The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 47
THE SAFETY OF THOSE WHO ARE DEVOTED TO GOD
(The Angels as Guardians.)
Now nothing in the world appeared so exposed and subject to divers dangers than the band of the godly, at which the devil and the world looked angrily, menacing to strike and smite them. Yet I saw that they were well sheltered; for I saw that their whole community was encompassed by a wall of fire. When I came nearer I saw that this wall moved, for it was nothing else but a procession of thousands and thousands of angels who walked around them; no foe, therefore, could approach them. Each one of them also had an angel who had been given to him by God and ordained to be his guardian, that he might guard him and preserve him, and protect him against all dangers and snares, pits, ambushes, traps, and temptations. They are, no doubt (I understood and saw this), the friends of the men who are their fellow-servants, and watch them that they may uphold the duties for which they were created by God; thus they serve men readily, guard them against the devil, evil folk, and unhappy accidents; and carrying them, if necessary, on their own hands, they shield them from injury. Here, too, I understood how great is the import of godliness; for these beautiful and pure spirits remained only where they smelt the perfume of virtue, while they were driven away by the stink of sin and uncleanliness.
(The Angels our Teachers.)
2. I saw also (and it is not beseeming to conceal this) another advantage of this holy, invisible companionship—to wit, that the angels were not only as guards, but also as teachers to the chosen. They often give them secret knowledge of divers things, and teach them the deep secret mysteries of God. For as they ever behold the countenance of the omniscient God, nothing that a godly man can wish to know can be secret to them, and with God's permission they reveal that which they know, and which it is necessary that the chosen should know. Therefore the heart of the godly often feels that which has befallen elsewhere, mourns with the mournful, and rejoices with the joyful. Therefore, also, can they, by means of dreams and other visions, or of secret inspirations, imagine in their minds that which has befallen, or befalls, or will befall. Thence comes also other increase of the gifts of God within us, deep, valuable meditations, divers wondrous discoveries by means of which man often surpasses himself, though he knows not how he has that power. Oh, blessed school of the sons of God! It is this which often causes the astonishment of all worldly-wise men, when they see how some plain little fellow speaks wondrous mysteries; prophesies the future changes in the world and in the Church as if he saw them before his eyes; mentions the names of yet unborn kings and heads of states; proclaims and announces other things that could not be conceived either by any study of the stars or by any endeavour of human wit.
We cannot sufficiently thank God, our guardian, for these things, nor love sufficiently these our heavenly teachers. But let us return to the security of the godly.
(God is the Shield of His own.)
Then I saw that every one of the godly was protected not only by the guard of angels, but also by the venerable presence of God. Thus terror befell those who, contrary to the will of God, endeavoured to touch them. I saw miracles among some of them, how they were thrown into the water or fire, or as a prey to lions and wild beasts; yet they suffered no injury. Human fury attacked some of them shamefully. Bands of tyrants and hangmen, with countless followers, surrounded them. Sometimes powerful kings and whole kingdoms strove unto exhaustion to destroy them. Yet nothing befell them; they stood together, or went their way merrily, pursuing their callings. And now I understood what it is to have God as a shield, for He entrusts to His servants certain tasks in the world, and they manfully do their duty. He is ever in them and with them, and guards them as the apple of His eye, that they may not die before they accomplish the task for which they were sent into the world.
(The Holy Boasts of the Godly.)
4. This, indeed, the godly know, and they cheerfully rely on God's protection. I have heard some of them boast that they were not afraid even should the shadow of death be before them; even should thousands of thousands be in arms against them; even should the whole world be enraged, the land be tossed into the middle of the sea, the whole world be full of devils, and so forth. Oh, most happy security, unheard of in the world! For man, closed up and sheltered in the hand of God, is removed from the influence of all other things. Let us, then, all ye honest servants of Christ, understand that we have a most watchful guardian, protector, defender—the Almighty God Himself. Therefore let us rejoice!
- This is an allusion to the so-called prophecies of Kotter, Ponatovská and Drabík. I have referred to them in my "History of Bohemian Literature," pp. 256-259, and pp. 271-273.