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Three Friends Of God by Frances Bevan


|O Father! not my will, but Thine be done!|

Thus with my lips I say;

Yet lags the heart, the while the lips would run --

My heart it sayeth |Nay.|

|Be comforted, O child of My delight,

Though yet thy heart complain;

For I would have thee suffer when I smite,

Or pain would not be pain.

|Were it a chastening if it were not grief?

Yet for a moment tears;

Then glows the spring where fell the yellow leaf,

The spring of endless years.

|For sorrow is the sorrow of an hour,

And is eternal love;

The dusky bud enfolds the glorious flower,

For God's delight above.|

|O Lord, whose lips are lilies, sweet to me

As psaltery and as psalm,

Thy blessed words of glory that shall be,

Of song and crown and palm.

|Yet sweeter even now to see Thy face,

To find Thee now my rest --

My sorrow comforted in Thine embrace,

And soothed upon Thy breast.

|Lord, there to weep, is better than the joy

Of all the sons of men;

For there I know the love without alloy,

I cannot lose again.|

|O child, My heart's beloved, sweet to Me,

As psaltery and as psalm,

The voice of him who on the midnight sea

Can praise through storm and calm.

|And who is he who seeks the haven fair,

The everlasting home?

The lonely and the outcast enter there --

The glad heart will not come.

|To Me the weary cometh, when the way

Is steep, and long, and lone --

To Me the friendless, when the golden day

Behind the hills is gone.|

. . . . .

Then spake my heart, |As who a garment takes,

When drives the bitter sleet,

Is he who singeth to the heart that breaks| --

How then may grief be sweet?

And lo! in vision fair did I behold

One who a psaltery strung --

Two threads he stretched above the strings of gold,

Across, and all along.

Then with the threads thus crosswise o'er the strings,

Gave he the harp to me.

Thus know I how the broken-hearted sings,

Lamb of God, to Thee! -- Henry Suso

THE Lord was pleased to use Father Henry to bring many souls from the power of Satan to God, and wherever he went, he sought out the lost and the miserable, and spoke to them of the love of Jesus. |Were you condemned to death,| he would say, |and the sword already lifted to execute the sentence, and one were to come between, and receive the death-stroke in your place, what greater love could there be than such love as this? The first lesson in the school of wisdom, is the lesson taught in the open book of the crucified Jesus. Read that page and ask yourselves, were a man to give all he had, even if he had the whole world to give, could he ever be to Jesus, that which Jesus has been to him?

|And not only is the gift of God so great, the precious gift of His Son; there is far more than the greatness of the gift, to melt and touch our hearts. We know ourselves, that a little gift given in the fulness of tender love, is far more precious to us than many a greeter gift would be. But when we think of the gift of God, not only is it so marvellously great, but how marvellous is the tenderness and love with which He has given it to men! Not only did Jesus die for sinners, but it is as if He said: Behold Me, all hearts of men! was ever a heart that loved as Mine has loved? For you My heart was pierced, and thence My love flows forth to you.

|It is I, the Eternal Wisdom, I, the depth unfathomable of mercy, who have brought forth from My hidden treasure-house the endless riches of My grace. It is I, the Eternal Wisdom, who became poor and needy, that I might make you rich. It is I who died a bitter death, that you might pass from death to life. Behold Me on the high gallows of the cross, standing between the dread sentence of God, and the sinners, who were righteously condemned.

|Look at Me and see, behold the Brother and the Bridegroom of Mine own.

|Sinner! I have as much forgotten all thou hast done against Me, as if it had never been done. Come to Me to be washed in My precious Blood, and then lift up thine head, and rejoice in Me. O sinner, come, and take from My hand the token of perfect peace, of complete and full forgiveness. Take from My hand the ring of Mine espousals, and the best robe, and the shoes for thy feet, and the new and blessed name of Hephzibah, the bride betrothed eternally to Me.

|Behold how dearly I have bought thee, forsaken of God for thee. I hung athirst and bleeding on the cross, but My thirst for Thee was greater than the thirst of My lips. And when I had wrought out for thee a full salvation, then did I cry: It is finished.

|I was obedient unto death, the death of the cross. To My Father's hands I commended My spirit, and My soul departed. But I, who did all these things, was all the while thy God.

|And then was the sharp spear driven into My side, and thence flowed the stream of precious blood, and the river of living water. Sinner, wilt thou come to Me?'|

And far and near, all along the valley of the Rhine, from Constance to the Netherlands, in towns and villages amongst the wooded hills, this blessed Gospel was preached and the |Friends of God| grew and multiplied, and the Servant of the Eternal Wisdom had many souls for his hire.

But it came to pass that amongst those who flocked to hear him, was one who seemed to him to desire to know the Saviour, and he spoke often to her, and she turned from many evil ways, and he believed that she loved the Lord. Therefore as she was poor, and had lost her character, he helped her from time to time with little gifts.

But after a while he heard that she lived in secret, in all her former sins. And this grieved him much, and he ceased to visit her, or give her money. And thereupon she was filled with anger and malice, and she reported far and wide that Father Henry was himself a man of evil life, and his brother monks believed it, and many others also, and he was despised and disgraced as never before. And his friends turned away from him, for they were ashamed of his company. And one whom he loved more than the rest, told him he would have no more to say to him, and spoke bitter words which cut him to the heart.

Then he besought him lovingly, and said it was an evil thing to trample on him who was down, but if all friends forsook him, there remained for him the heart of Jesus.

But his old companion answered, |It is all over with you, and none will listen now to your preaching, and all men will cast away your books, and read them no more.

Then did Father Henry answer, |I trust to God in Heaven, that my books shall yet be read and loved as they never yet have been.|

And a little while after he sat in his quiet chapel, and he heard in the depths of his soul a voice that spake and said: |Hear a comfortable word that I will read to thee. And this is the word: Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land be anymore termed Desolate, for the Lord delighteth in thee.'|

And it was as if these words were read to him three or four times over. And the Lord spake further to his heart and said, |Thus shall the Eternal God thy Father do to thee.|

And when he thought over these things, it was given him to see that the hand of God was in all that had befallen him and that He uses oftentimes to chasten His beloved for their good, by means of His enemies. And yet another time the Lord spake to his heart, and said, |Remember that Christ the Lord was willing to endure not only the company of His beloved disciple John, and His faithful Peter, but also of the wicked Judas.|

And a swift thought came into his heart, and he said, |Alas, Lord, if I, the poor Friend of God, had but one Judas, perchance I might endure it, but now at this present moment every corner is full of Judases, and if one goes away, four or five more come in his place.|

But the Lord answered him and said: |For a man who walks with God, no Judas is a Judas, but a workman by whom the Lord works for the good of His beloved. And when Judas gave the Lord a false and evil kiss, He called him Friend, saying, Friend, wherefore art thou come?'|

Thus time went on, and he took comfort in the thought that the matter had not yet been brought before the Bishops and Inquisitors of the Order. But soon he heard that the Bishops and Inquisitors were about to meet in council in the very town where the wicked woman lived, and where all men believed her tale.

Then did his heart fail, and he went to his little chapel, and gave vent to his grief. He could not pray, but he walked to and fro, and now he sat down, and now sprang up in restless dismay, and could say only, |O God, what meanest Thou by this?|

Then did the Lord say, |Where is now that joy in sorrow, which thou hast spoken of so often to other men, and of which thou hast said sweet and blessed words?|

Then did he answer the Lord: |Thou askest me where is my joy in sorrow? And I ask Thee, where is Thy fathomless mercy to Thy Friends? O Lord, I believed in Thy goodness, I believed Thou wert a faithful God to all who put their trust in Thee. But the tenderness of His eyes is turned away from me, and His blessed Face beholds me no more. O Lord, Thou knowest that all my trust and comfort was in Thee, and in none besides on the face of the earth.|

And for half the day was he thus rebellious against God. And then, when he had wearied himself with complaining, he sat down, and turned from himself to God, and said: |Thy will be done.|

And thereafter the Prelate and the Master of the Order summoned him, and said they had made strict inquiries concerning him, and had found no charge to bring against him. But that a bad woman, whose word was nothing worth, had spoken false calumnies against a worthy man, and that such evil report might be spread of any man, if people were willing to lend an ear to every slanderous tongue.

Then said he often, |O Lord, how true is the word that Thou hast spoken, If God be for us, who shall be against us!'| And he praised God fervently for the sorrow that was past, and he said he would not for the whole world have been without that time of humiliation, for therein had he been more driven out of himself, and brought further into the depths of the love of God, than any other sorrow that he had had from his youth up.

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