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CHAPTER X. The Third Thing.—Why God Permits His Friends To Suffer So Much Temporal Suffering.
The Servant.—Another thing, Lord, I have at my heart: may I venture to tell it Thee? May I indeed venture to dispute with Thee like holy Jeremias? Gentle Lord, be not angry, but listen patiently to me. Lord, people say as follows: that how sweet soever Thy love may be, Thou dost yet allow it to prove very harsh to Thy friends in the many severe trials which Thou sendest them, such as worldly scorn and much adversity, both inwardly and outwardly. Scarcely is any one, say they, admitted to Thy friendship, but he has forthwith to gather up his courage for suffering. Lord, by Thy goodness! what sweetness can they have in all this? Or how canst Thou permit it in Thy friends? Or art Thou pleased not to know anything about it?
Eternal Wisdom.—Even as My Father loves Me, so do I love My friends. I do to My friends now as I have done from the beginning of the world.
The Servant.—This is what they complain of; and therefore, say they, Thou hast so few friends because Thou allowest them to prosper in this world so very sorrily. Lord, on this account there are also indeed many who, when they gain Thy friendship, and ought to prove constant in suffering, fall off from Thee; and (woe is me! that I must say it in sorrow of heart, and with bitter tears) relapse to that state which, through Thee, they had forsaken. O my Lord, what hast Thou to say to this?
Eternal Wisdom.—This is the complaint of persons of a sick faith and of small works, of a lukewarm life, and undisciplined spirit. But thou, beloved soul, up with thy mind out of the slime and deep slough of carnal delights! Unlock thy interior sense, open thy spiritual eyes and see. Mark well what thou art, where thou art, and whither thou dost belong; for then shalt thou understand that I do the very best for My friends. According to thy natural essence thou art a mirror of the Divinity, thou art an image of the Trinity, and a copy of eternity; for as I, in My eternal uncreated entity, am the good which is infinite, so art thou according to thy desires, fathomless, and as little as a small drop can yield in the vast depth of the sea, just so little can all that this world is able to afford contribute to the fulfillment of thy desires. Thus, then, art thou in this wretched valley of tears, where joy and sorrow, laughing and weeping, mirth and sadness, are mingled together; where no heart ever obtained perfect happiness; for it is false and deceitful, more than I will tell thee. It promises much and performs little; it is short, uncertain, and changeable; to-day much joy, to-morrow a heart full of woe. Behold, such is the disport of this scene of time!
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