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ritual joy and spiritual trial. The passage into each requires exertion and perseverance, and none of them can be attained without "holy violence." To obtain a contrite and humble heart, the foundation of all virtue, requires many an arduous effort, many a painful sacrifice. As the soul advances in virtue, her combats continue, temptations to vanity, to gratifications of sense, and dissipation of thought, press on her, and appear to multiply;—she flies from them to the "foot of the cross;" the more she takes of it upon her, the more she has to support of its weight: but she perseveres, and begins to taste how sweet the Almighty is to those who truly seek him. Still much imperfection hangs upon her, and self-love enters too much into her best actions. Self-love itself she finally subdues, and this leads her to the happy state of union with the Almighty, which, according to the writers of whom we are speaking, forms the just man's last and happiest state in this life. But, for the passage into it, the most heroic exertions and sacrifices are necessary; the soul must completely die to the world and herself, and obtain a complete victory over all that draws, or has even a remote tendency to draw, her from God. Persecution, from the world at large, from those who are most dear to her, repeated mortifications, and bitter external and internal trials of every kind, are the means which God generally uses to effect her final perfection; but by far the severest trial, with which he visits her, is the " spiritual night," as it is terined by those writers, through which he generally makes her pass. In that state, she is assailed by the strongest temptations; she often seems to herself to be on the brink of yielding to them; and, sometimes, fears she has yielded: the most blasphemous thoughts, the most irregular ideas, crowd her mind; she feels, or rather apprehends she feels, a complacency in them; God seems to her to abandon her, she no longer beholds in him her Father, her Redeemer, the shepherd who leads her to the green pasture, or the living water ;—she views him armed with terrors, conceives herself an object of his wrath, and, in indescribable anguish, fears it will be her everlasting lot. Still she perseveres, and in the midst of this agonizing suffering, she is invariably patient, invariably humble, invariably resigned, and, even when she seems to herself to sink under the harrowing impression of her being an eternal object of divine wrath, and fears all is lost, (her last and heaviest trial), she habitually trusts herself to his mercy, and abandons herself to his holy will. Then, she is nailed to the sacred cross: she dies to the world, to herself, to all that is not God, and her sacrifice is complete.
But, as these writers assure us, in the midst of this severe visitation, God is ever near her, and enriches her with the most pure and exalted virtues. She acquires an habitual conformity to his holy will, a perfect indifference to all actions and objects, except as they please or displease him: on him alone she is occupied, with him alone she is filled, she leaves him for himself; and the divine transformation, so beautifully described by St. Paul, when he exclaims, Gal. xi. 2, "It is not I that live, it is Christ that liveth in me," then ensues.
Such are the spiritual favours, which in this hour of desolation, while she herself is not only unconscious of them, but, actually, fears herself to be an object of wrath,—this humble and afflicted soul is said to receive from the unbounded mercy of God; and such, they inform us, are the exalted gifts with which her perseverance is crowned.
Often she continues, for years, in a state of trial; and the spiritualists, who describe it, speak of it as exceeding every species of corporeal pain. But her hour of reward at length arrives: and God, then, showers on her an abundance of those sacred favours which, the same writers tell us, no one can adequately describe, and those alone conceive who have had some experience of them. Wonderfully her intellect is enlightened on divine subjects, her will animated by divine love, her memory radiated by the recollection of the divine mercies. Her appetites are so governed by the holy spirit, as to become subservient to her religious perfection; her very corporeal existence partakes of the holy jubilation of her soul, and rejoiceth with her in God her Saviour. She beholds not intuitively, as they are beholden by the angels and the saints, but in a divine light, the adorable essence, the sacred mysteries of the Trinity and the incarnation, the unspeakable perfections of God, and the wisdom and justice of his ways with man. He admits her to habitual and intimate communications with him. "Frequent," says the author of the Imitation of Christ, (lib. 2. c. 1.) "are the visits of God to such a soul, sweet his conversation with her, grateful the consolations, unspeakable the peace he brings to her, wonderful the familiarity which he vouchsafes her." Her joy is pure and passeth understanding: surrounded by the light and power of divine love, she lives and feels and moves in God alone.
It is particularly in her prayer that she experiences those favors. Generally speaking, the incipient, in a spiritual life, begins with vocal prayer, and, at first, contents himself with attentively reading those forms of prayer which books supply. "These," Bossuet observes, Instruction sur les Etats d' Oraison (lib. 5. sect. 21.) "rather inform the understanding than enter into the heart: but such prayers have abundant use; they resemble the bark of a tree that covers and invigorates the sap which circulates under it; they are like the snow which is spread over corn, and enriches the lands from which the corn draws its nourishment." Insensibly, he rises to meditation. At first, he avails himself of some collection of published meditations, dwells on what he reads, amplifies it in his mind, and excites his heart to follow and expand the sentiment which it produces. By degrees, he trusts to himself, and his reflections and sentiments are his own; but, for a long time, his understanding and imagination are more engaged by them than his heart, and the whole is a work of exertion. In the course of time, devotion becomes habitual to him, and motives of love, of admiration, of humility, of humble hope and chastened fear, gently, but irresistibly, fill his heart: and the soul with little exertion of the intellectual faculty, of which she herself is sensible, receives and returns the purest, noblest, and most exalted sentiments of divine love.
At times, she is favored with what ascetics term the prayer of contemplation; or, supernatural or passive prayer. All Christian prayer, they observe, is grounded in faith, nurtured by hope, and perfected by charity; and is, therefore, the fruit of supernatural grace: but, in the prayer of contemplation, the influx of the Holy Ghost excites the soul to divine love so powerfully, that external objects lose their natural operation on her: a kind of suspension of her faculties comes upon her, and she receives, passively and without any effort, on her side, of which she herself is sensible, the impressions which her contemplation of the deity, of his adorable perfection, and of his boundless love, makes in her: it is, in this sense, that the prayer of contemplation, particularly, is said to be passive.
Like the other stages of prayer, it has its degrees. In all of them the soul is rather passive than active; and, without any sensible exertion, receives an holy quiet and repose from the divine visitation. Exalted by his mercy to a pure and undisturbed contemplation of God, she beholds him infinite in his perfections; all goodness, all wisdom, all power. Abandoning herself to his will, and humbly confident in his mercy, she remains before him in silent adoration and love, without fear or desire, and indifferent to all that is not God, or the will of God. The highest degrees of this sublime prayer are called, by the writers on this subject, the prayer of quiet and the prayer of union. In the former, the intellect is more employed than in the latter. The prayer of union is the most sublime degree of prayer to be attained in this life, and in describing it, ordinary language, which the mystical writers have long found inadequate for the expression of their ideas, absolutely deserts him, and metaphor and allusion are his only support The soul, as he describes it, then enters the cloud with Moses; or, as Cardinal Bona expresses it, she is conducted into the vast solitude of the Divinity, and sees, and hears, and feels unutterable
things. An enlarged knowledge of the divine increated God is infused into her; she is penetrated with an exquisitely sweet, but wholly indescribable, sensation of his love for her, and her own fervent and humble return of love to him. It seldom happens that the period of unspeakable delight is long; but it leaves in the soul a sovereign contempt and loathing of the world and its vanities, an ardent desire of beholding, in eternity, the author of her happiness, a firm but submissive hope of his blessing, and a painful, but patient, sense of its delay. The fear and love of God increase as she advances to her mortal term; and, in the mean time, she lives with God and for him alone.
"The virtuous man," says Father Nouet, (VHomme d' oraison, deuxieme Retraite, p. 16.) "who resigns his own will to the will of God, has his mind so enlightened, and his heart so magnanimous and generous, that he despises all which he before admired: all his delight is in heavenly things: God is all his joy, felicity, and happiness; and, in return, God finds in him joy, pleasure, and delight. In beholding him, the Father says, " this is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased:" the Son says, "this is my brother:" the Holy Ghost says, " I am the spouse of his soul." The three divine persons associate him to their throne, and sometimes place the sceptre of almighty power in his hands, to work miracles and command nature.
All approved writers, who write on these high states of prayer, declare their total inability to define or describe them in adequate terms; or to give even a notion of them, to those to whom prayer is not a familiar employment. After some exposition of them, Cardinal Bona expresses himself in these terms; "Omitto plura, hujus unionis, seque abdita, et inexpertis incredibilia mysteria, mysticos contemplationis excessus.— Hsec secretioris sapientiae sacramenta, ignaris relata, fidem amittunt, iisque, duntaxat, perspecta sunt, qui in hujus gradus summitate, pace fruuntur." All approved writers on this subject, also agree, that though the sublime prayer of contemplation is often the reward of heroic virtue, the basis of which is perfect humility and perfect purity of mind and .heart, many persons of the most eminent virtue do not receive it; that, though in some manner it-might be regulated, it cannot, in the slightest degree, be acquired, by human precept;—that, generally, it is presumptuous to desire it; and that those who conceive themselves to be favoured with it, should abstain, almost wholly, from making it a subject of conversation, and only mention it on very extraordinary occasions.
In an admirable letter of Father Bourdaloue, published by M. De Bausset, in a note to the first volume of the life of FeneIon, that eloquent and judicious preacher forbids even to real contemplatives, all discourse on the subject, and intimates that they should seldom mention it to their spiritual director. "Ce que ce serait a souhaiter dans le siecle en nous sommes, serait qu'on parlat peu de ces matieres: et que les memes qui pourroient etre veritablement dans Poraison de la contemplation, ne s'en expliquassent jamais entre elles, et encore meme rarement avec leurs peres spirituels." Father Gonnelieu, in a work we have cited, (Exercises de la Vie intirieure, p. 57.) cautions his readers against contemplative illusions. "Many," he says, "who think themselves called to it, and content themselves, as they term it, with remaining before God, and reposing themselves gently with thoughts of him, are merely idle, and often, really, fall fast asleep.
VIII.—Mysticism Of Some Divines Of The Chucrh Of England.
Protestant mysticism appears to advantage in the writings of the celebrated Doctor Jeremy Taylor, Doctor Henry More, and Mr. John Norris, contemplative divines of great eminence in the seventeenth century. They had, however, been preceded by the Effigies amoris, or the picture of love unveiled, the work of Mr. Robert Waryng, a student of Christ-church, Oxford, and a noted cavalier. It was first printed in 1649, and has been frequently reprinted: it is now little known; but the writer can recollect, that, in the time of his youth, it was a popular work, and frequently found exposed for sale on stalls.
A complete system of mysticism is exhibited by Mr. Norris in his " Idea of happiness, or a Letter on what is the greatest happiness attainable by Man." An abridgment of it is given by the authors of the Biographia Britannica. Having given in these pages an account of the Roman Catholic mysticism, it may be pleasing to our readers to compare it with Mr. Norris's Protestant mysticism: we shall therefore transcribe, for their perusal, an account given of it in the work which we have mentioned.—
"Having laid it down, that happiness consists only in the fruition of God, he proceeds to explain the nature of that fruition ; and, asserting the insufficiency of a virtuous life to that purpose, as the word virtue is understood by the Stoicks, Peripatetics, and the generality of other moralists, he takes the word in that highest sense which frequently occurs in the Pythagorean and Platonic writings on contemplation, and the unitive way of religion. This, in contradistinction to moral virtue, they call divine virtue; the former is a state of proficiency, the latter of perfection: the former, is a state of difficulty and contention, the latter of ease and security; the former is employed in mastering the passions and regulating the actions of common life, the latter in divine meditation and the ecstacies of seraphic love. He that has only the former, is like Moses, with much difficulty climbing up