I have received from M-- the things which you gave her for me. I
wonder that you have not given me your thoughts on the little book
I sent to you and which you must have received. Set heartily about
the practice of it in your old age. It is better late than never.
I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without
the practice of the presence of God. For my part I keep myself
retired with Him in the depth and center of my soul as much as I
can. While I am with Him I fear nothing; but the least turning
from Him is insupportable. This practice does not tire the body.
It is, however, proper to deprive it sometimes, nay often, of many
little pleasures which are innocent and lawful. God will not
permit a soul that desires to be devoted entirely to Him to take
pleasures other than with Him. That is more than reasonable.
I do not say we must put any violent constraint upon ourselves.
No, we must serve God in a holy freedom. We must work faithfully
without trouble or disquiet, recalling our mind to God mildly and
with tranquillity as often as we find it wandering from Him. It
is, however, necessary to put our whole trust in God. We must lay
aside all other cares and even some forms of devotion, though very
good in themselves, yet such as one often engages in routinely.
Those devotions are only means to attain to the end. Once we have
established a habit of the practice of the presence of God, we are
then with Him who is our end. We have no need to return to the
means. We may simply continue with Him in our commerce of love,
persevering in His holy presence with an act of praise, of
adoration, or of desire or with an act of resignation, or
thanksgiving, and in all the ways our spirits can invent.
Be not discouraged by the repugnance which you may find in it from
nature. You must sacrifice yourself. At first, one often thinks it
a waste of time. But you must go on and resolve to persevere in it
until death, notwithstanding all the difficulties that may occur.
I recommend myself to the prayers of your holy society, and yours
in particular. I am yours in our Lord.