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





The most profitable stirrings which such a man can feel, and for which he is best fitted, are heavenly weal and hellish woe, and the ability to respond to these two with fit and proper works. For heavenly weal lifts a man up above all things into an untrammelled power of praising and loving God in every way that his heart and his soul desire. After this comes hellish woe, and casts him down into a misery, and into a lack of all the comfort and consolation that he experienced before. In this woe, weal sometimes shows itself, and brings with it a hope which none can gainsay. And then the man falls back again into a despair in which he can find no consolation. When a man feels God within himself with rich and full grace, this I call heavenly health; for then he is wise and clear of understanding, rich and outflowing with heavenly teachings, ardent and generous in charity, drunken and overflowing with joy, strong in feeling, bold and ever ready in all the things which he knows to be well pleasing to God; and such-like things without number, which may only be known by those who feel them. But when the scale of love goes down, and God hides Himself with all His graces, then the man falls back into dereliction and torment and dark misery, as though he should never more recover: and then he feels himself to be nought else but a poor sinner, who knows little or nothing of God. He scorns every consolation that creatures may give him; and the taste and consolation of God he does not receive. And then his reason says within him: Where is now thy God? What hath become of all that thou didst receive from God? Then his Tears are his meat day and night, as the Prophet says. Now if that man is to recover from this misery, he must observe and feel that he does not belong to himself, but to God; and therefore he must freely abandon his own will to the will of God, and must leave God to work in him in time and in eternity. So soon as he can do this, with untroubled heart, and with a free spirit, at that very moment he recovers his health, and brings heaven into hell, and hell into heaven. For howsoever the scales of love go up and down, all things to him are even or alike. For whatsoever love gives or takes away, he who abandons himself and loves God finds peace in all. For his spirit remains free and unmoved, who lives in all pains without rebellion; and he is able to feel the unmediated union with God. For he has achieved the union through means by the richness of his virtues. And after this, because he is one aim and one will with God, he feels God within himself together with the fulness of His grace, as the quickening health of his being and all his works.

Next: Chapter VII. Showing Wherefore All Good Men Do Not Attain to the Unmediated Union with God