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On Cleaving To God
Chapter 15

How contempt of himself can be produced in a man, and how useful it is

   Furthermore the more a man recognises his own insignificance, the more
   he fully and the more clearly he becomes aware to the divine majesty,
   and the more a man is low in his own eyes for the sake of God, the
   truth and justice, the more precious he is in the eyes of God. For this
   reason let us strive with the whole strength of our desire to consider
   ourselves the lowest of all and to consider ourselves unworthy of any
   favour. We should strive to be displeasing to ourselves and pleasing
   only to God, while regarded as low and unworthy of consideration by
   others. Above all not to be moved by difficulties, afflictions and
   insults, and not to be upset by those who inflict such things on us, or
   entertain evil thoughts against them or be indignant, but to believe
   steadfastly and with equanimity in all insults, slights, blows and
   dereliction that it is only appropriate. For in truth he who is really
   penitent and grieving before God hates to be honoured and loved by all,
   and does not try to manipulate things so as to avoid being to some
   degree hated, neglected and despised right to the end, so that he can
   be truly humbled and sincerely cleave to God alone with a pure heart.
   Indeed, for loving God alone and hating oneself more than anything, and
   desiring to be despised by others we do not require external work or
   physical strength, but rather physical solitude, the labour of the
   heart, and peace of mind so that, as it were, by labour of the heart
   and the disposition of the inmost mind, one may rise up, casting off
   from oneself lower and physical things, and so soar up, ascending to
   things heavenly and divine. For indeed in so doing we are changed into
   God, and this will especially take place when without judgement,
   condemnation or contempt of our neighbour, we choose rather to be
   considered as scum and a disgrace by everyone and to be despised as
   unclean filth by everyone than to experience all sorts of different
   delicacies or to be honoured and exalted by men, or enjoy all sorts of
   transitory physical forms of well-being and comfort. We should not
   desire any pleasure of this present, mortal and physical life but
   rather to mourn, bewail and lament our offences, faults and sins
   without ceasing, and to perfectly despise and annihilate ourselves, and
   from day to day to be considered more and more abject by others, while
   in all our insignificance we become worthless even in our own eyes, so
   that we can be pleasing to God alone, love him alone, and cleave to him
   alone. We should not wish to be concerned about anything except the
   Lord Jesus Christ himself who alone should reside in our affections,
   and we should not be concerned or anxious about anything except him on
   whose dominion and providence everything in general and individually
   depends. So from now on it should not be your aim to seek enjoyment but
   to truly mourn with all your heart. For that reason, if you do not
   mourn, mourn for that, while if you do mourn, mourn especially that you
   have brought the cause of your pain on yourself by your own great
   offences and infinite sins. For just as a condemned man on receiving
   his sentence does not concern himself about the seating of the
   spectators, so he who laments and is genuinely mourning is not
   interested in pleasures, resentment, fame or wrongs or things of that
   sort. And just as townsfolk and contemned criminals have different
   accommodation, the state and position of those who are mourning and
   have committed offences deserving punishment ought to be completely
   different from those who are innocent and under no obligation.
   Otherwise there would be no difference between the guilty and the
   innocent in matters of punishment and reward. The result would be great
   dereliction of duty, and evil behaviour would have more freedom than
   goodness. So everything must be renounced, everything despised,
   everything rejected and avoided, so that we can lay a firm foundation
   of penitent grieving. Then, loving Jesus Christ in reality, yearning
   for him, and holding him in one's heart, in reality experiencing pain
   for one's sins and faults, in reality seeking to know the coming
   Kingdom, while with true faith bearing in mind the reality of the
   torments and eternal judgement, and firmly and fully taking up the
   recollection and fear of one's own death, we should be aware of nothing
   else, and not care or be worried about anything else. For that reason,
   he who hurries towards the blessed state of impassibility and towards
   God should reckon himself to have experienced great loss every day that
   he is not insulted and despised. Impassibility after all is freedom
   from vices and passions and purity of heart and the adornment of all
   virtues. So consider yourself as already dead since there is no doubt
   that you have got to die. And as a final thought let this be the test
   for you of whether any thought, word or action of yours is of God,
   whether you are made more humble because of it, more inward and more
   recollected and established in God. If you find it is otherwise in
   yourself, you should be suspicious about it, whether it be not
   according to God, unacceptable to you and not to your benefit.
     







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