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SHOWING HOW WE SHALL CONSIDER THE COMING OF CHRIST IN THREE WAYS
Now, by saying: The Bridegroom cometh, He shows us further what we shall see. Christ, our Bridegroom, spoke this word in Latin: Venit. And this word implies two tenses, the past and the present; and yet here it denotes the future too.
And that is why we shall consider three comings of our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. In the first coming He became man, for man’s sake, out of love. The second coming takes place daily, often and many times, in every loving heart, with new graces and with new gifts, as each is able to receive them. The third coming we shall see as the coming in the Judgment, or at the hour of death. And in all these comings there are three things to be considered: the why and the wherefore, the inward way, and the outward work.
The reason why God created the angels and man, was His unfathomable goodness and nobleness whereby He willed to do it; that the bliss and the richness which He is Himself might be revealed to rational creatures, so that they might taste Him in time, and enjoy Him outside time in eternity.
The reason why God became man was His incomprehensible love, and the need of all men; for man had been corrupted by the Fall, and could not amend himself.
But the reason why Christ, according to His Godhead and according to His manhood, wrought all His works on earth, this reason is fourfold: His Divine love which is without measure; the created love, called charity, which He had in His soul through union with the Eternal Word and through the perfect gift of His Father; the great need of man; and the glory of His Father. These are the reasons for the coming of Christ our Bridegroom, and for all His works, both outward and inward.
Now, if we would follow Christ our Bridegroom in virtue, so far as we are able, we must consider in what wise He was inwardly and the works which He wrought outwardly; that is to say, His virtues and the deeds of these virtues.
In what wise He was according to His Godhead, this is inaccessible and incomprehensible to us; for it is that according to which He is born of the Father without ceasing, and wherein the Father, in Him and through Him, knows, creates, orders and rules all things in heaven and on earth. For He is the Wisdom of the Father, and they breathe forth one Spirit, that is, one Love, which is a common bond between Them and all saints, and all good men in heaven and on earth. Of this condition we shall not speak any more; but we shall speak of that condition which He had through Divine gifts and according to His created manhood.3939 The word here translated “conditions” is Ruysbroeck’s favourite term, “wise,” meaning ways or modes of being; literally, “how” Christ was as regards each virtue. The Flemish of this passage reads, “Want alsoe menighe inwendighe doghet, alsoe menighe inwendighe wise hadde Christus.” And this condition was manifold. For as many inward virtues as Christ possessed, so many were His inward conditions: for every virtue has its special condition. The sum of the virtues and conditions in the soul of Christ, this is above the understanding and above the comprehension of all creatures. But we shall take three of them: namely, humility, charity, and patient suffering, in inward and outward things. These are the three chief roots and beginnings of all virtues and all perfection.
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