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





Whosoever wishes to obtain and to keep these virtues should adorn and possess and rule his soul like a kingdom. Free-will is the king of the soul. It is free by nature and still more free by grace. It shall be crowned with a crown that is called charity. The crown and the kingdom shall be received from the Emperor, Who is Lord and Master and King of kings; and the kingdom should be possessed, ruled, and maintained in His name. This king, free-will, should dwell in the chief city of the kingdom; namely, in the desirous power of the soul. And he should be clad and adorned with a garment of two parts. The right side of his garment should be a virtue called strength, that therewith he may be strong and mighty to overcome all hindrances, and to ascend up to heaven, into the palace of the most high Emperor, and to bow down his crowned head before the most high King, with love, and with self-surrendered desire. This is the proper work of charity: through it the crown is received, through it the crown is adorned, through it the kingdom is maintained and possessed in eternity. The left side of the garment should be a cardinal virtue called moral force. Through it, free-will, the king, shall quell all immorality, and fulfil all virtues, and shall possess his kingdom in power, even unto death.

This king should also choose councillors in his kingdom: the wisest in the country. These should be two divine virtues: knowledge and discretion, enlightened by the light of Divine grace. They should dwell near the king, in a palace called the rational power of the soul, and they should be clad and adorned with a moral virtue called temperance, so that the king may always do or leave undone according to their counsels. By means of knowledge our conscience shall be cleansed of all its failings and adorned with all virtues; and by help of discretion we shall give and take, do and leave undone, be silent and speak, fast and eat, listen and reply, and act in all things according to knowledge and discretion, clad in the moral virtue called temperance or sobriety.

This king, free-will, should also appoint in his kingdom a judge: that is, righteousness. This is a divine virtue when it springs from love, and it is one of the highest of moral virtues. This judge should dwell in the heart, in the midst of the kingdom, in the irascible power. And he should be adorned with a moral virtue called prudence; for righteousness cannot be perfect without prudence. This judge, righteousness, should travel through the kingdom with the king's own power and majesty, and furnished with the wisdom of the councillors, and with his own prudence. And he should set up and cast down, judge and condemn, kill and leave alive, put to the torture, blind and restore sight, raise and suppress, scourge and chastise, extirpate all vices, and order all things according to righteousness.

The common people of the kingdom are all the other powers of the soul, which should be grounded in humility and godly fear, and should be subject to God in all virtues, each power according to its own character.

Whosoever possesses, maintains, and has ordered, the kingdom of his soul in this way, has gone out with love and with virtue towards God, towards himself and towards his neighbour.

And this is the third of the four principal points which we would consider.

Next: Chapter XXV. Of a Spiritual Meeting of God and Ourselves