· SANCTA SOPHIA ·OR …

· SANCTA SOPHIA ·

OR DIRECTIONS FOR THE PRAYER OF CONTEMPLATION &c.

Extracted out of more then XL. Treatises written by the late Ven. Father F. AVGVSTIN BAKER, A Monke of the English Congregation of the Holy Order of S. BENEDICT: And Methodically digested by the R. F. SERENVS CRESSY, Of the same Order and Congregation.

And printed at the Charges of his Conuent of S. GREGORIES IN DOWAY.

VOL. I.

AT DOWAY, By IOHN PATTE', and THOMAS FIEVET, ANNO D.M.DC.LVII.

TO OVR MOST R. FATHER LAVRENCE REYNER PRESIDENT GENERALL Of our H. Congregation of the Order of S. BENEDICT: And to all our VV. RR. FF. Superiours in the same.

VV. RR. FF.

Such being the distemper of this Age, that onely good Bookes, and such as are most proper to cure, in the very roote, its disorders, doe stand in need of Protection: You cannot in iustice, as it seemes to mee, refuse yours to this, the compo­sing and publishing wherof at this time was an effect of your [Page 4] V. R. Paternities order and commands. Now those very Commands with so much Aduice and zeale vnanimously made, are a very strong Proofe that this Booke (for as much as concernes the substantiall Doctrine therein contained) is such an one, so perfectly good & Medicinall, as that I neede not doubt, and indeed should be sorry it should haue any other fa [...]e then the hatred of all those that loue darknes more then Light. As for whatsoeuer faults may haue hapned through my want of skill in the compiling, I doe not desire such Patrons to them. Yet truly there hath not bene vvan­ting all the diligence and care that I vvas capable of to prouide that so excellent Instructions should not be too much disparaged by the second copying and nevv fashion and dresse vpon them. The paines herein taken vvill appeare to be not very ordinary, to any one that shall consider h [...]w difficult a matter it is out of such a vvorld of Treatises, (vvritten vpon particular subiects for the speciall necessi­ties and vse of certaine deuout Persons, vvithout any [...]ye or designe in the Authour of affording materialls for an entire Body of Spirituality) to frame such a Body not at all de­fectiue, and with p [...]r [...]s not vnproportionable. Novv I must confesse that though conscience alone, and duty to your VV. RR. Paternities vvould haue had sufficient influence on mee to preuent negligence: yet I had moreouer one Motiue besides to heighten my diligence, vvhich vvas Gratitude: For to the admiration and loue of these Excellent Instru­ctions I ovve not only the hastning of my Reconciliation [...] the Catholick Church (as on this very day, being the Vi­ [...]ile of the Feast of S. M. Magdalen, in the Office of the H. [...]nquisition at Rome) but a [...]so the happines of being a Mem­ber [Page 5] (through vnworthy) of your Holy Congregation. It may notvvithstanding fall out, that vvith all my endea­uours I may faile of giuing satisfaction in the point of Art: But that I haue not bene vvanting in the principall condition, of Faithfullnes, besides the testimony of mine ovvne co [...]science, I haue that also of persons learned and pious, to vvh [...]m the Writings of the Venerable Authour haue bene perfectly knovvn and familiar.

I [...] vvill doubtlesse seeme strange to others, but not to your Paternity (V. R. F. President) that so pe [...]f [...]ct Instru­ctions for Contemplation should proceede from one that had spen [...] [...] his vvhole Life in the laborious Employment of the Apostolick Mission. But your V. R. Paternity by expe­rience knovve, that those vvho sincerely giue themselues to see [...]e Almighty God by pure, Spirituall Prayer, vvhat euer their Employments be, vvill vvithout any preiudice to them, neuer vvant opportunities to meete and conuerse vvith Him in Solitude. Now from such Conuersations it is, that there doe proceede from the Father of Lights such Illustrations as not only giue a Splendour to the Persons themselues, but by reflexion also serue to guide others.

The Solitude that our Venerable Authour enioyed, vvas by his ovvne election, among freinds, Penitents and Disci­ples. But Gods holy Spirit lead your V. R. Paternity into a Desart far more suit of horrour indeed, but vvithall far more instructiue: a Solitude of Prisons and Dungeons; among Enemies to Religion and Humanity: Where yet by the Light and force not only of your Learning, but also your De­uotion &c, you could found Churches of Conuerts.

A more sufficient and proper Patron therfore and Iudge [Page 6] could not be found, then your V. R. Paternity, of Instru­ctions of this Nature. So that from you it is that all others your Religious Subiects receiuing them, vvill through Gods grace dayly vvith their encreasing feruour by their good practise and example recommend them to others abroad also.

VV. RR. FF.
Your VV. RR. PP. in all Duty and Ser­uice in our Lord Br. Serenus Cressy.

NOS Fr. LAVRENTIVS REYNER Con­gregations Anglicanae Ordinis S. Benedicti Prae­ses Generalis, Visis testimonijs & Approbationibus RR. PP. Congregationis nostrae, BENEDICTI STA­PLETONI S. Theologiae Doctoris & Definitoris dictae Congregationis &c. & LEANDRI à S. Au­gustino S. Theologiae Professoris &c. quibus cura exa­minandi Librum quendam Spiritualem Anglicè Scrip­tum, cui Titulus, SANCTA SOPHIA, or Directions &c. à nobis demandata fuerat: Ad Dei hono­rem & gloriam, Ecclesiae Sanctae Catholicae bonum, [Page 7] animarumque, vti speramus, in Sancto Dei amore pro­fectum notabilem, vt dictus liber praeli beneficio mundo publicetur per praesētes licentiā damus. In cujus rei testi­monium his subscripsimus, & Sigillum nostrum appo­suimus. Parisijs in Monasterio Nostro S. Edmundi Regis & Martyris in Suburbijs D. Iacobi, Maij. 4. An. D. 1657.

Fr. LAVRENTIVS REYNER Praeses qui supra licet indignus.

De Mandato R. Adm. P. Praesidis

Locus Sigilli.

Fr. AVGVSTINVS CONSTA­BLE SECRETARIVS.

LEgi diligenter Librum cui titulus SANCTA SO­PHIA, Or Directions &c: Anglicè scriptū: in eoque nihil reperi quod orthodoxae Fidei aut bonis moribus aduersetur: Testor etiam nihil in hoc libro contineri praeter regulas & praecepta ad vitae Contemplatiuae Perfectionem ducentia: Ea verò tantâ doctrinae solidi­tate, perspicuitate, tamque insigni methodo tractari, vt nō solū pijssimi Authoris Sāctitas, & in cōductu anima­rum ad Perfectionis apicē peritia, nec non ipsius Colle­ctoris diligentia & stili nitor abundè comprobentur; verùm etiam summo cum perfectioris vitae studioso­rum [Page 8] fructu in lucem emittendum nullo modo dubi­tem. In super Authoris mentem videtur adeo assecutus praefatus Collector, vt qui in Authoris doctrinâ sunt versati genuinum illius foecum necessariò agnoscere debeant. Datum in Monasterio nostro S. Grego­rij Duaci. 21. Ap. 1657.

F. BENEDICTVS STAPLETON Sac: The. Doctor.

PErlegi librum, cui titulus SANCTA SOPHIA &c. Anglicè scriptum: testorque in eo nihil re­periri, quod orthodoxae Fideiaut bonis moribus aduer­setur; aut quod ad Statum, regimen, vel negotia cuius­vis Reipublicae quouis modo pertineat. Sed vnaquaeque pagina solam pietatem Theoricam spirat, quam sublimi quidem, modestissimâ tamen, actutusimâ viâ accuratè docet; & a SS. Patrum vestigijs nunquam recedir. Ita [...]estor (in Couentu nostro S. Greg. Duaci 20. Ap. 1657.)

FR. LEANDER A S. AVGVSTI­NO S. Theologiae Professor in Col­legio Vedastino Duaci.

CVm Liber hic cui titulus SANCTA SOPHIA, &c. Anglicè scriptus diligenter perfectus fuerit ab exi­mio & R. Patre Benedicto Stapleton. S. Theologiae Do­ctore, & R.P. Leandro à S. Augustino, S. Theologiae in Collegio Vedastino Duaci Professore; Ijdemque idio­matis Anglicani optime periti fidem faciant nihil in eodem hoc libro reperiri, quod orthodoxae fidei, aut bonis moribus aduersetur, vel quod ad Statū, regimen, aut negotia cuiusuis regni aut reipublicae quouis modo pertineat; sed solummodo contineri Sanctissimas re­gulas, & solidissima praecepta ad vitae Contemplatiuae perfectionem conducentia; ideo eundem hunc Librum praelo dignum esse, & publici boni causâ in lucem omitti posse censui; Duaci 28. Aprilis. 1657.

MARTINVS DENYS, S. Theologiae Doctor, eiusdemque Regius & Ordina­rius Duaci Professor.

[...]dem censeo.

NICOLAVS LE LONG, S. Theolo­logiae Doctor, Eiusdemque & regius & ordinarius Professor.

MAny graue Authours haue vvritten of this Sub­iect but in my opinion none more clearely, (and vvith such breuity,) then the R. Father Augustin Baker of the Holy Order of S. Benedict, sometimes Spiri­tuall Directour to the English Benedictine Dames at Cambray. Who in his seuerall Treatises abridged in this Booke entitled SANCTA SOPHIA, pro­bably out of his ovvne experience, hath methodically, solidely, clearely and piously set forth such efficacious Instructions for the attaining of true Perfection; that all deuout soules aspiring thereto, especially Religious persons (vvhole dayly practise of Meditation and con­tinuall Exercises tending to that end, vvill if vvell applyed much aduance them) by their practise vvith great facility, may attaine great Perfection. Let them therefore reade diligently the Preface and first Treatise and practise exactly vvhat is contained in the second, and I dare promise them by Gods Grace a happy progresse in the third.

Wherfore I iudge the Worke vvorthy to be publi­shed, as containing nothing opposite to the Doctrine of the Church: but on the contrary very proffitable [Page 11] Rules and rare Instructions of Piety and true Deuo­tion.

Brother Angelus Francis, Lectour Iubi­late, and Episcopall Censurer of Bookes.

I haue read three Treatise of that V. F. A. Baker of an Internall Life, Mortification, & Praier: & doe approue & esteeme of it, as of a vvorke that may much promote the perfection of a Religious state; & leade others to a competent reasonable participation of it, though liuing in the vvorld. And (Reader) if thou art seriously resolued to attempt this principall & maine vvorke of thy Saluation; thou vvilt find nothing vvill displease thee, but very many Aduices & Instructions to aduance thee in the vvay to perfection. But if Spi­rituall conuersation internally vvith Allmighty God be either vnsipide or vnsauory to thy ill-affected pal­late; thou vvilt easily find little stravves, motes or haires to pick quarell vvith, and cost avvay such foode as this: & I vvish thee to take heed, thou doest not cast more avvay.

T. PROGER Prof. of Diui [...]ity.

TO the foregoing Approbations I esteemed it much for my aduantage to adioyne the following Testimony of my sincerity and faithfullnes in deliuering the Doctrine of our V. Authour. The excellent person from whom the Letter came will, I hope, pardon this publishing, without a Com­mission from herselfe, what she priuately directed to mee: since it is done for the better recommendation of the Doctrine so worthily esteemed by her.

TO THE R. F. SERENVS CRESSY.

REVEREND FATHER

I must acknowledge the particular obligation that our Conuent hath to your R. P. for the great dili­gence you haue vsed, and the very much labour you haue bestowed in compi [...]ing the Abridgment of our Venerable and deare Father Bakers workes so exactly conformably to the sense and meaning of the Authour: and as wee well know the paines you haue taken in perusing serious­ly all his Bookes seuerall times, and in collecting the substance of each, digesting and reducing them into a most conuenient Order and method, and that, you refused not to vndergoe the labour to goe through all this a se­cond time, to giue the more full satisfaction in tendring your Abridgment most entirely conformable to his Wri­tings in the very Expression, as much as might be; so wee may very well beleiue that it hath pleased God to [Page 13] assist very much your vnwearied industry; since not any that hath read your Booke, and is versd in the Au­thours Workes; haue found any Obiections to make, either of any thing wanting or differing from him: but all ac­knowledge that you haue most fai [...]hfully, clearely and substantially deliuered his Doctrine. Wee cannot therefore but hope God will be the reward of your fidelity, care and paines in a worke so acceptable vnto him: as wee shall not faile to pray; and none shall esteeme them­selues more obliged to testify their gratitude, then

R. FATHER
Your Vnworthy Sister and Seruant S. CATHARINE DE S. MARIA Abbesse Vnworthy.

A PREFACE TO THE READER.

THE SVMME OF THE PREFACE.

§. 1. 2. &c. Obiections before & since the Authours Death, made aginst the Publishing of this Doctrine.

§. 9. 10. The first obiection: Because the knowledge & practise of it belongs to few: answered.

§. 11. 12. 13. &c. A second Obiection, viz. Because sus­picion may be giuen to Catholicks of pretending to new Illuminations, preiudiciall to the Doctrines of Faith and Rules of life established in the Church: Answered large­ly: & the contrary demonstrated.

§. 16. 17. What Illuminations are here meant: And how Diuine Loue aboue all other things doth most enlighten the Soule.

§. 21. 22. A third obiection, viz. That Sectaries will hence take aduantage to iustifie their frenzies & dis­orders.

§. 23. 24. 25. &c. Foure preparatory grounds layd for the clearer answering this Obiection.

§. 31. 32. The said Obiection answered. Where is con­trarily [Page II] proued the necessity of publishing such Doctrines, as the only meane to discouer & disproue the false Illumi­nations of Sectaries.

§. 33. 34. 35. &c. An Exhortation to Sectaries to ob­serue the strange difference betweene their Spirits & that of Catholicks.

§. 39. 40. &c. An explanation of certaine Passages in the following Treatises.

§. 47. A iust Request to the Reader.

§. 48. A submission of all to the Sea Apostolick &c.

BELOVED CHRISTIAN READER.

Before thou proceedest to partake of vvhat is promised thee in the Frontispice of this Booke, thou art entreated to permit thy selfe to be detained avvhile in the Entry: For perhaps a short delay here vvill make thy progresse aftervvard both more speedy and proffi­table.

2. This is to acquaint thee that the immaculate Doctrine contained in this Booke, though it neuer met vvith any that opposed, or so much as questioned the Veri­ties thereof, speculatiuely considered: yet there haue not vvanted some that haue iudged them not fit to be thus freely exposed to thy vievv, much doubting thou vvouldst proue such an one as vvould make an ill vse and peruerse aduantage from them.

3. Now the principall, yea onely Point that giues some this Iealousy, is that vvhich thou vvilt find in the [Page III] Second Section of the First Treatise, vvhere is treated tou­ching Diuine Illuminations, Inspirations, Impulses and other Secret Operations of Gods Holy Spirit in the Hearts of Internall Liuers. Concerning vvhich the constant Teaching of our Venerable Authour (in breife) is this, viz. That the Diuine Spirit by vertue of the sayd Opera­tions is to be acknovvledged our onely secure Guide and Maister in these Secret Pathes of Diuine Loue (discouered in some measure in the following Treatises.) And conse­quently that the most essentiall, Vniuersall Duty to be as­pired vnto by euery one that pretends a desire or intention to walke in the same Pathes is, to giue vp his Soule and all its Faculties to Gods Internall Guidance and Direction only, relinquishing and renouncing all other Instructours and Instructions as far as they are not subordinately coo­perating vvith this our Diuine Maister: For the receiuing of vvhose Celestiall Influences, the humble and devout Scholler is obliged to prepare and dispose himselfe by Prayer, Abstraction of Life &c, in Solitude hearkning to his Voyce & Call, and learning how to distinguish it clearely from the Voyce & Sollicitatiōs of Humane Reason or Corrupt Nature: till that by long familiarity & conuersation with God, Di­uine Loue alone will so cleare his spirituall sight that he shall see at last no other Light, nor receiue Motion from any other, but God only, & this in all Actions, Omissions and suf­frings, though in themselues of the smallest importance.

4. This is our Venerable Authours Doctrine every vvhere in all his Treatises (vvhat euer the Subiect be) inculcated, and euen to the vvearying of the Readers, continually repeated and asserted. Indeed a Doctrine [Page IV] it is so fundamentall to all his other Instructions con­cerning Prayer and Mortification &c, that the least vveakning of its authority renders all the rest vnprof­fitable.

5. But little reason there is to feare that a Doctrine, vvhich is the very Soule of Christianity, can be shaken by humane opposition, or disparaged by jealousy. True it is notvvithstanding, that though this Fundamentall Verity receiues testimony abundantly both from Scrip­tures and Vniuersall Tradition, though it be constantly asserted in the Schooles, and sprinckled euery vvhere in almost all Mystick Writers, yet scarce hath any one since the Ancient Fathers times (especially S. Augustin) so pur­posely, largely and earnestly recommended it to Pra­ctise. And therfore no great vvonder it is, if such a vvay of deliuering it haue seemed a Nouelty euen to those that speculatiuely and in Theft acknovvledge it to be the established Doctrine of the Church: and vvhilst they vvillingly and vvith applause heare it asserted daily in the Schooles; yet meeting vvith it thus popularly spread, they are offended vvith it, I meane, vvith the communicating it to the vse and practise of the Vnlearned.

6. Now vvhat is vvas that troubled them, vvill appeare from the only Obiection in the Authours life­time made against it, vvhich vvas indeed a mere Iea­lousy, least this doctrine so deliuered should preiudice the Authority of Superiours. The vvhich Obiection He ansvve­red to the full satisfaction of all that vvere interes­sed in the matter. The Summe of vvhich Answer follow­es [Page V] in the Ninth Chapter of the second Section of the first Treatise, and needs not be here repeated.

7. But since his Death, and especially after that by a generall vnanimous agreement of all Superiours among vs it had bene ordained, that the summe of the Authours spirituall Doctrine should for the good of Soules aspi­ring to Contemplation, be published: both the same Ob­iection hath bene renevved, and others moreouer ad­ded therto: and all of them haue risen from the like ground of Iealousy, not so much acknovvledged to be rationall by the Obiectours themselues (vvho readily subscribe to the Doctrine as Catholickly true and Holy:) as feared from others: to vvit, partly from ordina­ry not learned Catholicks, vvho, it is suspected, vvill be suspicious of a Doctrine that vvill seeme nevv, and hovveuer vnproper to them: but principally from stran­gers & Enemies to the Church, especially the fran­tick Enthusiasts of this age vvho, as is feared, vvill conceiue their frenzies and disorders iustified here.

8. These things considered, both zeale to Truth, Du­ty to Superiours, and Charity to thee (beloued Reader) obliged me before all other things to beseech thee to abstaine from reading the Booke, vnlesse it can be de­monstrated before-hand, that it vvas fitt to come into thy hands; that the suspected inconueniences and sus­picions are euidently groundlesse: that it vvould be a greater frenzy in the Enthusiasts of these day, or in any seduced or seducing Spirits to claime any right in this Doctrine, then that vvhich all ready possesses them: and in a vvord, that no obiections either against [Page VI] the Doctrine or publishing of it, either haue or, as wee suppose, can rationally be deuised to make vs repent the Printing, or thee the reading of the follovving Booke.

9. Among the sayd Obiections this one is scarce vvor­thy to find place, vvhich yet by some hath bene vrged in generall against the publishing to all Christians view Instructions about Prayer and Mysticall Practises proper to a few Contemplatiue Persons (for vvhom alone the Authour intended them, vvithout the least thought of hauing them communicated & exposed so gene­rally:) Especially considering that this Treatise dis­courses of Sublime Mystick Matters aboue the reach of vulgar capacities; and also, that vvheras to such tender vvell-minded Soules (as those vvere for vvhom the sayd Treatises vvere meant) iust liberty & condescen­dence vvas allovved in many cases, not to be per­mitted to others that either in the vvorld, or else in a Religious life doe vvalke in other vvaies; these notvvithstanding vvill be apt to their ovvne preiudice to make vse of such liberty.

10. But surely as it vvould be most vnreasonable to forbid a Physition to publish a Booke of Remedies against some speciall Diseases, for feare that some that are vn­touched of those Diseases, or perhaps sick of the Con­trary, should hurt themselues vvith making vse of Me­decines improper for them: Or Molina the Carthusian to publish his Excellent Instructions for Preists, least Lay-persons should assume the Priuiledges belonging to that Sublime Calling: Or Aluarez de Paz to print his Vo­lumes [Page VII] about the Duties & Exercises of Religious per­sons, because they are improper for Seculars: So nei­ther vpon such grounds ought these Instructions be hin­dred from being publick: Neither ought any to feare least Ordinary Christians vvill foolishly apply to them­selues the Relaxations about Confessions &c. necessarily allovved to vvell-minded Scrupulous Soules that pursue Contemplations waies in an Abstracted life & solitude: Or that Soules that liue distracted, sollicitous actiue liues, as long as they liue so, will iudge themselues in­teressed in the vvaies & exercises of internall, Contē ­platiue Liuers: Or in a vvord, that those vvho are yet but Beginners, or haue made but small proficiency in in­ternall waies of the Spirit, vvill be so foolishly presump­tuous as to aspire to Exercises more sublime then be­long to them, the vvhich they cannot doe vvithout re­ceiuing infinite preiudice by their indiscreete Ambition. Adde hereto, that in seuerall occasions there haue bene vsed & inculcated in this Booke the best preuentions, Cautions and prouisions that possibly could be deuised, against all misunderstanding and misapplication of any doctrines contained in it. To conclude it may seeme a sufficient Safeguard for mee to haue herein, the ex­ample of the V. R. F. A. Cr. a person much esteemed for learning and Piety, vvho hath not only published (in an Additionall Treatise to the Conflict of the Soule) Instructions for Contemplation, but a great part of his maximes (though breefe) are very conformable to vvhat is here expressed more largely.

11. The speciall feared inconueniences that may arise [Page VIII] from the publishing of this Doctrine touching Diuine Inspirations, doe regard partly some that liue in the Com­munion of the Church: But principally such as are stran­gers and Enemies therto. As for the former; it is sus­pected, That by vrging so seriously the Duty of atten­ding to and follovving Diuine Inspirations, some euen of the more sober Catholicks vvill be apt to be Iea­lous, that the Teachers and Practisers of such a Do­ctrine vvill seeme thereby to exempt themselues in many things from the ordinary iurisdiction of Prelates and Magistrates: pretending to Extraordinary illumi­nations and Commissions, and to walking in mirabilibus super se [...] &c. by vvhich a Preiudice, & contempt also may be cast vpon the Common Orders and Rules con­cerning Faith and good manner, established in the Church.

12. Novv not to forestall vvhat is copiously deliue­red in the Second Treatise (to vvit, that due Obedience to all kind of Superiours is so far from being preiu­diced by this Doctrine, that it is only by this Do­ctrine that it is perfectly established, and all possible suspicions, all imaginable cases to the contrary solued:) Hereto it is ansvvered that, Wheras it is sayd that by a pretending to Diuine Illuminations &c. a contempt may be cast vpon the common Doctrines & Rules of Faith and a good life: There is not the least ground for such an apprehension. For neuer did any spiri­tuall M [...]stick Writer pretend to receiue any New, or formerly vnknovvn Lights or Reuelations in matters of Faith beyond vvhat haue bene knovvn and vniuer­sally [Page IX] receiued in the Church. The Lights that such per­sons by Gods gracious visits receiue, being only a Clea­rer sight of Ordinary Mysteries: the vvhich produces in them a firmer assent vnto them, a greater loue to them, an abhorring of all Nouelties of Doctrines, and a most feruent zeale to the Vnity and peace of the Church, and to the reducing of all Vnbeleiuers Misbeleiuers and Schismaticks into its bosome and Communion.

13. The like is to be sayd for the Rules of Pra­ctise, and a Holy, Christian conuersation. They knovv no other but such as are common to all other Chri­stians, vvhich are reuealed in the Glospell, and propo­sed by the Pastours of Gods Church in Councells and in the vvritings of the Holy Fathers. The only aduantage that in this regard is pretended to, and acquired by attending to Diuine Inspirations, is a more perfect vse and a more faithfull application of the Ordinary Pre­cepts of Holines, or of Counsells of Perfection, to those vvho professe the embracing of such Counsells: an Ex­tending of them further and to more particulars, then it is possible to be taught by Bookes, or attained by Stu­dy.

14. All Christians knovv that to Blaspheme, to lye, to defraude, to be rebellious, vnchast, reuengefull &c. are sins Odious to God; and that the contrary vertues are to be practised: Yea moreouer they knovv that vvee are obliged to Loue God with all our Heart, with all our Soule, and with all our strength: That vvee ought in all things to intend his loue and Honour &c. Moreouer all knovv that besides the essentially necessary Chri­stian [Page X] Duties there are other Counsells of Perfection, vvhich belong to those vpon vvhom God hath besto­vved an Extraordinary Vocation and Grace, enabling them to cast from them all Secular anxieties and other Impediments to Perfect Charity, and to put them­selues in a Condition of Solitude, Obedience &c. the vvhich affords thē the best Expedients & helps for the encreasing of Diuine Loue, & conformity to his Will, euen in the smallest matters. All this in grosse is knovven to all Christiās of any reasonable capacity & good Educatiō.

15. But yet the wisest; the most Subtile & learned Christians vvill neuer be able by any humane Endea­uours of Study or Meditation to put in practise euen those Essentiall Precepts after a Perfect manner, that is, vvith an Intention not only Right, but also Pure & Dei­forme. And much lesse vvill they by such vveake helpes be enabled to discerne in a thousand particular Cases and circumstances what is most Perfect, most ac­ceptable to God & conformable to his Diuine will. As for example, 1. How vvhen two good; or indifferent things are proposed, to make choice and preference of that vvhich in the present disposition of the soule vvill proue most aduantageous to Perfection. 2. How to Spi­ritualize euen the Ordinary indifferent occurrences of our life dayly and hourely. 3. How to perceiue vvhat manner & Degree of Praier is most proper & proffi­table to the soule in her present State. 4. Or what Mortifications are in the present Circumstances most aduantageous. 5. Or how to discerne the State, Inclina­tions & Spirituall Necessities of other Soules com­mitted [Page XI] to our Charge. 6. Or lastly to discouer a thou­sand Secret Subtilties, close interests & Reseruations of our Corrupt Nature, vvhich mingle themselues, more or lesse, almost in all our best Actions &c. In these and a thousand like cases not all the Reading or Study in the vvorld vvill enable Soules to carry them­selues perfectly in the Execution of those Precepts or Counsells, vvhich in grosse all knovv to be necessary, at least to the attaining to Perfection. But a distinct Actuall Supernaturall Light and Grace is necessary: and this not to teach vs New Precepts, or furnish vs vvith New Counsells, but Circumstantially to apply those vvhich are Common and vniuersally knovven. For vvant of vvhich Light it is, that the true vvay to Per­fection is almost vnknovvn, euen to those vvho pro­fesse the seeking of Perfection, and fill the vvorld vvith Bookes and Instructions about it.

16. By vvhat other meanes then is such Light to be had? Surely by no other but by the Exercise of Diuine Loue: vvhich is most perfectly performed in Internall Prayer, in Attention to, and Vnion with God in Spirit. What an Expert, persvvading & Subtile Maister Loue is, beyond Study or Consideration, vvee see euen in Na­turall and Secular businesses. One that is immersed in Sensuall Loue to any person, has no neede of Instru­ctions or Bookes to teach him the Art of Louing: wee see hovv skillfull on the sudden such an one becomes in the vvayes hovv to please the person beloued: Hee looses not, neither out of ignorance nor negli­gence, the least opportunity to ingratiate himselfe: [Page XII] He vnderstands the mind and intention of the other by the least signes: The Motion of a hand, the cast of an eye is sufficient to informe him, and set him on vvorke to attempt any thing, or procure any thing that may content the party. The like subtilty and perspicacy vvee may see in those Earthy soules vvhich cleaue vvith an earnest affection vnto Riches. What subtile vvaies doe they find out to encrease their wealth? Such trifling inconsiderable things they make vse of for that purpose, as another vvould not take notice of, or could not see hovv to make proffit by them. They haue almost a Propheticall Spirit to fore­see dangers vvhere none are, and aduantages pro­bable or possible to happen many yeares after.

17. Now how comes it to passe that the Eyes of Loue are so quicke-sighted? Surely by this: That vvhere Loue to any particular Obiect is predominant, it sub­dues all other Affections to all other Obiects, vvhich vvould distract the thoughts, and seduce the vvill, from contemplating and adhering to the thing so belo­ued.

18. Vpon such grounds therefore as these it is, that S. Augustin calls Diuine Loue, (Luminosissimam Chari­tatem) most full of Light, and most enlightning. For a soule that truly loues God vvith a Loue worthy of him, hauing the Mind cleared from all strange Images, and the Will purified from all strange Affections, is ther­by enabled purely to Contemplate God vvithout any distraction at all. And being desirous in all things to please him, knovves hovv to make aduantage of [Page XIII] all occurrences. Light and Darknes, Consolations, and Desolations, Paines and Pleasures, all these contribute to the aduancing of this Loue. Yea there is nothing so in­different, or in its ovvne nature so inconsiderable, but that such a soule can perceiue hovv vse may be made of it to please God thereby.

19. Novv since Pure Loue is exercised immediatly to God only in Pure Praier, by vvhich alone the Spi­rit is vnited to him; Hence it is that Praier is the on­ly efficacious Instrument to obtaine Supernaturall Light, according the saying of Dauid (Accedite ad Deum & illuminamini:) Approach vnto God (by Praier) and (yee shall) be enlightned. And hence also it is that the same Holy Prophet so earnestly and frequently (aboue tvventy times in one Psalme 118.) praies for such light to vnderstand and discouer the vvonderfull things of Gods Law. And vvhat vvere those wonderfull things? Surely not to be informed that Murder or Adultery vvere Sins: or generally that God vvas to be loued vvith the vvhole soule: For much more knovvledge he had then this, before he praied. But being desirous to giue himselfe vvholly to God, and to performe his vvill alone in all things, he so oft makes vse of Praier for the obtaining an extraordinary Light (to be had no other vvaies but by Praier) that he might thereby be enabled to discouer and find out the Diuine Will in all manner of cases and doubtfull cir­cumstances.

20. Novv only such Inspirations and such Illumina­tions as these doe Spirituall Persons pretend to by the [Page XIV] meane of Praier and attending to God. And if they doe exercise Praier vvith a due feruour and constancy, these they shall most certainly enioy, and that in such a measure, that vvheras the greatest part of or­dinary good Christians are so dimme-sighted as to see the Diuine Will only in circumstances vvhere there is a necessary obligation (so that they spend the far greatest part of their liues in Actions that doe no vvay aduance them in Diuine Loue, being vvrought cheifly in Vertue of the Principle of selfe-Loue and in­terests of nature:) Those that are perfectly internall liuers, being clovvded by no vaine Images, and di­stracted by no inferiour Affections, doe see the Di­uine Will clearely in the minutest affaires, vvhich they accordingly make aduantage by to improue them­selues in the Loue of God. And according to the de­grees of Loue, so proportionably are the degrees of Light. And thus I suppose the pretended Inconueniences sus­pected to flovv from the publishing of this doctrine, vvill appeare to be only pretended, and causelesly feared.

21. But the other Obiection at the first sight seemes more considerable, as implying a far greater and more certaine Inconuenience and danger that may ensue vpon the publishing of this Doctrine concerning Diuine Inspirations, Illuminations and Calls. For thus they ar­gue: It is to be feared that the fanatick Sectaries which now swarme in England more then euer, will be ready to take aduantage from hence to iustify all their frenzies and disorders: all which they impute with all confidence to Di­uine [Page XV] Inspirations, Illuminations and Impulses. For can wee forbid them to practise what wee our selues teach to be a Christian Duty? And yet it is apparent what fearfull and execrable effects the practise of this pretended Duty doth produce among them. It was by Inspiration, say they, that their Progenitours did breake out of the Church: and by Inspiration they doe still introduce endlessely new Fancies and practises. It is by Inspiration that they endanger the ruine of Christianity it selfe by infinite Schismes and pe­stilent Reformations. It is by Inspiration that they employ the Gospell to destroy the Gospell: from thence preaching Heresies in Churches and Chambers; Sedition in States; Re­bellion against Princes and Prelates: So destroying all Or­der, Vnity and Peace euery where. These things considered, what can be more reasonable then that wee should take heed how wee furnish them thus with armes to maintaine themselues, and to fight against God & his Church?

22. This is the Obiection. Which though it haue a fearfull shevv, yet being vvell examined it vvill proue no lesse vveakely grounded then the former. For the demonstrating therfore of the inconsequence of it, I vvill by vvay of Preparation lay dovvne these follovving vndenyable Principles, breifly mentioned before, viz.

23. First: That Diuine Inspirations are so absolutely necessary in Precepts, for the auoiding of sin; and in Counsells, for the gaining of Perfection, that vvithout them no Action of ours can be good or meritorious: Yea the Dutyes of Obligation vvhich vvee performe, or Counsells of Perfection freely obeyed by vs, are only [Page XVI] so far acceptable to God as they proceede from his Inspirations and motions of his Holy Spirit. This is not only an vndoubted verity, but one of the most fun­damentall Verities of Christian Religion, vvhich at­tributes all good in vs to the Diuine Grace: And what is Grace, but the Diuine inspiration of Loue speread abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, as S. Augustin saith? To this Verity giue euident vvitnes those Expres­sions of the Church in her Publick Deuotions: Da, Do­mine, famulis tuis, vt quae à te iussa agnonimus, im­plere Caelesti Inspiratione valeamus, that is, Grant, O Lord, vnto thy Seruants, that those things which wee acknowledge to haue been commanded by thee, wee may by thy heauenly Inspiration accomplish. And againe, Auge populi tui vota placatus: quia in nullo fidelium nisi ex tua inspiratione proueniunt quarumlibet incrementa vir­tutum. That is, Encrease in mercy, O Lord, the Desires of thy Seruants: For not the least progresse in any Ver­tues can be made by any of thy Faithfull seruants by any other meanes, but only by thy (Diuine) Inspira­tion.

24. The Second Ground is consequent on the for­mer, viz. That since such absolute Necessity there is of Diuine Inspirations, the Necessity obliging vs to cor­respond vnto them is, and must needs be equall: For from no other Roote, but the neglect of this obliga­tion, doth or can proceede all our mischeife. The guilt of such neglect is so much the greater inas­much as the Gift of Gods Holy Spirit imprinted in the Hearts of his seruants is of such an actiue nature, that [Page XVII] vvere it not that the Spirit of corrupt nature, cherished by vs, doth deafen its Call, and vveaken its Efficacy, it vvould continually, being vvakned by euery occa­sion, incite vs to Loue God only, and to raise vp our Soules to him. Novv by such neglect vvee are said in Holy Scriptures to Contristate the Holy Ghost: and by oft contristating him, vvee shall in the end come to quench him. And the iust indignation of God against such negligent Despisers of his holy Inspirations and Calls, is povverfully expressed in those vvords of his (Prouerb. 1.24.) Quia vocaui [...], & renuistis &c. Because I haue called, and yee refused: I stretch­ed forth my hand and there was none that regarded: I also will laugh at your destruction; And I will mock when that which yee did feare shall happen vnto you &c. Then shall they call on mee, and I will not heare: they shall rise early, and they shall not find [...] me. Novv though it be not indeed a mortall sin to resist the Motions of the Diuine Spirit inciting vs to Actions vvhich are not of essentiall obligation: Yet so doing, vvee doe contristate Gods Spirit, and more indispose our selues aftervvards to obserue and follovv its Directions. And Mortall sins are seldome rushed into vpon the sudden: they begin vvith lesser resistances, by vvhich the mind is more obscured and lesse capable to obey it in greater matters. But as for Perfect soules they are in continuall attendance and obedience thereto, being in continuall Prayer, or in good Workes and Exercises begun and perfor­med in Vertue of Prayer, and also accompanied by Prayer.

[Page XVIII]25. The third Preparatory Ground follovves, vvhich is this, That since these so necessary Internall Inspira­tions must necessarily be hearkned to and corresponded vvith: And since there may be false Suggestions either of the Deuill, or our corrupt Nature, vvhich may counterfeit and subtilly pretend to a Diuine Originall: Therfore it is necessary that some possible, yea satis­factory Meanes should be afforded hovv to distinguish betvveene true and false Inspirations. For othervvise vvee shall haue an impossible obligation to obey vvee knovv not vvhom, nor vvhat: vvee shall be in as much danger to be actuated by the Deuill, and vsed as Instruments of his Illusions, as of the sauing In­fluxes of Gods Holy Spirit: and consequently shall not be able to distinguish the vvay betvveene Heauen & Hell.

26. Neither vvill it suffise to say, That vvee doe sufficiently performe Gods vvill vvhen vvee performe the Commands of God expressed clearly in Scriptures, likevvise the Precepts of the Church, and of all our lavvfull Superiours. For neither vvill the doing of these things vvithout an interiour insluxe of Grace a­uaile vs, since the Deuill can be content, yea vvill suggest the Exercise of the greatest Vertues to Hearts that he knovvs vvill intend only the satisfaction of naturall Pride, or the interests of selfe-loue in them. And besides, neither can any of these externall Rules extend to all our Actions, so as to regulate them in order to Contemplation and Perfection.

27. The fourth and last Ground to be premised is this, [Page XIX] That since it is necessary to be enabled to distinguish the true Inspirations of God from the false suggestions of our Enemy: The only meanes imaginable that can be proper, naturall and efficacious to obtaine such a su­pernaturall Light to discerne Gods vvill in all things, is Pure spirituall Praier exercised by a soule liuing an Abstracted, internall, Recollected Life, spent in a conti­nuall attendance on God &c.

28. This is a Way suitable to Reason, conformable to Scriptures and the Doctrine of the Holy Fathers, & deliuered both by Ancient and Moderne Mysticke Au­thours, as might copiously be demonstrrted, if there were any cause to thinke that to Pray perfectly, and by Praier to obtaine Diuine Grace vvere suspicious Exer­cises to any. In a vvord, this is a vvay, the vvhich practised according to the Instructions here deliuered, all manner of good, and no possible inconuenience can flovv from it.

29. Here is no pretending to novv or strange Reuela­tions; no walking in Mirabilibus super se; no zealous seditious Reformations, nor the least preiudice done or intended to Peace, Vnity, Humility, Obedience or any other Diuine Vertue: yea on the contrary, all these Heauenly Graces are hereby not only fortified and en­creased, but by no other meanes can be perfectly ob­tained.

30. And indeed since in a vvorld of passages in Holy Scriptures vvee find our selues obliged to a double Duty, the one vvhereof perhaps in popular iudgments seemes to entrench vpon the other; and yet neither of them [Page XX] are in due place and circumstances to be omitted, na­mely, Obedience both to Gods Holy Spirit invvardly directing, and also to Superiours outwardly comman­ding: By vvhat other vvay can vvee reconcile such seemingly different, and, as it may fall out, con­trary Precepts, but by ioyning this Doctrine to that concerning outvvard Obedience? Which is here done, & done vvithout the least preiudice to either: yea manifestly to the aduantage of both in their due circūstances. If then for any outvvard, carnall Respects vvee shall conceale or discountenance this most ne­cessary Duty of follovving the Inspirations of God, vvee shall efface the proper Character of God ser­uants, vvho are said to be such as are lead by the Spi­rit of God, and that by the Vnction are taught in all things. Againe if on pretence of following Inspira­tions and internall Lights vvhich cannot be so ab­solutely certaine, vvee shall transgresse the most eui­dent cercaine Commands of lavvfull Superiours, vvhich are therefore Gods also, there vvould quick­ly follovv an end of all Order, Peace and Go­uernment. What other meane therefore is left to comply vvith both these, but to obey God both vvaies, that is, commanding most certainly vvhen his vvill is reuealed by Superiours & also very securely vvhen in other internall things, or vvhich tend to Perfe­ction, vvithout the least vvrong yea to the great ad­uantage of Superiours, he doth communicate his Light and Directions to vs? So as that saying of the Apostles vvith vvhich they silenced the vvhole Ievvish [Page XXI] Sanedrim, namely, That God is rather to be obeyd then man commanding contrary to God, holds only vvhen it can euidently be demostrated (as the Apostles then did by Miracles) that such a Command did indeed come from God, or that the thing commanded by man is certainly vnlavvfull.

31. These things considered, in all reason vvee ought to be so far from being deterred from publishing such Instructions as these, because (forsooth) the frantick Spi­rits of this Age doe falsely make pretended Inspira­tions the cause and ground of all the miseries and mis­cheifes of late hapning in our Nation &c. That for this very reason and motiue euery one ought to pub­lish such vvholesome Doctrines, the vvhich are the only possible meanes to vndeceiue them. For vvhat other vvaies does there remaine to conuince them of their errours and Seductions, dangerous to all man­kind, but most certainly pernicious to their ovvne soules? Shall vvee tell them, that there are no Ins­pirations at all? vvee shall in so doing betray Chri­stian Religion. Shall vvee say, Though there be Ins­pirations, yet they are neuer to be marked, neuer obeyed nor complyed vvithall? Besides the ridiculous falsenes of the assertion, vvhich vvill expose vs to their most iust contempt and hatred, they vvill ouer­vvhelme vs vvith vnansvverable Texts of Scriptures, and passages of holy Fathers. What other thing then can be done, but that (acknovvledging both there are Inspirations, and that vvee are obliged to corres­pond vnto them) vvee should informe those vn­happy [Page XXII] soules hovv to dispose themselues so as to be out of danger of Diabolicall illusions, and to be in a capacity of receiuing Inspirations truly Diuine: As likevvise vvith vvhat caution and Prudence, but vvithall vvhat fidelity they ought to comply vvith them? But especially vvee ought to demonstrate and inculcate this fundamentall Verity, That the generall and most certaine Precepts of Humility, Obedience, Vnity and Peace must neuer receiue any preiudice by any pre­tended Inspirations or Illuminations: since those which are truly from God doe establish and encrease all these vertues: Yea that the Externall Order, Authority and Subordination established by God in his Church (by which alone it becomes one body and not a monstrous heape of vnlike, vnproportionable members fighting and deuouring one another) must be the Rule by which to exa­mine, and Iudge to pronounce sentence for or against all manner of Inspirations.

32. Therefore insteed of an humane, fruitlesse Policy of hiding such Diuine, fundament [...]ll, practicall Truthes as these: let vs sincerely, faithfully and plen­tifully teach them. And though it can neuer be preuen­ted but that the Deuill vvill suggest to proud, ambi­tious, couetous or sensuall Spirits to dravv poyson from the most Perfect Doctrines of Catholick Religion: yet then at least he and they vvill be the lesse able to seduce vvell-meaning Soules to ioyne vvith them: yea by Gods Grace and Benediction vpon his Truth faithfully taught, they vvill loose many such already seduced, vvhen all [Page XXIII] their pretended Lights being confronted before the Sun of Diuine Verity and Holines, vvill either vanish quite avvay, or manifestly discouer themselues to be the Sul­phurous, gloomy lights of such wandring (falling) Starres, as are mentioned by S. Iude, to whom the tempest of darknes is reserued for euer.

33. O therefore that it vvere Gods blessed vvill that they vvould be persvvaded to examine themselues & their Instincts by such Characters, such Signes so mani­festly Christian, Ho [...]y, Perfect and secure as are here contained in this Treatise: and accordingly iudge of their and our Inspirations. In the first place here the only proper Disposition tovvards the receiuing of Supernatu­rall Irradiations from Gods holy Spirit is an Abstraction of life, a sequestration from all businesses that con­cerne others; and an attendance to God alone in the depth of the Spirit: Whereas their Lights come neuer more frequently then vvhen either being alone they yeild to discontented vnquiet Passions and mur­murings about the behauiour and Actions of others: Or vvhen in close meetings and Conspiracies they vent such Passions by Inuectiues against the Gouer­nours of the Church or State. 2. The Lights here desired and praied for are such as doe expell all Images of Creatures, and doe calme all manner of Passions, to the end that the Soule being in a vacuity, may be more capable of receiuing and entertaining God in the pure fund of the Spirit. Whereas their Lights fill them vvith all tumultuous, disquieting Images and Phantasmes concerning the supposed miscariages of [Page XXIV] all others but themselues: and not only heighten their Passions, but vrge them to most terrible, desolating Effects. 3. The Prayer here acknowledged to be the most effectuall Instrument to procure Diuine Light is a Pure, Recollected; intime Prayer of the Spirit. Whereas the Prayer that they glory in, is only an acquired abi­lity and sleight to talke earnestly to God before o­thers, & oft thereby to communicate their Passions & discontents to their Brethren. 4. Here are no new spe­culatiue Verities or Reuelations of Mysteries pretended; no priuate nevv-found-out Interpretations of Scrip­tures braggd of. Wheras amongst them euery day pro­duces a nevv fancy, which must gather Nevv Cōpany. 5. Here the established Order of Gods Church, & the V­nity essentiall thereto is not preiudiced. Yea the In­spirations expected and obtained by Pure internall Praier doe more firmely and vnalterably fixe soules vnder this Obedience, and to this Order and Vnity: Insomuch as vvhatsoeuer pretended Lights doe endan­ger the dissoluing of Vnity, or doe crosse lavvfull Au­thority, or shall be reiected by it, they are presently suspected and extinguished. Wheras those mens Lights teach them nothing so much as to contemne & op­pose all externall Authority, and to dissipate Vnity, dis­persing the Body of Christianity into innumerable Sects and Conuenticles. 6. Our Lights teach vs to attend only to God and our ovvne soules, and neuer to in­teresse our selues in any care or employment about others, till euidently Gods Inspirations force vs, and externall Authority obliges vs therto. Wheras their [Page XXV] Lights render them incapable of Solitude, and thrust them abroad to be Reformers of others, being them­selues impatient of all Reformation and Contradiction. 7. Our Lights make vs to feare and auoid all Supere­minence and Iudicature, all sensuall pleasures, desires of Wealth, Honour &c. Wheras their Lights engage them violently & deeply in all these carnall and se­cular vvaies, and (for the attaining to these) in Tu­mults, Sedition, Bloushed and Warre: In a word, in all manner of actions and designes most contrary to the Spirit of Christianity. 8. And lastly, Our Lights, if they should chance sometimes to be mistaken by vs, no harme at all vvould accrevv to others, and not any eonsiderable preiudice to our selues: because, as hath bene said, the matters in vvhich they direct vs are in their Nature indifferent, and are ordered only to­vvards a more perfect louing of God, and vvith­dravving vs from Creatures. Wheras all the miseries and almost all the disorders and enormous vices of the Nation are the effects of their misleading Lights.

34. Thus stands the case betvveene Catholick Inspi­rations and the pretended Inspirations of Sectaries. Such is that Spirit of Charity and Peace, and so diuine are the effects of it directing the minds of good, humble, Obe­dient & deuout Catholicks: And such is the Spirit of Disorder, Reuenge, Wrath, Rebellion &c. and so dis­mall are the effects of that Spirit vvherevvith selfe-opinionated, presumptuous, frantick Sectaries are agi­tated. What resemblance, what agreement can there be betvveene these two? This euill Spirit though it sa­crilegiously [Page XXVI] vsurpes the name, yet it doth not so much as counterfeit the opera [...]ions of the good one: Or if vvith the Name it doe sometimes seeme to counter­feit some outvvard resemblances, and to some per­sons shevv demure Lookes &c, yet the Aequiuocation and Hypocrisy is so grosse and palpable, that they must put out their eyes that perceiue it not.

35. Shall vvee then extinguish, and in a sort Ex­orcise the Good Diuine Spirit, for feare it should raise vp the Euill one vvith it? Or rather shall vvee not confidently assure our selues that vpon the appea­ring of the Good one, the Euill one vvill either vanish, or the hideousnes of it vvill affright all from heark­ning to it? Shall vvee forbid the Sun to rise, because in some vncleane, rotten Ma [...]ishes some foggs vvill arise vvith it? Wee may as vvell annull the Sacra­ments, forbid Prayer, extinguish the Scriptures &c: for from all these the Deuill has maliciously taken aduantage to peruert and damne thousands of Soules.

36. No doubt it is, but that among those Sedu­ced and seducing People great numbers there are, that if they vvere charitably instructed in such vvayes of Discerning Spirits, they vvould be susprised and start to see to vvhat kind of Directours and Guides they haue vnvvarily committed their Soules. If such as these could perswaded (and I beseech God they may) euen vvhilst they are yet out of the Church, for a vvhile to suspend the pursuance of their busy Designes and Reforming of others, and retiring them­selues [Page XXVII] into Solitude, allovv themselues the leasure to turne their eyes inward into their ovvne Spirits, and as vvell as they can to practise the humble, selfe-renouncing, resigned vvay of Spirituall Prayer taught in this Booke, thereby to procure from God such Lights as then may be trusted to: Nor they; nor vvee should euer repent that the publishing of such Doctrines as these, gaue them an happy occasion to doe so.

37. And vvhat greater satisfaction can Catholicks haue in their vvaies? And vvhat greater aduantage can they haue ouer all those that are out of the Church, then this Proofe made good by vniuersall Experience, viz. That whosoeuer sincerely and constantly giues him­selfe to the practise of such Perfect Prayer, as is here taught; if he be already a Catholick, he will most certainly euer remaine so; and if he be not yet in the Church, he will become affraid of remaining his ow [...]e Pastour and Guide. For neuer any Catholick that exercised Spirituall Prayer ceased to be a Catholick, till he first ceased so to pray. And the Spirit of such Prayer, in any Perfection neuer rested vpon any soule that was out of the Catholick Church.

38. And this I suppose may suffise not only to iu­stify the Truth and Innocency of this our Doctrine concerning Diuine Inspirations but also the law­fullnes, yea conueniency, yea euen the necessi [...]y of pub­lishing it to the vvorld; and this for those very Reasons, vvherevvith others vvould deterre vs. For the Obiectours are afraid of the Publication of it, least [Page XXVIII] franctick Sectaries should thinke themselues iustified in their pretences: And on the Contrary I conceiue the Publication necessary, least they should thinke them­selues iustified in their pretences: vvhich, till they see how vnlike to true Diuine Lights and Inspirations theirs are, they may haue some shevv for. I doe not intend vvhen I call it our Doctrine to appropriate it to any Person or Community for it is the very same that hath in all Ages bene taught by all Saints ex­perienced in Internall wayes, as vvill be demonstrated by infinite Testimonies Ancient and Moderne, if God shall engage vs to such a labour by the opposition of any one. True it is that the Pious and sublime Authour of the Treatises here abridged, hath (doubtles by the Guidance and assistance of a Supernaturall Light) spent more thoughts about this subiect, and taken more paines in encouragng vvell-minded soules to fitt them­selues for the receiuing of such Light; in distinguishing it from false Lights, and in shevving the blessed Ef­fects of it &c. then perhaps any other Authour former­ly did. And that is all. For the Doctrine in substance is all old as Christianity it selfe: And cannot shevv strange or nevv, but only to such to vvhom in these dayes Antiquity does seeme the greatest Nouelty.

39. Hauing thus by declaring the insufficiency of these Obiections against the publishing of the follovv­ing Instructions, opened the Barriers to giue this Booke a free scape to range abroad at liberty: And my only in­tention being (for Gods Glory) to benefit thy soule, deare Reader: (For as for the meane or sinister ends of gaining [Page XXIX] credit or esteeme vvith others therby, the ambition is so vnvvorthy my Profession, and vvithall so poore and vnreasonable (considering that I can appropriate no­thing to my selfe but a little paines in transcribing & digesting another mans Labours) that I cannot thinke my selfe lyable to any suspicion vvith thee in that regard: Therfore to the end I may according to my vtmost ability facilitate thy receiuing good to thy Spirit hereby: though I haue no more Obiections to ansvver, yet by conuersing vith certaine pious and learned Persons to vvhose perusall and Iudgment this Booke vvas presented, hauing found that some fevv passages in it vvere not so very clearly expressed, but that euen an vninteressed and vnpassionate Reader might perhaps stop a little at them: I thought expe­dient to let thee (Good Reader) be acquainted vvhat Satisfaction I gaue to them.

40. One Point that seemed to require an explica­tion is that (in the 1. Treat. 2. Section. 2. Chap.) where is treated of what care a spirituall Disciple ought to take in the choice of a sit Directour: For to leaue a matter of such importance to the Election of an vnexperien­ced, & perhaps young & ignorant soule, seemed to them neither conuenient nor prudent: Besides that in Re­ligious Communities such a permission vvould be an infringing of all due Order and Submission to Superiours. But hereto vvas replied. 1. That Religious Persons vvere expressely excepted in the Booke. 2. And as for others, this very same Aduice vvas long since giuen by the Bishop of Geneua, Auila &c. True it is notvvithstan­ding, [Page XXX] that there may oft be found in the vvorld many good deuout soules that yet are not very capable of making a good choice: Hovveuer euen such, as far as is allovved, ought to vse their best endeauours, hoping that God vvill blesse such their care for the aduancement of their Spirits. Notvvithstanding such ought vvithall to take heed that from too nice a cu­riosity in chusing, there doe not follovv any disquiet in the families vvhere they liue, if seuerall Persons should be zealous each for a particular Directour: as S. Hierome chides a Mother and a Daughter that vpon such an occasion separated from one another. Ther­fore in such a case a good soule that vvill preferre peace before the contenting her mind, may of all others rely vpon God, assuring her selfe that He vvill in a speciall manner assist and conduct her, supplying all other vvants. And particularly such an extraordinary Diuine assistance may be most confidently expected by vvell-disposed soules in Religious Communities, vvhere such freedome of chusing is not permitted. For as Rusbrochius sayth, God will rather send an Angell from heauen, then that such humble, obedient and sincere soules relying vpon him, shall want due helpes. Ther­fore such as forbeare a sollicitous searching after a Di­rectour, either for the preuenting inconueniences, or out of an humble sincere apprehension of the danger of erring in the Choice, or a Religious regard to the preiudice it might cause in a Community to peace and good order &c, such may vvell hope that God vvill not permit them to be loosers thereby. Yea more­ouer [Page XXXI] such as in the forenamed Cases thinke they haue a true occasion, and that they may iustly doe it for the quietting of their Consciences, resoluing of their doubts &c, had neede be very vvary that they pro­ceede sincerely, and that they really seeke their spi­rituall proffit, and not naturall contentment. For as our Venerable F. Baker in a certaine place aduiseth, It is not sufficient to any Soules, that it is permitted by the Lavves of the Church at certaine times to re­quire a Speciall Directour, (vpon a consideration of the expedience and necessity that some soules in some circumstances may haue:): But they are to consider vvhether their case haue these circumstances, and vvhether they doe truly make vse of the said Permission for the right end.

41. A second Point in the same chapter supposed to deserue explication vvas that Assertion, That a Deuout Soule once set in a good and proper way of Prayer, after she has made some progresse in it, ought not to haue re­course ordinarily to a Directour, but that she should pra­ctise the following of Gods Directions &c. On the Con­trary it vvas supposed that till a soule haue made some considerable progresse in the Prayer of the Will, she vvould not be subiect to Illusions: and therfore had thence forvvard most neede of Aduice from a pru­dent Guide. But this difficulty is cleared tovvard the latter end of the third Treatise, vvhere is taught, That in the case and perill of Illusion vpon an opinion of some extraordinary Illuminations &c, it is necessary that Soules though neuer so much aduanced, should [Page XXXII] distrust their ovvne iudgment, and neuer presume to adde beleife vnto, and must lesse put in execution any thing suggested by any Illuminations (true or pre­tended) vvithout the aduice and consent of Superiours and Directours. But as for the ordinary practises of an Internall Life, as Prayer and Mortification &c, is is very requisite that soules should be taught, as soone as may be to quit an assiduous dependāce on Externall Guides, from vvhence vvould follovv nothing but sollici­tudes, distractions &c. There is a parallell Ad­uice though in somevvhat a different Case (in 3. Treat. 4. Sect. 3. Chap. §. 36. 37.) vvhere in a Discourse concerning Rapts and the like extraordinary Fauours, it is said of Perfect Soules, that they may iudge of those matters by their owne supernaturall Light &c. & that they are not so absolutely obliged to resigne their iudgments and Wills to others, as vtterly to neglect their owne proper Call receiued from God &c. By vvhich vvords is not meant that any Soules, though neuer so Perfect should be exempted from the obligation of submission to Superiours, iudging or ordaining con­cerning any such Diuine Fauours: But only, that such Perfect, Soules neede not so oft to haue re­course for Aduice about such matters, but may pro­ceede by that Diuine Light communicated to them: Whereas the imperfect ought neither to yeild beleife nor execution further then they haue Aduice and Order for. Now vvho vvould find fault vvith S. Te­resa, S. Catherine of Sienna &c, if they should forbeare consultations after euery Rapt, or Reuelation, hauing [Page XXXVI] formerly bene sufficiently vvarranted by Superiours &c?

42. In consequence to the story of V. R. F. Bal­thazar Aluarez his Account giuen of his Prayer to his Generall (mentioned in the 3. Treat. 1. Sect. 7. Chap. at the latter End) vvhere a relation is made of the Ge­neralls Orders, requiring all Superiours to direct and assist the younger Religious among them so as that they might high y esteeme, and in their practise follow the manner of Prayer most suitable to their Institute & prescribed in their Exercises: I thinke my selfe obliged to acquaint thee (deare Reader) that by two Bookes published of late by two RR. FF. of the Society, and perused by mee since the vvriting and printing of that passage, I doe find that the sayd Orders of the Generall are not, at least of late, so rigidely interpreted, as for­merly they vvere.

43. The Authours of sayd Bookes vvritten in French are R. F. Ant. Ciuoré, and R. F. Andr. Baiole. In vvhich the vvhole Doctrine of this Booke, especially concerning the Excellency of Affectiue Praier beyond Discoursiue, is most copiously and strongly asserted: yea and moreouer the Instructions concerning the necessity of attending to, and following Diuine Inspirations; as likevvise waies prescri­bed to distinguish them from false suggestions of the Deuill or corrupt Nature, are so largely, clearely and e­uen in the very Phrases of this Booke deliuered by the former of the tvvo, in his Booke called, Les Se­crets de la Science des Saincts (Tr. III. cap. IX. from [Page XXXVIII] p. 402. to p. 486.) that it not being credible that he had seene our V. F. A. Bakers Writings, vvee may ra­tionally in ferre that vvhat he vvrites vvith such ex­traordinary exactnes proceeded from a deepe and ex­perimentall knovvledge of these Internall and secret pathes of Contemplation.

44. So that, no doubt, there are many Deuout Persons in the Society vvhich not being engaged in many externall Employments, and enioying consequently both a Solitude and Liberty of Spirit greater perhaps then vvill be affor­ded in many Communities by Profession purely Con­templatiue, doe permit themselues to the Diuine Conduct, & make vvonderfull progresse in these Diuine Wayes.

45. True indeede it is, that the other Authour (F. Ant. Baiole) seemes to maintaine that the Spirituall Exercises according to the intention of S. Ignatius, vvill by pra­ctise become a Praier of Contemplation and Mystick Vnion: An Assertion in vvhich I haue not found any yet to ioyne vvith him. But hovveuer, he shevves in his Book [...] (stiled, La Vie interieure) that he had a true Notion of the Prayer of Mystick Vnion: And that being so, he may freely enioy the contentment of the former supposition.

46. Besides these there may possibly be other pas­sages that thou also (Deuout Reader) if thou hadst had the perusall before the Impression, vvouldst per­haps haue giuen vs occasion to explaine or interpret more at large. If it prooue so, all vvee can doe is to referre them to thine ovvne candour and Charity, pro­mising vpon a re-impression all satisfaction possible: and [Page XXXIX] in the meane time requesting that our ovvne good meaning and the iudgment of our Superiours and Ap­prouers may be our Safe-guard. Only one Suite vvee make vnto thee (most reasonable and iust) vvhich is, That thou wouldst not proceede to the censure of any passage, till thou hast read the whole Booke. The same Points and matters doe occasionally come in in seue­rall places, and it vvould haue bene too great a tiring of thee to repeate in euery place all the cir­cumstances and phrases necessary for explanation or preuention of suspicions and Obiections. If it be for thine owne good principally that thou art a Reader, vvee shall stand in little neede of preparing thee vvith Apologies. And if it be for our hurt that thou art a Reader, vvee thanke God vvee are not guilty of the least ill de­signe to make vs feare, except only in thy behalfe. All that vvee haue to say is, God almighty make thee (vvhoseuer thou art) a practiser of the good that thou vvilt certainly find in the follovving Treatises; and then vvee shall haue no cause to apprehend either for thee or our selues.

47. Thus, truly for ought appeares to mee, (Deuout Reader) thou mayst freely, and vvithout the least ap­prehension of any danger peruse and make thy best benefit of these follovving Instructions: The vvhich moreouer, as thou seest, haue passed the Censure, and deserued the Approbations of seuerall pious and lear­ned Persons. What euer opinion thou shalt, after rea­ding, haue of them: at least I vvill oblige thee to ac­knovledge that here (in the Treatises that follovv) is no [Page XL] manner of couert; indirect meaning or designe (ac­cording to the fashion nevv a dayes) to broach any bold, newfangled Inuentions: and much lesse of main­taining vnduly vvhat shall be du [...]y found fault vvith; since they are exposed to the common vievv by one that (as he hitherto hath, so) here he doth (and by Gods Grace euer vvill) submit himselfe and his Writings to the Authority and iudgment of the Sea Apo­stolick in the first place, and next to all other his Su­periours. This I professe, as is the Duty of an humble, Obedient Son of the Church: And this if I did not moreouer expressely signify vvith reference to the Do­ctrines contained in the follovving Treatises, I could not auoyde some degree of guilt and imputation of not deliuering candidely and faithfully our Venerable Authours sence, vvho in many places protesteth the like submission of all his Writings to all lavvfull Authority vvhatsoeuer. Farevvell, Deare Reader: Oremus inuicens vt saluemur. AMEN.

THE FIRST TREATISE OF AN INTERNALL LIFE IN GENERALL.

THE FIRST TREATISE AND FIRST SECTION. Of a Contemplatiue life in Generall; the nature and end therof; and generall dispo­sition required therto.

CAP. I.

1. Cap. §. 1. 2. 3. Continuall vnion in spirit with God the end of mans creation, & practised by Adam in Innocencie.

§. 4. 5. Mans fall & miserie through sin.

§. 4. 5. Which is tran [...]fused into vs & all his posteritie.

§. 8. 9. The reparation of mankind by Christ.

§. 10. 11. That all Christians are obliged to aspire to perfe­ction in diuine loue by the waies of prayer &c. as Adam did.

1. IT was only infinite Goodnes that moued Allmighty God to create the world of no­thing, & particularly in this inferiour visi­ble world to create man after his owne I­mage [Page 4] & similitude, consisting of a fraile earthlie bodie, which is the prison of an immortall, intellectuall spirit, to the end that by his vnderstanding which is capable of an vnlimited knowledge, & by his will which cannot be replenished which any obiect of Goodnes lesse then infinite, he might so gouerne & order himselfe & all other visible creatures, as thereby to arriue vnto the end for which he was made, to wit, eternall beatitude both in soule & bodie in heauen, the which consists in a retur­ning to the diuine principle from whom he flowed, & an inconceaueibly happy vnion with him, both in mind con­templating eternally his infinite Perfections, & in will & affections eternally louing, admiring & enioying the said perfections.

2. Now to the end that man might not (except by his owne free & willfull choyce of miserie) faile from at­teining to the only vniuersall end of his creation, God was pleased to the naturall vast capacity of mans vnder­standing & w [...]ll, to adde a supernaturall light illustrating his mind to beleiue & know him, & diuine charitie in the will, which was as it were a weight to incline & draw the soule, with out any defect or interruption to loue God, & him only. So that by a continuall presence of this light, & an vninterrupted exercise of this loue, the soule of man would in time haue atteined to such a mea­sure of perfection of vnion with God in this world, as vvith out dying, to merit a translation from hence to heauen, there eternally to enioy a far more incompre­hensibly perfect and beatifying vnion vvith God.

3. Hence it appeares, that the meanes to happines, [Page 5] & the end it selfe, are essentially the same thing, to wit, vnion of the spirit with God, and differ only in degrees. And the vnion which Adam during his state of Inno­cency did & would allwaies haue practised, was in a sort perpetuall, neuer being interrupted (except perhaps in sleepe:) For louing God only & purely for himselfe, he had no strange affection to distract him, and the Images of creatures, which either by his consideration of them, or operations about them, did adhere to his internall senses, did not at all diuert his mind from God, because he contemplated them only in order to God; or rather he contemplated God alone in them, louing & seruing him only in all his reflexions on them, or workings about them. So that creatures and all offices towards them serued as stepps to raise Adam to a more sublime & more intime vnion with God; the which was both his duty & his present happines, besides that it was a dispo­sition to his future, eternall beatitude.

4. But our first parents by a willfull contempt & trans­gression of that one most easy command, which God for a tryall of their obedience had imposed on them, not only broke the foresaid vnion, & depriued themselues of the hope of enioying God eternally in the future life: But moreouer were vtterly deuested of all supernaturall graces, & extremely weakened & disordered in all their naturall Gifts. So that hauing lost that diuine light, by which their vnderstandings had bene illustrated, & that Diuine loue by which their wills & affections adhe­red continually to God, they were rendred incapable either of contemplating God (except onlie as a seuere [Page 6] Iudge & auenger) or consequently of affording him any degree of loue. On the contrary both their minds and af­fections were only emploied on themselues, or on creatu­res, for their owne naturall, carnall interests or pleasure; & this with such a violent obstinacy & firmenes, that it was impossible for them by any force left in corrupt na­ture to raise their loue tovvards God, being once so impe­tuously precipitated from him tovvards themselues.

5. All these miserable deprauations hauing bene cau­sed in all the povvers and faculties of their soules by the forbidden fruit, the which vtterly & irreparably disor­dered that most healthfull, exact temper of their bodily constitutions; insomuch as the spirits & humours &c. which before did nothing at all hinder their exercisings & operations tovvards God, but did much promote them, now did wholly dispose them to loue & seeke themselues only with an vtter auersion from God, & the accom­plishing of his diuine will; & all circumstant creatures instead of being stepps to raise them tovvards God, on the contrary more and more seduced their affections from him, & raised all other inordinate passions displea­sing to him. Hereby in lieu of that peaceable and happie condition which they before enioyed in this world by a continuall vnion vvith God (the vvhich vvas to be per­fected eternally in the vvorld to come) they became disquieted, distracted and euen torne asunder vvith a multitude of passions and designes, oft contrarie to one another, but all of them much more opposite to God: so that by falling from vnity to a miserable multiplicity, and from peace to an endles warre, they were therein cap­tiued [Page 7] by the deuill, readily yeilding to all his suggestions, hatefull to & hating God, & so contracted not only an vnauoydable necessity of a corporall death, but also the guilt & right to an eternall separation from God after death in that lake of fire & brimstone burning for euer, & prepared for the deuill & his Angells.

6. Now the vvhole stocke of humane nature being thus totally & vniuersally depraued in our first Parents, it could not by any possible naturall meanes be auoyded, but that all their Posterity should be equally infected & poysoned with all these disorders, all which were increa­sed & dayly heightned by ill education & actuall Trans­gressions. And consequently the same guilt both of tem­porall & erernall death was with all transfused vpon them.

7. But Allmighty God the father of mercies pit­tying his owne creatures thus ingulfed in vtter mi­sery by the fault of Adam, seduced by his & our com­mon Enemy, did in his most vnspeakeable mercy free­ly & vnasked, prouide & ordeine his owne coeternall Son to be a Sauiour vnto mankind: who by his most bitter suffrings & death redeemed vs from the guilt of eternall death; & by his glorious life & resurrection hauing obteined a power of sending the holie ghost (communicated to vs in his word & sacraments &c:) he hath rectified all these disorders, shedding forth a new heauenly light to cure the blindnes of our vnderstan­dings & diuine Charity in our hearts, the which abateth that mordinate selfe-loue formerly reigning in vs, & herby he reinstates vs (cooperating with his diuine [Page 8] grace, & perseuering therein) to a new right vnto eter­nall happines, (perhaps) more sublime then man in in­nocency was destind to.

8. Notwhichstanding it was not the good will & pleasure of God by this Reparation to restore vs to the same state of perfect holines wherein Adam liued in Pa­radice. And this we ought to ascribe to his infinite wise­dome, & also to his vnspeakable goodnes towards vs: for certainly if we had bene once more left, as Adam was, in the free power of our owne wills, that is, in so casuall an estate as Adam was, & assisted & fortified with no stronger an Ayde then the primitiue grace, we should againe haue irreparably forfeyted all our hap­pines & plunged our selues far more deepely in endles misery.

9. Therefore Allmightie God thought fit for our hu­miliation, & to keepe vs in continuall vigilance & feare, as also thereby dayly to refresh the memory of our primitiue guilt, & our thank fullnes for his inestima­ble goodnes, to leaue vs in a necessitie of incurring temporall death, which we are not now to looke on as a punishment of sin, so much as a freedome from sin & a Gate & entrance to Eternall Glory. Moreouer though by his grace he hath abolished the guilt of originall sin, yet he hath suffred still to remaine in vs many bitter Effects of it, the which shall neuer in this life be so whol­ly extinguished by grace, or our holy endeauours, but that some degrees of ignorance & inclinations to that pernicious loue of our selues will remaine in vs. By which meanes we are preserued from our greatest ene­mie, [Page 9] Pride; & also forced to a continuall watchfullnes & combat against our selues, & our spirituall enemies; allwaies distrusting our selues & relying vpon the medi­cinall omnipotent regenerating grace of Christ far more helpfull to vs then the grace of innocency was, in that it not only more powerfully inclines our wills & con­quers the actuall resistance of them, by making them freely cooperate with it whensoever they doe cooperate, (for it takes not away our liberty to resist) but like wise after it hath bene weakened by veniall sins, & ex­tinguished by mortall, it is againe & againe renewed by the meanes of the sacraments & prayer &c:

10. Our duty therefore in our present state, & the employment of our whole liues must be, constantly & feruently to cooperate with diuine grace, thereby in­deauouring not only to get victory ouer Selfe-loue, Pride, sensuality &c: by humility, diuine loue & all other vertues: but also not to content our selues with any limited degrees of Piety & holines, but dayly to aspire, according to our abilities assisted vvith grace by the same vvaies to the same Perfection for vvhich vve vvere first created, & vvhich vvas practised by Adam in Innocence; to vvit; an vtter extinguishing of Selfe-loue & all affection to creatures, except in order to God, & as they may be instrumentall to beget & increase di­uine loue in vs; & a continuall vninterrupted vnion in spirit vvith God, by Faith contemplating him, & by Loue euer adhering to him.

11. This, I say, is the duty & indispensable obliga­tion of all Christians, of vvhat condition soeuer, not on­ly [Page 10] seriously to aspire to the diuine loue, but also to the perfectiō thereof suitably to their seuerall states & voca­tions. for it is morally impossible for a soule to loue God, as he ought to be loued, (that is, as the only ob­iect of her loue, & as the only vniuersal End of her being & life, for the procuring of an inseparable vnion vvith whom & for no other reason the use & comfort of crea­tures was permitted & giuen to her) I say, it is morally impossible for such a soule so louing God, deliberately & habitually to yeild to the loue of any thinge but God on­ly, & in order to him; or to stop in any inferiour degree of loue to him. The frailtie of nature & many vnauoy­dable distractions & tentations may & generally doe hin­der most soules from atteining or euen approaching to such perfection, to such vninterrupted attention & vnion vvith God, as vvas practised by Adam in Innocency, & by a fevv Perfect soules in all ages: But nothing but the vvant of true sincere loue vvil hinder the aspiring therto, according to the measure & strength of grace that each soule in her order enioyes. And both reason & experiēce vvitnesse this truth in all manner of loues, lavvfull or vn­lawfull. For vve see that vvhersoeuer the loue to riches, honour, Empire or pleasure is the tyrannising Affection, so as to cause the person to place his supposed happines in any of these; such persons neither vvill nor can, being so disposed, vvillfully surcease a continuall progresse in pursuinge their designes endlesly; neither can they ad­mit an habituall & deliberate adherence vvith affection to any other obiect, though (not ruinous, but) in an infe­riour degree preiudiciall to vvhat they principally affect.

CAP. II.

§. 1. Commonly those only are said to aspire to perfection that consecrate themselues to God.

§. 2. A naturall deuotion & propension to seeke God: of wich the degrees are infinitly various.

§. 3. 4. 5. Yet all ranged vnder two states, Actiue & Con­templatiue.

§. 6. 7. Generally most soules are of a mix'd temper betweene both: hence comes the difficulty of the guiding of soules.

§. 8. At the first Entrance into Internall waies, all soules seeme to be of an Actiue temper.

1. NOtvvithstanding although all Christians are obliged to aspire to perfection, & to leade spi­rituall liues, sanctifying all their actions & employments by prayer; yet the effectuall practise of this obligation is so very rare, that in ordinary speech those only are said to Aspire vnto perfection, vvho haue bene so highly fauou­red by God as to haue bene called by him frō all sollici­tous engagement in vvorldhy affaires, so as to make the only buisines & employment of their liues to be the ser­uing, adoring, louing, meditating, & praying vnto God, the attending to & follovving his diuine inspirations &c. in a state of competent abstraction & solitude: & this most ordinarily & perfectly in a religious profes­sion, or if in the world, yet in a course of life diuided & separated from the vvorld.

2. There seemes indeed to remaine euen naturally [Page 12] in all soules a certaine propension to seeke God (though not at all for himselfe, but meerelie for the satisfaction of nature, & selfe-ends) vvhich is a kind of Naturall Deuotion, & is to be found euen in hereticks, yea Iewes & heathens; & this more or lesse according to their se­uerall dispositions & corporall complexions; the varietie of vvhich is vvonderfull & almost incredible. Novv vvhen diuine grace adioyns it selfe to such good pro­pensions, it promotes & increases them, rectifying vvhat is amisse in them, especially by purifying the intention & making them to seeke God only for God himselfe, & no vnvvorthy in feriour Ends of nature; but it doth not at all alter the complexion it selfe, but conducts soules in spirituall vvaies suitably to their seuerall dispositions by an almost infinite varietie of paths & fashions, yet all tending to the same generall end, vvith is the vnion of our spirits vvith God by perfect loue.

3. Notwithstanding, all these varieties of dispositions & waies (of which vve shall treate more fully vvhen vve come to speake of Internall prayer,) may commo­diously enough be reduced in grosse to tvvo rankes, to vvit, Actiue & Contemplatiue spirits: Both vvhich aspire to a perfection of vnion in spirit vvith God by perfect loue: & for that purpose in grosse practise & make vse of the same meanes necessary to that end, to vvit, Mortification & Prayer. But yet the manner both of their vnion & prayer, & consequently of their mortification also is very different. And the roote of such difference is the forementioned variety of propensions & naturall dispositions to internall vvayes.

[Page 13]4. For first, the Propension vvhich is in some soules to Deuotion is of such a nature, that it inclines them much to buisy their imagination & to frame in their minds motiues to the diuine loue by Internall Discourse, so as that vvith out such reasoning & vse of images they can seldome vvith any efficacy raise or fixe their affe­ctions on God. Such dispositions are not patient of much solitude or recollection more then shall be neces­sary to enable them to produce & maintaine a right In­tention in outvvard doings & vvorkes of charitie, to the vvhich they are povverfully inclined: And the Mor­tifications most vvillingly practised by them are vsually e [...]ternall, & oftentimes voluntarily assumed, the vvhich make a great shevv & procure very great esteeme from others. And proportionably hereto the diuine loue & v­nion produced by such meanes is verie vigorous, but lesse Pure & spirituall, apt to expresse it selfe by much sensible deuotion & tendernes. The state therefore & perfectiō of these soules is called the state & Perfectiō of an Active life.

3. Againe others are naturally of a propension to seeke God in the obscurity of faith, vvith a more pro­found Introuersion of spirit, & vvith lesse Actiuity & motion in sensitiue nature, & vvith out the vse of gros­ser Images, yet vvith far greater simplicity, Purity & efficacy. And consequently such soules are not of them­selues much inclined to externall vvorkes (except vvhen God calls them thereto by secret Inspirations, or ingages them therin by command of Superiours) but they seeke rather to purifie themselues & inflame their hearts in the loue of God by Internall, quiet & pure Actuations [Page 14] in Spirit, by a totall Abstraction from Creatures, by So­litude, both Externall and especially Internall, so dispo­sing them selues to receiue the Influxes & Inspirations of God, vvhose guidance cheifly they endeauour to fol­lovv in all things. And the Mortifications practised by them though lesse remarkable, yet are faire more Effica­cious, being profound and penetrating euen to the most secret deordinations of the Spirit. By a Constant pur­suance of such Exercises their Spirits becoming naked & empty of all strange Affections, Images & Distra­ctions, the Diuine spirit only liues & operates in them, affording them Light to perceiue & strength to subdue selfe-loue in its most secret, and to all others impercepti­ble insinuations. And by Consequence they attaine vn­to an Vnion vvith God farre more strickt & immediate then the former, by a loue much more Masculine, pure & Diuine. And the state and Perfection of these happy soules is called the state and Perfection of à Co [...]templatiue Life.

6. Now though all Internall Dispositions of soules (by wich Mankind is more diuersified then by outward features) may conueniently enough be ranged vnder these two states: yet wee are not to conceiue that each soule is by its temper entirely & absolutely either Con­templatiue or Actiue: For on the contrary the most part are of a Disposition mixd betweene both, and par­taking somewhat, more or lesse, of each: But they re­ceiue the Denomination from that whereto the Pro­pension is more strong.

7. And from hence comes that great Difficulty that [Page 15] there is in the Conducting and Managing of soules in these Internall waies: For each seuerall Disposition must be put in a way suitable to the spirit of the party, otherwise small progresse can be expected. Now that wherin the diuersity of Spirits is principally discern'd, is their Praier. If therefore an Actiue Spirit should be obliged to that Internall solitude, to that quiet Affectiue Praier of the Heart alone which is proper to Contempla­tiue Soules: Or if a Contemplatiue spirit should be too long deteined or fettred with the Rules & busy Me­thods of Discoursiue Meditation (which is a Prayer cheifly of the Head or Imagination:) Or lastly if a spirit of a Mixt Disposition should be strictly confined to ei­ther of these sortes of Praier & not allowed to practise them interchangeably according as she finds profita­ble to her present temper of minde &c. They would entangle themselues with insuperable Difficulties, scrupulosities and vnsatisfaction, and be so farre from any considerable aduancement, that they would be in danger of giuing ouer all thought of seeking God inter­nally.

8. Notwithstanding although the Propensions of some soules to Internall Operations of the Spirit, and consequently to Contemplation, vvere neuer so strong: Yet at their first entrance into a Sprituall course, they vvill ordinarily speaking, seeme to be of an Actiue, extrouerted temper, and consequently vvill not be capable of a long continued rigorous solitude, nor of Operations purely Spirituall. They vvill there­fore be forced to begin vvith Exercises of the Ima­gination [Page 16] and Discoursiue Praier. And the reason is, because by their former Secular, negligent & Extro­uerted life, their mind is so filled & painted all ouer vvith the Images of Creatures, & their Hearts so disor­dred & diuided vvith inordinate Affections & Passions, that the vvill alone vvith its, Actuations, purposes and resolutions has not povver to expell the said Images & to assvvage the said Passions. So that there is a necessi­tie by Meditation & Consideration of introducing good Images to expell the vaine & bad ones, and of in­uenting Motiues to quiet Passions, by diuerting them vpon God. But this being once done by the Exercises proper to an Actiue life (vvhich to such soules vvill not neede to last long:) they thence forvvards are to betake them selues, and alvvaies to continue in such Internall Exercises as are suitable to their naturall Propensions, to vvitt,, the quiet, Solitary, Spirituall Exercises of a CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE.

CAP. III.

§. 1. The Contemplatiue state more perfest.

§. 2. And also more easy & secure.

§. 3. Of Which yet the most simple & ignorant are capable.

§. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. The End of a Contemplatiue life super­eminently excellent aboue that of the Actiue, and the Vnion with God more Diuine.

§. 11. Of Passiue Vnions therein, yet more Supernaturall.

1. OF these tvvo states, the Contemplatiue is by all acknovvledged to be the more Sublime [Page 17] and Perfect, in as much as the Operations & Exercises of it are more Spirituall, more abstracted from the Bo­dy, and i [...]s Sensuall Faculties: and consequently more Angelicall & Diuine. It is represented to vs by our Lord in the Person of Mary, vvho is therfore said to haue chosen the best Part, Which shall neuer be taken from her, being the. Beginning and imperfect Practise of that vvhich shall be our Eternall employment and Beatitude in Heau [...]n. As on the other side the Actiue life is typi­fied by the other Sister Martha, vvho turmoyled her selfe vvith many Exteriour buisinesses & sollicitudes, vvhich though they vvere in thē selues good & laudable, yet Maries Vacancy and invvard attention to our Lord is much preferred.

2. And as the Contemplatiue State is of the tvvo the more Perfect, so also is it far more easy, more Simple, & more secure from all Errours & Illusions vvhich may be occasioned by an indiscreete vse of Praier. And the reason or ground of such Security is euident: Be­cause a Contemplatiue Soule tending to God and vvorking almost only vvith the Heart & blind Affections of the vvill povvring them selues vpon God apprehen­ded only in the Obscure Notion of Faith, not enqui­ring vvhat he is, but beleeuing him to be that incompre­hensible Being vvhich he is, and vvhich can only be comprehended by himselfe, reiecting & striuing to forget all Images & representations of him, or any thing else; Yea transcending all Operations of the Imagina­tion, and all subtilty & curiosity of Reasoning, and lastly seeking an Vnion vvith God only by the most [Page 18] pure & most intime affections of the [...] Spirit: vvhat possi­bility of Illusion or errour can there be to such a soule? For if the deuill should suggest an Image (vvhich is his only meane & vvay to seduce a soule to errour & a sin­full curiosity of hnovvledge;) she is taught and exer­cised to reiect all manner of Images, and to hold the Internall senses almost vvholly vacant during her Spi­rituall actuations. Or if by stirring vp vncleane or other vnlavvfull Affections in sensitiue nature, he seeke to assault her: vvhat more secure remedy is there then vvith the vvhole bent & affections of the soule to ad­here & be vnited to God? neglecting and scarse mar­king vvht soeuer disorders may vnvvillingly happen in inferiour nature, aboue vvhich she is exalted into a region of light and peace?

3. Novv for a further proofe of the excellency & security of Contemplatiue praier beyond actiue, expe­rience demonstrates that all the most sublime exerci­ses of contemplation may as purely & perfectly be per­formed by persons the most ignorant and vnlearned, (so they be sufficiently instructed in the fundamentall Doctrines, of Catholique faith) as by the learnedst Doctours in as much as not any abilities in the braine are requisite therto, but only a strong couragious af­fection of the heart. Hence it is, theat vve see that sim­ple vnlearned vvoemen are more frequently graced by almighty God vvith the gist of high contemplation, then men, and especially such men as are much giuen to sublime speculations. A reason vvhereof may be (besides the God reueiles himselfe more vvillinglie to [Page 19] humble and simple minds) because by meanes of that tendernes & compassionatnes vvhich abounds naturally in vvoemen, they are disposed to a greater feruour in Charity, and their affections being once fixed on their only proper obiect, vvhich is God, they doe more vi­gorously & firmly adhere thereunto: and by conse­quence arriue both more easily and quickly to the Per­fection of Contemplation, vvhich consists (as shall herafter be shevved) in the feruour & constancy of the vvill vnited to God; and scarce at all in the ope­rations of the vnderstanding.

4. Novv this present treatise being intended only for encouraging & instructing of persons that aspire to perfection in a Contemplatine life, and more espe­cially for the discouering of the seuerall degrees of praier proper for that state: reason requires that, since in all Doctrines vvhich tend to practice the end is princi­pally to be regarded, as being that, vvhich if it can be approued vvorthy the taking paines for, vvill giue life and courage in the vse of the meanes conducing ther­to, vvee should treate more precisely of the pro­per end of a Contemplatiue life: The vvhich indeed is of so supreme an excellence and diuine profection aboue any thing that can be designd or sought after in any other Doctrine or Profession, that those vvho haue eyes to see it and palates capable of a Spirituall tasting of it, vvill thinke no difficulties, no tedious­nesses, no bitternesses or labours too great a price to purchase it.

4. It vvas said before that the generall end of mans [Page 20] creation, and vvhich ought to be aspired vnto by all christians, and much more those vvhose more Speciall professiō is to tend Perfection, vvhether in an actiue or a Contemplatiue state, is a perfect & constant vnion in spirit to God by loue, vvhich is, vninterrupted per­fect praier. But the same end is differently sought & attained by actiue and by Contemplatiue spirits. For in an actiue life the vnion is not so immediate, stable, su­blime & intime of the supreme portion of the spirit vvith God, as it is in a Contemplatiue state. But as the exercises of the actiue liuers are much in the imagina­tiue & di [...]coursiue faculties of the soule, so is likevvise their vnion. The effects indeede of it are more per­ceptible, and therefore more apt to cause admiration in others, but vvith all, being much in sence, it is not so cleare nor so peacefull, and by consequen [...]e not so stable nor immediate as is that of Contemplatiues. The Charity of actiues is strong and vigorous, and the out­vvard effects of it dazeling the eyes of the beholders, and thereby causing great edification: they are vvith all frequently multiplied, for strong loue is a Passion that takes pleasure in labours. Wheras the deedes of Contemplatiue soules (except vvhen God by an extra­ordinary inspiration calls them to exteriour employ­ments) are but fevv, and in appearance but small & litle regarded or esteemed by others. Yet those meane actions of theirs in Gods esteeme may be preferred in­comparably before the others, as being in a far more perfect degree Supernaturall and Diuine, as procee­ding from an immediate and most certeine impulse of [Page 21] Gods holy Spirit, vvhose conduct, light & vertue such soules doe far more clearly perceiue, and more faithful­ly & constantly follovv, euen in their daily and ordina­ry practises, then actiue liuers doe or can in their actions of highest importance. Lastly the charity of Contempla­tiues though it be lesse stirring & buisy, yet is far more profoundly rooted in the center of the spirit, causing an vnion much more Spirituall & Diuine.

5. S. Bernard perfectly experienced in the Internall vvaies of a Contemplatiue life, vvriting to certein Re­ligious Fathers of the Carthusian Order Professing the same, excellently expresses this vnion in these vvords, Aliorum est Deo seruire: vestrum adhaerere. Aliorum est Deo credere, scire, amare, reuereri: vestrum est sapere, intelligere, cognoscere, frui: that is, It is the du­ty of others (that liue actiue liues either in the vvorld or Religiō) [...]o serue God: but it is yours to adhere inseparably vnto him. It belongs to others to beleiue, to knowe, to loue, to adore God: but to you, to tast, to vnderstand, to be fa­miliarly acquainted with, and to enioy him.

6. Consonantly to this expression of S. Bernard, Mystick vvriters doe teach that the proper end of a Contemplatiue life is the atteining vnto an Habituall & almost vninterrupted perfect vnion vvith God in the Supreme Point of the spirit; and such an vnion as giues the soule a fruitiue possession of him, & a reall, experi­mentall perception of his Diuine Presence in the depth & center of the spirit, vvhich is fully possessed and fil­led vvith him alone; not on [...]y all deliberate affections to creatures being excluded, but in a manner all Ima­ges [Page 22] of them also, at least so far as they may be distractiue to the soule.

7. The effects of this blessed, perceptible Presence of God in perfect soules are vnspeakable & diuine. For he is in them both as a Principle of all their actions Internall & Externall, being the life of their life and spirit of their spirits: and also as the End of them, di­recting both the actions & persons to himselfe only. He is all in all things vnto them: A light to direct secure­ly all their steps, and to order all their vvorkings, euen those also vvhich seeme the most indifferent, the vvhich by the guidance of Gods holy spirit doe cause a farther aduancement of them to a yet more immediate vnion. He is a sheild to protect them in all tentations and dangers: an internall force and vigour vvithin them to make them doe & suffer all things vvhatsoeuer his pleasure is they should doe or suffer. They not only beleiue & knovv, but euen feele & tast him to be the vniuersall, Infinite Good. By meanes of a continuall conuersation vvith him they are reduced to a blessed state of a perfect denudation of spirit, to an absolute, internall solitude, a Transcendency & forgetfullnes of all created things, and especially of them selues, to an heauenly-mindednes & fixed Attention to God only, and this euen in the midst of employments to others neuer so distractiue; and finally to a gustfull knovv­ledge of all his infinite perfections, and a strict applica­tion of their spirits by loue aboue knovvledge, ioyn'd vvith a fruition & repose in him vvith the vvhole extent of their vvills: so that they become after an inexpressible [Page 23] manner Partakers of the Diuine nature; yea one spirit, one Will, one loue vvith him, being in a sort deified, & enioying as much of heauen hereas mortality is capa­ble of.

8. To this purpose saih the same S. Bern: Amor Dei, vel Amor Deus, Spiritus Sanctus Amori Hominis se infun­dens, afficit eum sibi, & amans semetipsum de Homine Deus, secum vnum efficit & spiritum eius, & Amorem eius, that is, the loue of God, or loue vvhich is God, to vvit, the Holy Ghost povvring himselfe into the loue of man (inclineth &) applieth m [...]n by loue vnto himselfe: and thus God louing himselfe by man, maketh both his spirit & loue one vvith himselfe.

9. A most blessed state this is certainly, being the Por­tion chosen by Mary, vvhich our Lord himselfe calls opti­mam partem, the very best of all diuine graces vvhich God can bestovv in this life: and vvhervvith he enri­che two in a singular mnaner those his most highly fa­uoured, & most tenderly loued freinds, S. Iohn the Euangelist, and S. Mary Magdalen: but in a yet more supereminent degree his ovvne most heauenly Virgin-mother.

10. Happy therefore are those soules vpon vvhich God bestovves a desire & ambition so glorious, as se­riously & effectually to tend, aspire and endeauour the compassing a designe so heauenly: qualifying them not only vvith good naturall propensions to those Internall vvaies of loue leading to this End, but also calling them to a state of life abstracted from the vvorld, the vanities & sollioitudes of it; and vvithall supernaturall light to [Page 24] direct them in the secret pathes of this loue: and lastly strong resolutions, and perseuerance vvith courage to breake through all discouragements, difficulties, persecu­tions, Aridities & vvhatsoeuer oppositions shall be made against them either from concupiscence vvithin, or the vvorld vvithout, or the deuill ioyning vvith both against a designe of all others most hurtfull to him & most destructiue to his pretentions.

11. And for a yet further and greater encourage­ment vnto them to embrace & prosecute so glorious a designe, they may take notice that besides this (hither­to described) happy vnion of a Contemplatiue soule vvith God by perfect Charity, in the vvhich the soule herselfe actiuely concurrs, not only as to the fruition, but also in the disposing herselfe immediatly thereto: There are other vnions entirely Supernaturall, not at all procured, or so much as intended by the soule her selfe, but graciously & freely conferred by God vpon some soules, in the vvhich he after a vvonderfull and inconceiueable manner affords them interiour illumi­nations and touches, yet far more efficacious and Di­uine: in all vvhich the soule is a mere Patient, and on­ly suffers God to worke his Diuine pleasure in her, being neither able to further nor hinder it. The vvhich vnions though they last but euen as it vvere a moment of time, yet doe more illuminate and purify the soule, then ma­ny yeares spent in actiue exercises of Spirituall praier or mortification could doe.

CAP. IV.

§. 1. 2. 3. 4. A Strong Resolution, necessary in the Begin­ning.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Considering first the length and tediousnes of the way to perfection, in mortification.

§. 10. 11. And also many degrees of praier, to be passed.

§. 12. Therefore it is seldome atteined: & not till a decli­ning Age.

§. 13. Except by Gods extraordinary favour to a few.

§. 14. Yet old & young ought to enter into the way.

§. 15. A motiue to resolution are the difficulties in the way.

§. 16. And those both from with out, and within.

1. THe end of a Contemplatiue life therfore being so supereminently noble and Diuine, that bea­tified soules doe prosecute the same, and no other, in heauen; vvith this only difference, that the same beatifying obiect vvhich is novv obscurely seene by faith, and imperfectly embraced by loue, shall herafter be seene clearly and perfectly enioyed: The primary and most generall Duty required in soules vvhich by Gods vocation doe vvalke in the vvaies of the spirit, is to admire, loue, and long after this vnion, and to fixe an immoueable resolution through Gods grace & assistance to attempt and perseuere in the prosecution of so glorious a designe indespight of all opposition, through light & darknes, through consolations & deso­lations [Page 26] &c. as esteeming it to be cheaply purchased though with the losse of all comforts that Nature can find or expect in Creatures.

2. The fixing of such a couragious Resolution is of so maine importance & necessity, that if it should hap­pen to faile or yeild to any, though the feircest tenta­tions, that may occurre, and are to be expected, so as not to be reassumed, the whole designe will be ruined. And therefore deuout soules are oftentimes to re­new such a resolution, and especially when any diffi­culty presents it selfe: and for that purpose they will oft be put in mind thereof in these following instru­ctions.

3. It is not to be esteemed loftines, presumption, or pride to tend to so sublime an end: but it is a good and laudable ambition, and most acceptable to God: Yea the Roote of it is true solide humility ioynd with the loue of God: For it proceedes from a vile esteeme and some degrees of a holy hatred of our selues, from whom vve desire to fly; and a iust esteeme, obedience, and loue of God, to vvhom only vve desire to adhere & be inseparably vnited.

4. Happy therefore is the soule that finds in herselfe an habituall thirst & longing after this vnion, if she vvill seeke to assvvage it by continuall approaches to this Fountaine of liuing vvaters, labouring therto vvith dai­ly Externall & Internall vvorkings. The very tendance to this vnion, in vvhich our vvhole Essentiall happi­nes consists, has in it some degrees of happines, and is an imperfect vnion, disposing to a perfect one. For by [Page 27] such internall tendance & aspiring vve gett by little & little out of Nature into God. And that vvith out such an interiour tendance & desire no exteriour suffrances or obseruances vvill imprint any true vertue in the soule, or bring her neerer to God, vvee see in the example of Suso, vvho for the first fiue yeares of a Religious Profession found no satisfaction in soule at all notvvthstanding all his care & exactnes in exteriour Regular Obseruances and mortifications: he perceiued plainly that still he vvanted some thing, but vvhat that vvas he could not tell: till God vvas pleased to discouer it to him, and put him in the vvay to atteine to his desire, vvhich vvas in spirit to tend continually to this vnion; vvith out vvhich all his austerities and Obseruances serued little or nothing, as proceeding principally from selfe loue, selfe-iudgment & the satisfying of Nature euen by crossing it.

4. Let nothing therfore deterre a vvelminded soule from perseuering vvith feruour in this firme resolution. No not the sight of her daily defects, imperfections or sins, or remorses for them: but rather let her increase in courage euen from her falls, and from the experience of her ovvne impotency let her be incited to runne more earnestly & adhere more firmly vnto God, by vvhom she vvill be enabled to doe all things and conquer all re­sistances.

5. Novv to the End that all sincerity may be vsed in the deliuery of these instructions, and that all vaine complyance & flattery may be auoided, the Deuout soule is to be informed that the vvay to perfection is 1. both a very long, teadious vvay; and 2. vvithall there [Page 28] are to be expected in it many greiuous, painfull & bitter tentations and crosses to corrupt nature: as being a vvay that vvholly and vniuersally contradicts & destroyes all the vaine cases, contentments, interests and designes of Nature, teaching a soule to dye vnto selfe-loue, selfe-iudgment and all propriety, and to raise her selfe out of Nature, seeking to liue in a Region exalted aboue Natu­re, to vvit, the Region of the spirit; into vvhich being once come, she vvill find nothing but light and peace and ioy in the Holy Ghost. The vvhich difficulties consi­dered, instead of being discouraged, she vvill, if she be truly touched vvith Gods spirit, rather encrease her fer­uour & courage to pursue a designe so Noble & Diuine, for vvhich alone she vvas created: especially 3. conside­ring the infinite danger of a negligent tepide and spi­ritually slouthfull life: and likevvise the security and be­nefitt of being but truely in the vvay to Perfection, though she should neuer attaine to it in this life.

6. First therfore to demonstrate that the vvay to Per­fection must needs be long and tedious, euen to soules vvell disposed therto both by nature and education (for to others, it is a vvay vnpassable with out extreme diffi­culty) this will easily be acknowledged by any well-minded soule that by her owne experience will consider how obstinate, inflexible, and of how glewy & tenacious a nature corrupt selfe-loue is in Her: How long a time must passe before she can subdue any one habituall ill in­clination & affection in her selfe? What fallings & ri­sing againe there are in our passions & corrupt desires; in somuch as vvhen they seeme to be quite mortified & [Page 29] almost forgotten, they vvill againe raise themselues & combat vs vvith as great or perhaps greater violence then before. Novv till the poysonnous roote of selfe-loue be vvithered, so as that vvee do not knovvingly and delibe­ratly suffer it to spring forth & beare fruit (for vtterly killd it neuer vvill be in this life:) till vvee haue lost at least all affection to all our corrupt desires euen the most veniall, vvhich are [...]llmost infinite perfect charity vvill neuer raigne in our soules, and consequently perfect vnion in spirit vvith God cannot be expected. For Charity liues & grovves according to the measure that selfe-loue is abated, and no further.

7. Soules that first enter into the Internall vvaies of the spirit, or that haue made no great progresse in them, are guided by a very dimme light, being able to discouer and discerne only a fevv grosser defects & inordinations: but by perseuering in the exercices of mortification & prayer this light vvill be increased, & then they vvill pro­portionably euery day more & more discouer a thou­sand secret and formerly inuisible impurities in their in­tentions, selfe-sekings, hypocrisies and close designes of Nature, pursuing her ovvne corrupt designes in the ve­ry best actions, cherishing Nature one vvay, vvhen she mortifies it another, and fauouring pride euen vvhen she exercises humility. Now a cleare light to discouer all these almost infinite deprauations not only in our sensitiue Nature, but also in the Superiour soule (vvhich are far more secret, manifold & dangerous) and a courage vvith successe to combat & ouercome them, must be the effect of a long continued practise of praier & mortification.

[Page 30]8. The vvant of a due knovvledge or consideration herof is the cause that some good soules after they haue made some progresse in Internall vvaies, become dis­heartned, and in danger to stop or quite leaue them. For though at the first, being (as vsually they are) pre­uented by God vvith a tender sensible deuotion (vvhich our Holy Father calls feruorem Nouitium) they doe vvith much zeale & as it seemes to them, vvith good effect be­gin the exercises of mortification & praier: Yet after­vvard such sensible feruour & tendernes ceasing (as it seldome failes to doe) by that nevv light vvhich they haue gotten, they discerne a vvorld of defects, former­ly vndiscouered, vvhich they erroneously thinke vvere not in them before: vvherupon fearing that instead of making progresse, they are in a vvorse state then vvhen they begun, they vvill be apt to suspect that they are in a vvrong vvay. This proceeds from a preconceiued mistake, that because in times of light & deuotion the soule finds her selfe caried vvith much feruour to God, and perceiues but small contradictions and rebellions in inferiour Nature, that therfore she is very forvvard in the vvay to Perfection. Wheras it is far othervvise. For Nature is not so easily conquered as she imagins, nei­ther is the vvay to Perfection so easy and short. Many changes she must expect: many risings and fallings: some times light, and some times Darknes: sometimes calmnes of Passions, and presently after, it may be, feircer com­bats then before: and these successions of changes repea­ted, God knovves hovv oft, before the End approa­cheth.

[Page 31]9. Yea it vvill likelie happen to such Soules, that euen the formerly vvell knovven, grosser defects in them vvill seeme to encrease and to grovv more hard to be quelld after they haue bene competently aduanced in Internall vvaies. And the reason is, because hauing sett themselues to combat corrupt Nature in all her per­uerse, crooked & impure desires, and being sequestred from the vanities of the vvorld, they find themselues in continuall vvrestlings and agonies, and vvant those plea­sing diuersions, conuersations & recreations vvith vvhich vvhilst they liued a secular, negligent life they could in­terrupt or putt of their melancholick thoughts, and vn­quietnes. But if they vvould take courage & insteade of seeking ease from Nature (further then discretion allo­vves) haue recourse for remedy by Praier to God, they vvould find that such violent Tentations are an assured signe that they are in a secure & happy vvay, and that vvhen God sees it is best for them, they shall come of from such combats vvith victory & comfort.

10. Novv as from the consideration of the tediousnes of a perfect vniuersall mortification of the corrupt affe­ctions of Nature, it does appeare that Hasty Perfection is not ordinarily to be expected. And vvhere there are ap­pearances of extraordinary lights & supernaturall visits in soules not throughly mortified, it is to be feared that there hath bene some secret exorbitancy in the procee­dings of such soules, some deeply rooted Pride &c. vvhich hath exposed them to the Deuills Illusions, so that then state is very dangerous. The like vvill appeare if vvee cast our eyes vpon the Nature & degrees of Inter­nall [Page 32] Praier, in the Perfection of which the End of a Con­templatiue life, which is perfect vnion in Spirit vvith God, doth consist.

11. For a soule must 1. (ordinarily speaking) passe through the vvay of externall and imaginary Exercises of Praier, in the vvich she must tarry God knovves hovv long: yea vvith out a discreete diligence and constancy in them, she may perhaps end her daies therin. 2. Then vvhen her affections doe so abound and are sufficiently ripe, so as that discourse is not needfull or becomes of little efficacy, she is to betake her selfe to the exercise of the vvill: in the vvhich a very long time must ordinarily be spent before she can chase avvay distracting grosser Images, and before the Heart be so replenished vvith the Diuine Spirit, that vvithout any Election or delibera­tion it vvill of it selfe almost continually breake forth in­to Aspirations & pure eleuations of the Superiour will. 3. Being arriued to this happy state, only God knovves for hovv long a time she is to continue therein, there being almost infinite degrees of aspirations, each one exceding the former in Purity, before she be ripe for the Diuine Inaction. 4. And hauing gotten that, a very long time is like to be spent, very oft in most vvofull obscurities, and desolations, before she arriue. 5. To the State of Perfection. Novv all these degrees of Praier are to be attended vvith proportionable degrees of mortification. So that no vvonder is it if so very few, euen of those vvhose Profession it is to aspire therunto, doe find or atteine vnto this End; Par [...]ly out of ignorance and er­rour; vvhilst they place Perfection in an exact perfor­mance [Page 33] of outvvard Obseruances and Austerities the vvhich (though being vvell vsed they may be certainly very proper helps to Perfection, and are accordingly to be duly esteemed: yet) if they be vndertaken for any end of Nature, and not for the purifying of the interiour and disposing it for more perfect Praier, are of no valevv at all, but rather proceede from and nourish Selfe-Loue; Pride &c. And partly out of vvant of courage and dili­gence to pursue constantly the vvay that they knovv leades thereto.

12. Vpon these grounds Mystick Authours doe teach; that though it be a very great aduantage to a soule to treade in these Internall vvaies from her Youth, before she be darkned and made sicke vvith vicious Habits, the combatting against vvhich vvill cause great difficulty, paine and tediousnes to her: Yet she vvill hardly arriue vnto the foresaid Actiue vnion and experimentall Per­ception of Gods Presence in her till almost a declining Age: by reason that though her Naturall ill inclinations may be mortified in a reasonable Perfection before that time: Yet till such Age there vvill remaine too much vi­gour in Corporall Nature, and an vnstablenes in the in­vvard senses, vvhich vvill hinder that Quietnes and com­posednes of mind necessary to such an Vnion. Where­as some persons of a vvell disposed temper & vertuous education haue in a fevv yeares arriued rhereunto; though they did not begin an Internall course till their ripe Age, but yet supplying that delay by an Heroicall Resolution and vigorous pursuit of the practises pro­per therunto. But as for those that haue bene viciously [Page 34] bred, there will be necessary a wonderfull measure of Grace and very extraordinary mortifications before such soules can be fitted therunto.

13. Now what hath bene said concerning the length of the vvay, and the multiplicity of conditions requisite to the atteining to the End of it, is to be vnderstood with relation to the ordinary course of Gods Proui­dence. But God vvho is the free Maister and disposer of his ovvne Graces, may bestovv them vpon vvhom & vvhen he pleases, either Miraculously encreasing his Grace in some Soules, or conferring his supernaturall Fa­uours before the time that they are ripe for them: As he did to S. Catharina of Siena (and some others) vvho in their younger yeares haue bene fauoured vvith a Passiue vnion. Mystick Authours likevvise except from the ordinary course the case vvhere God vpon the death of vvell vvilled and vvell disposed soules hapning bofore Perfection atteind, supplieth after some extraordinary manner vvhat vvas vvanting, and effects that in a moment, vhvich vvould othervvise haue required a long space of time. And this say they, God frequently doth in regard of the serious & feruent vvills that he seeth in such Soules, vvhich vvere resolued to prose­cute the vvay of his Loue for all their Liues, though they should haue lasted neuer so long.

14. But be the vvay to Perfection neuer so long, the designe it selfe is so Noble and the end so Diuine, that a soule can not begin to aspire vnto it too soone, nor take too much paines to procure it. Yea the very desire and serious pursuance of so heauenly a designe brings so [Page 35] great Blessings to the Soule, and puts her in so secure a way of Saluation, though she should neuer perfectly at­teine vnto it in this life, that there is none so old, nor so ouer growen with ill Habits, but ought to attēpt, & with perseuerance pursue it, being assured that at least after Death he shall for his good desire and endeauours be revvarded vvith the crovvne due to Contemplatiues. For it is enough for a soule to be in the vvay, and to corres­pond to such enablements as she hath receiued: And then in vvhat degree of spirit soeuer she dyes, she dyes according to the vvill & ordination of God, to vvhom she must be resigned, and consequently she vvill be very happy. Whereas if out of despaire of atteining to perfe­ction she should rest, and doe as it vvere nothing, con­tenting herselfe vvith outvvard Ceremonious Obseruan­ces, she vvill be accounted before God as hauing bene vvanting to performe that vvherto her Profession obli­ged her. Though the truth is, the soule being a pure Spi­rit consisting of mere Actiuity, cannot cease doing and desiring some thing: so that if her desires & operations be not directed to the right End, they vvill goe a vvrong vvay; and if a Soule doe not continually striue to get out of Nature, she vvill plunge her selfe deeper & dee­per into it.

15. The second Motiue to induce a soule to arme herselfe vvith a great courage and strong Resolution in her tendance to Perfection is, because as the Wise man says, He that sets himselfe to serue our Lord (especially in so high and diuine an employment as Contemplation) must prepare his soule for Tentations, greater and more [Page 36] vnusuall then formerly he had experience of. The vvhich Tentations vvill come from all coasts, both from vvithout and vvith in.

16. For an Internall life being not only a life hidden from the vvorld, but likevvise directly contrary to the vvaies of carnall rerson, yea euen different from the common notion of vertue and Piety vvhich ordinary Christians, yea too many euen in Religion haue also, vvho approue only of Actions and vvaies vvhich out­vvardly make a faire shevv, as solemne performance of Diuine Offices, externall formall Regularities, mortifi­cations &c. Hence it is that very sharpe persecutions haue almost alvvaies attended those vvhom God hath called to reuiue the true spirit of Religion (too much generally decayed, and in many Religious Communities vterly vnknovven) by teaching soules not to neglect, but on the contrary to be very carefull in an exact performance and iust esteeme of such Duties; but yet to place Per­fection in exercises of the Spirit, and to esteeme all other obseruances no further then as they serue to ad­uance and increase Perfection in Spirit: since most certaine it is, that if in and for themselues alone and vvith out any interiour direction for the purifying of the soule they be esteemed (& performed) as Parts of reall Perfection, and not cheefly as Helpes of Internall De­uotion and Purity, they vvill rather become Hindrances to Contemplation, nourishing Pride, Contempt of o­thers &c. and be the ruine of true Charity. Examples of such Persecutions are obuious in stories, vvitnes the suffrings of Thaulerus, Suso, S. Teresa, B. Iohn. de Cruce &c.

[Page 37]17. Againe in the vvorld, the liues of those that God hath called to the Exercises of an Internall life, being so different from and vnlike to others, though ordinary, vvell meaning Christians: by reason that they abstract themselues from secular businesses (except such as ne­cessarily belong to their vocation) likevvife? from vvorldly conuersations, correspondence, and vainely complying freindships: Hence it is that the sight of them is vnac­ceptable to their Neighbours and acquaintance, as if they did silently condemne their liberties. For this reason they are apt to raise and disperse euill reports of them, calling them Illuminats, Pretenders to extraordinary visits and lights, Persons that walke in mirabilibus super se & 6. Or at least to deride them as silly, seduced, me­lancholy spirits, that follow vnusuall and dangerous vvaies.

18. All these, and many other the like persecutions, calumnies and contempts, a vvell disposed soule that purely seekes God, must expect and be armed against. And knovving that they doe not come by chance, but by the most vvise, holy, and mercifull Prouidence of God for her good, to exercise her courage in the beginning, and to giue her an opportunity to testify her true e­steeme and loue to God and spirituall things, let her from hence not be affrighted; but rather pursue Internall vvaies more vigorously: as knovving that there can not be a better proofe of the Excellency of them, then that they are displeasing to carnall, or at least ignorant men vnexperienced in such Diuine vvaies. Let her not vvith passion iudge or condemne those that are contrary to [Page 38] her: for many of them may haue a good intention and zeale therein, though a zeale not directed by knovv­ledge. If therfore she vvill attend to God, follovving his Diuine Inspirations &c. she vvill see that God vvill giue her light and courage, and much invvard security in her vvay.

19. But her greatest and more frequent Persecutions vvill be from her ovvne corrupt nature and vitious Ha­bits rooted in the soule: the vvhich vvill assault her ma­ny times vvith tentations and invvard bitternesses and agonies, sharper and stranger then she did expect, or could perhaps imagine. And no vvonder: For her designe and continuall indeauours both in mortification & Praier being to raise herselfe out of, and aboue nature, to contradict nature in all its vaine pleasures and inte­rests: she can expect no other, but that Nature vvill con­tinually struggle against the spirit: especially being infla­med by the Deuill, vvho vvill not faile to employ all his Arts, all his malice and fury to disturbe a designe so vt­terly destructiue to his Infernall Kingdome established in the soules of carnall mē. The vvell minded soule there­fore must make a generall strong Resolution to beare all vvith as much quietnes as may be, to distrust herselfe intirely, to rely only vpon God, and to seeke vnto him by Praier, and all vvill assuredly be vvell. She vvill find that the Yoake of Christ, vvhi [...]h at the first vvas burden­some, vvill, being borne vvith constancy, become easy and delightfull. Yea though she should neuer be able to subdue the resistance of euill inclinations in her, yet as long as there remaines in her a sincere Endeauour [Page 39] after it, no such ill Inclinations vvill hinder her hap­pines.

CAP V.

§. 1. 2. A 3. motiue to Resolution is the danger of repidity: of which the nature and Roote is discouered.

§. 3. 4. 5. The miseries of a Tepide Religious person, that is ignorant of Internall waies.

§. 6. 7. Or of one that knowes them, but neglects to pursue them.

§. 8. 9. How pestilent such are in a Community.

§. 10. On the otherside an vndiscreete passionate feruour may be as dangerous as negligence.

1. A Third yet more pressing Motiue to a coura­gious Resolutiō of prosecuting Internall vvaies once begin, and a strong proofe of the extreme necessity therof is the consideration of the extreme danger, and miseries vnexpressible of a negligent and Tepide life, vvhether in Religion or in the vvorld; the vvhich not only renders Perfection impossible to be atteined, but endangers the very roote of essentiall sanctity and all pretention to Eternall Happines, as among other Mystick vvriters, Harphius in his tvvelue mortifications earnestly demonstrates.

2. Tepidity is a bitter poysonnous Roote fixed in the minds of negligent Christians, vvho though out of a ser­uile feare they absteine from an habituall practise of ac­knovvledged Mortall Actuall sinnes, and therefore [Page 40] (groundlesly enough) thinke themselues secure from the danger of Hell: yet they performe their externall ne­cessary obligations to God and their Brethren sleepily and heartlesly, vvithout any true Affection, contenting themselues vvith the things hovveuer outvvardly done; yea perhaps knovving no Perfection beyond this: But in the meane time remaine full of selfe loue, invvard Pride, sensuall desires, auersion from internall conuer­sation vvith God &c. And the ground and cause of this pernicious Tepidity is vvant of affection and esteeme of spirituall things, and a voluntary affection to veniall sins (not as they are sins, but as the obiects of them are casefull or delightfull to nature) ioyned vvith a vvill­fullnes not to auoyd the occasions of them, nor to doe any more in Gods seruice, then vvhat themselues iudge to be necessary for the escaping of Hell.

3. Such Persons if they liue in Religion must needs passe very vncomfortable and discontented liues: ha­uing excluded themselues from the vaine entertainments and pleasures of the vvorld, and yet reteining a strong affection to them in their hearts, vvith an incapacity of enioying them. They must vndergoe all obligations, Austerities and Crosses incidēt to a Religious state vvith­out comfort, but only in hauing dispatched them; vvith very little benefit to their soules, and vvith extreme vvearisomenes and vnvvillingnes. Novv vvhat a re­semblance to Hell hath such a life, vvhere there is an im­possibility freely to enioy vvhat the soule principally de­sires: and vvhere she is forced continually to doe and suffer such things as are extremely contrary to her incli­nations?

[Page 41]4. Whereas if soules vvould couragiously at once giue themselues vvholly to God, and vvith a discrete feruour combat against corrupt Nature, pursuing their Internall Exercises, they vvould find that all things vvould cooperate not only to their Eternall good, but euen to their present contentment and ioy. They vvould find pleasure euen in their greatest mortifica­tions and crosses, by considering the loue vvith vvhich God sends them and the great Benefit that their spirit reapes by them. What contentment can be greater to any soule then to become a true invvard freind of God, chained vnto him vvith a loue, the like vvherto neuer vvas betvvene any mortall creatures? to know and euen feele that she belongs to God, and that God is continually vvatchfull ouer her, and carefull of her salua­tion? None of vvhich comforts Tepide soules can hope to tast: but on the contrary are not only continual­ly tortured vvith present discontents; but much more vvith a feare and horrour, considering their doubtfull­nes about their future state.

5. If such Tepide soules be ignorant of the Internall vvaies of the spirit (vvhich vvith out some fault of their ovvne they scarce can be) vvhen they come to dye, it is not conceiueable vvhat apprehensions and horrours they vvill feele: cōsidering that a setled vvillfull affectiō to veniall sins bring a soule to an imminent danger of a frequent incurring actuall mortall sins, the vvhich though they be not of the greater kind of enormous sins, yet they may be no lesse dangerous, because lesse corrigible, such as are those spirituall sins of Pride, Mur­muring, [Page 42] Factiousnes, Enuy, Ambition &c: Besids vvhich hovv is it possible for them to giue an account of sins of Omission, of the vvant of perfecting their soules by prayer of the auoyding of vvhich they neuer tooke any care, although their Profession and Vovves obliged them therto?

6. Againe if Tepidity (though not in so high a degree) be found in soules that are acquainted speculatiuely vvith the Internall vvaies of the spirit, and their obliga­tion to pursue them in order to Perfection: but either for vvant of courage dare not apply themselues seriously to them, or doe it very faintly, coldly or vvith frequent interruptions, and only are not resolued to relinquish and abiure such vvaies: such as though they haue not a vvillfull affection to veniall sins, yet are for the most part vvillfully negligent in resisting them: Such soules ought to consider that their case in all respects approaches neare to the miserable condition of the former: And they vvill haue guilt enough to take avvay all comfort al­most in a Religious state, and to giue them iust appre­hensions for the future life, of vvhich they haue no se­curity.

7. For vvhen such soules approach neare vnto Death; they vvill then too late consider that for vvant of diligēt Praier there may be, yea assuredly are in them a vvorld of inordinations, impurities and defects vndiscouered by them, and therfore can neither be acknovvledged nor bevvayled: so that they can not haue any assurance of the state and inclinations of their soules: Besids they know themselues to haue bene guilty of a life spent in [Page 43] an vninterrupted ingratitude to God vvho gaue them light to see the vvaies to Perfection, and vvhich their Profession obliged them to vvalke in, and yet vvillfully they neglected to make vse of such light, or to make progresse in those vvaies &c. (and this is an aggrauation of guilt beyond the former:) They are conscious like­vvise of an vnexcusable and long continued vnfaithfull­nes, neuer almost complying vvith the Diuine ins­pirations vvhich daily vrged them to put themselues re­solutely into that only secure vvay of an Internall life; nor euer vigorously resisting the sins and imperfe­ctions vvhich they did discouer in themselues &c. Such sad thoughts as these pressing (as vsually they doe) one vpon another neare the approaches of Death, vvhat grei­uous apprehensions, vvhat terrible vncerteinties must they needs cause in Tepide soules, then most sensible of dangers and feares? so that their liues vvill be full of an­guish and continuall remorse, and their Deathes very vncomfortable.

8. Lastly to all these miseries of a Tepide life, this also may be added as an encrease of the guilt, and conse­quently an aggrauation of the dangerous state of soules infected vvith that poyson: vvhich is, that they doe not only themselues most vngratefully vvithdravv their ovvne affections from God and Diuine things, but by their ill example, by mispending the time in vaine Ex­trouerted conuersations, by discountenancing those that are f [...]ruourous in Internall vvaies &c. they infect their companions, and so treacherously defraud Almighty God of the affections of others also. So that a Tepide [Page 44] Religious person though giuen to no enormous excesses, is oft more harm-full in a Community, then an open scandalous liuer: because none that hath any care of him­selfe but vvill bevvare of such an one as this latter is. Whereas a Tepide soule vnperceiueably instills into o­thers the poysonous infection vvhervvith herselfe is tainted.

9. From the grounds and considerations here men­cioned, it doth appeare hovv necessary it is for a deuout soule both in the beginning and pursuance of a Con­templatiue life, to excite and fortify her couragious re­solution not to be daunted by discouragements either from vvithin or vvithout, but at vvhat price soeuer, and vvith vvhat labours and suffrings soeuer, vvith fer­uour to perseuere in the exercises and Duties belonging therto: accounting Tepidity and spirituall sloath as the very bane of he [...] vvhole Designe: the vvhich if it be yeil­ded vnto though but a little, it vvill gather more force, and at last grovv irresistible.

10. But vvithall she is to be aduised, that such her courage and feruour must be exercised, not impetuous­ly out of passion, or such impulses as a fitt of sensible De­uotion vvill some-times produce in her: but this fer­uour and resolution must cheifly be seated in the Supe­riour vvill, and regulated by spirituall Discretion, ac­cording to her present forces both naturall and super­naturall, and the measure of Grace bestovved on her, and no further. For there may be as much harme by out running Grace, as by n [...]glecting to correspond vnto it. Hence it oft comes to passe, that many vvellminded [Page 45] soules, being either pushed fovvard by an indiscrete pas­sionate Zeale, or aduised by vnexperienced Dire­ctours to vndertake vnnecessarily and voluntarily, either rigorous mortifications or excessiue taskes of Deuotions, and vvanting strength to continue them, haue become able to doe nothing at all: so that affecting too hastily to atteine vnto perfection sooner then God did enable them therto, they so ouer burden themselues that they are forced to giue ouer quite all tendance to it. There­fore vvee must be contented to proceede in such a pace as may be lasting; and that vvill suffise.

CAP. VI.

§. 2. &c. A confirmation of what hath bene sayd; particu­larly of the necessity of a strong Resolution and courage to perseuere, shwed by the Parable of a Pilgrime trauel­ling to Ierusalem, out of SCALA PERFECTIONIS.

1. NOW for a further confirmation and more effectuall recommendation of vvhat hath hi­therto bene deliuered touching the Nature of a Con­templatiue life in generall, the supereminent Noblenes of its end, the great difficulties to be expected in it, and the absolute necessity of a firme courage to perseuere and continually to make progresse in it, vvhatsoeuer it costs vs, (vvith out vvhich Resolution it is in vaine to sett one step forvvard in these vvaies:) I vvill here annexe a passage extracted out of that excellent Treatise called Scala perfectionis, vvritten by that eminent Con­templatiue [Page 46] D. Walter Hilton, a Carthusian Monke, In vvhich vnder the Parable of a deuout Pilgrime desirous to trauell to Ierusalem (vvhich he interprets the Vision of Peace, or Contemplation) he deliuers Instructions very proper and efficacious touching the behauiour requisite in a deuout soule for such a iourney: the true sense of vvhich Aduises I vvill take liberty so to deliuer breifly, as notvvithstanding not to omit any important matter there more largely, and according to the old fashion ex­pressed.

Scala Per­fect par. 2. cap. 21.22.23. 2. There was a man, sayth he, that had a great desire to goe to Ierusalem: And because he knew not the right way, he addressed himselfe for aduice to one that he hoped was not vn­skillfull in it: and asked him whether there was any way passable thither. The other answered, that the way thither was both long and full of very great difficulties: yea that there were many waies that seemed and promised to leade thither, but the dangers of them were too great. Neuerthe­lesse one way he knew, which if he would diligently pursue according to the Directions & markes that he would giue him, though, said he, I cannot promise thee a security from many frights, beatings & other ill vsage & tentations of all kinds: but if thou canst haue courage & patience enough to suffer them without quarrelling or resisting or troubling thy selfe, & so passe on, hauing this only in thy mund, & sometimes on thy tongue, I HAVE NOVGHT, I AM NOVGHT, I DESIRE NOVGHT BVT TO BE AT IERVSALEM: my life for thine, thou wilt scape safe with thy life & in a competent time arriue thither.

[Page 47] 3. The Pilgrime ouerioyed with these newes, answered, so I may haue my life safe, & may at last come to the place that I aboue all things only desire, I care not what miseries I suffer in the way. Therfore let me know only what course I am to take, & God willing, I will not faile to obserue care­fully your directions. The guide replied, Since thou hast so good a will, though I my selfe neuer was so happy to be in Ie­rusalem, notwithstanding be confident that by the instru­ctions that I shall giue thee, if thou wilt follow them, thou shalt come safe to thy iourneyes end.

4. Now the Aduice that I am to giue thee in breife is this; Before thou set the first step into the high way that leades thither, thou must be firmely grounded in the true Catholicke faith; moreouer whatsoeuer sins thou findest in thy conscience, thou must seeke to purge them away by hearty pennance & absolution according to the lavves of the church. This being done, begin thy iourney in Gods name, but be sure to goe furnish6d vvith two necessary instruments, Hu­mility & Charity: both vvhich are conteined in the fore­mentioned speech, vvhich must alvvaies be ready in thy mind; I AM NOVGHT. I HAVE NOVGHT, I DESIRE BVT ONLY ONE THING, AND THAT IS OVR LORD IESVS, AND TO BE WITH HIM IN PEACE AT IERVSALEM. The meaning & vertue of these vvords therfore thou must haue continually, at least in thy thoughts, either expresse­ly or vertually; Humility sayes, I AM NOVGHT, I HAVE NOVGHT, loue sayes, I DESIRE NOVGHT BVT IESVS. These tvvo companions thou must neuer part from; neither vvill they vvillingly be separated from one another, for they accord very louingly together. And the deeper thou groundest [Page 48] thy selfe in Humility, the higher thou raisest thy selfe in Cha­rity; for the more thou seest & feelest thy selfe to be nothing, vvith the more feruent loue vvilt thou desire Iesus, that by him, vvho is all, thou maist become something.

5. Novv this same Humility is to be exercised not so much in considering thine ovvne selfe, thy sinfullnes & misery (though to doe thus at the first be very good & proffitable:) but rather in a quiet, louing sight of the infinite, endlesse being & goodnesse of Iesus: The vvhich beholding of Iesus must be either through grace in a sauourous feeling know­ledge of him, or at least in a full & firme faith in him. And such a beholding vvhen thou shalt atteine to it, vvill vvorke in thy mind a far more pure, spirituall, solide & perfect hu­mility, then the former vvay of beholding thy selfe, the vvhich produces an humility more grosse, boystrous & vnquiet. By that thou vvilt see & feele thy selfe not only to be the most vvretched filthy creature in the vvorld, but also in the very substance of thy soule (setting aside the foulenes of sin) to be a mere nothing. for truely in & of thy selfe & in regard of Iesus (vvho really & in truth is all) thou art a mere nothing; and till thou hast the loue of Iesus, yea & fee­lest that thou hast his loue, although thou hast done to thy seeming neuer so many good deeds both outvvard & invvard, yet in truth thou hast nothing at all, for nothing vvill abide in thy soule & fill it, but the loue of Iesus. Therfore cast all other things behind thee & forget them, that thou maist haue that vvhich is best of all. And thus doing, thou vvilt become a true Pilgrime that leaues behind him houses & vvife & children & freinds & goods, & makes himselfe poore & bare of all things that he may goe on his iourney [Page 49] lightly & merrily vvithout hindrance.

6. VVell novv thou art in thy vvay trauelling tovvards Ie­rusalem. The vvhich trauelling consists in vvorking invvard­ly, & (vvhen neede is) outvvardly too, such vvorkes as are suitable to thy condition and state, and such as vvill helpe & increase in thee this gracious desire that thou hast to loue Iesus only. Let thy vvorkes be vvhat they vvill, think­ing, or reading, or preaching, or labouring &c: if thou findest that they dravv thy mind from vvorldly vanity, & confirme thy heart & vvill more to the loue of Iesus, it is good & prof­fitable for thee to vse them. And if thou findest that findest that through coustome such vvorkes doe in time loose their sauour & ver­tue to increase this loue, & that it seemes to thee that thou feelest more grace & spirituall proffit in some other, take these other & leaue those, for though the inclination & de­sire of thy heart to Iesus must euer be vnchangeable, neverthe­les thy spirituall vvorkes that thou shalt vse in thy manner of praying, Reading &c. to the end to feed & strengthen this desire, may well be changed according as thou feelest thy selfe by grace disposed in the applying of thy heart. Bind not thy selfe therfore vnchangeably to voluntary customes, for that will hinder the freedome of thy heart to loue Iesus, if grace would visit thee specially.

7. Before thou hast made many stepps in the way, thou must expect a world of enemies of seuerall kinds that will be­sett the round about, & all of them will endeauour busily to hinder thee from going forward; yea & if they can by any meanes they will either by perswasions, flatteries or violence force thee to returne home againe to those vanities that thou hast forsaken. For there is nothing greeues them so much as [Page 50] to see a resolute desire in thy heart to loue Iesus & to tra­uaile to find him. Therfore they will all conspire to put out of thy heart that good desire & loue, in which all vertues are comprised.

8. Thy first enemies that will assault thee will be fleshly desires & vaine feares of thy corrupt heart. And with these there will ioyne vncleane spirits that with s [...]eights & tenta­tions will seeke to allure thy heart to them, & to withdraw it from Iesus. But whatsoeuer they say, bebeiue them not; but betake thy selfe to thy old only secure remedy, answering euer thus, I AM NOVGHT, I HAVE NAVGHT, AND I DESIRE NOVGHT BVT ONLY THE LOVE OF IESVS: & so hold forth on thy way desiring Iesus only.

9, If they indeauour to put dreads & scruples into thy mind, & would make thee beleiue that thou hast not yet done Pennance enough, as thou oughtest for thy sins, but that some old sins remaine in thy heart not yet confessed, or not suficiently confessed & absolued; & that therefore thou must needs returne home & doe pennance better, before thou haue the boldnes to goe to Iesus: Doe not beleiue a word of all that they say: for thou art sufficiently acquitted of thy sins, & there is no need at all that thou shouldst stay to ran­sack thy conscience: for this will now but doe thee harme, & either put thee qui [...]e out of thy way, or at least vnproffitably delay thy trauailing in it.

10. If they shall tell thee, that thou art not worthy to haue the loue of Iesus, or to see Iesus: And therfore that thou oughtest not be so presumptuous to desire and seeke after it; Beleiue them not, but goe on & say, It is not because I am worthy, but because I am vnworthy that I therfore de­sire [Page 51] to haue the loue of Iesus, for if once I had it, it would make mee worthy. I will therfore neuer cease de­siring it, till I haue obteined it. For, for it only was I crea­ted, therfore say & doe what you will, I will desire it con­tinually, I will neuer cease to pray for it, & so doing I hope to obteine it.

11. If thou meetest with any that seeme freinds vnto thee, & that in kindnes would stop thy progresse by enterteining thee & seeking to draw thee to sensuall mirth by vaine Discourses & carnall solaces, wherby thou wilt be in dan­ger to forget thy Pilgrimage: giue a deafe eare to them, an­swer them not, thinke only on this; THAT THOV WOVL­DEST FAINE BE AT IERVSALEM. And if they proffer thee gifts & preferments, heed them not, but thinke euer on Ie­rusalem.

12. And if men despise thee, or lay any false calumnies to thy charge, giuing the ill names: if they goe about to de­fraud thee or robbe thee; yea if they beate thee & vse thee despightfully & cruelly; for thy life contend not vvith them: striue not against them, nor be angry with them: But con­tent thy selfe with the harme receiued, & goe on quietly as nought were done, that thou take no further harme: thinke only on this; That to be at Ierusalem deserues to be purcha­sed with all this ill vsage or more, & that there thou shalt be sufficiently repaired for all thy losses, & recompenced for all hard vsages by the way.

13, If thine enemies see that thou growest courageous & bold, & that thou wilt neither be seduced by flatteries, nor disheartned with the paines & troubles of thy iourney, but rather well contented with them, then they will begin [Page 52] to be affraid of thee; yet for all that they will neuer cease pursuing thee; They will follow thee all alōg the way watch­ing all aduantages against thee; And euer & anon they will set vpon thee, seekeing either with flatteries or frights to stop thee & driue thee backe if they can: but feare them not; hold on thy way, & haue nothing in thy mind but Ie­rusalem & Iesus whom thou wilt find there.

14. If thy desire of Iesus still continues & growes more strong, so that it makes thee goe on thy waies couragiously; they will then tell thee, That it may very well happen that thou wilt fall into Corporall sicknes: & perhaps such a sicknes as will bring strange fancies into thy mind, & melancholicke apprehensions. Or perhaps thou wilt fall into great want, & no man vvill offer to helpe thee: By occasion of vvhich mis­fortunes thou vvilt be greiuously tempted by thy ghostly enemies, the vvhich vvill thē insult ouer thee, & tell thee that thy folly & provvd presumption haue brought thee to this miserable passe, that thou canst neither helpe thy selfe; nor vvill any man helpe thee, but rather hinder these that vvould: And all this they vvill doe to the end to increase thy melancholie & vnquiet apprehensions, or to prouoke thee to Anger or malice against thy Christian Brethren, or to mur­mure against Iesus, vvho perhaps for thy triall seemes to hide his face from thee. But still neglect all these suggestions, as though thou heardst them not. Be angry vvith no body but thy selfe. And as for all thy diseases, poverty & vvhat­soeuer other suffrings (for vvho can reckon all that may be­fall thee?) take Iesus in thy mind, thinke on the lesson that thou art taught, & say, I AM NOVGHT, I HAVE NOVGHT, I CARE FOR NOVGHT IN THIS WORLD, AND I DE­SIRE [Page 53] NOVGHT BVT THE LOVE OF IESVS, THAT I MAY SEE HIM IN PEACE AT IERVSALEM.

15. But if it shall happen sometimes, as likely it will, that through some of these tentations & thine owne frailty thou stumble & perhaps fall downe & get some harme therby; or that thou for some time be turned a little out of the right way; As soone as possibly may be, come againe to thy selfe, get vp againe & returne into the right way, vsing such re­medies for thy hurt as the Church ordeines; And doe not trouble thy selfe ouer much, or ouer long with thinking vn­quietly on thy past misfortune & paine; Abide not in such thoughts, for that will doe thee more harme, & giue ad­uantage to thine enemies. Therfore make hast to goe on in thy trauaile & working againe, as if nothing had happened; Keepe but IESVS in thy mind, & a desire to gaine his LOVE, & nothing shall be able to hurt thee.

16. At last when thine enemies perceiue that thy will to Iesus is so strong, that thou wilt not spare neither for pouerty nor mischeife, for sicknes nor fancies, for doubts nor feares, for life nor death, no nor for sins neither, but euer forth thou wilt goe on with that one thing of seeking the loue of Iesus, & with nothing else; & that thou despisest & scarse markest any thing that they say to the contrary, but holdest on in thy praying & other spirituall workes (yet allwaies with discre­tion & submission) then they grow euen enraged & will spare no manner of most cruell vsage. They will come closer to thee then euer before, & betake themselues to their last & most dangerous assault; & that is, to bring into the sight of thy mind all thy good deeds & vertues, shewing thee that all men praise thee, & loue thee & beare thee great veneratiō [Page 54] for thy sanctity &c. And all this they doe to the end to raise vaine Ioy & pride in thy heart. But if thou tendrest thy life, thou vvilt hold all this flattery & falshood to be a deadly poyson to thy soule mingled vvith honey, therfore away with it, cast it from thee, saying, Thou vvilt haue none of it, but thou vvouldest be at Ierusalem.

17. And to the end to put selfe out of the danger & reach of all such tentations, suffer not thy thoughts willing­ly to run about the world, but draw them all inwards, fixing them vpon one only thing which is IESVS: set thy selfe to thinke only on him, to know him, to loue him; And after thou hast for a good time brought thy selfe to doe thus, then whatsoeuer thou seest or feelest in wardly that is not He will be vnwellcome & painfull to thee, because it will stand in thy way to the seeing & seeking of him whom thou only desirest.

18. But yet if there be any worke or outward businesse which thou art obliged to doe, or that charity or present ne­cessity requires of thee, either concerning thy selfe or thy Christian brother, faile not to doe it, dispatch it as well, & as soone as well thou canst, & let it not tary long in thy thoughts, for it will but hinder thee in thy principall bu­sines. But if it be any other matter of no necessity, or that concernes thee not in particular, trouble not thy selfe nor di­stract thy thoughts about it, but rid it quickly out of thy heart, saying still thus, I AM NOVGHT, I CAN DOE NOVGHT, I HAVE NOVGHT, AND NOVGHT DOE I DESIRE TO HAVE BVT ONLY IESVS AND HIS LOVE.

19. Thou wilt be forced, as all other Pilgrimes are, to take of times by the way refreshments, meate & drinke & [Page 55] sleepe, yea & sometimes Innocent recreations; In all which things vse discretion & take heed of foolish scrupulosity about them; feare not that they will be much a hindrance to thee; for though they seeme to stay thee for awhile, they will fur­ther thee & giue thee strength to walke on more couragious­ly for a good long time after.

20, To conclude, Remember that thy principall aime & indeed only Busines is to knitt thy thoughts to the desire of IESVS, to strengthen this desire dayly by prayer & other spirituall workings, to the end it may neuer goe out of thy heart, And whatsoeuer thou findest proper to increase that desire, be it praying or reading, speaking or being silent, trauailing or reposing, make vse of it for the time, as long as thy soule finds sauour in it, & as long as it increases this desire of hauing or enioying nothing but the loue of IESVS & the blessed sight of IESVS in true peace in Ierusalem: And be assured that this good desire thus cherished & continually in­creased will bring thee safe vnto the end of thy Pilgrimage.

21. This is the substance of the parable of the spiritu­all Pilgrime trauailing in the waies of Contemplation: The which I haue more largely set downe, because by the contexture of it, not only vve see confirmed vvhat is already vvritten before; but also vve haue a draught & Scheme represented according to vvhich all the follow­ing Instructions vvill be conformably ansvverable.

THE SECOND SECTION OF THE FIRST TREATISE. In vvhich is declared & proued, That God on­ly by his Holy Inspirations is the Guide & Directour in an Internall Contem­platiue Life.

CAP. I.

§. 1. In Internall contemplatiue waies a Guide is necessary, & whly?

§. 2. 3. 4. All good Christians haue within their soules two Internal guides. 1. The spirit of corrupt nature which is neuer wholly expelled. 2. The spirit of God: And these teach contrarily, & for contrary ends.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Diuine Inspirations beyond the light of com­mon grace, are to be our light in Internall wayes.

§. 10. 11. In what speciall things such Inspirations doe direct Internall liuers.

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§. 12. 13. They ordinarily teach rather cessation & not­doing then much doing.

§. 14. Extraordinary Inspirations, Illuminatious &c. not pretended to.

1. HAuing hitherto treated of a Contemplatiue life in generall, the nature & end of it, to­gether vvith the necessary disposition re­quired in soules, that according to their vocation or professiō are desirous to pursue the exercises belonging therto, the next thing that in relation to the said state deserues our consideration, is the Guide vvhose directions vve may & ought to follovv therin: for certanly a guide must needs be had, since it is eui­dent that in our present state of corrupt nature vve haue no light so much as to discouer that there is any such vvay, & much lesse to direct & enable vs to vvalke in Paths so much aboue, yea so directly contrary to the designes & interests of nature.

2. Novv since in euery good, faithfull & true Chri­stian, (as trueth & experience teaches) there are tvvo Internall lights & teachers, to vvitt. 1. the Spirit of corrupt nature. 2. The Diuine Spirit: Both vvhich in all our deliberate Actions doe offer themselues, & euen striue for maistery, contending vvhether of them, vvith the exclusion of the other, shall leade vs in the vvayes proper & pleasing to each: The vvhich vvayes, as also the ends to vvhich they conduct are directly contrary to one another; for the Spirit of corrupt nature only teaches vs such things as are for the presēt pleasing or proffitable [Page 58] to our carnall desires, or sensuall & secular designes, but pernicious to the soule or spirit; the vvhich follovving the light of nature, runnes into endles errours, & laba­rinths, all vvhich leade vs from God & true happines vn­to eternall misery. On the other side the spirit of God, discouering vnto vs the folly & danger of follovving so blind & pernicious a Guide as nature is, teaches vs that our happines cōsists in forsaking such a vvandring guide, & treading paths quite contrary; in renouncing present, sensuall pleasures & commodities, so far as they are a hindrance (yea not an aduancement) to our knovving of God & spirituall things, the vvhich only must be the obiect of all our desires & indeauours, & vvhereby only vve shall arriue to eternall happines & vnion vvith God.

3. Besides these tvvo guides, vve neither haue nor can haue any other vvithin vs; & vvith both these good Christians are cōtinually attended. Whatsoeuer therfore is not the teaching of the Diuine spirit is the suggestion of the false teacher, vvho is his & our enemy: The vvhich tooke possession of the soules of men vpon Adam's Trans­gression: vvhose fault vvas the not attending to the tea­ching of Gods holy spirit (vvhich then vvas the only In­ternall teacher) but instead thereof hearkening to the flattering tentations of his vvife, seduced by the deuill. And from Adam this false light is communicated to all his posterity, so as naturally vve haue no other. But the nevv heauenly teacher, the holy spirit is freely giuen vs by meanes of the diuine vvord & sacraments: it being a nevv diuine Principle imprinted in our spirits, raising them to God & cōtinually solliciting vs to vvalke in his wayes.

[Page 59]4. Our misery is, that vvhereas by mortall sins the diuine light is for the time vvholly extinguished, so as to the producing any considerable good effect vpon the vvill: it is not so on the other side, that by grace the false teacher should be totally expelled or silenced; But it re­maines euen in the most perfect, & God knovves euen the best are too much enclined often to hearken to it. Those that are lesse perfect, though in matters of neces­sary Duty & obligation they follovv the conduct of the Diuine spirit, yet in lesser matters they for the most part are moued vvith no other Principle then that of corrupt nature, by vvhich they incurre defects, the vvhich though in themselues veniall, yet doe much obscure the Diuine light, & vveaken its efficacy. Yea euen in those things vvherein such imperfect soules doe for the sub­stance of the Action & its essentialls follovv the dire­ction of Gods Spirit, yet by mixing of sensuall Interests & ends, suggested by the false teacher, they doe di­minish its luster, beauty & valevv. And so subtile is the spirit of nature, that it oft makes its false suggestions passe for Diuine Inspirations, & seldome misses the insinuating its poyson in some degree either into the beginning or continuation of our best actions.

5. From these vnquestionable grounds thus truly layd it follovves euidently, That in all good Actions & especial­ly in the Internall wayes of the spirit which conduct to Con­templation & Perfection, God alone is our only maister & directour; & creatures, vven he is pleased to vse them, are only his Instruments. So that all other teachers vvhatsoeuer vvhether the light of reason or externall Directours, or [Page 60] Rules prescribed in bookes &c: are no further nor othervvise to be follovved or hearkened to, then as they are subordinate & conformable to the Internall Directions & Inspirations of Gods Holy spirit; or as God inuites, Instructs & moues vs to haue recourse vnto them, by them to be informed in his vvill, & by him enabled to performe it. And that if they be made vse of any other vvayes, they vvill certainly misleade vs.

5. This is by all Mysticall vvriters acknovvledged so fundamentall a truth, that vvithout acknovvledging it & vvorking according to it, it is in vaine to enter into the exercises of an Internall Contemplatiue life. So that to say (as too commonlie it is said by Authours vvho pre­tend to be spirituall, but haue no tast of these mystike matters) Take all your Instructions from vvithout, from Ex­ternall teachers or bookes, is all one as to say, haue no­thing at all to doe vvith the vvayes of Contemplation; vvhich can be taught by no other but God, or by those vvhom God specially instructs & appoynts determina­tely for the Disciples present exigence. So that it is God only that internally teaches both the Teacher & Dis­ciple, & his inspirations are the only lesson for both. All our light therfore is from Diuine Illumination & all our strength as to these things, is from the Diuine operation of the Holy Ghost on our vvills & affections.

7. Novv to the end that this so important a verity may more distinctly be declared & more firmely im­printed in the minds of all those that desire to be Gods schollers in the internall vvaies of his Diuine loue: they are to take notice that the Inspirations vvhich are here acknovvledged to be the only safe rule of all our actions, [Page 61] though of the same nature, yet doe extend further & to more & other particular obiects, then the Diuine light or Grace by vvhich good Christians, liuing common liues in the vvorld are lead, extends to, yea then it does euen in those that seeke perfectiō by the exercises of an Actiue life.

8. The light & vertue of Common Grace affords gene­rally to all good Christians that seriously indeauour to saue their soules, such Internall Illuminations & motions as are sufficient to direct them for the resisting of any sinfull tentation, or to performe any necessary act of vertue, in circumstances vvherin they are obliged, though this Direction be oft obeyd vvith many circum­stantiall defects; And their Actions are so far & no fur­ther meritorious & pleasing to God, then as they proceed from such Internall Grace or inspiration. But as for other Actions, vvhich in their ovvne nature are not absolut­ly of necessary obligation, the vvhich notvvithstanding might be made Instrumentall to the aduancing & perfe­cting of holines in their soules (such as are the ordinary & vsually esteemed Indifferent Actions of their liues) to a due improouement of such Actions, they haue neither the light nor the strength, or very seldome by reason that they liue distracted liues, not vsing such solitude & re­collection as are necessary for the disposing of soules to the receiuing such an extraordinary light & vertue. And as for those that tend to Perfection by Actiue exercises, euen the more perfect, although they atteine therby a far greater measure of light & grace, by vvhich they per­forme their necessary duties of holines more perfectly [Page 62] & vvith a more pure Intention & likeevvise make far greater benefit for their aduancement by Actions & oc­currences more indifferent; yet they also for vvant of habituall Introuersion & recollectednes of mind, doe passe ouer vvithout benefit the greatest part of their or­dinary actions.

9. But as for Contemplatiue liuers, those I meane that haue made a sufficient progres tovvards Perfection, be­sides the cōmon grace light or Inspirations necessary for a due performance of essentiall Duties, the vvhich they enioy in a far more sublime manner & degree, so as to purify their actions from a vvorld of secret impurities & subtle mixture of the Interests & ends of corrupt na­ture, inuisible to all other soules: Besides this light, I say, (vvhich is presupposed & prerequired) they vvalke in a continuall supernaturall light & are guided by assiduous Inspirations in regard of their most ordinary & in them­selues indifferent Actions & occurrences, in all vvhich they clearly see hovv they are to be haue themselues so as to doe vvill of God, & by them also to improoue them­selues in the Diuine loue; the vvhich extraordinary light is communicated vnto them only by vertue of their al­most continuall Recollectednes, Introuersion & atten­tion to God in their spirits.

11. More particularly by this Internall diuine light an Internall liuer is or may be directed. 1. In the manner & circumstances, vvhen, vvhere & hovv any vertue may most proffitably & perfectly be exercised: For as for the substantiall Act of such a vertue, & the necessary obli­ging circumstances in vvhich it cannot vvith out mor­tall [Page 63] sin be omitted, the light of common sanctifying Grace vvill suffise to direct) 2. In the manner, frequency, length, change & other circumstances of Internall prayer. 3. In Actions or omissions vvhich absolutely con­sidered may seeme in themselues Indifferent, & at the present there may be, as to ordinary light, an vncertainty vvhether the doing or omission is the more perfect; This is discouered to the soule by these Supernaturall Inspira­tions & light; such Actions or Omissions are for exam­ple, Reading, study of such or such matters, vvalking, conuersing, staying in, or quitting solitude in ones Cell, taking a iourney, vndertaking or refusing an employ­ment, accepting or refusing Inuitations &c: In all vvhich things, well-minded soules by solitude & introuersion disposing themselues, will not faile to haue a superna­turall light & impulse communicated to them, which will enable them to make choyce of that side of the doubt, vvhich if they correspond therto, vvill most ad­uance them in spirit, & suite vvith the Diuine vvill. Whereas vvithout such light, generally soules are dire­cted by an obscure light & impulse of nature & carnall ends or Interests, vvithout the least benefit of their spirit, yea to their greater distraction & dissipation.

12. Generally & ordinarily speaking, vvhen there is proposed the doing or not doing of any externall vvorke, & that both of them are in themselues lavvfull, the Diuine Inspiration in Contemplatiue soules moues to the Not-doing. Because the absteining from much externall vvorking & the increasing in Internall solitude of spirit is more suitable to their present state, & to that abstra­ction [Page 64] of life vvhich they professe: Except vvhen the doing may proue a more beneficiall mortificatiō to selfe­loue, or other inordinate Affection of corrupt nature.

13. The speciall poynts & matters of Omissions vvhich (among others) are vsually the Obiects of such diuine Calls & Inspirations, may be such as these. viz. 1. To eschevv vnnecessary, though permitted conuersa­tions, & correspondences vvith others, either by spea­king or vvriting. 2. To be very vvary & sparing in the vse of the tongue. 3. not sollicitously to auoyd occasions of mortifications or afflictions. 4. to auoyd the encom­bring our selves vvith busines not perteining to vs. 5. to fly honours, Offices, care ouer others, & the like. 6. not to craue this or that vnnecessary thing or commodity, but to be content vvith out them. 7. not to question or expostulate vvhy such a thing vvas said or done, but to hold patience, & to let things be as they are. 8. not to complaine of or accuse any. 9. In cases of supportable & not harmfull oppressions to absteine frō Appeals to high­er Superiours. 10. To auoyd the voluntary causing or procuring a change in our present cōdition, employmēt, place &c. 11. To quiet & compose all manner of passions rising in the heart, & all troubles in mind; & to preserue the soule in peace, tranquillity & cheerfullnes in Gods seruice. 1 [...]. to auoyd such things or doings as vvill di­stract our minds vvith dissipating Images. 13. to forbeare & breake of all particular, partiall freindships & com­pliances. 14. To preserue conuenient Liberty of spirit, & to absteine from enconbring or insnaring our selues by any voluntarily assumed taskes, obligations &c: [Page 65] though in matters in themselues good, but vvhich may, becoming obligatory, proue hindrances to better things. 15. In a vvord the Diuine Inspirations, of vvhich vve here treate, doe euer tend to a simplicity in Thoughts, vvords & deeds; & to all things vvhich may aduance the more perfect exercise of Obedience, Humility, Resigna­tion, purity of Prayer, purity of intention &c: so that vvhatsoeuer is contrary to any of these, is to be reiected as a diabolicall suggestion.

14. As for extraordinary Supernaturall Inspirations, Illuminations, apparitions, voyces, conuersations with spirits, messages from heauen &c: a spirituall Internall liuer is forbidden to pretend to, or so much as desire them; yea rather to pray against them, least he should abuse them to vanity & pride: And hovveuer neuer to admit or esteeme them for such, & much lesse to put in execution any thing that seemes to be such a vvay com­manded, till they haue bene first examined, iudged & ap­proued by Superiours &c: But of this particular vve shall speake more herafter.

15. The Diuine Inspirations, lights, Impulses or Calls of vvhich vve here speake are. 1. Either such as are imme­diatly communicated to the soule alone. 2. or also media­tely vvith the concurrence of some other person or thing, to vvit, by the meane of an Externall Directour, or else by the vse & reading or hearing read Spirituall or other pious Bookes. We vvill in the first place treate of this latter vvay of vnderstanding the Diuine vvill, be­cause it is both more easy to be discerned, & also it is the vvay by vvhich commonly imperfect soules are first in­structed.

CAP. II.

§. 1. 2. Why an Externall Guide is necessary in the begin­ning.

§. 3. 4. 5. 6. The conditions of such a Guide; of which the prin­cipall is Experience in the same waies, beyond learning &c.

§. 7. 8. Actiue spirits cannot be fit guides for Contemplatiue.

§. 9. 10. Actuall Illumination oft necessary to externall Di­rectours.

§. 11. 12. 13. The office of a directour may not be voluntarily assumed or sought.

§. 14. 15. Lay-persons may be spirituall Guides to Religious. Yea woemen.

§. 16. That is no preiudice to the spirit of an Order.

§. 17. Conditions necessary in Directours.

§. 18. 19. Directours must teach their disciples to seeke light from God.

§. 20. Sincerity & obedience necessary in the disciple.

§. 21. The Gift of discerning spirits necessary in a dire­ctour.

§. 22. His instructions must be generall.

§. 23. 24. Frequent consultations harmfull.

§. 25. Two generall remedies against difficulties viz. 1. Rid­dance. 2. Patience.

§. 26. 27. The directour must not with vnnecessary questions raise Doubts.

§. 28. Great danger from vnnecessary conuersation of Dire­ctours with woemen.

[Page 67]

§. 29. More particular aduises referred to other following places.

1. A soule that comes out of the world to a religious Contemplatiue life; or that liuing yet in the vvorld, is abstracted from the vvorld, & aspires to a state of Perfection, at the first ordinarily vvill stand in need of an Externall Instructour & guide for most mat­ters that concerne her in that vvay. The reason is, be­cause that such soules, although being supposed to be in the state Grace, they haue sufficient Internall light to di­rect them in the ordinary Duties of a Christian life, for the auoyding of sin, & performing the necessary Acts of vertues requisite: yet as to the proper practises of Inter­nall vvaies, & to the ordering of common Actions to the aduancing of themselues tovvards Contemplation they are indeed penitùs animales, gouerned by sense & the obscure deceitfull light of naturall reason, scarse knovv­ing vvhat an Internall Inspiration, (vvith regard to such matters,) is: & hovveuer very much disabled are they to discerne or correspond to such an Inspiration. And for this reason their naturall light & generall knovvledge that they haue of their ovvne insufficiency to be their ovvne directours in a nevv vnknovvn state, vvill tell them, that they must haue recourse to other guides skil­led in those things, of vvhich themselues haue no expe­rience. Yet euen this seeking & submitting themselues vnto Externall directours is not to be esteemed merely an Act of nature, or guided only by a naturall light; but of such Inspirations & supernaturall light vvhich atte [...]d [Page 68] the Actions of all good Christians, by vvhich they are taught & moued to distrust themselues: & not knowing as yet how to dispose themselues for the receiuing su­pernaturall lights from God (much lesse to merit them) Grace directs them to vse the mediation of others, & to heare & ob [...]y God, speaking & ordeining by them.

2. But the necessity of an Externall Instructour is ge­nerally only at the beginning of a Contemplatiue course: For after that soules by the meanes of generall Dire­ctions giuen, & a competent pursuit of Internall Exer­cises, haue bene once put & conueniently setled in a rightway how to seeke for more light from God alone; they must not afterwards out of leuity, curiosity or a foolish pronenes to discouer their interiour, nor vvith­out a iust necessity continue to seeke Instructions from vvithout; nothing vvill excuse it, but the vvant of Inter­nall light in some speciall Doubtfull cases: & then also they hauing an Internall Inspiration & motion to seeke it from others. In vvhich case it is indeed their Diuine In­ternall Maister that they obey, vvho speakes vnto them by the externall Directour appoynted vnto them by God. The deuout reader may further see vvhat the fore­mentioned Excellent Authour of SCALA PERFECTIONIS sayes to this purpose in the 2. Part & 91. Chapter: as likevvise the Authour of the Booke called the Clowd of vnknowing chap. 49. & 54.

3. Novv to the end to enable the soule to make a good choyce (I meane such a soule as hath freedome to make her ovvne choice) I vvill set dovvne the Qualities ne­cessary to be found in a good Directour: by vvhich title, I [Page 69] doe not meane simply a Confessarius, that is only to heare faults confessed, to giue Absolution, & there an end: for the ordinary Qualities of learning & prudence are suf­ficien therto. But by a spirituall Directour I intend one that besides this, is to instruct the Disciple in all the pe­culiar duties of an Internall life; that is to iudge of her propension to contemplatiue vvayes; & that can at least teach her hovv she may fitt herselfe vvith a degree of Prayer proper for her; that knovves all the degrees of Internall prayer, & can determine hovv long she is to remaine in such a degree, & vvhen to change it for an higher; That can iudge vvhat employments &c. are help­full or hindring to her progres in Internall vvayes: But especially that can teach her hovv to dispose herselfe to hearken to & follovv Gods Internall teaching, & to stand in no more need of consulting her Externall Directour &c. Such are the proper offices of a guide; to enable him vvhereto, there are generally by Spirituall vvriters requi­red three principall Qualities, 1. a good naturall Iudgment. 2. Learning. 3. Experience.

4. But because it is scarse to be hoped for in all places & for all soules to find a Directour absolutly perfect & Qualified vvith all manner of fitting conditions; Ther­fore the said Writers doe dispute vvhat quality is the most necessary to make a Directour capable of a suffi­cient discharge of his office. Novv for as much as concernes the first condition, to vvit, a good naturall Iudgment, though by all it be acknovvledged to be in­sufficient alone, yet is it so absolutely necessary, that without it no considerable experience can be atteined; & [Page 70] Learning if it be ioyned vvith an extrauagant capricious spirit, vvill proue rather pernicious then aduantageous; Therfore the Question remaines betvveene Learning & experience, vvhether of the tvvo is the more necessary?

5. But truly this scarce deserues to be a questiō. For though for the assoyling of ordinary Doubts & cases of conscience, as about fasting, saying the Diuine office, Confession, Restitution &c: learning be the principall condition to be looked after in one that is to be a Gui­de for such purposes: Notvvthstanding since the Office of the spirituall Directour, that novv vve seeke after, is to be exercised in such Internall matters of the spirit, as hath bene said, to vvit, Contemplatiue prayer, Attending to diuine Inspirations &c: it is the resolute iudgment of Gerson, Auila, S. Teresa, B. Iohn de Cruce, Seraphinus Firmanus &c: that no trust is to be giuen to lear­ning vvithout experience, but much to experience though vvithout learning. And to this purpose it is obseruable, that for the most part the Instruments that God hath bene pleased both in ancient & moderne times to employ in the Instructing & guiding of soules to the perfection of contemplatiue Prayer, haue bene persons of small learning but great experience, such as vvere S. Anthony, S. Benedict, S. Francis, S. Teresa &c:

6. No learning therfore that may be got by study & reading, though of all the contemplatiue bookes that novv are extant, will alone serue to enable any one to be a competent Directour for Internall liuers. But there is necessary Experience & practise in the same Prayer, & other internall Exercises that are to be taught: for [Page 71] neuer so many yeares spent in discoursiue Prayer, vvill little auayle to qualify any person to become a proper & proffitable Directour for soules that tend to Contem­plation, as all inclosed Religious men & vvoemen are obliged to doe.

7. Yea it is much more safe for a vvell-meaning soule to trust to her ovvne internall light though obscure; & to such Instructions as bookes vvhich treate of such kind of Prayer, vvill afford her, or else to the guidance of a vertuous humble-minded Directour, (vvho though he haue but a very small Proportion either of Experience or learning, yet out of humility vvill not assume vnto himselfe Authority to iudge of things aboue his reach, but vvill incourage the soule either to seeke out one more intelligent, or to follovv the directions of her ovvne spi­rit illuminated by grace) then to confide in such dire­ctours as beleiue & vvould faine haue the vvorld doe so too, that the Spirituall Exercises are the most perfect kind of Internall prayer, & by consequence vvhose best aduises vvill be to make her suspect all tracts & inuita­tions vvhervvith God shall dravv her to a more sublime, quiet, pure prayer in spirit: from vvhich such Dire­ctours vvill pluck her dovvne to multiplicity, distraction & vnquietnes: the best Prayer that they can teach being that vvhich is exercised more grossely in the Imagination, in figuring of seenes, postures & representations, or by curious painfull Discourses in the vnderstanding, fet­tring her likevvise vvith nice formes & methods in Me­ditation, both very insupportable, & also vnproffitable, yea pernicious to the designe of such soules that tend to [Page 72] contemplation, though very good & proper for those vvho liue Actiue liues. What orders can such Directours giue touching the true vse of Aspirations, of vvhich there is great varietie? or concerning other subtile pure eleuations, annihilations, or internall, reposefull silent prayers of the spirit? And much lesse helpe is to be expe­cted from them in the case of those strange in explicable Priuatious, the vvich are of infinite variety, befalling to many soules highly aduanced in Contemplation.

8. What a misery therfore is it to see Contemplatiue Orders, yea euen those of the greatest solitude & Abstra­ction of life, affording them so great aduantages for Con­templation, to seeke Rules for Contemplatiue prayer from those whose profession is so absolutely contrary thereto? And the more that such incompetent Directours are practised & aduanced in skill about their owne Exer­cises, the more vnfit are they to become guides to Con­templatiue spirits, & the more dangerous is it to rely v­pon them: for such Experience ioyned with learning vvill make them confident that their owne way is the very best for all, & zealous to draw all others to a liking & admiration of it. Most certeine it is, that this is the ve­ry cause why not only the spirit of Contemplation, but euen the knowledge almost of it is againe lost in many Cōtemplatiue Orders, notvvithstanding so fevv yeares are past since it vvas reuiued by those eminent lights, S. Teresa, B. Iohn de Cruce, Barbanzon, &c.

9. I may truly say, that neither naturall Indgment, learning, nor experience all together are absolutly suffi­cient to qualify a person for the employment of guiding [Page 73] soules in all cases in the Internall vvaies of the spirit, but very oft an actuall supernaturall illumination vvill moreouer be requisite & necessary: though true it is, that experienced Persons haue great aduantages beyond vvhat vvitt or learning can afford. And such for matters beyond their experience, no doubt, vvill often remit soules to God & their ovvne obseruation. The vvhich is a quality & office not to be expected from persons that bring no better endovvments vvith them to the mana­ging of Contemplatiue soules, but only subtilty of vvit & learning, or experience in a quite different & much inferiour exercise of Prayer (such experience being as I said, rather a disaduantage:) for such vvill resolue all cases; & though the Directions they giue must needs be improper, yet they vvill be very absolute in requiring obedience: Wheras a person experienced in the same In­ternall vvayes, being humble vvithall (for else saith Auila, he also vvill probably be faulty too) though he be not in all cases able to giue a resolute Iudgment, yet fin­ding his ovvne Deficiency, he vvill make a doubt of the matter, & therpon out of humility vvill not scorne, but rather be desirous to consult & take aduise from others more able to resolue.

10. Herpon it is that S. Teresa (as it is recorded in her Life) much cōplaines of the hurt that such resolute & in sufficiēt teachers did to her, & vvill doe to others. And Thaulerus (vvorthily stiled an illuminate Doctour) professeth of him­selfe in a certaine Sermō that vnles he were specially illumi­nated by God for the solution of a doubt proposed to him, he would remit the party to God himselfe to be instructed in [Page 74] prayer, what to doe. And let not such an one doubt (saith he) but that God will be his faithfull counseller. More­ouer he finds great fault vvith those arrogant persons that reprehend soules for suffring themselues to be gui­ded by the Instincts & internall lights & motions pro­ceeding from Gods spirit, & for their calling such by the titles of New spirits, or pretenders to extraordinary illumi­nations: whereas saith he, those that take all their instru­ctions from persons & bookes, will with very small successe pursue the waies of the spirit.

11. It is a miserable thing to see hovv this Employ­ment of directing soules (vvhich aboue all other is most difficult & exceedeth euen the ability of an Angell yet) out of an ambitious humour is inuaded by persons wholly vnfitted for it, & that vvithout any vocation from God voluntarily vndertake it. So that no meruaile it is if so little good come from such Intruders. Not one of a thousand, (saith Auila) is capable of so sublime a taske. Nay saith the holy Bishop of Geneua, not one often thou­sand. And most certeine it is, that those vvho so freely offer themselues to so Diuine an employment, doe ther­by shevv themselues to vvant the most necessary qua­lifications, to vvit, Humility & a true knovvledge of its difficulty, & therfore their directions are most to be suspected.

12. Herevpon Thaulerus saith, that a soule intending perfection ought to seeke out an experienced seruant of God, though it cost her a iourney of many German miles. But, saith he, if such a freind cannot be found, then vvill a simple Confessarius serue, though neuer so ignorant. For euen by [Page 75] such men doth the Holy Ghost speake by reason of their office; so that they may securely be submitted to & obeyed, euen in things vvhich they doe not vvell vnderstand.

13. If a soule that is fearfull & scrupulous be to chuse a Directour, she ought to auoyd one of the like temper, for passion vvhich blinds the seeker, vvill also blind the Directour, & so the Blind will leade the blind.

14. It is not necessary that the Persons consulted vvith about Difficulties concerning Internall Prayer should be learned, or in Holy Orders (except Doubts con­cerning matters, of Faith, of Cases of Consc [...]ence interuene) For though Lay-persons & vvoemen be not allovved by the Church to preach publickly, yet are they not forbid­den to giue priuate Instructions in matters of that nature to any that shall haue recourse to them. And of the good successe of such Instructours vve haue diuers examples, as in the Lay man that conuerted Th [...]ulerus a learned Doctour & a Religious man, and likevvise in S. Catherine of Siena, S. Teresa &c: And in a vvell gouerned Mona­stery of vvoemen, vvhere a good course of Internall prayer approved by Superiours and Learned Divines is once vvell setled, it is very expedient that Instructions concerning it should rather come from Superiours vvith­in; Because otherwise, by reason of the frequent change of Directours, perhaps of contrary spirits, & many of them little practised in such Prayer, soules will be gouerned vncertainly, & be in danger to be put out of their vvay.

15. Though it seeme euidently more reasonable & more proportionable to the spirits of persons profes­sing [Page 76] a Religious state to be conducted by others of the s ne Profession (Caeteris paribus) then by such as are strangers therto: Yet scarse any Directours can be found more improper for such, (supposing that they tend to Contemplation) then are Religious Guides of Actiue spirits, that knovv no further of prayer then Meditation, & that shevv more Zeale for an exact obseruance of Cere­monies, or a multiplying of externall voluntary Austeri­ties, (the vvhich of themselues, & vnlesse they be gui­ded by Gods Spirit, haue no speciall influence on the spirit, but only serue either for an outvvard shevv of rigour, or for keeping soules from mispending the time) then for the more essentiall internall Duties of prayer, solitude of spirit, Interiour Mortification &c: Much more proffitable to such soules vvould be a Directour, though not of any Religious Profession, that vvould impose on soules only such Austerities as are essentially necessa­ry to an Internall life: such as are perfect Abstraction, silence, solitude, conuenient abstinence &c: And for other matters not much necessary nor much effectuall, lea­uing them in a due moderate Liberty of spirit; especially such as vvill not impose on them any formes of Mentall Prayer, hovveuer liked or practised by themselues; but for such matters rathet leauing them to the conduct of Gods holy spirit: & that vvill not torture them vvith painfull, iterated coustumary Confessions &c:

16. And vvhereas it vvill be perhaps obiected, that probably such Directours being strangers as to the speciall distinctiue spirit of such an Order or Community, may endanger in their disciples a losse of the said spirit. I [Page 77] must professe, that I vnderstand not vvhat is meant by that so much talked of spirit of an Order; nor hovv seue­rall Orders, though neuer so much distinguished by ha­bits or certaine externall practises, if their profession be to tend to Contemplation, can haue any more then one spirit, vvhich directs them to make their principall de­signe to be the seeking of God in his Internall vvayes of Diuine loue, & for that only end, besides conformable Prayer, to practise such obseruances & mortifications as vvill best promote this designe. And surely this good spirit of Religion & contemplation, a good Directour, of vvhat Profession soeuer, vvill very studiously endea­uour to aduance, yea & moreouer vvill no doubt oblige his Disciples to be very Regular & zealous in the obser­uance of all good ordinances of the Community, & principally of the Rule, according to their professiō made: Instructing them vvithall hovv they may vse such things for the aduancing of their spirit, & the seruice of God; although in the meane time perhaps he be not cunning in all the particular Obseruances that belong to them, and little or nothing at all to him.

17. All soules that liue in Contemplatiue Orders are nor naturally fitted for Contemplatiue vvayes, nor the seek­ing of God in spirit. Those therfore that haue not, & in­deed are not capable of much light in their Interiour, and so are not so fit to be guided by Diuine Inspirations, doe the more need to haue certeine Rules from vvithout, at least for the exteriour. And for such it is Gods vvill and direction that they should more depend on Externall Guides.

[Page 78]18. He that takes vpon him the office of a spirituall Directour, saith Thau [...]erus, ought for some reasonable space of time to conuerse vvith his Disciples, especially at the beginning: for a fevv transitory Conferences vvill not suffise to giue him light concerning their propen­sions & dispositions, that he may fit them vvith a degree of Prayer proper for them, both for the present & future. And his principall care must be to set them in such a way, as that they may not need to haue much recourse vnto him aftervvard; the vvhich is done by giuing them generall Directions about their prayer, & especially how therby to dispose themselues to receiue light from God, whose Inspiratiōs ought for the future to [...]e their princi­pall Rule, especially for the Interiour. And for the pra­ctising in particular according to the generall Directions giuen, the Disciples must vse their ovvne iudgment, & for a helpe they may also make vse of such Instructions as they may find, in bookes, so far as they shall be pro­per for their spirit. But in cases when neither their owne Iudgment, nor bookes will helpe them, if the dif­ficulty be of greater moment, they may againe haue re­course vnto their Directour.

19. And in this sort are writers that speake much of the necessity of an Externall Directour, to be vnderstood, For if such necessity were to last alwaies, good soules should be obliged to spend their whole liues in confer­ring with Directours; from whence vvould follovv con­tinuall sollicitudes, scrupulosities & dangerous distra­ctions &c. most contrary to an Internall, spirituall life, vvhich ought to be a state of much repose, cessation, intro­uersion [Page 79] & a continuall attendance vnto vvhat God speakes vvithin vnto a soule; who, if soules vvill hum­bly & faithfully depend on him, vvill cleare & resolue difficulties, vvhich Externall maisters vvill neuer be able to penetrate into. But it is too generall an humour in Directours novv adaies to make themselues seeme ne­cessary vnto their disciples, vvhom hey endeauour to keepe in a continuall dependance; to the great preiudice of their progres in spirit, besides many other inconue­niences not needfull to be mentioned particularly.

20. A soule thar has recourse to an Instructour pro­uided by God for her, or that, vsing her best aduice, she hath made choyce of, must deale freely, plainly & can­didly vvith him, conceiling nothing necessary to be knovvne by him; & his Directions she must follovv in all things, assuring herselfe that if she doe so in the sim­plicity of her heart, & as in obedience to God himselfe, God vvill enlighten him so that she shall not be mislead.

21. The gift of discerning spirits is so necessary to a spi­rituall Guide, that except therby he be able to fit a soule vvith a sort & degree of prayer suitable to her naturall disposition, not tying all soules to begin according to any generall methods (for none such can be perscribed but vvill be preiudiciall to some) & vnlesse he teach her hovv she may become illuminated vvithout him, by God a­lone, by the meanes of Prayer & abstraction of life (vvher­vvith, the mists of Images & passions being dispelled, a light vvill spring forth in the soule far more cleare & cer­teine, then any that can come from humane instructions) not all the Instructions of men & Angells, ioyned vvith [Page 80] all mortifications imaginable, vvill be able to bring a soule to Contemplation. For seldome or neuer doth God vvorke contrary to our naturall complexions; And till soules come to exercises in spirit & prayer, infused by God alone, they are far from Contemplation.

22. Novv at the first it is very hard for any Directour to knovv exactly the secret Inclinations of imperfect soules, vvhich are so infinitly various. And therfore for the most part their Instructions about prayer & atten­dāce to Diuine Inspirations must be generall, the vvhich the disciples themselues must make a particular vse of, by obseruing their ovvne abilities & inclinations, & by marking vvhat more particular formes of Prayer &c. suite best vvith them, & doe them most good. And this if they be not able in a reasonable manner to doe, or if they haue not the courage to abide in a vvay in vvhich they are put, it vvill be in vaine for them to proceede in those secret Internall vvayes.

23. If the vvay vvherein a soule is put, & hath made a reasonable progres, be indeed proper for her, there vvill be little need of frequent recourse vnto her Dire­ctour. Neither ought he to examine her about her Inter­nall Exercises; of vvhich he may iudge vvell enough by her externall comportment: for it is impossible for a soule to be in a vvrong vvay interiourly, but of it selfe it vvill breake out exteriourly, especially to the eyes of those vvho themselues are in a right vvay, as the Spirituall Di­rectour is supposed to be. And there is scarce any more certeine signe that a soule is not interiourly in a good vvay, then is her being forvvard to trouble her Dire­ctour [Page 81] vvith multiplicity of Questions & doubts; & her readines to discouer her Interiour to others, vvhom she has heard or does beleiue to be skilfull in Spirituality.

24. The Images & internall Distractions raised by impertinent consultations about the Interiour are of all o­ther most pernicious. For distractions from vvithout are but superficiall; vvhereas those being hatched & bred vvithin the soule from some secret ill qualities, as feare, scrupulosity, curiosity &c. they are more profound, & destructiue to true Recollection.

25. The generall remedies against almost all difficul­ties are these tvvo. 1. Riddance. 2. Patience. The for­mer consists in affording to the soule some ease & lati­tude, as far as a good conscience vvill permit, in such things as are apt to perplexe vvel-minded tender soules, as Confession, Saying of the Office, obligation to the ordi­nances of the church, & some kind of tentations. In all vvhich things such soules are to be taught to neglect & transcend scrupulous nicity; & they are likevvise to be prudently freed from the practise of Coustumes not obli­gatory. And this remedy is proper against scrupulosity disintangling the soule from many snares vvhich othervvise vvould proue a great hindrance to her. The other remedy of patience & abiding is reasonable in case of Aridities, Desolations & other such discouragements in an Internall life. In vvhich cases the deuout soule is to be exhorted to behaue herselfe as vvell as she can, & to be quietly resigned for vvhat vvith all her industry she can­not helpe. Aboue all things she is to be heartned to pursue couragiously her appoynted Recollections in despight of all [Page 82] such oppositions raised by the deuill or corrupt nature, & permitted by God for her good. The vvhich if she doe, she vvill either disperse these tentations, or obteine a Di­uine light to perceiue, that the vvay both most proper & most secure, by vvhich God purposes to leade her to Perfection, is the way of Aridities & obscurities; as B Iohn de Cruce teaches in his Treatise called Mount Car­mel. And vvhen she once perceiues this, then they vvill not only be supportable, but euen acceptable to her. Hovveuer if a soule did knovv or could be persvvaded hovv much better it vvere for her to suffer a little bitter­nes, arising from such difficulties or perplexities, then to hasten for a remedy, by seeking helpe from others, or by turning herselfe to vnnecessary solaces in creatures; And also vvith vvhat confidence she might expect satis­faction from her Internall Maister, if she vvould seriously by Prayer seeke to him: she vvould saue both herselfe & her Directour much trouble & inconuenience.

26. The instructour must vse great vvarines that he doe not raise doubts & scruples in his Schollers minds by mo­uing needles & indiscreet Questions, or by impertinent discourses concerning spirituall matters: for therby he may come to raise such doubts as himselfe shall not be able to resolue, & to put them so far out of their way as perhaps they vvill neuer be able to find it againe. Therfore in ordinary conuersations it is more fit that the subiect of discourse should be some externall & indifferent mat­ters, vvherein the parties are not much concerned, then such as regard the Interiour. Experience shevves hovv much inconuenience doth come to soules by the conuer­sations [Page 83] of such as are great pretenders to skill in Spiritua­lity, & therfore out of vanity, or a mistaken charity, are apt, vvhen there is no need, to be offring Instructions about spirituall matters.

27. Some soules doe see their vvay before them far better then others, & therfore doe moue fevvuer Que­stions. The Instructour therefore, is to behaue himselfe tovvards them all according to the quality & need of each spirit: allvvaies remembring that his office is not to teach his owne way, nor indeed any determinate way of prayer &c: but to instruct his disciples how they may them­selues find out the way proper for them, by obseruing them­selues what doth good & what causeth harme to their spi­rits; In a word, that he is only Gods Vsher, & must lead soules in Gods way & not his owne.

28. Of all other spirituall persons, it concernes woemen especially to be very sparing in consultations, & vvhen necessity requires, to be breife in deliuering their diffi­culties: for othervvise many inconueniences vvill follovv; as. 1. losse of time both to the disciple & Instru­ctour. 2. Distractions far more hurtfull then if they vvere busied about the most encombring Employments of the Community. 3. danger of multiplying nevv per­plexities; by fearing that they haue not giuen a full & a right account of themselues &c: Besides, one difficulty vvill be apt to beget a nevv one, so that instead of see­king peace by disburdening of the conscience, by their indiscretions they may come both to trouble the peace of their Instructours & to plunge themselues in incurable perplexities & obscurities of mind. 4. great cause there [Page 84] is to feare that there may vpon such occasion of vnne­cessary consultations, ensue dangerous familiarities & freindships vvith such as may proue very vnfit counsel­lours. Thervpon S. Francis Xauerius, saith, that seldome was there so much good to be expected from the frequent treaties betweene Persons of different sexes, as there was perill in them to both.

29. This may suffise concerning the qualities & office of an externall Directour. As for more speciall Duties belonging to him in more particular cases, as scrupulosi­ties, mortifications &c. it shall be treated vvhen vve come to speake of such particular subiects. As likevvise of the obligation of Superiours about the promoting the spirituall good of their subiects soules (although they be not consulted vvith in the nature of spirituall Guides) somevvhat shall be said in the follovving Discourse, con­cerning the state of a Religious profession.

CAP. III.

§. 1. Of Reading which is next to Prayer.

§. 2. Some bookes may be read for Diuersion.

§. 3. But spirituall bookes only for the soules proffit.

§. 4. 5. Bookes proper for Contemplatiues &c.

§. 6. Not to stop in obscure places.

§. 7. Not to practise Directions, but such as are suitable to the spirit.

§. 9. 10. Extraordinary practises of Saints in mortifications not to be imitated without great caution.

§. 11 Why Mystick Authours seeme to write diuersely.

§. 12. Some Authours indiscreetly require Perfection at first.

§. 13. Reading must giue way to Prayer.

§. 14, how mortification is to be practised in Reading.

§. 15. 16. Diuine inspirations to be obserued in applying In­structions: And particularly of those in this booke.

§. 17. A soule following God may without bookes or Instru­ctours be lead to perfect Contemplation.

1. A Second meane by vvhich the Diuine spirit teacheth deuout soules, is the reading of Pious, bookes. And this exercise I esteeme for vvorth & spiri­tuall proffit to be next vnto Prayer.

2. As for ordinarly bookes, as Ecclesiasticall story &c: it may be permitted to soules euen in Religion to read them for an innocent Diuersion & Recreation, so that be not the principall end, but that the Intention further be by such diuersion to dispose a vveary soule the better [Page 86] aftervvards to pursue her internall Exercises. And this Permission novv is the more reasonable, since that in Religious communities of men bodily labour is allmost out of date, & in place thereof reading & study hath succeeded, as novv the principall dayly Employment of Keligious persons; vvho liuing much lesse Abstracted from the vvorld, are almost forced to comply vvith the customes of the present times in vvhich learning is so valevved & so abounding.

3. But as for Spirituall Bookes the Intention of an In­ternall liuer ought not to be such as is that of those vvho liue extrouerted liues, vvho read them out of a vaine curiosity, or to be therby enabled to discourse of such sublime matters, vvithout any particular choyce or con­sideration vvhether they be suitable to their spirit for practise, or no. A Contemplatiue soule in Reading such bookes must not say, This is a good booke or passage: But moreouer, This is vsefull & proper for mee, & by Gods grace I will indeauour to put in execution in due time & place the good instructions conteined in it, as far as they are good for mee.

4. For such soules the bookes most proper are these follovving; Scala perfectionis vvritten by F. Walter Hilton; The Clowd of vnknowing vvritten by an vnknovvne Au­thour; The secret Paths of Diuine loue, as likevvise the Anatomie of the soule, vvritten by R. F. Constant in Bar­banson a Capucin; The Booke entitled Of the threefold will of God, vvritten by R.F. Benet Fitch (aliàs Ganfield) a Ca­pucin likevvise; The vvorks of S. Teresa, of B. Iohn de Cruce: likevvise Harphius, Thaulerus, Suso, Rusbrochius, [Page 87] Richardus de S. Victore, Gerson &c. And of the Ancients, the Liues of the Ancient Fathers liuing in the Deserts, & Cassian his Conferences of certaine Ancient Hermites (recommended particularly vnto vs by our Holy Father) S. Basiles Rules &c. Then for soules that tend to perfe­ction in an Actiue life, Bookes most proper are, The vvorkes of Rodriguez of perfection; The duke of Gandy Of good workes, Mons. de Sales, Ludouicus de Puente &c. And lastly bookes of a mixed nature are Granatensis, Blosius &c. Indeed fevv spirituall bookes there are, vvherin there is not an intermingling of such Instructions. Novv I should aduise soules in an Actiue life not at all to meddle vvith Instructions belonging to Contemplation, but apply­ing themselues to the precepts & exercises of an Actiue life, to vse them in Order to the end therof, the Perfe­ction of externall Christian Charity.

5. In all spirituall bookes, as likevvise in all that treate of Christian morality, such Instructions as concerne the essentiall Qualities & Practise of vertues, are to be estee­med proper to all soules, yet not so the motiues, manner & circumstances of exercising the said vertues.

6. In reading of spirituall bookes, if any thing tou­ching prayer &c: occurre (as oftimes it vvill happen) that the spirituall disciple vnderstāds not, let him passe it ouer, & neither vnnecessarily trouble his ovvne braines, nor make it a busines to trouble others about the vn­derstanding of it. Perhaps in time, after more reading, & especially more experience in prayer, he vvill come to vnderstand it.

7. And as for those things vvhich he either does in­deed, [Page 88] or thinks he vnderstands them, let him not be hasty to apply them to himselfe by practise, out of his ovvne naturall iudgment or liking; but let him obserue his ovvne spirit, vvay & internall guidance by God, & accordingly make vse of them: Othervvise instead of rea­ping benefit, such inconueniences may happen, that it vvould haue bene better he had neuer read, nor bene able to read any bookes at all, but only to haue follovved his owne Internall light, as many good soules haue done that neuer could read, & yet seeking God in simplicity of their hearts, & praying vvithout any prescribed me­thods, practising likevvise according to the inuitation & impulse of the Diuine spirit, haue atteined to Perfect Contemplation.

8. Generally Mystick Authours vvrite according to their ovvne experience in their ovvne soules, vvhen they treate of the seuerall degrees of Prayer, & the seue­rall manners of diuine operations in soules in such de­grees; as if the same Instructions vvould serue indefinit­ly for all others. Wheras such is the in explicable variety of internall dispositions, that the same course & order in all things vvill scarse serue any tvvo soules. Therefore if the indiscreet Readers vvithout considering their ovvne spirits & enablements, shall vpon the Authority of any booke, either tarry too long in an Inferiour degree of Prayer, vvhen God has fitted them, & does call them to a higher; or in a foolish Ambition shall being vnpre­pared, presume to a degree of prayer too sublime & spi­rituall for them, there vvill be no end of difficulties, doubts & consultations.

[Page 89]9. But of all errours the greatest & most dangerous is the indiscreet imitating the examples & practises of Saints in particular, extraordinary corporall mortifications, voluntari­ly (yet by Gods speciall Direction) assumed by them, as la­bours, fastings, watchings, disciplines &c: for such a for­vvardnes in others, not called therto, to be extraordina­ry likevvise, it is much to be feared, proceedes merely from Pride & selfe-loue, & vvill produce no better ef­fects then the nourishing of the same inordinate affe­ctions. And if such haue not the courage & patience (as it cannot be expected they should haue) to perseuere in such exercises, this vvill cause Infirmity of body, de [...]e­ction of mind, & vvearines, if not an vtter casting of a spirituall course.

10. The benefit that vve ought, & easily may reape from the reading of such extraordinary practises of o­thers, is to admire Gods vvaies in the conducting of his Saints, & to take occasion from thence of humbling & despising of our selues, seeing hovv short vve come of them in the practise of their vertues: But no further to imitate them in such things, then vve may be assured that God directs vs by a supernaturall light, & enables vs by an extraordinary Grace, yea & moreouer till vve haue obteined the leaue & approbation of a prudent Di­rectour. Till this be, let vs supply vvith a good vvill vvhat our forces vvill not reach vnto. And aboue all things vvee must take heed that vve doe not entangle our selues by laying obligations or vowes vpon our soules about such matters, the vvhich vve shall haue difficulty to discharge our selues from, vvhen by triall vve find the inconuenience.

[Page 90]11. Mystick Writers in expressing the spirituall vvay in vvhich they haue bene lead, doe oft seeme to differ ex­treamly from one another: The vvhich difference not­vvithstanding if rightly vnderstood, is merely in the phrase & manner of expression. And the ground herof is, because the pure immateriall Operations of perfect soules in prayer, & especially the operations of God in soules in vvhich they are patients only, are so sublime, that intelligible vvords & phrases cannot perfectly expresse them; & therfore they are forced to inuent nevv vvords the best they can, or to borrovv similitudes from corpo­rall things &c. to make their conceptions more intelli­gible: & thus does each one according to the manner that he finds or conceiues in himselfe, or according to his skill in language. No vvonder therfore if there seeme to be diuersity among them. Hervpon the Authour of the Clowd obserues, That great harme may come by vn­derstanding things litterally, grossely & sensibly, vvhich hovvsoeuer they be expressed, vvere intended & ought to be vnderstood spiritually.

12. Some good spirituall Authours intending to re­commend certeine Duties necessary to be practised, for as much as concernes the substance of the Duties (as an entire selfe-abnegation, Purity of intention &c.) they doe vrge the said duties in the greatest perfection vni­uersally vpō all, & vvith such phrases of absolute necessity, as if vpon any defect in practising that vertue (so by them extended to the full, to the end to preuent all the most secret vvayes & shifts in vvhich nature is apt to seeke her ovvne satisfaction) all the vvhole designe of [Page 91] an Internall life vvere ruined; they doe by this ouermuch exactnes & care, instead of exciting the courage of their Readers to the serious practise of so necessary a Duty, quite dishearten them; yea perhaps they make them sus­pect the state of their soules, vvho being conscious of their present infirmity & imperfections, loose all heart to aduenture vpon an attempt so vnproportionable to their vveake abilities. Wheras if Instructions had bene tempered vvith regard to the capacity of each practiser, they vvould haue gone on vvith courage & good suc­cesse.

13. Voluntary Reading must giue place to Prayer, vvhensoeuer the soule finds herselfe inuited therto.

14. The vertue of Mortification may, & sometimes ought to be practised in Reading in this manner. When any booke or subiect is very gustfull to a soule, she must be vvatchfull ouer herselfe not to povvre herselfe vvhol­ly vpon it vvith an intemperate greedines, nor to let cu­riosity or delight too much possesse her, but let her novv & then stop the pursuit of reading, lifting vp her mind by interruptions to God, & afterwards continue at least in a vertuall attention to him, so mortifying & qua­lifying the impetuosity of nature. And by no meanes let her giue way to an vnwillingnes to quitt Reading for performing her appoynted Recollections, or other exercises of obligation.

15. To conclude, whosoeuer in Reading &c. doth not cheifly obserue his owne spirit & Diuine Call, & makes not the bookes, sayings & examples of others to serue the said spirit & Call; but on the contrary makes [Page 92] the diuine Inspirations subiect to bookes &c: it were better for him neuer to read such bookes, or receiue hu­mane Instructions; but that he should cleaue only to God, who in case of necessity vvill most assuredly sup­ply all other wants & defects.

16. And the same Liberty that I haue recommended to soules in the Reading of other bookes, I aduise them to vse in these instructions also, that is, to apply to their owne practise only such Directions, as their spirituall Instructour, and their owne experience & reason en­lightned by Grace shall shevv them to be proper for them. Indeed in all this booke I knovv scarse any one Aduice vvhich I can confidently say to be properly be­longing to all soules that leade an Internall life generally, except this; That they who aspire to perfection in Contem­plation must not content themselues, nor rest finally in any in­feriour degree of Prayer, but following the Diuine light & inuitation (without obliging themselues to any formes or methods) they must from the lowest degree of Internall Prayer (which is ordinarily Meditation) proceed to a more sublime Prayer of immediate Affections & Acts of the will; & from thence ascend to the Infused Prayer of Aspirations.

17. Yea I dare vvith all confidence pronounce, That if all spirituall bookes in the world were lost, & there were no externall Directours at all; yet if a soule (sufficiently in­structed in the essentiall grounds of Catholick Faith) that has a naturall aptnes, though otherwise neuer so simple & vnlearned (being only thus farre well instructed at first) will prosecute Prayer & Abstraction of life, & will resigned­ly vndergoe such necessary Mortifications as God shall prouide [Page 93] for her, obseruing God & his Call exteriourly & interiourly, & so forsake herselfe, & propose Almighty God his will, Loue & honour for her finall Intention (the which she wi [...]l certein­ly doe if she attend vnto his Inspirations,) Such a soule would walke clearly in perfect light, & with all possible se­curity; & would not faile in due time to arriue at Perfect Contemplation. These are the tvvo externall meanes by vvhich God teaches soules, discouering to them his vvill, to vvit, Instructours and Bookes: And to these vve might adde another, to vvit, Lawes & precepts of Superiours (for God teaches vs also this vvay, & neuer commands con­trarily:) But of these vve shall speake herafter.

CAP. IV.

§. 1. Of the 3. & most principall way by which God teaches internall liuers viz. Immediate Diuine Inspirations. The Order of particular considerations followingt [...]ouching them.

§. 2. First of the necessity of them: & the ground of such ne­cessity.

§. 3. 4. 5. 6. The said necessity proued by the testimony of S. Benedict in his Rule &c. as also by his example.

§. 7. A further demonstration of the said necessity.

1. THE third forementioned, & of all other the most principall Meane by vvhich God instructs & di­rects Internall liuers in the secret Paths of his diuine loue, & vpon vvhich doe depend the tvvo former, are Inte­riour Illuminations & inspirations of Gods holy Spirit, vvho [Page 94] is to be acknovvledged the only supreme Maister; concer­ning vvhich Inspirations it hath already bene shevved in generall vvhat they are, hovv distinguished from the lights & motions of common Grace, & vvhat are the ob­iects about vvhich principally they are exercised &c. I vvill novv treate more particularly of them, in this fol­lovving Order, viz. 1. There shall be further shevved the necessi [...]y of them. 2. That soules are obliged to dispose themselues for the receiuing of them, & hovv this is to be done; to vvit, by remouing the impediments. 3. Hovv God communicates to the soule his light & grace for her instru&ion & direction. 4. That it is not hard to discerne them, & very secure to rely vpon them. 5. That by the vse of them no preiudice at all comes to Ecclesiasticall or Religious Obedience.

2. Touching the first Point, to vvit, the necessity of them in an Internall Contemplatiue life; There is none that vvill deny or doubt, but that Diuine Inspi­rations are necessary for as much as concernes the pro­per & essentiall Actions of Christian vertues, the vvhich receiue all their meritoriousnes from the said Inspirations: But some there are that vvill not allovv the same ne­cessity of expecting Inspirations & Calls for Actions or omissions of themselues indifferent, or of lesse moment. But surely since it is generally agreed vpon by Diuines following S. Augustin, S. Thomas &c. that there are no actions done in particular circumstances vvhich are sim­ply to be esteemed indifferent, but since they must haue some end, if the end be good, they are to be esteemd good; & if euill, they are euill: (hovveuer vniuersally [Page 95] considered they are in their ovvne nature indifferent, because according to the intention & end vvhervvith they are done they may be good or euill:) Againe since there are no actions so inconsiderable, but may, yea ought to be performed out of the motiue of diuine loue, & to the end to increase the said loue in our soules, es­pecially the ordinary Actions & employments of a Religious contemplatiue life: And lastly since Perfection in Diuine loue cannot be atteined by the simple exercise of Charity, in duties vvhich are absolutly necessary, & vvithout mortall sin cannot be omitted, the vvhich duties doe seldome occurre; But it is moreouer requisite for that end to mul [...]iply frequently & dayly Exercises of the said Loue in offices lesse necessary; yea & to pu­rify all our most ordinary Actions from the steines of selfe-loue vvhich adhere vnto them: hence, I say, ap­peares the necessity of the Influence of the diuine spirit vpon our Actions vvhich are not of such obligation, if vve seriously tend to the Perfection of Diuine loue in our soules.

3. To this purpose it is vvorth the obseruing, hovv se­riously our holy Father S. Benedict in forces the necessity of hearkning to & obeying the Inspirations of Gods holy spi­rit our only supreme Maister, making this the foundation of all Religious Duties, in the Prologue of his Rule, vvhere he saith, That we must (nunquam discedere ab eius magi­sterio) neuer depart from the Institution & direction of God; That we must haue our eyes open (ad Deificum lumen,) to the Diuine light. On which grounds he calls a Mona­stery (scholam Dominici seruitij) the schoole wherin Gods [Page 96] seruice is taught, and (officinam Artis spiritualis) the workehouse wherin the art of the diuine spirit is taught & practised: Namely because all things, all obseruances euen those of the least moment in a Religious life doe tend to vvithdravv vs from all other teachers, & all other skill, & to bring vs to be (Deo docibiles) taught by God only. And therfore it is that our said holy Patriarch layes this as the foundation of all religious Practises, that they be done in vertue of prayer; his vvords are, Inprimis vt quidquid agendum inchoas bonum, à Deo perfici instantissi­ma Oratione deposcas. As if he should say, In the first & principall place thou art to consider this to be the end why I inuite thee to an abstracted Religious life, that thou maist therby be brought to this happy & secure state, as to be ena­bled to obteine of God by most earnest assiduous prayer to giue a blessing & perfection to euery Action that in a reli­gious state thou shalt apply thy selfe to. Novv if according to our holy Fathers principall Intention, Prayer ought to prepare & accompany euery Action vvhich vve per­forme in Religion; then surely it vvill follovv that they ought all of them to be performed vvith relation to God, as vpon his bidding & for his loue & glory.

4. Moreouer more particularly concerning Diuine Inspirations our holy Father makes mention of seuerall ones in speciall; As in the point of Internall prayer, though in common, he ordeines that it should be short, (in the 20. Chap. of his Rule) yet so as that he leaues it to the liberty of any one to prolong it (ex affectu Inspiratio­nis Diuinae gratiae) by an inuitation & enablement from a d [...]uine Inspiration & Grace. And againe concerning Ab­stinence, [Page 97] as also the measure of allovvance for meate & drinke, he professeth that he had a scruple hovv to propor­tion it, considering the variety of mens tempers & ne­cessities: But hovveuer though he vvas vvilling to allovv vvhat might be sufficient for the strongest, yet he leaues euery one in particular to the direction of Grace, saying in the 40. chap. (Vnus quisque proprium habet donum ex Deo; alius sic, alius verò sic) that is. Euery one hath a peculiar gift of God; one hath this, & another that. (Quibus autem donat Deus tolerantiam abstinentiae, propriam se habituros mercedem sciant.) That is, those vnto whom God hath giuen the strength to endure a sparing abstinence, let them be assu­red that so doing, God will giue them a peculiar reward. Be­sides these, seuerall other passages might be produced out of our Holy fathers Rule to the same purpose.

5. Novv in this last passage there is a Document that vvell deserues to be considered. Euery one, saith he, in S. Paules vvords, hath his proper peculiar gift, in the mat­ter of Refection. All good Christians haue the gift to auoyd therein a mortally sinfull excesse: But Religious Internall liuers haue, moreouer (or may haue) a speciall Gift to auoyd euen veniall defects; And the Perfect to aduance themselues therby tovvards Perfection. Yet from thence vve cannot conclude that God has obliged himselfe to discouer vnto euery one, although seeking it by Prayer, the exactly true state & complexion of his body. Whence it follovvs that if he, being mistaken in that vvhich he is not bound to knovv, should demand more or lesse sustenance then is absolutly necessary; it is no sin, vpon supposition that such desire did not pro­ceed [Page 98] from a sensuall affection to meate, nor a faulty ne­glect of health, but from the best light that reason could afford him to iudge of his ovvne necessity, & from an Intention to benefit his soule by a moderate refreshing of nature. And it is Gods vvill that vve should follovv Reason in all externall things, in vvhich God doth not vsually othervvise illuminate his seruants. Though na­turall Reason therfore may faile & be mistaken, yet the person does not offend, but rather follovves God by follovving the light of his reason, this being all the light in such cases afforded him. So for example, if an Her­mite being infirme, and hauing none to consult vvith, should doubt vvhether it vvere vnlavvfull for him to breake a commanded Fast: and hauing by Prayer desi­red Gods Direction, should remaine persvvaded thet it vvas▪ and therby should preiudice his health by fasting; This vvould be no sin at all in him: yea on the contrary it vvould be meritorious: For he vvould faile indeed in that for vvhich he had no light, neither vvas light ne­cessary to him, to vvit, the exact knovvledge of vvhat had bene requisite for corporall health: But he vvould merit in that for vvhich he had light, to vvit, the ad­uancement of his soule. And ordinarily speaking, the in­spirations that God affords to the more perfect in such cases, are rather to absteine euen from the more expe­dient commodities, yea oftimes to some preiudice of health, for the greater good of the soule; because too an­xious a sollicitude for health is vnbecoming an Inter­nall liuer. Yea a robustious health vninterrupted is not conuenient for such an one. But leauing this digression.

[Page 99]6. Our holy Father teaches as himselfe had bene taught, (For vvhat other Teacher had he from his infancy till the moment of his Expiration but the Diuine spirit, by vvhose light & impulse alone he vvas directed into & in his solitude, & aftervvard enabled to direct all succee­ding ages in a Coenobiticall life?) to haue recourse to the same Teacher! The like may be said of all the Ancient Hermites & anachoretes vvho could haue no other Instru­ctour but God, & had no other employment during their rigorous solitude & silence, but to attend to their Internall Teacher, & put in execution his Inspirations, in all their actions both internall & externall. To this purpose saith a holy Hermite in Cassian, That as it vvas by Gods inspiration that vve begin, vvhen vve enter into Re­ligion: so likevvise (Magisterio & illuminatione Dei ad per­fectionem peruenimus) by the discipline, Instruction & Illu­mination of God vve atteine to perfection. Another sayes, That a soule can doe no good at all vnles she be (quotidianâ Domini illuminatione illustrata) inlightned by a daily illu­mination from God. These are Expressions that our holy Father himselfe vses, & it seemes borrovved them from the same Authours: And for this Reason it is, that in his Rule he contents himselfe vvith ordeining Prescriptions for the exteriour only, because he knevv that the Inte­riour could only be directed by God. But vvithall his ordinations are such, as vve may see his Intention and only designe vvas by them to dispose soules to be capable of obseruing & follovving the inspirations & invvard instructions of Gods holy Spirit, vvithout vvhich all ex­teriour Obseruances vvould neuer bring vs to perfe­ction: [Page 100] such vvere very Rigorous solitude & abstraction from all entercourse either vvith the busines or nevves of the vvorld, almost continuall silence, but vvhen vvee speake to God &c. And vvithall in seuerall places of his Rule he signifies by the vvay that the Reformation of the Spirit ought to be the principall aime of a Religious Soule. So that in the conclusion of the Rule hauing re­gard to the Externall Obseruances expressely comman­ded therin (as a preparation to the Perfection to be learnt out of the Liues and Conferences of the Fathers) he professeth with great humility, but vvith great truth al­so, that his intentiō therby vvas that those vvhich obserued it be enabled to declare in some sort (honestatem morum, aut initium conuersationis eos habere) that they had atteined to a laudable exteriour cariage & the beginning of a holy Religious conuersation: But, saith he, whosoeuer shall tend to perfection: Sunt doctrinae Sanctorum Patrum: as if he had sayd, He must according to the teachings of the Holy Fathers attend vnto the Diuine Maister by exercising ac­cording to his instructions that pure sublime Prayer &c. vvhich they practised & discouered. And suitable herto S. Francis likevvise in his Rule aduises his Disciples thus, Attendant fratres, quod super omnia desiderare debent ha­bere spiritum Domini, & sanctam eius operationem, that is, The Religious brethren must attentiuely marke, that aboue all other things they ought to desire to haue the spirit of our lord & his holy operation in their soules.

7. To conclude, either it must be granted that Per­fection may be atteined merely by auoyding Mortall sins & doing such action of vertue as are absolutly ne­cessary [Page 101] to all Christians (vvhich to say vvere manifestly foolish & false:) And likevvise that Actions more indif­ferent & not so vniuersally obliging (such as are certeine more proffitable manners of Prayer, externall Religious Obseruances, Refection, conuersation vvith our bre­thren &c.) cannot be rendred capable of a holy Inten­tion, & of aduancing vs in the Diuine loue (vvhich is against experience;) And moreouer that vvithout Inter­nall Grace actually operating (vvhich is nothing else but Diuine Illuminations & impulses) these ordinary Infe­riour Actions may be exalted to produce that effect vvhich the greatest necessary vertues could not produce, vvhich to say vvere impiety: Or it must be granted that the teaching of Gods Holy Spirit is the only principall necessary cause by vvhose vertue vve are informed & enabled to improoue & make vse of these Actions for the atteining of so sublime an end, as Perfection in Contemplation is, & vvithout which it is impossible to be atteined. And indeed so impossible to be brought vn­der externall Rules, & so secret & vndiscouerable are the Internall Dispositions of soules & their operations, that they cannot be clearly perceiued, nor consequently ordered, but by him to vvhom alone (our figmentum) our hearts & all the secret inclinations & motions of them are naked & transparent.

CAP. V.

§. 1. All Internall liuers obliged to attend to Gods Inspira­tions,

§. 2. Therfore the Impediments to this duty are to be remo­ued, which are two: first distracting Images: which are expelled by Abstraction of life.

§. 3. The 2▪ Impediment is vnruly Passions; which are calmed by Mortification & Peace of mind.

§. 4. 5. The end why a Religious state especially of S. Bene­dicts Institution is vndertaken, is the remouall of these inpediments.

§. 6. 7. 8. 9. A third more speciall impediment, to wit, want of due Liberty of spirit to follow Gods Directions, caused by voluntary burdens & coustumes assumed: Seuerall such are exemplified in.

1. THE Necessity of a Diuine Internall Teacher being established, there follovves from thence an Equall necessity for all those, vvhose profession obli­ges them to vvalke in those vvayes tovvards the sublime end proposed, to attend vnto & obey this only, most ne­cessary Maister. And because each one hath in his heart a false teacher that alvvaies vrgeth vs to hearken to his peruerse teachings, & to neglect the diuine Teacher; Therfore the vvay to become a diligent & obedient Disciple to Gods holy Spirit vvill be. 1. To neglect, con­tradict, & as much as lies in vs to silence the teachings & suggestions of corrupt nature. 2. And secondly to be [Page 103] attentiue to the voyce of Gods spirit in our soules.

2. For the first; there are tvvo generall Impediments that nature layes in our vvay to hinder vs from atten­ding to God. The first is distracting Images; the Second vnquiet Passions. Novv the Remedy against the former is Abstraction of life; a not engaging our selues in busi­nesses that belong not vnto vs; the mortifying of the cu­riosity of knovving or hearing strange or nevv things not pertinent to our Profession: the tempring of our tongues from vaine vnproffitable conuersations; the re­ducing our thoughts, as much as may be, from multiplici­ty to vnity, by fixing them continually on the diuine loue vvhich is that vnum necessarium &c:

3. Againe the only proper Remedies against the other impediment, to vvit, vnquiet Passions, are first Mortifi­cation of all inordinate Affection to creatures; of all vaine encombring freindships, all factious Partialities; all thoughtfull prouision for the contenting of our sensuall Desires: But especially of that most dangerous, because most in time & spirituall thirst of knowledge vnnecessary, & of all ambition to get victory or glory by disputing, vvri­ting &c: as likevvise of all Anger, Impatience, melancho­ly, feare, scrupulosity &c: And secondly a studious care to preserue our soules in all the peace, tranquillity & cheer­fullnes possible: not suffring any passions to be raised in our minds during our imperfect state, no not although they should be directed vpon good & holy obiects: be­cause they vvill obscure & disorder our spirits. And therfore vve must auoyd all violence & impetuous ha­stines in performing our best & most necessary Duties, [Page 104] the vvhich are discharged most efficaciously & purely vvhen they are done vvith the greatest stillnes, calmenes, clearnes of mind, & resignation. It is sufficient in this place only to touch passingly vpon these Impediments, because in the follovving Treatise vve shall haue occa­sion to treate more largely & purposely of them.

4. Now to vvhat End did vve come into Religion, but only to auoyd all these Impediments in the vvorld, vvhich vvithdravv vs from attending to God & follow­ing his Diuine Guidance? In this very point lies the dif­ference betvveene a Secular & a Religious state, that a Se­cular Person secularly minded, by reason of the noyse, tu­mults & vnauoydable Distra&ions, sollicitudes & ten­tations vvhich are in the vvorld, cannot vvithout much adoe find leasure to attend vnto God & the gaining of his loue euen for a fevv minutes euery day, or little oft­ner then the lavves of the church necessarily oblige him. And all the directions that he is capable of in Gods ser­uice must come from vvithout, for by reason that his soule is so filled vvith Images vaine or sinfull, & so agi­tated vvith impetuous Affectiōs & designes, he cānot recollect himselfe to heare God speaking in him. Where­as a Religious person professes his only busines to be attending to Gods Internall voyce: for vvhich purpose he renounceth all these Impediments & distractions.

5. And surely in a speciall manner the Disciples of S. Benedict, if they vvill cast a serious eye vpon the frame of their Rule, they vvill find that as it is very moderate & prudently condescending in all matters of outvvard cor­porall Austerities, afflicting to nature, but not immediat­ly [Page 105] helpfull to the Spirit, so on the contrary it is very ri­gorous in the exacting of silence, solitude, a renouncing all proprietary sollicitude for corporall necessities & all other mortifications, vvhich vvill hinder the dissipating of our spirits & thoughts, & indispose the soule to recollection & attention to God: But specially Prayer, vvhich he calls Opus Dei (to vvhich all other vvorkes & obseruances are to giue place) is most seriously & incessantly enioyned: By the practise vvhereof vve doe aboue all other exer­cises transcend grosser & sensible Images in the vnder­standing, & subdue vnruly Passions in the heart. So that it is euident that our Holy Fathers principall care in all the obseruances enioyned by him, vvas to free his Disciples from these tvvo generall & most povverfull hindrances to introuersion & a continuall attention to, & conuersa­tion vvhich God: The vvhich may most properly be cal­led, The Spirit of S. Benedicts Rule.

6. There is moreouer one speciall impediment to the obseruing & obeying of Diuine Inspirations vvhich is not to be omitted, & the rather because it is lesse taken notice of in ordinary spirituall Writers. This Impediment consists in this, that many soules doe indiscreetly preiu­dice, yea oft take avvay quite that indifference & liber­ty of Spirit vvhich is necessary to all that vvill seriously follovv the Diuine Guidance in all the vvayes that they then are lead by it. For it vvere foolish to prescribe vnto God the vvayes in vvhich vve vvould haue him to lead vs; This vvere to oblige God to follovv our vvayes & to doe our vvills, & not vve to performe his. And this is done by those vvho obstinatly adhere to preconceiu d [Page 106] opinions & fore-practised coustumes whatsoeuer they be. For though such coustumes in themselues and to o­ther soules may be neuer so good & proffitable; yea though formerly euen to those persons themselues they haue bene neuer so proper & beneficiall; yet this vvas only vvhilst they vvere in such a state & degree of Spiri­tuality; the vvhich state altering (as in progresse it needs must) then that vvhich vvas formerly proper & con­formable to the Diuine vvill & inspiration, vvill be­come improper, inconuenient & contrary to the present Internall Guidance of God.

7. This impediment must necessarily be remoued, & deuout soules must continually keepe themselues in a free indifferency & supplenes of Spirit; for othervvise they vvill become in many cases & circumstances indis­posed to beleiue, & incapable to execute that vvhich Gods holy spirit shall dictate vnto them: yea they vvill oft con­tristate & endanger to extinguish the said spirit in them by an obstinate doing of the contrary to what it moues vnto.

8. The reasonablenes & necessity of this aduice may be shewed by this example; It may haue beene good & proffitable for a soule vvhen she entred into an Inter­nall life to appoynt vnto herselfe certaine voluntary De­uotions & vocall Prayers &c: or aftervvards to select certaine peculiar subiects of meditation, as the Quatuor Nouissima, the Mystery of the Passion &c: or to prescribe vnto herselfe certaine times for some good externall or internall Practises: or to make frequent Examinations of conscience, Confessions &c: All these things are good [Page 107] whilst the soule finds proffit by them: & so long they are to be continued. But if God shall call her to an higher exercise, & to a more pure, efficacious Prayer, so that she begins to loose all gust in her former exercises, the which doe not only abridge her of the time necessary for her more perfect Recollections, but likewise dull the spirit, & indispose it for such Prayer, & other more be­neficiall practises to which she is by a new clearer Diuine light directed or inuited, & by Diuine grace enabled, In this case pertinaciously to adhere to former cou­stumes, because she finds them cōmended in bookes &c: or because she did formerly reape proffit by them, this is to intangle, fetter & captiuate the spirit, to renounce the Diuine guidance, & to obstruct all vvayes of aduāce­ment in the paths of Contemplation. The soule ther­fore in such or the like cases must necessarily vse some violence vpon herselfe to recouer a true & most need­full Indifferency & liberty of spirit, that so she may freely follovv God, vvhithersoeuer he shall by his Inspirations inuite her, being assured that she shall neuer by him be persvvaded or tempted to doe any thing contrary or preiudiciall to her duty, obedience to lavvfull Authori­ty, or any other necessary obligations.

9. This Instruction reaches very far; yea so far that euen Learned men, yea some that passe for spirituall, if they be vnexperienced in the true Internall vvayes of Gods Spirit leading to Contemplation, vvould perhaps mislike the freedome vvhich in many cases must, & hath bene allovved by the best & most sublime Mystick Au­thours to soules of some peculiar dispositions & in cer­taine [Page 108] circumstances. And as for vnlearned Persons, they vvould be in danger almost to be scandalised.

10. The speciall Points therfore by vvhich Liberty of Spirit is in many soules much abridged to their great hindrance, are these vvhich follovv, viz. 1. Confession of certaine veniall sins. 2. Coustumary sollicitous Examina­tions of conscience. 3. In complyance vvith coustume, to confesse both oftner & likevvise such Imperfections as it vvere better for the soule not to mention in Confession. 4. Renewing of generall Confessions. 5. The Forcing Acts of sensible Contrition. 6. Not contenting ones selfe many times vvith vertuall Examinations of conscience. 7. Vsing certaine vocall Prayers voluntarily. 8. The obliging ones selfe to coustumes & ceremonies not of obligation. 9. Cōtinuing voluntary Mortifications vvhen the soule finds no benefit by them, but rather becomes disheartned & deiected. 10. Practising vvhat is found in bookes though improper for the spirit. 11. Imitating vnvvarily the good practises of others. 12. Obliging ones selfe not to quitt the meditating on the Passion. 13. Doing things mere­ly for edification. 14. Tying ones selfe to nice me­thods, orders & a determinate number of succeeding Acts or Affections in Recollection. 15. Exercising cor­porall labours & Austerities, vvithout due Considera­tion & necessity. 16: Adhering to any kind of Internall Exercise, vvhen perhaps the soule is inuited & enabled to an higher. 17. The troubling ones selfe to inquire af­ter or to procure Sermons. 18. The obliging ones selfe to a determinate posture in Prayer. 19. The voluntary hearing of such a number of Masses. 20. Set deuotions [Page 109] or exercises to Saints, or Prayers for the dead or liuing. 21. Sollicitous or distracting cares to gaine Indulgences by going to such or such Churches. 22. Adioyning ones selfe to Confraternities, and the seuerall duties belonging to them. 23. Iterating the Office in case any thing through inaduertence hath bene omitted. 24. Generally fettring ones selfe vvith any practises vvhich are not of obligation. 25. And (vvhich is vvorst of all) intangling the soule by hasty & vndiscreete promises & vowes, made during some fitt of sensible Deuotion, or in a Passion of remorse, feare &c. By these & other such practises as these, vvhich are supposed not to be of obligation, many soules in desire tending to Perfection doe so ouerburden & intangle themselues, that they either cannot obserue the operations of the Diuine Spirit in them, or haue not the liberty to follovv vvhither it vvould dravv them; & therby remaine in their imperfect state vvithout hope of making any progresse, vnlesse they vvill renounce their ovvne preconceiued iudgment & preassumed selfe-imposed obligations.

11: Hitherto it may suffise to haue spoken of the im­pediments by vvhich soules are hindred from attending to & obeying their Internall Diuine Teacher, vvho only knowes what is best for euery one in all circumstances, & vvill not faile to direct for the very best euery soule that with humility and Resignation hath recourse to him.

12. Now such is the nature of the Reasonable soule (which is all Actiuity, & will be continually thinking on & louing somewhat) that if these impediments, cau­sed [Page 110] by impertinent Images of Creatures, inordinate af­fections to them, & by a voluntary shackling the soule with assumed opinions & coustumes, vvere once remo­ued, she vvould see clearly vvhat she ought to follovv & loue, vvhich is God only: for creatures being remoued & forgotten, nothing remaines but God: no other light for our vnderstanding; nor other obiect for our vvills & affections, but he only.

13. And the generall, of all others most efficacious Meane to remoue all these impediments is, by Abstractiō, & Prayer in Spirit to aspire vnto an habituall state of Recollection & introuersion. For such Prayer besides the vertue of impetration, by vvhich God vvill be mo­ued according to his so frequent & expresse promises, to be a light to the meeke & humble: It hath also a direct vertue to procure this illumination, in as much as therin our soules see him & nothing else: so that they haue no other Guide to follovv but him; And especially in as much as by Prayer in spirit Diuine Charity is most firmly rooted in our hearts, vvhich makes thē insensible to all other things that vvould diuert our Attention or Affection. And vve see by experience thar Loue (of vvhat obiect soeuer it be) doth more cleare the mind, & conferrs in a moment, as it vvere, more skill to find out the meanes, by vvhich the obiect beloued may be obteined, then neuer so much study or meditation.

CAP. VI.

§. 1. 2. The Gift of the holy Spirit is the Principle of all good Actions in vs.

§. 3. 4. 5. 6. It doth not worke of it selfe, vnlesse excited by Actuall grace & our indeauours.

§. 7. By the vsing & employment of this Gift, there is raised in vs a supernaturall light of Discretion, as Prudence is increased by the practise of vertue.

§. 8. How the exercise of loue causes Illumination.

§. 9. 10. Supernaturall light is 1. Actuall. 2. Permanent.

§. 11. The effects of supernaturall Discretion.

§. 12. 13. 14. 15. Contemplatiues & Actiue liuers, both gui­ded by a supernaturall light; but differently.

§. 16. How imperfect soules may doe their ordinary dayly a­ctions in light.

1. THE third Point before proposed for our consi­deration in this matter of Internall Inspira­tions is, the manner hovv God communicates his light & grace to our vnderstanding & vvills for our instru­ction, & Directions, in the Mystick vvayes of Con­templation.

2. Novv for a clearer explication of this poynt vve are to consider that that fundamentall grace, vvhich in Scriptures is called Donum spiritus sancti. The Gift of the Holy Ghost, & which is conferred on all in Baptisme, & being aftervvard by actuall sins smothered or extin­guished, is renevved by Pennance, Prayer &c: & che­rished [Page 112] or increased by the vvorthy vse of the holy Eu­charist & other vertuous practises of a Christian life: This Grace, I say, (vvhat euer it be Physically in its ovvne nature, if it vvere examined Scholastically, vvhich is not my intent) is a certaine Diuine Principle or Faculty, partaking somevvhat of the nature of a permanent habit, infused into the spirit of man, by vvhich he is enabled, vvhensoeuer the free vvill concurreth actually, both for knovving, beleiuing & practising to doe the vvill of God in all things. For the vertue thereof extends it selfe through all the faculties of the soule, curing the distem­pers, vvants, & deordinations that sin had caused in them.

3. This nevv Diuine faculty therfore (vvhich seemes to be expressed by the Prophet Dauid, vvhen he saith, signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine, That is. The light of thy countenance, O lord, is like a seale stamped on our soules) doth not, neither is it sufficient of it selfe alone actually to produce any sauing effects: As vve see that a Musician or a Poet though neuer so skillfull, doe not therfore euer actually sing or vvrite verses, vntill some certaine occasions or circumstances doe actually determine them therto, as gaine, or requests of others, or praise, or a mind to please themselues &c: For the Actuall employment & exercise of such Grace there is moreouer necessary an actuall ayde from God, vvho by a speciall Diuine Prouidence doth often administer oc­casions, hints & enablements exciting the vvill to vvaken this Grace in the soule, vvhich othervvise vvould lye vacant & vnusefull.

[Page 113]4. And proofes of this, dayly experience shevves vs both in our selues & others, hovv a sermon or any other vvord seasonably spoken, or any obiect occurring vvith due circumstances doth incite vs to lift vp our soules to God by prayer, to performe some Acts of Charity, to mortify some inordinate affection &c. Yea sometimes from a desperate sinfull state to conuert our soules to God. And thus doing vve (as S. Paul exhorts Timothy, doe [...]) raise & blow into a flame the grace vvhich before lay in our hearts, like coales of fire smo­thred in the Ashes. And if this be frequently done, that Grace vvhich at the first imparting vvas but vveake, & needed strong endeauours to excite it, becomes far more actiue, & more easy to be excited, so that vpon any the least occasion offred, it is ready to bestirre it selfe & disperse its odours & vertue; till at last it gets so per­fect a dominion in perfect soules, that it quite subdues the contrary Principle of corrupt nature: And is scarse euer idle, but the least hint being giuen, it turnes the soule presently to God, & keepes it almost continually fixed on him: In so much as those things which former­ly had no effect at all vpon them, now presently & euen violently inflame them.

5. Yea in some supereminently perfect soules this gift of Gods holy Spirit comes to be so vigorous, that it sub­dues euen reason it selfe, & leades it captiue after it selfe, pushing the soule to Heroycall actions vvithout any pre­cedent Act of reason, or the least deliberation; though in the Act the soule by consenting, merits. Thus vve reade of the ancient Martyrs hovv they by an impe­tuous [Page 114] impulse of the Diuine spirit, rushed before the persecuting Iudges to confesse the name of Christ. Yea S. Apollonia cast herselfe into the fire: The loue of Christ burning in their hearts & constreining them, as S. Paul sayes: From the like efficacy of the Diuine spirit pro­ceeded that Spirituall Gift of Prayer, by vvhich the Holy Primitiue Christians in their Publicke meetings conceiued & povvred forth Prayers vvithout any con­currence therto of their ovvne Inuention, Gods spirit it­selfe (in S. Pauls expression) praying in them. And in this sense principally it is, that, I suppose, the Schooles doe vnderstand the Gifts of the Spirit, although most certaine it is that all Holy Actions internall or externall are ef­fects of the same Spirit, though in a lesse degree.

6. This fundamentall Grace therfore is that Talent or stock, that has Gods Image on it, & not Caesars, vvhich God bestowes vpon euery one in Baptisme &c. to trade vvith all: the vvhich till the vvill cooperates vvith the A­ctuall Ayde of God, is, as it vvere, wrapped in a Napkin & hid vnder ground; but being vvell managed multiplies in­to many Talents. This is that very small but Diuine seed of vvhich the Euangelist speakes, vvhich being cast in our hearts, by labour & cultiuation produces many & pre­cious fruits: this is that (Fermentum) leauen, vvhich being inclosed in the three faculties of our soules, as in three mea­sures of meale, doth disperse its vertue through the whole masse.

7. Novv to the end I may approach more close to the present matter: vve may further consider, that as by the exercise of Morall Philosophicall vertues there is ingene­rated [Page 115] & daily increased by perseuerance in the same ex­ercise, that most noble vniuersall vertue of Morall Pru­dence, vvhich no study or speculatiue learning hovv great soeuer, could haue produced: The vvhich Prudence as the Philosopher sayes, is a skill most properly conuer­sant about particular Acts (not generall notions or De­finitions of things:) and enlightens the soule to iudge & determine in vvhich circumstances, & vvith vvhat con­curring qualities an Action of vertue ought and may vvith the best aduantage and perfection be exercised: So that by the helpe of this vertue of Prudence, vvhen it is arriued to an excelling degree, a vertuous Person will neuer omitt a due occasion to practise vertue, nor vvill he euer doe it vnseasonably and vndiscreetly (for then it vvould not be vertue:) and vvhen he exercises it, he vvill not be deficient in any thing requisite to giue a lu­ster therto. The very same in a due proportion is seene in the Exercise of Diuine vertue or Charity: for by a constant practise therof, not only Charity it selfe is ex­alted, multiplied and increased, but there is likevvise kindled in the soule by the spirit of God a light of spirituall Prudence far more cleare and more certaine to conduct vs in the Diuine vvayes, then morall Prudence is in the waies of morall honesty. The vvhich Diuine light has this great aduantage aboue Prudence, That wheras Morall wisedome can only teach the exercise of vertue in those occasions (which doe not euery day happen) in which such vertues ought to be exercised, neglecting to giue any Rules to lesser indifferent Actions: This Diuine light vvhich teaches vs to loue nothing at all but God, accounts [Page 116] no actions at all in particular indifferent, but teaches vs to direct all to the seruice and loue of God, and can dis­cerne hovv one may concurre therto more then another, and accordingly chuses the best.

8. Novv the Reason why by the Exercise of Charity a­lone (and not by any study or speculatiue considerations) this Diuine light can be kindled is, because the Blindnes and Darknes vvhich is naturally in our vnderstandings comes principally from the peruerse deordination vvhich Selfe-loue causes in our vvills: By meanes of vvhich vve vvill not suffer the vnderstanding to see vvhat it does see: For euen vvhen by the light of Faith vve are in ge­nerall instructed in the Offices and Rules of vertue and Piety, yet in many particulars Selfe-loue adhering to that side vvhich vve ought to refuse, vvill either forbid and hinder the vnderstanding from considering vvhat is euill or defectuous in it: or if there be any the least ground of Doubt, it vvill cast such faire glosses on it, and so seduce the vnderstanding to find out Motiues and pretences for the preferring therof, that in fine the light it selfe vvhich is in the vnderstanding vvill misleade vs. But vvhen by perfect Diuine Charity all these distorsions of the vvill are rectified, and that all the subtile insinua­tions, false pretexts, close interests and Designes of selfe-loue are discouered and banished, then the mind be­holds all things vvith a cleare light, and proposing God as the end of all Actions vvhatsoeuer, it sees vvhere God is to be found in them; and may best be serued and o­b [...]ved by them; Then the vvill is so farre from clovv­ [...]g, or casting mists before the eyes of the vndestan­ding, [Page 117] that if there vvere any before, it alone dispells them: for it is only the novv-sanctified, feruent vvill that dravves the soule in all its faculties from all other inferiour seducing obiects, and carries them in its ovvne streame and svvift course tovvards God: It vvill not suf­fer the soule to chuse any thing but vvhat is good, yea the best of all, because God vvould haue that to be chosen alone. According therfore to the measure of Cha­rity, so is our measure of Diuine light. If Charity be but vvarme and imperfect, our light in Particulars is obscure, and can shevv vs only such things as are necessarily to be practised vnder the penalty of being separated from God the Obiect of Charity: but if Charity be inflamed, hovv great is the light vvhich that heauenly Fire casts? not a step vvee sett forvvard but vvee see the vvay perfectly before vs, and can auoide all the vnea­uen, rough, miry or crooked steps in it, and so runne apace vvithout stumbling, delaying, or declining, so ap­proaching daily nearer and nearer to the end of our hea­uenly Race.

9. Moreouer this Diuine light is either an habituall, per­manent light: or Actuall and trāsitory: The Permanent light is the vertue of spirituall discretion, vvithout vvhich the Actions that to the vvorld giue the greatest luster, are of little or no proffit. Such as are great voluntary austeri­ties, performing of solemne Offices, almes-giuing &c. all vvhich vnlesse they come from the Principle of true Charity, and are designed for the increasing and deeper rooting therof in the Spirit, are so far from being of any vvorth, that they doe rather preiudice and diminish that [Page 118] vertue. Both these Conditions are requisite to make an Action perfect and acceptable to God; it must both pro­ceed from him; and also be directed to him; He must not only be the End, but the Principle also. It is not therfore sufficient to a soule (especially if she seriously tend to Perfection in Contemplation) that the Action vvhich she does novv, is in it selfe good and directed to a good end, vnlesse her Diuine light informe her, that in the present circumstances it is Gods vvill that she should performe that determinate Action, rather then another perhaps in it selfe, and in other Circumstances better then it: For, as Thaulerus sayes, God will reward no A­ctions but his owne; that is, Such as he gaue order and commission for.

10. This being a most certaine Truth, vvhat a vvorld of Actions, in themselues of no ill aspect, are there done by imperfect, extrouerted soules, vvhich hauing no other fountayne, Principle, or light from vvhich they are at first deriued, but the light of humane reason, they vvill find at Gods hands no acceptance at all? such soules loose all benefitt by all their doings, but those vvhich are of absolute necessity: and by many of those likevvise. Nay hovv many are there vvhich being dri­uen to some Actions by a violent vnlavvfull Passion for, or against some Person; yet because before the Action is ended, they can cousen themselues vvith proposing some good end, doe therfore thinke themselues excu­sed? vvhereas such a proposing of a good end to an A­ction beginning only from corrupt nature, rather ag­grauates the fault, by adding Hypocrisy to it: The [Page 119] vvhich themselues might easily discouer, if they vvould at the same time consider, that such Actions vvould haue beene forborne, & the contrary done, if the ob­iects and Persons had bene changed. Hovv small a Proportion of this Spirituall light haue such soules?

11. This Permanent light of Supernaturall Discretion informes the soule generally in all things efficacious to her aduancement tovvards Contemplation. It tea­ches her in Religious obseruances culpably to neglect none, and to performe them vvith a pure intention for her Spirituall good; In Mortifications to support the ne­cessary ones vvillingly and proffitably, and assume only such voluntary ones as God directs her to, therin consi­dering the infirmity of the body, as vvell as the feruour of the vvill, least by ouerburdening nature vnnecessarily she be rendred vnable to beare euen those vvhich are of obligation. In Prayer it teaches the soule vvhat degre [...] is proper for her; and hovv long she is to continue in it vvithout change, till God inuite her to a higher; and then readily to accept of his Inuitation. Likevvise vvhat proportion of time is requisite to be spent in praier, so as to make a discreete and sufficient progresse therin. It teaches her to suspect sensible deuotion, and not to glutt herselfe vvith the honey of it, nor to follovv it too fast to designes of seeming perfection, & extraordinary taskes, vvhich vvhen such Deuotion ends vvould be burdensome and harmefull. In a vvord, it teaches the soule that du [...] moderation in all things vvhich makes them laudable and meritorious.

12. Novv vvheras I haue called this a Permanent and [Page 120] habituall light; it is to be obserued, that as it is habituall only, it does not direct: because vnlesse it be in action, it is as it vvere veiled ouer; vntill that God by some oc­casion administred doe moue the soule to reflect and consult him, and hervpon the light is vnveiled and shines forth, giuing direction in the present action or necessi­ty. So that it is God, or the gift of his holy spirit (very praedominant in such soules) that is their actuall Dire­ctour.

13. There is none that hath a good vvill and seekes God in sincerity of heart but is capable of such a gui­dance by the light communicated to soules by the holy Spirit: so that the duty of attending to and obeying it has place not only in a Contemplatiue, but also in the exercises of a deuout Actiue life. For doubtles such like­vvise haue a supernaturall light answerable to their state, by vvhich they are enabled to performe their actions with much Purity of intention.

14. Notvvithstanding in respect of the degrees of Purity of intention, the doings of Contemplatiue soules doe much excell those of Actiue liuers, by reason of the deeper entry that they make into their interiour in their more profound, pure and imageles Recollections, by vvhich they discouer the depth of their most secret in­tentions, and accordingly purify them from vvhatsoeuer is amisse in them. Besides, they according to their state dealing in fevver exteriour, distractiue employments, doe both keepe themselues in a better disposition to at­tend to the voice of their Internall Teacher, & also con­tract fevver blemishes; And those that they doe con­tract, [Page 121] they doe more easily discerne and rectify: lastly being exercised for the most part in internall operatiōs, their continuall taske is to cleanse the very fountaine, vvhich is the Spirit it selfe, the seate of Diuine light and grace.

15. In a Contemplatiue life likevvise, according to the degrees of proficiency, so is the attendance vnto, and the performance of the Diuine inspirations. For to perfect soules the Diuine voice and light is in a manner a con­tinuall guide, and they haue a continuall correspondence vvith it, euen in their most ordinary smallest actions. Wheras the imperfecter receiue it seldome (for as much as concernes the purifying and supernaturalizing their ordinary actions) except in their Recollections, yea per­haps only vvhen they are in the height of their exercise. And the like may be said of deuout soules in an Actiue life. And they doe at other times put in execution the directions receiued in prayer by vertue of the light re­maining in their minds. But as for other actions for vvhich they haue receiued no light at all in Prayer, those they performe vvith the helpe of their naturall reason, or at best by the generall habituall light of grace only, by ver­tue of vvhich they auoyd grosser sinfull defects, but yet their Actions are steined vvith great impurity of inten­tion, and a mixture of naturall and sensuall interests. The reason is, because Imagination, and Passion being yet very predominant in them, doe push them hastily to performe their actions, vvithout sufficient Reflection and consulting their Internall Teacher: And if they doe endeauour to adioyne a good intention, it comes late, [Page 122] after the action is either begun, or resolued vpon for o­ther motiues: so that the diuine Loue is but an accessary and attendant; and not the prime mouer or Principle of the Action.

16. The best meanes therfore that imperfect soules haue to cleanse their ordinary actions from the impurity of naturall interests, is in a generall manner to forethinke dayly of their imployments of obligation, and to fore­ordaine the future employments of the day, (I meane such as are left to their ovvne voluntary choyce and iudgment, and that are likely to take up any considera­ble part of their time and Thoughts, as certaine deter­minate Studies &c.) and therupon at their morning Re­collections begging the assistance of the Diuine spirit, let them make good purposes to performe them out of the motiue of Diuine loue, and for Gods glory: and let them take heed not to change the order resolued indis­creetly: Yet vvithall on the other side, let them auoyd the intangling themselues vvith any such resolutions, so as that the transgressing of them should cause disturbance or remorse in them. Thus doing, and sometimes during the day quietly reflecting vpon the promise made in the morning Recollection, the Diuine light vvill grovv more and more familiar to them, extinguishing by degrees the false light by vvhich they vvere formerly for the most part mislead.

CAP. VII.

§. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. How a soule is to behaue herselfe to ab­reine light in doubtfull cases of moment.

§. 8, She must not pretend to extraordinary matters.

§. 9. God signifies his will two wayes. First by clearing the vnderstanding.

§. 10. 11. Why and how Prayer disposes therto.

§. 12. 13. The 2. way is by a blind reasonles mouing of the will.

§. 14, 15. The same confirmed out of S. Thomas and Aristotle.

§. 16. A confidence that these operations are of God.

§. 17. In what faculties the sayd operations are wrought.

§. 18. 19. What a soule not perceiuing either of these opera­tions in her, is to doe.

§. 20. 21. 22. Constancy in a resolution onc [...] made, requisite. But yet in some cases, it may be altered.

§. 23. 24. Purposes not to be made in the very time of Prayer; except of resignation.

§. 25. A soule must not be troubled if the issue be not as she ex­pects.

§. 26. Euident certainty not to expected.

§. 27. In known cases the declaration of Gods will is not to be expected.

1. BVT novv because, as I sayd, those that are im­perfect haue but a dimme light, insufficient to direct them in many occurrent actions: And those that haue atteined to an Habituall supernaturall light of dis­cretion [Page 124] doe find that there are many cases to vvhich their light doth not extend: yea in the most perfect it vvill fayle them in some: therfore in such a case of vn­certainty, vvherin a vvell-minded soule has a conside­rable Doubt about some matter of moment, either in the course of her Prayer, or in any other thing that con­cernes an internall life; and that she cānot find an expe­rienced person to vvhom she can confidently propose her difficulty, or perhaps has not an interiour inuitation to seeke for Resolution from any one: I vvill endeauour by the best light that God has giuen me, to instruct such a soule hovv she is to behaue herselfe in such circum­stances, that she may obteine from God an Actuall Illu­mination or Direction: And then I vvill declare in what manner such light is ordinarily conferred vpon inter­nall liuers.

2. The matter of the doubt is supposed to be of some vveight: for as for ordinary inconsiderable difficulties, she may in the name of God dispatch them the best she can vvith her naturall iudgement, doing vvith a good intention that vvhich it shall dictate to be the best, trou­bling herselfe no further about them: Because it vvould be more preiudice to a soule to loose time, and disquiet herselfe vvith a curious and sollicitous examination of euery small difficulty, then if by determining quick­ly she should chance to chuse that vvhich in it selfe vvere the lesse perfect (it being supposed that sin lyes on neither side of the doubt.)

3. Againe some cases there are of such a nature that they are to be resolued only by an externall Directour [Page 125] or Superiour, so that a soule ought not, and vvill in vaine expect a Resolution from God, vvho sends her to his Substitutes. Such are the cases vvhich concerne exter­nall Obseruances, as Fasting, saying the Diuine Office, In­terpreting the Rule, Lawes or Constitutions &c. The office of the Internall Master is cheifly about internall matters, or the not-doing of externall, vvhich are not of obliga­tion.

4. In such doubtfull cases of moment, especially if they concerne something to be done, or omitted, or suf­fred in the future, a deuout soule is to auoyd all sudden and vnaduised resolutions: And this especially vvhilst she is in any kind of Passion, vvhether it be Feare, Anger, Greife, or else of Tendernes, Compassion, and kindnes &c. And cheifly vvhen herselfe has an interest of nature, or vvhen persons are concerned to vvhom she beares a sen­sible affection, or from vvhom she has an auersion. In such cases it is good to deferre the Resolution as long as vvell may be, to the end that she may haue the more space to consider of it vvith her naturall reason, and to free herselfe from Passion; and so vvith Resignation to con­sult God in her recollections, therby to obteine light from him to discerne his holy vvill. And another reason and Motiue to deferre the matter may be, because it may happen that before a determinate Resolution be need­full, some nevv circumstances may spring & interuene that vvill perhaps alter the state of the difficulty.

5. In case the soule in her nature be inclind more to the one side of the doubt then the other, she must en­force herselfe, especially in prayer, to an indifferency and [Page 126] Resignation in the matter: rather forethinking (and ac­cordingly preparing herselfe) that God vvill declare his vvill for the contrary to that to vvhich her nature is more inclined.

6. In seeking to knovv the Diuine vvill by prayer, let not the person make the subiect and busines of his Re­collection to be the framing a direct Prayer about the matter. Neither let him in his Prayer enterteine any dis­coursing, debating thoughts in his imagination or vn­derstanding about it; as if he had an intention to ac­count that to be Gods vvill vvhich by such discourse seemed most probable. 1. Because by such proceedings our Prayers, vvhich should be pure and internall in spirit, vvill be turned into a distracting Meditation v­pon an externall affaire, and so the mind comes to be filled vvith sensible Images: and Passions perhaps vvill be raised. 2. Because by so doing, vve incurre the dan­ger of being seduced, by mistaking our ovvne imagi­nation, or perhaps naturall inclination for the Diuine light and Motion; vvheras such Diuine light is most effectually and securely, yea and seldome othervvise obteined then vvhen the imagination is quiet, and the soule in a profound recollection in spirit. 3. Because such discoursing in time of Praier is nothing lesse then Prayer, being little more then humane conside­ration and examination of the matter, the vvhich, if at all, ought to be dispatched before Prayer.

7. Let not the soule therefore that is desirous by Prayer to obteine light from God in a doubtfull mat­ter, for that end alter any thing in the order and man­ner [Page 127] of her accustomed Recollections; but let her pur­sue them as she vvas vvont before. Only it may be per­mitted her secretly and breifly to vvish that God vvould teach her his vvill about the sayd difficulty.

8. But let her be sure to take great care she doe not giue vvay to any hope or desire that God shoud reueile his Will vnto her by any Extraordinary vvay, as by the Ministery of Angells, strange Reuelations, Voices &c. For as nothing but Pride can ordinarily nourish such foolish hopes or desires, so it is to be feared that if such de­sires should be granted, it vvould be to her preiudice, and vvould encrease that Pride from vvhence they flovved.

9. Now there are two Ordinary waies by vvhich God intimates his vvill to his seruants that vvith humble & Resigned Praiers addresse themselues vnto him. The first is by clearing of the vnderstanding, thereto adding a Supernaturall light, by vvhich naturall reason comes to see something that it savv not before, or at least did not esteeme before so considerable. For by this nevv light of Supernaturall Discretion such obscurities as did before hinder reason from discerning Truth, are remo­ued. The vvhich obscurities are generally caused by sen­sible Images, vvhich haue prepossessed themselues of the Fancie; or by Interests of Nature vvhich haue en­gaged the Affections: by both vvhich Reason is preci­pitated to hasten a iudgment and Election before she haue considered maturely, and vvithout partiality all Circumstances fit to be considered in an Action: so that Reason vvanting this Supernaturall light kindled [Page 128] by Charity determines it selfe to chuse that part to which Passion inclines.

10. Novv since there are no meanes so efficacious to free the soule from both these Impediments, as Pure Spi­rituall Praier, in vvhich the soule transcends all grosse sensible Images, and vvithall contradicts and renoun­ces all motions and Interests of nature, Wee may secure­ly rely vpon the light and Dictamen vvhich is sug­gested by our vnderstanding so cleared, purified & freed from all noise & distraction from the sensible Fa­culties and Appetite: and this being the best and safest light that man can haue, we may & must acknovvledge it to be Supernaturall, because it illuminates vs in Supernaturall things, discouering the proportion be­tvveene the present Action and our Supernaturall end, and extinguishing the light of Carnall Reason, by which the things vvhich are of God are either not seene at all, or esteemed foolishnes: It is therfore to be accepted as the very light of Gods Holy Spirit, a light that cannot be obtained by study, not instilled into another by the most spirituall person in the vvorld. Yea moreouer it is a light that exceeds the efficacy of the ordinary light of Faith vvhich is permanently in vs, by vvhich vve are only il­luminated to preceiue in a generall manner supernatu­rall obiects, and the meanes leading to them: vvheras by this Lampe nevvly kindled in our vnderstandings by Prayer and Charity, vve clearly discerne in each parti­cular Actions and Circumstances in vvhat manner and hovv far they haue relation and efficacy to dispose vs to a Perfect vnion by loue vvith God.

[Page 129]11. If a soule before her Recollection hath aduised and considered of the difficulty, and that aftervvard vpon her Praier she doe find herselfe inclined to vvhat before she consulting vvith her ovvne Reason or vvith any other Counsellour, had iudged to be the best, I should esteeme it novv to be a Diuine Inspiration: Not for the former debatings sake, but for the subsequent confirmation of it in vertue of Recollection.

The second way by vvhich God doth immediatly signi­fy his vvill to the Intellectiue soule in vertue of Prayer, is, by imprinting a blind, reasonles motion into the Supe­riour will, giuing it a vveight and propension to one side of the Doubt, rather then to the other, vvithout repre­senting actually and at the present to the vnderstanding any speciall Motiue or Reason sufficient to determine the vvill. This also coming in vertue of spirituall Prayer, may confidently be esteemed the vvorke of God, since no creature can immediatly moue the Superiour vvill.

13. Pertinently herto vve reade, that the Holy Abbot Nisteron (vvho vvas a familiar friend of S. Anthony) being asked by one, vvhat kind of vvorke he vvould aduise him to exercise for the good and aduancement of his soule, Ansvvered, God only knowes what is good for thee to doe, and therfore looke what thou findest that thy soule according to God would haue thee to doe, that doe thou.

14. Certainly if euer God vvill shevv that he stands to his Promise of granting the Petitions of his children in all things vvhich they aske according to his vvill; this Pro­mise, is in no case so infallibly made good, as whē a sincere, humble-minded soule being vrged merely out of spiri­tuall [Page 130] necessity, doth vvith all resignation begge at his hands the light of his Holy Spirit, for resolution of dif­ficulties that concerne her purely in Order to his seruice and honour, and for the perfecting her in his Diuine Loue. When can a soule be sayd to aske according to Gods will, but vvhen vvithdravving herselfe from all in­terests of Nature, and fixing her eyes and heart vpon God only, she makes her requests knovvn vnto him?

15. The Doctrine here deliuered, and particularly tou­ching this reasonles and indeliberate mouing of the Will to good, is excellently and fully confirmed by S. Tho­mas (part. 1. q. 1. a. 5.) vvhere to the third Obiection made against his Position, That the Doctrine of scholastick Diuinity is [SAPIENTIA] Wisedome, (the vvhich obie­ction vvas thus conceiued, This Doctrine is attiened by study: But wisedome is had by infusion: (and ther-vpon it is reckoned amōg the seauen Gifts of the Holy Ghost, Isa. xi.) Therfore this Doctrine is not Wisedome:) Herto he ansvvers thus, Since iudging perteines to a Wise man: according to a tvvofold manner of iudging, Wisedome is vnderstood in a twofold sence. For one may iudge. 1. either by way of Incli­nation: as he that hath the Habit of vertue doth rightly iudge of those things which are to be done according to ver­tue, in as much as he is inclined vnto such things. Wher­vpon it is sayd in the tenth Booke of Aristotles Ethicks, That a Vertuous man is the measure and Rule of humane Actions. 2. By way of Knowledges: as any one that is skilled in Morall science can iudge of the Acts of Vertue, although himselfe be voyd of vertue. The former way of iudging of Diuine things perteines to Wisedome, which is affirmed to be a Gift [Page 131] of the Holy Ghost, according to that saying nf S. Paul [1. Cor. 21.] The spirituall man iudgeth all things: As likewise. S. Denys sayth in his 2. Chapt. de Div. Nom. Hierotheus is instructed, not only learning, but also suffring Diuine things. But the latter way of iudging perteines to this Doctrine, in as much as it is gotten by study, although indeed the Prin­ciples therof come from Diuine Reuelation. Thus far are the Words of S. Thomas.

16. Yea euen Aristotle himselfe though a Heathen could obserue (lib. 2. magn. Moral. c. 7.) That to that good which is honest (and vertuous) there is first required a certaine Reasonles impulse: and therby the Reason is ena­bled to discerne and determine. But more pertinently and expressly in the following Chapter he saith thus, Good fortune is without any precedent Act of Reason. For by Na­ture he is indeede fortunate that without the exercise of Rea­son is impelled to good or vertuous things, and atteines them. Now this is to be ascribed to Nature: For such (an inclina­tion) is naturally imprinted in our soules by which wee are impelled to such things as will render us happy without any exercise of Reason: Insomuch as if one should aske any per­son so disposed, Why doth it please thee to doe so? He would answer, Truly I know not: But so it pleaseth mee to doe. The like happens to those that are Diuinely inspired and agitated: for such are impelled to the doing of somethings without the exercise of Reason. Lastly the same Philosopher obseruing that sometimes there are suddenly iniected into some soules certaine good Thoughts and Desires, from which many following good Actions doe proceed: And herupon enquiring from what Principle such good [Page 132] Thoughts may be iudged to proceede; He resolues, that the soule herselfe is not the cause of them, because they preuent all exercise of Reason; Therfore the cause of them must be somewhat better then the soule; And that is only God.

17. The forementioned Illustration is supposed to be not in the Imagination, but purely in the vnderstanding: As likevvise the motion and Inclination to be in the spiri­tuall will, and not in the sensitiue appetite: for othervvise they vvould not deserue so much to be relied on: because the vvorkings of the imagination are so inconstant and irregular; And the sensible motions of the Inferiour Ap­petite (being in corporall Nature, producing a warmth about the heart, & a stirring of spirits and Humours,) are so disorderly, that they are very iustly suspicious, and scarce to be trusted to. Therfore although in a feruent Exercise of much sensible Deuotion the sensuall Nature doe after her maner carry herselfe well towards God, yet the Superiour Soule being not in a state of due tranquillity and stillnes, is lesse capable of Diuine Illustrations and Influxes: And therfore the soules Inclinations, Re­solutions, and Designes at such times are lesse to be re­garded.

18. Now if it should happen that after such Tryalls by Prayer made for the knowing of the Diuine Will, the soule should yet perceiue no sufficient light, nor any considerable Inclination, propension or preponderation tovvards one side, more then another; In this case ac­cording to Thaulerus his iudgment, she may freely and confidently, as it vvere by lotts, make choice indiffe­rently [Page 133] of vvhether she thinkes fitt: And a choice so made, vvhen euer it happens, she may and ought to be­lieue to be according to Gods vvill, since hauing done her part to knovv his vvill, after all, this is the Result of her Recollections, in vvhich she has to her vtmost povver carried herselfe vvith Resignation and Indiffe­rence.

19. Notvvithstanding in making a Choice in such circumstances she may doe vvell to vse, or at least to aduise vpon these Cautions. 1. Generally speaking, vvhen tvvo things seeme in all respects to be equall, it vvere better, at least safer, to chuse that side on vvhich lies the greater Mortification to Nature. 2. She may doe vvell to make choice of the not-doing rather then the Doing: especially if the Doing be likely to engage the soule in any distractions or sollicitudes. For the Election of not-doing is more suitable to the Perfection of a Con­templatiue state, and the spirit of our Order and Rule, that tends to God by Abstraction, Silence, Solitude &c. 3. Let her chuse that side vvhich she thinkes vvould be more agreable and better approued by vertuous and deuout friends. 4. Let her follovv the example of any one of vvhich she has a good opinion, in case the matter con­cerns others; as if the question be about giuing a suffrage in the Electiō of Superiours &c. 5. If the busines cōcerne herselfe and her ovvne soules good only, she is not all­vvaies obliged to chuse that vvhich in it selfe is most per­fect: but therin she is to consider her ovvne present state & Degree, and vvhether the choice vvill be likely to produce good or ill effects and inconueniences for the [Page 134] future as vvell as the present. For example, it is certain­ly in it-selfe the most desireable Perfection that a soule can aspire to, and to vvhich she is also obliged to tend, to keepe herselfe alvvaies in the Diuine Presence, and in a constant state of Recollectednes; or to renounce all manner of satisfactions to nature &c. But if an imperfect soule should therfore attempt the exercise of Internall Prayer vvithout interruption, or to practise so vniuer­sall a Mortification, she vvould ouerthrovv corporall Nature vtterly, and in a short time by indiscreetē ouer­doing come to an inability to doe any thing at all. To her therfore in such a state that is to be esteemed most per­fect, vvhich in it selfe is lesse perfect, to vvit, a feruent but moderate exercise both of Prayer and mortification, by vvhich she vvill be enabled by litle and litle to get ground vpon Nature, & at last to doe that vvhich will be both in it selfe most Perfect, & to her also.

20. A soule hauing after the manner afore sayd made a Resolution & Election, it is the Aduice of Michael Constantiensis, a Deuout Priour of the Carthusians, that she should perseuere in it, yea though aftervvards some­thing by some others should be suggested to her contrary to such a Resolution: although also that vvhich is so sug­gested should seeme to be more proffitable & of greater Perfection. Iust after the same manner that a soule ha­uing once aduisedly submitted herselfe to the Direction of a spirituall Guide, is not to hearken to, nor accept from any other any Reasons contrary to his directions, nor any discouragements from obeying him. And surely, fayth he, a much greater obligation hath a soule to fol­low [Page 135] the interiour Counsell of God sought by a Resigned, perseuering Prayer, to vvhich our Lord has giuen an ex­presse Promise, saying, whatsoeuer yee shall aske in my Name, beleiue that yee shall receiue it, & it shall happen vn­to you. And such vvas the Practise of B. Angela de Fulginio &c.

21. To this purpose it is very obseruable in the life of the same B. Angela, That God commanded her to set downe in writing this passage (which is the only one for which she receiued such a Command) to wit, That he would take away his light and grace from those, who being brought immediatly to their Internall Master, would be so vngratefull as to forsake him, and be take themselues to an Externall one: yea and that moreouer such should haue a curse from him: namely, if they did persist in receding from the Diuine conduct, constantly preferring Hu­mane Directions before God's.

22. Yet this Aduice of being constant to a Resolution so made, is to giue place. 1. In case a Superiour should command any thing contrary therto: For a Superiour must be obeyed euen against such an Interiour Counsell: Because a soule is not only counselled, but also com­manded to obey her Superiours. So that vvhensoeuer a Superiour does deliberately disapproue a Counsell so receiued, a Deuout soule is to beleiue that now it is Gods vvill that his former Counsell should cease from being any further obliging. 2. In case that any other dif­ferent circumstances shall occurre, vvhich may perhaps alter the state of the difficulty. Notvvithstanding such a change is not to be made vpon this last ground, vvith­out [Page 136] nevv recurring to God for light. Yea though the rea­sons for a change be neuer so cleare, yet it is best it should be made in vertue of Prayer, to the end it may be done vvith greater purity of Intention.

23. Novv in all cases of such like Nature the Purpose and Resolution is seldome to be made in the very time of our Recollections: Both because (as hath bene sayd) the thinking on such matters is not the proper subiect of Praier, but is very distractiue: And likevvise because the Internall Illustrations and motions of Gods spirit are better perceiued after Prayer, vvhen the soule hauing bene re­collected, doth reflect on them.

24. But it is othervvise in matters of Resignation, or vvhen vvee Pray for Patience and Tranquillity of mind in Crosses and Difficulties. For in such cases vve are to make our good purposes in our Praiers themselues, and oft are to renevv them aftervvards: Because such Pur­poses doe of themselues presently appeare to be cleare and obligatory: and besides, they are proper matter for Praier.

25. After that a soule hath made a Resolution in the cases, and after the manner aforesayd, and likevvise hath put the same in practise: Let the Issue be vvhat it vvill, vvhether proffitable or harmfull to nature; yet must she neuer esteeme the Election to haue bene amisse: Nor must she hearken to the suggestiōs of Nature, the vvhich finding in such practises something contrary to her In­clinations, vvill be apt by subtle insinuations to moue the soule to repent, and to vndoe vvhat she hath done. Such an erroneous Iudgment procured by corrupt Na­ture [Page 137] is to be despised and deposed. For vvell may vvee happen to erre in the manner of executing such Counsell giuen vs by God, and therby, or by some other meanes, inconueniences or harmes may sometimes befall vs: But the Election in it selfe, made in the manner aforesayd, was good: and it would be an Act of Immortification to blame it, or to be sorry for it. God for our good doth often turne our best deedes to our greatest mortificatiō, and therby we reape a double benefitt.

26. In such Doubtfull cases as haue here bene spoken of, a Soule must not expect an apparent euident Certitude, as Spirituall Writers say. For God to keepe the Soule in Humility, does not vse to giue an absolute assurance of the matter it selfe simply considered: but only a Certainty of being directed and dravvn more to one side of the Difficulty, then to the other: The vvhich side, in the Iudgment of the sayd Authours, is to be chosen and follovved as the Diuine Will. So that any aduantage or preponderation, though neuer so litle, tovvards one side more then another, maketh certitude enough of Gods vvill, as for standing to it. If there be no perceptible difference or leaning either vvay, the soule is either to take Aduice from some other; or to supply it vvith her naturall impartiall Reason; or euen as it vvere by Lots to chuse vvhether she thinkes good. And vvhat she doth after this manner, she may equiualently be sayd to doe as by the Direction and im­pulse of the Diuine Spirit: Because it is Gods Will and appointment, that vvhen himselfe does not direct vs immediatly by his Spirit, vve should make vse of other [Page 138] inferiour, externall vvaies, the best vve can, for our Direction: in all thinges alvvaies intending his Glorie and encrease in his loue only.

27. It vvould be a vaine, presumptuous and dange­rous tempting of God to goe and pray to the end to knovv his vvill in things commanded by known Lawes and by lavvfull Superiours: for they are appointed by him as the most assured Interpreters of his Will: And to expect any more, is to pretend to Extraordinary Illumi­nations and Calls; Which are neither to be desired, nor trusted to: because there vvill be great danger of Illusion by the Deuills counterfeyting a good Angell. And he that is so presumptuous in his practise, deserues that God permitt such Illusions.

CHAP. VIII.

§. 1. 2. 3. Sufficient Assurance may be had that Inspirations are from God.

§. 4. 5. 6. 7. A soule therfore may securely committ her selfe to Gods Guidance: And why?

§. 8. No danger if a soule should sometimes be mistaken, take­ing that for an Inspiration which is not so.

1. NOvv all these Instructions and Exhortations to attend vnto, and depend on the Diuine Inspirations vvould be in vaine: Yea all the promises of God, That he would giue his: Holy Spirit to those that pray for it as they ought. vvould be as vaine, if there vvere no meanes to be assured of such Inspirations that they are [Page 139] from God, by an assurāce, I meane, of Hope: For a Certain­ty of Faith (vvithout extraordinary Reuelation) can­not be had of such matters vvhich necessarily suppose the like assurance of being in the State of Grace. Hence it is that Thaulerus, Blosius, Michael Constantiensis &c. doe teach vs how we may discerne, and vvith confidence judge resolutely vvhat is a Diuine Inspiration, saying, That the Deuout soule vvhich proceeds with Recollection & Resignation in all Doubtfull matters of importance, may & ought to take that to be the Diuine will, to which she is inte­riourly moued in or after her Recollection (when as pas­sions doe not preuaile in her) so long as the matter is not o­therwise contrary to externall Obedience, or other law of God or man.

2. For it is certaine, yea & Faith obliges vs to beleiue, that in all the good actiōs vvee doe, or good thoughts vvee enterteine, vvee so doe & thinke in vertue only of a pre­cedent & concomitant illumination of our vnderstanding & inclining of our will: both vvhich are immediatly cau­sed by God. Reason likevvise & experience tell vs, that vvhilst vaine or sinfull distracting images or inordinate Passions clovvd the mind, Gods illuminations are either vn­perceiued or neglected by vs, & his motions ineffectuall. If euer therfore the soule be in a fit disposition to re­ceiue those blessed effects of Gods holy spirit; & if euer God, vvill make good his so serious & frequent promises, it is then vvhen by a profound Recollection an humble soule vvithdravves all her affections from herselfe & all other creatures, yea & endeuours to expell all the images of them, transcending all created things, & rai­sing [Page 140] herselfe, according to her power, to a strict vnion vvith him, and withall powres forth her desire to be in­formed in his vvill, only intending therby his Glory & the encrease of his Diuine Loue.

3. Novv though imperfect soules not being able as yet to driue avvay distracting images, & to still all vnruly Passions, are forced to content themselues vvith their naturall light in many matters of lesse importance, so that a great part of their ordinary Actions doe not at all con­tribute to their aduancemēt in spirit: Yet perfecter soules walke almost continually in a supernaturall light, per­ceiuing & resisting the subtle insinuations of selfe loue, & not suffring themselues hastily to be pushed for­vvards to Actions, before they haue consulted their In­ternall Guide, & much lesse contrary to his directions.

4. Most securely therfore may vvee, yea vvith all con­fidence ought vvee to yeild ourselues to be disposed of by God, & to follovv him in any vvaies that he vvill leade vs, both for the exteriour & interiour, through light & Darknesse, through bitter & svveet. And vvhat doubt can there be of erring hauing such a Guide, vvhich all­vvaies leads the soule through the Paths of Mortifica­tion & renunciation of selfe vvill? although sometimes some speciall vvaies may to our or others naturall iudge­ments seeme strange & perhaps impertinent.

5. The grounds of vvhich duty, & the security attend­ing it are these. 1. Because vvee through the ignorance of our interiour complexion & temper of soule, as likevvise of our present vvants (incomprehensible to humane knovvledge gott by sence) can neither knovv [Page 141] the speciall vvayes either of Prayer or Mortification proper to vs: nor can vvee be assured that others doe suf­ficiētly knovv them: Wheras of Gods Omniscience and equally infinite Goodnesse none can doubt. 2. Because the end vvherto vvee aspire being supernaturall, conse­quently the vvayes leading therunto, & the light dire­cting in those vvayes must likevvise be supernaturall. 3. Because if vve knevv the most proper & most direct vvayes leading to Contemplation & Diuine Vnion, yet they being most contrary to our naturall inclinations, vvithout a Diuine impulse vvee vvould not chuse the fittest, that is, those vvhich are the most opposite to our nature.

6. Yet vvee are to consider that there are degrees of security, according to the seuerall manners by vvhich God cōmunicates vnto vs his inspirations. For 1. Though in Sensible deuotion the good thoughts & affections giuen vs are in themselues & according to their substance the effects of Gods Spirit, & ought vvith all security to be complyed vvithall: (yet vvith discretion, so as that out of a gluttonous pleasure conceiued by thē, vvee doe not yeild vnto them so far as therby to vveaken our heads, or preiudice our healths.) notvvithstanding the Resolu­tions of vndertaking any practises for the future groūd­ed on such sensible Deuotion, are to be mistrusted, as hauing in them more of nature & selfe-loue, & vvan­ting sincerity of Resignation. Besides that the senses being principall vvorkers, the reason is rather obscured, then illuminated therby: yea & by Gods permission the deuill may haue some influence in such Deuotion & [Page 142] subsequent resolutions. 2. Of the like vncertaine nature may the seeming Inspirations or lights be vvhich are gotten by the vvorking of the Imagination & discourse vpon the matter, eyther in Prayer or our of it: the per­son therupon concluding this or that side to be more likely to be Gods vvill. 3. But if vvithout such vvorking of the Imagination, or if after it, the soule in Recolle­cted Prayer made vvith Resignation & submission of her naturall iudgment, & renouncing all Interests of na­ture, comes as it vvere vnexpectedly to haue one part of the Question presented to her mind, as truth & as Gods vvill, God then giuing a Clarity to the reason to see that vvhich it savv not before, or othervvise then it savv it: or if the soule do finde a blind & reasonles motion in the vvill to one side of the matter: In such cases the soule may most securely & confidently iudge it to be a Diuine Inspiration & motion, being vvrought vvithout any trouble in the exercise of the Imagination, senses or Pas­sions.

7. Let not a soule therfore be discouraged from com­mitting herselfe to Gods Internall direction; though it should happen that those vvho passe for the most spiri­tuall persons, & that are most forvvard to vsurpe the conducting of soules to Perfection (vvhilst themselues know no further then the exercises of the Imagination) should declame against it, & out of an apprehension that it vvould be a disparagement to them if God should be acknovvledged the principall Guide, they should accuse the doctrine here deliuered, as phan­tasticall, vnsafe, & pretending to Enthusiasmes. No [Page 143] vvonder it is, if such being strangers to the Contemplatiue vvayes of the spirit, should be ignorant of these secret Paths by vvhich God leads soules to Perfection: in the vvhich none can tread, or at least make any con­siderable progresse, till quitting a seruile dependance on externall teachers, they rely only vpon the Diuine Guidance. And for this propose deuout soules are se­riously & oft to be exhorted to keepe themselues in a disposition of as much Abstraction, both externall & internall, as may be, to the end they may be enabled to heare & discerne the Diuine Voyce: to the dire­ctions of vvhich if they vvill in practise faithfully corres­pond, God vvill be vvanting to them in nothing.

8. And for a further security that there can scarse happen any considerable danger to a soule proceeding this vvay for knovving the Diuine Will, though shee should sometimes mistake in the thing it selfe; Both shee (& also the Opposers of this Doctrine) are to con­sider that (as hath formerly bene sayd) the only matters that are here supposed to be proposed for a Resolution, are, & must be, of the nature of those things which of themselues and in the generall are indifferent, but yet vvhich being vvell chosen, may & vvill aduance the soule: for in no other things but such can there be any doubt. And surely if vve be capable of knovving Gods vvill in such things (as vvho can question it?) cer­tainly the proceeding thus vvith indifference & Resig­nation, & vvithout suddennes of resolution, or motion of Naturall Passions, or selfe loue, is the most secure & most assured vvay to come to that knovvledge.

CHAP. IX.

§. 1. Obiections preuented.

§. 2. 3. Difference betweene the terme of Inspirations, (being only Internall) & Calls which are also externall.

§. 4. 5. How Inspirations direct vs about Externall. Calls & obligations.

§. 6. Externall Calls are to ouer-rule Internall.

§. 7. 8. Authority of Superiours ought to ouerrule Inspirations, euen in things not of Obligation.

§. 9. Impertinent commands of Superiours in such things to be obeyd: though Superiours will be seuerely accountable to God.

§. 10. Decay of true spirituality arises from the ignorance or neglect of this Doctrine touching attending to Diuine Inspirations.

1. LASTLY to preuent all misunderstanding of this most holy & most necessary Doctrine touching our obligation to attend vnto (& to practise accordingly) the Diuine Inspirations directing vs to Acts of Perfe­ction: as likevvise to preuent all misapplication therof by soules that ought & are vvilling to follovv it: I vvill here take avvay the pretended grounds vpon vvhich some, vvho either out of ignorance, Passion or interest haue declared themselues to be enemies therto, doe declame against it: supposing that they haue a great aduantage against it, vvhilst they pretend that by the teaching & practising of it great preiudice vvill come to the due [Page 145] Authority of Superiours, from vvhich their subiects fol­lovving these Instructions vvill endeauour to exempt themselues, vpon a pretext of Diuine Inspirations to the contrary.

2. For the clearing therfore & dissoluing of this sup­posed difficulty & inconuenience, wee are to cōsider that though in this discourse vvee haue promiscuously vsed the termes of inspirations, lights, impulses, diuine calls &c. yet the former are only such operations of God as are Inter­nall: vvheras the terme of Diuine Calls imports both an externall ordination of God, & also his internall opera­tion in our soules suitable to the externall call. And both these are properly termed Calls, because by both of them God doth signify his vvill to soules: For by the externall ordination & commission giuen by God to all in lavvfull authority vnder him, God by them doth reueyle his vvill vnto vs, vvhich vvee obey vvhilst vvee submit vnto & execute the commands & vvills of his Substitutes. And by his internall operation he directs vs to performe such obedience, in a spirituall manner, for the good & ad­uancement of our soules in his DIVINE LOVE.

3 All Lawes therfore, all Constitutions, Precepts & Cō ­mands of Superiours, & all externall or internall Dutyes of obligation by vertue of our state of life as Christians, or moreouer as Religious or Ecclesiasticall Persons &c. are in­deed, & so to be esteemed by vs, true Diuine Calls, ne­cessarily to be attended to, knovvn & performed by vs.

4. And as for Internall Inspirations vvhich haue regard vnto those externall Calls, the end for vvhich they are giuen vs is, not only simply to direct & incline vs to [Page 146] performe all our Christian, Regular or other dutyes vvith readines & chearfullnes, but to doe them vvith perfection & purity of intention, in & for God only, as if he had immediatly & visibly imposed them vpon vs. And for as much as concernes the Not-doing (to the vvhich. I sayd that in a Contemplatiue life the Diuine Inspirations doe inuite vs) that is meant only in matters either indifferent, or at least to the vvhich vvee haue no obligation by vertue of any externall lavv. Yea on the contrary, vve may say, that our Holy Rule (the end vvherof is to dispose & leade vs to a perfect vnion vvith God by Contemplation) doth in generall oblige vs to such abstraction & Not-doing, vvhersoeuer it doth not require the doing of any thing of vs.

5. Therfore vvhatsoeuer internall suggestions, mo­tions or impulses vvee may find that shall be contrary or preiudiciall to such externall Calls to Obedience & Re­gularity, vvee are to be so far from hearkning to them, or esteeming them for Diuine, that vvee ought to des­pise & reiect them, iudging them to be no better then diabolicall illusions. Yea this is to hold, although the sayd externall lavves, Commands or obseruances be such, as vvee in our priuate iudgments cannot thinke to be ve­ry proper or conuenient for vs in particular.

6. Novv the reason vvhy no internall suggestion ought to take place of externall obligations is euident & conuincing: Because such externall Calls to obedience being of themselues both manifest, & certainly vnque­stionable tokens & expressions of the Diuine vvill, they ought not to giue place to any supposed internall signi­fications [Page 147] of the same vvill vvhatsoeuer, vvhich are not, nor can be so manifest: but rather to prescribe Rules vnto them, & ouerrule them. Wee knovv the former to be Gods vvill, & to proceed from him: & therfore vve can­not rationally beleiue that those things that are opposite therto, can be acceptable to him. Besides Gods vvill reuei­led to a subiect by the mouth of his Superiour, or by established lavves, has a kinde of publick authority, being deriued by a publick person & meane: & therfore must needs take place & be preferred before an Inspiration or signification of the Diuine vvill to a priuate person alone.

7. Yea moreouer, so indispensably carefull, & euen scrupulous ought vvee to be that exteriour order & due subordination appoynted by God, should not vpon any pretence be preiudiced: that vve are to regard the Au­thority of Superiours euen in doing or omitting those things vvhich are not vvithin the compasse of any speciall lavves or commands, but are left to our ovvne li­berty & Iudgment. So that vvee ought not to put in exe­cution any thing to vvhich vvee are by an Internall In­spiration inuited or directed, vvithout the approbation & leaue (eyther expresse, or interpretatiue) of our Superiour: & if the matter be of considerable moment, his expresse permission is requisite.

8. Yea I vvill adde further, that if a Religious subiect shall haue an Inspiration, vvhich he confidently beleiues to be Diuine, by vvhich he is inuited to the doing of any thing: yet if his Superiour shall declare such an Inspi­ration not to be Diuine, & forbid the executing of [Page 148] vvhat it directs, the subiect ought not only to obey his Superiour by forbearing to doe according to such an In­spiration, but he is also obliged to submit his iudgment, & to beleiue his Superiour. And this he may sincerely & securely doe. Because though it vvere so that in truth the Inspiration came from God, & did direct to the doing of a thing more perfect, or to a more perfect omission: yet all this is to be vnderstood only conditionally, that is, vpon supposition that a lavvfull Superiour did not iudge & command othervvise. For in such a case, it vvould be an Act of greater Perfection in the subiect to obey him forbidding the doing or forbearing of any thing, though in it selfe (& such prohibition not considered) more Perfect. Yea & a Diuine light & nevv inspiration vvill informe & direct the subiect to obey & beleiue the Su­periour declaring against the former Inspiration. For though nothing that a Superiour in such circumstances can say vvill make the former Inspiration not to haue come from God, yet his declaring against it vvill shevv it not to be of force novv: since that all such Inspirations doe, & ought to suppose the consent, or at least the non-opposition of the Superiour before they be put in practise: and therfore they are to giue place to an inspi­ration of obeying, vvhich is absolute. True it is, that in such a case it may happen that the Superiour may com­mit a great fault & must expect to be accountable to God for it: but hovvsoeuer, the subiect in obeying such an vndue command, shall not only be innocent, but al­so merit therby: Because in both cases he doth vvell: first in being prepared to obey the former Inspiration, [Page 149] vvhich vvas conditionall; & aftervvards in contradicting that, to obey a second Inspiration of submitting to his Su­periour, vvhich vvas absolute.

9. As it concernes therfore particular soules to de­pend principally vpon their Internall Directour: so like­vvise are Superiours & Spirituall Guides no lesse obliged to penetrate into the dispositions of their subiects & Dis­ciples, & to discouer by vvhat speciall vvayes the Spirit of God conducts them, & suitably therto to conforme themselues & to comply vvith the intention of the Di­uine Spirit. And this Duty our Holy Patriarke in the 64. Chap. of his Rule, requires from all Abbots or Supe­riours: forbidding them to vse rigour in the correction of their subiects, or so rudely to scoure the vessells, as therby to endanger the breaking of them. He would not haue them like­wise to be restlessly suspicious & iealous ouer their subiects: But in their impositions to vse great Discretion (which he calls the Mother of vertues) considering each ones ability, & saying with Iacob, If I force my flocks to trauaile beyond their strength they will all of them die at once &c. If the Superiour therfore in an humour of commanding, on his ovvne head should impose cōmands on his subiects, vvithout any regard to the diuine vvill & guidance: such commands vvill probably proue vnprosperous as to the subiect, & certainly very dangerous to the Superiour. Yet so it may be, that the Subiect may reape spirituall proffit by them: for then it may please God to giue him an Interiour enablement to turne such vndue commands to his ovvne good & aduancement, by encreasing in him the Habit of Resignation & Humility. It vvill indeed [Page 150] be very hard for imperfect Soules to reape benefit by such impertinent Superiours: But as for Perfect ones, they haue both light & Spirituall strength to conuert all the most vnreasonable Commands of Superiours to the be­nefit & aduancement of their ovvne Soules.

10. In case a Superiour should forbid his Subiect to pray at this or that time: or should command him to spend no longer then such a small space of time in Inter­nall Praier, as vvould not suffise for his aduancement in the Internall vvaies of the Spirit: The Rule of Perfe­ction requires the Subiect to obey his Superiour: Yet he may vvith all Humility remonstrate to him his Spirituall necessities, acquainting him vvith the great benefit that his soule finds in a Constant performance of his Recollections, & in attending to Diuine Inspirations, and vvhat preiudice it might be to him to be forbid­den or abridged of them. But if the Superiour doe per­sist, he must be obeyed, and God vvill some other vvay supply the losse the Subiect finds in such particu­lar Obediences. Novv though a Superiour can no more forbid in generall the vse of Internall Prayer & of obseruing Diuine Inspirations, then he can forbid the Louing or Obeying of God: Yet vvhether Prayer shall be exercised at such certaine appointed times, or for such a determinate space of time, that is vvithin the limits of a Superiours Authority: And hovv he em­ployes that Authority, it vvill concerne him to consider. For if he guides soules according to his ovvne vvill, and not Gods (and surely Gods Internall Inspirations are his vvill) besides the guilt that he shall contract by the a­busing [Page 151] of his authority, he must expect that all the harme or preiudice that his subiects soules through his Mis­cariage shall incurre, vvill be heaped & multiplied vpon his soule.

11. But concerning the Duties & obligations of Su­periours tovvards soules vvhose Profession is to treade these Internall vvayes of Contemplation, more shall be sayd herafter in its proper place: vvhere it shall be de­monstrated, That these Instructions are so far from pre­iudicing their Authority, that true Cordiall obedience vvill neuer, nor can be perfectly performed to them but by such soules as are most zealous & constant in the Es­sentiall Duties of Prayer and attending to the Inspira­tions of Gods Holy Spirit.

12. To conclude this vvhole Discourse concerning Diuine Inspirations: As these Aduises are not curiously to be applied to the practise of fearfull scrupulous soules, vvhose vnquiet thoughts make them in a manner incapa­ble of either Light or Impulses of Gods spirit in matters about vvhich their scrupulosity is exercised: So in those cases they are to follovv Instructions peculiarly proper to them. But for as much as concernes all other vvell-dis­posed Soules that leade Contemplatiue liues, this Do­ctrine ought to be seriously recommended to them, and they are to be taught hovv to practise it. For by this & no other vvay can they assuredly vnderstād or performe the Diuine Will, in the vvhich alone consists Spiri­tuall Perfection. By these Inspirations alone the Inte­riour is regulated, vvithout vvhich all Exteriour good cariage is litle auayleable to Perfection. No Externall [Page 152] Directour can order the Interiour Operations of the Soule, either in Prayer or Mortification: None but God alone vvho knovves & searches the Hearts of Men. And his principall vvay of directing is by his Inspirations: the vvhich by the acknovvledgement of all good Christians are necessary to euery Action, to make it good or merito­rious. These Inspirations therfore vvee must follovv: Therfore they may be knovvn, for vvee can not be ob­liged to follovv an inuisible & vndiscernable light, vvee knovv not vvhat. And if they may be knovvn, surely the Rules here prescribed for that purpose, (to vvit, Ab­straction of life, & pure, resigned Prayer) are the most secure and most efficacious Meanes to come to that knovvledge, and to procure Grace to vvorke according­ly.

13. And it may very reasonably be beleiued, that the principall ground & reason vvhy true Spiritua­lity is in these dayes so rare, and vvhy matters goe so amisse among soules that pretend to aspire to con­templation, is because this most necessary duty of obseruing and follovving Diuine Inspirations is ei­ther vnknovvn, or vvilfully misunderstood, and sus­pected (if not derided) by some vvho in popular o­pinion are held and desire to passe for cheife Mai­sters in spirituality. And no vvonder is it that such should be disaffected to this doctrine, of the per­fect practise vvherof themselues are incapable, by reason of their distractiue employments and imper­fect degree of Prayer; and consequently neither can they, nor perhaps if they could, vvould they [Page 153] teach it to others, since therby many soul [...]s vvould quickly be discharged from any necessity of continuing in a dependance on their managing & di­rections.

14. If any there be that, notvvithstanding all that hath bene here vvritten touching Diuine Inspi­rations, and the necessity of attending to them, shall yet be vnsatisfied, or at least suspect that the pu­blishing of such Doctrine may not be conuenient: Such an one for further satisfaction may consult the Appendix adioyned at the End of the Treati­ses.

THE THIRD SECTION OF THE THIRD TREATISE TOVCHING The Schoole of Contemplation viz. Solitude and a Religious Profession.

CHAP. I.

§. 1. 2. That the proper Schoole of Contemplation is Solitude.

§. 3. Which may be enioyed in the world.

§. 4. 5. 6. Contemplation is by God denyed to no states. Yea in some regards woemen are rather better disposed therto then Men: And why?

§. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. The condition of Ecclesiasticks in the world is of great Perfection. What dispositions are requi­red to the vndertaking and executing of that Sublime Charge.

1. HAVING hitherto treated of the Nature and End of an Internall Contemplatiue Life in generall, as likewise of the generall Quality & Disposition requisite to all those [Page 155] vvho by a Diuine vocation doe vndertake that Sub­lime course of life: and in consequence therto hauing demonstrated that the only sufficient Maister and Guide in such a Life is God, and his Diuine Inspirations, by whom alone both Disciples and also Maisters & Guides must be directed: It remaines in the third place that I should shew what and vvhere the Schoole is, wherin ordinarily this Diuine Maister instructs his Disciples in this so Heauenly Diuine Doctrine & Science.

2. Now by the vnanimous acknowledgment of all Mystick writers the only proper Schoole of Contemplation is Solitude: that is, a condition of life both externally freed from the distractiue Encombrances, tempting flatte­ries, and disquietting Sollicitudes of the vvorld: and likevvise vvherin the minde Internally is in a good Mea­sure, at least in serious desire, freed also from inordi­nate Affection to all vvorldly and Carnall Obiects: that so the soule may be at leisure to attend vnto God, vvho deserues all our thoughts and Affections, and to practise such Duties of Mortification and Praier, as dispose her for an Immediate perfect Vnion vvith Him.

3. Novv though this so necessary Solitude be found both more perfectly and more permanently in a vvell-ordred Religious State, vvhich affords likevvise many other aduantages (scarse to be found elsevvhere) for a better practising the Exercises disposing to Contem­plation: Yet is it not so confined to that State, but that in the vvorld also, and in a Secular Course of Life God hath oft raised and Guided many Soules in these Per­fect vvaies, affording them euen there as much Solitude [Page 156] and as much Internall Freedome of spirit, as he savv vvas necessary to bring them to a high Degree of Per­fection.

4. And indeed it is an Illustrious Proofe of the abun­dant, most communicatiue, ouerflovving Riches of the Diuine Goodnes to all his Seruants vvhatsoeuer that in truth of Heart seeke him, that this State of Con­templation (being the Supremest and most Diuine that an Intellectuall Soule is capable of either in this Life, or in Heauen also) should neither be enclosed only in Cauernes, Rocks or desarts, nor fixed to Solitary Religious Communities, Nor appropriated to the Sub­tilty of vvitt, profoundnes of Iudgment, Gifts of Lear­ning or Study &c. But that the poorest simplest Soule liuing in the vvorld, and follovving the common life of good Christians there, if she vvill faithfully cor­respond to the Internall Light and Tracts afforded her by Gods Spirit, may as securely, yea and sometimes more speedily arriue to the Top of the Mountaine of Vision, then the learnedst Doctours, the most profoundly vvise Men, yea the most abstracted confined Hermites.

5. Yea both History & fresher Experience doe assure vs, that in these latter times God hath as freely (and perhaps more commonly) communicated the Diuine Lights and Graces proper to a Contemplatiue life to simple vvomen, endued vvith lesser & more con­temptible Gifts of Iudgment, but yet enriched vvith stronger Wills and more feruent Affections to him, then the ablest Men. And the reason herof vvee may iudge to be, partly, because God therby should, as is most [Page 157] due, reape all the Glory of his most free Graces, the vvhich if they did vsually attend our Naturall Endovv­ments, vvould be challenged as due to our ovvne abilities and endeauours: And partly also, because as substan­tiall Holines, so the perfection of it vvhich is Contem­plation, consists far more principally in the Operations of the will then of the vnderstanding (as shall be demon­strated in due place:) And since vvomen doe far more abound, and are far more constant & fixed in Affec­ctions and other Operations of the vvill then Men, (though inferiour in those of the vnderstanding) No meruayle if God doth oft find them fitter subiects for his Graces then Men.

6. And for this reason it is (besides that vvomen are lesse encombred vvith Sollicitous businesses abroad, (their Secular Employments being chiefly Domesticall vvithin their ovvne vvalls) that they doe far more fre­quently repaire to the Churches, more assiduously per­forme their Deuotions both there & at home, & reape the Blessings of the Sacraments more plentifully: (V­pon vvhich grounds, the Church calls them the deuout sexe:) Insomuch as a very Spirituall and experienced Authour did not doubt to pronounce, that (according to his best iudgment vvhich vvas grounded on more then only outvvard appearances) for One Man, nere ten Women went to Heauen. Notvvithstanding true it is, that the Contemplations of Men are more noble, sub­lime & more exalted in Spirit, that is, lesse partaking of sensible effects, as Rapts, Extasies or Imagina­tiue representations, as likevvise melting ten­dernesses [Page 158] of affections then those of vvomen.

7. Novv though the true & immediate Motiue of the vvriting of these Spirituall Instructions vvas the Dire­cting of certaine Deuout Religious Soules in the vvay of Contemplation, to the aspiring vvherto their Profession did oblige them: And for this Reason most of the said Instructions are intended to be most proper for such. Yet being a Debtour to all vvellminded Soules vvhat­soeuer that desire to treade in the sayd Internall vvayes, I vvill here breifly shevv hovv they also may make vse of my vvritings for the same End, frō thence selecting such speciall Directions as may also as vvell belong to them, and passing ouer those that are more peculiarly proper to Soules in a Religious State.

8. In the vvorld therfore there are tvvo sorts of Per­sons that doe, or may, aspire vnto Contemplation, or Perfection in Prayer, to vvit, 1. Ecclesiasticks. 2. Lay-Persons.

9. First as for Ecclesiasticks (I meane especially Preists, to vvhich all other inferiour Orders doe tend) they not only may, but ought seriously to aspire therunto: yea perhaps more thē simple Religious: For their most sublime, and by all Ancient Saints deemed so formidable an Of­fice (by vvhich they are empovverd and obliged vvith immaculate Sacrifices and feruent Prayers to be dayly Intercessours vvith God for the vvhole Church) presup­poseth them to haue already atteined to a good Recol­lectednes in Prayer. And if moreouer they haue a charge of Soules, they will neede a far greater stability ther­in: that their various Employments may be performed [Page 159] purely for and in God, and not breake their vnion with him. Moreouer by their Profession their Obliga­tions come nere to the vovves of Religious: Persons for 1. They ovve an Obedience to Superiours, though not in euery Ordinary Action. 2. They Professe the same Chastity. 3. They ought to haue litle more propriety in their Goods: For vvhatsoeuer is beyond their Moderate necessity & Obligation of Hospitable Charity, they can litle more dispose of vvithout vvrong to the Poore &c. then Religious. 4. Though their Employments require from them more Conuersation vvith others, then the state of Religious does, yet they are as vvell obliged to disengage their Affections from all loue or Sollicitude about Riches &c. as the others are: And in like manner to free themselues from all Distractiue Employments not belonging necessarily to their Calling.

10. And vpon these grounds it vvas, that in the An­cient and best times of the Church, scarce any durst pre­sume to vndertake so high and Perfect a Calling, as the Charge of Soules is, till after many yeares first spent in a kind of Religious Abstraction of life, Solitude, Silence, great Mortifications and assiduous Praier &c. Witnes S. Basile, S. Gregory Nazianzene, S. Gregory Nyssen, S. Chrysostome, S. Augustin. S. Iohn Damascene &c. And yet after they had done all this, it is a Wonder vvith vvhat vnvvillingnes & feare they suffred thēselues to be forced to accept of such a Charge: what Excuses, Praiers, flights into the Desarts to auoide it? And vvhen they vvere compelled by God or Men therto, they vvere far from thinking themselues disobliged from a Continua­tion [Page 160] of their Contemplatiue Exercises of Abstraction, Mortification & Praier &c. But on the contrary they stole time euen from their necessary Refectiōs & Sleepe to employ in their Recollections, as knovving that no­thing they could doe vvould be acceptable to God, fur­ther then it proceeded in vertue of Grace obteined by Praier.

11. But the best proofe & example of the Obligations of an Ecclesiasticall Person is our Blessed Sauiour Himselfe: vvho though by vertue of the Hypostaticall Vnion he vvas replenished vvith all manner of Graces vvithout measure, and therfore had no neede at all, as for himselfe, to pray for more, yet to shevv an example most necessary to vs, He tooke not on him the Employ­ment of Conuerting others, till he had spent the former thirty yeares of his life in Solitude, Silence and all the most holy Internall Exercises at home, vvhere he liued vnobserued & vnknovvn vnto the vvorld. And during all the time of his most laborious Execution of his Pro­pheticall Office, besides: much Praier exercised openly before others, the Gospell expressely saies, that his cu­stome vvas at Night to retire himselfe vvith his Disciples to Praier: Yea & vvhensoeuer any great vvorke vvas to be done, as before the Mission of the Disciples and Apostles, that he spent vvhole Nights alone in Praier. Adde hereunto that he vtterly refused to meddle in Secular affaires or Controuersies, he frequented the Desarts &c.

12. So that an Ecclesiasticall Person both for his ovvne sake, and out of a tender loue to his flock, ought to [Page 161] thinke himselfe more obliged then before, to the pra­ctise of all Internall Contemplatiue Exercises: and aboue all others, of Pure Spirituall Praier, which alone will sanctify & make successefull both to himselfe & others all other Actions belonging to his Profession. And hence it is, that S. Florentius an Ancient Holy Bishop, first of Vtrecht and aftervvards of Munster, vvhen he vvas reprehended by some for spending so much time in Praier, as if thereby he vvas hindred from a more per­fect discharge of his Episcopall function, returned them an ansvvere very becoming a Perfect, Illumi­nated Bishop, saying, Quid? Vobis insanire videor, si cum multas oues habeam, multum orem? that is, What, doe you account me mad, because hauing so many Sheepe vnder my Charge, I best we so much time in Praier? Implying, that it vvas only by Praier that he could hope for en­ablement to performe his Episcopall Duty, and for a Blessing after the performance of it.

13. Such is the Duty, and such the Obligations of Ecclesiasticall Persons. But if there be any Conscious to themselues of neglect in this matter, and desirous to repaire past omissions by future Diligence, they may, if they thinke good, make vse of these simple In­structions, the vvhich generally in the substance are pro­per enough for them, if they will only separate certaine circumstances & respects in them, vvhich are peculiar to Religious.

CHAP. II.

§. 1. 2. How a Secular Person may make vse of these Instru­ctions: Some of which doe equally belong to such an one, as well as to Religious.

§. 3. What benefit such an one may also reape from Instru­ctions here peculiarly belonging to Religious.

§. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Such a Soule needs not to apprehend want, if consecrating her selfe to God, she shall relinquish world­ly Sollicitudes.

1. IN the next place as concerning a Secular Person not in Holy Orders, that liues a Common life in the world, of what sexe or Condition soeuer (for with God there is no difference or acceptation of Persons) to whom the Diuine Spirit shall haue giuen an Effe­ctuall Call to seeke God in these Internall vvaies of Contemplation; yet so as that they doe not find them­selues obliged to forsake a Secular Profession and to embrace a Religious life: (Of vvhich State the Person perhaps being Married, or othervvise hindred, is not Capable, or hovveuer finds no inclination therto:) Such a Soule may make benefit also of these Instructions, though purposely vvritten for Religious: in as much as many of them doe generally belong to all Persons tending to Perfection: And those that seeme more pe­culiar to Religious, yet vvith some qualifications and applications (such as ordinary Discretion vvill teach) those Instructions also may afford vnto them some good [Page 163] helpe and vsefull benefit. And for that purpose they may doe vvell to take into their consideration, and ap­ply vnto their ovvne aduantage in Practise these follovv­ing Aduices.

2. A deuout Soule therfore being inspired by God to such a course, and liuing in the vvorld, ought to con­ceiue herselfe obliged as truly and as properly (though not altogether equally) as any of a Religious Profes­sion to the practise of these Substantiall & Essentiall Duties and Instructions follovving, viz. 1. A Strong Re­solution, notvvithstanding any Contradictions and dif­ficulties, to pursue by the Diuine assistance the vvaies tending to Contemplation. 2. An Equall care to Obserue, and faithfully to execute all Diuine Inspirations, and to dispose herselfe likevvise (as is here taught) for the better receiuing & discerning of them. 3. The practise both of Externall & Internall Mortifications. (I meane those vvhich through the Diuine Prouidence are sent her, or doe belong to her present State and Condition of Life. And as for voluntary Mortifications, she is likevvise to behaue herselfe according to the follovving Directions.) 4. The Exercise of Internall Praier, according to the seue­rall Degrees of it. In these generall Duties there is litle or no differēce betvvene the obligation of Religious from that of Secular Persons.

3. But vvheras in the next place there are in this Booke many Instructions that seeme peculiar to Soules of a Religious Profession: Such I meane, as are groun­ded vpon, and referr'd vnto a life abstracted from the vvorld, confined vnto Solitude, and there limited [Page 164] with a strict enclosure of speciall Lawes, Constitutions, Obseruances &c. Euen in these also a Secular Deuout Per­son tending to Contemplation may thinke himselfe in some proportion & degree concerned & interested: And from them he may reape much benefit, applying to his ovvne vse so much of the Spirit of Religion, as Discretion vvill shevv to be fruitfull to him. Novv for a better application of this Aduice, I vvill exemplify in certaine peculiar Duties of a Religious life, and ther­in shevv in vvhat sort a Secular person may doe vvell, yea & in some proportion is obliged to imitate them.

4. First therfore, such a soule though she be not obli­ged really & personally to vvithdravv herselfe from vvorldly conuersation, & to retire herselfe into a solitude as strict as that of Religion; Yet so much solitude & si­lence she must needs allovv herselfe dayly, as may be ne­cessary for a due practise of Internall Prayer. Neither must she engage herselfe in any businesses of sollicitude, & distraction, that doe not necessarily belong to her Vo­cation: And euen those also must she performe vvith as much internall quietnes & Recollectednes as may be, carefully auoyding all anxiety of mind, care of multi­plying Riches &c. And as for vaine conuersations, compli­ment all visits, Feastings &c. she must not thinke to per­mit vnto herselfe such a free scope, as others doe, & as formerly herselfe did. But she must set a greater value vpon her precious time; as much vvherof as she can bor­rovv from the necessary employments of her Calling, ought to be spent vpon the aduancing of her spirit in the vvay of Contemplation. And she indeed vvill find the [Page 165] great inconueniences that doe attend vaine cōuersations, as dissipation of thoughts, engagements in nevv vnnecs­sary affaires, sensuall friendships &c. all vvhich she ought carefully to preuent & auoyd.

5. Secondly, such a soule, is by vertue of her nevv Di­uine Vocation, obliged studiously to imitate especially the Internall solitude belonging to a Religious Person: abstracting her spirit, as much as may be, both from all affection to outvvard things, as Riches, Pleasures &c: and like vvise from the Images of Creatures & worldly obiects. For vvhich purpose she is to performe all the Duties of her externall vocation in order to God, & in subordination to her principall designe, vvhich is the Perfectionating of her spirit in the Diuine Loue. She is therfore not to account herselfe as absolute Mistrisse of the Riches that God hath giuen her, but only as his stevvard to manage them so as may be most to his Glo­ry. So that in the midst of them, she ought to exercise true Pouerty of spirit; renouncing all propriety ioyned vvith affection to them, so as not to be disquieted if God should take them from her: & making no more vse of them for her ovvne sensuall contentment, or for shevv in the vvorld, then shall in true Discretion be necessary. This Internall solitude, Introuersion & nakednesse of spirit she must encrease, as much as may be, both in her affection to it, & practise of it, so that it may become habituall to her. Because vvithout it she vvill neuer be in a fit dis­position to attend vnto the Diuine Inspirations, or to ex­ercise the Internall duties of Prayer &c. belonging to a state tending to Contemplation.

[Page 166]6. Thirdly in conformity to Religious Obedience, she is to behaue herselfe to all those in the vvorld vvhom God hath set ouer her, vvith a most profound submis­sion of spirit, obeying them, or rather God in them, vvith all purity of intention. And moreouer she is, at the first especially, to put herselfe vnder the gouern­ment of a spirituall Directour, if such an one be to be had: Who is to teach her hovv she may discerne the ex­ercises of Prayer & Mortification proper for her. And in the choice of such an one, she is to vse the vtmost of her Prudence, recommending vvithall an affaire of such importance in her Prayers to God, that he vvould prouide her one of sufficient abilities & vertue, & espe­cially one that is experienced in those Internall vvayes much exalted aboue the ordinary exercises of Prayer commonly taught & practised. And vvhen God has found out such an one for her, she is vvith all sincerity & humility to obey him; Yet vvithout preiudice to the duty vvhich shee principally ovves to her Diuine In­ternall Master, as hath bene taught in the foregoeing Section; The Doctrine and Practice vvherof doth as vvell belong to her, as to any Religious Person.

7. Fourthly, although such a soule be not by any vovv or othervvise obliged to any Rule, or restreined by any Constitutions or Regular obseruances: Notvvthstan­ding she is to reduce the vvhole course of her Actions & behauiour to a certaine order, Regularity and vniformity: Obseruing in her Retirements, Reading, Praying, as also her Refections, sleepe &c. an order­ly Practise both for times & manner, according as Pru­dence [Page 167] & her Spirituall Guide shall ordaine. This order & Vniformity obserued discreetly (yet vvithout any nice scrupulosity) is very requisite in an Internall course. For othervvise a soule being left at large, vvill be vnsta­ble & vncertaine in her most necessary Duties.

8. It vvill not be necessary to exemplify in any more particulars: for the same reflections & the like applica­tions may a soule make from any other Instructions & duties peculiarly designed for Religious Persons. Besides, if she pursue diligently & constantly her Internall Prayer, God vvill not be vvanting to afford her sufficient Internall light, & likevvise strong impulses & Spirituall force to follovv such light: To the vvhich if she faithfully correspond, she vvill find that since God has not giuen her a Vocation to Religion, yet he has not depriued her of the means of enioying in the vvorld in a sufficient manner the principall aduantages of a Religious State (except the solemne Vovves themselues:) Yea in this case she may, not altogether vnprobably, thinke that it vvas for her ovvne particular good that God did not giue her an opportunity to enter into Religion.

9. And vvheras it vvas required of such soules that they should quit all sollicitudes about temporall riches: let them not feare any great inconueniences by comply­ing vvith this duty. For as the Authour of THE CLOVVDE OF VNKNOVVING, obserues, & confidently professeth, those vvhom God effectually calls from secular sollici­tudes to an Internall, abstracted life, may more then any others be confidently secure of his Diuine Proui­dence & speciall care ouer them, & all that belong vnto [Page 168] them, for as much as concernes a sufficient & con­tentfull subsistence in this life. For though he should haue called them into a vvildernes, vvhere no meanes of procuring corporall sustenance did appeare: Or if in the midst of a City he should call any one to leade an abstracted solitary life there, they are obliged to follovv such a Call, & may most securely doe it, referring all care of their subsistence vvholly to his Di­uine Prouidence, vvho infallibly some vvay or other, either by ordinary or extraordinary means, vvill not be vvanting to prouide conuenient maintenance for them: the vvhich if it should happen to be vvith some scarcity, he vvill abundantly recompence that vvith feasting their Spirits vvith far more desireable Internall & Celestiall Delicacies. And examples of Gods vvonder­full care ouer such peculiar seruants of his, are plenti­fully afforded vs in Ecclesiasticall Histories, both an­cient & moderne. So that to the end of the vvorld that vvill appeare to be a most approued truth, vvhich the Psalmist so long since deliuered, Diuites eguerunt, & esurierunt: inquirentes autem Dominum non minuentur omni bono, that is, The rich in the world haue bene brought to want & hunger: but such as truly seeke our Lord shall not be vnprouided of any kind of good things.

CAP. III.

§. 1. Of a Religious state.

§. 2. 3. 4. 5. How we are to vnderstand & interpret the great Commendations & Priuiledges giuen to a Religious state by S. Bernard &c:

§. 6. 7. A Religious state is secure & happy: But yet to those only that are carefull to reforme & purify their Inte­riour.

1. HEREAFTER the Instructions following are most especially to be directed to soul [...]s liuing in a Religious Profession (I intend especially such an one as is according to the Rule of S. Benedict, S. Bruno &c. the most proper schoole of Contemplation. A state of life certain­ly the most happy, quiet, & secure (if rightly vnder­taken & accordingly pursued) of any in Gods Church. Concerning vvhich my purpose is in this place to treate, not in its vvhole latitude, (for a great volume vvould scarse suffise for such a discourse) but only vvith rela­tion to the end designed in it, to vvit, Contemplation: intending seriously to presse the obligation that Reli­gious Persons haue to aspire therto: & the great aduan­tages afforded therin for that purpose.

2. But as S. Augustine worthily finds fault vvith those that doe too indiscreetly & excessiuely commend to se­cular persons liuing in the vvorld, either a Monasticall or a Clericall Profession; yea & to Heretiks or Infidels, euen the Church it selfe: taking notice only of the Perfe­ctions [Page 170] of those vvho in each of these are the most per­fect, & forgetting, or purposely omitting to forevvarne men that they are not to be scandalized, if they meete vvith some also vvho haue no part in those Commenda­tions & felicities. By vvhich it comes to passe, that fin­ding vvhat they did not expect, they fall back not only to a disesteeme, but also to a hatred of that vvhich was so excessiuely & vnvvarily commended to them. Vpon the same grounds I thinke my selfe obliged to forewarne my Readers, that they doe not too inconsideratly reade & attende to all that they find vvritten in commenda­tions of a Religious state: least being too much taken vvith vvhat they reade, imagining the outvvard Habit and interiour vertues inseparable companions: & theru­pon hauing vndertaken such a profession, & there mis­sing in some vvhat they in all expected, they be in dan­ger either of liuing discontented liues, or perhaps euen of finding themselues in a vvorse estate for their soules, (because i [...]proper for them & vnproportionable to their forces) then if they had continued in the vvorld.

3. Moreouer deuout soules vvhen they reade moderne spirituall Authours treating of a Religious state, dilating much vpon the great blessings attending it, and vvith choice Passages out of the Ancient Holy Fathers, plea­sing Histories and elegant Characters describing. 1. The Noblenes and excellency of that life, vvherin Honours, Pleasure▪ Empire and vvhatsoeuer the vvorld can tempt mankind vvithall, are trampled vnder foote. 2. The great security that it affords vnto soules, vvhich therby are ex­empted from the Deuills snares, liuing continually in the [Page 171] presence, fauour and familiarity vvith God. 3. The inex­pressible sweetnes and consolations enioyed by his conuer­sation &c. In reading such passages, Isay, iust and reaso­nable it is that vvell-meaning soules should therby be encouraged to aspire to such eminent Blessings truly at­tributed to the same state, if God by his Diuine Proui­dence shall giue them a free vvay therto. But yet they are vvithall to knovv, that such Priuiledges doe not be­long to the exteriour Profession of the sayd state: the vvhich the more Noble and Excellent it is vvhen the obli­gations therof are duly corresponded vvith, the more doe they abase themselues that liue negligently and vnvvor­thily in it. And though it be a great step to a happy secu­rity to be secluded from the vvorlds Tentations, yet vnles se in Religion vvee fly from our selues also, vvee vvill find, but danger enough. And lastly true it is that the Consolations that attend an assiduous conuersation vvith God in Prayer, are most desireable and abmirable: But they are vvithall purely spirituall, and not to be ex­pected till soules haue lost the tast of sensuall pleasures and eases.

4. Herupon it is obseruable, hovv prudently and vvithall hovv ingenuously our H. Patriarke S. Benedict deales with soules newly coming to a Religious Conuersion: He commands that his Rule be seuerall times read to them, that so they may be sufficiently informed vvhat God and Superiours expect from them through the vvhole follovving course of their liues. In the vvhich Rule, though the Prologue does vvith vvinning Promises invite the Readers to a participation of the inestimable [Page 172] Blessings of a Religious life: yet (in the 58. in Chapter, vvhere is set dovvne the Discipline and Order to be ob­serued in the Admission and Profession of New-comers) he ord [...]ines, that such shall not vvithout great difficulty be admitted, yea that they shall be treated rudely, vvith contempt and opprobrious vsage: All manner of vnplea­sant, harsh and rough things must be inculcated to them &c. And all this is done to the end to try vvhether they bring vvith them that courageous Resolution and Patience by vvhich alone the incomparable Blessings of a Religious State are to be purchased.

5. In the same sence, & vvith the same conditions vvee are to vnderstand the Nine Priuiledges that S. Ber­nard affirmes are to be found in a Religious State. For surely it vvas far from his meaning to apply the said Pri­uiledges to any but industrious soules, vvhose principall care is to purify themselues interiourly; & not at all to Tepide persons, that neglect to correspond to their Pro­fession. For vvho but the industrious & vigilant. 1. Doe liue more Purely, then men doe in the world. 2. Or fall more seldome. 3. Or rise more speedily. 4. Or walke more warily. 5. Or rest more securely. 6. Or are visited by God more fre­quently. 7. Or dye more consulently. 8. Or passe their Purga­tory more speedly. 9. Or are rewarded in heauen more abun­dantly. On the contrary it is iustly to be feared, yea too certaine it is, that habitually Tepide & negligent soules in Religion are in a far vvorse state, more immortified, more cold in Deuotion, more estranged from God eue­ry day then other, considering that in the midst of the greatest aduantages & helpes to feruour & Purity they [Page 173] vvill continue their negligence: & therfore they must expect for their obstinate ingratitude, & for their offending against so great Light, that they shall be more seuerely punished by Almighty God, then others the like that liue in the vvorld.

6. How ridiculous therfore would it be for any to boast and say, God be thanked, I haue bene so many yeares a Professed Religious Person; in an Order that hath produ­ced so many thousand Saints, that hath had so many Popes: that receiued so many Emperours, Kings, Queenes, & Prin­ces: that hath so flourished with riches, learning, Piety &? As if those good successes to some vvere sufficient se­curity to all, so that they should need no more, then only to be of such an Order.

7. For the vndeceiuing therefore of such as are strangers to a Religious Profession, & for the admoni­shing & incouraging of those that haue already embraced it to comply vvith the obligations of it, that so they may enioy all the incomparable Priuiledges and Perfections, then indeed belonging to it: I vvill employ the follo­vving Discourse principally in demonstrating, That the principall thing to be intended in a Religious Profession is the incessant Purifying of the Interiour: Which is an attēpt the most glorious, but vvithall the most difficult and most de­structiue to sensuall ease and contentment of all other. This ought to be the motiue of those that enter into it, & the principall, yea almost sole employment of those that liue in it. Whereto I vvill adde a fevv instru­ctions more specially belonging to Superiours, Officers, Priuate Religious & Nouices respectiuely.

CHAP. IV.

§. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Motiues inducing to Religion to be examined. False security of Tepide Religious Persons. Of false & true motiues.

§. 6. An habituall state of Introuersion & Recollectednesse is the principall End of a Religious Life. Wherin such Recol­lectednes consists.

§. 7. 8. Perfection of Prayer is the Perfection of a Religious state.

§. 9. 10. 11. The wonderfull sublimity of Prayer to which the Ancient Hermits &c. attained.

§. 12. Aduantages therto enioyed by them beyond these times.

§. 13. 14. 15. 16. That S. Benedict chiefly intended by his Rule to bring his Disciples to purity of Prayer.

§. 17. 18. 19. False Glosses & Interpretations of S. Benedicts Rule in these dayes.

§. 20. 21. S. Bernards Excellent declaration of the designe of S. Benedicts Rule.

§. 22. That the only sure way of introducing Reformes into Contemplatiue Orders, is by the teaching of true Contem­platiue Prayer, & not multiplying of externall formes & Austerities.

1. IT concernes a soule very much to examine vvell the motiues inducing her to enter into a Religious State: for if they be not according to God, it is to be feared she vvill not find all the Proffit & satisfaction, [Page 175] that she promises to herselfe. For. 1. If such a Profession be vndertaken merely out of vvorldly respects, as to gaine a state of subsistence more secure (& perhaps more plentifull.) 2. Or to auoyd suits, debates or vvordly dāgers &c. (vnlesse such incommodities haue giuen only occasiō to a Soule to reflect on the vanities and Miseries of the vvorld, and from thence to consider and loue Spiri­tuall & Celestiall good things, vvhich are permanent and vvithout bitternes.) 3. Or if such a State be vnder­taken out of a generall good desire of Sauing ones soule, according to the fashion of ordinary good Christians, & no more: but vvithout a Speciall, determinate Re­solution to labour after Perfection in the Diuine Loue; either because such soules knovv nothing of it; or if they doe, haue not the courage, and vvill to attempt it: but resolue to content themselues vvith being freed from vvorldly Tentations & dangers, and vvith a Moderate care to practise the Externall Obseruances of Religion, yet vvithout sufficient Purity of Intention or a conside­ration of the proper End of a Religious Contemplati­ue life &c. I cānot tell vvhether Persons liuing & dying in Religion vvithout further designes of purifying their Soules, shall find so great cause to reioyce for the choice they haue made: Since their beginning & continuing is indeede no better then a Stable course of most dange­rous Tepidity.

2. Hovveuer as for soules that for externall respects haue embraced a Religious life: let them not therfore in a des­perate humour conclude, that no good can come to them by it so vnvvorthily vndertaken: But rather hope that [Page 176] by a Speciall Prouidence of God they vvere euen against their ovvne intentions & vvills brought into a course of life, to vvhich if hovveuer aftervvard they vvill duly cor­respond, it vvill proue an infinite blessing vnto them. For such oftimes haue proued great Saints, after that God gaue them light to see their peruerse Intentions, and Grace to rectify them: By vvhich meanes they beginning in the flesh, haue ended in the Spirit.

3. And as for the third sort (of Tepide persons, it much concerns them, at least after their solemne Profession to search vvell into their Soules, and there rectify vvhat they find amisse: taking great heede hovv they relye vpon Externall Obseruances, Obediences or Austeri­ties: the vvhich though they be necessarily to be perfor­med, yet cannot vvithout great danger and harme be rested in, but must needs be directed to a further and Nobler End, to vvit, the Aduancement of the Spirit.

4. Neither let them conclude the Security of their Condition and good disposition of soule from a certaine Composednes and quietnes of Nature, the vvhich vn­lesse it be caused by Internall Mortification and Praier, is but mere selfe loue. And much lesse let them rely vpon the esteeme and good opinion that others may haue of them: Nor likevvise on their ovvne abilities to discourse of Spirituall matters, and giue Directions to others; since no Naturall light, nor acquired learning or study can be sufficient to enable any one to treade in Contempla­tiue vvaies, vvithout the serious practise of Recolle­cted Prayer. A sufficient proofe vvherof vvee see in Thaulerus, Who vvas able to make an Excellent Sermon [Page 177] of Perfection, but not to direct himselfe in the vvay to it, till God sent him a poore, ignorant Lay-man for his Instructour.

5. What is it therfore that a soule truly called by God to enter into Religion lookes for? Surely not Corpo­rall labours: Not the vse of the Sacraments: Not hearing of Sermons &c. For all these she might haue enioyed perhaps more plentifully in the vvorld. It is therfore Only the vnion of the Spirit with God by Recolle­cted Constant Praier: to the attaining vvhich Diuine End, all things practised in Religion doe dispose: and to vvhich alone so great impediments are found in the vvorld.

6. The best generall proofe therfore of a good Call to Religion is a Loue to prayer, either vocall or Mentall. For if at first it be only to vocall Praier, by reason that the soule is ignorant of the efficacy and Excellency of Inter­nall Contemplatiue Prayer, or perhaps has receiued some preiudices against it: Yet if she obserue Solitude carefully, and vvith attention and feruour practise Vo­call Praier, she vvill in time either by a Diuine Light perceiue the necessity of ioyning Mentall Praier to her vocall, or be enabled to practise her vocall Prayer mentally, vvhich is a sublime Perfection.

7. It is a state therfore of Recollectednes & Introuersion that euery one entring into Religion is to aspire vnto. The vvhich consists in an habituall Disposition of soule, vvherby she transcends all creatures & their Images, the vvhich therby come to haue litle or no Dominion ouer her: so that she remaines apt for immediate Coope­ration [Page 178] vvith God, receiuing his Inspirations, and by a returne, and as it vvere a refluxe tending to him and Operating to his Glory. It is called Recollectednes, be­cause the Soule in such a State gathers her thoughts, na­turally dispersed & fixed vvith multiplicity on Crea­tures, and vnites them vpon God. And it is called In­trouersion, both because the Spirit & those things which concerne it, being the only obiect that a deuout Soule considers & values, she turnes all her Sollicitudes in­wards to obserue defects, wants or inordinations there, to the end she may remedy, supply & correct them: And likevvise because the proper Seate, the Throne & Kingdome vvhere God by his Holy Spirit dvvells and reignes, is the purest Summity of Mans Spirit. There it is that the soule most perfectly enioyes and contemplates God, though euery vvhere, as in regard of himselfe, e­qually present, yet in regard of the communication of his Perfections present there after a far more Noble manner then in any part of the vvorld besides, inas­much as he communicates to the Spirit of Man, as much of his Infinite Perfections, as any Creature is capable of: being not only simple Being, as he is to inanimate Bodies; or Life, as to liuing Creatures: or Perception as to sensitiue: or knowledge, as to other ordinary Ratio­nall Soules: But vvith and besides all these, he is a Di­uine Light, Purity & happines, by communicating the su­pernaturall Graces of his Holy Spirit to the Spirits of his seruants. Hence it is that our Sauiour sayes, (Regnum Dei intra vos est) The Kingdome of God is within you; And therfore it is that Religious, Solitary & abstracted Soules [Page 179] doe endeauour to turne all their thoughts invvard, raising them to (Apicem Spiritus) the pure top of the Spirit (far aboue all sensible Phantasmes, or imaginatiue discoursings, or grosser Affections) vvhere God is most perfectly seene, and most comfortably enioyed.

7. Novv the actuall practise of this Introuersion con­sists principally if not only, in the Exercise of Pure, In­ternall spirituall Prayer: the Perfection of vvhich ther­fore ought to be the Cheife ayme to vvhich a Reli­gious Contemplatiue Soule is obliged to aspire. So that surely it is a great mistake to thinke that the Spirit of S. Benedicts Order & Rule consists in a Publick, Orderly, protracted, solemne singing of the Diuine Office, the vvhich may be full as vvell, yea and for the Externall is vvith more aduantage performed by Secular Ecclesia­sticks in Cathedrall Churches. A Motiue to the introdu­cing of vvhich pompous solemnity might be that it is full of Edification to others to see & heare a conspiring of many Singers & Voyces (and it is to be supposed, of hearts too) to the praising of God. But it is not for E­dification of others that a Monasticall State vvas institu­ted or ought to be vndertaken. Religious Soules truly Monasticall flye the sight of the vvorld, entring into De­sarts and solitudes, to spend their liues alone in Pennance and Recollection, and to purify their ovvne Soules, not to giue Example or Instruction to others. Such Solitudes, are, or ought to be sought by them, therby to dispose themselues for another far more proffitable Internall so­litude, in vvhich, Creatures being banished, the only Conuersation is betvveene God and the Soule her selfe [Page 180] in the depth of the Spirit, as if besides them tvvo, no o­ther thing vvere existent.

8. To gaine this happy state a deuout Soule enters into Religion, vvhere all imaginable aduantages are to be found for this End: At least anciently they vvere so, and still ought to be. But yet though all Religious per­sons ought to aspire to the Perfection of this State, it is really gained by very fevv in these times. For some through ignorance, or misinstruction by Teachers that knovv no deeper not a more perfect introuersion, then into the Internall senses or imagination: And o­thers through negligence, or else by reason of a volun­tary povvring forth their Affections & thoughts vpon vanities, vselesse Studies, or other sensuall Entertein­ments, are neuer able perfectly to enter into their Spi­rits, and to find God there.

9. But it is vvonderfull to reade of that depth of Re­collectednes & most profound Introuersion to vvhich some Ancient Solitary Religious Persons by long exer­cise of spirituall Prayer haue come: In so much as they haue bene so absorpt & euen drovvned in a deepe Con­templation of God, that they haue not seene vvhat their eyes looked on, nor felt vvhat othervvise vvould grei­uously hurt them. Yea to so habituall a State of atten­ding only to God in their Spirit did some of them at­taine, that they could not, though they had a mind therto, oftimes fixe their thoughts vpon any other ob­ie [...]t but God: their Internall senses (according as them­selues haue described it) hauing bene, in an vnexpres­sible manner, drawen into their Spirit, and therein so [Page 181] svvallovved vp, as to loose in a sort all other vse. A most happy state: in vvhich the Deuill cannot so much as fixe a seducing tentation or Image in their minds to distract them from God: but on the contrary, if he should at­tempt it, that vvould be an occasion to plunge them deeper & more intimely into God.

10. And this vvas the effect of Pure, Spirituall Con­templatiue Prayer: The vvhich vvas not only practised by the Holy Ancient Hermites &c. in most sublime Per­fection: But the exercise therof vvas their Chiefe, most proper & almost continuall Employment: in so much as the Perfection therof, vvas by them accounted the perfe­ction of their State. A larger proofe vvherof shall be re­serued till vvee come to speake of Prayer. For the pre­sent therfore I vvill content my selfe vvith a testimony or tvvo related by Cassian out of the mouthes of tvvo) most sublime Cōtemplatiues. Thus therfore speakes one of them (in the Conference, cap. 7.) Finis Monachi & totius Perfectionis Culmen in Orationis consummatione con­sistit, that is, The End of a Monasticall Profession, and the Supreme Degree of all Perfection consists in the Perfection of Praier. And (in the tenth Confer. cap. 7.) Another saieth, Hic finis totius Perfectionis est, vt eo vsque exte­nuata Mens ab omni situ Carnali ad Spiritualia quotidie su­blimetur, donec omnis eius Conuersatio, omnisque volutatio cordis, vna & iugis efficiatur Oratio. That is, This is the End of all Perfection, that the mind become so purified from all carnall defilement, that it may be raised vp daily to Spi­rituall things, till its whole employments and euery motion of the Heart may become one vn-interrupted Praier.

[Page 182]11. Novv vvhat a kind of Praier this vvas that they aspired to, hovv sublime in Spirit (though oftimes ioy­ned vvith their vocall Praiers) may appeare from that Description giuen of it by a Holy Hermite in these vvords (in the 10. Confer. cap. 20.) Ita ad illam Oratio­nis purissimam perueniet qualitatem, quae non solum nullam Deitatis effigiem in sua supplicatione miscebit, sed nec vllam quidem in se memoriam dicti cuiusdam, vel facti spe­ciem seu formam Characteris admittet. That is, Thus by much practise the soule will arriue to that most Sublime Purity of Praler, wherin no Image at all of the Diuinity is mingled, and which will not admit the least memory, nor a Character or representation of anything either spoken or done. The strange subtilty & spirituality of vvhich Praier con­sidered, there is applied vnto it that Saying of S. Antony, (in the 9. Conf. chap. 31.) Non est perfecta oratio, in qua se Monachus, vel hoc ipsum quod orat, intelligit, That is, That praier is not a perfect one, vnlesse the Religious Persō that exercises it, be not able to giue an accoūt of his owne thoughts that passed in it (or, does not perceiue that he prayes.)

12. What great aduantages the Ancient Hermites & other Religious Persons enioyed for the more certaine and more speedy attaining to this Internall Purity of Praier & vvonderfull Cleannes of Spirit (the End of their Profession:) Hovv much more able their bodily complexions vvere to support that most rigorous Soli­tude, those long continued Attentions of mind &c: And how much more efficacious herto were their Ma­nuall labours beyond our Employments in Study: And lastly how by such like meanes they vvith the only Exer­cise [Page 183] of vocall Praier attained to Perfect Contemplation, shall be shewed more fully, vvhen vvee come to the last Treatise concerning Internall Praier.

13. In this place I vvill content my selfe vvith shevv­ing that by the Rule of our Holy Father S. Benedict, all his Disciples are obliged to propose to themselues no other End of their Religious Profession, but only such Purity both of soule, and the Operations of it in Spiri­tuall Praier: So that hovv exact soeuer they be in out­vvard Obseruances, vnlesse they be referd vnto, and efficacious also for the producing of this Internall Pu­rity in some reasonable measure, they shall not be estee­med by God to haue complied vvith their vocation and Profession.

14. To this purpose vvee may obserue, that it is from those Ancient Holy Hermites & Religious that our Holy Father borrovved the greatest part of his Rule and Or­dinances, vvhich in the Conclusion he professes to be meant only by him as a disposition vvherby vvee may be enabled to imitate them in their most perfect Internall practises. It is from them that he borrovves the Phrase of (Oratio pura) Pure Praier (in the 20. Chap.) The Exercise vvherof, besides the reciting of the Office, he appointed daily, as appeares both by the same Chapter of the Rule, and also by the Story related by S. Gregory of one of his Monks, vvhom the Deuill in the shape of a Blackmore tempted out of the Community in the time of such Recollections. By vvhich may be perceiued the great fruit and efficacy of such Praier: For the Deuill could be contented he should be present at the Office, [Page 184] because during that Exercise he could more easily di­stract his mind: But knovving the force of Internall Prayer, hovv recollectiue it is, and vvhat light it affords to discouer the invvard Defects of the soule, and to ob­taine Grace to correct them: His principall aime vvas to vvithdravv him from so proffitable an Exercise. And therfore to countermine the Deuills Malice, Our Holy Father thought it vvorth a iourney expressely to cure the Infirmity and preuent the danger of one of his Sedu­ced Monkes.

15. For this End it is, that our Holy Father in the 58. C. ordeines Superiours in the Examination of the Spirits & dispositions of Nevv-comers, that they should most espe­cially haue an eye to this most necessary condition, (Si Deum vere quaerit:) If he be such an one as truly seekes God. And more particulary, (Si sollicitùs est ad opus Dei:) If he haue a sollicitous care duely to performe the worke of God, vvhich he interprets to be Praier: and this so principall a vvorke, that he ordeines, that (Nihil operi Dei praeponatur,) nothing must be preferred before it.

16. For the aduancing of this Praier, that it may be­come such as is suitable to a Contemplatiue State, all other Exteriour Obseruances are appointed. 1. By the 12. Degrees of Humility, by frequent Prostrations, acknow­ledging of Secret Imperfections &c. Pride, selfeloue & all other our corrupt Affections hindring our vnion in Spirit vvith God are subdued & expelled, and (as our Holy Father says at the end of the last Degree) that Perfect Charity vvhich most immediatly vnites the [Page 185] soules to God, is produced in the soule, 2. By perfect Obedience, selfe iudgment & selfe will are abated. 3. By Fastings, watchings & other Austerities, sensuality is mortified. 4. By Religious Pouerty all distracting cares about temporall things are expelled. 5. And for the gaining of an Habituall state of Recollectednes and introuersion, so great silence and Solitude vvere so ri­gorously enioyned and practised; all obiects of sensuall Affections remoued, all conuersation with the world, all relating or hearkning to newes seuerely prohibited. All this surely for no other end but that soules might be brought to a fit disposition to imitate those solitary and deuout Saints (proposed by our holy Father for our examples) in their continuall conuersation vvith God, attending to his Diuine inspirations, and vn-interrup­ted vnion of Spirit vvith him by pure Spirituall Con­templation.

17. Therfore though our Holy law-giuer doth not in his Rule giue his Disciples any speciall Instructions for ordering their Interiour spirituall Prayer (touching such matters referring them to the Inspiration of the Diuine Spirit, as himselfe sayth; as likevvise to the Aduices of the Ancient fathers and Hermites professing Contempla­tion:) Yet it is euident that his principall designe vvas to dispose his Disciples by his Ordinances to aspire and attaine to such Internall Perfection; vvithout vvhich the Externall Obseruances vvould be of no value, but rather (being finally rested in, vvithout farther applica­tion to the Spirit) empty Hypocriticall Formalities. And more particularly as touching the Conferences of the [Page 186] Fathers (written by Cassian, and expressely recommen­ded to vs by our Holy Father) wee reasonably may and ought to iudge that his intention vvas, wee should in a speciall manner make vse of the Instructions and Exam­ples there deliuered by prudent, holy and experienced Contemplatiues, as a Rule and Patterne, to vvhich vvee should conforme our selues, principally in our Internall Exercises: as being much more vsefull and proper for vs, then any Instructions about such matters to be found in the writings of others far more learned Holy Fa­thers of the Church, vvho generally direct their speeches to such as leade common liues in the vvorld.

18. This obligation being so manifest and vnquestio­nable: hovv can those new Interpreters of our holy Rule be excused that; extend the Profession of a Religious Person no further then to the performance of exteriour Obediences and obseruances litterally expressed in the Rule, or signified by the expresse commands of Supe­riours? Surely they forget that it is to God only that vvee make our Vowes, and not to man, but only as his substitute, and as appointed by him to take care of the purifying our soules. For the destroying therfore of so vnreasonable an Interpretation (yet too likely to be embraced by the tepide Spirits of this Age,) it vvill suffise only to looke vpon the forme of a Religious Profession instituted by our holy Father in the 58. chap­ter in these words, Suscipiendus autem, in Oratorio &c. that is, Let him that is to be receiued to a Religious Pro­fession; promise in the presence of the whole Community assembled in the Church, before God and his Saints; [Page 187] 1. A constant Stability in that state. 2. A conuersion of his Manners, 3. and Obedience. Now of the three things so, solemnely and vvith such affrighting circumstances, vovved, Conuersion of Manners can signify no other thing but Internall Purity of the soule; Obedience indeed seemes to regard the outvvard obseruances of the Rule: yet surely vvith an eye to the principall end of all exter­nall duties of all Christians, and much more of those that aspire to the Perfection of Diuine Loue. And as for Stability, it regards both these, adding to them a perseuerance and a cōtinuall progresse in both to the end.

19. These things considered, if God so earnestly protested to the Iewes, saying, My soule hates your New Moones, your solemne Feasts and Sacrifices (vvhich yet vvere obseruances ordeined by himselfe) and this, be­cause those that practised them vvith all exactnes rested in the outvvard actions, and neglected invvard purity of the heart, typified by them: much more vvill God despise and hate an exact performance of Regular Ob­seruances commanded by man, vvhen the practisers of them doe not referre them to the only true end re­garded by the Institutour, vvhich vvas, by them to dis­pose and fit soules to Internall solitude, aptnes to re­ceiue Diuine light & Grace, and lastly to the practise of pure Contemplatiue Prayer, vvithout vvhich a Re­ligious state vvould be no better then a mere outvvard Occupation on Trade: And if only so considered, it is perhaps lesse perfect then one exercised in the vvorld, by vvhich much good commodity may be deriued to others also.

[Page 188]20. Againe vvhen such condescending Interpreters doe further say, that all our obligation by vertue of a Religious Profession, is to be vnderstood only (Secun­dum Regulam,) according to the Rule: We must knovv that this Phrase (Secundum Regulam) is to be annexed to the Vow of Obedience only, importing that a Religious Superiour hath not a vast vnlimited authority, but con­fined to the Rule: vvheras there are no limits prescri­bed to Conuersion of manners, to Christian Holines and Perfection: in vvhich vve are obliged daily to make a further progresse. To the vvhich Duty, as by becom­ing Religious vvee haue a greater obligation so likevvise haue vvee a greater necessity. For though by entring into Religion vvee doe auoyde many occasions and ten­tations to outvvard enormous sins: yet vvee can neuer be freed from our thoughts, vvhich vvill pursue vs vvhere euer vvee are: and more impetuously and dangerously in solitude, then in company, being in­deed the greatest pleasure of man, vvhether they be good or bad. For in Solitude the soule hath her vvhole free scope vvithout interruption to pursue her thoughts. So that a Religious person that can thinke himselfe not obliged, and that actually doth not restreine and order his thoughts, by diuerting and fixing them on Heauen­ly and Diuine obiects, Such an one if for vvant of op­portunity he guard himselfe from outvvard, Scanda­lous crimes: yet he vvill more & more deeply plunge himselfe in corrupt nature, contracting a greater ob­scurity & incapacity of Diuine Grace daily: And such invvard Deordinations vvill become more dangerous [Page 189] and incurable, then if he had liued in the vvorld, vvhere there are so frequent diuersions. Novv a poore and most ineffectuall Remedy against these vvill he find in an exact conformity to any externall obseruances vvhat­soeuer: yea perhaps they vvill serue to increase such ill habits of soule, by breeding Pride and security in it.

21. A much better and more proffitable Interpreter of our holy Rule therfore is Deuout S. Bernard, in many passages in his vvorks, and particularly in those vvords of his in an Epistle to William an Abbot of the same Order, Attendite in Regulam Dei &c. that is, Be attentiue to the Rule of God. The kingdome of God is within you: that is, it consists not outwardly in the fashion of our cloathes or man­ner of our corporall Dyet, but in the vertues of our inner man. But you will say: What? doest thou so inforce vpon vs spirituall Dutyes, as that thou condemnest a care of the externall Ob­seruāces enioyned by the Rule of S. Benedict? No, by no meanes: But my meaning is, That the former Spirituall Duties must necessarily and indispensably be done: and yet these laster must not be omitted. But otherwise, when it shall happen that one of these two must be omitted: in such case these are much rather to be omitted, then those former. For by how much the Spirit is more excellent and noble then the body, by so much are spirituall exercises more proffitable then corpo­rall.

22. Neither vvill it auaile the forementioned Interpre­ters to say, that their meaning is not to preiudice the obligation of Religious Persons to internall Duties: but only to shevv that such obligation is grounded on the [Page 190] Diuine Lavv imposed on them as Christians; and not on an Externall Lavv made by man and voluntarily vn­dergone. For in opposition to this Excuse, besides vvhat hath bene sayd cōcerning the making of our Vovves to God, and the expresse obligation therin to an Internall Cōuersion of Māners: vvee are to knovv that by vertue of our Religious Vowes vvee are obliged to a far greater Perfection of Internall Purity, then vvee vvere for­merly as Christians, ansvvereable to the greater helpes and aduantages therto afforded in Religion: And parti­cularly vvee haue an obligation to aspire to the Perfe­ction of internall Contemplatiue Praier, the practise vvhereof is (at least) of extreme difficulty in an ordina­ry distracted, sollicitous secular state.

23. And from vvhat hath bene sayd may be colle­cted this most true and proffitable Obseruation, to witt, That vvhosoeuer vvould attempt the restoring of the true Spirit of Religion (which is Contemplation) mise­rably decayed in these dayes, vvill labour in vaine if he thinke to compasse his holy Designe by multiplying of Ceremonies, inlargeing of Offices, increasing of Exter­nall Austeritys, rigorous regulating of Dyet and Absti­nences &c. All vvhich things vvill haue little or no ef­fect, vnlesse the minds of Religious Persons be truly instructed in the doctrine of Contemplatiue Prayer, & obligation to attend and follovv the Internall Guidance of Gods Spirit, vvhich is rather hindred then aduanced by the excessiue multiplication of outvvard Obseruances. And for this reason S. Benedict (vvho surely had a most perfect light & an equall zeale, at least, to aduance the [Page 191] Spirit of Contemplation) vvas very moderate in these thinges; and on the contrary very seuere in requiring the obseruation of Silence, Solitude, and Abstraction of Life, the vvhich doe most directly and efficaciously be­gett an habituall Introuersion and Recollectednesse of Spirit. The ineffectualnesse therfore of these new wayes of Reformation vvee see dayly proofe of, by the short continuance of them. For minds that are not inlightned, nor enabled by the Spirit of Contemplatiue Prayer sui­table to their state, to make a due vse of such great Au­steritys for the increasing of the sayd Spirit, become in a short time, after that the first zeale (much caused by the nouelty and reputation gained in the vvorld) is coo­led, to grovv vveary, not finding that invvard satisfa­ction & proffit vvhich they expected: And so they re­turne to their former Tepidity & Relaxation.

CHAP. V.

§. 1. 2. 3. A Religious Person is not Perfect by his Profes­sion.

§. 4. 5. 6. 7. Whether, and how far Ignorance of the true End of Religion will excuse.

§. 8. 9. The danger of those that knowing, will not pur­sue Internall wayes of Recollection, which are the true End of a Religious state. And much more of those that discountenance it.

§. 10. 11. 12. Vaine pretences of those that discountenance In­ternall Prayer &c.

§. 13. A description of an Externall and an Internall Monke, out of Hesychius.

1. OVR obligation therfore to tend to Perfect Internall Purity & Simplicity being so great & so vndispensable: vvhat account, thinke vvee, vvill some Religious Persons be able to giue to Almighty God for their miserable deficienty in this so essentiall a condi­tion?

2. Religion is by all acknowledged for a state of Perfe­ction: not that by the mere taking a Religious Profes­sion or Habit a Person is therby more Perfect then he vvas before: but because by renouncing those distra­ctiue Impediments vvhich are in the vvorld, he puts himselfe into a condition, in vvhich he not only may far more easily aspire to the Perfection of Diuine Loue: but moreouer by assuming such a state he obliges himselfe [Page 193] to employ all those aduantages vvhich he finds in Reli­gion, as meanes to approach nearer to this Perfection dayly, more then if he had continued in the vvorld he either could or vvas obliged. The vvhich if he doe not, he vvill be so far from enioying any Priuiledge in Gods sight by the Perfection of his State, as that he will be accountable to God so much the more for his ingra­titude, and negligence in making vse of such aduantages and Talents giuen him.

3. S. Paulinus excellently illustrates this Truth by this similitude. He compares the world to a dry scorched and barren vvildernes: and Celestiall Happines to a most de­licious Paradice, diuided from this desart by a deepe and tempestuous riuer, vvhich must necessarily be past by swimming: The securest way to passe ouer this riuer is by quitting ones cloathes: But fevv there are that haue the courage to expose themselues to the iniuries of the weather for a while, and therfore aduenture ouer cloathes and all: And of them, God knovvs, a vvorld mis­carry by the vvay. Some fevv others (such are Religious Persons) seeing this danger take a good Resolution to deuest themselues of their Cloathes, and to make them­selues lighter and nimbler by casting avvay all impedi­ments, hovv deare soeuer to flesh and blood. But yet this being done, it remaines that they should labour, naked as they are, vvith svvimming to passe the Riuer: But this they neglect to doe, or take so little paines, and striue so negligently against the vvaues and streame, that all they doe comes to nothing, they are in as much dan­ger and as far from Paradice as they vvere before. And [Page 194] vvhereas they glorify themselues because they are Na­ked: that vvill rather aggrauate their folly and make their negligence far more culpable, in that having so great an advantage, they vvould not take a little paines to doe that for vvhich they cast of their Cloathes.

4. Novv the Impediments either much delaying, or quite hindring many soules that liue in Religion, and are naturally apt enough for the Exercises of a Contem­platiue Life, from complying vvith this most necessary obligation, are partly in the vnderstanding, and partly in the will. Concerning this latter, vvhich is Selfe-Loue, a setled Affection to Creatures, negligence &c. much hath already bene sayd, and more vvill hereafter be added. But concerning the other impediment seated in the Vn­derstanding, which is Ignorance of the true way leading to that perfection vvhich is the proper End of a Religious Contemplatiue Life, I vvill here take into Considera­tion, Whether, and how far such Ignorance may excuse a Religious Person that does not aspire to that Perfection to which his State obliges him.

5. For the clearing of this Doubt, vvee may obserue that there may in this case be a twofold Ignorance. 1. An Ignorance in grosse that there is any such Obligation. 2. On supposition that a soule is informed that she hath such an obligation, an Ignorance of the meanes and vvayes proper and necessary for the acquiring of this Perfection: the vvhich in the present case are Mortifica­tion and (principally) Internall Prayer.

6. First therfore for the former sort of Ignorance, it is so grosse and euen vvillfull, that there can scarce be [Page 195] imagined any Excuse or qualification for it. For vvhat other thought can a Soule haue quitting the vvorld, and all the pleasures and commodities therin to embrace Pouerty, Obedience, solitude &c, but therby to con­secrate herselfe entirely to God, shevved by the Solemne circumstances of her Admission and Profession, the Questions proposed to her, and her Answers, her Habit, Tonsure, Representation of a Death and Buriall, Solemne Benedi­ctions of her Habit, and Prayers of the Community &c? All that are vvitnesses and Spectatours of such an Action doe no othervvise vnderstand it: And indeed except it vvere so, vvhat difference is there betvveene a Secular and Religious state?

7. But in the next place touching the second sort of Ignorance, to vvit, of the vvayes most proper and effica­cious to bring a Religious Soule to Perfection: It is to be feared that such an Ignorance vvill be but a small Excuse, and that but to very fevv. For since both Faith and Experience teach vs vvith vvhat great de­fects, vvhat inordinate Affections &c. vvee enter into Religion, vvith an intention there to abate and mortify them: And since euen naturall Reason & dayly expe­rience likevvise shevv vs, that Perfection of the Soule cannot consist in Externall obseruances, vvhich doe not penetrate into the Interiour: Yea vvithout Prayer and Purity of intention (to be had only by Prayer) they doe rather nourish Selfeloue and Selfe esteeme: since thirdly the same experience conuinces vs that such vo­call Prayers as vvee vse and ioyne to our other Obser­uances doe not produce in vs a sufficient Purification [Page 196] of Soule: no nor that any other painefull methods of Me­ditation (vnknovvne to the Ancient Contemplatiues) doe afford vs sufficient Light and Grace for such a purpose, because they peirce not deepe enough into the Spirit: vvhat reasonable soule but vvill hence conclude, that there must needs be some other efficacious meanes for the acquiring of the end vvhich vvee propose to our selues. And since God vvill infallibly giue Light and Grace to all those that haue recourse vnto him in Spirit and Truth: It must necessarily follovv, that the only cul­pable ground of such Ignorance must needs be a neglect of such Prayer: And the roote of such neglect, a sensuall tepide disposition of the will, hating to raise it selfe to God. And let any one iudge vvhether an Ignorance so groun­ded can excuse vs: Especially considering, that our Holy Father, requires the practise of such Prayer in all our smallest vndertakings, and teaches vs that his Rule is only a preparation to Perfection, he referres vs further to the examples of the Ancient Hermites, vvhose man­ner of Prayer if vvee vvould imitate, vvee should make some approaches at least to that Perfection, to the almost inconceiuable Sublimity and purity vvherof they attained.

8. Novv if Ignorance vvill not be a sufficient excuse to any Religious Person for either not endeuouring after Interiour Purity of soule by Prayer in spirit, or endeuouring after a vvrong improper manner & vvay: Hovv much lesse excusable, nay hovv deeply culpable before God vvill those be, vvho are sufficiently instru­cted in the only true internall vvayes leading to Con­templation, [Page 197] & vvithall are furnished vvith all helpes, leasure & aduantages for that purpose: & yet out of a setled slothfullnes, & fixed loue to sensuall obiects haue not the courage or vvill to vvalke in them: yea perhaps hauing once comfortably vvalked in them, doe most ingratefully & perfidiously forsake & turne out of them? Reaping no other benefit by their knovvledge, but perhaps an ability to talke of them, to the helpe of others, it may be, but to the encreasing of their ovvne Pride, & selfe-loue: so that their knovvledge of their obligation & end of their Profession helpes to leade them further from it.

9. But aboue all most miserable vvill their condition be, vvho liuing in Contemplatiue Orders, & not hauing either sufficient knovvledge or Grace to practise them­selues the exercises of true Internall Prayer & Abstra­ction of life, shall deterre others therefrom, & discoun­tenance, or perhaps persecute those vvhom God hath inspired to renevv the only proper exercises of Con­templation: The decay of vvhich has bene the decay of the true Spirit of Monasticall Religion.

10. True it is that to iustify such vndue proceedings & to gaine an esteeme to their ovvne inferiour Exer­cises, partiality has suggested to them certaine seeming reasons & pretences against the practise of Contemplatiue Prayer, & if it were dangerous, & did expose the exer­cisers of it to illusions: or as if it were preiudiciall to Re­gular obseruances & obedience: or that perhaps it may diminish the credit vvhich some Religious Orders haue gained in the vvorld by their long solemne Offices, [Page 198] laboriously celebrated. But (as I shall in due place in the last Treatise demonstrate) all these accusations made against Contemplatiue Prayer, are most vniust and groundlesse. On the contrary those that practise such Prayer as they ought, are most carefull of conformity to Religious Duties, & especially the Diuine office appointed by the Church: And this out of conscience & vvith great purity of intention.

11. Indeed true Internall liuers are not very sollicitous for gaining credit & esteeme vvith the vvorld; & much lesse vvould they make that an end of their Religious obseruances. On the contrary their cordiall desire is to liue vnknovvn & excluded from the vvorld, approuing their soules to God only. Neither are they forvvard to vsurpe offices abroad not belonging to them, as of Preaching, Hearing Confessions of seculars &c: by vvhich the most necessary solitude & Recollectednes, vvhich by their Profession ought to be prised aboue all things, are interrupted, & oft vtterly destroyed. And the more confidently doe they expresse a zeale for these essentiall things, as being assured that God vvill not be vvanting to supply them sufficiently vvith all things necessary to their corporall sustenance, as long as they preferre the care of Purifying their soules, & complying vvith the obligations of their Profession before such inferiour things. S. Anthony vvas so carefull of preseruing this spi­rit of solitude & disingagement from all treating vvith the vvorld, that he forbids his Monkes to enter into Chur­ches frequented by multitudes: And much lesse vvould he suffer them to inuite & call Seculars into their ovvne [Page 199] Churches. And S. Stephen of Grammont vpon experience of vvhat extreme preiudice the spirit of Religion had receiued by neglecting a solitary abstracted life, for­bids his Disciples in his Rule to haue publick Churches, or to admitt into their Oratories the presence of seculars, or so much as to let them take Holy-water home with them: Or to quit their Desart to preach to others. He cōmands them to auoyd Confraternities: &c: And to preuent complaints & feares least by so rigorous a sequestration from the vvorld they should be in danger of Penury: He most assuredly protests vnto them, that it is impossible that God should neglect to prouide for them, that for his sake quitt all pretentions to the vvorld.

12. But the true cause of bitternes shevved by some against Internall Prayer (restored by seuerall most illu­minated & Glorious Saints in these latter times) may be feared to proceed partly from some kind of Pride & an vnwillingnesse to acknovvledge any Religious Exercises to be more perfect then those, practised so long by themselues: or to see that povver vvhich they had gained in the managing of the Consciences of Reli­gious Persons &c: to be in danger of ceasing.

13. To conclude this Point: Those that place perfe­ction of a Religious Profession in any thing but in the Purity & simplicity of spirit, such may call themselues Monkes & Cōtemplatiues, being yet able to shevv no signes of such a Profession but the habit, & a certaine outvvard, formall, solemne & seuere comportment, vnder vvhich may be hidden a secret most profound selfe loue & Pride. And they may doe vvell to meditate seriously [Page 200] on that memorable saying of Hesychius, a holy illumi­nated Monke, He that hath renounced the world (saith he) that is, mariage, possessions & the like: such an one indeed hath made the Exteriour man a Monke: but not, as yet the Interiour. But he that hath renounced his owne thoughts & affections: such an one hath made truly the Interiour man ā Monke also. And verily any one that hath neuer so small de­sire therunto, may easily make the outward man a Monke: But it is a taske of no small labour to make the Interiour man so too. Now a Signe of an Interiour Monke (sayth he) is the hauing attained to the Dignity of Pure spirituall Prayer.

CHAP. VI.

§. 1. That Internall Prayer was the Practise of Ancient Her­mits: what kind of Prayer that was.

§. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. How it to came to passe that vocall Prayer be­came to them Internall, & brought many soules anciently to Perfection: And why it will not now doe so ordinarily.

§. 7. 8. 9. 10. The great helpe that the Ancients found by exter­nall labours, to bring them to Recollection.

§. 11. 12. 13. How manuall labours came to giue place to Studies: that which are defended.

§. 14. The late Practise of Internall Prayer recompences other Defects.

1. THAT Internall Spirituall Prayer vvas seriously & almost continually practised by the Ancients is apparēt both out of the Liues & Conferences of the An­cient [Page 201] fathers. But indeed there are but fevv proofes ex­tant that appointed times vvere set for the exercising it Conuentually, except in the fore-mencioned story of the Monke tempted by the Deuill to retire himselfe from his Brethren vvhen they vvere in such Prayer. I suppose therfore that Superiours & Directours of soules tending to Contemplation vvere in these latter dayes obliged to enioyne dayly Recollections, by reason that the dayly pri­uate & continuall employments of Religious Persons are not so helpfull & aduantagious to the procuring of that most necessary simplicity & purity of soule, as an­ciently they vvere: And therfore they vvere forced to make some supply for this defect, by such Conuentuall Recollections: The vvhich they instituted to be perfor­med in publick, because they perceiued or feared that Religious soules, if they vvere left to themselues, vvould out of Tepidity neglect a duty so necessary, & so efficacious.

2. Now to the end that by comparing the manner of liuing obserued anciently by Religious Persons vvith the Moderne in these dayes, it may appeare vvhat great aduantages they enioyed tovvards the attaining of Per­fection of Prayer beyond vs; Wee may consider. 1. Their set Deuotions vvhat they vvere: And 2. Their day­ly Employments during the remainder of the day.

3. As concerning the first, their appointed Deuotions, eyther in publick or Priuate, vvas only reciting [...]he Psalter, to vvhich they sometimes adioined a litle Reading of other parts of Scripture. For as for the foremencion [...]d conuentuall mentall exercise of Prayer it vvas very short, [Page 202] being only such short Aspirations as Gods spirit did sug­gest vnto them in particular, as it vvere the flower of their Publick Vocall Prayers. Yea & in priuate, vvhen they did purposely apply themselues to Prayer, they seldome varied from the manner of their publick Deuotions, for then they also vsed the Psalter.

4. Novv how it came to passe that vocall Prayers alone vvere in ancient times auaileable to bring soules to perfect Contemplation, vvhich in these dayes it neither does, nor ordinarily speaking, candoe: I shall declare more fully vvhen I come herafter to treat of Prayer: And in this place I vvill content my selfe to poynt only at the Rea­sons & grounds of difference: viz: 1. One Reason vvas their incomparably more abstraction of life, more ri­gorous solitude & almost perpetuall silence, of the pra­ctise of vvhich in these dayes (it is beleiued) vvee are not capable. 2. A second vvas their fasts, Abstinences & other austerities beyond the strength of our infirme corporall complexions. 3. A third vvas their Externall employ­ments out of the set times of Prayer, the vvhich did far better dispose soules to Recollection, to Attendance on the Diuine Inspirations &c: then those ordinarily practised in these dayes.

5. No wonder then if vocall Prayer exercised by such Pure, resigned, humble, Mortified, & vndistracted soules had the efficacy to produce in them an habituall state of Recollected Introuersion: vvhich doubtles in many of them vvas more profound, not only vvhilst they vvere busied in their vocall Exercises, but also du­ring their Externall busines, then it is ordinarily vvith [Page 203] vs in the height of our best Recollections.

6. But a more large handling of this matter I referre to the last Treatise, vvhere vvee speake purposely of Prayer: And for the present I vvill only take into consi­deration the third forenamed aduantage of corporall la­bours, vvhich to the Ancients proued a helpe to Contem­plation far more efficacious, then the generall employ­ments of Religious in these dayes.

7. For the demonstrating vvherof it is to be obserued, that anciently soules embracing a Religious life vvere moued therto merely out of the spirit of Pēnance: vvith­out any regard at all to make vse of their solitude for the getting of learning, or for the disposing themselues to Holy Orders. Being likevvise poore, vnprouided of An­nuall Rents or foundations (the vvhich they vvere so farre from seeking, or desiring, that, in our holy Fathers expression (cap. 48.) they did then only account them­selues to be (verè Monachi, si de labore manuum suarum vi­uerent) true Monks, whilst they liued by the labour of their hands:) they vvere both by necessity & choice obliged to corporall labour.

8. But their principall care aboue all other things being to attend vnto God, & to aspire vnto perfect Vnion in spirit vvith him, they ordinarily made choyce of such labours as vvere not distractiue, & such as might be per­formed in solitude & silence: so that during the said labours they kept their minds continually fixed on God: Such labours vvere the making of Baskets, or some other vvorkes of the like nature, that required no solli­citude, & very small exactnesse or attention. And as [Page 204] Ecclesiasticall Histories informe vs, such vvas the Chari­ty of Bishops & other good persons their neighbours, that to ease them of all care about the disposing or selling of their vvorke, as likevvise to hinder them from hauing recourse to markets for the sale therof, order vvas taken that such vvorkes should be taken out of their hands, & a competent price allovved them for them.

9. By this meanes it came to passe that their Externall labours being exercised in order to the aduancement of their spirits, proued a vvonderfull helpe therto, dispo­sing them to Praier & almost cōtinuall cōuersation vvith God. And indeed it vvas God himselfe vvho by the mi­nistry of an Angell taught S. Anthony this art & most se­cure method of aspiring to Contemplation, vvhen being vnable to keepe his mind continually bent in a­ctuall Prayer, he grevv vveary of solitude, & in a nere disposition to quitt it: At vvhich time an Angel [...] appearing to him busily employed in making Baskets of the rindes of Palmes, signified to him, that it vvas Gods vvill that he should after the same manner intermit his deuotions, so spending the time that he could not employ in Prayer.

10. Such vvere the Externall daily employments of the ancient Contemplatiues: & so great vertue did they find in them for the aduancement of their spirit. By vvhich meanes so many of them attained to so sublime a degree of Contemplation: yea & generally most of them arriued to very great simplicity of spirit & almost continuall recollectednes.

11. But vvhen aftervvards by the most plentifully-flowing [Page 205] Charity of deuout Christians there vvas not only taken from Religious all necessity of sustaining themselues by Corporall labours, but they vvere more­ouer richly furnished and enabled to supply the vvants of many others: Wee may vvell iudge that it vvould become a hard matter to persvvade a continuance of much Manuall labour, purely and only for the greater good of the Spirit, vvhen othervvise it vvas both need­les and afflicting to the Body. Hence it came to passe, that since necessarily some Employment besides Prayer must be found out for the entertaining of those Solitary liuers, Learning as the most noble of all other, vvas made choice of: yet so that for many Ages corporall labours vvere not vvholly excluded.

12. Yet [...]his vvas not the sole, nor I suppose the prin­cipall Groūds of so great, and almost vniuersall a Change as aftervvard follovved in the manners and fashion of a Coenobiticall life. But vvee may reasonably impute the said Exchange of labours for Studies in a principall manner to the good Prouidence of God ouer his Church, that stood in such extreme neede of another sort of labourers in Gods vineyard; and consequently to the Charity of Religious men themselues, vvho during that most horrible ignorance and deprauation reigning ouer all the vvorld almost besides, thought themselues obli­ged to repay the vvonderfull Charity of good Christians, by extending a greater Charity, in communicating to them Spirituall and Heauenly things for their tempo­rall. Hence came a necessity of engaging themselues in the Cure of soules and Gouernment of the Church: the [Page 206] vvhich indeede for seuerall Ages vvas in a sort vvholly sustained by them: yea moreouer by their zeale, labours and wisedome the light of Diuine Truth vvas spread abroad among Heathens also, and many Prouinces and Kingdomes adioyned to the Church. These things consi­dered, no vvonder is there if the introducing of Reading and studies in the place of Manuall labours vvas vnauoy­dably necessary.

13. But perhaps some there may be not so vvell affe­cted or pleased vvith the present reputation or commodi­dities enioyed by Religious Persons, that assenting to vvhat hath bene here sayd, vvill notvvithstanding in­ferre, That, since Learning is novv become so much dila­ted in the vvorld by the zeale and Charity of Ancient Monasticall Religious, there is no longer any the like necessity of their interessing themselues in Ecclesia­sticall affaires: and therfore that they ought to returne to their old Corporall Employments and labours.

14. Herto it may be replied, that euen still there is much neede of thē, considering the far greater frequen­tation of Sacraments in these dayes aboue the Ancient times. But moreouer, if in these times, vvherin learning and knovvledge is so exposed to all sorts of men, Reli­gious persons should quitt studies, returning to their an­cient employment of Manuall labours (from vvhich as hath bene sayd, God himselfe did doubtles vvithdravv them:) Besides that their Ignorance vvould render them the vniuersall obiects of contempt through the vvhole Church, it vvould likevvise expose them, as for their states, as a Prey to all that either enuyed or coue­ted [Page 207] the scarse subsistēce left them: and as to their soules they vvould be obnoxious to be turned hither and thither by the variety of Directours that vvould vndertake to guide them: And by these meanes all men vvould be deterred from adioyning themselues vnto them for continuing a Succession.

15. Novv though as hath bene sayd, such a change hath bene after this manner made in the externall Em­ployments of Religious persons: Yet still the same essen­tiall indispensable obligation of aspiring to Contempla­tion remaines: For the attaining to vvhich although studies ioyned vvith Prayer seeme in some regards to be lesse aduantageous then anciently such labours as the Aegyptian Monkes &c. vndertooke, were: Yet it hath pleased God in goodnes to his seruāts in a good measure to recompence that disaduantage, by raising vp se­uerall Holy persons to teach more accurately then for­merly, the knovvledge and practise of pure, Internall, Contemplatiue Prayer. For since it cannot be denyed, that to persons far more distracted by studies then an­ciently they vvere by labours (vvhich did not hinder a moderate quiet attention to God) Vocall Prayer though neuer so much prolonged has not (ordinarily speaking) sufficient force to recollect the mind habitually, or to suppresse and cure the many inordinate Affections of corrupt nature: Hence it is that the vse of appointed daily Recollections hath seemed to be of absolute ne­cessity; vvithout vvhich the Spirit of Contemplation vvould be quite lost. So that to such Prayer vvee may most principally impute the great lights and helpes for [Page 208] Contemplation afforded by some later Saints in Reli­gious Orders, and in the vvorld also, to the great be­nefit of Gods Church: That sole Exercise in a good measure making amends for all other Defects in vvhich vvee seeme to come short of the Ancients.

CHAP. VII.

§. 1. Of speciall Duties of Religious Persons.

§. 2. A Religious Person ought to desire to be alwaies vnder Obedience.

§. 3. 4. Qualities necessary in a Religious Superiour.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. That Actiue Spirits are very improper to go­uerne such as are Contemplatiue. The grounds of the diffe­rence.

§. 10. A fearfull Example in Bernardinus Othinus: Shewing how dangerous the neglect of Internall Prayer is in a Re­ligious Superiour.

1. HAVING thus largely set dovvne the proper and only End of a Religious Profession, to vvit, Purity and Simplicity of soule, to be obtained by Recollected Contemplatiue Praier alone: I vvill fur­ther adde some more speciall Duties belonging to Reli­gious Persons according to their seuerall Relations and qualities, as Superiours, or other subordinate Officers, Subiects &c. For as for the proper vertues of a Reli­gious state, as Obedience, Poverty, Humility &c. the hand­ling of them is reserued to the follovving Treatise.

2. Novv vvith vvhat mind a Deuout soule ought [Page 209] to embrace a Religious Profession, is signified to vs in that notable Passage in our Holy Fathers Rule, vvhere he sayth, In Coenobio degens desiderat sibi Abbatem praeesse, that is, Whosoeuer liues in a Religious Community is de­sirous that an Abbot should be set ouer him. From vvhence vvee ought to inferre, that the Intention of a Reli­gious Person ought euer to be to liue in subiection to the vvill of another, and in such a mind to continue all his life. And therfore those that readily accept, & much more those that ambitiously seeke Gouernment and Prelature, may reasonably be iudged to be lead by a Spi­rit directly opposite to the Spirit of Religion. And surely he that shall seriously consider of vvhat difficul y and of vvhat extreme danger the Office of a Superiour is, vvhat terrible threatnings our Holy Father so oft de­nounces from God against a negligent, partiall, and vnfaithfull discharge of such an Office, vvill thinke it far fitter to be the obiect of his feare and Auersion, then of his Desire. Therfore that Superiour that does not find himselfe more vvilling to giue vp his place, then to retaine it, ought to suspect that he is scarce in a good state.

3. Novv to the end that both subiects may be infor­med vvhat qualities they are to regard in the Electing of Superiours, and also Superiours be put in mind vvhat is expected from them in the discharge of such an Office duly imposed on them: I vvill from S. Bernard set downe three necessary conditions or Endovvments by vvhich Superiours are to direct their Subiects, the vvhich are. 1. Verbum. 2. Exemplum. & 3. Oratio, that is, Exhortation, [Page 210] good Example, and Prayer: Adding moreouer, Maior au­tem horum est Oratio. Nam et si vocis virtus sit & operis: Et operi tamen & voci gratiam efficaciamque promeretur Oratio. That is, Of those three necessary qualities the grea­test and most necessary is Praier: For although there be much vertue in Exhortation and Example, yet Prayer is that which procures efficacy and successe to both the other.

4. From vvhich testimony and authority, yea euen from the light of Naturall Reason, vvee may firmely con­clude, that the Spirit of Praier is so absolutely necessary to a Religious Superiour, that vvithout it he cannot exercise his charge proffitably either to himselfe or his subiects: And consequently, that to a Superiour in an Order vvhose spirit is Contemplation, it is necessary that he haue attained to a good established Habit of Con­templatiue Praier. For (as hath bene said in the fore­going Discourse, concerning Spirituall Guides) hovv can such a Superiour vvithout knovvledge gained by experience, inculcate the so necessary Duties of Re­collection and Praier? Nay rather vvill he not be more likely to discountenance those Exercises in vvhich he is not skilled, and from vvhich perhaps he has an auer­sion?

5. Therfore that too ordinarily maintained Position of some, That Actiue Spirits are more fitt for Superiorities and Externall Emploiments, then Contemplatiue: which are to be left to the Solitude and Sequestration to which their Spirits incline them, is indeed most vnreasonable & groundles.

6. On the contrary, no doubt there is, but that the [Page 211] decay of Religion hath principally proceeded from this preposterous disorder, viz. that in most Religious Com­munities Actiue Spirits haue gott the aduantage to pos­sesse themselues of Prelatures and Spirituall Pastour­ships ouer the Contemplatiue, though the state of Re­ligion vvas instituted only for Contemplation. And this has happened euen since Contemplatiue Praier has bene restored by Persons extraordinarily raised by God, as Rusbrochius, Thaulerus, S. Teresa &c. so that Religious Communities haue bene ordered euen in the point of Spirituallity by Spirits of a quite different & contrary temper to that for vvhich they vvere intended.

7. Indeed it is not to be vvondred at, that Actiue Spi­rits should so preuaile: considering that those vvho are truly of a Contemplatiue disposition and designe, know­ing well the difficulty and Danger of Superiority, how full of Extrouersion, Distraction and Sollicitude it is, and vvhat occasions and Tentations there are in it to raise, nourish, and satisfy sensuall Affections, Pride &c. to the perill of extinguishing the Spirit of Praier (except in soules far aduanced in Praier and Mortifi­cation:) such I say, are therfore iustly afraid of, and doe vse all lawfull meanes to auoide the Care and Go­uernment of others. Whereas Actiue Spirits that liue in Religion, not being capable of such Praier as will raise them much out of nature, haue not the like apprehen­sions of such Employments: But on the contrary being lead by naturall Desires of Preeminence and loue of liberty; and beleiuing that those who are true Internall Liuers will not submit themselues to all the vvaies & [Page 212] Policies vsed for the increasing the temporall Good of their Communities; doe not feare to offer themselues, yea and ambitiously to seeke Dominion ouer others: falsely in the meane time persvvading themselues that their only Motiue is Charity, and a Desire to promote the Glory of God, and the aduancement, both tempo­rall and Spirituall, of their Conuents or Congregations. But vvhat the effect is, experience shevves.

8. True it is that it cannot be auoyded, but that many vnfit spirits vvill oft be admitted into Religious Or­ders, very different from the dispositions requisite: (though it belongs to Superiours to prouide as vvell as may be against such an abuse:) But such being admit­ted of Actiue Dispositions, the best vvere to employ them in Actiue Exercises & Externall matters: as in the Offices of Procuration, Dispense, Building and the like: But as for Prelacies, the Charge of Instructing Nouices, or other Offi­ces pertaining to the directing of soules, it is the destru­ction of the spirit of Contemplation to employ Actiue Dispositions in such. For hovv can they vvithout light or Experience direct soules in vvaies vnknovven to themselues, yea vvhich through ignorance or mistake they perhaps disapproue?

9. Besides vpon exact consideration it vvill be found, that in the point of Gouernment, Contemplatiue Spirits that haue made a good progresse in Internall Praier, haue great aduantages aboue the Actiue. For such being carefull themselues to vse all due Abstraction, vvill lesse molest themselues and others vvith impertinent busines­ses: Not prying too narrowly into all passages, as if they [Page 213] sought occasion of shewing their authority and ability in making vnnecessary reprehensions, to the disquieting of Communities: but for Peace sake they vvill sometimes euen silere a bonis, passing ouer many things vvhich doe seeme a litle amisse: vvherin they shevv great Prudence, and also cause much proffit to subiects. 2. Such being diligent about their ovvne Recollections, doe out of a loue to silence, Patience, & Peace, forbeare the doing or imposing of a multitude of vnnecessary Taskes vpon others. 3. By meanes of Praier they obtaine light to or­der all things to the benefit of their subiects soules. And in case they haue erred, or bene defectiue in any thing, they discouer, and amend it in their next Recollection. 4. In the manner and fashion of their vvhole com­portment a certaine Diuine Grace shines forth, vvhich is of great efficacy to vvinne their subiects Heartes to Obedience and Diuine Loue. 5. Yea if by Corporall In­firmity they be disabled to attend to many Externall Obseruances, yet a vievv of the Patience, quietnes and Resignation shevved by them, is more edify­ing to soules vnder their Care, then all the most exact externall Regularities and Seuerity of Actiue Spirits. 6. Yea euen in regard of Temporall Benefit to Communities, Contemplatiue Spirits are more aduantageous then A­ctiue. Because they not putting any confidence in their ovvne Industry, Prudence and Actiuity, but only in the Diuine Prouidence (vvhich is neuer vvanting to those that for temporall regards vvill not doe any thing vnseemely or misbecoming their Abstracted state) doe enioy the effects and blessings of God far more plenti­fully, [Page 214] vvhilst they preferre his loue and seruice before any humane, distracting sollicitudes for outward things. Memorable Examples of great Blessings attending such a Confidence in God vvee find abundantly in the Life of our holy Father and of the Ancient Monkes, and more lately in the life of Suso, Ioannes de Cruce &c. Novv the vvant of such Confidence in Actiue Spirits proceedes merely from Defect in Diuine Loue, and that from the vvant of Internall Praier. And hence proceede hurtfull & vnseemely compliances vvith the vvorld, a regard rather to vvealth then good vvills to serue God in the soules that enter into Religion &c.

10. A fearfull Example of the mischeife follovving the neglect of Internall Praier in a Superiour, vvee find in Bernardinus Ochinus a Superiour in a most strict Order, vvho vvas a famous Zealous Preacher, and as might be iudged by outvvard appearance, of more then ordinary Sanctity; yet vvithall to comply vvith those outvvard Employments, a great neglecter of Internall Conuentuall Recollections. And vvhen he vvas sometimes charitably admonished of such his Tepidity, his ordinary ansvver vvas, Doe you not know, that he who is alwaies in a good Action, is alwaies in Praier. Which Saying of his had bene true, if such good actions had bene performed in vertue of Praier, and by Grace obtained therby: For then they had bene vertually Praiers: Wheras Actions though in themselues neuer so good, if they vvant that Purity of Intention, vvhich is only to be had by Pure Praier, are in Gods esteeme of litle or no valevv: The principall motiues of them being no other then such as [Page 215] corrupt nature is likely to suggest. Ochinus therfore con­tinuing in the same neglect, vvas by one of his Brethren prophetically vvarned, that he must expect some terrible issue therof, in these vvordes: Caue ne te Ordo eu [...]mat: that is, Take heede that our Order be not herafter constrei­ued to vomit thee out of it. The vvhich vnhappily fell out: For notvvithstanding all his other specious qualities and endovvments, he first forsaking God, vvas aftervvard forsaken by him, and became a vvretched Antitrinita­rian Apostate. And it is very probable that the greatest part of the Apostates of these times (such I meane as haue formerly liued in Religious Orders) doe ovve their Apostacy and Perdition to no other cause so much, as to such neglect and Apostacy first from Praier: The which holy Exercise if they had continued, they vvould neuer haue bene weary of their habit first, and aftervvard of their Faith.

CHAP. VIII.

§. 1. Superiours ought carefully to examine the disposi­tions of those that they admitt to Religion.

§. 2. 3. Great danger to Communities from Loose Spi­rits.

§. 4. 5. Other ill Qualities to be auoyded.

§. 6. 7. 8. 9. Of a good Nature. What is, and how to be prised.

§. 10. 11. Inconueniences by admitting Actiue Spirits into Contemplatiue Religions.

§. 12. 13. 14. 15. Sufficient time for Recollection is to be allowed to all Religious.

§. 16. Superiours will be accountable for disorders in their flock.

1. NOw one of the principall Points of a Supe­riours Care for the vvellfare of his Commu­nity consists in prouiding or admitting into it only such Spirits and dispositions, as are likely to promote the good of it, by liuing according to the Spirit of it. And in this all such Officers and Counsellours are con­cerned, to vvhom the lavves haue referred the Exa­mination and tryall of such as offer themselues to a Re­gular life, and are aftervvard, vpon their Approbation, to be Professed: And a greater consideration of this Point is more necessary in these daies, then anciētly it was: For it is not now as in our holy Fathers time, vvhē incorrigible Persons might be expelled the Congregation.

[Page 217]2. It is not, I suppose, needfull to aduise such as are in those Offices to take care hovv they admitt loose Spirits into Religion among them, vvho vvill not so much as intend God or his seruice: All vvhose Actions haue no other Motiue but either feare of Pennance or hope of gaining Reputation, Preferments &c: Whose bodies are Prisoners in Religion, but their Minds and Desires vvandring in the vvorld: Who must enioy all Priuiled­ges and corporall helpes equally vvith the best, yea and generally vse them most vvastfully vvithout considera­tion of others: Who finding no tast or contentment in Spirituall matters, are euen forced to seeke satisfaction in sensuall pleasures, and for the passing of the time to frame Designes, to raise and maintaine factions, and this especially against those that they see doe most intend God, on vvhom they vvill cast from of themselues all the Burdens of a Regular life: Who vvill thinke them­selues excused from all Duties for the least corporall In­commodity: Who vvill desire and endeauour to make others like themselues, that their party and povver may be greater: Lastly vvho reape so litle good to their ovvne soules, and are likely to doe so much preiudice to others, that probably it had bene much better for them to haue continued in the vvorld; the state of Religion only ser­uing to encrease their guilt and misery.

3. Such loose Spirits are vvorse in a Community vvhere the knovvledge of true Spirituality is common, then in other places: Because there they are vvillfully naught, and doe resist amendment. If by the seuerity of lavves and Constitutions they may come to be kept in [Page 218] some tolerable order, yet this reaches only to the Ex­teriour, & lasts no longer then the Superiours eyes are vpon them. And indeed the Superiours themselues vvill in all probability feele the greatest smart from such vndue Admissions, being likely to find dayly great bit­ternes from their obstinacy. Such loose Spirits are the cause of such a burdensome multiplicity of Lawes, all vvhich notvvithstanding are litle auayleable for their amendment, and yet doe abridge the due Liberty of Spirit necessary to deuout vvellminded Soules, nourishing Scrupulosity &c. in them.

4. Let the best care that is possible be vsed, notvvith­standing some vnfit persons vvill through easines, par­tiall affection or other respects in the Examiners, slip in. If therfore those vvho are apparently bad be receiued, vvhat a Community vvill there be prouided? Many that seeme good, vvill proue bad: but seldome or neuer vvill those that appeare bad, become good. God indeed can change the vvorst: But yet an vncertaine hope in ex­traordinary Grace is not to be relyed vpon, especially vvhere publick good is concerned.

5. Generally there is great feruour in Soules at their first entrance into Religion. Therfore if any one shevv vnrulines, Obstinacy and Indeuotion during their Nouiceship, small good is to be expected from them.

6. A litle Deuoutnes vvill not serue to counteruaile ill inclinations to lying, dissembling, factiousnes, an humour of calummating &c: For a great, and scarse to be hoped for measure of Grace vvill be requisite to sub­due such pernicious Qualities. On the contrary a good [Page 219] Nature, euen vvhere there is not so much Deuotion, yet vvill beare vp a Soule, and make her a tolerable member of a Community. It is likevvise a great Dispo­sition for Grace: vvhich it may vvell be hoped, vvill one day follovv, and that such an one vvill become Deuout: Especially this may be hoped for in those that haue na­turally a good sound Iudgment, vvhich is much to be con­sidered.

7. Novv by a good Nature I meane, not such an one as is generally in the vvorld stiled so, to vvit, a facility and easines to grant a request, or to comply vvith others. On the contrary, for as much as regards a Coenobiticall life, I account such to be an ill nature, being easily seduced and peruerted. By a good Nature therefore in this place I meane such an one as is indued vvith Modesty, Gentle­nes, Quietnes, Humility, Patience, loue of Truth, and other such Morally good Qualities, vvhich are good Dis­positions for Christian Perfection. Novv a person of an ill Nature that vvill make a good shevv, out of hope to steale a Profession, ought the rather for his dissimulation to be reiected.

8. And indeed Subtile Natures are much to be taken heede of. Some Nouices vvill behaue themselues so cunningly, as at the end of their Probation, none can be able to produce any speciall accusation against them, & yet they may in their conscience beleiue them to be vnfitt. In this case euery one is to follovv their ovvne iudgement: And especiall heede is to be taken of the iudgement of the Master or Mistrisse of the Nouices, who are most to be credited, as hauing the opportunity & [Page 220] meanes to espy and penetrate more deeply into their In­teriour Dispositions.

9. This Goodnes, or vertuousnes of Nature is an Essentiall Point, and farre more to be regarded then those Acci­dentall ones, as strength of Bodily complexion, Acute­nes of Wit, Gracefullnes of Behauiour, skill in Sing­ing, Nobility, Portion &c. And particularly for this last, hovv far Religious Soules ought to be from regarding riches or gaine in matters of this Nature, or for such carnall Ends to admit those that are vnfit, or vvhom God hath not sent, The Generall Decree of the Church in the first Oecumenicall Councell of Lateran (can. 64.) vvill shevv; besides the practise of Antiquity, as vvee may reade in an Epistle of S. Augustin. Surely the only vvay of founding Conuents securely, euen in regard of Tem­poralities, is by making choice only of those to vvhom God hath giuen fitting dispositions, vvherby vvee may engage his Omnipotence in their preseruation.

10. Those therfore vpon vvhose Suffrages the Ad­mission and Profession of New-comers doe depend, are to consider that they are intrusted by the vvhole Congrega­tion vvith a matter of such consequence, as not only the present, but future vvellfare or ruine of Conuents is interessed in their proceedings: all vvhich trust they shall betray, if any vndue consideration of friendship, kind­red, gaine, &c. or a zeale of multiplying Conuents (vvhich is but carnall) shall corrupt their iudgments.

11. Surely therfore in all reason none should be ad­mitted into Communities professing the aspiring to Contemplation, but only such as are disposed therto; [Page 221] and that are vvilling, yea desirous to spend their vvhole Liues in Solitude, Praier & Regular Obseruances, with­out any designes or thoughts of euer being employed abroad, (yet alvvayes vvith an entire submission to the Ordinances of Superiours.)

12. And indeed (as vvas said before concerning Supe­riours, that Actiue Spirits being to direct the Contempla­tiue, doe endanger the extinguishing of the Spirit of Contemplation: so likevvise) if such be vvithout choice admitted, the same mischeife vvill follovv. Yea I am persvvaded that many Actiue Spirits, though of a Good, seemly, outvvard cariage, are no lesse harmfull to a Com­munity, then a lesser number of loose Spirits. And the reason is, because by their good Exteriour shevv they vvill seeme vvorthy of Superiority, to vvhich also their Activity vvill incline them. And those are they indeed, (saith Thaulerus) that are Persecutours of Contemplation: for hauing a good opinion of themselues and their ovvne vvayes (vvhich loose Spirits haue not) they thinke them­selues euen obliged to depresse those other good soules that doe not iudge those externall exercises and fashions suitable to their Profession. And for this reason they vvill by faction seeke to encrease their number: yea and to strengthen their ovvne party, they vvill not spare to ioyne vvith loose Spirits, for their ovvne Interests yeild­ing to their disorders. Neither vvhen they haue com­passed their Ends by the ruine of the Spirit of Contem­plation, vvill Vnquietnes cease: For in a Community vvholly consisting of Actiue Spirits, factions and partiali­ties for seuerall Ends and designes will neuer be wāting.

[Page 222]13. Novv the same care that Superiours ought to haue about the choice and Admission of vertuous and fitt soules into Communities: must be continued in the ma­naging and directing of them being admitted. Great care therfore is to be taken that the misbehauiour of Nouices doe not proceed from vvant of knovvledge & Instruction in matters of the Spirit: That so it may appeare, that if they doe not vvell, it is for vvāt of good vvill, and not of Light. Now it is not to be expected that Nouices should be perfect: it vvill suffise that they seriously tend to it, by a constant pursuance of Inter­nall Praier and Abstraction of Life.

14. Aboue all things therfore Superiours ought to allovv to their subiects a competent time dayly for their Recollections, vvhich is the foode of the soule: and to deny vvhich vvould be a greater Tyrāny, then to refuse corporall foode to slaues after their trauaile. He de­serues not the name of a Religious man (saith Caietan:) No not of a Christian (saith Thaulerus) that doth not euery day spend some reasonable space in his Interiour. S. Ber­nard vvould not excuse euen Pope Eugenius himselfe in the midst of those continually most distractiue vveighty affaires of the Popedome from this duty. The vvant vvherof is more harmfull to the Soule, then that of cor­porall foode is to the Body: For he that fasts one day, besides the present paine he finds, vvill the next haue a better and more eager appetite: But a soule that through neglect is depriued of her dayly foode of Praier, vvill the next day haue a lesse stomack and disposition to it: and so in time vvill come vvillingly and euen vvith pleasure: [Page 223] to starue in Spirit: And to such neglect and loathing of Prayer she vvill come, if Superiours doe hinder, or indeed not encourage her to a constant exercise of it.

15. Novv this care of Superiours must extend it selfe as vvell to Lay-brethren or Sisters, as those of the Quire: For they also haue the same obligation to aspire to Con­templation: And if the appointed Vocall Prayers of the Diuine Office vvithout the ioyning of dayly Recolle­ctions vvill not auaile to procure in these the Spirit of Recollectednes; much lesse vvill those short Prayers or Of­fices to vvhich the others are obliged.

16. To conclude this point: It concernes most deeply Su­periours to take care that their subiects liue according to their Profession and obligation: for if it should be by their fault that they faile, it vvill be no excuse to the subiects, but a great part of the burden and punishment vvill light vpon Superiours. And it vvere far better they had neuer come vnder their Direction, but stayd in the vvorld, vvhere not hauing the like obligation to the Perfection of Christian vertues, their guilt vvould haue beene the lesse. Hence S. Augustin saith; That as he neuer savv better soules then those in Religion, so likewise he neuer saw worse. And the reason is, because it argues a most maliciously ill habit of soule, vvhen in the midst of so great Light, and such helps to Piety, spirituall sloath and Tepidity raignes. And vvhere Tepidity is in Religion, although carnall open sins may be auoided, yet the more dangerous sins of the Spirit, Pride, Factiousnes, Enuy &c. doe find occasions of being raised and nourished, perhaps more then in the vvorld. Adde herunto that [Page 224] irreuerences and profaning of the Sacraments are not so common in the vvorld, vvhere the obligations and com­modity of participating are not so frequent. And lastly, vvhich is most considerable, those vvho in Religion are sluggish and indeuout, doe grovv continually vvorse & vvorse, being more and more hardned by the daily heartlesse Exercise of Praier and Tepide Communions: For vvhere the Sacaments doe not produce the good effects for vvhich God gaue them, they doe occasionally en­crease hardnes of heart and impenitency: Hence saith Thaulerus, It were better to take into ones body a million of Deuills, then once to take the Body of our Lord, being in an vnfitt disposition. And so it is a very extraordi­nary and almost miraculous thing if God giue the Grace of a new conuersion to Soules that in Religion are become habitually Tepide and stained vvith knovvne impurity, for they being insensible of their soules good in the midst of all aduantages possible to be had, cannot by any change to a better state be amended: And ther­fore (it is to be feared) such doe generally dye in the state vvherin they liued. Wheras in the world an ill liuer may farre more probably meete with helpes of Conuer­sion by change of state, place &c. or by sicknes: vvheru­pon S. Bernard professed, That he would not doubt to giue a present Absolution to the most enormous sinner liuing in the world, if he would promise to enter into a Religious life: But vvhat hopes can be of him that after he has left the vvorld, so habitually neglects God? What change, what nevv occasions can be afforded to him for his Conuersion?

CHAP. IX.

§. 1. Aduices to Nouices.

§. 2. 3. 4. 5. Of the Feruor Nouitius: Why God giues it at the Beginning of our Conuersion. And what vse is to be made of it.

§. 6. 7. How they are to behaue themselues after their Nouice-ship.

§. 8. Superiours ought not to employ young Religious in Distractiue Employments.

§. 9. How they are to be ordred about their studies.

1. THERE vvil be occasion in the follovving Treatises to speake of seuerall speciall Duties of Religious Persons, as How they are to behaue them­selues in Exteriour Offices, in Sicknes, Refections &c. I vvill therfore content my selfe to adioine here a few Directions and Cautions addressed particularly to Be­ginners or Nouices in Religion.

2. Daily experience confirmes that vvhich Spirituall Writers obserue, that God in great Goodnes to soules, does vsually vpon their first Conuersion bestovv vpon them a great Feruour in Diuine & Religious Duties, vvhich therfore our Holy Father calls Feruorem Noui­tium. Yea euen naturally the inbred liking that our infirme Nature has to all Nouelty and change, causes a more then ordinary pleasure, diligence & earnestnes in any New-begun Employment.

3. To this purpose there is in the Annalls of the Fran­ciscans [Page 226] related a passage touching a deuout Brother called Michael Magothi, by vvhich vvee may learne the ground and intention of Allmighty God in bestovving such a Feruour. The Story is this. There vvas one of the Reli­gious Brethren in his Cōuent that obserued of himselfe, that ordinarily vvhen he vvas in any Externall Em­ployment of Study, Labour &c, God did preuent his Soule with his blessings of Sweetnes, and an affection often­der Sensible Deuotion: the vvhich vvhensoeuer he set him­selfe purposely to Prayer, forsooke him. Wherupon he addressed himselfe to this good Brother Michael to de­mand his Counsell. Who ansvvered him thus, When you are vvalking at leasure in the Market-place, thin­king of nothing, there meetes you a man vvith a vessell of vvine to sell: He inuites you to buy it, much com­mending the excellency of it. And the better to persvvade you, he offers you gratis a small glasse of it, to the end that being delighted vvith the colour and fragrancy of it, you may be more tempted to buy the vvhole ves­sell, vvhich, you must expect, vvill cost you very deare. Euen so our Lord Iesus vvhilst your thoughts are vvandring vpon other matters, either in reading, or hearing a Sermon, or vvorking, by a secret Inspiration inuites you povverfully (instilling a fevv drops of his svveetnes into your heart) to tast how delicious he is. But this is but transitory, being offred not to satiate or inebriate you, but only to allure you to his seruice. And therfore if you expect any more, you must consider, it is to be sold, and a deare price paid for it. For Spirituall Svveetnes can be obtained no other vvay but by [Page 227] corporall affliction, nor Rest but by labour.

4. Good Soules therfore are often to be exhorted to make good vse of this Feruour, and to improue it diligēt­ly (yet vvith Discretion) therby to produce in their hearts an vnshaken Resolution to proceede in the vvaies of the Diuine loue, notvvithstanding any contradi­ction or paine that may happen. They must not expect that this Feruour vvill be lasting: for being seated in the inferiour, grosser part of the Soule, it is not of long con­tinuance, since it may easily be altered, euen by any change made in the Bodily humours, or by Externall occurrents. So that if it be not vvell managed, and good vse made of it to fixe holy and resolute Desires in the Spirit (vvhich are more lasting, as not depending on the Body or outvvard things) it is iustly to be feared, that God will not bestovv the like aftervvard.

5. A Nouice-ship is a golden time for the learning and practising matters of the Spirit. In that short space therfore a Religious Person is to raise a stock for his vvhole future life: So that if a Nouice-ship be negligently & vnprouidently spent, he vvill scarce euer haue the like opportunity to promote his spiri­tuall Good. For after his Profession he vvill, besides Liberty, haue many more distractions, more freedome of Conuersation, and more entercourse vvith the Nevves & affaires abroad. Besides he vvill not vtterly be out of danger of some Offices & employments, for the discharge of vvhich some perhaps vvill suppose him already fit & prepared in Spirit.

6. At the going out of the Nouice-ship, the person is [Page 228] to be very carefull vvith vvhom he conuerses, so as to become an invvard acquaintance: least being so tender as he is yet, he happen quickly to be corrupted vvith the Society of negligent, Tepide Companions. For want of this care too oft it happens, that all the good gotten in a Nouice-ship is cleane lost in a short time: since vsually things are no other vvay preserued but by the same meanes that they vvere first gotten. Therfore since it vvas by Praier & Abstraction of Life that a Nouice procured all the litle proportion of Diuine Loue that he is possessed of, he must expect that it will no other vvay be preserued. For this Reason, it is ve­ry requisite that the Superiour should appoint such an one his Companions.

7. A Soule must consider that it is not a litle dili­gence, nor yet the space of a yeare or tvvo, that vvill, ordinarily speaking, suffise to get an Habit and Stability in Mortification and Prayer. And therfore a young Be­ginner ought to imprint deeply in his heart this most im­portant Truth and Aduice, That his Duty is neuer to abate or slacken, but rather continually to encrease in firme­nesse of minde and Resolution to proceede coura­geously during the vvhole course of his follovving Life in the Internall Exercises of Spirit. For he is to consi­der, that his Nouice-ship being once ended, he must neuer expect such aduantages therto aftervvard, such Stillnes, such vvant of interruptions and Tentations, such cleare Light and such calmnes of Passions, as he en­ioyed before. Therfore least by a change of his State from a rigorous solitude and silence to ordinary conuer­sings, [Page 229] and perhaps Employments, or (hovveuer) studies, he should come to endanger a decay in Spirit, and so be miserably reduced to his first naturall State, or vvorse: (for indeed, vvorse it vvill be, if such a decay happen:) let him be very vigilant and industrious to auoid all things that may hinder him from prosecuting Internall Prayer, and let him be carefull to continue according to the vtmost of his ability to vse all Abstraction possible, as if he vvere still in his Nouice-ship.

8. Indeed Superiours ought to be very carefull not to put their young Religious into Distractiue Employments or studies, either sooner, or more then can vvell stand vvith their spirit, or before they be reasonably vvell grounded in Prayer. For hovv is it possible for an imper­fect Beginner, hauing such hindrances, to make pro­gresse in Spirit? Wheras if a good foundation of Spiri­tuall Prayer vvere once laid, such a soule by being ap­plyed to his studies or Externall Offices, vvill suffer no decay; yea moreouer he vvill probably proffit in Studies aboue the proportion of his naturall abilities: by reason that Passions, vvhich much distract and darken euen the naturall Vnderstanding, vvill be much abated by Prayer: And moreouer he vvill vndertake his studies as a Duty and matter of Conscience, vvhich vvill en­crease his attention and diligence. Yet perhaps by rea­son of his Abstinence and Exercises in Spirit, his bodily strength vvill not be vigorous enough to enable him to support very much study: And if it should proue so, the losse is not great, since the Diuine Loue vvill sufficiently recompence all other vvants. So it fared vvith our holy [Page 230] Father vvho, as S. Gregory saies, vvas sapienter indoctus, his vvisedome consisted in despising all learning vvhich vvas not helpfull or not necessary to his aduancement in the Diuine Loue, vvhich alone is the true Wisedome and learning.

9. Truly so great harme comes to young Religious after a Nouice-ship vvell spent, by being put immediatly to Schooles, & for that purpose dispensed vvith, in a great measure, about their Monasticall Duties of Prayer, Abstraction, Silence &c: That it vvere very good and fit, vvhen Persons of tender Age come to demand the Habit, to put them of: and in the first place to informe them vvell about Prayer: and to endeauour to persvvade them, that before they vndertake a Religious State, they should dispatch their course of Philosophy and Di­uinity, and during such a course to vse as much Abstra­ction and Recollection as vvell they can, for vvhich they vvill then find more time then if they had bene Religious, because they shall not be interrupted by the Quire & other Regular Obseruances: So that if Studies be then a hindrance to Prayer, hovv much more vvould they be so, in case they had bene Religious? Hauing done all this, then in Gods name let them demand the Habit. By this meanes good Soules vvould not be inter­rupted in their Religious Course, nor put in danger ne­uer againe to recouer the Spirit of Prayer. And if fol­lovving such Directions they should come to dye before the time of taking the Habit, they may assure themselues that in Gods account they shall be esteemed as Religious Soules, vvholly consecrated vnto him.

CHAP. X.

§. 1. 2. Of the Obligation of English Benedictius to the Mis­sion. The sublime Perfection of that Employment.

§. 3. 4. The care of it belongs only to Religious Superiours: and not at all to particular Religious.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. Great danger of seeking that Employment. And false pretences to obteine it &c.

§. 12. How the sayd Charge is to be performed.

1. IT will not be amisse to adioyne to this Section concerning a Religious State, certaine Conside­rations & Aduices touching a subiect, vvhich though it pertaine not to Religious persons in generall, yet is an­nexed to our Profession in the English Congregation of S. Benedicts Order: and that is the Apostolicall Mission into England, the vvhich all that professe doe by a particular Vow oblige themselues to vndertake, whensoeuer they shall be commanded by Superiours.

2. An Employment this is of high importance, and most sublime Perfection if duly vndertaken and administred. But the care therof only belongs to Superiours: And indeed it is vvorthy both of their Prudence and zeale: by a right managing vvherof they may procure great Glory to God, and good to Soules miserably mislead by infinite & most pernicious Errours.

3. But as for particular Religious, they are merely to be passiue in the busines: they are to submit them­selues to the vndergoing of all the paines, incommo­dities, and dangers of it, whensoeuer it shall be impo­sed [Page 232] on them. But this being only an accessary obliga­tion and Capacity, they are not to suppose that vvhen God giues them a Vocation to a Religious Life, that this doth make any alteration at all in their Essentiall Designe, most secure and profitable to their ovvne Soules, vvhich is the leading a Solitary, Deuout and ab­stracted Life, and therin aspiring to Contemplation: This only must they aime at, and to this must they or­der all their thoughts and Actions, as if they vvere all their liues long to be imprisoned in their Cloysters. Ther­fore neither entring, nor aftervvards must they enter­taine any Thoughts or designes about any thing that is out of the limits of their Conuents, in vvhich, for as much as concernes themselues, their desire and inten­tion must be to liue and dye. Particularly they ought to banish out of their minds all meditations and incli­nations to goe in Mission into England. Yea if they vvill indeed comply vvith their Essentiall Profession, they must resolue, as much as lyes in them,, and vvith­out offence to God or disobedience to their Supe­riours, to preuent such an Employment (of vvhich they cannot vvithout Pride thinke themselues wor­thy, or able to encounter all the Tentations and dan­gers accompanying it) simply and sincerely confining all their Thoughts and affections to that Life of Soli­tude, Abstraction and Prayer vvhich they haue vow­ed, and in vvhich their Soules vvill find truest com­fort and Security.

4. Consequently neither must they (vvith an in­tention to approue vnto their Superiours their fitnes [Page 233] for that Charge, therby as it vvere inuiting them to make vse of them for it) apply themselues after such a manner to the Studies proper for such an Employ­ment, as in any measure therby to hinder or inter­rupt the reading of such Bookes as are most beneficiall to their Soules: and much lesse to hinder their dayly serious Recollections. In case their Superiours (vvho are only concerned in that busines) shall require of them to apply themselues diligently to such Studies as may fit them for the Mission, they are obliged therin to sub­mit themselues to Obedience. Yet euen in that case, if they find that much time cannot be spent in them with­out hurt to their Spirit, and a neglect or preiudice to their appointed Recollections, they ought to acquaint their Superiours vvith their Case, vvho no doubt will preferre the good and aduancement of their Soules by Solitude, Purity of Spirit and Internall Prayer, be­fore any other Considerations whatsoeuer. Yea they vvill iudge Prayer to be a better disposition, and to pro­cure a greater enablement, euen for such a Calling, then Study: And vvill take heed hovv they send any abroad that for their Studies neglect their Prayer. For what Blessing from God can such hope vpon any En­deauours of theirs? Is it not more likely that them­selues vvill be peruerted, then others by them con­uerted?

5. It cannot easily be imagined, hovv mischeiuous to many Soules the neglect of such Aduices may be. Some vvill perhaps haue a mind to take the Habit for that End & intent principally of going aftervvard in­to [Page 234] England. What miserable Distractions vvould such a Resolution cause during all the time of their abode in their Conuent? For all their thoughts almost, all their Affections, hopes and Designes vvill be caryed abroad into another Countrey: so that the place of their Pro­fession vvill be esteemed a place of Exile to them. And so far vvill they be from procuring a Diuine Light and Grace to enable them for so terrible an Employment by the meanes of Prayer, that Prayer and Solitude vvill be distastfull to them. Regular Obseruances will be a burden, and any thing that may delay their In­tention: vvhich they say is of Conuerting Soules; but (alas) perhaps with the losse, or at least imminent dan­ger of their ovvne.

6. Nay some that at the Beginning haue simply and vvith a good Intention taken the Habit, yeilding af­tervvard to the spirit of Tepidity (the vvhich turnes their happy Solitude into a Prison) vvill looke vpon the Mission as a meanes to free themselues from their Profession, and therfore vvill not feare to vse all meanes by friends and sollicitations of their Superiours, that they may be suffred to quit it and to goe in Mission? God only knovves into vvhat dangers and Tentations they vvillfully thrust themselues, being vtterly vnpro­uided of Light or Grace to resist them. And vvhat other issue can be expected, but that God should giue them vp to su [...]h Tentations, vnto vvhich (out of a sen­suall Affection to the vvorld, Pride and a vvearines of Prayer) they haue exposed themselues, vvithout any Call from him, yea contrary to his vvill?

[Page 235]7. Novv it is not only particular Religious, but much more Superiours that ought to thinke themselues con­cerned most deeply in these matters. For in case such vnvvary rash Soules shall come thus to destroy them­selues, they annot but knovv that those Soules shall be required at their hands. They ought therfore to roote out of the hear [...]s of their Subiects all such pernicious Designes, by shevving, that they esteeme them least wor­thy that are most forward to offer themselues. And great care and vvarines ought they to vse hovv they send, or permitt any to goe abroad, before they be sufficiently furnished (not so much vvith Learning, as) vvith the Spirit of Mortification and Prayer, and vvith zeale pro­ceeding from an established Charity, that so they may not by vndertaking and executing Actiue employ­ments, preiudice, and perhaps ruine their Contempla­tiue state.

8. Our Examples ought to be our first Ho [...]y Conuerters of England, vvho did not vndertake such a Charge, till they vvere grovvne old in the Exercices of Solitude and Contemplation: And not then, till an absolute command vvas imposed on them by the Supreme Past [...]ur: And in the Execution of their Charge, they neuer suf­fred their Labours and Sollicitudes to dispence vvith them for the continuing of their accustomed Austeri­ties and the Exercise of Prayer: but borrovved from their Employments as much time, as could possibly be allovved, to spend in Abstraction, Solitude, and Contemplation. Yea though they conuersed only vvith Pagans and Barbarous Soules, yet so zealous vvere they [Page 236] of their Monasticall Life and Profession, that they vvould not so much as quit the Habit: And vvhen they vvere consecrated and exalted to the Episcopall function, yet still they retained both the Exercises and fashions of Monasticall, Contemplatiue Persons, as S. Bede decla­reth.

9. Moreouer in latter times Experience hath vvit­nessed, that some humble and deuout, though not so learned Missioners haue prospered better in Con­uerting Soules, then the most acute and cunning Controuertists: And haue by their Humility, Mo­desty and edifying Conuersation, but especially by the practise and teaching of Internall Prayer, gained to Ca­tholicke Vnity those Soules, that many other most skillfull in Disputes, and vvithall enabled vvith Experience▪ haue for long time in vaine attempted.

10. Notvvithstanding all this, I doe not deny but that to a Religious foule an Impulse, and interiour inui­tation may come from God to goe into the Mission. This is possible: but most certaine it is, that such an Inui­tation vvill very rarely (if euer) come, but to Soules esta­blished in a Spirituall Life. And in this case it vvill be sufficient for the Person to propose the matter humbly and modestly to his Superiours: yet vvithall vvith an entire Resignation, and almost a desire to be refused. If it be Gods vvill actually to make vse of such a Religious Person in an Employment of that nature, he vvill no doubt facilitate the busines, and in his ovvne time in­cline the vvill of the Superiour (vvithout the subiects sollicitation) to permit him to goe.

[Page 237]11. But vvhat euer pretences are made by others for going into England, vvhether it be conuerting of Soules (and particularly of some speciall freinds or Kindred:) or of Recouery of Bodily Health, gaining of tem­porall Commodity to the Cōmunity &c: The true Motiue [...] indeed ordinarily proceed from Tepidity: The vvhich Tepidity ought to be corrected by Prayer and Perseue­rance in Religious Duties, and not further encreased, and perhaps changed into open Libertinage and Profane­nesse by such an Exemption from all Regularity and Order: by vvhich a poore, vnprouided, sensuall Soule will become deeply engaged in the vvorld, exposed to innumerable Tentations without Spirituall Armour, and as it vvere cast headlong into a Pitt of Darknes, and of a forgetfullnes of all things that concerne a Holy Religious Life.

12. As for their obligations in the discharge of that so terrible an Employment (vvhen they are once engaged in it) it vvill suffise to put them in mind, that the sayd Charge doth not dispense vvith the essentiall Obligations that lye vpon them as Reli­gious. If in their Conuents they ought to be Hum­ble, abstinent, deuout &c: much more ought they, being still Religious, but now exposed to innumerable Tentations, to encrease a vigilance ouer themselues, to auoyd all vnnecessary vaine Conuersations, all sollicitudes about externall things &c: and to pra­ctise all possible Abstraction of life, Solitude, both Externall and Internall: But especially not to ne­glect the principall Duty of all, vvhich is Pure Spiri­tuall [Page 238] Prayer, vvhich alone can procure Security to their ovvne Soules, and Blessings vpon others. For surely if Prayer be necessary in a Conuent: much more is it necessary to such Persons liuing in the vvorld.

THE END OF THE FIRST TREATISE.

THE SECOND TREATISE OF MORTIFICATION.

THE SECOND TREATISE Of the First Instrument of Perfection, viz. Mortification,

THE FIRST SECTION Of Mortification in Generall: And of Necessar & Voluntary Mortifications.

CHAP. I.

§. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. All the duties of a Contemplatiue life re­duced to two heads, viz. 1. Mortification. 2. Prayer. And the grounds of that diuision.

§. 6. The necessity of each of these.

§ 7. How they doe aduance each the other.

§. 8. &c. Of the two, Prayer is the more noble.

1. HAVING so largely treated of the nature & end of a Contemplatiue Life in gene­rall, as likewise of the only Diuine Ma­ster from whom it is to be learned; & [Page 242] the Schoole of Solitude in vvhich he giues his directions; Order requires that vvee novv treate of the speciall Instructions touching the meanes or instruments con­ducing to the obtaining of the supernaturall end as­pired to by vs. Concerning vvhich our discourse vvill not need to be so diffused, considering the large scope that vvee haue allovved to ourselues in the first gene­rall Treatise, in vvhich mention also vvas made of much of that vvhich is to follovv.

2. Seuerall Mysticall Authours, each one abounding in his ovvne sence, and raising a Frame of Spirituali­ty as suited best to his ovvne Imagination and designe, haue made seuerall Partitions of the Duties of a spi­rituall Life: And it is not a matter much considerable vvhich of them should be preferred. But to the end the best ease and Helpe may be afforded to the De­uout Readers Memory, the Diuision of them shall be the Shortest that may be,, yet sufficiently and clearly enough comprehending all necessary Duties, namely vnder these tvvo Heads of 1. Mortification. 2. Prayer.

3. Now to the end that the grounds of the fitnes of this Diuision may be better vnderstood: vvee are to remember, that the glorious End of a Contempla­tiue Life (to vvit, Vnion in Spirit vvith God by Loue) is entirely supernaturall and Diuine, so that it is im­possible for Man by any naturall ability and strength, although he vvere free from sins, to attaine vnto it: And much more is this impossible to him in his pre­sent state, since he is naturally most auerse from it, being vvholly possessed and filled vvith nothing but [Page 243] Selfe-Loue, Propriety and Pride, absolutly inconsistent vvith such an Vnion. Therfore the foundation of all our spirituall Duties must be a true knowledge, 1. Of ourselues, our ovvne Nothing, our vnproffitablenes, vilenes and misery, vvhich is to be the Obiect of our Auersion and Hatred: And 2. Of the allsufficiency, vni­uersall Being, infinite Perfections, and incomprehen­sible Beauty and Goodnes of God, vvho is to be the only Obiect of our Contemplation and Loue: And consequently vpon this Knovvledge all our endeauours towards this End (being directed by a Diuine Light and assisted by Diuine Grace) must be employed, first in remouing those impediments, and next consequently in approching directly to God, an immediate vnion with vvhom is aspired to, as the only End of our creation, & perfection of our Intellectiue Nature. Wee must renounce & fly frō ourselues, that vvee may dravv neare vnto God: Wee must destroy Selfe-loue in our soules, that so the Diuine Loue may be raised & increased in them. Now it is by Mortification that selfe loue & all other our naturall deordinations, vvhich hinder a Di­uine vnion, are remoued; And it is by Prayer that vvee directly tend to a Diuine vnion. By the former vvee exercise all duties & practise all vertues vvhich regard ourselues: (for vertues, are so far only to be esteemed vvorthy of that name, in as much, & as far as they are mortificatory to our inordinate passions and affections, as Humility of Pride, Patience of Anger, Temperance of sensuall desires &c.) And Prayer (in the notion in vvhich it is here vnderstood) includes all our [Page 244] duties directly pertaining to God, as comprehending all manner of internall Actuations & operations of the soule tovvards God, by the vnderstanding contempla­ting & admiring him: by the vvill & Affections, ado­ring, obeying, louing & adhering to him; & in a vvord the vvhole soule resigning & submitting it selfe & the body also, vvith all things belonging to eath of them, to be disposed according to his diuine vvill, both for time & eternity.

4. This Diuision deserues the rather to be approued, because Hesychius an Ancient, Illuminated Monke in his Treatise de Puritate Cordis, hath conformably redu­ced all spirituall duties to. 1. Temperance. 2. And Prayer. By temperance vnderstanding the very same that is here meant by Mortification; for as he expresses his mea­ning; This temperance is a generall abstaining from all things that vvould any vvay disorder the affections, or obscure the light of the soule; He calls it likevvise (Custodiam Cordis;) A guard or watch set ouer the heart, forcing it to repell all vaine & vnproffitable thoughts, the vvhich if they be too freely admitted, doe hinder from obseruing the snares & suggestions of the deuill or of our Corrupt nature, & doe vvithall disturbe the tran­quillity of the soule.

5. In these tvvo Duties therefore of Mortification & Prayer all good is comprehended: For by the exercise of Mortification those tvvo generall most deadly enemies of our soules, selfe loue & Pride are combatted & subdued; to vvit, by the meanes of those tvvo fandamentall Chri­stian vertues of Diuine Charity & Humility. And Prayer [Page 245] exercised in vertue of these tvvo vvill of both by way im­petration obtaine, & also vvith a direct Efficiency ingraft a nevv Diuine Principle & nature in vs, vvhich is the Diuine Spirit, the vvhich vvill become a new life vnto vs, & the very soule of our soules, by degrees raising vs higher & higher out of our corrupt nature, till at last vvee be made one with God, by an vnion as perfect, con­stant & immediate, as in this fraile life an intellectiue soule is capable of.

6. And both these duties of mortification & Prayer are so absolutely necessary, that they must neither of them euer cease, but continually encrease in perfection & vertue to the end of our liues. For though selfe-loue & pride may by mortification be subdued; yet as long as vvee are imprisoned in mortall bodies of flesh & blood, they vvill neuer be totally rooted out of vs, but that euen the most perfect soules vvill find in themselues matter enough for further mortification. And againe our vnion with God by Prayer can neuer either be so con­stant, but that it vvill be interrupted, so as that the soule vvill fall from her height back some degrees into nature againe; nor is there any degree of it so perfect, pure & spirituall, but that it may, & by exercise vvill become yet more & more pure vvithout all limits.

7. The diligent Exercise of each of these doth much aduance the practise of the other. For as Mortification is a good disposition to prayer, yea so necessary that a sen­suall immortified soule cannot raise herselfe vp so much as to looke to God vvith any cordiall desire to please him, or to loue & be resigned to him, & much lesse to be per­fectly [Page 246] vnited to him, so likevvise by Prayer the soule ob­taines light to discouer vvhatsoeuer inordinate affe­ctions in her are to be mortified, & also strength of spi­rituall grace actually & effectually to subdue them.

8. Hence it may easily appeare that of these tvvo, Prayer is much the more valuable & noble Exercise 1. Because in prayer of Contemplation consists the essentiall happines both of this life, & that vvhich is to come: So that Mortification regards Prayer as the meanes dispo­sing to an end; for therfore a deuout soule is obliged to mortify her inordinate Affections, to the end she may therby be disposed to an vnion vvith God. 2. Because Mortifications are neuer duly & proffitably vndergone but only in vertue of prayer. Whereas possible it may be, that Prayer alone may be considerably aduanced vvithout any other notable mortifications, in case that God haue prouided none for the soule. 3. Because Prayer is vvithall in it selfe the most excellent & effectuall mor­tification; for in & by it the most secret risings of inor­dinate passions are contradicted; yea the mind & supe­riour vvill are vvholly abstracted & eleuated aboue na­ture, so that for the time all passions are quieted, & all creatures (especially our selues) transcended, forgot­ten & in a sort annihilated.

9. Notvvithstanding in case that God, as he seldome failes, doe prouide for vs occasions of mortification out of Prayer: If vvee be negligent in making good vse of them to the promoting of our selues in spirit, vvee shall decrease both in grace & Prayer. As on the contrary by a good vse of them, vvee shall both certainly & speedi­ly [Page 247] be aduanced in the vvaies of the spirit. So that neither of them alone is to be relied on. Mortification without Prayer vvill be but superficiall, or (it is to be feared) hypo­criticall; And Prayer with a neglect of mortification, will be heartles, distracted & of small vertue.

10. The subiect therfore of this & the follovving Treatise being a recommendation of these two most necessary & most excellent Instruments of Contempla­tion, reason requires that of the two, Mortification should in the first place be treated of, in as much as it is not only the lesse perfect: but because also the proper vse of it is to dispose and make euen and plaine the vvay to the other, by leauelling the moun­taines of Pride, raising the valleys of sloth, and smoothing the roughnes and inequalities of our Pas­sions, but especially by remouing out of the vvay that generall impediment, vvhich is Propriety of our na­turall carnall wills.

CHAP. II.

§. [...]. The mortifications here treated of in particular are not of such sinfull deordinations of passions as are ac­knowledged to be sins either mortall or veniall.

§. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. But of such deordinations as are com­monly called Imperfections, & which may occasion sins.

§. 9. That sin consists in the Enioyng of creatures instead of Vsing them.

§. 10. 11. 12. All veniall sins cannot be auoyded: But affe­ction to them must,

§. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. Wherin such affection consists, & how it is inconsistent with Perfection.

1. NOvv intending to treate of Mortification, first in generall; & aftervvard of the speciall kinds of it, at least such as more peculiar to Internall liuers: my de­signe is not to discourse in particular of such deordina­tions as are generally acknovvledged to be in them­selues sinfull either mortally, or (in a grosser manner) venially, that is, such as that the actions or omissions to vvhich they adhere, can in no circumstances be law­full or permitted, although the end or intention (pre­tended) of them vvere neuer so good: Such as are officious lies, smaller reuenges, or calumniations &c. For it is supposed that the soules for vvhose benefit these Instructions vvere intended, are not in a state to stand in need of aduices concerning such matters: But are [Page 249] supposed to be entred into a vvay of Perfection; being desirous, yea through Gods grace resolued to abandon all things, & to cast avvay all adhesions & affections vvhatsoeuer that are inordinate, not only such as vvill endanger to kill the soule, but also such as vvould make it sickly & infirme, or staine the Luster & brightnes of it.

2. The obiects therfore of Mortification vvhich I shall cheifly handle, are such defects as though indeed in thē ­selues they be sinfull, yet are not acknovvledged by all to be so, but are called only imperfections; being such sins as considering the frailty of our nature, can hardly be auoyded, & neuer totally rooted out, being con­uersant about obiects vvhich vvee may lavvfully & must necessarily vse, but the fault is that vvee doe vvith some deordination either adhere to, or are auerted from such obiects. In a vvord, such sins they are that except vvhen they are more grosse, it vvould be an endlesse & vnproffitable labour to make thē the matters of Confes­sion, although the correcting & abating of them ought to be the obiect of our dayly care.

3. I vvill endeauour to explaine my meaning more fully in this matter; because it is the ground of the vvhole follovving discourse. Wee must knovv then that the duty of a Christian, (much more of a soule that aspires to Perfection) is to loue nothing at all but God, or in order to him; that is, as a meane & instrument to beget & in­crease his Diuine loue in our soules. All adhesion to creatures by affection, vvhether such affection be great or small, is accordingly sinfull, more or lesse: so that if [Page 250] being depriued of any thing or persons vvhatsoeuer, or being pained by any thing, vvee find a trouble & sorrovv in our minds for the losse or suffring of the thing it selfe; such trouble in vvhat degree soeuer argues that our affe­ction vvas sinfull; not only because the affection vvas excessiue, but because it vvas an affection, the obiect vvherof vvas not God.

4. But yet withall this affection vvhich I say is vnlavv­full, is not simply such an one as resides & is confined to sensitiue nature, for that is impossible to be rooted out, neither is there any fault at all in it, considered as such. For to Adam in the state of Innocency, yea euen to our Lord himselfe many obiects vvere pleasing & delight­full to sense; his fight & tast tooke contentment in pleasurable obiects; & there vvas in nature an auersion from paine, & an earnest desire to prolong naturall life; & in all this there vvas not the least imperfection. The Affectiōs to creatures therfore vvhich wee affirme to be sinfull, are such as are seated in the superiour soule, or rationall will, by vvhich the mind & vvill considers & ad­heres vnto creatures; & knovvingly & vvillingly pur­sues the attaining & enioying of them, as if they vvere the good, not of sense only (for so they are) but of the person, the vvhich indeed they are not; for the only good of an Intellectuall nature is God; vvho is only exalted aboue it, vvhereas all other creatures are but equall or inferiour to it. To the superiour vvill therfore all things but God must be indifferent, as in & for themselues, & only to be loued as they are seruiceable to the spirit. So that if things vvhich are vnpleasant, yea destructiue to [Page 251] inferiour nature doe yet aduance the spirit in her ten­dance to God; or if by the vvill & prouidence of God they are presented to her to suffer, she must vvith all in­difference & resignation accept of them, though sensi­tiue nature doe neuer so much struggle & contradict.

5. A most perfect Example herof is giuen by our Sa­uiour, the vvhich vvee are obliged to the vtmost of our capacity & enablement to imitate. Though sensitiue na­ture in him tooke contentment in life & in the Actions & functions therof, & aboue all things did abhorre a dissolution by death, especially such a death accompa­nied vvith such inexpressible torments & shame: And though for our instruction he voluntarily gaue way to Inferiour nature to expresse such her innocent inclina­nation & auersion; yet vvhen the vvill of his Father opposed it selfe & presēted him a cup in the highest de­gree mortall to nature, & all the inclinations therof, he most vvillingly, quietly & chearfully accepted it, then subduing all reluctances in nature: The vvhich reluctan­ces in him vvere to the thing it selfe considered in it selfe, & not at all to the dictates of the Superiour soule, the vvhich had so absolute a dominion ouer sensitiue nature, that it neuer opposed it selfe, or expres­sed the least vnvvillingnes to conforme it selfe to the dictates of reason, though vvith its ovvne destru­ction.

6. Wheras therfore there are continually presented to our outvvard & invvard senses infinite obiects plea­sing & displeasing to them: And that the functions of of life, vvhich vvee are bound to preserue, cannot be [Page 252] exercised vvithout admitting the vse of many things delightfull to sensitiue nature, meates, drinkes, Recrea­tiue conuersatious, & relaxations of mind &c: vvee are to consider & resolue, that none of these things pleasing to the appetite are giuen to be possessed vvith any affe­ction at all, or fruition, but the mere simple vse of them is allovved vs for the good of the soule; & the contentment that the appetite naturally takes in them, is no further, nor vvith other intention to be admitted, then in as much as therby the spirit, or rationall vvill is, or may be enabled more chearfully to pursue its supreme Good. And vvith this end & intention, to admit some­times vvith caution & discretion of moderate cōforts & contentments to Inferiour nature, is not in it selfe at all vnlavvfull; on the contrary it is fitting, requisite & ne­cessary.

7. But vvithall considering the most miserable and inexpressible corruption of our nature; the violent ad­hesion of our Appetites to sensually pleasing obiects; the vncertaine & weake Dominion that the supe­riour faculties of the soule haue ouer sensitiue Nature; it is our duty & obligation not only to be watchfull ouer the sensitiue Appetite, that it doe not vvith too much greedines pursue the contentments proper and necessary to it; But also, as much as may be, to abridge the number of them, making as fevv neces­sary as may be, & not suffring it to accept all the law­full contentments offred to it; yea oft to restraine & contradict the inclinations of it; In a vvord, to vse all the industry vvee can, not to suffer it to run on [Page 253] blindly before, or vvithout the conduct of reason to things pleasing to it: & vvhen vvee perceiue it does so, to call it back, hovveuer not to suffer reason to fa­uour it and ioyne vvith it in its desires, but to re­serue all our rationall inclinations and affections to God only.

8. For the case vvith vs is far different from that it vvas vvith Adam during his state of Innocency. For then it vvas no inconuenience, but rather perhaps a helpe to him freely to make vse of the pleasures af­forded him in Paradise. Because though sensuall plea­sures vvere to him (considering the exquisitnes of his temper) far more pleasurable, then they can be to vs▪ yet his appetite did not so much as desire or vvish the least excesse: And his spirit vvas so replenished vvith Diuine loue, that by admitting of such innocent satisfactions to nature, it rather encreased then dimi­nished or interrupted its feruour in tending to God, and expressing its gratitude, loue & obedience to him▪ vvhereas wee find all the contrary effects; & therfore must take a quite contrary course.

9. This is the ground of Mortification, so proper & ne­cessary in a spirituall life. And these are the veniall sins or imperfections that vvee are continually to combat against. In this poynt of Distinction betwene the vsing of creatures for the good of the spirit, and the enioying of creatures for the pleasure of sense, vvithout regard to the soules good & aduancement, lies the difference betvveene the children of God, & the children of Belial. Yea in the degrees of such vsing or enioying, betvvene [Page 254] perfect good Christians & imperfect; yea moreouer betvvene those that are perfect in an Actiue, & those in a contemplatiue state. For wicked men giue way deliberat­ly to an habituall enioying of creatures, vvithout re­gard to their soules or God, yea contrary to his com­mand. And imperfect good Christians haue no care to roote out of their soules an habituall loue to creatures, except it be such a loue as endangers the soule by expel­ling Charity. And lastly those that are perfect in an Actiue Life, for vvant of a constant state of Recollection doe not enioy a sufficient light to discouer hovv in many things of lesse importance they giue vvay to sense pre­uenting reason, & enioying outvvard contentments vvithout that purity of intention, vvhich contempla­tiues, being far lesse distracted, doe much more frequent­ly & perfectly exercise.

10. Novv hauing mentioned this diuersity of veniall sins & imperfections, before I come to speake further of the Mortification here intended, I vvill adde some fevv consi­derations touching veniall sins, vvith relation to a Cōtem­platiue state.

11. If it vvere required to Perfection in a Contem­platiue life that a soule should be entirely free from ve­niall defects; it vvould be impossible to attaine vnto it, considering the incurable frailty of our nature, the fre­quency of tentations, & the incapacity vvhich is in a soule to be in a continuall Actuall guard ouer her selfe. True it is, that by perseuerance in spirituall Prayer ac­companied vvith Mortification, such defects become for number more rare, & for quality lesse considerable; [Page 255] But though Prayer & mortification should continue neuer so long, a soule vvill find occasion & a necessity to be in continuall resistances against her peruerse Incli­nations, & in such combats vvill sometimes come off vvith losse.

12. Veniall sins therfore are not inconsistent with Per­fection: although they should be committed neuer so oft out of frailty, subreption or ignorance. But if they be committed deliberately, aduisedly, customarily & with Affection, they render the soule in an incapacity of attaining to perfection in Prayer &c: This is a point of great moment & consideration, & therfore that vvee may distinguish aright betvveene sinning out of frailty, surprise or infirmitie; & the sinning out of affection to the obiects of veniall sins, vvee must knovv:

13. First that those are said to fall into veniall sins out of frailty, vvhich commit them only vvhen an occa­sion or Tentation vnvvillingly presents it selfe, & then are surprised vvith a suddaine Passion, or depriued of sufficient vigilancy & reflexion; but vpon an obserua­tion of their fault they presently returne to themselues, & find a remorse & selfe-condemnation for it, & an auersion (at least in their superiour vvill) from such things as hinder their approach vnto God: or if this be not done presently, hovveuer in their next Recolle­ctions such offences, if they be of any moment, vvill be brought into their minds, & vvill procure a sorrow, & consequently a pardon for them. But vvhen they are out of such occasions or tentations, they doe not giue vvay to a pleasure conceiued in the obiects of them, & [Page 256] much lesse doe they voluntarily seeke or intend such oc­casions.

14. Those in the second place are said to sin venially out of affection, vvho both before & after such faults, doe deliberately neglect them; yea & are so far from a­uoyding the occasions of them, that they doe oft pro­cure them: and this, out of affection, (not to the sault but) to the things, vvhich they see doe often occasion the fault. Such are those that loue curiosity in apparell, Delicacy of meates, hearing of vaine discouses;, & that contriue meetings of iollity, from vvhence they neuer escape vvithout incurring many defects. Novv such soules may perhaps haue remorse for the sins so com­mitted, & mention them vvith sorrow in Confession; But yet such remorse & Confession is not from the whole heart; not being sufficient to make them auoyd the occasions, vvhen this may be done vvithout much inconuenience or trouble. Yea they doe not sufficient­ly consider that the very loue vnto those vanities vvhich occasion greater defects, if it be a deliberate loue, is in it selfe a sin, though no other defects vvere occasioned by it. Such can make no progresse in spiri­tuall Prayer; yea on the contrary as long as such knowne, voluntary affections, either to the sins or occa­sions, are not mortified, they doe euery day decline, & grovv more & more indisposed to Prayer: The vvhich therby is so distracted, & so full of disquiet­ing remorse, that it is almost impossible to perseuere, constantly in an exercise so very painfull.

15. An hundred imperfections therfore, though of [Page 257] some more then ordinary moment are not so contrary to Perfection, vvhilst thy are incurred by surprisall or infirmity, as is an affection retained to the least imper­fection, though it be but an vnproffitable thought. A vvell-minded & courageous soule therfore at her first entrance into the Internall vvaies of the spirit, must, & does in an instant, cut of this deliberate affection to all veniall sins, & their occasions, vvith discretion seeking to auoyd them; although it may happen vvith­out any great preiudice to her progresse, that she may find herselfe very oft surprised & ouercome by many & great faults.

16. Neither ought any soule vainly to flatter her­selfe vvith a hope of reseruing this affection vvithout preiudicing her pretentions to Perfection, because one or tvvo examples (almost miraculous) are found of some soules that notvvithstanding such affections haue bene visited by God vvith supernaturall fauours & exalted to a very sublime Prayer, as a late eminent Saint vvrites of her ovvne selfe. For besides that there vvas perhaps some excusable ignorance in her of the vnlavvfullnes of such affections: vvee may say, that God vvas plea­sed to conferre on her such extraordinary fauours, not so much for her ovvne sake, but rather for the good of others, in as much as she vvas destind by him to be The Mistrisse & Teacher of true Contempla­tiue Prayer, then almost vnknovvn to the vvorld.

17. But most certaine it is that according to the or­dinary established course of Diuine Prouidence, Perfe­ction in Prayer is accompanied with a proportionable Per­fection [Page 258] in Mortification. And therfore such soules, as during a voluntary habituall Affection to veniall sins, (as to the obie&s & occasions of them) doe seeme to haue great lights and profound recollections in Prayer (if the sayd lights and Recollections doe not vrge and in­cite them to quitt such harmfull Affections) such ought to suspect that all goes not right vvith them, but may iustly feare that the deuill hath some influence into such Deuotions, so vtterly destitute of true Mortifica­tion.

CHAP. III.

§. 1. Naturally wee loue our selues only.

§. 2. Euen the best & most composed tempers are deeply guil­ty of Selfe-loue.

§. 3. The benefit of such good dispositions.

§. 4. Selfe-loue & Propriety must vnjuersally be auoy­ded.

§. 5. 6. A state of Afflictions & crosses is only secure.

§. 7. What vse is to be made of Prosperity.

§. 8. 9. The great Benefits of Mortification.

§. 10. A great courage is necessary to the due practise of Mortification.

§. 11. 12. 13. 14. The aduice of some writers, to raise Passions to the end afterward to represse them, is dangerous.

1. NATVRALLY wee loue & seeke nothing but our selues in all things vvhatsoeuer vvee loue & seeke: Wee are our owne last end, referring all things, euen [Page 259] supernaturall, yea God himselfe, to our ovvne Interest & commodity. Wee seeke things pleasing only to our senses, outvvard or invvard, as if the felicity of our soules & persons consisted in sensuall pleasures, opinion of honour, proffit or curiosity of knowledge &c: Ther­fore there can be no merit in nature, or Actions pro­ceeding from nature.

2. Yea they vvho naturally haue much interiour com­posednes & stillnes of passions, & seeme not much to be troubled vvith rebellion in sensuality, & that moreouer haue in them a kind of naturall deuotion yet euen these, vvhatsoeuer they appeare outvvardly in shevv, are full of selfe loue, vvhich is the principle of all their Actions. If they loue Quietnes, it is because nature takes a con­tentment in it; And their selfe-loue is more abstruse & more deeply seated in the roote of the spirit it selfe; And therfore oftimes it is hard to be cured, because not so easily discouered. Neither indeed is there any hope of remedy till by prayer they get a light to discouer the said secret selfe loue; and grace by mortification to sub­due it.

3. It is true, such good Naturall dispositions may be beneficiall to soules in two respects especially. First in that by meanes thereof they fall into fevver sins then more passionate Impetuous natures doe; & consequently doe not put so many impediments to grace. But yet it is to be feared, vnlesse they practise Prayer & mortifica­tion, they vvill increase in Spirituall pride; for certaine it is, that nature not restrained, vvill one vvay or other grovv more & more inordinate. 2. A second Be­nefit [Page 260] is, that such dispositions are better fitted for internall Prayer, yea to the perfectest kind of it, vvhich is Prayer of Aspirations; so that they may with lesse labour get out of Nature, eleuating thēselues to God.

4. An absolute necessity therfore there is for all soules to mortify nature, & especially to rectify this generall deprauednes of Propriety, by vvhich vvee are to our selues our last end. The vvhich is done by the Infusion of Diuine Charity, by vvhich our selues are directed to God as our last end: And a necessary dis­position therto is the Mortification of selfe loue. And thus far all Christians are obliged to mortify themselues, namely to cure the mortally sinfull disorders of their soules. A necessity likevvise there is (vpon supposition of aspiring to Perfection) to mortify all deliberate affe­ctions to any the least veniall defects and deordinations of our soules. The which Duty of Mortification re­quires of vs, that deliberately and customarily vvee nei­ther admit into our minds (internally) vaine thoughts; nor (outwardly) speake or exercise Acts of vaine loue, vaine hope, vaine feare, or vaine sorrovv: & all is vaine that is not referred to God, or is not done for him.

5. Mortificatiō tends to subiect the body to the spirit, and the Spirit to God. And this it does by crossing the inclina­tiōs of sence which are quite cōtrary to those of the diuine spirit, vvhich ought to be our cheife & only Principle. For by such crossing & afflicting of the body, Selfe-loue & Selfevvill (the poyson of our spirits) are abated, & in time in a sort destroyed; & instead of thē there entreth into the soule the diuine loue & diuine will, & take possession therof: And therin consists our Perfection & happines,

[Page 261]6. For this reason the soule is in a far more secure state vvhen crosses: & afflictions doe exceed vvordly content­ment & sensuall ease. For wonderfull seldome it happens that a soule makes any progresse in a Spirituall course by meanes of outward prosperity. Some Perfect soules may perhaps keepe the station in vvhich they are, not vvith­standing an casefull, contented & abounding condition in the vvorld; But it is almost miraculous if they therby aduance themselues in spirit; so naturally & almost ne­cessarily doth case of nature nourish selfe-loue, Pride, security, a spirituall sloth & a distast of spirituall things.

7. Indeed the only possible vvay for a soule to make Prosperity an occasion of improuement to her, is by a voluntary crossing & diminishing of it, that is, by ta­king aduantage euen from thence to mortify nature; As for example, in case of Riches & honours, by carying our selues both exteriourly & interiourly to God & man vvith more humility & modesty, as if vvee were not at all in such plenty & eminency: also by suppres­sing vaine ioy & complacency in such things; by ac­knowledging that vvee are not Lords & proprietaires, but only stewards & dispensers of such things, from vvhom a seuere account shall be required for the ta­lents entrusted to vs for others sakes & not our ovvne. So that it is most true, That all the security, soli­dity & fullnes of our soules good consists in a right vse of those things vvhich are contrary & afflicting to our nature.

8. In generall, Mortification includes the exercise of all vertues; for in euery Act of vertue vvee mortify [Page 262] some inordinate passion & inclination of nature, or o­ther; so that to attaine to perfect Mortification is to be possessed of all vertues.

9. The benefits & blessings that come to our soules by exercising of Mortification are many & most pre­cious. As 1. There is therby auoyded that sin vvhich o­thervvise vvould haue bene committed. 2. It causes a degree of purity to the soule. 3. It procures greater grace & spirituall strength. 4. One act of Mortification enableth to another: As on the contrary by yeilding any time to our corrupt nature, vvee are enfeebled & lesse able to resist another time. 5. It diminisheth our suffring in Purgatory, because so much of suffring is past; & a little paine for the present vvill counteruaile & preuent sharpe & long paines for the future. 6. It procures inter­nall light, by dispelling & calming the vnrulines of pas­sions. 7. It produces great Peace to the soule, the vvhich is disturbed only by vnquiet Passions. 8. It helpeth the soule much in her aduancement in spirituall Prayer & Con­templation (the end of all our Religious & spirituall ex­ercises) 9. It is of great edification to our Brethren & neighbours. 10. It increaseth all these vvayes our future happines & glory.

10. The duty of Mortification being so absolutely ne­cessary, & so infinitely beneficiall, & moreouer so largely extended, as that it reaches to all manner of naturall In­clinations, in so much as nothing does an imperfect soule any good, further then it is crosse & mortifying to some inordination in her naturall inclinations: It followes from hence; that a soule that intends to vvalke in these vvayes [Page 263] of Contemplation had need haue a great courage; since her designe must be to combat her ovvne selfe in all manner of things to vvhich she naturally beares an affe­ction. For the maintaining of this courage therefore it vvill behooue her both to vse much prayer, & oft to thinke seriously on the blessings accompanying & fol­lovving the due practise of it. Remembring vvithall, that custome vvill make that tolerable & euen pleasant, vvhich at first seemed in supportable.

11. More particularly, for as much as cōcernes those that are Beginners in an Internall course, they are to consi­der that in such a state their soules are so full of impuri­ties & defects, that scarce in any actions of theirs at all they doe intend God purely, no not euen in those that they performe vvith most aduice & preparation, & vvith the greatest calmenes of spirit; Much lesse in Actions though substantially good, in vvhich their Passions are engaged. Therfore it is best for them during such state of imperfection, in all times & occasions as much as lies in them wholly to suppresse all passions, not suffring them to rise & svvell in them, though vvith an intention by them the better & more feruently to performe their duties & obligation. The reason is, because such imper­fect soules being not as yet Maisters of their passions, cannot preuent them from causing a disorder euen in the Superiour, rationall faculties also; so that though Reason can raise them at pleasure, yet it cannot so calme them againe, nor hinder them from pur­suing those obiects out of motiues of corrupt na­ture, against vvhich they vvere employed at [Page 264] first vpon Superiour & spirituall motiues.

12. I doe the more earnestly recommend the practise according to this aduice, because I find that some good Spirituall Authours doe counsell a quite contrary procee­ding, as a remedy & meanes to subdue passions. For they vvould haue soules vvillingly & purposely to raise them in sensitiue nature, & vvhen they are come to a certaine height, then by the strength of reason & motiues of Religion to quiet & pacifie them againe: As for ex­ample, In case of an Iniury receiued, they aduise that vvee should call to mind all the circumstances & aggra­uations that are apt to kindle indignation & resent­ment; And as soone as the Passion is inflamed, then to suppresse it by considerations of the example of our Lord, & his precept of charity to enemies; Of the dan­gerous Effects of Reuenge, & the blessed revvards of Patience &c: The like they say concerning a sensuall desire to any obiect, they vvould haue it represented vvith all its allurements & charmes, so as to moue a strong inclination in sensitiue Nature; And this being done, presently to suppresse such inclinations by strong Resolutions & by contrary practises. Only they forbid this Practise in the passion of sensuall Impurity, the vvhich must not be reuiued vpon any pretence vvhat­soeuer.

13. To Perfect soules this Aduice may be proper, vvho haue an established Dominion ouer their passions; But as for the Imperfect, if they should conforme themselues to it, two great inconueniences could scarce be preuented. viz. 1. That they vvould be in danger either to be vn­vvilling [Page 265] or vnable to restore Peace vnto their minds once much disquieted. 2. By an aduised & earnest repre­sentation of such obiects as doe raise passions in their minds, they doe therby fixe more firmely in the Me­mory the Images of them, & by that meanes doe dis­pose the said images to returne at other times against their vvills, vvhen perhaps the reasons & motiues to re­presse them vvill either not be ready, or the soule in no disposition to make vse of them; or if she should be vvilling, it is to be doubted that then such motiues vvill not proue efficacious. Therfore Imperfect soules may doe best to deale vvith all passions as they ought vvith those of impurity, namely to get the Maistry ouer them, by flying from them, &, if they can, forgetting them.

14. Yet this aduice of preuenting all passions & distur­bances in sensitiue nature, may sometimes cease, vvhen iust reason & the necessary care of the good of others shall require that some things be done vvith eager­nes; as it may happen in the case of Superiours correcting their subiects &c: for then it may be conuenient to giue some discreet vvay to passion, vvithout vvhich their reproofes vvould perhaps haue but little effect. Yet euen then also care is to be had that they doe not therby preiudice their ovvne Internall Quiet of mind, & much lesse, endanger to diminish true Charity.

CHAP. IV.

§. 1. Certaine generall Rules for Mortification, sufficient for some.

§. 2. 3. By practise according to these Rules is exercised 1. A continuall Presence of God. 2. A continuall thinking on our owne Nothing.

§. 4. 5. 6, 7. Mortification is only perfectly exercised in ver­tue of Internall Prayer. And why?

§. 8. The difference betweene the Mortification of Contem­platiues, & of Actiue liuers.

§. 9. Externall Practises or exercises of vertues not sufficient to cause Mortification.

§. 10. How imperfect soules are to practise Mortification.

§. 11. Gods care in dispensing matters of Mortification pro­portionable to each ones strength.

§. 12. The effect of each Act of Mortification.

§. 13. 14. It may happen that to an Internall liuer (in Reli­gion) some Mortifications may be more difficult, then if he had liued a common life in the world.

1. TO discreete vvell-minded soules these three follovving generall directions may be sufficient to instruct them in the dutyes of mortification. Viz 1. To doe or forbeare vvhatsoeuer any law Diuine or Hu­mane shall require of them to doe or forbeare. And vvhere order has bene taken by no such lavves, there to follovv the supernaturall light & motions that God by the meanes of Prayer shall afford them; doing or [Page 267] forbearing such things as they find vvill promote or hinder them in their spirituall course, vvithout capti­uating themselues to any particular examples, customes or instructions. 2. To suffer vvith the best patience and resignation they can, all the crosses & contradiction; to selfevvill, vvhich by Gods Prouidence shall be sent to or vpon them; vvhether such crosses regard exter­nall things, as iniuries. disgraces, sicknes, losse of freinds or of goods &c. or Internall, as Aridities, obscurities, in­ward distresses, inuoluntary rising of pass [...]ns, tentations &c. All these things must be quietly suffred vvhether they proceed immediatly from God, or from creatures. 3. If any thing pleasing to nature be to be done, as in Refections, Recreations or any thing displeasing to be omitted, to doe or omitt such things, not because they are agreable to nature, but because they are confor­mable to Gods vvill. By a constant & carefull obs [...]r­uing of these directions a deuout soule may be brought to a good established state of Mortification, & yet vvithall be left in a conuenient Liberty & ease of mind, to goe on chearfully in internall vvayes.

2. Moreouer if in practise according to these points, a vvell-minded soule vvill be carefull to haue at least a vertuall intention to the loue & Glory of God (that is, such an Intention as follovves in vertue of a precedent Actuall Intention made in Prayer &c.) in so doing she shall performe after the best & securest vvay the Exer­cise of the Continuall Presence of God (so much com­mended by spirituall Authours) & particularly by our ho­ly Father in the first degree of Humility. By the vvhich [Page 268] Exercise surely it cannot be intended that a soule should be obliged to haue continually an Actuall re­membrance of God; for this being the same vvith a­ctuall Internall Prayer, vvould so much endammage the heads, of imperfect soules especially, that they would quickly be disabled from making any progresse in Spirit.

3. The same Practise likevvise doth after the secu­rest manner supply that other Exercise (oft recommen­ded) of a Continuall thinking on our owne Nothing; For by conformity to the foresaid Directions, Propriety & Selfe-will (by the vvhich alone vvee vvould faine seeme to be something more then vvee are or ought to be) are not only in thought, imagination or desire of mind, but really & effectually abandonned, & the inordinate affections of the soule mortified & annihilated. And it is only for this end that the said Exercise is so much mag­nified. In a vvord, by such practises ioyned vvith an In­tention to the glory of God & his diuine loue, a soule vvill be very vvell disposed to the most perfect Prayer of Contemplation.

4. Such a vvorld there is of conditions and circum­ [...]ances required to the Perfection of euery Action, both touching the substance, manner, motiue, principle & end thereof: & corrupt nature is so subtle to insinuate her ovvne Interests, seeking them in euery thing vvee doe, & persvvading vs that vvee renounce Propriety euen vvhen vvee most earnestly intend it: that vvithout an Extraordinary light from God (to be obtained only by spirituall Prayer) vvee cannot discouer the Inclinations [Page 269] of our ovvne hearts; And the reason vvhy this light can be had only by Prayer, is because then alone euery the least defect & most secret suggestion hinders our view & contemplation of God, and our tendance to him; & by consequence is easily discernable, as being set be­twene our eyes & the Sun. Wheras in our ordinary Vocall Prayers, & externall good Actions, only greater tentations are able perceptibly to distract vs.

5. Those therfore that doe not pursue Internall Prayer can only so far mortify their passions, that they breake not forth into outvvard expressions or Actions. But the euill Roote remaines still aliue, causing inward disorders very displeasing to God.

6. As for Crosses and aduersities vvhich a soule vn­dergoes out of the strength of Reason, and not in vertue of Diuine Grace and Prayer: the cheefe effect of them is only to vexe and trouble Nature, or at most they serue to mortify the superabundant actiui­ty and vigour of the internall sences and naturall Affe­ctions; by vvhich meanes the persons may become more Iudicious, Prudent and Temperate; but they peirce not to the Spirit it selfe, to cause any purity therein, or really to diminish selfe-loue. Moreouer the like Crosses vndergone by vertue of such a common Grace, as ordinary good extrouerted Christians doe enioy, though they may be helpfull to preuent the mor­tally poysonnous effects of selfe-loue vvhich is in vs, yet are far from expelling that secret selfe-loue vvhich lurkes in the inmost center of our soules; So that they may remaine greiuously full of staines and infirmi­ties, [Page 270] and the Diuine loue feeble and easy to be extin­guished, notvvithstanding the effects of such Crosses.

7. Wheras difficulties vndergone in vertue of Grace obtained by Internall Prayer doe, as it vvere, scovvre & purity the spirit it selfe from the Rust of inordinate affections: & so doe spiritualize all the faculties of the soule, causing it to become a pure spirit, exalted and se­parated from sensible obiects & all adhesion to them, from vvhich all vicious impurity proceedes. This is that Diuision of the Soule & Spirit, mentioned by S. Paul, by vvhich the Pure Spirit vvorkes as a Spirit, not obscu­red, nor infected vvith sensuall Ends and Interests.

8. The vvay of Mortification therfore practised by In­ternall Contemplatiue liuers is different from that of A­ctiues, though liuing in a Religious state, & vvell ad­uanced in Actiue exercises; for these endeauour to mor­tify their inordinate Affections by combatting them purposely & directly, to vvit, by meditating discoursiue­ly on the motiues afforded by Christian doctrine to oppose them, as a consideration of their deformity, danger &c. and also by exercising an Act of vertue contrary therto, so repressing the inordinate Passion. Wheras Contemplatiue soules doe indirectly, yet far more efficaciously, mortify their passions by transcending them, that is, by eleuating & vniting their spirit to God vvith the helpe of pure intellectuall actuations: by this meanes forgetting & drovvning both their sen­suall desires, yea all created things, & cheifely themselues in God: So that in a Tentation they doe not turne themselues tovvards the obiect, to the end to resist & [Page 271] contradict it; but by a vigorous Act of Resignation & loue they conuert their spirits vnto God, scorning euen to cast a regard or glance vpon creatures, that vvould al­lure their affections from God, & vvhich cannot be considered, except in God, vvithout leauing some tincture & imperfection in the soule.

9. It is not therfore the externall practise of vertues, nor much lesse customary frequent Confessions, Commu­nions, Obediences, Austerities &c: but pure spirituall prayer, & the sublime degrees of it (to vvit, Aspirations, Pure Eleuations of the will & other such Diuine Opera­tions) that must be the principall Instrument to bring a soule to a state of perfect freedome from exteriour & Interiour Immortification. For by such operations only she is enabled to transcend Inferiour nature, & to liue in the quiet, secure & Illuminated region of the spirit.

10. But in the meane time till a deuout soule doe at­taine to such Perfection of prayer, she must be content to vvorke according to her present light & enablement, so endeauouring to correct her defects by lesse perfect Exercises, & such as partake of the Actiue way; And she must vvith patience & quietnes of spirit beare vvith her ovvne imperfections, as she vvould vvith others, expe­cting Gods good time, & endeauouring to hasten the approach of that time by assiduous Prayer; by meanes of vvhich alone she may come to expell those defects, vvhich doe novv so much exercise & trouble her, & also to discouer & correct many others, vvhich as yet her eyes are too infirme & dimme to see.

11. Indeed the prouident care that God generally [Page 272] hath ouer his children, both perfect & imperfect, is vvonderfull, being carefully suited to their present state. For he does not vsually send to imperfect soules any mor­tifications but such as are ordinary & proportionable to their infirmity, namely such as doe gall & afflict their sensitiue nature, but doe not peirce into the quick & center of the spirit, that remaines free to support the other. But as for soules arriued to the state of Perfection, or neare it, God doth vsually prouide for them strange, vnexpressible mortifications, most subtile Tentations, Pri­uations & Desolations: the vvhich being vvorthily vn­dergone, doe vvonderfully purify the spirit. The for­mer Mortifications S. Paul expresses thus, There hath no Tentation taken you, but such as is according to ordina­ry humane nature &c: But the latter thus, Our wrestling is not against flesh & blood (the vsuall tentations of Gods imperfect children) but against Principalities & Powers, against the Gouernours of the darkenes of this world, against spirituall wickednesses in high places (or, things)

12. Euery Act of Mortification performed by ver­tue of Internall Prayer doth increase in vs the grace of God, & dispose vs to a more perfect future Prayer: As on the contrary, euery act of immortification doth increase in vs selfe-loue, & doth make vs more indis­posed for future Internall Prayer. Againe Prayer enables vs for future Mortifications, teaching vs hovv to vnder­take & support them. So that these Duties must neuer be separated; These containe all that an Internall liuer is obliged to.

13. I will conclude this Discourse concerning mor­tification [Page 273] in grosse vvith one Obseruation, vvhich may serue for a caution to a vvell-minded soule that liues an Internall life, to preuent an inconuenience which othervvise might perhaps surprise her; It is this; That it may happen that Religious or spirituall Persons vvill find a greater difficulty in mortifying & renoun­cing some sensuall contentments after they haue en­tred into a spirituall course, then they formerly found vvhilst they lead an extrouerted secular life in the world. Novv this hapning to them may perhaps suggest ei­ther scrupulous, or at least disquieting thoughts, as if the change that they haue made were not for the better; or as if some thing (they vvell knovv not vvhat) vvere amisse vvith them. But if they vvill vvell consider of the matter, they vvill find that this is no strange thing, nor deseruing that they should much trouble themselues about it.

14. For the Reasons hereof are 1. Because if such an one had not pursued an Internall life, he vvould haue perhaps enabled himselfe to quit one pleasure by di­uerting himselfe from thence to some other, vvhich vvould haue recompenced & satisfied for that losse, taking avvay the present difficulty: Whereas in a Spi­rituall life a soule hauing in Resolution abandoned all sensuall pleasures, as such, that can be abandonned, she cannot recompence the bitternes found in mortifying one, by a deliberate yeilding to another, the pleasure felt in enioying vvhereof might make her lesse sensible of the losse of the other. 2. Againe an Imperfect soule vvill iudge it necessary for the sustaining of corporall in­firmity [Page 274] & to preuent an vnchearfull discontented habit of mind, to allovv vnto her selfe some contentments recreatiue to sense; And therfore vvhen such are denied her, she vvill be apt to be impatient, or if she endea­uour to contradict & resist such impatience of nature, she vvill doe it more feebly & faintly. 3. Because it is im­possible that a soule can liue & not take pleasure in something or other, that assords contentment either to the sense or the spirit. Novv a spirituall person being yet in an imperfect state, has but little present sensible plea­sure in the exercises proper to his vvay, except God novv & then visit him vvith sensible deuotion: for the cheife pleasure that spirituality affords is in hope only, & that vvithout any regard to the body, it regards the Spirit alone. Novv hope is not so attractiue as present sensuall contentment is. 4. besides all this, such a soule not hauing yet chased out of the Superiour faculties all affection to sensuall pleasure, & finding for the present little or nothing but paine in all her exercises both of mortification, & Prayer; No maruell if vvhen pleasure sometimes comes in her vvay, that she finds difficulty in reiecting it. Indeed the greatest Paine comes not from the particular obiects of Mortification, but rather from tediousnes & irkesomenes in being continually in a condition of suffring, vvhich she iudges must last to her liues end. This is very painfull to an imperfect soule: But yet by a constant practise of mortification & Prayer she vvill find daily an abatement of this tediousnes, & in the end the renouncing of all contentments of sense & nature for themselues, vvill become easy & pleasu­rable [Page 275] to her. 5. [...]astly such a soule is to consider that it is a proofe of Gods goodnes to her to suffer her to feele so much difficulty now, not experienced before, to the end to humble her, & to teach her, not at all to relye vpon herselfe, nor to promise herselfe the least good from her ovvne forces.

CHAP. V.

§. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Mortifications diuided into 1. Necessary. 2. And Voluntary; And what each of these are.

§. 6. 7. 8. 9. Extraordinary or supernumerary Mortifications are not to be assumed without great aduice. They are sel­dome allowed in the Rule of S. Benedict.

§. 10. 11. The Aduice of some, That wee should alwaies in euery thing be crossing our naturall inclinations, dan­gerous.

§. 12. 13. The inconueniences of Extraordinary Mortifications vnaduisedly assumed.

§. 14. 15. What extraordinary ones are least dangerous.

§. 16. Signes by which to discerne when such are proper & beneficiall.

§. 17. Generally speaking, there is little need that Extra­ordinary Mortifications should be assumed.

1. HAVING spoken in generall of Mortification, come vvee novv to the Diuision & kinds of it; And the most generall diuision of mortification is into those vvhich are. 1. Necessary 2. Voluntary. This is a Di­uision of vvhich vvee shall haue great vse through this [Page 276] vvhole Treatise, & therfore it deserues to be explained more distinctly & accurately.

2. First therfore vvithin the notion of necessary Mor­tifications are comprehended 1. Not only such crosses & afflictions to nature as vvee cannot, though vvee would, auoyd, vvhether they be externall or Internall, as sicknes, want, disgraces, losse of freinds, tentations, desolations &c. (The vvhich indeed are the most proper & beneficiall mortifications of all other, as being sent or suffred to come vpon vs by the most Wise & Good Prouidence of God for our good) 2. but those also that vvee doe or suf­fer by vertue of our assumed state of life, either by occasion of any Law or humane Constitution, or by o­bedience & subiection to our Superiours, Conuersation vvith our equalls, inferiours &c. 3. Those also that wee vndertake by the direction of our Confessarius or spiri­tuall Guide, (to vvhom notvvithstanding our obe­dience is but voluntary, being to last only as long as vvee thinke good.) 4. Those workes that true discretion requires of vs, & vvhich to leaue vndone, or to doe contrary vvould be against Prudence. 5. Likewise vvhat­soeuer it befalls vs to suffer from any creature vvhat­soeuer, not excepting the deuill himselfe, yea though it vvere by our ovvne fault that such things hapned to vs, or vvere brought vpon vs. 6. Lastly those things that vvee accept willingly of by vertue of an Interiour Di­uine Impulse, vvith the Approbation of our spirituall Father.

3. Secondly on the other side Voluntary Mortifications are such as on our ovvne heads, & vvithout the Ad­uice [Page 277] & iudgment of those that are acquainted vvith our Interiour, vvee voluntarily assume, or impose on our selues; either because vvee haue seene or read of others that haue done the like, & thervpon vvithout further due consideration of our ovvne state or abilities, vvee vvill hope they vvill aduance vs as much in the vvay of perfection: such are Voluntary corporall fasts beyond vvhat the Church or Regular obseruance doe require, Wearing of hairecloth, chaines, &c: obstinate silence du­ring the times that the orders of the community doe appoint conuersations &c. To these may be abded an assuming the taske of saying so many Vocall Prayers, Ro­saries &c.

4. This Distinction being premised, the deuout Rea­der is to take notice, that vvhatsoeuer hitherto hath or shall be spoken of the vse, end & benefits of Mortification is to be vnderstood & applied only to mortifications of necessity, and not to such as are voluntary; And moreouer that all these Instructions & Directions are intended only for such soules (vvhether Religious or others) as are entred (or desirous to enter) into an Internall course, tending to Contemplation.

5. As touching therefore the former sort of Neces­sary mortifications, according to the vvhole latitude be­fore expressed, a deuout soule is to be exhorted (as being her duty & obligation) vvith all courage & fer­uour to accept & chearfully vndergoe them: considering that besides the foremencioned inestimable Benefits at­tending them, they are of great security, free from all perill of errour, indiscretion or pride.

[Page 278]6. But as for Voluntary mortifications (those I meane vvhich are properly such) vvee haue nothing to doe vvith them; yea moreouer I should neuer persvvade a spirituall Disciple to assume any considerable mortifica­tions, besides such as attend his present state of life, till he can assure himselfe that he has a good Call to them, that is, till after that hauing spent a considerable time in Internall prayer, he haue receiued light to iudge of their fitnes for him, & Grace or spirituall strength to vnder­take & pursue them chearfully; & vvithall has the ap­probation of his Superiour or spirituall Directour. Yea though he had a body as strong as Samson & vvithall a very good inclination to Internall vvaies, I should hard­ly be the first proposer, mouer & inciter of him to such extraordinary mortifications (vnlesse some speciall occa­sion required them for a remedy against any speciall ten­tations then assalting him; In vvhich case they are not indeed to be esteemed extraordinary and voluntary (al­though supernumerary) but, considering the present state, ordinary & necessary.) Yea & if such an one should aske my counsell about the vse of such mortifications, & vpon examination, I should find it to be doubtfull vvhether it vvas vpon a Diuine Inspiration that he vvas moued to desire them, I should take the surer course, that is, to dissvvade him from the vndertaking of them.

7. It is true, vvee find in reading the liues of Saints that most of them haue practised them: & many euen from their infancy. But this shevves that spirits fit for extra­ordinary mortifications are rarely to be found, being [Page 279] only such as God himselfe leades after an extraordinary manner to make them Examples of the povver of his Grace, to the Edification of many, vsing them for his Instruments in great vvorkes. As for vs vvee are not to suppose that God esteemes vs fit, or intends vs for such extraordinary matters. Therfore it may suffise vs to vndergoe such mortifications as God himselfe has prouided for vs, beleiuing him to knovv vvhat is best for vs & most proportionable.

8. In all our holy Rule there is no prouision nor order made for such extraordinary or supernumerary morti­fications, but only (in the 49. Cap.) about diet & in the time of Lent &c. And then it is forbidden to vndertake such vvithout the Approbation of the Superiour: the neglect of vvhich Approbation is imputed to rashnes. For our holy Father, as he knevv the inestimable be­nefit of mortifications vvhich come from God, & ther­fore he is exact in requiring conformity to the Austeri­ties commanded in the Rule; so on the other side vvas he not ignorant of the great inconueniences that probably attend the vndertaking such extraordinary ones by imperfect soules, vvhich are commonly indu­ced thereto, merely out of a fancy, humour or sudden passion; for such are seldome attended vvith any bles­sing from God, vvho neither is obliged, nor ordina­rily vvill bestovv his grace & Spirituall strength for the vndergoing of any morcifications, but such as are sent by him, or euidently ordained by his inspiration; And experience vvitnesses this, because vvee seldome see soules to perseuere in those vvhich they assume by [Page 280] their ovvne free election: And vvhiles they performe them, it is vvith little or no purity of Intention; here­vpon it is, that our holy Father expressly declares, that the Diuine Inspiration & grace is to be acknovvledged the roote of all religious voluntary Austerities, by those vvords of his (Cap. 40.) Quibus donat Deus tolerantiam Abstinentiae; That is; To whom God hath giuen the cou­rage or strength to suffer extraordinary abstinence, Adding vvithall, that such voluntary Abstinences must be offred to God (cum gaudio Sancti Spiritus) with ioy of the holy Ghost.

9. Great caution therfore is to be vsed in the reading & making vse of Instructions & examples found, espe­cially concerning this point, in spirituall Bookes; Be­cause othervvise a soule vvill be in danger to plunge her­selfe into great inconueniences & difficulties; for vvhilst she does imitate such extraordinary practises, it is to be feared being yet imperfect, she vvill entertaine a proud conceipt of herselfe; & not receiuing Grace to perseuere, she vvill be apt to dravv from thence matter of scrupulosity & deiection, so far as perhaps to become disheartned from further tendance in the vvay of the spirit. Yea such a soule vvill be lyable to contract therby an obscurity in her vnderstanding (especially if she be vnlearned) by vvhich she vvill become disabled to di­stinguish Necessary Mortifications from voluntary.

10. It is a very hard, & to many soules vvould proue a dangerous Aduice vvhich some Spirituall Authours giue, viz. That a Spirituall Disciple should in euery thing that is of it selfe indifferent (in case that seuerall obiect; [Page 281] be offred to choyce) take that vvhich is most contrary to his naturall Inclination; As if many seuerall dishes vvere set before vs, to eate only that vvhich vvee least like & thus to liue in a continuall contradiction & crossing of nature.

11. Surely no soules but such as are in a good measure perfect, are capable of making good vse of such aduises, for only such can vvith facility, discretion & proffit practise them; As for the lesse perfect, if they practise them vvith any vvillingnes, it is to be feared that the true ground is, because therby they doe couertly comply vvith nature some orher vvay, nourishing selfe-esteeme, contempt of others not so courageous, nor affording so great edification &c:

12. It vvere folly & inexcusable Pride for soules not di­ligently & faithfully pursuing Internall Prayer, & not yet perfectly practising patience & Resignation in Crosses & necessary mortifications sent by God, or at­tending their present condition of life; to attempt the vndertaking of those vvhich belong not to them, but are merely deuised by themselues. For vvanting a Diuine light, hovv can they perceiue or iudge them to be proper for them? And if they be vnable to encoun­ter difficulties vvhich are ordinary & necessary, vvhy should they thinke themselues prepared for extraordi­nary ones? So that there is nothing vvhich makes these to be supportable, but only that they proceed from selfe-iudgment, & selfe-vvill, & by consequence are more pleasing then distastfull to nature.

13. The inconueniences attending the indiscreet passio­nate [Page 282] vse of such Mortifications, are much greater in an Internall life tending to Contemplation, then in an A­ctiue: Because liberty of Spirit is much more necessary in the former, then in this latter. The vvhich Liberty is ex­tremely preiudiced by such vnnecessary obligations and fetters laid by a soule vpon herselfe.

14. And for this reason the supernumerary Mortifica­tions vvhich may proue more vsefull, & vvhich are least preiudiciall to this Liberty, are those that least vvorke vpon the mind; as corporall labours, not of obligation, are more beneficiall then the ouer-multiplying of voluntary vocall Prayers, the practise vvherof vvill probably pre­iudice the true exercise not only of Internall recolle­ctions, but also of such vocall Prayers as are of obligation. Aod of all others the most beneficiall are those that re­gard not-doing, as more silence, more solitude &c. then a person by regular ordinances is obliged to. Such Mortifications as these, if the person vse discretion & abstaine from imposing on himselfe an obliging necessi­ty, may sometimes be proffitably vndertaken by more imperfect soules.

15. I doe not therfore vvholly exclude euen imper­fect soules from the vse of extraordinary Mortifications; for such may be Gods vvill that they may vndertake them; and vpon that supposition most certaine it is that they vvill much hasten their aduancement to Perfe­ction. As he that runns, if he be able to hold on, will sooner come to his iourneyes end, then he that contents himselfe vvith an ordinary trauelling pace. But if in­discreetly he vvill force himselfe to run beyōd his breath [Page 283] and strength, that aduantage vvhich he got for a little vvhile, vvill not counteruaile the losse he sustaines aftervvard.

16. Novv the signes and markes by vvhich a soule may informe herselfe, whether the extraordinary Morti­fications assumed by her doe proceed from a safe & good principle, that is, from a Diuine Motiue, & not an Im­pulse of nature & passion, may be these. She may esteeme them to come from God. 1. If she beare herselfe vvell in the ordinary mortifications of necessity, supporting chear­fully & courageously both the vsuall Austerities of her Religious state, & also all accidentall crosses. 2. In case it be vvith the aduice & Approbation of her spirituall Di­rectour, that is skillfull in discerning of spirits. 3. If the soule in the continuance of it find a chearfullnes & reso­lutenes; for if there follovv any discontentednes or me­lancholy, that is a very ill signe. 4. If the occasion of vn­dertaking it vvas a quiet, constant Internall inuitation, & not some sudden humour of Passion, Remorse, or some fitt of sensible Deuotion, or an ambition to imitate others &c: Especially if the matter of the Mortification haue any perill in it to corporall health &c: for then the impulse to vndertake it had need be very certaine & strong. 5. If by perseuerance in it the vertue of Humility be increased. 6. Lastly if it dispose the soule to better Recol­lection, & to a greater constancy & feruour in Prayer.

17. But to conclude this point, There are very fevv that need complaine of vvant of mortifications, or that are put to a necessity of seeking them. All obseruan­ces vvhatsoeuer, euen the least that are practised in Re­ligion, [Page 284] or in the submission to a spirituall Directour; and much more all contradictions, humiliations & Pen­nances are proffitable mortifications. Yea euen the Acts of Authority practised by Superiours if they be done (not out of nature, or a loue of commanding, but) in obe­dience to the Rule, & vvith a foresight that God vvill ex­pect an account concerning them, are such also. And if all these be too little, a faithfull pursuance of Internall prayer, together with Abstraction of life, will sufficiently abate nature, & vvill, no doubt (generally speaking) be effectuall to bring soules to Perfection, if they liue out their due time; And if not, yet death finding them in the right way, vvill bring them to their desired end. And lastly, such is the care & tendernes of God tovvards soules that truely & cordially consecrate themselues to him, that if these mortifications be not sufficient, he will by a speciall Prouidence procure others, & such as shall be most proper. Yea a very sublime Mystick Au­thour confidently protesteth; That rather then such a soule shall receiue preiudice by the want of them, God will by a miracle immediately prouide them, or by a superna­turall light & forcible impulse direct & moue her to find them.

CHAP. VI.

§. 1. Of certaine sorts of Mortifications, which are more generall.

§. 2. 3. 4. The first is Abstraction of life: Wherin it con­sists. &c.

§. 5. 6. &c. The second is Solitude, Seuerall kinds of Solitude. The benefits of it; And the meanes to procure it. The strictnes of S. Benedicts Rule in requiring it. Perfect Solitude is only for such as are perfect.

1. AFTER this generall Distinction of Mortifica­tions, before vvee come to the speciall kinds regarding the seuerall passions or affections of the soule to be mortified (for indeed the only subiect of Morti­fication are our affections, & not any other faculties but only in order to our affections:) I vvill breifly set downe more vniuersall & vnlimited Mortifications, that is, such as regard not any one single Passion, but ma­ny, yea either the whole person, or some member, that is the Instrument of many passions, as the tongue. Such indefinite Mortifications are these. 1, Abstraction of life. 2. Solitude. 3. Silence & 4. Peace or tranquillity of mind.

2. Frist therfore for Abstraction, the duty thereof consists in this, that vvee abstaine. 1. From intermedling vvith things not pertaining to vs; And 2. For such things as belong to vs to doe, that vvee doe them with a reser­uednes of our affections, not povvring them out vpon them, (being due only to God himselfe:) Yet this does [Page 286] not hinder vs from doing our duty vvith a sufficient at­tention & care. 3. That vvee not only relinquish all vnne­cessary conuersations & correspondencies, Complemen­tall visits &c: but likevvise all engagement of affections in particular freindships. This last is necessary in Reli­gious communities, because from such freindships pro­ceed Parcialities, factions, murmurings & most dange­rous Distractions & multiplicity: for the auoyding wher­of, it is very requisiite that the allovved conuersations should be performed in common; for from the singling out of Persons by tvvo or three in a meeting, vvill flovv Personall engagements, Designes diuided from the rest of the Community, Discourses tending to the preiudice of others &c.

3. The true ground of the necessity of Abstraction is this, because the diuine vnion in Spirit (vvhich is the end of an Internall liuer) cannot be att [...]ained vvith­out an exclusion of all other inferiour, strange Images & affections; Therfore by the meanes of Abstraction the soule is obliged to bring herselfe to as much vnity, vacancy & simplicity as may be. For this end a Religious soule leaues the vvorld; & if she practise not Abstra­ction in Religion, she does as good as returne to that vvhich by profession she has renounced. To this pur­pose is that sentence of the Wiseman, Sapientia in tempo­re vacuitatis, & qui minoratur actu, sapientiam perci­piet. That is, Wisedome is found in a state of vacancy; & he that diminishes externall employments shall attaine vnto her.

4. I shall in the next Treatise speake more on this [Page 287] subiect, especially giuing aduices hovv an Internall liuer may vvithout preiudice to his Recollections behaue himselfe in distractiue Employments & Offices imposed on him, & therfore I vvill say no more here.

5. The next generall mortification is Solitude, vvhich differs from Abstractiō only in this, that Solitude regards the exteriour, as Abstraction does the Interiour; Abstra­ction being an Internall solitude of the spirit; and soli­tude an externall Abstraction of the Person. Abstraction may by feruent soules be practised in the midst of the noyse & trouble of the vvorld, preseruing themselues from all engagement of their affections in businesses or to Persons, & euer remaining free to attend vnto God. And on the contrary, some soules euen in the most re­tired externall solitude, doe vvholly plunge their minds & affections in thoughts & sollicitudes about persons & businesses abroad, by continuall endles vvriting & an­svvering letters, giuing Aduices, inquiring after nevves &c: By vvhich meanes they doe more embroyle their minds, & are lesse capable of Spirituall conuersation vvith God, then many that liue in the vvorld: by reason that their retired state keeping thē in ignorance & vn­certainty about the successe of their aduices & correspō ­dences, they are in a continuall sollicitude about any thing, but their ovvne soules.

6. So that if vvith Externall Solitude there be not ioy­ned Internall Abstraction & Prayer, it is rather a hin­drance, then an Instrument of Aduancing Spirituall Perfection. Because such a soule is moreouer allvvaies at leasure to attend to the obiect of her sollicitudes, & [Page 288] so rootes more fixedly all internall deordinations of Faction, Anger, Pride, selfe loue &c. Hence vvee see that factions grovv sometimes to a great violence in many retired communities, because of the vacancy there to attend to them, the obiects of their passions likevvise being, in a manner, continually present before their eyes.

7. There is another vvhich may be called a Philoso­phicall Solitude, made use of by Religious Persons, not vvith a designe the more freely to seeke God, but to at­tend to their studies, & the enriching their minds vvith much knovvledge. Indeed Study & reading vsed vvith discretion, & if the matters about vvhich study is em­ployed be not such as are apt to puffe vp the mind vvith pride, or a forvvardnes to dispute & maintaine Topicall opinions &c: may be no inconuenient Diuersion for a contemplatiue spirit, especially since that manuall labours haue bene disused: But othervvise an invvard affection to curiosity of knovvledge is perhaps (caeteris paribus) more preiudiciall to contemplation, & produ­ces effects more hurtfull to the soule, because more deepely rooted in the spirit it selfe, then some sensuall Affections.

8. The solitude therfore here recommended, and vvhich is proper to a Religious life, consists in a serious affection to our Cell at all times vvhen conuentuall Duties doe not require the contrary; & there admit­ting no conuersation but Gods, nor no employment but for God. Keepe thy Cell (saith an Ancient holy Fa­ther) & thy Cell will teach thee all things. A soule that [Page 289] by vsing at first a little violence shall bring herselfe to a loue of this solitude, & that shall therfore loue it be­cause there she may more freely & intimately conuerse vvith God; It is incredible vvhat progresse she vvill make in internall vvayes; vvheras from a neglect of such solitude, nothing proceedes but tepidity, sensuall designes &c.

9. Novv to the end that Solitude may in the begin­ning become lesse tedious, & aftervvards delightfull; Religious Persons not only may, but ought to preserue a conuenient & discreet Liberty of Spirit about their employments & entertainments of their minds in pri­uate, prudently vsing a variety in them, changing any one, vvhen it becomes ouer-burdensome, into another more gratefull; sometimes reading, sometimes writing, other times vvorking, often praying: Yea if they shall find it conuenient, sometimes remaining for a short space in a kind of cessation from all both Externall & Internall vvorking, yet euer being at least in a ver­tuall Attention & tendance to God, referring all to him & his Glory. For so they can truly say vvith the Psal­mist, (Fortitudinem meam ad te custodiam) I will reserue my principall strength to be employed for thee, O my God; all other employments (not of obligation) are both for the manner & measure to be ordered as shall be most commodious for the Spirit, that it may come vvith chearfullnes & an appetite to the appointed Recolle­ctions. Suitable herto is the counsell giuen by an An­cient holy Hermite to one of his brethren demanding to vvhat he should apply himselfe in times out of praier, [Page 290] he ansvvered, Whatsoeuer thy mind according to God shall bid thee doe, that doe thou. And indeed after a reaso­nable time vvell spent in Solitude, by the helpe of In­ternall Prayer a soule vvill receiue a Diuine light, by vvhich she vvill clearely see vvhat shall be most conue­nient & proper for her at all times to doe.

10. Notvvitstanding this caution is to be vsed, That if in any Employment a soule does find herselfe caried to it vvith too much eagernes & affection, she is to qualifie such eagernes by forbearing, & a vvhile in­terrupting her present exercise, vvith a resignation of her vvill to be quite debarred from it, if such be Gods vvill for her good, & actually referring it to God.

11. It is very remarkable the great & studious care that our Holy Father in his Rule takes to recommend Solitude, & to shevv the necessity of it; as likevvise to imprint deepely in the minds of his disciples not only a great auersion, but euen a feare & horrour of the vvorld. All things must be prouided & executed vvith­in dores (vt non sit necessitas euagandi) that no necessity may force the Religious to be gadding abroad. And in case there should be an vnauoydable necessity therto, Prayers are appoynted to be made for those that are to goe abroad, & the like vvhen they returne home: Whither vvhen they come, they are strictly forbidden to tell any nevves of their iourney. All this, as if by only stepping out of their inclosure they vvere exposed to immediate perill; & that it vvere not possible to haue bene in the vvorld vvithout contracting such staines, as that for the vvashing them avvay, Publicke prayers of the Commu­nity [Page 291] vvere needfull. Such vvas the care expressed by our Holy Patriarke: vvho by ovvne experience had lear­ned the vvonderfull benefit, & extreme necessity of Solitude for the attaining to Contemplation, according to that of the Prophet, by vvhose mouth God sayes, (Ose. cap. 4.) Ducam eam in solitudinem, & loquar ad cor illius. That is, I will leade the deuour soule into a solitary place, and there I will speake words of kindnes & intimacy to her spirit. And to the same purpose another Prophet saith (Lament cap. 3.) (Sedebit solitarius & tacebit quia le­uauit se super se.) The solitary person will sit still, & hold his peace, because he hath raised vp his spirit aboue himselfe (& all creatures.)

12. Indeed vvhatsoeuer spirituall Employment a soule hath, & vvhensoeuer she desires to haue any con­uersation vvith God, Solitude is the state most proper for it, vvhether it be to bevvaile her sins; to exercise Pen­nance; to meditate on the holy scriptures; to prepare herselfe for any employment: but especially to exercise spirituall prayer freely. Thither most of the Ancient Saints, yea many holy Bishops oft retired themselues, because they knevv that in solitude Gods dvvelling vvas especial­ly fixed; & after a free, immediate & vnexpressible communion vvith him there, they returned more ena­bled & enlightned to discharge the sollicitous Duties of their callings.

13. But absolute Solitude (such as vvas that of Ancient Hermites) vvas neuer permitted to soules till after a suf­ficient time spent in the exercises of a Coenobiticall life (except to a very fevv miraculously called thereto out [Page 292] of the vvorld, as S. Anthony, S. Hilarion, our holy Father S. Benedict &c:) Because a vvonderfull firmenes of mind, confidence in God, purity of soule &c: are re­quisite to him that vvithout the comfort & assistance of any shall oppose himselfe single to the Deuills assaults, vvhich in such a solitude are more furious; And like­vvise an vnusuall measure of spirituall light is needfull to such a soule to enable her to be her ovvne Directour & disposer in all things.

CHAP. VII.

§. 1. 2. &c. The third kind of generall Mortification is Silence; the which is strictly enioyned in S. Benedicts Rule. But in these dayes cannot so rigorously be obserued; & why? the conditions of it.

§. 12. 13. 14. 15. Of Recreations now permitted.

§. 16. 17. 18. Conditions to be obserued in Conferences.

§. 19. Of melancholick dispositions: & how they are to be treated.

1. THE third generall kind of mortification is silence: The vvhich is one of the most proffitable mor­tifications in a spirituall Life, preuenting a vvorld of in­conceiueably pernicious dammages vvhich the spirit of Deuotion and Recollection receiues by the superfluity and intemperance of the Tongue: The ordinary subiect of vnnecessary conuersations being murmurings, Detra­ction, at least vaine and distractiue disputes, Professions of Friendships, Newes &c. Vpon the guard of the Tongue (saith [Page 293] the Wiseman) depends Life ond Death: and vvh [...]soeuer ac­counts himselfe Religious and refraines not his Tongue, that mans Religion is vaine, sayth S. Iames: Of such infinite importance is the vvell ordering of so small a mem­ber: And this euen in the world: much more therfore in Religion.

2. Hervpon our Holy Father deales vvith his Disciples, as God did vvith a certaine devout and Holy Monke, to whom he left no povver at all to vse his tongue but only for prayer in the Community, being absolutly dumbe in all other occasions and times. For in our Holy Rule there seemes no Permission allovved to particular Religious for any voluntary or recreatiue Discourses at any times; no not to Superiours themselues. And for spirituall discourses by vvay of teaching, those vvere on­ly allovved to the Abbot, or to certaine Seniours and Officers by the Abbots expresse appointment or leaue. And vvhen there hapned a necessity that an ansvver should be giuen by any of the private Religious, they vvere to deliuer it as breifely as vvas possible: If yea or nay vvould serue the turne, they must adde no more. And it seemes Answering only vvas permitted; not as­king of Questions, except vvhen necessary busines re­quired.

3. But in these latter daies Superiours have concei­ved themselves obliged to remit much of this rigorous Silence, not only permitting, but euen appointing sett times for Recreative Conversations and entertainmēts: Therin complying vvith the indispositions and gene­rall infirmity either of our Complexions or minds.

[Page 294]4. Now whether it were true, reall necessity, or no, that hath caused such dispensations, I vvill not inquire. But this is certaine; that no ancienter then S. Bernards dayes the rigorous Silence of the Rule vvas most exactly obser­ved: Yea euen in these our days, and that in Commu­nities of vvomen, there is little vvanting of the like rigour. And if Religious Persons had truly good vvills to seeke God, they vvould find many things not very difficult, vvhich in their present dispositions seeme im­possible, both in the point of Silence and also of Dyet &c.

5. Hovv euer this is certaine, that much and willing speaking is the effect of Tepidity, selfe-loue, and Pride. For commonly it flovves from an opinion that vvee can speake vvell: and consequently out of a desire of gai­ning estimation from others by shevving our vvits and abilities. But such Intentions and Designes as these the Disciple of true Humility and Spirituality vvill ab­horre.

6. It is very requisite for an Internall Liuer therfore at least to observe that moderate and qualified Silence required in his Community not transgressing either in the appointed places, or at the determinate times in which speaking is forbidden.

7. A young Religious Person must not vvithout ne­cessity be the first mouer or proposer of a Discourse: nor ordinarily speake till he be asked, vnlesse it be to pro­pose a question or doubt in a matter of concernement. Yea this Aduice may likevvise concerne the more An­cient, vnlesse vvee doe conceiue that they are disobli­ged [Page 295] from Humility and necessary Abstraction. Indeed Perfecter Soules can, when an occasion of necessary Dis­course is administred, speake more with incurring fewer and lesse Defects, then the imperfect.

8. When Prudence and Charity require of vs to speake, vvee must be very carefull not to make the Im­perfections of others any part of the matter of our Dis­course: and especially not the imperfections of those from vvhom in our natures vvee seeme to haue an a­version. And principally vvee must take heed of spea­king or doing any thing to breede a dislike betvveene any. Therfore all secret Informings and accusations are most carefully to be auoyded, as the ruine of Christian Charity in Communities.

9. And this concernes Superiours as vvell as others: vvho ought to be very far from fauouring this perni­ciously officious and vncharitable humour of accusing or informing in any of their Religious. Much lesse ought they to esteeme that their Authori [...]y can extend to the preiudice of Brotherly Charity, so far as to ex [...]use, or howeuer to oblige any one to be an accuser or infor­mer against his brethren. A pretence of doing good to their subiects soules vvill be alledged by such Supe­riours as are of a curious, inquisitive Disposition, and are continually searching into the behaviour of their Religious: but little good Reformation vvill ever be vvrought by such an humour of Iealous Curiosity; On the contrary, the effects of it are the breeding of dis­contents generally in all: and the greatest mischeife to the soules of private vncharitable Informers.

[Page 296]10. It is more secure for one that is apt to offend in his Tongue, to be in company of many, then of one or two whom he affects. Therfore particular Intimacy and private correspondences betvvene Religious is much to be avoyded, both for the Peace of Communities, and the good of each priuate Religious Person.

11. No vvords are to be spoken nor Action done merely vpon the motiue of edifying others. And indeed vvhere recreatiue conuersations are allovved, the most commodious subiects of Discourse are purely indiffe­rent things, and such as are neither apt to moue Pas­sions, nor to leaue distracting Images in the Hearers minds.

12. Vpon this occasion I conceiue it necessary to adde some Aduices touching Religious Recreations: The vvhich are not to be concluded fit to be prohibited, be­cause vvee sayd, that the Duty of Mortification ex­tends it selfe vniuersally to the whole soule, and that it is to be continued to the end of ones Life. On the con­trary, not only Reason, but the Examples of the most Perfect among the Ancient Saints, famous for Contem­plation shew, that it is proffitable, yea at due times neces­sary. To this purpose seemes the story of S. Iohn the Euan­gelist, the first Doctour and Example of Contemplation, whose custome vvas to recreate himselfe vvith a tame Doue: For vvhich being censured by a Hunter that passed by, as for an Action that vvas beneath his gra­uity, and not beseeming one that professed a conti­nuall conuersation vvith God: He defended himselfe to the conuiction of the reprouer, by shevving, that as a Bow [Page 297] if it be alvvayes bent would loose its force: so the mind likevvise vvould become vtterly vncapable of Di­uine Thoughts, if no relaxation vvere allovved to it; considering the infirmity of the Body, that cannot al­vvays supply fit Spirits to Actions, especially to such as are so contrary to its inclinations.

13. True it is, that in our Holy Rule there are ex­tant no Orders about Conuentuall Recreations: which argues that none vvere practised in those dayes. Yea our Holy Father takes a particular care hovv euery hower of the day should be employed in common. Notvvith­standing after Refection he enioyned the Religious to retire each one into his Cell, permitting them a conue­nient time to refresh themselues alone, either with Sleepe, as the custome vvas in that vvarme Climate; or othervvise as they found themselues disposed, if they had no inclination to Sleepe: for no certaine employ­ment is then appointed.

14. But because in these latter dayes our complexions are not supposed able to support so great solitude and Attention to the Spirit, as hath bene sayd: Therfore haue Superiours allovved and ordeined daily certaine times for Recreatiue Conferences, almost obliging each par­ticular Religious Person to be present at them: And be­sides, at certaine seasons monthly, or as the custome is, they haue afforded an addition to the Diet.

15. Neither doth this preiudice the Duty of continuall Mortification, vvhich is not to be interpreted in ex­treme rigour, because then nature, euen in the ablest complexions, vvould be destroyed. And besides, Recrea­tions [Page 298] are appointed that Mortification may be better & more feruently exercised aftervvard. Adde herunto, that euen in Recreation it selfe Mortification may and ought in some reasonable degree to be discreetly ex­ercised, so as that the mind is not to povvre it selfe forth vpon that vvhich is pleasant to nature: but to keepe a moderate vvatchfullnesse ouer it selfe, and to referre the contentment found therin to the good of the Spirit.

16. To speake a little therefore particularly touching such Conferences: Decency is in grosse to be obserued: But it vvill be di [...]ficult to prescribe any sett order or manner for the Talke, as not to speake vnasked; not to exceede such a limitation of vvords &c. (to omit many particular cautions, which at other times are to be obser­ved.) Here some more freedome must be allovved, so it goe not too far.

17. Among Women there can scarce be any Recrea­tion, if the Tongue be too much stinted. Neither is it to be expected that their Talke should be of Spirituall matters: Both because such Talke is far from being re­creatiue: as likevvise because none but expert Persons ought to discourse of such subiects. Indeed to make such the subiect of ordinary Discourse euen betvvene the most able experienced persons, either Men or vvo­men, is not conuenient at all: Except some speciall oc­casion makes it expedient. For it vsually proceeds from Pride, or a vvillingnes to interest ones selfe in the guiding of the Consciences of others, and may produce incon­uenient Effects in both.

[Page 299]18. The matter and conditions of Recreatiue Discourse therfore may be. 1. That the matter doe not particu­larly referre to the Interiour of any of the parties: But if it regard a Religious State, that it be about lesse con­siderable externall matters, as Ceremonies, Customes &c. 2. That it may be some thing that may be apt to cause chearfullnes, though not laughter (vvhich our Holy Father vvould haue banished from his Communities:) Novv Discourses about such matters are not to be reputed Idle words. 3. It were better to talke of the ocurrences of former times, then of the present: because our Holy Father forbids the inquiring or telling of newes in the vvorld, for feare least the Hearers being interessed, may become distracted vvith sollicitudes. 4. It must not ther­fore be of any thing that probably vvill leaue in the minds any hurtfull Images. 5. The Hearer is not to suffer the subiect of the Discourses to enter so deepe into his mind as that it should raise any Passions there. 6. It must by no meanes be of any thing [...]y vvhich any one present or absent may be preiudiced or contristated, nor indeed aftervvards distracted &c.

19. As touching those that are naturally of Melancho­lick Dispositions, they ought to be exceedingly vvatchfull ouer themselues that they giue not vvay to so pestilent an humour. Nature vvill incline them to auoyd all Re­creations and diuersions, and being very subtle, it vvill suggest pretences to iustify a froward Lonelines, & an humour not able to support innocent conuersation: as if this vvere done out of a Loue to a Religious So­litude and Recollection. But in all likelyhood such a [Page 300] peruerse Solitude is employed in troublesome disquie­ting Imaginations and Resueries, far more distracting then any Conuersations. Therfore they, or rather their Superiours ought to take a speciall care that such a dan­gerous humour be not nourished by discontented Retire­ments, at the times vvhen others are conuersing together: and that at all other times they should be busied in such kind of employments as should not be apt to nou­rish sollicitude. Such dispositions if Prudently managed, may proue proper for contemplation, because their thoughts being not easily dissipated, they are disposed for Recollection. Wheras on the contrary, the same Dispositions being neglected, and sufferd to follovv the bent of their Natures, they vvill be in danger to fall into terrible Extrauagancies.

20. S. Teresa in her Foundations hath a particular Dis­course containing excellent Aduices hovv Melancholick Spirits are to be managed: Saying, that they ought not to be dispenced from Mortifications or employments from which they are auerse, notwithstanding this frowardnes of their humour: Yet withall that the Superiour in his Cariage towards them ought to make it appeare, that all that he imposes so on them, proceeds from pure charity, and not any crossenes or auersion &c.

CHAP. VIII.

§. 1. 2. 3. Of the Fourth kind of Generall Mortifications, viz. Tranquillity of mind.

§. 4. 5. It may be in the Superiour Soule during the time that there is disquiet in the Sensitiue.

§. 6. 7. 8. How Peace and Tranquillity of soule may be pro­cured.

§. 9. 10. Of a State of Perfect Peace: which is the End of a Contemplatiue Life.

1. THe Fourth Generall Mortification is a Constant Peacefullnes and Tranquillity of mind maintai­ning it selfe against all disquieting Passions of Greife, Feare, Despaire &c: Of vvhich I shall in this place speake breifly, and only in a generall manner, being shortly in the follovving Section to treate largely of the cheife Enemy therof, vvhich is Feare and Scrupulosity: vvhere I shall take notice of the Speciall Motiues or In­struments of procuring such Peace of mind, and of resto­ring it vvhen it is lost.

2. Without a reasonable proportion of such Tranquil­lity obtained, a soule vvill be quite disabled from Inter­nall Prayer. Therfore she is to vse all care to preserue it: and vvhen it is disturbed or lost, she must endeauour as soone, and after the best manner she can to regaine it, till she be able to say, None shall take my Peace from me. And to vse the vvords of the Psalmist (Anima mea in manibus meis semper) My soule is alwayes in my hands [Page 302] and disposition, and not captiuated by the corrupt Pas­sions of Nature.

3. The subiect of this Peace is the Soule according to all its Faculties, both knovving and affecting: and both in the superiour and Spirituall, as also in the inferiour and [...]ensitiue portion: For not only the Affections of the vvill, and Passions of sensuality, but also the Reason and Imagination may be disturbed: And therfore a Composednes and calmenes is to be procured through all. But yet the vvayes and meanes herto necessary, are not the same: neither does it follovv that vvhen the Inferiour Faculties are in disorder, that the same disor­der should be communicated to the Superiour also. It does not alvvayes lye in our power vvholly to suppresse the instability and obstinacy of the Imagination, nor the vnrulines of sensuality, vvhich oft times doe resist our Superiour Reas [...]n. But vvee are alvvayes enabled by the ordinary Grace of God to keepe in repose our Supe­riour soule that is, to hinder it from attending to the suggestions of the Imagination (vvhich vvee may re­iect) or to deny consent or approba [...]ion to the motions of sensuality, and this a [...] least it must be our great Care to doe.

4. Neither ought a vvell-minded soule to be dis­couraged or deiected at the contradiction that she finds in sensuality; But resisting it the best she can, she must be resigned and Patient vvith herselfe, as she vvould be at the refractory humours of another, till that by Gods blessing a longer exercise of Prayer and Mortification doe produce a greater subiection of sensuall Nature to [Page 303] Reason and Grace. In the meane time she may com­fort herselfe vvith this assurance, That all merit and Demerit lyes in the Superiour will, and not at all in sen­suality considered in it selfe, and as diuided from the Will.

5. During the Conflict betvveene Reason and sence, or Appetite, there may be a reall Tranquillity in the Su­periour Region of the soule, although the Person be not able to discerne that there is any such Quietnes: yea on the contrary to fearfull Natures it vvill seeme that vvhensoeuer the sensitiue part is disturbed, the spiri­tuall Portion doth also partake of its disorders: And this vncertainty, mistake and feare that a fault has bene com­mitted is the ground of much scrupulosity, and by meanes therof, of great vnquietnes indeeed, euen in the supe­riour soule, to Persons that are not vvell instructed in the Nature and subordination of the Faculties and O­perations of the soule.

6. Hovveuer a vvell-minded soule may conclude, that there is a calmnes in the Reason, and in the vvill a refu­sall to consent to the suggestions of sensuality, euen in the midst of the greatest disorders thereof, vvhilst that the combat does not cease, and as long as the outward members directed by Reason, and moued by the Su­periour vvill, doe behaue themselues othervvise then the vnruly appetite vvould moue them. For example, vvhen a person being moued to Anger, though he find an vnquiet representation in the Imrgination, and a violent heate and motions about the Heart, as likewise an auersion in sensitiue nature against the person that [Page 304] hath giuen the prouocation: yet if notvvithstanding he refraines himselfe from breaking forth into vvords of Impatience to vvhich his Passion vvould vrge him, & vvithall contradicts designes of Reuenge suggested by Passion, such an one practising Internall Prayer and Mortification is to esteeme himselfe not to haue con­sented to the motions of corrupt nature, although be­sides the invvard motion of the Appetite, he could not hinder markes of his Passion from appearing in his Eyes and the colour of his countenance.

7. When vvee seeke to retaaine such Quietnes in the midst of vnquietnes, vvee doe it by exercising an Act of Mortification proper to the occasion. Euery Act vvherof doth in some degree abate impetuous Nature, disposing us for better and more quiet Recollections, vvhich vvill procure us a clearer light and more effica­cious Grace to resist sensuality aftervvards. As on the contrary, each Act of immortification doth increase in us Selfe-loue (the cause and Roote of all vnquietnes) and causes a greater obscurity in the soule, indisposing it likevvise to Prayer.

8. To the end to procure an Habituall Peacefullnes of mind, vvee must be carefull not to doe any of our Actions (I meane euen our Actions of Duty) vvith im­petuousnes and an invvard hastines, but vvith a compo­sed calmenes. For all acts of impetuosity and violence are so far but effects of Selfe-loue, and proceed not from the Diuine Spirit, vvhich is altogether stillnes, se­renity and tranquillity. And let us not suspect that such a calme performance of our Duty argues a Tepi­dity [Page 305] and vvant of Feruour. On the contrary such A­ctions so done are of more vertue and efficacious soli­dity. For the Feruour that is indeed to be desired, is not a hasty motion and heate in the inferiour Nature, but a firme and strong Resolution in the vvill, coura­geously (yet vvithout violence that is outvvardly sen­sible) breaking through all difficulties and contradi­ctions.

9. All the Duties of Mortification (and consequently the exercise of all vertues) may be reduced to Custodia cordis. Which is a vvary guard of our heart, and it con­sists in not povvring forth our affections inordinatly v­pon creatures, nor admitting into our soules any inor­dinate loue; it is a Charinesse ouer our interiour, to keepe it in as much quietnesse as vvee can. In cases of suffe­rance it is patience; in occasions of feare and disquiet it is the practise of Resignation. It is in effect Abstra­ction, for it requireth that vvee restraine ourselues from medling vvith vvhat doth not appertaine vnto vs: and in vvhat doth belong to vs to doe, it requireth a reseruednesse of our loues and affections for God, to vvhom they are only due: Also that in speaking, hearing, & see­ing &c. vvee be vvary they cary no inordinate affections into our soule. It is in effect Solitude, for though vvee be in company, yet hauing such a guard and care ouer our Passions and affections, vvee are as it vvere alone. It is a passing ouer all Creatures vvith a farther tendance to God. It is the practice of loue, obedience, humility and resignation to God; for these vertues vvee exercise ver­tually, vvhen vvee reserue our selues and our affections [Page 306] for God. It is a principall meane to ouercome all temp­tations of vvhat kind so euer, for it permits not the temptation to make any entry into the soule, vvhich is kept as the dvvelling place of God and his loue. It requireth that vvee looke not after superfluities of meate, drinke, cloathing &c: and that vvee desire not superfluous knovvledges of vvhat belongs not to vs, nor is necessary for vs. It forbids all childish immortifyed complaints or expostulations; or any thing vvherein vvee merely satisfy the inclinations of our corrupt na­ture. It forbiddeth vs to doe any thing impetuously or vvith invvard anxiety. It is termed an interiour silence, or an interiour peace or concord: and for the better knovv­ledge and practise of it, regard the teaching of the little Treatise of the Quiet of the soule, vvritten by Bo­nilla of the Order of S. Francis.

10. True Peace of mind, vvhen it is in Perfection, is the Supreme state in an Internall Life: being a stability in one and the selfe same tenour: an immutadbility, in­difference, and insensibility as to our selues and to all Creatures and Euents; by vvhich the soule transcends all, liuing in God only, and not being concerned in any other thing besides. And the Roote of it is the Perfection of Diuine Charity, and destruction of selfe Loue. For as long as selfe-loue is actiue in vs, it caries vs to multi­plicity, urging vs to seeke contentment in any thing pleasing to nature, and all her Appetites: the vvhich being crossed or not fully satisfyed, are restlesse and vnquiet. Whereas Diuine Loue alone raigning, vnites and concentrates all our thoughts and Affections in one [Page 307] only Obiect, vvhich is God: Carying all other Affe­ctions in that one streame: So that there being no diuer­sity of Designes, there must necessarily follovv Per­fect vnity and Peace. This is a State to vvhich the soule aspires in a Contemplatiue Life. The gaining of vvhich vvill deserue and abundantly recompence all the suf­frings and tediousnes that nature is likely to find in the vvay.

11. Yet euen this state in the most Perfect, is not absolutely and entirely exempted from all trouble in inferiour Nature: But such trouble is small and scarce considerable; for notvvithstanding it the Superiour soule partakes nothing of it, but raignes in that vpper Region of Light and Peace, and from thence lookes dovvne vpon sensuality, either as a thing diuided from it selfe, in whose imperfections and disorders she is nothing concerned, being as it vvere safe locked vp from them in a strong Tower: or else she suppresses all such motions in their first breaking out, in vertue of that Dominion vvhich by long practise she hath gained ouer them. In such a state of perfect Peace (yet vvithout the least con­tradiction of sensuall Nature) Adam liued during his Innocency: And hovv far any other mere man hath, or may attaine therto in this Life, is not for mee to deter­mine.

THE SECOND SECTION OF THE SECOND TREATISE: TOVCHING Certaine speciall Mortifications of the Passions &c.

CHAP. I.

§. 1. Mortification properly is not of the senses or cognos­citiue Faculties, but of the affections.

§. 2. 3. 4. The speciall Mortifications treated of are 1. Of the Principall Cardinall Passions. 2. Of the Affections of the Superiour will.

§. 5. The first Passion is Loue.

1. INTENDING novv consequently to treate of the Speciall kinds of Mortification, those especially vvhich are most proper for a Reli­gious Contemplatiue Life: I take this as a [Page 309] Ground, that though Mortification doe regard the whole soule vvith all the faculties of it (and consequently the vvhole person) vniuersally depraued: Yet precisely and exactly speaking, it is only the Affectiue Part of the Soule that is immediatly Mortified, and only in consequence therto the knowing faculties or Organs. For though Igno­rance be a defect in the Soule, yet vvee doe not say that Knowledge, or Faith, is properly a Mortification, though it be a cure of that defect. But an inordinate loue to knowledge vnnecessary, vvhich is Curiosity, deserues, and is a Deordination proper and fit to be mortified. The like vvee may say of the outvvard Senses: for it is not Seeing or Tasting &c. that are to be mortified; but the inordinate Affection to those Obiects vvhich delight the Eyes or Tast &c. Therfore my Intention is to distin­guish the seuerall sorts of Mortification according to the seuerall Passions or Affections of the Soule, both as to the Sensitiue and Rationall Portion of it, and to referre therto the respectiue Mortifications of the seuerall Senses (vvith­out speaking distinctly and separatly of them, vvhich vvould force me to repeate ouer againe the same Ad­uices, vvhen I came to treate of the Mortification of Af­fections.)

2. This therfore shall be the Order according to vvhich I vvill treate of the Mortification of Affections, viz. In the First place, I vvill begin vvith the Sensitiue Portion of the soule: In vvhich there are fower Principall Passions, comprehending all the rest, vvhich are to be mortified, viz. 1. Loue, to vvhich Desire and Ioy haue relation, being only a progresse of Loue: Novv the Obiect of Loue [Page 310] being either Persons or things, and those either materiall or spirituall, there are many vertues required to the mortifying (that is, the rectifying) of it: as against the loue of Riches, Pouerty; Against impure Delectations, Cha­stity: Against the pleasures of Tast, Temperance: Against excessiue (though not vncleane) Loue to persons, freinds &c. the Loue of God and spirituall things &c. But my pur­pose here is only to treate of that vniuersall Vertue, vvhich is the Cure of all inordinate Loues, to vvit, the Loue of God, and in him, and for his sake only, of our Brethren: and of Purity of Intention (vvhich in substance are the same:) And because the Tentations about Tast are such as adhere to the most spirituall Persons, dayly and vna­uoidably assalting them, I vvill adde some Instructions about our behauiour in Refection. 2. The next Passion is Anger. (Some instead herof doe put in Hope; But hovvsoeuer for our present purpose the Passion of Anger deserues more to be considered by vs; for Hope may be referd to Desire, or Loue.) Novv the Remedy or Mortifi­cation proper against Anger is the vertue of Patience. 3. The third Passion in sensitiue Nature is Feare. 4. And the fourth is Sorrow: And because it is not needfull (as to our present purpose) to diuide these two, since a­mong Internall Liuers it is Feare that is the most tor­menting Passion, and that vvhich causes Excesse of Sorrow: Therfore the same Remedies vvill serue to cure both: for vvhich purpose I vvill discourse largely concerning Scrupulosity, the Causes & Remedies of it &c.

3. In the next place as to the Superiour Portion of the Rationall Soule (besides the same Affections of Loue, Anger, [Page 311] Feare and Sorrow, vvhich in the Inferiour Soule are called Passions, and hauing the same Obiects &c. are to be com­prised in them) there are more particularly two distem­pers in the Will, to vvit, Pride or Selfe-esteeme; the Re­medy wherof is Humility: And next, Obstinacy and a violent retaining of Liberty; to vvhich the proper Reme­dy opposed is Obedience. As for a loue of superfluous Knovvledge, or Curiosity enough hath bene said tou­ching the mortifying of it, vvhere vvee treated of the regulating of the Studies of Religious Persons.

4. In this Order therfore I vvill novv treate of the Passions or Affections to be mortified, and the manner hovv to doe it by the Vertues opposed: Beginning with the Sensitiue Passions, and so proceeding to the spe­ciall inordinate Affections in the Will. First therfore of Inordinate Loue either to Persons or things: and the Re­medy of it vvhich is Diuine Charity.

CHAP. II.

§. 1. Loue is the Roote of all other Passions.

§. 2. The wonderfull deprauednes of our Naturall Loue.

§. 3. The only vniuersall Remedy is Charity, or Diuine Loue.

§. 4. 5. Of the distinction of Loue into. 1. A loue of Desire or Concupiscence. 2. a loue of Freindship. The which are ne­uer separated.

1. THE Principle of all our Actions both Exter­nall and Internall, and that vvhich both begets [Page 312] and sets on vvorke all other Passions is only Loue, that is, an Internall Complacence and Inclination to an obiect from the Goodnes or Beauty that is beleiued to be in it. The vvhich Obiect, if it be absent, the first effect of Loue is Desire or tendance to it. But if it be present, then the Effect of Loue is Ioy, Rest, & Fruition of it. Not only Greife and Anger &c. but euen Hatred it selfe is set on vvorke by Loue: For therfore a Person is angry, discontented or displeased, because something comes in the vvay, hindring him from vvhat he Loues: Ther­fore he labours and vvorkes all that he does vvorke. So that accordingly as Loue is regulated and placed v­pon a vvorthy or vnvvorthy Obiect, so is the vvhole Person disposed, according to that saying of S. Augustin, Non faciunt bonos vel malos mores, nisi boni vel mali amo­res: that is, It is only a good or ill Loue that makes our A­ctions and Conditions to be good or ill.

2. Hence vvill appeare hovv inexpressibly depraued both our Nature and all our Actions, outvvard and in­vvard must be, since vvheras wee were created only to loue and enioy God, yet vvee loue and seeke nothing but our selues. Our sensitiue Affections are caried to no­thing but vvhat is pleasing to sensuality. And our Spiri­tuall Affections to nothing but Propriety, Liberty, Inde­pendence, Selfe-esteeme, Selfe-iudgment, & Selfe-will, & to those things only that doe nourish such depraued Affe­ctions. By this meanes vvee are quite diuerted from our last End and Felicity: Euery thought that naturally vvee thinke, euery vvord vvee speake, euery Action vvee doe caries vs further from God, our only last End and [Page 313] Perfection: And consequently nothing can vvee reape from them, but encrease in Misery.

3. Novv the only possible Remedy for this horrible and vniuersall deordination in vs, proceeding from the only Roote of Selfe loue, is to haue a new contrary Diuine Principle imprinted in our Hearts, by vvhich vvee should be auerted from the falsely seeming Happines that Selfe loue promises vs in Creatures, and conuerted to our first and only End, which is God; And this can be no other, but Diuine Loue or Charity shed abroad in our Hearts by the Holy Ghost. This Charity is an vniuersall Cure of all our disorders, producing the like Effects in us vvith respect to our true End, that Selfe-loue did to a false End. It raises and emploies, vvhen need is, all other Passions: Anger against our ovvne negligence, in­gratitude &c. Hatred against the Deuill and sin that hinder our Conuersion to God &c. And it is the roote of all our good Actions: for giuing vs an Inclination, desire & tendance to Vnion vvith God, from thence it is that vvee regulate & direct all our Actions to him. Herupon S. Paul ascribes to Charity the Acts of all other vertues, Charity (saith he) is patient, it is kinde, long suffering, it doeth nothing vnseemely, it reioyceth in the Truth, &c.

4. Novv to the End vvee may haue a distinct and cleare Notion of the Nature of true Charity, vvhich is one and the Noblest Species of Loue: Wee may take notice that in generall Loue regards 1. Either a thing that wee desire to be possessed of, or to procure for our selues, or some other that wee loue, as Pleasure, Proffit, [Page 314] Honour, Knovvledge &c. 2. Or else a Person, either our selues or any other to whom vvee beare an Affection, and to whom wee vvish any good thing. The former of these tvvo Loues is called a Loue of desire: The latter a Loue of freind [...]hip. The difference betvveene these tvvo is this, That vvhen vvee loue any thing distinct from our selues, or the Person of our freind, our loue does not rest in the thing, but in the Person, for it is not the thing is loued, but only for the Persons sake, in vvhom Loue is finally terminated, and to vvhom that thing is loued and sought. So that vvhē vvee seeke plea­sure and riches &c. to our selues; the loue that vvee beare vnto them is indeed, selfe-loue, because it is only for out ovvne sakes that vvee loue them, to giue Satis­faction to our Naturall desires. Yea vvhen vvee loue a Person only for Sensuall Pleasures sake, and not for vertue, it is our Selues only that vvee loue in such a Person, vvhom vvee then loue not properly as a Per­sō, but as a thing pleasurable to vs. But by a Loue of Freind­ship vvee doe, at least vvee professe to loue the Person for the Persons sake, and to seeke therin not our ovvne good, but only the Persons, for vvhose greater good vvee are vvilling to neglect our ovvne: yea sometimes for the Persons contentment, safety &c. to sacrifice our ovvne contentment, or, may be, our life also. Thus far Freind­ship hath bene described in Ancient and latter times: And Charity is by all acknovvledged to be a Loue of Freindship to God, and, for his sake only, to men or our selues.

5. Indeede if vvee narrovvly examine the matter, vvee [Page 315] shall find, that there neither is, nor can be a [...]y other true freindship but Charity, or the Loue vvhich vvee beare to God or for God: And that all other pretended Freindships either among Heathens or Christians, are mere sensuall Selfe-loue. For though in some Freind [...]hips (as they are called) some haue professed so absolute a purity and freedome from selfe-interests, as for their freinds sake to neglect not only all temporall respects of Riches, Ho­nour, Pleasure &c, but also vvillingly exposed their Liues: Yet indeed the true Motiue of all vvas a Sen­suall loue vnto thēselues: For therfore for their freinds sake they made choice of Death, rather then to liue depriued of them, because the vvant of so great a Sen­suall contentment vvas far more bitter & insupportable to them then the paine of suffring death: which vvould quickly be finished, vvheras the languour and torture of the other vvould neuer haue ceased till death.

6. But Charity is only, and in the most strict sense a Freindship, because therin all our Loue is terminated in God only: vvee loue nothing but him, or for him: Yea vvee direct the loue not only of all other Creatures, but also of our selues only to him.

7. Novv in vvhat sence it is vsually sayd, that our loue to God must be a free vnconcerned loue, renouncing all interest or expectation of revvard as a Motiue therto, and hovv this purely free loue may (nothwitstanding) con­sist with, yea be grounded vpon, a hope of retribution in Heauen, consisting in the vision and fruition of God: see the following Appendix at the End of the last Treatise.

CHAP. III.

§. 1. 2. The proper Seate of Charity is the Superiour will: not the sensitiue Affections: Though oft in Beginners it o­perates much there.

§. 3. 4. Seuerall Acts or Fruits of Charity.

§. 5. 6. The securest Practise of Diuine Loue is by selfe Ab­negation.

§. 7. Propriety makes and fills Hell: And Resignation Heauen.

1. THE most precious Vertue of Charity resides not in Sensuality: Neither is it a painfull lon­ging of the soule, vvhich causes motions in the Heart: Yea though it become such a loue as Mysticks call a languishing Loue, yet it is not such as sensuall Loues vse to be, a troublesome vnquiet Passion. But it is seated in the Superiour soule, being a quiet, but most resolute determination of the Superiour Will to seeke God, and a perfect vnion vvith him: the vvhich Resolution she vvill not giue ouer for any distractions or occurring diffi­culties vvhatsoeuer. Yea then it is oft most excellent and perfect, vvhen the heart or inferiour Nature re­ceiues the least contentment by it, yea on the contrary feeles the greatest disgusts and desolations. And such a Resolution is grounded on an high esteeme vvee haue by Faith of the Infinite Perfections of God, and the in­numerable obligations layd by him on vs. This makes an inflamed soule to despise all things vvhatsoeuer for [Page 317] God, and to tend to him vvith a resolution of enioy­ing him, though vvith the losse of Pleasure, Riches, Honour, yea and the Life it selfe.

2. Yet so generous a Loue as this is not gotten sud­denly: At the first it is very imperfect, & much allayed by selfe-interest, and seeking contentment to Nature, euen in the Actions done for God: so that vvere it not that ordinarily during such a State of Imperfection God cherishes the soule with sensible Comforts & gusts vvhich she feeles in the Exercise of her loue to him, she vvould scarce haue courage enough to proceede.

3. The Acts, Effects, and Fruits proper to pure Charity or Diuine Freindship are. 1. To be vnited in affection to God as our Cheife & only Good, vvith vvhom in some sort vvee are one. 2 Out of Loue to him to take ioy in his Perfections, congratulating vvith him therfore: & exulting that he is adored & glorified by Angells & Saints. 3. To will and consent to the immutability of those Perfections. 4. To desire and, occasions being giuen, to endeauour that all creatures may loue and adore him: That infidells and sinners may be conuerted to him, that so he may raigne by Loue in all. 5. To be sorry for all offences, both our ovvne and others, com­mitted against him. 6. In pure Loue to him, to determine faithfully and vnchangeably to serue him. 7. To take i [...]y in all things that please him. 8. With indifferency to ac­cept of all things from his hands, as vvell things displea­sing to our natures, as pleasing. 9. To be sorry for all things that are contrary to his Holy vvill. 10. To Loue all things that belong to him, meerly for that reason. 11. [Page 318] For his sake to loue all men: Yea euen our Enemies & Persecutours: Nay moreouer to endeauour to expresse some effects of loue more to them, then others, as being speciall Instruments of procuring greater good to vs then our freinds are. 12. To doe all the Honour vvee can to him: and all the seruice vvee can to others for his sake. 13. In nothing to seeke temporall commodity: but only to please him. 14. To imitate him in all his Perfe­ctions that are imitable: and particularly for his sake to loue others vvith the like freedome of loue vvherwith he hath loued vs, not seeking any commodity to him­selfe therby. 15. To endeauour to serue him the best vvee can: and yet vvithall to reioice that he is serued more perfectly by others. 16. To serue and loue him only, in the seruice & Loue that vvee shevv to Superiours, E­qualls or Inferiours. 17. To resolue neuer to accept of any Contentment but in him: nor other happines but only Him: And therfore not to rest vvith affection in any of his gifts, but only in himselfe. 18. Neuer to set bounds to the measure of our Loue: but still to endeauour to loue him more and better. 19. To desire to suffer for him here: being for the present contented vvith hope only of enioying for the future. 20. To hate our selues, our corrupt natures, our insensiblenes of his goodnes &c. vvith a most perfect hatred: Neuer being vveary in persecuting and mortifying our selues. 21. To loue him equally in his commands, as in his revvards. 22. To con­gratulate & take contentment in any Act of tempo­rall seuerity exercised by him on vs. 23. Neuer to cease praying that God vvould shevv vs the defectuousnes [Page 319] of our loue, and that he would daily giue vs grace more & more to increase it both in the degrees of Feruour and Purity. 24. To transcend in louing him all thoughts of our selues and of our ovvne happines &c. These are markes, signes and Fruits of pure Charity: But alas, vvhere shall vvee find a soule that can shevv them all? How­euer vvee are to aspire to as many of these Perfections as may be: and to be resigned in our Imperfections, since such is Gods permission.

4. Among all the Expressions of our Loue to God, those vvhich are generally the most proffitable for vs are. 1. To depend vvith an entire confidence on him, both as to our temporall subsistence, and spirituall progresse: Not relying on our ovvne cares or endea­uours, but casting our care on him: Liuing a Life of Faith. 2. To haue hearts not only obedient to his commands, but invvardly affected to them, so that though they be neuer so contrary to our corrupt natures, yet to ac­count the obeying him to be both our necessary & most delicious meate and drinke. 3. To practise a perfect Re­signation to his vvill in all occurrents that befall vs to suffer. These are secure Testimonies of our loue: be­cause they doe exclude the interests of nature: Wher­as oftimes Affectiue Loue is mingled vvith naturall gusts and complacency.

5. Novv though this most secure practise of Loue by Abnegation and Annihilation of all Propriety & selfe vvill be at the beginning full of difficulty: because all the com­fort of Nature lies in Selfe vvill: yet by custome it vvill be lesse vneasy, and in the end delightfull. For most [Page 320] certaine it is that Christs Yoake by constant bearing be­comes easy.

6. The smallest Act of Loue & Seruice to God per­formed vvith a perfect Selfe-abnegation is more accepta­ble & precious in his Eyes, then the vvorking of a thou­sand Miracles, or the Conuersion of Nations, if in these there are mixed interests of Nature.

7. In a vvord, the Difference betvveene Heauen & Hell is, that Hell is full of nothing but Se [...]fe-loue and Pro­priety: vvheras there is not the least degree of either in Heauen, nor any thing but the Fullfilling of Gods vvill, and seeking of his Glory: This is the Beatitude of all Saints & Angells: And no other vvay doe they, or can they loue them selues, but by louing God only.

CHAP. IV.

§. 1. 2. 3. 4. Of Charity, as it is the same with Purity of Inten­tion. How God is the only End of all our Actions. Of a Pure and a Right Intention.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Instructions how to get Purity of Intention: Espe­cially by the meanes of Praier.

§. 10. The dangerous State of those that doe not practise Praier.

§. 11. 12. Of the Exercise of Offring our Daily Actions & suf­frings: and how far such an Exercise may conduce to Purity of Intention.

§. 13. Rules prescribed by a late Contemplatiue Authour, not much approued.

§. 14. 15. Other Aduices.

§. 16. 17. &c. Difference of Purity of Intention in Contempl [...] ­tiue & Actiue liuers, &c.

VVEE vvill novv consider Charity vnder ano­ther Notion, as it is the Directour of all our Actions, and so it is called Purity of Intention: By vvhich vvee doe referre all that vvee doe or suffer to the Loue and Glory of God: vvhich is of all other the most neces­sary Condition. For God revvards no deeds but such as are done purely for his sake. So that vvhatsoeuer other End vvee propose, vvhich is not Subordinate to this, makes the Action so far vnacceptable to him.

2. I say, Subordinate: for doubtles there are & must needs be, besides this, other immediate Ends & Intentions [Page 322] of many of our Actions, as the Temporall or Spirituall good of our selues on others: But vvee are not to rest in those inferiour Ends, but to referre both the Actiōs & them also finally vnto God. So our Sauiour com­manded S. Peter to giue Tribute money, least the Iewes should be offended.

3. Wheras therfore some Spirituall Authours doe ad­uise vs to exclude the thought of all other Ends but only Gods Glory, from all our doings: yea so far, as that they vvould not scarse permit one in Praying to mention himselfe (Saying, O that I could loue thee, O my God &c.) Wee are to suppose their meaning to be that, considering hovv forvvard & subtile Nature is to intrude it selfe & its interests in our best Actions, euen to the Exclusion of God (though vvee pretend other­vvise:) therfore being so imperfect as vvee are, our best course vvere to study (as much as may be vvith discre­tion) to forget our selues quite, and all other creatures. But surely if vvee vvere Perfect, vvee might vvithout vvrong to God, yea vvith the increase of our Loue to him, cast an eye on all intermediate Ends.

4. Harphius makes a difference betvveene a Right In­tention and a Pure Intention: The former he appro­priates to good Actiue Liuers, who according to the Sub­stance of their Actions, and generall purpose of their Hearts doe indeed in all things desire to seeke Gods Glory: But yet for vvant of the practise of Pure Spi­rituall Praier, they mixe many vndiscouered Designes of nature in their good Actions, the vvhich doe so far abase the valevv of them. But the Intention of Perfect [Page 323] Contemplatiue liuers he calls a Simple or Pure Intention, because it proceeds from a purified Interiour.

5. Novv for the obtaining of such a Pure and Simple Intention I vvill endeauour, according to my small ex­perience & the best Light that God has giuen me, to yeild the best Information & helpe I can, in the fol­lovving Instructions, the vvhich doe properly be­long to soules in a Contemplatiue Course. And they are to be regarded, and vse in particular made of them, only so far as Deuout Soules shall find them to be proper & proffitable for them in particu­lar, and as they are suitable to their Diuine Calls respe­ctiuely, the vvhich are much more to be regarded then all humane Instructions.

6. First therfore let a vvellminded Soule that leades an internall life, by reading, conferring, considering & praying, get to vnderstand the best she can, vvhat the true and Perfect loue of God is, and vvherin it con­sists.

7. Secondly, this being done, let her (by the Grace of God assisting her) seriously purpose vvith her selfe (yet so as that she doe not fetter herselfe by any Vowes or Obligations) by all the best meanes she can to labour for the attaining to the said Loue of God: & also pure­ly for Gods sake & to his Glory, & no naturall Inte­rests of her ovvne, to intend the doing & suffring of all things that she shall aftervvards doe or suffer.

8. Thirdly Since this Loue is only to be obtained by the meanes of Prayer & Mortification, let her resolue to abide in the prosecution of these according to the Dire­ctions [Page 324] here giuen, to her liues End: Not voluntarily re­sting in any degree of loue already attained, but still proceeding further vvithout all limits. And this good Resolution let her accordingly vvith courage put in ex­ecution daily; Often renevving it vvhen she finds her­selfe to become slack or negligent.

9. Lastly in the Execution of these Duties and of all other her Employments, she must alvvaies haue at least a vertuall Intention of directing them all to God, ma­king him the finall End of all: and often times likevvise she must frame an Actuall Intention of the same. Novv vvhen God is indeede, and in the true disposition of the soule the End of her Actions, he communicates a Supernaturality & a kind of Diuinity vnto them: And vnlesse he be truly the End, they haue no merit at all.

10. Novv it being certaine that only by the practise of Internall Prayer this Purity of Intention can be ob­tained: In vvhat danger are those Soules that doe vvholly neglect it? Neither vvill a fevv interrupted oc­casionall Offrings of our Actions to God be sufficient to procure a Stable habit of such Purity, vvithout constant sett Exercises of Praier & Mortification: All the vertue that such Oblations haue, is a litle to diminish the Impu­rity of those particular Actions, but they doe not at all (or very inconsiderably) increase or strengthen the Habit of Diuine Loue in the Soule. The vertue ther­fore of such Acts is to be measured according to the state that the soule is in.

11. If an Internall liuer doe practise such occasionall Offrings of daily Actions, I should aduise him 1. Not [Page 325] to multiply such Acts too thicke one vpon the other, so as to endanger to hurt the Head, or distract the Imagi­nation, or hinder the necessary liberty of Spirit. 2. Let not them be a hindrance to other more perfect & proffi­table Eleuations of the Spirit to God, or Aspirations, if the soule find herselfe inuited therto, or if they be rel­lishing to her.

12. It is vnquestionable, that the offring of our suf­frings to God vvill be far more proffitable to the soule, then the Offring of mere Workes, that haue in them litle or nothing contrary to our Naturall Inclinations. Yet euen that also vvithout constant Praier vvill be of litle force.

13. I dare vvith confidence professe, that the obser­uing of the foresaied Simple Directions vvill be far more auaileable to the procuring Purity of intention in most soules, then such a curious Examination of our daily vvorks as is prescribed by a late vvorthy Contempla­tiue of our Nation, vvho requires in euery vvorke Sixe Qualities punctually to be obserued, viz. That it be done. 1. Actually: 2. One [...]y. 3. Willingly: 4. Assuredly: 5. Clearly: 6. Speedily for the Loue & Glory of God: And he exacts of a soule, carefully to search vvhether any of these Conditions haue bene vvanting, and consequently to be more circumspect in the future. Which surely vvould be an Employment extreamly distractiue, and full of Sollicitude. Though it may be he himselfe found much good by such a practise, and vvas able to doe it vvith Simplicity.

4. It is far more easy for an Imperfect soule to exer­cise [Page 326] Purity of Intention in Actions that are of obliga­tion, & done either in Order to any Law, or any com­mand of Superiours, then in those that are left to her ovvne Choice: And therfore it vvould be good for such an one, either to haue her daily & ordinary Em­ployments prescribed to her by her Spirituall Dire­ctour; or to ordaine them to her selfe vpon good con­sideration before hand: yet so as not to preiudice due Liberty of Spirit.

15. In euery Recollection the soule doth either direct­ly & expressly, or at least vertually renew her first Fun­damentall Purpose of tending in all her Actions, Exter­nall and Internall, to the perfect Loue of God: and then also she discouereth & correcteth such defects and transgressions of this Purpose as haue passed out of the times of Praier. Our Recollections therfore are the Fountaine & Roote vvhence all our future vvorks haue their vertue & merit: & in them Purity of Intention is most perfectly Exercised.

16. The doings or suffrings of a Contemplatiue liuer, though oft times vvith much repugnancy in inferiour Nature, yet doe partake more of Purity of Intention & Merit, then the voluntary Actions of Actiue liuers, or of one that does not constantly pursue Internall Prayer: albeit the actions of these doe seeme to be done vvith greater alacrity & facility, & to the doer seeme to proceede purely out of Charity, and vvithall cause great admiration in the eyes of the Beholders: The reason is, because the Actions of the former are done purely out of a Diuine Inspiration, and also in great Simplici­ty [Page 327] & vnity, their regard to God being not hindred by the Images accompanying such Actions: Wheras Actiue liuers immediatly contemplate Multiplicity: Yea in Praier it selfe they are not vvithout Multiplicity, though they doe direct that Multiplicity more directly to one, then in Actions out of Prayer.

17. Now since Purity of Intention consists in regar­ding God vvith Simplicity, that is, vvithout mixture of Images, or affections to Creatures, it concerns Internall liuers to vse as great care & Discretion as may be, not to intrude themselues vnnecessarily into Distractiue Em­ployments.

18. Euen the most Perfect Soules are apt to haue lesse Purity of Intention in things gratefull to Nature, then in such as are Mortifying: Therfore in the for­mer they may doe vvell to frame an Actuall vpright Intention.

19. The repugnancy that Contemplatiue liuers doe find oftimes in the discharge of Externall Employ­ments, proceeds not so much out of any unvvillingnes to obey, as out of an auersnes from leauing their Inter­nall Solitude and Abstraction: Yet such repugnancy in inferiour Nature is easily subdued, at least so far that it shall not be a hindrance to Obedience and Duty.

20. True Purity of Intention, is best discerned in the beginning of an Action: For ordinarily vvee sett v­pon Externall vvorkes out of a sudden impulse and liking of Nature: And afterwards vvee cousen our selues vvith a forced good intention fastned vpon them, so thinking that in them vvee doe purely seeke the [Page 328] glory of God, and faintly renouncing our interests of Nature. It is indeede better to doe thus, then to continue such Actions vpon the same Motiues vpon vvhich they vvere begun. But no Actions are perfect­ly Meritorious and pure, but such as haue for their first Principle a Diuine Light & impulse, and are con­tinued in vertue of the same.

21. Therfore a certaine Antient holy Hermite vvas accustomed before he set vpon any vvorke, to make a pause for some time, like one vvhose thoughts vvere busied about some other matter: And being asked vvhy he did so: He ansvvered: All our Actions are in them­selues nothing worth. But like a rough vnshapen peice of Timber, they haue no Gracefullnes in them vnlesse wee adorne & guild them ouer with a Pure Intention, directing them to the Loue & Glory of God. Or as one that is to shoote at a Marke, doth first carefully fixe his eye vpon it, otherwise he will shoote at randome: So do I fixe my Eye vpon God who is to be our only Marke: and for this reason before I begin any worke, I doe seriously offer it to God, begging his assi­stance.

22. Actiue liuers had neede in almost all their Actions of moment to frame an Actuall Intention: but not so the Contemplatiue, vvho are alvvaies habitually vnited to God: For such iterations of Actuall intention vvould cause too much distraction to them.

23. To Conclude, hovv difficult and vneasy soeuer to Nature the attaining to Purity of Intention be, be­cause therby the very Soule of Corrupt Nature (vvhich is Propriety) is rooted out: Yet since it is absolutly ne­cessary [Page 329] in an Internall life, therfore considering Gods promise, that he neuer vvill be vvanting to our Endea­uours, Soules of good vvills vvill find it neither impos­sible, nor of so great Difficulty, as at first it appeared, if they vvill attempt it vvith a strong Resolution. To quicken & fortifie vvhich Resolution, I vvill end this Discourse vvith that peircing saying of Harphius: O how great and hidden deceits of Corrupt Nature will appeare (saith he) and be discouered (and consequently be se­uerely punished) after this life, for that Soules haue not here bene purified and made Deiforme in their Intentions. God Almighty giue vs the grace to discouer novv and reforme this perillous and secret selfe-seeking of Natu­re, to the Glory of his Holy Name. AMEN.

CHAP. V.

§. 1. 2. Of the Louing of God in our selues & other Creatures. And how the loue to our selues is to be Ordered.

§. 3. Euen that loue which is Duty in Hea [...]hens &c. is defe­ctuous.

§. 4. Wee can not loue others truly & meritoriously, till wee first loue God.

§. 5. 6. 7. All Affections not proceeding from Charity are to be mortified.

§. 8. All Intellectuall Creatures are the Obiects of our Cha­rity, except the damned Soules & Deuills.

§. 9. Of the Order of Charity.

§. 10. 11. 12 13. 14. Those are most to be loued (euen aboue our selues) whom God loues most: Yet certaine Duties procee­ding from loue, as Honour, Sustenance, Almes &c. are first, to be extended to Parents, Freinds &c, and specially to our Selues.

§. 15. 16. 17. Further Proofes of this.

§. 18. Whether Beauty &c. may be a Motiue of Loue.

§. 19. 20. 21. 22. Of loue extended to Enemies. Who are esteemed Enemies.

§. 23. Great Grace required to practise this Duty aright.

§. 24. 25. Degrees of loue to (supposed) Enemies. And the fruits therof.

§. 26 Of a Speciall kind of loue called Philadelphia, or loue of the Fraternity of Beleiuing, Holy, Christian Catho­licks.

[Page 331]1. BEFORE Wee end the Subiect of Diuine Loue something is to be said of Loue to our Selues, & our Neighbours in and for God: For as for the loue vvhich out of God vvee beare to our Selues, or any others, it is not vvorth the treating of, as being altoge­ther defectuous and grounded in Nature; And the more vehement it is, the more defectuous is it.

2. The right Ordring therfore of. Our loue to our Selues and our Brethren consists in this 1. That the Motiue of our loue must be the Diuine vvill & Command. 2. The ground therof must be the relation in vvhich vvee stand to God, as capable of the Communication of Diuine Graces and Beatitude. 3. The End must be to bring our Selues and others (either by our Endeauours, Exhorta­ions &c. or by our Praiers) to God, that he may be loued & Glorified by vs: in the doing of vvhich consists our Perfection & Happines. 4. Lastly the subiect of this Loue must be the Superiour vvill especially: As for ten­dernesse of nature, distracting sollicitudes & vnquiet images in the minde touching those vvee loue, the best & safest course vvould be to mortify & diminish them as much as may be, as proceeding from a na­turall sensuall affection, the vvhich as far as it does not flovv from the Superiour soule, & is not sub­ordinate & directed to the loue of God, is defectuous.

3. Hence appeares First, That affections in Persons that are strangers from the true Faith, are full of defectuous­nesse in all the particular respects before mentioned. For though, for example, the loue vvhich Children ovve to their Parents, & the affections mutually due [Page 334] [...] [Page] [...] [Page 332] betvveene Husbands & Wiues &c: be for the substance according to the Law of Nature, & right reason: & con­sequently so far conformable to the Diuine Will: so that the vvant or refusall of such loue, & the neglect of the Duties & Offices required by such relations is a great sin: yet there can b [...] no merit either in such loue, or the effects of it, by reason that it is neither from the Motiue of Diuine Charity, nor directed to the Glorifying of God by perfect loue, from vvhich all merit proceedeth.

4. Secondly it followes from hence, that vvee can nei­ther meritoriously loue our selues, nor our Brethren, till first vvee are firmely rooted in the loue of God: be­cause Charity to our selues, or others, is indeed only loue to God by Reflection, or the louing of God in things belonging to him, & vvhich he either loues or may loue.

5. Therfore an Internall liuer ought to mortify all sensuall affection to creatures; I meane, all particular freindships & intimacies vvhich are not grounded vpon the necessary foundation of the Diuine Loue: And as for such affections as are necessarily due by vertue of some respects & relations that God has put betvveene our selues & any others, such an one ought, as much as may be, to roote them out of the sensuall portion of the soule: because there they vvill cause great distractions & hindrances of our most necessary loue to God.

6. A serious care to practise according to this Aduice is very necessary, especially in Religious Cōmunities, both for our ovvne good & others. For besides that sensuall freindships grounded on externall or sensuall respects [Page 333] are most vnbeseeming Persons that haue consecrated themselues only to God, & infinitly preiudiciall to ab­straction & recollectednes of mind: & much more if they be betweene Persons of different sexes: such par­ticular intimatcies cannot chuse but cause particulities, factions, particular designes &c: to the great disturbance & harme of the Community.

7. The least defectuous amongst the grounds of a particular friendship may be the resentment & gratitude for benefits, especially spirituall ones, that haue ben re­ceiued. But yet euen in this case also, vvee ought to pre­uent the settling of amity in the sensuall part of the soule, & content our selues vvith requiting such obli­gations by our Prayers, or by a returne of proportiona­ble benefits.

8. Novv Charity is to be extended to all Intellectuall Creatures, that is, to all Angells, & all men vvhether aliue or dead: except only the reprobate Angells & damned soules, which are not obiects of our Charity, in as much as they are not capable of enioying God, vvhich is the ground of Charity. And the effects of our Charity to the glorified Saints & Angells must be a congratulation vvith them for their happines, & for the loue vvhich they beare to God, & vvhich God vvill eternally beare reciprocally to them. To all Christians dying in the faith of our Lord, & not yet purified, vvee must testify our Charity by Praying for them, & doing all other Christian Offices of sacrifices, Almes &c: for the asswaging & shortning of their suffrings in Purgatory. For all Christians aliue, yea all men, vvee must pray for graces suitable to their neces­sities: [Page 334] for conuersion to vnbeleiuers or misbeleiuers, & also all those that are of ill liues: for increase of grace to those that are in a good state: vvith vvhom likevvise vvee must reioyce for the mercies of God shevved to them; & begge Eternall happines to all; Neither must vvee rest in mere desiring such blessings to all men (our neighbours) but also vpon occasions offred, doe all vvee can to procure, of effect the things vvee pray for, by Exhortations, Reproofes &c. And if to others, much more must vvee expresse all these effects of Charity to our selues. And as for temporall Good things (as they are called) vvee are to desire (& procure) both for our selues & others, so much of them as God knovves shall be best for the aduancement of our soules in his loue.

9. Notvvithstanding though the same Charity ought to be extended to all, yet not in the same order nor de­gree, but to some more then others; & to some also c [...]rtaine effects of it, vvhich are not due to others. Novv how to determine this order & degrees, though the disputes of many about it are very intricate, yet if vvee stand firme to the ground before laid, viz. (That only God is to be loued by vs in & for himselfe, & our selues with all other creatures, only for & in God) it vvill not be difficult to cleare this point sufficiently.

10. It is euident that some effects & expressions of loue are due to Parents, Brethren &c: vvhich belong not to strangers; & some to Superiours, vvhich are not proper for Inferiours or equalls: & much more to husbands & Wiues, vvhich are not due to any other: yet Loue gene­rally taken is due to all. Novv our loue to Creatures [Page] being, as I sayd, only the loue of God as reflected [...] reuerberated vpon those that belong to him, this varie­ty of effects of loue is according to the various impres­sions of the Diuine Perfections in seuerall of his Crea­tures: For besides his Graces & beatitude, vvhich are common alike to all (at least, of vvhich all are capable) & consequently the obiects of our loue; God in the first place (as being his ovvne being & neerest to him­selfe) has in a small degree imprinted being in vs, the conseruation & perfectionating of vvhich being ought to be the first obiect of our desires & endeauours. Againe, God as a Creatour & cause of being is imper­fectly exemplified in our Parents, & for that reason our Parents next to our selues may challenge our affections; & besides our affections, reuerence, & gratitude in proui­ding for their subsistence, as they formerly did for ours, (except vvhen publick good interposes:) Againe God as an vniuersall supreme Gouernour has imprinted the Cha­racter of, his power in Superiours, for vvhich besides loue, vvee ovve them Obedience & respect &c: In the paying of which Duties wee are not to rest with our minds & affections in any of these, but to passe through thē to God in vvhom resides that perfection in an infinite plenitude, for vvhich vvee expresse the sayd respectiue offices to seuerall of his creatures so that it is the vniuer­sall Creatour that vvee honour in our Parents: & the supreme King of Kings that vvee obey in Magistrates &c.

11. But moreouer vvee are to cōsider, that though no duty that wee performe has any merit, but as it proceeds from Charity, & is commanded & ordered by it, yet [Page 336] Loue as loue, & the proper effect of Loue as such, may be separated from these dutyes: the vvhich are to be payed, although vvee did not invvardly loue the persons to vvhom vvee pay them. Yea euen in regard of God himselfe vvee may distinguish these things.

12. Although God had no further relation to vs then that vvee haue our Being from him: nay though vvee knevv not so much, yet if vvee knew how infinite his Power, Wisdome, Dominion &c. vvere, vvee could not chuse but admire his Wisdome, tremble at his povver &c. but these vvould not produce Loue in vs tovvards him: the obiect of vvhich must be good, that is, such Per­fections as are aimable & render a subiect beautifull or agreable; & vvithall there must be a possibility, at least in the imagination, that the person louing may in some sort participate of such Perfections. Now in God there being aknovvledged all the possible Perfections that can compose an inconceiuable Pulchritude, and moreouer he hauing signified his readines to commu­nicate vnto vs by an affectiue Identification or Vnion all those Perfections, if vvee vvill approach vnto him by loue, so requiting the loue vvhich he first beares to vs: This is it that makes God properly the obiect of our loue. To vvhich purpose S. Iohn saith, that God loued vs first, not because vvee deserued it, but to the end to make vs deserue his loue, & because vvee vvere his Crea­tures capable of enioying his perfections & happines: & wee loue him, because he loued vs first, proposing him­selfe & his happines to be enioyed by loue. But because vvee are not to looke vpon God as a freind standing [Page 337] vpon euen termes, but infinitly supereminent & exalted aboue vs, therfore vvith Loue vvee pay most submisse Obedience, Adoration, Humiliation of our selues, Admira­tion &c. vvith regard to his other Perfections & Rela­tions: the vvhich duties are only meritorious because proceeding from loue: & they proceede from loue, be­cause these other perfections are the perfections of a freind, & such as, in all our needs, shall be exercised & employed for our good.

13. Proportionally in Creatures, those are most to be loued in vvhom the qualities, producing loue doe most reside; or in regard of vvhich especially vvee loue God, & God vs, that is, Goodnes, Purity, Iustice, Charity & the like. Or vvhich is all one, vvee are by a pure affe­ction of Charity (simply considered as Charity) to loue those most, that God loues most, & in vvhose soules God by his graces, deseruing loue, doth most perfectly dvvell, & vvhich most partake of his happines. The supreme obiect therfore of our Charity among Creatures is the most blessed Humanity of our Lord: & next therto his Heauenly Virgin Mother: & after them the Heauenly Angells & Blessed Saints: And on earth the most perfect of Gods Children.

14. Novv though this Assertion doth seeme to con­tradict the common opinion, that Charity is to beginne after God vvith our selues, & that after our selues it is to be next extended to those that haue the nearest re­lations of nature &c. to vs: yet indeed it does not. For although the affection of Charity simply considered in it selfe, is only to regard God, & for his sake those that [Page 338] haue neare relation to him, and are most like him in the Graces properly deseruing Loue: Yet seuerall ef­fects of Charity & of other vertues or qualities in vs flovving from Charity are in the first place, after God, to be exhibited to our selues; & aftervvard to those that God hath placed neare to vs, respectiuely according to the degrees of nearnes.

15. For Charity being an affection rather of the Will, then the sensitiue faculties, seemes to be a certaine esteeme & valevv set vpon persons; & consequently an adhesion of the vvill, & tendance to an inter­nall vnion of Spirit vvith them. Novv question­lesse this esteeme though due to all, (in as much as all either doe, or may participate of God graces & hap­pines) yet in the highest degree of it, it is most due to those that most deserue it, or that are most like vnto God. So that to valevv our selues or any mortall freinds or kindred before the Glorified Saints, vvould be irra­tionall & vnseemely: Charity vvould then be disorder­ly, contrary to vvhat the Holy Ghost saith, (Ordina­uit in me Charitatem) He hath fitly & duly ordred Cha­rity in mee. True it is, that by reason of selfe-loue & selfe-interest (vvhich is neuer vvholly rooted out of vs in this life) as likevvise the great dominion that sensi­tiue nature oft takes in our actions, vvee can hardly preuent or hinder loue from shevving a greater re­gard to our selues & our nearest freinds; yet as far as it is an affection of the will, so it may, yea in perfect soules it is stronger tovvards those that are nearest to God.

16. But as for some speciall Offices & duties vvhich [Page 339] in vs doe, or ought to flovv from Charity, th [...]y are to be exhibited according as God hath placed persons in seuerall relations to vs. Novv it being euident, that God hath made vs nearest to our selues, & hath intru­sted to euery particular person the care of his ovvne soule before all others; therfore euery one is obliged to bestovv his cheife sollicitude & endeauours vpon the adorning of his ovvne soule, & the directing of it to Happines. As for other men, certaine generall duties of this nature are vpon occasions only to be exhibited towards all: Hence vvee are generally commanded to Exhort, Edifie, Reproove &c. one an other: But these du­ties are to be the employment & particular charge only of those that God hath called to the care of soules: yet so as that no soules are so strictly intrusted to any one, as his ovvne, so that vpon no pretence can it be lavvfull for any one to neglect the care of his ovvne soule. And in the extēding of these offices of spi­rituall (or corporall) Charity, reason requires that (other circumstances being equall) vvee should preferre those that haue nearest relation to vs: except vvhen stran­gers doe stand in far greater necessity, for they are then to be accounted as nearest to vs, & as it vvere, committed to our Charge.

17. Therfore externall workes of Charity & other offices, though they ought all to be payd out of Cha­rity (Honour, to whom honour is due; Feare, to whom Feare &c.) Yet they are not to follow the order of Cha­rity, but of Proximity: so that in equall necessity, vvee are to preferre our Parents, kindred, neare neighbours, [Page 340] speciall freinds, in regard of giuing Almes &c: before those that may challenge the preference in the affection of Pure Charity, as being more Holy & more beloued of God. It may notvvithstanding happen that in some cases there may be a doubt hovv the order of Charity is to be obserued. But a soule that follovves internall Prayer vvill not want a light to direct her. To giue particular rules vvould be tedious & impertinent to the present designe: This therfore may suffise concer­ning the order of Charity in generall.

18. It may be demanded, Whether externall corporall endowments, as youth, beauty, gracefullnes &c: may be per­mitted to enter as a motiue into the loue that wee beare to others? I ansvver, that such corporall perfections being Gifts of God, may lavvfully, as such, be motiues of loue, namely, to those that are so perfect, as that they can vse them as steps to ascēd by them to a higher & purer loue of God in and for them, vvho is beauty it Selfe. But as for imperfect & sensuall Persons it vvould be vnlawfull & a tempting of God to giue a free & deliberate scope to their loue of others (specially of different sexes) for the regard of beauty: since vvee knovv it vvill powerfully vvithdraw their affections from God, & fixe them on creatures after the fovvlest manner. Therfore the neces­sary care of our selues requires, that vvee should not so much as looke stavedly & fixedly on the tentation of beauty; much lesse fauour the attraction of it.

19. Before vvee conclude this so necessary a point concerning Charity: some vvhat is to be sayd touching the most Christian duty of loue to our Enemies, True it is [Page 341] that the loue of Christ vvill not permit vs to exercise enmity towards any Person in the least degree, since Charity is to be vniuersally extended to all: But enemies I call those that are in their nature auerse from vs, or in­censed by some prouocation; or that are indeed ene­mies to our Holy Profession, or that vvould dravv vs to sin &c.

20. As for these latter sort of enemies, they are in­deed truly such; and their actions vvee must abhorre, & also vvith discretion auoyd their company: but vvee must not hate their persons, nor be vvanting in any of­fice of Charity towards them, when occasion is of­fred.

21. But touching the former sort, of those that (as it is to be hoped) vvithout an vtter breach of Chari­ty, doe in externall matters doe ill offices to vs, or are contrary to our designes: such vvee ought to esteeme as indeed our freinds: & perhaps if vvee regard the proffit of our soules, vvee could lesse spare them, then those vvee call our most officious freinds, vvho doe but flatter or nourish selfe-loue in vs. It is only as to the feeling of nature that vvee esteeme such to be ene­mies: But really vvee are to behaue our selues towards them as Gods Instruments for our great good: Yea & as far as prudence vvill permit, vvee are to iudge & beleiue that they loue vs, & intend our good in things that they doe crosse to our nature.

22. Now till vvee come to a perfect simplicity of thought (vvhich vvill not be till vvee approach to a state of Perfection:) vvee must be carefull neither by [Page 342] vvords nor deeds to procure them the least harme in any kind: no not so much as in thought to vvish it them. On the contrary, vvee must loue them still; & principally for this, because God loues them, and de­sires their saluation: vvhich (it is to be hoped) he vvill effectually procure.

23. But to doe an office so necessary, yet vvithall so contrary to the inclinations of corrupt nature, a great measure of grace is requisite: the vvhich is not to be had vvithout ansvverable efficacious Internall Praier seriously pursued: the vvhich ioyned vvith good ca­riage tovvards them forth of the times of Praier, vvill in time abstract the soule from inferiour passions, & that inordinate selfe-loue, vvhich is the roote of ha­tred to such enemies: And Diuine Loue encreasing, it vvill proportionally subdue all other affections to it selfe, & euen compell vs to loue our enemies for God, ac­cording to the most perfect example of our Sauiour. And he that thinks to get this necessary loue to Ene­mies (or indeed any other Christian vertue) in any considerable perfection vvithout spirituall Praier, vvill find that he vvill loose his labour.

24. The Degrees of our loue to (supposed) enemies are such as follovv: 1. The first and lowest degree is, not to re­uenge our selues on them, nor to render euill for euill, by vvord or deede, in their presence or absence, priuily or publickly &c: (Indeede vvee ought to behaue our selues vvith-much vvarines tovvards those that in nature vvee find an auersenes from: so as that it vvee cannot as yet conquer the resentments of nature, vvee [Page 343] vvere best to eschevv medling in matters that concerne them) 2. Not to be angry or offended for any ill offices that they may seeme to haue done us. 3. To forgiue them vvhensoeuer they craue pardon. 4. To forgiue them be­fore they acknowledge their fault, or seeke to make amends. 5. Not to be contristated at their Prosperity, nor deny any offices of Charity to them: but to Pray for them, to speake vvell of them; & to doe kindnesses to them; to congratulate for any good successes of theirs, & be cordially sorry for their misfortunes &c: 6. To seeke occasions of doing them some speciall good; yea & for the procuring such good, to vndergoe some discommodity, losse or preiudice. 7. To take part in their prosperities or aduersities, as if they vvere our ovvne. 8. After the ex­ample of our Lord, to hazzard & euen lay dovvne our liues for their soules good. 9. To conquer all resentment euē in inferiour Nature: And in Simplicity of soule to iudge all their ill offices to be effects of their Charity, & not a­uersenes. (Yet I doubt vvhether euen in the most per­fect, the loue to enemies can come to be transfused into inferiour nature from the superiour soule, as our loue immediatly to God sometimes may be.) 10. To doe all this purely for the loue of God. These things vvee ought to doe the best vvee can: & God vvill accept of our good vvill, though our actions be not so perfect as vvee vvould vvish they vvere.

25. By such Christian & Charitable behauiour tovvards our Enemies, such a Diuine vertue vvill pro­ceede frō our actions, that vvee shall come to gaine thē perhaps to be our best freinds, yea (vvhich is far more [Page 344] considerable) vvee shall probably gaine them to God, if before they vvee estranged from him.

26. To conclude this vvhole discourse: Wee are to knovv that there is a peculiar species of Charity, vvhich S. Peter makes the next step to Perfection, vvhich he calls Philadelphiam, or loue of the Fraternity: Being a cer­taine spirituall affection to all Gods children, the vvhich subdues all other inferiour regards of nature, & makes our vnion vvith them to be purely in God, transcending all other kinds of obligations: And the offices of this ver­tue are such as cannot be extended to any, but such as vvee knovv to be truly the seruants of God: such as are an inward communion in holy Duties of Prayer &c: & a communication of certain charitable offices, vvhich out of an ardent loue to God vvee desire to expresse to him, by a choyce that vvee make of his speciall freinds, as it vvere in them endeauouring to oblige him after a more then ordinary manner.

CHAP. VI.

§. 1. Of the mortification of sensuall loue to meats &c: by Temperance in Refection.

§. 23. This is a lasting, continuall Tentation, euen to the most perfect; And therfore to be especially regarded.

§. 4. Defects in Refection which are to be auoyded.

§. 5. Of Disaffection to sensuall pleasures, to be aspired to.

§. 6. Feasting to be auoyded.

§. 7. 8. 9. Inconueniences inseparably attending Refection. Yet are wee not therfore to abridge our selues of a necessary measure of sustenance.

§. 10. 11. Aduices touching care to be had in Refection.

§. 12. The body to be esteemed an enemie.

§. 13. In what case & how wee may seeke more delicate meates &c.

§. 14. Certaine benefits to the soule by Refection.

§. 15. The subtilty of tentations in Refection.

§. 16. Perfect soules haue an auersion from necessary plea­sures & Refections.

§. 17. 18. A sublime kind of mortification exercised by certaine Holy persons.

§. 19. Of Attention to Reading at Refections.

§. 20. Of Physick.

§. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. Aduices touching Sleepe.

1. THE Loue of God is a sufficient & most efficacious vniuersall Remedy against all other inordinate [Page 346] affections: And therfore I should haue contented my selfe vvith that one generall Mortification of the Passion of sensuall loue, vvere it not that the matter of corporall Re­fection, & pleasure felt in meates & drinks has some­thing in it very considerable in aspirituall life, & therfore requires particular Aduices about it: 1. Because it is a Tentation vvhich vnauoydably accompanies vs through our vvhole life, for as much as the occasion of it, to vvit, Foode is absolutely necessary. 2. There i [...] scarce any tentation more subtile: For it doth so cloake it selfe vnder the title of necessity, that euen the most perfect soules vvhich haue abandonned all other occa­sions, yet being imprisoned in bodies that neede dayly Refection, are continually exposed to this, & oft surprised & in some measure ouercome by it: not being able to distinguish excesse from necessi y Hence S. Augu­stin in his Confessions (lib. 10. c. 13.) most elegantly yet passionatly complains of it, describing the subtlenesse and importunatenes of this Tentation: Which Pas­sage, being commonly knowne & obuious, it is not ne­cessary to set dovvne in this place.

2. The naturall Appetite desires foode merely for the sustaining of nature. The sensuall, merely for pleasure, not considering benefit either to soule or body; nor re­garding the seasonablenes of the time, nor any other due circomstance; But the Rationall appetite or Will di­rected by Grace, though it cannot hinder sensuality from taking pleasure in food &: yet desires & receiues it out of a necessary care of supporting the body for the good of the soule, according to the vvill & pleasure of [Page 347] God: & this in such order, measure &c. as reason iudg­eth fit, & not as Sensuality vvould haue it. So that if the Rationall part giue vvay to the inordinate desires of sensuality, so far there is a fault committed: the vvhich is not to be imputed to Sensuality, but to the Superiour soule, vvhose office it is to restraine & bridle Sence.

3. This tentation, as it is the last that is perfectly ouercome, so it is the first that is to be combatted against. For there is no vertue had (saith Cassian) till a soule come to haue some degree of maistry ouer herselfe in the point of Gluttony. And the maine mischeife of the tentation is preuented, vvhen vvee are come to cast of the habituall affection to eating & drinking, es­pecially to feasting; the vvhich brings many inconue­niences to an Internall liuer; as 1. losse of time. 2. Perill of intemperance & other misbehauiour. 3. Hurtfull di­stractions. 4. Indisposition to Prayer 5. Intemperance likevvise in another vse of the tongue, to vvit, talking &c.

4. Imperfecter soules therfore must make it their care in Refections to auoyd these speciall defects. To vvit, Eating or Drinking. 1. Too much. 2. With too great earnestnes. 3. Too hastily, preuenting the due times. 4. Delicatly. 5. With a precedent studiousnes to prouide plea­sing meates &c. In respect of the two first qualities or defects, such soules may happen to offend, vvho yet in a good measure haue attayned to a spirituall disesteeme & neglect of those things that please sen­suality; For they on occasions may be tempted to eate vvith some excesse and ardour. But rarely doe [Page 348] such offend in the follovving qualities.

5. Now the Markes by vvhich a soule may dis­cerne vvhether she haue in her a disaffection to sensuall pleasures, are. 1. If her chiefe delight & esteeme be in Exercises of the Spirit, & that she diligently pursues them. 2. If she seekes not after, nor willing­ly admits extraordinary feastings. 3. If being alone she does not entertaine herselfe vvith the thought of such things, nor talks of them vvith gust. 4. If when she is forced to take Refections, she takes them as of necessity & duty. 5. If she could be content, so that Gods vvill vvere such, to be depriued of all things that might please tast &c.

6. In case that necessary Ciuility shall oblige a spi­rituall person to be present at a feast, he may doe vvell to be vvatchfull ouer himselfe at the beginning: And this he may the more easily doe, because then o­thers being more eager to their meate, vvill lesse marke him. And to entertayne the time, vvhich is ordinarily long, let him chuse such meats as are the lightest & of the easiest digestion; For so doing, he may both seeme to auoyd singularity in abstaining more then o­thers, & yet in effect eate far lesse. In a vvord, let him goe thither vvith a mind & affection to abstinence, & retaine such affection.

7. This one vnauoydable misery there is in eating & drinking, hovv temperatly soeuer, That a soule for such a time, & for some space aftervvards, is forced to descend from that height of Spirit that she had at­tayned to by vertue of her precedent Recollection. [Page 349] So that if before she had a sight & experimentall perception that God was all, & herselfe nothing; she vvill aftervvards haue no other sight of this, but her ordinary sight of Faith: by reason that her Spirits are more actiue; & her internall senses filled vvith Images & vapours.

8. Yet a soule is not to abridge herselfe of a necessa­ry quantity in Refection, for her Prayers sake, or other Internall Exercises: for that vvould for a long time af­ter doe more harme to the spirit, by too much enfee­bling the body. Neither is she to iudge that she has offended by excesse, because she finds a heauines, and perhaps some indigestion for some space after Refe­ction: For this may proceed from that debility of complexion vvhich ordinarily attends a spirituall life: since, as S. Hildegardis saith: The loue of God doth not v­sually dwell in robustious bodies.

9. It is not our petty failings through frailty or igno­rance, and much losse our supposed failings (iudged so by our scrupulosity) that can cause God to be a­uerted from vs, or that vvill hinder our vnion vvith him: For for such defects vvee shall be attoaned vvith God in our next Recollections, or, it may be, sooner. But those are indeed preiudiciall defects vvhich proceede from a setled affection to sensuall obiects.

10. To correct the vice of Eagernes in eating, Ab­bot Isacius aduised his Monks, that when they stretched forth their hands for the receiuing of their meate or drinke, they should doe it with a certaine mentall vnwillingnes.

11. Let euery one content himselfe vvith vvhat [Page 350] God by Superiours prouides for him, accounting that, hovv meane or course soeuer, to be the very best for him, & not that vvhich cannot be procured vvithout sollicitude & impatience. Neither ought any to iustify or excuse his impatience, out of an opinion of obli­gation, that euery one has to take care of the body for the seruice of the spirit: For the spirit is far more en­dammaged by such impatience & sollicitude, then any thing they can desire for the body can doe it good.

12. Wee haue small reason to loue the body; for it is that vvhich one way or other is the cause of almost all the sins vvhich the soule commits. To cherish ther­fore & satisfy its inordinate desires, is to make pro­uision for sin, as if our naturall corruption did not suf­ficiently incline vs therto.

13. The infirmity of our body may sometimes re­quire not only healthy, but also well tasting meats: not for the satisfying of our sensuality, but the vphold­ing of our strength, as S. Augustin saith. In vvhich case meats of good rellish, euen as such, may be sought for, yea ought to be so, & this for the recreating and comforting of nature: And such corporall consola­tion may also haue a good effect vpon the Spirit. But vvhere no such necessity is, to seeke for such meates is against the Rules of Religious temperance. And euen during such necessity, to seeke them either vvith sollicitude, or so as may be preiudiciall to the Commu­nity, is contrary to Religious Pouerty & Resigna­tion.

14. As many defects & hindrances to spirituall pro­gres [Page 351] doe flovv by occasions of Refection: so on the contrary to vvell-minded soules it may be the occa­sion of some aduantages for their progresse in Spirit. For 1. It obliges a soule to vvatch & pray that she be not ouercome by the Tentation. 2. It may giue occa­sion for the exercise of Patience in case of the vvant of things contentfull to nature: as likevvise of tem­perance in the vse of them. 3. The experience of our frequent excesses beyond true necessity, may afford great matter for the Exercise of Humility. 4. By the means of Resection there is giuen to soules certaine pau­sings & diuersions from spirituall workings, necessary to enable them (making good vse therof) to worke aftervvards more vigorously & intensely.

15. Vix perfectus discernit &c. (s [...]ith S. Gregory) A perfect soule doth scarce discerne the secret Tentations, & subtle subreption of sensuality vrging soules to take more then necessity or obedience require: & the only light ne­cessary for such discerning comes from internall Praier. And moreouer till the soule by Praier be raysed aboue sensuality, she cannot haue strength enough to resist all the inordinate desires therof vvhich she doth discerne. And vvhen soules are arriued to Perfect Praier of Contemplation, they oppose such desires rather by neglecting & forgetting the body, then by direct com­bats against the appetits of it. And only from the de­cay & ignorance of such Praier hath it proceeded, that spirituall Directours haue bene forced to multi­ply such & so many nice obseruances about diet and other duties of our Rule: All vvhich notvvithstanding, [Page 352] vvithout Prayer haue but small effect to produce so­lide vertues in the soule.

16. A soule perfectly spiritualized, if she might haue her vvish, vvould vvillingly be freed, not only from all pleasures taken in Refections, (considering the dayly tentations to excesse:) but euen from the necessity of them, being forced to cry out vvith Dauid (De necessitatibus meis erue me, Domine) O Lord, free mee from these my corporall necessities: for vvere it not for them, she might alvvaies, like an Angell, be in continuall Contemplation, & enioy a neuer-fayling internall light, the vvhich is obscured by the fumes raysed euen by the most temperate Refections: by vvhich also passions are in some degree quickned. Such soules may indeed properly be said to haue a disaffe­ction to Refection. And the best vvay besides, & out of Prayer to beget such disaffection, & to preuent the harmes that may come from any corporall necessities, vvill be not only to practise the mortifying of sensuall contentment in going to the Refectory, but vpon se­rious consideration of the Tentations there to be found, to goe vvith a kind of vnvvillingnes & feare.

17. A most noble kind of Mortification in Refection is that mencioned by Harphius of a certaine Holy Brother of the Order of S. Francis, called Rogerius, vvho by meanes of eleuating the povvers of his soule & sus­pending them in God during Refection, lost all per­ception of tast in eating; & vvhen he found himselfe vnable so to eleuate his soule, he vvould for so long forbeare to eate of any thing that might afford any [Page 353] gust. But this practise belongs only to the Perfect: it may proue preiudiciall & dangerous to the ordinary sort of lesse perfect soules, or any that haue not an especiall & certaine Inspiration to imitate it.

18. The like may be sayd of the manner of Mortifica­tion practised by some of the Ancient Hermits, vvho vsed to mixe a fevv droppes of oyle (esteemed by them a great delicacy) vvith their vinegar, to the end ther­by to prouoke the appetite to desire more, the vvhich they denied to it. Or of another, vvho hauing receiued a bunch of grapes, ravenously deuoured them, partly to make the gustfull pleasure so much the shorter, & partly, (as he said) to cousen the deuill, to vvhom he de­sired to appeare a glutton.

19. A soule that practises Internall Prayer may con­tent herselfe vvith a moderate Attention to vvhat is read during Refection. And the like may be sayd of that part of the Office vvhich in some Communities is sayd immediatly after Dinner. Because too earnest an Attention and Recollectednes at such times vvould preiudice the Head and Stomack. A Soule therfore may esteeme this to be as a time of Desolation: as indeed there is some resemblance.

20. Concerning the vse of Physick, & cautions to be vsed about it: some Instructions shall be giuen in the last Treatise, vvhere vvee come to speake hovv a soule is to behaue herselfe in regard of her Prayer, du­ring Sicknes.

21. Lastly the matter of Sleepe is not vvnvvorthy the eare of a Spirituall Person. For certaine it is that a full [Page 354] repast doth not so much plunge a soule in sensuality, nor so indispose her for Spirituall Exercises, as a long & profound Sleepe: From vvhence euen a perfect soule vvill not be able to raise herselfe into Exercises of the Spirit vvithout much difficulty & long striuing.

22. And on these grounds doubtlesse it vvas, that the Mi [...]night Office vvas appointed, to the end to interrupt S [...]eepe. Yea anciently the three Nocturnes vvere ther­fore diuided, namely to preuent the immersing of soules in sensuall Nature.

23. For imperfect soules, it may be very preiudiciall for them to be depriued of a conuenient measure of Sleepe: Yet it is [...] [...]eing it should be interrupted. It is li [...]evvise good for them to goe to bed vvith an affe­ction & desire so be early vp for such an affection vvill cause their Sleepe to be mixed vvith a litle Sollicitude, the vvhich vvill dispose them both to vvake sooner, and to rise vvith lesse vnvvillingnes.

24. In case that one being in Bed cannot sleepe, it is v [...]ry dangerous to continue in a State of mere neg­ligence & Idlenes, because then not only vaine but ve [...]y hurtfull & pernicious thoughts vvill be apt to presse into the mind. For a preuention or remedy a­gainst vvhich, I should by no meanes aduise one to betake himselfe to any seriously. Recollected thoughts or exercises of Deuotion: for that vvould quite hinder Sleepe for the future, and spoile the next Daies Re­collections. (The like I say of the time immediatly going before Bed-time.) But in case they be simply Vaine Thoughts that then vvander vnsetledly in his [Page 355] mind, let him not vvillingly pursue them, but rather neglect them. Wheras if they be sinfull Imaginations, set him as vvell as he can diuert quietly his mind from them, and novv & then vvithout much force lift vp his mind vnto God, or vse some familiar Praiers, or say the Beades vvithout much forced Attention: yet more Attention is required against Sinfull then vaine thoughts.

25. As for Perfect soules, their Praier in such a Case vvill lesse hinder Sleepe, by reason it is both so pure & so facile, that it is become almost as Naturall as breathing, & performed vvithout any agitation of the Spirits, or reuoluing of Images in the Internall senses.

CHAP. VII.

§. 1. Of the Mortification of Anger by Patience.

§. 2. 3. 4. 5. Here is treated of Smaller Impatiences cheifly scarce obseruable but by Recollected liuers.

§. 6. Patience to be exercised at all times: Euen in Ioy & Prosperity.

§. 7. 8. 9. Wee ought to aspire to an Indifference.

§. 10. Patience towards God afflicting vs, is easier then towards Man.

§. 11. 12. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. Seauen Degrees of Patience.

§. 19. Examples of seemingly Extrauagant kinds of Pa­tience &c.

§. 20. Praier the only Efficacious Instrument to get Pa­tience.

§. 21. All Actions except actuall Praier, are in some de­gree defectuous.

1. THE next Passion to be mortified is Anger, the vvhich vvhosoeuer vvillingly suffers to arise & increase, or that deliberatly yeilds to trouble of mind for any matter that concernes the Body, Health, Fortunes, Life &c, yea or pretended soules good: such an one really makes more esteeme of them then of the solide good of his Soule: For as far as Anger gets a Maistery ouer him, so far he looses that Dominion that his Soule ought to haue ouer all other things, & puts Reason out of its Throne: Herupon our Saui­our sayth, In patientia vestra possidebitis animas ve­stras: [Page 357] That is, By Patience yee shall keepe the Possession of your Soules: as implying, that by Impatience vvee loose that possession: And vvhat greater losse can vvee haue? Hence it is also that almost in all Lan­guages he that is in any great impatience, is sayd to be out of himselfe.

2. Novv the Aduices vvhich I shall giue for the repres­sing of Impatience doe not regard those great excesses of Fury too common in the vvorld, though it is to be hoped, vnknovven in an Internall State: But only those lesser inordinate Passions of Impatience and irresi­gnation, or those smaller Impetuosities of nature which may sometimes befall deuout Soules, by vvhich the ne­cessary Peace of mind is disturbed, the habit of Propriety encreased, and the merit euen of our best vvorkes of Obligation diminished.

3. As vvee sayd that Loue (vvhich is the Roote of all other Passions & Affections) is due only to and for God; so consequently all Passions con­trary to Loue, all Auersions, impatiences &c. are to be directed only against that vvhich is directly con­trary to God: the vvhich no Persons are, nor no A­ctions or suffrings, vvhich are not sinfull. Therfore all such Passions against any Persons vvhatsoeuer, or any accidents be falling vs from any, are inordinate & sinfull, to the proportion and measure of the sayd Passions.

4. Euen the most Solitary liuer vvill not haue reason to complaine of vvant of occasions to exer­cise Patience: For besides the Crosses hapning by Gods [Page 358] Prouidence from vvithout (against vvhich all impa­tience is interpretatiuely impatience against God him­selfe:) A soule aspiring to Perfection must obserue euen the smallest Motions passing in the heart, the vvhich vvill be apt to rise euen against the vilest Crea­tures, as vermine, flyes &c. yea inanimate things, as Penns, Inke &c. There are also certaine Propensions in the will vvithout any perceptible Motion about the heart, so secret & subtile that they can hardly be ex­pressed, the vvhich perfect Soules by the Light pro­ceeding from Prayer, doe discerne and contradict. None are vvholly free from these inordinations; euen the most quiet natures vvill find vnequall inclinations, vvhich they ought to mortify.

5. Such is the difference, saith Cassian, betweene a Perfect Internall liuer and one that is imperfect, as there is betwene a Cleare-sighted man and one that is purblind. A purblind man in a roome sees only the grosser things, as Chaires, Tables &c. but takes no notice of an infinite number of smaller matters, vvith their Colours, di­stances, Order &c. all vvhich are plainly distinguished by a Cleare-sighted Man, vvho vvill obserue many de­fects and inequalities inuisible to others. So it is in re­gard of our invvard defects. An imperfect soule only takes Notice of grosser imperfections, and striues to amend them only: And that being done, conceiues her selfe arriued to great Perfection: vvhen, alas, there yet remaines a vvorld of Imperfections, only visible to Eyes enlightned vvith Supernaturall Grace (to be obtained only by Pure Internall Prayer) the vvhich vvill dis­couer [Page 359] hovv strangely rooted & deeply fixed all Pas­sions are in the Soule: And hovv soules deceiue themselues, vvho in prosperity doe so vvholly aban­don themselues to Ioy, as if nothing could happen that could diminish it: and contrarily in sorrow: As vvee find Examples in Suso, and the Monke cured from a great invvard Affliction by S. Bernard: as likevvise in Dauid vvho sayth of himselfe: Ego dixi in excessu meo &c. that is, Being in an Excesse of mind through Diuine consolation I sayd, I shall neuer be moued: But he found presently hovv he vvas mistaken, for it follovves; (Auer­tisti faciem tuam &c.) Thou only didst turne thy face from mee, and presently I became troubled.

6. Therfore Spirituall Persons at all times must ex­ercise Patience, euen in times of Ioy, by expecting a Change therof: vvhich perhaps is to be desired; be­cause the vvay to Perfection is by a continuall succes­sion of Mountings and descendings: to all vvhich they must be indifferent; or rather they must thinke their more secure aboade to be in Valleyes, then on Moun­taines.

7. All Commotion of Anger or Auersion is accor­ding to the degree of Selfe loue remaining: The vvhich is neuer to be accounted subdued, till vvee be in a per­fect Indifference to all Creatures, Actions or Suffrings, as considered in themselues: I say, as considered in them­selues: For if such Actions, Suffrings &c, be of Obliga­tion, vvee are not to be in such Indifference, but are to be more affected to the Obligation: for that is but to affect God, from vvhom all out Obligations doe pro­ceede. [Page 360] Yet if a vvorke of Obligation be agreable to our Nature, vvee must take heede of tying our Affections to it vnder that Notion, the vvhich vvee expresse by doing such vvorkes vvith more then vsuall diligence, hast & impetuosity. In such case therfore Imperfect Soules ought to performe such a vvorke as pausingly & mortifiedly, as the vvorke vvill vvell permit: And if it require hast, let them endeauour to doe it vvith In­ternall Resignation & indifference, at least in the Superior vvill. On the contrary, if it be a vvorke from vvhich their Nature is auerted, then the more chearfully & speedily they performe it, the more perfectly doe they behaue themselues: So that such Speede doe not proceede from a desire of gaining fa­uour, or to haue it dispatched quickly out of the vvay.

8. The Profession of aspiring to Perfection in a Con­templatiue Life requires not only Patience & Indif­ference in such Crosses as vvee cannot auoide: But also that vvee be not Sollicitous in seeking to auoid them, although lavvfull meanes vvere offred: On the contrary to entertaine and make much of them, in case the Soule finds inward strength sufficient to entertaine them.

9. A Spirituall Person liuing in Perfect Abstraction may rather haue neede, and hath more leisure to exercise himselfe sometimes in supposed, imagined dif­ficulties deuised by himselfe, then one that liues a distracted life. Such an one therfore may iudge of his impatience, either by remembring some iniury pas­sed, [Page 361] or feigning one present, and therupon obseruing vvhether, or hovv far Anger is stirred in him.

10. Matters about vvhich Patience is exercised, if they come from men, as hurts, iniuries, Persecutions &c. are generally more bitter, then those that come from God, though in themselues greater, as Sicknes, Losses &c. Because other men are but equall to vs; vvee knovv not their secret Intentions, but are apt to suspect the vvorst: therfore vvee take such things vvorse at their hands, then vvee vvould at Gods, vvho besids that he is Omnipotent, and has the Supreme Dominion ouer vs, vvee knovv that his Goodnes is infinite; So that vvee can assure our selues that all his dealings tovvards vs are meant for our Good, though sometimes vvee doe not see hovv they can contribute to it. And as for matters of Affliction that through imprudence or any other defect wee bring vpon our selues, vvee are lesse moued to impatience by them, (though often to a se­cret shame:) Because that besides that vvee are too apt to excuse and fauour our selues, vvee are secure that vvee meane vvell to our selues.

11. Wee may conceiue these follovving Degrees to be in Patience: all vvhich must be ascended before vvee can attaine to the Perfection of this vertue.

12. The first Degree is, To haue a Serious desire of Pa­tience, and hovveuer in the Superiour vvill to en­deauour to hold Patience vpon any prouocation: And if this cannot be had at first, yet to procure it as soone as may be, at least before the Sun passe, or in the next Recollection: And hovveuer to restraine the Tongue [Page 362] and outvvard Members from expressing Impatience, though perhaps as yet Anger cannot be preuented from shevving it selfe in sovvre lookes. A Person therfore that ordinarily cannot abstaine from deliberate angry Speeches, or vvhich is vvorse, from passionate actions (in vvhich the deliberation is greater) has not as yet at­tained the lovvest Degree of Patience.

13. The second is to vse all endeauours to guard the Heart, not suffring the Contradiction or Crosse to enter into it, or moue Passions in it: But to esteeme the prouocations as not vvorth the considering, or rather as a matter from vvhich vve may reape much good.

14. The Third is, To vse the mildest wordes & freindliest lookes vvee can to the Person prouoking vs: And not only to desire, but endeauour also to procure his good: and to lay Obligations vpon him.

15. The Fourth is to imitate the Prophet Dauid vvho sayd (Improperium expectauit Cor Meum & miseriam) My Soule expected Scornfull vpbraiding and affliction. This Degree does not oblige vs to seeke voluntary Mortifications: but only not be sollicitous to auoide them. And God oft inspires into his Seruants a Desire that occasions of exercising their Patience may be af­forded them: Yea and sometimes to seeke them: as S. Syncletica begged of S. Athanasius to assigne vnto her a Crosse-ill-Natured Person to be attended on by her: The vvhich being granted her, she came to attaine this vertue in great Perfection, suffring all her frovvard insupportable humours vvith facility & Ioy.

[Page 363]16. The Fifth Degree is shewed in bearing with Re­signation and Peace Internall Crosses, Aridities &c. which are far more greiuous, then Externall ones: Especial­ly that Great Desolation sent by God for the purifying of Perfect Soules, of vvhich vvee shall speake in the follovving Treatise.

17. Sixthly a great Addition is made to the grei­uousnes of these Internall Crosses, and consequently to Patience in bearing them, vvhen they are accom­panied with Externall Afflictions also. This vvas our Lords case on the Crosse, vvhen to the intolerable tor­ments of his Body vvas added Internall Desolation.

26. The Seauenth and Supreme Degree of Patience is to suffer all these things not only vvith Quietnes, but Ioy: This is a Degree more then Humane, being a Su­pernaturall Gift of God, by vvhich not only the Supe­riour will, vvithout any repugnance doth receiue and embrace things most contrary to Nature: But the Sen­suality makes no opposition neither, though they should come suddenly & vvithout preparation. Novv I know not whether euer any mere Creature (except our Bles­sed Lady) hath euer arriued to so high a Degree of Perfection in this life, as to become vvholly impas­sible.

19. S. Iohn Climacus mentions tvvo Examples of two Holy Persons that seeme some vvhat extrauagant. The first is of one that hauing receiued an iniury, and being not at all moued vvith it, yet desiring to con­ceale his Patience, made great Complaints to his Be­thren, expressing a counterfeit great Commotion of [Page 364] Passion. The other was of a very humble Soule that abhorred Ambition, yet pretended an impatient desire and pursuit after Offices, and great irresignation vvhen they vvere refused. But (sayth our Authour) vvee must take heede least by imitating such practises, vvee come much rather to deceiue our ovvne soules, then the Deuill or others.

20. All other meanes vvhatsoeuer vsed for the pro­curing of Patience vvithout Pure Internall Praier, will produce litle better then a Philosophicall Mortification, mixed vvith secret, vndiscouered Interests of Nature. But by Praier ioyned vvith Exercise of Patience out of it, the very Soule vvill be rectified, and in time come to such an established Peacefullnes, that nothing vvill be able to disturbe it: no, scarce the Persons themselues, if they had a mind to it. The vvhich a­mendment vvill be imperceptible, as progresse in such Praier is: But after some conuenient space of time there vvill be a certaine generall Sence & feeling of it; and this ere vvee be avvare. And the vvay that Perfect Soules take for the perfecting them selues in this vertue, is not so much by a direct purposed Ex­ercise & Combat against speciall Defects or Passions, as by an vniuersall transcending of all Created things, by meanes of an Eleuation of Spirit and drovvning it in God.

21. Herupon a Holy Hermite in Cassian seemes to account all our Actions vvhatsoeuer, except only the actuall exercise of Contemplation to be defectuous. His reason I suppose to be, because only during the time [Page 365] that a soule is in Actuall Contemplation she is in God, perfectly vnited in Spirit to him, and consequently entirely separated from Corrupt Nature and Sin. Wher­as out of Contemplation she is, at least in some Mea­sure, depressed in Nature, and painted vvith the I­mages of Creatures, the vvhich cannot but leaue some small staines in the Soule.

CHAP. VIII.

§. 1. 2. Of Mortification of Feare and Scrupulosity which is the most disquieting Passion of all other.

§. 3. 4. What Scrupulosity is.

§. 5. 6. Aduices here giuen, only belong to such as truly de­sire to lead Internall liues. And why?

§. 7. Scrupulosity though a pernicious Passion, yet is only incident to the tendrest Consciences.

§. 8. 9. Soules at the Beginning of a Spirituall Course are vsually very tender and Scrupulous. And why? Therfore it is necessary (and easy) to preuent Scrupulosity in the Beginning.

§. 10. The Order according to which the following Ad­uises are disposed.

1. THE next Passion to be mortified is Feare: to vvhich vvee vvill adde Greife, not as if they vvere not quite different Passions: but because ordina­rily the Greife vvhich is in vvell-minded Soules that leade Internall Liues, proceedes from Feare and Scrupu­losity, and not from such causes as procure Greife in [Page 366] Secular minds, as losse of Goods, Freinds &c. or the feeling of Paines &c.)

2. Novv Feare seemes to be of all other Passions the most disquieting: For though Greife regarding the same Obiect really, adds this excesse to Feare, that it supposes the Euill to be present, vvhich to Feare is onely future: And a present ill, as such, is more afflicting then an Euill only expected: Yet feare respecting the Euill in the Ima­gination, & as yet vnknovvne, apprehends it according as the Imagination vvill represent it: vvhich ordinarily is far greater then in reality it is; yea as in a sort infinite: And moreouer such an apprehension sets the vnderstan­ding on vvorke, either to contriue meanes to auoid it, or if that be difficult, to inuent new motiues of vnquietnes and anxiety; the vvhich is far greater in Euills of vvhich vvee are vncertaine hovv great they may be, and how soone they may be fall vs.

3. The speciall kind of Feare, the mortification of vvhich vvee are novv to treate of, is such an one as is incident more particularly to tender Deuout soules (es­pecially women) that pursue the exercises of a Contem­platiue life, the vvhich is vsually called Scrupulosity: vvhich is a mixd kind of Passion, the most contrary to that peace of mind necessary in a spirituall course, of any other, as being enuenomed vvith vvhatsoeuer causes anxiety and invvard torments almost in all other Pas­sions. It regards Sin and Hell, the most abhorred and most terrible obiects of all others: and it is composed of all the bitternesses that are found in Feare, Despaire, ineffectuall Desires, vncertainty of Iudgement, Iealousy &c. [Page 367] And penetrating to the very mind and Spirit, obscu­ring and troubling the Vnde stan [...]ing (our only Dire­ctour) and torturing the Will, by plucking it violent­ly contrary vvayes almost at the same time, it causes the most pestilent disorders that a vvell-meaning soule is capable of: in so much, as if it be obstinatly cheri­shed, it sometimes ends in direct Frensy, or vvhich is vvorse, a desperate forsaking of all Duties of vertue and Piety. And vvhere it is in a lesse Degree, yet it causes Images so distracting, so intimely penetrating, & so closely sticking to the mind; and by consequence, is so destructiue to Praier with Recollectednes, that it deserues all care and Prudence to be vsed for the pre­uenting or expelling it.

4. For vvhich purpose I vvill here, according to the best light that God has giuen me, afford such ten­der soules as are vpon this Rack of Scrupulosity, the best Aduices I can; and such ac if they vvill haue the cou­rage to practise accordingly, I doe not doubt, but through Gods helpe they vvill be preserued from the dangerous consequences of such a Passion. I shall in­sist vvith more then an ordinary copiousnes vpon this subiect, because this so dangerous a Passion is but too or­dinary among soules of the best dispositions.

5. But in the first place I must make this Protestation that these foll wing Instructions (in vvhich a great, yet necessary condescenden [...]y is allovved in many cases) doe belong vnto, & application of them only to be made by such tender, fearfull soules, as desire and intend sincere­ly to follow Internall Praier and other Duties of a Spiri­tuall [Page 368] life, with as much courage & diligence as their frailty will permit. Such doe indeed too often stand in neede, and are vvorthy of all assistance & indul­gence that Reason and a good conscience can possi­bly allovv, as being persons thrt vvill probably turne all to the glory of God & good of their soules; and not to the ease or contentment of sensuall nature (vvhich they account their greatest Enemie:) and much lesse to vnlavvfull liberty.

6. I doe protest therfore against all extrouerted Liuers, or any of different Tempers and Exercises, that shall presume to apply or assume vnto themselues any in­dulgences &c. here, not belonging to them: For they vvill but misleade themselues, and reape harme by so doing. It seldome falls out that such persons haue a feare of a sin committed, or of the mortall heynousnes of it, but that it is very likely that it is such an one, and has bene committed: And therfore for no difficulty of nature, nor for the auoyding of trouble of mind ought they to expect any dispensations from due Exa­minations of their Conscience, expresse Confessions &c: Wheras a thousand to one the forementioned tender soules doe take those for mortall sins, vvhich are mere Tentations, yea perhaps pure mistakes: And therfore to oblige them to such strict Exami [...]ations or Confessions vvould only nourish their most distracting Anguishes of mind, & furnish them vvith nevv mat­ters of Scrupulosity.

7. Novv to encourage such tender vvell-minded soules to make vse of these or any other the like Aduices [Page 369] proper for thē, I desire them to take notice, that that very Disposition, to vvit, a tender fearfullnes of offending God, vvhich renders them obnoxious to this so per­nicious a Passion, is such an one, as if they can a­uoide this inconuenience, vvill be the most aduanta­geous of all others to enable them to make a speedy progresse in Internall waies, and to attaine to Pu­rity of heart, the immediate disposition to Contem­plation, aboue all other. So that this is the only snare that the Deuill has to hinder them; namely by ta­king aduantage from such Tendernes to fill their minds full of multiplicity and vnquiet Apprehensions: With the vvhich snare if they suffer themselues to be entangled, they vvill find that Scrupulosity vvill be far from being effectuall to cure any of their Imperfections; yea it vvill make Contemplatiue Praier impossible to be attained: And God grant that those be the vvorst and most dangerous effects of it.

8. Such Tendernes of Conscience that is naturall to ma­ny, frequently happens to be much encreased imme­diatly after the entring into an Internall course of life: And therfore then especiall care ought to be vsed for for the preuenting of the fearfull Apprehensions vvhich are the vsuall consequences of it. And the ground of such encrease of Tēdernes at that time, is not so much a conscience of former sins, as too seuere a Iudgment of their present Imperfections, the vvhich seeme to be multiplied, by reason of the continuall opposition that corrupt nature giues to their present Exercises: as like­vvise [Page 370] because [...]y the practise of such Exercises they haue a New light to discouer a vvorld of Defects formerly inuisible to them. Hence they become fearfull of their present Condition; and knovving as yet no other re­medy but Confession, they torment themselues vvith anxious preparations therto. And their feares yet not ceasing by hauing receiued Absolution: and besides, the same opposition of sensuality against Internall Prayer continuing, they begin to sus [...]ect their former Confessions, vvhich therfore they renew: so that all their thoughts al­most are taken vp vvith these suspicions of themselues, unsatisfactions in their Confessions &c And by giuing vvay to such anxious customary Confessions, to vvhich also perhaps they are encouraged by their indiscreete Guides, they endanger themselues to contract an incu­rable Disease of most pernicious Scrupulosity and Ser­uile Feare, from vvhich terrible anguishes, deiected­nes and heartlesnes in all Spirituall Duties doe follovv, vvith danger of rendring the State of Religion, or at least of an Internall Life begun, a condition lesse fruit­full, yea more dangerous, then a common Extro­uerted life in the vvorld vvould haue bene.

9. Deuout foules therfore are earnestly vvished to make timely prouision against these Inconueniencies, & courageously to resist Scrupulosi [...]y in the begin­ning, according to the Aduices here follovving: And aboue all things, to vse their best endeauours and Prudence (as far as it belongs to them) as likevvise their Praiers to God, that they fall not into the hands of Directours that vvill feede this Humour (to them in [Page 371] such a state most pernicious) of frequent iterated Con­fessions, either particular or Generall. If such care be had in the beginning, there is no disease more easily curable: vvhereas by progresse it gathers such Strength, disordering the Imagination, disquieting the Passions, and corrupting euen the Iudgment also, that it is scarce possible to find a Reme­dy.

10. Novv to the end that the follovving Aduices may be more cleare and distinct, vvee vvill sort them accor­ding to the seuerall Grounds from vvhich vsually Scru­pulosity doth proceede: The vvhich are. 1. Either In­tervall Tentations by suspected sinfull Thoughts and Imaginations. 2. Or certaine Defects, or supposed De­fects, incurred about Externall Obligations, as S [...]y [...]ng the Office, Fasting &c. In both vvhi [...]h Cases there is a strong Suspicion of sin incurred, and an vncertainty of vvhat heynousnes that sin in: from vvhen [...]e follovv vnquiet Examinations, Scrupulous Confessions often repeated &c: First therfore vvee vvi [...]l treate of Feare & Scrupulosity arising from Inward Tentations by ill Ima­ginations or Thoughts: And aftervvard of the other.

CHAP. IX.

§. 1. Of Scrupulosity arising from certaine Inward Tenta­tions.

§. 2. 3. Tentations are not in themselues ill: But rather a Marke of Gods loue. Yet they are not to be sought.

§. 4. Internall Tentations very purifying.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. Of Inward Tentations resting only in the mind. And Aduices against them.

§. 9. Likewise touching those that cause also Effects and motions in corporall nature.

§. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Prayer is by no meanes to be omitted for Tentations: As being the best and securest Remedy: In as much as all Tentations are most efficaciously and per­fectly resisted, by conuersion of the soule with Loue to God.

1. THE Speciall kinds of Inward Tentations vvhich doe ordinarily afford matter of Feare & Scru­pulosity to vvell-minded tender soules are, First either such ill Imaginations or Thoughts as rest in the mind alone, without any other outvvard Effect, such are Thoughts. 1. Of Infidelity. 2. Of Blasphemy. 3. Of Despaire &c. Or Secondly such as withall haue, or may cause an alteration in the Body: such are Thoughts of Impurity, Anger &c.

2. Now concerning Tentations in generall, the De­uout Soule is to consider, That it is no sin to haue them: yea being sent vs by God, they are meant for our [Page 373] good, and to giue vs occasion to merit by them. And those vvhich God sends vs are the most proper for vs. For if they vvere in our ovvne choice, vvee should chuse least and last of all those that are most fit to humble vs, and to vvithdraw our Affections from our selues and Creatures: so that the more displeasing to vs and afflicting that any Tentations are, the more proffi­table are they. Let none therfore be dismayed at the approach of Tentations, but since Selfe-Loue cannot be cured but by application of things contrary therto, let vs accept of them as a speciall gift of God, assuring our selues that it vvould be perillous to be long with­out them. And if vvee cannot clearly see hovv our present Tentations can turne to our proffit; vvee ought to content our selues that God sees it; & othervvise he vvho is Infinite vvisedome and Goodnes vvould neuer haue permitted them to befall vs: Therfore let Faith supply knowledge or curiosity.

3. Neuerthelesse wee must not voluntarily seeke Ten­tations, for (qui amat periculum peribit in eo) He that loues danger shall perish therein, sayth the Wiseman. God vvill not deny spirituall strength to resist & make good vse of Tentations that by his Prouidence befall vs; yea although it vvas by some precedent fault & negligence of ours, that they befell vs: But he has made no pro­mise to secure vs in a Danger into vvhich vvee vo­luntarily runne.

4. More particularly, Internall Tentations are more beneficiall and purifying, and they doe more pro­foundly humble vs, then doe outward paines or Perse­cutions. [Page 374] 1. Because they discouer vnto vs, (not the ma­lice of others, but) our ovvne sinfull natures, prone of themselues to all abominations. 2. And by them vvee come to be deliuered, not from other creatures, but from our selues; in vvhich separation our cheifest & last conquered difficulty consists. 3. They send vs for re­medy to none but God: For vvhat effect can any assi­stance, medicines or other helpes of Creatures haue against our ovvne Thoughts.

5. And as for the Speciall (forenamed) Tentations, a vvell-minded soule ought to consider, That the simple passing of such thoughts or Imaginations in the mind is no sin at all, though they should rest there neuer so long vvithout aduertence: but only the giuing a deli­berate consent vnto them. Neither is it in the povver of a Soule either to preuent or banish them at pleasure: Because the Imagination is not so subiect to Reason, as that it can be commanded to entertaine no Images but such as Reason vvill allovv: But it is distempered ac­cording to the disposition of the Humours and Spirits in the Body: and sometimes the Deuill also is permitted to iniect or raise Images to the disquieting of tender soules: But he can force none to consent to the sugge­stions proceeding from them.

6. There is lesse danger of consenting vnto Tentations merely spirituall, such as are Thoughts of Blasphemy, Despaire &c: And consequently lesse likelyhood of Scrupul [...]si [...]y from a suspicion of such consent. Though sometimes they may be so violent and so obstinatly adhering, that the fancy vvill become extreamly dis­ordered, [Page 385] and the soule vvill thinke herselfe to be in a kind of Hell, vvhere there is nothing but blaspheming and hating of God.

7. Her best Remedy is quietly to turne her thoughts some other vvay, and rather neglect, then force herselfe to combat them vvith contrary thoughts: For by ne­glecting of them the impression that they make in the Imagination vvill be diminished. She may doe vvell also by words or outvvard gestures to signify her renoun­cing and detestation of them; As in a Tentation of Blasphemy, let her pronounce vvords and expresse po­stures of Adoration of God, Praise, Loue &c: Let her be also the more diligent in frequenting the Quire, con­tinuing more carefully in Postures of Humility before him. And doing thus, let her banish all suspicions of hauing consented, as being morally impossible.

8. Certaine it is, that hovv troublesome & horrible soeuer such Tentations may seeme to be, yet they being quietly resisted, or rather neglected, doe vvonder­fully purify the soule, establishing Diuine loue most firme­ly and deeply in the spirit. More-ouer by occasion of them the Superiour Soule is enabled to transcend all the disorders and tumults in Inferiour Nature, adhe­ring to God during the greatest cōtradictions of sensua­lity.

9. As for the other sort of Interiour Tentations, vvhich are more grosse, causing oft disorderly motions and effects in Corporall Nature; It vvill be more difficult to persvvade timerous soules that they haue not con­sented: Both by reason that such Imaginations are more [Page 386] pertinacious and sticking to the corporall Humours and spirits: and also because inferiour Nature is povver­fully inclined to a liking of them, in somuch as that reall effects & alterations may be vvrought in the body, before that Reason be fully avvake to resist them. Yea and after the resistance made by Reason, yet such Images continuing in the Fancy, and such motions in the body, the mind vvill be stupified, and the resi­stance of Reason vvill oftimes be so feeble, as that in the opinion of the Person it vvill passe for no resistance at all. Yea rather the soule vvill be persvvaded that she has deliberatly consented, considering the continuance of them, after that she vvas fully avvake, and had re­flected on them.

10. Notvvithstanding vnlesse in such soules the Rea­son doe not only reflect vpon the sinfullnes of such impure thoughts, if consented to; but likevvise in the very same instant that she makes such a Reflection, the Will be de­liberately moued to the approuing of them, they may be assured that there has passed no culpable consent to them. Againe, if the generall disposition of such soules be such, as that seldome or neuer either Speeches or deliberate Actions doe proceede from them conforma­ble to such impure Imaginations, they may confident­ly iudge that there is no danger of hauing incurred a mortall sin.

11. Aboue all things the Deuout soule is to be care­full that she be not disheartned, by occasion of such Tentations, from pursuing constantly her appointed Recollections the best she can, notvvithstanding that [Page 387] then aboue all other times such Thoughts vvill throng into her mind, so that she vvill thinke it almost vnlavv­full to appeare before God being full of such impure Images. But she is to consider, that novv is the proper time to shevv her Fidelity to God. No thanks to her if she adhere to God vvhen nature makes no oppo­sition, but rather finds a gust in it. But if amidst these tempests of corrupt nature she vvill firmely adhere to God, vvhen such adhesion becomes so extremely paine­full to her, this is thankevvorthy: then she vvill shevv herselfe a Valiant Soldier of our Lord, & vvorthy of that testimony that he giues of her, vvho has iudged her fit and capable of encountring such furious Ene­mies.

11. A great blessing and happines it is, that in all inter­nall Confusions, Obscurities &c. vvee can allvvaies make an Election of God vvith the Superiour vvill: The vvhich being effectually done, vvhatsoeuer disor­ders are in the Imagination or in inferiour nature, they doe rather encrease then preiudice our Merit.

12. Indeed this is that great, most Efficacious and Vniuersall Remedy against all Tentations, to vvit, an actuall Conuersion of the Soule to God in Prayer: For thereby the soule being vnited to God, either she vvill loose the Image and Memory of the Tentation for the present: Or hovveuer, she doth vvith farre more effi­cacy oppose and vvorke contrary to such Tentations, then if she had fixed her Eyes vvith a direct renouncing and detestation of them: For in an Actuall Vnion vvith God is included a vertuall detestation of all [Page 388] things contrary to him, both for present and future; and also therby the soule adheres to her only Good, vvith vvhom they are absolutly inconsistent.

13. This Remedy therfore vvhich containes in it all the vertue of all other particular Remedies, is of­ten and seriously to be recommended to Internall Contemplatiue liuers: (for indeed none but such as liue abstracted liues can, vvithout great force and difficul­ty, be in a disposition at pleasure to introuert and re­collect shemselues.) Hovveuer let euery soule that is capable therof, vse it. It is the plainest, easiest, securest and most infallible Cure of all others.

14. Those that are throughly practised in Prayer cannot only be vnited in W [...]ll to God, but perceiue themselues to be so vnited, vvhilst in the meane time both the representation of those Tentations remaines in the Imagination and vnderstanding, and much trouble likevvise in inferiour Nature: All vvhich notvvith­standing are not any hindrance or preiudice to such Vnion: Yea by occasion of these things a more per­fect and intense Vnion may be caused.

15. The light obtained by Prayer for the discouering of the Causes, Grounds and Remedies of such Tenta­tions, and the Grace to resist them is vvonderfull, and incredible to those that doe not practise Prayer. By ne­glect of vvhich many liue in the midst of Tentations, and yet doe not knovv them to be such: Or knovving them, yet haue no strength nor vvill to resist them. But most certaine it is, that a Soule vvhich duely prosecutes Internall Prayer according to her present abilities, can [Page 389] scarce possibly be so ouercome vvith a Tentation, as habitually to yeild to it; or hovveuer to dye in it. In­deed there is no security that a Soule ordinarily is ca­pable of in this life, but by the meanes of Prayer.

CHAP. X.

§. 1. Of Scrupulosities about Externall Duties, as the Office, Fasting &c.

§: 2. Tender Soules ought to seeke full Information tou­ching such Obligations: which is not out of politick ends to be denyed them.

§. 3. 4. 5. 6. Seuerall cases of Indulgence about the Office.

§. 7. 8. 9. 10. Some learned Doctours doe free particular Reli­gious persons (not in holy Orders) from a necessary Obli­gation of saying the Office in priuate.

§. 11. An Aduice touching the same.

1. IN the next place, the speciall Externall Duties about vvhich tender Soules are apt to admit Scrupulosities are many: Yea some are so inordinatly timorous, that they can give vvay to vnsatisfaction in almost euery thing that they doe or say. But the prin­cipall and most common, especially in Religion, are these. 1. The obligation of Religious Persons to Pouerty, Obedience, Regular Fasting, Saying of the Office in pu­blick or priuate &c. 2. The Duty of Examination of the Conscience in Order to Confession, and Confession in selfe, with Communicating afterward.

[Page 390]2. The generall proper Remedy against Scrupulosity arising vpon occasion of any of these matters is a true information of the Extent of the said Obligations. And surely Spirituall Directours are obliged to allovve as much latitude to vvellminded timerous Soules in all these things, as Reason vvill possibly admitt, conside­ring that such are apt to make a good vse of the greatest condescendency. Therfore it vvould be a fault inexcu­sable before God, if Confessours out of a vaine Policy, to the end to keepe tender Soules in a continuall de­pendence and captiuity vnder them, should conceale from them any Relaxations allovved by Doctours or iust Reason. And timerous Soules vvhen they haue receiued information from Persons capable of kno­vving, and vnlikely to deceiue them, they ought to beleiue and rest vpon them, and to account all ri­sings of feare or suspicion to the contrary to be vnlavv­full.

3. More particularly for as much as concernes the Diuine Office, since all that vnderstand Latin may ac­quaint themselues vvith all the Dispensations and lar­gest allovvances afforded by Doctours, I conceiue it most requisite that such ignorāt tender Soules (especially Women) as may come to see or reade these Instructiōs, should not be left in an ignorance or vncertainty here­about: For vvhy should any additionall burdens of a Religious life lye more heauy on those that are least able to beare them, and such as vvill be far from being lesse carefull in obliging obseruances, lesse submisse to Authority, and lesse assiduous in the Seruice of God?

[Page 391]4. Therfore for as much as concernes the Publick Conuentuall reciting of the Offiice, they may take no­tice, That the Obligation therto does not at all lye vpon particular Religious vnder sin, except vvhen they haue bene pro tempore expressly commanded by Superiours to frequent the Quire at such or such a determinate time: At other times they may be pennan­ced for negligence, and ought to submit vvillingly ther­to. But the Obligation vnder sin to see that Duty discharged, lyes only vpon Superiours.

5. Againe vvhen they are in the Quire, in case that vvhen others are repeating the Office, they are em­ployed about any thing that concernes the Church, as lighting of Candles, fetching or turning of Bookes, Musick &c. they are not obliged to repeat such Parts of the Office as haue passed during such their Employ­ments. Neither is it necessary in case of any conside­rable feeblenesse, that they should streine their voices to the tone of the Conuent, vnlesse by reason of the paucity of the Religious the Office through their Si­lence cannot be solemnly discharged. Moreouer if any reasonable occasion concerning the Office require their going out of the Quire, they are not bound to repeate aftervvards vvhat shall haue bene said in the meane time, but at their returne they may content themselues to ioine vvith the Community &c.

6. But as touching the saying of the Office in priuate it is the generall Vote of learned man. 1. That a very ordinary indisposition vvill suffise to dispence. 2. That the mistake of one Office for another is not considera­ble, [Page 392] since it is only a dayes Office is enioyned, and not such a determinate Office 3. That if a fevv verses novv and then vvere omitted, that being but a very small part of the vvhole, is not valuable. 4. That none are obliged to repetition for vvant of Attention, or for not exact pronunciation &c. 5. That Scrupulous Soules being in an vncertainty vvhether they haue said such a particular Hovvre, or other considerable part of the Office, are not obliged to say it. 6. As for the times of saying each part, the liberty allovved is fully large enough. Other Indulgences there are generally permitted, of the vvhich they may doe vvell to informe themselues: These vvill suffise to shevv that the Burden is not so great as many good tender Soules doe apprehend.

7. But the roote of all these and all other Scrupulous difficulties in this matter is taken avvay by the Positiue Assertion of certaine learned Doctours, not censured or condemned by any, viz. That no Religious Persons, except they be in holy Orders, are bound to the reciting of the Diuine Office in priuate vnder mortall sin: (And if it vvere any sin at all to omit it, it vvould be a mor­tall sin, being euidently in materia graui.)

8. The principall Authours of this Assertion are Les­sius a very learned Iesuit, and Marchantius a most pru­dent, learned and Conscientious Prouinciall of the holy Order of S. Francis, vvho being taught by long Expe­rience in treating vvith tender Soules, professes that he thought himselfe obliged in Conscience, in Duty to God and Charity to timerous Soules to publish this Assertion. And the Reasons giuen for it seeme to be very pressing [Page 393] and concluding: Because the simple not-reciting of the Office being not in it selfe euill, for then all seculars not reciting it should sin (mortally:) there can be named no Title vnder vvhich it can be made Obli­gatory.

9. For. 1. all those that vvould maintaine the contrary opinion doe professe that there is no Lavv for it. For al­though our Holy Rule aduises that in case any cōsiderable number of Religious by meanes of any Employment should be hindred from the Quire, they should in the place of such their Employment recite the Office in common: Yet it giues no order at all to single Religious persons in that case. 2. The Foundations and sustenta­tion of Religious Communities is not as that of Cures or Canonries to vvhich there is correspondent by a debt of Iustice and vertuall Contracts the reciting of the Ca­nonicall Office, so that Restitution is due in case of Omission: But to Foundations of Monasteries and pious Oblations are correspondent only the performan­ces and Obseruances of Religious Vowes, Fasts, Auste­rities, Conuentuall Prayer, aspiring to Contemplation &c: vvith respect to vvhich only, Oblations vvere made to Conuents, not vnder a Title of Iustice but Charity.

10. There remaines therefore no other pretence for an Obligation of particular Religious not in sacris to a priuate reciting of the Office, but only Custome that has the vertue of a Lavv. Novv Caietan doubts vvhe­ther de facto there be any Custome of it at all: for certaine it is that it is not vniuersally receiued: neither is it by priuiledge that some doe not receiue it. Hovv­euer [Page 394] if there be a Custome, yet that it has not the force of a Law may appeare. 1. Because if it had bene intro­duced by authority of Superiours, it vvould haue bene established by Constitutions: vvhich yet hath neuer bene done: Neither hath any Inquisitiō bene made at Visits of the breach of such a Custome, as a fault. 2. Because those Doctours that most vrge the Obligatiō therto, yet neuer pretend the omitting to be a Mortall sin: And surely if it be not a mortall sinne, it is none at all. 3. Because seuerall learned men haue publickly vvithout censure protested against any obligation flovving from such a Custome: vvhich vvould neuer haue bene permitted, if Prelates and Superiours had an intention that their subiects should esteeme such a Custome obligatory. 4. Because there are certaine Orders, as the Franciscans, the Nunnes of the Annunciata, &c, vvhich by their Rule and an expresse Vow are obliged to the reciting of the Office in particular, in case of absence from the Quire: vvhich vvould be ridiculous, if the generall Custome vvas presumed to be sufficiently obliging. 5. The same is proued by a parity; for vvheras a Custome had bene ge­nerally introduced among the Cis [...]ertians by the An­cients of the Order, of reciting the Office of our B. Lady and of the Dead: yet in Generall Chapter Anno Domini 1618. it vvas declared, that this Custome though intro­duced by the Ancients and Superiours, yet had not the force of a L [...]w.

11. All this notvvithstanding, according to the Opinion of the said Authours, vvee may conceiue this to be a Cu­stome very laudably practised by deuout Soule [...] and [Page 395] has bene indeed receiued vnder Title of Piety, and a con­uenient holy Exercise: vvhich if it should be causelessly neglected, contemned, or transgressed, a person so trans­gressing, if he did it out of indeuotion and vvant of fer­uour in matters of Piety, might iustly be condemned, or at least esteemed a person indeuout and negligent. The vvhich fault yet may be remedied some other more commodious vvay, then by laying a snare vpon tender soules, or misinforming them.

CHAP. XI.

§. 1. Of the most bitter kind of Scrup [...]losity touching Con­fession.

§. 2. 3. Indiscreete rigour of Confessours in this Point, very harmefull to tender Soules.

§. 4. Seuerall Instructions and Aduices concerning this mat­ter.

§. 5. 6. 7. Absolute and exact Obedience to Spirituall Dire­ctours (with Praier) is the only Remedy.

§. 8. 9. 10. 11. The strange obstinatenesse and subtile peruerse­nes in some good Soules, in finding and iustifying Escapes from Obedience.

§. 12. 13. The great harme proceeding from Scrupulous Exa­minations and Confessions.

§. 14. 15. A forme of Examination of Conscience proper for many Scrupulous Soules.

§. 16. 17. The Conscience of tender Scrupulous Persons is not properly a doubting Conscience: but only fearfull.

§. 18. 19. 20. Constancy in Prayer most efficacious against Scrupulosity.

§. 21. 22. Confession of Veniall Sins is proffitable: but yet not vniuersally to all Soules.

§. 23. 24. 25. The chiefe triall of Obedience is at the times of Communicating. Aduices therabout.

§. 26. 27. 28. Security in following such Instructions as these.

§. 29. 30. The Roote of Scrupulosity is Tepidity: and oft also a corporall distemper.

[Page 397]1. VVHATSOEVER the matters or occasions are that cause Scrupulosity in tender Soules, the bitternesse therof is felt especially in con­fessing of them, or preparing themselues to such Con­fession. For then it is that all former vnsatisfactions recurre to their memory, & new Examinations are made: and not only all the supposed faults, but also the former Examinations and Confessions are againe examined and Confessed. For to such Soules, partly out of ignorance in the nature, degrees and circum­stances of Sinnes, and partly hauing their mindes darkned by Feare, all Sinnes appeare to them to be Mortall, or for ought they know they may be Mortall: & that suspicion, or euen possibility is sufficient to pierce them through vvith Greise and Feare.

2. The Misery of such selfe afflicting Soules is much increased and rendred almost irremediable by indis­creete Confessours, vnwary Writers of Spirituall mat­ters, and such as are vnexperienced in Internall waies: Who in the practise of Pennance and Confession vse the same Rules and measure towards all Soules indiffe­rently, giuing Aduices in generall termes, vvhich yet are proper only for the common sort of Soules liuing in the vvorld: who commend the repetition of Ge­nerall Confessions, prescribing nice Rules for Exami­nation: who enioine all their Penitents in a case of vncertainty or Doubt, vvhether a Sin be mortall or no, to chuse that vvhich appeares to their prepossessed iudgments the safer side, and therefore to be sure not to omit it in Confession: who recommend dayly and [Page 398] almost hovverly Examinations of Conscience: who extoll the vertue and Efficacy of Sacraments, vvithout sufficient regard to the Dispositions, and therefore indifferently encourage Soules to frequent Confessions, yea euen vvhen they can find no present matter: in such a case aduising them to repeate the mentioning of any one or more sins formerly confessed, merely to continue a custome of confessing, and to gaine a nevv accesse of Grace by vertue of the Keyes &c. Novv such Aduices and Instructions as these may possibly be good for some negligent soules liuing extrouerted liues (if that a proportionable care vvere also taken that Peni­tents should bring due Dispositions to the Sacraments, vvithout vvhich the effects vvrought by them vvill be far from their expectation:) But that vvhich is a cure for ordinary soules, may and frequently doth proue poyson to such tender Scrupulous persons, as vvvee novv treate of.

3. Therfore surely a Confessour or Directour that has any tast of Internall vvaies, and any Spirituall prudence and Charity, vvhen he is to treat vvith soules that he sees haue truly a feare of God, and a sensible horrour of offending him, euen in a proportion beyond vvhat Charity and due confidence doe require; and that, vvere it not that they are deiected by too great an apprehen­sion of their guilt, vvould make great progresse in the Diuine Loue: Perceiuing likevvise (after some expe­rience & insight into their liues, Exercises and manners of their Confessions) that such soules accuse & iudge themselues & their Actions, not by any light of Rea­son [Page 399] or Knovvledge in the true Nature & Degrees of sins, but only by their ovwne Passion of Feare, vvhich cor­rupts their Iudgmēt &c: Such Confessours, I say, in these & the like circūstances vvill not surely thinke it fit to deale vvith these, as vvith the ordinary sort of tepide or ne­gligent Soules in the vvorld, that haue neede to be ter­rifyed, to haue their consciences narrovvly searched into, to be frequently brought before the spirituall Tri­bunall. The like Prudence is to be exercised also to such tender soules leading internall liues, vvho though they are not actually Scrupulous, either haue bene formerly, or may easily be cast into it by rough or indiscreete vsage.

4. Therfore surely these timorous & tender Soules are to be told, First that the End of their coming into Religion, or of consecrating themselues to God in a life of Contemplation, vvas not to eni [...]y the Sacraments, vvhich they might haue had free vse of in the vvorld: but in the Quietnes of Silence and Solitude to seeke God, and dayly to tend to him by Internall Exercises of Loue, Resignation &c. as also by a calming of all man­ner of Passions: And that all Externall Duties are only so far to be made vse of, as they contribute to the en­crease of this Loue, Quietnes of mind and confidence in God. 2. That the Sacrament of Pennance and Conses­sion is a Holy Ordinance indeed, instituted by our Lord, not for the torment, but ease of Consciences, & to the end to bring soules to haue a confidence in him, and not a horrour of approaching to him. 3. That the administration of this Sacrament is left to our Lords Priests vvho alone are to be Iudges [Page 400] vvhat sins are to be confessed, and in vvhat man­ner. 4. That since it is euident that Confession is their cheifest torment, causing effects in them so con­trary to vvhat our Lord intended: that therfore they should either abstaine vvholly from so frequent a cu­stome of confessing, or to make their confessions on­ly in the forme that should be prescribed them. 5. That such examinations of sins vvill abundantly serue their turne, as they vvould thinke fit to be vsed in any ordinary matter of importance, and as may be made in a very short space. 6. That oft it is far more prof­fitable for them to exercise rather Vertuall Acts of Con­trition and sorrovv for sin, by conuerting themselues directly to God vvith Acts of Loue, then by refle­cting vvith Passion vpon their sins. 7. That those com­mon Maximes. (viz. That it is the signe of a good con­science there to feare a fault vvhere none is: And that nothing is to be done against conscience: Likewise that in Doubtfull cases the securest side is to be chosen &c. These Maximes I say) though in grosse true; yet if they should be strictly applied to Scrupulous persons, vvould vtterly ruine the peace of their minds, For they are altogether incapable of iudging vvhat is against conscience, or vvhat may be sayd to be Doubtfull, ac­counting euery thing that they feare (vvithout being able to giue any tolerable reason of their feare) to be against conscience, and to be Doubtfull: It is therfore the spirituall Directour or experienced Confessour only that is to be iudge of these things; vvho has no inter­est at all in the busines, but the good of his Peni­tents [Page 401] soule; vvho can iudge vvithout Passion; vvho is appointed by God to be iudge; and vvhose vn­faithfull dealing the Penitent hath no reason to sus­pect.

5. There is no possible vvay to be ridde from scruples (besides the hauing immediate recourse to God by humble resigned Prayer) but an entire indispensable obedience to prudent Confessours, proceeding accor­ding to these or the like grounds and instructions: Ac­cording to vvhich if such tender soules take the cou­rage to practise notvvithstanding any feares in sensi­tiue Nature, they vvill find their feares to decrease. Wheras if they neglect, or obstinatly refuse to put them in practise, their feares vvill not only grow far more dangerous, but they vvill become inexcusable before Almighty God, and contract the heynous sin of dis­obedience, ingratitude, and vvillfull obstinacy & re­sistance against the light vvhich God has giuen them.

6. But vvithall they must knovv, that they vvill neuer haue sufficient strength and Grace to obey a­gainst passion, except they seriously practise Inter­nall Prayer: the vvhich alone vvill make their Obe­dience to become by custome far more easy, and also freed from that horrour vvhich at the first they will feele in sensitiue Nature.

7. Neither ought they to suspect that their Con­fessours set ouer them by God for their good, doe not vnderstand their case aright. True it is, they doe not feele the paines they suffer, no more then Cor­porall Physitions doe their Patients: But yet they [Page 402] knovv the causes of it far better then themselues, proceeding by a Supernaturall light, not clowded by Passion. And vvhy should they pretend to knovv the causes, being ignorant of them? What interest is likely to corrupt their iudgment? Would they for no reward or gaine incurre the displeasure of God?

8. Notwithstanding so subtile such soules are to their owne preiudice, that though they should yeild that their Confessour knevv their past state, yet they see some nevv Circumstance vvhich vvas either for­gotten, or they doubt so, the vvhich may perhaps alter the vvhole Case. As likewise euery nevv sin or de­fect has somevvhat in it, to their seeming, different from the former, by vvhich they make a shift to scape from Obedience. Yet they must knovv that not all these shifts vvill excuse them before God.

9. Yea they ought to consider, that though indeed it vvere true that the Confessour should happen to be mi­staken: Notvvithstanding the Penitent practising bona fide according to his Orders in a point of this Nature about Confession (vvhich is not a Morall Precept) should commit no sin, nor incurre the least danger by it: yea being an Act of Obedience for Gods sake and in opposition to Naturall Passion, it should be an occasion of merit to them. So that though the sins suspected by them vvere indeed Mortall, yet he iudging othervvise, they vvould not be obliged to confesse them.

10. But it is vvonderfull to see in soules very distrust­full of themselues in all other matters, such an obstinate selfe-iudgment in this, that they vvill neuer be perswa­ded [Page 403] that they are Scrupulous, though their vvitts be al­most perished by Scrupulosity. For if this vvere once ad­mitted, plaine reason vvould conuince them that they ought not to be their ovvne Iudges. As likevvise in soules othervvise very innocent, humble and most pliable to O­bediēce, the pertinacious disobedience in this point of ab­staining from confessing or renewing Confessions of things forbidden them to be confessed is very strange: So that against the command of their present Confessour, and the Aduice of all the most learned Doctours, they vvill persist in their reluctance: And if their Confessour vvill not admit them, they vvill forbeare no meanes to find out others, though vvholly vnacquainted vvith their state, to heare their Scrupulosities. And vvhat other ground can there be of such disorder, but only selfe-loue deeply rooted in corrupt Nature: and of­times the suggestion of the Deuill, to vvhich such soules by reason of their disordered Imaginations and Pas­sions, are miserably exposed? They had rather con­fesse their vertues for faults (as their hauing resisted their feares in compliance vvith Obedience) then their really greatest fault, vvhich is selfe Iudgment and Diso­bedience.

11. A Scrupulous fearfull Soule hauing bene comman­ded to forbeare Examination and confession of such particulars as doe cause vnquietnes in her; vvhen she comes to put this in practise, a double Feare vvill pre­sent it selfe to her: the one of disobeying her Confes­sour: and the other of going against her naturall Iudg­ment vvhich is contrary to her Confessours. But she [Page 404] ought to consider, that the former Feare has nothing of nature in it: yea that it contradicts Nature in its most sensible part, and therfore is far more vvorthy to take place. As for the Feare of going against her ovvne Iudg­ment, it proceeds vvholly and only from Nature, selfe-loue, and a desire to be ridd of her present paine that the memory of her faults causes in her, or the Sugge­stions of the Deuill vrging her to disobedience: Ther­fore if she cannot expell this Feare out of sensitiue Na­ture, she must accept it as a paine, but vvithall contra­dict it as a Tentation.

12. She ought to assure herselfe that more harme comes to her, and incomparably greater impediments in her Exercise of Prayer &c. by indiscreete Confessions, or Examinations made merely to satisfy Scrupulosity, then by all the Defects that she vvould Confesse: the which being generally incurred out of frailty, doe far lesse estrange her from God, then such Confessions doe; by vvhich she is habituated in selfe-vvill, selfe-iudg­ment and Seruile Feare: All vvhich are the more pe­rillous, in as much as they haue a pretence of Duty, to God, and to the Orders of his Church, as also of humility, and a desire to receiue benefit by the Sa­crament &c.

13. Common Reason vvill dictate, that it is most vnfitt that any one should be iudge of his ovvne state, iust at a time vvhen a Tentation or violent Feare is actually predominant, the vvhich doe put the soule in a strange confusion and darknes. What a folly ther­fore & presumption vvould it be for a vvoman igno­norant, [Page 405] passionate and fearefull to challenge the Of­fice of a Iudge in this Case, and to thinke to regu­late the Iudge, that sits in Gods seate?

14. Let therfore fearefull soules that are forbidden the vsuall waies of curious Examinations of Con­science & nice Confessions, Whensoeuer any scruple or suspicion concerning a Mortall Sin comes into their Minds that vvould vrge them to run for ease to Con­fession, or that vvould affright them from commu­nicating, let them, I say, content themselues vvith as­king their ovvne Consciences in one glance of their minds, Doe I certainly know the matter of this Feare to haue bene a mortall sin: and that it was really committed: and neuer confessed in any sort, defectiuely or exactly? And if their consciences doe not answere, that they are most certaine of this, they may not only securely iudge that they are not guilty, but they are obliged vnder sin to abstaine from Confession, in case they haue bene so commanded, and to proceede to communicating. For it is morally impossible that such tender soules should com­mitt a Mortall sin, but vvithout any Examination it vvill appeare euidently to be Mortall.

15. This vvay of selfe-Examination I (being war­ranted by learned Authours) doe seriously recommend to those soules that find that a punctuall Examina­tion doch destroy the quiet of their minds: so that if after one short selfe-questioning they doe not resolut­ly and positiuely determine that they haue d [...]liberat­ly consented to a Tentation, and committed a sin vnquestionably mortall: Let them resolue neuer after [Page 406] to trouble their Thoughts vvith it: but if they should presse them to a Re-examination, let them neglect them and consider them as pure Tentations.

16. Such Soules are not to esteeme, that a Feare or suspicion that any thing is a sin or Mortall, can be sufficient to make the case to be Doubtfull: For a Doubt is vvhen two opinions are represented to the mind, and the contrary Reasons for each are so euen and equall, that the Iudgment cannot determine it selfe to assent to either. Novv a firme Assent may be vvhere there is a violent Feare of the contrary at the same time. And a Scrupulous person cannot oftimes giue any other Reason or account of her Feare, but that for ought she knowes, the matter is according to her Feare.

17. Amongst other subiects of Scruples, one is a Doubt in such soules, whether they haue true Contrition for their faults, or no. Wheras if there be any thing that hinders their sorrow from being true Contrition, it is the Excesse of seruile Feare mixt vvith it, vvhich they vvillfully nourish vvith their Scrupulosities: But hovv­euer, considering they are supposed to practise Internall Prayer in such manner as they are able, there is hardly any Doubt to be made, but that they haue the true loue of God, which makes sorrow for sin to be true Con­trition. The vvhich may be performed either directly, by framing an efficacious Act of sorrovv and detestation of their Sins, as offensiue to God, and for his loue: Or only vertually (yet efficaciously,) by producing an Act of pure loue to God: for therby they doe really auert [Page 407] themselues from vvhatsoeuer doth offend him, or is contrary to such loue (as Sin is.)

18. And from hence may appeare the great Security that a soule has vvhich pursues Internall Prayer: Be­cause euery Act of loue or Resignation performed purely for God, doth restore a soule to the State of Grace, in case that by any precedent sins she hath fallen from that State. And if she hath not, it doth aduance and establish her the more in Grace.

19. There is not therfore a more assured generall Remedy against Scrupulosity and all such inordinate feares then Constancy in Prayer. This alone vvill produce a courage to despise such Feares, vvhensoeuer they vvould hinder a Soule from performing Obedience to the Orders of her Spirituall Directour.

20. The Security and Necessity of vvhich Obedience, as likevvise the culpablenes and danger of proceeding according to the suggestions of Feare, a Deuout Soule may euidently collect from hence, viz. by obseruing that she neuer disobeyes in vertue of Light obtayned by Prayer, the vvhich alvvaies dictates Obedience and renouncing her ovvne Iudgment, and contradicting her Feares, to her: And on the contrary that she is tem­pted to transgresse the Orders of her Confessour only at the time vvhen Feare is so violent vpon her, and makes so deepe an impression of her supposed faults in her mind, that she cannot then pray vvith Resigna­tion, and beleiues that then to obey her Confessour vvould be to goe against her ovvne knovvledge. Her security therefore must come from Prayer: to vvhich [Page 408] her humble Obedience vvill dispose her: And on the con­trary Scrupulous Fears vvill render her vtterly vnfit. Therfore Soules vvhich vvillfully nourish their Feares and Scruples by frequent vnpermitted Confessions haue very much to ansvver for before Almighty God for their vvillfull plunging themselues into a State vvhich makes a Perfect vnion vvith God impossible, therby defeating the vvhole Designe of a Religious In­ternall life: as also for forsaking the vvaies of Obe­dience, vvhich almost in all possible cases are most full of security.

21. It is far from my purpose to deterre soules from frequent Confessions, euen of Veniall sins, vvhen they find such Confessions proffitable to them, and helpes to their amendment; But othervvise, if by the meanes of such Confessions they endanger themselues to run into Mortall sins of the highest Nature, as Desperation, or a vvillfull renouncing of all vvaies of Piety, through the horrour arising from their ignorance & incapacity to di­stinguish betvveene Mortall & veniall sins: Then surely it vvere better for them to make vse of other wayes ap­pointed by God for the expiating & purging of Veniall sins (such as are, Saying our Lords Prayer, Acts of Humilia­tion or Contrition, Giuing of Almes, Deuout taking of Holy water &c.) And if they are desirous in some good measure to obserue the ordinary times of Confession, they may content themselues vvith expressing some such faults as they can vvith assurance, and vvithout dis­quietnes declare: and all other faults may be inuolued in some generall Phrase or Expression.

[Page 409]22. If it be obiected, that by practising according to these Instructions such soules vvill find nothing nevv to confesse, and so vvill be depriued of the blessing & comfort of Absolution. Herto I ansvver, That it were happy if Soules could find nothing expedient to be Con­fessed. And surely the most effectuall meanes to bring them to such Happines, is according to these Aduices to free thē from their deiecting Scrupulosities: the which as long as they remaine, litle effect of blessings can proceede from the best Exercises or vse of Sacraments. Wee knovv that in Ancient times innumerable Saints at­tained to Perfection vvith litle or no vse of Confes­sion (considering their remotenes from places vvhere Preists inhabited) by Serious practise of Praier, Ab­straction of life, Mortification &c: vvhich meanes vvill doubtles haue the same effect novv: and vvithout them Confessions and Communions though dayly practi­sed, vvill haue but small effect therto: Novv there is not in the vvorld a Mortification more effectuall, more pu­rifying and more proper for such Soules, then to Obey God in their Confessour, contrary to their ovvne violent feares, Scrupulosity and seeming Iudgment.

23. The proper season of the Tryall of Obedience and Submission of Scrupulous Soules is the time of Commu­ [...]icating: because they knovv that there is necessary [...]herto not only the condition of being free from Mortall [...]in: but likewise that a greater preparation is requi­site: For in all States they may pray, Say their Office, Exercise Mortification &c. vvithout a precedent Con­ [...]ession (though it is vvith great deiection, heartlesnes [Page 410] & most greiuous distractions that such Soules apply themselues to Internall Praier &c.) But aboue all, Communicating during their Suspicions is most greiuous & full of horrour to them.

24. In this case therfore a vvell-minded Soule com­ing to Communicate according to Order prescribed by her Confessour, and finding a Feare to seise vpon her, let her take courage, lifting vp her heart to God in this or the like manner, My God, it is not by mine owne Choyce, but in Obedience to thee speaking to mee by my Confessour, that I presume to approach to thy Altar. In thy name therfore, and hoping for thy blessing I will Communi­cate, notwithstanding the horrour & frights which I feele in my Soule. These I accept as a paine, and I doe resigne my selfe to the continuance of them, as long as it shall be thy pleasure for my humiliation. I hope & am assured that thou wilt not condemne mee for Obedience, and for resisting the violent impulsions of my Corrupt Passions. It is only for the comfort of my Soule that I desire to receiue the precious Body of my Lord. If I did not thinke it to be thy will that I should Communicate now, I would abstaine though this were Christmas or Easter-day, and whatsoeuer confusion or shame I were to suffer for abstaining. Hauing said or thought to this effect, let her freely Communicate, and be assured she shall not incurre the least danger, but on the con­trary merit in a high Degree. And in the same manner she may lift vp her heart to God, vvhensoeuer in Con­fession she abstaines from mentioning such faults a [...] doe cause disquietnes in her.

25. Such Soules may also doe vvell to practise very [Page 411] often in priuate Spirituall Communicating, preparing themselues therto by the forementioned breife and quiet Examinations. Frequent practising after this man­ner vvill begett a Confidence to doe it really vpon oc­casions.

26. Those Soules to vvhom these Instructions have bene, or shall be esteemed proper in the Iudgment of their Spirituall Directours, must not be discouraged frō follovving them by any thing that shall be sayd by others, or by any thing that they shall find in Bookes: For there is nothing vvritten here vvhich may not be confirmed by the testimony and authority of learned and vnquestioned Doctours. They must therfore abstaine from making consultations vvith others, or demanding their iudgments or Opinions: for othervvise there vvill be no End of troubles and distractions. Neither vvil­lingly or purposely ought they to reade Bookes made for the Common Sort of Soules, and that giue different Aduices: for that vvould be to put themselues vvillfully into a Tentation. But let them content themselues vvith these or the like Instructions, reading them oft, and seriously resoluing in & vvith Praier to pra­ctise accordingly, and they may, through Gods blessing, expect a good Successe.

27. Novv they must not from hence expect Aduices to fit all cases, vvhich are almost infinite. But according to their particular necessities they must apply these Generall Instructions: obseruing the Diuine Inspira­tions, (especially in the time of Praier) their ovvne Experience, and sometimes likevvise seruing thēselues [Page 412] of their naturall iudgment. For of this let them assure themselues, That if they vvill not resolue to Obey till Satisfaction be giuen them to all their Scrupulous Ob­iections & Feares, their case is desperate: If nothing vvill serue them but a riddance from the paine of the Tentation, an Angell from Heauen vvill neuer be able to quiet & satisfie them. They must either Obey, though vvith their Eyes shut, or they vvill liue & dye in the State of Selfe-loue and Seruile feare vvhich is a very dangerous State to dye in.

28. Yet those vvho must of necessity at the first be helpd vvith relying vpon the vvarrant of their Confessours and Directours, must not finally rest there, but make vse of such Peace as by their meanes they can obtaine, to dispose them to haue recourse to our Lord, to learne confidence in him, which vvill a­rise from frequent conuersing vvith him by Prayer.

29. To conclude this matter of Scrupulosity: A ge­nerall good vvay to Cure it is by opposing it in its Roote and cause: the which is either Spirituall or cor­porall: The spirituall cause of scrupulosity is Tepidity: for though it seemes to be an humour full of sollici­tude, hast and eagernes; yet the true ground oftimes of it is an vnvvillingnes and loathnes to giue God more then vvee must needes. Novv the measure and Rule of vvhat is absolutely necessary being vncertaine, from the ignorance therof grovves a generall feare (iust enough, the heart being so corrupted vvith selfe-loue) of fal­ling short of vvhat is necessary almost in every thing, either for vvant of right intention, or some other im­portant [Page 413] circumstance: the vvhich Feare being Seruile, is perplexing, confounding and darkning. The proper remedy therfore is (as hath bene sayd) an humble re­course to God by Praier to correct in vs vvhat is amisse, & to supply vvhat is defectiue: as also a sub­mission and resignation of our selues sincerely and entirely to doe to our vttermost vvhat he requires: and vvhen all this is done, not to iudge of our soules estate, its hope or danger, so much by a vievv of our ovvne perfections, or a conceit of the diminishing of our imperfections, but only by our relying and affe­ctionate dependance on God. For the greatest & most perfect seruants of God the more they grovv in Per­fection the more light haue they to discerne innume­rable imperfections in themselues, vvhich causes great Humility, but yet does not abate their dependance & confidence on God, grounded in his only Goodnes. Wheras imperfect Tepide Soules hoping to gaine securi­ty by diminishing their imperfections (the vvhich a­rises from Pride:) vvhen they see their defects rather to encrease, they become deiected, fearfull and Scru­pulous.

30. And such Scrupulosity arising from Tepidity doth much encrease it, through a kind of despaire of expelling our ovvne imperfectious by our ovvne abi­lities, and neglect of the true meanes of expelling them, vvhich is Serious Prayer to God. If such soules ther­fore vvould take this for a ground; That it is impos­sible in this life that they should euer see themselues othervvise then full of innumerable defects, of which [Page 414] they are not able so much as to giue any account: And yet notvvithstanding they ought, euen for that very impossibilities sake, to haue recourse vnto God & to rely vpon his pardon, as also his helpe and concur­rence to remoue our defects, as far as his good plea­sure shall be: Againe if they vvould not expect a cer­tainty or Security touching their state, but be content to stand to Gods good pleasure and mercy; by vvhich not only Perfection, but saluatiō is to be obtained, they vvould shortly be freed from their painfull, vvearisome feares and Scrupulosities.

31. Againe oftimes this humour of a timerous Scru­pulosity is very much to be attributed to the pre­sent indisposition in the Body, (especially in Women) vvhen by reason of some speciall Infirmities through the ascending of ill vapours to the Head there are rai­sed melancholick and afflicting Images in the Fancy: Which vvithout the helpe of the Corporall Physition can hardly by counsell be expelled.

CHAP. XII.

§. 1. 2. Of a Scruple concerning a Soules Vocation to a Re­ligious Life.

§. 3. 4. t. 6. 7. Of Seuerall grounds and Motiues by which Soules may be induced to vndertake a Religious State.

§. 8. 9. What Motiues are Perfect; and what vnsitting. And how a Soule once engaged, has then a Necessary Diuine Vocation to continue &c.

1. BEFORE I quitt this Passion of Feare, it vvill nei­ther be impertinent nor vnproffitable, I hope, to speake somevvhat of a Tentation taken Notice of by Thaulerus, the vvhich affords great matter of Feare to some tender Soules; and regards their vocation to a Religious life. The Case stands thus.

2. Some tender Soules in Religion, that haue good minds & vvills to perseuere in seeking God, but being vnsatisfied vvith them selues because they see so many Imperfections not yet amended, yea some that they had not obserued before they entred into that State: They impute all their vnsuccesfullnes in curing their defects to Gods Iudgment vpon them for hauing vpon light or vaine Grounds of their ovvne Choyce vnder­taken such a State of life for outvvard, and perhaps vnvvorthy Ends, as to auoide vvorldly troubles, vvants; persecutions &c. and not out of a pure Intention to seeke God, nor from any Inspiration from him.

[Page 416]3. But to shevv the groundlesnes of such Scrupulous apprehensions, such Suspicious Soules may doe vvell to consider, First that in these vvicked times in vvhich there is such a decay of Charity in the vvorld, & of feruour in Religion, such Heroicall Enterprises and such admirable Calls to a Religious State are not euery day to be expected, as vvee reade of in former times, vvhen Kings and Princes, sometimes euen in the prime vigour of their Age, out of a loathing of transitory things, and a longing after God, renounced all the abundance of vvealth, Pleasure & Glory that the vvorld could afford, in as much as they vvere impediments to their Holy designe of embracing Solitude, Pouerty and all other Penitentiall Austerities in Religion. So that it is much to be doubted, that if the greatest part of those that novv enter into Religion had met vvith the like Tentatiōs, & Offers in the vvorld, as those despised, most of our Cells vvould be Empty, and our Conuents be­come true Desarts. Yet all this does not argue that be­cause the Calls to Religion vsuall in those daies are not so Extraordinary as formerly, therfore they are vn­sufficient, or not at all Diuine. For though our Intentiōs novv are not so Heroicall and Deiforme (because our Charity is not so inflamed:) yet for the substance of them they may be vpright.

4. Secondly, they ought to consider, that God is of­ten pleased in loue to certaine Soules that perhaps vvould be in danger to make Shipvvrack of that im­perfect Charity vvhich is in them, if they continued in the vvorld, to permit by an especiall Prouidence cer­taine [Page 417] Externall Casualties to befall them, by vvhich they may be in some sort compelled to retire into the secure Solitude of a Religious State. For vvhich pur­pose also he remoues many Impediments to such a Course, depriuing them of their Dearest freinds; Riches &c. crossing also their Designes, vvhich if they had succeeded vvould haue chained them to the vvorld. Hence it is that some for vvant of a comfortable Sub­sistence; others to auoide Suites and other troubles; or euen for vvant of bodily strength, and being dis­abled to tast the pleasures of the vvorld; others out of a tediousnes and satiety of sensuall Contentments; lastly some out of a deepe remorse for some speciall Crimes, or other respects no better then these, are in­duced to embrace a Religious State. None of vvhich respects notvvithstanding vvithout some degree of Cha­rity would probably haue bene sufficiēt to haue produced this Change: as neither vvould Charity alone, had it not bene actuated and quickned by such considerations. Novv these Vocations, though mixed vvith much im­purity, yet are far from being vnlawfull.

5. In the third place, it may possibly happen that some may haue come into Religion induced merely and only by outvvard, yea perhaps vnlavvfull respects. They had much rather haue stayd in the vvorld, the pleasures of vvhich, if they could haue enioyed them, they preferred far before God. But God debarrs them from such pleasures, sending them great Crosses, which they can no othervvise auoide, but by the Refuge of a Religious State. In vvhich also, it may be, their [Page 418] first designe is to seeke themselues only and not God. Yea vvee reade of one that adioyned himselfe to a Religious Community merely for this vvicked End, to get an opportunity to commit Sacriledge by stea­ling a Chalice. But being there, God rouched his heart to repent and acknovvledge his Criminall Hy­pocrisy: after vvhich he lead a very Religious holy Life.

6. Againe fourthly, some doe come into Religion, it may be, vvith a good harmles meaning, but meeting vvith tepide or perhaps irreligious Companions they grovv vveary of their Condition, the difficulties of vvhich they haue not yet Spirituall strength to sup­port and improue to their Soules aduancement: So that if they were againe freely to dispose of themselues, they vvould chuse to returne into the vvorld, vvere it not that they are chained by a Vovv and Eccle­siasticall Lavves: Novv although these came into Re­ligion vncall'd by God, yet novv the impossibility of changing their present Condition is an effectuall Call from him to keepe them constant and faithfull to him.

7. Lastly, some come into Religion as it vvere vn­avvares vnto themselues, and vvithout any Election on their ovvne parts. Which is the case of many per­sons of Noble Families, (especially Virgins) that are euen forced to such a State by the Tyranny of their Parents, or enueigled into it by the Subtile auari­cious insinuations & persvvasions of others engaged in the same state &c. By vvhich meanes they engage [Page 419] themselues in a State of life vnknovven to themselues, relying vvholly on the vvills and iudgment of others: And being once a little engaged, the opinion of Ho­nour, and to auoide the imputation of inconstancy forces them to perseuere.

8. Novv among all these varieties of Cases & Vo­cations to Religion, shall vvee say that only those Perfect Soules mentioned in the beginning haue a true Call to Religion? If so, how much the smaller number of Religious could be iudged to haue had a Lavvfull Call? What reason therfore haue any Soules that novv desire to seeke God in Religion, hovveuer they came thither, to disquiet themselues? Is it be­cause they vvere not perfect in Charity before they entred into Religion? (For a perfectly Pure Inten­tion cannot proceede but from a perfect habituall Charity) Is it therfore strange to them that nature, as long as it is aliue in them, should mixe its ovvne Interests euen in the most holy Actions? Or rather is this possible to be vvholly auoyded, vnlesse vvee vvere Perfect in an instant? If there vvere any vndue or vnlavvfull Externall Motiues that induced them in the beginning to betake themselues to such a state; Since it novv pleases God to shevv vnto them that such a state is so secure and so happy a Condition for their soules, surely they ought rather to employ their Tongues and thoughts to blesse him, vvho dealt vvith them mercifully and graciously beyond their de­serts, rather then to trouble and disquiet themselues. Are they afflicted because God made them happy a­gainst [Page 420] their vvills? Or that by his speciall most merci­full Prouidence he discouraged them from abiding in the Tentations & Snares of the vvorld? Or that he tooke aduantage from their Imperfections to bring them into the vvay of Petfection? Or that he chan­ged their neglect into a desire of seeking him, though vvith many defects?

9. They ought therfore to consider that in the pre­sent State they novv are, nothing can so much harme them as such vnreasonable and vnquiet apprehensions. If they vvere novv in a Capacity to begin to make a free Choice, they vvould vvith an vndoubted good and right Intention renounce the vvorld; hauing of­ten times freely confirmed their first Profession. And surely this ought to satisfy them: For God lookes v­pon all his seruants according as their present Con­dition is: so that if they novv seeke him in truth, vvhatsoeuer the Motiues vvere that brought them to their present state, they shall be no preiudice to them: If they vvere Impure, they are forgiuen, and shall neuer be considered: If good, they shall be considered for their good only. If they still haue imperfections; it is no vvonder: Who does not complaine, and iustly of Imperfections? When they are more perfect they vvill haue lesser defects, but they vvill see many more, and be more humbled, though lesse disquieted for them. Hovveuer, certaine it is that Scrupulosity & Feare is their far greatest and most harmfull imperfection; for this alone vvill make Perfection in the Diuine vnion impossible to be obtained, as long as the soule acts ac­cording [Page 421] to its inclination. And the vvay to cure it is not to dispute or contest vvith the cause of it: but to neglect, transcend & vvorke quite contrary to it; And doing so, though the paine continue in sensitiue nature, yet such paine vvill proue a very purifying Mortification.

CHAP. XIII.

§. 1. Of the mortification of the affections of the Will, to wit, Pride &c.

§. 2. Of Humility, what it is.

§. 3. 4. That God is the only obiect thereof, mediate or im­mediate.

§. 5. 9. 7. 8. Of Humility expressed towards creatures with respect to God: Which requires that wee preferre all others before our selues, according to the seauenth Degree in our holy Rule.

§. 9. 10. This doth not offend against truth.

§. 11. 12. 13. The which is proued by the grounds of true Chri­stian Humility: And that the most sublime, perfect crea­tures are the most humble.

§. 14. The knowledge & perception or feeling of our owne Not-being & Gods Totality or absolute Being, is the prin­cipall ground of Humility.

§. 15. Of other meanes conducing therto.

§. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. By what considerations a perfect soule may truly iudge herselfe inferiour to all others.

§. 21. 22. Of Humility exercised immediately to God, either with reflexion on our selues, or without it.

§. 23. 24. An imperfect soule may know, but not feele her owne Nothing; which is done only in perfect Prayer.

§. 25. 26. Deliberate imperfections in our selues are an hin­drance to this feeling.

§. 27. 28. 29. Of the degrees of this feeling.

§. 30. 31. Exhortation to aspire therto.

[Page 423]1. HAVING thus largely treated of the Mortifi­cation of the principall Passions in Sensitiue na­ture: vvee are consequently to speake of the Mortifica­tions of the Will, or Appetite of the Superiour soule; the generall inordination vvhereof is Pride, the roote of all other vices, & vvhich of all other is the last cured, as being fixed in the inmost center of the Spirit. Novv Pride doth generally expresse it selfe one of these three wayes. 1. In curiosity of knowledge; or seeking to enrich the vnderstanding vvith sciences not proffitable, & sought only out of an Ambition of excelling. This is mor­tified by a namelesse vertue vvhich S. Paul describes by this circumlocution, vvhen he exhorts vs that vvee vvould (sapere ad sobrietatem) be soberly wise: concer­ning vvhich Duty vvee haue treated sufficiently where vvee spoke of the regulating of our Reading & stu­dies. 2. In a loue & desire of selfe esteeme; the vvhich is mortified by that most diuine fundamentall vertue of Humility. 3. In a loue of liberty or independency, & a desire of Prelature or Authority ouer others: The vvhich is mortified by the Religious Vertue of Obe­dience. It remaines therfore that vvee conclude this Treatise of Mortification vvith Instructions touching these tvvo eminent vertues of Humility & Obedience.

2. Humility may be defined, to be a vertue by vvhich vvee acknowledging the Infinite greatnes & Maiesty of God, his incomprehensible Perfections, & the abso­lute Power that he hath ouer vs & all creatures (vvhich are as nothing before him) doe vvholly subiect our selues, both soules & bodies, vvith all their povvers & [Page 424] faculties, & all things that pertaine to either, to his holy vvill in all things, & for his sake to all creatures accor­ding to his vvill.

3. Properly speaking, Humility is only exercised towards God, & not to creatures; Because all creatures are in themselues nothing as vvell as vvee, and so de­serue as vvell to be despised. And on these grounds the Heathens vvere incapable of this vertue, because they did not, nor could intend God, vvho vvas vnknowne vnto them. Yea it vvas not vvithout ground, that they disgraced & condemned this vertue (by vvhich men compared themselues vvith others, preferring all before themselues) as a hindrance to other Perfections: Be­cause the vnderualuing ones selfe compared vvith others, vvas (in their opinion) a meanes to deiect mens spirits; & hinder any Heroycall attempts of raising ones selfe aboue others: and also because if the person comparing had indeed an aduantage in Perfections, it vvould be both vnreasonable & vniust not to preferre himselfe. But vvhat an inconsequent vvay of arguing this is, I shall hereafter shevv.

4. In this vertue of Humility God towards vvhom it is exercised, may be considered. 1. as absolutely & ab­stractly in himselfe. 2. as compared with creatures. 3. as in his creatures, & in seuerall degrees participated by them.

5. In this latter regard, vvee for God shevv Humility towards men, preferring others before our selues; con­tenting our selues vvith the meanest things in dyet, cloaths, bookes &c: yea vvith the meanest parts & en­dovvments [Page 425] of nature; flying all honour, authority or esteeme &c.

6. If Humility vvere thus practised by Religious per­sons &c: all other duties also vvould be chearfully & readily practised: for if vvee did indeed esteeme our selues to deserue no honour, kind vsage &c, but the contrary; hovv could vvee be impatient for iniuries re­ceiued, vnresigned in afflictions, infected vvith pro­priety &c? vvith vvhat svveetnes & peace vvould vvee liue tovvards all? vvith vvhat tendernes & Charity vvould vvee embrace all &c?

7. Novv the principall Act of this Humility is that vvhich is recommend by our holy Father in these vvords: The eleauenth degree of humility (saith he) is when a soule shall not only pronounce with her tongue, but likewise in the most inward affection of the heart beleiue herselfe to be inferiour & more vile then all others, humbling her­selfe & saying with the Prophet, I am a worme & no man, the shame of men, & an abiect among the common people; I was exalted by thee, but I am humbled & confounded. And againe, It was good for mee that thou didst humble mee, that I may learne thy commandements.

8. Such true Humility is so rare to be found, that there are fevv that make Profession of this Act euen vvith the tongue: in so much that a man should be esteemed an hypocrite that should only pretend here­to; Wheras in truth the very essence of Humility, as re­garding men, cōsists principally in the exercising this Act. For vvee are not to conceiue that any one is become truly humble by any one or more of the degrees of it, till [Page 426] he haue attained (at least in preparation of mind) to the highest degree, with which our holy Father begins. Cer­taine therefore it is, that true humility requires this acknovvledgment from vs, that wee beleiue our selues to be inferiour & more vile then all others.

9. Novv though to ordinary humane reason it m [...]y seeme an offence against prudence & truth for one (for example) that knovves himselfe to be skillfull in Arts, prudent, noble &c: to preferre before himselfe those that are ignorant, silly, ignoble &c: Or for a soule that by the grace of God perceiues herselfe to be free from mortall sins, & to liue vnblameably, yea vvith edification, & perhaps is fauoured by Almighty God vvith supernaturall graces, sublime Prayer &c: to esteeme herselfe inferiour to Persons that she sees abandonned to all vice & impiety: For doing so, she vvould seeme to lye against her ovvne conscience & God, & to be extremely vngratefull to him. Notvvith­standing Humility it not at all opposed to truth; for if it vvere so, it could not be a vertue. Yea it is pure Di­uine Truth it selfe that forces such a confession from the perfectest soules. In so much as that he that does not knovv, yea & endeauours not experimentally to feele himselfe to be the most vile & vvretched of all crea­tures, does in vaine challenge the title of being humble or true.

10. And this vvill appeare by discouering the ground [...] vpon vvhich, & the meanes by vvhich true Christia [...] Humility is built & to be attained; the vvhich ar [...] these.

[Page 427] 11. In the first place, vvee are to knovv that God crea­ted all things for himselfe, that is, in order & subordina­tion to himselfe, so that the perfection of their natures (respectiuely) consists in the preseruing of this subor­dination, or in taking a true measure of themselues considered in themselues, & also as compared vvith God; And so doing vvee shall in very truth, vvithout flattery or vanity, acknovvledge that vvee our selues & all creatures vvith vs are in & of our selues simply & in propriety of speech very nothing; vvee haue nothing, vvee deserue nothing, vvee can doe nothing; yea more­ouer, that by all things that proceede from our selues, as from our selues, vvee tend to nothing, & can reape nothing but vvhat is due to defectuousnes: And on the contrary that God alone of himselfe is, & has being; & that illimited, replenished vvith all the perfections that Being can possibly haue.

12. This is the maine vniuersall, vnalterable ground of Humility, by vertue of vvhich all intellectuall creatures in all states & degrees are obliged to referre to God alone not only themselues & all manner of things (be­cause vvithout him they haue no being at all, & only by him they continue to enioy that being) but also all endovvments that are in them, all operations that flovv from them, as far as they are not defectuous, & the successe likevvise of all their actions; so that to ac­knovvledge any good to come from any but God only; or to ascribe Excellency or praise to any other but God, is a high iniustice, a breach of that essentiall order in & for vvhich creatures vvere made & are preserued.

[Page 428]13. By vertue of this indispensable Subordination or comparing of God vvith his creatures, the most per­fect, most holy & most sublime of all Gods creatures doe most profoundly humble themselues in his pre­sence. The glorified Saints doe prostrate themselues be­fore him, casting their crovvnes at his feete; the Seraphins couer their faces; & our blessed Lord as man, hauing a most perfect knovvledge, perception & fee­ling of the nothingnes of creatures & the absolute To­tality of God, did more then all Saints & Angells most profoundly humble himselfe before the Diuine Ma­iesty of his Father, remaining continually plunged in the Abysse of his ovvne nothing. Moreouer in ver­tue herof he submitted himselfe to all creatures: yea for as much as concerned suffring, euen to the De­uill himselfe. As a creature, he savv nothing in him­selfe but the nothing of a creature; & in all other creatures he savv nothing but God, to vvhom he humbled himselfe in all, accepting as from him what­soeuer persecutions proceeded from others. True in­deed it is, that vvithout offending truth he could not beleiue any other creature to be more holy and perfect then himselfe; & so could not in that regard humble himselfe to them: But he considered all his ovvne perfections as not his ovvne, but Gods; and therfore assumed nothing to himselfe for them; yea he did not at all consider them, but only to humble himselfe & renounce all pretentious to them; And the least perfection that vvas in others he considered as belonging to God, and so humbled himselfe to God in them.

[Page 429]14. But in the second place, although this conside­ration of the not-being of creatures out of God, & the All-being of God, be indeed the true & most proper ground of perfect Humility; yet because a great super­naturall light & grace is required to make a soule sen­sible of this (for by discourse vvee may come to knovv it in an imperfect manner, & to beleiue it; But to tast, perceiue & feele it, this vvee can neuer doe till vvee be entred far into God by our Prayer) Ther­fore vvee are in the beginning to make vse also of another more sensible, & to the vveakest eyes per­ceiueable ground of Humiliation; vvhich is the conscious­nes of our many imperfections & sins, ioyning therewith that imperfect discoursiue knovvledge of our ovvne nothing & Gods totality: endeauouring by these two to humble & abase our selues; so by little & little diminishing that naturall Pride vvhich is in euery one of vs: by vvhich vvee are apt not only to thinke bet­ter of our selues then of any other, to excuse our ovvne faults, & to accuse euen the best actions of others &c. but also to raise vp our selues against & aboue God himselfe, considering our selues as if vvee vvere both the Principle & end of all Good, challenging to our selues the praise of all either reall or imaginary good in vs, & referring all things to our ovvne content­ment.

15. By a serious & frequent consideration of these things, vvay vvill be made for the introducing of true solide Humility into our soules; But yet these alone vvill not suffise, except therto vvee ioyne. 1. Abstra­ction [Page 430] of life, by vvhich vvee vvill come to over-looke & forget the imperfections of others, & only looke vpon our ovvne; thence flying employments, charges & dealing vvith others; or vvhen necessity requires a treating vvith others, doing it vvith all modesty, Charity & a cordiall respectfullnes: being confounded at our ovvne prayses &c: 2. A care to practise accor­ding to vvhat Humility obliges vs, vvith quietnes of mind accepting humiliations, contempts &c from others, endeauouring to vvell-come them, & euen to take ioy in them &c: 3. But especially Internall Prayer, by vvhich vvee not only get a more perfect light to dis­couer a vvorld of formerly vnseene imperfections, but also vvee approach neerer to God, & get a more per­fect sight of him, in vvhom all creatures, our selues & all, doe vanish & are annihilated.

16. Now when by these meanes Humility begins to get a little strength in vs, it is vvonderfull to see how inuentiue & ingenious it is in finding vvayes to en­crease in Perfection. Then this degree of preferring all others vvhatsoeuer before our selues, vvill appeare not only possible, but easy to be practised, as being most conformable to reason & duty.

17. For then a deuout soule knovving hovv va­luable & necessary a vertue Humility is, by vvhich a­lone that most deadly poyson of our soules (Pride) is destroyed. 1. She will become scarce able to see any thing in herselfe, but vvhat is truly her ovvne, that is, her defectuousnes & nothing: nor any thing in o­thers, but vvhat is Gods; And thus doing she cannot [Page 431] chuse but humble herselfe vnder all others, prefer­ring all others before herselfe; & this vvithout fiction, vvith all sincerity & simplicity. 2. She will neuer com­pare herselfe vvith others, but to the entent to abase herselfe. 3. If there be in her any naturall endovv­ments vvanting to others, she vvill consider them as not her ovvne, but Gods, committed to her trust to the end to trade vvith them for Gods glory only: Of vvhich trust a seuere account shall be required: And being conscious of her negligence & ingatitude, she vvill be so far from glorifying herselfe for such endovvments, that she vvill rather esteeme them hap­py that vvant them. 4. If she haue any supernaturall graces vvhich others vvant, yea or if others are guilty of many open sins, she vvill consider that she may ac­cording to her demerits be depriued of them, & o­thers enriched vvith them, vvho in all likelyhood vvill make better vse of them; for she knovves by many vvofull experiments the peruersenes of her ovvne heart; but is vtterly ignorant of others: & therfore cannot vvithout breach of Charity suspect that they vvill be so ingratefull. 5. She will not take notice of lesser im­perfections in others; yea not knovving their secret intentions, she vvill iudge that those things vvhich seeme to be imperfections, may perhaps be merito­rious Actions. 6. In a word considering that God has made her a iudge of herselfe, only to the end to con­demne herselfe; & of others, only to excuse them; & knovving that there can be no perill in iudging (if it be possible) too hardly of ones selfe: but much in [Page 432] iudging the vvorst of another, in the smallest thing; Though others be neuer so vvicked, yet at least she vvill iudge this, that if God had afforded them the light & helpes that she enioyed, they vvould haue bene Angells in Purity compared vvith her; & hovveuer that at least they are not guilty of such ingratitude as she is.

18. By such considerations as these a deuout soule vvill fixe in her vnderstanding a beleife of her ovvne vilenes & basenes. For to make Humility a vertue, it is the vvill that must euen compell the vnderstanding to say, I will beleiue my selfe to be inferiour to all, according as I find iust cause by these cōsiderations; And the same Will will vpon occasion force practises suitable to such a beleife. It vvill make the soule affraid to seeke things pleasing to her, yea content vvith all hard vsage, as knovving she deserues far vvorse, & ought to expect to be trodden vnderfoot by all creatures, so that in loue to Iustice, & equality she vvill euen desire & reioyce in all affronts, persecutions & contempts; Or if cer­taine circumstances, as Infirmity of Body &c. shall re­quire, and that she be necessitated to chuse or desire any consolations, she will accept them in the spirit of humility & mortification; that is, purely in obedience to the Diuine Will, & not at all for the satisfaction of na­ture, being far from thinking herselfe vvorthy of any thing but vvant, paine & contempt.

19. Novvv a Superiour is not to be iudged to offend against this degree of humility, vvhen he discouers, ob­iects, reprehends or punishes the faults of his subiects; [Page 433] for in so doing he sustaines the person of God, to whom alone it belongs to exercise the office of a Iudge, yet vvithall the Superiour ought not therfore to esteeme himselfe better then the person reprehended: for though perh [...]ps in that one respect he cannot much con­demne himselfe; yet for many other faults vvhich he sees in himselfe, & cannot see in others, he may & ought to remaine humbled: yea to be the more con­founded, vvhensoeuer the duty of his place requires of him to be a reprehender of others, vvhilst himselfe doth far more deserue reprehension.

20. When by serious practise of humiliation ioyned vvith Prayer, a soule is come to a high degree of Purity in spirituall exercises, then is attained that more admi­rable kind of Humility vvhich regards God: In vvhich the soule contemplating his Totality & illimited vniuer­sality of Being, & thence reflecting on her owne nothing, (of vvhich novv she has a more perfect sight) she most profoundly humbles & annihilates herselfe before him.

21. And vvhen Prayer is come to Perfection, then vvill the soule also mount to the supreme degree of humi­lity, which regards God considered absolutely in himselfe, & vvithout any expresse or distinct comparison vvith creatures; for herby a soule fixing her sight vpon God as all in all, & contemplating him in the darke­nes of incomprehensibility, does not by any di­stinct Act or reflexion consider the vacuity & nothing­nes of creatures: but really transcends & forgets them, so that to her they are in very deed as nothing, be­cause they are not the obiect vvhich with her spirit [Page 434] she only sees, & with her affection only embraces.

22. This most Heroycall Humility can only be exerci­sed in the Act of Contemplation: for then only it is that a soule feeles her owne nothing, vvithout intending to reflect vpon it. At all other times she in some de­gree feeles the false supposed being of herselfe & crea­tures. Because it is only in Actuall Pure prayer that the images of them are expelled, & vvith the Images the Affections to them also.

23. Notvvithstanding a great measure & proportion of the vertue of such prayer remaines, & is operatiue also aftervvards out of prayer: for if the soule doe see creatures, she neuer sees them as in themselues, but only in relation to God; & so in them humbles herselfe to God, & loues God in them. And if she reflect vpon herselfe & turne her eyes invvard into her spirit, de­siring to find God there; there vvill not be any con­siderable imperfection, obscurity or staine that will darken her view of God, but she will discouer it, and most perfectly hate it.

24. As for sins or imperfections in others, though neuer so heynous, they are no hindrance to her seeing of God; because either she transcends & marks them not; or is by their meanes vrged to a nearer & more feruent loue of him for his patience; to a greater Zeale for his honour impaired by the sins of men; & to a greater compassion towards sinners.

25. But the least imperfection in herselfe being real­ly a hindrance to her immediate vnion vvith God & perfect sight of him, is in so great a light as she then [Page 435] enioyes, perfectly seene & perfectly abhorred by her. Yea such faults as to her naturall vnderstanding for­merly appeared no bigger then moates, doo in vertue of this supernaturall light seeme as mountaines; And defects which she before neuer dreamed or imagined to be in herselfe, she now sees not only to be, but to abound & beare great sway in her. To this pur­pose saith S. Gregory (l. 22. Moral. c. 1.) Sancti Viri quo altiùs apud Deum proficiunt, eò subtiliùs indignos se de­prehendunt; quia dum proximi luci fiunt, quidquid in illis latebat inueniunt. That is, Holy men the higher that they raise themselues approaching to God; the more clear­ly doe they perceiue their owne vnworthines. Because being incompassed with a purer light, they discouer in them­selues those defects which before they could not see.

26. Hence it appeares that there is a great diffe­rence betweene the knowledge of our owne Nothing, & the feeling or perception of it. The former may be got by a little meditation, or by reading of Schoole Diui­nity, vvhich teaches & demonstrates, how that of our selues wee are nothing, but mere dependences on the only true Being of God. Wheras the Feeling of our owne no­thing vvill neuer be attained by study or meditation alone, but by the raising & purifying of our soules by Prayer. The Deuill hath the knowledge of the nothing­nes of creatures in a far greater perfection then any man, & yet he hath nothing at all of the feeling. Novv it is only the feeling of our not-being that is true per­fect Humility: as on the contrary, the feeling of our being is Pride.

[Page 436]27. Novv this Feeling of our not-being has two degrees. 1. The first is in regard of the corporall or sensitiue faculties: to vvit, vvhen the soule is so raised aboue the body & all desires concerning it, that it hath lost all care & sollicitude about it, hauing mortified in a great measure all infe­riour Passions. This is a high degree of Humility, but not yet perfect as may appeare plainly by this, That after a soule hath attained herto by a Passiue Vnion, there ordinarily follovves the great Priuation or deso­lation, in vvhich she finds herselfe to be yet full of her selfe & her ovvne being, combatted vvith may risings & repugnances. 2. The second degree follovves after that the said Priuation ceases, in vvhich the soule exer­cises herselfe after a far more sublime manner, & begins then to haue a more perfect feeling of her not-being consisting in an Abstraction from the soule herselfe & all her faculties & operations, all vvhich are so lost & annihilated in God, that in her exercises of most pure Prayer, she cannot perceyue distinctly any vvorking either in the vnderstanding or Will, not being able to vnderstand or giue an account of vvhat she does vvhen she Prayes.

28. The Authour of Secrets sentiers saith, that soules vvhich are arriued to this state of perfect vnion are yet ordinarily permitted by God to descend oft from their high Abstractions into their inferiour nature, euen as they vvere during their state of entrance in­to a spirituall course. So that (according to his do­ctrine) during such a descent they must needs be full of the feeling of their ovvne being. But the [...] [Page 437] (saith he) they from this Descent doe by little & little through their internall exercises ascend higher ther [...] they vvere euer before; And such Ascents & Descents interchangeably continue all their liues. Thus saith Bar­banzon: perhaps out of experience of vvhat passed in his ovvne soule. But vvhether from thence he had sufficient warrant to apply this obseruation so gene­rally, I leaue to the determination of the Perfect, who only can iudge of such matters.

29. But alas, these Contemplations, & consequently the said blessed fruites of them, are very rare; & not at all in our ovvne povver to come to at pleasure; in as much as a soule does not arriue to the perfection of Prayer till after a Passiue vnion or Contemplation, vvherto vvell may vvee dispose our selues according to our po­vver; but it is in the free vvill & pleasure of God to conferre it on vvhom, vvhen & in vvhat manner it pleaseth him.

30. But hovveuer let not Beginners nor Proficients in spirituality be discouraged for that as yet they cannot find in themselues (or at least very imperfectly) a per­ception of their not-being, not hauing as yet a super­naturall Intellectuall species euidently & euen palpably representing to their minds Gods Totality & their owne Nothing; the vvhich species it is not the nature of Actiue exercises to produce. It is a great blessing of God to them that he has giuen them the courage to aspire ther­vnto. And perseuering in the vvaies leading thither, they vvill certainly arriue to the partaking of the sub­stance of this sublime humility, in vertue of vvhich [Page 438] alone all other vertues vvill be perfectly exercised by them, in as much as by it they vvill come to knovv both God & themselues aright, & be in an immediate Dispo­sition (as our holy Father sayes) to that perfect charity which expells all feare: for vvhich reason he only treates particularly & largely of this vertue, & of Obedience, vvhich is a branch of it.

31. Wee ought therfore neuer to cease praying that God vvould reueyle vnto vs our ovvne nothing, & his all-being: for Prayer is the only effectuall meanes to at­taine vnto it. As for exteriour Acts & expressions of Hu­mility, if they flovv from prayer, they may be proffi­table, & acceptable to God; hovveuer for the perill of Pride, vvhich vvill insinuate & mingle it selfe euen in humility also, vvee should not be too forvvard to exercise voluntary outvvard actions of humility out of a pretence of giuing edification to others. And vvhen vvee doe such as are commanded in the Rule, & confor­mable to our state, vvee ought in them, as vvell as vvee can, to purify our intention.

CHAP. XIV.

§. 1. 2. Of the mortification of our naturall Inclination to liberty or Independency, by the vertue of Obedience.

§. 3. 4. Obedience likewise regards God, either mediately or immediately. And that it is easier to obey God then man.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. The obligation laid by our holy Rule on Sub­iects to discouer their internall Defects to Superiours, is now much out of vse: And how this is come to passe.

§. 9. Obedience earnestly pressed by S. Benedict.

§. 10. It ought to proceede from the soule.

§. 11. 12. Of the doctrine of Casuists limiting or dispen­sing with Regular Obedience; And what vse is to be made of it.

§. 13. 14. Speciall aduices thereabouts to scrupulous soules.

§. 15. Truly perfect Obedience has no limits.

§. 16. 17. 18. Seuerall defects in Obedience.

§. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. How a soule is to behaue herselfe in obe­diences, in things preiudiciall: And in such as are plea­sing to nature.

§. 24. An example of perfect simplicity in Obedience.

§. 25. Of obedience to Brethren, required in our Rule.

§. 26. Prayer a necessary meane to beget Obedience.

1. THE second deprauation of the will vvhich is to be mortified, is a naturall loue of Liberty & In­dependence, as also an Ambition to dispose & Rule others; [Page 440] And the proper vertue vvherby this is mortified is (Re­ligious) Obedience; The vvhich is a branch of Humi­lity, as the foresaid deprauation is of Pride.

2. Obedience therfore, as vvell as Humility, doth principally regard God, euen vvhen it is performed to man. And indeed vnlesse our Obedience to crea­tures doe flow from our Obedience due to God, it vvill neuer aduance or perfectionate the soule, but rather nourish all depraued affections in it, as hauing its roote in selfe-loue, seruile feare, yea oft in Pride it selfe: Wheras if it be grounded on our duty to God, the soule therby vvill become so humble, supple and pliable, that it vvill not refuse to subiect it selfe to the meanest creatures, it will chearfully suffer all crosses, contradictions & pressures, both externall and inter­nall.

3. Obedience is performed either 1. Immediatly to God alone. 2. Or immediatly to man, but for Gods sake. Wee will in this place only treate of this latter; for as for the other, it comprehends all the duties of Pie­ty & Deuotion, whether externall or internall; and therfore needs not be spoken of particularly.

4. To submit ones selfe to man for Gods sake, or out of loue to God, is much harder then to doe it immediately to God (& consequently it is in that re­gard more meritorious, & vvill most efficaciously and speedily bring a soule to perfection.) The reasons of the greater di [...]ficulty in our obedience to man are. 1. Be­cause though vvee acknovvledge our Superiour to be Gods substitute, yet vvee are not alvvaies conuinced [Page 441] that his particular Commands proceede from him as such, but rather from passion, naturall interests, auer­sion &c: so that vvee cannot see his commands to be so reasonable (as Gods are acknovvledged to be;) not that Obedience to them vvill produce so much good to the soule. 2. Because wee knovv our Superiour cannot see nor iudge the heart, but may erre & be mistaken: so that it is not easy to submit the mind to one that has no right ouer it, nor povver to see his commands perfectly exe­cuted.

5. For this reason it is that our Holy Father, knovving the vvonderfull vertue & efficacy of Obedience procee­ding from the heart, requires in his holy Rule, that Subiects should in a sort communicate to their supe­riours that proper Attribute of God, vvho calls himselfe a seer & searcher of the heart; vvith humility & simpli­city discouering vnto them all their considerable imper­fections in thoughts; And this he does not only out of an eye to the benefit that may come by the Sacrament of Pennance; for this vvas to be done though the Supe­riour were no Preist (as anciently oft they vvere not:) But the ends of this obligation vvas 1. for the more perfect humiliation of the subiect, & a mortification of that naturall auersion that vvee haue from the discouering & submitting to the censures of others our secret defects. 2. To the end that the Superiour might be enabled to go­uerne his subiects for their spirituall aduancement.

6. Wee may reasonably impute to the disuse of this obligation the great decay of Religious discipline & perfection in the vvorld; Because novv, generally [Page 442] speaking, Superiours knovv no more of their subiects but vvhat they chance to obserue in their outvvard be­hauiour; For as for Internall matters (vvhich are the principall) they all passe betvveene each Religious person & a priuate chosen Confessarius.

7. But vvithall the disuse of the said obligation vvee are to impute. 1. Partly to the tepidity of subiects, & their vvant of care to be gouerned by a vvay absolute­ly the best for themselues, hovveuer very heauy to corrupt nature. 2. but principally to the Incapacity & Insufficiency of Superiours, in regard of vvhich such a change of the said custome vvas esteemed euen neces­sary.

8. Surely this most excellent practise had neuer bene brought into disuse, or vvould againe be restored, if Superiours (according as our holy Rule requires, & as in the Primitiue times they vvere) had continued, or generally novv vvere. 1. Themselues practised in a spiri­tuall course of Prayer & contemplation, & vvould consi­der that their Duty is to direct their subiects soules in the same vvay. 2. If they had the spirit of Discretion & light to discerne the seuerall dispositions & capacities of their subiects soules in order to their principall end. 3. If in whatsoeuer impositions they lay on them, be­yond the obseruances of the Rule, they vvould re­gard vvhether therby their subiects (considering their seuerall tempers) are likely to be aduanced or hindred in their spirituall course; & not esteeme that it is a suf­ficient Iustification for them that the things in them­selues are not ill, & their end therin is to mortify their [Page 443] subiects vvills & Passions: For such mortifications there may be as vvill endanger to extinguish the light that is in their subiects soules, by dravving them to mul­tiplicity &c: so that no other Impositions or mortifica­tions are excusable, but such as right reason enlightned by Grace vvould iudge nocessary, & such as God him­selfe vvould ordaine for them. 4. Especial [...]y if they vvould abstaine from laying such encombrances on their sub­iects as are lasting, & regard not only the exteriour, but Interiour also, distracting the memory, confoun­ding the vnderstanding & breeding perplexity in their minds; or in a vvord, that are preiudiciall to Inter­nall Prayer (For indeed Impositions are to be accounted; only so far to be encombrances.) 5. Lastly if they did require obedience from their subiects not to shevv their ovvne Authority, but only to benefit their subiects soules ther­by (vvithout vvhich intentiō their office becomes mere­ly secular &c:) If, I say, Superiours had remained thus qualified, there vvould neuer haue bene any sufficient occasion to dispense vvith such an order pres­cribed by our holy Father touching the subiects reuey­ling to the Superiour their most secret Imperfections, euen in thoughts.

9. But hovveuer, matters standing as they novv doe, & obedience being diuided, as it vvere, betvveene a Re­gular, & a spirituall Directour, the Subiect is to per­forme to each the obedience vvhich is due; yet vvith this difference, that he is to consider that the obliga­tion of Obedience to a spirituall directour voluntarily chosen by the subiect & changeable at pleasure, is far [Page 444] lesse strict then to a Superiour, who has Gods Authority communicated to him, confirmed by the Church, ra­tified by a solemne Vow, by vertue of which vvee haue giuen vp our vvills vvholly to the vvills of our Superiours. In so much as that our holy Father (in the 5. Chap. of the Rule) requires a performance of this duty on no meaner motiues then the hope of heauen, the feare of hell & vvhich is the most perfect of all other, the loue of God, for saith he, Obedience with, out delay, is proper to them who esteeme nothing dearer to themselues, then Christ.

10. Now since the only principall end vvhy a Religious Person has engaged himselfe in a life of Obedience, is the good & aduancement of his soule, & not any temporall conuenience, as in secular go­uernments. Therfore notvvithstanding the common Saying, That our soules are exempted from humane Iurisdiction: And notwithstanding that in these dayes as hath beene said, Superiours are not alvvaies the directours of their subiects consciences: Yet vnlesse their commands be obeyed in Purity of heart, as for Gods sake, & vvith submission not only of the out­vvard but invvard man also, that is, both the vvill & iudgment, such Obedience is not at all meritorious nor conformable to the generall designe of a Religious life & to their Vow of Profession. For if all Christians, as S. Paul teacheth, be obliged to obey secular Superiours, & ser­uants their masters, Not for feare of wrath or puni­ [...]hment, but for conscience sake, & in order to God vvho hath inuested them vvith Authority, inten­ding [Page 445] principally the good of their soules in all man­ner of exteriour obligations; Surely this doth much more strictly hold in Religious Obedience, vvhich vvas ordained, & hath bene vndertaken, only for the be­nefit of the soule.

11. Therfore vvhereas later Doctours & Casuists haue found out Exemptions, in many cases abridging the Authority of Superiours, & disobliging Subiects from Obedience; A religious subiect that seriously aspires to Perfection according to his Profession, vvill be very vvary hovv he makes vse of the aduantages & dispensations afforded him; considering that although by such disobedience he may perhaps escape the pu­nishment of externall lavves, yet he vvill not esteeme himselfe quit from his obligation to obey, vnlesse the things vnduly cōmanded be such as are incōsistent with his duty to God, & manifestly preiudiciall to his soule.

12. Moreouer a truly humble Internall liuer vvill very rarely, & not vvithout extreme necessity make vse of that iust liberty of appealing from an immediate Superiour, allovved by the lawes of the Church; And this he vvill neuer doe for the case of nature, or the satisfying of any Passion, but purely for the good of the soule. Indeed I doe scarce know any case in which an Appeale may be fit to be vsed by such soules, except perhaps vvhen they find that their immediate Superiour, either out of ignorance, or a disaffection to spirituall Prayer, shall abridge their subiects of time & meanes necessary for the exercise of it, either by ouer burdning them vvith distractiue & sollicitous Em­ployments; [Page 446] or as it vvere purposely & this fre­quently & customarily imposing on them obe­diences at the times appoynted & proper for Prayer. Yet surely the case must needs be extraor­dinary, if a soule cannot by vsing her dexterity & pru­dence recouer each day tvvo halfe-hovvers for Recol­lection.

13. Notvvithstanding some good vse may be made of the opinion of Doctours, touching the limits & bounds prescribed to the Authority of Superiours, & the de­grees of obligation to such Authority, for the ne­cessary ease of deuout, tender & scrupulous soules. Not that such are to be encouraged to dispense vvith themselues in the duties required therby: but least they out of tendernes in suspecting oft a Mortall sin to haue bene committed by disobe­dience, vvhere perhaps there vvas scarce any fault at all, should be disquieted, perplexed & hindred from reaping any benefit by Prayer, or any other duties. And indeed little danger is there that soules so disposed should from any larger interpretations make aduantage to the ease of nature, or the satis­faction of an inordinate Passion.

14. Such soules therefore may knovv 1. That the Authority of Superiours is not illimited, but confi­ned to certaine conditions: as that it must be iuxta Regulam, neither besides nor aboue the Rule; and that their commands must be ad aedificationem, and not ad destructionem &c. 2. That Disobedience to their commands vvhich are according to the Rule, is [Page 447] not a mortall offence, vnlesse the matters comman­ded be in themselues of more then ordinary impor­tance; & that a command be expressely giuen, & vvith signification that their intention is that it should so oblige; & that the subiect has not ground to iudge that if the Superiour vvere present, he vvould not haue vrged such an obedience so strictly. 3. That in matters of lesser moment, a Disobedience mortally sinfull is not committed, vnlesse it be done with ma­nifest Contempt: That is, as S. Bernard (lib. de Prae­cept. & Dispens.) interprets it, When the subiect will neither obey, nor submit to correction for disobedience. So that all faults that are committed by one that really has a meane or a contemptuous opinion of his Supe­riour, & vvhich vvithout such a precedent vnfit opi­nion vvould not haue bene committed, are not to be called in this sence sins out of Contempt: vnlesse the Subiect renounce correction; A fault that such tender soules are incapable of committing &c.

15. Perfect Obedience, saith the same S. Bernard, knowes no ends or limits, it extends it selfe to all lavv­full things, pertaining either to body or soule; & to all actions both externall & Internall (as far as these last are voluntarily submitted to him:) Insomuch as that our holy father to cut of all pretences of disobe­dience, does not except euen things impossible: so that if such things as not only in the faint-hearted opinion of the Subiect are esteemed such, but really are impossible, should be seriously & considerately imposed by a dis­creete Superiour (for triall: the Subiect is obliged to doe [Page 448] his endeauour tovvard the effecting of them; so they be lavvfull & not destructiue to the subiects life. Yea vvee find examples of Saints that vpon commands of Superiours haue cast themselues into riuers, or lea­ped dovvne precipices, or taken coales of fire into their hands &c. But vvee are to suppose that in these cases there vvas a speciall Diuine Instinct both in the Superiour commanding, & the Subiects obeying: As the Euents shevved; the sayd Subiects hauing neuer miscaried, but bene miraculously deliuered from any harme by vvhat they so did in Obedience. And ther­fore the like Examples cannot be dravvne into a Rule.

16. The seuerall Defects in point of Obedience (the auoyding of vvhich defects, constitutes seuerall Degrees of true Religious Obedience) are reckoned by Turrecremata to be these vvhich follovv, viz. 1. To doe some, but not all things enioyned. 2. If all; yet im­perfectly & incompletely. 3. Or not in the manner re­quisite. 4. Or not vpon the first simple bidding, but ex­pecting a second command, or perhaps one in forme, & in vertue of Obedience. 5. Or to doe it vvith reluctance & vnvvillingenes. 6. Or after the discussing the reaso­nablenes & lavvfullnes of the command. 7. To goe slow­ly & lazily about it. 8. To doe it rashly & vvithout fit preparation. 9. For want of a resolute purpose before­hand to obey absolutely and vniuersally, to be in a readines to contradict vvhen commands come vpon the sudden, rather then to hasten to obey. 10. Then to obey indeed, yet not vvithout repining, or at least [Page 449] a shevv of it in the countenance. 11. Or howeuer vvith sadnes & deiectednes. 12. To obey in greater matters but not so readily in small. 13. To obey in the substance of the thing commanded, but not accor­ding to the intention of the Superiour or lavv. 14. The command being vnpleasing, to suspect or iudge ill of the Superiours intention. 15. To make pretended excuses of insufficiency. 16. To be of so troublesome & frovvard an humour, as to discourage the Superiour from imposing any commands. 17. Out of an opinion of ones ovvne iudgment or sufficiency to sleight the Su­periours vvay of gouernment. 18. To seeke to draw the Superiour to ones ovvne vvay & opinions, and so in effect to become as Superiour. 19. When one does the thing commanded, to doe it vvith a vvillling-fraudulent insufficiency. 20. Not to doe it vvith all chearfullnes and readines. 21. Lastly not to obey vvith a perfect intention, for Gods Glory & Loue,

17. Novv least a Beginner should be discouraged seeing so many conditions requisite to perfect Obe­dience, & so many defects to be auoyded: he must consider, that God does not expect at the first from him an Obedience in all points perfect; It is vvell that he doe the command vvithout sin, that is, not making the principall Motiue to be outward sensuall respects, & vvithout behauing himselfe vvith a deli­berate defectuousnes, murmuring &c. By practise in obeying according to ones povver, a soule vvill by little & little vveare avvay the defects, as it is in the lear­ning of any art or trade. An Obedience though im­perfect, [Page 450] so it be not sinfull, meriteth somevvhat; and besides, it disposeth the person to amend it the next time, by taking notice of the defect, and being vvilling to be admonished.

18. It is no meruaile, neither is it a fault that the body being vvearied & exhausted vvith many obe­diences, there should thereupon be found in infe­riour nature a reluctance. But the mind or vvill should neuer be vveary or backvvard, but remaine euer in­uincible, forcing inferiour nature to comply to the vtmost of her povver; but yet according to Discre­tion.

19. In case a Superiour cōmand a subiect things not only heauy & greiuous to nature, but euen such as are appa­rently contrary to health & corporall strength, as a rigorous conformity to Regular abstinences, fasting, vvatchings &c: The Subiect must neither refuse the command, nor shevv any vnvvillingnes to obey: but hauing, after good consideration & experience, found himselfe vnable & infirme, he may lavvfully declare vnto the Superiour such his infirmity, so he doe it (as the Rule expresses it; Patienter & opportune,) With Pa­tience & taking an opportune time for it, not suddenly, querulously & in Passion. But in case the Superiour doe persist, the subiect must obey, submitting both body, vvill & iudgment, & so committing the issue to God; And then the successe, vvhat euer it be, cannot but be good.

20. If the thing commanded be gratefull to nature, honourable, pleasing &c: it is not good nor secure to [Page 451] be ouer-forvvard in obeying; It vvere better, so it might be done vvithout offence, to seeke to auoyd it, vvishing that others might rather be employed: or hovveuer to vndertake it as obedience only, & as it were against our vvills. But if the matter be harsh to nature, vvee are to doe it vvith all possible readines & chearfullnes, being desirous that others should be ex­empted from it.

21. It is not very hard internally to resolue vniuer­sally to forsake ones ovvne vvill, submitting it to ano­ther. But really & actually to performe this at all times vvhensoeuer Obediences are imposed; & that frequent­ly; & vvhen the things are of difficulty & contradi­ction to nature; and (it may be) imposed by a Supe­riour against vvhom the subiect hath some disaffection in nature; or of vvhom he hath a meane opinion; & vvhen, the subiect himselfe is in an ill humour of obey­ing; or vvhen the obediences though performed ne­uer so chearfully & exactly, yet are vsually ill accep­ted, censured &c: this requires a great courage & perfect selfe-deniall; & much more to perseuere in such Obedience to the end of ones life, vvith meekenes & patient subiection.

22. And a yet greater degree of perfection is it (to vvhich notvvitstanding Internall liuers ought to aspire) for a Religious Person that is hardly & iniuriously treated by his Superiour, to be content & desirous that he should continue to vse him so or vvorse, so it might be without offence to God, & so that no harme might come to the Superiours soule thereby.

[Page 452]23. There are no commands though neuer so im­pertinent or distracting, that can preiudice perfect soules that are come to an established state of recollection, & habitually enioy the Diuine presence. But great harme & danger may come therby to the imperfect. The vvhich notvvithstanding by patience, quietnes & meekenes in obeying, may come to make their proffit euen from them also, so that though they loose one vvay by a hindrance to their Recollection, they may repaire that losse by rooting these vertues more firmely in their soules: Hovveuer the Superiour must expect to haue a seuere account required of him for indiscreete & harm­full impositions layd vpon his Subiects.

24. A memorable example of Obedience, ioyned vvith a mortification very sensible to humble soules (to vvit, a mortification caused by an obligation to accept vndue & vnproportionable honour) vvee reade of in the Story of the Great S. Basile: vvho hauing ob­tained at his ovvne request from a neighbour Bishop, a Preist to attend him, recommended as an humble & obedient Person; S. Basile for a triall of these vertues, required of him to prepare some vvater for the vvash­ing of his feete. The good Preist vvith a modest chearfullnes obeyed; & hauing quickly brought the vvater, S. Basile sitting dovvne; commanded him to vvash his feete; vvho readily & diligently performed that command. That being done, the Saint commands the Preist to sit dovvne, that so he in exchange might also vvash his feete. The humble & vertuously simple man vvithout any excuses or contestations quietly & [Page 453] calmely, as it became one perfect in obedience, suffers his feete to be vvashed by him, that vvas then the most eminent & most reuerenced Prelate in the Easterne Church. Vpon this Proofe S. Basile vvas satisfied that he had found an attendant fit for the Employments to vvhich he destind him, & vvith many thanks to the neighbour Bishop tooke the Preist vvith him for his inse­parable comparison.

25. There is mentioned in our holy Rule another sort of Obedience of great efficacy to bring soules to Per­fection, to vvit, an Obedience not out of obligation & duty, to Superiours; but only from respect to Brethren (specially Ancients) in Religion, and this out of Charity & in conformity to S. Pauls Aduice (vvhich is very generall) that wee should in honour preferre euery one be­fore our selues. This kind of Obedience as receiuing pro­per commands from such, is novv out of Practise. And vvhether this disuse hath proceeded from vvant of sim­plicity & humility in the younger sort, or from imperfe­ction & vvant of discretion & grauity in the more An­cient, or perhaps from Iealousy & a loue of being abso­lute in Superiours, it is hard to say; But surely it is a great losse. There vvere likevvise obligations imposed vpon all Iuniours, after any the least offence taken by their Ancients, to make present satisfaction by prostra­tions, the vvhich vvere to continue till that pardon & a benediction vvere giuen. Indeed in those times in vvhich so much abstraction of life & so seldome mu­tuall conuersations vvere vsed, offences vvere so rare, that it vvould be no hard matter for such simple, hum­ble [Page 454] soules as most Religious persons then vvere, to comply vvith these obligations. So that the only vvay to restore them, is to restore that most proffitable Ab­straction, solitude and silence againe.

26. It is in vaine for any one to seeke the attaining to the perfection of Obedience (vvhich besides the out­vvard vvorke requires a submission of the spirit it selfe to God alone in the Superiour, & a renouncing of ones ovvne Iudgment vpon the dictates of the most ignorant or indiscreete Superiour) but by the serious & constant practise of Internall Prayer, vvhich alone purifies the soule, & makes all other things but God inuisible to her. So that vvithout such Prayer, all o­ther exteriour practises of an officious humiliation will be of little or no vertue or efficacy therto.

CHAP. XV.

§. 1. Wee doe not here treate of all kinds of Mortifica­tion or Vertues; but principally such as are most pro­per & most necessary to be known & practised in or­der to an Internall life.

§. 2. 3. 4. &c. Seuerall Aduices and obseruations touching Vertues in generall.

1. HITHERTO vvee haue treated of the first Instrument and meane of Perfection, to vvit, Mortification; at least so far as vvee conceiued proper to the designe of this booke, that is, in order to in­ternall Prayer of Contemplation. And therfore it is that vvee haue not inlarged the discourse to compre­hend vniuersally all Morall vertues (the vvhich are Mortifications to all our distempered affections) but only such as are more peculiar to Religious or Inter­nall liuers. For the rest, the Reader is referred to o­ther bookes of Christian Morality, vvhich abundantly treate of that subiect. The doctrine of vvhich may be applied to the present purpose, if Reflexion be made on the Aduices vvhich haue already bene giuen concerning the speciall vertues hitherto treated of. To the vvhich I vvill, for conclusion of this Treatise, adde a fevv more touching Vertues in generall.

2. The first aduice is this; That before a soule can attaine to perfect Contemplation, it is necessary that she be adorned vvith all sorts of Christian vertues, not [Page 456] one excepted, according to the saying of the Psalmist, Ibunt de virtute in virtutem: videbit ur Deus Deorum in Sion. That is, They shall goe from one vertue to ano­ther: And then (& not till then) the God of Gods shall be contemplated in Sion. So that if a soule make a stop at any vertue, of vvillingly fauour herselfe in any in­ordinate affection, it vvill not be possible for her to ascend to the top of the mountaine vvhere God is seene.

3. The Second regards the manner of attaining to vertues: For vvee are not so to vnderstand these words of the Psalmist, as if a soules progresse to Perfection vvas by a successiue gaining of one vertue after ano­ther, for example, first possessing herselfe of the ver­tue of Temperance, & hauing got that, then procee­ding to Patience, Humility, Chastity &c. But they are all in the roote gotten together, & vvee make no progresse in one Vertue, but vvithall vvee make a pro­portionable progresse in all the rest. And the reason is, because Charity is the roote of all Christian ver­tues, they being only such duties as Charity (vvhich alone directs vs to God, our last end) vvould & doth dictate to be practised on seuerall & different occa­sions.

4. True it is, that either by our naturall tempers, or by hauing more frequent tryalls & occasions of ex­ercising some vertues, certaine Passions opposite to them may be, according to the materiall disposition in corporall nature, more subdued & regulated, then others: yet in regard of the disposition of the spiri­tuall [Page 457] soule (that is the iudgment of the mind & reso­lution of the vvill) the soule (according to the merit of the obiect) is equally (by an equality of propor­tion) inclined to all good, and equally auerted from all ill. Because diuine Loue is equally inconsistent with all mortall sins, and doth combat & subdue selfe-loue in all its branches. Our progresse therfore expressed in the Phrase [de virtute in virtutem] is to be vn­derstood to be from a lower & more imperfect de­gree of Charity, and all its vertues, to a higher; till vvee come to the mount of Perfection.

5. The Third Aduice is, that this progresse & in­crease in vertues is neither equall at all times; for the soule by resisting stronger temptations, & in vertue of more efficacious Prayer doth make greater strides and paces; Neither is it alvvaies obseruable either by the Traueller himselfe or others. Yea it is neither ne­cessary, nor (perhaps) conuenient that vvee should much heede the Rules that are giuen by some for examination of our Proficiency. Such enquiry seemes not very suitable to humility & probably vvill not produce any good effect in vs; It may suffise vs that vvee goe on, and that God knovves perfectly our grovvth in Piety & loue, & vvill most assuredly re­vvard vs proportionally, though vvee should be neuer so ignorant to vvhat degree of Perfection vvee are arriued.

6. Fourthly, All increase of sanctifying Grace by vvhatsoeuer instruments it be produced, as by Re­gular Austerities, Temperance, Exercises of Morti­fication [Page 458] is performed according to the good In­ternall dispositions and Actuations of soule accom­panying the vse of them. Yea the same may also in a certaine proportion be affirmed euen of the Sacra­ments themselues (in adultis:) The vvhich although by their ovvne intrinsecall Vertue and (as the Councell of Trent. sess. 7. can. 8. expresses it) ex opere operato they doe conserre a peculiar Grace and ayde: and this, Quantum est parte Dei, at all times, and on all Persons that duly receiue them. (see sess. 7. cap. 6. & 7.) Yet vvithall the quantity and Measure of the sayd Grace is in the same Councell (sess. 6. cap. 7.) sayd to be (Secundam propriam cuiusque dispositionem & cooperationem) according to the peculiar disposition and cooperation of each Person respectiuely: That is, Those that come vvith more (or lesse) perfect, intense, con­tinued and multiplied Internall Acts of Faith, Hope, Charity, Deuotion &c, doe accordingly receiue a more (or lesse) plentifull measure of Sacramentall Grace. Novv vvhat are all these dispositions and Preparations but the Exercising of Internall Prayer? Whence ap­peares hovv vvonderfull an Influence Internall Prayer both by vvay of Merit or impetration, and likevvise by a direct Efficiency hath in the producing and en­crease of Diuine vertues in the Soule.

7. Fifthly, if a soule out of the times of Prayer shall in occasions (for example) of contradictions, persecutions &c: neglect to exercise Patience, she must necessari­ly exercise impatience; & by consequence vvill make little or no progresse by her Prayer; Yet if then she [Page 459] shall vse any reasonable care, diligence or vvatchfull­nes ouer herselfe, though not for the getting of much, yet not to loose much out of Prayer, God vvill by meanes of her Prayer seriously prosecuted, infuse such a measure of Grace as vvill cause a progresse, not­vvithstanding frequent failings through frailty or in­aduertence &c. But it vvill be late ere the effects of such infusion vvill appeare.

8. Sixthly, increase in vertue doth purely depend on the free Grace & good pleasure of God, conferring the said grace in prayer &c. in a measure as himselfe plea­seth, & also by his holy Prouidence administring occa­sions seuerally of exercising seuerall vertues; The vvhich occasions ordinarily are not at all in our ovvne povver or disposall.

9. Seauenthly, according to our progresse in vertues, so is our progresse in Prayer; & till the soule be in a very high degree purified from selfe-loue, she is in­capable of that perfect degree of Prayer, vvhich is cal­led Contemplation; According to that saving of our Sa­uiour, (Math. 5.) Beati mundo, corde, quoniam ipsi Deum, videbunt: That is, Blessed are the Pure in heart, for they shall see God. And the reason is euident, because vntill the internall Eye of the soule be cleansed from the mists of Passions & inordinate Affections, it neither vvill nor can fixe it selfe vpon so pure & diuine an obiect. True it is that in euery the most imperfect de­gree of Prayer (by vvhich the soule is proportionally purified) God is, in some qualified sence contempla­ted: But vvee doe not apply the terme of Contemplation, [Page 460] except only to the most sublime degree of prayer. The vvhich yet is neuer so perfectly absolute in this life but that it may vvithout limitation increase: Because the soule is neuer so perfectly freed from the bitter fruits of originall sin (Ignorance & Concupiscence) but there vvill ouer remaine matter & exercise for further mortifica­tion, or purification.

10. Eighthly, Vertues are in no other state of life so perfectly established in the depth & center of the Spi­rit, as in a Contemplatiue state; Because all the exer­cises therof doe principally & directly regard the exal­tation, spiritualising & purification of the Spirit, by a continuall application, adhesion & vnion of it to God, the fountaine of light & Purity.

11. Last [...]y, by the meanes of Contemplatiue Prayer in an Internall Life Vertues are most easily obteined, most securely possessed, and most perfectly practised. In an Actiue life a Person that aspires to Perfection therin, stands in neede of many things to enable him for the practise of the Duties disposing therto: For the Ex­ercise of Externall vvorks of Charity there are need­full Riches or freinds &c: And for Spirituall Almes-gi­uing there is required Learning, study, Disputation &c. And if by the helpe of these there be acquired an establi [...]hed Habit of Solide Charity, it is not very se­curely possessed in the midst of so many distractions follicitudes and Tentations. But a Contemplatiue life (as S. Thomas 22. q. 182. a. 1. c. obserues euen from Aristotle himselfe) stands in neede of very few things, being to it selfe susficient. Such a Person alone vvithout [Page 461] needing either assistance or fauour from abroad can both purchase and exercise all vertues, yea and libe­rally dispence all kinds of Charity to others also. For by Prayer alone exercised in Solitude he can employ and engage Gods Omnipotence, Wisedome and all the treasures of his riches for the supplying all the ne­cessities, Externall and Internall of his Church. The light that is gotten by Prayer vvill be more then equi­valent to long and laborious study (not sanctified vvith Prayer) for the enabling him to discharge efficaciously a Pastorall charge ouer soules, vvhen they shall be committed to him: Though no doubt Prayer vvill also incite to sufficient study. And in the meane time though he vvere depriued of all conuersations and Bookes, yea fettred and buried in the obscurity of a dungeon, Prayer alone vvould be a sufficient entertainment to him: There he vvould find God and his Holy Spi­rit as present, and as bountifull to him, as euer: Yea the greater Solitude there is, at the more freedome is the soule to run speedily and lightly in the course of Ver­tues: For nothing doth indeede fetter her but selfeloue & Propriety. And lastly Vertues once gotten are euidēt­ly most securely possessed in Solitude, from vvhence all distraction and almost all Tentations are excluded.

THE END OF THE SECOND TREA­TISE OF MORTIFICATION.
SANCTA SOPHIA.OR DIR …

SANCTA SOPHIA.

OR DIRECTIONS FOR THE PRAYER OF CONTEMPLATION &c.

Extracted out of more then XL. Treatises written by the late Ven. Father F. AVGVSTIN BAKER, A Monke of the English Congregation of the Holy Order of S. BENEDICT: And Methodically digested by the R. F. SERENVS CRESSY, Of the same Order and Congregation.

And printed at the Charges of his Conuent of S. GREGORIES IN DOWAY.

VOL. II.

AT DOWAY, By IOHN PATTE', and THOMAS FIEVET, ANNO D. M.DC.LVII.

TO THE VENERABLE AND R. LADY D. CATHERINE GASCOIGNE The Lady Abbesse of the Religious Dames of the Holy Order of S. BENEDICT in Cambray. And to all the RR. Dames &c. of the same Conuent.

MADAME.

If I had not any pressing obligation (as I haue many) to take all occasions to acknowledge both my worthy esteeme and resentment also for your many fauours: Yet without iniustice I could not but returne vnto your Ladishipp &c. these Instructions about the Prayer of Contemplation, which from your full store I first receiued. I could wish it had bene in my power to commend them to the liking and practise of others, as the admirable Piety of the Ven. Au­thour (whose memory will alwayes be in Benediction with you) did to yours. But being able to boast no other vertue in this matter, but only diligence and fidelity (asserted by your Ladiships owne testimony:) I should doubt that the vnworthines of the Compiler would to their disparagement-preuayle against the Excellency of the Authour, and his ar­gument, [Page 4] were it not that I am confident that a view (appa­re [...]t to all that know that Conuent) of the many most blessed effects that they haue produced there, will haue the force to recommend them to strangers, and to defend them against contradictours. Your great Charity (RR. DD.) makes you thinke your selues not vnbeholding to mee for dispersing thus abroad to all that will accept them, these your richest Ie­wells, your most delicious prouisions, your most secure ar­mour, that is, all that makes your Solitude & Scarcity &c. deserue to be the enuy of Princes Courts, the Habitation of Angells, and Temples of God himselfe: For Prayer is all this, & more good then your selues can expresse; and yet you can expresse more then any others but such as your selues can vn­derstand. Since therfore you haue bene pleased to say I haue obliged you by this publication, let my recompence, I beseech you, be to be sometimes thought of in your Prayers, that I may become seriously mine owne Disciple, and learne by this Booke to pray as you doe: and that this Worke may inuite the Readers, whoeuer they be, only to make a Tryall (though at first but euē out of curiosity) whether wee haue boasted too large [...]y of the Treasures here exposed: This if through the Diuine assistance they shall doe, it may be hoped that many vnawares to thēselues will become Conuerts not only to Piety but euen to Catholick Truth and Vnity. And surely none will suspect that any danger can come from Pure Spirituall Prayer.

Madame and RR. DD.
Your seruant in our Lord most humbly deuoted Br. Serenus Cressy.

THE SECOND VOLVME OF INSTRVCTIONS FOR A CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE: CONTEINING A THIRD TREATISE OF PRAYER &c.

THE THIRD TREATISE: OF PRAYER.

THE FIRST SECTION: Of Prayer in generall, and the ge­nerall Diuision of it.

CHAP. I.

§. 1. 2 3. 4. Of Prayer in generall; What it is.

§. 5. 6. 7. 8. It is the most Excellent & most necessary of all Duties.

§. 9. 10. The Diuision of Prayer into Vocall and Mentall, improper.

THE whole Employment of an Internall Cō ­templatiue life hauing bene by mee com­prehended vnder two Duties, to vvit, Mor­tification and Prayer; Concerning (the for­mer) [Page 4] mortification vvee haue discoursed largely in the precedent Treatise. Wee are novv hence-forvvard to treate of the other most noble & diuine Instrument of Perfection, vvhich is Prayer, by vvhich and in vvhich alone vvee attaine to the revvard of all our Endea­uours; the end of our creation and Redemption, to vvit,, vnion with God, in which alone consists our Hap­pines & Perfection.

2. By Prayer in this place I doe not vnderstand Petition or Supplication, vvhich according to the Do­ctrine of the Schooles is exercised principally by the vn­derstanding: being a signification of vvhat the person desires to receiue from God. But Prayer here especial­ly meant, is rather an offring and giuing to God what­soeuer he may iustly require from us, that is, all Du­ty, Loue, Obedience &c And it is principally, yea almost only exercised by the Affectiue part of the soule.

3. Novv Prayer in this generall notion may be defi­ned to be, an Eleuation of the mind to God. Or more largely & expressely thus: Pray [...]r is an affectuous Actua­tion of an intellectiue soule towards God, expressing, or at least implying an entire dependance on him, as the Authour & fountaine of all good; a will & readines to giue him his due, which is no lesse then all Loue, Obe­dience, Adoration, Glory, & Worship, by humbling and annihilating of her selfe & all creatures in his presence; and lastly a desire & intention to aspire to an vnion of Spirit with him.

4. This is the nature and these the necessary Qua­lities, vvhich are all, at least vertually, inuolued in [Page 5] all Prayer, whether it be made interiourly in the soule only, or vvithall expressed by vvords or outvvard signes.

5. Hence it appeares, that Prayer is the most per­fect & most Diuine Action that a nationall soule is ca­pable of; yea it is the only principall Action for the exercising of vvhich the soule was created; since in Prayer alone the soule is vnited to God. And by consequence, it is of all other Actions & Duties the most indispensably necessary.

6. For a further demonstration of vvhich necessity vvee may consider. 1. That only in Prayer vvee are ioy­ned to God our last End, from vvhom vvhen vvee are separated, vvee are in our selues, vvherein our cheife misery consists. 2. That by Prayer Grace & all good is ob­tained, conserued & recouered; for God being the fountaine of all good, no good can be had but by re­course to him, vvhich is only by Prayer. 3. That by Prayer alone all exteriour good things are sanctified, so as to become blessings to vs. 4. That Prayer does exer­cise all vertues: In so much as vvhatsoeuer good Action is performed, it is no further meritorious then as it pro­ceedes from an internall motion of the soule, eleuating & directing it to God; (the vvhich internall motion is prayer:) so that vvhatsoeuer is not prayer, or is not done in vertue of prayer, is little better then an Action of mere nature. 5. That there is no Action with which sin is incompatible, but Prayer. Wee may, lying in our sins, giue Almes, Fast, Recite the Diuine Office, Commu­nicate, Obey our Superiours &c: But it is impossible to [Page 6] exercise true Prayer of the Spirit, and deliberately continue vnder the guilt of sin; Because by Prayer a soule, being conuerted and vnited to God, can­not at the same time be auerted and separated from him. 6. That by Prayer alone approaching to God, vvee are placed aboue all miseries; vvheras vvithout Prayer the least calamity vvould oppresse vs. Ther­fore Pr [...]yer is the proper remedy against all kinds of afflictions, guilt, Remorses &c.

7. And hence it is, that all the Deuills quarrells & assaults are cheifly, if not only, against Prayer; the vvhich if he can extinguish, he has all that he aymes at, separa­ting vs frō the fruition & adhesion to God, & therevvith from all good. And hence likevvise it is, that the Duty of Prayer is enioyned after such a manner as no other Duty is, for wee are commanded to exercise it without inter­mission, (Oportet semper orare & non deficere) Wee must needs pray continually & neuer giue ouer.

8. In the precedent Description of Prayer in generall I said, that it was an Affectuous Actuation of an Intellectuall soule: By vvhich vvords is signified. 1. That it is not Prayer, vvhich is performed by the lipps only vvithout an invvard Attention & Affection of the soule: that is, That Prayer which is not Mentall, is not indeed properly Prayer. 2. That whatsoeuer employment the mind or vn­derstanding exercises in Prayer, by discoursing, inuen­ting motiues &c: these are only preparations to prayer, & not prayer it selfe, vvhich is only & immediately ex­ercised by the vvill or affections, adhering to God; as shall be shevved hereafter.

[Page 7]9. Hence it follovves, that The ordinary Diuision of Prayer into Vocall and Mentall, is improper: Because the parts of the Diuision are coincident: For Vocall Prayer as distinguished from (& much more as opposed to) Mentall, is indeed no Prayer at all; And what euer it is, What esteeme God makes of it, he shews by his Prophet, saying, This people honours mee with their Lipps, but their heart is far from mee. In vaine doe they honour mee &c.

10. Yet both a good sence, & a good vse may be made of that Diuision, being explicated after this man­ner; viz. That though all true Prayer be Mentall, yet 1. Some Prayers are merely mentall vvithout any sound of vvords; yea there may be such Pure, blind Eleuations of the will to God, that there are not so much as any expresse internall vvords, or any explicable Thoughts of the soule it selfe. 2. Other Prayers may be vvithall vocally expressed in outvvard vvords, the soule atten­ding to the sense of the vvords pronounced, or at least intending to doe so. And this is properly vocall Prayer.

CHAP. II.

§. 1. Of Vocall Prayer.

§. 2. 3. &c: By Vocall Prayer the Ancients attained to Perfect Contemplation. And why this cannot so well be done in these times.

§. 10. How voluntary Vocall Prayers may be made instru­ment all to Contemplation.

§. 11. That Vocall Prayer of obligation is vpon no pretence to be neglected.

§. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Of Attention, required to Vocall Prayer, & of the degrees of it.

1. THE Designe of this Treatise being to deliuer Instructions concerning Internall Contempla­tiue Prayer; Therfore little shall be said of vocall Prayer; & that little also shall be of it, considered as it may among others be an instrument or meane to bring a soule to Contemplation.

2. It cannot be denied, but that in Ancient times many holy soules did attaine to perfect Contem­plation by the mere vse of vocall Prayer. The vvhich likevvise vvould haue the same effect vpon vs, if vvee vvould or could imitate them both in such vvonder­full solitude or Abstraction, rigorous Abstinences, & incredible assiduity in praying. But for a supply of such vvants & inability to support such vndistracted long attention to God, vvee are driuen to helpe our selues by dayly set Exercises of Internall Prayer to procure [Page 9] an habituall constant state of recollectednes; by such Exercises repairing & making amends for the distra­ctions that vvee liue in all the rest of the Day.

3. Notvvithstanding Gods hand is not shortned, but that if he please, he may novv also call soules to Con­templation by the vvay of Vocall Prayer, so as that they are their generall & ordinary Exercise. The vvhich if he doe, it vvill be necessary that such soules should in their course obserue these follovving Conditions.

4. The first is, that th [...]y must vse a greater measure of Abstraction & Mortification, then is necessary for those that exercise Mentall Prayer. The Reason is, be­cause Internall Prayer, being far more profound and invvard, affords a far greater light & grace to disco­uer & cure the inordinate Affections; It brings the soule likevvise to a greater simplicity and facility to recollect it selfe &c. And therfore Vocall Prayer, to make amends, had need be accompanied vvith greater Abstraction &c.

5. The second Condition is, that those vvho vse Vo­call Prayer must oblige themselues to spend a greater time at their daily exercises, then is necessary for the others; to the end therby to supply for the lesse ef­ficacy that is in Vocall Prayer.

The third is, that in case they doe find themselues at any time inuited by God internally to a Pure In­ [...]ernall Prayer (vvhich is likely to be of the nature of Aspirations) they then must yeild to such an Inui­tation, and for the time interrupt or cease their vo­ [...]untary Vocall exercises, for as long time as they [Page 10] find themselues enabled to exercise Internally. These Conditions are to be obserued of all those vvho, either in Religion, or in the world, desire to lead spirituall liues, and cannot vvithout extreme difficulty be brought to begin a spirituall course vvith any kind of mere Mentall Prayer.

7. And indeed if any such soules there be, to vvhom Vocall Prayer (ioyned vvith the exercise of Ver­tues) is sufficient to promote them to Contempla­tion. Certaine it is that there is no vvay more se­cure then it, none lesse subiect to indiscretion or il­lusions, & none lesse perillous to the head or health. And in time (but it vvill be long first) their Vocal Prayers will proue Aspiratiue; spirituall & contempla­tiue, by their light & vertue illustrating & peircing to the very depth of the Spirit.

8. But in these dayes this case is very extraordinary, & indeed vnknown, And therfore Contemplatiue Reli­gious Persons ought not vpon any pretence to dispens [...] with themselues for the exercise of Mentall Prayer what euer pretentions or tentations they may haue therto. They may perhaps find their Vocall Prayers to be more cleare & vndistracted: & on the contrar [...] their Recollections to be painfull & disturbed: But ye [...] in time and by constancy in pursuing Internall exe [...] cises, they vvill find the contrary, & perceiue that th [...] ground of the difference vvas either some prese [...] corporall indisposition; or perhaps a tentation of t [...] deuill to moue them to a neglect of exercising in sp [...] rit. Since certaine it is, that little lesse then a mirac [...] [Page 11] vvill cause Vocall Prayers, to imperfect soules, to be­come Contemplatiue, or sufficient to produce profound recollection; The vvhich effects euen those that haue long practised Internall exercises doe not find in the reciting of the Office. Such seeming extraordinary contemplations therfore as seeme to come to soules, none knovves from vvhence; vvithout any great me­rit, or due disposition on their part, are not much to be esteemed, but rather to be suspected; And hovve­uer, they deserue not that therfore the solide Exer­cises of Internall Prayer should be neglected.

9. To the like purpose vvee reade that S. Ignatius found extraordinary Illustrations in soule being at his study of humane learning: vvhereas at his ordinary mentall Prayers he could find no such effects, but on the contrary much difficulty & obscurity. But this in time he discouered to be the vvorking of the deuill.

10. The vse of voluntary vocall Prayer in order to con­templation may in the beginning of a spirituall course be proper. 1. for such simple & vnlearned persons (espe­cially vvomen) as are not at all fit for discoursiue Prayer. 2. yea euen for the more learned, if it be vsed as a meanes to raise & better their attention to God: yet so that it must allvvaies giue place to Internall prayer, vvhen they find themselues disposed for it.

11. But as for that Vocall Prayer, either in Publick or Priuate, vvhich is by the lawes of the Church of obligation, no manner of pretences of finding more proffit by in­ternall exercises ought to be esteemed a sufficient ground for any to neglect or disparage it: for though some [Page 12] soules of the best dispositions might perhaps more ad­uance themselues tovvards Perfection by internall exercises alone; yet since generally euen in Religion soules are so tepide & negligent, that if they vvere left to their owne voluntary Deuotions they vvould scarce euer exercise either vocall or mentall Prayer; therefore in as much as a manifest distinction cannot be made betvveene the particular dispositions of persons, it vvas requisite & necessary that all should be obliged to a Pu­blick externall performance of diuine Seruice, praysing God vvith the tongues also (vvhich vvere for that end giuen vs;) That so an order & Decorum might be ob­serued in Gods Church, to the end it might imitate the employment of Angells & glorified Saints in a solemne, vnited ioyning of hearts & tongues to glorify God. This vvas necessary also for the edification & inuitation of those vvho are not obliged to the Office, vvho per­haps vvould neuer thinke of God, vvere they not en­couraged therto by seeing good soules spend the greatest part of their time in such solemne & almost hourely praying to & praysing God.

12. Novv vvhereas to all manner of prayer, as hath bene said, there is necessarily required an Attention of the mind, vvithout vvhich it is not prayer: Wee must knovv, that there are seuerall kinds & degrees of at­tention; All of them good; but yet one more perfect & proffitable then another. For. 1. There is an Attention or expresse reflexion on the vvords & sense of the sen­tence pronounced by the tongue, or reuolued in the mind. Now this Attention being in vocall prayer ne­cessarily [Page 13] to vary & change according as sentences in the Psalmes &c doe succeede one another, cannot so povverfully & efficaciously fixe the mind or affections on God; because they are presently to be recalled to nevv considerations or succeding affections. This is the lovvest & most imperfect degree of Atten­tion; Of vvhich all soules are in some measure capa­ble: & the more imperfect they are, the lesse difficulty there is in yeilding it; for soules that haue good & esta­blished affections to God, can hardly quitt a good Af­fection by vvhich they are vnited to God, & vvhich they find gustfull & proffitable for them, to exchange it for a nevv one succeeding in the Office; And if they should, it vvould be to their preiudi [...]e.

13. The second degree is that of soules indifferently vvell practised in Internall Prayer, vvho coming to the reciting of the Office, & either bringing vvith them, or by occasion of such reciting, raising in themselues an efficacious Affection to God, doe de­sire vvithout variation to continue it vvith as pro­found a Recollectednes as they may, not at all hee­ding vvhether it be suitable to the sense of the present passage vvhich they pronounce. This is an Attention to God, though not to the words; and is far more bene­ficiall then the former. And therfore to oblige any soules to quit such an Attention for the former, would be both preiudiciall & vnreasonable. For since all Vocall Prayers in Scrip [...]ure or othervvise vvere ordained only to this end to suppl [...] & furnish the soule that needs, vvith good matter of affection, by vvhich [Page 14] it may be vnited to God: a soule that hath allready at­tained to that end, vvhich is vnion, as long as it lasts ought not to be separated therefrom, & be ob­liged to seeke a nevv meanes, till the vertue of the for­mer be spent.

14. A third & most Sublime Degree of Attention to the Diuine Office is, that vvherby Vocall Prayers doe become mentall: that is, vvherby soules most profoundly & vvith a perfect simplicity vnited to God, can yet vvithout any preiudice to such vnion, attend also to the sence & spirit of each passage that they pronounce; yea thereby find their affection, adhesion & vnion increased & more simplified. This Attention comes not till a soule be arriued to perfect Contemplation, by meanes of vvhich the spirit is so habitually vnited to God, & besides, the imagination so subdued to the spirit, that it cannot rest vpon any thing that vvill di­stract it.

15. Happy are those soules (of vvhich God knovves the number is very small) that haue attained to this third Degree; the vvhich must be ascended to by a carefull practise of the two former in their order, espe­cirlly of the second Degre. And therfore in reciting of the Office, euen the more imperfect soules may doe vvell, vvhensoeuer they find themselues in a good measure recollected, to continue so as long as they vvell can, preseruing as much stability in their ima­gination, as may be.

16. And the best meanes to beget & increase such a recollected vvay of saying the Diuine Office is the [Page 15] practise of Internall Prayer, either in meditation or immediate Acts of the vvill; the only aime and end vvherof is, the procuring an immoueable Attention & adhesion of the Spirit to God. And this, as to our present purpose, may suffise concerning Vocall Prayer.

CHAP. III.

§. 1. Of Internall Prayer in generall, And principally of Internall Affectiue Prayer.

§. 2. 3. 4. 5. The excellency & necessity of Affectiue Praier. And that it was practised by the Antients (& not dis­coursiue Prayer or Meditation.)

§. 6. The great necessity of it in these dayes.

§. 7. 8. The Testimony of Cardinall Bellarmine to shew that Vocall Prayer &c. suffiseth not.

§. 9. 10. 11. &c. Fiue admirable Vertues of Internall Affe­ctiue Prayer.

§. 16. 17. An exhortation to constancy & courage in pur­suing the exercise of it.

1. INTERNALL or, Mentall Prayer (vvhich is sim­ply and merely such and) vvhich vvee made the second member in the Diuision of Prayer in generall, (if indeed it be a distinct kind) and of vvhich only vvee shall treate hereafter: is either 1. Imperfect and acquired: 2. Or Perfect, & that which is called properly Infused Prayer. The former is only a Preparation & In­feriour Disposition, by vvhich the soule is fitted & [Page 16] made capable of the Infusion of the other, to vvit, the Prayer of Contemplation vvhich is the end of all our Spirituall & Religious Exercises. I shall therfore in order treate of them both, & of their seuerall speciall degree [...], beginning with the lovvest, & thence ascending orderly till vvee come to the highest, the vvhich vvill bring a soule to the state of Perfection.

2. But before I come to deliuer the speciall Instru­ctions pertinent to the exercise of the seuerall Degrees of Internall Prayer: It vvill be very requisite by vvay of Preparation & encouragement, to set dovvne the necessity & excellency of Internall Prayer in generall; I meane especially of that vvhich is Affectiue. For as for Discoursiue Prayer, or Meditation, the vvorld is but euen burdned vvith bookes, vvhich vvith more then sufficient nicenes prescribe Rules & methods for the Practise of it; and vvith too partiall an affection magnify it; The Authours of such bookes neglecting in the meane time, or perhaps scarse knovving vvhat true Internall affectiue Prayer is; the vvhich notvvith­standing is the only efficacious Instrument that im­mediatly brings soules to Contemplation & perfect Vnion in spirit vvith God.

3. Some there are that because they doe not find in the vvritings of the Ancient Fathers & Mysticall Doctours such exact Instructions touching the practise of Internall Prayer, as are novv common & aboun­ding in the Church; doe therfore vndervalue & despise it as a mere humane inuention, not at all necessary, but rather on the contrary, subiect to great inconue­niences, [Page 17] exposing soules to Illusions, Errours &c: And therefore they in opposition to it doe only recom­mend & exact Vocall Prayer, & a solemne protracted performance of it.

4. Notvvithstanding to any one that shall heedfully read the writings, not only of the Ancient Solitaries, but likevvise of S. Augustin, S. Basile, S. Gregory Na­zianzene & others, it vvill euidently appeare that they both knevv and practised most profound & Recollected deuotions internally, yea & exhorted soules to a conti­nuall attendance to God & his Diuine presence in the Spirit; Sufficient Proofes vvhereof shall occasionally here­after be inserted.

5. True indeed it is that they haue not deliured any exact methods for the practise of such Prayer, the vvhich in those times vvere not at all necessary, or at least not at all needfull to be communicated to the vvorld. For to soules that liued (as anciently they did) entirely sequestred from all vvordly busines or conuersation, in Continuall laborious & penitentiall Exercises, hauing no Images of creatures to distract their minds, and much lesse any inordinate Affections to creatures to depresse them from mounting to spi­rituall vnion vvith God, it vvas more then sufficient for such to knovv that their duty & the end of their solitude vvas to liue in a continuall conuersation vvith God, suffring themselues to be conducted and managed by his holy Spirit. To such, all other more nice or particular Instructions vvould haue proued but distractiue & intangling. And therfore vvee see [Page 18] that our holy Father, though he ordained dayly Con­uentuall short recollections for the exercise of (that vvhich he calls) Pure Prayer: yet he neither interprets vvhat he meanes by such Prayer (for all his Disciples vnderstood that sufficiently) & much lesse does he de­liuer any instructions hovv to exercise it.

6. But in these dayes, in which Religious Persons and others that aspire to spirituall Contemplation, doe ei­ther vvant the meanes to enioy, or haue not the cou­rage and strength to support such solitude and Auste­rities; least the spirit of Contemplation should faile in the vvorld, God raised vp first in Germany Maisters of Con­templatiue Prayer, as Suso, Harphius, Eschius, Thaulerus &c. in former times, and more lately in Spaine S. Tere­sa, B. Iohn de Cruce &c. vvho no question by the di­rection of Gods Spirit (as the grace of miracles con­ferred on them may vvitnes) haue iudged it neces­sary to supply the vvant of the foresaid aduantages, by adding a certaine obligation to the daily practise of Internall Recollected Prayer, prescribing orders & times for the performance of it. They haue likevvise more exactly discouered the degrees and progresse of Prayer: And in a vvord most earnestly doe they ex­hort soules to a diligent pursuance of it, professing that vvithout it, it is impossible to comply vvith the essentiall Designe of a spirituall or Religious life.

7. I vvill content my selfe in this place to expresse the grounds & summe of the Exhortations of those & other Illuminated Persons (the glorious Instruments of God for the reuiuing of decayed Spirituality in the vvorld) [Page 19] by producing a passage of Cardinall Bellarmines, vvhich may be applied to this purpose, taken out of one of his Sermons (in fer. 2. Rogat.) vvhich is this, Ego illud mi­hi videor verissime posse affirmare &c: That is, This, I beleiue I may most truly & confidently affirme, (saith he) that without a diligent pursuit of Internall prayer none will euer become truly spirituall, nor attaine to any degree of Perfection. Wee see many, which often times in the yeare doe aproach to the Sacrament of pennance, & as far as hu­mane fraylty & infirmity will permit, doe with sufficient diligence endeauour to purge away all the staines & vn­cleanenes of sin; And yet they make no progresse, but are still the very same that they were. And hauing bene at Con­fession; if a weeke after they come to the same tribunall againe, they bring neither fewer nor lesser faults then such as were formerly confessed. Yea without offending against truth I may adde some what more strange then all this; to wit, That wee see sometimes Religious Persons, & not a few Preists, which by their vocation & habits professe sanctity, & moreouer doe assiduously reade Diuine Scrip­tures & bookes of Piety, they doe often (if not dayly) ce­lebrate the most holy Sacrifice, they haue neither wiues nor children, but are free from all cares & sollicitudes which may distract them from a continuall attendance to Diuine things; And yet after all this they are so veyd of all Deuotion, & the spirit of God; so cold in diuine loue, & so earnest in the loue of secular vanities; so replenished with impatience, enuy & all inordinate desires, that they seeme not one iott to differ from secular persons wholly engaged in the world. Now the only cause of all these disorders is, [Page 20] that they doe not seriously enter into their owne hearts by Exercises of Introuersion, but only esteeme & regard the exteriour &c: Thus far are the vvords & too iust com­plaint of the learned & pious Cardinall.

8. The vvhich vvith very great reason may be fur­ther extended euen to those Religious vvho by their profession ought to Aspire to Contemplation, & being mistaken in the true vvay thereto, erroneously beleiuing that by an exact performance of outward Obseruances & the solemne saying of the Office, adioyning the Ex­ercises of such internall discoursiue Prayer, doe yet find but little fruit, as to any interiour reformation or sim­plification of their soules, by reason that they rest in such Actiue Exercises (vvhich in a short time to Soli­tary liuers loose all their vertue:) & doe not from them proceed to the truly enlightning Exercises of Internall affectiue prayer (vvhich is a prayer of the heart, or vvill, by good Affections quietly & calmely produced, & not vvith the vnderstanding;) a Prayer made vvith­out those distracting methods, or that busying of the Ima­gination, & vvearying of the soule by laborious dis­courses, vvhich are only inferiour & Imperfect prepa­rations to true Prayer.

9. Novv to a consideration of the necessity of In­ternall affectiue Prayer, vvee vvill adde certaine Ver­tues, Benefits, & Preeminences therof compared vvith all o­ther sorts of Prayer, either Vocall or discoursiuely Men­tall; The vvhich vertues are indeed admirable & in­estimable, deseruing to be purchased vvith all the cares & endeauours of our vvhole liues.

[Page 21]10. The first Excellency of Internall Affectiue Prayer aboue all other is, that only by such Prayer our Vnion in spirit vvith God (in vvhich our Essentiall Happi­nes consists) is perfectly obtained. For therin the will vvith all the povvers & affections of the soule are ap­plied and fixed to the louing, adoring, & glorifying this only beatifying Obiect. Wheras in Vocall Prayer there is a continuall variety & succession of Images of crea­tures suggested, the vvhich doe distract the soules of the imperfect from such an application. And Medita­tion in vvhich discourse is employed is, so far, little more then a Philosophicall Contemplation of God, de­laying this fixing of the heart and affections on God, the vvhich are only acceptable to him.

11. The second vertue is this, That by this Prayer of the Will the soule entring far more profoundly into God, the fountaine of lights, partakes of the beames of his diuine light far more plentifully, by vvhich she both discouers Gods perfections more clear­ly & also sees the vvay vvherein she is to vvalke more perfectly, then by any other Prayer. And the Rea­son is, because vvhen the soule endeauours to apply all her affections entirely on God, then only it is, that being profoundly introuerted, a vvorld of impu­rities of intention, & inordinate affections lurking in her, doe discouer themselues: & the obscure mists of them are dispelled, the soule then finding by a reall perception & feeling hovv preiudiciall they are to her present vnion in vvill vvith God: Wheras vvhen the vnderstanding alone, or principally, is busied in the con­sideration [Page 22] of God, or of the soule herselfe, the Ima­gination (vvhich is very Actiue & subtile) vvill not represent to the soule either God or herselfe so liquid­ly & sincerely, but being blinded & seduced by natu­rall selfe-loue, vvill inuent a hundred excuses & pre­texts to deceiue the soule, & to make her beleiue that many things are intended & done purely for God, vvhich proceeded principally, if not totally, from the Roote of Concupiscence & selfe-loue.

12. A third a [...]mirable Perfection of Internall affectiue Prayer is this, That not only Diuine light, but also grace & spirituall strength to put in practise all things to vvhich supernaturall light directs, is obtained prin­cipally by this Internall Prayer of the heart; And this by a double causality & vertue; to vvit. 1. By way of im­petration, grounded on the rich & precious promises made by God to Prayer, aboue all other good Actions. 2. By a direct & proper efficiency; For since all the ver­tue & merit of our externall Actions does depend v­pon and flovv from the internall disposition & ope­rations of the soule exercising Charity & Purity of intention in them, & conquering the resistance of nature, And since all Internall exercises of all vertues vvhatsoeuer are truly & in propriety of speech di­rect Prayer of the Spirit; hence is followes, that as all habits are gotten by frequency & constancy of exer­cise, therfore by the perseuering in the exercise of in­ternall Prayer, the soule is enabled vvith facility to practise perfectly all vertues.

13. To this may be added, that such Prayer is vni­uersall [Page 23] Mortification; & a Mortification the most pro­found, intime & perfect that a soule can possibly per­forme, entirely destructiue to sensuall satisfaction. For therein the will forces inferiour nature & all the po­vvers of the soule to auert themselues from all other obiects pleasing to them, and to concurre to her in­ternall Actuations tovvards God; & this oftimes in the midst of distractions by vaine Images, during a tor­pide dullnes of the heart, yea a violent contradiction of sensuality, vvhen there is, according to any sensible perception, a totall disgust in the soule to such an exer­cise, yea vvhen the spirit it selfe is in obscurity & cannot by any reflexed Act reape any consolation from such an exercise. Such an Exilium cordis, such a desertion & in­ternall Desolation is a mortification to the purpose; yet as of extreme bitternes, so of vnexpressible efficacy to the purifying & vniuersall Perfecting of the soule & spirit. Therfore S. Chrysostome (Tract. de Oratione) had good reason to say, It is impossible; againe I say, it is vt­terly impossible that a soule, which with a due care & assiduity prayes vnto God, should euer sin.

17. A fourth Excellence of Internall Affectiue Prayer is, That it is the only Action that cannot possibly want Purity of Intention. Soules may from an impulse of na­ture and its satirfaction exactly obserue Fasts, per­forme Obediences, keepe the Quire, approach to Sa­craments, yea exercise themselues in curious specula­tions during Meditation or in the exercise of sensible deuotion they may comply vvith selfe-loue &c. (And indeed they haue no farther any Purity of intention [Page 24] in any of these duties, then as they doe proceede from Internall Affectiue Prayer, that is, the vvill fixed by Charity on God.) Wheras if any oblique intention should endeauour to insinuate it selfe into Internall Prayer of the vvill, it vvould presently be obserued, & vnlesse it vvere contradicted & expelled, there could be no progresse in such Prayer. So that it is not pos­sible to find an exercise either more secure, or more proffitable; since it is by the vertue of it alone that all other exercises haue any concurrence towards the per­fectionating of the soule.

15. Lastly, Affectiue Prayer of the will is that alone which makes all other sorts of Prayer to deserue the name of Prayer. For vvere that excluded, Meditation is but an vseles speculation. and curiosity of the vnderstanding; and Vocall Prayer, but an empty sound of vvords: For God only desires our hearts or Affections, vvithout vvhich our tongues or Braines are of no esteeme at all. Yea there is not so much as any proffitable At­tention in any Prayer, further then the heart concur­res. For if the Attention be only of the mind; that vvill not constitute Prayer: for then study or dispu­tation about Diuine things might be called Prayer. Hence sayth an Ancient holy Hermite, Nunquam verè orat, quisquis etiam flexis genibus euagatione cordis et­iam qualicumque distrahitur. That is, That man does neuer truly pray, who though he be vpon his knes, is di­stracted with any wandring or vnattention of his heart. And likewise the learned Soto to the same purpose conclusiuely affirmes, Orationi mentali deesse non potest [Page 25] attentio; cum ipsa attentio &c: That is: Attention can­not possibly be wanting to Mentall Prayer (of the heart:) since the Attention it selfe is the very Prayer. And ther­fore it is a contradiction to say, that one prayes men­tally & is not attentiue; as is of it selfe manifest: For as soone as euer the mind begins to wander, it ceases to Pray. Therfore Vocall Prayer is only that Prayer which may want attention: namely when the thoughts diuerting themselues to other obiects, the tongue without the con­currence of the mind giues an vncertaine sound. And vvee may adde, That the attention of the mind vvhich cannot be separated from Discoursiue Prayer, is little valuable, except it be accompanied vvith, or perfor­med in order to the causing an attention (as vvee may call it) of the heart, or affections.

16. These inestimable Benefits (to vvhich more may be added, as shall be shevved) vvhich flovv from In­ternall Prayer of the will being considered, a vvell-minded soule vvill thinke no paines too much that may auaile to purchase so vnualuable a Ievvell. And Reli­gious Superiours vvill esteeme that nothing does so essen­tially belong to their duty, as to Instruct & further their subiects in the practise of it; According to the Counsell of S. Bernard, Docendus est Incipiens spiritua­liter orare, & a corporibus vel corporum imaginibus cum Deum cogitat quantum potest recedere. That is: Who­soeuer begins a Religious course of life must be taught Spirituall Prayer and in eleuating his mind to God, to transcend all Bodies & bodily images. And vvith iust reason did the holy Grecian Abbot Nilus (a disciple of [Page 26] S. Iohn Chrysostome say, (Beata mens quae dum orat &c) Happy is the soule that when she Prayes empties her­selfe entirely of all Images & formes; Happy is the soule that Prayes feruorously & without distraction; Such a soule encreases continually in the desire & loue of God. Happy is the soule that when she Prayes does altogether quit the vse & exercise of all her senses. Happy is the soule that during the time of Prayer looses the possession & in­terest in all manner of things (but God.)

17. And indeed a soule must expect to passe through a vvorld of difficulties before she attaine to such a pu­rity in Prayer; for as the same Authour saith, Vniuer­sum bellū quod internos & doemones conflaetur, non est de alia re quàm de oratione. That is; All the warre & cōtrouersy that is betwene vs & the Deuill is about no other thing but Prayer: as being most necessary to vs, & most destructiue to all his designes. And hereupon a certaine holy Father being asked, vvhat duty in a Religious life vvas the most difficult, Ansvvered, To Pray well. The reason is, be­cause Prayer can neuer be perfectly exercised, till the soule be cleansed from all manner of impurities, yea not only from the Affections, but all Images also of creatures.

CHAP. IV.

§. 1. 2. Conditions required to Affectiue Prayer; Of which the first is, That it ought to be Continuall, by our Lords precept.

§. 3. The shamefull neglect of this Precept, both in practise & teaching in these times;

§. 4. Of the ancient Heretickes called Euchites, that misunderstanding this Precept, neglected all other duties besides Prayer.

§. 5. 6. 7. In what sense the said Precept obliges vs to Pray con­tinually.

§. 8. All other vertues are to be measured by the Degrees of Prayer.

§. 9. How the neglect of Actuall Prayer may be a mortall sin.

§. 10. Our Religions Profession & Rule obliges vs to aspire to vninterrupted Prayer.

§. 11. 12. Neither vocall Prayer nor Meditation can become vninterrupted; But only Internall Affectiue Prayer.

§. 13. 4. 15. 16. Whether the habit of continuall Prayer may be attained hy prolonged Vocall offices.

§. 17 18. That the sure meanes to attaine to it, is a constant Practise of day [...]y Recollections.

§. 19. 20. Who they are that shall be accounted by our Lord to haue satisfied the obligation of this precept.

1. HAVING shevved the necessity & excellency of Affectiue Pray [...]r, I vvill novv rreate of cer­taine qualities & conditions requisite therto; of which [Page 28] I vvill at the present insist only on three, to vvit. 1. The first regarding the extension of it. 2. The second the intension or feruour of it. 3. The third, the cause or Principle from vvhich it must proceede, to vvit, the Diuine Spirit.

2. As touching the first point, to wit, the extension of Prayer, it is our Lords command, that vvee should neuer omitt this duty of Prayer; (Oportet semper ora­re & non deficere.) Wee ought alwaies to pray, & not to cease (or faint in it) And S. Paul exhorts indiffe­rently all Christians (sine intermissione orate) Pray vvith­out intermission. Now in this Precept of our Lord there is an obligation so expresse, so vniuersall & so confirmed & repeated both affirmatiuely & negatiue­ly, that all exception & derogation seemes to be ex­cluded, & that it binds both semper & ad semper. In all the Ghospell vvee can scarce find a Precept so fast-binding & so vnquestionable.

3. This being euident, hovv can any one vvithout greife & indignation reade the strange dispensations & escapes inuented & allovved by some late Writers to defeate this so necessary a duty? Because perhaps no man can positiuely say, that hîc & nunc Actuall Prayer is necessary & obliging vnder Mortall sin, therfore they conclude that except two or three moments of our life, it is not at all necessary to pray: that is, in the first moment that a child comes to the vse of Rea­son, & in the last moment vvhen a soule is ready to expire; for then indeed some of them (not all) ac­knovvledge that vvithout mortall sin, a soule cannot [Page 29] deliberately & willfully neglect to lift vp it selfe to God. As for the Diuine Office those to vvhom the reciting of it is of obligation, such (say they) are on­ly bound vnder Mortall sin to the externall pronun­ciation of the vvords; as for the mentality of it, that is only a matter of Counsell of Perfection.

4. In the Ancient times there vvas a certaine Sect of Hereticks that vvandred as far vvide the con [...]r [...]ry vvay, vvho vpon a mistaken interpretation of this pre­cept of our Sauiour, neglected, yea condemned all o­ther things besides Prayer, despising the Sacraments, omitting the necessary duties of their vocation, refu­sing to doe any externall Acts of Charity &c. And from this frenzy they vvere called Euchitae, that is, Persons that did nothing but pray.

5. But the trueth lyes betwene these two extremes; for most manifest it is that vvee are obliged to aspire vnto vninterrupted Prayer; And yet most certaine also it is, that besides simple Prayer there are many other Duties required of vs. The sence therfore and importance of our Lords precept of Praying continually without failing, may be cleared by tvvo passages of S. Paul. The first is this (1. Tim. 4.) Cibos creauit Deus ad percipiendum &c. That is. God hath created meates to be receiued with giuing of thanks by his faithfull seruants, & those which haue knowne the trueth. For euery crea­ture of God is good, & nothing to be reiected which is receiued with giuing of thanks; for it is sanctified by the word of God & by Prayer. The second is (1. Cor. 10.) Siue ergo manducatis siue &c. That is; Therfore whether [Page 30] you eate or drinke, or what other thing soeuer you doe, doe all to the glory of God. From vvhich Texts it appeares. 1. That all creatures are in their vse vnsanctified vnto vs, that is prophane, vnlesse they be vsed vvith Prayer. 2. That wee are obliged not only in the vse of Crea­tures by eating & drinking &c: but also in all our o­ther actions vvhatsoeuer to ioyne Prayer & a conse­crating of them to Gods glory; so that if vvee comply vvith these our obligations & duties, vvee must conti­nually either be in actuall Prayer, or busyed in somthing done in vertue of Prayer.

6. Novv as vvee said in the first Treatise, that al­though all are not obliged necessarily to attaine vnto the perfection proportionable to each ones state; yet all are necessarily bound to aspire thereunto; Because no man can loue God vvith a sincere loue, & such an one as may be accounted vvorthy of Him vvho is our only Good & beatitude, that shall fixe any limits to his loue, or that shall not aspire continually to a further & higher degree of his loue. So here likevvise, vvee are to con­ceiue, that this Precept of praying continually so inde­finitely expressed, so earnestly pressed, so vniuersally applied, both by our Lord, & his Apostle, to all Chri­stians, doth inferre an indefinite & vniuersall obliga­tion, so as that although none but the Perfect doe real­ly fullfill it, yet all, euen the most imperfect, cannot vvithout danger dispence vvith or neglect the endea­uouring & aspiring to the fullfilling of it. Euery one must exercise as much Prayer as shall be necessary to sanctify his vocation, & make the vvorkes & Duties [Page 31] of his life acceptable to God, & helpfull to the procu­ring of his eternall felicity.

7. And the ground of this obligation is both very firme & manifest: vvhich is this, That euen reason di­ctates, that all the things vvee doe, vvee ought to doe them in order to our last end, vvhich is God: that is, vvith a sanctified Intention (for vvhatsoeuer is not done vvith a right Intention in order to God is of no vvorth at all, being only a vvorke of corrupt nature:) Novv since there are only tvvo things vvhich doe sanctify all things & actions, to vvit, the word of God & Prayer; the word of God generally, that is the certaine & reuei­led vvill of God, that the thing is in it selfe lavvfull to be vsed or done: & Prayer in particular, proceeding from faith or assurance that the thing is lavvfull, & therupon acknovvleging it to be Gods gift, desiring his blessing on it, & referring it to his glory Hence it eui­dently follovves, that since vvithout Prayer all things are vnsanctified, or prophane, not at all conducing to our last end, but rather preiudiciall to it, therfore all are bound to endeauour to sanctify all their actions & vvorkes by Prayer.

8. Hence vvee may inferre, that the Degrees of Grace & sanctity in any man are to be measured according to the vertue that prayer has vpon his Actions; for the more, & more frequently that his ordinary Actions are performed in vertue of prayer, the more perfect & holy such an one is, & the more approaching to his cheife end; And he vvhose Actions doe not for the most part flovv from the vertue of Prayer, is not yet right disposed tovvards his last end.

[Page 32]9. Novv though perhaps scarce any man can say; That hic & Nūc actuall Prayer is necessarily obliging vn­der mortall sin; yet vvithall, most certaine it is that that man has reason to doubt that he is in a mortally sinfull estate that does not vse so much prayer as thereby to sanctify & render meritorious the generality of his more serious Actions; Or (which is all one) he is in a state mortally sinfull, that for the most part liues vvillfully & habitually in a neglect of Grace, vvhich can no vvay be obtained vvithout prayer. Therfore it is obseruable, that the Disciples of our Lord neuer asked any instructions but how to Pray; for that skill being once had, all other good things are consequently had; And vvhen all other Actions are performed by Grace obteined by prayer, & for the end proposed in prayer, then a person may be said to be in continuall Prayer: And much more if they be accompanied vvith an Actuall eleuation of the spi­rit to God.

10. This is the Perfection of Prayer to vvhich our holy Rule obliges vs to aspire, namely, Besides the sett Exercises either of vocall or Internall Prayer, to pre­serue our soules in an vninterrupted Attention to God, & tendance in spirit to him, so as that vvhatsoeuer Actions wee doe, they should he accompanied (instan­tissima oratione) with a most feruent & perseuerant Prayer. And that this perfection of continuall Prayer in a su­preme degree has bene really attained to by the An­cient Contemplatiues, & accounted by them an essen­tiall Duty of their vocation, is euident out of vvhat vvee reade in seuerall places in Cassian: Hic finis to­tius [Page 33] perfectionis est &c. (saith a holy Hermite there) This is the end of all perfection to haue the soule become so extenuated & purified from all carnall desires, as that it may continually be in an Actuall ascent to spirituall things, vntill all its conuersation & employment, & euery motion of the heart become one continuall Prayer. Wee mentioned likewise before a Hermite vvhose spirit vvas so continually fixed on God, that he could not though he endeauoured, depresse it for so small a time, as till he might fetch from the other end of his Cell, some small thing that his neighbour desired of him. The like continuall attention to God, Gregory Lopez ac­knovvledgeth to haue bene in himselfe by long practise of Recollection, so that though he vvould, he could not but thinke on him; The vvhich attention & v­nion no vvorke, conuersation or study could interrupt. Another Hermite likevvise in Cassian (in 19. Conf.) called Iohn saith of himselfe, hovv he forgot vvhe­ther he had taken his dayly sustenance, so continuall vvas his Prayer: By vvhich their senses became so stupified, that they savv not vvhat vvas before their eyes. To this purpose it is reported in the Liues of the Fathers, that vvhen a certaine Religious man in a Iourney met vvith a little troope of Religious vvo­men, & seeing them, purposely turned out of the vvay to auoyd them, the Abbesse said to him, If thou hadst bene a Perfect Monke indeed, though thou hadst seene vs, thou wouldest not haue knowne that wee were women.

11. Now it is impossible for a soule to continue vvith­out [Page 34] interruption in Vocall Prayer, there being so many necessary occasions hourely occurring to employ the tongue other vvayes; besides that it vvould vtterly exhaust the spirits. And as for Meditation, the exercise thereof is so painfull, that it vvould destroy the head to force the Imagination continually to inuent & discourse internally on Diuine or spirituall obiects.

12. Therfore by no other manner of Prayer, but the internall Exercise of the Will in holy desires &c: can this Precept of our Lord be perfectly accomplished. For the soule is naturally in a continuall exercise of some one desire or other; the vvhich are not all at painfull to her being her naturall employment, so that if by practise vvee can so rectify our desires as to place them vpon their only true & proper obiect, vvhich is God, it will necessarily follovv that the soule should be in conti­nuall Prayer. Si semper desideras, semper oras, Saith S. Augustine. If thou doest continually desire (God,) thou doest continually Pray. Such desires by custome vvill become easy, & as it vvere naturall to the soule; and consequent­ly vvithout any force vsed on the imagination or vn­derstanding they may be continued vvithout inter­ruption, for they vvill flovv as freely as breath from the lungs. And vvhere such desires doe abound, flovv­ing from a holy invvard temper of soule, there no Employment vvill be vndertaken that shall crosse or preiudice such desires; on the contrary, they vvill giue a tincture to all Actions, directing them to the obiect of those desires, & therby adding to the fer­uency of them.

[Page 35]13. Novv a Question may be made, Whether in Contemplatiue Orders, vvhere likevvise there is vsed much Abstraction, solitude & other Austerities, soules may attaine to this vninterrupted Prayer by the vvay of Meditation, or else of long continued Vocall Prayers alone, vvithout appoynted Recollections of Internall Affectiue Prayer constantly exercised?

14, Hereto it may be answered, First that as for M [...]ditation, it is an exercise so disproportionable to the nature of such a state, (except as a preparation for awhile in the beginning) that it is not possible to be the constant & continued Exercise of such per­sons: for as shall be shewed, the imagination & vnder­standing by much exercise thereof in an vndistracted life, vvill become so barren, & it vvill ptoduce so small or no effects in good Affections in the will, that it vvill be disgustfull & insupportable. So that all vse of Meditation must be for a long space passed & relin­quished, before the soule vvill be brought to this good state of hauing a continuall fluxe of holy desires.

15. But in the second place touching long conti­nued Vocall Prayers, and Offices, vvithout any set Exercises of Internall Recollection, no doubt it is but by them such Religious Persons may be brought to this habit of continuall Prayer So that. 1. They hold their minds to as much Attention as reasonably they can. 2. So that out of Quire they keepe their minds from distractiue Affections or sollicitudes, either about studies or any other Employments, vo­luntary or imposed. 3. So they be watchfull ouer themselues [Page 36] not to giue scope to thoughts vvhich may be harmefull to them. (Thus the Ancient Hermites arriued to this Perfection. 4. A fourth condition may be, That such Persons content themselues vvith the Publicke Of­fice, & not ouer-burden themselues vvith a sur­charge of voluntary vocall Prayers; for Turrecremata saith vvell (on the Decr. d. 92.) That the voyce & other externall Doings are in Prayer to be vsed only so far, as by them to raise Internall deuotion; so that if by the ex­cesse of them it should be hindred, or the mind distra­cted, they ought to be abstained from. And S. Augustin (no doubt from experience as well as iudgment) saith; Qu vitum proficis ad videndam sapientiam, tantò minus est vox necessaria. That is, The greater progresse thou makest in contemplatiue wisedome, so much lesse necesa­ry will vocall Praying be. Such Persons therfore, if in their solitude they doe not appoynt to themselues any sett Recollections, yet ought they to keepe their minds in a state of as much recollectednes as may be, by in­terrupted good desires at least begetting in their minds an Affection to Prayer, & an Appetite to the succee­ding O [...]fice.

16. Notvvithstanding certaine it is, that vocall Prayers though neuer so much prolonged, & in neuer so great soli [...]ude, yet vvill neuer produce this effect, vvhere the true spirit of contemplatiue Prayer is not knovvne; & such ignorance hath bene, euen in Orders of the greatest Abstraction & Austerity; Thus vvee see that Germanus & Cassianus, though practised many yeares in a stri [...]t Coenobiticall life, yet vvere astonished [Page 37] vvhen they heard the holy Hermites discourse of pure spirituall Prayer, free from Images &c:

17. It remaines therefore, that ordinarily speaking, the only efficacious & immediate disposition to the habit of vninterrupted Prayer, is a constant exercise of Internall Prayer of the Will; by vvhich the soule being dayly forced to a serious attendance & tendance to God in Spirit, by little & little becomes more & better affe­cted to a frequent conuersation vvith him, & in time looses all relish or tast of pleasure in creatures.

18. This, I say, vvill be the effect of such constant & feruent exercise of Recollections. For as for those vvhich are commonly called Elaculatory Prayers, that is, good Affections now and then by fitts, & vvith frequent interruptions exercised, though they are ve­ry good & proffitable, & vvithall very fit to be vsed in the midst of reading especially, or any other ex­ternall employments; yet they alone vvill, though ioy­ned to the ordinary vse of the Diuine Office, be in­sufficient to produce such a habit of soule. And the reason is, because being so short & vvith such interrup­tion exercised, the vertue of them is presently spent, & vvill haue little or no effect vpon subsequent actions. But as for the eiaculatory Prayers mentioned & wor­thily commended by the holy Hermites in Cassian, the nature of them is quite different from those fore­mentioned, for they are indeed not different from in­fused Aspirations, being the effects flovving from the habit of continuall Pray [...]r already acquired, & not im­perfect preparation [...] therto.

[Page 38]19. To conclude, none can account themselues to haue satisfied (in that perfection that they ought) the obligation imposed on them by this necessary Precept of our Lord (Oportet semper orare & non deficere:) But 1. Such as doe actually exercise as much prayer as may consist vvith their abilities, & as is necessary to produce Contemplation, (if such be their state of life) and more­ouer such actuall prayer as is suitable