The Servant.--Sweetest God, if I leave Thee but a little I
am like a young roe which has strayed from its dam, and is pursued
by the hunter, and runs wildly about, until it escapes back to its
cover. Lord, I flee, I run to Thee with ardent desire, like a stag
to the living waters. Lord, one little hour without Thee is a
whole year; to be estranged one day from Thee is as much as a
thousand years to a loving heart.
Therefore, Thou branch of salvation, Thou bush of May, Thou red
blooming rose-tree, open and spread out the green branches of Thy
divine nature. Lord, Thy countenance is so full of graciousness,
Thy mouth so full of living words, Thy whole carriage such a pure
mirror of all discipline and meekness! O Thou aspect of
graciousness to all the saints, how very blessed is he who is
found worthy of Thy sweet espousals!
Eternal Wisdom.--Many are called to them, but few are chosen.
Servant.--Gentle Lord, either they have broken with Thee, or Thou
Eternal Wisdom.--Lift up, therefore, thy eyes, and behold
this vision. The Servant lifted up his eyes and was terrified,
and, with a deep sigh, said: Woe to me, dear Lord, that ever I was
born! Do I see aright, or is it only a dream? I saw Thee before in
such richness of beauty, and such tenderness of love; now I see
nothing but a poor, outcast, miserable pilgrim who stands
wretchedly leaning on his staff before an old decayed city. The
trenches are in ruins, the walls falling down, only that, here and
there, the high tops of the old timber work still project aloft;
and in the city is a great multitude of people; among them are
many that look like wild beasts in a human form: and the miserable
pilgrim goes wandering about to see if any one will take him by
Alas! I behold the multitude drive him with insult away, and
hardly look at him, because of the things about which they are
busy. And yet some, but only a very few, offer to give him their
hands; this the other wild beasts come and prevent. Now I hear the
miserable pilgrim begin to sigh woefully, and cry aloud: O heaven
and earth have pity on me--me who have garnered up this city with
such bitter toil, and who am so badly welcomed in it, while those
who have spent no labour upon it are yet so kindly received!
Lord, such is what has been shown me in the vision. O Thou eternal
God, what does it mean? Am I right or wrong?
Eternal Wisdom.--This vision is a vision of pure truth. Hearken to
a lamentable thing; O let it touch thy heart with pity! I am the
miserable pilgrim whom thou didst see. At one time I was in great
honour in that city, but now I am brought down to great misery and
The Servant.--Dearest Lord! what is this city, what are the people
Eternal Wisdom.--This decayed city is an image of that
spiritual life in which I was once so worthily served. And while
they were living in it so holily and securely, it begins in many
places to fall very much to ruin; the trenches begin to decay, and
the walls to crack, that is to say, devout obedience, voluntary
poverty, secluded purity in holy simplicity, begin to disappear,
and, at last, to such a degree that nothing is to be seen
standing, except the high timber work of mere exterior observance.
As to the great multitude, the beasts in human form, they are
worldly hearts under spiritual disguises, who, in the vain pursuit
of transitory things, drive Me out of their souls. That a few
should, nevertheless, offer to give Me their hands, but are
hindered by the rest, signifies that some men of good intentions
and devout feelings are perverted by the speech and evil example
The staff on which thou didst see Me stand leaning, is the cross
of My bitter passion, with which I admonish them at all times to
think on My sufferings, and to turn, with the love of their hearts
to Me alone. But the cry of misery thou didst hear is My death
which even here begins to cry aloud, and ever cries aloud, because
of those in whom neither My unfathomable love nor My bitter death
is able to do so much as to expel the worm of sinful thoughts from
The Servant.--O Lord, how it cuts through my very heart and soul
to think Thou art so lovable, and yet, in spite of all Thy
advances, art in many hearts so utterly despised. Ah! tender Lord,
what will Thy advances be to those who, though they see Thee in
the miserable shape in which Thou art rejected by the multitude,
yet stretch out their hands to Thee with sincere faith and love?
Eternal Wisdom.--Those who for My sake give up perishable
affections, and receive Me with sincere faith and love, and remain
constant to the end, will I espouse with My divine love and
sweetness, and will give them My hand in death, and exalt them on
the throne of My glory before the whole court of heaven.
The Servant.--Lord, there be many who think they will still love
Thee without giving up perishable love. Lord, they will needs be
very dear to Thee, and yet will not the less indulge in temporal
Eternal Wisdom.--It is as impossible as to compress the heavens
together and enclose them in a nut shell. Such persons array
themselves in fair words, they build upon the wind, and construct
upon the rainbow. How may the eternal abide with the temporal,
when even one temporal thing neither can nor will endure another?
He but deceives himself who thinks he can lodge the King of kings
in a common inn, or thrust Him into the mean dwelling of a
servant. In entire seclusion from all creatures must he keep
himself who is desirous of receiving his guest as he ought.
The Servant.--Alas, sweet Lord, how completely bewitched must they
all be not to see this!
Eternal Wisdom.--They stand in deep blindness. They endure many a
hard struggle for pleasures which they neither fix their
attachment nor afford them full gratification. Before they obtain
one joy they meet with ten sorrows, and the more they pursue their
lusts the more are these upbraided with being insufficient. Lo!
godless hearts must needs be at all times in fear and trembling.
Even the fleeting pleasure they obtain proves very harsh to them,
for they procure it with much toil, they enjoy it in great
anxiety, and lose it with much bitterness. The world is full of
untruth, falsehood, and inconstancy; when profit is at an end,
friendship is at an end, and to speak shortly, neither true love,
nor entire joy, nor constant peace of mind, was ever obtained by
any heart from creatures.
The Servant.--Alas! dear Lord, what a lamentable thing it is, that
so many a noble soul, so many a languishing heart, so many an
image formed after God in such beauty and sweetness, that in Thy
espousals ought to be queens and empresses, powerful in heaven and
on earth, should so foolishly go astray and degrade themselves!
Oh, wonder of wonders! to think that of their own accord they
should be lost! since, according to Thy words of truth, the fell
separation of the soul from the body were better for them than
that Thou, the Life Eternal, shouldest have to separate from their
souls where Thou findest no dwelling-place.
Oh, ye dull fools, behold how your great ruin prospers, how your
great loss increases, how you allow the precious, the fair, the
delightsome moments to pass away, which ye may hardly or indeed
never again possess, and how gaily you carry yourselves the while,
as though it concerned you not! Alas! Thou gentle Wisdom, did they
but know it and feel it surely they would desist.
Eternal Wisdom.--Listen to a wonderful and lamentable thing. They
know it and feel it at all hours, and yet do not desist; they know
it and yet will not know it; they beautify it, like unsound
argument, with dazzling brightness, which yet is unlike the naked
truth, as so many of them at last, when it is too late, will have
The Servant.--Alas! tender Wisdom, how senseless they are, or what
does it mean?
Eternal Wisdom.--Here will they needs escape calamity and
suffering, and yet fall into the midst of it; and as they will not
endure the eternal good and My sweet yoke, they will be
overwhelmed by the inevitable doom of My severe justice with many
a heavy burthen. They fear the frost, and fall into the snow.
The Servant.--Alas! tender and merciful Wisdom, remember that,
without being strengthened by Thee, no one can accomplish
anything. I see no other help for them than to raise their eyes to
Thee, and to fall at Thy feet with bitter, heart-felt tears,
entreating that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to enlighten them, and free
them from the bonds with which they are made fast.
Eternal Wisdom.--I am at all times ready to help them, if only
ready. I do not turn away from them.
The Servant.--Lord, it is painful for love to separate from
Eternal Wisdom.--Very true, if I could not and would not
lovingly make good all love in hearts of love.
The Servant.--O Lord, it is impossible to leave off old custom.
Eternal Wisdom.--But it will be yet more impossible to endure
The Servant.--They are perhaps so well regulated in themselves
that it does them no injury.
Eternal Wisdom.--I was the best regulated of men, and yet the most
self-mortified. How may that be regulated which, from its very
nature, corrupts the heart, confuses the mind, perverts
discipline, draws off the heart from all fervour, and robs it of
its peace? It breaks open the gates, behind which godly living
lies hidden, that is, the five senses. It casts forth sobriety and
introduces audaciousness, the loss of grace, estrangement from
God, interior tepidity, and exterior sloth.
The Servant.--Lord, they do not think they are hindered so much,
if only what they love have the appearance of a spiritual life.
Eternal Wisdom.--A clear-seeing eye may just as easily be
blinded by while meal as by pale ashes. Behold, was ever any
person's presence so harmless as Mine among My disciples? No
unprofitable words fell from us, among us there was no extravagant
demeanour, no beginning loftily in the spirit, and sinking down in
the depth of endless words; there was nothing but real earnestness
and entire truth without any deceit. And yet, My bodily presence
had to be withdrawn from them before they became susceptible of My
What a hindrance, then, must not a merely human presence prove!
Before they are influenced to good by one person, they are seduced
by a thousand; before they are reformed in one point by good
precept, they are often led astray by bad example; and, to speak
briefly, as the sharp frost in May nips the blossoms and scatters
them abroad, so the love of perishable things blights godly
seriousness and religious discipline. If thou hast still a doubt
respecting it, look around thee into the beautiful, fruitful
vineyards which formerly were so delightful in their first bloom,
how utterly withered and ruined they are, so that they contain few
traces more of fervent seriousness and great devotion.
Now, this produces an irreparable injury, for it has become a
thing of habit, a spiritual decorum, which, secretly, is so
destructive of all spiritual salvation. It is all the more
pernicious as it appears innocent. How many a precious
spice-garden is there, which, adorned with delightful gifts, was a
heavenly paradise, where God was well pleased to dwell, which,
now, by reason of perishable love, has become a garden of wild
weeds; where lilies and roses formerly grew, now stands thorns,
nettles, and briars, and where angels were used to dwell, swine
now root up the soil.
Woe betide the hour, when all lost time, when all good works
neglected, shall be reckoned up, when every idle word spoken,
thought, written, whether in secret or in public, shall be read
out before God and the whole world, and its meaning, without
disguise, be understood!
The Servant.--Alas! my Lord, some hearts there are, of so tender a
nature, that they are much sooner attracted by love than fear, and
as Thou, the Lord of nature, art not a destroyer but a fulfiller
of nature, O, therefore, most kind and gracious Lord, put an end
to this sad discourse, and tell me how Thou art a Mother of
beautiful love, and how sweet Thy love is.