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144

OUT OF GOD ALL IS CHANGE

the uses of labour are done with when this life ends, and he for one longs for rest. The chief business of the soul here is to mingle with some other soul

"Else it loses what it lived for,
And eternally must lose it.”

There may be better ends and deeper blisses in prospect, but this life's end and this love-bliss have been lost.1

Though the woman has lost the man, her soul is his; she has missed her chance of perfection, he has gained his life's object, is perfect—

"Life will just hold out the proving both our powers, alone and blended;

And then, come next life quickly! This world's use will have been ended." 2

It is the nature of the soul to seek durability, it hates to be the slave of change. But out of God all is vicissitude. He alone IS. We change in the very act of saying "I am." Durability can be found only in union with God. That union is possible for us because God dwells in us, and by love we may become assimilated to Him. If mere earthly love is the commingling of souls-and without it there can be no love at all the love of God unites us in an ineffable manner with the divine, and because "love's first 2 Ibid.

1 Cristina.

3 Red Cotton Night-Cap Country.

UNION WITH GOD

145

demand is that love endure eternally,"1 the seal and pledge of our immortality consists in our absorption in the love of God in the present life.

That great mystical writer St. John of Cross explains how this is. "In order, then, to understand what this union is, we must remember that in every soul, even that of the greatest sinner in the world, God dwells, and is substantially present. This way of union or presence of God in the order of nature, subsists between Him and all His creatures. By this He preserves them in being, and if He withdraws it, they immediately perish and cease to be. And so when I speak of the union of the soul with God, I do not mean this substantial presence which is in every creature, but that union and transformation of the soul in God by love, which is only then accomplished when there subsists the likeness which love begets. For this reason shall this union be called the union of likeness, as the other is essential or substantial union; this latter one is natural, the other is supernatural, which takes effect when two wills, the will of God and the will of the soul, are conformed together, neither desiring aught repugnant to the other. Thus the soul, when it shall have driven away from itself all that is contrary to the divine will, becomes transformed in God by love. This is to be understood, not only of that which is contrary in act, 1 Red Cotton Night-Cap Country.

L

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TRANSFORMED IN GOD

but also in habit, so that not only voluntary acts of imperfection must be got rid of, but the habit thereof as well. And because no creature can, by any actions or powers of its own, attain to that which is God, the soul must be therefore detached from all created things, from all actions and powers of its own; that is, from its own understanding, liking, and feeling, so that passing by everything which is unlike to, and not in conformity with, God, it may attain to the receiving of His likeness, and resting upon nothing which is not His will, it may be thus transformed in Him. Though it be true, as I have said, that God is always in every soul, bestowing upon it, and preserving to it by His presence, its natural being, yet for all this He does not always communicate the supernatural life. For this is given only by love and grace, to which all souls do not attain; and those who do, do not in the same degree, for some rise to higher degrees of love than others. That soul, therefore, has greater communion with God which is most advanced in love, that is, whose will is most conformable to the will of God. And that soul which has reached perfect conformity and resemblance is perfectly united with and supernaturally transformed in God."1

1 Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk. II., chap. v.

CHAPTER VIII

TRUTH

MAN is impelled in his search for Truth by a divine necessity; he can no more cease from the pursuit of Truth than he can cease to respire while he lives. This is one of the proofs of the existence of God, for "Truth is God."1

"There's nothing in nor out o' the world
Good except truth." 2

Man, however, is unable to digest pure truth; he may get to bear strong meat some day, but here he must feed on truth with falsehood,3 must learn his

"Proper play with truth in part, before
Entrusted with the whole." 4

So all the truth we have to do with must perforce be casual truth; mean sparks elicited and dispread at intervals so rarely. The world

1 Parleyings with Fust and his Friends.

2 The Ring and the Book, Bk. I., 11. 698-99.
3 Ibid., 1. 831.

+ Parleyings with Bernard de Mandeville.

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LIES HAVE A GERM OF TRUTH

has never been without truth; some few sparks struck out by chance blows, yet never enough of it to let its light stream skyward.1 So mankind has groped in the darkness of savage rites, of cruel blood-customs, of gloomy superstitions and distorted views of God; yet in all the darkness, gloom, and cruelty ever and again some bright light has flickered for an instant, that instant being as long as man could bear its beautiful gleam. And all the lies that men have believed, all the falsehoods they have fostered and treasured! Those lies were necessary, says Browning, for "every lie is quick with a germ of truth."

"2

If we could but appreciate the truths we possess aright! "One truth leads right to the

world's end."3 So we must “ count it crime to let a Truth slip." Though "fire is in the flint" of myriad stones, the fire is seldom liberated.

In the inmost centre of us all truth, as we have seen, exists in fullness. Yet wall upon wall of gross flesh hems it in, and knowledge, says Browning, is rather the letting out the light than letting light enter; 5 how seldom the escape is made! In the lowest, truth, in greater or less degree, is hidden away; each one of us carries the divine spark in his own bosom. "It is a 1 Sordello. 2 Mr. Sludge: The Medium. 3 Ibid. 4 Fra Lippo Lippi.

5 Paracelsus.

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