We speak with a singular propriety of a man's death in our French tongue, for we call it an overpassing (trespas) and the dead the overpassers, intimating that death amongst men is but a passing over from one life to another, and that to die is no other thing but to overpass the confines of this mortal life, to enter the immortal. True it is, our will can no more die than our soul, yet does it sometimes go out of the limits of its ordinary life, to live wholly in the Divine will. This is when it neither wills nor cares to desire any thing at all, but gives itself over totally and without reserve to the good pleasure of the Divine Providence, so mingling and saturating itself with this good pleasure, that itself is seen no more, but is all hidden with Jesus Christ in God, where it lives, not it, but the will of God lives in it.
What becomes of the light of the stars when the sun appears on our horizon? Certainly it perishes not, but it is ravished into and absorbed in the sun's sovereign light, with which it is happily mingled and allied; and what becomes of man's will when it is entirely delivered up to God's pleasure? It does not altogether perish, yet is it so lost and dispersed in the will of God that it appears not, and has no other will than the will of God. Consider, Theotimus, the glorious and never sufficiently praised S. Louis, embarking and setting sail for beyond seas: and see the queen, his dear wife, embarking with his majesty. Now if any one had asked of this brave princess: Madam, whither are you going? She would without doubt have replied, I go whither the king goes. -- And if further asked: But do you know, Madam, whither the king goes? She would also have made answer: He told me in general; however, I care not for knowing, I only desire to accompany him. -- And if one had replied: Why then, Madam, you have no design in this journey? No, would she have said, I have none, except to be with my dear sovereign and husband. -- Well then, it might have been said to her, he goes into Egypt to pass into Palestine; he will stay at Damietta, Acre, and many places besides, -- do not you intend, Madam, to go thither also? To this she would have made answer: No, in truth, I have no intention save only to keep myself near my king; as for the places whither he goes, they are all indifferent to me, and of no consideration whatever, except so far as he will be in them; for I have no affection for anything but the king's presence: it is therefore the king that goes, it is he that designs the journey, but, as for me, I do not go, I only follow: I desire not the journey, but solely the presence of the king; the staying, the journeying, and all their circumstances being utterly indifferent to me.
Surely if we ask some servant who is in his master's train whither he is going, he ought not to answer that he is going to such a place, but simply that he follows his master, for he goes nowhere of his own accord, but at his master's pleasure only. In like manner, Theotimus, a will perfectly resigned to God's should have no will of its own, but simply follow that of God. And as he who is on ship does not move by his own motion, but leaves himself to be moved by the motion of the vessel in which he is, so the heart that is embarked in the Divine pleasure, ought to have no other will than that of permitting itself to be conducted by the Divine will. And then the heart does not as before say: Thy will be done, not mine: -- for there is now no will to be renounced; but it utters these words: Lord I commend my will into thy hands, -- even as though it had not its will at its own disposition, but at the disposition of the Divine Providence. So that it is not exactly as with servants who follow their masters, for, in their case, although the journey be undertaken at their master's pleasure, yet their following comes from their own particular will, though a will following and serving, submitted and subjected to, that of their master: so that as the master and servant are two, the will of the master and the will of the servant are also two. But the will which is dead to herself that she may live in that of God, is without any particular will, remaining not only in conformity and subjection, but quite annihilated in herself, and cemented into God's, as one might speak of a little child who has not yet got the use of his will to love or desire anything save the bosom and face of his dear mother. For he does not think of willing to be on one side or on the other, or of anything else, except only to be in the arms of his mother, with whom he thinks himself to be one thing. He never troubles himself as to how he shall conform his will to his mother's, for he perceives not his own, nor does he think he has any, leaving all the care to his mother, to go, to do, and to will, what she judges profitable for him.
It is truly the highest perfection of our will to be thus united to that of our sovereign good, as was that saint's who said: O Lord, thou hast conducted and led me at thy will. For what did he mean but that he had made no use of his will to conduct himself, letting himself simply be led and guided by that of God.