The Imitation of Christ (old Eng.)
Written by: a Kempis, Thomas Posted on: 03/31/2003
Category: Classic Christian Library
Etext Imitation of Christ
by Thomas A Kempis translated by Rev. William Benham
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
by Thomas a Kempis translated by Rev. William Benham
The treatise "Of the Imitation of Christ" appears to have been
originally written in Latin early in the fifteenth century. Its
exact date and its authorship are still a matter of debate.
Manuscripts of the Latin version survive in considerable numbers
all over Western Europe, and they, with the vast list of
translations and of printed editions, testify to its almost
unparalleled popularity. One scribe attributes it to St. Bernard
of Clairvaux; but the fact that is contains a quotation from St.
Francis of Assisi, who was born thirty years after the death of
St. Bernard, disposes of this theory. In England there exist
many manuscripts of the first three books, called "Musica
Ecclesiastica," frequently ascribed to the English mystic Walter
Hilton. But Hilton seems to have died in 1395, and there is no
evidence of the existence of the work before 1400. Many
manuscripts scattered throughout Europe ascribe the book to Jean
le Charlier de Gerson, the great Chancellor of the University of
Paris, who was a leading figure in the Church in the earlier
part of the fifteenth century. The most probable author,
however, especially when the internal evidence is considered, is
Thomas Haemmerlein, known also as Thomas a Kempis, from his
native town of Kempen, near the Rhine, about forty miles north of
Cologne. Haemmerlein, who was born in 1379 or 1380, was a member
of the order of the Brothers of Common Life, and spent the last
seventy years of his life at Mount St. Agnes, a monastery of
Augustinian canons in the diocese of Utrecht. Here he died on
July 26, 1471, after an uneventful life spent in copying
manuscripts, reading, and composing, and in the peaceful routine
of monastic piety.
With the exception of the Bible, no Christian writing has had
so wide a vogue or so sustained a popularity as this. And yet,
in one sense, it is hardly an original work at all. Its
structure it owes largely to the writings of the medieval
mystics, and its ideas and phrases are a mosaic from the Bible
and the Fathers of the early Church. But these elements are
interwoven with such delicate skill and a religious feeling at
once so ardent and so sound that it promises to remain, what it
has been for five hundred years, the supreme call and guide to
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
THE FIRST BOOK
ADMONITIONS PROFITABLE FOR THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
Of the imitation of Christ, and of contempt of the world and all
He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness(1), saith the
Lord. There are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far
we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true
illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let
it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life
of Jesus Christ.
2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy men, and such as
have His Spirit find therein the hidden manna.(2) But there are
many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel, yet feel but
little longing after it, because they have not the mind of
Christ. He, therefore, that will fully and with true wisdom
understand the words of Christ, let him strive to conform his
whole life to that mind of Christ.
3. What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion
concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus
displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that
make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man
dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skilful in the
definition thereof. If thou knowest the whole Bible, and the
sayings of all the philosophers, what should all this profit thee
without the love and grace of God? Vanity of vanities, all is
vanity, save to love God, and Him only to serve. That is the
highest wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward
to the heavenly kingdom.
4. It is vanity then to seek after, and to trust in, the riches
that shall perish. It is vanity, too, to covet honours, and to
lift up ourselves on high. It is vanity to follow the desires of
the flesh and be led by them, for this shall bring misery at the
last. It is vanity to desire a long life, and to have little
care for a good life. It is vanity to take thought only for the
life which now is, and not to look forward to the things which
shall be hereafter. It is vanity to love that which quickly
passeth away, and not to hasten where eternal joy abideth.
5. Be ofttimes mindful of the saying,(3) The eye is not satified
with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. Strive, therefore, to
turn away thy heart from the love of the things that are seen,
and to set it upon the things that are not seen. For they who
follow after their own fleshly lusts, defile the conscience, and
destroy the grace of God.
(1) John viii. 12. (2) Revelations ii. 17.
(3) Ecclesiastes i. 8.
Of thinking humbly of oneself
There is naturally in every man a desire to know, but what
profiteth knowledge without the fear of God? Better of a surety
is a lowly peasant who serveth God, than a proud philosopher who
watcheth the stars and neglecteth the knowledge of himself. He
who knoweth himself well is vile in his own sight; neither
regardeth he the praises of men. If I knew all the things that
are in the world, and were not in charity, what should it help me
before God, who is to judge me according to my deeds?
2. Rest from inordinate desire of knowledge, for therein is found
much distraction and deceit. Those who have knowledge desire to
appear learned, and to be called wise. Many things there are to
know which profiteth little or nothing to the soul. And foolish
out of measure in he who attendeth upon other things rather than
those which serve to his soul's health. Many words satisfy not
the soul, but a good life refresheth the mind, and a pure
conscience giveth great confidence towards God.
3. The greater and more complete thy knowledge, the more severely
shalt thou be judged, unless thou hast lived holily. Therefore
be not lifted up by any skill or knowledge that thou hast; but
rather fear concerning the knowledge which is given to thee. If
it seemeth to thee that thou knowest many things, and
understandest them well, know also that there are many more
things which thou knowest not. Be not high-minded, but rather
confess thine ignorance. Why desirest thou to lift thyself above
another, when there are found many more learned and more skilled
in the Scripture than thou? If thou wilt know and learn anything
with profit, love to be thyself unknown and to be counted for
4. That is the highest and most profitable lesson, when a man
truly knoweth and judgeth lowly of himself. To account nothing
of one's self, and to think always kindly and highly of others,
this is great and perfect wisdom. Even shouldest thou see thy
neighbor sin openly and grievously, yet thou oughtest not to
reckon thyself better than he, for thou knowest not how long
thou shalt keep thine integrity. All of us are weak and frail;
hold thou no man more frail than thyself.
Of the knowledge of truth
Happy is the man whom Truth by itself doth teach, not by figures
and transient words, but as it is in itself.(1) Our own
judgement and feelings often deceive us, and we discern but
little of the truth. What doth it profit to argue about hidden
and dark things, concerning which we shall not be even reproved
in the judgement, because we knew them not? Oh, grievous folly,
to neglect the things which are profitable and necessary, and to
give our minds to things which are curious and hurtful! Having
eyes, we see not.
2. And what have we to do with talk about genus and species!
He to whom the Eternal Word speaketh is free from multiplied
questionings. From this One Word are all things, and all things
speak of Him; and this is the Beginning which also speaketh to
us.(2) No man without Him understandeth or rightly judgeth. The
man to whom all things are one, who bringeth all things to one,
who seeth all things in one, he is able to remain steadfast of
spirit, and at rest in God. O God, who art the Truth, make me
one with Thee in everlasting love. It wearieth me oftentimes to
read and listen to many things; in Thee is all that I wish for
and desire. Let all the doctors hold their peace; let all
creation keep silence before Thee: speak Thou alone to me.
3. The more a man hath unity and simplicity in himself, the more
things and the deeper things he understandeth; and that without
labour, because he receiveth the light of understanding from
above. The spirit which is pure, sincere, and steadfast, is not
distracted though it hath many works to do, because it doth all
things to the honour of God, and striveth to be free from all
thoughts of self-seeking. Who is so full of hindrance and
annoyance to thee as thine own undisciplined heart? A man who is
good and devout arrangeth beforehand within his own heart the
works which he hath to do abroad; and so is not drawn away by the
desires of his evil will, but subjecteth everything to the
judgement of right reason. Who hath a harder battle to fight
than he who striveth for self-mastery? And this should be our
endeavour, even to master self, and thus daily to grow stronger
than self, and go on unto perfection.
4. All perfection hath some imperfection joined to it in this
life, and all our power of sight is not without some darkness. A
lowly knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than the deep
searching of man's learning. Not that learning is to be blamed,
nor the taking account of anything that is good; but a good
conscience and a holy life is better than all. And because many
seek knowledge rather than good living, therefore they go astray,
and bear little or no fruit.
5. O if they would give that diligence to the rooting out of vice
and the planting of virtue which they give unto vain
questionings; there had not been so many evil doings and
stumbling-blocks among the laity, nor such ill living among
houses of religion. Of a surety, at the Day of Judgement it will
be demanded of us, not what we have read, but what we have done;
not how well we have spoken, but how holily we have lived. Tell
me, where now are all those masters and teachers, whom thou
knowest well, whilst they were yet with you, and flourished in
learning? Their stalls are now filled by others, who perhaps
never have one thought concerning them. Whilst they lived they
seemed to be somewhat, but now no one speaks of them.
6. Oh how quickly passeth the glory of the world away! Would
that their life and knowledge had agreed together! For then
would they have read and inquired unto good purpose. How many
perish through empty learning in this world, who care little for
serving God. And because they love to be great more than to be
humble, therefore they "have become vain in their imaginations."
He only is truly great, who hath great charity. He is truly
great who deemeth himself small, and counteth all height of
honour as nothing. He is the truly wise man, who counteth all
earthly things as dung that he may win Christ. And he is the
truly learned man, who doeth the will of God, and forsaketh his
(1) Psalm xciv. 12; Numbers xii. 8. (2) John viii. 25 (Vulg.).
Of prudence in action
We must not trust every word of others or feeling within
ourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, whether
it be of God. Unhappily we are so weak that we find it easier to
believe and speak evil of others, rather than good. But they
that are perfect, do not give ready heed to every news-bearer,
for they know man's weakness that it is prone to evil and
unstable in words.
2. This is great wisdom, not to be hasty in action, or stubborn
in our own opinions. A part of this wisdom also is not to
believe every word we hear, nor to tell others all that we hear,
even though we believe it. Take counsel with a man who is wise
and of a good conscience; and seek to be instructed by one better
than thyself, rather than follow thine own inventions. A good
life maketh a man wise toward God, and giveth him experience in
many things. The more humble a man is in himself, and the more
obedient towards God, the wiser will he be in all things, and the
more shall his soul be at peace.
Of the reading of Holy Scriptures
It is Truth which we must look for in Holy Writ, not cunning of
words. All Scripture ought to be read in the spirit in which it
was written. We must rather seek for what is profitable in
Scripture, than for what ministereth to subtlety in discourse.
Therefore we ought to read books which are devotional and simple,
as well as those which are deep and difficult. And let not the
weight of the writer be a stumbling-block to thee, whether he be
of little or much learning, but let the love of the pure Truth
draw thee to read. Ask not, who hath said this or that but look
to what he says.
2. Men pass away, but the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.
Without respect of persons God speaketh to us in divers manners.
Our own curiosity often hindereth us in the readings of holy
writings, when we seek to understand and discuss, where we should
pass simply on. If thou wouldst profit by thy reading, read
humbly, simply, honestly, and not desiring to win a character for
learning. Ask freely, and hear in silence the words of holy men;
nor be displeased at the hard sayings of older men than thou, for
they are not uttered without cause.
Of inordinate affections
Whensoever a man desireth aught above measure, immediately he
becometh restless. The proud and the avaricious man are never
at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the
multitude of peace. The man who is not yet wholly dead to self,
is soon tempted, and is overcome in small and trifling matters.
It is hard for him who is weak in spirit, and still in part
carnal and inclined to the pleasures of sense, to withdraw
himself altogether from earthly desires. And therefore, when he
withdraweth himself from these, he is often sad, and easily
angered too if any oppose his will.
2. But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination,
immediately he is weighed down by the condemnation of his
conscience; for that he hath followed his own desire, and yet in
no way attained the peace which he hoped for. For true peace of
heart is to be found in resisting passion, not in yielding to it.
And therefore there is no peace in the heart of a man who is
carnal, nor in him who is given up to the things that are without
him, but only in him who is fervent towards God and living the
life of the Spirit.
Of fleeing from vain hope and pride
Vain is the life of that man who putteth his trust in men or in
any created Thing. Be not ashamed to be the servant of others
for the love of Jesus Christ, and to be reckoned poor in this
life. Rest not upon thyself, but build thy hope in God. Do what
lieth in thy power, and God will help thy good intent. Trust not
in thy learning, nor in the cleverness of any that lives, but
rather trust in the favour of God, who resisteth the proud and
giveth grace to the humble.
2. Boast not thyself in thy riches if thou hast them, nor in thy
friends if they be powerful, but in God, who giveth all things,
and in addition to all things desireth to give even Himself. Be
not lifted up because of thy strength or beauty of body, for with
only a slight sickness it will fail and wither away. Be not vain
of thy skilfulness or ability, lest thou displease God, from
whom cometh every good gift which we have.
3. Count not thyself better than others, lest perchance thou
appear worse in the sight of God, who knoweth what is in man. Be
not proud of thy good works, for God's judgments are of another
sort than the judgments of man, and what pleaseth man is ofttimes
displeasing to Him. If thou hast any good, believe that others
have more, and so thou mayest preserve thy humility. It is no
harm to thee if thou place thyself below all others; but it is
great harm if thou place thyself above even one. Peace is ever
with the humble man, but in the heart of the proud there is
envy and continual wrath.
Of the danger of too much familiarity
Open not thine heart to every man, but deal with one who is wise
and feareth God. Be seldom with the young and with strangers. Be
not a flatterer of the rich; nor willingly seek the society of
the great. Let thy company be the humble and simple, the devout
and the gentle, and let thy discourse be concerning things which
edify. Be not familiar with any woman, but commend all good
women alike unto God. Choose for thy companions God and His
Angels only, and flee from the notice of men.
2. We must love all men, but not make close companions of all.
It sometimes falleth out that one who is unknown to us is highly
regarded through good report of him, whose actual person is
nevertheless unpleasing to those who behold it. We sometimes
think to please others by our intimacy, and forthwith displease
them the more by the faultiness of character which they perceive
Of obedience and subjection
It is verily a great thing to live in obedience, to be under
authority, and not to be at our own disposal. Far safer is it to
live in subjection than in a place of authority. Many are in
obedience from necessity rather than from love; these take it
amiss, and repine for small cause. Nor will they gain freedom of
spirit, unless with all their heart they submit themselves for
the love of God. Though thou run hither and thither, thou wilt
not find peace, save in humble subjection to the authority of him
who is set over thee. Fancies about places and change of them
have deceived many.
2. True it is that every man willingly followeth his own bent,
and is the more inclined to those who agree with him. But if
Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes
yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise
as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not
too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the
opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for
the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another,
thou shalt the more profit thereby.
3. Ofttimes I have heard that it is safer to hearken and to
receive counsel than to give it. It may also come to pass that
each opinion may be good; but to refuse to hearken to others when
reason or occasion requireth it, is a mark of pride or
Of the danger of superfluity of words
Avoid as far as thou canst the tumult of men; for talk concerning
worldly things, though it be innocently undertaken, is a
hindrance, so quickly are we led captive and defiled by vanity.
Many a time I wish that I had held my peace, and had not gone
amongst men. But why do we talk and gossip so continually,
seeing that we so rarely resume our silence without some hurt
done to our conscience? We like talking so much because we hope
by our conversations to gain some mutual comfort, and because we
seek to refresh our wearied spirits by variety of thoughts. And
we very willingly talk and think of those things which we love or
desire, or else of those which we most dislike.
2. But alas! it is often to no purpose and in vain. For this
outward consolation is no small hindrance to the inner comfort
which cometh from God. Therefore must we watch and pray that
time pass not idly away. If it be right and desirable for thee
to speak, speak things which are to edification. Evil custom and
neglect of our real profit tend much to make us heedless of
watching over our lips. Nevertheless, devout conversation on
spiritual things helpeth not a little to spiritual progress, most
of all where those of kindred mind and spirit find their ground
of fellowship in God.
Of seeking peace of mind and of spiritual progress
We may enjoy abundance of peace if we refrain from busying
ourselves with the sayings and doings of others, and things which
concern not ourselves. How can he abide long time in peace who
occupieth himself with other men's matters, and with things
without himself, and meanwhile payeth little or rare heed to the
self within? Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall have
abundance of peace.
2. How came it to pass that many of the Saints were so perfect,
so contemplative of Divine things? Because they steadfastly
sought to mortify themselves from all worldly desires, and so
were enabled to cling with their whole heart to God, and be free
and at leisure for the thought of Him. We are too much occupied
with our own affections, and too anxious about transitory things.
Seldom, too, do we entirely conquer even a single fault, nor are
we zealous for daily growth in grace. And so we remain lukewarm
3. Were we fully watchful of ourselves, and not bound in spirit
to outward things, then might we be wise unto salvation, and make
progress in Divine contemplation. Our great and grievous
stumbling-block is that, not being freed from our affections and
desires, we strive not to enter into the perfect way of the
Saints. And when even a little trouble befalleth us, too quickly
are we cast down, and fly to the world to give us comfort.
4. If we would quit ourselves like men, and strive to stand firm
in battle, then should we see the Lord helping us from Heaven.
For He Himself is alway ready to help those who strive and who
trust in Him; yea, He provideth for us occasions for striving, to
the end that we may win the victory. If we look upon our
progress in religion as a progress only in outward observances
and forms, our devoutness wll soon come to an end. But let us
lay the axe to the very root of our life, that, being cleansed
from affections, we may possess our souls in peace.
5. If each year should see one fault rooted out from us, we
should go quickly on to perfection. But on the contrary, we
often feel that we were better and holier in the beginning of our
conversion than after many years of profession. Zeal and
progress ought to increase day by day; yet now it seemeth a great
thing if one is able to retain some portion of his first ardour.
If we would put some slight stress on ourselves at the beginning,
then afterwards we should be able to do all things with ease and
6. It is a hard thing to break through a habit, and a yet harder
thing to go contrary to our own will. Yet if thou overcome not
slight and easy obstacles, how shalt thou overcome greater ones?
Withstand thy will at the beginning, and unlearn an evil habit,
lest it lead thee little by little into worse difficulties. Oh,
if thou knewest what peace to thyself thy holy life should bring
to thyself, and what joy to others, methinketh thou wouldest be
more zealous for spiritual profit.
Of the uses of adversity
It is good for us that we sometimes have sorrows and adversities,
for they often make a man lay to heart that he is only a stranger
and sojourner, and may not put his trust in any worldly thing.
It is good that we sometimes endure contradictions, and are
hardly and unfairly judged, when we do and mean what is good.
For these things help us to be humble, and shield us from
vain-glory. For then we seek the more earnestly the witness of
God, when men speak evil of us falsely, and give us no credit for
2. Therefore ought a man to rest wholly upon God, so that he
needeth not seek much comfort at the hand of men. When a man who
feareth God is afflicted or tried or oppressed with evil
thoughts, then he seeth that God is the more necessary unto him,
since without God he can do no good thing. Then he is heavy of
heart, he groaneth, he crieth out for the very disquietness of
his heart. Then he groweth weary of life, and would fain depart
and be with Christ. By all this he is taught that in the world
there can be no perfect security or fulness of peace.
Of resisting temptation
So long as we live in the world, we canot be without trouble and
trial. Wherefore it is written in Job, The life of man upon the
earth is a trial.(1) And therefore ought each of us to give heed
concerning trials and temptations, and watch unto prayer, lest
the devil find occasion to deceive; for he never sleepeth, but
goeth about seeking whom he may devour. No man is so perfect in
holiness that he hath never temptations, nor can we ever be
wholly free from them.
2. Yet, notwithstanding, temptations turn greatly unto our
profit, even though they be great and hard to bear; for through
them we are humbled, purified, and instructed. All Saints have
passed through much tribulation and temptation, and have profited
thereby. And they who endured not temptation became reprobate
and fell away. There is no position so sacred, no place so
secret, that it is without temptations and adversities.
3. There is no man wholly free from temptations so long as he
liveth, because we have the root of temptation within ourselves,
in that we are born in concupiscence. One temptation or sorrow
passeth away, and another cometh; and always we shall have
somewhat to suffer, for we have fallen from perfect happiness.
Many who seek to fly from temptations fall yet more deeply into
them. By flight alone we cannot overcome, but by endurance and
true humility we are made stronger than all our enemies.
4. He who only resisteth outwardly and pulleth not up by the
root, shall profit little; nay, rather temptations will return to
him the more quickly, and will be the more terrible. Little by
little, through patience and longsuffering, thou shalt conquer by
the help of God, rather than by violence and thine own strength
of will. In the midst of temptation often seek counsel; and deal
not hardly with one who is tempted, but comfort and strengthen
him as thou wouldest have done unto thyself.
5. The beginning of all temptations to evil is instability of
temper and want of trust in God; for even as a ship without a
helm is tossed about by the waves, so is a man who is careless
and infirm of purpose tempted, now on this side, now on that.
As fire testeth iron, so doth temptation the upright man.
Oftentimes we know not what strength we have; but temptation
revealeth to us what we are. Nevertheless, we must watch,
especially in the beginnings of temptation; for then is the foe
the more easily mastered, when he is not suffered to enter within
the mind, but is met outside the door as soon as he hath knocked.
Wherefore one saith,
Check the beginnings; once thou might'st have cured,
But now 'tis past thy skill, too long hath it endured.
For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestion, then the
strong imagination, afterwards pleasure, evil affection, assent.
And so little by little the enemy entereth in altogether, because
he was not resisted at the beginning. And the longer a man
delayeth his resistance, the weaker he groweth, and the stronger
groweth the enemy against him.
6. Some men suffer their most grievous temptations in the
beginning of their conversion, some at the end. Some are sorely
tried their whole life long. Some there are who are tempted but
lightly, according to the wisdom and justice of the ordering of
God, who knoweth the character and circumstances of men, and
ordereth all things for the welfare of His elect.
7. Therefore we ought not to despair when we are tempted, but the
more fervently should cry unto God, that He will vouchsafe to
help us in all our tribulation; and that He will, as St. Paul
saith, with the temptation make a way to escape that we may be
able to bear it.(2) Let us therefore humble ourselves under the
mighty hand of God in all temptation and trouble, for He will
save and exult such as are of an humble spirit.
8. In temptations and troubles a man is proved, what progress he
hath made, and therein is his reward the greater, and his virtue
doth the more appear. Nor is it a great thing if a man be devout
and zealous so long as he suffereth no affliction; but if he
behave himself patiently in the time of adversity, then there is
hope of great progress. Some are kept safe from great
temptations, but are overtaken in those which are little and
common, that the humiliation may teach them not to trust to
themselves in great things, being weak in small things.
(1) Job vii. I (Vulg.). (2) I Corinthians x. 13.
On avoiding rash judgement
Look well unto thyself, and beware that thou judge not the doings
of others. In judging others a man laboureth in vain; he often
erreth, and easily falleth into sin; but in judging and examining
himself he always laboureth to good purpose. According as a
matter toucheth our fancy, so oftentimes do we judge of it; for
easily do we fail of true judgement because of our own personal
feeling. If God were always the sole object of our desire, we
should the less easily be troubled by the erring judgement of our
2. But often some secret thought lurking within us, or even some
outward circumstance, turneth us aside. Many are secretly
seeking their own ends in what they do, yet know it not. They
seem to live in good peace of mind so long as things go well with
them, and according to their desires, but if their desires be
frustrated and broken, immediately they are shaken and
displeased. Diversity of feelings and opinions very often brings
about dissensions between friends, between countrymen, between
religious and godly men.
3. Established custom is not easily relinquished, and no man is
very easily led to see with the eyes of another. If thou rest
more upon thy own reason or experience than upon the power of
Jesus Christ, thy light shall come slowly and hardly; for God
willeth us to be perfectly subject unto Himself, and all our
reason to be exalted by abundant love towards Him.
Of works of charity
For no worldly good whatsoever, and for the love of no man, must
anything be done which is evil, but for the help of the suffering
a good work must sometimes be postponed, or be changed for a
better; for herein a good work is not destroyed, but improved.
Without charity no work profiteth, but whatsoever is done in
charity, however small and of no reputation it be, bringeth forth
good fruit; for God verily considereth what a man is able to do,
more than the greatness of what he doth.
2. He doth much who loveth much. He doth much who doth well. He
doth well who ministereth to the public good rather than his own.
Oftentimes that seemeth to be charity which is rather carnality,
because it springeth from natural inclination, self-will, hope of
repayment, desire of gain.
3. He who hath true and perfect charity, in no wise seeketh his
own good, but desireth that God alone be altogether glorified.
He envieth none, because he longeth for no selfish joy; nor doth
he desire to rejoice in himself, but longeth to be blessed in God
as the highest good. He ascribeth good to none save to God only,
the Fountain whence all good proceedeth, and the End, the Peace,
the joy of all Saints. Oh, he who hath but a spark of true
charity, hath verily learned that all worldly things are full of
Of bearing with the faults of others
Those things which a man cannot amend in himself or in others, he
ought patiently to bear, until God shall otherwise ordain.
Bethink thee that perhaps it is better for thy trial and
patience, without which our merits are but little worth.
Nevertheless thou oughtest, when thou findeth such impediments,
to beseech God that He would vouchsafe to sustain thee, that thou
be able to bear them with a good will.
2. If one who is once or twice admonished refuse to hearken,
strive not with him, but commit all to God, that His will may be
done and His honour shown in His servants, for He knoweth well
how to convert the evil unto good. Endeavour to be patient in
bearing with other men's faults and infirmities whatsoever they
be, for thou thyself also hast many things which have need to be
borne with by others. If thou canst not make thine own self what
thou desireth, how shalt thou be able to fashion another to thine
own liking. We are ready to see others made perfect, and yet we
do not amend our own shortcomings.
3. We will that others be straitly corrected, but we will not be
corrected ourselves. The freedom of others displeaseth us, but
we are dissatisfied that our own wishes shall be denied us. We
desire rules to be made restraining others, but by no means will
we suffer ourselves to be restrained. Thus therefore doth it
plainly appear how seldom we weigh our neighbour in the same
balance with ourselves. If all men were perfect, what then should
we have to suffer from others for God?
4. But now hath God thus ordained, that we may learn to bear one
another's burdens, because none is without defect, none without a
burden, none sufficient of himself, none wise enough of himself;
but it behoveth us to bear with one another, to comfort one
another, to help, instruct, admonish one another. How much
strength each man hath is best proved by occasions of adversity;
for such occasions do not make a man frail, but show of what
temper he is.
Of a religious life
It behoveth thee to learn to mortify thyself in many things, if
thou wilt live in amity and concord with other men. It is no
small thing to dwell in a religious community or congregation,
and to live there without complaint, and therein to remain
faithful even unto death. Blessed is he who hath lived a good
life in such a body, and brought it to a happy end. If thou wilt
stand fast and wilt profit as thou oughtest, hold thyself as an
exile and a pilgrim upon the earth. Thou wilt have to be counted
as a fool for Christ, if thou wilt lead a religious life.
2. The clothing and outward appearance are of small account; it
is change of character and entire mortification of the affections
which make a truly religious man. He who seeketh aught save God
and the health of his soul, shall find only tribulation and
sorrow. Now can he stand long in peace, who striveth not to be
least of all and servant of all.
3. Thou art called to endure and to labour, not to a life of ease
and trifling talk. Here therefore are men tried as gold in the
furnance. No man can stand, unless with all his heart he will
humble himself for God's sake.
Of the example of the Holy Fathers
Consider now the lively examples of the holy fathers, in whom
shone forth real perfectness and religion, and thou shalt see how
little, even as nothing, is all that we do. Ah! What is our life
when compared to theirs? They, saints and friends of Christ as
they were, served the Lord in hunger and thrist, in cold and
nakedness, in labour and weariness, in watchings and fastings, in
prayer and holy meditations, in persecutions and much rebuke.
2. O how many and grievous tribulations did the Apostles,
Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, endure; and all others who would
walk in the footsteps of Christ. For they hated their souls in
this world that they might keep them unto life eternal. O how
strict and retired a life was that of the holy fathers who dwelt
in the desert! what long and grievous temptations they did
suffer! how often were they assaulted by the enemy! what
frequent and fervid prayers did they offer unto God! what strict
fasts did they endure! what fervent zeal and desire after
spiritual profit did they manifest! how bravely did they fight
that their vices might not gain the mastery! how entirely and
steadfastly did they reach after God! By day they laboured, and
at night they gave themselves ofttimes unto prayer; yea, even
when they were labouring they ceased not from mental prayer.
3. They spent their whole time profitably; every hour seemed
short for retirement with God; and through the great sweetness of
contemplation, even the need of bodily refreshment was forgotten.
They renounced all riches, dignities, honours, friends, kinsmen;
they desired nothing from the world; they ate the bare
necessities of life; they were unwilling to minister to the body
even in necessity. Thus were they poor in earthly things, but
rich above measure in grace and virtue. Though poor to the outer
eye, within they were filled with grace and heavenly
4. They were strangers to the world, but unto God they were as
kinsmen and friends. They seemed unto themselves as of no
reputation, and in the world's eyes contemptible; but in the
sight of God they were precious and beloved. They stood fast in
true humility, they lived in simple obedience, they walked in
love and patience; and thus they waxed strong in spirit, and
obtained great favour before God. To all religious men they were
given as an example, and they ought more to provoke us unto good
livings than the number of the lukewarm tempteth to
carelessness of life.
5. O how great was the love of all religious persons at the
beginning of this sacred institution! O what devoutness of
prayer! what rivalry in holiness! what strict discipline was
observed! what reverence and obedience under the rule of the
master showed they in all things! The traces of them that remain
until now testify that they were truly holy and perfect men, who
fighting so bravely trod the world underfoot. Now a man is
counted great if only he be not a transgressor, and if he can
only endure with patience what he hath undertaken.
6. O the coldness and negligence of our times, that we so quickly
decline from the former love, and it is become a weariness to
live, because of sloth and lukewarmness. May progress in
holiness not wholly fall asleep in thee, who many times hast seen
so many examples of devout men!
Of the exercises of a religious man
The life of a Christian ought to be adorned with all virtues,
that he may be inwardly what he outwardly appeareth unto men.
And verily it should be yet better within than without, for God
is a discerner of our heart, Whom we must reverence with all our
hearts wheresoever we are, and walk pure in His presence as do
the angels. We ought daily to renew our vows, and to kindle our
hearts to zeal, as if each day were the first day of our
conversion, and to say, "Help me, O God, in my good resolutions,
and in Thy holy service, and grant that this day I may make a
good beginning, for hitherto I have done nothing!"
2. According to our resolution so is the rate of our progress,
and much diligence is needful for him who would make good
progress. For if he who resolveth bravely oftentimes falleth
short, how shall it be with him who resolveth rarely or feebly?
But manifold causes bring about abandonment of our resolution,
yet a trivial omission of holy exercises can hardly be made
without some loss to us. The resolution of the righteous
dependeth more upon the grace of God than upon their own wisdom;
for in Him they always put their trust, whatsoever they take in
hand. For man proposeth, but God disposeth; and the way of a
man is not in himself.(1)
3. If a holy exercise be sometimes omitted for the sake of some
act of piety, or of some brotherly kindnesss, it can easily be
taken up afterwards; but if it be neglected through distaste or
slothfulness, then is it sinful, and the mischief will be felt.
Strive as earnestly as we may, we shall still fall short in many
things. Always should some distinct resolution be made by us;
and, most of all, we must strive against those sins which most
easily beset us. Both our outer and inner life should be
straitly examined and ruled by us, because both have to do with
4. If thou canst not be always examining thyself, thou canst at
certain seasons, and at least twice in the day, at evening and at
morning. In the morning make thy resolves, and in the evening
inquire into thy life, how thou hast sped to-day in word, deed,
and thought; for in these ways thou hast often perchance offended
God and thy neighbour. Gird up thy lions like a man against the
assaults of the devil; bridle thine appetite, and thou wilt soon
be able to bridle every inclination of the flesh. Be thou never
without something to do; be reading, or writing, or praying, or
meditating, or doing something that is useful to the community.
Bodily exercises, however, must be undertaken with discretion,
nor are they to be used by all alike.
5. The duties which are not common to all must not be done
openly, but are safest carried on in secret. But take heed that
thou be not careless in the common duties, and more devout in the
secret; but faithfully and honestly discharge the duties and
commands which lie upon thee, then afterwards, if thou hast still
leisure, give thyself to thyself as thy devotion leadeth thee.
All cannot have one exercise, but one suiteth better to this man,
and another to that. Even for the diversity of season different
exercises are needed, some suit better for feasts, some for
fasts. We need one kind in time of temptations, and others in
time of peace and quietness. Some are suitable to our times of
sadness, and others when we are joyful in the Lord.
6. When we draw near the time of the great feasts, good exercises
should be renewed, and the prayers of holy men more fervently
besought. We ought to make our resolutions from one Feast to
another, as if each were the period of our departure from this
world, and of entering into the eternal feast. So ought we to
prepare ourselves earnestly at solemn seasons, and the more
solemnly to live, and to keep straightest watch upon each holy
observance, as though we were soon to receive the reward of our
labours at the hand of God.
7. And if this be deferred, let us believe ourselves to be as yet
ill-prepared, and unworthy as yet of the glory which shall be
revealed in us at the appointed season; and let us study to
prepare ourselves the better for our end. Blessed is that
servant, as the Evangelist Luke hath it, whom, when the Lord
cometh He shall find watching. Verily I say unto you He will
make him ruler over all that He hath.(2)
(1) Jeremiah x. 23. (2) Luke xii. 43, 44.
Of the love of solitude and silence
Seek a suitable time for thy meditation, and think frequently of
the mercies of God to thee. Leave curious questions. Study such
matters as bring thee sorrow for sin rather than amusement. If
thou withdraw thyself from trifling conversation and idle goings
about, as well as from novelties and gossip, thou shalt find thy
time sufficient and apt for good meditation. The greatest saints
used to avoid as far as they could the company of men, and chose
to live in secret with God.
2. One hath said, "As oft as I have gone among men, so oft have I
returned less a man." This is what we often experience when we
have been long time in conversation. For it is easier to be
altogether silent than it is not to exceed in word. It is easier
to remain hidden at home than to keep sufficient guard upon
thyself out of doors. He, therefore, that seeketh to reach that
which is hidden and spiritual, must go with Jesus "apart from the
multitude." No man safely goeth abroad who loveth not to rest at
home. No man safely talketh but he who loveth to hold his peace.
No man safely ruleth but he who loveth to be subject. No man
safely commandeth but he who loveth to obey.
3. No man safely rejoiceth but he who hath the testimony of a
good conscience within himself. The boldness of the Saints was
always full of the fear of God. Nor were they the less earnest
and humble in themselves, because they shone forth with great
virtues and grace. But the boldness of wicked men springeth from
pride and presumption, and at the last turneth to their own
confusion. Never promise thyself security in this life,
howsoever good a monk or devout a solitary thou seemest.
4. Often those who stand highest in the esteem of men, fall the
more grievously because of their over great confidence.
Wherefore it is very profitable unto many that they should not be
without inward temptation, but should be frequently assaulted,
lest they be over confident, lest they be indeed lifted up into
pride, or else lean too freely upon the consolations of the
world. O how good a conscience should that man keep, who never
sought a joy that passeth away, who never became entangled with
the world! O how great peace and quiet should he possess, who
would cast off all vain care, and think only of healthful and
divine things, and build his whole hope upon God!
5. No man is worthy of heavenly consolation but he who hath
diligently exercised himself in holy compunction. If thou wilt
feel compunction within thy heart, enter into thy chamber and
shut out the tumults of the world, as it is written, Commune with
your own heart in your own chamber and be still.(1) In
retirement thou shalt find what often thou wilt lose abroad.
Retirement, if thou continue therein, groweth sweet, but if thou
keep not in it, begetteth weariness. If in the beginning of thy
conversion thou dwell in it and keep it well, it shall afterwards
be to thee a dear friend, and a most pleasant solace.
6. In silence and quiet the devout soul goeth forward and
learneth the hidden things of the Scriptures. Therein findeth
she a fountain of tears, wherein to wash and cleanse herself each
night, that she may grow the more dear to her Maker as she
dwelleth the further from all worldly distraction. To him who
withdraweth himself from his acquaintance and friends God with
his holy angels will draw nigh. It is better to be unknown and
take heed to oneself than to neglect oneself and work wonders.
It is praiseworthy for a religious man to go seldom abroad, to
fly from being seen, to have no desire to see men.
7. Why wouldest thou see what thou mayest not have? The world
passeth away and the lust thereof. The desires of sensuality
draw thee abroad, but when an hour is past, what does thou bring
home, but a weight upon thy conscience and distraction of heart?
A merry going forth bringeth often a sorrowful return, and a
merry evening maketh a sad morning? So doth all carnal joy
begin pleasantly, but in the end it gnaweth away and destroyeth.
What canst thou see abroad which thou seest not at home? Behold
the heaven and the earth and the elements, for out of these are
all things made.
8. What canst thou see anywhere which can continue long under the
sun? Thou believest perchance thou shalt be satisfied, but thou
wilt never be able to attain unto this. If thou shouldest see
all things before thee at once, what would it be but a vain
vision? Lift up thine eyes to God on high, and pray that thy
sins and negligences may be forgiven. Leave vain things to vain
men, and mind thou the things which God hath commanded thee.
Shut thy door upon thee, and call unto thyself Jesus thy beloved.
Remain with Him in thy chamber, for thou shalt not elsewhere find
so great peace. If thou hadst not gone forth nor listened to
vain talk, thou hadst better kept thyself in good peace. But
because it sometimes delighteth thee to hear new things, thou
must therefore suffer trouble of heart.
(1) Psalm iv. 4.
Of compunction of heart
If thou wilt make any progress keep thyself in the fear of God,
and long not to be too free, but restrain all thy senses under
discipline and give not thyself up to senseless mirth. Give
thyself to compunction of heart and thou shalt find devotion.
Compunction openeth the way for many good things, which
dissoluteness is wont quickly to lose. It is wonderful that any
man can ever rejoice heartily in this life who considereth and
weigheth his banishment, and the manifold dangers which beset his
2. Through lightness of heart and neglect of our shortcomings we
feel not the sorrows of our soul, but often vainly laugh when we
have good cause to weep. There is no true liberty nor real joy,
save in the fear of God with a good conscience. Happy is he who
can cast away every cause of distraction and bring himself to the
one purpose of holy compunction. Happy is he who putteth away
from him whatsoever may stain or burden his conscience. Strive
manfully; custom is overcome by custom. If thou knowest how to
let men alone, they will gladly let thee alone to do thine own
3. Busy not thyself with the affairs of others, nor entangle
thyself with the business of great men. Keep always thine eye
upon thyself first of all, and give advice to thyself specially
before all thy dearest friends. If thou hast not the favour of
men, be not thereby cast down, but let thy concern be that thou
holdest not thyself so well and circumspectly, as becometh a
servant of God and a devout monk. It is often better and safer
for a man not to have many comforts in this life, especially
those which concern the flesh. But that we lack divine comforts
or feel them rarely is to our own blame, because we seek not
compunction of heart, not utterly cast away those comforts which
are vain and worldly.
4. Know thyself to be unworthy of divine consolation, and worthy
rather of much tribulation. When a man hath perfect compunction,
then all the world is burdensome and bitter to him. A good man
will find sufficient cause for mourning and weeping; for whether
he considereth himself, or pondereth concerning his neighbour, he
knoweth that no man liveth here without tribulation, and the more
throughly he considereth himself, the more throughly he grieveth.
Grounds for just grief and inward compunction there are in our
sins and vices, wherein we lie so entangled that we are but
seldom able to contemplate heavenly things.
5. If thou thoughtest upon thy death more often than how long thy
life should be, thou wouldest doubtless strive more earnestly to
improve. And if thou didst seriously consider the future pains
of hell, I believe thou wouldest willingly endure toil or pain
and fear not discipline. But because these things reach not the
heart, and we still love pleasant things, therefore we remain
cold and miserably indifferent.
6. Oftentimes it is from poverty of spirit that the wretched body
is so easily led to complain. Pray therefore humbly unto the
Lord that He will give thee the spirit of compunction and say in
the language of the prophet, Feed me, O Lord, with bread of
tears, and give me plenteousness of tears to drink.(1)
(1) Psalm lxxv. 5.
On the contemplation of human misery
Thou art miserable wheresoever thou art, and whithersoever thou
turnest, unless thou turn thee to God. Why art thou disquieted
because it happeneth not to thee according to thy wishes and
desires? Who is he that hath everything according to his will?
Neither I, nor thou, nor any man upon the earth. There is no man
in the world free from trouble or anguish, though he were King or
Pope. Who is he who hath the happiest lot? Even he who is
strong to suffer somewhat for God.
2. There are many foolish and unstable men who say, "See what a
prosperous life that man hath, how rich and how great he is, how
powerful, how exalted." But lift up thine eyes to the good
things of heaven, and thou shalt see that all these worldly
things are nothing, they are utterly uncertain, yea, they are
wearisome, because they are never possessed without care and
fear. The happiness of man lieth not in the abundance of
temporal things but a moderate portion sufficeth him. Our life
upon the earth is verily wretchedness. The more a man desireth
to be spiritual, the more bitter doth the present life become to
him; because he the better understandeth and seeth the defects of
human corruption. For to eat, to drink, to watch, to sleep, to
rest, to labour, and to be subject to the other necessities of
nature, is truly a great wretchedness and affliction to a devout
man, who would fain be released and free from all sin.
3. For the inner man is heavily burdened with the necessities of
the body in this world. Wherefore the prophet devoutly prayeth
to be freed from them, saying, Deliver me from my necessities, O
Lord.(1) But woe to those who know not their own misery, and yet
greater woe to those who love this miserable and corruptible
life. For to such a degree do some cling to it (even though by
labouring or begging they scarce procure what is necessary for
subsistence) that if they might live here always, they would care
nothing for the Kingdom of God.
4. Oh foolish and faithless of heart, who lie buried so deep in
worldly things, that they relish nothing save the things of the
flesh! Miserable ones! they will too sadly find out at the
last, how vile and worthless was that which they loved. The
saints of God and all loyal friends of Christ held as nothing the
things which pleased the flesh, or those which flourished in
this life, but their whole hope and affection aspired to the
things which are above. Their whole desire was borne upwards to
everlasting and invisible things, lest they should be drawn
downwards by the love of things visible.
5. Lose not, brother, thy loyal desire of progress to things
spiritual. There is yet time, the hour is not past. Why wilt
thou put off thy resolution? Arise, begin this very moment, and
say, "Now is the time to do: now is the time to fight, now is the
proper time for amendment." When thou art ill at ease and
troubled, then is the time when thou art nearest unto blessing.
Thou must go through fire and water that God may bring thee into
a wealthy place. Unless thou put force upon thyself, thou wilt
not conquer thy faults. So long as we carry about with us this
frail body, we cannot be without sin, we cannot live without
weariness and trouble. Gladly would we have rest from all
misery; but because through sin we have lost innocence, we have
lost also the true happiness. Therefore must we be patient, and
wait for the mercy of God, until this tyranny be overpast,
and this mortality be swallowed up of life.
6. O how great is the frailty of man, which is ever prone to
evil! To-day thou confessest thy sins, and to-morrow thou
committest again the sins thou didst confess. Now dost thou
resolve to avoid a fault, and within an hour thou behavest
thyself as if thou hadst never resolved at all. Good cause have
we therefore to humble ourselves, and never to think highly of
ourselves, seeing that we are so frail and unstable. And quickly
may that be lost by our negligence, which by much labour was
hardly attained through grace.
7. What shall become of us at the end, if at the beginning we are
lukewarm and idle? Woe unto us, if we choose to rest, as though
it were a time of peace and security, while as yet no sign
appeareth in our life of true holiness. Rather had we need that
we might begin yet afresh, like good novices, to be instructed
unto good living, if haply there might be hope of some future
amendment and greater spiritual increase.
(1) Psalm xxv. 17.
Very quickly will there be an end of thee here; take heed
therefore how it will be with thee in another world. Today man
is, and to-morrow he will be seen no more. And being removed out
of sight, quickly also he is out of mind. O the dulness and
hardness of man's heart, which thinketh only of the present, and
looketh not forward to the future. Thou oughtest in every deed
and thought so to order thyself, as if thou wert to die this day.
If thou hadst a good conscience thou wouldst not greatly fear
death. It were better for thee to watch against sin, than to fly
from death. If to-day thou art not ready, how shalt thou be
ready to-morrow? To-morrow is an uncertain day; and how knowest
thou that thou shalt have a to-morrow?
2. What doth it profit to live long, when we amend so little?
Ah! long life doth not always amend, but often the more
increaseth guilt. Oh that we might spend a single day in this
world as it ought to be spent! Many there are who reckon the
years since they were converted, and yet oftentimes how little is
the fruit thereof. If it is a fearful thing to die, it may be
perchance a yet more fearful thing to live long. Happy is the
man who hath the hour of his death always before his eyes, and
daily prepareth himself to die. If thou hast ever seen one die,
consider that thou also shalt pass away by the same road.
3. When it is morning reflect that it may be thou shalt not see
the evening, and at eventide dare not to boast thyself of the
morrow. Always be thou prepared, and so live that death may
never find thee unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly.
For at such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.(1)
When that last hour shall come, thou wilt begin to think very
differently of thy whole life past, and wilt mourn bitterly that
thou hast been so negligent and slothful.
4. Happy and wise is he who now striveth to be such in life as he
would fain be found in death! For a perfect contempt of the
world, a fervent desire to excel in virtue, the love of
discipline, the painfulness of repentance, readiness to obey,
denial of self, submission to any adversity for love of Christ;
these are the things which shall give great confidence of a happy
death. Whilst thou art in health thou hast many opportunities of
good works; but when thou are in sickness I know not how much
thou wilt be able to do. Few are made better by infirmity: even
as they who wander much abroad seldom become holy.
5. Trust not thy friends and kinsfolk, nor put off the work of
thy salvation to the future, for men will forget thee sooner than
thou thinkest. It is better for thee now to provide in time, and
to send some good before thee, than to trust to the help of
others. If thou art not anxious for thyself now, who, thinkest
thou, will be anxious for thee afterwards? Now the time is most
precious. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
But alas! that thou spendest not well this time, wherein thou
mightest lay up treasure which should profit thee everlastingly.
The hour will come when thou shalt desire one day, yea, one hour,
for amendment of life, and I know not whether thou shalt obtain.
6. Oh, dearly beloved, from what danger thou mightest free
thyself, from what great fear, if only thou wouldst always live
in fear, and in expectation of death! Strive now to live in such
wise that in the hour of death thou mayest rather rejoice than
fear. Learn now to die to the world, so shalt thou begin to live
with Christ. Learn now to contemn all earthly things, and then
mayest thou freely go unto Christ. Keep under thy body by
penitence, and then shalt thou be able to have a sure confidence.
7. Ah, foolish one! why thinkest thou that thou shalt live long,
when thou art not sure of a single day? How many have been
deceived, and suddenly have been snatched away from the body!
How many times hast thou heard how one was slain by the sword,
another was drowned, another falling from on high broke his neck,
another died at the table, another whilst at play! One died by
fire, another by the sword, another by the pestilence, another by
the robber. Thus cometh death to all, and the life of men
swiftly passeth away like a shadow.
8. Who will remember thee after thy death? And who will entreat
for thee? Work, work now, oh dearly beloved, work all that thou
canst. For thou knowest not when thou shalt die, not what shall
happen unto thee after death. While thou hast time, lay up for
thyself undying riches. Think of nought but of thy salvation;
care only for the things of God. Make to thyself friends, by
venerating the saints of God and walking in their steps, that
when thou failest, thou mayest be received into everlasting
9. Keep thyself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth, to
whom the things of the world appertain not. Keep thine heart
free, and lifted up towards God, for here have we no continuing
city.(3) To Him direct thy daily prayers with crying and tears,
that thy spirit may be found worthy to pass happily after death
unto its Lord. Amen.
(1) Matthew xxiv. 44. (2) Luke xvi. 9. (3) Hebrews xiii. 14.
Of the judgment and punishment of the wicked
In all that thou doest, remember the end, and how thou wilt stand
before a strict judge, from whom nothing is hid, who is not
bribed with gifts, nor accepteth excuses, but will judge
righteous judgment. O most miserable and foolish sinner, who art
sometimes in fear of the countenance of an angry man, what wilt
thou answer to God, who knoweth all thy misdeeds? Why dost thou
not provide for thyself against the day of judgment, when no man
shall be able to be excused or defended by means of another, but
each one shall bear his burden himself alone? Now doth thy
labour bring forth fruit, now is thy weeping acceptable, thy
groaning heard, thy sorrow well pleasing to God, and cleansing to
2. Even here on earth the patient man findeth great occasion for
purifying his soul. When suffering injuries he grieveth more for
the other's malice than for his own wrong; when he prayeth
heartily for those that despitefully use him, and forgiveth them
from his heart; when he is not slow to ask pardon from others;
when he is swifter to pity than to anger; when he frequently
denieth himself and striveth altogether to subdue the flesh to
the spirit. Better is it now to purify the soul from sin, than
to cling to sins from which we must be purged hereafter. Truly
we deceive ourselves by the inordinate love which we bear towards
3. What is it which that fire shall devour, save thy sins? The
more thou sparest thyself and followest the flesh, the more heavy
shall thy punishment be, and the more fuel art thou heaping up
for the burning. For wherein a man hath sinned, therein shall he
be the more heavily punished. There shall the slothful be
pricked forward with burning goads, and the gluttons be tormented
with intolerable hunger and thrist. There shall the luxurious
and the lovers of pleasure be plunged into burning pitch and
stinking brimstone, and the envious shall howl like mad dogs for
4. No sin will there be which shall not be visited with its own
proper punishment. The proud shall be filled with utter
confusion, and the covetous shall be pinched with miserable
poverty. An hour's pain there shall be more grievous than a
hundred years here of the bitterest penitence. No quiet shall be
there, no comfort for the lost, though here sometimes there is
respite from pain, and enjoyment of the solace of friends. Be
thou anxious now and sorrowful for thy sins, that in the day of
judgment thou mayest have boldness with the blessed. For then
shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face
of such as have afflicted him and made no account of his
labours.(1) Then shall he stand up to judge, he who now
submitteth himself in humility to the judgments of men. Then
shall the poor and humble man have great confidence, while the
proud is taken with fear on every side.
5. Then shall it be seen that he was the wise man in this world
who learned to be a fool and despised for Christ. Then shall all
tribulation patiently borne delight us, while the mouth of the
ungodly shall be stopped. Then shall every godly man rejoice,
and every profane man shall mourn. Then the afflicted flesh
shall more rejoice than if it had been always nourished in
delights. Then the humble garment shall put on beauty, and the
precious robe shall hide itself as vile. Then the little poor
cottage shall be more commended than the gilded palace. Then
enduring patience shall have more might than all the power of the
world. Then simple obedience shall be more highly exalted than
all worldly wisdom.
6. Then a pure and good conscience shall more rejoice than
learned philosophy. Then contempt of riches shall have more
weight than all the treasure of the children of this world. Then
shalt thou find more comfort in having prayed devoutly than in
having fared sumptuously. Then thou wilt rather rejoice in
having kept silence than in having made long speech. Then holy
deeds shall be far stronger than many fine words. Then a strict
life and sincere penitence shall bring deeper pleasure than all
earthly delight. Learn now to suffer a little, that then thou
mayest be enabled to escape heavier sufferings. Prove first
here, what thou art able to endure hereafter. If now thou art
able to bear so little, how wilt thou be able to endure eternal
torments? If now a little suffering maketh thee so impatient,
what shall hell-fire do then? Behold of a surety thou art not
able to have two Paradises, to take thy fill or delight here in
this world, and to reign with Christ hereafter.
7. If even unto this day thou hadst ever lived in honours and
pleasures, what would the whole profit thee if now death came to
thee in an instant? All therefore is vanity, save to love God
and to serve Him only. For he who loveth God with all his heart
feareth not death, nor punishment, nor judgment, nor hell,
because perfect love giveth sure access to God. But he who still
delighteth in sin, no marvel if he is afraid of death and
judgment. Nevertheless it is a good thing, if love as yet cannot
restrain thee from evil, that at least the fear of hell should
hold thee back. But he who putteth aside the fear of God cannot
long continue in good, but shall quickly fall into the snares of
Of the zealous amendment of our whole life
Be thou watchful and diligent in God's service, and bethink thee
often why thou hast renounced the world. Was it not that thou
mightest live to God and become a spirtual man? Be zealous,
therefore, for thy spiritual profit, for thou shalt receive
shortly the reward of thy labours, and neither fear nor sorrow
shall come any more into thy borders. Now shalt thou labour a
little, and thou shalt find great rest, yea everlasting joy. If
thou shalt remain faithful and zealous in labour, doubt not that
God shall be faithful and bountiful in rewarding thee. It is thy
duty to have a good hope that thou wilt attain the victory, but
thou must not fall into security lest thou become slothful or
2. A certain man being in anxiety of mind, continually tossed
about between hope and fear, and being on a certain day
overwhelmed with grief, cast himself down in prayer before the
altar in church, and meditated within himself, saying, "Oh! if I
but knew that I should still persevere," and presently heard
within him a voice from God, "And if thou didst know it, what
wouldst thou do? Do now what thou wouldst do then, and thou
shalt be very secure." And straightway being comforted and
strengthened, he committed himself to the will of God and the
perturbation of spirit ceased, neither had he a mind any more to
search curiously to know what should befall him hereafter, but
studied rather to inquire what was the good and acceptable will
of God, for the beginning and perfecting of every good work.
3. Hope in the Lord and be doing good, saith the Prophet; dwell
in the land and thou shalt be fed(1) with its riches. One thing
there is which holdeth back many from progress and fervent
amendment, even the dread of difficulty, or the labour of the
conflict. Nevertheless they advance above all others in virtue
who strive manfully to conquer those things which are most
grievous and contrary to them, for there a man profiteth most and
meriteth greater grace where he most overcometh himself and
mortifieth himself in spirit.
4. But all men have not the same passions to conquer and to
mortify, yet he who is diligent shall attain more profit,
although he have stronger passions, than another who is more
temperate of disposition, but is withal less fervent in the
pursuit of virtue. Two things specifically avail unto
improvement in holiness, namely firmness to withdraw ourselves
from the sin to which by nature we are most inclined, and earnest
zeal for that good in that which we are most lacking. And strive
also very earnestly to guard against and subdue those faults
which displease thee most frequently in others.
5. Gather some profit to thy soul wherever thou art, and wherever
thou seest or hearest good examples, stir thyself to follow them,
but where thou seest anything which is blameworthy, take heed
that thou do not the same; or if at any time thou hast done it,
strive quickly to amend thyself. As thine eye observeth others,
so again are the eyes of others upon thee. How sweet and
pleasant is it to see zealous and godly brethren temperate and of
good discipline; and how sad it is to see them walking
disorderly, not practising the duties to which they are called.
How hurtful a thing it is to neglect the purpose of their
calling, and turn their inclinations to things which are none of
6. Be mindful of the duties which thou hast undertaken, and set
always before thee the remembrance of the Crucified. Truly
oughtest thou to be ashamed as thou lookest upon the life of
Jesus Christ, because thou hast not yet endeavoured to conform
thyself more unto Him, though thou hast been a long time in the
way of God. A religious man who exercises himself seriously and
devoutly in the most holy life and passion of our Lord shall find
there abundantly all things that are profitable and necessary for
him, neither is there need that he shall seek anything better
beyond Jesus. Oh! if Jesus crucified would come into our hearts,
how quickly, and completely should we have learned all that we
need to know!
7. He who is earnest receiveth and beareth well all things that
are laid upon him. He who is careless and lukewarm hath trouble
upon trouble, and suffereth anguish upon every side, because he
is without inward consolation, and is forbidden to seek that
which is outward. He who is living without discipline is exposed
to grievous ruin. He who seeketh easier and lighter discipline
shall always be in distress, because one thing or another gives
8. O! if no other duty lay upon us but to praise the Lord our God
with our whole heart and voice! Oh! if thou never hadst need to
eat or drink, or sleep, but wert always able to praise God, and
to give thyself to spiritual exercises alone; then shouldest thou
be far happier than now, when for so many necessities thou must
serve the flesh. O! that these necessities were not, but only
the spiritual refreshment of the soul, which alas we taste too
9. When a man hath come to this, that he seeketh comfort from no
created thing, then doth he perfectly begin to enjoy God, then
also will he be well contented with whatsoever shall happen unto
him. Then will he neither rejoice for much nor be sorrowful for
little, but he committeth himself altogether and with full trust
unto God, who is all in all to him, to whom nothing perisheth nor
dieth, but all things live to Him and obey His every word
10. Remember always thine end, and how the time which is lost
returneth not. Without care and diligence thou shalt never get
virtue. If thou beginnest to grow cold, it shall begin to go ill
with thee, but if thou givest thyself unto zeal thou shalt find
much peace, and shalt find thy labour the lighter because of the
grace of God and the love of virtue. A zealous and diligent
man is ready for all things. It is greater labour to resist sins
and passions than to toil in bodily labours. He who shunneth not
small faults falleth little by little into greater. At eventide
thou shalt always be glad if thou spend the day profitably.
Watch over thyself, stir thyself up, admonish thyself, and
howsoever it be with others, neglect not thyself. The more
violence thou dost unto thyself, the more thou shall profit.
(1) Psalm xxxvii. 3.
THE SECOND BOOK
ADMONITIONS CONCERNING THE INNER LIFE
Of the inner life
The kingdom of God is within you,(1) saith the Lord. Turn thee
with all thine heart to the Lord and forsake this miserable
world, and thou shalt find rest unto thy soul. Learn to despise
outward things and to give thyself to things inward, and thou
shalt see the kingdom of God come within thee. For the kingdom
of God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and it is not given to
the wicked. Christ will come to thee, and show thee His
consolation, if thou prepare a worthy mansion for Him within
thee. All His glory and beauty is from within, and there it
pleaseth Him to dwell. He often visiteth the inward man and
holdeth with him sweet discourse, giving him soothing
consolation, much peace, friendship exceeding wonderful.
2. Go to, faithful soul, prepare thy heart for this bridegroom
that he may vouchsafe to come to thee and dwell within thee, for
so He saith, if any man loveth me he will keep my words: and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our
abode with him.(2) Give, therefore, place to Christ and refuse
entrance to all others. When thou hast Christ, thou art rich,
and hast sufficient. He shall be thy provider and faithful
watchman in all things, so that thou hast no need to trust in
men, for men soon change and swiftly pass away, but Christ
remaineth for ever and standeth by us firmly even to the end.
3. There is no great trust to be placed in a frail and mortal
man, even though he be useful and dear to us, neither should
much sorrow arise within us if sometimes he oppose and contradict
us. They who are on thy side to-day, may to-morrow be against
thee, and often are they turned round like the wind. Put thy
whole trust in God and let Him be thy fear and thy love, He will
answer for thee Himself, and will do for thee what is best. Here
hast thou no continuing city,(3) and wheresoever thou art, thou
art a stranger and a pilgrim, and thou shalt never have rest
unless thou art closely united to Christ within thee.
4. Why dost thou cast thine eyes hither and thither, since this
is not the place of thy rest? In heaven ought thy habitation to
be, and all earthly things should be looked upon as it were in
the passing by. All things pass away and thou equally with them.
Look that thou cleave not to them lest thou be taken with them
and perish. Let thy contemplation be on the Most High, and let
thy supplication be directed unto Christ without ceasing. If
thou canst not behold high and heavenly things, rest thou in the
passion of Christ and dwell willingly in His sacred wounds. For
if thou devoutly fly to the wounds of Jesus, and the precious
marks of the nails and the spear, thou shalt find great comfort
in tribulation, nor will the slights of men trouble thee much,
and thou wilt easily bear their unkind words.
5. Christ also, when He was in the world, was despised and
rejected of men, and in His greatest necessity was left by His
acquaintances and friends to bear these reproaches. Christ was
willing to suffer and be despised, and darest thou complain of
any? Christ had adversaries and gainsayers, and dost thou wish
to have all men thy friends and benefactors? Whence shall thy
patience attain her crown if no adversity befall thee? If thou
art unwilling to suffer any adversity, how shalt thou be the
friend of Christ? Sustain thyself with Christ and for Christ if
thou wilt reign with Christ.
6. If thou hadst once entered into the mind of Jesus, and hadst
tasted yea even a little of his tender love, then wouldst thou
care nought for thine own convience or inconvience, but wouldst
rather rejoice at trouble brought upon thee, because the love of
Jesus maketh a man to despise himself. He who loveth Jesus, and
is inwardly true and free from inordinate affections, is able to
turn himself readily unto God, and to rise above himself in
spirit, and to enjoy fruitful peace.
7. He who knoweth things as they are and not as they are said or
seem to be, he truly is wise, and is taught of God more than men.
He who knoweth how to walk from within, and to set little value
upon outward things, requireth not places nor waiteth for
seasons, for holding his intercourse with God. The inward man
quickly recollecteth himself, because he is never entirely given
up to outward things. No outward labour and no necessary
occupations stand in his way, but as events fall out, so doth he
fit himself to them. He who is rightly disposed and ordered
within careth not for the strange and perverse conduct of men. A
man is hindered and distracted in so far as he is moved by
8. If it were well with thee, and thou wert purified from evil,
all things would work together for thy good and profiting. For
this cause do many things displease thee and often trouble thee,
that thou art not yet perfectly dead to thyself nor separated
from all earthly things. Nothing so defileth and entangleth the
heart of man as impure love towards created things. If thou
rejectest outward comfort thou wilt be able to contemplate
heavenly things and frequently to be joyful inwardly.
(1) Luke xvii. 21. (2) John xiv. 23. (3) Hebrews xiii. 14.
Of lowly submission
Make no great account who is for thee or against thee, but mind
only the present duty and take care that God be with thee in
whatsoever thou dost. Have a good conscience and God will defend
thee, for he whom God will help no man's perverseness shall be
able to hurt. If thou knowest how to hold thy peace and to
suffer, without doubt thou shalt see the help of the Lord. He
knoweth the time and the way to deliver thee, therefore must thou
resign thyself to Him. To God it belongeth to help and to
deliver from all confusion. Oftentimes it is very profitable for
keeping us in greater humilty, that others know and rebuke our
2. When a man humbleth himself for his defects, he then easily
pacifieth others and quickly satisfieth those that are angered
against him. God protecteth and delivereth the humble man, He
loveth and comforteth the humble man, to the humble man He
inclineth Himself, on the humble He bestoweth great grace, and
when he is cast down He raiseth him to glory: to the humble He
revealeth His secrets, and sweetly draweth and inviteth him to
Himself. The humble man having received reproach, is yet in
sufficient peace, because he resteth on God and not on the world.
Reckon not thyself to have profited in anywise unless thou feel
thyself to be inferior to all.
Of the good, peaceable man
First keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to be a
peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a
well-learned. A passionate man turneth even good into evil and
easily believeth evil; a good, peaceable man converteth all
things into good. He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of
none, but he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many
suspicions, and is neither quiet himself nor suffereth others to
be quiet. He often saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth
what it were more expedient for him to do. He considereth to
what duties others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is
bound himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then
mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour.
2. Thou knowest well how to excuse and to colour thine own deeds,
but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others. It would be more
just to accuse thyself and excuse thy brother. If thou wilt that
others bear with thee, bear thou with others. Behold how far
thou art as yet from the true charity and humility which knows
not how to be angry or indignant against any save self alone.
It is no great thing to mingle the good and the meek, for this is
naturally pleasing to all, and every one of us willingly enjoyeth
peace and liketh best those who think with us: but to be able to
live peaceably with the hard and perverse, or with the
disorderly, or those who oppose us, this is a great grace and a
thing much to be commended and most worthy of a man.
3. There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also
with others, and there are who neither have peace nor suffer
others to have peace; they are troublesome to others, but always
more troublesome to themselves. And there are who hold
themselves in peace, and study to bring others unto peace;
nevertheless, all our peace in this sad life lieth in humble
suffering rather than in not feeling adversities. He who knoweth
best how to suffer shall possess the most peace; that man is
conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the friend of Christ,
and the inheritor of heaven.
Of a pure mind and simple intention
By two wings is man lifted above earthly things, even by
simplicity and purity. Simplicity ought to be in the intention,
purity in the affection. Simplicity reacheth toward God, purity
apprehendeth Him and tasteth Him. No good action will be
distasteful to thee if thou be free within from inordinate
affection. If thou reachest after and seekest, nothing but the
will of God and the benefit of thy neighbour, thou wilt entirely
enjoy inward liberty. If thine heart were right, then should
every creature be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine.
There is no creature so small and vile but that it showeth us the
goodness of God.
2. If thou wert good and pure within, then wouldst thou look upon
all things without hurt and understand them aright. A pure heart
seeth the very depths of heaven and hell. Such as each one is
inwardly, so judgeth he outwardly. If there is any joy in the
world surely the man of pure heart possesseth it, and if there is
anywhere tribulation and anguish, the evil conscience knoweth it
best. As iron cast into the fire loseth rust and is made
altogether glowing, so the man who turneth himself altogether
unto God is freed from slothfulness and changed into a new man.
3. When a man beginneth to grow lukewarm, then he feareth a
little labour, and willingly accepteth outward consolation; but
when he beginneth perfectly to conquer himself and to walk
manfully in the way of God, then he counteth as nothing those
things which aforetime seemed to be so grievous unto him.
We cannot place too little confidence in ourselves, because grace
and understanding are often lacking to us. Little light is there
within us, and what we have we quickly lose by negligence.
Oftentimes we perceive not how great is our inward blindness. We
often do ill and excuse it worse. Sometimes we are moved by
passion and count it zeal; we blame little faults in others and
pass over great faults in ourselves. Quickly enough we feel and
reckon up what we bear at the hands of others, but we reflect not
how much others are bearing from us. He who would weigh well and
rightly his own doings would not be the man to judge severely of
2. The spiritually-minded man putteth care of himself before all
cares; and he who diligently attendeth to himself easily keepeth
silence concerning others. Thou wilt never be spiritually minded
and godly unless thou are silent concerning other men's matters
and take full heed to thyself. If thou think wholly upon thyself
and upon God, what thou seest out of doors shall move thee
little. Where art thou when thou art not present to thyself? and
when thou hast overrun all things, what hath it profited thee,
thyself being neglected? If thou wouldst have peace and true
unity, thou must put aside all other things, and gaze only upon
3. Then thou shalt make great progress if thou keep thyself free
from all temporal care. Thou shalt lamentably fall away if thou
set a value upon any worldly thing. Let nothing be great,
nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable unto thee,
save God Himself or the things of God. Reckon as altogether vain
whatsoever consolation comes to thee from a creature. The soul
that loveth God looketh not to anything that is beneath God. God
alone is eternal and incomprehensible, filling all things, the
solace of the soul, and the true joy of the heart.
Of the joy of a good conscience
The testimony of a good conscience is the glory of a good man.
Have a good conscience and thou shalt ever have joy. A good
conscience is able to bear exceeding much, and is exceeding
joyful in the midst of adversities; an evil conscience is ever
fearful and unquiet. Thou shalt rest sweetly if thy heart
condemn thee not. Never rejoice unless when thou hast done well.
The wicked have never true joy, nor feel internal peace, for
there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.(1) And if they
say "we are in peace, there shall no harm happen unto us, and who
shall dare to do us hurt?" believe them not, for suddenly shall
the wrath of God rise up against them, and their deeds shall be
brought to nought, and their thoughts shall perish.
2. To glory in tribulation is not grievous to him who loveth; for
such glorying is glorying in the Cross of Christ. Brief is the
glory which is given and received of men. Sadness always goeth
hand in hand with the glory of the world. The glory of the good
is in their conscience, and not in the report of men. The joy of
the upright is from God and in God, and their joy is in the
truth. He who desireth true and eternal glory careth not for
that which is temporal; and he who seeketh temporal glory, or who
despiseth it from his heart, is proved to bear little love for
that which is heavenly. He who careth for neither praises nor
reproaches hath great tranquillity of heart.
3. He will easily be contented and filled with peace, whose
conscience is pure. Thou art none the holier if thou art
praised, nor the viler if thou art reproached. Thou art what
thou art; and thou canst not be better than God pronounceth thee
to be. If thou considerest well what thou art inwardly, thou
wilt not care what men will say to thee. Man looketh on the
outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart:(2) man
looketh on the deed, but God considereth the intent. It is the
token of a humble spirit always to do well, and to set little by
oneself. Not to look for consolation from any created thing is a
sign of great purity and inward faithfulness.
4. He that seeketh no outward witness on his behalf, showeth
plainly that he hath committed himself wholly to God. For not he
that commendeth himself is approved, as St. Paul saith, but whom
the Lord commendeth.(3) To walk inwardly with God, and not to be
held by any outer affections, is the state of a spiritual man.
(1) Isaiah lvii. 21. (2) 1 Samuel xvi. 7.
(3) 2 Corinthians x. 18.
Of loving Jesus above all things
Blessed is he who understandeth what it is to love Jesus, and to
despise himself for Jesus' sake. He must give up all that he
loveth for his Beloved, for Jesus will be loved alone above all
things. The love of created things is deceiving and unstable,
but the love of Jesus is faithful and lasting. He who cleaveth
to created things will fall with their slipperiness; but he who
embraceth Jesus will stand upright for ever. Love Him and hold
Him for thy friend, for He will not forsake thee when all depart
from thee, nor will he suffer thee to perish at the last. Thou
must one day be separated from all, whether thou wilt or wilt
2. Cleave thou to Jesus in life and death, and commit thyself
unto His faithfulness, who, when all men fail thee, is alone able
to help thee. Thy Beloved is such, by nature, that He will
suffer no rival, but alone will possess thy heart, and as a king
will sit upon His own throne. If thou wouldst learn to put away
from thee every created thing, Jesus would freely take up His
abode with thee. Thou wilt find all trust little better than
lost which thou has placed in men, and not in Jesus. Trust not
nor lean upon a reed shaken with the wind, because all flesh is
grass, and the goodliness thereof falleth as the flower of the
3. Thou wilt be quickly deceived if thou lookest only upon the
outward appearance of men, for if thou seekest thy comfort and
profit in others, thou shalt too often experience loss. If thou
seekest Jesus in all things thou shalt verily find Jesus, but if
thou seekest thyself thou shalt also find thyself, but to thine
own hurt. For if a man seeketh not Jesus he is more hurtful to
himself than all the world and all his adversaries.
(1) Isaiah xl. 6.
Of the intimate love of Jesus
When Jesus is present all is well and nothing seemeth hard, but
when Jesus is not present everything is hard. When Jesus
speaketh not within, our comfort is nothing worth, but if Jesus
speaketh but a single word great is the comfort we experience.
Did not Mary Magdalene rise up quickly from the place where she
wept when Martha said to her, The Master is come and calleth for
thee?(2) Happy hour when Jesus calleth thee from tears to the
joy of the spirit! How dry and hard art thou without Jesus! How
senseless and vain if thou desire aught beyond Jesus! Is not
this greater loss than if thou shouldst lose the whole world?
2. What can the word profit thee without Jesus? To be without
Jesus is the nethermost hell, and to be with Jesus is sweet
paradise. If Jesus were with thee no enemy could hurt thee. He
who findeth Jesus findeth a good treasure, yea, good above all
good; and he who loseth Jesus loseth exceeding much, yea, more
than the whole world. Most poor is he who liveth without Jesus,
and most rich is he who is much with Jesus.
3. It is great skill to know how to live with Jesus, and to know
how to hold Jesus is great wisdom. Be thou humble and peaceable
and Jesus shall be with thee. Be godly and quiet, and Jesus will
remain with thee. Thou canst quickly drive away Jesus and lose
His favour if thou wilt turn away to the outer things. And if
thou hast put Him to flight and lost Him, to whom wilt thou flee,
and whom then wilt thou seek for a friend? Without a friend thou
canst not live long, and if Jesus be not thy friend above all
thou shalt be very sad and desolate. Madly therefore doest thou
if thou trusteth or findest joy in any other. It is preferable
to have the whole world against thee, than Jesus offended with
thee. Therefore of all that are dear to thee, let Jesus be
4. Let all be loved for Jesus' sake, but Jesus for His own.
Jesus Christ alone is to be specially loved, for He alone is
found good and faithful above all friends. For His sake and in
Him let both enemies and friends be dear to thee, and pray for
them all that they may all know and love Him. Never desire to be
specially praised or loved, because this belongeth to God alone,
who hath none like unto Himself. Nor wish thou that any one set
his heart on thee, nor do thou give thyself up to the love of
any, but let Jesus be in thee and in every good man.
5. Be pure and free within thyself, and be not entangled by any
created thing. Thou oughtest to bring a bare and clean heart to
God, if thou desirest to be ready to see how gracious the Lord
is. And in truth, unless thou be prevented and drawn on by His
grace, thou wilt not attain to this, that having cast out and
dismissed all else, thou alone art united with God. For when the
grace of God cometh to a man, then he becometh able to do all
things, and when it departeth then he will be poor and weak and
given up unto troubles. In these thou art not to be cast down
nor to despair, but to rest with calm mind on the will of God,
and to bear all things which come upon thee unto the praise of
Jesus Christ; for after winter cometh summer, after night
returneth day, after the tempest a great calm.
(2) John xi. 28.
Of the lack of all comfort
It is no hard thing to despise human comfort when divine is
present. It is a great thing, yea very great, to be able to bear
the loss both of human and divine comfort; and for the love of
God willingly to bear exile of heart, and in nought to seek
oneself, nor to look to one's own merit. What great matter is
it, if thou be cheerful of heart and devout when favour cometh to
thee? That is an hour wherein all rejoice. Pleasantly enough
doth he ride whom the grace of God carrieth. And what marvel, if
he feeleth no burden who is carried by the Almighty, and is led
onwards by the Guide from on high?
2. We are willing to accept anything for comfort, and it is
difficult for a man to be freed from himself. The holy martyr
Laurence overcame the love of the world and even of his priestly
master, because he despised everything in the world which seemed
to be pleasant; and for the love of Christ he calmly suffered
even God's chief priest, Sixtus, whom he dearly loved, to be
taken from him. Thus by the love of the Creator he overcame the
love of man, and instead of human comfort he chose rather God's
good pleasure. So also learn thou to resign any near and beloved
friend for the love of God. Nor take it amiss when thou hast
been deserted by a friend, knowing that we must all be parted
from one another at last.
3. Mightily and long must a man strive within himself before he
learn altogether to overcome himself, and to draw his whole
affection towards God. When a man resteth upon himself, he
easily slippeth away into human comforts. But a true lover of
Christ, and a diligent seeker after virtue, falleth not back upon
those comforts, nor seeketh such sweetness as may be tasted and
handled, but desireth rather hard exercises, and to undertake
severe labours for Christ.
4. When, therefore, spiritual comfort is given by God, receive it
with giving of thanks, and know that it is the gift of God, not
thy desert. Be not lifted up, rejoice not overmuch nor foolishly
presume, but rather be more humble for the gift, more wary and
more careful in all thy doings; for that hour will pass away, and
temptation will follow. When comfort is taken from thee, do not
straightway despair, but wait for the heavenly visitation with
humility and patience, for God is able to give thee back greater
favour and consolation. This is not new nor strange to those who
have made trial of the way of God, for with the great saints and
the ancient prophets there was often this manner of change.
5. Wherefore one said when the favour of God was present with
him, I said in my prosperity I shall never be moved,(1) but he
goeth on to say what he felt within himself when the favour
departed: Thou didst turn Thy face from me, and I was troubled.
In spite whereof he in no wise despaireth, but the more instantly
entreateth God, and saith, Unto Thee, O Lord, will I cry, and
will pray unto my God; and then he receiveth the fruit of his
prayer, and testifieth how he hath been heard, saying, The Lord
heard me and had mercy upon me, the Lord was my helper. But
wherein? Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy, Thou hast put
off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. If it was thus
with the great saints, we who are poor and needy ought not to
despair if we are sometimes in the warmth and sometimes in the
cold, for the Spirit cometh and goeth according to the good
pleasure of His will. Wherefore holy Job saith, Thou dost visit
him in the morning, and suddenly Thou dost prove him.(2)
6. Whereupon then can I hope, or wherein may I trust, save only
in the great mercy of God, and the hope of heavenly grace? For
whether good men are with me, godly brethren or faithful friends,
whether holy books or beautiful discourses, whether sweet hymns
and songs, all these help but little, and have but little savour
when I am deserted by God's favour and left to mine own poverty.
There is no better remedy, then, than patience and denial of
self, and an abiding in the will of God.
7. I have never found any man so religious and godly, but that he
felt sometimes a withdrawal of the divine favour, and lack of
fervour. No saint was ever so filled with rapture, so
enlightened, but that sooner or later he was tempted. For he is
not worthy of the great vision of God, who, for God's sake, hath
not been exercised by some temptation. For tenmptation is wont
to go before as a sign of the comfort which shall follow, and
heavenly comfort is promised to those who are proved by
temptation. As it is written, To him that overcometh I will
give to at of the tree of life.(3)
8. Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to bear
adversities. And temptation followeth, lest he be lifted up
because of the benefit. The devil sleepeth not; thy flesh is not
yet dead; therefore, cease thou not to make thyself ready unto
the battle, for enemies stand on thy right hand and on thy left,
and they are never at rest.
(1) Psalm xxx. 6. (2) Job vii. 18. (3) Revelation ii. 7.
Of gratitude for the Grace of God
Why seekest thou rest when thou art born to labour? Prepare
thyself for patience more than for comforts, and for bearing the
cross more than for joy. For who among the men of this world
would not gladly receive consolation and spiritual joy if he
might always have it? For spiritual comforts exceed all the
delights of the world, and all the pleasures of the flesh. For
all worldly delights are either empty or unclean, whilst
spiritual delights alone are pleasant and honourable, the
offspring of virtue, and poured forth by God into pure minds.
But no man can always enjoy these divine comforts at his own
will, because the season of temptation ceaseth not for long.
2. Great is the difference between a visitation from above and
false liberty of spirit and great confidence in self. God doeth
well in giving us the grace of comfort, but man doeth ill in not
immediately giving God thanks thereof. And thus the gifts of
grace are not able to flow unto us, because we are ungrateful to
the Author of them, and return them not wholly to the Fountain
whence they flow. For grace ever becometh the portion of him who
is grateful and that is taken away from the proud, which is wont
to be given to the humble.
3. I desire no consolation which taketh away from me compunction,
I love no contemplation which leadeth to pride. For all that is
high is not holy, nor is everything that is sweet good; every
desire is not pure; nor is everything that is dear to us pleasing
to God. Willingly do I accept that grace whereby I am made
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
Jess 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
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 by
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 by made more humble. No man understandeth the
Passion of Christ in his heart so well as he who hath had
somewhat of the life suffering himself. The Cross therefore is
always ready, and every where waiteth for thee. Thou canst not
flee from it whithersoever thou hurriest, for withersoever 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 to enter into his glory.(3) And how dost thou seek
another way than this royal way, which is the way of the Holy
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 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 willing 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. That 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 me 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 throughly 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 awaym 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) I 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 humilty 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 carfulness as he serveth
the world and its rulers?
Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, saith the sea;
And if thou reason seekest, hear thou me.(3)
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 are 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
are 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 of 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 nor 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
sorrows 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 to 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 solider; 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) Psalm 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
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 away.
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,
straightaway 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 any 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 is it 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 commandest 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 confusing 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 to 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 themselved 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 this 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 Good, 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 is 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 to 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 bond 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 behelf 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 weighteth 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 fraility, 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. Of 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 calamaities
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 to 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 inquity 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 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, not contemn
those beneath him; for he is 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 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) Act 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 thought 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) I 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 and deeds of
others, nor meddle with matter 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; not 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 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 man,
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
presevere. 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 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 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, not 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 by 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 diving 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 seek 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 out 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
gently, 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 of 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 thing 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, not 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 love
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 that
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.
Of instability of heart, and of directing the aim towards God
"My Son, trust not thy feeling, for that which is now will be
quickly changed into somewhat else. As long as thou livest thou
art subject to change, howsoever unwilling; so that thou art
found now joyful, now sad; now at peace, now disquieted; now
devout, now indevout; now studious, now careless; now sad, now
cheerful. But the wise man, and he who is truly learned in
spirit, standeth above these changeable things, attentive not to
what he may feel in himself, or from what quarter the wind may
blow, but that the whole intent of his mind may carry him on to
the due and much-desired end. For thus will he be able to remain
one and the same and unshaken, the single eye of his desire being
steadfastly fixed, through the manifold changes of the world,
2. "But according as the eye of intention be the more pure, even
so will a man make his way steadfastly through the manifold
storms. But in many the eye of pure intention waxeth dim; for it
quickly resteth itself upon anything pleasant which occurreth,
and rarely is any many found altogether free from the blemish of
self-seeking. So the Jews of old came to Bethany, to the house
of Martha and Mary, that they might see not Jesus, but Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.(1) Therefore must the eye of
the intention be cleansed, that it may be single and right, and
above all things which come in its way, may be directed unto Me."
(1) John xii. 9.
That to him who loveth God is sweet above all things and in all
Behold, God is mine, and all things are mine! What will I more,
and what more happy thing can I desire? O delightsome and sweet
world! that is, to him that loveth the Word, not the world,
neither the things that are in the world.(2) My God, my all! To
him that understandeth, that word sufficeth, and to repeat it
often is pleasing to him that loveth it. When Thou art present
all things are pleasant; when Thou art absent, all things are
wearisome. Thou makest the heart to be at rest, givest it deep
peace and festal joy. Thou makest it to think rightly in every
matter, and in every matter to give Thee praise; neither can
anything please long without Thee but if it would be pleasant and
of sweet savour, Thy grace must be there, and it is Thy wisdom
which must give unto it a sweet savour.
2. To him who tasteth Thee, what can be distasteful? And to him
who tasteth Thee not, what is there which can make him joyous?
But the worldly wise, and they who enjoy the flesh, these fail in
Thy wisdom; for in the wisdom of the world is found utter vanity,
and to be carnally minded is death. But they who follow after
Thee through contempt of worldly things, and mortfication of the
flesh, are found to be truly wise because they are carried from
vanity to verity, from the flesh to the spirit. They taste that
the Lord is good, and whatsoever good they find in creatures,
they count it all unto the praise of the Creator. Unlike, yea,
very unlike is the enjoyment of the Creator to enjoyment of the
Creature, the enjoyment of eternity and of time, of light
uncreated and of light reflected.
3. O Light everlasting, surpassing all created lights, dart down
Thy ray from on high which shall pierce the inmost depths of my
heart. Give purity, joy, clearness, life to my spirit that with
all its powers it may cleave unto Thee with rapture passing man's
understanding. O when shall that blessed and longed-for time
come when Thou shalt satisfy me with Thy presence, and be unto me
All in all? So long as this is delayed, my joy shall not be
full. Still, ah me! the old man liveth in me: he is not yet all
crucified, not yet quite dead; still he lusteth fiercely against
the spirit, wageth inward wars, nor suffereth the soul's kingdom
to be in peace.
4. But Thou who rulest the raging of the sea, and stillest the
waves thereof when they arise, rise up and help me. Scatter the
people that delight in war.(2) Destroy them by Thy power. Show
forth, I beseech Thee, Thy might, and let Thy right hand be
glorified, for I have no hope, no refuge, save in Thee, O Lord my
(2) I John ii. 15. (2) Psalm lxviii. 30.
That there is no security against temptation in this life
"My Son, thou art never secure in this life, but thy spiritual
armour will always be needful for thee as long as thou livest.
Thou dwellest among foes, and art attacked on the right hand and
on the left. If therefore thou use not on all sides the shield
of patience, thou wilt not remain long unwounded. Above all, if
thou keep not thy heart fixed upon Me with steadfast purpose to
bear all things for My sake, thou shalt not be able to bear the
fierceness of the attack, nor to attain to the victory of the
blessed. Therefore must thou struggle bravely all thy life
through, and put forth a strong hand against those things which
oppose thee. For to him that overcometh is the hidden manna
given,(1) but great misery is reserved for the slothful.
2. "If thou seek rest in this life, how then wilt thou attain
unto the rest which is eternal? Set not thyself to attain much
rest, but much patience. Seek the true peace, not in earth but
in heaven, not in man nor in any created thing, but in God alone.
For the love of God thou must willingly undergo all things,
whether labours or sorrows, temptations, vexations, anxieties,
necessities, infirmities, injuries, gainsayings, rebukes,
humiliations, confusions, corrections, despisings; these things
help unto virtue, these things prove the scholar of Christ; these
things fashion the heavenly crown. I will give thee an eternal
reward for short labour, and infinite glory for transient shame.
3. "Thinkest thou that thou shalt always have spiritual
consolations at thy will? My Saints had never such, but instead
thereof manifold griefs, and divers temptations, and heavy
desolations. But patiently they bore themselves in all, and
trusted in God more than in themselves, knowing that the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be received in us.(2) Wouldst thou
have that immediately which many have hardly attained unto after
many tears and hard labours? Wait for the Lord, quit thyself
like a man and be strong; be not faint-hearted, nor go aside from
Me, but constantly devote thy body and soul to the glory of God.
I will reward thee plenteously, I will be with thee in
(1) Revelation ii. 17. (2) Romans viii. 17.
(3) Psalm xci. 15.
Against vain judgments of men
"My Son, anchor thy soul firmly upon God, and fear not man's
judgments, when conscience pronounceth thee pious and innocent.
It is good and blessed thus to suffer; nor will it be grievous to
the heart which is humble, and which trusteth in God more than in
itself. Many men have many opinions, and therefore little trust
is to be placed in them. But moreover it is impossible to please
all. Although Paul studied to please all men in the Lord, and to
become all things to all men,(1) yet nevertheless with him it was
a very small thing that he should be judged by man's
2. He laboured abundantly, as much as in him lay, for the
building up and the salvation of others; but he could not avoid
being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore he
committed all to God, who knew all, and by patience and humility
defended himself against evil speakers, or foolish and false
thinkers, and those who accused him according to their pleasure.
Nevertheless, from time to time he replied, lest his silence
should become a stumbling-block to those who were weak.
3. "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that
shall die? To-day he is, and to-morrow his place is not found.
Fear God and thou shalt not quail before the terrors of men.
What can any man do against thee by words or deeds? He hurteth
himself more than thee, nor shall he escape the judgment of God,
whosoever he may be. Have thou God before thine eyes, and do not
contend with fretful words. And if for the present thou seem to
give way, and to suffer confusion which thou hast not deserved,
be not angry at this, nor by impatience diminish thy reward; but
rather look up to Me in heaven, for I am able to deliver thee
from all confusion and hurt, and to render to every man according
to his works."
(1) I Corinthians ix. 22. (2) I Corinthians iv. 3.
Of pure and entire resignation of self, for obtaining liberty of
"My Son, lose thyself and thou shalt find Me. Stand still
without all choosing and all thought of self, and thou shalt ever
be a gainer. For more grace shall be added to thee, as soon as
thou resignest thyself, and so long as thou dost not turn back to
take thyself again."
2. O Lord, how often shall I resign myself, and in what things
shall I lose myself?
3. "Always; every hour: in that which is little, and in that
which is great. I make no exception, but will that thou be found
naked in all things. Otherwise how canst thou be Mine and I
thine, unless thou be inwardly and outwardly free from every will
of thine own? The sooner thou dost this, the better shall it be
with thee; and the more fully and sincerely, the more thou shalt
please Me, and the more abundantly shalt thou be rewarded.
4. "Some resign themselves, but with certain reservations, for
they do not fully trust in God, therefore they think that they
have some provision to make for themselves. Some again at first
offer everything; but afterwards being pressed by temptation they
return to their own devices, and thus make no progress in virtue.
They will not attain to the true liberty of a pure heart, nor to
the grace of My sweet companionship, unless they first entirely
resign themselves and daily offer themselves up as a sacrifice;
without this the union which bringeth forth fruit standeth not
nor will stand.
5. "Many a time I have said unto thee, and now say again, Give
thyself up, resign thyself, and thou shalt have great inward
peace. Give all for all; demand nothing, ask nothing in return;
stand simply and with no hesitation in Me, and thou shalt possess
Me. Thou shalt have liberty of heart, and the darkness shall not
overwhelm thee. For this strive thou, pray for it, long after
it, that thou mayest be delivered from all possession of thyself,
and nakedly follow Jesus who was made naked for thee; mayest die
unto thyself and live eternally to Me. Then shall all vain
fancies disappear, all evil disturbings, and superfluous cares.
Then also shall immoderate fear depart from thee, and inordinate
love shall die."
Of a good government in external things, and of having recourse
to God in dangers
"My Son, for this thou must diligently make thy endeavour, that
in every place and outward action or occupation thou mayest be
free within, and have power over thyself; and that all things be
under thee, not thou under them; that thou be master and ruler of
thy actions, not a slave or hireling, but rather a free and true
Hebrew, entering into the lot and the liberty of the children of
God, who stand above the present and look upon the eternal, who
with the left eye behold things transitory, and with the right
things heavenly; whom temporal things draw not to cleave unto,
but who rather draw temporal things to do them good service, even
as they were ordained of God to do, and appointed by the Master
Workman, who hath left nought in His creation without aim or
2. "And if in any chance of life thou stand not in outward
appearances, nor judgest things which are seen and heard by the
fleshly sense, but straightway in every cause enterest with Moses
into the tabernacle to ask counsel of God; thou shalt hear a
divine response and come forth instructed concerning many things
that are and shall be. For always Moses had recourse to the
tabernacle for the solving of all doubts and questionings; and
fled to the help of prayer to be delivered from the dangers and
evil deeds of men. Thus also oughtest thou to fly to the secret
chamber of thy heart, and earnestly implore the divine succour.
For this cause we read that Joshua and the children of Israel
were deceived by the Gibeonites, that they asked not counsel at
the mouth of the Lord,(1) but being too ready to listen to fair
speeches, were deceived by pretended piety."
(1) Joshua ix. 14.
That man must not be immersed in business
"My Son, always commit thy cause to Me; I will dispose it aright
in due time. Wait for My arrangement of it, and then thou shalt
find it for thy profit."
2. O Lord, right freely I commit all things to Thee; for my
planning can profit but little. Oh that I did not dwell so much
on future events, but could offer myself altogether to Thy
pleasures without delay.
3. "My Son, a man often striveth vehemently after somewhat which
he desireth; but when he hath obtained it he beginneth to be of
another mind, because his affections towards it are not lasting,
but rather rush on from one thing to another. Therefore it is not
really a small thing, when in small things we resist self."
4. The true progress of man lieth in self-denial, and a man who
denieth himself is free and safe. But the old enemy, opposer of
all good things, ceaseth not from temptation; but day and night
setteth his wicked snares, if haply he may be able to entrap the
unwary. Watch and pray, saith the Lord, lest ye enter into
(1) Matthew xxvi. 41.
That man hath no good in himself, and nothing whereof to glory
Lord, what is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man
that Thou visitest him?(2) What hath man deserved, that Thou
shouldest bestow thy favour upon him? Lord, what cause can I
have of complaint, if Thou forsake me? Or what can I justly
allege, if Thou refuse to hear my petition? Of a truth, this I
may truly think and say, Lord, I am nothing, I have nothing that
is good of myself, but I fall short in all things, and ever tend
unto nothing. And unless I am helped by Thee and inwardly
supported, I become altogether lukewarm and reckless.
2. But Thou, O Lord, art always the same, and endurest for ever,
always good, righteous, and holy; doing all things well,
righteously, and holily, and disposing all in Thy wisdom. But I
who am more ready to go forward than backward, never continue in
one stay, because changes sevenfold pass over me. Yet it quickly
becometh better when it so pleaseth Thee, and Thou puttest forth
Thy hand to help me; because Thou alone canst aid without help of
man, and canst so stregthen me that my countenance shall be no
more changed, but my heart shall be turned to Thee, and rest in
3. Wherefore, if I but knew well how to reject all human
consolations, whether for the sake of gaining devotion, or
because of the necessity by which I was compelled to seek Thee,
seeing there is no man who can comfort me; then could I worthily
trust in Thy grace, and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.
4. Thanks be to Thee, from whom all cometh, whensoever it goeth
well with me! But I am vanity and nothing in Thy sight, a man
inconstant and weak. What then have I whereof to glory, or why
do I long to be held in honour? Is it not for nought? This also
is utterly vain. Verily vain glory is an evil plague, the
greatest of vanities, because it draweth us away fom the true
glory, and robbeth us of heavenly grace. For whilst a man
pleaseth himself he displeaseth Thee; whilst he gapeth after the
praises of man, he is deprived of true virtues.
5. But true glory and holy rejoicing lieth in glorying in Thee
and not in self; in rejoicing in Thy Name, not in our own virtue;
in not taking delight in any creature, save only for Thy sake.
Let thy Name, not mine be praised; let Thy work, not mine be
magnified; let Thy holy Name be blessed, but to me let nought be
given of the praises of men. Thou art my glory, Thou art the joy
of my heart. In Thee will I make my boast and be glad all the
day long, for myself let me not glory save only in my
6. Let the Jews seek the honour which cometh from one another;
but I will ask for that which cometh from God only.(3) Truly all
human glory, all temporal honour, all worldly exultation,
compared to Thy eternal glory, is but vanity and folly. O God my
Truth and my Mercy, Blessed Trinity, to Thee alone be all praise,
honour, power, and glory for ever and for ever. Amen.
(2) Psalm viii. 4. (2) 2 Corinthians xii. 5.
(3) John v. 44.
Of contempt of all temporal honour
"My Son, make it no matter of thine, if thou see others honoured
and exalted, and thyself despised and humbled. Lift up thine
heart to Me in heaven, and then the contempt of men upon earth
will not make thee sad."
2. O Lord, we are in blindness, and are quickly seduced by
vanity. If I look rightly within myself, never was injury done
unto me by any creature, and therefore I have nought whereof to
complain before Thee. But because I have many times and
grievously sinned against Thee, all creatures do justly take arms
against me. Therefore to me confusion and contempt are justly
due, but to Thee praise and honour and glory. And except I
dispose myself for this, namely, to be willing that every
creature should despise and desert me, and that I should be
esteemed altogether as nothing, I cannot be inwardly filled with
peace and strength, nor spiritually enlightened, nor fully united
That our peace is not to be placed in men
"My Son, if thou set thy peace on any person because thou hast
high opinion of him, and art familiar with him, thou shalt be
unstable and entangled. But if thou betake thyself to the
ever-living and abiding Truth, the desertion or death of a friend
shall not make thee sad. In Me ought the love of thy friend to
subsist, and for My sake is every one to be loved, whosoever he
be, who appeareth to thee good, and is very dear to thee in this
life. Without Me friendship hath no strength or endurance,
neither is that love true and pure, which I unite not. Thou
oughtest to be so dead to such affections of beloved friends,
that as far as in thee lieth, thou wouldst rather choose to be
without any companionship of men. The nearer a man approacheth
to God, the further he recedeth from all earthly solace. The
deeper also he descendeth into himself, and the viler he
appeareth in his own eyes, the higher he ascendeth towards God.
2. "But he who attributeth anything good to himself, hindereth
the grace of God from coming to him, because the grace of the
Holy Ghost ever seeketh the humble heart. If thou couldst make
thyself utterly nothing, and empty thyself of the love of every
creature, then should it be My part to overflow unto thee with
great grace. When thou settest thine eyes upon creatures, the
face of the Creator is withdrawn from thee. Learn in all things
to conquer thyself for thy Creator's sake, then shalt thou be
able to attain unto divine knowledge. How small soever anything
be, if it be loved and regarded inordinately, it holdeth us back
from the highest good, and corrupteth."
Against vain and worldly knowledge
"My Son, let not the fair and subtle sayings of men move thee.
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.(1) Give ear
to My words, for they kindle the heart and enlighten the mind,
they bring contrition, and they supply manifold consolations.
Never read thou the word that thou mayest appear more learned or
wise; but study for the mortification of thy sins, for this will
be far more profitable for thee than the knowledge of many
2. "When thou hast read and learned many things, thou must always
return to one first principle. I am He that teacheth man
knowledge,(2) and I give unto babes clearer knowledge than can
be taught by man. He to whom I speak will be quickly wise and
shall grow much in the spirit. Woe unto them who inquire into
many curious questions from men, and take little heed concerning
the way of My service. The time will come when Christ will
appear, the Master of masters, the Lord of the Angels, to hear
the lessons of all, that is to examine the consciences of each
one. And then will He search Jerusalem with candles,(3) and the
hidden things of darkness(4) shall be made manifest, and the
arguings of tongues shall be silent.
3. "I am He who in an instant list up the humble spirit, to learn
more reasonings of the Eternal Truth, than if a man had studied
ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words,
without confusion of opinions, without strivings after honour,
without clash of arguments. I am He who teach men to despise
earthly things, to loathe things present, to seek things
heavenly, to enjoy things eternal, to flee honours, to endure
offences, to place all hope in Me, to desire nothing apart from
Me, and above all things to love Me ardently.
4. "For there was one, who by loving Me from the bottom of his
heart, learned divine things, and spake things that were
wonderful; he profited more by forsaking all things than by
studying subtleties. But to some I speak common things, to
others special; to some I appear gently in signs and figures, and
again to some I reveal mysteries in much light. The voice of
books is one, but it informeth not all alike; because I inwardly
am the Teacher of truth, the Searcher of the heart, the Discerner
of the thoughts, the Mover of actions, distributing to each man,
as I judge meet."
(1) I Corinthians iv. 20. (2) Psalm xciv. 10.
(3) Zephaniah i. 12. (4) I Corinthians iv. 5.
Of not troubling ourselves about outward things
"My Son, in many things it behoveth thee to be ignorant, and to
esteem thyself as one dead upon the earth, and as one to whom the
whole world is crucified. Many things also thou must pass by
with deaf ear, and must rather think upon those things which
belong unto thy peace. It is more profitable to turn away thine
eyes from those things that displease, and to leave each man to
his own opinion, than to give thyself to discourses of strife.
If thou stand well with God and hast His judgement in thy mind,
thou wilt verily easily bear to be as one conquered."
2. O Lord, to what have we come? Behold a temporal loss is
mourned over; for a trifling gain we labour and hurry; and
spiritual loss passeth away into forgetfulness, and we rarely
recover it. That which profiteth little or nothing is looked
after, and that which is altogether necessary is negligently
passed by; because the whole man slideth away to outward things,
and unless he quickly recovereth himself in outward things he
willingly lieth down.
That we must not believe everyone, and that we are prone to fall
in our words
Lord, be thou my help in trouble, for vain is the help of man.(1)
How often have I failed to find faithfulness, where I thought I
possessed it. How many times I have found it where I least
expected. Vain therefore is hope in men, but the salvation of
the just, O God, is in Thee. Blessed be thou, O Lord my God, in
all things which happen unto us. We are weak and unstable, we
are quickly deceived and quite changed.
2. Who is the man who is able to keep himself so warily and
circumspectly as not sometimes to come into some snare of
perplexity? But he who trusteth in Thee, O Lord, and seeketh
Thee with an unfeigned heart, doth not so easily slip. And if he
fall into any tribulation, howsoever he may be entangled, yet
very quickly he shall be delivered through Thee, or by Thee shall
be comforted, because Thou wilt not forsake him that trusteth in
Thee unto the end. A friend who continueth faithful in all the
distresses of his friend is rare to be found. Thou, O Lord, Thou
alone art most faithful in all things, and there is none other
like unto Thee.
3. Oh, how truly wise was that holy soul which said, "My mind is
steadfastly fixed, and it is grounded in Christ."(2) If thus it
were with me, the fear of man should not so easily tempt me, nor
the arrows of words move me. Who is sufficient to foresee all
things, who to guard beforehand against future ills? If even
things which are foreseen sometimes hurt us, what can things
which are nor foreseen do, but grievously injure? But wherefore
have I not better provided for myself, miserable that I am? Why,
too, have I given such heed to others? But we are men, nor are
we other than frail men, even though by many we are reckoned and
called angels. Whom shall I trust, O Lord, whom shall I trust
but Thee? Thou art the Truth, and deceivest not, nor canst be
deceived. And on the other hand, Every man is a liar,(3) weak,
unstable and frail, especially in his words, so that one ought
scarcely ever to believe what seemeth to sound right on the face
4. With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to beware of
men, and that a man's foes are they of his own household,(4) and
that we must not believe if one say unto us Lo here, or Lo
there.(5) I have been taught by my loss, and O that I may prove
more careful and not foolish hereby. "Be cautious," saith some
one: "be cautious, keep unto thyself what I tell thee." And
whilst I am silent and believe that it is hid with me, he himself
cannot keep silence concerning it, but straightway betrayeth me
and himself, and goeth his way. Protect me, O Lord, from such
mischief-making and reckless men; let me not fall into their
hands, nor ever do such things myself. Put a true and steadfast
word into my mouth, and remove a deceitful tongue far from me.
What I would not suffer, I ought by all means to beware of doing.
5. Oh, how good and peacemaking a thing it is to be silent
concerning others, and not carelessly to believe all reports, nor
to hand them on further; how good also to lay one's self open to
few, to seek ever to have Thee as the beholder of the heart; not
to be carried about with every wind of words, but to desire that
all things inward and outward be done according to the good
pleasure of Thy will! How safe for the preserving of heavenly
grace to fly from human approval, and not to long after the
things which seem to win admiration abroad, but to follow with
all earnestness those things which bring amendment of life and
heavenly fervour! How many have been injured by their virtue
being made known and too hastily praised. How truly profitable
hath been grace preserved in silence in this frail life, which,
as we are told, is all temptation and warfare.
(1) Psalm lx. 11. (2) St. Agatha (3) Psalm cxvi. 11.
(4) Romans iii. 4. (5) Matthew xxiv. 23.
Of having confidence in God when evil words are cast at us
"My Son, stand fast and believe in Me. For what are words but
words? They fly through the air, but they bruise no stone. If
thou are guilty, think how thou wouldst gladly amend thyself; if
thou knowest nothing against thyself, consider that thou wilt
gladly bear this for God's sake. It is little enough that thou
sometimes hast to bear hard words, for thou art not yet able to
bear hard blows. And wherefore do such trivial matters go to
thine heart, except that thou art yet carnal, and regardest men
more than thou oughtest? For because thou fearest to be
despised, thou art unwillng to be reproved for thy faults, and
seekest paltry shelters of excuses.
2. "But look better into thyself, and thou shalt know that the
world is still alive in thee, and the vain hope of pleasing men.
For when thou fleest away from being abased and confounded for
thy faults, it is plain that thou art neither truly humble nor
truly dead to the world, and that the world is not crucified to
thee. But hearken to My word, and thou shalt not care for ten
thousand words of men. Behold, if all things could be said
against thee which the utmost malice could invent, what should it
hurt thee if thou wert altogether to let it go, and make no more
account of it than of a mote? Could it pluck out a single hair
of thy head?
3. "But he that hath no heart within him, and hath not God before
his eyes, is easily moved by a word of reproach; but he who
trusteth in Me, and seeketh not to abide by his own judgment,
shall be free from the fear of men. For I am the Judge and the
Discerner of all secrets; I know how the thing hath been done; I
know both the injurer and the bearer. From Me went forth that
word, by My permission this hath happened, that the thoughts of
many hearts may be revealed.(1) I shall judge the guilty and the
innocent; but beforehand I have willed to try them both by a
4. "The testimony of men often deceiveth. My judgment is true;
it will stand, and it shall not be overturned. It commonly lieth
hid, and only to few in certain cases is it made known; yet it
never erreth, nor can err, although it seem not right to the eyes
of foolish men. To Me, therefore, must men have recourse in all
judgment, and must not lean to they opinion. For there shall no
evil happen to the just,(2) whatsoever may be sent to him by God.
Even though some unjust charge be brought against him, he will
care little; nor, again, will he exult above measure, if through
others he be clearly vindicated. For he considereth that I am He
who try the hearts and reins,(3) who judge not outwardly and
according to human appearance; for often in Mine eyes that is
found blameworthy which in the judgment of men is held worthy of
5. O Lord God, O Judge, just, strong, and patient, who knowest
the fraility and sinfulness of men, be Thou my strength and my
whole confidence; for my own conscience sufficeth me not. Thou
knowest what I know not; and therefore ought I under all rebuke
to humble myself, and to bear it meekly. Therefore mercifully
forgive me as often as I have not done this, and grant me the
next time the grace of greater endurance. For better unto me is
Thine abundant pity for the attainment of Thy pardon, than the
righteousness which I believe myself to have for defence against
my conscience, which lieth wait against me. Although I know
nothing against myself, yet I am not hereby justified,(4) because
if Thy mercy were removed away, in Thy sight should not man
living be justified.(5)
(1) Luke ii. 35. (2) Proverbs xii. 21. (3) Psalm vii. 9.
(4) Corinthians iv. 4. (5) Psalm cxliii. 2.
That all troubles are to be endured for the sake of eternal life
"My Son, let not the labours which thou hast undertaken for Me
break thee down, nor let tribulations cast thee down in any wise,
but let my promise strengthen and comfort thee in every event. I
am sufficient to reward thee above all measure and extent. Not
long shalt thou labour here, not always be weighed down with
sorrows. Wait yet a little while, and thou shalt see a speedy
end of thine evils. An hour shall come when all labour and
confusion shall cease. Little and short is all that passeth away
2. "Do earnestly what thou dost; labour faithfully in My
vineyard; I will be thy reward. Write, read, sing, weep, be
silent, pray, endure adversities manfully; eternal life is worthy
of all these conflicts, yea, and of greater. Peace shall come in
one day which is known to the Lord; which shall be neither day
nor night,(1) but light eternal, infinite clearness, steadfast
peace, and undisturbed rest. Thou shalt not say then, Who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?(2) nor cry out, Woe is
me, for my sojourning is prolonged,(3) because death will be
utterly destroyed, and there shall be salvation which can never
fail, no more anxiety, happy delight, sweet and noble society.
3. "Oh, if thou sawest the unfading crowns of the Saints in
heaven, and with what great glory they now rejoice, who aforetime
were reckoned by this world contemptibly and as it were unworthy
of life, truly thou wouldst immediately humble thyself even to
the earth, and wouldst desire rather to be in subjection to all,
than to have authority over one; nor wouldst thou long for
pleasant days of this life, but wouldst more rejoice to be
afflicted for God's sake, and wouldst esteem it gain to be
counted for nought amongst men.
4. "Oh, if these things were sweet to thy taste, and moved thee
to the bottom of thine heart, how shouldst thou dare ever once to
complain? Are not all laborious things to be endured for the
sake of eternal life? It is no small thing, the losing or
gaining the Kingdom of God. Lift up therefore thy face to
heaven. Behold, I and all My Saints with Me, who in this world
had a hard conflict, now rejoice, are now comforted, are now
secure, are now at peace, and shall remain with Me evermore, in
the Kingdom of My Father."
(1) Zechariah xiv. 7. (2) Romans vii. 24. (3) Psalm cxx.
Of the day of eternity and of the straitness of this life
Oh most blessed mansion of the City which is above! Oh most
clear day of eternity which the night obscureth not, but the
Supreme Truth ever enlighteneth! Day always joyful, always
secure and never changing its state into those which are
contrary. Oh would that this day might shine forth, and that all
these temporal things would come to an end. It shineth indeed
upon the Saints, glowing with unending brightness, but only from
afar and through a glass, upon those who are pilgrims on the
2. The citizens of heaven know how glorious that day is; the
exiled sons of Eve groan, because this is bitter and wearisome.
The days of this life are few and evil, full of sorrows and
straits, where man is defiled with many sins, ensnared with many
passions, bound fast with many fears, wearied with many cares,
distracted with many questionings, entangled with many vanities,
compassed about with many errors, worn away with many labours,
weighed down with temptations, enervated by pleasures, tormented
3. Oh when shall there be an end of these evils? When shall I be
delivered from the wretched slavery of my sins? When shall I be
mindful, O Lord, of Thee alone? When shall I rejoice in Thee to
the full? When shall I be in true liberty without any
impediment, without any burden on mind or body? When shall there
be solid peace, peace immovable and secure, peace within and
without, peace firm on every side? Blessed Jesus, when shall I
stand to behold Thee? When shall I gaze upon the glory of Thy
kingdom? When shalt Thou be to me all in all? Oh when shall I
be with Thee in Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared from the
foundation of the world for them that love Thee? I am left
destitute, an exile in a hostile land, where are daily wars and
4. Console my exile, mitigate my sorrow, for towards Thee all my
desire longeth. For all is to me a burden, whatsoever this world
offereth for consolation. I yearn to enjoy Thee intimately, but
I cannot attain unto it. I long to cleave to heavenly things,
but temporal things and unmortified passions press me down. In
my mind I would be above all things, but in my flesh I am
unwillingly compelled to be beneath them. So, wretched man that
I am, I fight with myself, and am made grievous even unto myself,
while the spirit seeketh to be above and the flesh to be beneath.
5. Oh how I suffer inwardly, while with the mind I discourse on
heavenly things, and presently a crowd of carnal things rusheth
upon me whilst I pray. My God, be not Thou far from me, nor
depart in wrath from Thy servant. Cast forth Thy lightning and
scatter them; send out Thine arrows,(1) and let all delusions of
my enemy be confounded. Recall my senses unto Thyself, cause me
to forget all worldly things; grant me quickly to cast away and
despise the imaginations of sin. Succour me, O Eternal Truth,
that no vanity man move me. Come unto me, O Heavenly Sweetness,
and let all impurity flee from before Thy face. Pardon me also,
and of Thy mercy deal gently with me, whensoever in prayer I
think on anything besides Thee; for truly I confess that I am
wont to be continually distracted. For often and often, where in
the body I stand or sit, there I myself am not; but rather am I
there, whither I am borne by my thoughts. Where my thought is,
there am I; and there commonly is my thought where that which I
love is. That readily occurreth to me, which naturally
delighteth, or pleaseth through custom.
6. Wherefore Thou, who art the Truth, hast plainly said, Where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also.(2) If I love
heaven, I gladly meditate on heavenly things. If I love the
world, I rejoice in the delights of the world, and am made sorry
by its adversities. If I love the flesh, I am continually
imagining the things which belong to the flesh; if I love the
spirit, I am delighted by meditating on spiritual things. For
whatsoever things I love, on these I readily converse and listen,
and carry home with me the images of them. But blessed is that
man who for Thy sake, O Lord, is willing to part from all
creatures; who doth violence to his fleshly nature and crucifieth
the lusts of the flesh by the fervour of his spirit, so that with
serene conscience he may offer unto Thee a pure prayer, and be
made worthy to enter into the angelic choirs, having shut out
from himself, both outwardly and inwardly, all worldly things.
(1) Psalm lxxi. 12. (2) Matthew vi. 21.
Of the desire after eternal life, and how great blessings are
promised to those who strive
"My Son, when thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness to be
poured into thee from above, and longest to depart from the
tabernacle of this body, that thou mayest contemplate My glory
without shadow of turning, enlarge thine heart, and take in this
holy inspiration with all thy desire. Give most hearty thanks to
the Supreme Goodness, who dealeth with thee so graciously,
visiteth thee so lovingly, stirreth thee up so fervently, raiseth
thee so powerfully, lest thou sink down through thine own weight,
to earthly things. For not by thine own meditating or striving
dost thou receive this gift, but by the sole gracious
condescension of Supreme Grace and Divine regard; to the end that
thou mayest make progress in virtue and in more humility, and
prepare thyself for future conflicts, and cleave unto Me with all
the affection of thy heart, and strive to serve Me with fervent
2. "My Son, often the fire burneth, but the flame ascendeth not
without smoke. So also the desires of some men burn towards
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from the temptation of
carnal affection. Thus therefore they are not acting with an
altogether simple desire for God's glory when they pray to Him so
earnestly. Such, too, is oftentimes thy desire, when thou hast
imagined it to be so earnest. For that is not pure and perfect
which is tainted with thine own self-seeking.
3. "Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to thyself,
but what is acceptable and honourable unto Me; for if thou
judgest rightly, thou must choose and follow after My appointment
rather than thine own desire; yea, rather than anything that can
be desired. I know thy desire, and I have heard thy many
groanings. Already thou longest to be in the glorious liberty of
the children of God; already the eternal home delighteth thee,
and the heavenly country full of joy; but the hour is not yet
come; there remaineth still another season, even a season of
warfare, a season of labour and probation. Thou desirest to be
filled with the Chief Good, but thou canst not attain it
immediately. I AM that Good; wait for Me, until the Kingdom of
God shall come.
4. "Thou must still be tried upon earth, and be exercised in many
things. Consolation shall from time to time be given thee, but
abundant satisfying shall not be granted. Be strong therefore,
and be thou brave both in working and in suffering things which
are against thy nature. Thou must put on the new man, and be
changed into another man. Thou must often do what thou wouldst
not; and thou must leave undone what thou wouldst do. What
pleaseth others shall have good success, what pleaseth thee shall
have no prosperity. What others say shall be listened to; what
thou sayest shall receive no heed. Others shall ask and receive;
thou shalt ask and not obtain. Others shall be great in the
report of men, but about thee shall nothing be spoken. To others
this or that shall be entrusted; thou shalt be judged useful for
5. "For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with sadness;
and it is a great thing if thou bear it silently. In this and
many like things the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be
tried, how far he is able to deny himself and bring himself into
subjection in all things. Scarcely is there anything in which
thou hast need to mortify thyself so much as in seeing things
which are adverse to thy will; especially when things are
commanded thee to be done which seem to thee inexpedient or of
little use to thee. And because thou darest not resist a higher
power, being under authority, therefore it seemeth hard for thee
to shape thy course according to the nod of another, and to
forego thine own opinion.
6. "But consider, My Son, the fruit of these labours, the swift
end, and the reward exceeding great; and thou shalt find it no
pain to bear them then, but rather the strongest solace of thy
patience. For even in exchange for this trifling desire which
thou hast readily forsaken, thou shalt always have thy will in
Heaven. There verily thou shalt find all that thou wouldst, all
that thou canst long for. There thou shalt have all good within
thy power without fear of losing it. There thy will, ever at one
with Mine, shall desire nothing outward, nothing for itself.
There no man shall withstand thee, none shall complain of thee,
none shall hinder, nothing shall stand in thy path; but all
things desired by thee shall be present together, and shall
refresh thy whole affection, and fill it up even to the brim.
There I will glory for the scorn suffered here, the garment of
praise for sorrow, and for the lowest place a throne in the
Kingdom, for ever. There shall appear the fruit of obedience,
the labour of repentance shall rejoice, and humble subjection
shall be crowened gloriously.
7. "Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of all men;
nor let it trouble thee who said this or who ordered that; but
take special heed that whether thy superior, thy inferior, or thy
equal, require anything from thee, or even show a desire for it;
take it all in good part, and study with a good will to fulfil
the desire. Let one seek this, another that; let this man glory
in this, and that man in that, and be praised a thousand thousand
times, but rejoice thou only in the contempt of thyself, and in
Mine own good pleasure and glory. This is what thou art to long
for, even that whether by life or by death God may be ever
magnified in thee."(1)
(1) Philippians i. 20.
How a desolate man ought to commit himself into the hands of God
O Lord, Holy Father, be Thou blessed now and evermore; because as
Thou wilt so it is done, and what Thou doest is good. Let Thy
servant rejoice in Thee, not in himself, nor in any other;
because Thou alone art the true joy, Thou art my hope and my
crown, Thou art my joy and my honour, O Lord. What hath Thy
servant, which he receiveth not from Thee, even without merit of
his own? Thine are all things which Thou hast given, and which
Thou hast made. I am poor and in misery even from my youth
up,(1) and my soul is sorrowful unto tears, sometimes also it is
disquieted within itself, because of the sufferings which are
coming upon it.
2. I long after the joy of peace; for the peace of Thy children
do I beseech, for in the light of Thy comfort they are fed by
Thee. If Thou give peace, if Thou pour into me holy joy, the
soul of Thy servant shall be full of melody, and devout in Thy
praise. But if Thou withdraw Thyself as too often Thou art wont,
he will not be able to run in the way of Thy commandments, but
rather he will smite his breast and will bow his knees; because
it is not with him as yesterday and the day before, when Thy
candle shined upon his head,(2) and he walked under the shadow of
Thy wings,(3) from the temptations which beset him.
3. O Father, righteous and ever to be praised, the hour cometh
when Thy servant is to be proved. O beloved Father, it is well
that in this hour Thy servant suffer somewhat for Thy sake. O
Father, evermore to be adored, as the hour cometh which Thou
foreknewest from everlasting, when for a little while Thy servant
should outwardly bow down, but always live inwardly with Thee;
when for a little while he should be little regarded, humbled,
and fail in the eyes of men; should be wasted with sufferings and
weaknesses, to rise again with Thee in the dawn of the new light,
and be glorified in the heavenly places. O Holy Father, thou
hast ordained it so, and so hast willed it; and that is done
which Thou Thyself hast commanded.
4. For this is Thy favour to Thy friend, that he should suffer
and be troubled in the world for Thy love's sake, how often
soever, and by whomsoever and whosoever Thou hast suffered it to
be done. Without Thy counsel and providence, and without cause,
nothing cometh to pass on the earth. It is good for me, Lord,
that I have been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statutes,(4)
and may cast away all pride of heart and presumption. It is
profitable for me that confusion hath covered my face, that I may
seek to Thee for consolation rather than unto men. By this also
I have learned to dread Thine unsearchable judgment, who
afflictest the just with the wicked, but not without equity and
5. Thanks be unto Thee, because Thou hast not spared my sins, but
hast beaten me with stripes of love, inflicting pains, and
sending troubles upon me without and within. There is none who
can console me, of all things which are under heaven, but Thou
only, O Lord my God, Thou heavenly Physician of souls, who dost
scourge and hast mercy, who leadest down to hell and bringest up
again.(5) Thy discipline over me, and Thy rod itself shall teach
6. Behold, O beloved Father, I am in Thy hands, I bow myself
under the rod of Thy correction. Smite my back and my neck that
I may bend my crookedness to Thy will. Make me a pious and lowly
disciple, as Thou wert wont to be kind, that I may walk according
to every nod of Thine. To Thee I commend myself and all that I
have for correction; better is it to be punished here than
hereafter. Thou knowest all things and each of them; and nothing
remaineth hid from Thee in man's conscience. Before they are,
thou knowest that they will be, and Thou needest not that any man
teach Thee or admonish Thee concerning the things which are done
upon the earth. Thou knowest what is expedient for my profit,
and how greatly trouble serveth unto the scrubbing off the rust
of sin. Do with me according to Thy desired good pleasure, and
despise not my life which is full of sin, known to none so
entirely and fully as to Thee alone.
7. Grant me, O Lord, to know that which ought to be known; to
love that which ought to be loved; to praise that which pleaseth
Thee most, to esteem that which is precious in Thy sight, to
blame that which is vile in Thine eyes. Suffer me not to judge
according to the sight of bodily eyes, nor to give sentence
according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to
discern in true judgment between visible and spiritual things,
and above all things to be ever seeking after the will of Thy
8. Oftentimes the senses of men are deceived in judging; the
lovers of the world also are deceived in that they love only
visible things. What is a man because by man he is reckoned very
great? The deceiver deceiveth the deceiver, the vain man the
vain, the blind man the blind, the weak man the weak, when they
exalt one another; and in truth they rather put to shame, while
they foolishly praise. For as humble St. Francis saith, "What
each one is in Thine eyes, so much he is, and no more."
(1) Psalm lxxxviii. 15. (2) Job xxix. 3. (3) Psalm xvii. 8.
(4) Psalm cxix. 71. (5) Job xiii. 2.
That we must give ourselves to humble works when we are unequal
to those that are lofty
"My Son, thou art not always able to continue in very fervent
desire after virtues, nor to stand fast in the loftier region of
contemplation; but thou must of necessity sometimes descend to
lower things because of thine original corruption, and bear about
the burden of corruptible life, though unwillingly and with
weariness. So long as thou wearest a mortal body, thou shalt
feel weariness and heaviness of heart. Therefore thou oughtest
to groan often in the flesh because of the burden of the flesh,
inasmuch as thou canst not give thyself to spiritual studies and
divine contemplation unceasingly.
2. "At such a time it is expedient for thee to flee to humble and
external works, and to renew thyself with good actions; to wait
for My coming and heavenly visitation with sure confidence; to
bear thy exile and drought of mind with patience, until thou be
visited by Me again, and be freed from all anxieties. For I will
cause thee to forget thy labours, and altogether to enjoy peace.
I will spread open before thee the pleasant pastures of the
Scriptures, that with enlarged heart thou mayest begin to run in
the way of My commandments. And thou shalt say, 'The sufferings
of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.'"(1)
(1) Romans viii. 18.
That a man ought not to reckon himself worthy of consolation, but
more worthy of chastisement
O Lord, I am not worthy of Thy consolation, nor of any spiritual
visitation; and therefore Thou dealest justly with me, when Thou
leavest me poor and desolate. For if I were able to pour forth
tears like the sea, still should I not be worthy of Thy
consolation. Therefore am I nothing worthy save to be scourged
and punished, because I have grievously and many a time offended
Thee, and in many things have greatly sinned. Therefore, true
account being taken, I am not worthy even of the least of Thy
consolations. But Thou, gracious and merciful God, who willest
not that Thy works should perish, to show forth the riches of Thy
mercy upon the vessels of mercy,(1) vouchsafest even beyond all
his own deserving, to comfort Thy servant above the measure of
mankind. For Thy consolations are not like unto the discoursings
2. What have I done, O Lord, that Thou shouldest bestow any
heavenly comfort upon me? I remember not that I have done any
good, but have been ever prone to sin and slow to amendment. It
is true and I cannot deny it. If I should say otherwise, Thou
wouldst rise up against me, and there should be none to defend
me. What have I deserved for my sins but hell and everlasting
fire? In very truth I confess that I am worthy of all scorn and
contempt, nor is it fit that I should be remembered among Thy
faithful servants. And although I be unwilling to hear this,
nevertheless I will for the Truth's sake, accuse myself of my
sins, that the more readily I may prevail to be accounted worthy
of Thy mercy.
3. What shall I say, guilty that I am and filled with confusion?
I have no mouth to utter, unless it be this word alone, "I have
sinned, Lord, I have sinned; have mercy upon me, forgive me."
Let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence
I shall not return even to the land of darkness and the shadow of
death.(2) What dost Thou so much require of a guilty and
miserable sinner, as that he be contrite, and humble himself for
his sins? In true contrition and humiliation of heart is
begotten the hope of pardon, the troubled conscience is
reconciled, lost grace is recovered, a man is preserved from the
wrath to come, and God and the penitent soul hasten to meet each
other with a holy kiss.(3)
4. The humble contrition of sinners is an acceptable sacrifice
unto Thee, O Lord, sending forth a smell sweeter far in Thy sight
than the incense. This also is that pleasant ointment which Thou
wouldst have poured upon Thy sacred feet, for a broken and
contrite heart Thou hast never despised.(4) There is the place
of refuge from the wrathful countenance of the enemy. There is
amended and washed away whatsoever evil hath elsewhere been
(1) Romans ix. 23. (2) Job x. 20, 21. (3) Luke xv. 20.
(4) Psalm li. 17.
That the Grace of God doth not join itself to those who mind
"My Son, precious is My grace, and it suffereth not itself to be
joined with outward things, nor with earthly consolations.
Therefore thou oughtest to cast away all things which hinder
grace, if thou longest to receive the inpouring thereof. Seek a
secret place for thyself, love to dwell alone with thyself,
desire the conversation of no one; but rather pour out thy devout
prayer to God, that thou mayest possess a contrite mind and a
pure conscience. Count the whole world as nought; seek to be
alone with God before all outward things. For thou canst not be
alone with Me, and at the same time be delighted with transitory
things. Thou oughtest to be separated from thy acquaintances and
dear friends, and keep thy mind free from all worldly comfort.
So the blessed Apostle Peter beseecheth, that Christ's faithful
ones bear themselves in this world as strangers and pilgrims.(1)
2. "Oh how great a confidence shall there be to the dying man
whom no affection to anything detaineth in the world? But to
have a heart so separated from all things, a sickly soul doth not
yet comprehend, nor doth the carnal man know the liberty of the
spiritual man. But if indeed he desire to be spiritually minded,
he must renounce both those who are far off, and those who are
near, and to beware of no man more than himself. If thou
perfectly conquer thyself, very easily shalt thou subdue all
things besides. Perfect victory is the triumph over oneself.
For whoso keepeth himself in subjection, in such manner that the
sensual affections obey the reason, and the reason in all things
obeyeth Me, he truly is conqueror of himself, and lord of the
3. "If thou desire to climb to this height, thou oughtest to
start bravely, and to lay the axe to the root, to the end that
thou mayest pull up and destroy the hidden inordinate inclination
towards thyself, and towards all selfish and earthly good. From
this sin, that a man loveth himself too inordinately, almost
everything hangeth which needeth to be utterly overcome: when
that evil is conquered and put under foot, there shall be great
peace and tranquillity continually. But because few strive
earnestly to die perfectly to themselves, and do not heartily go
forth from themselves, therefore do they remain entangled in
themselves, and cannot be raised in spirit above themselves. But
he who desireth to walk at liberty with Me, must of necessity
mortify all his evil and inordinate affections, and must cling to
no creature with selfish love."
(1) 1 Peter ii. 11.
Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace
"My Son, pay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of Grace,
because they move in a very contrary and subtle manner, and are
hardly distinguished save by a spiritual and inwardly enlightened
man. All men indeed seek good, and make pretence of something
good in all that they say or do; and thus under the appearance of
good many are deceived.
2. "Nature is deceitful and draweth away, ensnareth, and
deceiveth many, and always hath self for her end; but Grace
walketh in simplicity and turneth away from every appearance of
evil, maketh no false pretences, and doeth all entirely for the
sake of God, in whom also she finally resteth.
3. "Nature is very unwilling to die, and to be pressed down, and
to be overcome, and to be in subjection, and to bear the yoke
readily; but Grace suffereth self-mortification, resisteth
sensuality, seeketh to be subdued, longeth to be conquered, and
willeth not to use her own liberty. She loveth to be held by
discipline, and not to have authority over any, but always to
live, to remain, to have her being under God, and for God's sake
to be humbly subject to every ordinance of man.
4. "Nature laboureth for her own advantage, and considereth what
profit she may gain from another; but Grace considereth more, not
what may be useful and convenient to self, but what may be
profitable to the many.
5. "Nature willingly receiveth honour and reverence; but Grace
faithfully ascribeth all honour and glory to God.
6. "Nature feareth confusion and contempt, but Grace rejoiceth to
suffer shame for the name of Jesus.
7. "Nature loveth ease and bodily quiet; Grace cannot be
unemployed, but gladly embraceth labour.
8. "Nature seeketh to possess things curious and attractive, and
abhorreth those which are rough and cheap; Grace is delighted
with things simple and humble, despiseth not those which are
rough, nor refuseth to be clothed with old garments.
9. "Nature hath regard to things temporal, rejoiceth in earthly
lucre, is made sad by loss, vexed by any little injurious word;
but Grace reacheth after things eternal, cleaveth not to those
which are temporal, is not perturbed by losses, nor embittered by
any hard words, because she hath placed her treasure and joy in
heaven where nought perisheth.
10. "Nature is covetous, and receiveth more willingly than she
giveth, loveth things that are personal and private to herself;
while Grace is kind and generous, avoideth selfishness, is
contented with a little, believeth it is more blessed to give
than to receive.
11. "Nature inclineth thee to created things, to thine own flesh,
to vanities and dissipation; but Grace draweth to God and to
virtues, renounceth creatures, fleeth from the world, hateth the
desires of the flesh, restraineth vagaries, blusheth to be seen
12. "Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in which the
senses may have delight; but Grace seeketh to be comforted in God
alone, and to have delight in the chief good above all visible
13. "Nature doeth everything for her own gain and profit, can do
nothing as a free favour, but hopeth to attain something as good
or better, or some praise or favour for her benefits; and she
loveth that her own deeds and gifts should be highly valued; but
Grace seeketh nothing temporal, nor requireth any other gift of
reward than God alone; neither longeth she for more of temporal
necessities than such as may suffice for the attaining of eternal
14. "Nature rejoiceth in many friends and kinsfolk, she boasteth
of noble place and noble birth, she smileth on the powerful,
flattereth the rich, applaudeth those who are like herself; but
Grace loveth even her enemies, and is not lifted up by the
multitude of friends, setteth no store upon high place or high
birth, unless there be greater virtue therewith; favoureth the
poor man more than the rich, hath more sympathy with the innocent
than with the powerful; rejoiceth with the truthful, not with the
liar; always exhorteth the good to strive after better gifts of
grace, and to become by holiness like unto the Son of God.
15. "Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of trouble; Grace
beareth want with constancy.
16. "Nature looketh upon all things in reference to herself;
striveth and argueth for self; but Grace bringeth back all things
to God from whom they came at the beginning; ascribeth no good to
herself nor arrogantly presumeth; is not contentious, nor
preferreth her own opinion to others, but in every sense and
understanding submitteth herself to the Eternal wisdom and the
17. "Nature is eager to know secrets and to hear new things; she
loveth to appear abroad, and to make experience of many things
through the senses; she desireth to be acknowledged and to do
those things which win praise and admiration; but Grace careth
not to gather up new or curious things, because all this
springeth from the old corruption, whereas there is nothing new
or lasting upon earth. So she teacheth to restain the senses, to
shun vain complacency and ostentation, to hide humbly those
things which merit praise and real admiration, and from
everything and in all knowledge to seek after useful fruit, and
the praise and honour of God. She desireth not to receive praise
for herself or for her own, but longeth that God be blessed in
all His gifts, who out of unmingled love bestoweth all things."
18. This Grace is a supernatural light, and a certain special
gift of God, and the proper mark of the elect, and the pledge of
eternal salvation; it exalteth a man from earthly things to love
those that are heavenly; and it maketh the carnal man spiritual.
So far therefore as Nature is utterly pressed down and overcome,
so far is greater Grace bestowed and the inner man is daily
created anew by fresh visitations, after the image of God.
Of the corruption of Nature and the efficacy of Divine Grace
O Lord my God, who hast created me after thine own image and
similitude, grant me this grace, which Thou hast shown to be so
great and so necessary for salvation, that I may conquer my
wicked nature, which draweth me to sin and to perdition. For I
feel in my flesh the law of sin, contradicting the law of my
mind, and bringing me into captivity to the obedience of
sensuality in many things; nor can I resist its passions, unless
Thy most holy grace assist me, fervently poured into my heart.
2. There is need of Thy grace, yea, and of a great measure
thereof, that my nature may be conquered, which hath alway been
prone of evil from my youth. For being fallen through the first
man Adam, and corrupted through sin, the punishment of this
stain descended upon all men; so that Nature itself, which was
framed good and right by Thee, is now used to express the vice
and infirmity of corrupted Nature; because its motion left unto
itself draweth men away to evil and to lower things. For the
little power which remaineth is as it were one spark lying hid in
the ashes. This is Natural reason itself, encompassed with thick
clouds, having yet a discernment of good and evil, a distinction
of the true and the false, though it be powerless to fulfil all
that it approveth, and possess not yet the full light of truth,
nor healthfulness of its affections.
3. Hence it is, O my God, that I delight in Thy law after the
inward man,(1) knowing that Thy commandment is holy and just and
good; reproving also all evil, and the sin that is to be avoided:
yet with the flesh I serve the law of sin, whilst I obey
sensuality rather than reason. Hence it is that to will to do
good is present within me, but how to perform it I find not.(2)
Hence I ofttimes purpose many good things; but because grace is
lacking to help mine infirmities, I fall back before a little
resistance and fail. Hence it cometh to pass that I recognize
the way of perfectness, and see very clearly what things I ought
to do; but pressed down by the weight of my own corruption, I
rise not to the things which are more perfect.
4. Oh how entirely necessary is Thy grace to me, O Lord, for a
good beginning, for progress, and for bringing to perfection.
For without it I can do nothing, but I can do all things through
Thy grace which strengeneth me.(3) O truly heavenly grace,
without which our own merits are nought, and no gifts of Nature
at all are to be esteemed. Arts, riches, beauty, strength, wit,
eloquence, they all avail nothing before Thee, O Lord, without
Thy grace. For the gifts of Nature belong to good and evil
alike; but the proper gift of the elect is grace--that is, love--
and they who bear the mark thereof are held worthy of everlasting
life. So mighty is this grace, that without it neither the gift
of prophecy nor the working of miracles, nor any speculation,
howsoever lofty, is of any value at all. But neither faith, nor
hope, nor any other virtue is accepted with Thee without love and
5. O most blessed grace that makest the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, and renderest him who is rich in many things humble in
spirit, come Thou, descend upon me, fill me early with Thy
consolation, lest my soul fail through weariness and drought of
mind. I beseech thee, O Lord, that I may find grace in Thy
sight, for Thy grace is sufficient for me,(4) when I obtain not
those things which Nature longeth for. If I be tempted and vexed
with many tribulations, I will fear no evil, while Thy grace
remaineth with me. This alone is my strength, this bringeth me
counsel and help. It is more powerful than all enemies, and
wiser than all the wise men in the world.
6. It is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the solace of anxiety, the banisher of
sorrow, the deliverer from fear, the nurse of devotion, the
drawer forth of tears. What am I without it, save a dry tree, a
useless branch, worthy to be cast away! "Let Thy grace,
therefore, O Lord, always prevent and follow me, and make me
continually given to all good works, through Jesus Christ, Thy
(1) Romans vii. 12, 22. 25. (2) Romans vii. 18. (3) Phillippians iv. 13.
(4) 2 Corinthians xii. 9.
That we ought to deny ourselves, and to imitate Christ by means
of the Cross
My Son, so far as thou art able to go out of thyself so far shalt
thou be able to enter into Me. As to desire no outward thing
worketh internal peace, so the forsaking of self inwardly joineth
unto God. I will that thou learn perfect self-denial, living in
My will without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the
way, the truth, and the life.(1) Without the way thou canst not
go, without the truth thou canst not know, without life thou
canst not live. I am the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the
Truth which thou oughest to believe; the Life which thou oughtest
to hope for. I am the Way unchangeable; the Truth infallible;
the Life everlasting. I am the Way altogether straight, the
Truth supreme, the true Life, the blessed Life, the uncreated
Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know the Truth, and
the truth shall make thee free,(2) and thou shalt lay hold on
2. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.(3) If
thou wilt know the truth, believe in Me. If thou wilt be
perfect, sell all that thou hast. If thou wilt be My disciple,
deny thyself. If thou wouldest possess the blessed life, despise
the life which now is. If thou wilt be exalted in heaven, humble
thyself in the world. If thou wilt reign with Me, bear the cross
with Me; for only the servants of the cross find the way of
blessedness and of true light."
3. O Lord Jesu, forasmuch as Thy life was straitened and despised
by the world, grant unto me to imitate Thee in despising the
world, for the servant is not greater than his lord, nor the
disciple above his master.(4) Let Thy servant be exercised in
Thy life, because there is my salvation and true holiness.
Whatsoever I read or hear besides it, it refresheth me not, nor
giveth me delight.
4. "My son, because thou knowest these things and hast read them
all, blessed shalt thou be if thou doest them. He who hath My
commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I
will love him, and will manifest Myself to him,(5) and I will
make him to sit down with Me in My Father's Kingdom.
5. O Lord Jesu, as Thou hast said and promised, even so let it be
unto me, and grant me to prove worthy. I have received the cross
at Thy hand; I have carried it, and will carry it even unto
death, as Thou hast laid it upon me. Truly the life of a truly
devoted servant is a cross, but it leadeth to paradise. I have
begun; I may not return back nor leave it.
6. Come, my brothers, let us together go forward. Jesus shall be
with us. For Jesus' sake have we taken up this cross, for Jesus'
sake let us persevere in the cross. He will be our helper, who
was our Captain and Forerunner. Behold our King entereth in
before us, and He will fight for us. Let us follow bravely, let
no man fear terrors; let us be prepared to die bravely in battle,
and let us not so stain our honour,(6) as to fly from the cross.
(1) John xiv. 6. (2) John viii. 32. (3) Matthew xix. 17, 21.
(4) Matthew x. 24. (5) John xiv. 21. (6) 1 Mac. ix. 10.
That a man must not be too much cast down when he falleth into
"My Son, patience and humility in adversities are more pleasing
to Me than much comfort and devotion in prosperity. Why doth a
little thing spoken against thee make thee sad? If it had been
more, thou still oughtest not to be moved. But now suffer it to
go by; it is not the first, it is not new, and it wil not be the
last, if thou live long. Thou art brave enough, so long as no
adversity meeteth thee. Thou givest good counsel also, and
knowest how to strengthen others with thy words; but when
tribulations suddenly knocketh at thine own door, thy counsel and
strength fail. Consider thy great frailty, which thou dost so
often experience in trifling matters nevertheless, for thy soul's
health these things are done when they and such like happen unto
2. "Put them away from thy heart as well as thou canst, and if
tribulation hath touched thee, yet let it not cast thee down nor
entangle thee long. At the least, bear patiently, if thou canst
not joyfully. And although thou be very unwilling to hear it,
and feel indignation, yet check thyself, and suffer no unadvised
word to come forth from thy lips, whereby the little ones may be
offended. Soon the storm which hath been raised shall be
stilled, and inward grief shall be sweetened by returning grace.
I yet live, saith the Lord, ready to help thee, and to give thee
more than wonted consolation if thou put thy trust in Me, and
call devoutly upon Me.
3. "Be thou more calm of spirit, and gird thyself for greater
endurance. All is not frustrated, though thou find thyself very
often afflicted or grievously tempted. Thou art man, not God;
thou art flesh, not an angel. How shouldst thou be able to
remain alway in the same state of virtue, when an angel in heaven
fell, and the first man in paradise? I am He who lifteth up the
mourners to deliverance, and those who know their own infirmity I
raise up to my own nature."
4. O Lord, blessed be Thy word, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What should I do in my so great tribulations
and anxieties, unless Thou didst comfort me with Thy holy words?
If only I may attain unto the haven of salvation, what matter is
it what things or how many I suffer? Give me a good end, give me
a happy passage out of this world. Remember me, O my God, and
lead me by the right way unto Thy Kingdom. Amen.
Of deeper matters, and God's hidden judgments which are not to be
"My Son, beware thou dispute not of high matters and of the
hidden judgments of God; why this man is thus left, and that man
is taken into so great favour; why also this man is so greatly
afflicted, and that so highly exalted. These things pass all
man's power of judging, neither may any reasoning or disputation
have power to search out the divine judgments. When therefore
the enemy suggesteth these things to thee, or when any curious
people ask such questions, answer with that word of the Prophet,
Just art Thou, O Lord, and true is Thy judgment,(1) and with
this, The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous
altogether.(2) My judgments are to be feared, not to be disputed
on, because they are incomprehensible to human understanding.
2. "And be not given to inquire or dispute about the merits of
the Saints, which is holier than another, or which is the greater
in the Kingdom of Heaven. Such questions often beget useless
strifes and contentions: they also nourish pride and vain glory,
whence envyings and dissensions arise, while one man arrogantly
endeavoureth to exalt one Saint and another another. But to wish
to know and search out such things bringeth no fruit, but it
rather displeaseth the Saints; for I am not the God of confusion
but of peace;(3) which peace consisteth more in true humility
than in self-exaltation.
3. "Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection to these
Saints or those; but this is human affection rather than divine.
I am He Who made all the Saints: I gave them grace, I brought
them glory; I know the merits of every one; I prevented them with
the blessings of My goodness.(4) I foreknew my beloved ones from
everlasting, I chose them out of the world;(5) they did not
choose Me. I called them by My grace, drew them by My mercy, led
them on through sundry temptations. I poured mighty consolations
upon them, I gave them perseverance, I crowned their patience.
4. "I acknowledge the first and the last; I embrace all with
inestimable love. I am to be praised in all My Saints; I am to
be blessed above all things, and to be honoured in every one whom
I have so gloriously exalted and predestined, without any
preceding merits of their own. He therefore that shall despise
one of the least of these My people, honoureth not the great;
because I made both small and great.(6) And he who speaketh
against any of My Saints speaketh against Me, and against all
others in the Kingdom of Heaven."
They are all one through the bond of charity; they think the
same thing, will the same thing, and all are united in love to
5. "But yet (which is far better) they love Me above themselves
and their own merits. For being caught up above themselves, and
drawn beyond self-love, they go all straightforward to the love
of Me, and they rest in Me in perfect enjoyment. There is
nothing which can turn them away or press them down; for being
full of Eternal Truth, they burn with the fire of
inextinguishable charity. Therefore let all carnal and natural
men hold their peace concerning the state of the Saints, for they
know nothing save to love their own personal enjoyment. They
take away and add according to their own inclination, not as it
pleaseth the Eternal Truth.
6. "In many men this is ignorance, chiefly is it so in those who,
being little enlightened, rarely learn to love any one with
perfect spiritual love. They are still much drawn by natural
affection and human friendship to these or to those: and as they
reckon of themselves in lower matters, so also do they frame
imaginations of things heavenly. But there is an immeasurable
difference between those things which they imperfectly imagine,
and these things which enlightened men behold through
7. "Take heed, therefore, My son, that thou treat not curiously
those things which surpass thy knowledge, but rather make this
thy business and give attention to it, namely, that thou seek to
be found, even though it be the least, in the Kingdom of God.
And even if any one should know who were holier than others, or
who were held greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven; what should that
knowledge profit him, unless through this knowledge he should
humble himself before Me, and should rise up to give greater
praise unto My name? He who considereth how great are his own
sins, how small his virtues, and how far he is removed from the
perfection of the Saints, doeth far more acceptably in the sight
of God, than he who disputeth about their greatness or
8. "They are altogether well content, if men would learn to be
content, and to refrain from vain babbling. They glory not of
their own merits, seeing they ascribe no good unto themselves,
but all unto Me, seeing that I of my infinite charity have given
them all things. They are filled with so great love of the
Divinity, and with such overflowing joy, that no glory is lacking
to them, neither can any felicity be lacking. All the Saints,
the higher they are exalted in glory, the humbler are they in
themselves, and the nearer and dearer are they unto Me. And so
thou hast it written that they cast their crowns before God and
fell on their faces before the Lamb, and worshipped Him that
liveth for ever and ever.(7)
9. "Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, who know
not whether they shall be worthy to be counted among the least.
It is a great thing to be even the least in Heaven, where all are
great, because all shall be called, and shall be, the sons of
God. A little one shall become a thousand, but the sinner being
an hundred years old shall be accursed. For when the disciples
asked who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, they
received no other answer than this, Except ye be converted and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as this little child,
the same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.(8)
10. Woe unto them who disdain to humble themselves willingly with
the little children; for the low gate of the kingdom of Heaven
will not suffer them to enter in. Woe also to them who are rich,
who have their consolation here;(9) because whilst the poor
enter into the kingdom of God, they shall stand lamenting
without. Rejoice ye humble, and exult ye poor, for yours is the
kingdom of God if only ye walk in the truth.
(1) Psalm cxix. 137. (2) Psalm xix. 9.
(3) Corinthians xiv. 33. (4) Psalm xxi. 3. (5) John xv. 19.
(6) Wisd. vi. 8. (7) Revelation iv. 10; v. 14.
(8) Matthew xviii. 3. (9) Phillipians ii. 21.
That all hope and trust is to be fixed in God alone
O Lord, what is my trust which I have in this life, or what is my
greatest comfort of all the things which are seen under Heaven?
Is it not Thou, O Lord my God, whose mercies are without number?
Where hath it been well with me without Thee? Or when could it
be evil whilst Thou wert near? I had rather be poor for Thy
sake, than rich without Thee. I choose rather to be a pilgrim
upon the earth with Thee than without Thee to possess heaven.
Where Thou art, there is heaven; and where Thou art not, behold
there death and hell. Thou art all my desire, and therefore must
I groan and cry and earnestly pray after Thee. In short I can
confide fully in none to give me ready help in necessities, save
in Thee alone, O my God. Thou art my hope, Thou art my trust,
Thou art my Comforter, and most faithful in all things.
2. All men seek their own;(10) Thou settest forward only my
salvation and my profit, and turnest all things unto my good.
Even though Thou dost expose me to divers temptations and
adversities, Thou ordainest all this unto my advantage, for Thou
are wont to prove Thy beloved ones in a thousand ways. In which
proving Thou oughtest no less to be loved and praised, than if
Thou wert filling me full of heavenly consolations.
3. In Thee, therefore, O Lord God, I put all my hope and my
refuge, on Thee I lay all my tribulation and anguish; because I
find all to be weak and unstable whatsoever I behold out of Thee.
For many friends shall not profit, nor strong helpers be able to
succour, nor prudent counsellors to give a useful answer, nor the
books of the learned to console, nor any precious substance to
deliver, nor any secret and beautiful place to give shelter, if
Thou Thyself do not assist, help, comfort, instruct, keep in
4. For all things which seem to belong to the attainment of peace
and felicity are nothing when Thou art absent, and bring no
felicity at all in reality. Therefore art Thou the end of all
good, and the fulness of Life, and the soul of eloquence; and to
hope in Thee above all things is the strongest solace of Thy
servants. Mine eyes look unto Thee,(2) in Thee is my trust, O my
God, Father of mercies.
5. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly blessing that it may
become Thy holy habitation, and the seat of Thy eternal glory;
and let nothing be found in the Temple of Thy divinity which may
offend the eyes of Thy majesty. According to the greatness of
Thy goodness and the multitude of Thy mercies look upon me, and
hear the prayer of Thy poor servant, far exiled from Thee in the
land of the shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of
Thy least servant amid so many dangers of corruptible life, and
by Thy grace accompanying me, direct it by the way of peace unto
its home of perpetual life. Amen.
(10) Luke vi. (2) Psalm cxli. 8.
THE FOURTH BOOK
OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR
A devout exhortation to the Holy Communion
The Voice of Christ
Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
refresh you(1), saith the Lord. The bread that I will give is My
flesh which I give for the life of the world.(2) Take, eat: this
is My Body, which is given for you; this do in rememberance of
Me.(3) He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in
Me and I in him. The words that I speak unto you, they are
spirit, and they are life.(4)
(1) Matthew xi. 28 (2) John vi. 51.
(3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19. (4) John vi. 57, 63.
With how great reverence Christ must be received
The Voice of the Disciple
These are Thy words, O Christ, Eternal Truth; though not uttered
at one time nor written together in one place of Scripture.
Because therefore they are Thy words and true, I must gratefully
and faithfully receive them all. They are Thine, and Thou hast
uttered them; and they are mine also, because Thou didst speak
them for my salvation. Gladly I receive them from Thy mouth,
that they may be more deeply implanted in my heart. Words of
such great grace arouse me, for they are full of sweetness and
love; but my own sins terrify me, and my impure conscience
driveth me away from receiving so great mysteries. The sweetness
of Thy words encourageth me, but the multitude of my faults
presseth me down.
2. Thou commandest that I draw near to Thee with firm confidence,
if I would have part with Thee, and that I receive the food of
immortality, if I desire to obtain eternal life and glory. Come
unto Me, sayest Thou, all that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will refresh you. Oh, sweet and lovely word in the ear of the
sinner, that Thou, O Lord my God, dost invite the poor and needy
to the Communion of Thy most holy body and blood. But who am I,
O Lord, that I should presume to approach unto Thee? Behold the
heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, and yet Thou sayest, Come
ye all unto Me.
3. What meaneth this most gracious condescension, this most
lovely invitation? How shall I dare to come, who know no good
thing of myself, whence I might be able to presume? How shall I
bring Thee within my house, seeing that I so often have sinned in
Thy most loving sight? Angels and Archangels stand in awe of
Thee, and Thou sayest, Come unto Me! Except Thou, Lord, hadst
said it, who should believe it true? And except Thou hadst
commanded, who should attempt to draw near?
4. Behold, Noah, that just man, laboured for a hundred years in
building the ark, that he might be saved with the few; and I, how
shall I be able in one hour to prepare myself to receive the
Builder of the world with reverence? Moses, Thy servant, Thy
great and especial friend, made an ark of incorruptible wood,
which also he covered with purest gold, that he might lay up in
it the tables of the law, and I, a corruptible creature, shall I
dare thus easily to receive Thee, the Maker of the Law, and the
Giver of life? Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, was
seven years building his magnificent temple to the praise of Thy
Name, and for eight days celebrated the feast of its dedication,
offered a thousand peace offerings, and solemnly brought up the
Ark of the Covenant to the place prepared for it, with the sound
of trumpets and great joy, and I, unhappy and poorest of mankind,
how shall I bring Thee into my house, who scarce know how to
spend half an hour in devotion? And oh that it were even one
half hour worthily spent!
5. O my God, how earnestly these holy men strove to please Thee!
And alas! how little and trifling is that which I do! how short
a time do I spend, when I am disposing myself to Communion.
Rarely altogether collected, most rarely cleansed from all
distraction. And surely in the saving presence of Thy Godhead no
unmeet thought ought to intrude, nor should any creature take
possession of me, because it is not an Angel but the Lord of
Angels, that I am about to receive as my Guest.
6. Yet there is a vast difference between the Ark of the Covenant
with its relics, and Thy most pure Body with its ineffable
virtues, between those sacrifices of the law, which were figures
of things to come, and the true sacrifice of Thy Body, the
completion of all the ancient sacrifices.
7. Wherefore then do I not yearn more ardently after Thy adorable
presence? Why do I not prepare myself with great solicitude to
receive Thy holy things, when those holy Patriarchs and Prophets
of old, kings also and princes, with the whole people, manifested
so great affection of devotion towards Thy Divine Service?
8. The most devout king David danced with all his might before
the Ark of God, calling to mind the benefits granted to his
forefathers in days past; he fashioned musical instruments of
various sorts, put forth Psalms, and appointed them to be sung
with joy, played also himself ofttimes on the harp, being
inspired with the grace of the Holy Ghost; he taught the people
of Israel to praise God with the whole heart, and with unity of
voice to bless and praise Him every day. If so great devotion
was then exercised, and celebration of divine praise was carried
on before the Ark of the Testimony, how great reverence and
devotion ought now to be shown by me and all Christian people at
the ministering of the Sacrament, at receiving the most precious
Body and Blood of Christ.
9. Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of departed
Saints, and rejoice to hear of their deeds and to look upon the
beautiful buildings of their shrines. And behold, Thou art
present here with me, O my God, Saint of Saints, Creator of men
and Lord of the Angels. Often in looking at those memorials men
are moved by curiosity and novelty, and very little fruit of
amendment is borne away, especially when there is so much
careless trifling and so little true contrition. But here in the
Sacrament of the Altar, Thou art present altogether, My God, the
Man Christ Jesus, where also abundant fruit of eternal life is
given to every one soever that receiveth Thee worthily and
devoutly. But to this no levity draweth, no curiousity, nor
sensuality, only steadfast faith, devout hope, and sincere
10. O God, invisible Creator of the world, how wondrously dost
Thou work with us, how sweetly and graciously Thou dealest with
Thine elect, to whom Thou offerest Thyself to be received in this
Sacrament! For this surpasseth all understanding, this specially
draweth the hearts of the devout and enkindleth their affections.
For even thy true faithful ones themselves, who order their whole
life to amendment, oftentimes gain from this most excellent
Sacrament great grace of devotion and love of virtue.
11. Oh admirable and hidden grace of the Sacrament, which only
Christ's faithful ones know, but the faithful and those who serve
sin cannot experience! In this Sacrament is conferred spiritual
grace, and lost virtue is regained in the soul, and the beauty
which was disfigured by sin returneth again. So great sometimes
is this grace that out of the fulness of devotion given, not only
the mind but also the weak body feeleth that more strength is
supplied unto it.
12. But greatly must we mourn and lament over our lukewarmness
and negligence, that we are not drawn by greater affection to
become partakers of Christ, in whom all the hope and merit of
those that are to be saved consist. For He Himself is our
sanctification and redemption.(1) He is the consolation of
pilgrims and the eternal fruition of the Saints. Therefore it is
grievously to be lamented that many so little consider this
health-giving mystery, which maketh heaven glad and preserveth
the whole world. Alas for the blindness and hardness of man's
heart, that he considereth not more this unspeakable gift, and
even slippeth down through the daily use, into carelessness.
13. For if this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place
only, and were consecrated only by one priest in the whole world,
with what great desire thinkest thou, would men be affected
towards that place and towards such a priest of God, that they
might behold the divine mysteries celebrated? But now are many
men made priests and in many places the Sacrament is celebrated,
that the grace and love of God towards men might the more appear,
the more widely the Holy Communion is spread abroad over all the
world. Thanks be unto Thee, O good Jesus, Eternal Shepherd, who
hast vouchsafed to refresh us, poor and exiled ones, with Thy
precious Body and Blood, and to invite us to partake these holy
mysteries by the invitation from Thine own mouth, saying, Come
unto Me, ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh
(1) 1 Corinthians i. 30.
That the greatness and charity of God is shown to men in the
The Voice of the Disciple
Trusting in Thy goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I draw near,
the sick to the Healer, the hungering and thristing to the
Fountain of life, the poverty-stricken to the King of heaven, the
servant to the Lord, the creature to the Creator, the desolate to
my own gentle Comforter. But whence is this unto me, that Thou
comest unto me? Who am I that Thou shouldest offer me Thyself?
How doth a sinner dare to appear before Thee? And how dost thou
vouchsafe to come to the sinner? Thou knowest Thy servant, and
Thou knowest that he hath in him no good thing for which Thou
shouldest grant him this grace. I confess therefore mine own
vileness, I acknowledge Thy goodness, I praise Thy tenderness,
and I give Thee thanks for Thine exceeding great love. For Thou
doest this for Thine own sake, not for my merits, that Thy
goodness may be more manifest unto me, Thy charity more
abundantly poured out upon me, and Thy humility more perfectly
commended unto me. Therefore because this pleaseth Thee and Thou
hast commanded that thus it shall be, Thy condescension pleaseth
me also; and oh that mine iniquity hinder it not.
2. O most sweet and tender Jesus, what reverence, what giving of
thanks is due to Thee with perpetual praise for the receiving of
Thy sacred Body and Blood, the dignity whereof no man is found
able to express. But what shall I think upon in this Communion
in approaching my Lord, whom I am not able worthily to honour,
and nevertheless whom I long devoutly to receive? What shall be
better and more healthful meditation for me, than utter
humiliation of myself before Thee, and exaltation of Thine
infinite goodness towards me? I praise Thee, O my God, and exalt
Thee for evermore. I despise myself, and cast myself down before
Thee into the deep of my vileness.
3. Behold, Thou art the Saint of saints and I the refuse of
sinners; behold, Thou stoopest unto me who am not worthy to look
upon Thee; behold, Thou comest unto me, Thou willest to be with
me, Thou invitest me to Thy feast. Thou willest to give me the
heavenly food and bread of angels to eat; none other, in truth,
than Thyself, The living bread, which didst descend from heaven;
and givest life to the world.(1)
4. Behold, whence this love proceedeth! what manner of
condescenion shineth forth herein. What great giving of thanks
and praise is due unto Thee for these benefits! Oh how salutary
and profitable Thy purpose when Thou didst ordain this! How
sweet and pleasant the feast when Thou didst give Thyself for
food! Oh how admirable is thy working, O Lord, how mighty Thy
power, how unspeakable Thy truth! For Thou didst speak the word,
and all things were made; and this is done which Thou hast
5. A thing wonderful, and worthy of faith, and surpassing all the
understanding of man, that Thou, O Lord my God, very God and very
man, givest Thyself altogether to us in a little bread and wine,
and art so our inexhaustible food. Thou, O Lord of all, who hast
need of nothing, hast willed to dwell in us through Thy
Sacrament. Preserve my heart and my body undefiled, that with a
joyful and pure conscience I may be able very often to
[celebrate, and](2) receive to my perpetual health. Thy
mysteries, which Thou hast consecrated and instituted both for
Thine own honour, and for a perpetual memorial.
6. Rejoice, O my soul, and give thanks unto God for so great a
gift and precious consolation, left unto thee in this vale of
tears. For so oft as thou callest this mystery to mind and
receivest the body of Christ, so often dost thou celebrate the
work of thy redemption, and art made partaker of all the merits
of Christ. For the charity of Christ never groweth less, and the
greatness of His propitiation is never exhausted. Therefore, by
continual renewal of thy spirit, thou oughtest to dispose thyself
hereunto and to weigh the great mystery of salvation with
attentive consideration. So great, new, and joyful ought it to
appear to thee when thou comest to communion, as if on this
self-same day Christ for the first time were descending into the
Virgin's womb and becoming man, or hanging on the cross,
suffering and dying for the salvation of mankind.
(1) John vi. 51.
(2) The words in brackets are only suitable for a priest.
That it is profitable to Communicate often
The Voice of the Disciple
Behold I come unto Thee, O Lord, that I may be blessed through
Thy gift, and be made joyful in Thy holy feast which Thou, O God,
of Thy goodness hast prepared for the poor.(1) Behold in Thee is
all that I can and ought to desire, Thou art my salvation and
redemption, my hope and strength, my honour and glory. Therefore
rejoice the soul of Thy servant this day, for unto Thee, O Lord
Jesus, do I lift up my soul.(2) I long now to receive Thee
devoutly and reverently, I desire to bring Thee into my house, so
that with Zacchaeus I may be counted worthy to be blessed by Thee
and numbered among the children of Abraham. My soul hath an
earnest desire for Thy Body, my heart longeth to be united with
2. Give me Thyself and it sufficeth, for besides Thee no
consolation availeth. Without Thee I cannot be, and without Thy
visitation I have no power to live. And therefore I must needs
draw nigh unto Thee often, and receive Thee for the healing of my
soul, lest haply I faint by the way if I be deprived of heavenly
food. For so Thou, most merciful Jesus, preaching to the people
and healing many sick, didst say, I will not send them away
fasting to their own homes, lest they faint by the way.(3) Deal
therefore now to me in like manner, for Thou left Thyself for the
consolation of the faithful in the Sacrament. For Thou art the
sweet refreshment of the soul, and he who shall eat Thee worthily
shall be partaker and inheritor of the eternal glory. Necessary
indeed it is for me, who so often slide backwards and sin, so
quickly wax cold and faint, to renew, cleanse, enkindle myself by
frequent prayers and penitences and receiving of Thy sacred Body
and Blood lest haply by too long abstinence, I fall short of my
3. For the imaginations of man's heart are evil from his
youth,(4) and except divine medicine succour him, man slideth
away continually unto the worse. The Holy Communion therefore
draweth us back from evil, and strengtheneth us for good. For if
I now be so negligent and lukewarm when I communicate [or
celebrate], how should it be with me, if I receive not this
medicine, and sought not so great a help? [And though I am not
every day fit nor well prepared to celebrate, I will nevertheless
give diligent heed at due season, to receive the divine
mysteries, and to become partaker of so great grace]. For this
is the one principal consolation of the faithful soul, so long as
it is absent from Thee in mortal body, that being continually
mindful of its God, it receiveth its Beloved with devout spirit.
4. Oh wonderful condescension of Thy pity surrounding us, that
Thou, O Lord God, Creator and Quickener of all spirits, deignest
to come unto a soul so poor and weak, and to appease its hunger
with Thy whole Diety and Humanity. Oh happy mind and blessed
soul, to which is granted devoutly to receive Thee its Lord God,
and in so receiving Thee to be filled with all spiritul joy! Oh
how great a Lord doth it entertain, how beloved a Guest doth it
bring in, how delightful a Companion doth it receive, how
faithful a Friend doth it welcome, how beautiful and exalted a
Spouse, above every other Beloved, doth it embrace, One to be
loved above all things that can be desired! O my most sweet
Beloved, let heaven and earth and all the glory of them, be
silent in Thy presence; seeing whatsoever praise and beauty they
have it is of Thy gracious bounty; and they shall never reach
unto the loveliness of Thy Name, Whose Wisdom is infinite.(5)
(1) Psalm lxviii. 10. (2) Psalm lxxxvi. 4.
(3) Matthew xv. 32. (4) Genesis viii. 21.
(5) Psalm cxlvii. 5.
That many good gifts are bestowed upon those who Communicate
The Voice of the Disciple
O Lord my God, prevent Thou Thy servant with the blessings of Thy
sweetness, that I may be enabled to draw near worthily and
devoutly to Thy glorious Sacrament. Awaken my heart towards
Thee, and deliver me from heavy slumber. Visit me with Thy
salvation that I may in spirit taste Thy sweetness, which
plentifully lieth hid in this Sacrament as in a fountain.
Lighten also mine eyes to behold this so great mystery, and
strengthen me that I may believe it with undoubting faith. For
it is Thy word, not human power; it is Thy holy institution, not
the invention of man. For no man is found fit in himself to
receive and to understand these things, which transcend even the
wisdom of the Angels. What portion then shall I, unworthy
sinner, who am but dust and ashes, be able to search into and
comprehend of so deep a Sacrament?
2. O Lord, in the simplicity of my heart, in good and firm faith,
and according to Thy will, I draw nigh unto Thee with hope and
reverence, and truly believe that Thou art here present in the
Sacrament, God and man. Thou willest therefore that I receive
Thee and unite myself to Thee in charity. Wherefore I beseech
Thy mercy, and implore Thee to give me Thy special grace, to this
end, that I may be wholly dissolved and overflow with love
towards Thee, and no more suffer any other consolation to enter
into me. For this most high and most glorious Sacrament is the
health of the soul and the body, the medicine of all spiritual
sickness, whereby I am healed of my sins, my passions are
bridled, temptations are conquered or weakened, more grace is
poured into me, virtue begun is increased, faith is made firm,
hope is strengtened, and charity is enkindled and enlarged.
3. For in this Sacrament Thou hast bestowed many good things and
still bestowest them continually on Thine elect who communicate
devoutly, O my God, Lifter up of my soul, Repairer of human
infirmity, and Giver of all inward consolation. For Thou pourest
into them much consolation against all sorts of tribulation, and
out of the deep of their own misery Thou liftest them up to the
hope of Thy protection, and with ever new grace, dost inwardly
refresh and enlighten them; so that they who felt themselves to
be anxious and without affection before Communion, afterwards
being refreshed with heavenly food and drink, find themselves
changed for the better. And even in such wise Thou dealest
severally with Thine elect, that they may truly acknowledge and
clearly make proof that they have nothing whatsoever of their
own, and what goodness and grace come to them from Thee; because
being in themselves cold, hard of heart, indevout, through Thee
they become fervent, zealous, and devout. For who is there
coming humbly to the fountain of sweetness, carrieth not away
thence at the least some little of that sweetness? Or who
standing by a large fire, feeleth not from thence a little of its
heat? And Thou art ever a full and overflowing fountain, a fire
continually burning, and never going out.
4. Wherefore if it is not suffered to me to draw from the fulness
of the fountain, nor to drink unto satisfying, yet will I set my
lips to the mouth of the heavenly conduit, that at least I may
receive a small drop to quench my thrist, that I dry not up
within my heart. And if I am not yet able to be altogether
heavenly and so enkindled as the Cherubim and Seraphim, yet will
I endeavour to give myself unto devotion, and to prepare my
heart, that I may gain if it be but a little flame of the divine
fire, through the humble receiving of the life-giving Sacrament.
But whatsoever is wanting unto me, O merciful Jesus, Most Holy
Saviour, do Thou of Thy kindness and grace supply, who hast
vouchsafed to call all unto Thee saying, Come unto me, all ye
that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you.
5. I indeed labour in the sweat of my face, I am tormented with
sorrow of heart, I am burdened with sins, I am disquieted with
temptations, I am entangled and oppressed with many passions, and
there is none to help me, there is none to deliver and ease me,
but Thou, O Lord God, my Saviour, to whom I commit myself and all
things that are mine, that Thou mayest preserve me and lead me
unto life eternal.
Receive me unto the praise and glory of Thy name, who hast
prepared Thy Body and Blood to be my meat and drink. Grant, O
Lord God my Saviour, that with coming often to Thy mysteries the
zeal of my devotion may increase.
Of the dignity of this Sacrament, and of the office of the priest
The Voice of the Beloved
If thou hadst angelic purity and the holiness of holy John the
Baptist, thou wouldest not be worthy to receive or to minister to
this Sacrament. For this is not deserved by merit of man that a
man should consecrate and minister the Sacrament of Christ, and
take for food the bread of Angels. Vast is the mystery, and
great is the dignity of the priests, to whom is given what is not
granted to Angels. For priests only, rightly ordained in the
church, have the power of consecrating and celebrating the Body
of Christ. The priest indeed is the minister of God, using the
Word of God by God's command and institution; nevertheless God is
there the principal Author and invisible Worker, that to whom all
that He willeth is subject, and all He commandeth is obedient.
2. Therefore thou must believe God Almighty in this most
excellent Sacrament, more than thine own sense or any visible
sign at all. And therefore with fear and reverence is this work
to be approached. Take heed therefore and see what it is of
which the ministry is committed to thee by the laying on of the
Bishop's hand. Behold thou art made a priest and consecrated to
celebrate. See now that thou do it before God faithfully and
devoutly at due time, and shew thyself without blame. Thou hast
not lightened thy burden, but art now bound with a straiter bond
of discipline, and art pledged to a higher degree of holiness. A
priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and to afford to
others an example of good life. His conversation must not be
with the popular and common ways of men, but with Angels in
Heaven or with perfect men on earth.
3. A priest clad in holy garments taketh Christ's place that he
may pray unto God with all supplication and humility for himself
and for the whole people. He must always remember the Passion of
Christ. He must diligently look upon Christ's footsteps and
fervently endeavour himself to follow them. He must bear meekly
for God whatsoever ills are brought upon him by others. He must
mourn for his own sins, and for the sins committed by others, and
may not grow careless of prayer and holy oblation, until he
prevail to obtain grace and mercy. When the priest celebrateth,
he honoureth God, giveth joy to the Angels, buildeth up the
Church, helpeth the living, hath communion with the departed, and
maketh himself a partaker of all good things.
An inquiry concerning preparation for Communion
The Voice of the Disciple
When I consider Thy dignity, O Lord, and mine own vileness, I
tremble very exceedingly, and am confounded within myself. For
if I approach not, I fly from life; and if I intrude myself
unworthily, I run into Thy displeasure. What then shall I do, O
my God, Thou helper and Counsellor in necessities.
2. Teach Thou me the right way; propound unto me some short
exercise befitting Holy Communion. For it is profitable to know
how I ought to prepare my heart devoutly and reverently for Thee,
to the intent that I may receive Thy Sacrament to my soul's
health [or it may be also for the celebrating this so great and
Of the examination of conscience, and purpose of amendment
The Voice of the Beloved
Above all things the priest of God must draw nigh, with all
humility of heart and supplicating reverence, with full faith and
pious desire for the honour of God, to celebrate, minister, and
receive this Sacrament. Diligently examine thy conscience and
with all thy might with true contrition and humble confession
cleanse and purify it, so that thou mayest feel no burden, nor
know anything which bringeth thee remorse and impedeth thy free
approach. Have displeasure against all thy sins in general, and
specially sorrow and mourn because of thy daily transgressions.
And if thou have time, confess unto God in the secret of thine
heart, all miseries of thine own passion.
2. Lament grievously and be sorry, because thou art still so
carnal and worldly, so unmortified from thy passions, so full of
the motion of concupiscence, so unguarded in thine outward
senses, so often entangled in many vain fancies, so much inclined
to outward things, so negligent of internal; so ready to laughter
and dissoluteness, so unready to weeping and contrition; so prone
to ease and indulgence of the flesh, so dull to zeal and fervour;
so curious to hear novelties and behold beauties, so loth to
embrace things humble and despised; so desirous to have many
things, so grudging in giving, so close in keeping; so
inconsiderate in speaking, so reluctant to keep silence; so
disorderly in manners, so inconsiderate in actions; so eager
after food, so deaf towards the Word of God; so eager after rest,
so slow to labour; so watchful after tales, so sleepy towards
holy watchings; so eager for the end of them, so wandering in
attention to them; so negligent is observing the hours of prayer,
so lukewarm in celebrating, so unfruitful in communicating; so
quickly distracted, so seldom quite collected with thyself; so
quickly moved to anger, so ready for displeasure at others; so
prone to judging, so severe at reproving; so joyful in
prosperity, so weak in adversity; so often making many good
resolutions and bringing them to so little effect.
3. When thou hast confessed and bewailed these and thy other
shortcomings, with sorrow and sore displeasure at thine own
infirmity, make then a firm resolution of continual amendment of
life and of progress in all that is good. Then moreover with
full resignation and entire will offer thyself to the honour of
My name on the altar of thine heart as a perpetual whole
burnt-offering, even by faitfully presenting thy body and soul
unto Me, to the end that thou mayest so be accounted worthy to
draw near to offer this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to
God, and to receive the Sacrament of My Body and Blood to thy
soul's health. For there is no oblation worthier, no
satisfaction greater for the destroying of sin, than that a man
offer himself to God, purely and entirely with the oblation of
the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion. If a man
shall have done what in him lieth, and shall repent him truly,
then how often soever he shall draw nigh unto Me for pardon and
grace, As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death
of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted, and live.
All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be
mentioned unto him.(1)
(1) Ezekiel xviii. 22, 23.
Of the oblation of Christ upon the cross, and of resignation of
The Voice of the Beloved
As I of my own will offered myself unto God the Father on the
Cross for thy sins with outstretched hands and naked body, so
that nothing remained in Me that did not become altogether a
sacrifice for the Divine propitiation; so also oughtest thou
every day to offer thyself willingly unto Me for a pure and holy
oblation with all thy strength and affections, even to the utmost
of thine heart. What more do I require of thee than thou study
to resign thyself altogether to Me? Whatsoever thou givest
besides thyself, I nothing care for, for I ask not thy gift, but
2. As it would not be sufficient for thee if thou hadst all
things except Me, even so whatsoever thou shalt give Me, if thou
give Me not thyself, it cannot please Me. Offer thyself to Me,
and give thyself altogether for God, so shall thy offering be
accepted. Behold I offered Myself altogether to the Father for
thee, I give also My whole body and blood for food, that thou
mightest remain altogether Mine and I thine. But if thou stand
in thyself, and offer not thyself freely to My will, thy offering
is not perfect, neither shall the union betwixt us be complete.
Therefore ought the freewill offering of thyself into the hands
of God to go before all thy works, if thou wilt attain liberty
and grace. For this is the cause that so few are inwardly
enlightened and made free, that they know not how to deny
themselves entirely. My word standeth sure, Except a man forsake
all, he cannot be My disciple.(1) Thou therefore, if thou wilt
be My disciple, offer thyself to Me with all thy affections.
(1) Luke xiv. 32.
That we ought to offer ourselves and all that is ours to God, and
to pray for all
The Voice of the Disciple
Lord, all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine.(2) I
desire to offer myself up unto thee as a freewill offering, and
to continue Thine for ever. Lord, in the uprightness of mine
heart I willingly offer(3) myself to Thee to-day to be Thy
servant for ever, in humble submission and for a sacrifice of
perpetual praise. Receive me with this holy Communion of Thy
precious Body, which I celebrate before Thee this day in the
presence of the Angels invisibly surrounding, that it may be for
the salvation of me and of all Thy people.
2. Lord, I lay before Thee at this celebration all my sins and
offences which I have committed before Thee and Thy holy Angels,
for the day whereon I was first able to sin even unto this hour;
that Thou mayest consume and burn them every one with the fire of
Thy charity, and mayest do away all the stains of my sins, and
cleanse my conscience from all offence, and restore me to Thy
favour which by sinning I have lost, fully forgiving me all, and
mercifully admitting me to the kiss of peace.
3. What can I do concerning my sins, save humbly to confess and
lament them and unceasingly beseech Thy propitiation? I beseech
Thee, be propitious unto me and hear me, when I stand before
Thee, O my God. All me sins displease me grievously: I will
never more commit them; but I grieve for them and will grieve so
long as I live, steadfastly purposing to repent me truly, and to
make restitution as far as I can. Forgive, O God, forgive me my
sins for Thy holy Name's sake; save my soul, which Thou hast
redeemed with Thy precious blood. Behold I commit myself to thy
mercy, I resign myself to Thy hands. Deal with me according to
Thy loving-kindness, not according to my wickedness and iniquity.
4. I offer also unto Thee all my goodness, though it is
exceedingly little and imperfect, that Thou mayest mend and
sanctify it, that Thou mayest make it well pleasing and
acceptable in Thy sight, and ever draw it on towards perfection;
and furthermore bring me safely, slothful and useless poor
creature that I am, to a happy and blessed end.
5. Moreover I offer unto Thee all pious desires of the devout,
necessities of parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and all who
are dear to me, and of those who have done good to me, or to
others for Thy love; and those who have desired and besought my
prayers for themselves and all belonging to them; that all may
feel themselves assisted by Thy grace, enriched by consolation,
protected from dangers, freed from pains; and that being
delivered from all evils they may joyfully give Thee exceeding
6. I offer also to Thee prayers and Sacramental intercessions for
those specially who have injured me in aught, made me sad, or
spoken evil concerning me, or have caused me any loss or
displeasure; for all those also whom I have at any time made sad,
disturbed, burdened, and scandalized, by words or deeds,
knowingly or ignorantly; that to all of us alike, Thou mayest
equally pardon ours sins and mutual offences. Take away, O Lord,
from our hearts all suspicion, indignation, anger, and
contention, and whatsoever is able to injure charity and diminish
brotherly love. Have mercy, have mercy, Lord, on those who
entreat Thy mercy; give grace to the needy; and make us such that
we may be worthy to enjoy Thy grace, and go forward to the life
(2) 1 Chronicles xxix. 11. (3) 1 Chronicles xxix. 17.
That Holy Communion is not lightly to be omitted
The Voice of the Beloved
Thou must frequently betake thee to the Fountain of grace and
divine mercy, to the Fountain of goodness and all purity; to the
end that thou mayest obtain the healing of thy passions and
vices, and mayest be made stronger and more watchful against all
temptations and wiles of the devil. The enemy, knowing what
profit and exceeding strong remedy lieth in the Holy Communion,
striveth by all means and occasions to draw back and hinder the
faithful and devout, so far as he can.
2. For when some set about to prepare themselves for Holy
Communion, they suffer from the more evil suggestions of Satan.
The very evil spirit himself (as is written in Job), cometh among
the sons of God that he may trouble them by his accustomed evil
dealing, or make them over timid and perplexed; to the intent
that he may diminish their affections, or take away their faith
by his attacks, if haply he may prevail upon them to give up Holy
Communion altogether, or to come thereto with lukewarm hearts.
But his wiles and delusions must not be heeded, howsoever wicked
and terrible they be; but all his delusion must be cast back upon
his head. The wretch must be despised and laughed to scorn:
neither must Holy Communion be omitted because of his insults and
the inward troubles which he stirreth up.
3. Often also too much carefulness or some anxiety or other
touching confession hindereth from obtaining devotion. Do thou
according to the counsel of wise men, and lay aside anxiety and
scruple, because it hindereth the grace of God and destroyeth
devotion of mind. Because of some little vexation or trouble do
not thou neglect Holy Communion, but rather hasten to confess it,
and forgive freely all offences committed against thee. And if
thou hast offended any man, humbly beg for pardon, and God shall
freely forgive thee.
4. What profiteth it to put off for long time the confession of
thy sins, or to defer Holy Communion? Cleanse thyself forthwith,
spit out the poison with all speed, hasten to take the remedy,
and thou shalt feel thyself better than if thou didst long defer
it. If to-day thou defer it on one account, to-morrow perchance
some greater obstacle will come, and so thou mayest be long time
hindered from Communion and become more unfit. As soon as thou
canst, shake thyself from thy present heaviness and sloth, for it
profiteth nothing to be long anxious, to go long on thy way with
heaviness of heart, and because of daily little obstacles to
sever thyself from divine things; nay it is exceeding hurtful to
defer thy Communion long, for this commonly bringeth on great
torpor. Alas! there are some, lukewarm and undiscplined, who
willingly find excuses for delaying repentance, and desire to
defer Holy Communion, lest they should be bound to keep stricter
watch upon themselves.
5. Alas! how little charity, what flagging devotion, have they
who so lightly put off Holy Communion. How happy is he, how
acceptable to God, who so liveth, that any day he could be ready
and well inclined to communicate, if it were in his power, and
might be done without the notice of others. If a man sometimes
abstaineth for the sake of humility or some sound cause, he is to
be commended for his reverence. But if drowsiness have taken
hold of him, he ought to rouse himself and to do what in him
lieth; and the Lord will help his desire for the good will which
he hath, which God specially approveth.
6. But when he is hindered by sufficient cause, yet will he ever
have a good will and pious intention to communicate; and so he
shall not be lacking in the fruit of the Sacrament. For any
devout man is able every day and every hour to draw near to
spiritual communion with Christ to his soul's health and without
hindrance. Nevertheless on certain days and at the appointed
time he ought to receive the Body and Blood of his Redeemer with
affectionate reverence, and rather to seek after the praise and
honour of God, than his own comfort. For so often doth he
communicate mystically, and is invisibly refreshed, as he
devoutly called to mind the mystery of Christ's incarnation and
His Passions, and is inflamed with the love of Him.
7. He who only prepareth himself when a festival is at hand or
custom compelleth, will too often be unprepared. Blessed is he
who offereth himself to God for a whole burnt-offering, so often
as he celebrateth of communicateth! Be not too slow nor too
hurried in thy celebrating, but preserve the good received custom
of those with whom thou livest. Thou oughtest not to produce
weariness and annoyance in others, but to observe the received
custom, according to the institution of the elders; and to
minister to the profit of others rather than to thine own
devotion or feeling.
That the Body and Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are
most necessary to a faithful soul
The Voice of the Disciple
O most sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the blessedness of the
devout soul that feedeth with Thee in Thy banquet, where there is
set before it no other food than Thyself its only Beloved, more
to be desired than all the desires of the heart? And to me it
would verily be sweet to pour forth my tears in Thy presence from
the very bottom of my heart, and with the pious Magdalene to
water Thy feet with my tears. But where is this devotion? Where
the abundant flowing of holy tears? Surely in Thy presence and
in the presence of the holy Angels my whole heart ought to burn
and to weep for joy; for I have Thee in the Sacrament verily
present, although hidden under other form.
2. For in Thine own Divine brightness, mine eyes could not endure
to behold Thee, neither could the whole world stand before the
splendour of the glory of Thy Majesty. In this therefore Thou
hast consideration unto my weakness, that Thou hidest Thyself
under the Sacrament. I verily possess and adore Him whom the
Angels adore in heaven; I yet for a while by faith, but they by
sight and without a veil. It is good for me to be content with
the light of true faith, and to walk therein until the day of
eternal brightness dawn, and the shadows of figures flee away.(1)
But when that which is perfect is come, the using of Sacraments
shall cease, because the Blessed in heavenly glory have no need
of Sacramental remedy. For they rejoice unceasingly in the
presence of God, beholding His glory face to face, and being
changed from glory to glory(2) of the infinite God, they taste
the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the beginning and
remaineth for everlasting.
3. When I think on these wondrous things, even spiritual comfort
whatsoever it be becometh sore weariness to me; for so long as I
see not openly my Lord in His own Glory, I count for nothing all
which I behold and hear in the world. Thou, O God, art my
witness that nothing is able to comfort me, no creature is able
to give me rest, save Thou, O my God, whom I desire to
contemplate everlastingly. But this is not possible, so long as
I remain in this mortal state. Therefore ought I to set myself
unto great patience, and submit myself unto Thee in every desire.
For even Thy Saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with Thee in the
kingdom of heaven, waited for the coming of Thy glory whilst they
lived here, in faith and great glory. What they believed, that
believe I; what they hoped for, I hope; whither they have
attained to, thither through Thy grace hope I to come. I will
walk meanwhile in faith, strengthened by the examples of the
Saints. I will have also holy books for comfort and for a mirror
of life, and above them all Thy most holy Body and Blood shall be
for me a special remedy and refuge.
4. For two things do I feel to be exceedingly necessary to me in
this life, without which this miserable life would be intolerable
to me; being detained in the prison of this body, I confess that
I need two things, even food and light. Thou hast therefore
given to me who am so weak, Thy sacred Body and Blood, for the
refreshing of my soul and body, and hast set Thy Word for a
lantern to my feet.(3) Without these two I could not properly
live; for the Word of God is the light of my soul, and Thy
Sacrament the bread of life. These may also be called the two
tables, placed on this side and on that, in the treasury of Thy
holy Church. One table is that of the Sacred Altar, bearing the
holy bread, that is the precious Body and Blood of Christ, the
other is the table of the Divine Law, containing holy doctrine,
teaching the true faith, and leading steadfastly onwards even to
that which is within the veil, where the Holy of Holies is.
5. Thanks be unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, Light of Light everlasting,
for that table of holy doctrine which Thou has furnished to us by
Thy servants the Prophets and Apostles and other teachers.
Thanks be to Thee, O Creator and Redeemer of men, who to make
known Thy love to the whole world has prepared a great supper, in
which Thou hast set forth for good not the typical lamb, but
Thine own most Holy Body and Blood; making all Thy faithful ones
joyful with this holy banquet and giving them to drink the cup of
salvation, wherein are all the delights of Paradise, and the holy
Angels do feed with us, and with yet happier sweetness.
6. Oh how great and honourable is the office of the priests, to
whom it is given to consecrate the Sacrament of the Lord of
majesty with holy words, to bless it with the lips, to hold it in
their hands, to receive it with their own mouth, and to
administer it to others! Oh how clean ought those hands to be,
how pure the mouth, how holy the body, how unspotted the heart of
the priest, to whom so often the Author of purity entered in!
From the mouth of the priest ought naught to proceed but what is
holy, what is honest and profitable, because he so often
receiveth the Sacrament of Christ.
7. His eyes ought to be single and pure, seeing they are wont to
look upon the Body of Christ; the hands should be pure and lifted
up towards heaven, which are wont to hold within them the Creator
of heaven and earth. To priests is it specially said in the Law,
Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.(4)
8. Assist us with Thy grace, O Almighty God, that we who have
taken upon us the priestly office, may be able to converse
worthily and devoutly with Thee in all purity and good
conscience. And if we are not able to have our conversation in
such innocency of life as we ought, yet grant unto us worthily to
lament the sins which we have committed, and in the spirit of
humility and full purpose of a good will, to serve Thee more
earnestly for the future.
(1) Cant. ii. 17. (2) 2 Corinthians iii. 18.
(3) Psalm cxix. 105. (4) Leviticus xix. 2.
That he who is about to Communicate with Christ ought to prepare
himself with great diligence
The Voice of the Beloved
I am the Lover of purity, and Giver of sanctity. I seek a pure
heart, and there is the place of My rest. Prepare for Me the
larger upper room furnished, and I will keep the Passover at thy
house with my disciples.(1) If thou wilt that I come unto thee
and abide with thee, purge out the old leaven,(2) and cleanse the
habitation of thy heart. Shut out the whole world, and all the
throng of sins; sit as a sparrow alone upon the house-top,(3) and
think upon thy transgressions with bitterness of thy soul. For
everyone that loveth prepareth the best and fairest place for his
beloved, because hereby the affection of him that entertaineth
his beloved is known.
2. Yet know thou that thou canst not make sufficient preparation
out of the merit of any action of thine, even though thou
shouldest prepare thyself for a whole year, and hadst nothing
else in thy mind. But out of My tenderness and grace alone art
thou permitted to draw night unto My table; as though a beggar
were called to a rich man's dinner, and had no other recompense
to offer him for the benefits done unto him, but to humble
himself and to give him thanks. Do therefore as much as lieth in
thee, and do it diligently, not of custom, nor of necessity, but
with fear, reverence, and affection, receive the Body of thy
beloved Lord God, who vouchsafeth to come unto thee. I am He who
hath called thee; I command it to be done; I will supply what is
lacking to thee; come and receive Me.
3. When I give the grace of devotion, give thanks unto thy God;
it is not because thou art worthy, but because I had mercy on
thee. If thou hast not devotion, but rather feelest thyself dry,
be instant in prayer, cease not to groan and knock; cease not
until thou prevail to obtain some crumb or drop of saving grace.
Thou hast need of Me, I have no need of thee. Nor dost thou come
to sanctify Me, but I come to sanctify thee and make thee better.
Thou comest that thou mayest be sanctified by Me, and be united
to Me; that thou mayest receive fresh grace, and be kindled anew
to amendment of life. See that thou neglect not this grace, but
prepare thy heart with all diligence, and receive thy Beloved
4. But thou oughtest not only to prepare thyself for devotion
before Communion, thou must also keep thyself with all diligence
therein after receiving the Sacrament; nor is less watchfulness
needed afterwards, than devout preparation beforehand: for good
watchfulness afterwards becometh in turn the best preparation for
the gaining more grace. For hereby is a man made entirely
indisposed to good, if he immediately return from Communion to
give himself up to outward consolations. Beware of much
speaking; remain in a secret place, and hold communion with thy
God; for thou hast Him whom the whole world cannot take away from
thee. I am He to whom thou oughtest wholly to give thyself; so
that now thou mayest live not wholly in thyself, but in Me, free
from all anxiety.
(1) Mark xiv. 14, 15. (2) 1 Corinthians v. 7.
(3) Psalms cii. 7.
That the devout soul ought with the whole heart to yearn after
union with Christ in the Sacrament
The Voice of the Disciple
Who shall grant unto me, O Lord, that I may find Thee alone, and
open all my heart unto Thee, and enjoy Thee as much as my soul
desireth; and that no man may henceforth look upon me, nor any
creature move me or have respect unto me, but Thou alone speak
unto me and I unto Thee, even as beloved is wont to speak unto
beloved, and friend to feast with friend? For this do I pray,
this do I long for, that I may be wholly united unto Thee, and
may withdraw my heart from all created things, and by means of
Holy Communion and frequent celebration may learn more and more
to relish heavenly and eternal things. Ah, Lord God, when shall
I be entirely united and lost in Thee, and altogether forgetful
of myself? Thou in me, and I in Thee;(1) even so grant that we
may in like manner continue together in one.
2. Verily Thou art my Beloved, the choicest among ten
thousand,(2) in whom my soul delighteth to dwell all the days of
her life. Verily Thou art my Peacemaker, in Whom is perfect
peace and true rest, apart from Whom is labour and sorrow and
infinite misery. Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, and
Thy counsel is not with the wicked, but Thy Word is with the
humble and simple. O how sweet, O Lord is Thy spirit, who that
Thou mightest manifest Thy sweetness towards Thy children, dost
vouchsafe to refresh them with the bread which is full of
sweetness, which cometh down from heaven. Verily there is no
other nation so great, which hath its gods drawing nigh to them,
as Thou, our God art present unto all Thy faithful ones,(3) unto
whom for their daily solace, and for lifting up their heart unto
heaven, Thou givest Thyself for their food and delight.
3. For what other nation is there so renowned as the Christian
people? Or what creature is so beloved under heaven as the
devout soul to which God entereth in, that he may feed it with
His glorious flesh? O unspeakable grace! O wonderful
condescension! O immeasurable love specially bestowed upon men!
But what reward shall I give unto the Lord for this grace, for
charity so mighty? There is nothing which I am able to present
more acceptable than to give my heart altogether unto God, and to
join it inwardly to Him. Then all my inward parts shall rejoice,
when my soul shall be perfectly united unto God. Then shall He
say unto me, "If thou wilt be with Me, I will be with thee." And
I will answer Him, "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to abide with me, I will
gladly be with Thee; this is my whole desire, even that my heart
be united unto Thee."
(1) John xv. 4. (2) Cant. v. 10. (3) Deuteronomy iv. 7.
Of the fervent desire of certain devout persons to receive the
Body and Blood of Christ
The Voice of the Disciple
O how great is the abundance of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou
hast laid up for them that fear Thee. When I call to mind some
devout persons who draw nigh to Thy Sacrament, O Lord, with the
deepest devotion and affection, then very often I am confounded
in myself and blush for shame, that I approach Thine altar and
table of Holy Communion so carelessly and coldly, that I remain
so dry and without affection, that I am not wholly kindled with
love before Thee, my God, nor so vehemently drawn and affected as
many devout persons have been, who out of the very earnest desire
of the Communion, and tender affection of heart, could not
refrain from weeping, but as it were with mouth of heart and body
alike panted inwardly after Thee, O God, O Fountain of Life,
having no power to appease or satiate their hunger, save by
receiving Thy Body with all joyfulness and spiritual eagerness.
2. O truly ardent faith of those, becoming a very proof of Thy
Sacred Presence! For they verily know their Lord in the breaking
of the bread, whose heart so ardently burneth within them(1) when
Jesus walketh with them by the way. Ah me! far from me for the
most part is such love and devotion as this, such vehement love
and ardour. Be merciful unto me, O Jesus, good, sweet, and kind,
and grant unto Thy poor suppliant to feel sometimes, in Holy
Communion, though it be but a little, the cordial affection of
Thy love, that my faith may grow stronger, my hope in Thy
goodness increase, and my charity, once kindled within me by the
tasting of the heavenly manna, may never fail.
3. But Thy mercy is able even to grant me the grace which I long
for, and to visit me most tenderly with the spirit of fervour
when the day of Thy good pleasure shall come. For, although I
burn not with desire so vehement as theirs who are specially
devout towards Thee, yet, through Thy grace, I have a desire
after that greatly inflamed desire, praying and desiring to be
made partaker with all those who so fervently love Thee, and to
be numbered among their holy company.
(1) Luke xxiv. 32.
That the grace of devotion is acquired by humility and
The Voice of the Beloved
Thou oughtest to seek earnestly the grace of devotion, to ask it
fervently, to wait for it patiently and faithfully, to receive it
gratefully, to preserve it humbly, to work with it diligently,
and to leave to God the time and manner of heavenly visitation
until it come. Chiefly oughtest thou to humble thyself when thou
feelest inwardly little or no devotion, yet not to be too much
cast down, nor to grieve out of measure. God ofttimes giveth in
one short moment what He hath long time denied; He sometimes
giveth at the end what at the beginning of prayer He hath
deferred to give.
2. If grace were always given immediately, and were at hand at
the wish, it would be hardly bearable to weak man. Wherefore the
grace of devotion is to be waited for with a good hope and with
humble patience. Yet impute it to thyself and to thy sins when
it is not given, or when it is mysteriously taken away. It is
sometimes a small thing which hindereth and hideth grace; (if
indeed that ought to be called small and not rather great, which
hindereth so great a good); but if thou remove this, be it small
or great, and perfectly overcome it, thou wilt have what thou
3. For immediately that thou hast given thyself unto God with all
thine heart, and hast sought neither this not that according to
thine own will and pleasure, but hast altogether settled thyself
in Him, thou shalt find thyself united and at peace; because
nothing shall give thee so sweet relish and delight, as the good
pleasure of the Divine will. Whosoever therefore shall have
lifted up his will unto God with singleness of heart, and shall
have delivered himself from every inordinate love or dislike of
any created thing, he will be the most fit for receiving grace,
and worthy of the gift of devotion. For where the Lord findeth
empty vessels,(1) there giveth He His blessing. And the more
perfectly a man forsaketh things which cannot profit, and the
more he dieth to himself, the more quickly doth grace come, the
more plentifully doth it enter in, and the higher doth it lift up
the free heart.
4. Then shall he see, and flow together, and wonder, and his
heart shall be enlarged within him,(2) because the hand of the
Lord is with him, and he hath put himself wholly in His hand,
even for ever. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed, that seeketh
God with all his heart, and receiveth not his soul in vain. This
man in receiving the Holy Eucharist obtaineth the great grace of
Divine Union; because he hath not regard to his own devotion and
comfort, but, above all devotion and comfort, to the glory and
honour of God.
(1) 2 Kings iv. (2) Isaiah lx. 5.
That we ought to lay open our necessities to Christ and to
require His Grace
The Voice of the Disciple
O most sweet and loving Lord, whom now I devoutly desire to
receive, Thou knowest my infirmity and the necessity which I
suffer, in what evils and vices I lie; how often I am weighed
down, tempted, disturbed, and defiled. I come unto Thee for
remedy, I beseech of Thee consolation and support. I speak unto
Thee who knowest all things, to whom all my secrets are open, and
who alone art able perfectly to comfort and help me. Thou
knowest what good thing I most stand in need of, and how poor I
am in virtues.
2. Behold, I stand poor and naked before Thee, requiring grace,
and imploring mercy. Refresh the hungry suppliant, kindle my
coldness with the fire of Thy love, illuminate my blindness with
the brightness of Thy presence. Turn thou all earthly things
into bitterness for me, all grievous and contrary things into
patience, all things worthless and created into contempt and
oblivion. Lift up my heart unto Thee in Heaven, and suffer me
not to wander over the earth. Be Thou alone sweet unto me from
this day forward for ever, because Thou alone art my meat and
drink, my love and joy, my sweetness and my whole good.
3. Oh that Thou wouldest altogether by Thy presence, kindle,
consume, and transform me into Thyself; that I may be made one
spirit with Thee, by the grace of inward union, and the melting
of earnest love! Suffer me not to go away from Thee hungry and
dry; but deal mercifully with me, as oftentimes Thou hast dealt
wondrously with Thy saints. What marvel if I should be wholly
kindled from Thee, and in myself should utterly fail, since Thou
art fire always burning and never failing, love purifying the
heart and enlightening the understanding.
Of fervent love and vehement desire of receiving Christ
The Voice of the Disciple
With the deepest devotion and fervent love, with all affection
and fervour of heart I long to receive Thee, O Lord, even as many
Saints and devout persons have desired Thee in communicating, who
were altogether well pleasing to Thee by their sanctity of life,
and dwelt in all ardent devotion. O my God, Eternal Love, my
whole Good, Happiness without measure, I long to receive Thee
with the most vehement desire and becoming reverence which any
Saint ever had or could have.
2. And although I be unworthy to have all those feelings of
devotion, yet do I offer Thee the whole affection of my heart,
even as though I alone had all those most grateful inflamed
desires. Yea, also, whatsoever things a pious mind is able to
conceive and long for, all these with the deepest veneration and
inward fervour do I offer and present unto Thee. I desire to
reserve nothing unto myself, but freely and entirely to offer
myself and all that I have unto Thee for a sacrifice. O Lord my
God, my Creator and Redeemer! with such affection, reverence,
praise, and honour, with such gratitude, worthiness, and love,
with such faith, hope, and purity do I desire to receive Thee
this day, as Thy most blessed Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary,
received and desired Thee, when she humbly and devoutly answered
the Angel who brought unto her the glad tidings of the mystery of
the Incarnation. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto
me according to thy word.(1)
3. And as Thy blessed forerunner, the most excellent of Saints,
John Baptist, being full of joy in Thy presence, leapt while yet
in the womb of his mother, for joy in the Holy Ghost; and
afterwards discerning Jesus walking amongst men, humbled himself
exceedingly, and said, with devout affection, The friend of the
bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly
because of the bridegroom's voice;(2) even so I wish to be
inflamed with great and holy desires, and to present myself unto
Thee with my whole heart. Whence also, on behalf of myself and
of all commended to me in prayer, I offer and present unto Thee
the jubilation of all devout hearts, their ardent affection,
their mental ecstasies, and supernatural illuminations and
heavenly visions, with all the virtues and praises celebrated and
to be celebrated by every creature in heaven and earth; to the
end that by all Thou mayest worthily be praised and glorified for
4. Receive my prayers, O Lord my God, and my desires of giving
Thee infinite praise and unbounded benediction, which, according
to the multitude of Thine unspeakable greatness, are most justly
due unto Thee. These do I give Thee, and desire to give every
day and every moment; and with beseechings and affectionate
desires I call upon all celestial spirits and all Thy faithful
people to join with me in rendering Thee thanks and praises.
5. Let all peoples, nations and tongues praise Thee, and magnify
Thy holy and sweet-sounding Name, with highest jubilations and
ardent devotion. And let all who reverently and devoutly
celebrate Thy most high Sacrament, and receive it with full
assurance of faith, be accounted worthy to find grace and mercy
with Thee, and intercede with all supplication for me a sinner;
and when they shall have attained unto their wished-for devotion
and joyous union with Thee, and shall depart full of comfort and
wondrously refreshed from Thy holy, heavenly table, let them
vouchsafe to be mindful of me, for I am poor and needy.
(1) Luke i. 38. (2) John iii. 29.
That a man should not be a curious searcher of the sacrament, but
a humble imitator of Christ, submitting his sense to holy faith
The Voice of the Beloved
Thou must take heed of curious and useless searching into this
most profound Sacrament, if thou wilt not be plunged into the
abyss of doubt. He that is a searcher of Majesty shall be
oppressed by the glory thereof.(1) God is able to do more than
man can understand. A pious and humble search after truth is to
be allowed, when it is always ready to be taught, and striving
to walk after the wholesome opinions of the fathers.
2. Blessed is the simplicity which leaveth alone the difficult
paths of questionings, and followeth the plain and firm steps of
God's commandments. Many have lost devotion whilst they sought
to search into deeper things. Faith is required of thee, and a
sincere life, not loftiness of intellect, nor deepness in the
mysteries of God. If thou understandest not nor comprehendest
the things which are beneath thee, how shalt thou comprehend
those which are above thee? Submit thyself to God, and humble
thy sense to faith, and the light of knowledge shall be given to
thee, as shall be profitable and necessary unto thee.
3. There are some who are grievously tempted concerning faith and
the Sacrament; but this is not to be imputed to themselves but
rather to the enemy. Care not then for this, dispute not with
thine own thoughts, nor make answer to the doubts which are cast
into thee by the devil; but believe the words of God, believe His
Saints and Prophets, and the wicked enemy shall flee from thee.
Often it profiteth much, that the servant of God endureth such
things. For the enemy tempteth not unbelievers and sinners,
because he already hath secure possession of them; but he
tempteth and harasseth the faithful and devout by various means.
4. Go forward therefore with simple and undoubting faith, and
draw nigh unto the Sacrament with supplicating reverence. And
whatsoever thou art not enabled to understand, that commit
without anxiety to Almighty God. God deceiveth thee not; he is
deceived who believeth too much in himself. God walketh with the
simple, revealeth Himself to the humble, giveth understanding to
babes, openeth the sense to pure minds, and hideth grace from the
curious and proud. Human reason is weak and may be deceived; but
true faith cannot be deceived.
5. All reason and natural investigation ought to follow faith,
not to precede, nor to break it. For faith and love do here
especially take the highest place, and work in hidden ways in
this most holy and exceeding excellent Sacrament. God who is
eternal and incomprehensible, and of infinite power, doth great
and inscrutable things in heaven and in earth, and His wonderful
works are past finding out. If the works of God were of such
sort that they might easily be comprehended by human reason, they
should no longer be called wonderful or unspeakable.
(1) Proverbs xxv. 27 (Vulg.).
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