good to embrace evil unto damnation, and he answers that no other answer can be rendered, than that the one company persevered by the grace of their Creator in the chaste love which they received in their creation, the other, having been good, made themselves bad by their own sole will.

But if it is true, as S. Thomas extremely well proves, that grace was different in the angels in proportion and according to their natural gifts, the Seraphim must have had a grace incomparably more excellent than the simple angels of the last order. How then did it happen that some of the Seraphim, yea even the first of all, according to the common and most probable opinion of the ancients, fell, while an innumerable multitude of other angels, inferior in nature and grace, excellently and 91courageously persevered? How came it to pass that Lucifer, so excellent by nature and so superexcellent by grace, fell, while so many angels with less advantages remained upright in their fidelity? Truly those who persevered ought to render all the praise thereof to God, who of his mercy created and maintained them good. But to whom can Lucifer and all his crew ascribe their fall, if not, as S. Augustine says, to their own will, which by their liberty divorced them from God's grace that had so sweetly prevented them? How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning?9494Isa. xiv. 12. Who didst come out into this invisible world clothed with original charity as with the beginning of the brightness of a fair day, which was to increase unto the mid-day of eternal glory? Grace did not fail thee, for thou hadst it, like thy nature, the most excellent of all, but thou wast wanting to grace. God did not deprive thee of the operation of his love, but thou didst deprive his love of thy co-operation. God would never have rejected thee if thou hadst not rejected his love. O all-good God! thou dost not forsake unless forsaken, thou never takest away thy gifts till we take away our hearts.

We rob God of his right if we attribute to ourselves the glory of our salvation, but we dishonour his mercy if we say he failed us. If we do not confess his benefits we wrong his liberality, but we blaspheme his goodness if we deny that he has assisted and succoured us. In fine, God cries loud and clear in our ears: Destruction is thy own, O Israel: thy help is only in me.9595Osee xiii. 9.

 

CHAPTER XI.

THAT IT IS NO FAULT OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS IF WE HAVE NOT A MOST EXCELLENT LOVE.

O God! Theotimus, if we received divine inspirations to the full extent of their virtue, in how short a time should we make a great progress in sanctity? Be the fountain ever so copious, 92its streams enter not into a garden according to their plenty, but according to the littleness or greatness of the channel by which they are conducted thither. Although the Holy Ghost, as a spring of living water, flows up to every part of our heart to spread his graces in it, yet as he will not have them enter without the free consent of our will, he will only pour them out according to his good pleasure and our own disposition and cooperation, as the Holy Council says, which also, by reason, as I suppose, of the correspondence between our consent and grace, calls the reception thereof a voluntary reception.

In this sense S. Paul exhorts us not to receive God's grace in vain.96962 Cor. vi. 1. For as a sick man, who having received a draught in his hand did not take it into his stomach, would truly have received the potion, yet without receiving it, that is, he would have received it in a useless and fruitless way, so we receive the grace of God in vain, when we receive it at the gate of our heart, and not within the consent of our heart; for so we receive it without receiving it, that is, we receive it without fruit, since it is nothing to feel the inspiration without consenting unto it. And as the sick man who had the potion given into his hand, if he took it not wholly but only partly, would also have the operation thereof in part only, and not wholly,—so when God sends a great and mighty inspiration to move us to embrace his holy love, if we consent not according to its whole extent it will but profit us in the same measure. It happens that being inspired to do much we consent not to the whole inspiration but only to some part thereof, as did those good people in the Gospel, who upon the inspiration which Our Lord gave them to follow him wished to make reservations, the one to go first and bury his father, the other to go to take leave of his people.

As long as the poor widow had empty vessels, the oil which Eliseus had by prayer miraculously multiplied never left off running, but when she had no more vessels to receive it, it ceased to flow. In the same measure in which our heart dilates itself, or rather in the measure in which it permits itself to be enlarged and dilated, keeping itself empty by the simple 93fact of not refusing consent to the divine mercy, this ever pours forth and ceaselessly spreads its sacred inspirations, which ever increase and make us increase more and more in heavenly love; but when there is no more room, that is, when we no longer give consent, it stops.

How comes it then that we are not so advanced in the love of God as S. Augustine, S. Francis, S. Catharine of Genoa or S. Frances? Theotimus, it is because God has not given us the grace. But why has he not given us the grace? Because we did not correspond with his inspirations as we should have done. And why did we not correspond? Because being free we have herein abused our liberty. But why did we abuse our liberty? Ah! Theotimus, we must stop there, for, as S. Augustine says, the depravation of our will proceeds from no cause, but from some deficiency in the agent (cause) who commits the sin. And we must not expect to be able to give a reason of the fault which occurs in sin, because the fault would not be a sin if it was not without reason.

The devout Brother Rufinus upon a certain vision which he had of the glory which the great S. Francis would attain unto by his humility, asked him this question: My dear father, I beseech you, tell me truly what opinion you have of yourself? The Saint answered: Verily I hold myself to be the greatest sinner in the world, and the one who serves Our Lord least. But, Brother Rufinus replied, how can you say this in truth and conscience, seeing that many others, as we manifestly see, commit many great sins from which, God be thanked, you are exempt. To which S. Francis answered: If God had favoured those others of whom you speak with as great mercy as he has favoured me, I am certain, be they ever so bad now, they would have acknowledged God's gifts far better than I do, and would serve him much better than I do, and if my God abandoned me I should commit more wickedness than any one else.

You see, Theotimus, the opinion of this man, who indeed was scarcely man, but a seraph upon earth. I know it was humility that moved him to speak thus of himself, yet nevertheless he believed for a certain truth that an equal grace granted by an 94equal mercy might be more faithfully employed by one sinner than by anothor. Now I hold for an oracle the sentiment of this great doctor in the science of the saints, who, brought up in the school of the Crucifix, breathed nothing but the divine inspirations. And this maxim has been praised and repeated by all the most devout who have followed him, many of whom are of opinion that the great Apostle S. Paul said in the same sense that he was the chief of all sinners.97971 Tim. i. 15.

The Blessed Mother (S.) Teresa of Jesus, also, in good truth, a quite angelic virgin, speaking of the prayer of quiet, says these words:—"There are divers souls who come up to this perfection, but those who pass beyond are a very small number: I know not the cause of it, certainly the fault is not on God's side, for since his divine majesty aids us and gives us the grace to arrive at this point, I believe that he would not fail to give us still more if it were not for our fault, and the impediment which we on our part place." Let us therefore, Theotimus, be attentive to advance in the love which we owe to God, for that which he bears us will never fail us.

 

CHAPTER XII.

THAT DIVINE INSPIRATIONS LEAVE US IN FULL LIBERTY TO FOLLOW OR REPULSE THEM.

I will not here speak, my dear Theotimus, of those miraculous graces which have almost in an instant transformed wolves into shepherds, rocks into waters, persecutors into preachers. I leave on one side those all-powerful vocations, and holily violent attractions by which God has brought some elect souls from the extremity of vice to the extremity of grace, working as it were in them a certain moral and spiritual transubstantiation: as it happened to the great Apostle, who of Saul, vessel of persecution, became suddenly Paul, vessel of election.9898Acts ix. 15. We must give a particular rank to those privileged souls in regard of whom it 95pleased God to make not the mere outflowing, but the inundation—to exercise, if one may so say, not the simple liberality and effusion, but the prodigality and profusion of his love. The divine justice chastises us in this world with punishments which, as they are ordinary, so they remain almost always unknown and imperceptible; sometimes, however, he sends out deluges and abysses of punishments, to make known and dreaded the severity of his indignation. In like manner his mercy ordinarily converts and graces souls so sweetly, gently and delicately, that its movement is scarcely perceived; and yet it happens sometimes that this sovereign goodness, overflowing its ordinary banks (as a flood swollen and overcharged with the abundance of waters and breaking out over the plain) makes an outpouring of his graces so impetuous, though loving, that in a moment he steeps and covers the whole soul with benedictions, in order that the riches of his love may appear, and that as his justice proceeds commonly by the ordinary way and sometimes by the extraordinary, so his mercy may exercise liberality upon the common sort of men in the ordinary way, and on some also by extraordinary ways.

But what are then the ordinary cords whereby the divine providence is accustomed to draw our hearts to his love? Such truly as he himself marks, describing the means which he used to draw the people of Israel out of Egypt, and out of the desert, unto the land of promise. I will draw them, says he by Osee, with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love,9999Osee xi. 4. and of friendship. Doubtless, Theotimus, we are not drawn to God by iron chains, as bulls and wild oxen, but by enticements, sweet attractions, and holy inspirations, which, in a word, are the cords of Adam, and of humanity, that is, proportionate and adapted to the human heart, to which liberty is natural. The band of the human will is delight and pleasure. We show nuts to a child, says S. Augustine, and he is drawn by his love, he is drawn by the cords, not of the body, but of the heart. Mark then how the Eternal Father draws us: while teaching, he delights us, not imposing upon us any necessity; he casts into our hearts delectations 96and spiritual pleasures as sacred baits, by which he sweetly draws us to take and taste the sweetness of his doctrine.

In this way then, dearest Theotimus, our free-will is in no way forced or necessitated by grace, but notwithstanding the all-powerful force of God's merciful hand, which touches, surrounds and ties the soul with such a number of inspirations, invitations and attractions, this human will remains perfectly free, enfranchised and exempt from every sort of constraint and necessity. Grace is so gracious, and so graciously seizes our hearts to draw them, that she noways offends the liberty of our will; she touches powerfully but yet so delicately the springs of our spirit that our free will suffers no violence from it. Grace has power, not to force but to entice the heart; she has a holy violence not to violate our liberty but to make it full of love; she acts strongly, yet so sweetly that our will is not overwhelmed by so powerful an action; she presses us but does not oppress our liberty; so that under the very action of her power, we can consent to or resist her movements as we list. But what is as admirable as it is veritable is, that when our will follows the attractions and consents to the divine movement, she follows as freely as she resists freely when she does resist, although the consent to grace depends much more on grace than on the will, while the resistance to grace depends upon the will only. So sweet is God's hand in the handling of our hearts! So dexterous is it in communicating unto us its strength without depriving us of liberty, and in imparting unto us the motion of its power without hindering that of our will! He adjusts his power to his sweetness in such sort, that as in what regards good his might sweetly gives us the power, so his sweetness mightily maintains the freedom of the will. If thou didst know the gift of God, said our Saviour to the Samaritan woman, and who he is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.100100John iv. 10. Note, I pray you, Theotimus, Our Saviour's manner of speaking of his attractions. If thou didst know, he means, the gift of God, thou wouldst without doubt be moved and attracted to ask the 97water of eternal life, and perhaps thou wouldst ask it. As though he said: Thou wouldst have power and wouldst be provoked to ask, yet in no wise be forced or constrained; but only perhaps thou wouldst have asked, for thy liberty would remain to ask it or not to ask it. Such are our Saviour's words according to the ordinary edition, and according to S. Augustine upon S. John.

To conclude, if any one should say that our free-will does not co-operate in consenting to the grace with which God prevents it, or that it could not reject and deny consent thereto, he would contradict the whole Scripture, all the ancient Fathers, and experience, and would be excommunicated by the sacred Council of Trent. But when it is said that we have power to reject the divine inspirations and motions, it is of course not meant that we can hinder God from inspiring us or touching our hearts, for as I have already said, that is done in us and yet without us. These are favours which God bestows upon us before we have thought of them, he awakens us when we sleep, and consequently we find ourselves awake before we have thought of it; but it is in our power to rise, or not to rise, and though he has awakened us without us, he will not raise us without us. Now not to rise, and to go to sleep again, is to resist the call, seeing we are called only to the end we should rise. We cannot hinder the inspiration from taking us, or consequently from setting us in motion, but if as it drives us forwards we repulse it by not yielding ourselves to its motion, we then make resistance. So the wind, having seized upon and raised our apodes, will not bear them very far unless they display their wings and co-operate, raising themselves aloft and flying in the air, into which they have been lifted. If, on the contrary, allured may be by some verdure they see upon the ground, or benumbed by their stay there, in lieu of seconding the wind they keep their wings folded and cast themselves again upon the earth, they have received indeed the motion of the wind, but in vain, since they did not help themselves thereby. Theotimus, inspirations prevent us, and even before they are thought of make themselves felt, but after we have felt them it is ours either to consent to them so as to second and follow their attractions, or else to dissent and repulse them. 98They make themselves felt by us without us, but they do not make us consent without us.

 

CHAPTER XIII.

OF THE FIRST SENTIMENTS OF LOVE WHICH DIVINE INSPIRATIONS CAUSE IN THE SOUL BEFORE SHE HAS FAITH.

The wind that raises the apodes blows first upon their feathers, as the parts most light and most susceptible of its agitation, by which it gives the beginning of motion to their wings, extending and displaying them in such sort that they give a hold by which to seize the bird and waft it into the air. And if they, thus raised, do contribute the motion of their wings to that of the wind, the same wind that took them will still aid them more and more to fly with ease. Even so, my dear Theotimus, when the inspiration, as a sacred gale, comes to blow us forward into the air of holy love, it first takes our will, and by the sentiment of some heavenly delectation it moves it, extending and unfolding the natural inclination which the will has to good, so that this same inclination serves as a hold by which to seize our spirit. And all this, as I have said, is done in us without us, for it is the divine favour that prevents us in this sort. But if our will thus holily prevented, perceiving the wings of her inclination moved, displayed, extended, stirred, and agitated, by this heavenly wind, contributes, be it never so little, its consent—Ah! how happy it is, Theotimus. The same favourable inspiration which has seized us, mingling its action with our consent, animating our feeble motions with its vigour, and vivifying our weak cooperation by the power of its operation, will aid, conduct, and accompany us, from love to love, even unto the act of most holy faith requisite for our conversion.

True God! Theotimus, what a consolation it is to consider the secret method by which the Holy Ghost pours into our hearts the first rays and feelings of his light and vital heat! O Jesus! how delightful a pleasure it is to see celestial love, which is the sun of virtues, as little by little with a progress 99which insensibly becomes sensible, it displays its light upon a soul, and stops not till it has it all covered with the splendour of its presence, giving it at last the perfect beauty of love's day! O how cheerful, beautiful, sweet and agreeable this daybreak is! Nevertheless true it is that break of day is either not day, or if it be day, it is but a beginning day, a rising of the day, and rather the infancy of the day than the day itself. In like manner without doubt these motions of love which forerun the act of faith required for our justification are either not love properly speaking, or but a beginning and imperfect love. They are the first verdant buds which the soul, warmed with the heavenly sun, begins, as a mystical tree, to put forth in springtime, rather presages of fruit than fruit itself.

S. Pachomius then a young soldier and without knowledge of God, enrolled under the colours of the army which Constantine had levied against the tyrant Maxentius, came, with the troop to which he belonged, to lodge nigh a little town not far distant from Thebes, where he, and indeed the whole army, were in extreme want of victuals. The inhabitants of the little town having understood this, being by good fortune of the faithful of Jesus Christ, and consequently friendly and charitable to their neighbours, immediately succoured the soldiers in their necessities, but with such care, courtesy and love, that Pachomius was struck with admiration thereat, and asking what nation it was that was so good, amiable and gracious, it was answered him that they were Christians; and inquiring again what law and manner of life were theirs, he learned that they believed in Jesus Christ the only Son of God, and did good to all sorts of people, with a firm hope of receiving from God himself an ample recompense. Alas! Theotimus, the poor Pachomius, though of a good natural disposition, was as yet asleep in the bed of his infidelity, and behold how upon a sudden God was present at the gate of his heart, and by the good example of these Christians, as by a sweet voice, he calls him, awakens him, and gives him the first feelings of the vital heat of his love. For scarcely had he heard, as I have said, of the sweet law of Our Saviour, than, all filled with a new light and interior consolation, having retired apart, and mused for a space, he lifted 100up his hands towards heaven, and with a profound sigh he said: Lord God, who hast made heaven and earth, if thou deign to cast thine eyes upon my baseness and misery, and to give me the knowledge of thy divinity, I promise to serve thee, and obey thy commandments all the days of my life! After this prayer and promise, the love of the true good and of piety so increased in him, that he ceased not to practise a thousand thousand acts of virtue.

Methinks I see in this example a nightingale which, awaking at the peep of day, begins to stir, and to stretch itself, unfold its plumes, skip from branch to branch in its grove, and little by little warble out its delicious wood-music. For did you not note, how the good example of the charitable Christians excited and awakened with a sudden start the blessed Pachomius? Truly this astonished admiration he had was nothing else than his awakening, in which God touched him, as the sun touches the earth, with a ray of his brightness, which filled him with a great feeling of spiritual pleasure. For which cause Pachomius shakes himself loose from distractions, to the end he may with more attention and facility gather together and relish the grace he has received, withdrawing himself to think thereupon. Then he extends his heart and hands towards heaven, whither the inspiration is drawing him, and beginning to display the wings of his affections, flying between diffidence of himself, and confidence in God, he entones in a humbly amorous air the canticle of his conversion. He first testifies that he already knows one only God Creator of heaven and earth: but withal he knows that he does not yet know him sufficiently to serve him as he ought, and therefore he petitions that a more perfect knowledge may be imparted to him, that thereby he may come to the perfect service of his divine majesty.

Behold, therefore, I pray you, Theotimus, how gently God moves, strengthening by little and little the grace of his inspiration in consenting hearts, drawing them after him, as it were step by step, upon this Jacob's ladder. But what are his drawings? The first, by which he prevents and awakens us, is done by him in us and without our action; all the others are also done by him and in us, but not without our 101action. Draw me: says the sacred spouse, we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments,101101Cant. i. 3. that is, begin thou first: I cannot awake of myself, I cannot move unless thou move me; but when thou shalt once have given motion, then, O dear spouse of my heart, we run, we two, thou runnest before me drawing me ever forward, and, as for me, I will follow thee in thy course consenting to thy drawing. But let no one think that thou draggest me after thee like a forced slave, or a lifeless wagon. Ah! no, thou drawest me by the odour of thy ointments; though I follow thee, it is not that thou trailest me but that thou enticest me; thy drawing is mighty, but not violent, since its whole force lies in its sweetness. Perfumes have no other force to draw men to follow them than their sweetness, and sweetness—how could it draw but sweetly and delightfully?

 

CHAPTER XIV.

OF THE SENTIMENT OF DIVINE LOVE WHICH IS HAD BY FAITH.

When God gives us faith he enters into our soul and speaks to our spirit, not by manner of discourse, but by way of inspiration, proposing in so sweet a manner unto the understanding that which ought to be believed, that the will receives therefrom a great complacency, so great indeed that it moves the understanding to consent and yield to truth without any doubt or distrust, and here lies the marvel: for God proposes the mysteries of faith to our souls amidst obscurities and darkness, in such sort that we do not see the truths but we only half-see them.102102Nous ne voyons pas, ains seluement nous entrevoyons. It is like what happens sometimes when the face of the earth is covered with mist so that we cannot see the sun, but only see a little more brightness in the direction where he is. Then, as one would say, we see it without seeing it; because on the one hand we see it not so well that we can truly say we see it, yet again we see it not so little that we can say we 102do not see it; and this is what we call half-seeing. And yet, when this obscure light of faith has entered our spirit, not by force of reasoning or show of argument, but solely by the sweetness of its presence, it makes the understanding believe and obey it with so much authority that the certitude it gives us of the truth surpasses all other certitudes, and keeps the understanding and all its workings in such subjection that they get no hearing in comparison with it.

May I, Theotimus, have leave to say this? Faith is the chief beloved of our understanding, and may justly speak to human sciences which boast that they are more evident and clear than she, as did the sacred spouse to the other shepherdesses. I am black but beautiful,103103Cant. i. 4.—O human reasonings, O acquired knowledge! I am black, for I am amidst the obscurities of simple revelation, which have no apparent evidence, and which make me look black, putting me well-nigh out of knowledge: yet I am beautiful in myself by reason of my infinite certainty; and if mortal eyes could behold me such as I am by nature they would find me all fair. And must it not necessarily follow that in effect I am infinitely to be loved, since the gloomy darkness and thick mists, amid which I am—not seen but only half-seen cannot hinder me from being so dearly loved, that the soul, prizing me above all, cleaving the crowd of all other knowledges, makes them all give place to me and receives me as his queen, placing me on the highest throne in his palace, from whence I give the law to all sciences, and keep all argument and all human sense under? Yea, verily, Theotimus, even as the commanders of the army of Israel taking off their garments, put them together and made a royal throne of them, on which they placed Jehu, and said: Jehu is king:1041044 Kings ix. 13. so on the arrival of faith, the understanding puts off all discourse and arguments, and laying them underneath faith, makes her sit upon them, acknowledging her as Queen, and with great joy cries out: Long live faith!

Pious discourses and arguments, the miracles and other advantages of the Christian religion, make it extremely credible 103and knowable, but faith alone makes it believed and acknowledged, enamouring men with the beauty of its truth, and making them believe the truth of its beauty, by means of the sweetness faith pours into their wills, and the certitude which it gives to their understanding. The Jews saw the miracles and heard the marvellous teachings of Our Saviour, but being indisposed to receive faith, that is, their will not being susceptible of the gentle sweetness of faith, on account of the bitterness and malice with which they were filled, they persisted in their infidelity. They perceived the force of the argument, but they relished not the sweetness of the conclusion, and therefore did not acquiesce in its truth. But the act of faith consists in this very acquiescence of our spirit, which having received the grateful light of truth, accepts it by means of a sweet, yet powerful and solid assurance and certitude which it finds in the authority of the revelation which has been made to her.

You have heard, Theotimus, that in general councils there are great disputations and inquiries made about truth by discourse, reasons and theological arguments, but the matters being discussed, the Fathers, that is, the bishops, and especially the Pope who is the chief of the bishops, conclude, resolve and determine; and the determination being once pronounced, every one fully accepts it and acquiesces in it, not in consideration of the reasons alleged in the preceding discussion and inquisition, but in virtue of the authority of the Holy Ghost, who, presiding invisibly in councils, has judged, determined and concluded, by the mouth of his servants whom he has established pastors of Christianity. The inquisition then and the disputation are made in the priests' court by the doctors, but the resolution and acquiescence are formed in the sanctuary, where the Holy Ghost who animates the body of his Church, speaks by the mouth of its chiefs, as Our Lord has promised. In like manner the ostrich lays her eggs upon the sands of Libya, but the sun alone hatches her young ones; and doctors by their inquiry and discourse propose truth, but only the beams of the sun of justice give certainty and acquiescence. To conclude then, Theotimus, this assurance which man's reason finds in things revealed and in the mysteries of faith, begins by an amorous sentiment of complacency which 104the will receives from the beauty and sweetness of the proposed truth; so that faith includes a beginning of love, which the heart feels towards divine things.

 

CHAPTER XV.

OF THE GREAT SENTIMENT OF LOVE WHICH WE RECEIVE BY HOLY HOPE.

As when exposed to the rays of the sun at mid-day, we hardly see the brightness before we suddenly feel the heat; so the light of faith has no sooner spread the splendour of its truths in our understanding, but immediately our will feels the holy heat of heavenly love. Faith makes us know by an infallible certitude that God is, that he is infinite in goodness, that he can communicate himself unto us, and not only that he can, but that he will; so that by an ineffable sweetness he has provided us with all things requisite to obtain the happiness of immortal glory. Now we have a natural inclination to the sovereign good, by reason of which our heart is touched with a certain inward anxious desire and continual uneasiness, not being able in any way to quiet itself, or to cease to testify that its perfect satisfaction and solid contentment are wanting to it. But when holy faith has represented to our understanding this lovely object of our natural inclination,—Oh! Theotimus, what joy! what pleasure! how our whole soul is thrilled, and, all amazed at the sight of so excellent a beauty, it cries out with love: Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, behold thou art fair!105105Cant. i. 14.

Eliezer sought a wife for the son of his master Abraham; how could he tell whether he should find her beautiful and gracious as he desired? But when he had found her at the fountain, and saw her so excellent in beauty and so perfect in sweetness, and especially when he had obtained her, he adored God, and blessed him with thanksgiving, full of incomparable joy. Man's heart tends to God by its natural inclination, without 105fully knowing what he is; but when it finds him at the fountain of faith, and sees him so good, so lovely, so sweet and gracious to all, and so ready to give himself, as the sovereign good, to all who desire him,—O God! what delight! and what sacred movements in the soul, to unite itself for ever to this goodness so sovereignty amiable! I have found, says the soul thus inspired, I have at last found that which my heart desired, and now I am at rest. And as Jacob, having seen the fair Rachel, after he had holily kissed her, melted into tears of sweetness for the happiness he experienced in so desirable a meeting, so our poor heart, having found God, and received of him the first kiss, the kiss of holy faith, it dissolves forthwith in sweetness of love for the infinite good which it presently discovers in that sovereign beauty.

We sometimes experience in ourselves a certain joyousness which comes as it were unexpectedly, without any apparent reason, and this is often a presage of some greater joy; whence many are of opinion that our good angels, foreseeing the good which is coming unto us, give us by this means a foretaste thereof, as on the contrary they give us certain fears and terrors amidst dangers we are not aware of, to make us invoke God's assistance and stand upon our guard. Now when the presaged good arrives, we receive it with open arms, and reflecting upon the joyousness we formerly felt without knowing its cause, we only then begin to perceive that it was a forerunner of the happiness we now enjoy. Even so, my dear Theotimus, our heart having had for so long a time an inclination to its sovereign good, knew not to what end this motion tended: but so soon as faith has shown it, then man clearly discerns that this was what his soul coveted, his understanding sought, and his inclination tended towards. Certainly, whether we wish or wish not, our soul tends towards the sovereign good. But what is this sovereign good? We are like those good Athenians who sacrificed unto the true God, although he was unknown to them, till the great S. Paul taught them the knowledge of him. For so our heart, by a deep and secret instinct, in all its actions tends towards, and aims at, felicity, seeking it here and there, as it were groping, without knowing where it resides, or in what it 106consists, till faith shows and describes the infinite marvels thereof. But then, having found the treasure it sought for,—ah! what a satisfaction to this poor human heart! What joy, what complacency of love! O I have met with him, whom my heart sought for without knowing him! O how little I knew whither my aims tended, when nothing contented me of all I aimed at, because, in fact, I knew not what I was aiming at. I was seeking to love and knew not what to love, and therefore my intention not finding its true love, my love remained ever in a true but ignorant intention. I had indeed sufficient foretaste of love to make me seek, but not sufficient knowledge of the goodness I had to love, to actually practise love.

 

CHAPTER XVI.

HOW LOVE IS PRACTISED IN HOPE.

Man's understanding then, being property applied to the consideration of that which faith represents to it touching its sovereign good, the will instantly conceives an extreme complacency in this divine object, which, as yet absent, begets an ardent desire of its presence, whence the soul holily cries out: Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.106106Cant. i. 1. My soul panteth after thee, O God.107107Ps. xli. 1.

And as the unhooded falcon having her prey in view suddenly launches herself upon the wing, and if held in her leash struggles upon the hand with extreme ardour; so faith, having drawn the veil of ignorance, and made us see our sovereign good, whom nevertheless we cannot yet possess, detained by the condition of this mortal life,—Ah! Theotimus, we then desire it in such sort that, as the hart panteth after the fountains of waters; so my soul panteth after thee, O God! My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?108108Ibid. 1, 2.

This desire is just, Theotimus, for who would not desire so desirable a good? But it would be a useless desire, and would be but a continual torment to our heart if we had not assurance 107that we should at length satiate it. He who on account of the delay of this happiness, protests that his tears were his ordinary bread day and night, so long as his God was absent, and his enemies demanded: where is thy God?109109Ps. xli. 4.—Alas! what would he have done if he had not had some hope of one day enjoying this good, after which he sighed. The divine spouse goes weeping and languishing with love,110110Cant. v. 8. because she does not at once find the well-beloved she is searching for. The love of the well-beloved had bred in her a desire, that desire begot an ardour to pursue it, and that ardour caused in her a languishing which would have consumed and annihilated her poor heart, unless she had hoped at length to meet with what she sought after. So then, lest the unrest and dolorous languor which the efforts of desiring love cause in our souls should make us fail in courage or reduce us to despair, the same sovereign good which moves in us so vehement a desire, also by a thousand thousand promises made in his Word and his inspirations, gives us assurance, that we may with ease obtain it, provided always that we will to employ the means which he has prepared for use and offers us to this effect.

Now these divine promises and assurances, by a particular marvel, increase the cause of our disquiet, and yet, while they increase the cause, they undo and destroy the effects. Yea, verily, Theotimus; for the assurance which God gives us that paradise is ours, infinitely strengthens the desire we have to enjoy it, and yet weakens, yea altogether destroys, the trouble and disquiet which this desire brought unto us; so that our hearts by the promises which the divine goodness has made us, remain quite calmed, and this calm is the root of the most holy virtue which we call hope. For the will, assured by faith that she has power to enjoy the sovereign good by using the means appointed, makes two great acts of virtue: by the one she expects from God the fruition of his sovereign goodness, by the other she aspires to that holy fruition.

And indeed, Theotimus, between hoping and aspiring (esperer et aspirer) there is but this difference, that we hope for those 108things which we expect to get by another's assistance, and we aspire unto those things which we think to reach by means that lie in our own power. And since we attain the fruition of our sovereign good, which is God, by his favour, grace and mercy, and yet the same mercy will have us co-operate with his favour, by contributing the weakness of our consent to the strength of his grace; our hope is thence in some sort mingled with aspiring, so that we do not altogether hope without aspiring, nor do we ever aspire without entirely hoping. Hope then keeps ever the principal place, as being founded upon divine grace, without which, as we cannot even so much as think of our sovereign good in the way required to reach it, so can we never without this grace aspire towards our sovereign God in the way required to obtain it.

Aspiration then is a scion of hope, as our co-operation is of grace: and as those that would hope without aspiring, would be rejected as cowardly and negligent; so those that should aspire without hoping, would be rash, insolent and presumptuous. But when hope is seconded with aspiration, when, hoping we aspire and aspiring we hope, then dear Theotimus, hope by aspiration becomes a courageous desire, and aspiration is changed by hope into a humble claim, and we hope and aspire as God inspires us. But both are caused by that desiring love which tends to our sovereign good, to that good which the more surely it is hoped for, the more it is loved; yea hope is no other thing than the loving complacency we take in the expecting and seeking our sovereign good. All that is there is love, Theotimus. As soon as faith has shown me my sovereign good, I have loved it; and because it was absent I have desired it, and having understood that it would bestow itself upon me, I have loved and desired it yet more ardently; for indeed its goodness is so much more to be beloved and desired by how much more it is disposed to communicate itself. Now by this progress love has turned its desire into hope, seeking and expectation, so that hope is an expectant and aspiring love; and because the sovereign good which hope expects is God, and because also she expects it from God himself, to whom and by whom she hopes and aspires, this holy virtue of hope, abutting everywhere on God, is by consequence a divine or theological virtue.

 

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CHAPTER XVII.

THAT THE LOVE WHICH IS IN HOPE IS VERY GOOD, THOUGH IMPERFECT.

The love which we practise in hope goes indeed to God, Theotimus, but it returns to us; its sight is turned upon the divine goodness, yet with some respect to our own profit; it tends to that supreme perfection, but aiming at our own satisfaction. That is to say, it bears us to God, not because he is sovereignty good in himself, but because he is sovereignty good to us, in which as you see there is something of the our and the us, so that this love is truly love, but love of cupidity and self-interest. Yet I do not say that it does in such sort return to ourselves that it makes us love God only for the love of ourselves; O God! no: for the soul which should only love God for the love of herself, placing the end of the love which she bears to God in her own interest, would, alas! commit an extreme sacrilege. If a wife loved her husband only for the love of his servant, she would love her husband as a servant, and his servant as a husband: and the soul that only loves God for love of herself, loves herself as she ought to love God, and God as she ought to love herself.

But there is a great difference between this expression: I love God for the good which I expect from him, and this: I only love God for the good which I expect from him: as again it is a very different thing to say: I love God for myself: and I love God for the love of myself. For when I say I love God for myself, it is as if I said: I love to have God, I love that God should be mine, should be my sovereign good; which is a holy affection of the heavenly spouse, who a hundred times in excess of delight protests: My beloved to me, and I to him, who feedeth among the lilies.111111Cant. ii. 16. But to say: I love God for love of myself, is as if one should say; the love which I bear to myself is the end for which I love God; in such sort that the love of God would 110be dependent, subordinate, and inferior to self-love, to our love for ourselves, which is a matchless impiety.

This love, then, which we term hope, is a love of cupidity, but of a holy and well-ordered cupidity, by means whereof we do not draw God to us nor to our utility, but we adjoin ourselves unto him as to our final felicity. By this love we love ourselves together with God, yet not preferring or equalizing ourselves to him; in this love the love of ourselves is mingled with that of God, but that of God floats on the top; our own love enters indeed, but as a simple motive, not as a principal end; our own interest has some place there, but God holds the principal rank. Yes, without doubt, Theotimus: for when we love God as our sovereign good, we love him for a quality by which we do not refer him to us but ourselves to him. We are not his end, aim, or perfection, but he is ours; he does not appertain to us, but we to him; he depends not on us but we on him; and, in a word, by the quality of sovereign good for which we love him, he receives nothing of us, but we receive of him. He exercises towards us his affluence and goodness, and we our indigence and scarcity; so that to love God under the title of sovereign good is to love him under an honourable and respectful title, by which we acknowledge him to be our perfection, repose and end, in the fruition of which our felicity consists. Some goods there are which we use for ourselves when we employ them, as our slaves, servants, horses, clothes: and the love which we bear unto them is a love of pure cupidity, since we love them only for our own profit. Other goods there are which we possess, but with a possession which is reciprocal and equal on each side, as in the case of our friends: for the love we have unto them inasmuch as they content us is indeed a love of cupidity, yet of an honest cupidity, by which they are ours and we similarly theirs, they belong to us and we equally to them. But there are yet other goods which we possess with a possession of dependence, participation and subjection, as we do the benevolence, or presence, or favour of our pastors, princes, father, mother: for the love which we bear unto them is then truly a love of cupidity, when we love them in that they are our pastors, our princes, our fathers, 111our mothers, since it is not precisely the quality of pastor, nor of prince, nor of father, nor of mother, which is the cause of our affection towards them, but the fact that they are so to us and in our regard. Still this cupidity is a love of respect, reverence and honour; for we love our father, for example, not because he is ours but because we are his; and after the same manner it is that we love and aspire to God by hope, not to the end he may become our good, but because he is it; not to the end he may become ours, but because we are his; not as though he existed for us, but inasmuch as we exist for him.

And note, Theotimus, that in this love, the reason why we love (that is, why we apply our heart to the love of the good which we desire) is because it is our good; but the measure and quantity of this love depend on the excellence and dignity of the good which we love. We love our benefactors because they are such to us, but we love them more or less as they are more or less our benefactors. Why then do we love God, Theotimus, with this love of cupidity? Because he is our good. But why do we sovereignly love him? Because he is our sovereign good.

But when I say we love God sovereignly, I do not therefore say that we love him with sovereign love. Sovereign love is only in charity, whereas in hope love is imperfect, because it does not tend to his infinite goodness as being such in itself, but only because it is such to us. Still, because in this kind of love there is no motive more excellent than that which proceeds from the consideration of the sovereign good, we say that by it we love sovereignly, though in real truth no one is able by virtue of this love either to keep God's commandments, or obtain life everlasting, because it is a love that yields more affection than effect, when it is not accompanied with charity.

 

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CHAPTER XVIII.

THAT LOVE IS EXERCISED IN PENITENCE, AND FIRST, THAT THERE ARE DIVERS SORTS OF PENITENCE.

To speak generally, penitence is a repentance whereby a man rejects and detests the sin he has committed, with the resolution to repair as much as in him lies the offence and injury done to him against whom he has sinned. I comprehend in penitence a purpose to repair the offence, because that repentance does not sufficiently detest the fault which voluntarily permits the principal effect thereof, to wit the offence and injury, to subsist; and it permits it to subsist, so long as, being able in some sort to make reparation, it does not do so.

I omit here the penitence of certain pagans, who, as Tertullian witnesses, had some appearances of it amongst them, but so vain and fruitless that they often had penitence for having done well; for I speak only of virtuous penitence, which according to the different motives whence it proceeds is also of various species. There is one sort purely moral and human, as was that of Alexander the Great, who having slain his dear Clitus determined to starve himself to death, so great, says Cicero, was the force of penitence: or that of Alcibiades, who, being convinced by Socrates that he was not a wise man, began to weep bitterly, being sorrowful and afflicted for not being what he ought to have been, as S. Augustine says. Aristotle also, recognising this sort of penitence, assures us that the intemperate man who of set purpose gives himself over to pleasures is wholly incorrigible, because he cannot repent, and he that is without repentance is incurable.

Certainly, Seneca, Plutarch and the Pythagoreans, who so highly commend the examen of conscience, but especially the first, who speaks so feelingly of the torment which interior remorse excites in the soul, must have understood that there was a repentance; and as for the sage Epictetus, he so well describes the way in which a man should reprehend himself that it could scarcely be better expressed.

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There is yet another penitence which is indeed moral, yet religious too, yea in some sort divine, proceeding from the natural knowledge which we have of our offending God by sin. For certainly many philosophers understood that to live virtuously was a thing agreeable to the divinity, and that consequently to live viciously was offensive to him. The good man Epictetus makes the wish to die a true Christian (as it is very probable he did), and amongst other things he says he should be content if dying he could lift up his hands to God and say unto him: For my part I have not dishonoured Thee: and, further, he will have his philosopher to make an admirable oath to God never to be disobedient to his divine Majesty, nor to question or blame anything coming from him, nor in any sort to complain thereof; and in another place he teaches that God and our good angel are present during our actions. You see clearly then, Theotimus, that this philosopher, while yet a pagan, knew that sin offended God, as virtue honoured him, and consequently he willed that it should be repented of, since he even ordained an examen of conscience at night, about which, with Pythagoras, he lays down this maxim

 

If thou hast ill done, chide thyself bitterly,

If thou hast well done, rest thee contentedly.

 

Now this kind of repentance joined to the knowledge and love of God which nature can give, was a dependence of moral religion. But as natural reason bestowed more knowledge than love upon the philosophers, who did not glorify God in proportion to the knowledge they had of him, so nature has furnished more light to understand how much God is offended by sin, than heat to excite the repentance necessary for the reparation of the offence.

But although religious penitence may have been in some sort recognized by some of the philosophers, yet this has been so rarely and feebly, that those who were reputed the most virtuous amongst them, to wit the Stoics, maintained that the wise man was never grieved, whereupon they framed a maxim as contrary to reason, as the proposition on which it was grounded was contrary to experience, namely, that the wise man sinned not.

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We may therefore well say, Theotimus, that penitence is a virtue wholly Christian, since on the one side it was so little known to the pagans, and, on the other side, it is so well recognized amongst true Christians, that in it consists a great part of the evangelical philosophy, according to which whosoever affirms that he sins not, is senseless, and whosoever expects without penitence to redress his sin is mad; for it is our Saviour's exhortation of exhortations: Do penance.112112Matt. iv. 17. And now let me give a brief description of the progress of this virtue.

We enter into a profound apprehending of the fact that, as far as is in us, we offend God by our sins, despising and dishonouring him, giving way to disobedience and rebellion against him; and he also on his part considers himself as offended, irritated, and despised; for he dislikes, reproves and abominates iniquity. From this true apprehension there spring several motives, which all, or several together, or each one apart, may carry us to this repentance.

For we consider sometimes how God who is offended has established a rigorous punishment in hell for sinners, and how he will deprive them of the paradise prepared for the good. And as the desire of paradise is extremely honourable, so the fear of losing it is an excellent fear; and not only so, but the desire of paradise being very worthy of esteem, the fear of its contrary, which is hell, is good and praiseworthy. Ah! who would not dread so great a loss, so great a torment! And this double fear—the one servile, the other mercenary—greatly bears us on towards a repentance for our sins, by which we have incurred them. And to this effect in the Holy Word this fear is a hundred and a hundred times inculcated. At other times we consider the deformity and malice of sin, according as faith teaches us; for example, because by it the likeness and image of God which we have, is defiled and disfigured, the dignity of our soul dishonoured, we are made like brute beasts, we have violated our duty towards the Creator of the world, forfeited the good of the society of the angels, to associate and subject ourselves to the devil, making ourselves slaves of our 115passions, overturning the order of reason, offending our good angels to whom we have so great obligations.

At other times we are provoked to repentance by the beauty of virtue, which brings as much good with it as sin does evil; further we are often moved to it by the example of the saints; for who could ever have cast his eyes upon the exercises of the incomparable penitence of Magdalen, of Mary of Egypt, or of the penitents of the monastery called Prison, described by S. John Climacus, without being moved to repentance for his sins, since the mere reading of the history incites to it such as are not altogether insensible.

 

CHAPTER XIX.

THAT PENITENCE WITHOUT LOVE IS IMPERFECT.

Now all these motives are taught us by faith and the Christian religion, and therefore the repentance which results from them is very laudable though imperfect. Laudable certainly it is, for neither Holy Scripture nor the Church would stir us up by such motives if the penitence thence proceeding were not good, and we see manifestly that it is a most reasonable thing to repent of sin for these considerations, yea, that it is impossible that he who considers them attentively should not repent. Yet still it is an imperfect repentance, because divine love is not as yet found in it. Ah! do you not see, Theotimus, that all these repentances are made for the sake of our own soul, of its felicity, of its interior beauty, its honour, its dignity, and in a word for love of ourselves, although a lawful, just and well-ordered love.

And note, that I do not say that these repentances reject the love of God, but only that they do not include it; they do not repulse it, yet they do not contain it ; they are not contrary to it, but as yet are without it; it is not forbidden entrance, and yet it is not in. The will which simply embraces good is very good, yet if it so embrace this as to reject the better, it is truly ill-ordered, not in accepting the one but in repulsing the other. So the vow to give alms this day is good, yet the vow to give 116only this day is bad, because it would exclude the better, which is to give both to-day, to-morrow, and every day when we are able. Certainly it is good, and this cannot be denied, to repent of our sins in order to avoid the pains of hell and obtain heaven, but he that should make the resolution never to be willing to repent for any other motive, would wilfully shut out the better, which is to repent for the love of God, and would commit a great sin. And what father would not be ill pleased that his son was willing indeed to serve him, yet never with love, or by love?

The beginning of good things is good, the progress better, the end the best. At the same time, it is as a beginning that the beginning is good, and as progress that progress is good: and to wish to finish the work by its beginning or in its progress would be to invert the order of things. Infancy is good, but to desire to remain always a child would be bad; for the child of a hundred years old is despised. It is laudable to begin to learn, yet he that should begin with intention never to perfect himself would go against all reason. Fear, and those other motives of repentance of which I spoke, are good for the beginning of Christian wisdom, which consists in penitence; but he who deliberately willed not to attain to love which is the perfection of penitence, would greatly offend him who ordained all to his love, as to the end of all things.

To conclude: the repentance which excludes the love of God is infernal like to that of the damned. The repentance which does not reject the love of God, though as yet it be without it, is a good and desirable penitence, but imperfect, and it cannot give salvation until it attain love and is mingled therewith. So that as the great Apostle said that though he should deliver his body to be burned, and all his goods to the poor, wanting charity it would profit him nothing,1131131 Cor. xiii. 3. so we may truly say, that though our penitence were so great that it should cause our eyes to dissolve in tears, and our hearts to break with sorrow, yet if we have not the holy love of God, all this would profit nothing for eternal life.

 

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CHAPTER XX.

HOW THE MINGLING OF LOVE AND SORROW TAKES PLACE IN CONTRITION.

Nature, as far as I know, never converts fire into water, though some waters turn into fire. Yet God did it once by miracle. For as it is written in the Book of Machabees,1141142 Mach. i. when the children of Israel were conducted into Babylon, in the time of Sedecias, the priests, by the counsel of Jeremias, hid the holy fire in a valley, in a dry well, and upon their return, the children of those that had hid it went to seek it, following the direction their fathers had given them, and they found it converted into a thick water, which being drawn by them, and poured upon the sacrifices, as Nehemias commanded, was, when the sunbeams touched it, converted into a great fire.

Theotimus, amongst the tribulations and remorse of a lively repentance God often puts in the bottom of our heart the sacred fire of his love, this love is converted into the water of tears, they by a second change into another and greater fire of love. Thus the famous penitent lover first loved her Saviour, her love was converted into tears, and these tears into an excellent love; whence Our Saviour told her that many sins were pardoned her because she had loved much.115115Luke vii. 47. And as we see fire turns wine into a certain water which is called almost everywhere aquavitæ, which so easily takes and augments fire that in many places it is also termed ardent; so the amorous consideration of the goodness which, while it ought to have been sovereignly loved, has been offended by sin, produces the water of holy penitence; and from this water the fire of divine love issues, thence properly termed water of life or ardent. Penitence is indeed a water in its substance, being a true displeasure, a real sorrow and repentance; yet is it ardent, in that it contains the virtue and properties of love, as arising from a motive of love, and by this property it gives the life of grace. So that perfect penitence has two different effects; for in virtue of its sorrow and detestation 118it separates us from sin and the creature, to which delectation had attached us; but in virtue of the motive of love, whence it takes its origin, it reconciles us and reunites us to our God, from whom we had separated ourselves by contempt: so that it at once reclaims us from sin in quality of repentance, and reunites us to God in quality of love.

But I do not mean to say that the perfect love of God, by which we love him above all things, always precedes this repentance, or that this repentance always precedes this love. For though it often so happens, still at other times, as soon as divine love is born in our hearts, penitence is born within the love, and oftentimes penitence entering into our heart, love enters in penitence. And as when Esau was born, Jacob his twin brother held him by the foot, that their births might not only follow the one the other, but also might cleave together and be intermingled; so repentance, rude and rough in regard of its pain, is born first, as another Esau; and love, gentle and gracious as Jacob, holds him by the foot, and cleaves unto him so closely that their birth is but one, since the end of the birth of repentance is the beginning of that of perfect love. Now as Esau first appeared so repentance ordinarily makes itself to be seen before love, but love, as another Jacob, although the younger, afterwards subdues penitence, converting it into consolation.

Mark, I pray you, Theotimus, the well-beloved Magdalen, how she weeps with love: They have taken away my Lord, says she, melting into tears; and I know not where they have laid him,116116John xx. 13. but having with sighs and tears found him, she holds and possesses him by love. Imperfect love desires and runs after him, penitence seeks and finds him; perfect love holds and clasps him. It is with it as is said to be with Ethiopian rubies, whose fire is naturally very faint, but when they are dipped in vinegar it sparkles out and casts a most brilliant lustre: for the love which goes before repentance is ordinarily imperfect; but being steeped in the sharpness of penitence, it gains strength end becomes excellent love.

It even happens sometimes that repentance, though perfect, 119contains not in itself the proper action of love, but only the virtue and property of it. You will ask me, what virtue or property of love can repentance have, if it have not the action? Theotimus, God's goodness is the motive of perfect repentance, which it displeases us to have offended: now this motive is a motive only because it stirs us and gives us movement. But the movement which the divine goodness gives unto the heart which considers it, can be no other than the movement of love, that is, of union. And therefore true repentance, though it seem not so, and though we perceive not the proper effect of love, yet ever takes the movement of love, and the unitive quality of love, by which it re-unites and re-joins us to the divine goodness. Tell me, I pray:—it is the property of the loadstone to draw and unite iron unto itself; but do we not see that iron touched with the loadstone, without having either it or its nature, but only its virtue and attractive quality, can draw and unite to itself another iron? So perfect repentance, touched with the motive of love, is not without the virtue and quality thereof, that is, the movement of union to re-join and re-unite our hearts to the divine will. But you will reply, what difference is there between this movement of penitence, and the proper action of love? Theotimus, the action of love is indeed a movement of union, but it is made by complacency, whereas the movement of union which is in penitence is not made by way of complacency, but by displeasure, repentance, reparation, reconciliation. Forasmuch therefore as this motive unites, it has the quality of love; inasmuch as it is bitter and dolorous it has the quality of penitence, and in fine, by its natural condition it is a true movement of penitence, but one which has the virtue and uniting quality of love.

So Theriacum-wine is not so named because it contains the proper substance of Theriacum, for there is none at all in it; but it is so called because the plant of the vine having been steeped in Theriacum, the grapes and the wine which have sprung from it have drawn into themselves the virtue and operation of Theriacum against all sorts of poison. We must not therefore think it strange if penitence, according to the Holy scripture, blots out sin, saves the soul, makes her grateful 120God and justifies her, which are effects appertaining to love, and which apparently should only be attributed to love: for though love itself be not always found in perfect penitence, yet its virtue and properties are always there, having flowed into it by the motive of love whence it springs.

Nor must we wonder that the force of love should be found in penitence before love be formed in it, since we see that by the reflection of the rays of the sun beating upon a mirror, heat, which is the virtue and the proper quality of fire, grows by little and little so strong that it begins to burn before it has yet well produced the fire, or at least before we have perceived it. For so the Holy Ghost casting into our understanding the consideration of the greatness of our sins, in that by them we have offended so sovereign a goodness, and our will receiving the reflection of this knowledge, repentance by little and little grows so strong, with a certain affective heat and desire to return into grace with God, that in fine this movement comes to such a height, that it burns and unites even before the love be fully formed, though love, as a sacred fire, is always at once lighted, at this point. So that repentance never comes to this height of burning and re-uniting the heart to God, which is her utmost perfection, without finding herself wholly converted into fire and flame of love, the end of the one giving the other a beginning; or rather, the end of penitence is within the commencement of love, as Esau's foot was within Jacob's hand; in such sort that while Esau was ending his birth, Jacob was beginning his, the end of the one's birth being joined and fastened to, yea, what is more, included in, the beginning of the other's: for so the beginning of perfect love not only follows the end of penitence but even cleaves and ties itself to it; and to say all in one word, this beginning of love mingles itself with the end of penitence, and in this moment of mingling, penitence and contrition merit life everlasting.

Now because this loving repentance is ordinarily practised by elevations and raisings of the heart to God, like to those of the ancient penitents: I am thine, save thou me. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me: for my soul trusteth in thee! Save me, O God; for the waters are come in even unto my soul! Make 121me as one of thy hired servants! O God be merciful to me a sinner!—it is not without reason that some have said, that prayer justifies; for the repentant prayer, or the suppliant repentance, raising up the soul to God and re-uniting it to his goodness, without doubt obtains pardon in virtue of the holy love, which gives it the sacred movement. And therefore we ought all to have very many such ejaculatory prayers, made in the sense of a loving repentance and of sighs which seek our reconciliation with God, so that by these laying our tribulation before Our Saviour, we may pour out our souls before and within his pitiful heart, which will receive them to mercy.

 

CHAPTER XXI.

HOW OUR SAVIOUR'S LOVING ATTRACTIONS ASSIST AND ACCOMPANY US TO FAITH AND CHARITY.

Between the first awaking from sin or infidelity to the final resolution of a perfect belief, there often runs a good deal of time in which we are able to pray, as we have seen S. Pachomius did, and as that poor lunatic's father, who, as S. Mark relates, giving assurance that he believed, that is, that he began to believe, knew at the same time that he did not believe sufficiently; whence he cried out: I do believe, Lord help my unbelief,117117Mark ix. 23. as though he would say: I am no longer in the obscurity of the night of infidelity, the rays of your faith already enlighten the horizon of my soul: but still I do not yet believe as I ought; it is a knowledge as yet weak and mixed with darkness; Ah! Lord, help me. And the great S. Augustine solemnly pronounces these remarkable words: "But listen, O man! and understand. Art thou not drawn? pray, in order that thou mayest be drawn." In which words his intention is not to speak of the first movement which God works in us without us, when he excites and awakens us out of the sleep of sin: 122for how could we ask to be awakened seeing no man can pray before he be awakened? But he speaks of the resolution which we make to be faithful, for he considers that to believe is to be drawn, and therefore he admonishes such as have been excited to believe in God, to ask the gift of faith. And indeed no one could better know the difficulties which ordinarily pass between the first movement God makes in us, and the perfect resolution of believing fully, than S. Augustine, who having had so great a variety of attractions by the words of the glorious S. Ambrose, by the conference he had with Politian, and a thousand other means, yet made so many delays and had so much difficulty in resolving. For more truly to him than to any other might have been applied that which he afterwards said to others: Alas! Augustine, if thou be not drawn, if thou believe not, pray that thou mayest be drawn, and that thou mayest believe.

Our Saviour draws hearts by the delights that he gives them, which make them find heavenly doctrine sweet and agreeable, but, until this sweetness has engaged and fastened the will by its beloved bonds to draw it to the perfect acquiescence and consent of faith, as God does not fail to exercise his greatness upon us by his holy inspirations, so does not our enemy cease to practise his malice by temptations. And meantime we remain in full liberty, to consent to the divine drawings or to reject them; for as the sacred Council of Trent has clearly decreed: "If any one should say that man's freewill, being moved and incited by God, does not in any way co-operate, by consenting to God, who moves and calls him that he may dispose and prepare himself to obtain the grace of justification, and that he is unable to refuse consent though he would," truly such a man would be excommunicated, and reproved by the Church. But if we do not repulse the grace of holy love, it dilates itself by continual increase in our souls, until they are entirely converted; like great rivers, which finding open plains spread themselves, and ever take up more space.

But if the inspiration, having drawn us to faith, find no resistance in us, it draws us also to penitence and charity. S. Peter, as an apode, raised by the inspiration which came from the eyes of his master, freely letting himself be moved and carried by this 123gentle wind of the Holy Ghost, looks upon those life-giving eyes which had excited him; he reads as in the book of life the sweet invitation to pardon which the divine clemency offers him; he draws from it a just motive of hope; he goes out of the court, considers the horror of his sin, and detests it; he weeps, he sobs, he prostrates his miserable heart before his Saviour's mercy, craves pardon for his faults, makes a resolution of inviolable loyalty, and by this progress of movements, practised by the help of grace which continually conducts, assists, and helps him, he comes at length to the holy remission of his sins, and passes so from grace to grace: according to what S. Prosper lays down, that without grace a man doos not run to grace.

So then to conclude this point, the soul, prevented by grace, feeling the first drawings, and consenting to their sweetness, as if returning to herself after a long swoon, begins to sigh out these words: Ah! my dear spouse, my friend! Draw me, I beseech thee, and take hold of me under my arms, for otherwise I am not able to walk: but if thou draw me we run, thou in helping me by the odour of thy perfumes, and I corresponding by my weak consent, and by relishing thy sweetnesses which strengthen and reinvigorate me, till the balm of thy sacred name, that is the salutary ointment of my justification be poured out over me. Do you see, Theotimus, she would not pray if she were not excited; but as soon as she is, and feels the attractions, she prays that she may be drawn; being drawn she runs, nevertheless she would not run if the perfumes which draw her and by which she is drawn did not inspirit her heart by the power of their precious odour; and as her course is more swift, and as she approaches nearer her heavenly spouse, she has ever a more delightful sense of the sweetnesses which he pours out, until at last he himself flows out in her heart, like a spread balm, whence she cries, as being surprised by this delight, not so quickly expected, and as yet unlooked for: O my spouse, thou art as balm poured into my bosom; it is no marvel that young souls cherish thee dearly.

In this way, my dear Theotimus, the divine inspiration comes to us, and prevents use moving our wills to sacred love. And if 124we do not repulse it, it goes with us and keeps near us, to incite us and ever push us further forwards; and if we do not abandon it, it does not abandon us, till such time as it has brought us to the haven of most holy charity, performing for us the three good offices which the great angel Raphael fulfilled for his dear Tobias: for it guides us through all our journey of holy penitence, it preserves us from dangers and from the assaults of the devil, and it consoles, animates, and fortifies us in our difficulties.

 

CHAPTER XXII.

A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF CHARITY.

Behold at length, Theotimus, how God, by a progress full of ineffable sweetness, conducts the soul which he makes leave the Egypt of sin, from love to love, as from mansion to mansion, till he has made her enter into the land of promise, I mean into most holy charity, which to say it in one word, is a friendship, and a disinterested love, for by charity we love God for his own sake, by reason of his most sovereignly amiable goodness. But this friendship is a true friendship, being reciprocal, for God has loved eternally all who have loved him, do, or shall love him temporally. It is shown and acknowledged mutually, since God cannot be ignorant of the love we bear him, he himself bestowing it upon us, nor can we be ignorant of his love to us, seeing that he has so published it abroad, and that we acknowledge all the good we have, to be true effects of his benevolence. And in fine we have continual communications with him, who never ceases to speak unto our hearts by inspirations, allurements, and sacred motions; he ceases not to do us good, or to give all sorts of testimonies of his most holy affection, having openly revealed unto us all his secrets, as to his confidential friends. And to crown his holy loving intercourse with us, he has made himself our proper food in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; and as for us, we have freedom to treat with him at all times when we please in holy prayer, having our whole life, movement and being not only with him, but in him and by him.

125

Now this friendship is not a simple friendship, but a friendship of dilection, by which we make election of God, to love him with a special love. He is chosen, says the sacred spouse, out of thousands118118Cant. v. 10.—she says out of thousands, but she means out of all, whence this love is not a love of simple excellence, but an incomparable love; for charity loves God by a certain esteem and preference of his goodness so high and elevated above all other esteems, that other loves either are not true loves in comparison of this, or if they be true loves, this love is infinitely more than love; and therefore, Theotimus, it is not a love which the force of nature either angelic or human can produce, but the Holy Ghost gives it and pours it abroad in our hearts.119119Rom v. 5. And as our souls which give life to our bodies, have not their origin from the body but are put in them by the natural providence of God, so charity which gives life to our hearts has not her origin from our hearts, but is poured into them as a heavenly liquor by the supernatural providence of his divine Majesty.

For this reason, and because it has reference to God and tends unto him not according to the natural knowledge we have of his goodness, but according to the supernatural knowledge of faith, we name it supernatural friendship. Whence it, together with faith and hope, makes its abode in the point and summit of the spirit, and, as a queen of majesty, is seated in the will as on her throne, whence she conveys into the soul her delights and sweetnesses, making her thereby all fair, agreeable and amiable to the divine goodness. So that if the soul be a kingdom of which the Holy Ghost is king, charity is the queen set at his right hand in gilded clothing surrounded with variety;120120Ps. xliv. 10. if the soul be a queen, spouse to the great king of heaven, charity is her crown, which royally adorns her head; and if the soul with the body be a little world, charity is the sun which beautifies all, heats all, and vivifies all.

Charity, then, is a love of friendship, a friendship of dilection, a dilection of preference, but a preference incomparable, sovereign, and supernatural, which is as a sun in the whole soul to 126enlighten it with its rays, in all the spiritual faculties to perfect them, in all the powers to moderate them, but in the will as on its throne, there to reside and to make it cherish and love its God above all things. O how happy is the soul wherein this holy love is poured abroad, since all good things come together with her!121121Wisdom vii. 11.


127

BOOK III.

OF THE

PROGRESS AND PERFECTION OF LOVE.

CHAPTER I.

THAT HOLY LOVE MAY BE AUGMENTED STILL MORE AND MORE IN EVERY ONE OF US.

The sacred Council of Trent assures us, that the friends of God, proceeding from virtue to virtue, are day by day renewed, that is, they increase by good works in the justice which they have received by God's grace, and are more and more justified, according to those heavenly admonitions; He that is just let him be justified still: and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still.122122Apoc. xxii. 11. And: Be not afraid to be justified even to death.123123Ecclus. xviii. 22. The path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards and increaseth even to perfect day.124124Prov. iv. 18. Doing the truth in charity, let us in all things grow up in him who is the head, even Christ.125125Eph. iv. 15. And finally: This I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding.126126Phil. i. 9. All these are sacred words out of David, S. John, Ecclesiasticus, and S. Paul.

I never heard of any living creature whose growth was not bounded and limited, except the crocodile, who from an extremely little beginning never ceases to grow till it comes to its end, representing equally in this the good and the wicked: For the pride of them that hate thee ascendeth continually,127127Ps. lxxiii. 23. says 128the great king David; and the good increase as the break of day, from brightness to brightness. And to remain at a standstill is impossible; he that gains not, loses in this traffic; he that ascends not, descends upon this ladder; he that vanquishes not in this battle, is vanquished: we live amidst the dangers of the wars which our enemies wage against us, if we resist not we perish; and we cannot resist unless we overcome, nor overcome without triumph. For as the glorious S. Bernard says: "It is written in particular of man that he never continueth in the same state;128128Job xiv. 2. he necessarily either goes forward or returns backward. All run indeed but one obtains the prize, so run that you may obtain.1291291 Cor. ix. 24. Who is the prize but Jesus Christ? And how can you take hold on him if you follow him not? But if you follow him you will march and run continually, for he never stayed, but continued his course of love and obedience until death and the death of the cross."

Go then, says S. Bernard; go, I say with him; go, my dear Theotimus, and admit no other bounds than those of life, and as long as it remains run after this Saviour. But run ardently and swiftly: for what better will you be for following him, if you be not so happy as to take hold of him! Let us hear the Prophet: I have inclined my heart to do thy justifications for ever,130130Ps. cxviii. 112. he does not say that he will do them for a time only, but for ever, and because he desires eternally to do well, he shall have an eternal reward. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.131131Ibid. 1. Accursed are they who are defiled, who walk not in the law of the Lord: it is only for the devil to say that he will sit in the sides of the north.132132Is. xiv. 13. Detestable one, wilt thou sit? Ah! knowest thou not that thou art upon the way, and that the way is not made to sit down but to go in, and it is so made to go in, that going is called making way. And God speaking to one of his greatest friends says: Walk before me and be perfect.133133Gen. xvii. 1.

True virtue has no limits, it goes ever further; but especially holy charity, which is the virtue of virtues, and which, having an 129infinite object, would be capable of becoming infinite if it could meet with a heart capable of infinity. Nothing hinders this love from being infinite except the condition of the will which receives it, and which is to act by it: a condition which prevents any one loving God as much as God is amiable, as it prevents them from seeing him as much as he is visible. The heart which could love God with a love equal to the divine goodness would have a will infinitely good, which cannot be but in God. Charity then in us may be perfected up to the infinite, but exclusively; that is, charity may become more and more, and ever more, excellent, yet never infinite. The Holy Ghost may elevate our hearts, and apply them to what supernatural actions it may please him, so they be not infinite. Between little and great things, though the one exceed the other never so much, there is still some proportions provided always that the excess of the thing which exceeds be not an infinite excess: but between finite and infinite there is no proportion, and to make any, it would be necessary, either to raise the finite and make it infinite, or to lower the infinite and make it finite, which is impossible.

So that even the charity which is in our Redeemer, as he is man, though greater than Angels or men can comprehend, yet is not infinite of itself and in its own being, but only in regard to its value and merit, as being the charity of a divine Person who is the eternal Son of the omnipotent Father.

Meanwhile it is an extreme honour to our souls that they may still grow more and more in the love of their God, as long as they shall live in this failing life: Ascending by steps from virtue to virtue.134134Ps. lxxxiii. 6.

 

CHAPTER II.

HOW EASY OUR SAVIOUR HAS MADE THE INCREASE OF LOVE.

Do you see, Theotimus, that glass of water or that piece of bread which a holy soul gives to a poor body for God's sake; it is a small matter, God knows, and in human judgment hardly worthy 130of consideration: God, notwithstanding, recompenses it, and forthwith gives for it some increase of charity. The goat's-hair which was anciently presented to the Tabernacle was received in good part, and had place amongst the holy offerings; and the little actions which proceed from charity are agreeable to God, and have their place among merits. For as in Araby the Blest, not only the plants which are by nature aromatic, but even all the others, are sweet, gaining a share in the felicity of that soil; so in a charitable soul not only the works which are excellent of their own nature, but also the little actions, smell of the virtue of holy love, and have a good odour before the majesty of God, who in consideration of them increases charity. And I say God does it, because Charity does not produce her own increase as a tree does, which by its own virtue produces and throws out, one from another, its boughs: but as Faith, Hope and Charity are virtues which have their origin from the divine goodness, so thence also they draw their increase and perfection, not unlike bees, which, having their extraction from honey, have also their food from it.

Wherefore, as pearls are not only bred of dew but fed also with it, the mother-pearls to this end opening their shells towards heaven to beg, as it were, the drops which the freshness of the air makes fall at the break of day, so we, having received Faith, Hope and Charity from the heavenly bounty, ought always to turn our hears and keep them turned towards it, thence to obtain the continuation and augmentation of the same virtues. "O, Lord," does holy Church our mother teach us to say, "give us the increase of faith, hope and charity." And this is in imitation of those that said to Our Saviour: Lord increase our faith,135135Luke xvii. 5. and following the counsel of S. Paul, who assures us that: God alone is able to make all grace abound in us.1361362 Cor. ix. 8.

It is God therefore that gives this increase, in consideration of the use we make of his grace, as it is written; For he that hath, that is, who uses well the favours received, to him shall be given, and he shall abound. 137137Matt. xiii. 12. Thus is Our Saviour's exhortation practised: Lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven:138138Matt vi. 20. as though 131he said: add ever new good works to the former ones; for fasting, prayer and alms-deeds are the coins whereof your treasures are to consist. Now as amongst the treasures of the temple, the poor widow's mite was much esteemed, and as indeed, by the addition of many little pieces treasures become great, and their value increases, so the least little good works, even though performed somewhat coldly, and not according to the whole extent of the charity which is in us, are agreeable to God, and esteemed by him; in such sort that though of themselves they cannot cause any increase in the existing love, being of less force than it, yet the divine Providence, counting, and out of his goodness, valuing them, forthwith rewards them with increase of charity for the present, and assigns to them a greater heavenly glory for the future.

Theotimus, bees make the delicious honey which is their chief work; but the wax, which they also make, does not therefore cease to be of some worth, or to make their labour valuable. The loving heart ought to endeavour to bring forth works full of fervour, and of high value, that it may powerfully augment charity: yet if it bring forth some of lesser value, it shall not lose its recompense; for God will be pleased by these, that is to say he will love us ever a little more for them. Now God never loves a soul more without bestowing also upon her more charity, our love towards him being the proper, and special effect, of his love towards us.

The more attentively we regard our image in a looking-glass, the more attentively it regards us again; and the more lovingly God casts his gracious eyes upon our soul, which is made to his image and likeness, our soul in return, with so much the more attention and fervour is fixed upon the divine goodness, answering, according to her littleness, every increase which this sovereign sweetness makes of his divine love towards her. The Council of Trent says thus: "If any say that justice received is not preserved, yea that it is not augmented, by good works in the sight of God, but that works are only the fruits and signs of justification acquired, and not the cause of its increase, let him be anathema." Do you see, Theotimus, the justification wrought by charity is augmented by good works, and, which 132is to be noted, by good works without exception: for, as S. Bernard says excellently well on another subject, nothing is excepted where nothing is distinguished. The Council speaks of good works indifferently, and without reservation, giving us to understand, that not only the great and fervent, but also the little and feeble works cause the increase of holy Charity, but the great ones greatly, and the little much less.

Such is the love which God bears to our souls, such his desire to make us increase in the love which we owe to him. The divine sweetness renders all things profitable to us, takes all to our advantage, and turns all our endeavours, though never so lowly and feeble, to our gain.

In the action of moral virtues little works bring no increase to the virtue whence they proceed, yea, if they be very little, they impair it: for a great liberality perishes if it occupies itself in bestowing things of small value, and of liberality becomes niggardliness. But in the actions of those virtues which issue from God's mercy, and especially of charity, every work gives increase. Nor is it strange that sacred love, as King of virtues, has nothing either great or small which is not loveable, since the balm tree, prince of aromatic trees, has neither bark nor leaf that is not odoriferous: and what could love bring forth that were not worthy of love, or did not tend to love?

 

CHAPTER III.

HOW A SOUL IN CHARITY MAKES PROGRESS IN IT.

Let us make use of a parable, Theotimus, seeing that this method was so agreeable to the sovereign Master of the love which we are teaching. A great and brave King, having espoused a most amiable young princess, and having on a certain day led her into a very retired cabinet, there to converse with her more at his pleasure, after some discourse saw her by a certain sudden accident fall down as dead at his feet. Alas! he was extremely disturbed at this, and it well nigh put him also into a swoon; for she was dearer to him than his own life. Yet the same love that 133gave him this assault of grief, gave him an equal strength to sustain it, and set him into action to remedy, with an incomparable promptitude, the evil which had happened to the dear companion of his life. Therefore rapidly opening a sideboard which stood by, he takes a cordial-water, infinitely precious, and having filled his mouth with it, by force he opens the lips and the set teeth of his well-beloved princess, then breathing and spurting the precious liquor which he held in his mouth, into that of his poor lifeless one who lay in a swoon, and pouring what was left in the phial about the nostrils, the temples, and the heart, he made her return to herself and to her senses again; that done, he helps her up gently, and by virtue of remedies so strengthens and revives her, that she begins to stand and walk very quietly with him; but in no sort without his help, for he goes assisting and sustaining her by her arm, till at length he lays to her heart an epithem so precious and of so great virtue, that finding herself entirely restored to her wonted health, she walks all alone, her dear spouse not now sustaining her so much, but only holding her right hand softly between his, and his right arm folded over hers on to her bosom. Thus he went on treating her, and fulfilling to her in all this four most agreeable offices: for  1. He gave testimony that his heart was lovingly careful of her.  2. He continued ever a little nursing her.  3. If she had felt any touch of her former faintness he would have sustained her.  4. If she had lighted on any rough and difficult place in her walking he would have been her support and stay: and in accidents, or when she would make a little more haste, he raised her and powerfully succoured her. In fine he stayed by her with this heartfelt care till night approached, and then he assisted to lay her in her royal bed.

The soul is the spouse of Our Saviour when she is just; and because she is never just but when she is in charity, she is also no sooner spouse than she is led into the cabinet of those delicious perfumes mentioned in the Canticles. Now when the soul which has been thus honoured commits sin, she falls as if dead in a spiritual swoon; and this is in good truth a most unlooked-for accident: for who would ever think that a creature could forsake her Creator and sovereign good for things so trifling as the 134allurements of sin? Truly the heavens are astonished at it, and if God were subject to passions he would fall down in a swoon at this misfortune, as when he was mortal he died upon the cross for our redemption. But seeing it is not now necessary that he should employ his love in dying for us, when he sees the soul overthrown by sin he commonly runs to her succour, and by an unspeakable mercy, lays open the gates of her heart by the stings and remorses of conscience which come from the divers lights and apprehensions which he casts into our hearts, with salutary movements, by which, as by odorous and vital liquors, he makes the soul return to herself, and brings her back to good sentiments. And all this, Theotimus, God works in us without our action,139139In nobis sine nobis (S. Aug.) by his all-amiable Goodness which prevents us with its sweetness. For even as our bride, having fainted, would have died in her swoon, if the King had not assisted her; so the soul would remain lost in her sin if God prevented her not. But if the soul thus excited add her consent to the solicitation of grace, seconding the inspiration which prevents her, and accepting the required helps provided for her by God; he will fortify her, and conduct her through various movements of faith, hope and penitence, even till he restore her to her true spiritual health, which is no other thing than charity. And while he thus makes her walk in the virtues by which he disposes her to this holy love, he does not conduct her only, but in such sort sustains her, that as she for her part goes as well as she is able so he on his part supports and sustains her; and it is hard to say whether she goes or is carried; for she is not so carried that she goes not, and yet her going is such that if she were not carried she could not go. So that, to speak apostolically, she must say; I walk, not I alone, but the grace of God with me.1401401 Cor. xv. 10.

But the soul being entirely restored to her health by the excellent epithem of charity which the Holy Ghost infuses into her heart, she is then able to walk and keep herself upon her feet of herself, yet by virtue of this health and this sacred epithem of holy love. Wherefore though she is able to walk of herself, yet is she to render the glory thereof to God, who has 135bestowed upon her a health so vigorous and strong: for whether the Holy Ghost fortify us by the motions which he enables our heart to make, or sustain us by the charity which he infuses into them, whether he succour us by manner of assistance in raising and carrying us, or strengthen our hearts by pouring into them fortifying and quickening love, we always live, walk, and work, in him and by him.

And although by means of charity poured into our hearts, we are able to walk in the presence of God, and make progress in the way of salvation, yet still it is the goodness of God which ever helps the soul to whom he has given his love, continually holding her with his holy hand; for so  1: He doth better make appear the sweetness of his love towards her.  2. He ever animates her more and more.  3. He supports her against depraved inclinations and evil habits contracted by former sins.  4. And finally, he supports her and defends her against temptations.

Do we not often see, Theotimus, that sound and robust men must be provoked to employ their strength and power well; and, as one would say, must be drawn by the hand to the work? So God having given us his charity, and by it the force and the means to gain ground in the way of perfection, his love does not permit him to let us walk thus alone, but makes him put himself upon the way with us, urges him to urge us, and solicits his heart to solicit and drive forward ours to make good use of the charity which he has given us, repeating often, by means of his inspirations, S. Paul's admonitions: See that you receive not the grace of God in vain.1411412 Cor. vi. 1. Whilst we have time, let us work good to all men.142142Gal. vi. 10. So run that you may obtain.1431431 Cor. ix. 24. So that we are often to think that he repeats in our ears the words which he used to the good father Abraham: Walk before me and be perfect.144144Gen. xvii. 1.

But principally the special assistance of God to the soul endowed with charity is required in sublime and extraordinary enterprises; for though charity, however weak it be, gives us enough inclination, and, as I think, enough power, to do the 136works necessary for salvation, yet, to aspire to and undertake excellent and extraordinary actions, our hearts stand in need of being pushed and raised by the hand and motion of this great heavenly lover; as the princess in our parable, although restored to health, could not ascend nor go fast, unless her dear spouse raised and strongly supported her. Thus S. Antony and S. Simeon Stylites were in the grace of God and charity when they designed so exalted a life; as also the B. Mother (S.) Teresa when she made her particular vow of obedience, S. Francis and S. Louis, when they undertook their journey beyond-seas for the advancement of God's glory, the Blessed Francis Xavier, when he consecrated his life to the conversion of the Indians, S. Charles, in exposing himself to serve the plague-stricken, S. Paulinus, when he sold himself to redeem the poor widow's child; yet still never would they have struck such mighty and generous blows, unless God, to that charity which they had in their hearts, had added special inspirations, invitations, lights and forces, whereby he animated and pushed them forward to these extraordinary exploits of spiritual valour.

Do you not mark the young man of the gospel, whom Our Saviour loved, and who, consequently, was in charity? Certainly, he never dreamed of selling all he had to give it to the poor, and following Our Saviour: nay though Our Saviour had given him such an inspiration, yet had he not the courage to put it into execution. For these great works, Theotimus, we need not only to be inspired, but also to be fortified, in order to effect what the inspiration inclines us to. As again in the fierce assaults of extraordinary temptations, a special and particular presence of heavenly succour is absolutely necessary. For this cause holy church makes us so frequently cry out: "Excite our hearts O Lord:" "Prevent our actions by thy holy inspirations and further them with thy continual help:" "O Lord, make haste to help us:" and the like, in order by such prayers to obtain grace to be able to effect excellent and extraordinary works, and more frequently and fervently to do ordinary ones; as also more ardently to resist small temptations, and boldly to combat the greatest. S. Antony was assailed by 137a hideous legion of devils, and having long sustained their attacks, not without incredible pain and torment, at length saw the roof of his cell burst open, and a heavenly ray enter the breach, which made the black and darksome troop of his enemies vanish in a moment, and delivered him from all the pain of the wounds received in that battle; whence he perceived God's particular presence, and fetching a profound sigh towards the vision—"where wast thou, O good Jesus," said he, "where wast thou? Why wast thou not here from the beginning to have relieved my pain? It was answered him from above Antony, I was here: but I awaited the event of thy combat: and since thou didst behave thyself bravely and valiantly, I will be thy continual aid." But in what did the valour and courage of this brave spiritual combatant consist? He himself declared it another time when, being set upon by a devil who acknowledged himself to be the spirit of fornication, this glorious saint after many words worthy of his great courage began to sing the 7th verse of the 117th Psalm: The Lord is my helper: and I will look over my enemies.

And Our Saviour revealed to S. Catharine of Sienna, that he was in the midst of her heart in a cruel temptation she had, as a captain in the midst of a fort to hold it; and that without his succour she would have been lost in that battle. It is the same in all the great assaults which our enemy makes against us: and we may well say with Jacob that it is the angel that delivereth us from all evil,145145Gen. xlviii. 16. and may sing with the great King David: The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment: he hath converted my soul. So that we ought often to repeat this exclamation and prayer: And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life.146146Ps. xxii.

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CHAPTER IV.

OF HOLY PERSEVERANCE IN SACRED LOVE.

Even as a tender mother, leading with her her little babe, assists and supports him as need requires, letting him now and then venture a step by himself in less dangerous and very smooth places, now taking him by the hand and steadying him, now taking him up in her arms and bearing him, so Our Lord has a continual care to conduct his children, that is such as are in charity; making them walk before him, reaching them his hand in difficulties, and bearing them himself in such travails, as he sees otherwise insupportable unto them. This he declared by Isaias saying: I am the Lord thy God, who take thee by the hand, and say to thee: fear not, I have helped thee.147147Is. xli. 13. So that with a good heart we must have a firm confidence in God, and his assistance, for if we fail not to second his grace, he will accomplish in us the good work of our salvation, which he also began working in us both to will and to accomplish,148148Phil. ii. 13. as the holy Council of Trent assures us.

In this conduct which the heavenly sweetness makes of our souls, from their entry into charity until their final perfection, which is not finished but in the hour of death, consists the great gift of perseverance, to which our Saviour attaches the greatest gift of eternal glory, according to his saying: He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved:149149Matt. x. 22. for this gift is no other thing than the combination and sequence of the various helps, solaces and succours, whereby we continue in the love of God to the end: as the education, bringing up and supporting of a child is no other thing, than the many cares, aids, succours, and other offices necessary to a child, exercised and continued towards him till he grow to years in which he no longer needs them.

But the continuance of succours and helps is not equal in all those that persevere. In some it is short; as in such as were converted a little before their death: so it happened to the Good Thief; so to that officers who seeing the constancy of S. James 139made forthwith profession of faith, and became a companion of the martyrdom of this great Apostle; so to the blessed gaoler who guarded the forty martyrs at Sebaste, who seeing one of them lose courage, and forsake the crown of martyrdom, put himself in his place and became Christian, martyr and glorious all at once; so to the notary of whom mention is made in the life of S. Antony of Padua, who having all his life been a false villain yet died a martyr: and so it happened to a thousand others of whom we have seen and read that they died well, after an ill-spent life. As for these, they stand not in need of a great variety of succours, but unless some great temptation cross their way, they can make this short perseverance solely by the charity given them, and by the aids by which they were converted. For they arrive at the port without voyaging, and finish their pilgrimage in a single leap, which the powerful mercy of God makes them take so opportunely that their enemies see them triumph before seeing them fight: so that their conversion and perseverance are almost the same thing. And if we would speak with exact propriety, the grace which they received of God whereby they attained as soon the issue, as the beginning of their course, cannot well be termed perseverance, though all the same, because actually it holds the place of perseverance in giving salvation, we comprehend it under the name of perseverance. In others, on the contrary, perseverance is longer, as in S. Anne the prophetess, in S. John the Evangelist, S. Paul the first hermit, S. Hilarion, S. Romuald, S. Francis of Paula;—and they stood in need of a thousand sorts of different assistances, according to the variety of the adventures of their pilgrimage and the length of it.

But in any case, perseverance is the most desirable gift we can hope for in this life, and the one which, as the Council of Trent says, we cannot have but from the hand of God, who alone can assure him that stands, and help him up that falls: wherefore we must incessantly demand it, making use of the means which Our Saviour has taught us to the obtaining of it; prayer, fasting, alms-deeds, frequenting the sacraments, intercourse with the good, the hearing and reading of holy words.

Now since the gift of prayer and devotion is liberally granted 140to all those who sincerely will to consent to divine inspirations, it is consequently in our power to persevere. Not of course that I mean to say that our perseverance has its origin from our power, for on the contrary I know it springs from God's mercy, whose most precious gift it is, but I mean that though it does not come from our power, yet it comes within our power, by means of our will, which we cannot deny to be in our power: for though God's grace is necessary for us, to will to persevere, yet is this will in our power, because heavenly grace is never wanting to our will, and our will is not wanting to our power. And indeed according to the great S. Bernard's opinion, we may all truly say with the Apostle that: Neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord.150150Rom. viii. 38-9 Yes, indeed, for no creature can take us away by force from this holy love; we only can forsake and abandon it by our own will, except for which there is nothing to be feared in this matter.

So, Theotimus, following the advice of the holy Council, we ought to place our whole hope in God, who will perfect the work of our salvation which he has begun in us, if we be not wanting to his grace: for we are not to think that he who said to the paralytic: Go, and do not will to sin again:151151John v. 14. gave him not also power to avoid that willing which he forbade him: and surely he would never exhort the faithful to persevere, if he were not ready to furnish them with the power. Be thou faithful until death, said he to the bishop of Smyrna, and I will give thee the crown of life.152152Apoc. ii. 10. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, do manfully, and be strengthened. Let all your actions be done in charity.1531531 Cor. xvi. 13. So run that you may obtain.1541541 Cor. ix. 24. We must often then with the great King demand of God the heavenly gift of perseverance, and hope that he will grant it us. Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength shall fail, do not thou forsake me.155155Ps. lxx. 9.

 

141

CHAPTER V.

THAT THE HAPPINESS OF DYING IN HEAVENLY CHARITY IS A SPECIAL GIFT OF GOD.

In fine, the heavenly King having brought the soul which he loves to the end of this life, he assists her also in her blessed departure, by which he draws her to the marriage-bed of eternal glory, which is the delicious fruit of holy perseverance. And then, dear Theotimus, this soul, wholly ravished with the love of her well-beloved, putting before her eyes the multitude of favours and succours wherewith she was prevented and helped while she was yet in her pilgrimage, incessantly kisses this sweet helping hand, which conducted, drew and supported her in the way; and confesses, that it is of this divine Saviour that she holds her felicity, seeing he has done for her all that the patriarch Jacob wished for his journey, when he had seen the ladder to heaven. O Lord, she then says, thou wast with me, and didst guide me in the way by which I came. Thou didst feed me with the bread of thy sacraments, thou didst clothe me with the wedding garment of charity, thou hast happily conducted me to this mansion of glory, which is thy house, O my eternal Father. Oh! what remains, O Lord, save that I should protest that thou art my God for ever and ever! Amen.

Thou hast held me by my right hand; and by thy will thou hast conducted me, and with thy glory thou hast received me.156156Ps. lxxii. 24. Such then is the order of our journey to eternal life, for the accomplishment of which the divine providence ordained from all eternity the number, distinction and succession of graces necessary to it, with their dependence on one another.

He willed, first, with a true will, that even after the sin of Adam all men should be saved, but upon terms and by means agreeable to the condition of their nature, which is endowed with free-will; that is to say he willed the salvation of all those who would contribute their consent, to the graces and favours which he would prepare, offer and distribute to this end.

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Now, amongst these favours, his will was that vocation should be the first, and that it should be so accommodated to our liberty that we might at our pleasure accept or reject it: and such as he saw would receive it, he would furnish with the sacred motions of penitence, and to those who would second these motions he determined to give charity, those again who were in charity, he purposed to supply with the helps necessary to persevere, and to such as should make use of these divine helps he resolved to impart final perseverance, and the glorious felicity of his eternal love.

And thus we may give account of the order which is found in the effects of that Providence which regards our salvation, descending from the first to the last, that is from the fruit, which is glory, to the root of this fair tree, which is Our Saviour's redemption. For the divine goodness gives glory after merits, merits after charity, charity after penitence, penitence after obedience to vocation, obedience to vocation after vocation itself, vocation after Our Saviour's redemption, on which rests all this mystical ladder of the great Jacob, as well at its heavenly end, since it rests in the bosom of the eternal Father, in which he receives and glorifies the elect, as also at its earthly end, since it is planted upon the bosom and pierced side of Our Saviour, who for this cause died upon Mount Calvary.

And that this order of the effects of Providence was thus ordained, with the same dependence which they have on one another in the eternal will of God, holy Church, in the preface of one of her solemn prayers, witnesses in these words: "O eternal and Almighty God, who art Lord of the living and the dead, and art merciful to all those who thou foreknowest will be thine by faith and good works:" as though she were declaring that glory, which is the crown and the fruit of God's mercy towards men, has only been ordained for those, of whom the divine wisdom has foreseen that in the future, obeying the vocation, they will attain the living faith which works by charity.

Finally, all these effects have an absolute dependence on Our Saviour's redemption, who merited them for us in rigour of justice by the loving obedience which he exercised even till death and the death of the cross, which is the root of all the 143graces which we receive; we who are the spiritual grafts engrafted on his stock. If being engrafted we remain in him, we shall certainly bear, by the life of grace which he will communicate unto us, the fruit of glory prepared for us. But if we prove broken sprigs and grafts upon this tree, that is, if by resistance we interrupt the progress and break the connection of the effects of his clemency, it will not be strange, if in the end we be wholly cut off, and be thrown into eternal fires as fruitless branches.

God, doubtless, prepared heaven for those only who he foresaw would be his. Let us be his then, Theotimus, by faith and works, and he will be ours by glory. Now it is in our power to be his: for though it be a gift of God to be God's, yet is it a gift which God denies no one, but offers to all, to give it to such as freely consent to receive it.

But mark, I pray you, Theotimus, how ardently God desires we should be his, since to this end he has made himself entirely ours; bestowing upon us his death and his life; his life, to exempt us from eternal death, his death, to possess us of eternal life. Let us remain therefore in peace and serve God, to be his in this mortal life, and still more his in the eternal.

 

CHAPTER VI.

THAT WE CANNOT ATTAIN TO PERFECT UNION WITH GOD IN THIS MORTAL LIFE.

All the rivers flow incessantly, and, as the wise man says: Unto the place from whence they come they return to flow again.157157Eccles. i. 7. The sea which is the place whence they spring, is also the place of their final repose; all their motion tends no farther than to unite themselves to their fountain. "O God," says S. Augustine, "thou hast created my heart for thyself, and it can never repose but in thee." For what have I in heaven, and besides thee what do I desire upon earth? Thou art the God of my heart, and the 144God that is my portion for ever.158158Ps. lxxii. 25-6. Still the union which our heart aspires to cannot attain to its perfection in this mortal life; we can commence our loves in this, but we can consummate them only in the other.

The heavenly Spouse makes a delicate expression of this. I found him whom my soul loveth, says she, I held him, and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.159159Cant. iii. 4. She finds him then, this well-beloved, for he makes her feel his presence by a thousand consolations; she holds him, for these feelings cause in her strong affections, by which she clasps and embraces him, protesting that she will never let him go,—O no! for these affections turn into eternal resolutions; yet she cannot consider that she kisses him with the nuptial kiss till she meet with him in her mother's house, which is the heavenly Jerusalem, as S. Paul says. But see, Theotimus, how this spouse thinks of nothing less than of keeping her beloved at her mercy as a slave of love; whence she imagines to herself that it is hers to lead him at her will, and to introduce him into her mother's happy abode; though in reality it is she who must be conducted thither by him, as was Rebecca into Sara's chamber by her dear Isaac. The spirit urged by amorous passion always gives itself a little advantage over what it loves; and the spouse himself confesses: Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast wounded my heart with one of thy eyes, and with one hair of thy neck:160160Ibid. iv. 9. acknowledging himself her prisoner by love.

This perfect conjunction then of the soul with God, shall only be in heaven, where as the Apocalypse says, the Lamb's marriage feast shall be made. In this mortal life the soul is truly espoused and betrothed to the immaculate Lamb, but not as yet married to him: the troth is plighted, and promise given, but the execution of the marriage is deferred: so that we have always time, though never reason, to withdraw from it; our faithful spouse never abandons us unless we oblige him to it by our disloyalty and unfaithfulness. But in heaven the marriage of this divine union being celebrated, the bond which ties our hearts to their sovereign principle shall be eternally indissoluble.

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It is true, Theotimus, that while we await this great kiss of indissoluble union which we shall receive from the spouse there above in glory, he gives us some kisses by a thousand feelings of his delightful presence: for unless the soul were kissed she would not be drawn, nor would she run in the odour of the beloved's perfumes. Whence, according to the original Hebrew text and the Seventy interpreters, she desires many kisses. Let him kiss me, says she, with the kisses of his mouth. But because these little kisses of this present life all refer to the eternal kiss of the life to come, the sacred Vulgate edition has holily reduced the kisses of grace to that of glory, expressing the desires of the spouse in this manner: Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth,161161Cant. i. 1. as though she said: of all the kisses, of all the favours that the friend of my heart, or the heart of my soul has provided for me, ah! I only breathe after and aspire to this great and solemn marriage-kiss which remains for ever, and in comparison of which the other kisses deserve not the name of kisses, being rather signs of the future union between my beloved and me than union itself.

 

CHAPTER VII.

THAT THE CHARITY OF SAINTS IN THIS MORTAL LIFE EQUALS, YEA SOMETIMES SURPASSES, THAT OF THE BLESSED.

When after the labours and dangers of this mortal life, good souls arrive at the port of the eternal, they ascend to the highest and utmost degree of love to which they can attain; and this final increase being bestowed upon them in recompense of their merits, it is distributed to them, not only in good measure, but in a measure which is pressed down and shaken together and running over,162162Luke vi. 38. as Our Saviour says; so that the love which is given for reward is greater in every one than that which was given for meriting.

Now, not only shall each one in particular have a greater love 146in heaven than ever he had on earth, but the exercise of the least charity in heaven, shall be much more happy and excellent, generally speaking, than that of the greatest which is, or has been, or shall be, in this failing life: for there above, all the saints incessantly, without any intermission, exercise love; while here below God's greatest servants, drawn away and tyrannized over by the necessities of this dying life, are forced to suffer a thousand and a thousand distractions, which often take them off the practice of holy love.

In heaven, Theotimus, the loving attention of the blessed is firm, constant, inviolable, and cannot perish or decrease; their intention is pure and freed from all mixture of any inferior intention: in short, this felicity of seeing God clearly and loving him unchangeably is incomparable. And who would ever equal the pleasure, if there be any, of living amidst the perils, the continual tempests, the perpetual agitations and viscissitudes which have to be gone through on sea, with the contentment there is of being in a royal palace, where all things are at every wish, yea where delights incomparably surpass every wish?

There is then more content, sweetness and perfection in the exercise of sacred love amongst the inhabitants of heaven, than amongst the pilgrims of this miserable earth. Yet still there have been some so happy in their pilgrimage that their charity has been greater than that of many saints already enjoying the eternal fatherland: for certainly it were strange if the charity of the great S. John, of the Apostles and Apostolic men, were not greater, even while they were detained here below, than that of little children, who, dying simply with the grace of baptism, enjoy immortal glory.

It is not usual for shepherds to be more valiant than soldiers; and yet David, when a little shepherd, coming to the army of Israel, while he found every one more expert in the use of arms than himself, yet he was more valiant than all. So it is not an ordinary thing for mortals to have more charity than the immortals, and yet there have been some mortals, inferior to the immortals in the exercise of love, who, notwithstanding, have surpassed them in charity and the habit of love. And as, when comparing hot iron and a burning lamp, we say the 147iron has more fire and heat, the lamp more flame and light; so if we parallel a child in glory with S. John while yet prisoner, or S. Paul yet captive, we must say that the child in heaven has more brightness and light in the understanding, more flame and exercise of love in the will, but that S. John or S. Paul had even on earth more fire of charity, and heat of love.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

OF THE INCOMPARABLE LOVE WHICH THE MOTHER of GOD, OUR BLESSED LADY, HAD.

But always and everywhere, when I make comparisons, I intend not to speak of the most holy virgin-mother, Our Blessed Lady. O my God—no indeed! For she is the daughter of incomparable dilection, the one only dove, the all-perfect spouse. Of this heavenly Queen, from my heart I pronounce this thought, amorous but true, that at least towards the end of her mortal days, her charity surpassed that of the Seraphim, for many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all.163163Prov. xxxi. 29. The Saints and Angels are but compared to stars, and the first of them to the fairest of the stars: but she is fair as the moon, as easy to be chosen and discerned from all the Saints as the sun from the stars. And going on further I think again that as the charity of this Mother of love excels in perfection that of all the Saints in heaven, so did she exercise it more perfectly, I say even in this mortal life. She never sinned venially, as the church considers; she had then no change nor delay in the way of love, but by a perpetual advancement ascended from love to love. She never felt any contradiction from the sensual appetite, and therefore her love, as a true Solomon, reigned peaceably in her soul and made all its acts at its pleasure. The virginity of her heart and body was more worthy and honourable than that of the Angels. So that her spirit, not divided or separated, as S. Paul says, was solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord how it might please God.1641641 Cor. vii. 32. And, in fine, maternal 148love, the most pressing, the most active and the most ardent of all, what must it not have worked in the heart of such a Mother and for the heart of such a Son?

Ah! do not say, I pray you, that this virgin was subject to sleep; no, say not this to me, Theotimus: for do you not see that her sleep is a sleep of love? So that even her spouse wishes that she should sleep as long as she pleases. Ah! take heed, I adjure you, says he, that you stir not up nor make the beloved to awake till she please.165165Cant. ii. 7. No, Theotimus, this heavenly Queen never slept but with love, since she never gave repose to her precious body, but to reinvigorate it, the better afterwards to serve her God, which is certainly a most excellent act of charity. For, as the great S. Augustine says, charity obliges us to love our bodies properly, insomuch as they are necessary to good works, as they make a part of our person, and as they shall be sharers in our eternal felicity. In good truth, a Christian is to love his body as a living image of Our Saviour incarnate, as having issued from the same stock, and consequently belonging to him in parentage and consanguinity; especially after we have renewed the alliance, by the real reception of the divine body of Our Redeemer, in the most adorable sacrament of the Eucharist, and when by Baptism, Confirmation and other Sacraments we have dedicated and consecrated ourselves to the sovereign goodness.

But as to the Blessed Virgin,—O God, with what devotion must she have loved her virginal body! Not only because it was a sweet, humble, pure body, obedient to divine love, and wholly embalmed with a thousand sweetnesses, but also because it was the living source of Our Saviour's, and belonged so strictly to him, by an incomparable appurtenance. For which cause when she placed her angelic body in the repose of sleep: Repose then now, would she say, O Tabernacle of Alliance, Ark of Sanctity, Throne of the Divinity, ease thyself a little of thy weariness, and repair thy forces, by this sweet tranquillity.

Besides, dear Theotimus, do you not know that bad dreams, voluntarily procured by the depraved thoughts of the day, are 149in some sort sins, inasmuch as they are consequences and execution of the malice preceding? Even so the dreams which proceed from the holy affections of our waking time, are reputed virtuous and holy. O God! Theotimus, what a consolation it is to hear S. Chrysostom recounting on a certain day to his people the vehemence of his love towards them. "The necessity of sleep," said he, "pressing our eyelids, the tyranny of our love towards you excites the eyes of our mind: and many a time while I sleep methinks I speak unto you, for the soul is wont to see in a dream by imagination what she thinks in the daytime. Thus while we see you not with the eyes of the flesh, we see you with the eyes of charity." O sweet Jesus! what dreams must thy most holy Mother have had when she slept, while her heart watched? Did she not dream that she had thee yet in her womb, or hanging at her sacred breasts and sweetly pressing those virginal lilies? Ah! what sweetness was in this soul. Perhaps she often dreamed that as Our Saviour had formerly slept in her bosom, as a tender lambkin upon the soft flank of its mother, so she slept in his pierced side, as a white dove in the cave of an assured rock: so that her sleep was wholly like to an ecstasy as regards the spirit, though as regards the body it was a sweet and grateful unwearying and rest. But if ever she dreamed, as did the ancient Joseph, of her future greatness,—when in heaven she should be clothed with the sun, crowned with stars and having the moon under her feet,166166Gen. xxxvii.; Apoc. xii. 1. that is, wholly environed with her Son's glory, crowned with that of the Saints, and having the universe under her—or if ever, like Jacob, she saw the progress and fruit of the redemption made by her Son, for the love of the angels and of men;—Theotimus, who could ever imagine the immensity of so great delights? O what conferences with her dear child! What delights on every side!

But mark, I pray you, that I neither say nor mean to say that this privileged soul of the Mother of God was deprived of the use of reason in her sleep. Many are of opinion that Solomon in that beautiful dream, though really a dream, in which he demanded and received the gift of his incomparable 150wisdom, had the true use of his free-will, on account of the judicious eloquence of the discourse he made, of his choice full of discretion, and of the most excellent prayer which he used, the whole without any mixture of inconsistency or distraction of mind. But how much more probability is there then that the mother of the true Solomon had the use of reason in her sleep, that is to say, as Solomon himself makes her say, that her heart watched while she slept? Surely it was a far greater marvel that S. John had the exercise of reason in his mother's womb, and why then should we deny a less to her for whom, and to whom, God did more favours, than either he did or ever will do for all creatures besides?

To conclude, as the precious stone, asbestos, does by a peerless propriety preserve for ever the fire which it has conceived, so the Virgin Mother's heart remained perpetually inflamed with the holy love which she received of her Son: yet with this difference, that the fire of the asbestos, as it cannot be extinguished, so it cannot be augmented, but the Virgin's sacred flames, since they could neither perish, diminish nor remain in the same state, never ceased to take incredible increase, even as far as heaven the place of their origin: so true it is that this Mother is the Mother of fair love, that is, as the most amiable, so the most loving, and as the most loving, so the most beloved Mother of this only Son; who again is the most amiable, most loving, and most beloved Son of this only Mother.

 

CHAPTER IX.

A PREPARATION FOR THE DISCOURSE ON THE UNION OF THE BLESSED WITH GOD.

The triumphant love which the blessed in heaven exercise, consists in the final, invariable and eternal union of the soul with its God. But this union—what is it?

By how much more agreeable and excellent are the objects our senses meet with, so much more ardently and greedily they 151give themselves to the fruition of them. By how much more fair, delightful to the view, and duly set in light they are, so much the more eagerly and attentively does the eye regard them: and by how much more sweet and pleasant voices or music are, so much the more is the attention of the ear drawn to them. So that every object exercises a powerful but grateful violence upon the sense to which it belongs, a violence more or less strong as the excellence is greater or less; provided always that it be proportionable to the capacity of the sense which desires to enjoy it; for the eye which finds so much pleasure in light cannot, however, bear an extreme light, nor fix itself upon the sun, and be music never so sweet, if loud and too near, it importunes and offends our ears. Truth is the object of our understanding, which consequently has all its content in discovering and knowing the truth of things; and according as truths are more excellent, so the understanding applies itself with more delight and attention to the consideration of them. How great was the pleasure, think you, Theotimus, of those ancient philosophers who had such an excellent knowledge of so many beautiful truths of Nature? Verily they reputed all pleasures as nothing in comparison with their well-beloved philosophy, for which some of them quitted honours, others great riches, others their country; and there was such a one as deliberately plucked out his eyes, depriving himself for ever of the enjoyment of the fair and agreeable corporal light, that he might with more liberty apply himself to consider the truth of things by the light of the spirit. This we read of Democritus: so sweet is the knowledge of truth! Hence Aristotle has very often said that human felicity and beatitude consists in wisdom, which is the knowledge of the eminent truths.

But when our spirit, raised above natural light, begins to see the sacred truths of faith, O God! Theotimus, what joy! The soul melts with pleasure, hearing the voice of her heavenly spouse, whom she finds more sweet and delicious then the honey of all human sciences.

God has imprinted upon all created things his traces, trail, or footsteps, so that the knowledge we have of his divine Majesty by creatures seems no other thing than the sight of the feet of 152God, while in comparison of this, faith is a view of the very face of the divine Majesty. This we do not yet see in the clear day of glory, but as it were in the breaking of day; as it happened to Jacob near to the ford of Jaboc; for though he saw not the angel with whom he wrestled, save in the weak light of daybreak, yet this was enough to make him cry out, ravished with delight: I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved.167167Gen. xxxii. 30. O! how delightful is the holy light of faith, by which we know, with an unequalled certitude, not only the history of the beginning of creatures, and their true use, but even that of the eternal birth of the great and sovereign divine Word, for whom and by whom all has been made, and who with the Father and the Holy Ghost is one only God, most singular, most adorable, and blessed for ever and ever! Amen. Ah! says S. Jerome to his Paulinus: "The learned Plato never knew this, the eloquent Demosthenes was ignorant of it." How sweet are thy words, O Lord, to my palate, said that great king, more than honey to my mouth!168168Ps. cxviii. 103. Was not our burning within us, whilst he spoke in the way?169169Luke xxiv. 32. said those happy pilgrims of Emmaus, speaking of the flames of love with which they were touched by the word of faith. But if divine truths be so sweet, when proposed in the obscure light of faith, O God, what shall they be when we shall contemplate them in the light of the noonday of glory!

The Queen of Saba, who at the greatness of Solomon's renown had left all to go and see him, having arrived in his presence, and having heard the wonders of the wisdom which he poured out in his speeches, as one astonished and lost in admiration, cried out that what she had learnt by hearsay of this heavenly wisdom was not half the knowledge which sight and experience gave her.

Ah! how beautiful and dear are the truths which faith discovers unto us by hearing! But when having arrived in the heavenly Jerusalem, we shall see the great Solomon, the King of Glory, seated upon the thrown of his wisdom, manifesting by an incomprehensible brightness the wonders and eternal secrets 153of his sovereign truth, with such light that our understanding will actually see what it had believed here below—Ah! then, dearest Theotimus, what raptures! what ecstasies! what admiration! what love! what sweetness! No, never (shall we say in this excess of sweetness) never could we have conceived that we should see truths so delightsome. We believed indeed all the glorious things that were said of thee, O great city of God, but we could not conceive the infinite greatness of the abysses of thy delights.

 

CHAPTER X.

THAT THE PRECEDING DESIRE WILL MUCH INCREASE THE UNION OF THE BLESSED WITH GOD.

The desire which precedes enjoyment, sharpens and intensifies the feeling of it, and by how much the desire was more urgent and powerful, by so much more agreeable and delicious is the possession of the thing desired. Oh! my dear Theotimus, what pleasure will man's heart take in seeing the face of the Divinity, a face so much desired, yea a face the only desire of our souls? Our hearts have a thirst which cannot be quenched by the pleasures of this mortal life, whereof the most esteemed and highest prized if moderate do not satisfy us, and if extreme suffocate us. Yet we desire them always to be extreme, and they are never such without being excessive, insupportable, hurtful. We die of joy as well as of grief: yea, joy is more active to ruin us than grief. Alexander, having swallowed up, in effect or in hope, all this lower world, heard some base fellow say, that there were yet many other worlds, and like a little child, who will cry if one refuse him an apple, this Alexander, whom the world styles the great, more foolish notwithstanding than a little child, began bitterly to weep, because there was no likelihood that he should conquer the other worlds, not having as yet got the entire possession of this. He that did more fully enjoy the world than ever any other did, is yet so little satisfied with it that he weeps for sorrow that he cannot have the other worlds which the foolish 154persuasion of a wretched babbler made him imagine to exist. Tell me, I pray you, Theotimus, does he not show that the thirst of his heart cannot be slaked in this life, and that this world is not sufficient to quench it? O wonderful yet dear unrest of man's heart! Be, be ever, my soul, without any rest or tranquillity on this earth, till thou shalt have met with the fresh waters of the immortal life and the most holy Divinity, which alone can satisfy thy thirst and quiet thy desire.

Now, Theotimus, imagine to yourself with the Psalmist, that hart which, hard set by the hounds, has neither wind nor legs; how greedily he plunges himself into the waters which he panted after, and with what ardour he rolls into and buries himself in that element. One would think he would willingly be dissolved and converted into water, more fully to enjoy its coolness. Ah! what a union of our hearts shall there be with God there above in heaven, where, after these infinite desires of the true good never assuaged in this world, we shall find the living and powerful source thereof. Then, truly, as we see a hungry child closely fixed to his mother's breast, greedily press this dear fountain of most desired sweetness, so that one would think that either it would thrust itself into its mother's breast, or else suck and draw all that breast into itself; so our soul, panting with an extreme thirst for the true good, when she shall find that inexhaustible source in the Divinity,—O good God! what a holy and sweet ardour to be united and joined to the plentiful breasts of the All-goodness, either to be altogether absorbed in it, or to have it come entirely into us!

 

CHAPTER XI.

OF THE UNION OF THE BLESSED SPIRITS WITH GOD, IN THE VISION OF THE DIVINITY.

When we look upon anything, though it is present to us, it is not itself united to our eyes, but only sends out to them a certain representation or picture of itself, which is called its sensible species, by means of which we see. So also when we 155contemplate or understand anything, that which we understand is not united to our understanding otherwise than by another representation and most delicate and spiritual image, which is called intelligible species. But further, these species, by how many windings and changes do they get to the understanding! They arrive at the exterior senses, thence pass to the interior, then to the imagination, then to the active understanding, and come at last to the passive understanding, to the end that passing through so many strainers and under so many files they may be purified, subtilised and perfected, and of sensible become intelligible.

Thus, Theotimus, we see and understand all that we see and understand in this mortal life, yea even things of faith; for, as the mirror contains not the thing we see in it but only the representation and species of it (which representation, stayed by the mirror, produces another in the beholding eye), so the word of faith does not contain the things which it announces, but only represents them, and this representation of divine things which is in the word of faith produces another representation of them, which our understanding, helped by God's grace, accepts and receives as a representation of holy truth, and our will takes delight in it, and embraces it, as an honourable, profitable, lovely and excellent truth. Thus the truths signified in God's word are by it represented to the understanding as things expressed in the mirror are by the mirror represented to the eye: whence the great Apostle said that to believe is to see as in a glass.170170I Cor. xiii. 12.

But in heaven, Theotimus,—Ah! my God, what a favour!—The Divinity will unite itself to our understanding without the mediation of any species or representation at all, but it will itself apply and join itself to our understanding, making itself in such sort present unto it, that that inward presence shall be instead of a representation or species. O God! what sweetness shall it be for man's understanding to be united for ever to its sovereign object, receiving not its representation but its presence, not the picture or species, but the very essence of its divine truth and majesty. We shall be there as most happy 156children of the divinity, and shall have the honour to be fed with the divine substance itself, taken into our soul by the mouth of our understanding, and what surpasses all sweetness is, that as mothers are not contented with feeding their babes with their milk, which is their own substance, if they do not also put the breast into their mouth, that these may receive their substance, not in a spoon or other instrument, but even in, and by this same substance (so that this maternal substance serves as well for food, as for a conduit to convey it to the dear little suckling);—so God our Father is not contented to make us receive his proper substance in our understanding, that is, to make us see his divinity, but by an abyss of his sweetness, wills himself to apply his substance to our soul, to the end that we may no longer understand it by species or representation but in itself and by itself; so that his fatherly and eternal substance is both species and object to our understanding. Then these divine promises shall be fulfilled in an excellent manner: I will lead her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart,171171Osee. ii. 14. and give her suck. Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad with her. That you may suck and be filled with the breasts of her consolations, that you may milk out, and flow with delights from the abundance of her glory: you shall be carried at the breasts, and upon the knees they shall caress you.172172Is. lxvi. 10, 11, 12.

Infinite bliss, Theotimus, and one which has not been promised only, but of which we have a pledge in the Blessed Sacrament, that perpetual feast of Divine Grace. For in it we receive the blood of Our Saviour in his flesh, and his flesh in his blood; his blood being applied unto us by means of his flesh, his substance by his substance to our very corporal mouth; that we may know that so he will apply unto us his divine essence in the eternal feast of his glory. True it is, this favour is done unto us here really but covertly, under Sacramental species and appearances, whereas in heaven, the Divinity will give himself openly, and we shall see him face to face as he is.

 

157

CHAPTER XII.

OF THE ETERNAL UNION OF THE BLESSED SPIRITS WITH GOD, IN THE VISION OF THE ETERNAL BIRTH OF THE SON OF GOD.

O holy and Divine Spirit, eternal Love of the Father and the Son, be propitious to mine infancy. Our understanding then shall see God, Theotimus; yes, it shall see God Himself face to face, contemplating with a view of true and real presence, the divine essence Itself, and in It, the infinite beauties thereof, all-power, all-goodness, all-wisdom, all-justice, and the rest of this abyss of perfections.

It shall see clearly then, shall this understanding, the infinite knowledge which God the Father had from all eternity of His own beauty, for the expression of which in Himself, He pronounced and said eternally the Word, the Verbum, or the most singular and most infinite speech and diction, which, comprising and representing all the perfection of the Father, can be but one same God, entirely one with Him, without division or separation. We shall thus then see that eternal and admirable generation of the Divine Word and Son, by which He was eternally born to the image and likeness of the Father, a lively and natural image and likeness, not representing any accidents or external thing; since in God all is substance, nor can there be any accident, all is interior, nor can there be any exterior; but an image representing the proper substance of the Father so perfectly, so naturally, so essentially and substantially, that therefore it can be no other thing than the same God with Him, without distinction or difference at all either in essence or substance, and with only the distinction of Persons. For how could this Divine Son be the true, truly perfect and truly natural image, resemblance and figure of the infinite beauty and substance of the Father, if this image did not represent absolutely to the life and according to nature, the infinite perfections of the Father? And how could it infinitely represent infinite perfections if it were not itself infinitely perfect? And how could it be infinitely perfect if it were not God, and how could it be God if it were not one same God with the Father?

158

This Son then, the infinite image and figure of His infinite Father, is with His Father one sole, most unique, and infinite God, there being no difference of substance between Them, but only the distinction of persons. This distinction of persons, as it is certainly required, so also it is absolutely sufficient, to effect that the Father pronounces, and the Son is the Word pronounced; that the Father speaks, and the Son is the Word, or the diction; that the Father expresses, and the Son is the image, likeness or figure expressed, and, in short, that the Father is Father, and the Son, Son—two distinct persons, but one only Essence or Divinity; so that God Who is sole is not solitary, for He is sole in His most singular and simple Deity, yet is not solitary, because He is Father and Son in two persons. O Theotimus, what joy, what jubilee to celebrate this eternal birth, kept in the brightness of the Saints,173173Ps. cix. 3. to celebrate it in seeing it, and to see it in celebrating it!

The most sweet S. Bernard, as yet a little boy at Chastillon-sur-Seine, was waiting in Church on Christmas night for the divine office to begin, and whilst waiting the poor child fell into a light slumber, during which (O God what sweetness!) he saw in spirit, yet in a vision very distinct and clear, how the Son of God, having espoused human nature, and becoming a little child in His Mother's most pure womb, was with a humble sweetness mingled with a celestial majesty, virginally born of her:—As a bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber:174174Ps. xviii. 6.—a vision, Theotimus, which so replenished the loving heart of the little Bernard with gladness, jubilation and spiritual delights, that he had all his life an extreme sense of it, and therefore, though afterwards as a sacred bee he ever culled out of all the divine mysteries the honey of a thousand sweet and heavenly consolations, yet had he a more particular sweetness in the solemnity of the Nativity, and spoke with a singular relish of this birth of his Master. But Ah! I beseech thee, Theotimus, if a mystical and imaginary vision of the temporal and human birth of the Son of God, by which he proceeded man from a woman, virgin from a virgin, ravishes and so highly delights a 159child's heart, what shall it be when our spirits, gloriously illuminated with the light of glory, shall see this eternal birth by which the Son proceeds, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, divinely and eternally! Then shall our spirit be joined by an incomprehensible complacency to this object of delight, and by an unchangeable attention remain united to it for ever.

 

CHAPTER XIII.

OF THE UNION OF THE BLESSED WITH GOD IN THE VISION OF THE PRODUCTION OF THE HOLY GHOST.

The eternal Father seeing the infinite goodness and beauty of His own essence, so perfectly, essentially and substantially expressed in His Son, and the Son seeing reciprocally that His same essence, goodness and beauty is originally in His Father as in its source and fountain, ah! can it possibly be that this Divine Father and His Son should not mutually love one another with an infinite love, since Their will by which They love, and Their goodness for which They love are infinite in each of Them.

Love not finding us equal, equalizes us, not finding us united, unites us. Now the Father and the Son finding Themselves not only equal and united, but even one same God, one same goodness, one same essence and one same unity, how much must They needs love one another. But this love does not act like the love which intellectual creatures have amongst themselves, or towards their Creator; for created love is exercised by many and various movements, aspirations, unions and joinings which immediately succeed one another, and make a continuation of love with a grateful vicissitude of spiritual movements, but the divine love of the eternal Father towards His Son is practised in one only spiration (souspir) mutually from Them both, Who in this sort remain united and joined together. Yes, Theotimus; for the goodness of the Father and Son being but one sole most perfectly singular goodness, common to Them both, the love of this goodness can be but one only love; for though there be 160two lovers, to wit, the Father and the Son, yet seeing it is only Their most singular goodness common to Them both which is loved, and Their most unique will which loves, it is therefore but one love exercised by one amorous spiration. The Father breathes this love and so does the Son; but because the Father only breathes this love by means of the same will and for the same goodness which is equally and singularly in Him and His Son: the Son again only breathes this spiration of love for this same goodness and by this same will,—therefore this spiration of love is but one spiration, or one only spirit breathed out by two breathers.

And because the Father and the Son Who breathe, have an infinite essence and will by which They breathe, and because the goodness for which They breathe is infinite, it is impossible Their breathing should not be infinite; and forasmuch as it cannot be infinite without being God, therefore this Spirit breathed from the Father and the Son is true God: and since there neither is, nor can be, more than one only God, He is one only true God with the Father and the Son. Moreover, as this love is an act which proceeds mutually from the Father and the Son, it can neither be the Father, nor the Son, from whom it proceeds, though it has the same goodness and substance of the Father and the Son, but must necessarily be a third person, Who with the Father and the Son is one only God. And because this love is produced by manner of breathings or spirations, it is called the Holy Spirit.

Now, Theotimus, King David, describing the sweetness of the friendship of God's servants, cries out: Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity: like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down to the skirt of his garment: as the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon Mount Sion.175175Ps. cxxxii.

But, O God! if human friendship be so agreeably lovely, and spread so delicious an odour on them that contemplate it, what shall it be, my well-beloved Theotimus, to behold the sacred 161exercise of mutual love between the eternal Father and the Son. S. Gregory Nazianzen recounts that the incomparable love which existed between him and S. Basil the Great was famous all through Greece, and Tertullian testifies, that the Pagans admired the more than brotherly love which reigned amongst the primitive Christians. Oh! with what celebration and solemnity, with what praises and benedictions, should be kept, with what admirations should be honoured and loved, the eternal and sovereign friendship of the Father and the Son! What is there to be loved and desired if friendship is not? And if friendship is to be loved and desired, what friendship can be so in comparison with that infinite friendship which is between the Father and the Son, and Which is one same most sole God with them? Our heart, Theotimus, will sink lost in love, through admiration of the beauty and sweetness of the love, that this eternal Father and this incomprehensible Son practise divinely and eternally.

 

CHAPTER XIV.

THAT THE HOLY LIGHT OF GLORY WILL SERVE FOR THE UNION OF THE BLESSED SPIRITS WITH GOD.

The created understanding then shall see the divine essence, without any medium of species or representation; yet not without a certain excellent light which disposes, elevates, and strengthens it, to raise its view so high, and to an object so sublime and resplendent. For as the owl has a sight strong enough to bear the sombre light of a clear night, but not strong enough to stand the mid-day light, which is too brilliant to be borne by eyes so dim and weak; so our understanding, which is strong enough to consider natural truths by its discourse, yea even the supernatural things of grace by the light of faith, is not yet able, by the light of either nature or faith, to attain unto the view of the divine substance in itself. Wherefore the sweetness of the eternal wisdom determined not to apply His essence to our understanding till He had prepared, strengthened and fitted it to receive a sight so eminent, and so disproportionate 162to its natural condition as is the view of the Divinity. So the sun, the sovereign object of our corporal eyes amongst natural things, does not present itself unto our view without sending first its rays, by means whereof we may be able to see it, so that we only see it by its light. Yet there is a difference between the rays which the sun casts upon our corporal eyes and the light which God will create in our understandings in heaven: for the sun's rays do not fortify our corporal eyes when they are weak and unable to see, but rather blind them, dazzling and confounding their infirm vision: whereas, on the contrary, this sacred light of glory, finding our understandings unapt and unable to behold the Divinity, raises, strengthens and perfects them so excellently, that by an incomprehensible marvel they behold and contemplate the abyss of the divine brightness in itself with a fixed and direct gaze, not being dazzled or beaten back by the infinite greatness of its splendour.

In like manner, therefore, as God has given us the light of reason, by which we may know Him as Author of nature, and the light of faith by which we consider Him as source of grace, so will He bestow upon us the light of glory by which we shall contemplate Him as the fountain of beatitude and eternal life: but a fountain, Theotimus, which we shall not contemplate afar off as we do now by faith, but which we shall see by the light of glory while plunged and swallowed up in it.

Divers, who, fishing for precious stones, go down into the water, take oil, says Pliny, in their mouths, that by scattering it, they may have more light to see in the waters where they swim. Theotimus, a blessed soul having entered and plunged into the ocean of the divine essence, God will pour into its understanding the sacred light of glory, which will enlighten it in this abyss of inaccessible light, that so by the light of glory we may see the light of the Divinity. For with Thee is the fountain of life; and in Thy light we shall see light.176176Ps. xxxv. 10.

 

163

CHAPTER XV.

THAT THERE SHALL BE DIFFERENT DEGREES OF THE UNION OF THE BLESSED WITH GOD.

Now this light of glory, Theotimus, shall be the measure of the sight and centemplation of the Blessed; and according as we shall have less or more of this holy splendour, we shall see more or less clearly, and consequently with more or less happiness, the most holy Divinity, which as it is beholden diversely so it will make us diversely glorious. All the spirits indeed in this heavenly Paradise see all the divine essence, yet it is not seen and cannot be seen entirely by any one of them or by all of them together. No, Theotimus, for God being most singularly one, and most simply indivisible, we cannot see Him without seeing Him all: but being infinite, without limit, without bounds or measure at all in His perfection, there neither is, nor can be, any capacity out of Himself which can ever totally comprehend or penetrate the infinity of His goodness, infinitely essential and essentially infinite.

This created light of the visible sun, which is limited and finite, is in such sort all seen by those that behold it that it is never totally seen by any one of them nor by all together. It is in a manner so with all our senses. Amongst many that hear excellent music, though all of them hear it all, yet some hear it not so well, nor with so much delight as others, according as their ears are more or less delicate. The manna was all tasted by each one that ate it, yet differently, according to the different appetites of those who ate it, and was never wholly tasted, for it had more tastes of different kinds than the Israelites had varieties of tasting power. Theotimus, we shall see and taste in heaven all the Divinity, but no one of the Blessed nor all together shall ever see or taste it totally. This infinite Divinity shall still have infinitely more excellences than we sufficiency and capacity; and we shall have an unspeakable content to know that after we have satiated all the desires of our heart, and fully replenished its capacity in the fruition of the infinite good which is God, nevertheless there will remain 164in this infinity, infinite perfections to be seen, enjoyed and possessed, which His divine Majesty knows and sees, it alone comprehending itself.

So fishes enjoy the incredible vastness of the ocean; but not any fish, nor yet all the multitude of fishes, ever saw all the shores of the sea or wetted their fins in all its waters. Birds sport in the open air at their pleasure, but not any bird, nor yet all the flocks of birds together, did ever beat with their wings all the regions of the air, or arrive at the supreme region of the same. Ah! Theotimus, our souls shall freely and according to the full extent of their wishes swim in the ocean and soar in the air of the Divinity, rejoicing eternally to see that this air is so infinite, this ocean so vast, that it cannot be measured by their wings, and that enjoying without reserve or exception all this infinite abyss of the Divinity, yet shall they never be able to equalize their fruition to this infinity, which remains still infinitely infinite beyond their capacity.

And at this the Blessed Spirits are ravished with two admirations, first for the infinite beauty which they contemplate, secondly for the abyss of the infinity which remains to be seen in this same beauty. O God! how admirable is that which they see! But, O God! how much more admirable is that which they see not! And yet, Theotimus, since the most sacred beauty which they see is infinite, it entirely satisfies and satiates them, and being content to enjoy it according to the rank which they hold in heaven, because God's most amiable providence has so determined, they convert the knowledge they have of not possessing and of not being able totally to possess their object, into a simple complacency of admiration, in which they have a sovereign joy to see that the beauty they love is so infinite that it cannot be totally known but by itself. For in this consists the Divinity of this infinite beauty or the beauty of this infinite Divinity.


165

BOOK IV.

OF THE

DECAY AND RUIN OF CHARITY.

CHAPTER I.

THAT AS LONG AS WE ARE IN THIS MORTAL LIFE WE MAY LOSE THE LOVE OF GOD.

We do not now speak of those great elect souls whom God by a most special favour so maintains and confirms in his love, that they run no hazard of losing it. We speak for the rest of mortals, to whom the Holy Ghost addresses these warnings: He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.1771771 Cor. x. 12. Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.178178Apoc. iii. 11. Labour the more that by good works you may make sure your calling and election.1791792 Peter i. 10. Whence he makes them make this prayer: Cast me not away from thy face; and take not thy holy spirit from me.180180Ps. l. 13. And lead us not into temptation: that they may work out their salvation with a holy trembling, and a sacred fear,181181Phil. ii. 12. knowing that they are not more constant and strong to preserve God's love than were the first angel with his followers and Judas, who receiving it lost it, and losing it lost themselves for ever; nor than Solomon, who, having once left it, holds the whole world in doubt of his damnation; nor than Adam and Eve, David, S. Peter, who being children of salvation, fell yet for a space from the love without which there is no salvation. Alas! Theotimus, who shall then have assurance of preserving 166sacred love in the navigation of this mortal life, since, as well on earth as in heaven, so many persons of incomparable dignity have suffered such cruel shipwrecks?

But, O eternal God! how is it possible, will one say, that a soul that has the love of God can ever lose it; for where love is it resists sin, and how comes it to pass then that sin gets entry there, since love is strong as death, hard in fight as hell?182182Cant. viii. 6. How can the forces of death or hell, that is, of sins, vanquish love, which at least equals them in strength, and surpasses them in helps and in right? And how can it be that a reasonable soul which has once relished so great a sweetness as is that of heavenly love, can ever willingly swallow the bitter waters of offence? Children, though children, being fed with milk, abhor the bitterness of wormwood and of aloes, and cry themselves into convulsions when they are made to take them. Ah! then, O true God! Theotimus, how can the soul, once joined to the goodness of the Creator, forsake him to follow the vanity of the creature?

My dear Theotimus, the heavens themselves are astonished, their gates become desolate with fear,183183Jer. ii. 12. and the angels of peace are lost in amazement at this prodigious misery of man's heart, abandoning a good so worthy of love, to join itself to things so unworthy. But have you never seen that little marvel which every one knows, though every one does not know the reason of it? When a very full barrel is broached, the wine will not run unless it have air given from above, which yet happens not to barrels in which there is already a void, for they are no sooner open but the wine runs. Truly in this mortal life though our souls abound with heavenly love yet they are never so full of it but that by temptation this love may depart: in heaven, however, when the sweetness of God's beauty shall occupy all our understanding, and the delights of his goodness shall wholly satiate our wills, so that there shall be nothing which the fulness of his love shall not replenish, no object, though it penetrate even to our hearts, can ever draw or make run out one sole drop of the precious liquor of our heavenly love. And to expect to give air above, that is, to deceive 167or surprise the understanding, shall no more be possible; for it shall be immovable in the apprehension of the sovereign truth.

So wine well purified and separated from the lees is easily kept from turning and getting thick; that which is on its lees is in continual danger; and we, so long as we are in this world, have our souls upon the lees or tartar of a thousand moods and miseries, and consequently easy to change and spoil in their love. But once in heaven, where, as in the great feast described by Isaias, we shall have wine purified from all lees, we shall be no longer subject to change, but be inseparably united by love to our sovereign good. Here in the twilight of dawning we are afraid that in lieu of the spouse we may meet some other object, which may engage and deceive us, but when we shall find Him above, where He feeds and reposes in the mid-day, there will be no chance of being deceived, for His light will be too clear, and His sweetness will bind us so closely to His goodness, that we shall no longer have the power to will to unfasten ourselves.

We are like the coral, which in the sea, the place of its origin, is a pale-green, weak, drooping and pliable tree, but being drawn from the bottom of the sea, as from its mother's womb, it becomes almost a stone, firm and unbending, while it changes its pale-green into a lively red. For so we being as yet amidst the sea of this world the place of our birth, are subject to extreme vicissitudes, liable to be bent on every side; to the right, which is heavenly love, by inspiration, to the left, which is earthly love, by temptation. But if, being once drawn out of this mortality, we have changed the pale-green of our trembling hopes into the bright red of assured fruition, we shall never more be movable, but make a settled abode for ever in eternal love.

It is impossible to see the Divinity and not love it, but here below where we do not see it, but only have a glimpse of it through the clouds of faith, as in a mirror, our knowledge is not yet so perfect as not to leave an opening for the surprises of other objects and apparent goods, which through the obscurities which are mixed with the certainty and verity of faith, steal in unperceived, like little fox cubs, and demolish our flourishing vineyard. To conclude, Theotimus, when we have charity our free-will is 168clothed with her wedding garment, which, as she can still keep it on if she please by well-doing, so she can put off if she please by offending.

 

CHAPTER II.

HOW THE SOUL GROWS COLD IN HOLY LOVE.

The soul is often grieved and troubled in the body, even so far as to desert many of its members, which remain deprived of motion and feeling, while it never forsakes the heart, wherein it fully remains till the very end of life. So charity is sometimes weakened and depressed in the affections till it seems to be scarcely in exercise at all, and yet it remains entire in the supreme region of the soul. This happens when, under the multitude of venial sins as under ashes, the fire of holy love remains covered, and its flame smothered, though it is not dead or extinguished. For as the presence of the diamond hinders the exercise and action of that property which the adamant has of drawing iron, and yet does not take it away, as it acts immediately this obstacle is removed, so the presence of venial sins in no sort deprives charity of its force and power to work, yet as it were benumbs it and deprives it of the use of its activity, so that charity remains without action, sterile and unfruitful. It is true that neither venial sin, nor even the affection to it, is contrary to the essential resolution of charity, which is to prefer God before all things; because by this sin we love something outside reason but not against reason, we defer a little too much, and more than is fit, to creatures, yet we do not prefer them before the Creator, we occupy ourselves more than we ought in earthly things, yet do we not for all that forsake heavenly things. In fine, this kind of sin impedes us in the way of charity, but does not put us out of it, and therefore venial sin, not being contrary to charity, never destroys charity either wholly or partially.

God signified to the Bishop of Ephesus that he had forsaken his first charity,184184Apoc. ii. 4. where he does not say that he was without 169charity, but only that it was not such as in the beginning; that is, that it was not now prompt, fervent, growing in love, or fruitful: as we are wont to say of him who from being bright, cheerful and blithe, becomes sad, heavy and sullen, that he is not now the same man he was; for our meaning is not that he is not the same in substance, but only in his actions and exercises. And thus Our Saviour says that in the latter days the charity of many shall grow cold,185185Matt. xxiv. 12. that is, it shall not be so active and courageous, by reason of fear and sadness which shall oppress men's hearts. Certain it is that when concupiscence hath conceived it bringeth forth sin.186186James i. 15. The sin however, though sin indeed, does not always beget the death of the soul, but then only when it is complete in malice, and when it is consummate and accomplished, as S. James says. And he here establishes so clearly the difference between mortal and venial sin, that it is strange that some in our age have had the temerity to deny it.

However, venial sin is sin, and consequently troubles charity, not as a thing that is contrary to charity itself, but contrary to its operations and progress, and even to its intention. For as this intention is that we should direct all our actions to God, it is violated by venial sin, which directs the actions by which we commit it, not indeed against God yet outside God and his will. And as we say of a tree rudely visited and stripped by a tempest that nothing is left, because though the tree be entire yet it is left without fruit, so when our charity is shaken by the affection we have to venial sin, we say it is diminished and weakened; not because the habit of love is not entire in our hearts, but because it is without the works which are its fruits.

The affection to great sins did so make truth prisoner to injustice amongst the pagan philosophers, that, as the great Apostle says: Knowing God they honoured him not according to that knowledge;187187Rom. i. 21. so that though this affection did not banish natural light, yet it made it profitless. So the affection to venial sin does not abolish charity, but it holds it as a slave, tied hand and foot, hindering its freedom and action. This affection, attaching us too closely to the enjoyment of creatures, deprives us of the spiritual intimacy between God and us, to which 170charity, as true friendship, excites us; consequently this affection makes us lose the interior helps and assistances which are as it were the vital and animating spirits of the soul, in default of which there follows a certain spiritual palsy, which in the end, if it be not remedied, brings us to death. For, after all, charity being an active quality cannot be long without either acting or dying: it is, say our Ancients, of the nature of Rachel, who also represented it. Give me, said she to her husband, children, otherwise I shall die;188188Gen. xxx. 1. and charity urges the heart which she has espoused to make her fertile of good works; otherwise she will perish.

We are rarely in this mortal life without many temptations. Now low and slothful hearts, and such as are given to exterior pleasures, not being accustomed to fight nor exercised in spiritual warfare, never preserve charity long, but let themselves ordinarily be surprised by mortal sin, which happens the more easily because the soul is more disposed by venial sin to mortal. For as that man of old, having continued to carry every day the same calf, bore him also when he was grown to be a great ox, custom having by little and little made insensible the increase of so heavy a burden; so he that accustoms himself to play for pence will in the end play for crowns, pistoles and horses, and after his stud all his estate.189189Apres ses chevaux toute sa chevance. He that gives the reins to little angers becomes in the end furious and unbearable; he that addicts himself to lying in jest, is in great peril of lying with calumny.

In fine, Theotimus, we are wont to say that such as have a very weakly constitution have no life, that they have not an ounce, or not a handful of it, because that which is quickly to have an end seems indeed already not to be. And those good-for-nothing souls who are addicted to pleasure and set upon transitory things, may well say that they no longer have charity, for if they have it they are in the way soon to lose it.

 

171

CHAPTER III.

HOW WE FORSAKE DIVINE LOVE FOR THAT OF CREATURES.

This misery of quitting God for the creature happens thus. We do not love God without intermission, because in this mortal life charity is in us as a simple habit, which, as philosophers have remarked, we use when we like and never against our liking. When then we do not make use of the charity which is in us, that is, when we are not applying our spirit to the exercises of holy love, but, when (keeping it busied in some other affair, or it being idle in itself) it remains useless and negligent, then, Theotimus, it may be assaulted by some bad object and surprised by temptation. And though the habit of charity be at that instant in the bottom of our hearts and perform its office, inclining us to reject the bad suggestion, yet it only urges us or leads us to the action of resistance according as we second it, as is the manner of habits; and therefore charity leaving us in our freedom, it happens often that the bad object having cast its allurements deeply into our hearts, we attach ourselves unto it by an excessive complacency, which when it comes to grow, we can hardly get rid of, and like thorns, according to the saying of Our Saviour, it in the end stifles the seed of grace and heavenly love. So it fell out with our first mother Eve, whose overthrow began by a certain amusement which she took in discoursing with the serpent, receiving complacency in hearing it talk of her advancement in knowledge, and in seeing the beauty of the forbidden fruit, so that the complacency growing with the amusement and the amusement feeding itself in the complacency, she found herself at length so entangled, that giving away to consent, she committed the accursed sin into which afterwards she drew her husband.

We see that pigeons, touched with vanity, display themselves (se pavonnent) sometimes in the air, and sail about hither and thither, admiring the variety of their plumage, and then the tercelets and falcons that espy them fall upon them and seize them, which they could never do if the pigeons had been flying their proper flight, as they have a stronger wing than have birds 172of prey. Ah! Theotimus, if we did not amuse ourselves with the vanity of fleeting pleasures, especially in the complacency of self-love, but if having once got charity we were careful to fly straight thither whither it would carry us, suggestion and temptation should never catch us, but because as doves seduced and beguiled by self-esteem we look back upon ourselves, and engage our spirits too much with creatures, we often find ourselves seized by the talons of our enemies, who bear away and devour us.

God does not will to hinder temptations from attacking us, to the end that by resistance our charity may be more exercised, that by fighting we may gain the victory, and by victory obtain the triumph. But for us to have any kind of inclination to delight ourselves in the temptation—this rises from the condition of our nature, which so earnestly loves good that it is subject to be enticed by anything that has a show of good, and temptation's hook is ever baited with this kind of bait: for, as holy Writ teaches, there is either some good honourable in the world's sight to move us to the pride of a worldly life, or a good delightful to sense to carry us to concupiscence of the flesh, or a good tending towards wealth, to incite us to the concupiscence and avarice of the eyes.1901901 John ii. 16. But if we kept our faith, which can discern between the true good we are to pursue and the false which we are to reject, sharply attentive to its office, without doubt it would be a trusty sentinel to charity, and would give intelligence of that evil which approaches the heart under pretext of good, and charity would immediately repulse it. But because ordinarily we keep our faith either asleep or less attentive than is requisite for the preservation of our charity, we are often surprised by temptation, which, seducing our senses, while our senses incite the inferior part of our soul to rebellion, often brings to pass that the superior part of reason yields to the violence of this revolt, and by committing sin loses charity.

Such was the progress of the sedition which the disloyal Absalom stirred up against his good father David; for he put forward propositions which were good in appearance, which 173being once received by the poor Israelites whose prudence was put to sleep and smothered, he solicited them in such sort that he wrought them to a complete rebellion; so that David was constrained to depart from Jerusalem with all his most faithful friends, leaving there no men of distinction save Sadoc and Abiathar, priests of the Eternal, with their children: now Sadoc was a seer, that is to say a prophet.1911912 Kings xv.

For so, most dear Theotimus, self-love, finding our faith without attention and drowsy, presents unto us vain yet apparent goods, seduces our senses, our imagination and the faculties of our souls, and lays so hard at our free-wills that it brings them to an entire revolt against the holy love of God, which then, as another David, departs from our heart with all its train, that is with the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the other heavenly virtues, which are the inseparable companions of charity, if not her properties and faculties. Nor does there remain in the Jerusalem of our soul any virtue of importance saving Sadoc the seer, that is the gift of faith which can make us see eternal truths, with the exercise of it, and with him Abiathar, that is the gift of hope with its action; both these remain much afflicted and sorrowful, yet maintain in us the ark of alliance, that is the quality and title of Christian purchased by baptism.

Alas! Theotimus, what a pitiful spectacle it is to the angels of peace to see the Holy Ghost and his love depart in this manner out of our sinful souls! Verily I think if they could weep they would pour out infinite tears, and, with a mournful voice lamenting our misery, would sing the sad canticle which Jeremias took up, when sitting upon the threshold of the desolate temple he contemplated the ruin of Jerusalem in the time of Sedecias: How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! How is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow: the princess of provinces made tributary!192192Jer. Lam. i. 1.

 

174

CHAPTER IV.

THAT HEAVENLY LOVE IS LOST IN A MOMENT.

The love of God, which brings us as far as contempt of self, makes us citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem; self-love, which pushes us forward to the contempt of God, makes us slaves of the infernal Babylon. It is true that only little by little we come to despise God, but we have no sooner done it than instantly, in a moment, holy charity forsakes us, or rather wholly perishes. Yes, Theotimus, for in this contempt of God does mortal sin consist, and one only mortal sin banishes charity from the soul, inasmuch as it breaks the connection and union with God, which is obedience and submission to his will: and as man's heart cannot live divided, so charity, which is the heart of the soul and the soul of the heart, can never be wounded without being slain: as they say of pearls, which being conceived of heavenly dew perish if any drop of salt water get within the shell that holds them. Our soul, as you know, does not go out of our body by little and little, but in a moment, when the indisposition of the body is so great that it can no longer exercise the actions of life in it: even so, the very instant the heart is so disordered by passions that charity can no longer reign there, she quits and abandons it: for she is so noble, that she cannot cease to reign without ceasing to be.

Habits acquired by our human actions alone do not perish by one single contrary act: for a man is not said to be intemperate for one single act of intemperance, nor is a painter held an unskilful master for having once failed in his art; but, as all such habits are acquired by the influence of a series of acts, so we lose them by a long cessation from their acts or by many contrary acts. But charity, Theotimus, which in a moment the Holy Ghost pours into our hearts as soon as the conditions requisite for this infusion are found in us, is also in an instant taken from us, as soon as, diverting our will from the obedience we owe to God, we complete our consent to the rebellion and disloyalty to which temptation excites us.

It is true that charity increases by degrees and goes from 175perfection to perfection according as by our works or by the frequenting of the sacraments we make place for it, yet it does not decrease by a lessening of its perfection, for we never lose any least part of it but we lose it all. In which it resembles the masterpiece of Phidias so famous amongst the ancients; for they say that this great sculptor made at Athens an ivory statue of Minerva, twenty-six cubits high, and in the buckler which she held, wherein he had represented the battles of the Amazons and Giants, he carved his own face with so great art that one could not take away one line of it, says Aristotle, without destroying the whole statue, so that this work, though it had been brought to perfection by adding piece to piece, yet would have perished in an instant if one little parcel of the workman's likeness had been removed. In like manner, Theotimus, though the Holy Ghost having infused charity into a soul increases it by adding one degree to another and one perfection of love to another, yet still, the resolution of preferring God's will before all things being the essential point of sacred love, and that wherein the image of eternal love, that is of the Holy Ghost, is represented, one cannot withdraw one single piece of it but presently charity wholly perishes.

This preference of God before all things is the dear child of charity. And if Agar, who was but an Egyptian, seeing her son in danger of death had not the heart to stay by him, but would have left him, saying: Ah! I will not see the child die,193193Gen. xxi. 16. is it strange then that charity, the daughter of heavenly sweetness and delight, cannot bear to behold the death of her child, which is the resolution never to offend God? So that while free-will is resolving to consent to sin and is thereby putting to death this holy resolution, charity dies with it, saying in its last sigh: Ah! no, never will I see this child die. In fine, Theotimus, as the precious stone called prassius loses its lustre in the presence of any poison, so in an instant the soul loses her splendour, grace and beauty, which consist in holy love, upon the entry and presence of any mortal sin;—whence it is written that the soul that sinneth, the same shall die.194194Ezech. xviii. 4.

 

176

CHAPTER V.

THAT THE SOLE CAUSE OF THE DECAY AND COOLING OF CHARITY IS IN THE CREATURE'S WILL.

As it would be an impious effrontery to attribute the works of holy love done by the Holy Ghost in and with us to the strength of our will, it would be a shameless impiety to lay the defect of love in ungrateful men, on the failure of heavenly assistance and grace. For the Holy Ghost cries everywhere, on the contrary, that our ruin is from ourselves: Destruction is thine own, O Israel! thy help is only in me:195195Osee xiii. 9. that Our Saviour brought the fire of love, and desires nothing but that it should be enkindled in our hearts:196196Luke xii. 49. that salvation is prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel:197197Luke ii. 32. that the divine goodness is not willing that any should perish,1981982 Peter iii. 9. but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth: and will have all men to be saved,1991991 Tim. ii. 4. their Saviour being come into the world, that he might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.200200Gal. iv. 5. And the wise man clearly warns us, Say not: it is through God that she (wisdom) is not with me.201201Eccli. xv. 11. And the sacred Council of Trent divinely inculcates upon all the children of holy Church, that the Grace of God is never wanting to such as do what they can, invoking the divine assistance; that God never abandons such as he has once justified unless they abandon him first; so that, if they be not wanting to grace they shall obtain glory.

In fine, Theotimus, Our Saviour is the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.202202John i. 9. Some travellers, one summer's day about noontide, lay down to repose under the shade of a tree, but while their weariness and the coolness of the shadow kept them asleep, the sun advancing on them threw just upon their eyes his strongest light, which by its glittering brightness gave glimpses of itself like little flashes of lightning about the pupils of these sleepers' eyes, and by the heat which pierced their eyelids, forced them by a gentle violence 177to awake. Some of them being awakened get up, and making way get happily to their lodging, the rest not only do not rise, but turning their backs to the sun and pressing their hats over their eyes, spend their day there in sleeping, till surprised by night and yet being desirous to make towards their lodging, they stray, one here, one there, in the forest, at the mercy of wolves, wild-boars, and other savage beasts. Now tell me, I pray, Theotimus, those that arrived, ought they not to give all their thanks for their good success to the sun, or to speak like a Christian, to the sun's Creator? Yes surely; for they thought not of waking when it was time: the sun did them this good office, and by the gentle invitation of his light and heat came lovingly to call them up. 'Tis true they resisted not his call, but he also helped them much even in that; for he spread his light fairly upon them, giving them a half-sight of himself through their eyelids, and by his heat as it were by his love he unsealed their eyes, and urged them to see his day.

On the contrary, those poor strangers, what right had they to cry in that wood: Alas! what have we done to the sun that he did not make us see his light, as he did our companions, that we might have arrived at our lodgings and not have wandered in this hideous darkness? For who would not undertake the sun's or rather God's cause, my dear Theotimus, to answer these wretches. What is there, miserable beings, that the sun could really do for you and did not? His favours were equal to all ye that slept: he approached you all with the same light, touched you with the same rays, spread over you a like heat, but unhappy ye, although you saw your risen companions take their pilgrim's staff to gain way, ye turned your backs to the sun and would not make use of his light, nor be conquered by his heat.

Now, Theotimus, see here what I would say. We are all pilgrims in this mortal life; almost all of us have voluntarily slept in sin; God the sun of justice darts upon us most sufficiently, yea abundantly, the beams of his inspirations, warms our hearts with his benedictions, touching every one with the allurements of his love. Ah! how comes it then that these allurements allure so few and draw yet fewer? Ah! certainly 178such as, first allured, afterwards drawn, follow the inspiration, have great occasion to rejoice, but not to glorify themselves for it. Let them rejoice because they enjoy a great good; yet let them not glorify themselves therein, because it is by God's pure goodness, who, leaving them the profit of their good works, reserves to himself the glory of them. But concerning them that remain in the sleep of sin: Oh! what good reason they have to lament, groan, weep, and say: woe the day! for they are in the most lamentable of cases; yet have they no reason to grieve or complain, save about themselves, who despised, yea rebelled against, the light; who were untractable to invitations, and obstinate against inspirations; so that it is their own malice alone they must ever curse and reproach, since they themselves are the sole authors of their ruin, the sole workers of their damnation. So the Japanese, complaining to the Blessed Francis Xavier, their Apostle, that God who had had so much care of other nations, seemed to have forgotten their predecessors, not having given them the knowledge of himself, for want of which they must have been lost: the man of God answered them that the divine natural law was engraven in the hearts of all mortals, and that if their forerunners had observed it, the light of heaven would without doubt have illuminated them, as, on the contrary, having violated it, they deserved damnation. An apostolic answer of an apostolic man, and resembling the reason given by the great Apostle of the loss of the ancient Gentiles, whom he calls inexcusable, for that having known good they followed evil; for it is in a word that which he inculcates in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans. Misery upon misery to those who do not acknowledge that their misery comes from their malice!

 

CHAPTER VI.

THAT WE OUGHT TO ACKNOWLEDGE ALL THE LOVE WE BEAR TO GOD TO BE FROM GOD.

The love of men towards God takes its being, progress and perfection from the eternal love of God towards men. This is the 179universal sense of the Church our mothers who with an ardent jealousy will have us to acknowledge our salvation and the means thereof, to proceed solely from Our Saviour's mercy, to the end that on earth as in heaven to him alone may be honour and glory.

What hast thou that thou hast not received? says the divine Apostle, speaking of the gifts of knowledge, eloquence, and other like qualities of Church-pastors; and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received.2032031 Cor. iv. 7. It is true; we have received all from God, but especially the supernatural goods of holy love. And if we have received them, why should we take the glory of them?

Certainly if any one would extol himself for having made progress in the love of God: Alas! wretched man, should we say unto him, thou wast aswoon in thy iniquity, having neither force nor life left in thee to rise (as it happened to the princess in our parable),204204See Book iii. 3. and God of his infinite goodness ran to thy succour, and crying with a loud voice; Open the mouth of thy attention and I will fill it,205205Ps. lxxx. 11. he himself put his fingers between thy lips and unlocked thy teeth, casting into thy heart his holy inspiration, and thou didst receive it; and when thou wast brought back to thy senses, he went on by divers movements and various means to strengthen thy heart, till at length he infused into it his charity, as thy vital and perfect health.

Well then, tell me now, miserable creature, what hast thou done in all this of which thou canst boast? Thou didst consent, I know it well; the motion of thy will did freely follow that of heavenly grace. But all this, what is it more than to receive the divine operation without resistance? And what is there in this, that thou hast not received? Yea, poor wretch that thou art, thou didst receive the receiving in which thou gloriest, and the consent which thou vauntest: for tell me, I pray thee, wilt thou not grant me, that if God had not prevented thee, thou wouldst never have perceived his goodness, and consequently never have consented to his love? No, nor yet hadst thou thought a single good thought of him. His movement gave 180being and life to thine, and if his liberty had not animated, excited and provoked thy liberty, by the powerful invitations of his sweetness, thy liberty had been for ever unprofitable to thy salvation. I confess thou didst co-operate with the inspiration by consenting, but, if thou knowest it not, I teach thee that thy co-operation took being from the operation of grace and thy freewill together, yet so, that if grace had not prevented and filled thy heart with its operation, never had thy heart had either power or will to co-operate.

But tell me again, I beseech thee, vile and abject man, is it not ridiculous of thee to think that thou hast a share in the glory of thy conversion because thou didst not repel the inspiration? Is not this a frenzy of robbers and tyrants, to pretend they give life to those from whom they do not take it? And is it not a frantic impiety to think that thou gavest holy efficacy and living activity to the divine inspiration, because by resistance thou didst not take it away? We can hinder the effects of inspiration, but we cannot give it any; it takes its force and virtue from the divine goodness which is the place of its starting, and not from man's will the place of its arrival. Should we not be moved to wrath, to hear the princess of our parable boast that it was she that gave virtue and power to the cordial waters and other medicines, or that she cured herself, because if she had not received the remedies which the king gave her and poured into her mouth (at such time as being half dead there remained hardly any sense in her), they had had no operation? Yes, might one say to her: ungrateful that thou art, thou mightest have obstinately refused to receive the remedies, thou mightest, after thou hadst received them into thy mouth, have cast them out again, yet for all that it is not true that thou gavest them force and virtue. This they had as their natural property, thou didst only consent to receive them, and let them operate; and besides, thou wouldst never have consented, if the King had not first reinvigorated thee, and then solicited thee to take them; never hadst thou received them, had not he assisted thee to receive them, opening thy very mouth with his fingers, and pouring the potion into it. Art thou not then a monster of ingratitude 181to wish to attribute to thyself a benefit which by so many titles thou owest to thy dear spouse?

The curious little fish, called echeneis, or remora, has indeed the power to stay or not to stay a ship sailing on the high sea under full sail: but it has not the power to make it set sail, or proceed or arrive; it can hinder motion, but cannot give it. Our free-will can stay and hinder the course of the inspiration and when the favourable gale of God's grace swells the sails of our soul it is in our power to refuse consent, and thereby to hinder the effect of the wind's favour: but when our spirit sails along, and makes its voyage prosperously, it is not we that make the gale of the inspiration blow for us, nor we that make our sails swell with it, nor we that give motion to the ship of our heart; but we simply receive the gale sent from heaven, consent to its motion, and let our ship sail under it, not hindering it by the remora of our resistance. It is the inspiration then which impresses on our free-will the happy and sweet influence whereby it not only makes it see the beauty of good, but also heats, helps, and strengthens it, and moves it so sweetly that it thus turns and freely flows out towards what is good.

The heavens in spring time prepare the fresh dewdrops, and shower them down upon the face of the sea, and the mother-pearls that open their shells receive these drops, which are converted into pearls: but, on the contrary, the mother-pearls which keep their shells shut do not hinder the dews from falling upon them, yet they hinder them from falling into them. Now have not the heavens sent their dew and their influence as much upon the one as the other mother-pearl? Why then did the one in effect produce its pearl and the others not? The heavens were as bountiful to that one which remained sterile as was requisite to empearl and impregnate it with its fair unity,206206i.e. pearl. See p. 82 [Tr.] but it hindered the effect of the heavens' favour, by keeping itself closed and covered. And as for that which conceived the pearl on receiving the dew, it has nothing in that work which it did not receive from heaven, not even its opening whereby it received the dew; for without the touches of the morning's rays, which did gently excite it, it had not risen up to the surface of 182the sea, nor yet opened its shell. Theotimus, if we have any love for God, his be the honour and glory, who did all in us, and without whom nothing were done; ours be the profit and obligation. This is the division his divine goodness makes with us; he leaves us the fruits of his benefits, and reserves to himself the honour and praise of them; and verily since we are nothing but by his grace, we ought to be nothing but for his glory.

 

CHAPTER VII.

THAT WE MUST AVOID ALL CURIOSITY, AND HUMBLY ACQUIESCE IN GOD'S MOST WISE PROVIDENCE.

The human spirit is so weak that when it would look too curiously into the causes and reasons of God's will it embarrasses and entangles itself in the meshes of a thousand difficulties, out of which it has much to do to deliver itself; it resembles smoke, for as smoke ascends it gets more subtle, and as it grows more subtle it vanishes. In striving to raise our reasonings too high in divine things by curiosity we grow vain or empty in our thoughts, and instead of arriving at the knowledge of truth, we fall into the folly of our vanity.

But above all we are unreasonable towards Divine providence in regard to the diversity of the means which he bestows upon us to draw us to his holy love, and by his holy love to glory. For our temerity urges us ever to inquire why God gives more means to one than to another; why he did not amongst the Tyrians and Sidonians the miracles which he did in Corozain and Bethsaida, seeing they would have made as good use of them; and, in fine, why he draws one rather than another to his love.

O Theotimus! my friend, never, no never, must we permit our minds to be carried away by this mad whirlwind, nor expect to find a better reason of God's will than his will itself, which is sovereignly reasonable, yea, the reason of all reasons, the rule of all goodness, the law of all equity. And although the Holy 183Ghost, speaking in the Holy Scripture, gives reason in divers places of almost all we can wish to know of what this divine providence does in conducting men to holy love and eternal salvation, yet on various occasions he shows that we must in no wise depart from the respect which is due to his will, whose purpose, decree, good-pleasure, and sentence we are to adore; and he being sovereign judge and sovereignly equitable, it is not reasonable that at the end he manifest his motives, but it is sufficient that he say simply—for reasons. And if charity obliges us to bear so much respect to the decrees of sovereign courts, composed of corruptible judges, of the earth and earthly, as to believe that they were not made without motives, though we know these not—ah! Lord God, with what a loving reverence ought we to adore the equity of thy supreme providence which is infinite in justice and goodness!

So in a thousand places of the holy Word we find the reason why God has reprobated the Jews. Because, say S. Paul and S. Barnabas, you reject the word of God, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles.207207Acts xiii. 46. And he that shall consider in tranquillity of heart Chapters IX. X. and XI. of the Epistle to the Romans, shall clearly see that God's will did not without reason reject the Jews; nevertheless, this reason must not be sought out by man's spirit, which, on the contrary, is obliged to be satisfied with purely and simply reverencing the divine decree, admiring it with love as infinitely just and upright, and loving it with admiration as impenetrable and incomprehensible. So that the divine Apostle thus concludes the long discourse which he had made concerning it: O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?208208Rom. xi. 33, 34. By which exclamation he testifies that God does all things with great wisdom, knowledge and reason; yet so, that, as man has not entered into the divine counsels, whose judgments and designs are placed infinitely above our reach, we ought devoutly to adore 184his decrees as most just, without searching out their motives. These he keeps in secret to himself, in order to keep our understanding in respect and humility to ourself.

S. Augustine in a hundred places teaches us this practice. "No one cometh to Our Saviour," says he, "if not drawn;—whom he draws, and whom he draws not, why he draws this one and not that,—do not wish to judge if you do not wish to err. Listen once for all and understand. Art thou not drawn, pray that thou mayst be drawn." "Verily it is sufficient for a Christian living as yet by faith, and not seeing that which is perfect, but only knowing in part, to know and believe that God delivers none from damnation, but by his free mercy, through our Lord Jesus Christ; and that he condemns none but by his most just truth, through the same Lord Jesus Christ. But to know why he delivers this one rather than the other—let that man sound so great a depth of God's judgments who is able, but let him beware of the precipice." "These judgments are not therefore unjust because they are hidden." "But why then does he deliver this man rather than that? We say again, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?209209Rom. ix. 20. His judgments are incomprehensible, and his ways unknown, and let us add this: Seek not the things that are too high for thee, and search not into things above thy ability:"210210Eccli. iii. 22. "Now he granteth not them mercy, to whom, by a truth most secret and furthest removed from men's thoughts, he judges it not fit to communicate his favours and mercy."

We see sometimes twins, of whom one is born alive and receives Baptism, the other in his birth loses his temporal life, before being regenerated to the eternal, and consequently the one is heir of heaven, the other is deprived of the inheritance. Now why does divine providence give such different fates to one equal birth? Truly it might be answered that ordinarily God's providence does not violate the laws of nature, so that one of these twins being strong, and the other too feeble to support the labour of his delivery, the latter died before he could be baptized, the other lived; divine providence not willing to stop the course of natural causes, which on this occasion were the reason why 185the one was deprived of Baptism. And truly this is a perfectly solid answer. But, following the advice of the divine S. Paul, and of S. Augustine, we ought not to busy our thoughts in this consideration, which, though it be good, yet in no respect enters into comparison with many others which God has reserved to himself, and will show us in heaven. "Then," says S. Augustine, "the secret shall end why rather the one than the other was received, the causes being equal as to both, and why miracles were not done amongst those who in case they had been done would have been brought to repentance, and were done amongst such as would will not to believe them." And in another place the same saint, speaking of sinners, some of whom God leaves in their iniquity while others he raises, says: "Now why he retains the one and not the other, it is not possible to comprehend, nor lawful to inquire, since it is enough to know that it is by him we stand and that it is not by him we fall." And again: "This is hidden and far removed from man's understanding, at least from mine."

Behold, Theotimus, the most holy way of philosophising on this subject. Wherefore I have always considered that the learned modesty and most wise humility of the seraphic Doctor S. Bonaventure were greatly to be admired and loved, in the discourse which he makes of the reason why divine providence ordains the elect to eternal life. "Perhaps," says he, "it is by a foresight of the good works which will be done by him that is drawn, insomuch as they proceed in some sort from the will: but distinctly to declare which good works being foreseen move God's will, I am not able, nor will I make inquiry thereupon: and there is no other reason than some sort of congruity, so that we might assign one while it might be another. Wherefore we cannot with assurance point out the true reason nor the true motive of God's will in this: for as S. Augustine says: 'Although the truth of it is most certain, yet is it far removed from our thoughts.' So that we can say nothing assuredly of it unless by the revelation of him who knows all things. And whereas it was not expedient for our salvation that we should have knowledge of these secrets, but on the contrary, it was more profitable that we should be ignorant 186of them, to keep us in humility, God would not reveal them, yea the holy Apostle did not dare to inquire about them, but testified the insufficiency of our understanding in this matter when he cried out: O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!" Could one speak more holily Theotimus of so holy a mystery? Indeed these are the words of a most saintly and prudent Doctor of the Church.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

AN EXHORTATION TO THE AMOROUS SUBMISSION WHICH WE OWE TO THE DECREES OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.

Let us love then, Theotimus, and adore in humility of spirit this depth of God's judgments, which, as S. Augustine says, the holy Apostle discovers not, but admires, when he cries out: O the depth of God's, judgments! "Who can count the sands of the sea, and the drops of rain, or measure the depths of the abyss," says that excellent understanding S. Gregory Nazianzen:211211Orat. xiv.: On Love of the Poor. "and who can sound the depth of the Divine Wisdom by which it has created all things, and governs them as it pleases and judges fit. For indeed it suffices that, after the example of the Apostle, we admire it without stopping at the difficulty and obscurity of it. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Theotimus, the reasons of God's will cannot be penetrated by our intelligence till we see the face of him who reacheth from end to end mightily and ordereth all things sweetly;212212Wis. viii. 1. doing all that he doth in measure, and number, and weight;213213Ibid. xi. 21. and to whom the Psalmist says, Lord, thou hast made all things in wisdom."214214Ps. ciii. 24.

How often does it happen that we are ignorant why and how even the works of men are done? And therefore, says the 187same holy Bishop of Nazianzus, "as the artist is not ignorant of his art, so the things of this world are not carelessly and unskilfully made, though we know not the reasons of them." Entering into a clockmaker's shop, we shall sometimes find a clock no greater than an orange, which yet has in it a hundred or two hundred pieces, of which some serve to show the time, others to strike the hour or give the morning alarm; we shall see in it little wheels, some turning to the right, others to the left, one by the top, another by the bottom; and the balance which with measured beats keeps rising and falling on either side. We wonder how art could join together such a number of pieces, with so just a correspondence, not knowing what each little piece serves for, nor why it is made so, unless the master tell us; knowing only in general that all serve either to point out or to strike the hour. It is reported that the good Indians will stand whole days musing upon a clock, to hear it strike at the times fixed, and not being able to guess how it is done, they do not therefore say that it is without art or reason, but are taken with love and respect towards those who regulate the clocks, admiring them as more than men. Theotimus, we see in this manner the universe, but specially human nature, to be a sort of clock, composed with so great a variety of actions and movements that we cannot but be astonished at it. And we know in general that these so diversely ordered pieces serve all, either to point out, as on a dial-plate, God's most holy justice or as by a bell of praise, to sound the triumphant mercy of his goodness. But to know the particular use of every piece, how it is ordered to the general end, or why it is so, we cannot conceive, unless the sovereign Workman instruct us. Now he conceals his art from us, to the end that with more reverence we may admire it, till in heaven he shall ravish us with the sweetness of his wisdom, where in the abundance of his love he will discover unto us the reasons, means and motives of all that shall have passed in the world towards our eternal salvation.

"We resemble," says yet again the great Nazianzen, "those, who are troubled with giddiness or turning of the head. They think that all about them is turning upside down, though it be but their brain and imagination which turn, and not the things; 188so we, when we meet with any events of which the causes are unknown to us, fancy that the world is governed without reason, because we are ignorant of it. Let us believe then that as God is the maker and father of all things, so he takes care of all things by his providence, which embraces and sustains all the machine of creatures. But especially let us believe that he rules our affairs, (ours who know him) though our life be tossed about in so great contrariety of accidents. Of these we know not the reasons, to the end, perhaps, that not being able to attain this knowledge we may admire the sovereign reason of God which surpasses all things: for with us things easily known are easily despised; but that which surpasses the highest powers of our spirit, by how much it is harder to be known, by so much it excites a greater admiration in us. Truly the reasons of divine providence were low placed if our small capacities could reach unto them; they would be less lovable in their sweetness and less admirable in their majesty if they were set at a less distance from our capacity!"

Let us cry out then, Theotimus, on all occurrences, but let it be with an entirely amorous heart towards the most wise, most prudent, and most sweet providence of our eternal Father: O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! O Saviour Jesus, Theotimus, how excessive are the riches of the Divine goodness! His love towards us is an incomprehensible abyss, whence he has provided for us a rich sufficiency, or rather a rich abundance of means proper for our salvation; and sweetly to apply them he makes use of a sovereign wisdom, having by his infinite knowledge foreseen and known all that was requisite to that effect. Ah! what can we fear, nay rather, what ought not we to hope for, being the children of a Father so rich in goodness to love and to will to save us; who knows so well how to prepare the means suitable for this and is so wise to apply them; so good to will, so clear-sighted to ordain, and so prudent to execute?

Let us never permit our minds to flutter with curiosity about God's judgments, for, like little butterflies, we shall burn our wings, and perish in this sacred flame. These judgments are incomprehensible, or, as S. Gregory Nazianzen says, inscrutable, that is, 189one cannot search out and sound their motives: the means and ways by which he executes and brings them to perfection cannot be discerned and recognized: and, clever as we may be, yet we shall find ourselves thrown out at every turn and lose the scent. For who hath known the mind, the meaning and the intention of God? Who hath been his counsellor, to know his purposes and their motives? Or who hath first given to him? Is it not he, on the contrary, who presents us with the benedictions of his grace to crown us with the felicity of his glory ? Ah! Theotimus, all things are from him, as being their Creator; all things are by him, as being their Governor; all things are in him, as being their Protector; to him be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen!215215Rom. xi. Let us walk in peace, Theotimus, in the way of holy love, for he that shall have divine love in dying, after death shall enjoy love eternally.

 

CHAPTER IX.

OF A CERTAIN REMAINDER OF LOVE THAT OFTENTIMES RESTS IN THE SOUL THAT HAS LOST HOLY CHARITY.

The life of a man who, spent out, lies dying little by little on his bed, hardly deserves to be termed life, since, though it be life, it is so mingled with death that it is hard to say whether it is a death yet living or a life dying. Alas! how pitiful a spectacle it is, Theotimus! But far more lamentable is the state of a soul ungrateful to her Saviour, who goes backward step by step, withdrawing herself from God's love by certain degrees of indevotion and disloyalty, till at length, having quite forsaken it, she is left in the horrible obscurity of perdition. This love which is in its decline, and which is fading and perishing, is called imperfect love, because, though it be entire in the soul, yet seems it not to be there entirely; that is, it hardly stays in the soul any longer, but is upon the point of forsaking it. Now, 190charity being separated from the soul by sin, there frequently remains a certain resemblance of charity which may deceive us and vainly occupy our minds, and I will tell you what it is. Charity while it is in us produces many actions of love towards God, by the frequent exercise of which our soul gets a habit and custom of loving God, which is not charity, but only a bent and inclination which the multitude of the actions has given to our hearts.

After a long habit of preaching or saying Mass with deliberation, it happens often that in dreaming we utter and speak the same things which we should say in preaching or celebrating; in the same manner the custom and habit acquired by election and virtue is, in some sort, afterwards practised without election or virtues since the actions of those who are asleep have, generally speaking, nothing of virtue save only an apparent image, and are only the similitudes or representations thereof. So charity, by the multitude of acts which it produces, imprints in us a certain facility in loving which it leaves in us even after we are deprived of its presence. When I was a young scholar, I found that in a village near Paris, in a certain well, there was an echo, which would repeat several times the words that we pronounced in it: and if some simpleton without experience had heard these repetitions of words, he would have thought there was some one at the bottom of the well who did it. But we knew beforehand by philosophy that it was not any one in the well who repeated our words, but simply that there were cavities, in one of which our voices were collected, and not finding a passage through, they, lest they might altogether perish and not employ the force that was left to them, produced second voices, and these gathering together in another concavity produced a third, the third a fourth, and so consecutively up to eleven, so that those voices in the well were no longer our voices, but resemblances and images of them. And indeed there was a great difference between our voices and those: for when we made a long continuance of words, they only repeated some, they shortened the pronunciation of the syllables, which they uttered very rapidly; and with tones and accents quite different from ours; nor did they begin to form these words until we had quite finished 191pronouncing them. In fine, they were not the words of a living man, but, so to say, of a hollow and empty rock, which notwithstanding so well counterfeited man's voice whence they sprang, that an ignorant person would have been misled and beguiled by them.

Now this is what I would say. When holy charity meets a pliable soul in which she long resides, she produces a second love, which is not a love of charity, though it issues from charity; it is a human love which is yet so like charity, that though afterwards charity perish in the soul it seems to be still there, inasmuch as it leaves behind it this its picture and likeness, which so represents charity that one who was ignorant would be deceived therein, as were the birds by the painting of the grapes of Zeuxis, which they deemed to be true grapes, so exactly had art imitated nature. And yet there is a great difference between charity and the human love it produces in us: for the voice of charity declares, impresses, and effects all the commandments of God in our hearts; the human love which remains after it does indeed sometimes declare and impress all the commandments, yet it never effects them all, but some few only. Charity pronounces and puts together all the syllables, that is, all the circumstances of God's commandments; human love always leaves out some of them, especially that of the right and pure intention; and as for the tone, charity keeps it always steady, sweet, and full of grace, human love takes it always too high in earthly things, or too low in heavenly, and never sets upon its work until charity has ended hers. For so long as charity is in the soul, she uses this human love which is her creature and employs it to facilitate her operations; so that during that time the works of this love, as of a servant, belong to charity its mistress: but when charity is gone, then the actions of this love are entirely its own, and have no longer the price and value of charity. For as the staff of Eliseus, in his absence, though in the hand of Giezi who received it from him, wrought no miracle, so actions done in the absence of charity, by the simple habit of human love, are of no value or merit to eternal life, though this human love learned from charity to do them, and is but charity's servant. And this so comes about because this 192human love, in the absence of charity, has no supernatural strength to raise the soul to the excellent action of the love of God above all things.

 

CHAPTER X.

HOW DANGEROUS THIS IMPERFECT LOVE IS.

Alas! my Theotimus, behold, I pray you, the poor Judas after he had betrayed his Master, how he goes to return the money to the Jews, how he acknowledges his sin, how honourably he speaks of the blood of this immaculate Lamb. These were effects of imperfect love, which former charity, now past, had left in his heart. We descend to impiety by certain degrees, and hardly any one arrives in an instant at the extremity of malice.

Perfumers, though out of their shops, bear about with them for a long time the scent of the perfumes which they have handled. In like manner, those who have been in the cabinet of heavenly ointments, that is in holy charity, keep for some time afterwards the scent of it.

Where the hart has lodged by night, there, the morning after, is a fresh scent or vent of him; towards night it is harder to perceive; and as his strain grows older and harder, the hounds lose it more and more. When charity has reigned for a time in the soul, one may find there its path, marks, strain or scent for a time after it has departed, but little by little all this quite vanishes, and a man loses all knowledge that charity was ever there.

I have seen certain young people, well brought up in the love of God, who, putting themselves out of that path, remained for some time during their miserable decay still giving great signs of their past virtue, and, the habit acquired in time of charity resisting present vice, scarcely could one for some months discern whether they were out of charity or not, and whether they were virtuous or vicious, till such time as the course of things made it clear that these virtuous exercises proceeded not from present 193charity but from past, not from perfect but from imperfect love, which charity had left behind her, as a sign that she had lodged in those souls.

Now this imperfect love, Theotimus, is good in itself, for being a creature of holy charity, and as it were one of her retinue, it cannot but be good; and indeed it did faithfully serve charity, while she sojourned in the soul, as it is still ready to serve upon her return. Nor is it to be contemned because it cannot do actions of perfect love, the condition of its nature being such; as stars, which in comparison with the sun are very imperfect, are yet extremely beautiful beheld alone, and, having no worth in the presence of the sun, have some in his absence.

At the same time though this imperfect love be good in itself, yet it is perilous for us; for oftentimes we are contented with it alone, because having many exterior and interior marks of charity, we, thinking we have charity, deceive ourselves and think we are holy, while, in this vain persuasion, the sins which deprived us of charity increase, grow great, and multiply so fast that in the end they make themselves masters of our heart.

Self-love deceives us, as Laban did Jacob between Rachel and Lia. We leave charity for a moment, and this imperfect habit of human love is thrust on us, and we content ourselves with it as if it were true charity, till some clear light shows us that we have been deceived.

Ah! my God! is it not a great pity to see a soul flattering herself in the imagination of being holy, and remaining in repose as though she were possessed of charity, only to find in the end that her holiness is a fiction, her rest a lethargy, and her joy a madness.

 

CHAPTER XI.

A MEANS TO DISCERN THIS IMPERFECT LOVE.

But, you will ask me, what means is there to discern whether it be Rachel or Lia, charity or imperfect love, which gives me the feelings of devotion wherewith I am touched? If when 194you examine in particular the objects of the desires, affections and designs which you have at the time, you find any one for which you would go against the will and good-pleasure of God by sinning mortally, it is then beyond doubt that all the feeling, all the facility and promptitude which you have in God's service, issue from no other source than human and imperfect love: for if perfect love reigned in us—Ah! it would break every affection, every desire, every design, the object of which was so pernicious, and it would not endure that your heart should behold it.

But note that I said this examination must be made upon the affections you have at the time, for it is not requisite that you should imagine to yourself such as may arise hereafter, since it is sufficient that we be faithful in present occurrences, according to the diversity of times, and since each season has quite enough labour and pain of its own.

Yet if you were desirous to exercise your heart in spiritual valour, by the representation of divers encounters and assaults, you might profitably do so, provided that after the acts of this imaginary valour which your heart may have made, you esteem not yourself more valiant: for the children of Ephraim, who did wonders with their bows and arrows in their warlike games at home, when it came indeed to the push upon the day of battle, turned their backs, and had not so much as the courage to lay their arrows on the string, or to face the points of those of their enemies. They have turned back in the day of battle.216216Ps. lxxvii. 9.

When therefore we practise this valour about future occurrences, or such as are only possible, if we find a good and faithful feeling we are to thank God for it, for this feeling is good as far as it goes: still we are to keep ourselves with humility between confidence and diffidence, hoping that by God's grace we should do, on occasion, that which we imagined, and still fearing that according to our ordinary misery we should perhaps do nothing and lose heart. But if the diffidence should become so excessive, that we should seem to ourselves to have neither force nor courage, and therefore feel a despair 195with regard to imaginary temptations, as though we were not in God's charity and grace, then in despite of our feeling of discouragement we must make a resolution of great fidelity in all that may occur up to the temptation which troubles us, hoping that when it comes, God will multiply his grace, redouble his succours, and afford us all necessary assistance; and while he gives us not the force for an imaginary and unnecessary war, he will give it us when it comes to the need. For as many in the assault have lost courage, so many have also lost fear, and have taken heart and resolution in the presence of danger and difficulty which without this they could never have done. And so, many of God's servants, representing to themselves absent temptations, have been affrighted at them even almost to the losing of courage, while when they saw them present, they behaved themselves courageously. Finally in those fears which arise from the representation of future assaults, when our heart seems to fail us, it is sufficient that we desire courage, and trust that God will bestow it upon us at the necessary time. Samson had not his strength always but we are told in the Scripture that the lion of the vines of Thamnatha, coming towards him, raging and roaring, the spirit of the Lord came upon him: that is, God gave him the movement of a new force and a new courage, and he tore the lion as he would have torn a kid in pieces.217217Judges xiv. And the same happened when he defeated the thousand Philistines, who thought they would have overthrown him in the field of Lechi. So, my dear Theotimus, it is not necessary for us to have always the feeling and movement of courage requisite to overcome the roaring lion which goeth about seeking whom he may devour: this might cause us vanity and presumption. It is sufficient that we have a good desire to fight valiantly, and a perfect confidence that the Holy Ghost will assist us with his helping hand, when occasion shall present itself.


196

BOOK V.

OF THE

TWO PRINCIPAL EXERCISES OF HOLY LOVE WHICH CONSIST IN COMPLACENCY AND BENEVOLENCE.

CHAPTER I.

OF THE SACRED COMPLACENCY OF LOVE; AND FIRST OF WHAT IT CONSISTS.

Love, as we have said, is no other thing than the movement and outflowing of the heart towards good by means of the complacency which we take in it; so that complacency is the great motive of love, as love is the great movement of complacency.

Now this movement is practised towards God in this manner. We know by faith that the Divinity is an incomprehensible abyss of all perfection, sovereignly infinite in excellence and infinitely sovereign in goodness. This truth which faith teaches us we attentively consider by meditation, beholding that immensity of goods which are in God, either all together by assembling all the perfections, or in particular by considering his excellences one after another; for example, his all-power, his all-wisdom his all-goodness, his eternity, his infinity. Now when we have brought our understanding to be very attentive to the greatness of the goods that are in this Divine object, it is impossible that our will should not be touched with complacency in this good, and then we use the liberty and power which we have over ourselves, provoking our own heart to redouble and strengthen its first complacency by acts of approbation and rejoicing. 197"Oh!" says the devout soul then, "how beautiful art thou, my beloved, how beautiful art thou! Thou art all desirable, yea, thou art desire itself! Such is my beloved and he is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.218218Cant. v. 16. O blessed be my God for ever because he is so good! Ah! whether I die or whether I live, too happy am I in knowing that my God is so rich in all goodness, his goodness so infinite, and his infinity so good!"

Thus approving the good which we see in God, and rejoicing in it, we make the act of love which is called complacency; for we please ourselves in the divine pleasure infinitely more than in our own, and it is this love which gave so much content to the Saints when they could recount the perfections of their well-beloved, and which caused them to declare with so much delight that God was God. Know ye, said they, that the Lord he is God. O God, my God, my God, thou art my God. I have said to the Lord: Thou art my God. Thou art the God of my heart, and my God is my portion for ever.219219Ps. xcix. xv. lxxii. He is the God of our heart by this complacency, since by it our heart embraces him and makes him its own: he is our inheritance, because by this act, we enjoy the goods which are in God, and, as from an inheritance, we draw from it all pleasure and content: by means of this complacency we spiritually drink and eat the perfections of the Divinity, for we make them our own and draw them into our hearts.

Jacob's ewes drew into themselves the variety of colours which they observed. So a soul, captivated by the loving complacency which she takes in considering the Divinity, and in it an infinity of excellences, draws into her heart the colours thereof, that is to say, the multitude of wonders and perfections which she contemplates, and makes them her own by the pleasure which she takes in them.

O God! what joy shall we have in heaven, Theotimus, when we shall see the well-beloved of our hearts as an infinite sea, whose waters are perfection and goodness! Then as stags, long and sorely chased, putting their mouths to a clear and cool stream draw into themselves the coolness of its fair waters, so our 198hearts, after so many languors and desires meeting with the mighty and living spring of the Divinity, shall draw by their complacency all the perfections of the well-beloved, and shall have the perfect fruition of them by the joy which they shall take in them, replenishing themselves with his immortal delights; and in this way the dear spouse will enter into us as into his nuptial bed, to communicate his eternal joy unto our souls, according as he himself says, that if we keep the holy law of his love he will come and dwell within us. Such is the sweet and noble robbery of love, which, without uncolouring the well-beloved colours itself with his colours; without disrobing him invests itself with his robes, without taking from him takes all that he has, and without impoverishing him is enriched with all his wealth; as the air takes light, not lessening the original brightness of the sun, and the mirror takes the grace of the countenance, not diminishing that of him who looks in it.

They became abominable, as those things were which they loved,220220Osee ix. 10. said the Prophet, speaking of the wicked; so might one say of the good, that they are become lovely as the things they have loved. Behold, I beseech you, the heart of S. Clare of Montefalco: it so delighted in our Saviour's passion and in meditating on the most holy Trinity, that it drew into itself all the marks of the passion, and an admirable representation of the Trinity, being made such as the things it loved. The love which the great Apostle S. Paul bore to the life, death and passion of our divine Saviour was so great that it drew the very life, death, and passion of this divine Saviour into his loving servant's heart; whose will was filled with it by dilection, his memory by meditation, and his understanding by contemplation. But by what channel or conduit did the sweet Jesus come into the heart of S. Paul? By the channel of complacency, as he himself declares, saying: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.221221Gal. vi. 14. For if you mark well, there is no difference between glorying in a person and taking complacency in him, between glorying and delighting in, save that he who glories in a thing, to pleasure adds honour; honour not being without 199pleasure, though pleasure can be without honour. This soul, then, had such complacency, and esteemed himself so much honoured in the divine goodness which appears in the life, death and passion of our Saviour, that he took no pleasure but in this honour. And it is this that made him say, God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; as he also said that he lived not himself but Jesus Christ lived in him.

 

CHAPTER II.

HOW BY HOLY COMPLACENCY WE ARE MADE AS LITTLE INFANTS AT OUR SAVIOUR'S BREASTS.

O God! how happy the soul is who takes pleasure in knowing and fully knowing that God is God, and that his goodness is an infinite goodness! For this heavenly spouse, by this gate of complacency, enters into us and sups with us and we with him. We feed ourselves with his sweetness by the pleasure which we take therein, and satiate our heart in the divine perfections by the delight we take in them: and this repast is a supper by reason of the repose which follows it, complacency making us sweetly rest in the sweetness of the good which delights us, and with which we feed our heart; for as you know, Theotimus, the heart is fed with that which delights it, whence in our French tongue we say that such a one is fed with honour, another with riches, as the wise man said that the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness,222222Prov. xv. 14. and the sovereign wisdom protests that his meat, that is his pleasure, is to do the will of him that sent him.223223John iv. 34. In conclusion the physician's aphorism is true—what is relished, nourishes: and the philosophers—what pleases, feeds.

Let my beloved come into his garden, said the sacred spouse, and eat the fruit of his apple-trees.224224Cant. v. 1. Now the heavenly spouse comes into his garden when he comes into the devout soul, for seeing his delight is to be with the children of men, where can he 200better lodge than in the country of the spirit, which he made to his image and likeness. He himself plants in this garden the loving complacency which we have in his goodness, and which we feed on; as, likewise, his goodness takes his pleasure and repast in our complacency; so that, again, our complacency is augmented in perceiving that God is pleased to see us pleased in him. So that these reciprocal pleasures cause the love of an incomparable complacency, by which our soul, being made the garden of her spouse, and having from his goodness the apple trees of his delights, renders him the fruit thereof, since she is pleased that he is pleased in the complacency she takes in him. Thus do we draw God's heart into ours, and he spreads in it his precious balm, and thus is that practised which the holy bride spoke with such joy. The king hath brought me into his store-rooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine; the righteous love thee.225225Cant. i. 3. For I pray you, Theotimus, what are the store-rooms of this king of love but his breasts, which abound in the variety of sweetness and delights. The bosom and breasts of the mother are the storeroom of the little infant's treasures: he has no other riches than those, which are more precious unto him than gold or the topaz, more beloved than all the rest of the world.

The soul then which contemplates the infinite treasures of divine perfections in her well-beloved, holds herself too happy and rich in this that love makes her mistress by complacency of all the perfections and contentments of this dear spouse. And even as a baby makes little movements towards his mother's breasts, and dances with joy to see them discovered, and as the mother again on her part presents them unto him with a love always a little forward, even so the devout soul feels the thrillings and movements of an incomparable joy, through the content which she has in beholding the treasures of the perfections of the king of her holy love; but especially when she sees that he himself discovers them by love, and that amongst them that perfection of his infinite love excellently shines. Has not this fair soul reason to cry: O my king how lovable are thy riches 201and how rich thy loves! Oh! which of us has more joy, thou that enjoyest it, or I who rejoice thereat! We will be glad and rejoice in thee remembering thy breasts226226Cant. i. 3. so abounding in all excellence of sweetness! I because my well-beloved enjoys it, thou because thy well-beloved rejoices in it; we both enjoy it, since thy goodness makes thee enjoy my rejoicing, and my love makes me rejoice in thy enjoying. Ah! the righteous and the good love thee, and how can one be good and not love so great a goodness! Worldly princes keep their treasures in the cabinets of their palaces, their arms in their arsenals, but the heavenly Prince keeps his treasures in his bosom, his weapons within his breast, and because his treasure is his goodness, as his weapons are his loves, his breast and bosom resemble those of a tender mother, who has her breasts like two cabinets rich in the treasures of sweet milk, armed with as many weapons to conquer the dear little baby as it makes its attacks in sucking.

Nature surely lodges the breasts in the bosom to the end that, since the heat of the heart there concocts the milk, as the mother is the child's nurse, so her heart may be his foster-father, and the milk may be a food of love, better a hundred times than wine. Note, meantime, Theotimus, that the comparison of milk and wine seems so proper to the holy spouse that she is not content to have said once that the breasts of her beloved are better than wine,227227Cant. i. 1. but she repeats it thrice. Wine, Theotimus, is the milk of grapes, and milk is the wine of the breasts, and the sacred spouse says that her well-beloved is to her a cluster of grapes, but of Cyprian grapes,228228Botrus Cypri. Our version wrongly translates this as a cluster of Cypress [Tr.] that is, of an excellent odour. Moses said that the Israelites might drink the most pure and excellent blood of the grape, and Jacob describing to his son Juda the fertility of the portion which he should have in the land of promise, prophesied under this figure the true felicity of Christians, saying that the Saviour would wash his robe, that is, his holy Church, in the blood of the grape,229229Gen. xlix. 11. that is in his own blood. Now blood and milk are no more different 202than verjuice and wine, for as verjuice ripening by the sun's heat changes its colour, becomes a grateful wine, and is made good for food, so blood tempered by the heat of the heart takes a fair white colour, and becomes a food most suited for infants.

Milk, which is a food provided by the heart and all of love, represents mystical science and theology, that is, the sweet relish which proceeds from the loving complacency taken by the spirit when it meditates on the perfections of the divine goodness. But wine signifies ordinary and acquired science, which is squeezed out by force of speculation under the press of divers arguments and discussions. Now the milk which our souls draw from the breasts of our Saviour's charity is incomparably better than the wine which we press out from human reasoning; for this milk flows from heavenly love, who prepares it for her children even before they have thought of it; it has a sweet and agreeable taste, and the odour thereof surpasses all perfumes; it makes the breath fresh and sweet as that of a sucking child; it gives joy without immoderation, it inebriates without stupefying, it does not excite the senses but elevates them (ne leve pas mais releve).

When the holy Isaac embraced and kissed his dear child Jacob, he smelt the good odour of his garments, and at once, filled with an extreme pleasure, he said: Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field which the Lord hath blessed.230230Gen. xxvii. 27. The garment and perfumes were Jacob's, but Isaac had the complacency and enjoyment of them. Ah! the soul which by love holds her Saviour in the arms of her affections, how deliciously does she smell the perfumes of the infinite perfections which are found in him, with what complacency does she say in herself: behold how the scent of my God is as the sweet smell of a flowery garden, ah! how precious are his breasts, spreading sovereign perfumes.

So the soul of the great S. Augustine, stayed in suspense between the sacred contentment which he had in considering on the one side the mystery of his Master's birth, on the other the 203mystery of his passion, cried out, ravished in this complacency "I know not whither to turn my heart. On the one side the Mother's breast offers me its milk, on the other the life-giving wound of the Son gives me to drink of his blood."

 

CHAPTER III.

THAT HOLY COMPLACENCY GIVES OUR HEART TO GOD, AND MAKES US FEEL A PERPETUAL DESIRE IN FRUITION.

The love which we bear to God starts from the first complacency which our heart feels on first perceiving the divine goodness, when it begins to tend towards it. Now when by the exercise of love we augment and strengthen this first complacency, as we have explained in the preceding chapters, we then draw into our hearts the divine perfections and enjoy the divine goodness by rejoicing in it, practising the first part of the amorous contentment of love expressed by the sacred spouse, saying: My beloved to me.231231Cant. ii. 2. But because this amorous complacency being in us who have it, ceases not to be in God in whom we have it, it gives us reciprocally to his divine goodness; so that by this holy love of complacency we enjoy the goods which are in God as though they were our own; but because the divine perfections are stronger than our spirit, entering into it they possess it reciprocally, insomuch that we not only say God is ours by this complacency but also that we are to Him.232232Cant. ii. 2.

The herb aproxis (as we have said elsewhere) has so great a correspondence with fire, that though at a distance from it, as soon as it sees it, it draws the flame and begins to burn, conceiving fire not so much from the heat as from the light of the fire presented to it. When then by this attraction it is united to the fire, if it could speak, might it not well say: my well-beloved fire is mine since I draw it to me and enjoy its flames, but I am also its, for though I drew it to me it reduced me into it as more strong and noble; it is my fire and I am its herb: I 204draw it and it sets me on fire. So our heart being brought into the presence of the divine goodness, and having drawn the perfections thereof by the complacency it takes in them, may truly say: God's goodness is all mine since I enjoy his excellences, and I again am wholly his, seeing that his delights possess me.

By complacency our soul, like Gideon's fleece, is wholly filled with heavenly dew, and this dew belongs to the fleece because it falls upon it, and again the fleece is the dew's because it is steeped in it and receives virtue from it. Which belongs more to the other, the pearl to the oyster or the oyster to the pearl? The pearl is the oyster's because she drew it to her, but the oyster is the pearl's because it gives her worth and value. Complacency makes us possessors of God, drawing into us his perfections, but it makes us also possessed of God, applying and fastening us to his perfections.

Now in this complacency we satiate our soul with delights in such a manner that we do not yet cease to desire to be satiated, and relishing the divine goodness we desire yet to relish it; while satiating ourselves we would still eat, as whilst eating we feel ourselves satisfied. The chief of the Apostles, having said in his first epistle that the ancient prophets had manifested the graces which were to abound amongst Christians, and amongst other things our Saviour's passion, and the glory which was to follow it (as well by the resurrection of his body as also by the exaltation of his name), in the end concludes that the very angels desire to behold the mysteries of the redemption in this divine Saviour: On whom, says he, the angels desire to look.2332331 Pet. i. 12. But how can this be understood, that the angels who see the Redeemer and in him all the mysteries of our salvation, do yet desire to see him? Theotimus, verily they see him continually, but with a view so agreeable and delightsome that the complacency they take in it satiates them without taking away their desire, and makes them desire without removing their satiety; the fruition is not lessened by desire, but perfected, as their desire is not cloyed but intensified by fruition.

The fruition of a thing which always contents never lessens, 205but is renewed and flourishes incessantly; it is ever agreeable, ever desirable. The perpetual contentment of heavenly lovers produces a desire perpetually content, as their continual desire begets in them a contentment perpetually desired. Good which is finite in giving the possession ends the desire, and in giving the desire takes away the possession, being unable to be at once possessed and desired. But the infinite good makes desire reign in possession and possession in desire, finding a way to satiate desire by a holy presence, and yet to make it live by the greatness of its excellence, which nourishes in all those that possess it a desire always content and a content always full of desire.

Consider, Theotimus, such as hold in their mouth the herb sciticum; according to report they are never hungry nor thirsty, it is so satisfying, and yet never lose their appetite, it nourishes them so deliciously. When our will meets God it reposes in him, taking in him a sovereign complacency, yet without staying the movement of her desire, for as she desires to love so she loves to desire, she has the desire of love and the love of desire. The repose of the heart consists not in immobility but in needing nothing, not in having no movement but in having no need to move.

The damned are in eternal movement without any mixture of rest; we mortals who are yet in this pilgrimage have, now movement, now rest, in our affections; the Blessed ever have repose in their movements and movement in their repose; only God has repose without movement, because he is sovereignly a pure and substantial act. Now although according to the ordinary condition of this mortal life we have not repose in movement, yet still, when we practise the acts of holy love, we find repose in the movement of our affections, and movement in the repose of the complacency which we take in our well-beloved, receiving hereby a foretaste of the future felicity to which we aspire.

If it be true that the chameleon lives on air, wheresoever he goes in the air he finds food, and though he move from one place to another, it is not to find wherewith to be filled, but to exercise himself within that element which is also his food, as 206fishes do in the sea. He who desires God while possessing him, does not desire him in order to seek him, but in order to exercise this affection within the very good which he enjoys; for the heart does not make this movement of desire as aiming at the enjoyment of a thing not had, since it is already had, but as dilating itself in the enjoyment which it has; not to obtain the good, but to recreate and please itself therein; not to gain the enjoyment of it but to take enjoyment in it. So we walk and move to go to some delicious garden, where, being arrived, we cease not to walk and exercise ourselves, not now to get there, but being there to walk and pass our time therein: we walk in order to go and enjoy the pleasantness of the garden, being there we walk to take our pleasure in the enjoyment of it. Seek ye the Lord and be strengthened, seek his face evermore.234234Ps. civ. 4. We always seek him whom we always love, says the great S. Augustine: love seeks that which it has found, not to have it but to have it always.

Finally, Theotimus, the soul which is in the exercise of the love of complacency cries continually in her sacred silence: It suffices me that God is God, that his goodness is infinite, that his perfection is immense; whether I die or whether I live matters little to me since my dear well-beloved lives eternally an all-triumphant life. Death itself cannot trouble a heart which knows that its sovereign love lives. It is sufficient for a heart that loves that he whom it loves more than itself is replenished with eternal happiness, seeing that it lives more in him whom it loves than in him whom it animates; yea, that it lives not itself, but its well-beloved lives in it.

 

207

CHAPTER IV.

OF THE LOVING CONDOLENCE BY WHICH THE COMPLACENCY OF LOVE IS STILL BETTER DECLARED.

Compassion, condolence, commiseration, or pity, is no other thing than an affection which makes us share in the suffering and sorrow of him whom we love, drawing the misery which he endures into our heart; whence it is called misericorde, or, as it were, misere de cœur: as complacency draws into the lover's heart the pleasures and contentments of the thing beloved. It is love that works both effects, by the virtue it has of uniting the heart which loves to the thing loved, thus making the goods and the evils of friends common; and what happens in compassion much illustrates what regards complacency.

Compassion takes its greatness from the love which produces it. Thus the condolence of mothers in the afflictions of their only children is great, as the Scripture often testifies. How great was the sorrow of Agar's heart upon the pains of her Ismael, whom she saw well-nigh perish with thirst in the desert! How much did David's soul commiserate the misery of his Absalom! Ah! do you not mark the motherly heart of the great Apostle, sick with the sick, burning with zeal for such as were scandalized, having a continual sorrow for the ruin of the Jews, and daily dying for his dear spiritual children. But especially consider how love draws all the pains, all the torments, travails, sufferings, griefs, wounds, passion, cross and very death of our Redeemer into his most sacred mother's heart. Alas! the same nails that crucified the body of this divine child, also crucified the soul of this all-sweet mother; she endured the same miseries with her son by commiseration, the same dolours by condolence, the same passions by compassion, and, in a word, the sword of death which transpierced the body of this best beloved Son, struck through the heart of this most loving mother,235235Luke ii. 35. whence she might well have said that he was to her as a bundle of myrrh between her breasts,236236Cant. i. 12. that is, 208in her bosom and in the midst of her heart. You see how Jacob, hearing the sad though false news of the death of his dear Joseph, is afflicted with it. Ah! said he, I will go down mourning into hell, that is to say, to Limbo into Abraham's bosom, to my son.237237Gen. xxxvii. 35.

Condolence is also great according to the greatness of the sorrows which we see those we love suffering; for how little soever the friendship be, if the evils which we see endured be extreme, they cause in us great pity. This made Cæsar weep over Pompey, and the daughters of Jerusalem could not refrain from weeping over our Saviour, though the greater number of them were not greatly attached to him; as also the friends of Job, though wicked friends, made great lamentation in beholding the dreadful spectacle of his incomparable misery. And what a stroke of grief was it in the heart of Jacob to think that his dear child had died by a death so cruel as that of being devoured by a savage beast. But, besides all this, commiseration is much strengthened by the presence of the object which is in misery; this caused poor Agar to go away from her dying son, to disburden herself in some sort of the compassionate grief which she felt, saying: I will not see the boy die;238238Gen. xxi. 16. as on the contrary our Saviour weeps seeing the sepulchre of his well-beloved Lazarus and regarding his dear Jerusalem; and our good Jacob is beside himself with grief when he sees the bloody coat of his poor little Joseph.

Now the same causes increase complacency. In proportion as a friend is more dear to us we take more pleasure in his contentment, and his good enters more deeply into our heart. If the good is excellent, our joy is also greater. But if we see our friend enjoying it, our rejoicing becomes extreme. When the good Jacob knew that his son lived,—O God! What joy! His spirit returned to him, he lived once more, he, so to speak, rose again from death. But what does this mean,—he revived or returned to life? Theotimus, spirits die not their own death but by sin, which separates them from God, their true supernatural life, yet they sometimes die another's death; and 209this happened to the good Jacob of whom we speak, for love, which draws into the heart of the lover the good and evil of the thing beloved, the one by complacency, the other by commiseration, drew the death of the beloved Joseph into the loving Jacob's heart, and, by a miracle impossible to any other power than love, the spirit of this good father was full of the death of him that was living and reigning, for affection having been deceived ran before the effect.

But, on the contrary, as soon as he knew that his son was alive, love which had so long kept the supposed death of the son in the spirit of the good father, seeing that it had been deceived, speedily rejected this imaginary death, and made enter in its place the true life of the same son. Thus then he returned to a new life, because the life of his son entered into his heart by complacency, and animated him with an incomparable contentment: with which finding himself satisfied, and not esteeming any other pleasure in comparison of this: It is enough for me, said he, if Joseph my son be yet living.239239Gen. xlv. 28. But when with his own eyes he saw by experience the truth of the grandeur of this dear child in Gessen, falling upon his neck and embracing him, he wept saying: Now shall I die with joy because I have seen thy face and leave thee alive.240240Gen. xlvi. 30. Ah! what a joy, Theotimus, and how excellently expressed by this old man! For what would he say by these words, now shall I die with joy because I have seen thy face, but that his content was so great, that it was able to render death itself joyful and agreeable, even death, which is the most grievous and horrible thing in the world. Tell me, I pray you, Theotimus, who has more sense of Joseph's good, he who enjoys it or Jacob who rejoices in it. Certainly, if good be not good but in respect of the content which it affords us, the father has as much as the son, yea more, for the son, together with the viceroy's dignity of which he is possessed, has consequently much care and many affairs, but the father enjoys by complacency, and purely possesses all that is good in this greatness and dignity of his son, without charge, care or trouble. Now shall I die with joy, says he. Ah! who does not see his contentment? If even death cannot trouble his joy, who can 210ever change it? If his content can live amidst the distresses of death, who can ever bereave him of it? Love is strong as death, and the joys of love surmount the sorrows of death, for death cannot kill but enlivens them; so that, as there is a fire which is marvellously kept alive in a fountain near Grenoble (as we know for certain and the great S. Augustine attests), so holy charity has strength to nourish her flames and consolations in the most grievous anguishes of death, and the waters of tribulations cannot quench her fire.

 

CHAPTER V.

OF THE CONDOLENCE AND COMPLACENCY OF LOVE IN THE PASSION OF OUR LORD.

When I see my Saviour on the Mount of Olives with his soul sorrowful even unto death:—Ah! Lord Jesus, say I, what can have brought the sorrows of death into the soul of life except love, which, exciting commiseration, drew thereby our miseries into thy sovereign heart? Now a devout soul, seeing this abyss of heaviness and distress in this divine lover, how can she be without a holily loving sorrow? But considering, on the other hand, that all the afflictions of her well-beloved proceed from no imperfection or want of strength, but from the greatness of his dearest love, she cannot but melt away with a holy sorrowful love. So that she cries: I am black with sorrow by compassion, but beautiful with love by complacency; the anguish of my well-beloved has changed my colour: for how could a faithful lover behold such torments in him whom she loves more than her life, without swooning away and becoming all wan and wasted with grief. The tents of nomads, perpetually exposed to the injuries of weather and war, are almost always ragged and covered with dust; and I, ever exposed to the griefs which by condolence I receive from the immeasurable travails of my divine Saviour, I am all covered with distress, and rent with sorrow. But because the pains of him I love come from his love, in what measure they afflict me by compassion, they delight 211me by complacency; for how could a faithful lover not take an extreme content to see herself so loved by her heavenly spouse? Wherefore the beauty of love is in the ill-favour of sorrow. And if I wear mourning for the passion and death of my King, all swarthy and black with grief, I cease not to have an incomparable sweetness in seeing the excess of his love amid his travails and his sorrows; and the tents of Solomon, all embroidered and worked in an admirable variety of decorations, were never so lovely as I am content, and, consequently, sweet, amiable and agreeable, in the variety of the sentiments of love which I have amid those griefs. Love equalizes lovers; Ah! I see him, this dear lover—he is a fire of love burning in a thorny bush of sorrow, and I am the same: I am all inflamed with love amid the thorny bushes of my griefs, I am a lily among thorns. Ah! do not even look at the horrors of my poignant sorrows, but see the beauty of my agreeable love. Alas! he suffers insupportable pains, this well-beloved divine lover: it is this which grieves me and makes me faint with anguish; but he takes pleasure in suffering, he loves his torments, and dies with joy at dying with pain for me: wherefore as I am sorrowing over his pains, so I am all ravished with joy at his love; not only do I grieve with him, but I glorify myself in him.

It was this love, Theotimus, which brought upon the seraphic S. Francis the stigmata, and upon the loving angelic S. Catharine of Siena the burning wounds of the Saviour, amorous complacency having sharpened the points of dolorous compassion; as honey makes more penetrating and sensible the bitterness of wormwood, whilst on the contrary the sweet smell of roses is intensified by the neighbourhood of garlic planted near the trees. For, in the same way, the loving complacency we have taken in the love of our Saviour makes the compassion we feel for his pains infinitely stronger: as reciprocally, passing back from the compassion for his pains to complacency in love, the pleasure of this is far more ardent and exalted. Then are practised pain in love and love in pain; then amorous condolence and dolorous complacency, as another Esau and another Jacob, struggling as to which shall make the greater effort, put the soul in incredible convulsions and agonies, and there takes place 212an ecstasy lovingly sorrowful and sorrowfully loving. So those great souls of S. Francis and S. Catharine felt matchless love in their pains, and incomparable pains in their love, when they were stigmatized, relishing that joyous love of suffering for a beloved one, which their Saviour exercised in the supreme degree on the tree of the cross. Thus is born the precious union of our heart with its God, which, like a mystical Benjamin, is the child of pain and joy both together.

It cannot be declared, Theotimus, how strongly the Saviour desires to enter into our souls by this love of sorrowing complacency. Ah! says he, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is full of dew, and my locks of the drops of the night.241241Cant. v. 2. What is this dew, and what are the drops of the night but the afflictions and pains of his passion? Pearls, in sooth (as we have said often enough), are nothing but drops of dew, which the freshness of night rains over the face of the sea, received into the shells of oysters or pearl-mothers. Ah! this divine lover of the soul would say, I am laden with the pains and sweats of my passion, almost all of which passed either in the darkness of the night, or in the night of the darkness which the obscured sun made in the very brightness of its noon. Open then thy heart towards me as the pearl-mothers open their shells towards the sky, and I will shed upon thee the dew of my passion, which will be changed into pearls of consolation.

 

CHAPTER VI.

OF THE LOVE OF BENEVOLENCE WHICH WE EXERCISE TOWARDS OUR SAVIOUR BY WAY OF DESIRE.

In the love which God exercises towards us he always begins by benevolence, willing and effecting all the good that is in us, in which afterwards he takes complacency. He made David according to his heart by benevolence, then he found him according to his heart by complacency. He first created the 213universe for man, and man in the universe, giving to each thing such a measure of goodness as was proportionable to it, out of his pure benevolence, then he approved all that he had done, finding that all was very good, and by complacency rested in his work.

But, on the contrary, our love towards God begins from the complacency which we have in the sovereign goodness and infinite perfection which we know is in the Divinity, then we come to the exercise of benevolence; and as the complacency which God takes in his creatures is no other thing than a continuation of his benevolence towards them, so the benevolence which we bear towards God is nothing else but an approbation of and perseverance in the complacency we have in him.

Now this love of benevolence towards God is practised in this sort. We cannot, with a true desire, wish any good to God, because his goodness is infinitely more perfect than we can either wish or think: desire is only of a future good, and no good is future to God, since all good is so present to him that the presence of good in his divine Majesty is nothing else but the Divinity itself. Not being able then to make any absolute desire for God, we make imaginary and conditional ones, in this manner: I have said to the Lord, thou art my God, who being full of thine own infinite goodness, hast no need of my goods,242242Ps. xv. 2. nor of anything whatever, but if, by imagination of a thing impossible, I could think thou hadst need of anything, I would never cease to wish it thee, even with the loss of my life, of my being, and of all that is in the world. And if, being what thou art, and what thou canst not but still be, it were possible that thou couldst receive any increase of good,—O God! what a desire would I have that thou shouldst have it! I would desire, O eternal Lord! to see my heart converted into a wish, and my life into a sigh, to desire thee such a good! Ah! yet would I not for all this, O thou sacred well-beloved of my soul, desire to be able to wish any good to thy Majesty, yea I delight with all my heart in this supreme degree of goodness which thou hast, to which nothing can be added, either by desire or yet by thought. But if such 214a desire were possible, O infinite Divinity, O divine Infinity! my soul would be that desire and nothing else, so intensely would she be desirous to desire for thee that which she is infinitely pleased that she cannot desire; seeing that her powerlessness to make this desire proceeds from the infinite infinity of thy perfection, which outstrips all desire and all thought. Ah! O my God! how dearly I love the impossibility of being able to desire thee any good, since this comes from the incomprehensible immensity of thy abundance. That is so sovereignly infinite, that if there were an infinite desire it would be infinitely satiated by the infinity of thy goodness, which would convert it into an infinite complacency. This desire then, by imagination of impossibilities, may be sometimes profitably practised amidst great and extraordinary feelings and fervours. We are told that the great S. Augustine often made such, pouring out in an excess of love these words: "Ah! Lord, I am Augustine and thou art God, but still, if that, which neither is nor can be, were, that I were God and thou Augustine, I would, changing my condition with thee, become Augustine to the end that thou mightest be God!"

It is yet another kind of benevolence towards God, when feeling we cannot exalt him in himself, we strive to do it in ourselves, that is, still more and more to increase the complacency we take in his goodness. And then, Theotimus, we desire not the complacency for the pleasure it yields us, but purely because this pleasure is in God. For as we desire not the compassion for the pain it brings to our heart, but because this sorrow unites and associates us to our well-beloved, who is in pain; so we do not love the complacency because it brings us pleasure, but because this pleasure is taken in union with the pleasure and good which is in God, to be more united to which, we would desire to exercise a complacency infinitely greater, in imitation of the most holy Queen and Mother of love, whose sacred soul continually magnified and exalted God. And that it might be known that this magnifying was made by the complacency which she took in the divine goodness, she declares; My spirit hath exultingly rejoiced in God my Saviour.243243Luke i. 47.

 

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CHAPTER VII.

HOW THE DESIRE TO EXALT AND MAGNIFY GOD SEPARATES US FROM INFERIOR PLEASURES, AND MAKES US ATTENTIVE TO THE DIVINE PERFECTIONS.

The love of benevolence, then, causes in us a desire, more and more to increase the complacency which we take in the divine goodness; and to effect this increase, the soul sedulously deprives herself of all other pleasure that she may give herself more entirely to taking pleasure in God. A religious man asked the devout Brother Giles, one of the first and most holy companions of S. Francis, in what work he could be most agreeable to God: he answered by singing: "One to one," which he afterwards explained, saying, "Give ever your whole soul which is one, to God who is one." The soul pours itself out by pleasures, and the diversity of these dissipates and hinders her from being able to apply herself attentively to the pleasure which she ought to take in God. The glorious S. Paul reputed all things as dung and dirt in comparison of his Saviour. And the sacred spouse is wholly for her well-beloved only: My beloved to me and I to him. And if the soul that stands thus holily affected meet with creatures never so excellent, yea though they were angels, she makes no delay with them, save only what she needs for the help and furtherance of her desire. Tell me then, says she to them, tell me, I conjure you, have you seen him whom my soul loveth?244244Cant. iii. 3. The glorious lover Magdalen met the angels at the sepulchre, who doubtless spoke to her angelically, that is most sweetly, but she, on the contrary, wholly ruthful, could take no content, either in their sweet words or in the glory of their garments, or in the all-heavenly grace of their deportment, or in the most delightsome beauty of their faces, but all steeped in tears: They have taken away my Lord, says she, and I know not where they have laid him:245245John xx. 13. and, turning about, she saw her sweet Saviour, but in form of a gardener, with whom her heart cannot be satisfied, for full of the love of the death of her Master, 216flowers she will have none, nor consequently gardeners; she has within her heart the cross, the nails, the thorns; she seeks her crucified. Ah! my dear sir gardener, says she, if perchance you have planted my well-beloved deceased Lord amongst your flowers, as a crushed and withered lily, tell me quickly and I, I will carry him away. But no sooner had he called her by her name, than, wholly melting with delight, O God! says she, my Master! Nothing can content her, nor angels' company delight her, no nor yet her very Saviour's, unless he appear in that form in which he had stolen her heart. The kings could not content themselves either in the beauty of Jerusalem or in the magnificence of Herod's court, or in the brightness of the star; their heart seeks the little cave and the little child of Bethlehem. The mother of fair loving and the spouse of most holy love cannot stay among their kinsfolks and acquaintance; they still walk on in grief, seeking after the only object of their delight. The desire to increase holy complacency cuts off all other pleasure, to the end that it may more actively practise that to which the divine benevolence excites it.

Now still more to magnify this sovereign well-beloved, the soul goes ever seeking his face: that is, with an attention more and more careful and fervent, she keeps noting every particular of the beauties and perfections which are in him, making a continual progress in this sweet searching out of motives, which may perpetually urge her to a greater complacency in the incomprehensible goodness which she loves. So David in many of his heavenly psalms recites one by one the works and wonders of God, and the sacred spouse ranges, in her divine canticles, as a well-ranked army, all the perfections of her beloved, one after another, to provoke her soul to most holy complacency, thereby more highly to magnify his excellence, and also to subject all other spirits to the love of her beloved so dear.

 

217

CHAPTER VIII.

HOW HOLY BENEVOLENCE PRODUCES THE PRAISE OF THE DIVINE WELL-BELOVED.

Honour, my dear Theotimus, is not in him who is honoured, but in him who honours: for how often it happens that he whom we honour knows nothing of it, nor has so much as thought about it. How often we praise such as know us not, or who are sleeping; and yet according to the common estimation of men, and their ordinary manner of conceiving, it seems that we do one some good when we do him honour, and that we give him much when we give him titles and praises, and we find no difficulty in saying that a man is rich in honour, glory, reputation, praise, though indeed we know that all this is outside the person who is honoured. He oftentimes receives no manner of profit therefrom, according to a saying ascribed to the great S. Augustine: O poor Aristotle, thou art being praised where thou art not, and where thou art, thou art being burned. What fruit, I pray you, do Cæsar and Alexander the Great reap from so many vain words which some vain souls employ in their praise?

God being replenished with a goodness which surpasses all praise and honour, receives no advantage nor increase by all the benedictions which we give him. He is neither richer nor greater, nor more content or happy by them, for his happiness, his content, his greatness, and his riches neither are nor can be any other thing than the divine infinity of his goodness. At the same time, since, according to our ordinary estimation, honour is held one of the greatest effects of our benevolence towards others, and since by it we not only do not imply any indigence in those we honour, but rather protest that they abound in excellence, we therefore make use of this kind of benevolence towards God, who not only approves it, but exacts it, as suitable to our condition, and so proper to testify the respectful love we bear him, that he has ordained we should render and refer all honour and glory unto him.

218

Thus then the soul who has taken a great complacency in God's infinite perfection, seeing that she cannot wish him any increase of goodness, because he has infinitely more than she can either wish or conceive, desires at least that his name may be blessed, exalted, praised, honoured and adored ever more and more. And beginning with her own heart, she ceases not to provoke it to this holy exercise, and, as a sacred bee, flies hither and thither amongst the flowers of the divine works and excellences, gathering from them a sweet variety of complacencies, from which she works up and composes the heavenly honey of benedictions, praises, and confessions of honour, by which, as far as she is able, she magnifies and glorifies the name of her well-beloved: in imitation of the great Psalmist, who having gone round, and as it were in spirit run over the wonders of the divine goodness, immolated on the altar of his heart the mystic victim of the utterances of his voice, by canticles and psalms of admiration and benediction: I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation: I will sing, and recite a psalm to the Lord.246246Ps. xxvi. 6 But, Theotimus, this desire of praising God which holy benevolence excites in our hearts is insatiable, for the soul that is touched with it would wish to have infinite praises to bestow upon her well-beloved, because she finds his perfections more than infinite: so that, finding herself to fall far short of being able to satisfy her desire, she makes extreme efforts of affection to praise at least in some measure this goodness all worthy of praise, and these efforts of benevolence are marvellously augmented by complacency: for in proportion as the soul finds God good, relishing more and more his sweetness, and taking complacency in his infinite goodness, she would also raise higher the benedictions and praises she gives him. And again, as the soul grows warm in praising the incomprehensible sweetness of God, she enlarges and dilates the complacency she takes in him, and by this enlargement she more strongly excites herself to his praise. So that the affection of complacency and that of praise, by these reciprocal movements and mutual inclinations, advance one another with great and continual increase.

219

So nightingales, according to Pliny, take such complacency in their songs, that, by reason of this complacency, for fifteen days and fifteen nights they never cease warbling, forcing themselves to sing better in emulous striving with one another; so that when they sing the best, they take a greater complacency, and this increase of complacency makes them force themselves to greater efforts of trilling, augmenting in such sort their complacency by their song and their song by their complacency, that it is often found that they die and their throats burst with their singing. Birds worthy the fair name of philomel, since they die thus, of and for the love of melody!

O God! my Theotimus, how the soul ardently pressed with affection to praise her God, is touched with a dolour most delicious and a delight most dolorous, when after a thousand efforts of praise she comes so short. Alas! she would wish, this poor nightingale, to raise her accents ever higher, and perfect her melody, the better to sing the praises of her well-beloved. By how much more she praises, by so much more is she delighted in praising: and by how much greater her delight in praising is, by so much her pain is greater that she cannot yet more praise him; still, to find what content she can in this passion, she makes all sorts of efforts, and in the midst of them faints and fails, as it happened to the most glorious S. Francis, who amidst the pleasure he had in praising God and singing his canticles of love, shed a great abundance of tears, and often let fall through feeblessness, what he might be holding in his hands: being like a sacred nightingale all outspent, and often losing respiration through the effort of aspiration after the praises of him whom he could never praise sufficiently.

But hear an agreeable similitude upon this subject, drawn from the name which this loving Saint gave his religious; for he called them Cicalas, by reason of the nightly praises they sang to God. Cicalas, Theotimus, as though they were nature's organs, have their breasts set with pipes; and to sing the better they live only on dew, which they take not by the mouth, for they have none, but suck it by a certain little tongue they have on the breast, by which they utter their cries with so much noise that they seem to be nothing but voice. Now this is the 220state of the sacred lover; for all the faculties of her soul are as so many pipes which she has in her breast, to repeat the canticles and praises of the well-beloved. Her devotion in the midst of all these is the tongue of her heart, according to S. Bernard, by which she receives the dew of the divine perfections, sucking and drawing them to her, as her food, by the most holy complacency which she takes in them; and by the same tongue of devotion she utters all her voices of prayer, praise, canticles, psalms, benedictions, according to the testimony of one of the most glorious spiritual cicalas that was ever heard, who sang thus: Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name.247247Ps. cii. 1. For is it not as though he had said, I am a mystical cicala, my soul, my spirit, my thoughts, all the faculties that are collected within me, are organ pipes. Let all these for ever bless the name and sound the praises of my God. I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth. In the Lord shall my soul be praised; let the meek hear and rejoice.248248Ps. xxxiii. 1, 2.

 

CHAPTER IX.

HOW BENEVOLENCE MAKES US CALL ALL CREATURES TO THE PRAISE OF GOD.

The heart that is taken and pressed with a desire of praising the divine goodness more than it is able, after many endeavours goes oftentimes out of itself, to invite all creatures to help it in its design. As did the three children in the furnace, in that admirable canticle of benedictions, by which they excite all that is in heaven, on earth and under the earth, to render thanks to the eternal God, by blessing and praising him sovereignly. So the glorious Psalmist, quite mastered by holily disordered passion moving him to praise God, goes without order, leaping from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven again, invoking angels, fishes, mountains, waters, dragons, birds, serpents, fire, hail, mists, assembling by his desires 221all creatures,—to the end that they all may conspire to lovingly magnify their Creator, some in their own persons celebrating the divine praise, others affording matter of praise by the wonders of their different properties, which manifest their Maker's power; so that this divine royal Psalmist, having composed a great number of psalms with this inscription: Praise God: after he had run through all creatures, holily inviting them to bless the divine Majesty, and gone over a great variety of means and instruments proper for the celebration of the praises of this eternal goodness, in the end, as falling down through lack of breath, closes his sacred song with this ejaculation: Let every spirit praise the Lord;249249Ps. cl. 6. that is, let all that has life, neither live nor breathe but to bless its Creator, according to the invitation he had elsewhere given: O magnify the Lord with me; and let us extol his name together.250250Ps. xxxiii. 4.

So the great S. Francis sang the canticle of the sun, and a hundred other excellent benedictions, to invoke creatures to help his heart, all fainting because he could not satisfy himself in the praises of the dear Saviour of his soul. So the heavenly spouse perceiving herself almost to faint away amid the violent efforts she made to bless and magnify the well-beloved king of her heart, Ah! she cried out to her companions, this divine spouse has led me by contemplation into his wine-cellar, making me taste the incomparable delights of the perfections of his excellence, and I have so steeped and holily inebriated myself in the holy complacency which I have taken in this abyss of beauty, that my soul languishes, wounded with a lovingly mortal desire, which urges me everlastingly to praise so exalted a goodness. Ah! come, I beseech you, to the assistance of my poor heart, which is upon the point of falling down dead. For pity sustain it, and stay me up with flowers; strengthen me and compass me about with apples, or I fall lifeless. Complacency draws the divine sweetnesses into her heart, which so ardently fills itself therewith that it is overcharged. But the love of benevolence makes our heart pass out of itself, and exhale itself in vapours of delicious perfumes, that is, in all kinds of holy praises. And 222yet not being able to produce as many as it would wish: Oh! it says, let all creatures come and contribute the flowers of their benedictions, the apples of their thanksgivings, honours and adorations, so that on every side we may smell odours poured out to the glory of him whose infinite sweetness surpasses all honour, and whom we can never right worthily magnify.

It is this divine passion that brings forth so many discourses, sends through all hazards a Xavier, a Berzée, an Anthony, that multitude of Jesuits, Capuchins, and religious and ecclesiastics of all kinds, to the Indies, Japan, Marañon, that the holy name of Jesus may be known, acknowledged, and adored throughout those immense nations. It is this holy passion which causes so many books of piety to be written, so many churches, altars, pious houses to be erected, and in a word which makes many of God's servants watch, labour, and die amid the flames of zeal which consume and spend them.

 

CHAPTER X.

HOW THE DESIRE TO PRAISE GOD MAKES US ASPIRE TO HEAVEN.

The amorous soul, perceiving that she cannot satiate the desire she has to praise her well-beloved while she lives in this world, and knowing that the praises which are given in heaven to the divine goodness are sung to an incomparably more delightful air,—O God! says she, how much to be praised are the praises which are poured forth by those blessed spirits before the throne of my heavenly king; how blessed are their blessings! O what a happiness is it to hear this melody of the most holy eternity, in which by the sweetest concurrence of dissimilar and varied tones, are made those admirable accords—all the parts mingling together with a continued sequence and marvellous linking of progressive movements—by which perpetual Alleluias do resound on every side.

Voices which for their loudness are compared to thunders, to trumpets, to the noise of the waves of a troubled sea; yet voices which, for their incomparable softness and sweetness, are compared to the melody of harps, delicately and delightfully 223touched by hands of the most skilful players; and voices all of which unite to sing the joyous Paschal canticle: Alleluia, praise God, Amen, praise God. For know, Theotimus, that a voice goes out from the divine throne which ceases not to cry to the happy inhabitants of the glorious heavenly Jerusalem: Praise God, O you that are his servants, and you that fear him great and little:251251Apoc. xix. at which all the innumerable multitude of saints,—the choirs of angels and the choirs of assembled men,—answer, singing with all their force: Alleluia, praise God. But what is this admirable voice, which issuing out from the divine throne entones the Alleluias of the elect, except most holy complacency, which being received into the heart, makes them feel the sweetness of the divine perfections, whereupon a loving benevolence, the source of heavenly praises, is bred in them? So that complacency coming from the throne, declares to the blessed the grandeurs of God, and benevolence excites them to pour out in their turn the perfumes of praise before the throne. Wherefore by way of answer they eternally sing: Alleluia, that is, praise God. The complacency comes from the throne into the heart, and benevolence goes from the heart to the throne.

O how worthy of love is this temple, wholly resounding with praise! O what content have such as live in this sacred dwelling, where so many heavenly philomels and nightingales sing with this holy strife of love, the canticles of eternal delight!

The heart, then, that in this world can neither sing nor hear the divine praises to its liking, enters into unutterable desires of being delivered from the bonds of this life to pass to the other, where the heavenly well-beloved is so perfectly praised: and these desires having taken possession of the heart, often become so strong and urgent in the breast of sacred lovers, that banishing all other desires they cause disgust of all earthly things, and render the soul languishing and lovesick: yea, sometimes the holy passion goes so far, that, God permitting, one dies of it.

So that glorious and seraphical lover S. Francis, having been long torn with this strong affection for praising God, in the end, in his last years, after he had had assurance, by a special revelation, 224of his eternal salvation, could not contain his joy, but wasted daily, as if his life and soul had burnt away like incense, upon the fire of the ardent desires which he had to see his Master, incessantly to praise him: so that these ardours taking every day a fresh increase, his soul left his body by a passionate movement which he made towards heaven; for the divine Providence thought good that he should die pronouncing these sacred words: Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the just wait for me, until thou reward me.252252Ps. cxli. 8. Behold, Theotimus, I beseech you, this soul, who, as a heavenly nightingale shut up in the cage of his body, in which he cannot at will sing the benedictions of his eternal love, knows that he could better trill and practise his delicious song if he could gain the air, to enjoy his liberty and the society of other philomels, amongst the gay and flowery hills of the land of the blessed; wherefore he cries: Alas! O Lord of my life, ah! by thy sweet goodness, deliver poor me from the cage of my body, free me from this little prison, to the end that released from this bondage I may fly to my dear companions, who expect me there above in heaven, to make me one of their choirs, and environ me with their joy. There, Lord, according my voice to theirs, I with them will make up a sweet harmony of delicious airs and words, singing, praising, and blessing thy mercy. This admirable Saint, as an orator who would end and conclude all he had said in some short sentence, put this happy ending to all his wishes and desires, whereof these last words were an abridgment; words to which he so firmly attached his soul, that in breathing them he breathed his last. My God, Theotimus, what a sweet and dear death was this! a happily loving death, a holily mortal love.

 

CHAPTER XI.

HOW WE PRACTISE THE LOVE OF BENEVOLENCE IN THE PRAISES WHICH OUR SAVIOUR AND HIS MOTHER GIVE TO GOD.

We mount then in this holy exercise from step to step, by the creatures which we invite to praise God, passing from the insensible to the reasonable and intellectual, and from the 225Church militant to the triumphant, in which we rise through the angels and the saints, till above them all we have found the most sacred virgin, who in a matchless air praises and magnifies the divinity more highly, holily and delightfully than all other creatures together can ever do.

Being two years ago at Milan, whither the veneration of the recent memory of the great Archbishop S. Charles had drawn me, with some of our clergy, we heard in different churches many sorts of music: but in a monastery of women we heard a religious whose voice was so admirably delightful that she alone created an impression more agreeable, beyond comparison, than all the rest together, which though otherwise excellent, yet seemed to serve only to bring out and raise the perfection and grace of this unique voice. So, Theotimus, amongst all the choirs of men and all the choirs of angels, the most sacred virgin's clear voice is heard above all the rest, giving more praise to God, than do all the other creatures. And indeed the heavenly King in a particular manner invites her to sing: Show me thy face, says he, my well-beloved, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.253253Cant. ii. 14.

But these praises which this mother of honour and fair love, together with all creatures, gives to the divinity, though excellent and admirable, come so infinitely short of the infinite merit of God's goodness, that they bear no proportion to it: and therefore, although they greatly please the sacred benevolence which the loving heart has for its well-beloved, yet do they not satiate it. Wherefore it goes forward and invites our Saviour to praise and glorify his eternal Father with all the benedictions which a Son's love can furnish him with. And then, Theotimus, the spirit comes unto a place of silence, for we can no longer do aught but wonder and admire. O what a canticle is this of the Son to his Father! O how fair this dear well-beloved is amongst all the children of men! O how sweet is his voice, as issuing from the lips upon which the fulness of grace was poured! All the others are perfumed, but he is 226perfume itself; the others are embalmed, but he is balm poured out; the Eternal receives others' praises, as scents of particular flowers, but perceiving the odour of the praises which our Saviour gives him, doubtless he cries out: Behold the smell of the praises of my Son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which I have blessed!254254Gen. xxvii. 27. Yes, my dear Theotimus, all the benedictions which the Church militant and triumphant offers to God are angelic and human benedictions; for, although they are addressed to the Creator, yet they proceed from the creature; but those of the Son are divine, for they not only tend to God, as the others, but they flow from God: the Redeemer being true God, they are not only divine in respect of their end but also of their origin; divine, because they tend to God; divine, because they issue from God. To others God gives his inspiration and sufficient grace, for the utterance of praise; but that of the Redeemer, he, who is God, himself produces, and therefore it is infinite.

He who, on a morning, having heard for some good space of time in the neighbouring woods the sweet chanting of finches, linnets, goldfinches, and such like little birds, should in the end hear a master-nightingale, which in perfect melody filled the air and ear with its admirable voice, doubtless would prefer this one woodland singer before the whole flock of the others. So, having heard all the praises which so many different sorts of creatures, in emulation of one another, render unanimously to their Creator, when at length we listen to the praise our Saviour gives, we find in it a certain infinity of merit, of worth, of sweetness, which surpasses all the hope and expectation of the heart: and the soul, as if awakened out of a deep sleep, is then instantly ravished with the extreme sweetness of such melody. Ah! I hear it: Oh! the voice, the voice of my well-beloved! the king-voice of all voices, a voice, in comparison with which all other voices are but a dumb and gloomy silence! See how this dear love springs forward, see how he comes leaping upon the highest mountains, transcending the hills: his voice is heard above the Seraphim, and all other creatures; he has the eyes of a roe to penetrate deeper than any other into the beauty of the sacred object which he desires to praise. He loves the melody of the glory 227and praise of his Father more than all others do, and therefore he takes his Father's praises and benedictions in a strain above them all. Ah! behold him, this divine love of the beloved, how he stands behind the wall of his humanity, making himself to be seen through the wounds of his body and the opening of his side, as by windows, and as by a lattice through which he looks out on us.255255Cant. ii.

Yea, truly, Theotimus, divine love being seated upon our Saviour's Heart as upon his royal throne, beholds by the cleft of his pierced side all the hearts of the sons of men: for this Heart being the King of hearts keeps his eyes ever fixed upon hearts. But as those that look through a lattice see others clearly, and are but half-seen themselves, so the divine love of this Heart, or rather this Heart of divine love, continually sees our hearts clearly and regards them with the eyes of his love, but we do not see him, we only half-see him. For, O God! if we could see him as he is, we should die of love for him, so long as we are mortal; as he himself died for us while he was mortal, and as he would yet die, if he were not immortal. O when we hear this divine Heart, as it sings with a voice of infinite sweetness the canticle of praise to the divinity, what joy, Theotimus, what efforts of our hearts to spring up to heaven that we may ever hear it! And verily this dear friend of our hearts invites us to this. Arise, make haste, leave thyself and take thy flight towards me, my dove, my beautiful, unto this heavenly abode, where all is joy and nought is heard but praises and benedictions. All is flowers, all is sweetness and perfume; the turtles, the most silent of all birds, yet there take up their songs. Come, my well-beloved and all-dear; and to see me more clearly, come to the same windows by which I see thee: come and behold my heart in the clefts of the opening in my side, which was made when my body, like a house in ruins, was so pitifully broken down on the tree of the cross: come, show me thy face. Ah! I see it now without thy showing it, but then I shall see it, and thou shalt show it me, for thou shalt see that I see thee: let thy voice sound in my ears, for I would join it with mine: thus shall thy voice be sweet and thy face comely. O what a 228delight will it be to our hearts, when, our voices being tuned and accorded to our Saviour's, we shall take part in the infinite sweetness of the praises which the well-beloved Son gives to his eternal Father!

 

CHAPTER XII.

OF THE SOVEREIGN PRAISE WHICH GOD GIVES UNTO HIMSELF, AND HOW WE EXERCISE BENEVOLENCE IN IT.

All our Saviour's human actions are of an infinite merit and value, by reason of the person who produces them, who is the same God with the Father and the Holy Ghost, yet they are not infinite by nature and essence. For as, being in a chamber, we receive not light according to the greatness of the brightness of the sun which sends it out, but according to the greatness of the window, by which it is communicated,—so our Saviour's human actions are not infinite, though indeed they are of infinite value; for although they are the actions of a divine person, yet they are not done according to the extent of his infinity, but according to the finite greatness of his humanity by which he does them. So that, as the human actions of our sweet Saviour are infinite compared to ours, so are they only finite in comparison with the essential infinity of the divinity. They are infinite in value, estimation and dignity, as proceeding from a person who is God; yet are they finite by nature and essence, as being done by God according to his human nature and substance, which is finite; and therefore the praises which are given by our Saviour, as he is man, not being in all respects infinite, cannot fully correspond to the infinite greatness of the divinity, to which they are directed.

Wherefore after the first ravishment of admiration which seizes us, when we meet with a praise so glorious as is that which our Saviour renders to his Father, we fail not to recognise that the divinity is yet infinitely more deserving of praise than it can be praised, either by all creatures, or by the very humanity of the eternal Son.

If a man were praising the sun for its light, the more he lifted 229himself towards it in praising it, the more praiseworthy he would find it, because he would still discover more and more brightness in it. And if, as is very probable, it be the beauty of this light which provokes larks to sing, it is no marvel that, as they fly more loftily, they sing more clearly, equally raising their voice and their flight, till such time as hardly being able to sing any more, they begin to fall in voice and body, bringing down by little and little their flight and their voice. So, Theotimus, while by benevolence we are rising towards the divinity to intone and hear his praises, we see ever that he is above all praise. And finally, we learn that he cannot be praised according to his worth save only by himself, who alone can worthily match his sovereign goodness with sovereign praise. Hereupon we cry out: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:" and that every one may know that it is not the glory of created praises which we wish God by this ejaculation, but the essential and eternal glory that is in himself, by himself, of himself, and which is himself, we add: "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen." As though we expressed a wish that God should be glorified for ever with the glory which he had before all creatures, in his infinite eternity and eternal infinity. For this we add the verse Gloria to every psalm and canticle, according to the ancient custom of the Eastern Church, which the great S. Jerome begged Pope S. Damasus to institute here in the Western; to protest, that all the praises of men and angels are too low to praise worthily the divine goodness, and that, to be worthily praised, itself must be its own glory, praise and benediction.

O God! what complacency, what a joy to the soul who loves, when she has her desire satisfied, in seeing her beloved infinitely praise, bless and magnify himself! But from this complacency there springs a new desire of praise: for the soul would gladly praise this so worthy a praise given to God by himself, thanking him profoundly for it, and calling again all things to her assistance, to come and glorify the glory of God with her, to bless his infinite benedictions, and praise his eternal praises; so that by this return and repetition of praises upon praises, she 230engages herself, between complacency and benevolence, in a most happy labyrinth of love, being wholly lost in this immense sweetness, sovereignly praising the divinity in that it cannot be sufficiently praised but by itself. And though in the beginning, the amorous soul had conceived a certain desire of being able to praise God sufficiently; yet reflecting upon herself again, she protests that she would not wish to have power to praise him sufficiently, but remains in a most humble complacency, to perceive that the divine goodness is so infinitely praiseworthy, that it cannot be sufficiently praised save by its own infinity alone.

And here the soul, ravished with admiration, sings the song of sacred silence: A hymn becometh thee, O Lord, in Sion, and a vow shall be paid to thee in Jerusalem.256256Ps. lxiv. 1.

For so the seraphim of Isaias, adoring and praising God, veiled their faces and feet, confessing therein their want of ability to contemplate or serve him properly; for our feet, by which we go, signify service: but still they fly with two wings in the sweet unrest of complacency and benevolence, their love reposing in that delightful unrest.

Man's heart is never so much disquieted as when the motion by which it continually opens and shuts itself is hindered, never so quiet as when its motions are free; so that the heart's quiet consists in its motion. Now it is the same with the love of the Seraphim and seraphical men; for this has its repose in its continual movement of complacency, by which it draws God into itself, as if shutting itself, and of benevolence, by which it opens itself and throws itself entirely into God. This love then desires to behold the infinite wonders of God's goodness, yet it spreads its wings over its face, confessing that it cannot succeed in this: it would also present some worthy service, but it folds this desire over its feet, confessing that it has not power to perform it, nor does anything remain save the two wings of complacency and benevolence, by which it flies and darts towards God.


231

BOOK VI.

OF THE

EXERCISES OF HOLY LOVE IN PRAYER.

CHAPTER I.

A DESCRIPTION OF MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, WHICH IS NO OTHER THING THAN PRAYER.

We have two principal exercises of our love towards God, the one affective, the other effective, or, as S. Bernard calls it, active; by that we affect or love God and what he loves, by this we serve God and do what he ordains; that joins us to God's goodness, this makes us execute his will: the one fills us with complacency, benevolence, yearnings, desires, aspirations and spiritual ardours, causing us to practise the sacred infusions and minglings of our spirit with God's; the other establishes in us the solid resolution, the constancy of heart, and the inviolable obedience requisite to effect the ordinances of the divine will, and to suffer, accept, approve and embrace, all that comes from his good-pleasure; the one makes us pleased in God, the other makes us please God: by the one we conceive, by the other we bring forth: by the one we place God upon our heart, as a standard of love, around which all our affections are ranged, by the other we place him upon our arm, as a sword of love whereby we effect all the exploits of virtue.

Now the first exercise consists principally in prayer; in which so many different interior movements take place that to express them all is impossible, not only by reason of their number, but also for their nature and quality, which being spiritual, they 232cannot but be very rarefied, and almost imperceptible to our understanding. The cleverest and best trained hounds are often at fault; they lose the strain and scent by the variety of sleights which the stag uses, who makes doubles, puts them on a wrong scent, and practises a thousand arts to escape the cry; and we oftentimes lose the scent and knowledge of our own heart in the infinite diversity of motions by which it turns itself, in so many ways and with such promptitude, that one cannot discern its track.

God alone is he, who, by his infinite wisdom, sees, knows and penetrates all the turnings and windings of our hearts: he understands our thoughts from afar, he finds out our traces, doubles and turnings; his knowledge therein is admirable, surpassing our capacity and reach. Certainly if our spirits would turn back upon themselves by reflections, and by reconsiderations of their acts, we should enter into labyrinths from which we should find no outgate; and it would require an attention quite beyond our power, to think what our thoughts are, to consider our considerations, to observe all our spiritual observations, to discern that we discern, to remember that we remember,—these acts would be mazes from which we could not deliver ourselves. This treatise, then, is difficult, especially to one who is not a man of great prayer.

We take not here the word prayer (oraison) only for the petition (priere) or demand for some good, poured out by the faithful before God, as S. Basil calls it, but as S. Bonaventure does, when he says that prayer, generally speaking; comprehends all the acts of contemplation; or as S. Gregory Nazianzen, who teaches that prayer is a conference or conversation of the soul with God; or again as S. Chrysostom, when he says that prayer is a discoursing with the divine Majesty; or finally as S. Augustine and S. Damascene, who term prayer an ascent or raising of the soul to God. And if prayer be a colloquy, a discourse or a conversation of the soul with God, by it then we speak to God, and he again speaks to us; we aspire to him and breathe in him, and he reciprocally inspires us and breathes upon us.

But of what do we discourse in prayer? What is the subject of our conference? Theotimus, in it we speak of God only: 233for of what can love discourse and talk but of the well-beloved? And therefore prayer, and mystical theology, are one same thing. It is called theology, because, as speculative theology has God for its object, so this also treats only of God, yet with three differences: for,  1. The former treats of God as God, but the latter treats of him as sovereignly amiable; that is, the former regards the Divinity of the supreme goodness, and the latter the supreme goodness of the Divinity.  2. The speculative treats of God with men and amongst men, the mystical speaks of God with God, and in God himself.  3. The speculative tends to the knowledge of God, and the mystical to the love of God; that, therefore, makes its scholars wise, and learned, and theologians, but this makes its scholars fervent, and affectionate, lovers of God, a Philotheus or a Theophilus.

Now it is called mystical, because its conversation is altogether secret, and there is nothing said in it between God and the soul save only from heart to heart, by a communication incommunicable to all but those who make it. Lovers' language is so peculiar to themselves that none but themselves understand it. I sleep, said the holy spouse, and my heart watcheth. Ah! hark! The voice of my beloved knocking.257257Cant. v. 2. Who would have guessed that this spouse being asleep could yet talk with her beloved? But where love reigns, the sound of exterior words is not necessary, nor the help of sense to entertain and to hear one another. In fine, prayer and mystical theology is nothing else but a conversation in which the soul amorously entertains herself with God concerning his most amiable goodness, to unite and join herself thereto.

Prayer is a manna, for the infinity of delicious tastes and precious sweetnesses which it gives to such as use it, but it is hidden,258258Apoc. ii. 17. because it falls before the light of any science, in the mental solitude where the soul alone treats with her God alone. Who is she, might one say of her, that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and of all the powders of the perfumer?259259Cant. iii. 6. And it was the desire of secrecy that moved her to make this petition to her 234love: Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field, let us abide in the villages.260260Cant. vii. 11. For this reason the heavenly spouse is styled a turtle, a bird which is delighted in shady and solitary places, where she makes no other use of her song but for her only mate, either in life wooing him or after his death plaining him. For this reason, in the Canticles, the divine lover and the heavenly spouse describe their loves by a continual conversing together; and if their friends sometimes speak during their conference, it is but casually, and without interrupting their colloquy. Hence the Blessed Mother (S.) Teresa of Jesus found at first more profit in the mysteries where our Saviour was most alone; as in the Garden of Olives, and where he was awaiting the Samaritan woman, for she fancied that he being alone would more readily admit her into his company.

Love desires secrecy; yea, though lovers may have nothing secret to say, yet they love to say it secretly: and this is partly, if I am not mistaken, because they would speak only for themselves, whereas when they speak out loud it seems no longer to be for themselves alone; partly because they do not say common things in a common manner, but with touches which are particular, and which manifest the special affection with which they speak. The language of love is common, as to the words, but in manner and pronunciation it is so special that none but lovers understand it. The name of a friend uttered in public is no great thing, but spoken apart, secretly in the ear, it imports wonders, and the more secretly it is spoken the more delightful is its signification. O God! what a difference there is between the language of the ancient lovers of the Divinity,—Ignatius, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Augustine, Hilary, Ephrem, Gregory, Bernard,—and that of less affectionate theologians! We use their very words, but with them the words were full of fire and of sweets of amorous perfumes; with us they are cold and have no scent at all.

Love speaks not only by the tongue, but by the eyes, by sighs, and play of features; yea, silence and dumbness are words for it. My heart hath said to thee, my face hath sought thee: thy face, O 235Lord, will I still seek.261261Ps. xxvi. 8. My eyes have failed for thy word, saying: When wilt thou comfort me?262262Ps. cxviii. 82. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication: give ear to my tears.263263Ps. xxxviii. 13. Let not the apple of thy eye cease,264264Jer. Lam. ii. 18. said the desolate heart of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to their own city. Do you mark, Theotimus, how the silence of afflicted lovers speaks by the apple of their eye, and by tears? Truly the chief exercise in mystical theology is to speak to God and to hear God speak in the bottom of the heart; and because this discourse passes in most secret aspirations and inspirations, we term it a silent conversing. Eyes speak to eyes, and heart to heart, and none understand what passes save the sacred lovers who speak.

 

CHAPTER II.

OF MEDITATION—THE FIRST DEGREE OF PRAYER OR MYSTICAL THEOLOGY.

This word is much used in the holy Scriptures, and means simply an attentive and reiterated thought, proper to produce good or evil affections. In the first Psalm, the man is said to be blessed: Whose will is in the way of the Lord, and who in his law shall meditate day and night. But in the second Psalm: Why did the Gentiles rage, and the people meditate vain things? Meditation therefore is made as well for evil as for good. Yet whereas in the holy Scripture, the word meditation is ordinarily applied to the attention which we have to divine things to stir us up to love them, it has, as one might say, been canonized by the common consent of theologians, like the name, angel, and, zeal; as on the contrary the words, craft (dol), and, demons have been stigmatized: so that now when we say, meditation, we mean that which is holy, and that by which we begin mystical theology.

Every meditation is a thought, but every thought is not meditation. For we have thoughts to which our mind is carried without any design or aim, by way of simple musing, as we see common flies flying from from one flower to another, 236without drawing anything from them. And be this kind of thought as attentive as it may, it can never bear the name of meditation, but should simply be called thought. Sometimes we consider a thing attentively to learn its causes, its effects, its qualities, and this thought is named study; in which the mind acts as locusts do, which promiscuously fly upon flowers and leaves, to eat them and nourish themselves therewith. But when we think of divine things, not to learn, but to make ourselves love them, this is called meditating, and this exercise, Meditation; in which our spirit, not as a fly for simple amusement, nor as a locust to eat and be filled, but as a sacred bee, moves over the flowers of holy mysteries, to extract from them the honey of divine love.

Thus many persons are always dreaming, and engaged in unprofitable thoughts, almost without knowing what they are thinking about; and, which is noteworthy, they are only attentive to these thoughts inadvertently, and would wish not to have them; witness him who said: My thoughts are dissipated, tormenting my heart:265265Job xvii. 11. many also study, and by a most laborious occupation fill themselves with vanity, not being able to resist curiosity: but there are few who meditate to inflame their heart with holy heavenly love. In fine, thoughts and study may be upon any subject, but meditation, in our present sense, has reference only to those objects whose consideration tends to make us good and devout. So that meditation is no other thing than an attentive thought, voluntarily reiterated or entertained in the mind, to excite the will to holy and salutary affections and resolutions.

The holy Word explains in a truly admirable manner, and by an excellent similitude, in what holy meditation consists. Ezechias wishing to express in his canticle the attentive consideration which he makes of his evil: I will cry, says he, like a young swallow, I will meditate like a dove.266266Is. xxxviii. 14. For, my dear Theotimus, if ever you took notice of it, the young swallows open their beaks very wide in their chirping, and, on the contrary, doves, above all birds, make their murmuring with 237their beaks close shut up, keeping their voices in their throat and breast, nothing passing outward but a certain resonant, echo-like sound; and this little murmuring equally serves them to express their griefs and to declare their loves. Ezechias, then, to show that in his calamity he made many vocal prayers, says: I will cry like a young swallow, opening my mouth, to utter before God many lamentable cries; and to testify also that he made use of holy mental prayer, he adds: I will meditate like a dove, turning and doubling my thoughts within my heart by an attentive consideration, to excite myself to bless and praise the sovereign mercy of my God, who has brought me back from death's gate, taking compassion on my misery. So Isaias says: We shall roar all of us like bears, and shall lament, meditating like doves,267267Is. lix. 11. where the roaring of bears refers to the exclamations which we utter in vocal prayer, and the mourning of doves to holy meditation. But to make it appear that doves use their cooing on occasions not only of grief but also of love and joy, the sacred lover, describing the natural spring-time in order to express the beauties of the spiritual springtime, says: The voice of the turtle is heard in our land,268268Cant. ii. 12. because in the spring the turtle begins to glow with love, which she testifies by her more frequent song; and presently after: My dove, shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.269269Cant. ii. 14. He means, Theotimus, that the devout soul is very agreeable unto him when she presents herself before him, and meditates to inflame herself with holy spiritual love. So he who had said, I will meditate like a dove: putting his conception into other words: I will think over again for thee, said he, all my years in the bitterness of my soul.270270Is. xxxviii. 15. For to meditate, and to think over again in order to move the affections, is the same thing. Hence Moses, exhorting the people to recall to mind the benefits received of God, adds this reason: That thou shouldst keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and fear him.271271Deut. viii. 6. And Our Lord himself gave this command to Josue: Let not the 238book of this law depart from thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate on it day and night, that thou mayest observe and do all things that are written in it.272272Josue i. 8. What in one of the passages is expressed by the word, meditate, is declared in the other by, think over again, and to show that reiterated thought and meditation tend to move us to affections, resolutions and actions, it is said, as well in the one as the other passage, that we must think over again, and meditate in, the law, to observe and practise it. In this sense the apostle exhorts us thus: Think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds.273273Heb. xii. 3. When he says think diligently, it is as though he said meditate. But why would he have us to meditate the holy passion? Not that we should become learned, but that we should become patient and constant in the way of heaven. O how have I loved thy law, O Lord! says David: It is my meditation all the day.274274Ps. cxviii. 97. He meditates on the law because he loves it, and he loves it because he meditates on it.

Meditation is the mystical rumination275275Lev. xi. 3. required for not being unclean, to which one of the devout shepherdesses who followed the sacred Sulamitess invites us: for she assures us that holy writ is as a precious wine, worthy not only to be drunk, by pastors and doctors, but also to be diligently relished, and, so to speak, ruminated and turned over and over. Thy throat, says she (in which the holy words are formed) is like the best wine, worthy for my beloved to drink, and for his lips and his teeth to ruminate.276276Cant. vii. 9. So the blessed Isaac, as a chaste and pure lamb, went forth into the field, the day being now well spent, to make his retirement, his conference, and his exercise of spirit with God, that is, to pray and to meditate.277277Gen. xxiv. 63.

The bee flies from flower to flower in the spring-time, not at hazard but of set purpose, not only to be recreated in the verdant diapering of the meadows, but to gather honey; which having found, she sucks it up, and loads herself with it; then carrying it to her hive, she treats it skilfully, separating from it the wax, 239of which she makes comb, to store the honey for the ensuing winter. Such is the devout soul in meditation. She passes from mystery to mystery, not at random, or only to solace herself in viewing the admirable beauty of those divine objects, but deliberately and of set purpose, to find out motives of love or of some heavenly affection; and having found them she draws them to her, she relishes them, she loads herself with them, and having brought them back and put them within her heart, she lays up what she sees most useful for her advancement, by finally making resolutions suitable for the time of temptation. Thus in the Canticle of Canticles the heavenly spouse, as a mystical bee, settles, now on the eyes, now on the lips, on the cheeks, on the hair of her beloved, to draw thence the sweetness of a thousand passions of love, noting in particular whatever she finds best for this. So that, inflamed with holy love, she speaks with him, she questions him, she listens to him, sighs, aspires, admires him, as he on his part fills her with delight, inspiring her, touching and opening her heart, and pouring into it brightness, lights and sweetnesses without end, but in so secret a manner that one may rightly say of this holy conversation of the soul with God, what the holy text says of God's with Moses: that Moses being alone upon the top of the mountain spoke to God, and God answered him.278278Ex. xix. 19.

 

CHAPTER III.

A DESCRIPTION OF CONTEMPLATION, AND OF THE FIRST DIFFERENCE THAT THERE IS BETWEEN IT AND MEDITATION.

Theotimus, contemplation is no other thing than a loving, simple and permanent attention of the spirit to divine things; which you may easily understand by comparing meditation with it.

Little bees are called nymphs or schadons until they make 240honey, and then they are called bees: so prayer is named Meditation until it has produced the honey of devotion, and then it is converted into Contemplation. For as the bees fly through their meadows, settling here and there and gathering honey, which having heaped together, they work in it for the pleasure they take in its sweetness, so we meditate to gather the love of God, but having gathered it we contemplate God, and are attentive to his goodness, by reason of the sweetness which love makes us find in it. The desire we have to obtain divine love makes us meditate, but love obtained makes us contemplate; for by love we find so agreeable a sweetness in the thing beloved, that we can never satiate our spirits in seeing and considering it.

Behold, Theotimus, how the queen of Saba,—regarding the proofs of Solomon's wisdom in his answers, in the beauty of his house, in the magnificence of his table, in his servants' lodgings, in the order that his courtiers kept while executing their charges, in their apparel and behaviour, in the multitude of holocausts which were offered in the Temple,—was taken with an ardent love, which changed her meditation into contemplation, in which, being rapt out of herself, she uttered divers words of extreme satisfaction. The sight of so many wonders begot in her heart an exceeding love, and that love enkindled a new desire, to see still more and enjoy the presence of him whose they were; whence she cried: Blessed are thy servants who stand before thee always, and hear thy wisdom.2792793 Kings x. 8. In like manner we sometimes begin to eat to get an appetite, but our appetite being excited, we continue eating to content it. And in the beginning we consider the goodness of God to excite our will to love him, but love being formed in our hearts, we consider the same goodness to content our love, which cannot be satiated in seeing continually what it loves. In conclusion, Meditation is the mother, and Contemplation the daughter of love, and for this reason I called Contemplation a loving attention, for children are named after their fathers, and not fathers after their children.

It is true, Theotimus, that as Joseph of old was the crown 241and glory of his father, greatly increased his honours and contentment, and made him young in his old age, so contemplation crowns its father which is love, perfects him, and gives him the crown of excellence; for love having excited in us contemplative attention, that attention breeds reciprocally a greater and more fervent love, which at last is crowned with perfection when it enjoys what it loves. Love makes us take pleasure in the sight of our well-beloved, and the sight of our well-beloved makes us take pleasure in his divine love, so that by this mutual movement, from love to sight, and from sight to love, as love renders the beauty of the thing beloved more beautiful, so the sight of it makes love more loving and delightful. Love by an imperceptible power makes the beauty which we love appear more fair, and sight likewise refines love, to make it find beauty more amiable. Love urges the eyes continually to behold the beloved beauty more attentively, and sight forces the heart to love it ever more ardently.

 

CHAPTER IV.

THAT LOVE IN THIS LIFE TAKES ITS ORIGIN BUT NOT ITS EXCELLENCE FROM THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.

But which has the more force, I pray you; love, to make us look upon the well-beloved, or the sight to make us love him? Knowledge, Theotimus, is required for the production of love, for we can never love what we do not know; and according as the attentive knowledge of good is augmented, love is also augmented, provided there is nothing to hinder its activity. Yet it happens often, that knowledge having produced holy love, love does not stay within the limits of the knowledge which is in the understanding, but goes forward and passes very far beyond it; so that in this life we are able to have more love than knowledge of God: whence the great S. Thomas assures us, that oftentimes the most simple women abound in devotion, and are ordinarily more capable of heavenly love than clever and learned men.

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The famous Abbot of S. Andrew's at Vercelli, master of S. Antony of Padua, in his commentaries upon S. Denis, often repeats that love penetrates where exterior knowledge cannot reach, and says that many bishops of old, though not very learned, have penetrated the mystery of the Trinity; admiring in this point his scholar S. Antony of Padua, who, without earthly knowledge, had so profound a grasp of mystical theology, that, like another S. John Baptist, one might have called him a burning and a shining light. The Blessed Brother Giles, one of the first companions of S. Francis, said one day to S. Bonaventure: "O how happy you learned men are, for you understand many things whereby you praise God, but what can we idiots do?" And S. Bonaventure replied: "The grace to be able to love God is sufficient." "Nay, but Father," replied Brother Giles, "can an ignorant man love God as well as a learned?" "Yes," said S. Bonaventure, "and further, a poor simple woman may love God as much as a doctor of divinity." Then Brother Giles cried out in fervour: "O poor simple woman, love thy Saviour, and thou shall be as great as Brother Bonaventure." And upon this he remained for the space of three hours in a rapture.

The will only perceives good by means of the understanding, but having once perceived it she has no more need of the understanding to practise love, for the force of pleasure which she feels, or expects to feel, from union with her object, draws her powerfully to the love and to the desire of enjoying it; so that the knowledge of good gives birth, but not measure, to love; as we see the knowledge of an injury starts anger, which, if not suppressed, almost always becomes greater than the subject deserves. The passions do not follow the knowledge which moves them, but very often, leaving this quite in the rear, they make towards their object without any measure or limit.

Now this happens still more strongly in holy love, inasmuch as our will is not applied to it by a natural knowledge, but by the light of faith, which assuring us of the infinite goodness that is in God, gives us sufficient cause to love him with all our force. We dig the earth to find gold and silver, employing a present labour for a good which as yet is only hoped for; so that 243an uncertain knowledge sets us upon a present and certain labour, and as we more discover the vein of the mineral, we search and search more earnestly. Even a cold scent serves to move the hound to the game, so, dear Theotimus, a knowledge obscure and involved in clouds, like that of faith, most powerfully stirs our affection to love the goodness which it makes us perceive. O how true it is, according to S. Augustine's exclamation, that the unlearned bear away heaven, while many of the wise are swallowed up in hell!

In your opinion, Theotimus, which of the two would love the light more—the one born blind, who might know all the discourses that philosophers make of it and the praises they give it, or the ploughman, who by a clear sight feels and realizes the agreeable splendour of the fair rising sun? The first has more knowledge of it, but the second more fruition, and that fruition produces a love far more lively and affective than a simple knowledge by reasons; for the experience of good makes it infinitely more agreeable than all the science which can be had of it. We begin our love by the knowledge which faith gives us of God's goodness, which afterwards we relish and taste by love; love whets our taste and our taste heightens our love, so that, as we see the waves, under the stress of winds, roll against one another and swell up, as if contact forced each to strive to outdo the rest, so the taste of good strengthens our love of it, and increases our relish for it, according to that oracle of the divine Wisdom: They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me shall yet thirst.280280Ecclus. xxiv. 29. Which of the two I pray you loved God more, the theologian Occam, held by some to be the most subtle of mortals, or S. Catharine of Genoa, an unlearned woman? He knew God better by science, she by experience; and her experience conducted her deep into seraphic love, while he with his knowledge remained far remote from this excellent perfection.

We extremely love the sciences, even before we fully know them, says S. Thomas, from such confused and general knowledge as we may have of them: in the same way, it is the knowledge 244of God's goodness which makes our will begin to love, but as soon as it is set going, love increases of itself, by the pleasure which the will takes in being united to this sovereign good. Before children have tasted honey and sugar it is difficult to make them receive them into their mouth; but after they have tasted their sweetness, they love them much more than we wish, and eagerly seek to get them always.

We must admit, however, that the will, attracted by the delectation which it takes in its object, is much more forcibly drawn to unite itself therewith, when the understanding on its side excellently proposes the goodness thereof; for it is then at once both drawn and pushed; pushed by knowledge, drawn by delight: so that knowledge is not of itself contrary, but very useful to devotion, and meeting together they marvellously assist one another; though it often happens through our misery that knowledge hinders the birth of devotion, because knowledge puffeth up and makes us proud, and pride, which is contrary to all virtue, is the total ruin of devotion. Without doubt, the eminent science of a Cyprian, an Augustine, a Hilary, a Chrysostom, a Basil, a Gregory, a Bonaventure, a Thomas,—has not only much recommended but greatly improved their devotion, as again their devotion has not only raised but eminently perfected their science.

 

CHAPTER V.

THE SECOND DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEDITATION AND CONTEMPLATION.

Meditation considers in detail, and as it were piece by piece, the objects calculated to move us, but contemplation takes a very simple and collected view of the object which it loves, and the consideration thus brought to a point causes a more lively and strong movement. One may behold the beauty of a rich crown two ways; either by looking upon all its ornaments, and all the precious stones of which it is composed, one after 245the other; or again, having considered all the particular parts, by beholding all the work of it together in one single and simple view. The first kind resembles meditation, in which, for example, we consider the effects of God's mercy to excite us to his love; but the second is like to contemplation, in which we consider with one single steady regard of our mind, all the variety of the same effects as a single beauty, composed of all these pieces, making up a single splendid brilliant. In meditating, we as it were count the divine perfections which we find in a mystery, but in contemplating we sum up their total. The companions of the sacred spouse had asked her what manner of one was her well-beloved, and she makes answer in an admirable description of all the parts of his perfect beauty: My beloved is white and ruddy, his head is as the finest gold, his locks as branches of palm trees, black as a raven, his eyes as doves, his cheeks are as beds of aromatical spices, set by the perfumers, his lips are as lilies dropping choice myrrh, his hands are turned and as of gold full of hyacinths, his legs as pillars of marble. Thus she goes on, meditating this sovereign beauty in detail, till at length she concludes by way of contemplation, putting all the beauties into one: His throat is most sweet, and he is all lovely: such is my beloved, and he is my friend.281281Cant. v.

Meditation reminds of one who smells a pink, a rose, rosemary, thyme, jessamine, orange-flower, separately one after the other; but contemplation is like to one smelling the perfumed water distilled from all those flowers: for the latter in one smell receives all the scents together, which the other had smelt divided and separated; and there is no doubt that this one scent alone, arising from the mingling together of all these scents, is more sweet and precious by itself than the scents of which it is composed, smelt separately one after another. Hence it is that the heavenly lover so prizes the being seen by his well-beloved with one of her eyes, and that her hair is so well plaited that it seems to be but one hair; for what is this beholding the spouse with one eye only, except the beholding him with a single attentive view without multiplying looks? 246And what is it to have her hair thus plaited together, except the not scattering her thoughts in the multiplicity of considerations. Oh! how happy are they who, having run over the multitude of motives which they have to love God, reducing all their looks to one only look, and all their thoughts to one conclusion, stay their mind in the unity of contemplation; after the example of S. Augustine or S. Bruno, pronouncing secretly in their soul in a permanent admiration: "O Goodness! Goodness! Goodness, ever old and ever new!" or after the example of the great S. Francis, who, kneeling in prayer passed the whole night in these words: "O God, thou art my God and my All!" repeating the same continually, as the Blessed Brother Bernard of Quintaval relates who had heard it with his own ears.

Look at S. Bernard, Theotimus: he had meditated all the passion point by point; then of all the principal points put together he made a nosegay of loving grief, and putting it upon his breast to change his meditation into contemplation, he cried out: A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me.282282Cant. i. 12.

But again look with still greater devotion at the Creator of the world, how in the creation he first meditated the goodness of his works severally, one by one, as he saw them produced. He saw, says the Scripture, that the light was good, that the heavens and the earth were good, and so the herbs and plants, the sun, moon and stars, the living beasts, and in fine all the rest of creatures as he created them one after another: till at length, all the universe being accomplished, the divine meditation is changed as it were into contemplation: for viewing all the goodness that was in his works with one only look—He saw, says Moses, all the things that he had made, and they were very good.283283Gen. i. 31. The different parts considered severally by manner of meditation were good, but beheld in one only regard all together in form of contemplation, they were found very good: as many little brooks running together make a river, which carries greater freights than the multitude of the same brooks separately could do.

After we have excited a great many different pious affections 247by the multitude of considerations of which meditation is composed, we in the end gather together the virtue of all these affections, from which, by the pouring together and mixture of their forces, springs a certain quintessence of affection, and of affection more active and powerful than all the affections whence it proceeds, because, though it be but one, yet it contains the virtue and property of all the others, and is called contemplative affection.

So it is an opinion amongst divines that the angels who are higher in glory have a knowledge of God and creatures much more simple than the inferior have, and that the species or ideas by which they see are more universal, so that what the less perfect angels see by various species and various regards, the more perfect see by fewer species and fewer acts of regard. And the great S. Augustine, followed by S. Thomas, says that in heaven we shall not have these vicissitudes, varieties, changes and returns of thoughts and cogitations, which come and go, from object to object and from one thing to another, but with one sole thought we shall be able to attend to the diversity of many things, and receive the knowledge of them. The further water runs from its source, the more does it divide itself, and waste its waters, unless it is kept in with a great care; and perfections separate and divide themselves according as they are more remote from God their source; but approaching near him they are united, until they are lost in the abyss of that sole sovereign perfection, which is the necessary unity and the better part, which Magdalen chose and which shall not be taken away from her.

 

CHAPTER VI.

THAT CONTEMPLATION IS MADE WITHOUT LABOUR, WHICH IS THE THIRD DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IT AND MEDITATION.

Now the simple view of contemplation is performed in one of these three ways. Sometimes we regard only some one of God's perfections, as for example his infinite goodness, not thinking of 248his other attributes or virtues; like a bridegroom, who simply stays his eye upon the beautiful complexion of his bride, and by this means truly sees all her countenance, forasmuch as her colour is spread over almost all the parts of it, and who yet at the same time would not be attending to the features, expression, and other points of beauty: for, in like manner, sometimes the mind, considering the sovereign goodness of the divinity, although withal it sees in it justice, wisdom, power, yet is only attentive to its goodness, to which the simple view of its contemplation is addressed. Sometimes also we attentively behold in God several of his infinite perfections, yet with a simple view and without distinction, as he who with one glance, passing his eyes from the head to the feet of his richly dressed spouse, would attentively have seen all in general, and nothing in particular, not well discerning what neck-jewels, or gown, she wore, nor what countenance she bore, nor what expression she had, nor what her eyes were saying, but only that all was fair and agreeable: for so in contemplation we often cast one single regard of simple contemplation over several divine greatnesses and perfections together, and we could not describe anything in particular, but only say that all is perfectly good and lovely. And finally we at other times consider neither many nor only one of the divine perfections, but only some divine action or work, to which we are attentive; as for example to the act of mercy by which God pardons sins, or the act of creation, or the resurrection of Lazarus, or the conversion of S. Paul: as a bridegroom who might not regard the eyes, but only the sweetness of the looks which his spouse casts upon him, nor take notice of her mouth, but only of the sweetness of the words uttered by it. And here, Theotimus, the soul makes a certain outburst of love, not only upon the actions she considers, but upon him from whom they proceed: Thou art good; and in thy goodness teach me thy justifications.284284Ps. cxviii. 68. His throat (that is, the word which comes from it) is most sweet, and he is all lovely.285285Cant. v. 16. Ah! How sweet are thy words to my palate, more than honey to my mouth;286286Ps. cxviii. 103. or with 249S. Thomas: My Lord and my God; and with S. Magdalen: "Rabboni, Ah! my master!"

But take which of these three ways you will, contemplation has still this excellency that it is made with delight, for it supposes that we have found God and his holy love, that we enjoy it and delight in it, saying: I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go.287287Cant. iii. 4. In which it differs from meditation, which almost always is performed with difficulty, labour and reasoning; our mind passing in it from consideration to consideration, searching in many places either the well-beloved of her love, or the love of her well-beloved. Jacob labours in meditation to obtain Rachel, but in contemplation he rejoices with her, forgetting all his labour. The divine lover like a shepherd, and indeed he is one, prepared a sumptuous banquet according to the country fashion for his sacred spouse, which he so described that mystically it represented all the mysteries of man's redemption. I am come into my garden, said he, O my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my myrrh, with aromatical spices; I have eaten the honey-comb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk; eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, my dearly beloved!288288Cant. v. 1. Theotimus, Ah! when was it, I pray you, that our Saviour came into his garden, if not when he came into his mother's purest, humblest and sweetest womb, replenished with all the flourishing plants of holy virtues? And what is meant by our Saviour's gathering his myrrh with his perfumes, except that he joined suffering to suffering until death, even the death of the cross, heaping by that means merit upon merit and treasures upon treasures, to enrich his spiritual children? And how did he eat his honey-comb with his honey, but when he lived a new life, reuniting his soul, more sweet than honey, to his pierced and wounded body, with more holes than a honeycomb? And when ascending into heaven he took possession of all the surroundings and dependencies of his divine glory, what other thing did he if not mix the exhilarating wine of the essential glory of his soul, with the delightful milk of the perfect felicity of his body, in a more excellent manner than hitherto he had done?

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Now in all these divine mysteries, which contain all others, there is food provided for dear friends to eat and drink well, and for dearest friends to be inebriated. Some eat and drink, but they eat more than they drink and so are not inebriated: the others eat and drink, but drink more than they eat, and those are they who are inebriated. Now to eat is to meditate, for in meditating a man doth chew, turning his spiritual meat hither and thither between the teeth of consideration, to bruise, break and digest it, which is not done without some labour. To drink is to contemplate, which we do without labour or difficulty, yea with pleasure and tranquillity. But to be inebriated is to contemplate so frequently and so ardently as to be quite out of self to be wholly in God. O holy and sacred inebriation, which, contrarily to corporal inebriation, does not alienate us from the spiritual sense, but from the corporal senses; does not dull or besot us, but angelicizes and in a sort deifies us; putting us out of ourselves, not to abase us and rank us with beasts, as terrestrial drunkenness does, but to raise us above ourselves and range us with angels, so that we may live more in God than in ourselves, being attentive to and occupied in seeing his beauty and being united to his goodness by love!

Now whereas to attain unto contemplation we stand ordinarily in need of hearing the word of God, of having spiritual discourse and conference with others, like the ancient anchorites, of reading, praying, meditating, singing canticles, conceiving good thoughts,—for this reason, holy contemplation being the end and aim of all these exercises, they are all reduced to it, and those who practise them are called contemplatives, as also the occupation itself is called a contemplative life. This is on account of the action of our understanding, by which we regard the truth of the divine beauty and goodness with an amorous attention, that is, with a love which makes us attentive, or, with an attention which proceeds from love, and augments the love which we have for the infinite sweetness of our Lord.

 

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CHAPTER VII.

OF THE LOVING RECOLLECTION OF THE SOUL IN CONTEMPLATION.

I speak not here, Theotimus, of the recollection by which such as are about to pray, place themselves in God's presence, entering into themselves, and as one would say bringing their soul into their hearts, there to speak with God; for this recollection is made by love's command, which, provoking us to prayer, moves us to take this means of doing it well, so that we ourselves make this withdrawing of our spirit. But the recollection of which I mean to speak is not made by love's command but by love itself, that is, we do not make it by free choice, for it is not in our power to have it when we please, and does not depend on our care, but God at his pleasure works it in us by his most holy grace. The Blessed Mother (S.) Teresa of Jesus says: "He who has written that the prayer of recollection is made as when a hedgehog or tortoise draws itself within itself, said well, saying that these beasts draw themselves in when they please, whereas recollection is not in our will, but comes to us only when it pleases God to do us this grace."

Now it comes thus. Nothing is so natural to good as to draw and unite unto itself such things as are sensible of it; as our souls do, which continually draw towards them and give themselves to their treasure, that is, what they love. It happens then sometimes that our Lord imperceptibly infuses into the depths of our hearts a certain agreeable sweetness, which testifies his presence, and then the powers, yea the very exterior senses of the soul, by a certain secret contentment, turn in towards that most interior part where is the most amiable and dearest spouse. For as a new swarm of bees when it would take flight and change country, is recalled by a sound softly made on metal basins, by the smell of honied wine, or by the scent of some odoriferous herbs, being stayed by the attraction of these agreeable things, and entering into the hive prepared for it:—so our Saviour,—pronouncing some secret word of his love, or pouring out the odour of the wine of his dilection, 252more delicious than honey, or letting stream the perfumes of his garments, that is, feelings of his heavenly consolations in our hearts, and thereby making them perceive his most welcome presence,—draws unto him all the faculties of our soul, which gather about him and stay themselves in him as in their most desired object. And as he who should cast a piece of loadstone amongst a number of needles would instantly see them turn all their points towards their well-beloved adamant, and join themselves to it, so when our Saviour makes his most delicious presence to be felt in the midst of our hearts, all our faculties turn their points in that direction, to be united to this incomparable sweetness.

O God! says then the soul in imitation of S. Augustine, whither was I wandering to seek thee! O most infinite beauty! I sought thee without, and thou wast in the midst of my heart. All Magdalen's affections, and all her thoughts, were scattered about the sepulchre of her Saviour, whom she went seeking hither and thither, and though she had found him, and he spoke to her, yet leaves she them dispersed, because she does not perceive his presence; but as soon as he had called her by her name, see how she gathers herself together and entirely attaches herself to his feet: one only word puts her into recollection.

Propose to yourself, Theotimus, the most holy Virgin, our Lady, when she had conceived the Son of God, her only love. The soul of that well-beloved mother did wholly collect itself about that well-beloved child, and because this heavenly dear one was harboured in her sacred womb, all the faculties of her soul gathered themselves within her, as holy bees into their hive, wherein their honey is; and by how much the divine greatness was, so to speak, straitened and contracted within her virginal womb, by so much her soul did more increase and magnify the praises of that infinite loving-kindness, and her spirit within her body leapt with joy (as S. John in his mother's womb) in presence of her God, whom she felt. She launched not her affections out of herself, since her treasure, her loves and her delights were in the midst of her sacred womb. Now the same contentment may be practised by imitation, among those who, having communicated, 253feel by the certainty of faith that which, not flesh and blood, but the Heavenly Father has revealed, that their Saviour is body and soul present, with a most real presenc