(c.1636 – c.1674)

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You never enjoy the world aright till you so love the beauty of enjoying it, that you are covetous and earnest to persuade others to enjoy it…. The world is a mirror of infinite beauty, yet no one sees it. It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no one regards it. It is a region of Light and Peace, did not people disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God. It is more to us since we are fallen than it was before. It is the place of Angels and the Gate of Heaven. When Jacob waked out of his dream, he said "God is here, and I knew it not. How terrifying is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven…."
Your enjoyment is never right, till you esteem every soul so great a treasure as our Saviour doth: and that the laws of God are sweeter than the honey and honeycomb because they command you to love them all in such perfect manner.  For how are they God's treasures? Are they not the riches of his love?  Is it not his goodness that maketh him glorious to them?  Can the sun or stars serve him any other way, than by serving them?  And how will you be the child of God, but by having a great soul like unto your Father's?  The Laws of God command you to live in His image: and to do so is to live in Heaven.  God commandeth you to love all like him, because he would have you to be his child, all them to be your riches, you to be glorious before them, and all the creatures in serving them to be your treasures, while you are his delight, like him in beauty, and the darling of his bosom.
Socrates was wont to say, They are most happy and nearest the gods that needed nothing. And coming once up into the Exchange at Athens, where they that traded asked him, What will you buy; what do you lack? after he had gravely walked into the middle, spreading forth his hands and turning about, Good God, saith he, who would have thought there were so many things in the world which I do not want?  And so he left the place under the reproach of nature. He was wont to say: that happiness consisted not in having many, but in needing the fewest things: for the gods needed nothing at all, and they were most like them that needed least. We needed heaven and earth, our senses, such souls and such bodies, with infinite riches in the image of God to be enjoyed: which God of his mercy having freely prepared, they are most happy that so live in the enjoyment of those, as to need no accidental trivial things, no splendours, pomps, and vanities. Socrates, perhaps, being an heathen, knew not that all things proceeded from God to us, and by us returned to God: but we that know it must need all things as God doth, that we may receive them with joy, and live in his image.


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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.