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Fire of Love
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CHAPTER II

THAT NO MAN MAY SUDDENLY COME TO HIGH DEVOTION, NOR BE WET WITH THE SWEETNESS OF CONTEMPLATION

Truly it is shown to lovers that, in the first years of their turning, no man may attain to high devotion, nor be fully moistened with sweetness of contemplation. Scarcely truly and seldom, and as it were in the twinkling of an eye, are they granted to feel somewhat of heavenly things; and profiting little by little at the last they are made strong in spirit. Then afterward they have received sadness of manners, and so far as this present changeableness suffers, have attained to stability of mind; for with great travails is some perfection gotten, that they may feel some joy in godly love.

Nevertheless it is not seen that all, though they be great in virtue, anon feel verily the actual warmth of uncreate or unwrought charity, nor melting in the unmeasured flame of love, may sing within themselves the song of God’s praise. This mystery from many truly is hidden, and to a most special few it is shown; for the higher this degree is, the fewer finders has it in this world.

No marvel that we seldom find any saint, nor one so perfect in this life and rapt with so high love, that in contemplation he might be lift up to sweetness of melody; that is to say, that he might receive into himself the heavenly sound shed into him, and as it were with melody he should yield it again in praise to God, making many notes in ghostly praising; and that he might feel in himself the heat of God’s love. And nevertheless it is marvellous that any contemplative man should be trowed otherwise; for the psalmist, transformed into the person of contemplative man, says: ’Transibo in domum Dei in voce exultationis et confessionis,’ that is to say: ‘I shall go into God’s house in the voice of gladness and shrift’; which praise is the sound of him that feasts, that is to say, of him that is glad with heavenly sweetness.

The perfect, forsooth, that are taken up into this surpassing plenty of endless friendship, and imbued with sweetness that shall not waste, live anew in the clear chalice of full sweet charity; and in the holy counsel of mirth they draw into their souls happy heat, by the which greatly gladdened, they have greater comfort of ghostly lectuary than may be trowed. This refreshment is the height of endless heritage in them who truly love, and to whom, in this exile forsooth, diseases happen and in the meanwhile it shall not appear unprofitable to them that they be punished for some years, the which shall be lift up to sit, without parting, in heavenly seats. Of all flesh also are they chosen to be most dear in the sight of our Maker, and to be clearly crowned. As the seraphim in high heaven truly are they burnt, who sit in solitude of body, yet their minds walk among the angels to Christ their Beloved, whom they have desired: the which also most sweetly have sung this prayer of endless love, in Jesu joying.

O honey sweet heat, than all delight sweeter, than all riches more delectable.

O my God! O my Love! into me glide; with Thy charity thirled; with Thy beauty wounded:

Slide down and comfort me, heavy; give medicine to me, wretched; show Thyself to Thy lover.

Behold in Thee is all my desire, and all my heart seeks.

After Thee my heart desires; after Thee my flesh thirsts.

And Thou openest not to me but turnest Thy Face.

Thou sparrest Thy door, and hidest Thyself; and at the pains of the innocent Thou laughest.

In the meantime nevertheless Thou ravishest Thy lovers from all earthly things; above all desire of worldly things Thou takest them, and makest them takers of Thy love and full great workers in loving. Wherefore in ghostly song, of burning up bursting, to Thee they offer praises, and with sweetness they feel the dart of love.

Hail therefore O lovely Everlasting Love, that raisest us from these low things and presentest us with so frequent ravishings to the sight of God’s Majesty. Come into me, my Beloved! All that I had I gave for Thee, and that I should have, for Thee I have forsaken, that Thou in my soul mightest have a mansion for to comfort it. Never forsake Thou him that Thou feelest so sweetly glow with desire for Thee; so that with most burning desire I desire, to be ever within Thy halsing.2626    embrace So grant me grace to love Thee, and in Thee to rest, that in Thy kingdom I may be worthy for to see Thee withouten end.


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