At first when the creature is being taught to bless God it shrinks back in a fright,
“What am I that I should dare to bless Almighty God, I am afraid to do it;
I am too unworthy; let me wait till I am more righteous, till I have done more works.”
Then the divine soul counsels it so:
“Think no more about thyself, moaning and groaning over thine unworthiness
and trusting to progress in works.
Cease thinking of thyself, and rise up and think only of God.
Thou wilt never be worthy, and all thy works are nothing
and thy learning of no count whatever;
and as to thy righteousness, is it not written that it is as filthy rags?
All that God will give thee is not for any merits or works of thine, but for Love’s sake.
He desires both to give thee love and to receive thy love,
therefore rise and worship Him, give Him all the love that thou hast;
keep none back either for thyself, or anything or any other creature,
but give all that thou hast to Him with tears and songs and gladness.”
Timidly the creature obeys, and with all its powers and strength it blesses God,
and instantaneously God blesses the creature, sending His sweetness and His glamour about it:
and the more the soul and the creature bless God the more does He bless them,
and they bless Him from the bed of sickness and pain as fully as they bless Him in health.
They bless Him in the night−time and in the noonday,
they bless Him as they walk,
they bless Him as they work,
and because of this little bit of blessing and love offered to God
He offers them all heaven in Himself.
It is the duty of the soul to constantly lend counsel, courage, help, advice, and strength to the creature,
and we are conscious of the voice of the soul,
which without any sound yet makes itself inwardly heard,
calling to the selfishness, the egoism of the creature,
urging the higher part of it to come higher
and the animal in it to become pure and to subdue itself, saying to it,
“Lie down and be quiet, or thou wilt bring disaster to us both.”
“I cannot be quiet, for I could groan with my restless distress.”
“Cease to think of thyself with thy roaring’s and groanings.
Lay hold of love which thinks nothing of itself
but always of that which it may give to the Beloved.”
Again we say “I cannot do this; I am no angel nor even a saint,
but a most ordinary creature, forsaken of God and miserable.”
“Thou art never forsaken, but thy door is closed:
it opens from thy side, and thou art thyself standing across it and blocking the opening of it—
I will show thee how to open it,
cry and moan no more for favors and gifts, but thyself do the giving.
Since thou dost not know at all how to begin—
do it with these words:
‘I love and praise Thee,
I love and bless and thank Thee,
I love and bless and worship Thee’;
and see thou do it with all thy heart and mind and strength
and with no thought of thyself and future benefits,
but entirely that thou mayest give Him pleasure.
” Then the creature tries, but fails lamentably, for most of its
heart and mind is on itself and a fraction only on God.
“Now try again and again and again,” cries the soul, “O thou miserable halfhearted shallow worldling!”
And the creature tries again, and, doing better, gets a very slight warmth about the heart; and, doing it again,
gets a little comfort, and so, gradually progressing in the way of true love which is all giving.
At last one day the creature does it perfectly
because it has altogether forgotten itself in the fire of its love
and is completely set upon God.
Then automatically the door opens, and immediately in through it
there rushes the breath and the blisses of God.
And the creature, weeping with excess of happiness,
cries “I never asked for such delights,
I did not know such happiness was to be had; and if I did not ask, how is it that I have received?”
Then the soul answers, “Because thou hast learnt to give to God,
and that is the key which unlocks the garden of His joys.
Thou hast just three things which He desires to have—
thy love and thine obedience, and thy waiting fidelity.
When thou dost conform to His desire with all thy tiny unadulterated strength,
immediately heaven becomes open to thee
and thou dost receive more than thou didst ever dream or think to ask for.
This is His lovely Will towards thee.
In spirit , I agree with this will
But first my soul … must always do thy part, for until thou doest thy part
I cannot begin mine,
for thou my soul couldst receive neither blessings nor blisses
if I not receive them first from Him
and hand them on to thee;
so each are dependent the one on the other,
and only together can we enter paradise.
Think not I do not suffer as much as thyself and far more.
I know thou dost suffer with thy body and with the losses of thine earthly loves,
but I suffer far more with the loss of my Heavenly Love.
At first I could not understand what had come to me,
buried and choked in the strange house of flesh.
I despised thee, I hated thee, thy stupid ways, thy dreadful greeds,
thine unspeakable obstinacy and unwillingness;
thou didst give me horrible sicknesses with thine unsavory wants,
thine undignified requirements.
I thought thee foolish and now know myself to be more foolish than thee,
for thou hardly knowest the heavenly love whereas I knew and left Him,
seeking other loves.
The Fall was not thy fault, poor human thing, but mine.
I am the Prodigal, and thou the means of my return,
for if I can but raise thee to true adoration of our God,
then I shall pay my debt of infidelity to Him
and together as one glorious radiant spirit we shall enter heaven again.
“Only listen and I can guide thee, for the Master speaks to me and tells me what to do.
I am partly that which thou dost please to call thy conscience,
and thou dost treat me shockingly, buffeting and wounding me when I try to whisper to thee:
if thou art not careful, thou wilt so disable me
that all our chance of happiness will be spoiled.
Do thou listen very tenderly for my voice,
for I am of gossamer and thou of strangely heavy clay
Evil and Temptation and of Grace
The heart and soul are subject to four principal glamours:
the glamour of youth,
the glamour of romance,
the glamour of evil,
and the glamour of God.
When once the Spirit of Love, which is God, descends into our soul
then a new light becomes created in us by which we see the glamour of evil in its true form and complexion.
We see it as disease, misery, imprisonment, and death;
and who finds it difficult to turn away from such?
The natural man sees evil as an intense attraction,
the spiritual man sees a horror of ugliness.
See then how the Spirit of Love is at once and easily our Salvation.
Amongst all mysteries none seems greater to us than the mystery of Evil.
God—Goodness—Love: these we understand.
But evil—whence and why, since God is Love, Omnipotence, and Holiness?
We cannot but observe that all things have their opposites:
summer and winter,
heat and cold,
light and dark,
silence and sound,
pleasure and pain,
life and death,
action and repose,
joy and sadness,
illness and health …
How shall we know or have true pleasure in the one
without we have also knowledge of the opposite?
The man who has never known sickness
has neither true gratitude, understanding, nor pleasure in his heart over his good health:
he does not know that which he possesses.
Neither can we know the great glory that is Holiness
till we have known evil and can contrast the two.
“But what a price to pay for knowledge; what fearful risk and danger to His creatures for God so to teach them!”
So we may cry, forgetting that with God all things are possible, “Who is able and strong to save.”
And does He dare set Himself no difficult thing that He may overcome it?
The strong man’s knowledge of his own courage forbids us think it.
God wills to save us. We have but to join our will with His, and we are saved.
How shall we mount to God other than by mounting upon that which offers a foundation of tangible
resistance, overcoming and mounting upon evil.
Evil then becomes our stairway—the servant of Good.
By using the evil that we meet with day by day,
we mount daily the nearer to God by that exact degree of evil which we have overcome by good—
that is to say,
by the practice of forgiveness, compassion, patience, humility, endurance,
held out over against the invitation of evil to do the exact opposite.
A negligent, thieving, lying servant that we have to deal with
calls forth for our forgiveness, and humility also, for are we a perfect servant to our Lord?
The evil of a drunken husband may be used by the wife as a sure ladder to God,
for because of this evil she may learn to practise all the virtues of the saints.
Truly if we have the will to use it, Evil is friendly.
If we misuse Evil—that is to say, if we do not use it by mounting on it but,
intoxicated with its glamour, consent to it,—this is Sin,
and immediately the stairway is not that of ascent but of descent and death…
The Master says “Resist not evil.”
How are we to understand this but by assuming that if we try our strength against Evil,
Evil is likely to overcome us?
Being confronted with Evil
we should instantly hold on to and join with the forces of God and so have strength quietly
to continue side by side with Evil , without being seduced by it.
When Evil cannot seduce—that is to say, make us consent to it,—then for us it is conquered.
When we give in or conform to this seduction we generate Sin.
Let us say that we are in temptation,
that Evil of some sort confronts and invites us;
If we battle with this presentation, this picture,
this insinuating invitation held out before us by Evil,
the act of contending with the invitation
will fix that evil all the more firmly in our minds.
We need to substitute another picture, another invitation,
another presentation of that which pertains to the good and the beautiful.
He who has learned to substitute
and present Jesus , before his own heart and mind
this pure and beautiful invitations of this Divine Jesus can solve the difficulty.
This is not contending, this is substituting;
this is transferring allegiance from the glamour of Evil which is ever present with us,
to the glamour of God,
which, because we are in temptation, seems not present,
but is yet hoped and waited for.
To return again to the lying, dishonest, and negligent servant.
If we argue, contend, and battle morally with this evil servant we do not alter him,
but by this contention generate antagonism.
Then what is our own disposition?
Bad temper, a disturbed heart, an inharmonious angry mind; but if without contending
we bear with and act gently and truthfully with this evil,
making careful comparisons with our own service to our own Lord,
we learn patience, forgiveness, and humility also .
Have we never lied, have we never been dishonest,
have we never been negligent to this sweet Lord?
Then immediately His patience, His forgiveness, His love are brought more
intimately to our consciousness, and our heart nearer to His and His to ours.
Is this loss or gain?
Is Evil then an enemy? No, a handmaid.
So is Satan made a servant to his Overlord, and his power crossed.
Of all false things … nothing is more false than the glamor of Evil,
for when on being drawn into it we sin,
instead of the hoped−for delight we soon find satiety;
instead of exhilaration, fatigue;
instead of contentment, disillusion;
instead of satisfaction, dust;
instead of romance, the greedy claws of the harpy;
and the further we go in response to this glamour the more pitiable our outlook;
for the sweets and possibilities of Evil are extraordinarily limited.
Can any man devise a new sin?
No, but ever pursues the same old round, the same pitiful circle.
If we pursue the glamor of God, we find the exact opposite of all these things.
Spiritual delights know no satiety because of infinite variety:
they know no disease, no disillusionment,
and who can set a boundary or limit to the beautiful,
to the love, and to light, and of God?
It is characteristic of temptation that while we are exposed to it
Christ is absent from perception;
for to perceive Christ would instantly free us from all temptation
(and often it is by temptation faithfully borne that we mount).
When we are in a condition of contact with Christ which is His grace,
we are raised above the stem of faith into the flowers of knowledge;
but for the true strengthening of the will
it is necessary that we live also on the harder and more difficult meat of faith.
So we return again and again to that insulation from things heavenly
in which we lived before we had been made Aware.
When we emerge from these dark periods we find ourselves to have advanced.
With regard to Grace we can neither truly receive nor benefit by it
without our heart, mind, and soul being adjusted to respond to it .
The regenerated creature is not exempt from further temptations,
but contrariwise the grief of these temptations is greatly increased
(though of a quite different order of temptation to that known to us in an un-regenerated state);
it is increased in proportion to the degrees of Grace allowed to us.
That is to say, temptation keeps level with our utmost capacity of resistance
yet never is allowed to exceed the bounds of our resistances ,
for when it would exceed them …
a way out is found by the return of Grace; and we are freed.
The cause is the great root called Self, a many−headed growth of selfishness,
both material and spiritual, sprouting in all directions.
We would seem to be here for ever enclosed as in a glass bottle with this most horrid growth.
Through the glass we see all life, but always and ever in company with this voracious Self.
No sooner do we lop off one shoot of it than another grows—
never was such strenuous gardening as is required to keep this growth in check,
and every time we lop a shoot we learn another pain.
This is the long road to perfection, for the Cross is “I” with a stroke through it.
Who can describe the marvels, the variations, the mystery of Grace?
It is a dew and an elixir,
a balm and a fire,
a destroyer of all fear and sorrow,
a delight and an anguish,
for we are martyred,
pierced with long arrows by the longing of the love that it calls forth.
It is a sweetness and a might,
a glory and a power in which we are sensibly aware …
we could walk through a furnace unscathed if He bade us to do it.
And by it we are lifted in a crystal vase and enclosed in the Presence of God.
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