by Madame Guyon
WHEN we have for some time enjoyed the repose of a victory that has cost us so much trouble, and suppose ourselves forever relieved from an enemy whose whole power has been destroyed, we enter into the third degree, next in order to the other, which is a Way of Faith more or less savory, according to the state. We enter into a condition of alternate dryness and facility, as I have stated, and in this dryness, the Soul perceives certain exterior weaknesses, natural defects, which, though slight, take it by surprise; it feels, too, that the strength it had received for the struggle, is dying away. This is caused by the loss of our active, inward force; for although the Soul, in the second degree, imagines itself to be in silence before God, it is not entirely so. It does not speak, indeed, either in Heart or by Mouth, but it is in an active striving after God and constant outbreathing of Love, so that, being the subject of the most powerful amorous activity, exerted by the Divine Love towards Himself, it is continually leaping, as it were, towards its object, and its activity is accompanied by a delightful and almost constant Peace. As it is from this activity of Love that we acquire the strength to overcome Nature, it is then that we practice the greatest virtues and most severe mortifications.|
But just in proportion as this activity decays, and is lost in an amorous passivity, so does our strength of resistance sink and diminish, and, as this degree advances, and the Soul becomes more and more passive, it becomes more and more powerless in combat. As God becomes strong within, so do we become weak. Some regard this impossibility of resistance as a great temptation, but they do not see that all our labor, aided and assisted by Grace, can only accomplish the conquest of our Outward Senses, after which God takes gradual possession of our Interior, and becomes Himself our purifier. And as He required all our watchfulness while He continued us in amorous activity, so He now requires all our Fidelity to let Him work, while He begins to render Himself Lord by the subjection of the Flesh to the Spirit.
For it must be observed that all our outward Perfection depends upon, and must follow the inward; so that when we are employed in active devotion, however simple, we are actively engaged against ourselves just as simply.
The second degree accomplishes the destruction of the Outward Senses, the third, that of the Iinward, and this is brought about by means of this savory passivity. But as God is then working within, He seems to neglect the outward, and hence the reappearance of defects, though feebly and only in a time of aridity, which we thought extinct.
The nearer we approach the termination of the third degree, the longer and more frequent are our aridities, and the greater our weakness. This is a purification which serves to destroy our internal feelings, as the amorous activity put an end to our external, and in each degree, there are alternations of dryness and enjoyment. The dryness serves as a purifier of the joy that is to follow; it is always painful from its barrenness and weakness. As soon as we cease, from inability, to practice mortifications of our own fashioning, those of Providence take their place — the crosses which God dispenses according to our degree. These are not chosen by the Soul; but the Soul, under the interior guidance of God, receives such as He appoints.
taken from Way To God by Jeanne Guyon