Only Lord be tears to me as loves by day and by night. For unless a man be punished first by weepings and waitings, he may not come to the sweetness of God’s love. O thou everlasting love, inflame my mind to love God, that it burn not but to his callings. O good Jesus! who shall give to me that I feel thee. Thou must now be felt and not seen. Enter into the inmost recesses of my soul; come into mine heart and full fill it with thy most clear sweetness; make my mind to drink deeply of the fervent wine of thy sweet love, that I, forgetting all evils, and all vain visions, and scornful imaginations, thee only embracing, joying I rejoice in my Lord Jesus.
Thou most sweet Lord, from henceforward pass not from me, dwell with me in thy sweetness; for only thy presence is to me solace or comfort, and only thy absence leaves me sorrowful. O thou Holy Ghost, who inspires where thou wilt, come into me, draw me to thee, that I despise and set at nought in my heart all things of this world. Inflame my heart with thy love which shall without end burn upon thine altar. Come, I beseech thee, thou sweet and true joy; come thou sweetness so to be desired; come thou my beloved, who art all my comfort. True love suffers not a loving soul to dwell in itself, but draws it forth to its beloved.
There are three degrees of Christ’s love, in which those that are chosen to God’s love go from one to another. The first is called insuperable; the second is inseparable; the third is called singular. Love is insuperable when it cannot be overcome with any other affection or love, no trial or temptation — when it gladly casts down all other hindrances, and all temptations, and quenches fleshly desires. When man suffers gladly and meekly all anguish for Christ, and is not overcome with any delight or flattering, so that whether thou art in ease or in anguish, in sickness or in health, that thou wouldest not, to have all the world, anger God at any time. And blessed is the soul that is in this state; every labour is light to him that loves truly, neither can any man better overcome travail than by love.
Love is inseparable when man’s mind is inflamed with great love, and cleaves to Christ by inseparable thought; not suffering Christ to be any moment out of his mind, but as though he were bound in the heart, him he thinks upon, to him with great earnestness he draws his spirit. Therefore, when the love of Christ so grows in the heart of the lover of God, and the despiser of the world, so that it may not be overcome of any other affection or love, then it is said to be high. When man cleaves to Christ unsparingly, thinking upon him, forgetting him for no other occasion, then man’s love is said to be inseparable and everlasting. And what love can be more or greater than this?
The third degree of love is singular. If thou seekest or receivest any other comfort than of thy God, even though thou lovest highly, then lovest not singularly. This degree is highest and most wonderful to attain; for it hath no peer. Singular love is, when all solace and comfort is closed out of the heart, but the love of Jesus alone. Other delight or other joy pleases not; for the sweetness of him is so comforting and lasting, his love is so burning and gladdening, that he who is in this degree may well feel the fire of love burning in his soul. That fire is so pleasant that no man can tell it but he that feels it, and not fully he. Then the soul is Jesus loving, on Jesus thinking, and Jesus desiring, only burning in coveting of him; singing in him, resting on him. Then the thought turns to song and melody. The soul that is in this degree may boldly say, I mourn for love ! I languish to come to my loved Jesus. This degree of love comet h not of man’s merit, but God gives it freely, to whom he knows able thereto, and not without great grace coming before. Therefore, let no man presume farther of himself than God hath called him to. But he that most withdraws his love from the world, and from unreasonable lusts, shall be most able, and most speedily increase in these degrees of love. Those that have liking in any other things than in Jesus, and in the sweetness of his law, come not to this degree of love. In the first degree are some, in the second but few, in the third scarcely any. For the higher the living is, and the more it profits, the fewer lovers it hath; and the fewer followers.
The apostle Paul saith. Other is the light of the sun, other of the moon, and other of the stars. And so it is of the lovers of Jesus Christ. He that is in this degree of love, desires to be unbound of the bond of flesh, and to be in full joy with Jesus, whom he loves. Therefore such a one in his mourning for his long abiding, may sing this song to his loved Jesus, “When wilt thou come, my Beloved, to comfort me and bring me out of care, and give thyself to me, that I may see thee and dwell with thee forevermore? My Beloved, more than any other, when shall my heartbreak that I sorrow no more? Thy love hath wounded my heart, and I am desirous to depart, I stand still mourning for one lovely to love. His love draws me. The bond of His love holds me away from vain places and play, till I may get him — the sight of my Beloved who never shall go away.”
Thus love moves a soul in which it dwells, to sing of his Beloved, ever having the heart upward to the joys above. And this brings out love tears, languishing for joy. But this sentence savours not to a fleshly soul. Love is a burning desire to God, with a wonderful delight in soul. Love unites the lover and the beloved. Love is the desire of the heart, ever thinking on that which it loves. Love is a stirring of the soul to love God for himself, and all other things for God. This love puts out all other love that is against God’s will. Love is a right will, turned from all earthly things, and joined to God without departing, accompanied with the fire of the Holy Ghost; far from defouling, far from corruption, to no vice bowing, high above all fleshly lusts, ever ready to the contemplation of God; the sun of all good affections, the health of good manners, and of the commandments of God, the death of sins, life of virtues, crown of overcomers, the arms of holy thoughts. Without love no man can please God, with it no man sins to death. True love clothes the soul, and delivers it from the pains of hell, and of foul service to sin, and from the fearful fellowship of devils. The child of the fiend it makes the son of God, and partaker of the heritage of heaven. Therefore close thee in love as the iron closes in the redness of fire, as air doth in the sun, as the wool in the dye. The coal closes the iron so in the fire that it is all fire; the air so in the sun that it is all light; wool so takes the hue that it changes all to the colour. In this manner shall a lover of Jesus Christ do. He shall so burn in love that he shall be wholly turned into the fire of love; he shall so shine in virtues that no part of him be dark in vices.