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Treatise on the Love of God
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CHAPTER VI.

THAT WE CANNOT ATTAIN TO PERFECT UNION WITH GOD IN THIS MORTAL LIFE.

All the rivers flow incessantly, and, as the wise man says: Unto the place from whence they come they return to flow again.157157Eccles. i. 7. The sea which is the place whence they spring, is also the place of their final repose; all their motion tends no farther than to unite themselves to their fountain. "O God," says S. Augustine, "thou hast created my heart for thyself, and it can never repose but in thee." For what have I in heaven, and besides thee what do I desire upon earth? Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion for ever.158158Ps. lxxii. 25-6. Still the union which our heart aspires to cannot attain to its perfection in this mortal life; we can commence our loves in this, but we can consummate them only in the other.

The heavenly Spouse makes a delicate expression of this. I found him whom my soul loveth, says she, I held him, and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.159159Cant. iii. 4. She finds him then, this well-beloved, for he makes her feel his presence by a thousand consolations; she holds him, for these feelings cause in her strong affections, by which she clasps and embraces him, protesting that she will never let him go,—O no! for these affections turn into eternal resolutions; yet she cannot consider that she kisses him with the nuptial kiss till she meet with him in her mother's house, which is the heavenly Jerusalem, as S. Paul says. But see, Theotimus, how this spouse thinks of nothing less than of keeping her beloved at her mercy as a slave of love; whence she imagines to herself that it is hers to lead him at her will, and to introduce him into her mother's happy abode; though in reality it is she who must be conducted thither by him, as was Rebecca into Sara's chamber by her dear Isaac. The spirit urged by amorous passion always gives itself a little advantage over what it loves; and the spouse himself confesses: Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast wounded my heart with one of thy eyes, and with one hair of thy neck:160160Ibid. iv. 9. acknowledging himself her prisoner by love.

This perfect conjunction then of the soul with God, shall only be in heaven, where as the Apocalypse says, the Lamb's marriage feast shall be made. In this mortal life the soul is truly espoused and betrothed to the immaculate Lamb, but not as yet married to him: the troth is plighted, and promise given, but the execution of the marriage is deferred: so that we have always time, though never reason, to withdraw from it; our faithful spouse never abandons us unless we oblige him to it by our disloyalty and unfaithfulness. But in heaven the marriage of this divine union being celebrated, the bond which ties our hearts to their sovereign principle shall be eternally indissoluble.

It is true, Theotimus, that while we await this great kiss of indissoluble union which we shall receive from the spouse there above in glory, he gives us some kisses by a thousand feelings of his delightful presence: for unless the soul were kissed she would not be drawn, nor would she run in the odour of the beloved's perfumes. Whence, according to the original Hebrew text and the Seventy interpreters, she desires many kisses. Let him kiss me, says she, with the kisses of his mouth. But because these little kisses of this present life all refer to the eternal kiss of the life to come, the sacred Vulgate edition has holily reduced the kisses of grace to that of glory, expressing the desires of the spouse in this manner: Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth,161161Cant. i. 1. as though she said: of all the kisses, of all the favours that the friend of my heart, or the heart of my soul has provided for me, ah! I only breathe after and aspire to this great and solemn marriage-kiss which remains for ever, and in comparison of which the other kisses deserve not the name of kisses, being rather signs of the future union between my beloved and me than union itself.

 


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