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The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage, by Jan van Ruysbroeck, [1916], at





Now understand and mark this: Christ says, at the beginning of this precept, Behold; and this is done through charity and a pure conscience, as you have heard before. Then He has shown us what we shall see, that is, the threefold coming.

Now He commands us what we shall do next, and says: Go ye out. If you possess the first point, that is, if you are able to see, through grace and through charity; and if, further, you have gazed well upon your pattern Christ and His going out; then, there arises within you, out of charity, and out of the loving observation of your Bridegroom, a righteousness, 40 namely, that thereafter you long to follow Him in the virtues. Then Christ is saying within you: Go ye out. This going out must be done in three ways: we must go out towards God, towards ourselves, and towards our neighbours, and this we must do by means of charity and righteousness. For charity ever strives towards the height, towards the kingdom of God, which is God Himself; for He is the source from which unmediated charity flows forth, and wherein it abides in the Unity. And righteousness, which is born of charity, wills the perfection of all the moral and all the other virtues which are honourable and proper to the kingdom of God, that is the soul.

Charity and Righteousness: these two lay the foundation of the kingdom of the soul where God would dwell. And this foundation is humility.

These three virtues prop and bear the whole weight and the whole edifice of all the other virtues and of all transcendence. For charity always confronts man with the unfathomable goodness of God, from which it has flowed forth, that thereby he may live worthily and remain steadfast before God, and grow in true humility and all other virtues. And righteousness places man face to face with the eternal truth of God, that he may know truth, and become enlightened, and may fulfil all virtue without erring. But humility brings man face to face with the most high mightiness of God, that he may always remain little and lowly, and may surrender himself to God, and may not stand upon his selfhood. This is the way in which a man should hold himself before God, that thereby he may grow continually in new virtues.

Next: Chapter XII. How Humility is the Foundation of All Other Virtues