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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Torrents _VERIFIED_

The soul, as we have said, having proceeded fromGod, has a continual propensity to return to Him,because, as He is its origin, He is also its final end.Its course would be interminable if it were not arrestedor interrupted by sin and unbelief. Thereforethe heart of man is perpetually in motion, and canfind no rest till it returns to its origin and its centre,which is God: like fire, which, being removed fromits sphere, is in continual agitation, and does not resttill it has returned to it, and then, by a miracle ofnature, this element, so active itself as to consumeeverything by its activity, is at perfect rest. O poorsoul who are seeking happiness in this life! you willnever find it out of God. Seek to return to Him:[p 115] there all your longings and troubles, your agitationsand anxieties, will be reduced to perfect rest.

the pains of being pure at heart torrents

Some of those who are thus exercised, having neverbeen taught that they must seek to have God withinthem, and not expect to find Him in outward righteousness,give themselves up to meditation, and seekwithout what can only be found within. This meditation,in which they seldom succeed, because God,who has better things in store for them, does notpermit them to find any rest in such an experience,only serves to increase their longing; for their woundis at the heart, and they apply the plaster externally,which does but foster the disease, instead of healingit. They struggle a long time with this exercise, andtheir struggling does but increase their powerlessness;and unless God, who Himself assumes the charge ofthem, sends some messenger to show them a differentway, they will lose their time, and will lose it just solong as they remain unaided. But God, who is[p 120] abundant in goodness, does not fail to send themhelp, though it may be but passing and temporary.As soon, then, as they are taught that they cannotadvance because their wound is an internal one, andthey are seeking to heal it by external applications;when they are led to seek in the depths of their ownhearts what they have sought in vain out of themselves;then they find, with an astonishment whichoverwhelms them, that they have within them a treasurewhich they have been seeking far off. Thenthey rejoice in their new liberty; they marvel thatprayer is no longer a burden, and that the more theyretire within themselves, the more they taste of acertain mysterious something which ravishes themand carries them away, and they would wish ever tolove thus, and thus to be buried within themselves.Yet what they experience, delightful as it may appear,does not stop them, if they are to be led into purefaith, but leads them to follow after something more,which they have not yet known. They are now allardour and love. They seem already to be in Paradise;for what they possess within themselves isinfinitely sweeter than all the joys of earth: these[p 121] they can leave without pain; they would leave thewhole world to enjoy for one hour their presentexperience. They find that prayer has become theircontinual attitude; their love increases day by day,so that their one desire is always to love and neverto be interrupted. And as they are not now strongenough to be undisturbed by conversation, they shunand fear it; they love to be alone, and to enjoy thecaresses of their Beloved. They have within themselvesa Counsellor, who lets them find no pleasure inearthly things, and who does not suffer them to commita single fault, without making them feel by Hiscoldness how much sin is displeasing to Him. Thiscoldness of God, in times of transgression, is to themthe most terrible chastisement. It seems as thoughGod's only care were to correct and reprove them, andHis one purpose to perfect them. It is a surprise tothemselves and to others that they change more in amonth by this way, and even in a day, than in severalyears by the other. O God! it belongs only to Theeto correct and to purify the hearts of Thy children!

These persons are now so full of their own feelingsthat they want to impart them to others; they longto teach the whole world to love God; their sentimentstowards Him are so deep, so pure, and so disinterested,that those who hear them speak, if theyare not divinely enlightened, believe them to haveattained the height of perfection. They are fruitfulin good works; there is no reasoning here, nothingbut a deep and burning love. The soul feels itselfseized and held fast by a divine force which ravishesand consumes it. It is like intoxicated persons, whoare so possessed with wine that they do not knowwhat they are doing, and are no longer masters ofthemselves. If such as these try to read, the bookfalls from their hands, and a single line suffices them;they can hardly get through a page in a whole day,however assiduously they may devote themselves toit, for a single word from God awakens that secretinstinct which animates and fires them, so that love[p 123] closes both their mouth and their eyes. They cannotutter verbal prayers, being unable to pronounce them.A heart which is unaccustomed to this does not knowwhat it means; for it has never experienced anythinglike it before, and it does not understand why it cannotpray, and yet it cannot resist the power whichovercomes it. It cannot be troubled, nor be fearfulof doing wrong, for He who holds it bound does notpermit it either to doubt that it is He who thus holdsit, or to strive against it, for if it makes an effort topray, it feels that He who possesses it closes its lips,and compels it, by a sweet and loving violence, to besilent. Not that the creature cannot resist and speakby an effort, but besides doing violence to himself heloses this divine peace, and feels that he is becomingdry: he must allow himself to be moved upon byGod at His will, and not in his own way. The soulin this state imagines itself to be in an inward silence,because its working is so gentle, so easy, and so quietthat it does not perceive it. It believes itself to havereached the summit of perfection, and it sees nothingbefore it but enjoyment of the wealth it possesses.

The faults of those in this degree are a certain self-esteem,more hidden and deeply rooted than it was[p 126] before they had received these graces and favoursfrom God; a certain secret contempt for others whomthey see so far behind themselves, and a certain hardnessfor sin and sinners; a zeal of St John before thedescent of the Holy Ghost, when he wanted to calldown fire from heaven upon the Samaritans to consumethem; a certain confidence in their own safetyand virtue; a secret pride, which causes them togrieve specially over the faults which they commit inpublic: they appropriate the gifts of God, and treatthem as though they were their own: they forgetweakness and poverty in the strength which theypossess; so that they lose all self-distrust. Thoughall this and much more is to be found in persons inthis degree, they are themselves unconscious of it;but these faults will make themselves known in time.The grace which they feel so strongly in themselvesbeing an assurance to them that they have nothing tofear, they allow themselves to speak without beingdivinely commissioned. They are anxious to communicatewhat they feel to every one else. It is truethat they are of use to others, for their burning wordstake hold of the hearts of those who hear them; but[p 127] apart from the fact that they cannot do the good theywould do, if God would have them impart to otherswhat they have received, they are giving out of theirnecessity and not of their abundance; so that theyexhaust themselves; as you have seen several poolsof water under a fountain. The fountain alone givesout of its abundance, and the pools only send intoeach other of the fulness which is communicated tothem; but if the fountain be closed or turned aside,and the pools cease to overflow, then as they are cutoff from the source, they dry up. This is preciselywhat happens to those in this degree. They want tobe constantly sending out their waters, and it is nottill late that they perceive that the water which theyhad was only for themselves, and that they are not ina state to communicate it, because they are not connectedwith the source. They are like bottles ofscent which are left open: they find so much sweetnessin the odour which they emit that they do notperceive the loss they themselves sustain. Yet theyappear to practise virtue without any effort, since theyare occupied only with a general love, without reasonor motive. If you ask them what they do during[p 128] the day, they will tell you that they love; but if youask why they love, they will tell you that they do notknow; they only know that they love, and that theyburn with desire to suffer for the object of their love.You may ask if it is not the sight of the sufferings oftheir Beloved which inspires them with the longing tosuffer with Him, but they will reply that the thoughtof His sufferings did not even enter their mind.Neither is it the desire to imitate the virtues whichthey see in Him, for they do not think of them, northe sight of His beauty which enraptures them, forthey do not look at it. Only they feel in the depthsof their heart a deep wound, yet so delightful thatthey rest in their pain, and find their pleasure in theirgrief.

Oh! is it not sufficient, Divine Lover, to cast offyour spouse, to turn away from her, without compellingher to lose love, and lose it, as it seems,for ever? She believes she has lost it, and yet shenever loved more strongly or more purely. Shehas indeed lost the vigour, the sensible strength oflove; but she has not lost love itself; on the contrary,she possesses it in a greater degree than ever.She cannot believe this, and yet it is easily known;for the heart cannot exist without love. If it doesnot love God, its affection is concentrated uponsome other object: but here the bride of Christ isfar from taking pleasure in anything. She regardsthe revolt of her passions and her involuntary faultsas terrible crimes, which draw upon her the hatred[p 158] of her Beloved. She seeks to cleanse and to purifyherself, but she is no sooner washed than she seemsto fall into a slough yet more filthy and pollutedthan that from which she has just escaped. Shedoes not see that it is because she runs that shecontracts defilement, and falls so frequently, yet sheis so ashamed to run in this condition, that shedoes not know where to hide herself. Her garmentsare soiled; she loses all she has in the race.

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