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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

AND Moses went up into the mountain: and he was there forty days and forty nights. What, thinkest thou, did this holy man there with the Lord? Who will manifest to me this mystery? O if I had been present: that I might have merited to hear Moses speaking with the Lord. For Moses spoke: and the Lord answered. He therefore enjoyed there alone the conversation of God: drawn far away from the fellowship of men. There he received the law of the decalogue: there he beheld the secrets of God and many mysteries of our faith. He learnt there in secret: what things afterwards he was to teach the people. There he was taught concerning the making of the tabernacle: the sacrificial rite, and the priestly order. There in spirit he knew and understood, what those exterior and visible institutions signified: and what they mystically foreshadowed of the future. There, free from all worldly cares, he took leisure and saw how sweet is the Lord: how blessed is the man who reposes on His holy mount. There suffering no weariness of body: he was refreshed with the bread of life and understanding. Whence from the long dwelling and constant speaking with the Lord on the mount, that wondrous thing befell him: that his face became resplendent from the sight of God, and seemed horned to them that beheld it; so that the children of Israel could not look upon him, but departed in terror, until he had placed a veil upon himself: and thus tempered the brightness of his countenance to the onlookers. O man of God, glorious and noble: overflowing and penetrated with the light of the divine brightness within and without. Thus also certain devout lovers of Christ, when they are in secret contemplation with the Lord, sometimes are transformed into the brightness of a new life; and carry away with them such an abundance of grace that they fill others with admiration and fear: because of the zeal of their fervour and the wealth of the heavenly teaching which they utter. But for fear they should seem too overwhelming to the weak, PRUDENTLY THEY CONCEAL THE GRACE OF THE DIVINE VISITATION; they discourse humbly only of those things which may profit and be better understood: but the things that are hidden and sublime they keep within their secret breast; TO GOD ALONE AND THEMSELVES THEY DESIRE THESE TO BE KNOWN: TO WHOM ALSO THEY OFFER FROM THEIR INMOST HEART THE MOST ARDENT THANKS.

O if thou also couldst go up with Moses into the mountain of virtue, and, now during this holy season, tarry there somewhat with the Lord: to listen to the voice of God speaking from the midst of the cloud and the darkness; perchance to thee also would be given some special grace of divine knowledge and enlightenment of mind: whereby inebriated and filled, thou wouldst neglect all earthly things, AND LOVE ONLY THE HIGHER THINGS OF HEAVEN; so that thou wouldst think little of bodily food, but wouldst rather taste by experience in thyself, how true is that word of Moses, saying: that “not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.”

But why is it that only Moses is bidden go up, and with him a few of the elders of Israel? Namely, the fewness of the perfect, and the sublimity of the contemplative life is expressed herein: for the vast multitude of men love rather to be engaged in things earthly and of the senses. Not one however went up into the summit of the mountain, nor entered the midst of the darkness in which God was: save only Moses, called with a special grace by the Lord, and bidden enter unto Himself, to whom it is said, “Come up to Me in the mount: and be there.” He is called by grace, he goes up by obedience: he remains by stable perseverance. It is not expedient to go up, unless grace go before, which lifts the mind from all low pleasure; and then it behoves to follow the lead of grace even to the unitive fruition of God, and there rest from all consideration; until again by the ordering of the Lord the soul go down to the works of charity. For Moses also, after long dwelling with the Lord, is bidden go down for the sake of teaching the people, over whom he was placed in pastoral care; that it may be shown that every man, who sublimely and sweetly reposes in God: after tasting this sweetness, must return again usefully and humbly to works of piety. And thus by going up and coming down he shall always find his perfection; so that he never rest idle: but is intent either within on God, or without on the profit of the neighbour. “Go, get thee down,” saith the Lord: “thy people hath sinned.” Devotion held him near to God: the people’s danger compelled him to return again to outer things. He went up by contemplation: he came down again through compassion. The love of God drew him upwards: the love of the neighbour recalled him down. On the mount he thought only of heavenly things: below he restrained strifes and contentions. There he clearly saw the Lord: here he was seldom free from the tumult of the people. There he was rapt above himself in the spirit: here he was often vexed with great weariness because of them. There he was delighted with spiritual things: here he was weighed down by things of the flesh. There he received divine revelations: here below he frequently heard murmurings. There he was devout and at peace: here he strove to be mild and patient. O how good and pleasant it is to be with God on the mount: and to have care of no external things. O how wretched and pitiable is that state, to be engaged in worldly affairs: and entangled in passing employments. HAPPY THE MIND WHICH no worldly business holds back, nor any affection of the flesh draws down: but which A PURE INTENTION EVER UPLIFTS TO GOD WITHOUT DELAY.

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