Part 2 out of 4
humbler and more wary and more ready to renounce myself. He who
is made learned by the gift of grace and taught wisdom by the
stroke of the withdrawal thereof, will not dare to claim any good
thing for himself, but will rather confess that he is poor and
needy. Give unto God the thing which is God's,(1) and ascribe to
thyself that which is thine; that is, give thanks unto God for
His grace, but for thyself alone confess thy fault, and that thy
punishment is deserved for thy fault.
4. Sit thou down always in the lowest room and thou shalt be
given the highest place.(2) For the highest cannot be without
the lowest. For the highest saints of God are least in their own
sight, and the more glorious they are, so much the lowlier are
they in themselves; full of grace and heavenly glory, they are
not desirous of vain-glory; resting on God and strong in His
might, they cannot be lifted up in any wise. And they who
ascribe unto God all the good which they have received, "seek not
glory one of another, but the glory which cometh from God only,"
and they desire that God shall be praised in Himself and in all
His Saints above all things, and they are always striving for
this very thing.
5. Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt
be worthy to receive greater. Let the least be unto thee even as
the greatest, and let that which is of little account be unto
thee as a special gift. If the majesty of the Giver be
considered, nothing that is given shall seem small and of no
worth, for that is not a small thing which is given by the Most
High God. Yea, though He gave punishment and stripes, we ought
to be thankful, because He ever doth for our profit whatever He
suffereth to come upon us. He who seeketh to retain the favour
of God, let him be thankful for the favour which is given, and
patient in respect of that which is taken away. Let him pray
that it may return; let him be wary and humble that he lose it
(1) Matthew xxii. 21. (2) Luke xiv. 10.
Of the fewness of those who love the Cross of Jesus
Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of
His Cross. He hath many seekers of comfort, but few of
tribulation. He findeth many companions of His table, but few of
His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to
undergo anything for His sake. Many follow Jesus that they may
eat of His loaves, but few that they may drink of the cup of His
passion. Many are astonished at His Miracles, few follow after
the shame of His Cross. Many love Jesus so long as no
adversities happen to them. Many praise Him and bless Him, so
long as they receive any comforts from Him. But if Jesus hide
Himself and withdraw from them a little while, they fall either
into complaining or into too great dejection of mind.
2. But they who love Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not for any
consolation of their own, bless Him in all tribulation and
anguish of heart as in the highest consolation. And if He should
never give them consolation, nevertheless they would always
praise Him and always give Him thanks.
3. Oh what power hath the pure love of Jesus, unmixed with any
gain or love of self! Should not all they be called mercenary
who are always seeking consolations? Do they not prove
themselves lovers of self more than of Christ who are always
seeking their own gain and advantage? Where shall be found one
who is willing to serve God altogether for nought?
4. Rarely is any one found so spiritual as to be stripped of all
selfish thoughts, for who shall find a man truly poor in spirit
and free of all created things? "His value is from afar, yea
from the ends of the earth." A man may give away all his goods,
yet that is nothing; and if he do many deeds of penitence, yet
that is a small thing; and though he understand all knowledge,
yet that is afar off; and if he have great virtue and zealous
devotion, yet much is lacking unto him, yea, one thing which is
the most necessary to him of all. What is it then? That having
given up all things besides, he give up himself and go forth from
himself utterly, and retain nothing of self-love; and having done
all things which he knoweth to be his duty to do, that he feel
that he hath done nothing. Let him not reckon that much which
might be much esteemed, but let him pronounce himself to be in
truth an unprofitable servant, as the Truth Himself saith, When
ye have done all things that are commanded you, say, we are
unprofitable servants.(1) Then may he be truly poor and naked in
spirit, and be able to say with the Prophet, As for me, I am poor
and needy.(2) Nevertheless, no man is richer than he, no man
stronger, no man freer. For he knoweth both how to give up
himself and all things, and how to be lowly in his own eyes.
(1) Luke xvii. 10. (2) Psalm xxv. 16.
Of the royal way of the Holy Cross
That seemeth a hard saying to many, If any man will come after
Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me.(1)
But it will be much harder to hear that last sentence, Depart
from me, ye wicked, into eternal fire.(2) For they who now
willingly hear the word of the Cross and follow it, shall not
then fear the hearing of eternal damnation. This sign of the
Cross shall be in heaven when the Lord cometh to Judgment. Then
all servants of the Cross, who in life have conformed themselves
to the Crucified, shall draw nigh unto Christ the Judge with
2. Why fearest thou then to take up the cross which leadeth to a
kingdom? In the Cross is health, in the Cross is life, in the
Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross is heavenly
sweetness, in the Cross strength of mind, in the Cross joy of
the spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross
perfection of holiness. There is no health of the soul, no hope
of eternal life, save in the Cross. Take up therefore, thy cross
and follow Jesus and thou shalt go into eternal life. He went
before thee bearing His Cross and died for thee upon the Cross,
that thou also mayest bear thy cross and mayest love to be
crucified upon it. For if thou be dead with Him, thou shalt also
live with Him, and if thou be a partaker of His sufferings thou
shalt be also of His glory.
3. Behold everything dependeth upon the Cross, and everything
lieth in dying; and there is none other way unto life and to true
inward peace, except the way of the Holy Cross and of daily
mortification. Go where thou wilt, seek whatsoever thou wilt,
and thou shalt find no higher way above nor safer way below, than
the way of the Holy Cross. Dispose and order all things
according to thine own will and judgment, and thou shalt ever
find something to suffer either willingly or unwillingly, and
thus thou shalt ever find thy cross. For thou shalt either feel
pain of body, or tribulation of spirit within thy soul.
4. Sometimes thou wilt be forsaken of God, sometimes thou wilt be
tried by thy neighbour, and which is more, thou wilt often be
wearisome to thyself. And still thou canst not be delivered nor
eased by any remedy or consolation, but must bear so long as God
will. For God will have thee learn to suffer tribulation without
consolation, and to submit thyself fully to it, and by
tribulation be made more humble. No man understandeth the
Passion of Christ in his heart so well as he who hath had
somewhat of the like suffering himself. The Cross therefore is
always ready, and every where waiteth for thee. Thou canst not
flee from it whithersoever thou hurriest, for whithersoever thou
comest, thou bearest thyself with thee, and shalt ever find
thyself. Turn thee above, turn thee below, turn thee without,
turn thee within, and in them all thou shalt find the Cross; and
needful is it that thou everywhere possess patience if thou wilt
have internal peace and gain the everlasting crown.
5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear thee, and will
bring thee to the end which thou seekest, even where there shall
be the end of suffering; though it shall not be here. If thou
bear it unwillingly, thou makest a burden for thyself and greatly
increaseth thy load, and yet thou must bear it. If thou cast
away one cross, without doubt thou shalt find another and
perchance a heavier.
6. Thinketh thou to escape what no mortal hath been able to
avoid? Which of the saints in the world hath been without the
cross and tribulation? For not even Jesus Christ our Lord was
one hour without the anguish of His Passion, so long as He lived.
It behooved, He said, Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.(3) And how dost thou seek another
way than this royal way, which is the way of the Holy Cross?
7. The whole life of Christ was a cross and martyrdom, and dost
thou seek for thyself rest and joy? Thou art wrong, thou art
wrong, if thou seekest aught but to suffer tribulations, for this
whole mortal life is full of miseries, and set round with
crosses. And the higher a man hath advanced in the spirit, the
heavier crosses he will often find, because the sorrow of his
banishment increaseth with the strength of his love.
8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise afflicted, is not
without refreshment of consolation, because he feeleth abundant
fruit to be growing within him out of the bearing of his cross.
For whilst he willingly submitteth himself to it, every burden of
tribulation is turned into an assurance of divine comfort, and
the more the flesh is wasted by affliction, the more is the
spirit strengthened mightily by inward grace. And ofttimes so
greatly is he comforted by the desire for tribulation and
adversity, through love of conformity to the Cross of Christ,
that he would not be without sorrow and tribulation; for he
believeth that he shall be the more acceptable to God, the more
and the heavier burdens he is able to bear for His sake. This is
not the virtue of man, but the grace of Christ which hath such
power and energy in the weak flesh, that what it naturally hateth
and fleeth from, this it draweth to and loveth through fervour of
9. It is not in the nature of man to bear the cross, to love the
cross, to keep under the body and to bring it into subjection, to
fly from honours, to bear reproaches meekly, to despise self and
desire to be despised, to bear all adversities and losses, and to
desire no prosperity in this world. If thou lookest to thyself,
thou wilt of thyself be able to do none of this; but if thou
trustest in the Lord, endurance shall be given thee from heaven,
and the world and the flesh shall be made subject to thy command.
Yea, thou shalt not even fear thine adversary the devil, if thou
be armed with faith and signed with the Cross of Christ.
10. Set thyself, therefore, like a good and faithful servant of
Christ, to the manful bearing of the Cross of thy Lord, who out
of love was crucified for thee. Prepare thyself for the bearing
many adversities and manifold troubles in this wretched life;
because so it shall be with thee wheresoever thou art, and so in
very deed thou shalt find it, wherever thou hide thyself. This
it must be; and there is no means of escaping from tribulation
and sorrow, except to bear them patiently. Drink thou lovingly
thy Lord's cup if thou desirest to be His friend and to have thy
lot with Him. Leave consolations to God, let Him do as seemeth
best to Him concerning them. But do thou set thyself to endure
tribulations, and reckon them the best consolations; for the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us,(4) nor would they
be even if thou wert to endure them all.
11. When thou hast come to this, that tribulation is sweet and
pleasant to thee for Christ's sake, then reckon that it is well
with thee, because thou hast found paradise on earth. So long as
it is hard to thee to suffer and thou desirest to escape, so long
it will not be well with thee, and tribulations will follow thee
12. If thou settest thyself to that thou oughtest, namely, to
suffer and to die, it shall soon go better with thee, and thou
shalt find peace. Though thou shouldest be caught up with Paul
unto the third heaven,(5) thou art not on that account secure
from suffering evil. I will show him, saith Jesus, what great
things he must suffer for My Name's sake.(6) It remaineth,
therefore, to thee to suffer, if thou wilt love Jesus and serve
13. Oh that thou wert worthy to suffer something for the name of
Jesus, how great glory should await thee, what rejoicing among
all the saints of God, what bright example also to thy neighbour!
For all men commend patience, although few be willing to practise
it. Thou oughtest surely to suffer a little for Christ when many
suffer heavier things for the world.
14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to lead the life of
a dying man. And the more a man dieth to himself, the more he
beginneth to live towards God. None is fit for the understanding
of heavenly things, unless he hath submitted himself to bearing
adversities for Christ. Nothing more acceptable to God, nothing
more healthful for thyself in this world, than to suffer
willingly for Christ. And if it were thine to choose, thou
oughtest rather to wish to suffer adversities for Christ, than to
be refreshed with manifold consolations, for thou wouldest be
more like Christ and more conformed to all saints. For our
worthiness and growth in grace lieth not in many delights and
consolations, but rather in bearing many troubles and
15. If indeed there had been anything better and more profitable
to the health of men than to suffer, Christ would surely have
shown it by word and example. For both the disciples who
followed Him, and all who desire to follow Him, He plainly
exhorteth to bear their cross, and saith, If any man will come
after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow
Me.(7) So now that we have thoroughly read and studied all
things, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. We must
through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.(8)
(1) Matthew xvi. 24. (2) Matthew xxv. 41. (3) Luke xxiv. 46.
(4) Romans viii. 18. (5) 2 Corinthians xii. 2.
(6) Acts ix. 16. (7) Luke ix. 23. (8) Acts xiv. 21.
THE THIRD BOOK
ON INWARD CONSOLATION
Of the inward voice of Christ to the faithful soul
I will hearken what the Lord God shall say within me.(1) Blessed
is the soul which heareth the Lord speaking within it, and
receiveth the word of consolation from His mouth. Blessed are
the ears which receive the echoes of the soft whisper of God, and
turn not aside to the whisperings of this world. Blessed truly
are the ears which listen not to the voice that soundeth without,
but to that which teacheth truth inwardly. Blessed are the eyes
which are closed to things without, but are fixed upon things
within. Blessed are they who search inward things and study to
prepare themselves more and more by daily exercises for the
receiving of heavenly mysteries. Blessed are they who long to
have leisure for God, and free themselves from every hindrance of
the world. Think on these things, O my soul, and shut the doors
of thy carnal desires, so mayest thou hear what the Lord God will
say within thee.
2. These things saith thy Beloved, "I am thy salvation, I am thy
peace and thy life. Keep thee unto Me, and thou shalt find
peace." Put away thee all transitory things, seek those things
that are eternal. For what are all temporal things but deceits,
and what shall all created things help thee if thou be forsaken
by the Creator? Therefore put all things else away, and give
thyself to the Creator, to be well pleasing and faithful to Him,
that thou mayest be able to attain true blessedness.
(1) Psalm lxxxv. 8.
What the truth saith inwardly without noise of words
Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.(1) I am Thy servant; O give
me understanding that I may know Thy testimonies. Incline my
heart unto the words of Thy mouth.(2) Let thy speech distil as
the dew. The children of Israel spake in old time to Moses,
Speak thou unto us and we will hear, but let not the Lord speak
unto us lest we die.(3) Not thus, O Lord, not thus do I pray,
but rather with Samuel the prophet, I beseech Thee humbly and
earnestly, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Let not Moses
speak to me, nor any prophet, but rather speak Thou, O Lord, who
didst inspire and illuminate all the prophets; for Thou alone
without them canst perfectly fill me with knowledge, whilst they
without Thee shall profit nothing.
2. They can indeed utter words, but they give not the spirit.
They speak with exceeding beauty, but when Thou art silent they
kindle not the heart. They give us scriptures, but Thou makest
known the sense thereof. They bring us mysteries, but Thou
revealest the things which are signified. They utter
commandments, but Thou helpest to the fulfilling of them. They
show the way, but Thou givest strength for the journey. They act
only outwardly, but Thou dost instruct and enlighten the heart.
They water, but Thou givest the increase. They cry with words,
but Thou givest understanding to the hearer.
3. Therefore let not Moses speak to me, but Thou, O Lord my God,
Eternal Truth; lest I die and bring forth no fruit, being
outwardly admonished, but not enkindled within; lest the word
heard but not followed, known but not loved, believed but not
obeyed, rise up against me in the judgment. Speak, Lord, for Thy
servant heareth; Thou hast the words of eternal life.(4) Speak
unto me for some consolation unto my soul, for the amendment of
my whole life, and for the praise and glory and eternal honour of
(1) 1 Samuel iii. 9. (2) Psalm cxix. 125. (3) Exodus xx. 19.
(4) John vi. 68.
How all the words of God are to be heard with humility, and how
many consider them not
"My Son, hear My words, for My words are most sweet, surpassing
all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this world.
My words are spirit, and they are life,(1) and are not to be
weighed by man's understanding. They are not to be drawn forth
for vain approbation, but to be heard in silence, and to be
received with all humility and with deep love."
2. And I said, "Blessed is the man whom Thou teachest, O Lord,
and instructest him in Thy law, that Thou mayest give him rest in
time of adversity,(2) and that he be not desolate in the earth."
3. "I," saith the Lord, "taught the prophets from the beginning,
and even now cease I not to speak unto all; but many are deaf and
hardened against My voice; many love to listen to the world
rather than to God, they follow after the desires of the flesh
more readily than after the good pleasure of God. The world
promiseth things that are temporal and small, and it is served
with great eagerness. I promise things that are great and
eternal, and the hearts of mortals are slow to stir. Who serveth
and obeyeth Me in all things, with such carefulness as he serveth
the world and its rulers?
Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, saith the sea;(3)
And if thou reason seekest, hear thou me.
For a little reward men make a long journey; for eternal life
many will scarce lift a foot once from the ground. Mean reward
is sought after; for a single piece of money sometimes there is
shameful striving; for a thing which is vain and for a trifling
promise, men shrink not from toiling day and night."
4. "But, O shame! for an unchangeable good, for an inestimable
reward, for the highest honour and for a glory that fadeth not
away, it is irksome to them to toil even a little. Be thou
ashamed therefore, slothful and discontented servant, for they
are found readier unto perdition than thou unto life. They
rejoice more heartily in vanity than thou in the truth.
Sometimes, indeed, they are disappointed of their hope, but my
promise faileth no man, nor sendeth away empty him who trusteth
in Me. What I have promised I will give; what I have said I will
fulfil; if only a man remain faithful in My love unto the end.
Therefore am I the rewarder of all good men, and a strong
approver of all who are godly.
5. "Write My words in thy heart and consider them diligently, for
they shall be very needful to thee in time of temptation. What
thou understandest not when thou readest, thou shalt know in the
time of thy visitation. I am wont to visit Mine elect in twofold
manner, even by temptation and by comfort, and I teach them two
lessons day by day, the one in chiding their faults, the other in
exhorting them to grow in grace. He who hath My words and
rejecteth them, hath one who shall judge him at the last day."
A PRAYER FOR THE SPIRIT OF DEVOTION
6. O Lord my God, Thou art all my good, and who am I that I
should dare to speak unto Thee? I am the very poorest of Thy
servants, an abject worm, much poorer and more despicable than I
know or dare to say. Nevertheless remember, O Lord, that I am
nothing, I have nothing, and can do nothing. Thou only art good,
just and holy; Thou canst do all things, art over all things,
fillest all things, leaving empty only the sinner. Call to mind
Thy tender mercies, and fill my heart with Thy grace, Thou who
wilt not that Thy work should return to Thee void.
7. How can I bear this miserable life unless Thy mercy and grace
strengthen me? Turn not away Thy face from me, delay not Thy
visitation. Withdraw not Thou Thy comfort from me, lest my soul
"gasp after thee as a thirsty land." Lord, teach me to do Thy
will, teach me to walk humbly and uprightly before Thee, for Thou
art my wisdom, who knowest me in truth, and knewest me before the
world was made and before I was born into the world.
(1) John vi. 63. (2) Psalm xciv. 13. (3) Isaiah xxiii. 4.
How we must walk in truth and humility before God
"My Son! walk before Me in truth, and in the simplicity of thy
heart seek Me continually. He who walketh before Me in the truth
shall be safe from evil assaults, and the truth shall deliver him
from the wiles and slanders of the wicked. If the truth shall
make thee free, thou shalt be free indeed, and shalt not care for
the vain words of men."
2. Lord, it is true as Thou sayest; let it, I pray Thee, be so
with me; let Thy truth teach me, let it keep me and preserve me
safe unto the end. Let it free me from all evil and inordinate
affection, and I will walk before Thee in great freedom of heart.
3. "I will teach thee," saith the Truth, "the things which are
right and pleasing before Me. Think upon thy sins with great
displeasure and sorrow, and never think thyself anything because
of thy good works. Verily thou art a sinner, liable to many
passions, yea, tied and bound with them. Of thyself thou always
tendest unto nothing, thou wilt quickly fall, quickly be
conquered, quickly disturbed, quickly undone. Thou hast nought
whereof to glory, but many reasons why thou shouldest reckon
thyself vile, for thou art far weaker than thou art able to
4. "Let, therefore, nothing which thou doest seem to thee great;
let nothing be grand, nothing of value or beauty, nothing worthy
of honour, nothing lofty, nothing praiseworthy or desirable,
save what is eternal. Let the eternal truth please thee above
all things, let thine own great vileness displease thee
continually. Fear, denounce, flee nothing so much as thine own
faults and sins, which ought to be more displeasing to thee than
any loss whatsoever of goods. There are some who walk not
sincerely before me, but being led by curiosity and pride, they
desire to know my secret things and to understand the deep things
of God, whilst they neglect themselves and their salvation.
These often fall into great temptations and sins because of their
pride and curiosity, for I am against them.
5. "Fear thou the judgments of God, fear greatly the wrath of the
Almighty. Shrink from debating upon the works of the Most High,
but search narrowly thine own iniquities into what great sins
thou hast fallen, and how many good things thou hast neglected.
There are some who carry their devotion only in books, some in
pictures, some in outward signs and figures; some have Me in
their mouths, but little in their hearts. Others there are who,
being enlightened in their understanding and purged in their
affections, continually long after eternal things, hear of
earthly things with unwillingness, obey the necessities of nature
with sorrow. And these understand what the Spirit of truth
speaketh in them; for He teacheth them to despise earthly things
and to love heavenly; to neglect the world and to desire heaven
all the day and night."
Of the wonderful power of the Divine Love
I bless Thee, O Heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ,
for that Thou hast vouchsafed to think of me, poor that I am. O,
Father of Mercies and God of all comfort,(1) I give thanks unto
Thee, who refreshest me sometimes with thine own comfort, when I
am unworthy of any comfort. I bless and glorify Thee
continually, with thine only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, the
Paraclete, for ever and ever. O Lord God, Holy lover of my soul,
when Thou shalt come into my heart, all my inward parts shall
rejoice. Thou art my glory and the joy of my heart. Thou art my
hope and my refuge in the day of my trouble.
2. But because I am still weak in love and imperfect in virtue, I
need to be strengthened and comforted by Thee; therefore visit
Thou me often and instruct me with Thy holy ways of discipline.
Deliver me from evil passions, and cleanse my heart from all
inordinate affections, that, being healed and altogether cleansed
within, I may be made ready to love, strong to suffer, steadfast
3. Love is a great thing, a good above all others, which alone
maketh every heavy burden light, and equaliseth every inequality.
For it beareth the burden and maketh it no burden, it maketh
every bitter thing to be sweet and of good taste. The surpassing
love of Jesus impelleth to great works, and exciteth to the
continual desiring of greater perfection. Love willeth to be
raised up, and not to be held down by any mean thing. Love
willeth to be free and aloof from all worldly affection, lest its
inward power of vision be hindered, lest it be entangled by any
worldly prosperity or overcome by adversity. Nothing is sweeter
than love, nothing stronger, nothing loftier, nothing broader,
nothing pleasanter, nothing fuller or better in heaven nor on
earth, for love was born of God and cannot rest save in God above
all created things.
4. He who loveth flyeth, runneth, and is glad; he is free and not
hindered. He giveth all things for all things, and hath all
things in all things, because he resteth in One who is high above
all, from whom every good floweth and proceedeth. He looketh not
for gifts, but turneth himself to the Giver above all good
things. Love oftentimes knoweth no measure, but breaketh out
above all measure; love feeleth no burden, reckoneth not labours,
striveth after more than it is able to do, pleadeth not
impossibility, because it judgeth all things which are lawful for
it to be possible. It is strong therefore for all things, and it
fulfilleth many things, and is successful where he who loveth not
faileth and lieth down.
5. Love is watchful, and whilst sleeping still keepeth watch;
though fatigued it is not weary, though pressed it is not forced,
though alarmed it is not terrified, but like the living flame and
the burning torch, it breaketh forth on high and securely
triumpheth. If a man loveth, he knoweth what this voice crieth.
For the ardent affection of the soul is a great clamour in the
ears of God, and it saith: My God, my Beloved! Thou art all
mine, and I am all Thine.
6. Enlarge Thou me in love, that I may learn to taste with the
innermost mouth of my heart how sweet it is to love, to be
dissolved, and to swim in love. Let me be holden by love,
mounting above myself through exceeding fervour and admiration.
Let me sing the song of love, let me follow Thee my Beloved on
high, let my soul exhaust itself in Thy praise, exulting with
love. Let me love Thee more than myself, not loving myself
except for Thy sake, and all men in Thee who truly love Thee, as
the law of love commandeth which shineth forth from Thee.
7. Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong,
patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, manly, and never
seeking her own; for wheresoever a man seeketh his own, there he
falleth from love. Love is circumspect, humble, and upright; not
weak, not fickle, nor intent on vain things; sober, chaste,
steadfast, quiet, and guarded in all the senses. Love is subject
and obedient to all that are in authority, vile and lowly in its
own sight, devout and grateful towards God, faithful and always
trusting in Him even when God hideth His face, for without
sorrow we cannot live in love.
8. He who is not ready to suffer all things, and to conform to
the will of the Beloved, is not worthy to be called a lover of
God. It behoveth him who loveth to embrace willingly all hard
and bitter things for the Beloved's sake, and not to be drawn
away from Him because of any contrary accidents.
(1) 2 Corinthians i. 3.
Of the proving of the true lover
"My Son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love."
2. Wherefore, O my Lord?
3. "Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy
undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The
strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the
evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so
in adversity I do not displease.
4. "The prudent lover considereth not the gift of the lover so
much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more
than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved.
The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every
5. "All is not lost, though thou sometimes think of Me or of My
saints, less than thou shouldest desire. That good and sweet
affection which thou sometimes perceivest is the effect of
present grace and some foretaste of the heavenly country; but
hereon thou must not too much depend, for it goeth and cometh.
But to strive against the evil motions of the mind which come to
us, and to resist the suggestions of the devil, is a token of
virtue and great merit.
6. "Therefore let not strange fancies disturb thee, whencesoever
they arise. Bravely observe thy purpose and thy upright
intentions towards God. It is not an illusion when thou art
sometimes suddenly carried away into rapture, and then suddenly
art brought back to the wonted vanities of thy heart. For thou
dost rather unwillingly undergo them than cause them; and so long
as they displease thee and thou strivest against them, it is a
merit and no loss.
7. "Know thou that thine old enemy altogether striveth to hinder
thy pursuit after good, and to deter thee from every godly
exercise, to wit, the contemplation of the Saints, the pious
remembrance of My passion, the profitable recollection of sin,
the keeping of thy own heart, and the steadfast purpose to grow
in virtue. He suggesteth to thee many evil thoughts, that he may
work in thee weariness and terror, and so draw thee away from
prayer and holy reading. Humble confession displeaseth him, and
if he were able he would make thee to cease from Communion.
Believe him not, nor heed him, though many a time he hath laid
for thee the snares of deceit. Account it to be from him, when
he suggesteth evil and unclean thoughts. Say unto him, 'Depart
unclean spirit; put on shame, miserable one; horribly unclean art
thou, who bringest such things to mine ears. Depart from me,
detestable deceiver; thou shalt have no part in me; but Jesus
shall be with me, as a strong warrior, and thou shalt stand
confounded. Rather would I die and bear all suffering, than
consent unto thee. Hold thy peace and be dumb; I will not hear
thee more, though thou plottest more snares against me. The Lord
is my light and my salvation: whom then shall I fear? Though a
host of men should rise up against me, yet shall not my heart be
afraid. The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer.'(1)
8. "Strive thou like a good soldier; and if sometimes thou fail
through weakness, put on thy strength more bravely than before,
trusting in My more abundant grace, and take thou much heed of
vain confidence and pride. Because of it many are led into
error, and sometimes fall into blindness well-nigh irremediable.
Let this ruin of the proud, who foolishly lift themselves up, be
to thee for a warning and a continual exhortation to humility."
(1) Psalms xxvii. 1-3; xix. 14.
Of hiding our grace under the guard of humility
"My Son, it is better and safer for thee to hide the grace of
devotion, and not to lift thyself up on high, nor to speak much
thereof, nor to value it greatly; but rather to despise thyself,
and to fear as though this grace were given to one unworthy
thereof. Nor must thou depend too much upon this feeling, for it
can very quickly be turned into its opposite. Think when thou
art in a state of grace how miserable and poor thou art wont to
be without grace. Nor is there advance in spiritual life in this
alone, that thou hast the grace of consolation, but that thou
humbly and unselfishly and patiently takest the withdrawal
thereof; so that thou cease not from the exercise of prayer, nor
suffer thy other common duties to be in anywise neglected; rather
do thy task more readily, as though thou hadst gained more
strength and knowledge; and do not altogether neglect thyself
because of the dearth and anxiety of spirit which thou feelest.
2. "For there are many who, when things have not gone prosperous
with them, become forthwith impatient or slothful. For the way
of a man is not in himself,(1) but it is God's to give and to
console, when He will, and as much as He will, and whom He will,
as it shall please Him, and no further. Some who were
presumptuous because of the grace of devotion within them, have
destroyed themselves, because they would do more than they were
able, not considering the measure of their own littleness, but
rather following the impulse of the heart than the judgment of
the reason. And because they presumed beyond what was
well-pleasing unto God, therefore they quickly lost grace. They
became poor and were left vile, who had built for themselves
their nest in heaven; so that being humbled and stricken with
poverty, they might learn not to fly with their own wings, but
to put their trust under My feathers. They who are as yet new
and unskilled in the way of the Lord, unless they rule themselves
after the counsel of the wise, may easily be deceived and led
3. "But if they wish to follow their own fancies rather than
trust the experience of others, the result will be very dangerous
to them if they still refuse to be drawn away from their own
notion. Those who are wise in their own conceits, seldom
patiently endure to be ruled by others. It is better to have a
small portion of wisdom with humility, and a slender
understanding, than great treasures of sciences with vain
self-esteem. It is better for thee to have less than much of
what may make thee proud. He doeth not very discreetly who
giveth up himself entirely to joy, forgetting his former
helplessness and the chaste fear of the Lord, which feareth to
lose the grace offered. Nor is he very wise, after a manly sort,
who in time of adversity, or any trouble whatsoever, beareth
himself too despairingly, and feeleth concerning Me less
trustfully than he ought.
4. "He who in time of peace willeth to be oversecure shall be
often found in time of war overdispirited and full of fears. If
thou knewest always how to continue humble and moderate in
thyself, and to guide and rule thine own spirit well, thou
wouldest not so quickly fall into danger and mischief. It is
good counsel that when fervour of spirit is kindled, thou
shouldest meditate how it will be with thee when the light is
taken away. Which when it doth happen, remember that still the
light may return again, which I have taken away for a time for a
warning to thee, and also for mine own glory. Such a trial is
often more useful than if thou hadst always things prosperous
according to thine own will.
5. "For merits are not to be reckoned by this, that a man hath
many visions or consolations, or that he is skilled in the
Scriptures, or that he is placed in a high situation; but that he
is grounded upon true humility and filled with divine charity,
that he always purely and uprightly seeketh the honour of God,
that he setteth not by himself, but unfeignedly despiseth
himself, and even rejoiceth to be despised and humbled by others
more than to be honoured."
(1) Jeremiah x. 23.
Of a low estimation of self in the sight of God
I will speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. If I count
myself more, behold Thou standest against me, and my iniquities
bear true testimony, and I cannot gainsay it. But if I abase
myself, and bring myself to nought, and shrink from all
self-esteem, and grind myself to dust, which I am, Thy grace will
be favourable unto me, and Thy light will be near unto my heart;
and all self-esteem, how little soever it be, shall be swallowed
up in the depths of my nothingness, and shall perish for ever.
There Thou showest to me myself, what I am, what I was, and
whither I have come: so foolish was I and ignorant.(1) If I am
left to myself, behold I am nothing, I am all weakness; but if
suddenly Thou look upon me, immediately I am made strong, and
filled with new joy. And it is great marvel that I am so
suddenly lifted up, and so graciously embraced by Thee, since I
am always being carried to the deep by my own weight.
2. This is the doing of Thy love which freely goeth before me and
succoureth me in so many necessities, which guardeth me also in
great dangers and snatcheth me, as I may truly say, from
innumerable evils. For verily, by loving myself amiss, I lost
myself, and by seeking and sincerely loving Thee alone, I found
both myself and Thee, and through love I have brought myself to
yet deeper nothingness: because Thou, O most sweet Lord, dealest
with me beyond all merit, and above all which I dare ask or
3. Blessed be Thou, O my God, because though I be unworthy of all
Thy benefits, Thy bountiful and infinite goodness never ceaseth
to do good even to ingrates and to those who are turned far from
Thee. Turn Thou us unto Thyself, that we may be grateful,
humble, and godly, for Thou art our salvation, our courage, and
(1) Psalm lxxiii. 22.
That all things are to be referred to God, as the final end
"My Son, I must be thy Supreme and final end, if thou desirest to
be truly happy. Out of such purpose thy affection shall be
purified, which too often is sinfully bent upon itself and upon
created things. For if thou seekest thyself in any matter,
straightway thou wilt fail within thyself and grow barren.
Therefore refer everything to Me first of all, for it is I who
gave thee all. So look upon each blessing as flowing from the
Supreme Good, and thus all things are to be attributed to Me as
2. "From Me the humble and great, the poor and the rich, draw
water as from a living fountain, and those who serve Me with a
free and faithful spirit shall receive grace for grace. But he
who will glory apart from Me, or will be delighted with any good
which lieth in himself, shall not be established in true joy, nor
shall be enlarged in heart, but shall be greatly hindered and
thrown into tribulation. Therefore thou must not ascribe any
good to thyself, nor look upon virtue as belonging to any man,
but ascribe it all unto God, without whom man hath nothing.
I gave all, I will receive all again, and with great strictness
require I the giving of thanks.
3. "This is the Truth, and by it the vanity of boasting is put to
flight. And if heavenly grace and true charity shall enter into
thee, there shall be no envy, nor straitening of the heart, nor
shall any self-love take possession of thee. For divine charity
conquereth all things, and enlargeth all the powers of the soul.
If thou art truly wise, thou wilt rejoice in Me alone, thou wilt
hope in Me alone; for there is none good but one, that is God,(1)
Who is to be praised above all things, and in all things to
(1) Luke xviii. 19.
That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God
Now will I speak again, O my Lord, and hold not my peace; I will
say in the ears of my God, my Lord, and my King, who is exalted
above all, Oh how plentiful is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid
up for them that fear Thee!(1) But what art Thou to those who
love Thee? What to those who serve Thee with their whole heart?
Truly unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of Thee,
which Thou bestowest upon those who love Thee. In this most of
all Thou hast showed me the sweetness of Thy charity, that when I
was not, Thou madest me, and when I wandered far from Thee, Thou
broughtest me back that I might serve Thee, and commandedst me to
2. O Fountain of perpetual love, what shall I say concerning
Thee? How shall I be unmindful of Thee, who didst vouchsafe to
remember me, even after I pined away and perished? Thou hast had
mercy beyond all hope upon Thy servant, and hast showed Thy grace
and friendship beyond all deserving. What reward shall I render
Thee for this Thy grace? For it is not given unto all to
renounce this world and its affairs, and to take up a religious
life. For is it a great thing that I should serve Thee, whom
every creature ought to serve? It ought not to seem a great
thing to me to serve Thee; but rather this appeareth to me a
great and wonderful thing, that Thou vouchsafest to receive as
Thy servant one so poor and unworthy, and to join him unto Thy
3. Behold all things which I have are Thine, and with them I
serve Thee. And yet verily it is Thou who servest me, rather
than I Thee. Behold the heaven and the earth which Thou hast
created for the service of men; they are at Thy bidding, and
perform daily whatsoever Thou dost command. Yea, and this is
little; for Thou hast even ordained the Angels for the service of
man. But it surpasseth even all these things, that Thou Thyself
didst vouchsafe to minister unto man, and didst promise that Thou
wouldest give Thyself unto him.
4. What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy manifold
mercies? Oh that I were able to serve Thee all the days of my
life! Oh that even for one day I were enabled to do Thee service
worthy of Thyself! For verily Thou art worthy of all service,
all honour, and praise without end. Verily Thou art my God, and
I am Thy poor servant, who am bound to serve Thee with all my
strength, nor ought I ever to grow weary of Thy praise. This is
my wish, this is my exceeding great desire, and whatsoever is
lacking to me, vouchsafe Thou to supply.
5. It is great honour, great glory to serve Thee, and to despise
all for Thy sake. For they shall have great grace who of their
own will shall submit themselves to Thy most holy service. They
who for Thy love have cast away every carnal delight shall find
the sweetest consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter the
narrow way of life for Thy Name's sake, and have put away all
worldly cares, shall attain great liberty of spirit.
6. Oh grateful and delightsome service of God, whereby man is
made truly free and holy! Oh sacred condition of the religious
servant, which maketh man equal to the Angels, well-pleasing unto
God, terrible to evil spirits, and acceptable to all faithful
ones! Oh service to be embraced and ever desired, in which the
highest good is promised, and joy is gained which shall remain
(1) Psalm xxxi. 21.
That the desires of the heart are to be examined and governed
"My Son, thou hast still many things to learn, which thou hast
not well learned yet."
2. What are they, Lord?
3. "To place thy desire altogether in subjection to My good
pleasure, and not to be a lover of thyself, but an earnest seeker
of My will. Thy desires often excite and urge thee forward; but
consider with thyself whether thou art not more moved for thine
own objects than for My honour. If it is Myself that thou
seekest, thou shalt be well content with whatsoever I shall
ordain; but if any pursuit of thine own lieth hidden within thee,
behold it is this which hindereth and weigheth thee down.
4. "Beware, therefore, lest thou strive too earnestly after some
desire which thou hast conceived, without taking counsel of Me;
lest haply it repent thee afterwards, and that displease thee
which before pleased, and for which thou didst long as for a
great good. For not every affection which seemeth good is to be
forthwith followed; neither is every opposite affection to be
immediately avoided. Sometimes it is expedient to use restraint
even in good desires and wishes, lest through importunity thou
fall into distraction of mind, lest through want of discipline
thou become a stumbling-block to others, or lest by the
resistance of others thou be suddenly disturbed and brought to
5. "Sometimes, indeed, it is needful to use violence, and
manfully to strive against the sensual appetite, and not to
consider what the flesh may or not will; but rather to strive
after this, that it may become subject, however unwillingly, to
the spirit. And for so long it ought to be chastised and
compelled to undergo slavery, even until it be ready for all
things, and learn to be contented with little, to be delighted
with things simple, and never to murmur at any inconvenience."
Of the inward growth of patience, and of the struggle against
O Lord God, I see that patience is very necessary unto me; for
many things in this life fall out contrary. For howsoever I may
have contrived for my peace, my life cannot go on without strife
2. "Thou speakest truly, My Son. For I will not that thou seek
such a peace as is without trials, and knoweth no adversities;
but rather that thou shouldest judge thyself to have found peace,
when thou art tried with manifold tribulations, and proved by
many adversities. If thou shalt say that thou art not able to
bear much, how then wilt thou sustain the fire hereafter? Of two
evils we should always choose the less. Therefore, that thou
mayest escape eternal torments hereafter, strive on God's behalf
to endure present evils bravely. Thinkest thou that the children
of this world suffer nought, or but little? Thou wilt not find
it so, even though thou find out the most prosperous.
3. "'But,' thou wilt say, 'they have many delights, and they
follow their own wills, and thus they bear lightly their
4. "Be it so, grant that they have what they list; but how long,
thinkest thou, will it last? Behold, like the smoke those who are
rich in this world will pass away, and no record shall remain of
their past joys. Yea, even while they yet live, they rest not
without bitterness and weariness and fear. For from the very
same thing wherein they find delight, thence they oftentimes have
the punishment of sorrow. Justly it befalleth them, that because
out of measure they seek out and pursue pleasures, they enjoy
them not without confusion and bitterness. Oh how short, how
false, how inordinate and wicked are all these pleasures! Yet
because of their sottishness and blindness men do not understand;
but like brute beasts, for the sake of a little pleasure of this
corruptible life, they incur death of the soul. Thou therefore,
my son, go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself from thine
appetites.(1) Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee
thy heart's desire.(2)
5. "For if thou wilt truly find delight, and be abundantly
comforted of Me, behold in the contempt of all worldly things and
in the avoidance of all worthless pleasures shall be thy
blessing, and fulness of consolation shall be given thee. And
the more thou withdrawest thyself from all solace of creatures,
the more sweet and powerful consolations shalt thou find. But at
the first thou shalt not attain to them, without some sorrow and
hard striving. Long-accustomed habit will oppose, but it shall
be overcome by better habit. The flesh will murmur again and
again, but will be restrained by fervour of spirit. The old
serpent will urge and embitter thee, but will be put to flight by
prayer; moreover, by useful labour his entrance will be greatly
(1) Ecclesiastes xviii. 30. (2) Psalm xxxvii. 4.
Of the obedience of one in lowly subjection after the example of Jesus Christ
"My Son, he who striveth to withdraw himself from obedience,
withdraweth himself also from grace, and he who seeketh private
advantages, loseth those which are common unto all. If a man
submit not freely and willingly to one set over him, it is a sign
that his flesh is not yet perfectly subject to himself, but
often resisteth and murmureth. Learn therefore quickly to submit
thyself to him who is over thee, if thou seekest to bring thine
own flesh into subjection. For the outward enemy is very quickly
overcome if the inner man have not been laid low. There is no
more grievous and deadly enemy to the soul than thou art to
thyself, if thou art not led by the Spirit. Thou must not
altogether conceive contempt for thyself, if thou wilt prevail
against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou inordinately lovest
thyself, therefore thou shrinkest from yielding thyself to the
will of others.
2. "But what great thing is it that thou, who art dust and
nothingness, yieldest thyself to man for God's sake, when I, the
Almighty and the Most High, who created all things out of
nothing, subjected Myself to man for thy sake? I became the most
humble and despised of men, that by My humility thou mightest
overcome thy pride. Learn to obey, O dust! Learn to humble
thyself, O earth and clay, and to bow thyself beneath the feet of
all. Learn to crush thy passions, and to yield thyself in all
3. "Be zealous against thyself, nor suffer pride to live within
thee, but so show thyself subject and of no reputation, that all
may be able to walk over thee, and tread thee down as the clay in
the streets. What hast thou, O foolish man, of which to
complain? What, O vile sinner, canst thou answer those who
speak against thee, seeing thou hast so often offended God, and
many a time hast deserved hell? But Mine eye hath spared thee,
because thy soul was precious in My sight; that thou mightest
know My love, and mightest be thankful for My benefits; and that
thou mightest give thyself altogether to true subjection and
humility, and patiently bear the contempt which thou meritest."
Of meditation upon the hidden judgments of God, that we may not
be lifted up because of our well-doing
Thou sendest forth Thy judgments against me, O Lord, and shakest
all my bones with fear and trembling, and my soul trembleth
exceedingly. I stand astonished, and remember that the heavens
are not clean in thy sight.(1) If Thou chargest Thine angels
with folly, and didst spare them not, how shall it be unto me?
Stars have fallen from heaven, and what shall I dare who am
but dust? They whose works seemed to be praiseworthy, fell into
the lowest depths, and they who did eat Angels' food, them have I
seen delighted with the husks that the swine do eat.
2. There is therefore no holiness, if Thou O Lord, withdraw Thine
hand. No wisdom profiteth, if Thou leave off to guide the helm.
No strength availeth, if Thou cease to preserve. No purity is
secure, if Thou protect it not. No self-keeping availeth, if Thy
holy watching be not there. For when we are left alone we are
swallowed up and perish, but when we are visited, we are raised
up, and we live. For indeed we are unstable, but are made strong
through Thee; we grow cold, but are rekindled by Thee.
3. Oh, how humbly and abjectly must I reckon of myself, how must
I weigh it as nothing, if I seem to have nothing good! Oh, how
profoundly ought I to submit myself to Thy unfathomable
judgments, O Lord, when I find myself nothing else save nothing,
and again nothing! Oh weight unmeasurable, oh ocean which cannot
be crossed over, where I find nothing of myself save nothing
altogether! Where, then, is the hiding-place of glory, where the
confidence begotten of virtue? All vain-glory is swallowed up in
the depths of Thy judgments against me.
4. What is all flesh in Thy sight? For how shall the clay boast
against Him that fashioned it?(2) How can he be lifted up in
vain speech whose heart is subjected in truth to God? The whole
world shall not lift him up whom Truth hath subdued; nor shall he
be moved by the mouth of all who praise him, who hath placed all
his hope in God. For they themselves who speak, behold, they
are all nothing; for they shall cease with the sound of their
words, but the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.(3)
(1) Job xv. 15. (2) Psalm xxix. 16. (3) Psalm cxvii. 2.
How we must stand and speak, in everything that we desire
"My Son, speak thou thus in every matter, 'Lord, if it please
Thee, let this come to pass. Lord, if this shall be for Thine
honour, let it be done in Thy Name. Lord, if thou see it good
for me, and approve it as useful, then grant me to use it for Thy
honour. But if thou knowest that it shall be hurtful unto me,
and not profitable for the health of my soul, take the desire
away from me'! For not every desire is from the Holy Ghost,
although it appear to a man right and good. It is difficult to
judge with certainty whether a good or an evil spirit move thee
to desire this or that, or whether thou art moved by thine own
spirit. Many have been deceived at the last, who seemed at the
beginning to be moved by a good spirit.
2. "Therefore, whatsoever seemeth to thee desirable, thou must
always desire and seek after it with the fear of God and humility
of heart, and most of all, must altogether resign thyself, and
commit all unto Me and say, 'Lord, thou knowest what is best; let
this or that be, according as Thou wilt. Give what Thou wilt, so
much as Thou wilt, when Thou wilt. Do with me as Thou knowest
best, and as best shall please Thee, and as shall be most to
Thine honour. Place me where Thou wilt, and freely work Thy will
with me in all things. I am in Thine hand, and turn me in my
course. Behold, I am Thy servant, ready for all things; for I
desire to live not to myself but to Thee. Oh, that I might live
worthily and perfectly.'"
A PRAYER TO BE ENABLED TO DO GOD'S WILL PERFECTLY
3. Grant me Thy grace, most merciful Jesus, that it may be with
me, and work in me, and persevere with me, even unto the end.
Grant that I may ever desire and wish whatsoever is most pleasing
and dear unto Thee. Let Thy will be mine, and let my will alway
follow Thine, and entirely accord with it. May I choose and
reject whatsoever Thou dost; yea, let it be impossible for me to
choose or reject except according to Thy will.
4. Grant that I may die to all worldly things, and for Thy sake
love to be despised and unknown in this world. Grant unto me,
above all things that I can desire, to rest in Thee, and that in
Thee my heart may be at peace. Thou art the true peace of the
heart, Thou alone its rest; apart from Thee all things are hard
and unquiet. In Thee alone, the supreme and eternal God, I will
lay me down in peace and take my rest.(1) Amen.
(1) Psalm iv. 9.
That true solace is to be sought in God alone
Whatsoever I am able to desire or to think of for my solace, I
look for it not here, but hereafter. For if I alone had all the
solaces of this world, and were able to enjoy all its delights,
it is certain that they could not endure long. Wherefore, O my
soul, thou canst be fully comforted and perfectly refreshed, only
in God, the Comforter of the poor, and the lifter up of the
humble. Wait but a little while, my soul, wait for the Divine
promise, and thou shalt have abundance of all good things in
heaven. If thou longest too inordinately for the things which
are now, thou shalt lose those which are eternal and heavenly.
Let temporal things be in the use, eternal things in the desire.
Thou canst not be satisfied with any temporal good, for thou wast
not created for the enjoyment of these.
2. Although thou hadst all the good things which ever were
created, yet couldst not thou be happy and blessed; all thy
blessedness and thy felicity lieth in God who created all things;
not such felicity as seemeth good to the foolish lover of the
world, but such as Christ's good and faithful servants wait for,
and as the spiritual and pure in heart sometimes taste, whose
conversation is in heaven.(1) All human solace is empty and
short-lived; blessed and true is that solace which is felt
inwardly, springing from the truth. The godly man everywhere
beareth about with him his own Comforter, Jesus, and saith unto
Him: "Be with me, Lord Jesus, always and everywhere. Let it be
my comfort to be able to give up cheerfully all human comfort.
And if Thy consolation fail me, let Thy will and righteous
approval be alway with me for the highest comfort. For Thou wilt
not always be chiding, neither keepest Thou Thine anger for
(1) Philippians iii. 20. (2) Psalm cii. 9.
That all care is to be cast upon God
"My Son, suffer me to do with thee what I will; I know what is
expedient for thee. Thou thinkest as a man, in many things thou
judgest as human affection persuadeth thee."
2. Lord, what Thou sayest is true. Greater is Thy care for me
than all the care which I am able to take for myself. For too
insecurely doth he stand who casteth not all his care upon Thee.
Lord, so long as my will standeth right and firm in Thee, do with
me what Thou wilt, for whatsoever Thou shalt do with me cannot be
aught but good. Blessed be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in
darkness: blessed also be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in light.
Blessed be Thou if Thou vouchsafe to comfort me, and always
blessed be Thou if Thou cause me to be troubled.
3. "My Son! even thus thou must stand if thou desirest to walk
with Me. Thou must be ready alike for suffering or rejoicing.
Thou must be poor and needy as willingly as full and rich."
4. Lord, I will willingly bear for Thee whatsoever Thou wilt have
to come upon me. Without choice I will receive from Thy hand
good and evil, sweet and bitter, joy and sadness, and will give
Thee thanks for all things which shall happen unto me. Keep me
from all sin, and I will not fear death nor hell. Only cast me
not away for ever, nor blot me out of the book of life. Then no
tribulation which shall come upon me shall do me hurt.
That temporal miseries are to be borne patiently after the
example of Christ
"My Son! I came down from heaven for thy salvation; I took upon
Me thy miseries not of necessity, but drawn by love that thou
mightest learn patience and mightest bear temporal miseries
without murmuring. For from the hour of My birth, until My death
upon the Cross, I ceased not from bearing of sorrow; I had much
lack of temporal things; I oftentimes heard many reproaches
against Myself; I gently bore contradictions and hard words; I
received ingratitude for benefits, blasphemies for My miracles,
rebukes for My doctrine."
2. Lord, because Thou wast patient in Thy life, herein most of
all fulfilling the commandment of Thy Father, it is well that I,
miserable sinner, should patiently bear myself according to Thy
will, and as long as Thou wilt have it so, should bear about with
me for my salvation, the burden of this corruptible life. For
although the present life seemeth burdensome, it is nevertheless
already made very full of merit through Thy grace, and to those
who are weak it becometh easier and brighter through Thy example
and the footsteps of Thy saints; but it is also much more full of
consolation than it was of old, under the old Testament, when the
gate of heaven remained shut; and even the way to heaven seemed
more obscure when so few cared to seek after the heavenly
kingdom. But not even those who were then just and in the way of
salvation were able, before Thy Passion and the ransom of Thy
holy Death, to enter the kingdom of heaven.
3. Oh what great thanks am I bound to give Thee, who hast
vouchsafed to show me and all faithful people the good and right
way to Thine eternal kingdom, for Thy way is our way, and by holy
patience we walk to Thee who art our Crown. If Thou hadst not
gone before and taught us, who would care to follow? Oh, how far
would they have gone backward if they had not beheld Thy glorious
example! Behold we are still lukewarm, though we have heard of
Thy many signs and discourses; what would become of us if we had
not such a light to help us follow Thee?
Of bearing injuries, and who shall be approved as truly patient
"What sayest thou, My Son? Cease to complain; consider My
suffering and that of My saints. Thou hast not yet resisted unto
blood.(1) It is little which thou sufferest in comparison with
those who have suffered so many things, have been so strongly
tempted, so grievously troubled, so manywise proved and tried.
Thou oughtest therefore to call to mind the more grievous
sufferings of others that thou mightest bear thy lesser ones more
easily, and if they seem not to thee little, see that it is not
thy impatience which is the cause of this. But whether they be
little or whether they be great, study to bear them all with
2. "So far as thou settest thyself to bear patiently, so far thou
dost wisely and art deserving of the more merit; thou shalt also
bear the more easily if thy mind and habit are carefully trained
hereunto. And say not 'I cannot bear these things from such a
man, nor are things of this kind to be borne by me, for he hath
done me grievous harm and imputeth to me what I had never
thought: but from another I will suffer patiently, such things as
I see I ought to suffer.' Foolish is such a thought as this,
for it considereth not the virtue of patience, nor by whom that
virtue is to be crowned, but it rather weigheth persons and
offences against self.
3. "He is not truly patient who will only suffer as far as
seemeth right to himself and from whom he pleaseth. But the
truly patient man considereth not by what man he is tried,
whether by one above him, or by an equal or inferior, whether by
a good and holy man, or a perverse and unworthy; but
indifferently from every creature, whatsoever or how often soever
adversity happeneth to him, he gratefully accepteth all from the
hand of God and counteth it great gain: for with God nothing
which is borne for His sake, however small, shall lose its
4. "Be thou therefore ready for the fight if thou wilt have the
victory. Without striving thou canst not win the crown of
patience; if thou wilt not suffer thou refusest to be crowned.
But if thou desirest to be crowned, strive manfully, endure
patiently. Without labour thou drawest not near to rest, nor
without fighting comest thou to victory."
5. Make possible to me, O Lord, by grace what seemeth impossible
to me by nature. Thou knowest how little I am able to bear, and
how quickly I am cast down when a like adversity riseth up
against me. Whatsoever trial of tribulation may come to me, may
it become unto me pleasing and acceptable, for to suffer and be
vexed for Thy sake is exceeding healthful to the soul.
(1) Hebrews xii. 4.
Of confession of our infirmity and of the miseries of this life
I will acknowledge my sin unto Thee;(1) I will confess to Thee,
Lord, my infirmity. It is often a small thing which casteth me
down and maketh me sad. I resolve that I will act bravely, but
when a little temptation cometh, immediately I am in a great
strait. Wonderfully small sometimes is the matter whence a
grievous temptation cometh, and whilst I imagine myself safe for
a little space; when I am not considering, I find myself often
almost overcome by a little puff of wind.
2. Behold, therefore, O Lord, my humility and my frailty, which
is altogether known to Thee. Be merciful unto me, and draw me
out of the mire that I sink not,(2) lest I ever remain cast down.
This is what frequently throweth me backward and confoundeth me
before Thee, that I am so liable to fall, so weak to resist my
passions. And though their assault is not altogether according
to my will, it is violent and grievous, and it altogether
wearieth me to live thus daily in conflict. Herein is my
infirmity made known to me, that hateful fancies always rush in
far more easily than they depart.
3. Oh that Thou, most mighty God of Israel, Lover of all faithful
souls, wouldst look upon the labour and sorrow of Thy servant,
and give him help in all things whereunto he striveth.
Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude, lest the old man, this
miserable flesh, not being yet fully subdued to the spirit,
prevail to rule over me; against which I ought to strive so long
as I remain in this most miserable life. Oh what a life is this,
where tribulations and miseries cease not, where all things are
full of snares and of enemies, for when one tribulation or
temptation goeth, another cometh, yea, while the former conflict
is yet raging others come more in number and unexpected.
4. And how can the life of man be loved, seeing that it hath so
many bitter things, that it is subjected to so many calamities
and miseries. How can it be even called life, when it produces
so many deaths and plagues? The world is often reproached
because it is deceitful and vain, yet notwithstanding it is not
easily given up, because the lusts of the flesh have too much
rule over it. Some draw us to love, some to hate. The lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, these
draw to love of the world; but the punishments and miseries which
righteously follow these things, bring forth hatred of the world
5. But, alas! an evil desire conquereth a mind given to the
world, and thinketh it happiness to be under the nettles(3)
because it savoureth not nor perceiveth the sweetness of God nor
the inward gracefulness of virtue. But they who perfectly
despise the world and strive to live unto God in holy discipline,
these are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to all
who truly deny themselves and see clearly how grievously the
world erreth, and in how many ways it is deceived.
(1) Psalm xxxii. 5. (2) Psalm lix. 16. (3) Job xxx. 7.
That we must rest in God above all goods and gifts
Above all things and in all things thou shalt rest alway in the
Lord, O my soul, for he himself is the eternal rest of the
saints. Grant me, most sweet and loving Jesus, to rest in Thee
above every creature, above all health and beauty, above all
glory and honour, above all power and dignity, above all
knowledge and skilfulness, above all riches and arts, above all
joy and exultation, above all fame and praise, above all
sweetness and consolation, above all hope and promise, above all
merit and desire, above all gifts and rewards which Thou canst
give and pour forth, above all joy and jubilation which the mind
is able to receive and feel; in a word, above Angels and
Archangels and all the army of heaven, above all things visible
and invisible, and above everything which Thou, O my God, art
2. For Thou, O Lord, my God, art best above all things; Thou only
art the Most High, Thou only the Almighty, Thou only the
All-sufficient, and the Fulness of all things; Thou only the
All-delightsome and the All-comforting; Thou alone the altogether
lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the Most Exalted and
Most Glorious above all things; in Whom all things are, and were,
and ever shall be, altogether and all-perfect. And thus it
falleth short and is insufficient whatsoever Thou givest to me
without Thyself or whatsoever Thou revealest or dost promise
concerning Thyself, whilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed:
since verily my heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely content,
except it rest in Thee, and go beyond all gifts and every
3. O my most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most holy lover of my
soul, Ruler of this whole Creation, who shall give me the wings
of true liberty, that I may flee to Thee and find rest? Oh when
shall it be given me to be open to receive Thee to the full,
and to see how sweet Thou art, O Lord my God? When shall I
collect myself altogether in Thee, that because of Thy love I may
not feel myself at all, but may know Thee only above every sense
and measure, in measure not known to others. But now I ofttimes
groan, and bear my sad estate with sorrow; because many evils
befall me in this vale of miseries which continually disturb and
fill me with sorrow, and encloud me, continually hinder and fill
me with care, allure and entangle me, that I cannot have free
access to Thee, nor enjoy that sweet intercourse which is always
near at hand to the blessed spirits. Let my deep sighing come
before Thee, and my manifold desolation on the earth.
4. O Jesus, Light of Eternal Glory, solace of the wandering soul,
before Thee my mouth is without speech, and my silence speaketh
to Thee. How long will my Lord delay to come unto me? Let Him
come unto me, His poor and humble one, and make me glad. Let Him
put forth His hand, and deliver His holy one from every snare.
Come, Oh come; for without Thee shall be no joyful day or hour,
for Thou art my joy, and without Thee is my table empty. I am
miserable, and in a manner imprisoned and loaded with fetters,
until Thou refresh me by the light of Thy presence, and give me
liberty, and show Thy loving countenance.
5. Let others seek some other thing instead of Thee, whatsoever
it shall please them; but for my part nothing else pleaseth or
shall please, save Thou, my God, my hope, my eternal salvation.
I will not hold my peace, nor cease to implore, until Thy grace
return, and until Thou speak to me within.
6. "Behold, here I am! Behold, I come to thee, for thou didst
call Me. Thy tears and the longing of thy soul, thy humbleness
and contrition of heart have inclined Me, and brought Me to
7. And I said Lord, I have called upon Thee, and I have longed to
enjoy Thee, being ready to reject everything for Thy sake. For
Thou didst first move me to seek Thee. Therefore, blessed be
Thou, O Lord, who has wrought this good work upon Thy servant,
according to the multitude of Thy mercy. What then hath Thy
servant to say in Thy presence, save to humble himself greatly
before Thee, being alway mindful of his own iniquity and vileness.
For there is none like unto Thee in all marvels of heaven and
earth. Excellent are Thy works, true are Thy judgments, and by
Thy Providence are all things governed. Therefore praise and
glory be unto Thee, O Wisdom of the Father, let my mouth and my
soul and all created things praise and bless Thee together.
Of the recollection of God's manifold benefits
Open, O Lord, my heart in Thy law, and teach me to walk in the
way of Thy commandments. Grant me to understand Thy will and to
be mindful of Thy benefits, both general and special, with great
reverence and diligent meditation, that thus I may be able
worthily to give Thee thanks. Yet I know and confess that I
cannot render Thee due praises for the least of Thy mercies. I
am less than the least of all the good things which Thou gavest
me; and when I consider Thy majesty, my spirit faileth because of
the greatness thereof.
2. All things which we have in the soul and in the body, and
whatsoever things we possess, whether outwardly or inwardly,
naturally or supernaturally, are Thy good gifts, and prove Thee,
from whom we have received them all, to be good, gentle, and
kind. Although one receiveth many things, and another fewer, yet
all are Thine, and without Thee not even the least thing can be
possessed. He who hath received greater cannot boast that it is
of his own merit, nor lift himself up above others, nor contemn
those beneath him; for he is the greater and the better who
ascribeth least to himself, and in giving thanks is the humbler
and more devout; and he who holdeth himself to be viler than all,
and judgeth himself to be the more unworthy, is the apter for
receiving greater things.
3. But he who hath received fewer gifts, ought not to be cast
down, nor to take it amiss, nor to envy him who is richer; but
rather ought he to look unto Thee, and to greatly extol Thy
goodness, for Thou pourest forth Thy gifts so richly, so freely
and largely, without respect of persons. All things come of
Thee; therefore in all things shalt thou be praised. Thou
knowest what is best to be given to each; and why this man hath
less, and that more, is not for us but for Thee to understand,
for unto Thee each man's deservings are fully known.
4. Wherefore, O Lord God, I reckon it even a great benefit, not
to have many things, whence praise and glory may appear
outwardly, and after the thought of men. For so it is that he who
considereth his own poverty and vileness, ought not only to draw
therefrom no grief or sorrow, or sadness of spirit, but rather
comfort and cheerfulness; because Thou, Lord, hast chosen the
poor and humble, and those who are poor in this world, to be Thy
friends and acquaintance. So give all Thine apostles witness
whom Thou hast made princes in all lands. Yet they had their
conversation in this world blameless, so humble and meek, without
any malice or deceit, that they even rejoiced to suffer rebukes
for Thy Name's sake,(1) and what things the world hateth, they
embraced with great joy.
5. Therefore ought nothing so much to rejoice him who loveth Thee
and knoweth Thy benefits, as Thy will in him, and the good
pleasure of Thine eternal Providence, wherewith he ought to be so
contented and comforted, that he would as willingly be the least
as any other would be the greatest, as peaceable and contented in
the lowest as in the highest place, and as willingly held of
small and low account and of no name or reputation as to be more
honourable and greater in the world than others. For Thy will
and the love of Thine honour ought to go before all things, and
to please and comfort him more, than all benefits that are given
or may be given to himself.
(1) Acts v. 41.
Of four things which bring great peace
"My Son, now will I teach thee the way of peace and of true
2. Do, O my Lord, as Thou sayest, for this is pleasing unto me to
3. "Strive, My Son, to do another's will rather than thine own.
Choose always to have less rather than more. Seek always after
the lowest place, and to be subject to all. Wish always and pray
that the will of God be fulfilled in thee. Behold, such a man as
this entereth into the inheritance of peace and quietness."
4. O my Lord, this Thy short discourse hath in itself much of
perfectness. It is short in words but full of meaning, and
abundant in fruit. For if it were possible that I should fully
keep it, disturbance would not so easily arise within me. For as
often as I feel myself disquieted and weighed down, I find myself
to have gone back from this teaching. But Thou, Who art
Almighty, and always lovest progress in the soul, vouchsafe more
grace, that I may be enabled to fulfil Thy exhortation, and work
out my salvation.
A PRAYER AGAINST EVIL THOUGHTS
5. O Lord my God, be not Thou far from me, my God, haste Thee to
help me,(1) for many thoughts and great fears have risen up
against me, afflicting my soul. How shall I pass through them
unhurt? how shall I break through them?
6. "I," saith He, "will go before thee, and make the crooked
places straight."(2) I will open the prison doors, and reveal to
thee the secret places.
7. Do, Lord, as Thou sayest; and let all evil thoughts fly away
before Thy face. This is my hope and my only comfort, to fly
unto Thee in all tribulation, to hope in Thee, to call upon Thee
from my heart and patiently wait for Thy loving kindness.
A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MIND
8. Enlighten me, Blessed Jesus, with the brightness of Thy inner
light, and cast forth all darkness from the habitation of my
heart. Restrain my many wandering thoughts, and carry away the
temptations which strive to do me hurt. Fight Thou mightily for
me, and drive forth the evil beasts, so call I alluring lusts,
that peace may be within Thy walls and plenteousness of praise
within Thy palaces,(3) even in my pure conscience. Command Thou
the winds and the storms, say unto the sea, "Be still," say unto
the stormy wind, "Hold thy peace," so shall there be a great
9. Oh send forth Thy light and Thy truth,(4) that they may shine
upon the earth; for I am but earth without form and void until
Thou give me light. Pour forth Thy grace from above; water my
heart with the dew of heaven; give the waters of devotion to
water the face of the earth, and cause it to bring forth good and
perfect fruit. Lift up my mind which is oppressed with the
weight of sins, and raise my whole desire to heavenly things;
that having tasted the sweetness of the happiness which is from
above, it may take no pleasure in thinking of things of earth.
10. Draw me and deliver me from every unstable comfort of
creatures, for no created thing is able to satisfy my desire and
to give me comfort. Join me to Thyself by the inseparable bond
of love, for Thou alone art sufficient to him that loveth Thee,
and without Thee all things are vain toys.
(1) Psalm lxxi. 12. (2) Isaiah xlv. 2. (3) Psalm cxxii. 7.
(4) Psalm xliii. 3.
Of avoiding of curious inquiry into the life of another
"My Son, be not curious, nor trouble thyself with vain cares.
What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.(1) For what is it to thee
whether a man be this or that, or say or do thus or thus? Thou
hast no need to answer for others, but thou must give an answer
for thyself. Why therefore dost thou entangle thyself? Behold,
I know all men, and I behold all things which are done under the
sun; and I know how it standeth with each one, what he thinketh,
what he willeth, and to what end his thoughts reach. All things
therefore are to be committed to Me; watch thou thyself in godly
peace, and leave him who is unquiet to be unquiet as he will.
Whatsoever he shall do or say, shall come unto him, for he cannot
2. "Trouble not thyself about the shadow of a great name, nor
about the friendship of many, nor about the love of men towards
thee. For these things beget distraction and great sorrows of
heart. My word should speak freely unto thee, and I would reveal
secrets, if only thou didst diligently look for My appearing, and
didst open unto Me the gates of thy heart. Be sober and watch
unto prayer,(2) and humble thyself in all things."
(1) John xxi. 12. (2) 1 Peter iv. 7.
Wherein firm peace of heart and true profit consist
"My Son, I have said, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give
unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you.(1) All men
desire peace, but all do not care for the things which belong
unto true peace. My peace is with the humble and lowly in heart.
Thy peace shall be in much patience. If thou heardest Me, and
didst follow My voice, thou shouldest enjoy much peace."
2. What then shall I do, Lord?
3. "In everything take heed to thyself what thou doest, and what
thou sayest; and direct all thy purpose to this, that thou please
Me alone, and desire or seek nothing apart from Me. But,
moreover, judge nothing rashly concerning the words or deeds of
others, nor meddle with matters which are not committed to thee;
and it may be that thou shalt be disturbed little or rarely. Yet
never to feel any disquiet, nor to suffer any pain of heart or
body, this belongeth not to the present life, but is the state of
eternal rest. Therefore count not thyself to have found true
peace, if thou hast felt no grief; nor that then all is well if
thou hast no adversary; nor that this is perfect if all things
fall out according to thy desire. Nor then reckon thyself to be
anything great, or think that thou art specially beloved, if thou
art in a state of great fervour and sweetness of spirit; for not
by these things is the true lover of virtue known, nor in them
doth the profit and perfection of man consist."
4. In what then, Lord?
5. "In offering thyself with all thy heart to the Divine Will, in
not seeking the things which are thine own, whether great or
small, whether temporal or eternal; so that thou remain with the
same steady countenance in giving of thanks between prosperity
and adversity, weighing all things in an equal balance. If thou
be so brave and long-suffering in hope that when inward comfort
is taken from thee, thou even prepare thy heart for the more
endurance, and justify not thyself, as though thou oughtest not
to suffer these heavy things, but dost justify Me in all things
that I appoint, and dost bless My Holy Name, then dost thou walk
in the true and right way of peace, and shalt have a sure hope
that thou shalt again behold My face with joy. For if thou come
to an utter contempt of thyself, know that then thou shalt enjoy
abundance of peace, as much as is possible where thou art but a
(1) John xiv. 27.
Of the exaltation of a free spirit, which humble prayer more
deserveth than doth frequent reading
Lord, this is the work of a perfect man, never to slacken his
mind from attention to heavenly things, and among many cares to
pass along as it were without care, not after the manner of one
indifferent, but rather with the privilege of a free mind,
cleaving to no creature with inordinate affection.
2. I beseech Thee, my most merciful Lord God, preserve me from
the cares of this life, lest I become too much entangled; from
many necessities of the body, lest I be taken captive by
pleasure; from all obstacles of the spirit, lest I be broken and
cast down with cares. I say not from those things which the
vanity of the world goeth about after with all eagerness, but
from those miseries, which by the universal curse of mortality
weigh down and hold back the soul of thy servant in punishment,
that it cannot enter into liberty of spirit, so often as it
3. O my God, sweetness unspeakable, turn into bitterness all my
fleshly consolation, which draweth me away from the love of
eternal things, and wickedly allureth toward itself by setting
before me some present delight. Let not, O my God, let not flesh
and blood prevail over me, let not the world and its short glory
deceive me, let not the devil and his craftiness supplant me.
Give me courage to resist, patience to endure, constancy to
persevere. Grant, in place of all consolations of the world, the
most sweet unction of Thy Spirit, and in place of carnal love,
pour into me the love of Thy Name.
4. Behold, food and drink and clothing, and all the other needs
appertaining to the support of the body, are burdensome to the
devout spirit. Grant that I may use such things with moderation,
and that I be not entangled with inordinate affection for them.
To cast away all these things is not lawful, because nature must
be sustained, but to require superfluities and things which
merely minister delight, the holy law forbiddeth; for otherwise
the flesh would wax insolent against the spirit. In all these
things, I beseech Thee, let Thy hand guide and teach me, that I
in no way exceed.
That personal love greatly hindereth from the highest good
"My Son, thou must give all for all, and be nothing of thine own.
Know thou that the love of thyself is more hurtful to thee than
anything in the world. According to the love and inclination
which thou hast, everything more or less cleaveth to thee. If
thy love be pure, sincere, well-regulated, thou shalt not be in
captivity to anything. Do not covet what thou mayest not have;
do not have what is able to hinder thee, and to rob thee of
inward liberty. It is wonderful that thou committest not thyself
to Me from the very bottom of thy heart, with all things which
thou canst desire or have.
2. "Why art thou consumed with vain sorrow? Why art thou wearied
with superfluous cares? Stand thou by My good pleasure, and thou
shalt suffer no loss. If thou seekest after this or that, and
wilt be here or there, according to thine own advantage or the
fulfilling of thine own pleasure, thou shalt never be in quiet,
nor free from care, because in everything somewhat will be found
lacking, and everywhere there will be somebody who opposeth thee.
3. "Therefore it is not gaining or multiplying of this thing or
that which advantageth thee, but rather the despising it and
cutting it by the root out of thy heart; which thou must not only
understand of money and riches, but of the desire after honour
and vain praise, things which all pass away with the world. The
place availeth little if the spirit of devotion is wanting; nor
shall that peace stand long which is sought from abroad, if the
state of thy heart is without the true foundation, that is, if it
abide not in Me. Thou mayest change, but thou canst not better
thyself; for when occasion ariseth and is accepted thou shalt
find what thou didst fly from, yea more."
A PRAYER FOR CLEANSING OF THE HEART AND FOR HEAVENLY WISDOM
4. Strengthen me, O God, by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit. Give
me virtue to be strengthened with might in the inner man, and to
free my heart from all fruitless care and trouble, and that I be
not drawn away by various desires after any things whatsoever,
whether of little value or great, but that I may look upon all as
passing away, and myself as passing away with them; because there
is no profit under the sun, and all is vanity and vexation of
spirit.(1) Oh how wise is he that considereth thus!
5. Give me, O Lord, heavenly wisdom, that I may learn to seek
Thee above all things and to find Thee; to relish Thee above all
things and to love Thee; and to understand all other things, even
as they are, according to the order of Thy wisdom. Grant me
prudently to avoid the flatterer, and patiently to bear with him
that opposeth me; for this is great wisdom, not to be carried
by every wind of words, nor to give ear to the wicked flattering
Siren; for thus do we go safely on in the way we have begun.
(1) Ecclesiastes ii. 11.
Against the tongues of detractors
"My Son, take it not sadly to heart, if any think ill of thee,
and say of thee what thou art unwilling to hear. Thou oughtest
to think worse of thyself, and to believe no man weaker than
thyself. If thou walkest inwardly, thou wilt not weigh flying
words above their value. It is no small prudence to keep silence
in an evil time and to turn inwardly unto Me, and not to be
troubled by human judgment.
2. "Let not thy peace depend upon the word of men; for whether
they judge well or ill of thee, thou art not therefore any other
man than thyself. Where is true peace or true glory? Is it not
in Me? And he who seeketh not to please men, nor feareth to
displease, shall enjoy abundant peace. From inordinate love and
vain fear ariseth all disquietude of heart, and all distraction
of the senses."
How when tribulation cometh we must call upon and bless God
Blessed be thy name, O Lord, for evermore, who hast willed this
temptation and trouble to come upon me. I cannot escape it, but
have need to flee unto Thee, that Thou mayest succour me and turn
it unto me for good. Lord, now am I in tribulation, and it is
not well within my heart, but I am sore vexed by the suffering
which lieth upon me. And now, O dear Father, what shall I say?
I am taken among the snares. Save me from this hour, but for
this cause came I unto this hour,(1) that Thou mightest be
glorified when I am deeply humbled and am delivered through Thee.
Let it be Thy pleasure to deliver me;(2) for what can I do who am
poor, and without Thee whither shall I go? Give patience this
time also. Help me, O Lord my God, and I will not fear how much
soever I be weighed down.
2. And now amid these things what shall I say? Lord, Thy will be
done. I have well deserved to be troubled and weighed down.
Therefore I ought to bear, would that it be with patience, until
the tempest be overpast and comfort return. Yet is Thine
omnipotent arm able also to take this temptation away from me,
and to lessen its power that I fall not utterly under it, even as
many a time past thou has helped me, O God, my merciful God. And
as much as this deliverance is difficult to me, so much is it
easy to Thee, O right hand of the most Highest.
(1) John xii. 27. (2) Psalm xl. 16.
Of seeking divine help, and the confidence of obtaining grace
"My Son, I the Lord am a stronghold in the day of trouble.(1)
Come unto Me, when it is not well with thee.
"This it is which chiefly hindereth heavenly consolation, that
thou too slowly betakest thyself unto prayer. For before thou
earnestly seekest unto Me, thou dost first seek after many means
of comfort, and refresheth thyself in outward things: so it cometh
to pass that all things profit thee but little until thou learn
that it is I who deliver those who trust in Me; neither beside Me
is there any strong help, nor profitable counsel, nor enduring
remedy. But now, recovering courage after the tempest, grow thou
strong in the light of My mercies, for I am nigh, saith the Lord,
that I may restore all things not only as they were at the first,
but also abundantly and one upon another.
2. "For is anything too hard for Me, or shall I be like unto one
who saith and doeth not? Where is thy faith? Stand fast and
with perseverance. Be long-suffering and strong. Consolation
will come unto thee in its due season. Wait for Me; yea, wait; I
will come and heal thee. It is temptation which vexeth thee, and
a vain fear which terrifieth thee. What doth care about future
events bring thee, save sorrow upon sorrow? Sufficient for the
day is the evil thereof.(2) It is vain and useless to be
disturbed or lifted up about future things which perhaps will
3. "But it is the nature of man to be deceived by fancies of this
sort, and it is a sign of a mind which is still weak to be so
easily drawn away at the suggestion of the enemy. For he careth
not whether he deceive and beguile by true means or false;
whether he throw thee down by the love of the present or fear of
the future. Therefore let not thy heart be troubled, neither let
it be afraid. Believe in Me, and put thy trust in My mercy.(3)
When thou thinkest thyself far removed from Me, I am often the
nearer. When thou reckonest that almost all is lost, then often
is greater opportunity of gain at hand. All is not lost when
something goeth contrary to thy wishes. Thou oughtest not to
judge according to present feeling, nor so to take or give way to
any grief which befalleth thee, as if all hope of escape were
4. "Think not thyself totally abandoned, although for the time I
have sent to thee some tribulation, or have even withdrawn some
cherished consolation; for this is the way to the Kingdom of
Heaven. And without doubt it is better for thee and for all My
other servants, that ye should be proved by adversities, than
that ye should have all things as ye would. I know thy hidden
thoughts: and that it is very needful for thy soul's health that
sometimes thou be left without relish, lest perchance thou be
lifted up by prosperity, and desirous to please thyself in that
which thou art not. What I have given I am able to take away,
and to restore again at My good pleasure.
5. "When I shall have given, it is Mine; when I shall have taken
away, I have not taken what is thine; for every good gift and
every perfect gift(4) is from me. If I shall have sent upon thee
grief or any vexation, be not angry, nor let thy heart be sad; I
am able quickly to lift thee up and to change every burden into
joy. But I am just and greatly to be praised, when I do thus
6. "If thou rightly consider, and look upon it with truth, thou
oughtest never to be so sadly cast down because of adversity, but
rather shouldst rejoice and give thanks; yea, verily to count it
the highest joy that I afflict thee with sorrows and spare thee
not. As My Father hath loved Me, so love I you;(5) thus have I
spoken unto My beloved disciples: whom I sent forth not unto
worldly joys, but to great strivings; not unto honours, but unto
contempt; not unto ease, but to labours; not unto rest, but to
bring forth much fruit with patience. My son, remember these
(1) Nahum i. 7. (2) Matthew vi. 34.
(3) John xiv. 27; Psalm xiii. 5. (4) James i. 17.
(5) John xv. 9.
Of the neglect of every creature, that the Creator may be found
O Lord, I still need more grace, if I would arrive where neither
man nor any other creature may hinder me. For so long as
anything keepeth me back, I cannot freely fly unto Thee. He
desired eagerly thus to fly, who cried, saying, Oh that I had
wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest.
What is more peaceful than the single eye? And what more free
than he that desireth nothing upon earth? Therefore must a man
rise above every creature, and perfectly forsake himself, and
with abstracted mind to stand and behold that Thou, the Creator
of all things, hast among Thy creatures nothing like unto
Thyself. And except a man be freed from all creatures, he will
not be able to reach freely after Divine things. Therefore few
are found who give themselves to contemplation, because few know
how to separate themselves entirely from perishing and created
2. For this much grace is necessary, which may lift up the soul
and raise it above itself. And except a man be lifted up in the
spirit, and freed from all creatures, and altogether united to
God, whatsoever he knoweth, whatsoever even he hath, it mattereth
but little. He who esteemeth anything great save the one only
incomprehensible, eternal, good, shall long time be little and
lie low. For whatsoever is not God is nothing, and ought to be
counted for nothing. Great is the difference between a godly
man, illuminated with wisdom, and a scholar learned in knowledge
and given to books. Far nobler is that doctrine which floweth
down from the divine fulness above, than that which is acquired
laboriously by human study.
3. Many are found who desire contemplation, but they do not
strive to practice those things which are required thereunto. It
is also a great impediment, that much is made of symbols and
external signs, and too little of thorough mortification. I know
not how it is, and by what spirit we are led, and what we who
would be deemed spiritual are aiming at, that we give so great
labour and so eager solicitude for transitory and worthless
things, and scarcely ever gather our senses together to think at
all of our inward condition.
4. Ah, me! Forthwith after a little recollection we rush out of
doors, and do not subject our actions to a strict examination.
Where our affections are set we take no heed, and we weep not
that all things belonging to us are so defiled. For because all
flesh had corrupted itself upon the earth, the great deluge came.
Since therefore our inmost affections are very corrupt, it
followeth of necessity that our actions also are corrupt, being
the index of a deficient inward strength. Out of a pure heart
proceedeth the fruit of good living.
5. We demand, how much a man hath done; but from how much virtue
he acted, is not so narrowly considered. We ask if he be strong,
rich, handsome, clever, whether he is a good writer, good singer,
good workman; but how poor he may be in spirit, how patient and
gentle, how devout and meditative, on these things many are
silent. Nature looketh upon the outward appearance of a man,
grace turneth its thought to the heart. The former frequently
judgeth amiss; the latter trusteth in God, that it may not be
Of self-denial and the casting away all selfishness
"My Son, thou canst not possess perfect liberty unless thou
altogether deny thyself. All they are enslaved who are
possessors of riches, they who love themselves, the selfish, the
curious, the restless; those who ever seek after soft things, and
not after the things of Jesus Christ; those who continually plan
and devise that which will not stand. For whatsoever cometh not
of God shall perish. Hold fast the short and complete saying,
'Renounce all things, and thou shalt find all things; give up thy
lust, and thou shalt find rest.' Dwell upon this in thy mind,
and when thou art full of it, thou shalt understand all things."
2. O Lord, this is not the work of a day, nor children's play;
verily in this short saying is enclosed all the perfection of the
3. "My son, thou oughtest not to be turned aside, nor immediately
cast down, because thou hast heard the way of the perfect.
Rather oughtest thou to be provoked to higher aims, and at the
least to long after the desire thereof. Oh that it were so with
thee, and that thou hadst come to this, that thou wert not a lover
of thine own self, but wert ready always to My nod, and to his
whom I have placed over thee as thy father. Then shouldest thou
please Me exceedingly, and all thy life should go on in joy and
peace. Thou hast still many things to renounce, which if thou
resign not utterly to Me, thou shalt not gain what thou seekest.
I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou
mayest be rich,(1) that is heavenly wisdom, which despiseth all
base things. Put away from thee earthly wisdom, and all
pleasure, whether common to men, or thine own.
4. "I tell thee that thou must buy vile things with those which
are costly and great in the esteem of men. For wonderfully vile
and small, and almost given up to forgetfulness, doth true
heavenly wisdom appear, which thinketh not high things of itself,
nor seeketh to be magnified upon the earth; many honour it with
their lips, but in heart are far from it; it is indeed the
precious pearl, which is hidden from many."
(1) Revelation iii. 18.