THE Master had much to say to his beloved children about this festival of God. It was of this that he delighted to tell them. Whilst the pestilence, and the war, and the persecution of Rome, were desolating the city, Master Tauler dwelt in the gladness of the bridal chamber, and told to the weary and sorrowful around him, the things that he had seen and heard. And thus it came to pass that many entered in, and found themselves in that inner chamber of rest, and peace, and joy, and to them |the curse causeless came not,| but passed as a bird that wanders, and a swallow that flies, far above the heads of men.
Meanwhile they feasted with Him they loved, in the banqueting-hall of His joy, and when Master Tauler preached and spoke of the blessed feast, they well understood him, and rejoiced with him.
|It is called a supper,| the Master said, |and thus in truth it is. For after supper follows no other meal, nor doth there follow any work more, but rest only. And this let us well consider. For in the supper-chamber the rest cometh for the heart and mind, rest to all the being, rest from work and toil (Heb. iv.10), rest where all things find their rest, rest in God, for in Him is rest eternal. Then is there no more work to do, and there is no meal to follow, for the soul is satisfied.|
|No more work to do! to sit still, and dream away the time?|
|To sit still and dream away the time, is the rest,| said the Master, |of the natural man, and such a rest, a rest of emptiness and idleness, is no rest to the godly man. But the holy rest and stillness which the soul has found in God, is a sweet and blessed seclusion, the secret place of the Most High, where the soul beholds in simple adoration the inconceivable glory of God.
|This rest attracts and draws the soul at all times with a longing that is deep within, and it is found not in idleness, but in the activity of following the Lord; and in burning love is it eternally possessed, and when it is possessed it is sought after all the more.
|But the mere rest from work, sought after for its own sake, a heathen or a Jew can find and love. And this natural rest is not in itself sinful, but to sinful man it is a snare and a danger, and because it may be mistaken for rest in God, it oftentimes puffs up the heart with pride and vanity.
|But in the rest of God, it is thus we speak, as said S. Augustine of old, O Lord, when I turn to Thee, with all the desire of my soul, I am emptied of myself, and for me there is no more any labour nor any burden, and my life is filled with Thee, and Thou dwellest in me, and givest me to drink of Thy love, so that I forget all sorrow and pain.'
|And so is it said in the Holy Scripture, I held Him, and would not let Him go, until I had brought Him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of rest.'
|O children, the soul has at times more love than it can understand, for love enters into the inner chambers, whilst the understandings stays without, and cannot follow within. And there does the soul hear the voice of the Beloved, and is melted in His love. And as the gold or silver that take the form of the vessel wherein they are melted, so is the soul shaped into the form of the love of the heart of Christ.
|So doth S. Paul speak of it, when he says that God has chosen us to be conformed to the image of His Son, for our God is a consuming fire of love.
|And when the soul is thus melted in the furnace of His love, and rests and is still in Him, then is it given to us to know that we are one with Him, and changed into the same image, from glory to glory, so that we can speak to Him and say, I have nothing more of my own; but Thou and I, O Lord, have but one house, one heritage, one table, one seat, one bed of rest.'
|Then only can we be faithful witnesses for Him, for the truest witness is that God is all, and there is none beside.
|It is the man who dwells in the secret place, in the Paradise of God, who is in himself nothing, for he is lost and swallowed up in God. And that which there he sees and hears, the glory and the sweetness, he can tell to none, for it is beyond all words, and all thoughts, and all understanding, it is God Himself.
|But from that high place (mark this, dear children) the soul looks down with careful thought to the small and low things with which it has to do down here, to see whether they cannot bring forth more fruit to the praise of God.
|Thus the man of faith, who is delivered from himself, hangs as it were between heaven above and earth beneath. For his spiritual life is lived in heaven, high above himself and all things here -- it is hidden in God at all times, all day long; but his bodily life is lived in the lowest place, for he is humbled beneath all around him on the earth below. And yet he is not dragged down in his spirit by the lowest and the meanest work. He has peace at all times, and everywhere, in doings and refraining, in loving and in suffering, in spiritual things and natural things. And thus he is a true witness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, humbled Himself, and took the lowest place on earth below, and is sitting now far above all heavens in rest and glory.
|But if it is to the things down here the heart is cleaving, we cannot know this rest in God.
|Dear children, with all our hearts and souls must we enter in to that high festival of eternal joy, and leave behind the low things of this passing world. We must do as Abraham did of old; he left below the servants and the ass, and he went with his son, high up on the mountain to God. For this we are answerable; for the will of the new man is set in command, as the prince over his country, as the father over his house. And this princely will leads ever up, above the earth to God.|