The Beams of Our Houses are of Cedar and Our Carved Ceilings are of Cypress.
The Bridegroom, hidden in the ground and centre of the soul (as has been said), takes pleasure in sending from the sanctuary in which He dwells, certain effusions of His sensible graces, which produce, in the exterior of the Spouse, an abundance of different virtues, which are like flowers. Finding herself adorned with these she is so surprised and charmed, or perhaps has so little experience, that she believes her inward edifice is nearly completed. The roof is on, she says; the beams, which are the practice of exterior virtues, are laid of cedar; methinks I perceive their agreeable odor and that I can practice them with as much strength as ease. The regulation of the senses appears to me to be perfectly accomplished as the setting in order of the carved and beautiful ceiling of cypress.

But, O Spouse! this only appears so to thee because thy bed is adorned with flowers, and because the sweet, grateful and pleasant state which thou experiencest within, makes thee believe that thou hast gained everything without; but remember, thy ceilings are of cypress, which is a tree of death, and all this beauty and adornment are but the preparation for a sacrifice.


[6] The infancy of the new man is passed in receiving nourishment from the milk of the good examples which history sets before us. He then enters upon the second stage, where no longer needing to be supported by human authority, and forgetting everything that has its origin in man, he advances towards the things of God, where his reason, illuminated by the light of the sovereign and immutable law, enables him to proceed with a firm step by the requirements of this primitive rule of all good. The third age succeeds, in which the superior part having become stronger and more authoritative, begins to hold the other in check by force of reason, as the wife is kept submissive to the husband. The new man here experiences, as it were, the blessedness of the conjugal union, under the veil of this spiritual modesty, by means whereof we no longer need to be forced to live uprightly; since, if we had the fullest permission to sin, we should have no desire to use it. In the fourth period, the strength constantly increasing, the practice of what was begun in the last stage becomes easier, more decided, and more constant; the maturity of the perfect man comes on by which he is enabled to sustain without yielding, all the tempests of this world and all the assaults of persecution. He then passes to the fifth, where, raised above everything that could cause him the slightest trouble, he enjoys, in profound peace, the abundance of the riches that are found in the tranquil and unfading kingdom of sovereign and unspeakable Wisdom. The fifth period is followed by the sixth, which carries the renewing of the interior man to its last perfection, and finishes him in the image and likeness of God; he then lives in the world as not in it, and leads upon the earth the life that the blessed enjoy in Heaven. The seventh stage is that eternal rest and perfect and undisturbed felicity in which all representations and states have ceased forever. For as death is the destruction of the old man, eternal life is the end of the new, for the first is then loaded with the damnation incurred through sin, and the other is clothed with the righteousness whose reward is glory--St. Augustine on True Religion, ch. 26.

[7] The consummation of the interior life is referred by some to the next life. To me it seems that in the other world we shall experience the consummation of grace and glory, of all increase and merit, the fruit, the recompense and the unclouded enjoyment of the truth of the interior; but as to the interior in itself, it must be completed in all its perfected and finished proportions in the present state. Here it has its commencement, a perfect conversion in every sense required by a perfect recollection; its progress is here, the hunger and perpetual seeking after God, which avoids, flees and purifies everything contrary to Him; and its end, too, may be here the state of rest and satisfaction in the Sovereign Good which has been the object of the soul's desire. But it is to be remembered that this repose is in the enjoyment of God as it may be had in this life, which is no impediment to a perpetual progress in Him. The state is thus perfected as far as the action of the creature is concerned, but not consummated nor finished as to the perfecting hand of God. The human body maybe used, it seems to me, as an illustration of this subject; for it is called a perfect body when it is complete in all its members. Now, although we find some that are lame, blind and maimed, we do not say that the body should be deprived of its limbs, but we draw for a perfect body, one that is in possession of all its members. Beyond this perfection there is another of form and beauty, when the body is not only complete in its members, but when the separate members themselves present that harmony of proportion and color that belong to a perfect man. This is our conception of a perfect body, and every one agrees that its beauty is a perfect beauty, although no one will deny that it is as nothing in comparison with its perfection when glorified. Now it is not necessary, in order to persuade us that the present perfection of the body is not that of one risen in glory, to deprive it of any of its members, however apparently insignificant. It is the same with the interior life. Admit that it will enjoy a totally different perfection in the world to come from that which it is here capable of receiving, let us not, for that reason, make it sadly imperfect by depriving it of any of its essential elements. It is even here a magnificent whole, the greatest achievement of the love and omnipotence of God, for, according to John of the Cross, the work of our regeneration and salvation is more stupendous than that of our creation.--Mad. Guyon, Justifications, iii. 124.

[8] These words, God alone, indicate perfect union.--Just, i. 389.

[9] That is, unless it should fall away and be rejected of God.--Justifications i. 143.

[10] There is never a moment in which God does not shed His infinite love of benevolence upon every human soul, for being communicable in his nature, He must necessarily communicate Himself incessantly to every being disposed to receive His gifts, as the dew falls upon every object exposed to the sky. But man is created free, and has the power of shutting himself up, and of sheltering himself from the celestial dew; he turns his back upon God and heaps hindrance upon hindrance, lest he should be reached by His mercy. What effect, then, has the feeling arising from some good source? It affects the man somewhat, and removing some of the obstacles he had put in the way, he is induced to turn towards the source which unceasingly rains love upon every heart. No sooner is the heart turned and opened a little, than the dew of grace falls gently into it, and according as it is more or less abundant, so is the growth of love in the heart; the more widely the soul is opened to God, the more profuse is the fall of the dew. But it is to be remembered, that Love prepares His own way; no other can do it for Him; He prepares our heart and leads it from fullness to fullness; He enlarges, and as He enlarges, fills; for He abhors an empty heart, and though He seems, at times, to reduce souls to emptiness and nakedness, the desolation is only external and apparent. It is true that He thrusts out everything that is not God; for, as God is Love, He can only permit Himself in the soul; all else is offensive to Him. He, therefore, sets every engine in motion, that He may purify His creature, enlarge, extend and magnify it, in order that He may have room enough to dwell in. But O, holy Love! where, ah! where are the hearts that will submit to be thus purified, enlarged and extended by Thy hand? Thine operations only seem harsh because we are impure, for Thou art always gentle and tender-hearted! We must even esteem it a great matter, if some souls will give Thee a hesitating admission. Alas! how straitened art Thou in such hearts! what confined quarters and what a filthy residence for the infinite God of purity! O Love! hast Thou not the power of a God? Must we make no other use of our liberty but in resisting Thee? Sad gift! the only true employment of which is in sacrificing it wholly to Thee!--Mad. Guyon, Justifications, iii. 109.

[11] Mark this, no voluntary stain.--Just i. 156.

[12] Weaknesses, not sins.--Justifications ii. 273.

[13] While the soul still feels the full power of the divine unction upon it, its imperfections appear to be destroyed; but as the work of purification goes on, the virtues sink deep into the soul, disappearing from the surface and leaving the natural defects in conspicuous prominence. The effects of winter upon the vegetable world seem to me to present a lively and truthful image of this operation of God. As the season of cold and storms approaches, the trees gradually lose their leaves, their vivid green is soon changed into a funereal brown, and they fall and die. The trees now look stripped and desolate; the loss of their summer garments brings to light all the irregularities and defects in their surfaces which had previously been hidden from view. Not that they have contracted any new deformity; not at all; everything was there before, but hidden by their abundant verdure. Thus the man in the time of his purification, appears stripped of his virtues, but as the tree, in the preservation of its sap, retains that which is the producing cause of leaves, so the soul is not deprived of the essence of virtue, nor of any solid advantage; but only of a certain external facility in the display of its possessions. The man thus spoiled and naked, appears in his own eyes and in those of others with all the defects of nature which were previously concealed by the verdure of sensible grace. During the whole of winter, the trees appear dead; they are not so in reality, but, on the contrary, are submitting to a process which preserves and strengthens them. For what is the effect of winter? It contracts their exterior, so that the sap is not uselessly expended abroad, and it concentrates their strength upon the root, so that new ones are pushed out and the old ones strengthened and nourished and forced deeper into the soil. We may say, then, that however dead the tree may appear in its accidents (if we may be allowed to apply this expression to its leaves), it was never more alive in its essentials, and it is even during winter that the source and principle of its life is more firmly established. During the other seasons it employs the whole force of its sap in adorning and beautifying itself at the expense of its roots. Just so in the economy of grace. God takes away that which is accidental in virtue, that He may strengthen the principle of the virtues. These are still practised by the soul, though in an exceedingly hidden way, and in humility, pure love, absolute abandonment, contempt of self and the others, the soul makes solid progress. It is thus that the operation of God seems to sully the soul exteriorly; in point of fact it implies no new defects in the soul, but only an uncovering of the old ones, so that by being openly exposed they may be better healed.--Mad. Guyon, Justifications, ii. 265.

[14] Just as fire blackens wood before consuming it. It is the approach of the fire that blackens the wood, and not its removal. Wood may also be discolored by moisture; but it is then far less fit to be burned, and may even be made so wet that it will not burn at all. Such is the blackness of those who depart from Thee, O God, and go whoring from Thee. (Psalm 73:27). They shall all perish; but not so our Spouse, who is rendered dark-complexioned by the excess of the love that intends to perfect her in Himself, by cleansing her of everything opposed His own purity.--Justifications, ii. 274.

[15] A father has caused various dishes to be placed upon the table, some far more delicious than others. One of the children has taken a fancy to the dish that stands nearest to him, though it is far from the best, and requests to be helped from it because of his liking for it. The father perceives that if he were to give him a far better one he would reject it, his mind being set upon that which he sees before him; and so, lest he should remain hungry and discouraged, he reluctantly grants him his request. Thus God granted the prayer of the Israelites for a king; it was not what He would have chosen for them, nor what they needed, but it was what their hearts were set upon having.--John of the Cross, Ascent of Carmel, Book ii.[ch. 21.

[16] Let us note here, that our Spouse, far from falling into open sin, does not even indulge herself in innocent recreations. A soul that has enjoyed God in the unspeakable degree, has acquired too refined a taste to be pleased any longer with earthly things. Those who leave Him, and permit themselves to be guilty of offences against Him, are such, as sought Him only for his delights, not for Himself; when He takes these away, they seek their pleasure elsewhere. But God never abandons a soul that seeks Him for Himself alone; that fears rather than desires his favors, and that loves the cross without fearing it. As the souls that relapse and fall away, do so, because, in their first privations, they seek an indemnification for the suffering inflicted by God in the pleasures of the senses, which they at first esteem innocent; therefore I have always strenuously insisted, in everything which He has permitted me to write, that the soul must suffer itself to be consumed without seeking consolation, and to die without helping it to a single breath. This matter seems to me one of great consequence; for almost every soul, on arriving at this point, either turns back, seeking again its former activity in order to recover the enjoyment it has lost; or what is far worse, follows its sensual inclinations; and as the love it had for God was impure, sensual, and entirely selfish, when it no longer feels it, it indulges its senses in the delights of the creature. As these persons loved God solely for the gratification it gave them, as St. Francis of Sales testifies of them, and not for Himself, the moment their pleasure ceases, they turn to those which are unlawful; and, as their taste has been refined by their participation of spiritual enjoyments, they cannot now be satisfied without an infinity of pleasure--nor are they then--but seek to stifle their consciences and their constant remorse by a more unbridled license. Had they loved God with a pure affection, He never would have suffered them to have thus fallen. Let me also add here that, in the beginning, when the soul is immersed in delights and heavenly consolations, it appears strong, but is, in fact, so exceedingly weak, that the least occurrences distract it, and cause it to commit a thousand faults. After the first purgation or trial, called by John of the Cross the night of the senses, it is no longer subject to these frailties, so that as to every external thing in the order of God, it can walk abroad without being sullied, as formerly, by a thousand vain complacencies and self-seekings. I say things in the order of God and according to His will; for it would be a very different matter, if it were to amuse and divert itself; neither could a soul that has reached this state do it without great pain, and an infidelity so much the more horrible, as the soul had the greater power to avoid it. In truth, this is the most dangerous period of the whole spiritual life; for if, on the cessation of interior support the soul turns to external sources of pleasure, though it finds it difficult at first, yet the way grows more and more easy. It is a way of destruction to many a spiritual pilgrim, and I have, therefore, in all my writings constantly pointed it out. I speak of the beginning of the night of the senses, and not when it is fully set in; for then there is scarcely anything to fear. And so after total death, the soul becomes so confirmed in God that it can find nothing satisfying in the creature, nor can it fall, short of becoming like Lucifer. To leave God after reaching this state, would render a soul the most miserable in the universe; for as it has tasted the joy unspeakable of the Divine Union it can not with its utmost exertion derive any pleasure from exterior sources, for the now distant pleasures of sense would seem so insipid in comparison with celestial delights, that they would only redouble its torture. Such a soul must be, as it were, in hell. Having received in heaven a divine power, and being now cast out, it must either return to God, a very difficult thing, or must become worse than Satan himself. Such a person, of whom it is difficult to find one, would I think become the most abandoned of men, and his depravity would be measured by the extent to which he had experienced the Divine favor. We scarcely ever find, then, a soul thus fallen; but among those who are just entering upon the night of the senses, and who are not yet dead to self, nor established in God, we may see many who no longer experiencing the delights which they had sought rather than God, apply themselves to the creature for the enjoyment which they no longer find in Him; but the pleasures they derive thence are so blunted, that they must run to every excess to produce any emotion. It is a miracle when a soul in this case is converted and returns to God, for as they have tasted the good things of God, and have abandoned Him, every motive that can be brought to bear upon them to bring them back, is already familiar to them; they know it all and it affects them no longer. Such, it seems to me, is the meaning of what is declared in the word: For it is impossible, for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away to renew them again unto repentance.--Heb vi. 4-6). But if falling away is difficult for souls in this degree, it is far more so, I might rather say almost impossible, for those in the subsequent ones; for they become as it were settled in a fixed state, and so great is the difficulty of falling from that, that it requires the pride of the Devil himself and a maliciousness of purpose of which the soul here is far from capable. Still, it is, of course, possible, and I suppose there are some who, like the rebel angels, have been thrust headlong down from heaven into hell; but after such a fall, the difficulty of returning to God is greatly increased. It seems to me almost impossible, not from any opposition on the part of God, who always furnishes every one with all needful means of salvation, but on account of the wickedness of such a soul in which it is strengthening and confirming itself. If I may speak after the manner of men, the loss of such a soul is more painful to God than that of a million of others; and His former love to them is now the measure of His wrath.--Justifications, i. 417.

15 behold thou art fair
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