The Adornment Of The Spritual Marriage by John of Ruysbroeck
CHAPTER LX. SHOWING HOW WE HAVE NEED OF THE GRACE OF GOD, WHICH MAKES US LIKE UNTO GOD AND LEADS US TO GOD WITHOUT MEANS
Now all holiness and all blessedness lie in this: that the spirit is led upwards, through likeness and by means of grace or glory, to rest in the essential unity. For the grace of God is the way by which we must always go, if we would enter into the naked essence in which God gives Himself with all His riches without means. And this is why the sinners and the damned spirits dwell in darkness; for they lack the grace of God, which should enlighten them, and lead them, and show them the way to the fruitive unity. Yet the essential being of the spirit is so noble, that even the damned cannot will their own annihilation. But sin builds up a barrier, and gives rise to such darkness and such unlikeness between the powers and the essence in which God lives, that the spirit cannot be united with its proper essence; which would be its own and its eternal rest, did sin not impede it. For whosoever lives without sin, he lives in likeness unto God, and in grace, and God is his own. And so we have need of grace, which casts out sin, and prepares the way, and makes our whole life fruitful. And this is why Christ always comes into us through means, that is, through grace and multifarious gifts; and we too go out towards Him through means, that is, through virtues and diverse practices. And the more inward gifts He gives and the more deeply He stirs us, the more inward and delightful are the workings of our spirit, as you have already heard in all the ways which have been shown forth before. And here there is a perpetual renewal; for God ever gives new gifts, and our spirit ever turns inward in such wise as it is invited and as is bestowed on it by God, and in that meeting it always receives a higher renewal. And thus one grows continually into a higher life. And this active meeting is altogether through means; for the gifts of God and our virtues and the activity of our spirit are the means. And these means are necessary for all men and all spirits: for, without the mediation of God's grace and a loving turning to Him in freedom, no creature shall ever be saved.