Resignation prefers God's will before all things, yet it loves many other things besides the will of God. Indifference goes beyond resignation: for it loves nothing except for the love of God's will: insomuch that nothing can stir the indifferent heart, in the presence of the will of God. It is true that the most indifferent heart in the world may be touched with some affection, so long as it does not know where the will of God is. Eliezer being come to the fountain of Haran, saw the virgin Rebecca, and found her lovely and amiable beyond his expectation; but yet he stayed in Indifference, till he knew by a sign from God, that the Divine will had prepared her for his master's son; then he presented her with the earrings and bracelets of gold. On the contrary, if Jacob had only loved in Rachel the alliance with Laban, to which his father Isaac had obliged him, Lia would have been as dear unto him as Rachel, they being both Laban's daughters; and consequently his father's will would have been as well fulfilled in the one as in the other. But because, besides his father's will, he desired to satisfy his own liking, charmed with the beauty and grace of Rachel, he disliked marrying Lia, and took her against his inclination, resignedly.
But the indifferent heart is not such; for knowing that tribulation, though hard-favoured as another Lia, ceases not on that account to be daughter and well-beloved daughter to the Divine pleasure, it loves her as much as consolation, though the latter be in herself more amiable; -- yea, it loves tribulation more, because it sees nothing amiable in her save the mark of God's will. If I desire pure water only, what care I whether it be served in a golden vessel or in a glass, as in either case I take only the water: yea, I would rather have it in a glass, because this has no other colour than water itself, which thus I also see better. What matter whether God's will be presented to us in tribulation or in consolation, since I seek nothing in either of them but God's will, which is so much the better seen when there is no other beauty present save that of this most holy, eternal, good-pleasure.
Heroic, yea more than heroic, was the Indifference of the incomparable S. Paul. I am straitened, said he, between two, having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better. But to abide still in the flesh is needful for you. Wherein he was followed by the great Bishop S. Martin, who having come to the end of his life, pressed with an extreme desire to go to his God, did yet testify that he would most willingly remain amongst the labours of his charge, for the good of his flock, as if after having sung this canticle: How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God: -- went on to make this exclamation: |Yet O Lord, if I am still necessary for the salvation of your people, I refuse not the labour, -- your will be done.| Admirable the Indifference of the Apostle, admirable that of this Apostolic man! They see heaven open for them, they see a thousand labours on earth, they are indifferent in the choice of either: nothing but the will of God can set their hearts at rest; heaven appears no more pleasant than worldly miseries, if God's good-pleasure be equally in them both: labours are a heaven if God's will be found in them, and heaven is unhappiness if it be not found therein; for as David said, they desire nothing in heaven or earth except to see God's good-pleasure accomplished. What have I in heaven, and besides thee what do I desire upon earth?
The indifferent heart is as a ball of wax in the hands of its God, receiving with equal readiness all the impressions of the Divine pleasure; it is a heart without choice, equally disposed for everything, having no other object of its will than the will of its God, and placing its affection not upon the things that God wills, but upon the will of God who wills them. Wherefore, when God's will is in various things, it chooses, at any cost, that in which it appears most. God's will is found in marriage and in virginity, but because it is more in virginity, the indifferent heart makes choice of virginity though this cost it its life, as with S. Paul's dear spiritual daughter S. Thecla, with S. Cecily, S. Agatha, and a thousand others. God's will is found in the service of the poor and of the rich, but yet somewhat more in serving the poor; the indifferent heart will choose that side. God's will lies in moderation amid consolations, and in patience amid tribulations: the indifferent heart prefers the latter, as having more of God's will in it. To conclude, God's will is the sovereign object of the indifferent soul; wheresoever she sees it she runs after the odour of its perfumes, directing her course ever thither where it most appears, without considering anything else. She is conducted by the Divine will, as by a beloved chain; which way soever it goes, she follows it: she would prize hell more with God's will than heaven without it; nay she would even prefer hell before heaven if she perceived only a little more of God's good-pleasure in that than in this, so that if by supposition of an impossible thing she should know that her damnation would be more agreeable to God than her salvation, she would quit her salvation and run to her damnation.