Revelations of Divine Love/Introduction Part 2


The Manner of the Book

As an hert desirith to the wellis of watris:
so thou God, my soule desirith to thee. . . .
The Lord sent his merci in the day:
and his song in the nyght.

WITHOUT any special study of the literature of Mysticism for purposes of comparison, in reading Julian's book one is struck by a few characteristics wherein it differs from many other Mystical writings, as well as by qualities that belong to most or all of that general designation.

The silence of this book both as to preliminary ascetic exercises and as to ultimate visions of the Absolute, might be attributed to Julian's being wholly concerned with giving, for comfort to all, that special sight of truth that came to her as the answer to her own need. She sets out not to teach methods of any kind for the gradual drawing near of man to God, but to record and shew forth a Revelation, granted once, of God's actual nearness to the soul, and for this Revelation she herself had been prepared by the "stirring" of her conscience, her love and her understanding, in a word of her faith, even as she was in short time to be left "neither sign nor token," but only the Revelation to hold "in faith." Moreover, the means that in general she looks to for realising God's nearness, in whatever measure or manner the revelation of it may come to any soul, is the immediate one of faith as a gift of nature and a grace from the Holy Ghost: faith leading by prayer, and effort of obedience, and teachableness of spirit, into actual experience of oneness with God. The natural and common heritage of love and faith is a theme that is dear to Julian: in her view, longing toward God is grounded in the love to Him that is native to the human heart, and this longing (painful through sin) as it is stirred by the Holy Spirit, who comes with Christ, is, in each naturally developed Christian, spontaneous and increasing;—"for the nearer we be to our bliss, the more we long after it" (xlvi., lxxii., lxxxi.). "This is the kinde [the natural] yernings of the soule by the touching of the Holy Ghost: God of Thy goodness give me Thyself: for Thou art enow to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worshippe to Thee." God is the first as well as the last: the soul begins as well as ends with God: begins by Nature, begins again by Mercy, and ends—yet "without end"—by Grace. Certainly on the way—the way of these three, by falling, by succour, by upraising—to the more perfect knowing of God that is the soul's Fulfilment in Heaven, there is a less immediate knowledge to be gained through experience: "And if I aske anything that is lesse, ever me wantith," for "It needyth us to have knoweing of the littlehede of creatures and to nowtyn all thing that is made, for to love and have God that is onmade." But this knowing of the littleness of creatures comes to Julian first of all in a sight of the Goodness of God: "For [to] a soule that seith the Maker of all, all that is made semith full litil." By the further beholding, indeed, of God as Maker and Preserver, that which has been rightly "noughted" as of no account, is seen to be also truly of much account. For that which was seen by the soul as so little that it seemed to be about to fall to nothing for littleness, is seen by the understanding to have "three properties":—God made it, God loveth it, God keepeth it. Thus it is known as "great and large, fair and good"; "it lasteth, and ever shall, for God loveth it."—Yet again the soul breaks away to its own, with the natural flight of a bird from its Autumn nest at the call of an unseen Spring to the far-off land that is nearer still than its nest, because it is in its heart. "But what is to me sothly [in verity] the Maker, the Keper and the Lover,—I cannot tell, for till I am Substantially oned [deeply united] to Him, I may never have full rest ne very blisse; that is to sey, that I be so festined to Him, that there is right nowte that is made betwix my God and me" (v., viii.). This "fastening" is all that in Julian's book represents that needful process wherein the truth of asceticism has a part. It is not essentially a process of detaching the thought from created things of time—still less one of detaching the heart from created beings of eternity—but a process of more and more allowing and presenting the man to be fastened closely to God by means of the original longing of the soul, the influence of the Holy Ghost, and the discipline of life with its natural tribulations, which by their purifying serve to strengthen the affections that remaining pass through them. "But only in Thee I have all." On the way this discovery of the soul at peace must needs be sometimes a word for exclusion, in parting and pressing onward from things that are made: in the end it is the welcome, all-inclusive. And Julian, notwithstanding her enclosure as a recluse, is one of those that, happy in nature and not too much hindered by conditions of life, possess for large use by the way the mystical peace of fulfilled possession through virtue of freedom from bondage to self. For it is by means of the tyranny of the "self," regarding chiefly itself in its claims and enjoyments, that creature things can be intruded between the soul and God; and always, in some way, the meek inherit the earth. "All things are yours; and ye are Christ's."

The life of a recluse demanded, no doubt, as other lives do, a daily self-denial as well as an initiatory self-devotion, and from Julian's silence as to "bodily exercises " it cannot of course be assumed that she did not give them, even beyond the incumbent rule of the Church, though not in excess of her usual moderation, some part in her Christian striving for mastery over self. Nor could this silence in itself be taken as a proof that ascetic practices had not in her view a preparatory function such as has by many of the Mystics been assigned to them during a process of self-training in the earlier stages of the soul's ascent to aptitude for mystical vision. It is, however, to be noted that neither in regard to herself nor others do we hear from Julian anything about an undertaking of this kind. To her the "special Shewing" came as a gift, unearned, and unexpected: it came in an abundant answer to a prayer for other things needed by every soul.[1] Julian's desires for herself were for three "wounds" to be made more deep in her life: contrition (in sight of sin), compassion (in sight of sorrow) and longing after God: she prayed and sought diligently for these graces, comprehensive as she felt they were of the Christian life and meant for all; and with them she sought to have for herself, in particular regard to her own difficulties, a sight of such truth as it might "behove" her to know for the glory of God and the comfort of men. According to Julian the "special Shewing" is a gift of comfort for all, sent by God in a time to some soul that is chosen in order that it may have, and so may minister, the comfort needed by itself and by others (ix.). In her experience this Revelation, soon closed, is renewed by influence and enlightenment in the more ordinary grace of its giver, the Holy Ghost. But a still fuller sight of God shall be given, she rejoices to think, in Heaven, to all that shall reach that Fulfilment of blessed life—the only mount of the soul set forth in this book. Thither, by the high-road of Christ, all souls may go, making the steep ascent through "longing and desire,"—longing that embodies itself in desire towards God, that is, in Prayer.

Nothing is said by Julian as to successive stages of Prayer, though she speaks of different kinds of prayer as the natural action of the soul under different experiences or in different states of feeling or "dryness." Prayer is asking ("beseeching"), with submission and acquiescence; or beholding, with the self forgotten, yet offered-up; it is a thanking and a praising in the heart that sometimes breaks forth into voice or a silent joy in the sight of God as all-sufficient. And in all these ways "Prayer oneth the soul to God."

To Julian's understanding the only Shewing of God that could ever be, the highest and lowest, the first and the last, was the Vision of Him as Love. "Hold thee therin and thou shalt witten and knowen more in the same. But thou shalt never knowen ne witten other thing without end. Thus was I lerid that Love was our Lord's menyng" (lxxxvi.). Alien to the "simple creature" was that desert region where some of the lovers of God have endeavoured to find Him,—desiring an extreme penetration of thought (human thought, after all, since for men there is none beyond it) or an utmost reach of worship (worship from fire and ice) in proclaiming the Absolute One not only as All that is, but as All that is not. Julian's desire was truly for God in Himself, through Christ by the Holy Spirit of Love: for God in "His homeliest home," the soul, for God in His City. Therefore she follows only the upward way of the light attempered by grace, not turning back to the Via Negativa, that downward road that starting from a conception of the Infinite "as the antithesis of the finite,"[2] rather than as including and transcending the finite, leads man to deny to his words of God all qualities known or had by human, finite beings. Jullian keeps on the way that is natural to her spirit and to all her habits of thought as these may have been directed by reading and conversation: it does not take her towards that Divine Darkness of which some seers have brought report. Hers was not one of those souls that would, and must, go silent and alone and strenuous through strange places: "homely and courteous" she ever found Almighty God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Julian's mystical sight was not a negation of human modes of thought: neither was it a torture to human powers of speech nor a death-sentence to human activities of feeling. "He hath no despite of that which He hath made" (vi.). This seer of the littleness of all that is made saw the Divine as containing, not as engulfing, all things that truly are, so that in some way "all things that are made" because of His love last ever. Certainly she passes sometimes beyond the language of earth, seeing a love and a Goodness "more than tongue can tell," but she is never inarticulate in any painful, struggling way—when words are not to be found that can tell all the truth revealed, she leaves her Lord's "meaning" to be taken directly from Him by the understanding of each desirous soul. So is it with the Shewing of God as the Goodness of everything that is good: "It is I—it is I" (xxvi.). Certainly Julian looks both downward and upward, sees Love in the lowest depth, far below sin, below even Mercy; sees Love as the highest that can be, rising higher and higher far above sight, in skies that as yet she is not called to enter: "abysses" there are, below and above, like Angela di Foligno's "double abyss"; but here is no desert region like that where Angela seems as "an eagle descending"[3] from heights of unbreathable air, baffled and blinded in its assault on the Sun, proclaiming the Light Unspeakable in anguished, hoarse, inarticulate cries; here is a mountain-path between the abysses and the sound as of a chorus from pilgrims singing:

"Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise";—
'All is well: All is well: All shall be well.'

Moreover, Julian while guided by Reason is led by the "Mind" of her soul—pioneer of the path through the wood of darkness though Reason is ready to disentangle the lower hindrances of the way; and where her instructed soul "finds rest," those things that are hid from the wisdom and prudence of Reason only, are to its simplicity of obedience revealed. Even as her Way is Christ-Jesus, and her walk by "longing and desire" is of faith and effort, so the End and the Rest that she seeks is the fulness of God, in measure as the soul can enter upon His fulness here and in that heavenly "oneing" with Him which shall be by grace the "fulfilling" and "overpassing" of "Mankind." "The Mid-Person willed to be Ground and Head of this fair Kind," "out of Whom we ben al cum, in Whom we be all inclosid, into Whom we shall all wyndyn, in Him fynding our full Hevyn in everlestand joye" (liii.).[4] The soul that participates in God cannot be lost in God, the soul that wends into oneness with God finds there at last its Self. Words of the Spirit-nature fail to describe to man, as he is, this fulness of personal life, and Julian falls back in one effort, daring in its infantine concreteness of language, on acts of all the five senses to symbolise the perfection of spiritual life that is in oneness with God (xliii.).

It may be noted that in these "Revelations" there is absolutely no regarding of Christ as the "Bridegroom" of the individual soul: once or twice Julian in passing uses the symbol of "the Spouse," "the Fair Maiden," "His loved Wife," but this she applies only to the Church. In her usual speech Christ when unnamed is our "Good" or our "Courteous" Lord, or sometimes simply "God," and when she seeks to express pictorially His union with men and His work for men, then the soul is the Child and Christ is the Mother. In this symbolic language the love of the Christian soul is the love of the Child to its Mother and to each of the other children.

Julian's Mystical views seem in parts to be cognate with those of earlier and later systems based on Plato's philosophy, and especially perhaps on his doctrine of Love as reaching through the beauties of created things higher and higher to union with the Absolute Beauty above, Which is God—schemes of thought developed before her and in her time by Plotinus, Clement, Augustine, Dionysius "the Areopagite," John the Scot, Eckhart, the Victorines,[5] Ruysbroeck, and others. One does not know what her reading may have been, or with what people she may have conversed. Possibly the learned Austin Friars that were settled close to St Julian's in Conisford may have lent her books by some of these writers, or she may have been influenced through talks with a Confessor, or with some of the Flemish weavers of Norwich, with whom Mystical views were not uncommon. Yet the Mysticism of the "Revelations" is peculiarly of the English type. Less exuberant in language than Richard Rolle, the Hermit of Hampole, Julian resembles him a little in her blending of practical sense with devotional fervour; but the writer to whom she seems, at any rate in some of her phrases, most akin is Walter Hilton, her contemporary.[6] Hilton, however, is very rich in quotations from the Bible, while Julian's only direct quotations from any book—beyond her reference to the legend of St Dionysius—are one that belongs to Christ: "I thirst" (xvii.), and two that belong to the soul: "Lord, save me: I perish!" "Nothing shal depart me from the charite of Criste" (xv.). (And indeed these three are a fit embodiment of the Christian Faith as seen in her "Revelations.") But Julian, while perhaps more speculative than either of these typical English Mystics, is thoroughly a woman. Lacking their literary method of procedure, she has a high and tender beauty of thought and a delicate bloom of expression that are her own rare gifts—the beauty of the hills against skies in summer evenings, of an orchard in mornings of April. Again and again she stirs in the reader a kind of surprised gladness of the simple perfection wherewith she utters, by few and adequate words, a thought that in its quietness convinces of truth, or an emotion deep in life. Of a little child it has been said: "He thought great thoughts simply," and Julian's deepness of insight and simplicity of speech are like the Child's.[7] "For ere that He made us He loved us, and when we were made we loved Him" (liii.). "I love thee, and thou lovest me, and our love shall not be disparted in two" (lxxxii.). "Thou art my Heaven." "I had liefer have been in that pain till Doomsday than have come to Heaven otherwise than by Him." "Human is the vehemence," says a writer on Julian's "Revelations," of that reiterated exclusion of all other paths to joy. 'Me liked,' she says, 'none other heaven.' Once again she touches the same octave, condensing in a single phrase which has seldom been transcended in its brief expression of the possession that leaves the infinity of love's desire still unsatiated: 'I saw Him and sought Him, I had Him, and I wanted Him.' Fletcher's tenderness, Ford's passion lose colour placed side by side with the utterances of this worn recluse whose hands are empty of every treasure."[8] Sometimes with her subject her language assumes a majestic solemnity: "The pillars of Heaven shall tremble and quake" (lxxv.); sometimes it seems to march to its goal in an ascent of triumphal measure as with beating of drums: "The body was in the grave till Easter-morrow and from that time He lay nevermore. For then was rightfully ended" . . . (close of Chap. li.). Generally, perhaps, the style in its movment recalls the rippling yet even flow of a brook, cheerfully, sweetly monotonous: "If any such lover be in earth which is continually kept from falling, I know it not: for it was not shewed me. But this was shewed: that in falling and in rising we are ever preciously kept in one love" (lxxxii.). But now and again the listener seems to be caught up to Heaven with song, as in that time when her "marvelling" joy in beholding love "breaks out with voice":—"Behold and see! the precious plenty of His dearworthy blood descended down into Hell, and braste her bands, and delivered all that were there that belonged to the Court of Heaven. The precious plenty of His dearworthy blood overfloweth all Earth and is ready to wash all creatures of sin which be of goodwill, have been and shall be. The precious plenty of His dearworthy blood ascended up into Heaven to the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and there is in Him, bleeding and praying for us to the Father, and is and shall be as long as it needeth; and ever shall be as long as it needeth; and evermore it floweth in all Heavens, enjoying the salvation of all mankind that are there, and shall be—fulfilling the Number that faileth" (xii.).

The Early English Mystics make good reading,—even as to the mere manner of their writings we might say, if it were possible to separate the style from the freshness of feeling and the pointedness of thought that inform it; and though we do not, of course, have from Julian,—a woman writing of the Revelations of Love,—the delightfully trenchant, easy address of Hilton in his counsels as to how to scale the Ladder of Perfection—counsels both wise and witty—yet Julian, too, with all her sweetness, is full of this every day vigour and common sense. And sometimes she puts things in a naïve, engaging way of her own, grave and yet light—as if with a little understanding smile to those to whom she is speaking:—"Then ween we, who be not all wise"; "That the outward part should draw the inward to assent was not shewed to me, but that the inward draweth the outward by grace and both shall be oned in bliss without end by the virtue of Christ, this was shewed" (lxi., xix.).

Rolle, Hilton, and more especially the Ancren Riwle, give examples of that custom of allegorical interpretation of Sacred Scriptures that has fascinated many mystical authors, but one can scarcely suppose that this method would ever have been a favourite one with Julian even if she had been in the way of dealing with literary parallels and references. For though she uses "examples," or illustrations (sometimes calling them "shewings," or "bodily examples") and also metaphorically figurative speech, she does not shew any interest in elaborate, arbitrary symbolism. At any rate she is too directly simple, it seems, and too much in the centre of realities, to be a writer that (without constraint of following the lines of others) would take as foundation for an argument or an exposition outward resemblances or verbal connections, fit perhaps to illustrate or enforce the truth in question, but lacking in relation to it that inward vital oneness whereby certain things that to man seem below him may become symbolic to him of others that he beholds as within or above him.

Exposition by analysis has been reckoned to be characteristic of the Schoolmen rather than of the Mystics,[9] though surely a mystical sight may be served by an analytical process, and to see God in a part before or while He is seen in the whole is effected not without analysis of the subtlest kind. So we find analysis in Julian's sight (Rev. iii.): "I saw God in a point"; and in her conclusions from this: "By which sight I saw that He is in all things"; and in her immediate raising, from this conclusion, of the question: "What is sin?" and throughout her treatment of the problem in the scheme of her book. Even for the merely formal task of distinguishing by number, Julian, we see, will set briskly forward (though we may not feel much inclined to follow) and often she begins her careful dissections with: "In this I see"—four, five, or six things, as the case may be. Her speech of spiritual Revelations is, however, helped out less by numbers than by living and homely things of sight: the mother and the children and the nurse; lords and servants, kings and their subjects (with echoes of the language of Court and chivalry); the deep sea-ground, waters for our service; clothing, in its warmth, grace and colour; the light that stands in the night, the hazel-nut, the scales of herrings.[10]

As one grows familiar with the "Revelations" one finds oneself in the midst of a great scheme: a network of ideas that cross and re-cross each other in a way not very clear at first, perhaps, but not really in confusion. All through this treatise from its beginning, the Revelation as a whole is in the mind of Julian; interpolation by another writer is out of the question: the book is all of a piece, both as the expression of one person, in mind and character, and as the setting forth of a theological system. From the first we find Julian holding her diverse threads of nature and mercy and grace for the fabric of love she is weaving, and all through she guides them in and out, with no hesitation, till at last the whole design lies fair before her, shewing the Goodness of God.

With regard to this scheme it may be noted that apart from her merely intellectual pleasure in arithmetical methods of statement, Julian shews throughout a mystical sense of numerical correspondences. Life, both as being and action, is, to her sight, in its perfection full of trinities; while there are doubles,—incident to its imperfection, as we may put it, perhaps, though the book itself does not mark this distinction in so many words—there are doubles wherein two things are partially opposed and require for their reconciling a third that will complete them into trinity. First, as the Centre of all, there is the BLESSED TRINITY: All-Might, All-Wisdom, All-Love: one Goodness: FATHER and SON and HOLY GHOST: one Truth. To the First, Second, and Third Persons correspond the verbs MAY, for all-powerful freedom to do; CAN, for all-skilful ability to do; WILL, for all-loving will to do. So also "the Father willeth, the Son worketh, the Holy Ghost confirmeth." Another nomenclature of the Holy Trinity is, Might, Wisdom, Goodness: one Love; but that of Might, Wisdom, Love (employed by Abelard, Aquinas, and the Schoolmen generally) is the usual one, while Truth, Wisdom, Love, is employed in reference to that Image of God wherein Man is made: for man is not created might: his might is all in the uncreated might of God. Man in his essential Nature is "made-trinity," "like to the unmade Blessed Trinity"—a human trinity of truth, wisdom, love; and these respectively see, behold, and delight in the Divine Trinity of Truth, Wisdom, Love.

In Man are united Reason, which knows, Mind, or a feeling wisdom, which wits, and Love, which loves. The making of Man by the Son of God as Eternal Christ, is the work of Nature; the falling of Man is "suffered" (allowed), and afterwards healed, by Mercy; the raising of Man to a higher than his first state is the work of Grace. "In Nature we have our Being; in Mercy we have our Increasing; in Grace we have our Fulfilling." The work of grace by means of our natural Reason enlightened by the Holy Ghost to see our sins, is Contrition; by means of our naturally-feeling Mind, touched by the Holy Ghost to behold the pain of the world, is Compassion; by means of our nature- and grace-in-inspired Love, which loves our Maker and Saviour (still by the separation of sin partially, painfully, hid from our sight) is greater Longing toward God. This longing must become an active "desire": for the chief work that we can do as fellow-workers with God in achieving full oneness with Him is Prayer; of which there are three things to understand: its Ground is God by whose Goodness it springeth in us; its use is "to turn our will to the will of our Lord"; its end is "that we should be made one with and like to our Lord in all things." And lastly we have for this life, both by nature and grace, the comprehensive virtue of Faith, "in which all our virtues come to us" and which has in its own nature three elements: understanding, belief, and trust. With Faith, which belongs perhaps chiefly to Reason,—"Faith is" nought else but a right understanding, with true belief and sure trust, of our Being: that we are in God, and God in us, Whom we see not," "A light by nature coming from our endless Day, that is our Father, God" (liv., lxxxiii.)—is also Hope, which belongs to our feeling Mind (our Remembrance) and to the work of Mercy in this our fallen state: "Hope that we shall come to our Substance (our high and heavenly nature) again." Moreover, "Charity keepeth us in Hope and Hope leadeth us in Charity; and in the end all shall be Charity" (lxxxiv.).

With these trinities and groups of threes are others, belonging to God and man, mentioned successively in the closing chapters of the book: three manners of God's Beholding (or Regard of Countenance): that of the Passion, that of Compassion, and that of Bliss; three kinds of longing God has: to teach us, to have us, to fulfil us; three things that man needs in this life from God: Love, Longing, and Pity—"pity in love," to keep him now, and "longing in the same love" to draw him to heaven; three things by which man standeth in this life and by which God is worshipped: "use of man's reason natural; common teaching of Holy Church; inward gracious working of the Holy Ghost";—and last of all, "three properties of God, in which the strength and effect of all the Revelation standeth," "Life, Love and Light."

Again, Julian speaks of things that are double, and this double state seems to be one of imperfection, though she does not explicitly say so. Man's nature, she says, was created "double": "Substance," or Spirit essential from out of the Spirit Divine, and "Sensuality" or spirit related to human senses and making human faculties, intellectual and physical. These two, the Substance and Sense-soul, in their imperfection of union through the frailty of created love (which needs the divine in its might to support it), became partially sundered by the failing of love. "For failing of love on our part, therefore, is all our travail"—from that comes the falling, the dying, and the painful travail between death from sin and life from God—both in the race and the individual. But Christ makes the double into trinity: for Christ is "the Mean [the medium] that keepeth the Substance and Sense-soul together" in his Eternal, Divine-Human Nature, because of His perfect love; and Christ-Incarnate in His Mercy, by this same perfect love brings these two parts anew and more closely together; and Christ uprisen, indwelling in the soul thus united, will keep them forever together, in oneness growing with oneness to Him. Moreover, Man being double also as "soul and body," needs to be "saved from double death," and this salvation, given, is Jesus-Christ, who joined Himself to us in the Incarnation and "yielded us up from the Cross with His Soul and Body into His Father's hands."

In a mere reading of the Book these repeated correspondences may be felt as wearisome, formal, fantastic,—or rather they may seem so when, as here, they are brought together and noted, for Julian herself simply speaks of these different groups as they come in her theme. But when one tries to follow the thought of this book amongst the heights and depths of the things that are seen and temporal and the things unseen and eternal, these likenesses, found in all, seem to afford one guidance and surety of footing, like steps cut out in a steep and difficult path. And as one goes on, and the whole of the meaning takes form, these significations of something all-prevailing give one a partial understanding such as Julian perhaps may have had: the feeling, the "Mind," of a certain half-caught measure in "all things that are," a proportion, a oneness. We are amongst free nature's mountains, but they do not rise haphazard: they shew a strange, a balanced beauty of line and light and shade, as convincing, if not as clear in its intention as the sunrise-lines and colouring of the euphrasy flower at our feet. We hear as we walk the wandering sound of "the vagrant, casual wind," but there is something in its rise and fall, and rising again, that has kinship with the flow and ebb and onrush of the lingering, punctual waves on the shore. Sursum Corda.

  1. The soon-forgotten petition of Julian's youth for a "bodily sickness" does not seem to have had any connection in her mind with special Revelation: it was desired neither as in any way a sign of invisible things nor as a direct means of beholding them. And probably, as a matter of fact, the sickness that was granted helped her in the way that she had desired, helped her to the sight of the Revelation, not directly, but by drawing her spirit to that utter dependence on and trust in God that is death's first lesson for all, that uttermost self-devotion to God that is life's last exercise. This spiritual state, with all that through years had gone before of feeling and thought and life's experience, made her ready to be shewn with special largeness and clearness God's love: how it filled the empty place of sin and pain and sorrow with its divine fulness. As to the "bodily sight" introducing the Revelation, a sight of "parts of the Passion," which may be compared with "The XV. Oos"—'Orationes'—Passion-prayers each beginning with 'O' (v. Horæ of Sarum), it was recognised by Julian herself, even at the time of her seeing it, as being a sight of things "not in substance or nature." In this recognition it was proved to be neither mental delusion nor mere "raving" delirium. But it would, it seems, be natural that in her weakness of body and her exaltation of spirit (so tense that the strength of her self-surrender to death seemed to cast her back upon bodily life in the painless world between the two) some sort of physical illusion should be brought about by her prolonged gaze upon the Face of the Crucifix, and that in her desire to enter into the sufferings of the Passion as fully as those friends of her Lord's that beheld it, Julian thus gazing in the midst of night's shadows and the dim light of dawn should seem to herself to behold the sacred drops, depicted beneath the painted or sculptured Crown of Thorns, flow down "right plenteously." Julian gave thanks for this and all the "bodily sight" as a gift from God. By Him sickness and illusion, as well as things evil, are "suffered" to come, and by Him Revelation is given according to sundry times in diverse manners. Gain of the spirit through failure of the body—and no less by illusions of fever than by trance-state visions their seers speak of, when Death passes the Spirit half through the gates—would indeed be accordant with the truth of the Shewing that came to Julian, how man is raised through shame and death into glory and life, since in the weakness of failing men the strength of Christ is made perfect.
  2. See the Bampton Lectures on Christian Mysticism. W. R. Inge. (P. 111.)
  3. See the Introduction to Le Livre des Visions et Instructions de la Bienheureuse Angèle de Foligno, traduit par [[Author:Ernest Hello|]]. Paris, 1895.
  4. When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home."
  5. v. pp. 27, 57, 126, 156, 168; cf. Dionysius: "On Divine Names. Cap. iv. (tr. by Parker). S. Aug. Conf.: b. i. ch. 2; iii. 7; iv. 10–16; vii. 12–18.
  6. See the extract from Hilton given as a note to chapter lvii.
  7. Little Flowers of a Childhood (in Mem. J. D. W., Oct. 1894—March 1899). Some of the thoughts of children,—some of the rising thoughts of a very little child who, like Julian, faced the darkness of time (steadfast as Dürer's pilgrim Knight, gentle as Chaucer's,) and beheld on his journey the shining of the Eternal City,—might be set beside words of the Mystics as shewing, perhaps, through their very simplicity, the oneness of truth that there is to see, and the oneness of souls that see it. Here are convictions that the Cause of love, felt within,"must be Jesus' Good Spirit"; comfort in discovering of death's unreality (for if only the body, not the spirit, dies, "Oh, then it is only pretending-dying!"); a flash of discernment, perhaps, as to the passing away of lifeless evil since although, to the child, indeed "it is a pity that some one did not come and kill the devil; and then he would be dead," yet he has his own eschatology: "Well, when we are all dead, the devil will be dead too." More significant is a sudden overawed realisation of the great universe (setting pause to his own run round in play), the door to a quick perception, in the child's devout spirit, of analogy binding truths unseen by sense: "Is this world always going round, now?" ('Yes.') "It stays still! still!—Jesus is looking down now: we don't see Him."—Here, too, are habitual references to the things that are meant to be,—musings over the goodness and knowledge, the braveness and courtesy "meant to be" in a man; and here is a grateful, trusting sense of the real 'kindness' of 'wild' creatures and of hurting remedies. Many of those simple utterances, careless yet arresting like a blackbird's song, and personal with the ardent love and clear reason of a child faithfully living and bravely dying, seem to attest a kinship with seers of truth to whom longer trial has offered a sterner strength of complex thinking, for wider service here, but who, although they may have learnt thus 'more' in the knowledge of love, "shall never know nor learn other thing without end."—"I understood none higher stature in this life than childhood."

    "It is not growing like a tree
    In bulk, doth make man better be.


    A lily of a day
    Is fairer far in May,
    Although it fall and die that night.
    It was the plant and flower of Light."

    For all of the Company of saints have the sight of One Vision, and be it in the steadfast fulfilment of labour, or from out of the merriment of play,—through the strong, bright peace of endurance, or the silent acquiescence of the will, led along valleys of darkness,—or again in some swift rush of prayer into the morning light,—all of the saints, the babe and the ancient, beholding "the Blissful Countenance" say "with one voice": "It is well." "Amen. Amen."—(De la More Press: London, 1906.)

  8. "Catholic Mystics of the Middle Ages." Edinburgh Review, October 1896.
  9. In reference to introspection M. Maeterlinck speaks of Ruysbroeck as "the one analytical mystic." Ruysbroeck and the Mystics, p. 19.
  10. In ch. vii. de Cressy's "the Seal of her Ring" gives a misreading.