« PredošláPokračovať »
CHAP. V. OF THE TRIAL OF TRUE LOVE. CHRIST. 1. Thou art yet far distant, my son, from the fortitude and purity of love : for thou art always seeking after consolation with avidity; and the least opposition to thy immoderate desires, hath power to 'make thee relinquish thy most holy purposes..But he that hath the fortitude of love, stands firm in the midst of temptations; and utterly disbelieves and despises the flattering insinuations of the enemy: he knows that I love him; and, whether in prosperity or adversity, makes me his supreme delight. And he that loves with purity, considers not the gift of the lover, but the love of the giver : he values the affection more than the tokens of it ; esteems his beloved infinitely beyond the benefits he confers; and, with a noble generosity divesting his mind of all desire of personal advantage, reposes himself not upon my gifts, but upon me.
CHAP, VI. THAT THE SOUL MUST NOT DESPAIR UNDER
THE INFIRMITIES OF NATURE, AND THE SUG. GESTIONS OF EVIL SPIRITS,
Ś Christ. 1. Thou must not, therefore, think that all is lost, when the fire of devotion ceases to blaze,
* In the common Latin editions, and in all the English translations which I have seen, this and the following chapter are connected, as one entire chapter upon “ The trial of true love:" but M. VALART, the editor of the late Paris edi. tion, has printed no more upon that subject than is here given; and has asserted, that one leaf at least is wanting in the old manuscripts, to make this chapter complete.
$ The beginning of this chapter is wanting.-M. VALART,
and thy heart is not elevated with that sensible fervour which thou art always coveting: for the pleasing rapture thou sometimes feelest, is the immediate effect of present grace, to give thee a foretaste of the permanent joys of beatified spirits ; upon which thou must not invariably depend, because it cometh and goeth according to the good pleasure of my will. Thy principal concern and business is to struggle against the incidental evil motions of fallen nature, and the evil suggestions of fallen spirits; and if thou dost this with faithful perseverance, thou wilt give true proof of that Christian fortitude which will be distinguished by the crown of victory.
2. Let not, therefore, strange plantasms that possess thee against thy will, of whatever they are born, disturb the quiet of thy soul : maintain only a firm and unchangeable resolution of obedience, and an upright and pure intention towards God, and all will be well. Nor art thou to consider thyself as abandoned, to the illusions of evil spirits, when being suddenly, elevated into holy ecstasy, thou as suddenly fallest in.. to thy accustomed insensibility and dissipation : for this change thou rather sufferest, than contributest to produce ; and while it is inyoluntary, and thou strivest against it, instead of being a proof of the loss of grace,
be made an occasion of humble and acceptable resignation.
3. Know, that it is the continual labour of thy' inveterate enemy, to suppress every holy desire in thy, soul, and divert thee from every holy exercise ; from affectionate meditation on my sufferings, from the imitation of my life and the persevering constancy of, the, saints, from the profitable recollection of thy numerous sins, from the watchful keeping of thy own
heart, and from the heaven-born resolution of“ pressing towards the mark, for the prize of thy high calling." He disturbs thy thoughts by innumerable vain and sensual images, to create in thee disgust and abhorrence of the restraints of holiness, and to withdraw thee from prayer and the instructions of the oracles of God: he is offended and alarmed at an humble and contrite acknowledgment of sin; and, if possible, would bring thee to a total disuse of the memorials of my death. Believe him not, nor heed his power, though, to ensnare thy soul, he thus continually spreadeth his deceitful net. When he suggesteth vain thoughts and impure desires, charge all the guilt upon his own head, and say to him, “Get thee behind me, unclean and malignant spirit! and be confounded at the foul whispers of thy unholy breath. Depart from me, most detestable seducer! thou shalt have 90 part in me : for JESUS, the bruiser of thy head, iş with me; and like a mighty warriour he will protect me from thy malevolence, and thou shalt fall subdued and confounded before him. I would rather die in extremity of torment, than consent to thy impious will. Hold thy peace, therefore, and be dumb for ever; for I will hearken to thee no longer, nor have any. more converse with thee, though thou shouldst continually invent new stratagems to rob me of holiness and peace. “ The LORD is my light, and my salvation ; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. The LORD iš my strength and my Redeemer :!”
4. Thus, like a valiant soldier, let nothing abate thy struggle for victory; and if thou 'sometimes fall. est through human frailty, rise immediately with reQoubled vigour, depending upon the more abundant
succours of my grace. Only beware of pride and self-complacence ; for by these many are betrayed into error, till they are brought to a degree of blindness that is almost incurable. Let the destruction of the proud, vainly presuming upon their own wisdom and their own strength, be to thee a perpetual admonition of the blessings of humility.
OF CONCEALING THE GRACE OF DEVOTION UN
DER THE VEIL OF HUMILITY.
CHRIST. 1. MY son, when the fire of devotion is kindled in thy heart, let not the favour exalt thee into pride : boast not of it to others, as a distinction due to thy superior merit ; nor ponder it in thy own mind with self-approbation and complacence; but rather conceal it ; and in a true knowledge and distrust of thy great weakness, be more fearful in consequence of the gift, as bestowed upon one that may make an unworthy use of it.
That ardour is not to be relied on, which may soon abate, and give place to coldness.
2. During the enjoyment of heavenly consolation, recollect how poor and miserable thou wert without it. But the advancement of the spiritual life dependeth not upon the enjoyment of consolation ; but upon bearing the want of it, with such resignation, humility, and patience, as not to relinquish prayer, or remit any of thy accustomed holy exercises : thou must, therefore, with a willing mind, and the best exertion of thy ability, perform all thy duties, and not abandon the care of thy improvement, upon pretence of
present barrenness and disquietude. There are many, who, when their state of grace does not correspond with their eager desires and boundless expectations, instantly fall either into impatience or sloth: but " the way of man is not in himself;" and it belongeth unto God to give comfort when he pleaseth, to whom he pleaseth, and in that degree which is most subservient to the designs of his wisdom and goodness.
3. Some inconsiderate persons, by an improper use of the grace of devotion, have destroyed all its salútary effects : with an intemperate zeal grounded upon it, they have laid claim to such perfection, as it is impossible to attain in the present life; not considering their own littleness, but following the tumultuous fire of animal passions, instead of the calm irradiations of Divine truth. These, by presumption and arrogance, have lost the grace that was vouchsafed them; and though they had exalted themselves.“ 48 the eagles, and set their nest among the stars," yet they have fallen back into the poverty and wretchedness of nature ; that being stript of all vain dependence upon themselves, they might learn, that the best efforts of human strength are ineffectual ; and that none can soar to heaven, except I support his flight, and bear. him upon my own wings.
-4. They that are unexperienced in the spiritual life will be soon deceived and easily subdued, unless they relinquish the guidance of their own opinions, and hearken to the counsels of tried and successful wisdom: But they who are “wise in their own cone eịts," have seldom humility enough to submit to the direction of others. An understanding, therefore, that is able only to « receive" the truths of the kingdom of God" with the meekness and simplicity of “ a little child," is infi