. So likewise is God in the being of the soul; and whenever the soul's highest powers are turned inward with active love, they are united with God without means, in a simple knowledge of all truth, and in an essential feeling and tasting of all good. This simple knowing and feeling of God is possessed in essential love, and is practised and preserved through active love. And therefore it is accidental to our powers through the dying introversion in love; but it is essential to our being, and always abides within it. And therefore we must perpetually turn inwards and be renewed in love, if we would seek out love through love. And this is taught us by St John, where he says: He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him. And though this union of the loving spirit with God is without means, yet there is here a great distinction, for the creature never becomes God, nor does God ever become the creature; as I explained to you heretofore in the example of the iron wnd the fire. And if material things, which have been made by God, may thus be united without means; so much the more may He, whenever such is His pleasure, unite himself with his beloved, if they, through His grace, submit to it and make themselves ready for it. And so in such an inward man, whom God has adorned with virtues, and, above that, has lifted up into a contemplative life, there is no intermediary between himself and God in his highest introversion but his enlightened reason and his active love. And through these two things, he has an adherence to God; and this is "becoming one with God," says St Bernard. But above reason, and above active love, he is lifted up into a naked contemplation, and dwells without activity in essential love. And there he is one love and one spirit with God, as I said heretofore. In this essential love through the unity which he has essentially with God, he infinitely transcends his understanding; and this is a life common to all God-seeing men. For in this transcendence such a man is able to see in one sight -- if it be God's pleasure to show it to him -- all the creatures in heaven and on earth, with the distinction of their lives and their rewards. But before the Infinity of God, he must yield, and must follow after It essentially and without end; for This no creature, not even the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, which yet received the highest union above all other creatures, can either comprehend or overtake.
 This ancient simile for the union of the soul with God is constantly used by Ruysbroeck. It goes back at least to the fourth century A.D.; being found in the sermons of St Macarius. Ruysbroeck probably took it from St Bernard (De diligendo Deo, cap. 10), or possibly Richard of St Victor (De Quatuor Gradibus Violentae Charitatis).