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The fourth way that leadeth a man into a poor, perfect, contemplative life, is a zealous avoidance of all that which can please men, whether it be spiritual or bodily, so that whatever it be, it be so received as not to mis up the soul with it.


All things are fluctuating and unquiet, and whoso busies himself with things, his heart is always in unrest. In unrest we find not God, for He dwelleth only in peace; therefore he who wishes to find Him must have a heart at peace. St. Austin saith: “There be many that seek God, but there be few that find Him, for they seek Him all without, where He is not.”187187   De vera religione, c. 49, No. 94. People say, however, God is everywhere; why should we then not find Him? The ground for this is, because God is 284in the interior, but we are without. God is a Spirit, we are in the body; God is separated from all creatures, but we are burthened with these; God is a pure, simple good, we are changeable; God is the Light, we are darkened through sin; God is Love, we are still tainted with hatred. This unlikeness maketh that we cannot find God. Would we find Him, we must have likeness in order to seek Him. As God is in the interior and in the spirit, separate from all creatures, simple and pure, the purest Light, which is Himself, full of burning love, thus must we be if we would find God. We must enter our heart, turned away from all external works; we must have a pure mind, freed from all images and forms, pure, simple, enlightened by divine light, inflamed with the love-fire of the Holy Ghost. In this likeness we find the pure Godhead who giveth us rest in which we enjoy Him immediately. Thus, then, man standeth in pure poverty, where he can behold God.


If man turneth to himself in this true purity, perceiveth the state of his heart, and seeketh God in it, all springeth up in him that maketh him like unto God. If he was before turned outwardly, he becometh now inward; if he was fleshly minded, he is now turned to the Spirit; if he clove to creatures, he is now free; if he was darkened, he is enlightened; 285if he was cold in godly love, he is now inflamed with the divine love-fire. He must seek all inwardly if he would find the right treasure which enricheth him with all the gifts of God. Whoso neglecteth this seeking in his interior also neglecteth the gifts of God which He imparteth. The senses are not receptive of the best gifts of God, for they are fluctuating and changeable, but the godly gifts remain everlastingly; to him who is wavering God imparteth them not. Therefore, if we would be receptive of these gifts, our senses must be withdrawn into the inner man, which hath likeness with God. Here the best gifts are imparted by the Father ot Light, with whom there is no shadow of turning; therefore all His gifts are unchangeable. We also must receive them in unchangeableness; but the senses do not possess this, for they have likeness to time. Only the internal man possesseth this property, who is created after the likeness of God in holiness, justice, and truth; he receiveth the unchangeable gifts of God, and God giveth him His best. As a lord doth not readily give over his rule and his property to a spendthrift, who can neither tend it nor protect it, so God doeth also with His own, which is in the hands of such spendthrifts, who squander all you give them, and keep nothing. No perfect gift, and no gift of God should be intrusted to external sensual men, for one would be deceived. God findeth no place in him which would make him receptive of the gifts; and even if God 286would gladly give His gifts to sensual men, He can it not, because He would find no suitable place for them. He would be a fool who would build a house on flowing water. But this water is the senses, which hurry on with time, and therefore God giveth not His gifts to them.


Externally good men can gain reward in heaven no doubt through good works, but that with time they come to this, that they receive the complete gifts which God offers to those, which turn into themselves, and give heed unto him, cannot be. Of this also David saith: “I will hear what God the Lord saith unto me. He will give peace to His people and those who are converted.”188188   Psalm lxxxv. 8. Some people kill their senses, fast and watch, and flagellate themselves much. This is very good; but he who wishes to annihilate his senses must first altogether set aside all material interests; he must live within himself; he must triumph here, then he can destroy his senses, or subdue them to obedience. Then the man revolveth in his inmost spirit; he seeth God truly. Then he maketh himself receptive of divine power, with which the senses are always forced to be obedient; in no other way can they be tamed. This strength the man only receives inwardly, and thereby he draweth in and controlleth the senses. But when this divine power faileth, the senses also remain 287unconquered. This we find to be the case with many men, who have much striven, and at the last have failed, and only because the senses were not controlled in the manner in which divine force controlleth them. Therefore the strength faileth them and they fall. Had Adam drawn back on his inward control, and not regarded his senses, he would not have fallen. But as he obeyed his senses his fall was certain; for he had not the divine power that holdeth upright. Such also is the case with all men who do thus, they must fall.


Why, it will be objected, doth God form men, so that they are exposed to fall? If he wished to hold back man, he should have fashioned him otherwise. But as it is, having soul and body, with a free will to direct himself whither he wisheth; he directed himself to his weakest side, that is to his senses, and therefore he met the most dangerous result, “death.” Had he directed himself to the right direction, he would have seized the truth, and been forewarned of the fall. But as he followed the senses, he could not perceive the truth, and fell; for the senses cannot receive divine truth, only the inward man can do that, which is formed like God in truth. This then happeneth to all those who give way to the senses; this is right and just, and no one should wonder that God lets the others 288fall and go to destruction. It is the justice of God that must allow these men to fall, unless they turn themselves from their senses to their reason, then God must help them, for then they are receptive of His help. If the senses were the easier vessels of divine gifts, then certainly all men would be easily great saints, and could easily bear resistance to the sins, which the whole power of the senses would be used to restrain; but it is not so, they fall, and the greater the sensuality the greater the fall. God’s justice damns these men, who always favour the senses, and live on in their sensuality. He wisheth strongly to give them eternal salvation, but they are unable to receive it, for they are dead and must die, and are therefore not vessels of life; for death and life cannot exist together.


He who wisheth to receive eternal Beatitude, must receive it inwardly, in the inner man, which is formed like God. When Christ saith, “Who believes, and is baptized, is saved;”189189   Mark xvi. 16. this also is to be understood, as applying to the case, when the faith is seized by the reason and not by the senses. The hearing takes a form, but the reason receives the life of faith. Enlightened are only those who have faith; they are baptized in the waters of repentance, and are twice born in 289the spirit of truth. Those who live on in their sensuality cannot have faith. They of course can say, I have faith; many a man saith, I have a hundred pounds of pfennigs, when he does not possess one. Such men are exactly like unto the Pagans, and are only Christians by name, which does not make them blessed. Christ also saith, “Not every one who saith to Me, Lord, Lord! will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who carrieth out the teachings of God.” Not every one who saith, “I believe,” but the one who doth good works. “For faith without works is dead.” The senses bring death, faith is our blessedness, and brings eternal life. Therefore it must be received in the reason, and not in the senses; what the senses take up, they also lose. It is therefore necessary, that the essence of faith should be impressed upon the reason, for this alone retaineth faith. When the senses are commanded by the inward man, then he receives the impression of divine faith, which begetteth salvation.


Now a question could be asked: If the senses cannot receive the highest truth, why should they then be drawn to the inward man, so that he then be capable of seizing the truth? I answer: Where two have to receive a gift, the weakest must always attach 290itself to the strongest; what is defective in the one. must be set right by the other. One person is body and soul, therefore they have but one movement; but the soul cannot work without the body, therefore the soul would not be able to receive godly divine gifts, unless it was unhindered by the senses. But it is not hindered, when it is absolutely drawn away from all external matter; thus only therefore can it receive complete truth, and that reception it divides with the senses, and in this way the senses receive it, not as external independent objects, but as such which have given way and are controlled by the inward man. From here it penetrates into the senses, and forces them to follow.

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