THE FIRST BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR PURIFYING THE HEART
CHAPTER XVII. HOW DECEITFUL THE WORLD IS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, the whole world is made up of deceits, and by its arts and wiles, it allures to itself the unwary.
It holds out to man pleasures, honors, and riches; and says, all these things will I give to thee, if thou serve me.
But attend thou, not to what it promises, but to what it gives.
Through the deceitful hope of pleasant things, it brings its votaries beneath the cruel tyranny of the passions, and thence leads them to the ceaseless tortures of the stings of conscience.
Didst thou ever find a worldling, even the most fortunate, whose heart was every way satisfied?
Neither shalt thou find such a one, even if thou searchest the whole earth.
The world, indeed, promises good things; but, in reality, it bestows true evils only; because what it gives, makes man wicked, and hinders him, by no means, from being truly unhappy.
2. The voice of the Disciple.-----Yet, O Lord, worldlings frequently obtain possession of those things which they covet; and, therefore, they care little for the spiritual distresses of the heart.
The voice of Jesus.-----Even so, My Child: grant that they abound in whatever things they may lust after in this world; as they possess them with an inordinate affection, and misuse them, they enjoy them not, except for their present and future unhappiness.
Besides, they appear, indeed, not to care for the interior tortures of the soul; but, My Child, if thou couldst look, as I do, into their hearts, thou shouldst see how many things they suffer within, which they endeavor to hide outwardly, and thou wouldst conclude that the happiness of man consists, not in having an abundance of the things of this world, but rather herein, that he keeps his heart free from every worldly object, and calmly and permanently satisfied in Me.
Moreover, how long shall these things of worldlings last? Behold! yet a little while, and eternity shall summon them to appear. What then shall the plentifulness of delights and other things avail them? They shall leave the world, taking with them nothing, except the load of their sins.
Wouldst thou, then, be willing, for the misuse of the things of time, to lose the use of those of eternity? or, for the false possessions of earth, to forfeit the true riches of Heaven?
3. My Child, if thou cleavest to the world, thou ceasest, in fact, to be a Christian, and thou foregoest the possession of all the privileges which belong to that noble name.
For, at thy new birth, in the waters of Baptism, thou didst, by a solemn promise made before Heaven and earth, renounce the world and its wickedness; nor would I, without that promise, have adopted thee as My Child.
If, after this, thou goest again over to the party of the world, thou art not only faithless, but even worse than the heathen, who made no such promise. For it is better not to promise than not to make good what is promised.
4. Ask the departed, what they think of the world. The Elect will answer, that their happiness began from the time they learnt to despise the things of earth: and the reprobate will reply, that they were deceived and ruined by the world.
Thyself, My Child, shalt, one day, think and experience concerning the world, the one or the other of these things.
Be timely wise, My Child, lest hereafter thou feel sorrow to no purpose: follow the footprints of the Saints, by withdrawing thy heart from the world, and keeping thy affections from its contagion.
5. Use the things of this world, as if thou didst not use them; and, whilst thou treadest the earth with thy foot, have thy heart in Heaven.
The more thou shalt withdraw thyself from creatures, the nearer shalt thou come to the Creator; and the more proper shalt thou be to receive Divine gifts.
If thy heart be wholly disengaged from the world, so far from being hurtful to thee, the world itself will be, in many ways, subservient to thy interests.
O, how base the whole world would grow in thy sight, if thou didst truly consider, what awaits thee in eternity!
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----Truly O Lord, the world is a deceiver. Such have I experienced it to be, to my own loss.
When it offered me its own favors, madman that I was, I believed that thereby I should be happy.
But Oh! how greatly was I deceived! how truly wretched was I, even when, giddy with worldly love, I fancied myself most happy!
The animal man within me made me imagine that I was happy, whilst I was feeding on the husks, which the world threw before me: and in spite of myself, I groaned full often beneath the degradation of my slavery, beneath the burden of my heart's misery.
I fully acknowledge now, that I was myself the author of my own unhappiness; and that I can, with justice, blame no one except myself.
Because I was unwilling to serve Thee with joy and gladness of heart, amid the abundance of all things, I became a slave to Thy enemy and to mine,-----served him in hunger, and thirst, and every want, in so far even, that I delighted to fill myself with the food of the vilest animals.
7. Would, O Lord, that I could blot out from the number of my years, those during which, estranged from Thee, I served the world!
What fruit do I now reap from them, except bitterness, stings of conscience, anguish of heart, sins to be atoned for, either in this life by sorrow, or to be bewailed in vain in the next?
Be gracious to me, O my Saviour! and forgive me all my offenses, which I committed by following the world, and which I now detest from my innermost heart.
Suffer no more, I entreat Thee, that my heart cling again to aught-----even the least object-----of this wicked world: withdraw it wholly, with all its affections, from the false tinseling of earth, which contains naught except deceit, emptiness, and affliction of heart.
CHAPTER XVIII. THAT TO SERVE THE WORLD IS A CRUEL SLAVERY
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, he that loves to serve the world, knows not the world.
The world is a true tyrant: and wretched slaves are they that serve it.
How many things,-----what sacrifices does it not exact from its votaries, whom, for all their services; it repays with unceasing evils!
It demands, that its slaves become the base tools of their passions; that they sacrifice body and soul; that they damn themselves without complaint.
And when it has completed their destruction, it forsakes them as useless wretches, fit only for hell-fire.
2. Oh! at how great a cost do worldlings purchase their own ruin! If they did for Me the half of what they do for the world, how happy should they be, and what Saints!
How cruel is the world's slavery! under it, how many interior sufferings must be undergone! what hardships endured! And all this for the hope of obtaining such things as, when once tasted, cause
death; or such as will produce tortures, either at present, by the irksome possession of them, or after awhile, by a bitter separation.
Truly, it is an iron yoke which presses on the neck of worldlings, the weight of which no one does fully know, unless he either tried it, or considers it as he stands on the threshold of eternity.
3. Whoever desires to be saved must separate his heart from the world.
There are those who, by their mode of life, having outwardly bidden farewell to the world, inwardly captivated by the world, in most things, govern themselves by worldly sentiments.
There are others, whom their condition in life obliges to live exposed to the dangers of the world; who yet have so divested themselves of every affection for the world, that they never defile themselves with aught that is worldly.
It is, therefore, not the kind of life which he leads, nor the shape of the dress which he wears, that connects a man with the world, or estranges him from it; but the affection of the heart, the disposition of the soul.
Wherefore, he that is farthest separated in heart from the world, and most closely united to Me, he is dearest to My Heart, in whatever state of life he may live.
Wherever, then, My Divine Will may have placed thee, there do thou serve Me in holiness. Since, in every state or condition of life, which is good in itself, thou canst live for Me, and sanctify thyself: although it remains true, that a state of life separated from the world, conduces most to secure salvation, and to reach perfection.
4. How many followers of the world there are, who, convinced of the world's wickedness, see the necessity of renouncing it by a change of life; yet, dare not do so, too fearful lest the world may rail at them.
Is this your fortitude, ye friends of the world? Great-souled, forsooth, ye are all, who, through fear of empty talk, dare not do what faith dictates, what reason approves, what your greatest interest demands.
What are words, but sounds passing through the air and disappearing? Can they stir so much as a hair of the head?
5. Shalt thou be so fainthearted, My Child, that, for the sake of such words, thou wouldst draw on thyself ruin in time and in eternity?
Choose, either to serve Me, to be blissful in My service, and to enjoy the enduring delights of Heaven hereafter: or, to serve the world, to lead inwardly a wretched life, and, at last, to undergo torments never-ending.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O kind Jesus! how could I falter in my choice? Wretched me! how could I ever choose what was to render me so unhappy!
O infinite Goodness, O my God! Thou hast freed me from error, and hast taught me the truth.
Behold! now I am wholly Thine forever, O Jesus, my true beatitude!
Away with thee, deceitful world, most wicked seducer, enemy of God, and of my salvation; thou foe of all that is good, thou defender of all that is evil; O thou, the most cruel of all tyrants!
O world, thou minister of Satan! too late have I known thee: too long have I loved thee. From this hour, farewell to thee, farewell for evermore!
CHAPTER XIX. THAT THE YOKE OF JESUS IS TRULY SWEET
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, take up My yoke upon thee; for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.
My service, Child, is not that of a tyrant, nor of a harsh master; but of 'a most loving Father, Who is near His children, who are submissive to Him, that He may help and entertain them.
Love is the spirit of My service: and love finds all things easy.
My commands are not heavy; and to those that love, they are exceedingly light and sweet.
Try and taste My Child, how pleasant it is to serve Me; how delightful, to enjoy My sweetness; how good, to gain possession of the very fountain of all good things.
2. If thou seekest delights, thou shalt find the true ones, in My service alone.
All the pleasures of the world, are either empty or pernicious. But My consolations surpass, beyond comparison, all the delights of earth: they ravish hearts by their purity, they satiate them by their truth.
Yea, betimes, they so overwhelm man, that they give him a certain foretaste of those heavenly delights, wherewith the Blessed in Paradise are inebriated.
3. He that serves Me, is not as the slave of the world, who toils to gather for himself treasures on earth, and in the end, finds his hands empty.
But he lays up for himself treasures in Heaven, where neither the rust, nor the moth, can destroy; where thieves cannot dig them up, nor carry away.
All the wealth of earth, compared with the treasures of Heaven, is only dust and nothingness.
4. If thou aimest to be honored, behold! what greater honor can be desired, than to be with Me, to be approved and distinguished by Me?
The glory of the world, wherewith one man deludes the other is false and short-lived: but the glory of My service is true, and shall endure for ever.
Greater is the least of My servants, than the lord of a kingdom in the world.
5. Was there ever found a man, who, at the hour of death, repented that he had served Me? Yet, at that last moment, how exceedingly do worldlings regret to have been in the service of the world! or if they bewail it not, how much more wretched are they!
Truthful is the saying, My Child, that he, who serves Me faithfully during life, possesses two heavens, the one in time, the other in eternity: and that he, who spends his life in the service of the wicked world, endures two hells, one now, another hereafter.
6. Courage! then, My Child; bend thyself beneath the yoke, which is borne by the Angels in Heaven, and the Elect on earth; and beneath which they enjoy true bliss.
Take it up joyously, and bear it cheerfully. Thou servest the same Lord, that is served by the Blessed in Heaven. Whilst thou imitatest them in their service, imitate them also in their cheerfulness.
Let the slaves of sin, and of the world, be sad: joy and exultation are the portion of My servants.
Serve Me, then, but serve Me with gladness: let thy heart, for joy, cheer up thy countenance; and, by thy holy gaiety, teach the world, what blessedness there is in serving Me.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----To serve Thee, O most benign Jesus, is truly sweet for me: what
then must it be for those that love Thee! what for those that have centered their heart's affection in
If I, who only begin to love, find so great a sweetness in Thee; in what sweetness do they delight, who, fondly devoted to Thee, with a generous heart, have long lived for Thee alone; are admitted into the innermost of Thy Heart, and partake of all Thy bliss most plentifully!
O Jesus, unutterable sweetness! what is man that Thou exaltest him thus? Or the son of man, that Thou settest Thy heart upon Him?
8. Behold! to live for Thee, to comply with Thy Will, is not to serve, but to reign. In Thy service, no one is a servant, everyone is a King, is a Lord: for thou art the King of kings, and the Lord of
In Thy service, no one is a menial, no one is miserable: each one is noble, each one is fortunate; for Thou art the King of glory; honors and riches abound in Thy house.
In Thy service, no one is wicked; and, therefore, no one is unhappy: but all are good, happy all: for Thou art the King of virtues, the peace and joy of hearts.
Blessed, therefore, are the undefiled, who walk in Thy law! their blessedness is ever-during: for Thy kingdom is the kingdom of all ages.
O most sweet Jesus! what is there for me outside of Thee, or what do I desire upon earth beside Thee? God of my heart, Thou art my life, Thou my blessedness, Thou my portion forever.
CHAPTER XX. THAT, WITHOUT KEEPING ANYTHING FOR OURSELVES,
WE SHOULD GIVE OUR WHOLE HEART TO JESUS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, give Me thy heart.
To release thy heart from sin, and from the world, is not enough: thou must, moreover, disengage it from thyself.
As the complete renouncing of sin renders the friendship of God steadfast, and as the putting away of the world, and its vanities, prepares the soul for the interior life; so, the forsaking of one's self, leads to union with Me.
It is, therefore, necessary to give Me thy whole heart, without reserving aught for thyself, if thou desirest to enjoy that blessedness, than which there is none greater in this life, and by which alone thou canst be truly happy.
2. Thy heart, Child is Mine. For, when it had no being, I created it; when it was lost, I sought and ransomed it; when it lay an easy prey to the enemies, that were going to carry it off, I protected and preserved it. Thus, by giving Me thy heart, thou dost only give Me what is Mine.
But, on how many accounts do I deserve its every affection! What good dost thou possess, in thy body, or in thy soul, whether in the natural or the supernatural order, which thou didst not receive from My Heart?
How many years ago shouldst thou have been burning in Hell if I had either dealt with thee according to thy deserts; or had not preserved thee from sins which deserve Hell and its just punishments!
But it was my love, Child, that dealt with thee in so sweet and wonderful a manner; the love of My Heart, with which I loved thee from eternity, and with which, even till now, I have never ceased to favor thee.
Thy whole life has been a succession of blessings, on My part, uninterrupted and manifold: nor has there been any point of time which was not marked with some new favor.
3. And what, O Child of My love, do I ask of thee in return for all these thousands of favors?
Surely, whatever I might ask of thee, and whatever thou mightest be able to give, would be far below the greatness and the number of My gifts. Yet, one thing only I demand, thy whole heart; it is enough, if thou give Me that.
Thy heart excepted, I care naught for whatever thou mayst give; because, beyond all else, I long for thy heart.
4. Upon whom canst thou bestow thy heart with more advantage? Thou canst not live without loving, and without giving the affections of thy heart to some object.
Wouldst thou give thy heart to the demon, thy sworn and relentless enemy? Or to the world, the demon's corrupt and corrupting ally? Woe, My Child, a thousand times woe to thee, if thou givest it to either of these!
Art thou desirous of reserving the affections of thy heart for thyself? But, My Child, if thou lovest thyself only, thou shalt find a requital in thyself alone. Now, what is the reward of self-love?
Behold, self-love digs out a hell, and leads to the same.
Give, then, thy heart to Me, Child: I will fill it with peace, and with gladness, and with bliss.
5. Do not desire to reserve for thyself aught of thy affections: for if thou do this, thou shalt neither be admitted into the secrets of My Heart, nor shalt thou ever be able to taste the sweetness of My love: nay more, thou shalt not be able to keep thyself from the danger of being perverted.
Yet it is not unusual for many, even those who wish to be considered good and pious, to keep, through self-love,-----under a specious pretext,-----an affection for some one or other created object.
What is there more frequent? what can be more dangerous? what more baneful?
I wish to possess the whole heart, Child: I am its Lord; I, a jealous God, am its only end, its sole beatitude.
6. Love, then, My Child: it is given thee to love; to love is necessary: for this thy heart was made but love thou what deserves to be loved; love Me; and, if thou cherish aught else besides, love it for love of Me alone.
When beside Me thou wilt love nothing except for love of Me,-----when thou givest entrance into thy heart to nothing except to Me, or for love of Me,-----then, at last, shalt thou possess a heart wholly pure.
Wherefore, My Child, give Me thy whole heart, as a burnt-offering, for an odor of sweetness; nor do thou take it back, not even the least portion of the same: for I hate robbery in a holocaust.
Be ever mindful that, whether in prosperity or in adversity, there can be nowhere a better place for thy heart than with Me.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----It follows, then, O Lord, that I must also disengage my heart from all self-love, from inordinate affection towards myself; so that I may wholly be filled with Thy love, and may live by Thy Spirit alone.
Alas! my God, here is the labor, here is the difficulty: there exist in my heart so many things ill-regulated, and these I have followed so long, that to live according to them, has become to me, as it were, a second nature.
Hitherto, the natural disposition of my heart, either inclination or aversion, has been almost the sole rule of my life: this I have followed, in my dealings with others, in the undertaking and the execution of my actions: yea, in the very performance of my practices of religion and piety.
Hitherto, with grief I must own it, whatever pleased my natural inclination, I was wont to pursue: whatever displeased it, I abhorred. Hence, I find my labors, for the most part, void: I see that well-nigh all my actions were those of self-love; and that they have given me, in return, the fruits only of self-love.
And, unless Thou, by the light of Thy grace, hadst showed me these things, I might have continued with them, without ever suspecting them. So much was I blinded by self-love.
But, since, by Thy gracious kindness, Thou hast laid open before my eyes these baleful evils lurking in my heart, grant me, I beseech Thee, a special help to remove them altogether.
I entreat Thee, O Lord, suffer naught, which is not Thine, in my heart: if ever anything foreign appear therein, oblige me forthwith to cast it out or do Thou, even against my will, take it thence.