Imágenes de página

3. Love gives away all things, that so he may advance the interest of the beloved person: it relieves all that he would have relieved, and spends itself in such real significations, as it is enabled withal. He never loved God, that will quit any thing of his religion to save his money. Love is always liberal and communicative.

4. It suffers all things that are imposed by its beloved, or that can happen for his sake; or that intervene in his service, cheerfully, sweetly, willingly; expecting that God should turn them into good, and instruments of felicity. "Charity hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Love is patient and content with any thing, so it be together with its beloved.

5. Love is also impatient of any thing that may displease the beloved person ; hating all sin as the enemy of its friend; for love contracts all the same relations, and marries the same friendships and the same hatreds; and all affection to a sin is perfectly inconsistent with the love of God. Love is not divided between God and God's enemy: we must love God with all our heart ; that is, give him a whole and undivided affection, having love for nothing else, but such things which he allows, and which he commands, or loves himself.

6. Love endeavours for ever to be present, to converse with, to enjoy, to be united with its object; loves to be talking of him, reciting his praises, telling his stories, repeating his words, imitating his gestures, transcribing his copy in every thing; and every degree of union and every degree of likeness is a degree of love ; and it can endure any thing but the displeasure and the absence of its beloved. For we are not to use God and religion, as men use perfumes, with which they are delighted, when they have them, but can very well be without them. True charity is restless, till it enjoys God in such instances in which it wants him : it is like hunger and thirst, it must be fed, or it cannot be answered P: and nothing can supply the presence, or make recompence for the absence of God, or of the effects of his favour and the light of his countenance.

7. True love in all accidents looks upon the beloved person, and observes his countenance, and how he approves or disapproves, and accordingly, looks sad or cheerful. He, o I Cor. xiii.

P Amoris ut morsum qui verè senserit,

that loves God, is not displeased at those accidents, which God chooses ; nor murmurs at those changes, which he makes in his family ; nor envies at those gifts he bestows ; but chooses as he likes, and is ruled by his judgment, and is perfectly of his persuasion ; loving to learn, where God is the teacher, and being content to be ignorant or silent, where he is not pleased to open himself.

8. Love is curious of little things, of circumstances and measures, and little accidents; not allowing to itself any infirmity, which it strives not to master, aiming at what it cannot yet reach, desiring to be of an angelical purity, and of a perfect innocence, and a seraphical fervour, and fears every image of offence; is as much afflicted at an idle word, as some at an act of adultery, and will not allow to itself so much anger, as will disturb a child, nor endure the impurity of a dream. And this is the curiosity and niceness of divine love : this is the fear of God, and is the daughter and production of love.

The Measures and Rules of Divine Love. But because this passion is pure as the. brightest and smoothest mirror, and, therefore, is apt to be sullied with every impurer breath, we must be careful, that our love to God be governed by these measures.

1. That our love to God be sweet, even, and full of tranquillity; having in it no violences or transportations, but going on in a course of holy actions and duties, which are proportionable to our condition and present state ; not to, satisfy all the desire, but all the probabilities and measures of our strength. A new beginner in religion hath passionate and violent desires; but they must not be the measure of his actions : but he must consider his strength, his late sickness and state of death, the proper temptations of his condition, and stand at first upon his defence; not go to storm a strong fort, or attack a potent enemy, or do heroical actions, and fitter for giants in religion. Indiscreet violences and untimely forwardness are the rocks of religion, against which tender spirits often suffer shipwreck.

4 Plutarchus citans carmen de suo Apolline, adjicit ex Herodoto quasi de suo, De eo os meum continens esto.

2. Let our love be prudent and without illusion : that is, that it express itself in such instances, which God hath chosen, or which we choose ourselves by proportion to his rules and measures. Love turns into doating, when religion turns into superstition. No degree of love can be imprudent, but the expressions may: we cannot love God too much, but we may proclaim it in indecent manners.

3. Let our love be firm, constant, and inseparable ; not coming and returning like the tide, but descending like a never-failing river, ever running into the ocean of Divine excellency, passing on in the channels of duty and a constant obedience, and never ceasing to be, what it is, till it comes to be, what it desires to be; still being a river, till it be turned into sea and vastness, even the immensity of a blessed eternity.

Although the consideration of the divine excellences and mercies be infinitely sufficient to produce in us love to God (who is invisible, and yet not distant from us, but we feel him in his blessings, he dwells in our hearts by faith, we feed on him in the sacrament, and are made all one with him in the incarnation and glorifications of Jesus); yet, that we may the better enkindle and increase our love to God, the following advices are not useless.

Helps to increase our Love to God, by Way of Exercise.

1. Cut off all earthly and sensual loves; for they pollute and unhallow the pure and spiritual love. Every degree of inordinate affection to the things of this world, and every act of love to a sin, is a perfect enemy to the love of God : and it is a great shame to take any part of our affection from the eternal God, to bestow it upon his creature in defiance of the Creator; or to give it to the devil, our open enemy, in disparagement of him, who is the fountain of all excellences and celestial amities.

2. Lay fetters and restraints upon the imaginative and fantastic part; because our fancy, being an imperfect and higher faculty, is usually pleased with the entertainment of shadows and gauds : and, because the things of the world fill it with such beauties and fantastic imagery, the fancy presents such objects, as are amiable to the affections and

elective powers. Persons of fancy, such as are women and children, have always the most violent loves : but, therefore, if we be careful, with what representments we fill our fancy, we may the sooner rectify our love. To this purpose it is good, that we transplant the instruments of fancy into religion: and for this reason music was brought into churches, and ornaments, and perfumes, and comely garments, and solemnities, and decent ceremonies, that the busy and less discerning fancy, being bribed with its proper objects, may be instrumental to a more celestial and spiritual love.

3. Remove solicitude or worldly cares, and multitudes of secular businesses : for, if these take up the intention and actual application of our thoughts and our employments, they will also possess our passions ; which, if they be filled with one object, though ignoble, cannot attend another, though more excellent. We always contract a friendship and relation with those, with whom we converse : our very country is dear to us, for our being in it; and the neighbours of the same village, and those that buy and sell with us, have seized upon some portions of our love; and, therefore, if we dwell in the affairs of the world, we shall also grow in love with them; and all our love or all our hatred, all our hopes or all our fears, which the eternal God would willingly secure to himself, and esteem amongst his treasures and precious things, shall be spent upon trifles and vanities.

4. Do not only choose the things of God, but secure your inclinations and aptnesses for God and for religion. For it will be a hard thing for a man, to do such a personal violence to his first desires, as to choose whatsoever he hath no mind to. A man will many times satisfy the importunity and daily solicitations of his first longings; and, therefore, there is nothing can secure our loves to God, but stopping the natural fountains, and making religion to grow near the first desires of the soul.

5. Converse with God, by frequent prayer. In particular, desire that your desires may be right, and love to have your affections regular and holy. To which purpose make very frequent addresses to God by ejaculations and communions, and an assiduous daily devotion ; discover to him all your wants; complain to him of all your affronts; do, as Hezekiah did, lay your misfortunes and your ill news before

him, spread them before the Lord; call to him for health, run to him for counsel, beg of him for pardon; and it is as natural to love him, to whom we make such addresses, and of whom we have such dependences, as it is for children to love their parents.

6. Consider the immensity and vastness of the divine love to us, expressed in all the emanations of his providence; 1. In his creation; 2. In his conservation of us. For it is not my prince, or my patron, or my friend, that supports me, or relieves my needs; but God, who made the corn that my friend sends me; who created the grapes, and supported him, who hath as many dependences, and as many natural necessities, and as perfect disabilities as myself. God, indeed, made him the instrument of his providence to me, as he hath made his own land or his own cattle to him : with this only difference, that God, by his ministration to me, intends to do him a favour and a reward, which to natural instruments he does not. 3. In giving his Son; 4. In forgiving our sins; 5. In adopting us to glory; and ten thousand times ten thousand little accidents and instances, happening in the doing every of these : and it is not possible but, for so great love, we should give love again; for God, we should give man; for felicity, we should part with our misery. Nay, so great is the love of the holy Jesus, God incarnate, that he would leave all his triumphant glories, and die once more for man, if it were necessary for procuring felicity to him".

In the use of these instruments, love will grow in several knots and steps, like the sugar-canes of India, according to a thousand varieties in the persons loving; and it will be great or less, in several persons, and in the same, according to his growth in Christianity. But, in general discoursing, there are but two states of love; and those are labour of love, and the zeal of love : the first is duty; the second is perfection.

The two States of Love to God. The least love that is, must be obedient, pure, simple, and communicative : that is, it must exclude all affection to sin, and all inordinate affection to the world, and must be ex

* Sic Jesus dixit S. Carpo apud Dionysium epist. ad Demophilum.

« AnteriorContinuar »