The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 49



(A Good Conscience is an Incessant Feast.)

The godly have not only simple peace within them, but also joy and pleasure, which flow to their hearts from the presence and feeling of God's love. For where God is, there is heaven; where heaven is, there is eternal joy, and where there is eternal joy there men desire nothing further. All the joys of the world are but a shade, jest, derision, compared to this joy; only I know not in what words to describe and portray it. I saw, I saw, I saw and understood that to have within you God, with His celestial treasures, is so glorious a thing that all the glory, splendour, glitter of the world cannot be compared to it. It is a thing so joyful that the whole world could neither take anything from it nor add anything to it, so great and high that the whole world can neither conceive it nor contain it.


2. For how can anything be otherwise than sweet and joyful to a man who possesses this divine light within him through the Spirit of God, such freedom from the world and its slavery, such certain and ample divine protection, such safety from enemies and accidents; lastly, as has been shown, that feeling of continuous peace? This is that sweetness that the world understandeth not; this that sweetness that he who once tasted it strives for at any risk; this that sweetness from which no other sweetness can separate us, no bitterness drive us away, no other charm entice us away, and from which no bitterness, not even death, can turn us away.

3. And then I understood what sometimes impels many of God's saints to throw from them so willingly honours, favour of the people, their worldly estates. They would be equally ready to cast from them the whole world, if it were theirs. I understood also how others, again, cheerfully gave over their bodies to prison, whip, or death, ready to suffer a thousand deaths, could the world repeat the penalty. Should they perish by means of water or fire, or under the sword of the executioner, they were yet prepared cheerfully to sing hymns. Oh, Lord Jesus, how sweet art Thou to the souls that have tasted of Thee! Blessed is he who comprehends this delight!