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





Here the man should bethink himself with a humble heart that of his own he has nothing but misery; and he should say in resignation and self-abandonment the words which were spoken by the holy man Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it hath been done; blessed be the name of the Lord. And he should renounce himself in all things, and should say and mean in his heart, "Lord, I am as willing to be poor in all those things of which I have been deprived as I am ready to be rich, O Lord, if it be Thy will and to Thy glory; not my will according to nature, O Lord, but Thy will and my will according to spirit be done. For I am Thine own, O Lord, and would as well be in hell as in heaven, if it were to Thy glory. Lord, do unto me according to Thy good pleasure." Of all this suffering and abandonment the man should make an inward joy; and he should give himself into the hands of God, and should be glad because he is able to suffer for the glory of God. And if he be true to this disposition, he shall taste such an inward joy as he never tasted before; for nothing is more joyful to the lover of God, than to feel that he belongs wholly to his Beloved. And if he has indeed followed the way of the virtues straight to this degree, even though he has not passed through all the states which have been pointed out heretofore, it is not needful, if he feels within himself the source of the virtues: which is in activity, humble obedience; and, in passivity, patient resignation. In these two things this degree is established in everlasting surety.

In this season of the year the sun of heaven enters the sign of Libra, which means the Scales; for day and night are evenly balanced, and the sun divides the light from the darkness in equal parts. So likewise Christ stands in the sign of the Balance for the resigned man. Whether He gives sweetness or bitterness, darkness or light, whatever he lays upon the scale, the man balances it evenly; all things are equal to him, save sin alone, which is for ever cast out. When such utterly resigned men have thus been deprived of all consolation, and believe that they have lost all virtues, and are forsaken of God and of all creatures: then if they are able to reap them, all kinds of fruit, the corn and vine, are ready and ripe. And this image means, that all that the body can endure, whatsoever it be, should be offered up to God gladly, and of one's own free will, and without resistance to the supreme Will. All the outward and inward virtues, which a man practised with joy in the fire of love; these, since he knows them and is able to perform them, he should now practise diligently and with courage, and should offer them up to God. Never were they so dear to God; for never were they so noble and so fair. All the consolations which God ever gave should gladly be given up, if it be to His glory. This is the harvest of the corn, and of all kinds of ripe fruits, on which we shall live eternally, and which make us rich in God. Thus the virtues are made perfect, and sorrow is turned to eternal wine. By such men, and by their lives and their patience, all those who know them and all their neighbours are taught and changed for the better: and so the corn of their virtues is sown and multiplied for the benefit of all good men.

This is the fourth way in which a man by inward working is adorned and perfected in the bodily powers and the lower part of himself: and in no other way can he continually grow and become more perfect. But as such men have been harshly afflicted, and have been tried, and tempted, and combatted, by God, by their own selves, and by all creatures, in them the virtue of resignation reaches a singular perfection. Nevertheless, resignation, or the renunciation of self-will for the will of God, is before all things needful for all men who wish to be saved.

Next: Chapter XXX. A Parable: How One May Be Hindered in this Fourth Degree