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Holy Wisdom Or Directions For The Prayer Of Contemplation by Ven. F. Augustine Baker

CHAPTER III. The proper seat of charity is the superior willà

§§ 1, 2. The proper seat of charity is the superior will, not the sensitive affections, though oft in beginners it operates much there.

§§ 3, 4. Several acts or fruits of charity.

§§ 5, 6. The securest practice of Divine love is by self-abnegation.

§ 7. Propriety makes and fills hell; and resignation, heaven.

1. The most precious virtue of charity resides not in sensuality; neither is it a painful longing of the soul which causes motions in the heart; yea, though it become such a love as mystics call a languishing love, yet it is not such as sensual loves are used to be, a troublesome unquiet passion. But it is seated in the superior soul, being a quiet but most resolute determination of the superior will to seek God and a perfect union with Him; the which resolution she will not give over for any distractions or occurring difficulties whatsoever. Yea, then, it is oft most excellent and perfect, when the heart or inferior nature receives the least contentment by it; yea, on the contrary, feels the greatest disgusts and desolations. And such a resolution is grounded on a high esteem we have by faith of the infinite perfections of God, and the innumerable obligations laid by Him on us. This makes an inflamed soul to despise all things whatsoever for God, and to tend to Him with a resolution of enjoying Him, though with the loss of pleasure, riches, honour; yea, and the life itself.

2. Yet so generous a love as this is not gotten suddenly. At the first it is very imperfect, and much allayed by self-interest, and seeking contentment to nature even in the actions done for God; so that were it not that ordinarily during such a state of imperfection God cherishes the soul with sensible comforts and gusts which she feels in the exercise of her love to Him, she would scarce have courage enough to proceed.

3. The acts, effects, and fruits proper to pure charity or Divine friendship are: 1. to be united in affection to God as our chief and only good, with whom in some sort we are one; 2. out of love to Him to take joy in His perfections, congratulating with Him therefore, and exulting that He is adored and glorified by angels and saints; 3. to will and consent to the immutability of those perfections; 4. to desire and, occasions being given, to endeavour that all creatures may love and adore Him -- that infidels and sinners may be converted to Him, that so He may reign by love in all; 5. to be sorry for all offences, both our own and others', committed against Him; 6. in pure love to Him to determine faithfully and unchangeably to serve Him; 7. to take joy in all things that please Him; 8. with indifference to accept of all things from His hands, as well things displeasing to our natures as pleasing; 9. to be sorry for all things that are contrary to His holy will; 10. to love all things that belong to Him merely for that reason; 11. for His sake to love all men, yea, even our enemies and persecutors; nay, moreover, to endeavour to express some effects of love more to them than others, as being special instruments of procuring greater good to us than our friends are; 12. to do all the honour we can to Him, and all the service we can to others for His sake; 13. in nothing to seek temporal commodity, but only to please Him; 14. to imitate Him in all His perfections that are imitable, and particularly for His sake to love others with the like freedom of love wherewith He hath loved us, not seeking any commodity to ourself thereby; 15. to endeavour to serve Him the best we can, and yet withal to rejoice that He is served more perfectly by others; 16. to serve and love Him only in the service and love that we show to superiors, equals, or inferiors; 17. to resolve never to accept of any contentment but in Him, nor other happiness but only Him, and therefore not to rest with affection in any of His gifts, but only in Himself; 18. never to set bounds to the measure of our love, but still to endeavour to love Him more and better; 19. to desire to suffer for Him here, being for the present contented with hope only of enjoying for the future; 20. to hate ourselves, our corrupt natures, our insensibleness of His goodness, &c. with a most perfect hatred, never being weary in persecuting and mortifying ourselves; 21. to love Him equally in His commands as in His rewards; 22. to congratulate and take contentment in any act of temporal severity exercised by Him on us; 23. never to cease praying that God would show us the defectiveness of our love, and that He would daily give us grace more and more to increase it both in the degrees of fervour and purity; 24. to transcend in loving Him all thoughts of ourselves and of our own happiness, &c. These are marks, signs, and fruits of pure charity; but, alas! where shall we find a soul that can show them all? However, we are to aspire to as many of these perfections as may be, and to be resigned in our imperfections, since such is God's permission.

4. Among all the expressions of our love to God, those which are generally the most profitable for us are: 1. to depend with an entire confidence on Him, both as to our temporal subsistence and spiritual progress, not relying on our own cares or endeavours, but casting our care on Him, living a life of faith.2. To have hearts not only obedient to His commands, but inwardly affected to them, so that though they be never so contrary to our corrupt natures, yet to account the obeying Him to be both our necessary and most delicious meat and drink.3. To practise a perfect resignation to His will in all occurrences that befall us to suffer. These are secure testimonies of our love, because they do exclude the interests of nature; whereas ofttimes affective love is mingled with natural gusts and complacency.

5. Now though this most secure practice of love by abnegation and annihilation of all propriety and self-will be at the beginning full of difficulty, because all the comfort of nature lies in self-will, yet by custom it will be less uneasy, and in the end delightful. For most certain it is that Christ's yoke, by constant bearing, becomes easy.

6. The smallest act of love and service to God, performed with a perfect self-abnegation, is more acceptable and precious in His eyes, than the working of a thousand miracles or the conversion of nations, if in these there are mixed interests of nature.

7. In a word, the difference between heaven and hell is, that hell is full of nothing but self-love and propriety; whereas there is not the least degree of either in heaven, nor anything but the fulfilling of God's will and seeking of His glory. This is the beatitude of all saints and angels, and no other way do they nor can they love themselves but by loving God only.

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