It is impossible to conceive the delicacy of the love of God, and the extremity of purity which He requires of souls that are to be His Brides; the perfection of one state is the imperfection of another. Heretofore the Bridegroom rejoiced infinitely that His Spouse never turned her eyes away from Him; now, He desires her not to look at Him; He tells her that her eyes have made Him to flee away. When once the soul has begun to flow into her God, as a river into its original source, she must be wholly submerged and lost in Him. She must then lose the perceptible vision of God and every distinct knowledge, however ever small it may be; sight and knowledge exist no longer where there is neither division nor distinction, but a perfect fusion. The creature, in this state, cannot look at God without beholding herself, and perceiving at the same time the working of His love. Now, the whole of this must be concealed and hidden away from her sight, that like the Seraphim she may have her eyes veiled, and may never see anything more in this life. That is, she is not to will to see anything or to make any discoveries of herself, which she cannot do without infidelity. But this is no hindrance to God's causing her to discover and understand whatever He pleases. Nothing remains uncovered but the heart, for it is impossible to love too much.
When I speak of distinction, I do not mean the distinction of some divine perfection in God Himself, for that is gone long since; for since the first absorption, the soul has had but a single view of God in her by a confused and general faith, with no distinction of attributes or perfections; and though she has often spoken of the greatness and sovereign qualities of her Well-beloved, it was only done for the purpose of winning souls, and not for any need in herself of these distinct views, which are given her according to necessity, either in speaking or writing. The distinction I now refer to is that between God and the soul. Here the soul cannot and ought not any longer to make such a distinction; God is she and she is God, since by the consummation of the marriage she is absorbed into God and lost in Him, without power to distinguish or find herself again. The true consummation of the marriage causes an admixture of the soul with God so great and so intimate that she can distinguish and see herself no longer, and it is this fusion which diversifies, so to speak, the actions of the creature arrived at this lofty and sublime position; for they emanate from a principle which is wholly divine, in consequence of the unity which has been effected between God and the soul melted and absorbed in Him, God becoming the principle of her actions and words, though they are spoken and manifested externally through her.
The marriage of the body, whereby two persons are rendered one flesh (Gen. ii.24), is but a faint image of this, by which, in the words of St. Paul, God and the soul become one spirit (1 Cor. vi.17). Many are exceedingly anxious to know when the spiritual marriage takes place; it is easy to ascertain this, from what has been said. The Betrothal, or mutual engagement, is made in the union of the powers when the soul surrenders herself wholly to God, and God gives Himself wholly to the soul, with the intention of admitting her to union; this is an agreement and mutual promise. But ah! what a distance is yet to be travelled, and what sufferings to be undergone before this eagerly desired union can be granted or consummated! The Marriage takes place when the soul falls dead and senseless into the arms of the Bridegroom, who, beholding her more fitted for it, receives her into union. But the Consummation of the marriage does not come to pass until the soul is so melted, annihilated and freed from self, that it can unreservedly flow into God. Then is accomplished that admirable fusion of the creature and the Creator which brings them into unity, so to speak, though with such an infinite disproportion as exists between a single drop of water and the ocean. The drop has become ocean, but it forever remains a little drop, though it has become assimilated in character with the waters of the ocean, and thus fit to be mingled with it and to make but one ocean with it.
If it be said that some saints and some authors have placed the divine marriage in states less advanced than the one that is here described, I reply, that it is because they mistook the betrothal for the marriage and the marriage for the consummation; and in speaking with freedom they do not always distinguish exactly these degrees, in the same way that, the very first steps of the interior road are frequently mistaken for Divine Union itself. Every soul that has been admitted to the privilege of betrothal considers herself a Bride; and very naturally, because the Bridegroom so calls her, as we have seen in this very song. Experience and divine illumination alone can enable any one to distinguish the difference.
The Bridegroom again compares the thoughts of His Spouse represented by her hair to goats that appear from Gilead; not to goats that are standing still, for the mind of such persons is so clear and empty of thoughts, that those which come appear only for a moment, and for just so long a time as is necessary to produce the effect God would work by them.