The Adornment Of The Spritual Marriage by John of Ruysbroeck
CHAPTER III. OF THE UNION THROUGH MEANS
And next, I will say that all good men are united with God through means. These means are the grace of God, and the sacraments of Holy Church, and the Divine virtues, faith, hope and charity, and a virtuous life according to the commandments of God; and to these there belongs a death to sin and to the world and to every inordinate lust of nature. And through these, we remain united with Holy Church, that is, with all good men; and with these, we obey God, and are one will with Him, even as an orderly convent is united with its Superior: and without this union none can please God nor be saved. Whosoever keeps this union through these means unto the end of his life, he shall be one of those of whom Christ says unto His Father in heaven in the Gospel of St John: Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am: that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me. And in another place He says that His servants shall sit down to meat -- that is, in the richness and the fulness of those virtues which they have exercised -- and He will go one to another and will minister unto them of His glory which He has achieved. And He will generously impart and reveal to His beloved, to each one specially and separately -- more or less according as he is worthy of it and can lay hold of it -- the loftiness of His glory and honour which He alone has earned by the merits of His life and His death. Thus all saints shall be forever with Christ, each in his own order and in the degree of glory which he has earned through God's help by his works. And Christ, according to His manhood shall be set above all saints, and above all angels, as a prince of all glory and all honour; the which pertain to His manhood alone above all creatures. Behold, thus you may understand how we are united with God through means, both here in grace and hereafter in glory. But there is a great distinction and a great difference in these means, and this is true both as regards life and reward, as I have told you. And this was well understood by St Paul, when he said that he had A desire to depart and to be with Christ. But he did not say that he had a desire to be Christ Himself or God; as is done by some unbelieving and perverse men, who say that they have no God, but that they are so wholly dead to themselves, and united with God, that they have themselves become God.