A Man who lives this life in its perfection, as it has here been
shown, and who is offering up his whole life, and all his works,
to the worship and praise of God, and who wills and loves God
above all things, is often stirred by a desire to see, to know,
and to prove what, in Himself, this Bridegroom Christ is; Who for
man's sake became man and laboured in love unto death, and
delivered us from sin and the devil, and has given us Himself and
His grace, and left us His sacraments, and has promised us His
kingdom and Himself as an eternal wage; Who also gives us all that
is needful for the body, and inward consolation and sweetness, and
innumerable gifts of all kinds, according to the needs of each.
When a man beholds all this, he feels an unmeasured impulse to see
Christ his Bridegroom, and to know Him as He is in Himself. Though
he knows Him in His works, this does not seem to him enough. Then
he must do as the publican Zaccheus did, who longed to see Jesus,
who He was. He must run before the crowd, that is the multiplicity
of creatures; for these make us so little and so low that we
cannot see God. And he must climb up into the tree of faith, which
grows from above downwards, for its roots are in the Godhead. This
tree has twelve branches, which are the twelve articles of faith.
The lower speak of the Divine Humanity, and of those things which
belong to our salvation of soul and of body. The upper part of the
tree tells of the Godhead, of the Trinity of Persons, and of the
Unity of the Nature of God. And the man must cling to that unity,
in the highest part of the tree; for there it is that Jesus must
pass with all His gifts.
Here comes Jesus, and sees the man, and shows to him, in the light
of faith, that He is according to His Godhead immeasurable and
incomprehensible and inaccessible and abysmal, transcending every
created light and every finite conception. And this is the highest
knowledge of God which any man may have in the active life: that
he should confess in this light of faith that God is
incomprehensible and unknowable.
And in this light Christ says to
man's desire: Make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at
thy house. This hasty descent, to which he is summoned by God, is
nothing else than a descent through desire and through love into
the abyss of the Godhead, which no intelligence can reach in the
created light. But where intelligence remains without, desire and
love go in.
When the soul is thus stretched towards God, by
intention and by love, above everything that it can understand,
then it rests and dwells in God, and God in it. When the soul
climbs with desire above the multiplicity of creatures, and above
the works of the senses, and above the light of nature, then it
meets Christ in the light of faith, and becomes enlightened, and
confesses that God is unknowable and incomprehensible. When it
stretches itself with longing towards this incomprehensible God,
then it meets Christ, and is filled with His gifts. And when it
loves and rests above all gifts, and above itself, and above all
creatures, then it dwells in God, and God dwells in it.
This is the way in which we shall meet Christ on the summit of the
active life. When you have laid the foundation of righteousness,
charity, and humility; and have established on it a
dwelling-place, that is, those virtues which have been named
heretofore; and have met Christ through faith, by intention and by
love; then you dwell in God and God dwells in you, and you possess
the true active life.
And this was the first of which we would speak.
The end of the first book