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Light, Life, and Love by W. R. Inge

Part 3 out of 4

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gentleness, the force of anger remains immovable in its
tranquillity, the force of desire lifts itself up towards the
virtues, and the reason rejoices, and the conscience dwells in
peace, for the other mortal sins, such as anger and rage, are
removed far from her. For the Spirit of God reposes in a gentle and
humble heart, as Christ saith, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall
inherit the earth"--that is to say, their own nature and the things
of earth in meekness, and, after this life, the things of eternity.


FROM the same source as gentleness comes kindness, for the gentle
spirit alone can possess kindness. This kindness causes a man to
oppose a loving face and friendly words, and all the works of pity,
to those who are angry with him, and he hopes that they will return
to themselves and amend. Thanks to mercy and kindness, charity
remains lively and fruitful in a man; for the heart full of kindness
is like a lamp full of precious oil; and the oil of kindness
lightens the wandering sinner by its good example, and soothes and
heals by consoling words and deeds those whose heart is wounded,
saddened, or irritated. And it inflames and illumines those who are
in charity, and no jealousy or envy can touch it.


FROM kindness is born compassion, by which we sympathise with every
one, for no one can suffer with all men, except he who has kindness.
Compassion is an inward movement of the heart, aroused by pity for
the bodily or spiritual distress of all men. This compassion makes a
man partaker in Christ's sufferings, when he considers the reason of
these sufferings, the resignation and love of Christ, His wounds,
His tortures, His shame, His nobleness, His misery, the shame which
He endured, the crown, the nails, and the death in patience. These
unheard of and manifold pains of Christ, our Redeemer and
Bridegroom, move to pity anyone who is capable of feeling pity.
Compassion makes a man observe and note his faults, his want of
power to do any good thing, and weakness in all that pertains to the
glory of God; his lukewarmness and slowness, the multitude of his
faults, the waste of his time, and his positive shortcomings in
virtue and good conduct. All this makes a man truly sorry for
himself. Then his compassion for himself makes him consider his
errors and wanderings, the small care which he has of God and of his
eternal salvation, his ingratitude for all the good that God has
done him, and for all that He has suffered for man. And he considers
also that he is a stranger to the virtues, that he neither knows
them nor practises them, while he is clever and crafty in all that
is bad and unjust; he sees how attentive he is to the loss or gain
of worldly goods, how inattentive and indifferent towards God, the
things of eternity, and his own salvation. This consideration makes
the just man feel a great compassion towards the salvation of all
men. The man will also observe with pity the bodily needs of his
neighbour and the manifold pains of nature, when he sees the hunger
which men suffer, the thirst, cold, nakedness, poverty, contempt,
and oppression; the sadness which they feel at the loss of
relations, friends, goods, honour, and repose; and the innumerable
afflictions to which flesh is heir. All this rouses the just man to
compassion, and he suffers with all men; but his greatest suffering
arises when he sees the impatience of others under their own
sufferings, by which they lose their reward and often deserve hell.
This is the work of compassion and pity.

This work of compassion and love for all men overcomes and removes
the third mortal sin--namely, hatred and envy; for compassion is a
wound of the heart, which makes us love all men, and can only work
healing in so far as some suffering lives in men; for God has
ordained that mourning and pain must precede all the other virtues.
This is why Christ said, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they
shall be comforted"--that is to say, when they shall reap in joy what
they now sow in compassion and sorrow.


FROM this compassion is born generosity, for no one can be
supernaturally generous, with faith in all men, and with love,
except the merciful man; though one many give to a particular
individual without charity, and without supernatural generosity.

Generosity is the copious outflow of a heart moved with charity and
pity. When a man considers with compassion the sufferings and pains
of Christ, from this compassion is born generosity, which excites us
to praise and thank Christ for His pains and for His love, at the
same time that it causes to be born in us respect and veneration,
and a joyous and humble submission of heart and soul, in time and in
eternity. When a man observes and pities himself, and considers the
good that God has done to him and his own weakness, he cannot help
flowing out into the liberality of God, taking refuge in His pity
and fidelity, and abandoning himself to God, with a free and perfect
wish to serve Him for ever. The generous man, who observes the
errors, the wanderings, and the injustice of men, desires and
implores the outflow of the divine gifts and the exercise of their
generosity on all men, that they may return to themselves and be
converted to the truth. The generous man considers also with
compassion the material needs of all men; he helps them, gives,
lends, consoles to the best of his power. By means of this
generosity, men practise the seven works of mercy, the rich by their
services and the bestowal of their goods, the poor by good will and
the desire to do good if they can, and thus the virtue of generosity
is perfected. Generosity in the depth of the heart multiplies all
the virtues, and illuminates the forces of the soul. For the
generous, man is always of joyful spirit, he is without anxiety; he
is full of sympathy, and is ready to do kindnesses to all men in the
works of virtue. He who is generous, and loves not the things of
earth, however poor he may be, is like unto God, for all that he
has, and all the thoughts of his heart flow out of him in largess.
And so he is delivered from the fourth of the deadly sins, avarice.
Jesus Christ saith to these: "Blessed are the merciful, for they
shall obtain mercy"; in the day when they shall hear this word
spoken unto them: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the
kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."


FROM this generosity are born supernatural zeal and diligence in all
the virtues. None can exhibit this zeal, save the generous and
diligent man. This is an internal and eager impulse towards all the
virtues, and towards the imitation of Christ and the saints. In this
zeal, a man desires to expend in the honour of God the united powers
of his heart and senses, his soul and body, all that he is, and all
that he may receive. This zeal makes a man watchful in reason and
discrimination, and makes him practise the virtues in justice.
Thanks to this supernatural zeal, all the forces of his soul are
open to God, and prepared for all the virtues. His conscience is
refreshed, and divine grace is increased, virtue is practised with
joy, and his external works are adorned. He who has received this
lively zeal from God is removed far from the fifth deadly
sin--lukewarmness and gloominess towards the virtues necessary for
salvation. [Footnote: The best account in English of the deadly sin
of acedia, too much neglected in modern religious teaching, is to be
found in Bishop Paget's Spirit of Discipline.] And sometimes this
lively zeal disperses heaviness and sluggishness of the bodily
temperament. It is on this subject that Jesus Christ says: "Blessed
are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall
be filled." This will be, when the glory of God shall be manifested,
and shall fill every man in proportion to his love and justice.


FROM zeal are born temperance and sobriety within and without; for
none can maintain true moderation in sobriety, if he is not
thoroughly diligent and zealous to preserve his body and soul in
justice. Sobriety separates the higher faculties from the animal
faculties, and preserves a man from excesses. Sobriety wishes not to
taste nor know those things which are not permitted.

The incomprehensible and sublime nature of God surpasses all the
creatures in heaven and earth, for whatever the creature conceives
is creature. But God is above every creature, and within and without
every creature, and all created comprehension is too strait to
comprehend Him. In order that the creature may conceive and
comprehend God, it must be drawn up into God from above; it is only
by God that it can comprehend God. Those then who wish to know what
God is, and to study Him, let them know that it is forbidden. They
would become mad. All created light must fail here. What God is,
passes the comprehension of every creature. But Holy Scripture,
nature, and all the creatures show us that He is. We shall believe
the articles of faith without trying to penetrate them, for that is
impossible while we are here: this is sobriety. The difficult and
subtle teachings of the inspired writings we shall only explain in
accordance with the life of Christ and His saints. Man will study
nature and the Scriptures, and every creature; and will seek to
learn from them only what may be to his own advantage. This is
sobriety of spirit.

A man will maintain sobriety of the senses, and he will subdue by
reason his animal faculties, that the animal pleasure in food and
drink may not delight him too much, but that he may eat and drink as
a sick man takes a potion, because it is his duty to preserve his
strength for the service of God. This is sobriety of body. A man
will preserve moderation in words and actions, in silence and
speech, in eating and drinking, in what he does and abstains from
doing, as Holy Church enjoins and the saints give the example.

By moderation and sobriety of spirit within, a man maintains
constancy and perseverance in the faith, that purity of intelligence
and calmness of reason which are necessary to understand the truth,
readiness to bend to the will of God with regard to every virtue,
peace of heart and serenity of conscience. Thanks to this virtue, he
possesses assured peace in God and in himself.

By moderation and sobriety in the use of the bodily faculties, he
often preserves health and contentment of the bodily nature, his
honour in external relations, and his good name. And thus he is at
peace with himself and with his neighbour. For he attracts and
rejoices all men of good will, by his moderation and sobriety. And
he escapes the sixth deadly sin, which is want of temperance, and
gluttony. It is of this that Christ said: "Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." For
being like unto the Son, who has made peace in all creatures who
desire it, and who make peace in their turn, by moderation and
sobriety, the Son will divide among them the heritage of His Father,
and they will possess this heritage with Him throughout eternity.


FROM this sobriety are born purity of soul and body, for none can be
absolutely pure in body and soul, save he who follows after sobriety
in body and soul. Purity of spirit consists in this--that a man
cleaves to no creature with any passionate desire, but attaches
himself to God only; for one may use all the creatures while
rejoicing in God only. Purity of spirit makes a man attach himself
to God above intelligence and above the senses, and above all the
gifts which God may bestow upon the soul; for all that the creature
receives in its intelligence or in its senses purity desires to
transcend, and to repose in God only. We should approach the
sacrament of the altar not for the sake of the delights, the
pleasure, the peace, or the sweetness which we find there, but for
the glory of God only, and that we may grow in all the virtues. This
is purity of spirit.

Purity of heart signifies that a man turns towards God without
hesitation in every bodily temptation and every disturbance of
nature, in the freedom of his will abandoning himself to Him with a
new confidence and a firm resolve to abide always with God. For to
consent to sin, or to the animal desires of the bodily nature, is a
separation from God.

Purity of body means that a man abstains from impure actions of
every kind, when his conscience assures him that they are impure and
contrary to the commandments, to the glory, and to the will of God.

Thanks to these three kinds of purity, the seventh deadly sin, that
of wantonness, is conquered and driven away. Wantonness is a
voluptuous inclination of the spirit, leading away from God towards
a created thing; it is the impure act of the flesh outside what
Holy Church permits, and the carnal occupation of the heart in some
taste or desire for a creature. I do not here refer to those sudden
stirrings of love or desire which none can escape.

You now know that purity of spirit preserves men in the likeness of
God, without care for the creatures, inclined towards God and united
to Him. The chastity of the body is compared to the whiteness of the
lily and to the purity of the angels. In its resistance to
temptation, it is compared to the redness of the rose, and to the
nobility of the martyrs. If it is preserved for love of God and in
His honour, it is then perfect, and it is compared to the
heliotrope, for it is one of the highest adornments of nature.

Purity of heart renews and increases the grace of God. In purity of
heart all the virtues are inspired, practised, and preserved. It
keeps and preserves the outer senses, it subdues and binds the
animal desires within, and it is the ornament of all the inner life.
It is the exclusion of the heart from things of earth and from all
lies, and its inclusion among the things of heaven and all truth.
And this is why Christ has said: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they shall see God." This is the vision in which consists our
eternal joy, and all our reward, and our entrance into bliss. This
is why a man will be sober and moderate in everything, and will keep
himself from every occasion which might tarnish the purity of his
soul and body.


IF we wish to possess this virtue and to repulse these enemies, we
must have justice, and we must practise it, and preserve it even
until our death, in purity of heart, for we have three powerful
enemies who try to attack us at all times, in all states, and in
many different ways. If we make our peace with any one of them and
follow him, we are vanquished, for they are in league with each
other in all wickedness and injustice. These three enemies are the
devil, the world, and our own flesh, which is the nearest to us, and
is often the worst and most mischievous of our foes. For our animal
desires are the weapons with which our enemies fight against us.
Idleness, and indifference to virtue and the glory of God are the
cause and occasion of war and combat. But the weakness of our
natures, our negligence and ignorance of truth are the sword by
which our enemies wound us and sometimes conquer us.

And this is why we must be divided in ourselves. The lower part of
ourselves, which is animal and contrary to the virtues, we ought to
hate and persecute and cause it to suffer by means of penitence and
austerities, so that it may be always crushed down and submissive to
reason, and that justice, with purity of heart, may always keep the
upper hand in all virtuous actions. And all the pains, sorrows, and
persecutions which God makes us suffer at the hands of those who are
enemies to virtue, we shall endure with joy, in honour of God and
for the glory of virtue, and in the hope of obtaining and possessing
justice in purity of heart; for Christ said: "Blessed are those who
are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven." For righteousness preserved in virtue and in virtuous
actions is a coin of the same weight and value as the kingdom of
heaven, and it is by it that we may purchase and obtain eternal
life. By these virtues a man goes forth towards God and towards
himself, in good conduct, virtue, and justice.


HE who wishes to obtain and preserve these virtues, will adorn,
occupy, and order his soul like a kingdom. Free will is the king of
the soul. It is free by nature, and more free still by grace. It
will be crowned with a crown or diadem named Charity. We shall
receive this crown and this kingdom from the Emperor, who is the
Lord, the sovereign and king of kings, and we shall possess, rule,
and preserve this kingdom in His name. This king, free will, will
dwell in the highest town in the kingdom--that is to say, in the
concupiscent faculty of the soul. He will be adorned and clad with a
robe in two parts. The right side of his robe will be a virtue
called strength, that he may be strong and powerful to overcome all
obstacles and sojourn in the heaven, in the palace of the supreme
Emperor, and to bend with love and ardent self-surrender his crowned
head before the supreme monarch. This is the proper work of charity.
By it we receive the crown, by it we adorn the crown, and by it we
keep and possess the kingdom throughout eternity. The left side of
the robe will be a cardinal virtue, called moral courage. Thanks to
it, free will, the king, will subdue all immorality, will accomplish
all virtue, and will have the power to keep his kingdom even until
death. The king will choose councillors in his country, the wisest
in the land. They will be two divine virtues, knowledge and
discretion, illuminated by divine grace. They will dwell near the
king, in a palace called the reasonable force of the soul. They will
be crowned and adorned with a moral virtue called temperance, that
the king may always act and refrain from acting according to their
advice. By knowledge we shall purge our conscience from all its
faults and adorn it with all virtues; and, thanks to discretion, we
shall give and take, do and not do, speak and be silent, fast and
eat, listen and answer, and act in all ways according to knowledge
and discretion clad in their moral virtue, which is called
temperance or moderation.

This king, free will, will also establish in his kingdom a judge,
who will be justice, which is a divine virtue when it is born from
love. And it is one of the highest moral virtues. This judge will
dwell in the conscience, in the middle of the kingdom in the
irascible faculty. And he will be adorned with a moral virtue called
prudence. For justice without prudence cannot be perfect. This
judge, justice, will traverse the kingdom with royal powers,
accompanied by wise counsel and his own prudence. He will promote
and dismiss, he will judge and condemn, will condemn to death and
acquit, will mutilate, blind, and restore to sight, will exalt and
abase and organise, will punish and chastise according to justice,
and will destroy all vices. The people of the kingdom--that is to
say, all the faculties of the soul, will be supported by humility
and the fear of God, submitting to Him in all the virtues, each
after its own manner. He who has thus occupied, preserved, and
ordered the kingdom of his soul, has gone forth, by love and the
virtues, towards God, towards himself, and towards his neighbour.
This is the third of the four principal points which Christ speaks
of when He says, Go forth.


WHEN a man has, by the grace of God, eyes to see, and a pure
conscience, and when he has considered the three comings of Christ,
our Bridegroom, and lastly when he has gone forth by the virtues,
then takes place the meeting with our Bridegroom, and this is the
fourth and last point. In this meeting consist all our blessedness,
and the beginning and the end of all the virtues, and without this
meeting no virtue can be practised.

He who wishes to meet Christ as his well-beloved Bridegroom, and to
possess in Him and with Him eternal life, must meet Christ, now in
time, in three points or in three manners. First, he must love God
in everything wherein we shall merit eternal life. Secondly, he must
attach himself to nothing which he might love as much as or more
than God. Thirdly, he must repose in God with all his might, above
all creatures and above all the gifts of God, and above all acts of
virtue and above all the sensible graces which God might spread
abroad in his soul and body.

Now understand: he who has God for his end must have Him present to
himself, by some divine reason. That is to say, he must have in view
Him who is the Lord of heaven, and of earth, and of every creature,
Him who died for him, and who can and will give him eternal
salvation. In whatever mode and under whatever name he represents
God, as Lord of every creature, it is well. If he takes some divine
Person, and in Him sees the essence and power of the divine nature,
it is well. If he regards God as saviour, redeemer, creator,
governor, as blessedness, power, wisdom, truth, goodness, it is
well. Though the names which we ascribe to God are numerous, the
sublime nature of God is simple and unnameable by the creatures. But
we give Him all these names by reason of His nobleness and
incomprehensible sublimity, and because we cannot name or proclaim
Him completely. See now under what mode and by what knowledge God
will be present to our intention. For to have God for our aim is to
see spiritually. To this quest belong also affection and love, for
to know God and be without love aids and advances us not a whit, and
has no savour. This is why a man, in all his actions, must bend
lovingly towards God, whom he seeks and loves above everything.
This, then, is the meeting with God by means of intention and love.

In order that the sinner may turn from his sins in a meritorious
penitence, he must meet God by contrition, free conversion, and a
sincere intention to serve God for ever, and to sin no more. Then,
at this meeting, he receives from the mercy of God the assured hope
of eternal salvation and the pardon of his sins, and he receives the
foundation of all the virtues, faith, hope, and charity, and the
good will to practise all the virtues. If this man advances in the
light of faith, and observes all the works of Christ, all His
sufferings and all His promises, and all that He has done for us and
will do to the day of judgment and through eternity; if he examines
all this for his soul's health, he must needs meet with Christ; and
Christ must needs be present to his soul, so grateful and full of
thankfulness. So his faith is fortified, and he is impelled more
inwardly and powerfully towards all the virtues. If he still
progresses in the works of virtue, he must again meet with Christ,
by the annihilation of self. Let him not seek his own things; let
him set before him no extraneous ends; let him be discreet in his
actions; let him set God always before him, and the praise and glory
of God; and let him so continue till his death; then his reason
will be enlightened and his charity increased, and he will become
more pious and apt for all the virtues. We shall set God before us
in every good work; in bad works we cannot set Him before us. We
shall not have two intentions--that is to say, we shall not seek God
at the same time as something else, but all our intention must be
subordinated to God and not contrary to Him, but of one and the same
kind, so that it may help us and give us an impulse which may lead
us more easily to God. Then and then only is a man in the right
road. Moreover, we shall rest rather upon Him who is our aim and our
goal and the object of our love, than upon the messengers whom He
sends us--that is to say, His gifts. The soul will rest constantly
upon God, above all the adornments and presents which His messengers
may bring. The messengers sent by the soul are intention, love, and
desire. They carry to God all our good works and virtues. Above all
these, the soul will rest on God, its Beloved, above all
multiplicity. This is the manner in which we shall meet Christ all
through our life, in all our actions and virtues, by right
intention, that we may meet Him at the hour of our death in the
light of glory.

This mode, as you have learnt, is called the active life. It is
necessary to all men; or at least they must not live in a manner
contrary to any virtue, though they may not attain the degree of
perfection in all the virtues which I have described. For to live
contrary to the virtues is to live in sin, as Christ has said: "He
that is not with me is against me." He who is not humble is proud,
and he who is proud belongs not to God. We must always possess a
virtue and be in a state of grace, or possess what is contrary to
that virtue and be in a state of sin. May every man examine and
prove himself, and order his life as I have here described.


THE man who thus lives, in this perfection, as I have here described
it, and who devotes all his life and actions to the honour and glory
of God, and who seeks and loves God above all things, is often
seized by the desire to see and know Christ, this Bridegroom who was
made man for love of him, who laboured in love even till death, who
drove away from him sin and the enemy, who gave him His grace, who
gave him Himself, who left him His sacraments and promised him His
kingdom. When a man considers all this, he is exceedingly desirous
to see Christ his Bridegroom, and to know what He is in Himself
While He only knows Him in His works he is not satisfied. So he will
do like Zacchasus, the publican, who desired to see Jesus Christ. He
will go in front of the crowd--that is to say, the multitude of the
creatures, for they make us so little and short, that we cannot
perceive God. And he will climb the tree of faith, which grows from
above downwards, for its roots are in the Godhead. This tree has
twelve branches, which are the twelve articles of faith. The lower
branches speak of the humanity of Christ, and of the things which
concern the salvation of our body and soul. The higher part of the
tree speaks of the Godhead, of the Trinity of the Divine Persons and
the Unity of the Divine Nature. A man will strive to reach the unity
at the top of the tree, for it is there that Jesus must pass with
all His gifts. Here Jesus comes, and sees the man, and tells Him in
the light of faith that He is, according to His Godhead,
immeasurable and incomprehensible, inaccessible and abysmal, and
that He surpasses all created light and all finite comprehension.
This is the highest knowledge acquired in the active life, to
recognise thus, in the light of faith, that God is inconceivable and
unknowable. In this light Christ saith to the desire of a man: "Come
down quickly, for I must lodge at thy house to-day." This rapid
descent to which God invites him is nothing else but a descent, by
desire and love, into the abyss of the Godhead, to which no
intelligence can attain in crested light. But where intelligence
remains outside, love and desire enter. The soul thus bending
towards God, by the intention of love, above all that the intellect
can comprehend, rests and abides in God, and God abides in her. Then
mounting by desire, above the multitude of the creatures, above the
work of the senses, above the light of nature, she meets Christ in
the light of faith, and is enlightened, and recognises that God is
unknowable and inconceivable. Finally, bending by her desires
towards this inconceivable God, she meets Christ and is loaded with
His gifts; by living and resting upon Him, above all His gifts,
above herself and above all the creatures, she dwells in God and God
in her.

This is how you will meet Christ at the summit of the active life,
if you have as your foundations justice, charity, and humility; and
if you have built a house above--that is to say, the virtues here
described, and if you have met Christ by faith--that is to say, by
faith and the intention of love, you dwell in God and God dwells in
you, and you possess the active life.

This is the first explanation of the word of Jesus Christ our
Bridegroom, when He said, "See, the Bridegroom cometh; go forth to
meet Him."



THE prudent virgin--that is to say, the pure soul, who has
renounced the things of earth, and lives henceforth for God in
virtue, has taken in the vessel of her heart the oil of charity and
of divine works by means of the lamp of an unstained conscience. But
when Christ, her Bridegroom, withdraws His consolations and the
fresh outpouring of His gifts, the soul becomes heavy and torpid.

At midnight--that is to say, when it is least expected, a spiritual
cry resounds in the soul: "See, the Bridegroom cometh, go forth to
meet Him." We shall now speak of this seeing, and of the inward
coming of Christ, and of the spiritual going forth of the man to
meet Jesus, and we shall explain these four conditions of an inward
life, exalted and full of desire, to which all men attain not, but
many reach it by means of the virtues and their inward courage.

In these words, Christ teaches us four things. In the first, He
requires that our intelligence shall be enlightened with a
supernatural light. This is what we observe in the word, "See." In
the next words He shows us what we ought to see--that is to say, the
inward coming of our Bridegroom of eternal truth. This is His
meaning when He says: "The Bridegroom cometh." In the third place,
in the words "go forth," He bids us go forth in inward actions
according to righteousness. In the fourth place, He shows us the end
and motive of all our works, the meeting with our Bridegroom Jesus
Christ in the joyous unity of His adorable Godhead.


NOW let us speak of the first word. Christ saith, "See." Three
things are required by him who would see supernaturally in interior
exercises. The first is the light of the divine grace, but in a far
more sublime manner than can be felt in the external, active life.
The second is a stripping off of extraneous images and a denudation
of the heart, so that a man may be free from images, and attachments
to every creature. The third is a free conversion of the will, by
means of a concentration of all the bodily and spiritual faculties,
and complete deliverance from all inordinate affections. Thus this
will flows together into the unity of the Godhead and of our own
mind, so that the reasonable creature may be able to obtain and
possess supernaturally the sublime unity of God. It is for this that
God made the heaven and earth and mankind, it is for this that He
was made man, and taught us by word and example by what way we
should come to this unity. And then in the ardour of His love He
endured to die, and He ascended to heaven, and opened to us this
unity in which we may possess felicity and eternal blessedness.


NOW consider attentively: there are three kinds of natural unity in
all men, and, moreover, of supernatural unity among the just. The
first and supreme unity of man is in God; for all creatures are
immanent in this unity, and if they were to be separated from God,
they would be annihilated, and would become nothing. This unity is
essential in us according to nature, whether we are good or bad. And
without our co-operation it makes us neither holy nor blessed. This
unity we possess in ourselves, and nevertheless above us, as a
beginning and support of our life and essence.

Another unity exists in us naturally--that of the supreme forces, in
so far as they actively take their natural origin in the unity of
the spirit or of the thoughts. This is the same unity as that which
is immanent in God, but it is taken here actively and there
essentially. Nevertheless the spirit is entirely in each unity
according to the integrity of its substance. We possess this unity
in ourselves, above the sensitive part of us; and thence are born
memory, intelligence, and will, and all the power of spiritual
works. In this unity the soul is called spirit.

The third unity which is in us naturally is the foundation of bodily
forces in the unity of the heart, the source and origin of bodily
life. The soul possesses this unity in the lively centre of the
heart, and from it flow all the material works and the five senses,
and the soul draws from thence its name of soul (anima); for it is
the source of life, and animates the body--that is to say, it makes
it living and preserves it in life. These three unities are in man
naturally, as a life and a kingdom. In the inferior unity we are
sensible and animal, in the intermediate unity we are rational and
spiritual; and in the superior unity we are preserved according to
our essence. And this exists in all men, naturally.

Now these three unities are adorned and cultivated naturally, like a
kingdom and an eternal abode, by the virtues, in charity and in the
active life. And they are adorned still better and more gloriously
cultivated by the internal exercises of a spiritual life. But most
gloriously and blessedly of all by a supernatural contemplative

The inferior unity, which is corporeal, is adorned and cultivated
supernaturally by external practices, by perfect conduct, by the
example of Christ and the saints, by carrying the cross with Christ,
by submitting our nature to the command of Holy Church and the
teachings of the saints, according to the forces of nature and

The other unity which resides in the spirit and which is absolutely
spiritual, is adorned and cultivated supernaturally by the three
Divine gifts, Faith, Hope, and Charity, and by the influx of grace
and Divine gifts, and by good will directed to all the virtues, and
the desire to follow the example of Christ and of holy Christendom.

The third and supreme unity is above our intelligence and yet
essentially in us. We cultivate it supernaturally when in all our
works of virtue we have in view only the glory of God, without any
other desire but to repose in Him, above thought, above ourselves,
and above everything. And this is the unity from which we flowed out
when we were created, and where we abide according to our essence,
and towards which we endeavour to return by love. These are the
virtues which adorn this triple unity in the active life.

Now we proceed to say how this triple unity is adorned more
sublimely and cultivated more nobly by interior exercises joined to
the active life. When a man, by love and right intention, elevates
himself in all his works and in all his life towards the honour and
glory of God, and seeks rest in God above all things, he will wait
in humility and patience and abandonment of self and in the hope of
new riches and new gifts, and he will not be troubled or anxious
whether it pleases God to grant His gifts or to refuse them. So men
prepare themselves for receiving an internal life of desires; even
as a vessel is fitted and prepared, into which a precious liquid is
to be poured. There is no vessel more noble than the loving soul,
and no drink more necessary than the grace of God. Man will thus
offer to God all his works and all his life, in a simple and right
intention, and in a zest above his intention, above himself, and
above everything, in the sublime unity in which God and the loving
spirit are united without intermediary.


THE first coming of Christ to those who are engaged in the exercises
of desire is an internal and sensible current from the Holy Spirit,
which impels and attracts us to all the virtues. We shall compare
this coming to the splendour and power of the sun, which, so soon as
it is risen, enlightens and warms the whole world in the twinkling
of an eye. In the same way Christ, the eternal sun, burns and
shines, dwelling at the highest point of the spirit, and enlightens
and fires the lower part of man--that is to say, his physical heart
and sense-faculties, and this is accomplished in less time than the
twinkling of an eye, for the work of God is prompt; but the man in
whom it takes place ought to be internally seeing by means of his
spiritual eyes.

The sun burns in the East, in the middle of the world, on the
mountains; there it hastens in the summer, and creates good fruits
and strong wines, filling the earth with joy. The same sun shines in
the West, at the end of the world; the country there is colder and
the force of the heat less; nevertheless, it there produces a great
number of good fruits, but not much wine. The men who dwell in the
West part of themselves, abide in their external senses, and by
their good intentions, their virtues, and their outer practices, by
the grace of God produce abundant harvests of virtues of divers
kinds, but they but rarely taste the wine of inward joy and
spiritual consolation.

The man who wishes to experience the rays of the eternal sun, which
is Christ Himself, will be seeing; and will dwell on the mountains
of the East, by concentrating all his faculties, and lifting up his
heart to God, free, and indifferent to joy and pain and all the
creatures. There shines Christ, the sun of righteousness, on the
free and exalted heart, and this is what I mean by the mountains.
Christ, the glorious sun and divine effulgence, shines through and
fires by his internal coming, and by the power of His Spirit, the
free heart and all the powers of the soul. This is the first work of
the internal coming in the exercises of desire. Just as fire
inflames things which are thrown into it, so Christ inflames the
hearts offered to Him in freedom and exultation at His internal
coming, and He says in this coming: "Go forth by the exercises
appropriate to this life."


FROM this heat is born unity of heart, for we cannot obtain true
unity, unless the Spirit of God lights His flame in our heart. For
this fire makes one and like unto itself all that it can overtop and
transform. Unity gives a man the feeling of being concentrated with
all his faculties on one point. It gives internal peace and repose
of heart. Unity of heart is a bond which draws and binds together
the body and the soul, and all exterior and interior forces, in the
unity of love.


FROM this unity of heart is born inwardness or the internal life,
for none can have inwardness unless he is one and united in himself;
fervour or inwardness is the introversion of a man into his own
heart, to comprehend and experience the internal operation or speech
of God. Inwardness is a sensible flame of love, which the Spirit of
God lights and kindles in a man, and a man knows not whence it
comes, nor what has happened to him.


FROM inwardness is born a sensible love which penetrates the heart
of man and the highest faculties of the soul. This love and delight
none can experience who has not inwardness. Sensible love is the
desire and appetite for God as for an eternal good in which all is
contained. Sensible love renounces all the creatures, not as needs
but as pleasures. Interior love feels itself touched from above by
the eternal love which it must practise eternally Interior love
willingly renounces and despises everything, in order to obtain that
which it loves.


FROM this sensible love is born devotion to God and His glory. For
none can have a hungry devotion in his heart, unless he possesses
the sensible love of God. Devotion excites and stimulates a man
internally and externally to the service of God. It makes the body
and soul abound in glory and merit in the eyes of God and men. God
exacts devotion in all that we do. It purges the body and soul from
all that might hold us back; it shows us the true path to


FROM fervent devotion is born gratitude, for none can thank or
praise God perfectly if he is not fervent and pious. We should thank
God for everything here below, that we may be able to thank Him
eternally above. Those who praise not God here, will be mute
eternally. To praise God is the most joyous and delicious employment
of the loving heart. There is no limit to the praises of God, for
therein is our salvation, and we shall praise Him eternally.

Now hear a comparison, by which you may understand the exercise of
gratitude. When the summer approaches and the sun mounts, it
attracts the moisture of the earth along the stems and branches of
the trees, whence come green leaves, flowers, and fruit. Even so
when Christ, the eternal sun, rises in our hearts, He sends His
light and heat upon our desires, and draws the heart away from all
the manifold things of earth, creating unity and inwardness, and
makes the heart grow and become green by interior love, and makes
loving devotion flourish, and makes us bear the fruits of gratitude
and love, and preserves these fruits eternally in the humble pain of
our inability to praise and serve Him enough.

Here ends the first of the four chief kinds ot interior exercises,
which adorn the lower part of a man.


BUT in thus comparing to the splendour and power of the sun the
modes in which Jesus Christ comes, we shall find in the sun another
virtue or influence which makes the fruit more early ripe and more

When the sun rises to a very great height, and enters the sign of
the Twins--that is to say, into a double thing, but of the same
nature, in the middle of the month of May, the sun has a double
power over the flowers, herbs, and all that grows upon the earth. If
at that time the planets which rule nature are well ordered
according to the season of the year, the sun shines brightly on the
earth, and attracts the moisture in the atmosphere. Hence are born
dew and rain, and the fruits of the ground increase and multiply.

Even so when Christ, that bright sun, rises in our heart above all
other things, and when the requirements of material nature, which
are contrary to the spirit, are well regulated according to reason,
when we possess the virtues as I have said above, and when, lastly,
we offer and restore to God, by the ardour of charity, and with
gratitude and love, the delight and peace which we find in the
virtues, from all these are born, at times, a gentle rain of new
internal consolations, and a celestial dew of divine sweetness. This
dew and rain make all the virtues increase and multiply day by day,
if we put no hindrance in their way. This is a new and special
operation, and a new coming of Christ into the loving heart.


FROM this sweetness is born satisfaction of heart, and of all the
bodily faculties, so that a man imagines that he is inwardly
embraced in the divine bands of love. This pleasure and consolation
is greater and more delicious to body and soul than all the
pleasures granted on earth, even if a man could enjoy them to the
full. In this pleasure God sinks into the heart by means of His
gifts with such a profusion of delights, consolations, and joys,
that the heart overflows internally.


THIS coming, or kind of coming, is granted to beginners, when they
turn from the world, when their conversion is complete, and they
abandon all the consolations of earth to live for God only;
nevertheless they are still weak, and need milk and not strong meat,
such as great temptations and the hiding of God's face. At this
season frost and fog often injure them, for they are in the middle
of the May of the interior life. The frost is to wish to be
something, or to imagine that we are something, or to be somewhat
attached to ourselves, or to believe that we have deserved
consolations and are worthy of them. The fog is the wish to rest
upon internal consolations and pains. This obscures the atmosphere
of reason, and the ilowers, which were about to unfold and bloom and
bear fruits, shut up again. This is why we lose the knowledge of
truth, and nevertheless we sometimes keep certain false sweetnesses
granted by the enemy, which at the last lead men astray.


I WISH to give you here a brief comparison, that you may not go
astray, and that you may be able to behave wisely in this case.
Observe the wise bee, and imitate her. She dwells in unity, in the
midst of the assembly of her kind, and she goes forth, not during a
storm, but when the weather is calm and bright, and the sun shines;
and she flies towards every flower where she may find sweetness. She
rests not on any flower, neither for its beauty nor for its
sweetness, but draws out from the cups of the flowers their
sweetness and clearness--that is to say, the honey and wax, and she
brings them back to the unity which is formed of the assembly of all
the bees, that the honey and wax may be put to good use.

The expanded heart on which Christ, the eternal sun, shines, grows
and blooms under His rays, and from it flow all the interior forces
in joy and sweetness.

Now the wise man will act like the bee, and will try to settle, with
affection, intelligence, and prudence, on all the gifts and all the
sweetness that he has experienced, and on all the good that God has
done to him. He will not rest on any flower of the gifts, but laden
with gratitude and praise he will fly back towards the unity where
he wishes to dwell, and to rest with God eternally.


WHEN the sun in heaven reaches its highest point, in the sign of the
Crab--that is to say, when it can go no higher, but must begin to go
backwards, then the greatest heat of the year begins. The sun
attracts the moisture, the earth dries, and the fruits ripen. In the
same way, when Christ, the divine sun, arises above the highest
summit of our heart--that is to say, above all His gifts,
consolations and sweetnesses, and if we do not rest in any of these,
however sweet, but return always with humble praises to the source
from which these gifts flow, Christ stops and remains lifted up
above the summit of our heart, and desires to attract all our powers
to Himself.

This invitation is an irradiation of Christ, the eternal sun, and
causes in the heart a joy and pleasure so great that the heart
cannot close again after such an expansion, without pain. A man is
wounded internally and feels the smart of love. To be wounded by
love is the sweetest sensation and the most grievous pain that can
be experienced. To be wounded by love is a sure sign that we shall
be cured. This spiritual wound does us good and harm at the same


NOW I wish to speak of the fourth kind of coming of Jesus Christ,
which exalts and perfects the man in his interior exercises,
according to the lower part of his being. But having compared all
the interior comings to the shining of the sun, we will continue to
speak, while following the course of the seasons, of the other
effects and works of the sun.

When the sun begins to descend the sky, it enters the sign of the
Virgin, so called because this period of the year becomes barren
like a virgin. The glorious virgin Mary, mother of Christ, full of
joys and rich in all the virtues, ascended to heaven at this season.
The heat begins then to diminish, and men gather, for use during the
whole year, the ripe fruits which can be used long after, such as
corn and the grape. And they sow part of the corn, that it may be
multiplied for the use of men. At this season all the solar work of
the year is finished. In the same way, when Christ, the glorious
sun, has risen to the zenith in the heart of men, and begins to
descend, so as to hide the splendour of His divine beams and to
leave a man alone, the heat and impatience of love diminish. Now
this occultation of Christ and the withdrawal of His light and heat
are the first work and the new coming of this mode. Now Christ says
spiritually in a man: "Go forth in the manner that I now show thee";
and the man goes forth, and finds himself poor, miserable, and
desolate. Here all the storm, all the passion and eagerness of love
grow cold; summer becomes autumn, and all his wealth is changed into
great poverty. And the man begins to complain by reason of his
misery; what is become of his ardent love, his inwardness, his
gratitude, the interior consolations, the heartfelt joys? Where has
it all gone? How comes it that all is dead within him? He is like
a scholar who has lost his knowledge and his work; and nature is
often troubled by such losses. Sometimes these unhappy ones are
deprived of the good things of earth, of their friends and
relations, and are deserted by all the creatures; their holiness is
mistrusted and despised, men put a bad construction upon all the
works of their life, and they are rejected and disdained by all
those who surround them; and sometimes they are afflicted with
diverse diseases; and some of them fall into bodily temptations, or
into spiritual temptations, the most dangerous of all. From this
misery are born the fear of falling, and a sort of half-doubt, and
this is the extreme point where we can stop without despair. Let
such men seek out the good, complain to them, show them their
distress, and ask their help, and implore the aid of Holy
Church, and of all just men.


A MAN will here observe humbly that he has nothing but his distress,
and he will say in his resignation and self-abnegation the words of
holy Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; He hath done
what seemed good to Him; blessed be the name of the Lord." And he
will leave himself in everything, and will say and think in his
heart: "Lord, I am as willing to be poor, lacking all that Thou hast
taken from me, as I should be to be rich, if such were Thy will, and
if it were for Thine honour. It is not my will according to nature
which must be accomplished, but Thy will, and my will according to
my spirit, O Lord; for I belong to Thee, and I should love as well
to be Thine in hell as in heaven, if that could serve Thy glory; and
therefore, O Lord, accomplish in me the excellence of Thy will."
From all these pains and acts of resignation, a man will derive an
inward joy, and he will offer himself into the hands of God, and
will rejoice to be able to suffer in His honour. And if he so
perseveres, he will taste inward pleasures such as he has never had
before; for nothing so rejoices the lover of God as to feel that he
is His beloved. And if he is truly exalted as far as this mode, in
the path of virtue, it is not necessary for him to have passed
through all the states which we have described above; for he feels
within himself in action, in humble obedience, in patience, and in
resignation, the source of all the virtues. It is thus that this
mode is eternally sure.

At this season the sun in the sky enters the sign of the Scales, for
the day and night are equal, and the sun balances the light and the
darkness. In the same way Jesus Christ is in the sign of the Scales
for the resigned man; and whether He grants sweetness or
bitterness, darkness or light, whatever He chooses to send him, the
man keeps his balance, all things are equal to him except sin, which
has been driven away once for all. When every consolation has been
thus withdrawn from these resigned men, when they believe that they
have lost all their virtues and that they are abandoned by God and
all the creatures, if they then know how to reap the divers fruits,
their corn and wine are ready and ripe. That is to say, that all
that the bodily virtues can suffer will be offered by them to God
with joy, without resistance to His supreme will. All the exterior
and interior virtues, which they formerly practised with joy in the
light of love, they will now practise courageously and laboriously,
and will offer them to God, and never will they have so much merit
in His eyes. Never will they have been more noble or more beautiful.
All the consolations which God formerly granted, they will allow to
be stripped from them with joy, since it is for the glory of God. It
is thus that the virtues become perfect, and that sadness is
transformed into an eternal vintage. These men--their life and their
patience--improve and teach all who know and live near them, and
thus it is that the wheat of their virtues is sown and multiplied
for the good of all just men.

This is the fourth kind of coming which, according to the bodily
faculties and the lower part of his being, adorns and perfects a man
in interior exercises.


WE must needs walk in the light if we wish not to lose our way, and
we must observe Jesus Christ, who has taught us these four modes,
and has preceded us in them. Christ, the bright sun, rises in the
heaven of the sublime Trinity and in the dawn of His glorious mother
the virgin Mary, who was and is the dawn of all the graces. Now
observe. Christ had and still has the first mode, for He was unique
and united. In Him were and are collected and united all the virtues
which have ever been practised, and which ever will be, and besides
this, all the creatures who will cultivate these virtues. He was
thus in an unique sense the Son of the Father, and united to human
nature. And He was equally full of inwardness, for it was He who
brought upon earth the fire which has consumed all the saints and
all good men. And He had a sensible and faithful love for His
Father, and for all who will have joy in Him eternally, and His
pitiful and loving heart sighed and glowed with love for all men,
before His Father. All His life and all His actions, within and
without, and all His words, were praises of His Father. This is the
first mode.

Christ, the sun of love, blazed and shone yet more brightly and
warmly, for in Him was and is the fullness of all gifts. This is why
the heart of Christ, and His character, and His habits and His
service, overflowed with pity, sweetness, humility, and generosity.
So gracious was He and so loving, that His manners and His
personality attracted all whose nature was good. He was the pure
lily in the midst of the flowers of the field, from which the good
were to draw the honey of eternal sweetness and eternal
consolations. According to His humanity He thanked His eternal
Father for all the gifts which were ever granted to humanity, and
praised Him, for His Father is the Father of all gifts, and He
rested on Him, according to the highest faculties of His soul, above
all gifts, in the sublime unity of God from which all the gifts flow;
thus He had the second mode.

Christ, the glorious sun, blazed and shone yet higher, and more
brightly and warmly; for during all His days on earth, all His
bodily faculties were invited and pressed to the sublime glory and
bliss which He now experiences in His senses and body. And He was
inclined thereto Himself, according to His desires; and nevertheless
He willed to remain in this exile, till the time which the Father
had foreseen and fixed from all eternity. Thus He had the third
mode. When the time came at which Christ was to reap and carry away
to the eternal kingdom the fruits of all the virtues which ever have
been and ever will be practised, the eternal sun began to descend;
for Christ humbled Himself, and gave up His bodily life into the
hands of His enemies. And he was misunderstood and deserted by His
friends in so great a distress; and all consolation, within and
without, was withdrawn from His nature; and it was overwhelmed with
misery, pain, and contempt, and paid all the debt which our sins
justly incurred. All this He suffered in humble patience, and He
accomplished the greatest works of love in this resignation, whereby
He received and purchased our eternal inheritance. It is thus that
the lower part of His noble humanity was adorned, for it was in it
that He suffered this pain for our sins. It is on this account that
He is called the Saviour of the world, and that He is glorified and
raised up and seated on the right hand of His Father, and that He
reigns in power. And every creature, on the earth, above the earth,
and under the earth, bends the knee for ever before His glorious


THE man who, in true obedience to the commandments of God, lives in
the moral virtues, and moreover exercises himself in the interior
virtues, after the direction and impulse of the Holy Spirit, acting
and speaking according to righteousness, and who seeks not his own
interests in time or in eternity, and who supports with true
patience obscurity and affliction and every kind of misery, and who
thanks God for everything, and offers himself in humble resignation,
has received the first coming of Jesus Christ according to interior
exercises. When this man is purified and pacified, and turns back
upon himself according to his lower nature, he may be internally
enlightened, if he asks it, and if God judges that the right time
has come. It may also happen that he is enlightened from the
beginning of his conversion, so that he may offer himself entirely
to the will of God and give up all possession of himself, which is
the supreme end. But if he is to follow any further the road which I
have shown, in the exterior and at the same time in the interior
life, it will be much easier for him than for the man who has been
raised straight from the bottom, for the former will have more light
than the latter.


NOW we are about to speak of another mode of the coming of Christ,
in interior exercises, which adorn, enlighten, and enrich a man,
according to the three supreme faculties of his soul. We shall
compare this coming to a life-giving fountain from which flow three

This fountain is the fullness of divine grace in the unity of our
spirit. There resides grace essentially in its permanence, like a
full fountain, and it flows out actively by its rivers into each of
the faculties of the soul, according to their needs. These rivers
are a special influx, or operation of God in the highest faculties,
in which God operates in various manners by the intermediary of His


THE first river of grace, which God causes to flow in this coming,
is a pure simplicity which shines without distinction in the spirit.
This river takes its source in the fountain, in the unity of the
spirit, and flows directly downwards, and penetrates all the
faculties of the soul, both higher and lower, and lifts them up out
of all multiplicity and all over-occupation, and makes a simplicity
in a man, and gives and shows him an internal bond in the unity of
his spirit. A man is thus lifted up according to his memory, and
delivered from strange and irrelevant thoughts, and from
inconstancy. Now Christ in this light demands a going forth,
according to the mode of this light and this coming. Then the man
goes forth, and observes himself that by virtue of the simple light
that is spread abroad in him he is united, established, penetrated
and fixed in the unity of his spirit or of his thoughts. Here the
man is exalted and established in a new essence; he turns his
thoughts inwards, and rests his memory on the naked truth, above all
sensuous images and above all multiplicity. There the man possesses
essentially and supernaturally the unity of his spirit, for his own
dwelling, and as an heritage of his own for ever. He always has an
inclination towards that same unity, and this unity will have an
eternal and loving inclination towards the more sublime unity where
the Father and the Son are united with all the saints in the bands
of the Holy Spirit.


THROUGH internal love, and loving inclination towards union with
God, is born the second river from the fullness of grace, in unity
of spirit, and this is a spiritual brightness which flows and sheds
light through the intelligence, but with distinctions in the diverse
modes. For this light shows and gives to the spirit, in the truth,
the discretion in all the virtues. But this light is not placed
altogether in our power, for though we have it always in our soul,
God makes it speak or keep silence, and He can manifest or hide it,
give or withdraw it, at all times and under all conditions, for this
light is His. Such men do not absolutely need revelations, nor to be
drawn up above sense, for their life and abode and habits and
essence are in the spirit above sense and sensibility. And God shows
them what He wills and what is necessary for them. Nevertheless God,
if He wished, could withdraw their exterior sense, and show them,
from within, unknown symbols and future things, in diverse manners.

Now Christ desires that this man should go forth, and go into the
light, according to the mode of this light. This enlightened man
will therefore go forth and observe his state and his life within
and without, in order to know if he is perfectly like Christ
according to His humanity and also according to His divinity. And
this man will lift up his eyes, enlightened by enlightened reason,
in intelligible truth, and will observe and consider, as a creature
can, the sublime nature of God, and the unlimited attributes which
are in God.

It is then necessary to consider and examine the sublime nature of
God; how it contains simplicity and purity, inaccessible height and
abysmal depth, incomprehensible extension and eternal duration; dark
silence and wild waste; repose of all the saints in unity and joy in
itself and in all the saints in eternity. This enlightened man will
also examine the attributes of the Father in the Godhead, how He is
all-powerful, the creator, mover, preserver, beginning and end,
cause and existence of all creatures; this is what the bright river
of grace shows to the enlightened reason. It shows also the
attributes of the eternal Word, abysmal wisdom and truth, model of
every creature and of all life, eternal norm of things, unveiled
contemplation and intuition into everything, brightness and
illumination of all saints, according to their merits, in heaven and
on earth. But this bright river shows also to the enlightened reason
the attributes of the Holy Spirit; inconceivable charity and
generosity, pity and mercy, infinite watchfulness and faithfulness,
immense and inconceivable riches flowing with delights through all
heavenly spirits, ardent flame consuming all in unity, effluent
fountain, preparation of all the saints for their eternal
blessedness, and their introduction thereto; enveloping and
penetrating the Father, the Son, and all the saints in joyous unity.


THE incomprehensible wealth and sublimity, and the universal
generosity which flow from the divine nature, bring a man into a
state of amazement; and above all he admires the communication of
God and His effluence above everything, for he sees the
inconceivable essence, which is the common joy of God and all the
saints. And he sees that the three divine Persons are a common
effluence in works, in graces, and in glory, in nature and above
nature, in all conditions and in all times, in the saints and in
men, in heaven and on earth, in all reasonable and irrational
creatures, according to each one's merits, needs, and powers of
receiving. God is common to all, with all His gifts, the angels are
common, the soul is common in all its faculties, in all life, in all
the members, and all in each, for one cannot divide it, except by
reason. For the higher and lower faculties, the spirit and the soul,
are distinct according to reason, but one in nature. Thus God is
entirely and specially present to each one, and nevertheless common
to all the creatures, for by Him are all things, and on Him depend
the heaven, the earth, and the whole of nature. When a man thus
observes the astonishing wealth and sublimity of the divine nature,
and all the manifold gifts which He grants and offers to His
creatures, he is lifted up internally by wonder at such manifold
riches and sublimity; and from thence arises a singular inward joy
of spirit, and a vast confidence in God; and this internal joy
surrounds and penetrates all the faculties of the soul in inwardness
of spirit.


FROM this joy and fullness of graces, and divine faithfulness, there
is born and flows out the third river in this same unity of spirit.
This river, like a flame, lights up the spirit and absorbs all
things in unity. And it causes to overflow and flood with rich gifts
and singular nobility, all the faculties of the soul, and it creates
in the will a love without labour, spiritual and subtle. Now Christ
says internally in the spirit by means of this flaming river: "Go
forth by exercises according to the mode of these gifts and this
coming." Thanks to the first river--that is to say, to a simple
light, the memory is lifted up above the accidents of sense, and is
established in the unity of spirit. Thanks to the second river--
that is to say, to the brightness spread abroad within, the
intelligence and reason are enlightened, so as to recognise the
diverse modes of the virtues and of exercises, and the mysteries of
the Scriptures. Thanks to the third river--that is to say, to an
inspired ardour, the sublime will is kindled into a more tranquil
love, and adorned with greater riches. In this way a man becomes
spiritually enlightened, for the grace of God abides, like a
fountain in the unity of the spirit; and these rivers create in the
faculties of the soul an effluence of all the virtues. And the
fountain of grace always requires a reflux towards its source.


THERE is a special benefit which Christ left in the Holy Church, to
all good people, in this supper of the great Paschal feast, when He
was about to pass from His sufferings to His Father after having
eaten the Paschal lamb with His disciples, and when the ancient law
was accomplished. At the end of the supper, He wished to give them a
special meal, as He had long desired to do. And this is why He
wished to finish the ancient law and to inaugurate the new law. He
took bread in His sacred hands, and consecrated His holy body, and
then His holy blood, and gave them to all His disciples, and left
them to all the just, for their eternal good.

This gift and this special food rejoice and adorn all the great
festivals and all the banquets in heaven and on earth. In this gift
Christ gives Himself to us in three manners; He gives us His flesh
and blood and His bodily life, glorified and full of joys and
griefs. And He gives us His spirit with its highest faculties, and
full of glory, of gifts, of truths and justifications. And He gives
us His personality with the divine light which lifts up His spirit
and all enlightened spirits, even to the sublime and joyous unity.

Now Christ wishes us to remember Him, whenever we consecrate, offer,
and receive His body. Now observe how we should remember Him. We
shall observe and consider how Christ bends towards us in loving
affection, in great desire, in loving joy, and by flowing into our
bodily nature. For He gives us that which He received from our
humanity--that is to say, His flesh and blood and bodily nature. We
shall contemplate this precious body pierced and wounded with love,
by reason of His faithfulness to us. It is by it that we are adorned
and nourished in the lower part of our human nature. He gives us
also, in this sublime gift of the sacrament, His spirit full of
glory, and the richest gifts of the virtues, and ineffable marvels
of charity and nobleness.

It is by this that we are nourished, adorned, and illuminated in the
unity of our spirit and in our higher faculties, thanks to the
indwelling of Christ with all His riches. He gives us also in the
sacrament of the altar His sublime personality in incomprehensible
light. And thanks to this, we are united to the Father, and so we
reach our inheritance of divinity in eternal bliss. If a man
meditate rightly on this, he will meet Christ in the same manner in
which Christ comes to him. He will raise himself up to receive
Christ, with all his faculties and in eager joy. It is not possible
for our joy to be too great, for our nature receives His nature--that
is to say the glorified humanity of Christ, full of joyfulness and
full of merits. This is why I would that man, at the reception of
this sacrament, should melt away with desire, joy, and pleasure, for
he is receiving the fairest, the most gracious, the most lovable of
the children of men, and is united to Him. In this union and in this
joy great benefits often come to men, and many mysterious and
marvellous secrets of divine treasures are manifested and disclosed.
When a man meditates, at this reception, on the martyrdom and
sufferings of the precious body of Christ, whom he is receiving, he
enters sometimes into so loving a devotion and so great a
compassion, that he desires to be nailed with Christ to the cross,
and to shed his heart's blood for the honour of Christ. And he
presses himself to the wounds and open heart of Christ His Saviour.
In these exercises revelations and great benefits have often come to


THE sublime and superessential unity of the Divine nature, in which
the Father and the Son possess their nature in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, above the conception and comprehension of all our faculties,
in the bare essence of our spirit, surpasses in this sublime calm
all the creatures of created light. This sublime unity of the Divine
nature is living and fruitful, for, from this same unity, the
eternal Word is born from the Father without interruption. And by
this birth the Father knows the Son, and all things in the Son. And
the Son knows the Father, and all things in the Father, for their
nature is simple. From this reciprocal vision of the Father and the
Son in an eternal clearness, flow forth an eternal satisfaction and
unfathomable love, which is the Holy Spirit. And by the Holy Spirit
and the eternal Wisdom God inclines towards every creature
severally, and loads every one of them with gifts and kindles it
with love, according to its nobility and according to the state
wherein it is constituted and elected though its virtues and the
eternal foresight of God. And it is by this that all just spirits,
in heaven and on earth, are united in virtue and justice.


NOW be attentive: I am about to give you an example on this
subject. God has made the upper heaven a pure and simple clearness
encircling and enveloping all the heavens; and all the material
world which God has created for it is the exterior abode and kingdom
of God and His saints, full of glory and eternal joys. Now the
heaven being an unmixed clearness, there is there neither time, nor
state, nor temptation, nor change, for it is unchangeably fixed
above all things. The sphere which approaches most nearly to it is
called the primum mobile. All movement, by the power of God,
emanates from the supreme heaven. This is the movement which carries
with it the motions of the firmament and all the planets. It is by
this same initial movement that all the creatures live and grow,
according to their order. Now understand that the essence of the
soul is like a spiritual kingdom of God, full of Divine clearness,
surpassing all our faculties, unless these faculties are not
transformed in a simple fashion, of which I do not wish to speak
now. See; in this essence of the soul in which God reigns, the
unity of our spirit is like the primum mobile; for in this unity
the spirit is moved from above, by the power of God, naturally and
supernaturally; for by ourselves we have nothing either in or above
nature. And this motion of God, when it is supernatural, is the
first and chief cause of all our virtue. And by this motion of God
the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are granted to certain
enlightened men, like the seven planets which illuminate all the
lives of men. This is how God possesses the essential unity of our
spirit, as His Kingdom.


NOW attend carefully. The unity of our spirit has two modes, one
essential and the other active. You should know that the spirit,
according to its essential existence, receives the coming of Christ
in its bare nature, without intermediary and without interruption.
For this essence and life which we are in God, in our eternal image,
and which we have in ourselves, according to essential existence,
are without intermediary and inseparable. This is why the spirit
receives, in its highest and most intimate part, in its bare nature,
the impression of its eternal image, and the divine brightness
without interruption, and it is an eternal dwelling of God, which He
occupies by a perpetual inhabitation, and which He visits always
with a new coming, and a new effulgence from His eternal birth. For
where He comes He is, and where He is He comes. And where He has
never been, He will never come, for there is in Him neither accident
nor change, and everything, where He is, is in Him, for He never
goes out of Himself. And this is why the spirit possesses God
essentially in its bare nature, and God the spirit, for the spirit
lives in God, and God in the spirit. And it is capable, in its
highest part, of receiving the brightness of God, and all that God
may grant it, without intermediary. And by the brightness of its
eternal image, which shines essentially and personally in it, the
spirit is plunged, as regards the highest part of its vitality, in
the divine essence; and there enters into possession of its eternal
bliss, and flowing out again by the eternal birth of the Son is
placed in its created essence by the free will of the Holy Trinity,
And here it is like the image of the sublime Trinity and Unity for
which it is created. And in its created nature, it takes the
impression of its eternal image without interruption, like an
immaculate mirror in which every impression abides, and which renews
the likeness in itself without interruption. This essential unity of
our spirit in God, exists not in itself, but abides in God and flows
out from God, and is immanent in God and returns to God, as to its
eternal cause. It never separates itself from God, for this unity is
a fact of bare nature, and if nature separated itself from God it
would fall into nothingness. And this unity is above time and
conditions, and works always without interruption according to the
mode of God. This is the nobleness which we have naturally according
to the essential unity of our spirit, where it is united naturally
to God.

This makes us neither saints nor blessed, for all men have it in
them, the bad as well as the good; but it is the first cause of all
holiness and bliss; and this is the meeting and unity of God in our
spirit, in our base nature.


NOW examine this thought with care, for if you understand well what
I wish to say to you, and what I have already said, you will
understand all the divine truth which a creature can apprehend at
present, and even things far more sublime. In the second mode, our
spirit keeps itself actively in this same unity, and subsists by
itself as in its personal created essence. This is the foundation
and origin of the supreme faculties, and this is the beginning and
end of all the works of a created nature, accomplished according to
the mode of the creatures, both in nature and above nature.

Nevertheless this unity does not operate as unity; but all the
faculties of the soul have their power entirely in their
foundation--that is to say, in the unity of the spirit, where it
resides in its personal essence. In this unity the spirit must
always be like unto God, by grace and virtue, or unlike Him by
mortal sin; for man is made in the likeness of God, which he must
understand in the sense of grace; for grace is a deiform light which
shines through us and makes us like unto God; and without this light
we cannot be united supernaturally to God, even though we can never
lose the image of God, nor our natural unity in Him. If we lose this
likeness--that is to say, grace, we are damned. And this is why, so
soon as God finds in us something which is capable of receiving His
grace, He wishes to enliven us by His goodness, and to make us like
unto Himself by His gifts. And this happens whenever we turn towards
Him with full purpose; for at the same moment Christ comes to us and
in us, with and without intermediary--that is to say, by the virtues
and above all the virtues. And He impresses His image and likeness
upon us--that is to say, Himself and all His gifts, and He relieves
us from sin and makes us like unto Himself.

By the same operation in which God relieves us from sin, and makes
us like Him and free in charity, the spirit is plunged in joyous
love. And here take place a meeting and a union, which are without
intermediaries and supernatural, and wherein resides our supreme
blessedness. Although all that He gives by love and pure goodness is
natural to God, yet to us it is accidental and supernatural,
according to our mode, since formerly we were strangers and unlike,
and only subsequently have become like God and obtained union with


NOW understand. This incomprehensible light transforms and
penetrates the joyous inclination of our spirit. In this light, the
spirit is plunged in joyous repose; for this repose is without mode
and without bottom, and we can only know it by itself--that is to
say, by repose. For if we could know it and conceive it, it would
fall into mode and measure, and so would not be able to satisfy us,
and repose would become an eternal restlessness. And this is why the
simple, loving, complete inclination of our spirit forms in us a
joyous love, and joyous love is without bottom. And the abyss of God
calls to abyss; so it is with all those whose spirits are united to
God in joyous love. This calling is an irruption from His essential
brightness; and this essential brightness in the embrace of His
bottomless love, causes us to lose ourselves and escape from
ourselves, in the lonely darkness of God. And thus united, without
intermediary, to the spirit of God, we can meet God by God, and
possess unchangeably, with Him and in Him, our eternal blessedness.


THE most interior life is practised in three ways. Sometimes the
interior man operates, above all activity and all virtue, by simple
introspection in joyous love. And here he meets God without
intermediary. And from the unity of God a simple light shines in
him, and this light shows him darkness, nakedness, and nothingness.
He is enveloped in darkness, and falls into the absence of mode as
one who loses his way. He loses, in nakedness, the power of
observing and distinguishing all things, and he is transformed and
penetrated by a simple brightness. He loses, in nothingness, all his
works, for he is overcome in the work of the unlimited love of God;
and in the joyous inclination of his spirit he triumphs in God and
becomes one spirit with Him. This is the first mode, which is
inactive; for it empties a man of all things, and lifts him up above
works and virtues.


THERE are moments when the interior man turns desirously and
actively towards God, to pay Him homage, and to offer up and
annihilate, in the love of God, his being and all that he can give.
And here he meets God, through an intermediary. This intermediary is
the gift of wisdom, which is the foundation and source of all the
virtues, and excites the just to virtues in proportion to their love;
and sometimes it touches and inflames the interior man with love
so violently, that all the gifts of God, and all that God can give
without giving Himself, seem to him too little and do not satisfy
him, but only increase his impatience. For he has at the bottom of
his being an interior perception or sensation, wherein all the
virtues begin and end, and wherein he offers to God all the virtues,
and wherein love lives. And thus the hunger and thirst of love
become so great, that he is reduced to nothingness, and then touched
anew, as it were for the first time, by the irradiation of God. Thus
in living he dies and in dying he lives again. This is the second
mode, and it is more useful and more glorious than the first; for
none can enter into the repose that is above action unless he has
first actively loved love. And this is why none will be inactive,
who is master of himself and who is able to practise love.


FROM these two kinds is born the third, which is an interior life
according to righteousness. Now understand. God comes to us without
interruption, with and. without intermediary, He requires of us
action and joy, in such a way that action may not hinder joy, nor
joy action, but that each may help the other. This is why the
interior man possesses his life in these two modes, repose and work.
And in each of them he is entire and undivided; for he is entirely
in God, in his joyous repose, and he is entirely in himself, in his
active love; and God warns him that He requires him to renew
continually his repose and his work. The righteousness of the spirit
wishes to pay, every hour, what God requires of us, and this is why,
at every irradiation of God, the spirit turns inwards, actively and
joyously, and so is renewed in all the virtues, and plunged more
deeply in joyous love. For God at every gift gives Himself with all
His gifts, and the spirit whenever it turns inwards, gives itself
with all its works. The spirit is united to God, and transferred
without interruption into repose. The man is hungry, for he sees the
nourishment of angels and the food of heaven. He works actively in
love, for he sees his repose. He is a pilgrim, and he sees his
country. He fights, in love, for victory, for he sees his crown.
Consolation, peace, joy, beauty, and riches, and all that can
rejoice the heart, are shown to the reason illuminated by God, in
spiritual similitudes and without measure. And by this vision, at
the touch of God, love remains active. For this just man has built
up, in the spirit, a true life, which will last eternally, but after
this life it will be transformed into a more sublime state. Thus the
man is just, and he goes towards God by interior love in eternal
work, and he goes in God by joyous inclination, in eternal repose.
And he abides in God, and yet he goes out towards all the creatures,
in common love, in the virtues, and in the works of justice. This is
the supreme summit of the inner life.

Note.--Here follow in Ruysbroek's treatise four chapters of warnings
against the errors of Quietism, such as were exemplified in his time
by many of the Brethren of the Free Spirit and similar sects.



THE interior lover of God, who possesses God in joyous repose, and
possesses himself in the unity of active love, and possesses all his
life in the virtues, enters into the contemplative life, thanks to
these three points and to the secret manifestation of God; yes, it
is the internal and devout lover, whom God will choose freely and
lift him up even to a superessential contemplation in divine light
and according to the mode of God. This contemplation places us in a
purity and brightness above all intelligence, for it is a singular
ornament and a celestial crown, and at last the eternal recompense
of all the virtues and of all life. And none can arrive there by
knowledge or subtlety, nor by any exercise; but he whom God wills to
unite to His own Spirit and to illuminate by Himself, can
contemplate God, and none other can. To such an one the heavenly
Father says, in the secret and submerged part of the spirit: "See,
the Bridegroom cometh, go forth to meet Him."

I wish to analyse and explain these words, in their relation to
superessential contemplation, which is the basis of all holiness and
of the perfect life. Very few men attain to this divine
contemplation, by reason of our incapacity, and the mystery of the
light in which contemplation takes place. And this is why no one, by
his own knowledge or by any subtle examination, will understand
these ideas. For all words, and all that can be learned and
understood according to the mode of the creatures, are strangers to
the truth which I speak of, and far below it. But he who is united
to God, and illuminated in this truth, can comprehend the truth by
itself. For to conceive and understand God above all similitudes, as
He is in Himself, is to be God in God, without intermediary and
without any difference which might prove an obstacle. This is why I
desire that every man who does not understand this, nor experience
it in the joyous unity of his spirit, may not be wounded by my
words, for what I say is true. And this is why he who wishes to
understand this, must be dead to himself and alive to God, and he
will turn his face to the eternal light, at the bottom of his
spirit, where the hidden truth is manifested without intermediary.
For the heavenly Father wishes that we should be seeing; for He is
the Father of Light, and this is why He says eternally, without
interruption and without intermediary, one abysmal word and no
other. In this word He proffers Himself and all things. The word is:
"See." And it is the going forth and the birth of the Son of the
eternal light, in whom we see and recognise all our blessedness.


IN order that the spirit may contemplate God by God, without
intermediary, in this Divine light, three things are necessary.
First, the man must be well governed externally in all the virtues,
and without obstacles within, and as free from all external works as
if he did them not; for if he is troubled within by any act of
virtue, he has images, and so long as they remain in him he cannot
contemplate. In the second place, he must adhere internally to God,
by the combination of intention and of love, like a burning fire,
which can never more be extinguished. At the moment when he feels
himself in this state, he can contemplate. In the third place, he
should be lost in an absence of mode, and in a darkness, in which
all contemplatives wander joyously, and can never find themselves
again according to the mode of the creatures. In the abyss of this
darkness, where the loving spirit is dead to itself, begin the
manifestation of God and of eternal life. For in this darkness is
born and shines an incomprehensible light, which is the Son of God,
in whom we see eternal life. And in this light we become seeing; and
this Divine light is given in the simple vision of the spirit, in
which the spirit receives the clearness which is God Himself,
without intermediary, and becomes without interruption this
clearness which it receives. See; this dark clearness, in which we
contemplate all that we desire, while the spirit is passive,--this
clearness is so great than the loving contemplative, in the depth
where he reposes, sees and experiences nothing save an
incomprehensible light, and according to the simple nudity which
envelopes all things, he sees and apprehends the same light by which
he sees, and nothing else. This is the first condition of becoming
seeing in the Divine light. Happy are the eyes which thus see, for
they have eternal life.


WHEN we have thus become seeing, we can contemplate in joy the
eternal coming of the Bridegroom, and this is the second point on
which I wish to speak. What is then this coming of the Bridegroom
which is eternal? It is a new birth and a new illumination without
interruption; for the foundation out of which the clearness shines,
and which is the clearness itself, is living and fruitful; and this
is why the manifestation of the eternal light is renewed without
interruption, in the most secret part of the spirit. See; every
creaturely work, and every exercise of virtue must here submit
themselves, for God works alone in the highest part of the spirit.
There is nought here but an eternal contemplation and fixity of
light, by light, and in light. And the coming of the Bridegroom is
so swift that He comes always, and is immanent with His unfathomable
riches, and comes back ever anew, in person, with such new
splendours that He seems never to have come before. For His coming
consists in an eternal Now, transcending time, and He is always
received with new desire and new joy. The delights and joy which
this Bridegroom brings at His coming are without bottom and without
limits, for they are Himself. This is why the eyes of the spirit, by
which the lover contemplates the Bridegroom, are open so wide that
they will never more be shut. For the contemplation and fixity of
the spirit remain eternal in the hidden manifestation of God. And
the contemplation of the spirit is so widely opened, while waiting
for the coming of the Bridegroom, that the spirit itself acquires
the amplitude of that which it comprehends. And in this way, God is
seen and comprehended by God, in which all our salvation and
blessedness consists. This is the second manner in which we receive,
without interruption in our spirit, the eternal coming of our


NOW the Spirit of God saith, in the secret depths of our spirit:
"Go forth," in an eternal contemplation and joy, according to the
mode of God. All the wealth which is in God naturally, we possess in
Him by love; and God possesses it in us, by His boundless Love,
which is the Holy Spirit. For in this love all is tasted that can be
desired. And this is why, thanks to this love, we are dead to
ourselves, and have gone forth in loving liquefaction or immersion,
in the absence of mode and in darkness. There the spirit, enveloped
by the Holy Trinity, is eternally immanent in the superessential
unity, in repose and in joy. And in this same unity, according to
the mode of generation, the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the
Father, and every creature in them both. And this is above the
distinction of Persons, for here we understand by reason the
fatherhood and sonship in the lively fruitfulness of nature.

Here is born and begins an eternal going forth, and an eternal work
without beginning, for there is here a beginning without beginning.
For by means of the eternal birth of the Son, the Word of the
Father, all creatures have gone forth eternally, before they were
created in time, and God has considered and recognised them
distinctly in Himself, in lively reason, and in distinction from
Himself: but not in another mode, for all that is in God is God.
This eternal going forth and this eternal life, which we have and
are eternally in God, without ourselves, is the cause of our created
essence in time. And our created essence is immanent in the eternal
essence, and this eternal life, which we have and are in the eternal
wisdom of God, is like unto God; for they have an eternal immanence,
without distinction, in the divine essence. And they have an eternal
effluence by the birth of the Son, in a difference with distinction,
according to the eternal reason. And thanks to these two things, a
man is in this way like unto God, that he recognises himself and
reflects on himself without interruption, in this resemblance,
according to essence and according to the Persons. For though here
there is still distinction and difference, according to reason, this
resemblance is nevertheless one with the very image of the Holy
Trinity, which is the wisdom of God, and wherein God contemplates
Himself and all things in an eternal Now, without before or after.
In simple vision He regards Himself as He regards all things. And
this is the image and likeness of God, and our image and likeness,
for in it God and all things are reflected. In this divine image,
all the creatures, without themselves, have an eternal life, as in
their eternal model, and the Holy Trinity has made us in this
eternal image and likeness. And this is why God wishes that we
should go out from ourselves, in this eternal light, and that we
should pursue this image, which is our true life, supernaturally,
and possess it with Him actively and joyously, in eternal

For we know well that the bosom of the Father is our foundation and
origin, wherein we begin our life and our being. And from our true
foundation--that is to say, from the Father and from all that lives
in Him, beams forth an eternal radiance, which is the birth of the
Son. In this radiance, the Father manifests Himself, and all that
lives in Himself, to Himself; for all that He is, and all that He
has, He gives to the Son, except the prerogative of fatherhood,
which resides in Himself. And this is why all that lives in the
Father hidden in the Unity, lives also in the Son, and flows forth
in His manifestation; but the simple foundation of our eternal image
remains always without mode in the darkness. But the boundless
radiance which shines out thence manifests and reflects in the mode
the mystery of God. And all men who are raised above their
creatureliness into a contemplative life, are united to this divine
splendour. And they are this splendour itself, and they see,
experience, and find, thanks to this divine radiance, that they are
this same simple foundation, according to their uncreated essence,
from which shines forth, in the divine mode, this immeasurable
radiance, which, according to simplicity of essence, remains
eternally within, and without mode. This is why interior men and
contemplatives will go forth, according to the mode of
contemplation, above distinction and above their created essence, by
means of an eternal intuition. Thanks to this inborn light, they are
transformed, and are united to this same light by which they see and
which they see. In this manner contemplatives pursue the eternal
image, after which they are made, and contemplate God and all things
without distinction, by a pure vision in divine brightness. This is
the most sublime and the most useful contemplation which we can
attain in this life; for in this contemplation a man remains the
best and freest master of himself, and at each loving introversion,
above all that we can comprehend, he can advance in the sublimities
of life, for he remains free and master of himself, in unity and in
the virtues. And this contemplation in the divine light maintains
him above all inwardness, above all virtue, above all merit, for it
is the crown and recompense towards which we are striving, and which
we already have and possess in this mode, for the contemplative life
is a celestial life. But if we shall be drawn up out of this exile
and this misery, we shall be, according to our created nature, more
susceptible of this radiance, and then the glory of God would shine
through us better and more sublimely. This is the mode above all
modes, according to which we go forth in a divine contemplation and
in an eternal stability, and according to which we are transformed
and reformed in the divine radiance. This going forth of the
contemplative is also loving; for by joyous love he surpasses his
created essence, and finds and tastes the riches and delights which
are God, and which He causes to flow without interruption into the
most secret part of the spirit, into the place where he is like the
sublimity of God.


WHEN the interior man and contemplative has thus pursued his eternal
image, and possessed in this purity the bosom of the Father by the
Son, he is illuminated by the divine truth, and receives anew at
each instant the eternal birth; and he goes forth according to the
mode of light, in a divine contemplation. And here arises the fourth
and last point--that is to say, the loving meeting, in which before
all else resides our eternal blessedness.

You know that our heavenly Father, like a living foundation, is
actively inclined towards His Son, as towards His own eternal
wisdom. And this same wisdom, and all that lives therein, is
actively inclined in the Father--that is to say, in the foundation
whence it proceeds. And in this meeting arises the Third Person,
between the Father and the Son, and this is the Holy Spirit, their
mutual love, which is united to them both in the same nature. And He
envelopes and penetrates, actively and joyously, the Father and the
Son and all that lives in them with such riches and such joy, that
all the creatures must be silent thereupon eternally, for the
incomprehensible marvel of this love surpasses eternally the
intelligence of all the creatures. But where we comprehend and taste
this amazement, without being amazed, there the spirit is above
itself, and one with the Spirit of God, and it tastes and sees,
without measure, like God, the riches which He is Himself in the
unity of the living foundation, where He possesses Himself according
to the unity of His uncreated essence.

Now this delightful meeting is without interruption actively renewed
in us, according to the mode of God, for the Father gives Himself in
the Son, and the Son in the Father, in an eternal gratification and
a loving embrace, and this is renewed at every hour in the ties of
love; for even as the Father without interruption contemplates anew
all things in the birth of His Son, so all things are beloved anew,
by the Father and the Son, through the influence of the Holy Spirit.
And this is the eternal meeting of the Father and the Son, in which
we are lovingly wrapped by the Holy Spirit in eternal love.

Now this active meeting and this loving embrace are, in their
foundation, joyous and without mode, for God's infinite absence of
mode is so obscure and so destitute of mode, that it envelopes in
itself every divine mode and every work, and the individuality of
the Persons, in the rich envelopment of essential unity, and forms a
divine rejoicing in the abyss of the unnameable. And here there is a
joyous and outflowing immersion in the essential nakedness, where
all the divine names and all the modes, and all divine reason,
reflected in the mirror of the divine truth, fall into simple
ineffability, in the absence of mode and of reason. For in this
boundless abyss of simplicity, all things are enveloped in joyous
blessedness, and the abyss remains itself uncomprehended save by the
essential unity. Before this essential unity, the Persons must give
way, and all that lives in God. For here is nought but an eternal
rest, in a joyous envelopment of loving immersion, and this is the
essence, without mode, which all interior spirits have chosen above
all other things. It is the dark silence in which all lovers are
lost. But if we could prepare ourselves thus for the virtues, we
should unclothe ourselves, so to speak, from life, and should float
on the wide expanses of this divine sea, and created things would no
longer have power to touch us.

May we be able to possess, rejoicing, the essential unity, and
clearly to contemplate the Unity in Trinity; and may the divine
love, which rejects no suppliant, grant us this. Amen.



SIN is nothing else but the turning away of the creature from the
unchangeable Good to the changeable; from the perfect to the
imperfect, and most often to itself. And when the creature claims
for its own anything good, such as substance, life, knowledge, or
power, as if it were that, or possessed it, or as if that proceeded
from itself, it goeth astray. What else did the devil do, and what
was his error and fall, except that he claimed for himself to be
something, and that something was his and was due to him? This claim
of his--this "I, me, and mine," were his error and his fall. And so
it is to this day. For what else did Adam do? It is said that Adam
was lost, or fell, because he ate the apple. I say, it was because
he claimed something for his own, because of his "I, me, and mine."
If he had eaten seven apples, and yet never claimed anything for his
own, he would not have fallen: but as soon as he called something
his own, he fell, and he would have fallen, though he had never
touched an apple. I have fallen a hundred times more often and more
grievously than Adam; and for his fall all mankind could not make
amends. How then shall my fall be amended? It must be healed even as
Adam's fall was healed. And how, and by whom, was that healing
wrought? Man could not do it without God, and God could not do it
without man. Therefore God took upon Himself human nature; He was
made man, and man was made God. Thus was the healing effected. So
also must my fall be healed. I cannot do the work without God, and
He may not or will not do it without me. If it is to be done, God
must be made man in me also; God must take into Himself all that is
in me, both within and without, so that there may be nothing in me
which strives against God or hinders His work. Now if God took to
Himself all men who are or ever lived in the world, and was made man
in them, and they were deified in Him, and this work were not
accomplished in me, my fall and my error would never be healed
unless this were accomplished in me also. And in this bringing back
and healing I can and shall do nothing of myself; I shall simply
commit myself to God, so that He alone may do and work all things in
me, and that I may suffer Him, and all His work, and His divine
will. And because I will not do this, but consider myself to be mine
own, and "I, me, and mine," and the like, God is impeded, and cannot
do His work in me alone and without let or hindrance; this is why my
fall and error remain unhealed. All comes of my claiming something
for my own. ii., iii.


We should remember the saying that the soul of Christ had two eyes,
a right eye and a left eye. In the beginning, when the soul of
Christ was created, she fixed her right eye upon eternity and the
Godhead, and remained in the full beholding and fruition of the
Divine essence and eternal perfection; and thus remained unmoved by
all the accidents and labours, the suffering, anguish, and pain,
that befell the outer man. But with the left eye she looked upon the
creation, and beheld all things that are therein, and observed how
the creatures differ from each other, how they are better or worse,
nobler or baser; and after this manner was the outer man of Christ
ordered. Thus the inner man of Christ, according to the right eye of
His soul, stood in the full exercise of His Divine nature, in
perfect blessedness, joy, and eternal peace. But the outer man and
the left eye of the soul of Christ stood with Him in perfect
suffering, in all His tribulations, afflictions and labours; in such
a way that the inner or right eye remained unmoved, unimpeded and
untouched by all the labour, suffering, woe, and misery that
happened to the outer man. It has been said that when Jesus was
bound to the pillar and scourged, and when He hung on the cross,
according to the outer man, the inner man, a soul according to the
right eye, stood in as full possession of Divine joy and blessedness
as it did after the ascension, or as it does now. Even so His outer
man, or soul according to the left eye, was never impeded,
disturbed, or troubled by the inward eye in its contemplation of the
outward things which pertained to it. The created soul of man has
also two eyes. The one is the power of looking into eternity, the
other the power of looking into time and the creatures, of
perceiving how they differ from each other, of giving sustenance and
other things necessary to the body, and ordering and ruling it for
the best. But these two eyes of the soul cannot both perform their
office at once; if the soul would look with the right eye into
eternity, the left eye must be shut, and must cease to work: it must
be as if it were dead. For if the left eye is discharging its office
towards outward things--if it is holding conversation with time and
the creatures--then the right eye must be impeded in its working,
which is contemplation. Therefore, he who would have one must let
the other go; for no man can serve two masters. vii.


Some have asked whether it is possible for the soul, while it is
still in the body, to reach so great a height as to gaze into
eternity, and receive a foretaste of eternal life and blessedness.
This is commonly denied; and in a sense the denial is true. For
indeed it cannot come about, so long as the soul is occupied with
the body, and the things which minister to the body and belong to
it, and to time and created things, and is disturbed and troubled
and distracted by them. For the soul that would mount to such a
state, must be quite pure, entirely stripped and bare of all images;
it must be wholly separate from all creatures, and above all from
itself. Many think that this is impossible in this present life. But
St Dionysius claims that it is possible, as we find from his words
in his letter to Timothy, where he says: "In order to behold the
hidden things of God, thou shalt forsake sense and the things of the
flesh, and all that can be perceived by the senses, and all that
reason can bring forth by her own power, and all things created and
uncreated which reason can know and comprehend, and thou shalt stand
upon an utter abandonment of thyself, as if thou knewest none of
those things which I have mentioned, and thou shalt enter into union
with Him who is, and who is above all existence and knowledge." If
he did not think this to be possible in this present time, why did
he teach it and urge it upon us in this present time? But you ought
to know that a master has said, about this passage of St Dionysius,
that it is possible, and may come to a man so often that he may
become accustomed to it, and be able to gaze into eternity whenever
he will. And a single one of these glances is better, worthier,
higher, and more pleasing to God than all that the creature can do
as a creature. He who has attained to it asks for nothing more, for
he has found the kingdom of heaven and eternal life here on earth.


Even as the soul of Christ had to descend into hell, before it
ascended into heaven, so must the soul of man. And mark how this
comes to pass. When a man truly perceives and considers who and what
he is, and finds himself wholly base and wicked, and unworthy of all
the consolation and kindness that he ever received, either from God
or from the creatures, he falls into such a profound abasement and
contempt for himself, that he thinks himself unworthy to walk upon
the earth; he feels that he deserves that all creatures should rise
against him and avenge their Maker upon him with punishments and
torments; nay, even that were too good for him. And therefore he
will not and dare not desire any consolation or release, either from
God or any creature; he is willing to be unconsoled and unreleased,
and he does not lament for his condemnation and punishment, for they
are right and just, and in accordance with God's will. Nothing
grieves him but his own guilt and wickedness; for that is not right,
and is contrary to God's will: for this reason he is heavy and
troubled. This is the meaning of true repentance for sin. And the
man who in this life enters into this hell, enters afterwards into
the kingdom of heaven, and has a foretaste of it which exceeds all
the delights and happiness which he has ever had, or could have,
from the things of time. But while a man is in this hell, no one can
comfort him, neither God, nor the creatures. Of this condition it
has been written, "Let me die, let me perish! I live without hope;
from within and from without I am condemned, let no man pray for my
deliverance." Now God has not forsaken a man, while he is in this
hell, but He is laying His hand upon him, that he may desire nothing
but the eternal Good only, and may discover that this is so noble
and exceedingly good, that its blessedness cannot be searched out
nor expressed, comfort and joy, peace, rest, and satisfaction. When,
therefore, the man cares for and seeks and desires the eternal Good
and nought beside, and seeks not himself, nor his own things, but
the glory of God only, he is made to partake of every kind of joy,
blessedness, peace, rest, and comfort, and from that time forward is
in the kingdom of God.

This hell and this heaven are two good safe ways for a man in this
present life, and he is happy who truly finds them. For this hell
shall pass away, but this heaven shall abide for evermore. Let a man
also observe, that when he is in this hell, nothing can console him;
and he cannot believe that he shall ever be delivered or comforted.
But when he is in heaven, nothing can disturb him: he believes that
no one will ever be able to offend or trouble him again, though it
is indeed possible that he may again be troubled and left

This heaven and hell come upon a man in such a way, that he knows
not whence they come; and he can do nothing himself towards making
them either come or depart. He can neither give them to himself, nor
take them away from himself, neither bring them nor drive them away;
even as it is written, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou
hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or
whither it goeth." And when a man is in either of these two states,
all is well with him, and he is as safe in hell as in heaven. And
while a man is in the world, it is possible for him to pass many
times from the one state into the other--even within a day and
night, and without any motion of his own. But when a man is in
neither of these two states, he holds intercourse with the
creatures, and is carried this way and that, and knows not what
manner of man he is. A man should therefore never forget either of
these states, but carry the memory of them in his heart. xi.


Be well assured that none can be illuminated, unless he be first
cleansed, purified, or stripped. Also none can be united to God
unless he be first illuminated. There are therefore three
stages--first, the purification; secondly, the illumination; and
thirdly, the union. The purification belongs to those who are
beginning or repenting. It is effected in three ways; by repentance
and sorrow for sin, by full confession, and by hearty amendment. The
illumination belongs to those who are growing, and it also is
effected in three ways; by the renunciation of sin, by the practice
of virtue and good works, and by willing endurance of all trials and
temptations. The union belongs to those who are perfect, and this
also is effected in three ways; by pureness and singleness of heart,
by love, and by the contemplation of God, the Creator of all things.


We ought truly to know and believe that no life is so noble, or
good, or pleasing to God, as the life of Christ. And yet it is to
nature and selfishness the most bitter of all lives. For to nature,
and selfishness, and the Me, a life of careless freedom is the
sweetest and pleasantest, but it is not the best; indeed, in some
men it may be the worst. But the life of Christ, though it be the
bitterest of all, should be preferred above all. And hereby ye shall
know this. There is an inward sight which is able to perceive the
one true good, how that it is neither this nor that, but that it is
that of which St Paul says: "When that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part shall be done away." By this he signifies
that what is whole and perfect excels all the parts, and that all
which is imperfect, and in part, is as nothing compared to what is
perfect. In like manner, all knowledge of the parts is swallowed up
when the whole is known. And where the good is known, it cannot fail
to be desired and loved so greatly, that all other love, with which
a man has loved himself, and other things, vanishes away. Moreover,
that inward sight perceives what is best and noblest in all things,
and loves it in the one true good, and for the sake of the true good
alone. Where this inward sight exists, a man perceives truly that
the life of Christ is the best and noblest life, and that it is
therefore to be chosen above all others; and therefore he willingly
accepts and endures it, without hesitation or complaining, whether
it is pleasing or displeasing to nature and other men, and whether
he himself likes or dislikes it, and finds it sweet or bitter.
Therefore, whenever this perfect and true good is known, the life of
Christ must be followed, until the decease of the body. If any man
vainly deems otherwise, he is deceived, and if any man says
otherwise, he tells a lie; and in whatever man the life of Christ is
not, he will never know the true good or the eternal truth.

But let no one imagine that we can attain to this true light and
perfect knowledge, and to the life of Christ, by much questioning,
or by listening to others, or by reading and study, or by ability
and deep learning. For so long as a man is occupied with anything
which is this or that, whether it be himself or any other creature;
or does anything, or forms plans, or opinions, or objects, he comes
not to the life of Christ. Christ Himself declared as much, for He
said: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross, and follow Me." "And if any man hate not his father
and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and
his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." He means this: "He who
does not give up and abandon everything can never know My eternal
truth, nor attain to My life." And even if this had not been
declared to us, the truth itself proclaims it, for so verily it is.
But as long as a man holds fast to the rudiments and fragments of
this world, and above all to himself, and is conversant with them,
and sets great store by them, he is deceived and blinded, and
perceives what is good only in so far as is convenient and agreeable
to himself and profitable to his own objects.

Since then the life of Christ is in all ways most bitter to nature
and the self and the Me--for in the true life of Christ nature and
the self and the Me must be abandoned and lost and suffered to die
completely--therefore in all of us nature has a horror of it, and
deems it evil and unjust and foolish; and she strives after such a
life as shall be most agreeable and pleasant to ourselves; and says,

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