“Walk before me and be thou perfect.”—Gen. 17:1.


The Author’s Preface.

This lit­tle trea­tise, con­ceived in great sim­plic­ity, was not origi­nally in­tended for pub­li­ca­tion.  It was writ­ten for a few in­di­vidu­als, who were de­sir­ous of lov­ing God with all their heart.  Many, how­ever, be­cause of the profit they re­ceived in read­ing the manu­script, wished to ob­tain cop­ies, and, on this ac­count alone, it was com­mit­ted to the press.

It still re­mains in its origi­nal sim­plic­ity.  It con­tains no cen­sure on the vari­ous di­vine lead­ings of oth­ers; on the con­trary, it en­forces the re­ceived teach­ings.  The whole is sub­mit­ted to the judg­ment of the learned and ex­peri­enced; re­quest­ing them, how­ever, not to stop at the sur­face, but to en­ter into the main de­sign of the au­thor, which is to in­duce the whole world to love God, and to serve Him with com­fort and suc­cess, in a sim­ple and easy man­ner, adapted to those lit­tle ones who are un­quali­fied for learned and deep re­searches, but who ear­nestly de­sire to be truly de­voted to God.

An un­preju­diced reader will find, hid­den un­der the most com­mon ex­pres­sions, a se­cret unc­tion, which will ex­cite him to seek af­ter that hap­pi­ness which all should wish to en­joy.

In as­sert­ing that per­fec­tion is eas­ily at­tained, the word fa­cil­ity, is used; be­cause God is, in­deed found with fa­cil­ity, when we seek Him within our­selves.  But some, per­haps, may urge that pas­sage in St. John “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me,” (7:34); this ap­par­ent dif­fi­culty, how­ever, is re­moved by an­other pas­sage, where He, who can­not con­tra­dict him­self, has said to all, “Seek and ye shall find,” (Matt. 7:7).  It is true, in­deed, that he who would seek God, and is yet un­will­ing to for­sake his sins, shall not find Him, be­cause he seeks Him where He is not; and, there­fore, it is added, “Ye shall die in your sins.”  But he, who will take some trou­ble to seek God in his own heart, and sin­cerely for­sake his sin, that he may draw near unto Him, shall in­fal­li­bly find Him.

A life of pi­ety ap­pears so fright­ful to many, and prayer of such dif­fi­cult at­tain­ment, that they are dis­cour­aged from tak­ing a sin­gle step to­wards it.  But as the ap­pre­hended dif­fi­culty of an un­der­tak­ing of­ten causes de­spair of suc­ceed­ing and re­luc­tance in com­menc­ing, so its de­sir­able­ness, and the idea that it is easy to ac­com­plish, in­duce us to en­ter upon its pur­suit with pleas­ure, and to pur­sue it with vigor.  The ad­van­tages and fa­cil­ity of this way are there­fore set forth in the fol­low­ing trea­tise.

O were we once per­suaded of the good­ness of God to­ward his poor crea­tures, and of his de­sire to com­mu­ni­cate Him­self to them, we should not cre­ate ideal mon­sters, nor so eas­ily de­spair of ob­tain­ing that good which He is so ear­nest to be­stow: “He that spared not his own Son, but de­liv­ered him up for us all; how shall He not, with him, also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).  It needs only a lit­tle cour­age and per­se­ver­ance; we have enough of both in our tem­po­ral con­cerns, but none at all in the one thing need­ful, (Luke 10:42).

If any think that God is not eas­ily to be found in this way, let them not on my tes­ti­mony al­ter their minds, but let them try it, and their own ex­peri­ence will con­vince them, that the re­al­ity far ex­ceeds all my rep­re­sen­ta­tions of it.

Be­loved reader, pur­sue this lit­tle tract with a sin­cere and can­did spirit, in low­li­ness of mind, and not with an in­cli­na­tion to criti­cise, and you will not fail to reap profit from it.  It was writ­ten with a de­sire that you might wholly de­vote your­self to God; re­ceive it then with a like de­sire: for it has no other de­sign than to in­vite the sim­ple and the child-like to ap­proach their fa­ther, who de­lights in the hum­ble con­fi­dence of his chil­dren, and is greatly grieved at their dis­trust.  With a sin­cere de­sire, there­fore, for your sal­va­tion, seek noth­ing from the un­pre­tend­ing method here pro­posed, but the love of God, and you shall as­sur­edly ob­tain it.

With­out set­ting up our opin­ions above those of oth­ers, we mean only with sin­cer­ity to de­clare, from our own ex­peri­ence and the ex­peri­ence of oth­ers, the happy ef­fects pro­duced by thus sim­ply fol­low­ing af­ter the Lord.

As this trea­tise was in­tended only to in­struct in prayer, noth­ing is said of many things which we es­teem, be­cause they do not im­me­di­ately re­late to our main sub­ject.  It is, how­ever, be­yond a doubt, that noth­ing will be found herein to of­fend, pro­vided it be read in the spirit with which it was writ­ten.  And it is still more cer­tain, that those who in right ear­nest make trial of the way, will find we have writ­ten the truth.

It is Thou alone, O holy Je­sus, who lovest sim­plic­ity and in­no­cence, “and whose de­light is to dwell with the chil­dren of men,” (Prov. 8:31), with those who are, in­deed, will­ing to be­come “lit­tle chil­dren,” (Matt. 18:3); it is Thou alone, who canst ren­der this lit­tle work of any value, by im­print­ing it on the heart, and lead­ing those who read it to seek Thee within them­selves, where Thou re­posest as in the man­ger, wait­ing to re­ceive proofs of their love, and to give them tes­ti­mony of thine.  They lose these ad­van­tages by their own fault.  But it be­lon­geth unto thee, O child Al­mighty! un­cre­ated Love! si­lent and all-con­tain­ing Word! to make thy­self loved, en­joyed and un­der­stood.  Thou canst do it; and I know Thou wilt do it by this lit­tle work, which be­lon­geth en­tirely to Thee, pro­ceedeth wholly from Thee, and ten­deth only to Thee!


Chapter I.


In­tro­duc­tion.  That all are called to prayer, and by the aid of or­di­nary grace may put up the prayer of the heart, which is the great means of sal­va­tion, and which can be of­fered at all times, and by the most un­in­structed.


All are ca­pa­ble of prayer, and it is a dread­ful mis­for­tune that al­most all the world have con­ceived the idea that they are not called to prayer.  We are all called to prayer, as we are all called to sal­va­tion.

Prayer is noth­ing but the ap­pli­ca­tion of the heart to God, and the in­ter­nal ex­er­cise of love.  St. Paul has en­joined us to “pray with­out ceas­ing;” (I Thess. 5:17,) and our Lord bids us watch and pray, (Mark 13:33, 37): all there­fore may, and all ought to prac­tise prayer.  I grant that medi­ta­tion is at­tain­able but by few, for few are ca­pa­ble of it; and there­fore, my be­loved breth­ren who are athirst for sal­va­tion, medi­ta­tive prayer is not the prayer which God re­quires of you, nor which we would rec­om­mend.

2. Let all pray: you should live by prayer, as you should live by love.  “I coun­sel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that ye may be rich.” (Rev. 3:18.)  This is very eas­ily ob­tained, much more eas­ily than you can con­ceive.

Come all ye that are athirst to the liv­ing wa­ters, nor lose your pre­cious mo­ments in hew­ing our cis­terns that will hold no wa­ter. (John 7:37; Jer. 2:13.)  Come ye fam­ish­ing souls, who find nought to sat­isfy you; come, and ye shall be filled!  Come, ye poor af­flicted ones, bend­ing be­neath your load of wretch­ed­ness and pain, and ye shall be con­soled!  Come, ye sick, to your phy­si­cian, and be not fear­ful of ap­proach­ing him be­cause ye are filled with dis­eases; show them, and they shall be healed!

Chil­dren, draw near to your Fa­ther, and he will em­brace you in the arms of love!  Come ye poor, stray, wan­der­ing sheep, re­turn to your Shep­herd!  Come, sin­ners, to your Sav­iour!  Come ye dull, ig­no­rant, and il­lit­er­ate, ye who think your­selves the most in­ca­pa­ble of prayer! ye are more pe­cu­liarly called and adapted thereto.  Let all with­out ex­cep­tion come, for Je­sus Christ hath called ALL.

Yet let not those come who are with­out a heart; they are ex­cused; for there must be a heart be­fore there can be love.  But who is with­out a heart?  O come, then, give this heart to God; and here learn how to make the do­na­tion.

3. All who are de­sir­ous of prayer, may eas­ily pray, en­abled by those or­di­nary graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which are com­mon to all men.

Prayer is the key to per­fec­tion, and the sov­er­eign good; it is the means of de­liv­er­ing us from every vice, and ob­tain­ing us every vir­tue; for the one great means of be­com­ing per­fect, is to walk in the pres­ence of God.  He him­self hath said, “Walk be­fore me, and be thou per­fect.” (Gen. 17:1.)  It is by prayer alone that we are brought into his pres­ence, and main­tained in it with­out in­ter­rup­tion.

4. You must, then, learn a spe­cies of prayer which may be ex­er­cised at all times; which does not ob­struct out­ward em­ploy­ments; which may be equally prac­tised by princes, kings, prel­ates, priests and mag­is­trates, sol­diers and chil­dren, trades­men, la­bor­ers, women, and sick per­sons; it is not the prayer of the head, but of the heart.

It is not a prayer of the un­der­stand­ing alone, for the mind of man is so lim­ited in its op­era­tions that it can have but one ob­ject at a time; but it is the prayer of the heart which is not in­ter­rupted by the ex­er­cises of rea­son.  Noth­ing can in­ter­rupt this prayer but dis­or­dered af­fec­tions; and when once we have en­joyed God, and the sweet­ness of his love, we shall find it im­pos­si­ble to rel­ish aught but him­self.

5. Noth­ing is so eas­ily ob­tained as the pos­ses­sion and en­joy­ment of God.  He is more pre­sent to us than we are to our­selves.  He is more de­sir­ous of giv­ing Him­self to us than we are to pos­sess Him; we only need to know how to seek Him, and the way is eas­ier and more natu­ral to us than breath­ing.

Ah! ye who think your­selves so dull and fit for noth­ing, by prayer you may live on God him­self with less dif­fi­culty or in­ter­rup­tion that you live on the vi­tal air.  Will it not then be highly sin­ful to ne­glect prayer?  But doubt­less you will not, when you have learnt the method, which is the easi­est in the world.


Chapter II.

1. First de­gree of prayer, prac­tised in two ways; one by read­ing and medi­ta­tion, the other by medi­ta­tion alone.

2, 3. Rules and meth­ods of medi­ta­tion.

4. Reme­dies for its dif­fi­cul­ties.


There are two ways of in­tro­duc­ing a soul into prayer, which should be pur­sued for some time; the one is medi­ta­tion, the other is read­ing ac­com­pa­nied by medi­ta­tion.

Medi­ta­tive read­ing is the choos­ing of some im­por­tant prac­ti­cal or specu­la­tive truth, al­ways pre­fer­ring the prac­ti­cal, and pro­ceed­ing thus: what­ever truth you have cho­sen, read only a small por­tion of it, en­deav­or­ing to taste and di­gest it, to ex­tract the es­sence and sub­stance of it, and pro­ceed no far­ther while any sa­vor or rel­ish re­mains in the pas­sage: then take up your book again, and pro­ceed as be­fore, sel­dom read­ing more than half a page at a time.

It is not the quan­tity that is read, but the man­ner of read­ing, that yields us profit.  Those who read fast, reap no more ad­van­tage, than a bee would by only skim­ming over the sur­face of the flower, in­stead of wait­ing to pene­trate into it, and ex­tract its sweets.  Much read­ing is rather for scho­las­tic sub­jects, than di­vine truths; to re­ceive profit from spiri­tual books, we must read as I have de­scribed; and I am cer­tain that if that method were pur­sued, we should be­come gradu­ally ha­bitu­ated to prayer by our read­ing, and more fully dis­posed for its ex­er­cise.

2. Medi­ta­tion, which is the other method, is to be prac­tised at an ap­pro­pri­ated sea­son, and not in the time of read­ing.  I be­lieve that the best man­ner of medi­tat­ing is as fol­lows:

When by an act of lively faith, you are placed in the pres­ence of God, read some truth wherein there is sub­stance; pause gen­tly thereon, not to em­ploy the rea­son, but merely to fix the mind; ob­serv­ing that the prin­ci­pal ex­er­cise should ever be the pres­ence of God, and that the sub­ject, there­fore, should rather serve to stay the mind, than ex­er­cise it in rea­son­ing.

Then let a lively faith in God im­me­di­ately pre­sent in our in­most souls, pro­duce an ea­ger sink­ing into our­selves, re­strain­ing all our senses from wan­der­ing abroad: this serves to ex­tri­cate us, in the first in­stance, from nu­mer­ous dis­trac­tions, to re­move us far from ex­ter­nal ob­jects, and to bring us nigh to God, who is only to be found in our in­most cen­tre, which is the Holy of Ho­lies wherein he dwells.  He has even prom­ised to come and make his abode with him that doeth his will. (John 14:23.)  St. Augustine blames him­self for the time he lost in not hav­ing sought God, from the first, in this man­ner of prayer.

3. When we are thus fully en­tered into our­selves, and warmly pene­trated through­out with a lively sense of the Di­vine pres­ence; when the senses are all rec­ol­lected, and with­drawn from the cir­cum­fer­ence to the cen­tre, and the soul is sweetly and si­lently em­ployed on the truths we have read, not in rea­son­ing, but in feed­ing thereon, and ani­mat­ing the will by af­fec­tion, rather than fa­tigu­ing the un­der­stand­ing by study; when, I say, the af­fec­tions are in this state, (which, how­ever dif­fi­cult it may ap­pear at first, is, as I shall here­af­ter show, eas­ily at­tain­able,) we must al­low them sweetly to re­pose, and, as it were, swal­low what they have tasted.

For as a per­son may en­joy the fla­vor of the fin­est vi­ands in mas­ti­ca­tion, yet re­ceive no nour­ish­ment from them, if he does not cease the ac­tion and swal­low the food; so when our af­fec­tions are en­kin­dled, if we en­deavor to stir them up yet more, we ex­tin­guish the flame, and the soul is de­prived of its nour­ish­ment.  We should, there­fore, in a re­pose of love, full of re­spect and con­fi­dence, swal­low the blessed food we have re­ceived.  This method is highly nec­es­sary, and will ad­vance the soul more in a short time, than any other in years.

4. But as I have said that our di­rect and prin­ci­pal ex­er­cise should con­sist in the con­tem­pla­tion of the Di­vine pres­ence, we should be ex­ceed­ingly dili­gent in re­call­ing our dis­si­pated senses, as the most easy method of over­com­ing dis­trac­tions; for a di­rect con­test only serves to ir­ri­tate and aug­ment them; whereas, by sink­ing within, un­der a view by faith of a pre­sent God, and sim­ply rec­ol­lect­ing our­selves, we wage in­sen­si­bly very suc­cess­ful, though in­di­rect war with them.

It is proper here to cau­tion be­gin­ners against wan­der­ing from truth to truth, and from sub­ject to sub­ject; the right way to pene­trate every di­vine truth, to en­joy its full rel­ish, and to im­print it on the heart, is to dwell upon it whilst its sa­vor con­tin­ues.

Though rec­ol­lec­tion is dif­fi­cult in the be­gin­ning, from the habit the soul has ac­quired of be­ing al­ways abroad, yet, when by the vio­lence it has done it­self, it be­comes a lit­tle ac­cus­tomed to it, the proc­ess is soon ren­der per­fectly easy; and this partly from the force of habit, and partly be­cause God, whose one will to­wards his crea­tures is to com­mu­ni­cate him­self to them, im­parts abun­dant grace, and an ex­peri­men­tal en­joy­ment of his pres­ence, which very much fa­cili­tate it.


Chapter III.

1. Method of medi­ta­tive prayer for those who can­not read;

2, 3. Ap­plied to the Lord’s Prayer and to some of the at­trib­utes of God.

4. Tran­si­tion from the first to the sec­ond de­gree of prayer.


Those who can­not read books, are not, on that ac­count, ex­cluded from prayer.  The great book which teaches all things, and which is writ­ten all over, within and with­out, is Je­sus Christ him­self.

The method they should prac­tice is this: they should first learn this fun­da­men­tal truth, that “the king­dom of God is within them,” (Luke 17:21,) and that it must be sought there only.

It is as in­cum­bent on the clergy to in­struct their pa­rish­ion­ers in prayer, as in their cate­chism.  It is true they tell them the end of their crea­tion; but they do not give them suf­fi­cient in­struc­tions how they may at­tain it.

They should be taught to be­gin by an act of pro­found ado­ra­tion and an­ni­hi­la­tion be­fore God, and clos­ing the cor­po­real eyes, en­deavor to open those of the soul; they should then col­lect them­selves in­wardly, and by a lively faith in God, as dwell­ing within them, pierce into the di­vine pres­ence; not suf­fer­ing the senses to wan­der abroad, but hold­ing them as much as may be in sub­jec­tion.

2. They should then re­peat the Lord’s prayer in their na­tive tongue; pon­der­ing a lit­tle upon the mean­ing of the words, and the in­fi­nite will­ing­ness of that God who dwells within them to be­come, in­deed, “their fa­ther.”  In this state let them pour out their wants be­fore him; and when they have pro­nounced the word, “fa­ther,” re­main a few mo­ments in a rev­er­en­tial si­lence, wait­ing to have the will of this their heav­enly Fa­ther made mani­fest to them.

Again, the Chris­tian, be­hold­ing him­self in the state of a fee­ble child, soiled and sorely bruised by re­peated falls, des­ti­tute of strength to stand, or of power to cleanse him­self, should lay his de­plor­able situa­tion open to his Fa­ther’s view in hum­ble con­fu­sion; oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­min­gling a word or two of love and grief, and then again sink­ing into si­lence be­fore Him.  Then, con­tinu­ing the Lord’s prayer, let him be­seech this King of Glory to reign in him, aban­don­ing him­self to God, that He may do it, and ac­knowl­edg­ing his right to rule over him.

If they feel an in­cli­na­tion to peace and si­lence, let them not con­tinue the words of the prayer so long as this sen­sa­tion holds; and when it sub­sides, let them go on with the sec­ond pe­ti­tion, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” upon which let these hum­ble sup­pli­cants be­seech God to ac­com­plish in them, and by them, all his will, and let them sur­ren­der their hearts and free­dom into his hands, to be dis­posed of as He pleases.  When they find that the will should be em­ployed in lov­ing, they will de­sire to love, and will im­plore Him for his love; but all this will take place sweetly and peace­fully: and so of the rest of the prayer, in which the clergy may in­struct them.

But they should not bur­then them­selves with fre­quent repe­ti­tions of set forms, or stud­ied prayers; for the Lord’s prayer once re­peated as I have just de­scribed, will pro­duce abun­dant fruit.

3. At other times, they may place them­selves as sheep be­fore their Shep­herd, look­ing up to Him for their true food: O di­vine Shep­herd, Thou feedest thy flock with Thy­self, and art in­deed their daily bread.  They may also rep­re­sent to him the ne­ces­si­ties of their fami­lies: but let all be done from this prin­ci­pal and one great view of faith, that God is within them.

All our imagi­na­tions of God amount to noth­ing; a lively faith in his pres­ence is suf­fi­cient.  For we must not form any im­age of the De­ity, though we may of Je­sus Christ, be­hold­ing him in his birth, or his cru­ci­fix­ion, or in some other state or mys­tery, pro­vided the soul al­ways seeks Him in its own cen­tre.

On other oc­ca­sions, we may look to him as a phy­si­cian, and pre­sent for his heal­ing vir­tue all our mala­dies; but al­ways with­out per­tur­ba­tion, and with pauses from time to time, that the si­lence, be­ing min­gled with ac­tion, may be gradu­ally ex­tended, and our own ex­er­tion less­ened; till at length, by con­tinu­ally yield­ing to God’s op­era­tions, He gains the com­plete as­cen­dancy, as shall be here­af­ter ex­plained.

4. When the di­vine pres­ence is granted us, and we gradu­ally be­gin to rel­ish si­lence and re­pose, this ex­peri­men­tal en­joy­ment of the pres­ence of God in­tro­duces the soul into the sec­ond de­gree of prayer, which, by pro­ceed­ing in the man­ner I have de­scribed, is at­tain­able as well by the il­lit­er­ate as by the learned; some privi­leged souls, in­deed, are fa­vored with it even from the be­gin­ning.


Chapter IV.

1. Sec­ond de­gree of prayer, called here “The prayer of sim­plic­ity.”  At what time we reach it.

2. How to of­fer and con­tinue it.

3. Req­ui­sites to of­fer­ing it ac­cepta­bly.


Some call the sec­ond de­gree of prayer Con­tem­pla­tion, The prayer of faith and still­ness, and oth­ers call it The prayer of sim­plic­ity.  I shall here use this lat­ter ap­pel­la­tion, as be­ing more just than that of con­tem­pla­tion, which im­plies a more ad­vanced state than that I am now treat­ing of.

When the soul has been for some time ex­er­cised in the way I have men­tioned, it gradu­ally finds that it is en­abled to ap­proach God with fa­cil­ity; that rec­ol­lec­tion is at­tended with much less dif­fi­culty, and that prayer be­comes easy, sweet, and de­light­ful: it rec­og­nizes that this is the true way of find­ing God, and feels that “his name is as oint­ment poured forth.” (Cant. 1:3.)  The method must now be al­tered, and that which I de­scribe must be pur­sued with cour­age and fi­del­ity, with­out be­ing dis­turbed at the dif­fi­cul­ties we may en­coun­ter in the way.

2. First, as soon as the soul by faith places it­self in the pres­ence of God, and be­comes rec­ol­lected be­fore Him, let it re­main thus for a lit­tle time in re­spect­ful si­lence.

But if, at the be­gin­ning, in form­ing the act of faith, it feels some lit­tle pleas­ing sense of the Di­vine pres­ence, let it re­main there with­out be­ing trou­bled for a sub­ject, and pro­ceed no far­ther, but care­fully cher­ish this sen­sa­tion while it con­tin­ues.  When it abates, it may ex­cite the will by some ten­der af­fec­tion; and if, by the first mov­ing thereof, it finds it­self re­in­stated in sweet peace, let it there re­main; the fire must be gen­tly fanned, but as soon as it is kin­dled, we must cease our ef­forts, lest we ex­tin­guish it by our ac­tiv­ity.

3. I would warmly rec­om­mend to all, never to fin­ish prayer with­out re­main­ing some lit­tle time af­ter­ward in a re­spect­ful si­lence.  It is also of the great­est im­por­tance for the soul to go to prayer with cour­age, and to bring with it such a pure and dis­in­ter­ested love, as seeks noth­ing from God, but to please Him, and to do his will; for a ser­vant who only pro­por­tions his dili­gence to his hope of re­ward, is un­wor­thy of any rec­om­pense.  Go then to prayer, not de­sir­ing to en­joy spiri­tual de­lights, but to be just as it pleases God; this will pre­serve your spirit tran­quil in arid­ities as well as in con­so­la­tion, and pre­vent your be­ing sur­prised at the ap­par­ent re­pulses or ab­sence of God.


Chapter V.

On vari­ous mat­ters oc­cur­ring in or be­long­ing to the de­gree of prayer, that is to say,

1. On arid­ities; which are caused by dep­ri­va­tion of the sen­si­ble pres­ence of God for an ad­mi­ra­ble end, and which are to be met by acts of solid and peace­ful vir­tue of mind and soul.

2. Ad­van­tages of this course.


Though God has no other de­sire than to im­part Him­self to the lov­ing soul that seeks Him, yet He fre­quently con­ceals Him­self from it, that it may be roused from sloth, and im­pelled to seek Him with fi­del­ity and love.  But with what abun­dant good­ness does He rec­om­pense the faith­ful­ness of his be­loved!  And how of­ten are these ap­par­ent with­draw­ings of Him­self suc­ceeded by the ca­resses of love!

At these sea­sons we are apt to be­lieve that it proves our fi­del­ity, and evinces a greater ar­dor of af­fec­tion to seek Him by an ex­er­tion of our own strength and ac­tiv­ity; or that such a course will in­duce Him the more speed­ily to re­visit us.  No, dear souls, be­lieve me, this is not the best way in this de­gree of prayer; with pa­tient love, with self-abase­ment and hu­milia­tion, with the re­it­er­ated breath­ings of an ar­dent but peace­ful af­fec­tion, and with si­lence full of ven­era­tion, you must await the re­turn of the Be­loved.

2. Thus only can you dem­on­strate that it is Himself alone, and his good pleas­ure, that you seek; and not the self­ish de­lights of your own sen­sa­tions in lov­ing Him.  Hence it is said (Ec­cles. 2:2,3): “Be not im­pa­tient in the time of dry­ness and ob­scu­rity; suf­fer the sus­pen­sions and de­lays of the con­so­la­tions of God; cleave unto him, and wait upon him pa­tiently, that thy life may in­crease and be re­newed.”

Be pa­tient in prayer, though dur­ing your whole life­time you should do noth­ing else than wait the re­turn of the Be­loved in a spirit of hu­milia­tion, aban­don­ment, con­tent­ment, and res­ig­na­tion.  Most ex­cel­lent prayer! and it may be in­ter­min­gled with the sigh­ings of plain­tive love!  This con­duct in­deed is most pleas­ing to the heart of God, and will, above all oth­ers, com­pel his re­turn.


Chapter VI.

1, 2. On the aban­don­ment of self to God, its fruit, and its ir­revo­cable­ness.

3. Its na­ture; God re­quires it.

4. Its prac­tice.


Here we must be­gin to aban­don and give up our whole ex­is­tence to God, from the strong and posi­tive con­vic­tion, that the oc­cur­rences of every mo­ment re­sult from his im­me­di­ate will and per­mis­sion, and are just such as our state re­quires.  This con­vic­tion will make us con­tent with eve­ry­thing; and cause us to re­gard all that hap­pens, not from the side of the crea­ture, but from that of God.

But, dearly be­loved, who­ever you are who sin­cerely wish to give your­selves up to God, I con­jure you, that af­ter hav­ing once made the do­na­tion, you take not your­selves back again; re­mem­ber, a gift once pre­sented, is no longer at the dis­posal of the giver.

2. Aban­don­ment is a mat­ter of the great­est im­por­tance in our pro­gress; it is the key to the in­ner court; so that he who knows truly how to aban­don him­self, will soon be­come per­fect.  We must there­fore con­tinue stead­fast and im­mov­able therein, with­out lis­ten­ing to the voice of natu­ral rea­son.  Great faith pro­duces great aban­don­ment; we must con­fide in God, “hop­ing against hope.” (Rom. 4:18.)

3. Aban­don­ment is the cast­ing off all self­ish care, that we may be al­to­gether at the di­vine dis­posal.  All Chris­tians are ex­horted to aban­don­ment; for it is said to all; “Take no thought for the mor­row; for your Heav­enly Fa­ther knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (Matt. 6:32-34.)  “In all thy ways ac­knowl­edge him, and he shall di­rect thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6.)  “Com­mit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be es­tab­lished.” (Prov. 16:3.)  “Com­mit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him and He will bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5.)

Our aban­don­ment, then, should be, both in re­spect to ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal things, an ab­so­lute giv­ing up of all our con­cerns into the hands of God, for­get­ting our­selves and think­ing only of Him; by which the heart will re­main al­ways dis­en­gaged, free, and at peace.

4. It is prac­tised by con­tinu­ally los­ing our own will in the will of God; re­nounc­ing every pri­vate in­cli­na­tion as soon as it arises, how­ever good it may ap­pear, that we may stand in in­dif­fer­ence with re­spect to our­selves, and only will what God has willed from all eter­nity; re­sign­ing our­selves in all things, whether for soul or body, for time or eter­nity; for­get­ting the past, leav­ing the fu­ture to Provi­dence, and de­vot­ing the pre­sent to God; sat­is­fied with the pre­sent mo­ment, which brings with it God’s eter­nal or­der in ref­er­ence to us, and is as in­fal­li­ble a dec­la­ra­tion of his will, as it is in­evi­ta­ble and com­mon to all; at­trib­ut­ing noth­ing that be­falls us to the crea­ture, but re­gard­ing all things in God, and look­ing upon all, ex­cept­ing only our sins, as in­fal­li­bly pro­ceed­ing from Him.

Sur­ren­der your­selves then to be led and dis­posed of just as God pleases, with re­spect both to your out­ward and in­ward state.


Chapter VII.

1. On suf­fer­ing: that it should be ac­cepted from the hand of God.

2. Its use and profit.

3. Its prac­tice.


Be pa­tient un­der all the suf­fer­ings God sends; if your love to Him be pure, you will not seek Him less on Cal­vary, than on Ta­bor; and surely, He should be as much loved on that as on this, since it was on Cal­vary that he made the great­est dis­play of love.

Be not like those who give them­selves to Him at one sea­son, only to with­draw from Him at an­other.  They give them­selves only to be ca­ressed, and wrest them­selves back again, when they are cru­ci­fied; or at least turn for con­so­la­tion to the crea­ture.

2. No, be­loved souls, you will not find con­so­la­tion in aught but in the love of the cross, and in to­tal aban­don­ment; who sa­voreth not the cross, sa­voreth not the things that be of God. (See Matt. 16:23.)  It is im­pos­si­ble to love God with­out lov­ing the cross; and a heart that sa­vors the cross, finds the bit­ter­est things to be sweet: “To the hun­gry soul every bit­ter thing is sweet;” (Prov. 27:7:) be­cause it finds it­self hun­ger­ing for God, in pro­por­tion as it is hun­ger­ing for the cross.  God gives us the cross, and the cross gives us God.

We may be as­sured that there is an in­ter­nal ad­vance­ment, when there is pro­gress in the way of the cross; aban­don­ment and the cross go hand in hand to­gether.

3. As soon as any­thing is pre­sented in the form of suf­fer­ing, and you feel a re­pug­nance, re­sign your­self im­me­di­ately to God with re­spect to it, and give your­self up to Him in sac­ri­fice: you will then find, that when the cross ar­rives, it will not be so very burthen­some, be­cause you have your­self de­sired it.  This, how­ever does not pre­vent you from feel­ing its weight, as some have imag­ined; for when we do not feel the cross, we do not suf­fer.  A sen­si­bil­ity to suf­fer­ing is one of the prin­ci­pal parts of suf­fer­ing it­self.  Je­sus Christ him­self chose to en­dure its ut­most rig­ors.  We of­ten bear the cross in weak­ness, at other times in strength; all should be alike to us in the will of God.


Chapter VIII.

1. On mys­ter­ies; God gives them in this state in re­al­ity.

2, 3. We must let Him be­stow or with­hold as seems good to Him, with a lov­ing re­gard to his will.


It will be ob­jected, that, by this method, we shall have no mys­ter­ies im­printed on our minds; but so far is this from bring the case, that it is the pe­cu­liar means of im­part­ing them to the soul.  Je­sus Christ, to whom we are aban­doned, and whom we fol­low as the way, whom we hear as the truth, and who ani­mates us as the life, (John 14:6,) in im­print­ing him­self on the soul, im­presses there the char­ac­ters of his dif­fer­ent states.  To bear all the states of Je­sus Christ, is a much greater thing, than merely to medi­tate about them.  St. Paul bore in his body the states of Je­sus Christ; “I bear in my body,” says he, “the marks of the Lord Je­sus;” (Gal. 6:17;) he does not say that he rea­soned thereon.

2. In this state of aban­don­ment Je­sus Christ fre­quently com­mu­ni­cates some pe­cu­liar views, or reve­la­tions of his states: these we should thank­fully ac­cept, and dis­pose our­selves for what ap­pears to be his will; re­ceiv­ing equally what­ever frame He may be­stow, and hav­ing no other choice, but that of ar­dently reach­ing af­ter Him, of dwell­ing ever with Him, and of sink­ing into noth­ing­ness be­fore Him, and ac­cept­ing in­dis­crimi­nately all his gifts, whether dark­ness or il­lu­mi­na­tion, fe­cun­dity or bar­ren­ness, weak­ness or strength, sweet­ness or bit­ter­ness, temp­ta­tions, dis­trac­tions, pain, wea­ri­ness, or un­cer­tainty; and none of all these should, for one mo­ment, re­tard our course.

3. God en­gages some, for whole years, in the con­tem­pla­tion and en­joy­ment of a sin­gle mys­tery, the sim­ple view or con­tem­pla­tion of which rec­ol­lects the soul; let them be faith­ful to it; but as soon as God is pleased to with­draw this view from the soul, let it freely yield to the dep­ri­va­tion.  Some are very un­easy at their in­abil­ity to medi­tate on cer­tain mys­ter­ies; but with­out rea­son, since an af­fec­tion­ate at­tach­ment to God in­cludes in it­self every spe­cies of de­vo­tion, and who­ever is calmly united to God alone, is, in­deed, most ex­cel­lently and ef­fec­tually ap­plied to every di­vine mys­tery.  Who­ever loves God loves all that ap­per­tains to him.


Chapter IX.

1, 2. On vir­tue.  All vir­tues come with God and are sol­idly and deeply im­planted in the soul in this de­gree of the prayer of the heart.

3. This takes place with­out dif­fi­culty.


It is thus that we ac­quire vir­tue with fa­cil­ity and cer­tainty; for as God is the prin­ci­ple of all vir­tues, we in­herit all in the pos­ses­sion of Him­self; and in pro­por­tion as we ap­proach to­ward his pos­ses­sion, in like pro­por­tion do we re­ceive the most emi­nent vir­tues.  For all vir­tue is but as a mask, an out­side ap­pear­ance mu­ta­ble as our gar­ments, if it be not be­stowed from within; then, in­deed, it is genu­ine, es­sen­tial, and per­ma­nent: “The King’s daugh­ter is all glo­ri­ous within,” says David. (Psalm 45:13.)  These souls, above all oth­ers, prac­tice vir­tue in the most emi­nent de­gree, though they ad­vert not to any par­ticu­lar vir­tue.  God, to whom they are united, leads them to the most ex­ten­sive prac­tice of it; He is ex­ceed­ingly jeal­ous over them, and per­mits them not the least pleas­ure.

2. What a hun­ger­ing for suf­fer­ings have those souls, who thus glow with di­vine love!  How would they pre­cipi­tate them­selves into ex­ces­sive aus­teri­ties, where they per­mit­ted to pur­sue their own in­cli­na­tions!  They think of nought save how they may please their Be­loved; and they be­gin to ne­glect and for­get them­selves; and as their love to God in­creases, so do self-de­tes­ta­tion and dis­re­gard of the crea­ture.

3. O were this sim­ple method once ac­quired, a way so suited to all, to the dull and ig­no­rant as well as to the most learned, how eas­ily would the whole church of God be re­formed!  Love only is re­quired: “Love,” says St. Augustine, “and then do what you please.”  For when we truly love, we can­not have so much as a will to do any­thing that might of­fend the ob­ject of our af­fec­tions.


Chapter X.

1. On mor­ti­fi­ca­tion: that it is never per­fect when it is solely ex­te­rior.

2. But it must be ac­com­plished by dwell­ing upon God within.

3. Which, how­ever, does not dis­pense with its out­ward prac­tice to some de­gree.

4. Hence, a sound con­ver­sion.


I say fur­ther, that, in any other way, it is next to im­pos­si­ble to ac­quire a per­fect mor­ti­fi­ca­tion of the senses and pas­sions.

The rea­son is ob­vi­ous: the soul gives vigor and en­ergy to the senses, and the senses raise and stimu­late the pas­sions; a dead body has nei­ther sen­sa­tions nor pas­sions, be­cause its con­nec­tion with the soul is dis­solved.  All en­deav­ors merely to rec­tify the ex­te­rior im­pel the soul yet far­ther out­ward into that about which it is so warmly and zeal­ously en­gaged.  Its pow­ers are dif­fused and scat­tered abroad; for, its whole at­ten­tion be­ing im­me­di­ately di­rected to aus­teri­ties and other ex­ter­nals, it thus in­vigo­rates those very senses it is aim­ing to sub­due.  For the senses have no other spring whence to de­rive their vigor than the ap­pli­ca­tion of the soul to them­selves, the de­gree of their life and ac­tiv­ity be­ing pro­por­tioned to the de­gree of at­ten­tion which the soul be­stows upon them.  This life of the senses stirs up and pro­vokes the pas­sions, in­stead of sup­press­ing or sub­du­ing them; aus­teri­ties may in­deed en­fee­ble the body, but for the rea­sons just men­tioned, can never take off the keen­ness of the senses, nor lessen their ac­tiv­ity.

2. The only method of ef­fect­ing this, is in­ward rec­ol­lec­tion, by which the soul is turned wholly and al­to­gether in­ward, to pos­sess a pre­sent God.  If it di­rect all its vigor and en­ergy within, this sim­ple act sepa­rates it from the senses, and, em­ploy­ing all its pow­ers in­ter­nally, it ren­ders them faint; and the nearer it draws to God, the far­ther is it sepa­rated from self.  Hence it is, that those in whom the at­trac­tions of grace are very pow­er­ful, find the out­ward man al­to­gether weak and fee­ble, and even li­able to faint­ings.

3. I do not mean by this, to dis­cour­age mor­ti­fi­ca­tion; for it should ever ac­com­pany prayer, ac­cord­ing to the strength and state of the per­son, or as obe­di­ence de­mands.  But I say, that mor­ti­fi­ca­tion should not be our prin­ci­pal ex­er­cise; nor should we pre­scribe to our­selves such and such aus­teri­ties, but sim­ply fol­low­ing the in­ter­nal at­trac­tions of grace, and be­ing oc­cu­pied with the di­vine pres­ence, with­out think­ing par­ticu­larly on mor­ti­fi­ca­tion, God will en­able us to per­form every spe­cies of it.  He gives those who abide faith­ful to their aban­don­ment to Him, no re­laxa­tion un­til He has sub­dued eve­ry­thing in them that re­mains to be mor­ti­fied.

We have only, then, to con­tinue stead­fast in the ut­most at­ten­tion to God, and all things will be per­fectly done.  All are not ca­pa­ble of out­ward aus­teri­ties, but all are ca­pa­ble of this.  In the mor­ti­fi­ca­tion of the eye and ear, which con­tinu­ally sup­ply the busy imagi­na­tion with new sub­jects, there is lit­tle dan­ger of fal­ling into ex­cess; but God will teach us this also, and we have only to fol­low his Spirit.

4. The soul has a dou­ble ad­van­tage by pro­ceed­ing thus; for, in with­draw­ing from out­ward ob­jects, it con­stantly draws nearer to God; and be­sides the se­cret sus­tain­ing and pre­serv­ing power and vir­tue which it re­ceives, it is far­ther re­moved from sin the nearer it comes to Him; so that its con­ver­sion be­comes firmly es­tab­lished as a mat­ter of habit.


Chapter XI.

1. On the per­fect con­ver­sion which is the re­sult of this kind of prayer; how it is ac­com­plished.

2, 3. Two of its aids; the draw­ing of God, and the ten­dency of the soul to its cen­tre.

4. Its prac­tice.


“Turn ye unto Him from whom the chil­dren of Is­rael have so deeply re­volted.” (Isa. 31:6.)  Con­ver­sion is noth­ing more than turn­ing from the crea­ture in or­der to re­turn to God.

It is not per­fect (how­ever good and es­sen­tial to sal­va­tion) when it con­sists sim­ply in turn­ing from sin to grace.  To be com­plete, it should take place from with­out in­wardly.

When the soul is once turned to­ward God, it finds a won­der­ful fa­cil­ity in con­tinu­ing stead­fast in con­ver­sion; and the longer it re­mains thus con­verted, the nearer it ap­proaches and the more firmly it ad­heres to God; and the nearer it draws to Him, it is of ne­ces­sity the far­ther re­moved from the crea­ture, which is so con­trary to Him; so that it is so ef­fec­tually es­tab­lished in con­ver­sion, that the state be­comes ha­bit­ual, and as it were natu­ral.

Now, we must not sup­pose that this is ef­fected by a vio­lent ex­er­tion of its own pow­ers; for it is not ca­pa­ble of, nor should it at­tempt any other co-op­era­tion with di­vine grace, than that of en­deav­or­ing to with­draw it­self from ex­ter­nal ob­jects, and to turn in­wards; af­ter which it has noth­ing far­ther to do, than to con­tinue firm in its ad­her­ence to God.

2. God has an at­trac­tive vir­tue which draws the soul more and more pow­er­fully to Him­self, and in at­tract­ing, He pu­ri­fies; just as it is with a gross va­por ex­haled by the sun, which, as it gradu­ally as­cends, is rari­fied and ren­dered pure; the va­por, in­deed, con­trib­utes to its as­cent only by its pas­siv­ity; but the soul co-op­er­ates freely and vol­un­tar­ily.

This kind of in­tro­ver­sion is very easy and ad­vances the soul natu­rally, and with­out ef­fort, be­cause God is our cen­tre.  The cen­tre al­ways ex­erts a very pow­er­ful at­trac­tive vir­tue; and the more spiri­tual and ex­alted it is, the more vio­lent and ir­re­sisti­ble are its at­trac­tions.

3. But be­sides the at­tract­ing vir­tue of the cen­tre, there is, in every crea­ture, a strong ten­dency to re­un­ion with its cen­tre, which is vig­or­ous and ac­tive in pro­por­tion to the spiri­tu­al­ity and per­fec­tion of the sub­ject.

As soon as any­thing is turned to­wards its cen­tre, it is pre­cipi­tated to­wards it with ex­treme ra­pid­ity, unless it be with­held by some in­vin­ci­ble ob­sta­cle.  A stone held in the hand is no sooner dis­en­gaged than by its own weight it falls to the earth as to its cen­tre; so also wa­ter and fire, when un­ob­structed, flow in­ces­santly to­wards their cen­tre.  Now, when the soul by its ef­forts to rec­ol­lect it­self, is brought into the in­flu­ence of the cen­tral ten­dency, it falls gradu­ally, with­out any other force than the weight of love, into its proper cen­tre; and the more pas­sive and tran­quil it re­mains, and the freer from self-mo­tion, the more rap­idly it ad­vances, be­cause the en­ergy of the cen­tral at­trac­tive vir­tue is un­ob­structed, and has full lib­erty for ac­tion.[1]

4.  All our care should there­fore be di­rected to­wards ac­quir­ing the great­est de­gree of in­ward rec­ol­lec­tion; nor should we be dis­cour­aged by the dif­fi­cul­ties we en­coun­ter in this ex­er­cise, which will soon be rec­om­pensed on the part of God, by such abun­dant sup­plies of grace, as will ren­der it per­fectly easy, pro­vided we are faith­ful in meekly with­draw­ing our hearts from out­ward dis­trac­tions and oc­cu­pa­tions, and re­turn­ing to our cen­tre, with af­fec­tions full of ten­der­ness and se­ren­ity.  When at any time the pas­sions are tur­bu­lent, a gen­tle re­treat in­wards to a pre­sent God, eas­ily dead­ens them; any other way of op­pos­ing rather ir­ri­tates than ap­peases them.


Chapter XII.

1. An­other and more ex­alted de­gree of prayer, the Prayer of the simple presence of God, or of Ac­tive Con­tem­pla­tion, of which very lit­tle is said, the sub­ject be­ing re­served for an­other trea­tise.

2, 3, 4. How self­ish ac­tiv­ity merges here in an ac­tiv­ity lively, full, abun­dant, di­vine, easy, and as it were natu­ral; a state far dif­fer­ent from that idle­ness and pas­siv­ity ob­jected to by the op­po­nents of the in­ner life.  The sub­ject il­lus­trated by sev­eral com­pari­sons.

5. Tran­si­tion to In­fused Prayer, in which the fun­da­men­tal, vi­tal ac­tiv­ity of the soul is not lost, but is more abun­dantly and pow­er­fully in­flu­enced (as are the fac­ul­ties) by that of God.

6. The fa­cil­ity of these meth­ods of com­ing to God, and an ex­hor­tation to self aban­don­ment.


The soul that is faith­ful in the ex­er­cise of love and ad­her­ence to God, as above de­scribed, is as­ton­ished to feel Him gradu­ally tak­ing pos­ses­sion of its whole be­ing; it now en­joys a con­tin­ual sense of that pres­ence which is be­come as it were natu­ral to it; and this, as well as prayer, be­comes a mat­ter of habit.  It feels an un­usual se­ren­ity gradu­ally dif­fus­ing it­self over all its fac­ul­ties.  Si­lence now con­sti­tutes its whole prayer; whilst God com­mu­ni­cates an in­fused love, which is the be­gin­ning of in­ef­fa­ble bless­ed­ness.

O that I were per­mit­ted to pur­sue this sub­ject, and de­scribe some de­grees of the end­less pro­gres­sion of sub­se­quent states?  But I now write only for be­gin­ners; and shall there­fore pro­ceed no far­ther, but wait our Lord’s time for de­vel­op­ing what may be ap­pli­ca­ble to every state.[2]

2. We must, how­ever, urge it as a mat­ter of the high­est im­port, to cease self-ac­tion and self-ex­er­tion, that God him­self may act alone: He says by the mouth of his prophet David, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10.)  But the crea­ture is so in­fatu­ated with love and at­tach­ment to its own work­ing, that it does not be­lieve that it works at all unless it can feel, know, and dis­tin­guish all its op­era­tions.  It is ig­no­rant that its in­abil­ity mi­nutely to ob­serve the man­ner of its mo­tion, is oc­ca­sioned by the swift­ness of its pro­gress; and that the op­era­tions of God, abound­ing more and more, ab­sorb those of the crea­ture; just as we see that the stars shine brightly be­fore the sun rises, but gradu­ally van­ish as his light ad­vances, and be­come in­visi­ble, not from want of light in them­selves, but from the ex­cess of it in him.

The case is simi­lar here; for there is a strong and uni­ver­sal light which ab­sorbs all the lit­tle dis­tinct lights of the soul; they grow faint and dis­ap­pear un­der its pow­er­ful in­flu­ence, and self-ac­tiv­ity is now no longer dis­tin­guish­able.

3. Those greatly err, who ac­cuse this prayer of in­ac­tiv­ity, a charge that can only arise from in­ex­pe­ri­ence.  O! if they would but make some ef­forts to­wards the at­tain­ment of it, they would soon be­come full of light and knowl­edge in re­la­tion to it.

This ap­pear­ance of in­ac­tion is, in­deed, not the con­se­quence of ste­ril­ity, but of abun­dance, as will be clearly per­ceived by the ex­peri­enced soul, who will rec­og­nize that the si­lence is full and unc­tu­ous by rea­son of plenty.

4. There are two kinds of peo­ple that keep si­lence; the one be­cause they have noth­ing to say, the other be­cause they have too much: the lat­ter is the case in this state; si­lence is oc­ca­sioned by ex­cess and not by de­fect.

To be drowned, and to die of thirst, are deaths widely dif­fer­ent; yet wa­ter may be said to be the cause of both; abun­dance de­stroys in one case, and want in the other.  So here the full­ness of grace stills the ac­tiv­ity of self; and there­fore it is of the ut­most im­por­tance to re­main as si­lent as pos­si­ble.

The in­fant hang­ing at its mother’s breast, is a lively il­lus­tra­tion of our sub­ject; it be­gins to draw the milk, by mov­ing its lit­tle lips; but when its nour­ish­ment flows abun­dantly, it is con­tent to swal­low with­out ef­fort; by any other course it would only hurt it­self, spill the milk, and be obliged to quit the breast.

We must act in like man­ner in the be­gin­ning of prayer, by mov­ing the lips of the af­fec­tions; but as soon as the milk of di­vine grace flows freely, we have noth­ing to do, but, in still­ness, sweetly to im­bibe it, and when it ceases to flow, again stir up the af­fec­tions as the in­fant moves its lips.  Who­ever acts oth­er­wise, can­not make the best use of this grace, which is be­stowed to al­lure the soul into the re­pose of love, and not to force it into the mul­ti­plic­ity of self.

5. But what be­comes of the babe that thus gen­tly and with­out ex­er­tion, drinks in the milk?  Who would be­lieve that it could thus re­ceive nour­ish­ment?  Yet the more peace­fully it feeds, the bet­ter it thrives.  What, I say, be­comes of this in­fant?  It drops asleep on its mother’s bosom.  So the soul that is tran­quil and peace­ful in prayer, sinks fre­quently into a mys­tic slum­ber, wherein all its pow­ers are at rest, till it is wholly fit­ted for that state, of which it en­joys these tran­sient an­tici­pa­tions.  You see that in this proc­ess the soul is led natu­rally, with­out trou­ble, ef­fort, art or study.

The in­te­rior is not a strong hold, to be taken by storm and vio­lence; but a king­dom of peace, which is to be gained only by love.  If any will thus pur­sue the lit­tle path I have pointed out, it will lead them to in­fused prayer.  God de­mands noth­ing ex­traor­di­nary nor too dif­fi­cult; on the con­trary, He is greatly pleased by a sim­ple and child-like con­duct.

6. The most sub­lime at­tain­ments in re­lig­ion, are those which are easi­est reached; the most nec­es­sary or­di­nances are the least dif­fi­cult.  It is thus also in natu­ral things; if you would reach the sea, em­bark on a river, and you will be con­veyed to it in­sen­si­bly and with­out ex­er­tion.  Would you go to God, fol­low this sweet and sim­ple path, and you will ar­rive at the de­sired ob­ject, with an ease and ex­pe­di­tion that will amaze you.

O that you would but once make the trial! how soon would you find that all I have said is too lit­tle, and that your own ex­peri­ence will carry you in­fi­nitely be­yond it!  What is it you fear? why do you not in­stantly cast your­self into the arms of Love, who only ex­tended them on the cross that He might em­brace you?  What risk do you run in de­pend­ing solely on God, and aban­don­ing your­self wholly to Him?  Ah! he will not de­ceive you, unless by be­stow­ing an abun­dance be­yond your high­est hopes; but those who ex­pect all from them­selves, may hear this re­buke of God by his prophet Isaiah, “Ye have wea­ried your­selves in the mul­ti­plic­ity of your ways, and have not said, let us rest in peace.” (Isa. 62:10, vul­gate.)


Chapter XIII.

1. On the rest be­fore God pre­sent in the soul in a won­der­ful way.

2. Fruits of this peace­ful pres­ence.

3. Prac­ti­cal ad­vice.


The soul ad­vanced thus far, has no need of any other prepa­ra­tion than its quie­tude: for now the pres­ence of God, dur­ing the day, which is the great ef­fect, or rather con­tinua­tion of prayer, be­gins to be in­fused, and al­most with­out in­ter­mis­sion.  The soul cer­tainly en­joys tran­scen­dent bless­ed­ness, and finds that God is more in­ti­mately pre­sent to it than it is to it­self.

The only way to find him is by in­tro­ver­sion.  No sooner do the bod­ily eyes close, than the soul is wrapt in prayer: it is amazed at so great a bless­ing, and en­joys an in­ter­nal con­verse, which ex­ter­nal mat­ters can­not in­ter­rupt.

2. The same may be said of this spe­cies of prayer, that is said of wis­dom: “all good things come to­gether with her.” (Wis­dom 7:11.)  For vir­tues flow from this soul into ex­er­cise with so much sweet­ness and fa­cil­ity, that they ap­pear natu­ral to it, and the liv­ing spring within breaks forth abun­dantly into a fa­cil­ity for all good­ness, and an in­sen­si­bil­ity to all evil.

3. Let it then re­main faith­ful in this state; and be­ware of choos­ing or seek­ing any other dis­po­si­tion what­ever than this sim­ple rest, as a prepa­ra­tive ei­ther to con­fes­sion or com­mun­ion, to ac­tion or prayer; for its sole busi­ness is to suf­fer it­self to be filled with this di­vine ef­fu­sion.  I would not be un­der­stood to speak of the prepa­ra­tions nec­es­sary for or­di­nances, but of the most in­te­rior dis­po­si­tion in which they can be re­ceived.


Chapter XIV.

1, 2. On in­te­rior si­lence; its rea­son; God rec­om­mends it.

3. Ex­te­rior si­lence, re­tire­ment and rec­ol­lec­tion con­trib­ute to it.


“The Lord is in his holy tem­ple; let all the earth keep si­lence be­fore him.” (Hab. 2:20.)  The rea­son why in­ward si­lence is so in­dis­pen­sa­ble, is, be­cause the Word is es­sen­tial and eter­nal, and nec­es­sar­ily re­quires dis­po­si­tions in the soul in some de­gree cor­re­spon­dent to His na­ture, as a ca­pac­ity for the re­cep­tion of Him­self.  Hear­ing is a sense formed to re­ceive sounds, and is rather pas­sive than ac­tive, ad­mit­ting, but not com­mu­ni­cat­ing sen­sa­tion; and if we would hear, we must lend the ear for that pur­pose.  Christ, the eter­nal Word, who must be com­mu­ni­cated to the soul to give it new life, re­quires the most in­tense at­ten­tion to his voice, when He would speak within us.

2. Hence it is so fre­quently en­joined upon us in sa­cred writ, to lis­ten and be at­ten­tive to the voice of God; I quote a few of the nu­mer­ous ex­hor­ta­tions to this ef­fect: “Hearken unto me, my peo­ple, and give ear unto me, O my na­tion!” (Isa. 51:4,) and again “Hear me, all ye whom I carry in my bosom, and bear within my bow­els:” (Isa. 46:3,) and fur­ther by the Psalm­ist, “Hearken, O daugh­ter! and con­sider, and in­cline thine ear; for­get also thine own peo­ple, and thy fa­ther’s house; so shall the king greatly de­sire thy beauty.” (Ps. 45:10, 11.)

We must for­get our­selves, and all self-in­ter­est, and lis­ten and be at­ten­tive to God; these two sim­ple ac­tions, or rather pas­sive dis­po­si­tions, pro­duce the love of that beauty, which He him­self com­mu­ni­cates.

3. Out­ward si­lence is very req­ui­site for the cul­ti­va­tion and im­prove­ment of in­ward; and, in­deed, it is im­pos­si­ble we should be­come truly in­te­rior, with­out lov­ing si­lence and re­tire­ment.  God saith by the mouth of his prophet, “I will lead her into soli­tude, and there will I speak to her heart (Hos. 2:14, vulg.); and un­ques­tiona­bly the be­ing in­ter­nally en­gaged with God is wholly in­com­pati­ble with be­ing ex­ter­nally bus­ied about a thou­sand tri­fles.

When, through weak­ness, we be­come as it were un­cen­tered, we must im­me­di­ately turn again in­ward; and this proc­ess we must re­peat as of­ten as our dis­trac­tions re­cur.  It is a small mat­ter to be de­vout and rec­ol­lected for an hour or half hour, if the unc­tion and spirit of prayer do not con­tinue with us dur­ing the whole day.


Chapter XV.

1, 2. On the ex­ami­na­tion of con­science; how it is per­formed in this state, and that by God him­self.

3, 4. On the con­fes­sion, con­tri­tion, and for­get­ful­ness or re­mem­brance of faults in this state.

5. This is not ap­pli­ca­ble to the pre­vi­ous de­gree, Com­mun­ion.


Self-ex­ami­nation should al­ways pre­cede con­fes­sion, but the man­ner of it should be con­form­able to the state of the soul.  The busi­ness of those that are ad­vanced to the de­gree of which we now treat, is to lay their whole souls open be­fore God, who will not fail to enlighten them, and en­able them to see the pe­cu­liar na­ture of their faults.  This ex­ami­na­tion, how­ever, should be peace­ful and tran­quil; and we should de­pend on God for the dis­cov­ery and knowl­edge of our sins, rather than on the dili­gence of our own scru­tiny.

When we ex­am­ine with ef­fort, we are eas­ily de­ceived, and be­trayed by self-love into er­ror: “We call the evil good, and the good evil,” (Isa. 5:20); but when we lie in full ex­po­sure be­fore the Sun of Right­eous­ness, his di­vine beams ren­der the small­est at­oms visi­ble.  We must, then, for­sake self, and aban­don our souls to God, as well in ex­ami­na­tion as con­fes­sion.

2. When souls have at­tained to this spe­cies of prayer, no fault es­capes the rep­re­hen­sion of God; no sooner are they com­mit­ted than they are re­buked by an in­ward burn­ing and ten­der con­fu­sion.  Such is the scru­tiny of Him who suf­fers no evil to be con­cealed; and the only way is to turn sim­ply to God, and bear the pain and cor­rec­tion He in­flicts.

As He be­comes the in­ces­sant ex­am­iner of the soul, it can now no longer ex­am­ine it­self; and if it be faith­ful in its aban­don­ment, ex­peri­ence will prove that it is much more ef­fec­tually ex­plored by his di­vine light, than by all its own care­ful­ness.

3. Those who tread these paths should be in­formed of a mat­ter re­spect­ing their con­fes­sion, in which they are apt to err.  When they be­gin to give an ac­count of their sins, in­stead of the re­gret and con­tri­tion they had been ac­cus­tomed to feel, they find that love and tran­quil­ity sweetly per­vade and take pos­ses­sion of their souls: now those who are not prop­erly in­structed are de­sir­ous of re­sist­ing this sen­sa­tion, and form­ing an act of con­tri­tion, be­cause they have heard, and with truth, that this is req­ui­site.  But they are not aware that they thereby lose the genu­ine con­tri­tion, which is this in­fused love, and which in­fi­nitely sur­passes any ef­fect pro­duced by self-ex­er­tion, com­pre­hend­ing the other acts in it­self as in one prin­ci­pal act, in much higher per­fec­tion than if they were dis­tinctly per­ceived.

Let them not be trou­bled to do oth­er­wise, when God acts so ex­cel­lently in and for them.  To hate sin in this man­ner, is to hate it as God does.  The pur­est love is that which is of his im­me­di­ate op­era­tion in the soul; why should we then be so ea­ger for ac­tion?  Let us re­main in the state He as­signs us, agreea­bly to the in­struc­tions of the wise man: “Put your con­fi­dence in God; re­main in quiet where he hath placed you.” (Ec­cles. 11:22.)

4. The soul will also be amazed at find­ing a dif­fi­culty in call­ing its faults to re­mem­brance.  This, how­ever, should cause no un­easi­ness, first, be­cause this for­get­ful­ness of our faults is some proof of our pu­ri­fi­ca­tion from them, and, in this de­gree of ad­vance­ment, it is best to for­get what­ever con­cerns our­selves that we may re­mem­ber only God.  Sec­ondly, be­cause, when con­fes­sion is our duty, God will not fail to make known to us our great­est faults; for then He him­self ex­am­ines; and the soul will feel the end of ex­ami­na­tion more per­fectly ac­com­plished, than it could pos­si­bly have been by all our own en­deav­ors.

5. These in­struc­tions, how­ever, would be al­to­gether un­suit­able to the pre­ced­ing de­grees, while the soul con­tin­ues in its ac­tive state, wherein it is right and nec­es­sary that it should in all things ex­ert it­self, in pro­por­tion to its ad­vance­ment.  As to those who have ar­rived at this more ad­vanced state, I ex­hort them to fol­low these in­struc­tions, and not to vary their sim­ple oc­cu­pa­tions even on ap­proach­ing the com­mun­ion; let them re­main in si­lence, and suf­fer God to act freely.  He can­not be bet­ter re­ceived than by Him­self.


Chapter XVI.

1. On read­ing and vo­cal prayers; they should be lim­ited.

2. Not to be used against our in­te­rior draw­ing, unless they are of ob­li­ga­tion.


The method of read­ing in this state, is to cease when you feel your­self rec­ol­lected, and re­main in still­ness, read­ing but lit­tle, and al­ways de­sist­ing when thus in­ter­nally at­tracted.

2. The soul that is called to a state of in­ward si­lence, should not en­cum­ber it­self with vo­cal prayers; when­ever it makes use of them, and finds a dif­fi­culty therein, and an at­trac­tion to si­lence, let it not use con­straint by per­se­ver­ing, but yield to the in­ter­nal draw­ing, unless the re­peat­ing such prayers be a mat­ter of ob­li­ga­tion.  In any other case, it is much bet­ter not to be bur­dened with and tied down to the repe­ti­tion of set forms, but wholly given up to the lead­ings of the Holy Spirit; and in this way every spe­cies of de­vo­tion is ful­filled in a most emi­nent de­gree.


Chapter XVII.

1. On pe­ti­tions; those which are self-origi­nated cease; and their place is sup­plied by those of the Spirit of God.

2. Aban­don­ment and faith nec­es­sary here.


The soul should not be sur­prised at feel­ing it­self un­able to of­fer up to God such pe­ti­tions as had for­merly been made with fa­cil­ity; for now the Spirit maketh in­ter­ces­sion for it ac­cord­ing to the will of God; that Spirit which helpeth our in­fir­mi­ties; “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit it­self maketh in­ter­ces­sion for us with groan­ings which can­not be ut­tered.” (Rom. 8:26.)  We must sec­ond the de­signs of God, which tend to di­vest us of all our own op­era­tions, that his may be sub­sti­tuted in their place.

2. Let this, then, be done in you; and suf­fer not your­self to be at­tached to any­thing, how­ever good it may ap­pear; it is no longer such to you, if it in any meas­ure turns you aside from what God de­sires of you.  For the di­vine will is pref­er­able to every other good.  Shake off, then, all self-in­ter­est, and live by faith and aban­don­ment; here it is that genu­ine faith be­gins truly to op­er­ate.


Chapter XVIII.

1. On faults com­mit­ted in the state.  We must turn from them to God with­out trou­ble or dis­cour­age­ment.

2. The con­trary course weak­ens us and is op­posed to the prac­tice of hum­ble souls.


Should we ei­ther wan­der among ex­ter­nals, or com­mit a fault, we must in­stantly turn in­wards; for hav­ing de­parted thereby from God, we should as soon as pos­si­ble turn to­ward Him, and suf­fer the pen­alty which He in­flicts.

It is of great im­por­tance to guard against vexa­tion on ac­count of our faults; it springs from a se­cret root of pride, and a love of our own ex­cel­lence; we are hurt at feel­ing what we are.

2. If we be­come dis­cour­aged, we are the more en­fee­bled; and from our re­flec­tions on our im­per­fec­tions, a cha­grin arises, which is of­ten worse than the im­per­fec­tion them­selves.

The truly hum­ble soul is not sur­prised at its de­fects or fail­ings; and the more mis­er­able it be­holds it­self, the more it aban­dons it­self to God, and presses for a more in­ti­mate al­li­ance with Him, see­ing the need it has of his aid.  We should the rather be in­duced to act thus, as God him­self has said, “I will in­struct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8.)


Chapter XIX.

1. On dis­trac­tions and temp­ta­tions; the rem­edy for them is to turn to God.

2. This is the prac­tice of the saints, and there is dan­ger in any other way.


A direct strug­gle with dis­trac­tions and temp­ta­tions rather serves to aug­ment them, and with­draws the soul from that ad­her­ence to God, which should ever be its sole oc­cu­pa­tion.  We should sim­ply turn away from the evil, and draw yet nearer to God.  A lit­tle child, on per­ceiv­ing a mon­ster, does not wait to fight with it, and will scarcely turn its eyes to­ward it, but quickly shrinks into the bosom of its mother, in as­sur­ance of its safety.  “God is in the midst of her,” says the Psalm­ist, “she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early.” (Psalm 46:5.)

2. If we do oth­er­wise, and in our weak­ness at­tempt to at­tack our ene­mies, we shall fre­quently find our­selves wounded, if not to­tally de­feated: but, by re­main­ing in the sim­ple pres­ence of God, we shall find in­stant sup­plies of strength for our sup­port.  This was the re­source of David: “I have set,” says he, “the Lord al­ways be­fore me; be­cause he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  There­fore my heart is glad, and my glory re­joiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:8, 9.)  And it is said in Exo­dus, “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exod. 14:14.)


Chapter XX.

1,2. Prayer di­vinely ex­plained as a de­vo­tional sac­ri­fice, un­der the si­mili­tude of in­cense.

3. Our an­ni­hi­la­tion in this sac­ri­fice.

4,5. So­lid­ity and fruit of this prayer ac­cord­ing to the Gos­pel.


Both de­vo­tion and sac­ri­fice are com­pre­hended in prayer, which, ac­cord­ing to St. John, is an in­cense, the smoke whereof as­cen­deth unto God; there­fore it is said in the Apoca­lypse, that “unto the an­gel was given much in­cense, that he should of­fer it with the prayers of all saints.” (Rev. 8:3.)

Prayer is the ef­fu­sion of the heart in the pres­ence of God: “I have poured out my soul be­fore the Lord,” said the mother of Sam­uel. (I Sam. 1:15.)  The prayer of the wise men at the feet of Christ in the sta­ble of Beth­le­hem, was sig­ni­fied by the in­cense they of­fered.

2. Prayer is a cer­tain warmth of love, melt­ing, dis­solv­ing, and sub­li­mat­ing the soul, and caus­ing it to as­cend unto God, and, as the soul is melted, odors rise from it; and these sweet ex­ha­la­tions pro­ceed from the con­sum­ing fire of love within.

This is il­lus­trated in the Can­ti­cles, (1:12,) where the spouse says, “While the king sit­teth at his ta­ble, my spike­nard send­eth forth the smell thereof.”  The ta­ble is the cen­tre of the soul; and when God is there, and we know how to dwell near, and abide with Him, the sa­cred pres­ence gradu­ally dis­solves the hard­ness of the soul, and, as it melts, fra­grance is­sues forth; hence it is, that the Be­loved says of his spouse, in see­ing her soul melt when he spoke, “Who is this that cometh out of the wil­der­ness, like pil­lars of smoke per­fumed with myrrh and frank­in­cense?” (Cant. 5:6; 3:6.)

3. Thus does the soul as­cend to God, by giv­ing up self to the de­stroy­ing and an­ni­hi­lat­ing power of di­vine love.  This is a state of sac­ri­fice es­sen­tial to the Chris­tian re­lig­ion, in which the soul suf­fers it­self to be de­stroyed and an­ni­hi­lated, that it may pay hom­age to the sov­er­eignty of God; as it is writ­ten, “The power of the Lord is great, and he is hon­ored only by the hum­ble.” (Ec­cles. 3:20.)  By the de­struc­tion of self, we ac­knowl­edge the su­preme ex­is­tence of God.  We must cease to ex­ist in self, in or­der that the Spirit of the Eter­nal Word may ex­ist in us: it is by the giv­ing up of our own life, that we give place to his com­ing; and in dy­ing to our­selves, He him­self lives in us.

We must sur­ren­der our whole be­ing to Christ Je­sus, and cease to live any longer in our­selves, that He may be­come our life; “that be­ing dead, our life may be hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3.)  “Pass ye into me,” saith God, “all ye who ear­nestly seek af­ter me.” (Ec­cles. 24:16.)  But how is it we pass into God?  In no way but by leav­ing and for­sak­ing our­selves, that we may be lost in Him; and this can be ef­fected only by an­ni­hi­la­tion, which, be­ing the true prayer of ado­ra­tion, ren­ders unto God alone, all bless­ing, honor, glory, and power, for­ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13.)

4. This is the prayer of truth; it is “wor­ship­ping God in spirit and in truth:” (John 4:23.) “In spirit,” be­cause we en­ter into the pu­rity of that Spirit which prayeth within us, and are drawn forth from our own car­nal and hu­man method; “in truth,” be­cause we are thereby placed in the truth of the all of God, and the noth­ing of the crea­ture.

There are but these two truths, the all and the nothing; eve­ry­thing else is false­hood.  We can pay due honor to the all of God, only in our own an­ni­hi­lation; which is no sooner ac­com­plished, than He, who never suf­fers a void in na­ture, in­stantly fills us with Him­self.

Ah! did we but know the vir­tues and the bless­ings which the soul de­rives from this prayer, we should not be will­ing to do any­thing else.  It is the pearl of great price; the hid­den treas­ure, (Matt. 13:44, 45,) which, who­ever fin­deth, sel­leth freely all that he hath to pur­chase it; it is the well of liv­ing wa­ter, which springeth up unto ev­er­last­ing life.  It is the ado­ra­tion of God “in spirit and in truth:” (John 4:14-23:) and it is the full per­form­ance of the pur­est evan­geli­cal pre­cepts.

5. Je­sus Christ as­sures us, that the “king­dom of God is within us:” (Luke 17:21:) and this is true in two senses: first, when God be­comes so fully Mas­ter and Lord in us, that noth­ing re­sists his do­min­ion, then our in­te­rior is his king­dom; and again, when we pos­sess God, who is the Su­preme Good, we pos­sess his king­dom also, wherein there is ful­ness of joy, and where we at­tain the end of our crea­tion.  Thus it is said, “to serve God is to reign.”  The end of our crea­tion, in­deed, is to en­joy God, even in this life; but, alas! who thinks of it?


Chapter XXI.

The ob­jec­tions of sloth­ful­ness and in­ac­tiv­ity made to this form of prayer fully met, and the truth shown that the soul acts no­bly, forci­bly, calmly, quickly, freely, sim­ply, sweetly, tem­per­ately, and cer­tainly; but in de­pend­ence upon God, and moved by his Holy Spirit: the rest­less and self­ish ac­tiv­ity of na­ture be­ing de­stroyed, and the life of God com­mu­ni­cated by un­ion with Him.


Some per­sons, when they hear of the prayer of si­lence, falsely imag­ine that the soul re­mains stu­pid, dead, and in­ac­tive; but it un­ques­tiona­bly acts more no­bly and more ex­ten­sively than it had ever done be­fore; for God him­self is its mover, and it now acts by the agency of his Spirit.  St. Paul would have us led by the Spirit of God. (Rom. 8:14.)

It is not meant that we should cease from ac­tion; but that we should act through the in­ter­nal agency of his grace.  This is finely rep­re­sented by the prophet Eze­kiel’s vi­sion of the wheels, which had a liv­ing Spirit; and whither­so­ever the Spirit was to go, they went; they as­cended and de­scended as they were moved; for the Spirit of life was in them, and they re­turned not when they went.  (Ezek. 1:18.)  Thus the soul should be equally sub­ser­vi­ent to the will of that vivi­fy­ing Spirit which is in it, and scru­pu­lously faith­ful to fol­low only as that moves.  These mo­tions never tend to re­turn in re­flec­tions on the crea­tures or self; but go for­ward in an in­ces­sant ap­proach to­ward the end.

2. This ac­tiv­ity of the soul is at­tended with the ut­most tran­quil­ity.  When it acts of it­self, the act is forced and con­strained, and, there­fore, it is more eas­ily dis­tin­guished; but when the ac­tion is un­der the in­flu­ence of the Spirit of grace, it is so free, so easy, and so natu­ral, that it al­most seems as if we did not act at all.  “He brought me forth also into a large place; He de­liv­ered me, be­cause He de­lighted in me.” (Ps. 18:19.)

When the soul is in its cen­tral ten­dency, or in other words, is re­turned through rec­ol­lec­tion into it­self, from that mo­ment, the cen­tral at­trac­tion be­comes a most po­tent ac­tiv­ity, in­fi­nitely sur­pass­ing in en­ergy every other spe­cies.  Noth­ing, in­deed, can equal the swift­ness of this ten­dency to the cen­tre; and though an ac­tiv­ity, yet it is so no­ble, so peace­ful, so full of tran­quil­ity, so natu­ral, and so spon­ta­ne­ous, that it ap­pears to the soul as if it were none at all.

When a wheel rolls slowly we can eas­ily per­ceive its parts; but when its mo­tion is rapid, we can dis­tin­guish noth­ing.  So the soul which rests in God, has an ac­tiv­ity ex­ceed­ingly no­ble and ele­vated, yet al­to­gether peace­ful; and the more peace­ful it is, the swifter is its course; be­cause it is given up to that Spirit by whom it is moved and di­rected.

3. This at­tract­ing Spirit is no other than God him­self, who, in draw­ing us, causes us to run to Him.  How well did the spouse un­der­stand this, when she said, “Draw me, we will run af­ter thee.” (Cant. 1:4.)  Draw me unto Thee, O my di­vine cen­tre, by the se­cret springs of my ex­is­tence, and all my pow­ers and senses shall fol­low Thee!  This sim­ple at­trac­tion is both an oint­ment to heal and a per­fume to al­lure: we fol­low, saith she, the fra­grance of thy per­fumes; and though so pow­er­ful an at­trac­tion, it is fol­lowed by the soul freely, and with­out con­straint; for it is equally de­light­ful as forci­ble; and whilst it at­tracts by its power, it car­ries us away by its sweet­ness.  “Draw me,” says the spouse, “and we will run af­ter thee.”  She speaks of and to her­self: “draw me,”—be­hold the unity of the cen­tre which is drawn! “we will run,”—be­hold the cor­re­spon­dence and course of all the senses and pow­ers in fol­low­ing the at­trac­tion of the cen­tre!

4. In­stead, then, of en­cour­ag­ing sloth, we pro­mote the high­est ac­tiv­ity, by in­cul­cat­ing a to­tal de­pend­ence of the Spirit of God, as our mov­ing prin­ci­ple; for it is in Him, and by Him alone, that we live and move, and have our be­ing. (Acts 17:28.)  This meek de­pend­ence on the Spirit of God is in­dis­pens­ably nec­es­sary, and causes the soul shortly to at­tain the unity and sim­plic­ity in which it was cre­ated.

We must, there­fore, for­sake our mul­ti­fari­ous ac­tiv­ity, to en­ter into the sim­plic­ity and unity of God, in whose im­age we were origi­nally formed. (Gen. 1:27.)  “The Spirit is one and mani­fold, (Wis­dom 7:22,) and his unity does not pre­clude his mul­ti­plic­ity.  We en­ter into his unity when we are united to his Spirit, and by that means have one and the same spirit with Him; and we are mul­ti­plied in re­spect to the out­ward exe­cu­tion of his will, with­out any de­par­ture from our state of un­ion.

In this way, when we are wholly moved by the di­vine Spirit, which is in­fi­nitely ac­tive, our ac­tiv­ity must, in­deed, be more en­er­getic than that which is merely our own.  We must yield our­selves to the guid­ance of “wis­dom, which is more mov­ing than any mo­tion,” (Wis­dom 7:24,) and by abid­ing in de­pend­ence upon its ac­tion, our ac­tiv­ity will be truly ef­fi­cient.

5. “All things were made by the Word, and with­out Him was not any­thing made, that was made.” (John 1:3.)  God origi­nally formed us in his own im­age and like­ness; He breathed into us the Spirit of his Word, that breath of Life (Gen. 2:7) which He gave us at our crea­tion, in the par­tici­pa­tion whereof the im­age of God con­sisted.  Now, this Life is one, sim­ple, pure, in­ti­mate, and al­ways fruit­ful.

The devil hav­ing bro­ken and de­formed the di­vine im­age in the soul by sin, the agency of the same Word whose Spirit was in­breathed at our crea­tion, is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary for its reno­va­tion.  It was nec­es­sary that it should be He, be­cause He is the ex­press im­age of his Fa­ther; and no im­age can be re­paired by its own ef­forts, but must re­main pas­sive for that pur­pose un­der the hand of the work­man.

Our ac­tiv­ity should, there­fore, con­sist in plac­ing our­selves in a state of sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to di­vine im­pres­sions, and pli­abil­ity to all the op­era­tions of the Eter­nal Word.  Whilst a tab­let is un­steady, the painter is un­able to pro­duce a cor­rect pic­ture upon it, and every move­ment of self is pro­duc­tive of er­ro­ne­ous linea­ments; it in­ter­rupts the work and de­feats the de­sign of this ador­able Painter.  We must then re­main in peace, and move only when He moves us.  Je­sus Christ hath life in him­self, (John 5:26,) and He must give life to every liv­ing thing.

The spirit of the church of God is the spirit of the di­vine move­ment.  Is she idle, bar­ren, or un­fruit­ful?  No; she acts, but her ac­tiv­ity is in de­pend­ence upon the Spirit of God, who moves and gov­erns her.  Just so should it be in her mem­bers; that they may be spiri­tual chil­dren of the Church, they must be moved by the Spirit.

6. As all ac­tion is es­ti­ma­ble only in pro­por­tion to the gran­deur and dig­nity of the ef­fi­cient prin­ci­ple, this ac­tion is in­con­testa­bly more noble than any other.  Ac­tions pro­duced by a di­vine prin­ci­ple, are di­vine; but crea­turely ac­tions, how­ever good they ap­pear, are only hu­man, or at least vir­tu­ous, even when ac­com­pa­nied by grace.

Je­sus Christ says that He has life in Him­self: all other be­ings have only a bor­rowed life; but the Word has life in Him­self; and be­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tive of his na­ture, He de­sires to be­stow it upon man.  We should there­fore make room for the in­flux of this life, which can only be done by the ejec­tion and loss of the Ad­ami­cal life, and the sup­pres­sion of the ac­tiv­ity of self.  This is agree­able to the as­ser­tion of St. Paul, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new crea­ture; old things are passed away; be­hold, all things are be­come new,” (II Cor. 5:17;) but this state can be ac­com­plished only by dy­ing to our­selves, and to all our own ac­tiv­ity, that the ac­tiv­ity of God may be sub­sti­tuted in its place.

In­stead, there­fore, of pro­hib­it­ing ac­tiv­ity, we en­join it; but in ab­so­lute de­pend­ence on the Spirit of God, that his ac­tiv­ity may take the place of our own.  This can only be ef­fected by the con­sent of the crea­ture; and this con­cur­rence can only be yielded by mod­er­at­ing our own ac­tion, that the ac­tiv­ity of God may, lit­tle by lit­tle, be wholly sub­sti­tuted for it.

7. Je­sus Christ has ex­em­pli­fied this in the Gos­pel.  Mar­tha did what was right; but be­cause she did it in her own spirit, Christ re­buked her.  The spirit of man is rest­less and tur­bu­lent; for which rea­son he does lit­tle, though he seems to do a great deal.  “Mar­tha,” says Christ, "thou art care­ful and trou­bled about many things; but one thing is need­ful; and Mary hath cho­sen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42.)  And what was it Mary had cho­sen?  Re­pose, tran­quil­ity, and peace.  She had ap­par­ently ceased to act, that the Spirit of Christ might act in her; she had ceased to live, that Christ might be her life.

This shows how nec­es­sary it is to re­nounce our­selves, and all our ac­tiv­ity, to fol­low Christ; for we can­not fol­low Him, if we are not ani­mated by his Spirit.  Now that his Spirit may gain ad­mit­tance, it is nec­es­sary that our own should be ex­pelled: “He that is joined unto the Lord,” says St. Paul, “is one spirit.” (I Cor. 6:17.)  And David said it was good for him to draw near unto the Lord, and to put his trust in him. (Psalm 73:28.)  What is this draw­ing near? it is the be­gin­ning of un­ion.

8. Di­vine un­ion has its com­mence­ment, its pro­gress, its achieve­ment, and its con­sum­ma­tion.  It is at first an in­cli­na­tion to­wards God.  When the soul is in­tro­verted in the man­ner be­fore de­scribed, it gets within the in­flu­ence of the cen­tral at­trac­tion, and ac­quires an ea­ger de­sire af­ter un­ion; this is the be­gin­ning.  It then ad­heres to Him when it has got nearer and nearer, and fi­nally be­comes one, that is, one spirit with Him; and then it is that the spirit which had wan­dered from God, re­turns again to its end.

9. Into this way, then, which is the di­vine mo­tion, and the spirit of Je­sus Christ, we must nec­es­sar­ily en­ter.  St. Paul says, “If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9): there­fore, to be Christ’s, we must be filled with his Spirit, and emp­tied of our own.  The Apos­tle, in the same pas­sage, proved the ne­ces­sity of this di­vine in­flu­ence.  “As many,” says he, “as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14.)

The spirit of di­vine filia­tion is, then, the spirit of di­vine mo­tion: he there­fore adds, “Ye have not re­ceived the spirit of bond­age again to fear; but ye have re­ceived the spirit of adop­tion whereby ye cry Abba, Fa­ther.”  This spirit is no other than the spirit of Christ, through which we par­tici­pate in his filia­tion; “The Spirit beareth wit­ness with our spirit that we are the chil­dren of God.”

When the soul yields it­self to the in­flu­ence of this blessed Spirit, it per­ceives the tes­ti­mony of its di­vine filia­tion; and it feels also, with super­added joy, that it has re­ceived, not the spirit of bond­age, but of lib­erty, even the lib­erty of the chil­dren of God; it then finds that it acts freely and sweetly, though with vigor and in­fal­li­bil­ity.

10. The spirit of di­vine ac­tion is so nec­es­sary in all things, that St. Paul, in the same pas­sage, founds that ne­ces­sity on our ig­no­rance with re­spect to what we pray for: “The Spirit,” says he, “also helpeth our in­fir­mi­ties: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit it­self maketh in­ter­ces­sion for us, with groan­ings which can­not be ut­tered.”  This is plain enough; if we know not what we stand in need of, nor how to pray as we ought for those things which are nec­es­sary, and if the Spirit which is in us, and to which we re­sign our­selves, must ask for us, should we not per­mit Him to give vent to his un­ut­ter­able groan­ings in our be­half?

This Spirit is the Spirit of the Word, which is al­ways heard, as He says him­self: “I knew that thou hear­est me al­ways;” (John 11:42;) and if we freely ad­mit this Spirit to pray and in­ter­cede for us, we also shall be al­ways heard.  And why?  Let us learn from the same great Apos­tle, that skill­ful Mys­tic, and Mas­ter of the in­te­rior life, where he adds, “He that searcheth the heart, knoweth what is the mind of the spirit; be­cause he maketh in­ter­ces­sion for the saints, ac­cord­ing to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27): that is to say, the Spirit de­mands only what is con­form­able to the will of God.  The will of God is that we should be saved, and that we should be­come per­fect: He, there­fore, in­ter­cedes for all that is nec­es­sary for our per­fec­tion.

11. Why, then, should we be bur­thened with su­per­flu­ous ca­res, and weary our­selves in the mul­ti­plic­ity of our ways, with­out ever say­ing, let us rest in peace.  God him­self in­vites us to cast all our care upon Him; and He com­plains in Isaiah, with in­ef­fa­ble good­ness, that the soul had ex­pended its pow­ers and its treas­ures on a thou­sand ex­ter­nal ob­jects, when there was so lit­tle to do to at­tain all it need de­sire.  “Where­fore,” saith God, “do you spend money for that which is not bread; and your la­bor for that which sat­is­fieth not?  Hearken dili­gently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul de­light it­self in fat­ness.” (Isa. 55:2.)

Oh! did we but know the bless­ed­ness of thus heark­en­ing to God, and how greatly the soul is strength­ened by such a course!  “Be si­lent, O all flesh, be­fore the Lord” (Zech. 2:13); all must cease as soon as He ap­pears.  But to en­gage us still far­ther to an aban­don­ment with­out res­er­va­tion, God as­sures us, by the same Prophet, that we need fear noth­ing, be­cause he takes a very spe­cial care of us; “Can a woman for­get her suck­ing child, that she should not have com­pas­sion on the son of her womb?  Yes, she may for­get; yet will not I for­get thee.” (Isa. 49:15.)  O words full of con­so­la­tion!  Who af­ter that will fear to aban­don him­self wholly to the guid­ance of God?


Chapter XXII.

1-6. Dis­tinc­tion be­tween in­ward and out­ward acts; in this state the acts of the soul are in­ward, but ha­bit­ual, con­tin­ued, di­rect, last­ing, deep, sim­ple, un­con­scious, and re­sem­bling a gen­tle and per­pet­ual sink­ing into the ocean of Di­vin­ity.

7, 8. A com­pari­son.

9. How to act when we per­ceive no at­trac­tion.


Acts are dis­tin­guished into ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal.  Ex­ter­nal acts are those which ap­pear out­wardly, and bear re­la­tion to some sen­si­ble ob­ject, and have no moral char­ac­ter, ex­cept such as they de­rive from the prin­ci­ple from which they pro­ceed.  I in­tend here to speak only of in­ter­nal acts, those en­er­gies of the soul, by which it turns in­ter­nally to­wards some ob­jects, and away from oth­ers.

2. If dur­ing my ap­pli­ca­tion to God, I should form a will to change the na­ture of my act, I should thereby with­draw my­self from God and turn to cre­ated ob­jects, and that in a greater or less de­gree ac­cord­ing to the strength of the act: and if, when I am turned to­wards the crea­ture, I would re­turn to God, I must nec­es­sar­ily form an act for that pur­pose; and the more per­fect this act is, the more com­plete is the con­ver­sion.

Till con­ver­sion is per­fected, many re­it­er­ated acts are nec­es­sary; for it is with some pro­gres­sive, though with oth­ers it is in­stan­ta­ne­ous.  My act, how­ever, should con­sist in a con­tin­ual turn­ing to God, an ex­er­tion of every fac­ulty and power of the soul purely for Him, agreea­bly to the in­struc­tions of the son of Sirach: “Re-unite all the mo­tions of thy heart in the ho­li­ness of God” (Ec­cles. 30:24,); and to the ex­am­ple of David, “I will keep my whole strength for thee,” (Psalm 59:9, vulg.,) which is done by ear­nestly re-en­ter­ing into our­selves; as Isaiah saith, “Re­turn to your heart.” (Isa. 46:8, vulg.)  For we have strayed from our heart by sin, and it is our heart only that God re­quires: “My son give me thine heart, and let thine eye ob­serve my ways.” (Prov. 23:26.)  To give the heart to God, is to have the whole en­ergy of the soul ever cen­ter­ing in Him, that we may be ren­dered con­form­able to his will.  We must, there­fore, con­tinue in­varia­bly turned to God, from our first ap­pli­ca­tion to Him.

But the spirit be­ing un­sta­ble, and the soul ac­cus­tomed to turn to ex­ter­nal ob­jects, it is eas­ily dis­tracted.  This evil, how­ever, will be coun­ter­acted if, on per­ceiv­ing the wan­der­ing, we, by a pure act of re­turn to God, in­stantly re­place our­selves in Him; and this act sub­sists as long as the con­ver­sion lasts, by the pow­er­ful in­flu­ence of a sim­ple and un­feigned re­turn to God.

3. As many re­it­er­ated acts form a habit, the soul con­tracts the habit of con­ver­sion; and that act which was be­fore in­ter­rupted and dis­tinct be­comes ha­bit­ual.

The soul should not, then, be per­plexed about form­ing an act which al­ready sub­sists, and which, in­deed, it can­not at­tempt to form with­out very great dif­fi­culty; it even finds that it is with­drawn from its proper state, un­der pre­tence of seek­ing that which is in re­al­ity ac­quired, see­ing the habit is al­ready formed, and it is con­firmed in ha­bit­ual con­ver­sion and ha­bit­ual love.  It is seek­ing one act by the help of many, in­stead of con­tinu­ing at­tached to God by one sim­ple act alone.

We may re­mark, that at times we form with fa­cil­ity many dis­tant yet sim­ple acts; which shows that we have wan­dered, and that we re-en­ter our heart af­ter hav­ing strayed from it; yet when we have re-en­tered, we should re­main there in peace.  We err, there­fore, in sup­pos­ing that we must not form acts; we form them con­tinu­ally: but let them be con­form­able to the de­gree of our spiri­tual ad­vance­ment.

4. The great dif­fi­culty with most spiri­tual peo­ple arises from their not clearly com­pre­hend­ing this mat­ter.  Now, some acts are tran­sient and dis­tinct, oth­ers are con­tin­ued, and again, some are di­rect, and oth­ers re­flec­tive.  All can­not form the first, nei­ther are all in a state suited to form the oth­ers.  The first are adapted to those who have strayed, and who re­quire a dis­tinct ex­er­tion, pro­por­tioned to the ex­tent of their de­via­tion; if the lat­ter be in­con­sid­er­able, an act of the most sim­ple kind is suf­fi­cient.

5. By the con­tin­ued act, I mean that whereby the soul is al­to­gether turned to­ward God by a di­rect act, al­ways sub­sist­ing, and which it does not re­new unless it has been in­ter­rupted.  The soul be­ing thus turned, is in char­ity, and abides therein; "and he that dwel­leth in love, dwel­leth in God.” (I John 4:16.)  The soul then, as it were, ex­ists and rests in the ha­bit­ual act.  It is, how­ever, free from sloth; for there is still an un­in­ter­rupted act sub­sist­ing, which is a sweet sink­ing into the De­ity, whose at­trac­tion be­comes more and more pow­er­ful.  Fol­low­ing this po­tent at­trac­tion, and dwell­ing in love and char­ity, the soul sinks con­tinu­ally deeper into that Love, main­tain­ing an ac­tiv­ity in­fi­nitely more pow­er­ful, vig­or­ous, and ef­fec­tual than that which served to ac­com­plish its first re­turn.

6. Now the soul that is thus pro­foundly and vig­or­ously ac­tive, be­ing wholly given up to God, does not per­ceive this act, be­cause it is di­rect and not re­flec­tive.  This is the rea­son why some, not ex­press­ing them­selves prop­erly, say, that they make no acts; but it is a mis­take, for they were never more truly or no­bly ac­tive; they should say, that they did not dis­tin­guish their acts, and not that they did not act.  I grant that they do not act in them­selves; but they are drawn, and they fol­low the at­trac­tion.  Love is the weight which sinks them.  As one fal­ling into the sea, would sink from one depth to an­other to all eter­nity, if the sea were in­fi­nite, so they, with­out per­ceiv­ing their de­scent, drop with in­con­ceiv­able swift­ness into the low­est deeps.

It is, then, im­proper to say that we do not make acts; all form acts, but the man­ner of their for­ma­tion is not alike in all.  The mis­take arises from this, that all who know they should act, are de­sir­ous of act­ing dist­in­guish­a­bly and per­cep­ti­bly; but this can­not be: sen­si­ble acts are for be­gin­ners; there are oth­ers for those in a more ad­vanced state.  To stop in the for­mer, which are weak and of lit­tle profit, is to de­bar our­selves of the lat­ter; as to at­tempt the lat­ter with­out hav­ing passed through the for­mer, is a no less con­sid­er­able er­ror.

7. “To eve­ry­thing there is a sea­son” (Ec­cles. 3:1): every state has its com­mence­ment, its pro­gress, and its con­sum­ma­tion, and it is an un­happy er­ror to stop in the be­gin­ning.  There is no art but what has its pro­gress; at first, we la­bor with toil, but at last we reap the fruit of our in­dus­try.

When the ves­sel is in port, the mari­ners are obliged to ex­ert all their strength, that they may clear her thence, and put to sea; but they sub­se­quently turn her with fa­cil­ity as they please.  In like man­ner, while the soul re­mains in sin and the crea­ture, many en­deav­ors are req­ui­site to ef­fect its free­dom; the ca­bles which hold it must be loosed, and then by strong and vig­or­ous ef­forts it gath­ers it­self in­ward, pushes off gradu­ally from the old port of Self, and, leav­ing that be­hind, pro­ceeds to the in­te­rior, the ha­ven so much de­sired.

8. When the ves­sel is thus started, as she ad­vances on the sea, she leaves the shore be­hind; and the far­ther she de­parts from the land, the less la­bor is req­ui­site in mov­ing her for­ward.  At length she be­gins to get gen­tly un­der sail, and now pro­ceeds so swiftly in her course, that the oars, which are be­come use­less, are laid aside.  How is the pi­lot now em­ployed? he is con­tent with spread­ing the sails and hold­ing the rud­der.

To spread the sails, is to lay our­selves be­fore God in the prayer of sim­ple ex­po­si­tion, to be moved by his Spirit; to hold the rud­der, is to re­strain our heart from wan­der­ing from the true course, re­call­ing it gen­tly, and guid­ing it stead­ily by the dic­tates of the Spirit of God, which gradu­ally gains pos­ses­sion of the heart, just as the breeze by de­grees fills the sails and im­pels the ves­sel.  While the winds are fair, the pi­lot and the mari­ners rest from their la­bors.  What pro­gress do they not now se­cure, with­out the least fa­tigue!  They make more way now in one hour, while they rest and leave the ves­sel to the wind, than they did in a length of time by all their for­mer ef­forts; and even were they now to at­tempt us­ing the oars, be­sides greatly fa­tigu­ing them­selves, they would only re­tard the ves­sel by their use­less ex­er­tions.

This is our proper course in­te­riorly, and a short time will ad­vance us by the di­vine im­pul­sion far­ther than many re­it­er­ated acts of self-ex­er­tion.  Who­ever will try this path, will find it the easi­est in the world.

9. If the wind be con­trary and blow a storm, we must cast an­chor in the sea, to hold the ves­sel.  This an­chor is sim­ply trust in God and hope in his good­ness, wait­ing pa­tiently the calm­ing of the tem­pest and the re­turn of a fa­vor­able gale; thus did David: “I waited pa­tiently for the Lord, and he in­clined unto me, and heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1.)  We must there­fore be re­signed to the Spirit of God, giv­ing our­selves up wholly to his di­vine guid­ance.


Chapter XXIII.

1, 2. The bar­ren­ness of preach­ing, vice, er­ror, here­sies, and all sorts of evils arise from the fact that the peo­ple are not in­structed in the prayer of the heart;

3-5. Al­though the way is surer, eas­ier, and fit­ter for the sim­ple minded.

6-8. Ex­hor­ta­tion to pas­tors to set their flocks upon the prac­tice of it, with­out em­ploy­ing them in stud­ied forms and me­thodi­cal de­vo­tion.


If all who la­bored for the con­ver­sion of oth­ers sought to reach them by the heart, in­tro­duc­ing them im­me­di­ately into prayer and the in­te­rior life, num­ber­less and per­ma­nent con­ver­sions would en­sue.  On the con­trary, few and tran­sient fruits must at­tend that la­bor which is con­fined to out­ward mat­ters, such as bur­den­ing the dis­ci­ple with a thou­sand pre­cepts for ex­ter­nal ex­er­cises, in­stead of lead­ing the soul to Christ by the oc­cu­pa­tion of the heart in Him.

If min­is­ters were so­lici­tous thus to in­struct their pa­rish­ion­ers, shep­herds, while they watched their flocks, would have the spirit of the primi­tive Chris­tians, and the hus­band­man at the plough main­tain a blessed in­ter­course with his God; the manu­fac­turer, while he ex­hausted his out­ward man with la­bor, would be re­newed with in­ward strength; every spe­cies of vice would shortly dis­ap­pear, and every pa­rish­ioner be­come spiri­tu­ally minded.

2. O when once the heart is gained, how eas­ily is all the rest cor­rected! this is why God, above all things, re­quires the heart.  By this means alone, we may ex­tir­pate the dread­ful vices which so pre­vail among the lower or­ders, such as drunk­en­ness, blas­phemy, lewd­ness, en­mity and theft.  Jesus Christ would reign eve­ry­where in peace, and the face of the church would be re­newed through­out.

The de­cay of in­ter­nal pi­ety is un­ques­tiona­bly the source of the vari­ous er­rors that have ap­peared in the world; all would speed­ily be over­thrown, were in­ward de­vo­tion re-es­tab­lished.  Er­rors take pos­ses­sion of no soul, ex­cept such as are de­fi­cient in faith and prayer; and if, in­stead of en­gag­ing our wan­der­ing breth­ren in con­stant dis­pu­ta­tions, we would but teach them sim­ply to be­lieve, and dili­gently to pray, we should lead them sweetly to God.

O how in­ex­pressi­bly great is the loss sus­tained by man­kind from the ne­glect of the in­te­rior life!  And what an ac­count will those have to ren­der who are en­trusted with the care of souls, and have not dis­cov­ered and com­mu­ni­cated to their flock this hid­den treas­ure!

3. Some ex­cuse them­selves by say­ing, that there is dan­ger in this way, or that sim­ple per­sons are in­ca­pa­ble of com­pre­hend­ing the things of the Spirit.  But the ora­cles of truth af­firm the con­trary: “The Lord loveth those who walk sim­ply.” (Prov. 12:22, vulg.)  But what dan­ger can there be in walk­ing in the only true way, which is Je­sus Christ, giv­ing our­selves up to Him, fix­ing our eye con­tinu­ally on Him, plac­ing all our con­fi­dence in his grace, and tend­ing with all the strength of our soul to his pur­est love?

4. The sim­ple ones, so far from be­ing in­ca­pa­ble of this per­fec­tion, are, by their do­cil­ity, in­no­cence, and hu­mil­ity, pe­cu­liarly quali­fied for its at­tain­ment; and, as they are not ac­cus­tomed to rea­son­ing, they are less te­na­cious of their own opin­ions.  Even from their want of learn­ing, they sub­mit more freely to the teach­ings of the di­vine Spirit; whereas oth­ers, who are cramped and blinded by self-suf­fi­ciency, of­fer much greater re­sis­tance to the op­era­tions of grace.

We are told in Scrip­ture that “unto the sim­ple, God giveth the un­der­stand­ing of his law” (Psalm 119:130, vulg.); and we are also as­sured, that God loves to com­mu­ni­cate with them: “The Lord careth for the sim­ple; I was re­duced to ex­trem­ity and He saved me.” (Psalm 116:6, vulg.)  Let spiri­tual fa­thers be care­ful how they pre­vent their lit­tle ones from com­ing to Christ; He him­self said to his apos­tles, “Suf­fer lit­tle chil­dren to come unto me, for of such is the king­dom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:14.)  It was the en­deavor of the apos­tles to pre­vent chil­dren from go­ing to our Lord, which oc­ca­sioned this com­mand.

5. Man fre­quently ap­plies a rem­edy to the out­ward body, whilst the dis­ease lies at the heart.  The cause of our be­ing so un­suc­cess­ful in re­form­ing man­kind, es­pe­cially those of the lower classes, is our be­gin­ning with ex­ter­nal mat­ters; all our la­bors in this field, do but pro­duce such fruit as en­dures not; but if the key of the in­te­rior be first given, the ex­te­rior would be natu­rally and eas­ily re­formed.

Now this is very easy.  To teach man to seek God in his heart, to think of Him, to re­turn to Him when­ever he finds he has wan­dered from Him, and to do and suf­fer all things with a sin­gle eye to please Him, is lead­ing the soul to the source of all grace, and caus­ing it to find there eve­ry­thing nec­es­sary for sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion.

6. I there­fore be­seech you all, O ye that have the care of souls, to put them at once into this way, which is Je­sus Christ; nay, it is He him­self that con­jures you, by all the blood he has shed for those en­trusted to you.  “Speak to the heart of Je­ru­sa­lem!” (Isa. 40:2, vulg.)  O ye dis­pens­ers of his grace! preach­ers of his word! min­is­ters of his sac­ra­ments! es­tab­lish his king­dom!—and that it may in­deed be es­tab­lished, make Him ruler over the heart!  For as it is the heart alone that can op­pose his sov­er­eignty, it is by the sub­jec­tion of the heart that his sov­er­eignty is most highly hon­ored: “Give glory to the ho­li­ness of God, and he shall be­come your sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion.” (Isa. 8:13, vulg.)  Com­pose cate­chisms ex­pressly to teach prayer, not by rea­son­ing nor by method, for the sim­ple are in­ca­pa­ble of that; but to teach the prayer of the heart, not of the un­der­stand­ing; the prayer of God’s Spirit, not of man’s in­ven­tion.

7. Alas! by di­rect­ing them to pray in elabo­rate forms, and to be cu­ri­ously criti­cal therein, you cre­ate their chief ob­sta­cles.  The chil­dren have been led astray from the best of fa­thers, by your en­deav­or­ing to teach them too re­fined a lan­guage.  Go, then, ye poor chil­dren, to your heav­enly Fa­ther, speak to him in your natu­ral lan­guage; rude and bar­ba­rous as it may be, it is not so to Him.  A fa­ther is bet­ter pleased with an ad­dress which love and re­spect have made con­fused, be­cause he sees that it pro­ceeds from the heart, than he is by a dry and bar­ren ha­rangue, though never so elabo­rate.  The sim­ple and un­dis­guised emo­tions of love are in­fi­nitely more ex­pres­sive than all lan­guage, and all rea­son­ing.

8. Men have de­sired to love Love by for­mal rules, and have thus lost much of that love.  O how un­nec­es­sary is it to teach an art of lov­ing!  The lan­guage of love is bar­ba­rous to him that does not love, but per­fectly natu­ral to him that does; and there is no bet­ter way to learn how to love God, than to love him.  The most ig­no­rant of­ten be­come the most per­fect, be­cause they pro­ceed with more cor­dial­ity and sim­plic­ity.  The Spirit of God needs none of our ar­range­ments; when it pleases Him, He turns shep­herds into Proph­ets, and, so far from ex­clud­ing any from the tem­ple of prayer, he throws wide the gates that all may en­ter; while wis­dom is di­rected to cry aloud in the high­ways, “Whoso is sim­ple let him turn in hither” (Prov. 9:4); and to the fools she saith, “Come eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have min­gled.” (Prov. 9:5.)  And doth not Je­sus Christ him­self thank his Fa­ther for hav­ing “hid these things from the wise and pru­dent, and re­vealed them unto babes?” (Matt. 11:25.)


Chapter XXIV.

On the pas­sive way to Di­vine Un­ion.


It is im­pos­si­ble to at­tain Di­vine Un­ion, solely by the way of medi­ta­tion, or of the af­fec­tions, or by any de­vo­tion, no mat­ter how il­lu­mi­nated.  There are many rea­sons for this, the chief of which are those which fol­low.

1. Ac­cord­ing to Scrip­ture, “no man shall see God and live.” (Exod. 33:20.)  Now all the ex­er­cises of dis­cur­sive prayer, and even of ac­tive con­tem­pla­tion, re­garded as an end, and not as a mere prepa­ra­tive to that which is pas­sive, are still liv­ing ex­er­cises, by which we can­not see God; that is to say, be united with him.  All that is of man and of his do­ing, be it never so no­ble, never so ex­alted, must first be de­stroyed.

St. John re­lates that there was si­lence in heaven.  (Rev. 8:1.)  Now heaven repre­sents the ground and cen­tre of the soul, wherein all must be hushed to si­lence when the maj­esty of God ap­pears.  All the ef­forts, nay, the very ex­is­tence, of self, must be de­stroyed; be­cause noth­ing is op­po­site to God, but self, and all the ma­lig­nity of man is in self-ap­pro­pria­tion, as the source of its evil na­ture; in­so­much that the pu­rity of a soul in­creases in pro­por­tion as it loses this self-hood; and that which was a fault while the soul lived in self-ap­pro­pria­tion, is no longer such, af­ter it has ac­quired pu­rity and in­no­cence, by de­part­ing from that self-hood, which caused the dis­si­mili­tude be­tween it and God.

2. To unite two things so op­po­site as the pu­rity of God and the im­pu­rity of the crea­ture, the sim­plic­ity of God and the mul­ti­plic­ity of man, much more is req­ui­site than the ef­forts of the crea­ture.  Noth­ing less than an ef­fi­ca­cious op­era­tion of the Al­mighty can ever ac­com­plish this; for two things must have some re­la­tion or simi­lar­ity be­fore they can be­come one; as the im­pu­rity of dross can­not be united with the pu­rity of gold.

3. What, then, does God do?  He sends his own Wis­dom be­fore Him, as fire shall be sent upon the earth, to de­stroy by its ac­tiv­ity all that is im­pure; and as noth­ing can re­sist the power of that fire, but it con­sumes eve­ry­thing, so this Wis­dom de­stroys all the im­pu­ri­ties of the crea­ture, in or­der to dis­pose it for di­vine un­ion.

The im­pu­rity which is so fa­tal to un­ion con­sists in self-ap­pro­pria­tion and ac­tiv­ity.  Self-ap­pro­pria­tion; be­cause it is the source and foun­tain of all that de­file­ment which can never be al­lied to es­sen­tial pu­rity; as the rays of the sun may shine, in­deed, upon mire, but can never be united with it.  Ac­tiv­ity; for God be­ing in an in­fi­nite still­ness, the soul, in or­der to be united to Him, must par­tici­pate of his still­ness, else the con­tra­ri­ety be­tween still­ness and ac­tiv­ity would pre­vent as­simi­la­tion.

There­fore, the soul can never ar­rive at di­vine un­ion but in the rest of its will; nor can it ever be­come one with God, but by be­ing re-es­tab­lished in cen­tral rest and in the pu­rity of its first crea­tion.

4. God pu­ri­fies the soul by his Wis­dom, as re­fin­ers do met­als in the fur­nace.  Gold can­not be pu­ri­fied but by fire, which gradu­ally con­sumes all that is earthy and for­eign, and sepa­rates it from the metal.  It is not suf­fi­cient to fit it for use that the earthy part should be changed into gold; it must then be melted and dis­solved by the force of fire, to sepa­rate from the mass every drossy or alien par­ti­cle; and must be again and again cast into the fur­nace, un­til it has lost every trace of pol­lu­tion, and every pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing far­ther pu­ri­fied.

The gold­smith can­not now dis­cover any adul­ter­ate mix­ture, be­cause of its per­fect pu­rity and sim­plic­ity.  The fire no longer touches it; and were it to re­main an age in the fur­nace, its spot­less­ness would not be in­creased, nor its sub­stance di­min­ished.  It is then fit for the most ex­qui­site work­man­ship, and if, there­af­ter, this gold seem ob­scured or de­filed, it is noth­ing more than an ac­ci­den­tal im­pu­rity oc­ca­sioned by the con­tact of some for­eign body, and is only su­per­fi­cial; it is no hin­der­ance to its em­ploy­ment, and is widely dif­fer­ent from its for­mer de­base­ment, which was hid­den in the ground of its na­ture, and, as it were, iden­ti­fied with it.  Those, how­ever, who are un­in­structed, be­hold­ing the pure gold sul­lied by some ex­ter­nal pol­lu­tion, would be dis­posed to pre­fer an im­pure and gross metal, that ap­peared su­per­fi­cially bright and pol­ished.[3]

5. Far­ther, the pure and the im­pure gold are not min­gled; be­fore they can be united, they must be equally re­fined; the gold­smith can­not mix dross and gold.  What will he do, then?  He will purge out the dross with fire, so that the in­fe­rior may be­come as pure as the other, and then they may be united.  This is what St. Paul means, when he de­clares that “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (I Cor. 3:3); he adds, “If any man’s work be burnt, he shall suf­fer loss, but he him­self shall be saved, yet so as by fire.”  He here in­ti­mates, that there are works so de­graded by im­pure mix­tures, that though the mercy of God ac­cepts them, yet they must pass through the fire, to be purged from self; and it is in this sense that God is said to ex­am­ine and judge our right­eous­ness, be­cause that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be jus­ti­fied; but by the right­eous­ness of God, which is by faith in Je­sus Christ.  (Rom. 3:20, etc.)

6. Thus we may see that the di­vine jus­tice and wis­dom, like a piti­less and de­vour­ing fire, must de­stroy all that is earthly, sen­sual, and car­nal, and all self-ac­tiv­ity, be­fore the soul can be united to its God.  Now, this can never be ac­com­plished by the in­dus­try of the crea­ture; on the con­trary, he al­ways sub­mits to it with re­luc­tance; be­cause, as I have said, he is so en­am­ored of self, and so fear­ful of its de­struc­tion, that did not God act upon him pow­er­fully and with au­thor­ity, he would never con­sent.

7. It may, per­haps, be ob­jected here, that as God never robs man of his free will, he can al­ways re­sist the di­vine op­era­tions; and that I there­fore err in say­ing God acts ab­so­lutely, and with­out the con­sent of man.

Let me, how­ever, ex­plain.  By man’s giv­ing a pas­sive con­sent, God, with­out usur­pa­tion, may as­sume full power and an en­tire guid­ance; for hav­ing, in the be­gin­ning of his con­ver­sion, made an un­re­served sur­ren­der of him­self to all that God wills of him or by him, he thereby gave an ac­tive con­sent to what­ever God might af­ter­wards re­quire.  But when God be­gins to burn, de­stroy, and pu­rify, the soul does not per­ceive that these op­era­tions are in­tended for its good, but rather sup­poses the con­trary; and, as the gold at first seems rather to blacken than brighten in the fire, so it con­ceives that its pu­rity is lost; in­so­much, that if an ac­tive and ex­plicit con­sent were then re­quired, the soul could scarcely give it, nay would of­ten with­hold it.  All it does is to re­main firm in its pas­sive con­sent, en­dur­ing as pa­tiently as pos­si­ble all these di­vine op­era­tions, which it is nei­ther able nor de­sir­ous to ob­struct.

8. In this man­ner, there­fore, the soul is pu­ri­fied from all its self-origi­nated, dis­tinct, per­cep­ti­ble, and mul­ti­plied op­era­tions, which con­sti­tute a great dis­si­mili­tude be­tween it and God; it is ren­dered by de­grees con­form, and then uni­form; and the pas­sive ca­pac­ity of the crea­ture is ele­vated, en­no­bled, and enlarged, though in a se­cret and hid­den man­ner, hence called mys­ti­cal; but in all these op­era­tions the soul must con­cur pas­sively.  It is true, in­deed, that in the be­gin­ning its ac­tiv­ity is req­ui­site; from which, how­ever, as the di­vine op­era­tions be­come stronger, it must gradu­ally cease; yield­ing it­self up to the im­pulse of the di­vine Spirit, till it is wholly ab­sorbed in Him.  But this is a proc­ess which lasts a long time.

9. We do not, then, say, as some have sup­posed, that there is no need of ac­tiv­ity; since, on the con­trary, it is the gate; at which, how­ever, we should not al­ways tarry, since we ought to tend to­wards ul­ti­mate per­fec­tion, which is im­prac­ti­ca­ble ex­cept the first helps are laid aside; for how­ever nec­es­sary they may have been at the en­trance of the road, they af­ter­wards be­come greatly det­ri­men­tal to those who ad­here to them ob­sti­nately, pre­vent­ing them from ever at­tain­ing the end.  This made St. Paul say, “For­get­ting those things which are be­hind, and reach­ing forth to those which are be­fore, I press to­ward the mark, for the prize of the high call­ing of God in Christ Je­sus.” (Phil. 3:13.)

Would you not say that he had lost his senses, who, hav­ing un­der­taken a jour­ney, should fix his abode at the first inn, be­cause he had been told that many trav­el­lers had come that way, that some had lodged there, and that the mas­ters of the house dwelt there?  All that we wish, then, is, that souls would press to­ward the end, tak­ing the short­est and easi­est road, and not stop­ping at the first stage.  Let them fol­low the coun­sel and ex­am­ple of St. Paul, and suf­fer them­selves to be led by the Spirit of God, (Rom. 8:14,) which will in­fal­li­bly con­duct them to the end of their crea­tion, the en­joy­ment of God.

10. But while we con­fess that the en­joy­ment of God is the end for which alone we were cre­ated, and that every soul that does not at­tain di­vine un­ion and the pu­rity of its crea­tion in this life, can only be saved as by fire, how strange it is, that we should dread and avoid the proc­ess; as if that could be the cause of evil and im­per­fec­tion in the pre­sent life, which is to pro­duce the per­fec­tion of glory in the life to come.

11. None can be ig­no­rant that God is the Su­preme Good; that es­sen­tial bless­ed­ness con­sists in un­ion with Him; that the saints dif­fer in glory, ac­cord­ing as the un­ion is more or less per­fect; and that the soul can­not at­tain this un­ion by the mere ac­tiv­ity of its own pow­ers, since God com­mu­ni­cates Him­self to the soul, in pro­por­tion as its pas­sive ca­pac­ity is great, no­ble and ex­ten­sive.  We can only be united to God in sim­plic­ity and pas­siv­ity, and as this un­ion is be­ati­tude it­self, the way that leads us in this pas­siv­ity can­not be evil, but must be the most free from dan­ger, and the best.

12. This way is not dan­ger­ous.  Would Je­sus Christ have made this the most per­fect and nec­es­sary of all ways, had it been so?  No! all can travel it; and as all are called to hap­pi­ness, all are like­wise called to the en­joy­ment of God, both in this life and the next, for that alone is hap­pi­ness.  I say the en­joy­ment of God him­self, and not of his gifts; these lat­ter do not con­sti­tute es­sen­tial be­ati­tude, as they can­not fully con­tent the soul; it is so no­ble and so great, that the most ex­alted gifts of God can­not make it happy, unless the Giver also be­stows Him­self.  Now the whole de­sire of the Di­vine Be­ing is to give Him­self to every crea­ture, ac­cord­ing to the ca­pac­ity with which it is en­dowed; and yet, alas! how re­luc­tantly man suf­fers him­self to be drawn to God! how fear­ful is he to pre­pare for di­vine un­ion!

13. Some say, that we must not place our­selves in this state.  I grant it; but I say also, that no crea­ture could ever do it; since it would not be pos­si­ble for any, by all their own ef­forts, to unite them­selves to God; it is He alone must do it.  It is al­to­gether idle, then, to ex­claim against those who are self-united, as such a thing can­not be.

They say again, that some may feign to have at­tained this state.  None can any more feign this, than the wretch who is on the point of per­ish­ing with hun­ger can, for any length of time at least, feign to be full and sat­is­fied.  Some wish or word, some sigh or sign, will in­evi­ta­bly es­cape him, and be­tray that he is far from be­ing sat­is­fied.

Since then none can at­tain this end by their own la­bor, we do not pre­tend to in­tro­duce any into it, but only to point out the way that leads to it: be­seech­ing all not to be­come at­tached to the ac­com­mo­da­tions on the road, ex­ter­nal prac­tices, which must all be left be­hind when the sig­nal is given.  The ex­peri­enced in­struc­tor knows this, points to the wa­ter of life, and lends his aid to ob­tain it.  Would it not be an un­jus­ti­fi­able cru­elty to show a spring to a thirsty man, then bind him so that he could not reach it, and suf­fer him to die of thirst?

14. This is just what is done every day.  Let us all agree in the way, as we all agree in the end, which is evi­dent and in­con­tro­verti­ble.  The way has its be­gin­ning, proc­ess, and ter­mi­na­tion; and the nearer we ap­proach the con­sum­ma­tion, the far­ther is the be­gin­ning be­hind us; it is only by leav­ing the one, that we can ar­rive at the other.  You can­not get from the en­trance to a dis­tant place, with­out pass­ing over the in­ter­me­di­ate space, and, if the end be good, holy, and nec­es­sary, and the en­trance also good, why should the nec­es­sary pas­sage, the di­rect road lead­ing from the one to the other, be evil?

O the blind­ness of the greater part of man­kind, who pride them­selves on sci­ence and wis­dom!  How true is it, O my God, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and pru­dent, and hast re­vealed them unto babes!


[1] This beautiful image comprehends the whole es­sence of the divine life, as understood by the teachers of the interior, and seems to contain as much truth as beauty.  God is the great magnet of the soul, but of that only; and impurity or ad­mix­ture prevents his full attractive power.  If there were nothing of the kind in the soul, it would rush, under this all-powerful attraction, with irresistible and instantaneous speed, to be lost in God.  But many load themselves with goods, or seize some part of earth or self with so tenacious a grasp, that they spend their whole lives without advancing at more than a snail’s pace towards their centre; and it is only when God in love strikes their burden violently from their hands, that they begin to be con­scious of the hinderance that detained them.  If we will only suffer every weight to drop, and with­draw our hands from self, and every creature, there will be but little interval between our sacrifice and our resurrection. 

Some pious persons have objected to the pas­siv­ity here inculcated, as though the soul were re­quired to become dead, like an inanimate object, in order that God might do his pleasure with it.  But this objection will vanish if it be considered that the life of the soul is in the will, and that this condition of utter passivity implies the highest state of ac­tiv­ity of the will, in willing without any cessation, and with all its powers, that the will of God shall be done in it, and by it, and through it.  See this fur­ther insisted upon in chapter xxi.—Editor.

[2] A design subsequently carried out in the work en­titled “The Torrents,” and less diffusely in the “Concise View,” follows the present treatise.—Editor.

[3] “God knows that [in speaking of the superficial impurity] I had only reference to certain defects which are exterior and entirely natural, and which are left by God in the greatest saints to keep them from pride, and the sight of men, who judge only from the outward appearance, to preserve them from corruption, and hide them in the secret of his presence. (Ps. 31:20.)  At the time I wrote, I had heard no mention of the perversions subsequently spoken of [that those in union with God might sin and yet remain united to Him], and, as such an idea had not once occurred to me, I never imagined that it was possible for any one to draw such inferences from a simple illustration.”—Mad. Guyon, Courte Apologie, etc.