The sixt Chapter, Of the longing of the soule, by death to feede with Christ.
IN this world I can not perfectlie haue this my desire; which thing maketh mee feruentlie to desire the departing from this bodie of sinne, not fearing death, nor anie of hir instruments. For what feare ought I to haue of my God, which through loue offe∣red himselfe, and suffered death, not of debt, or dutie; Page 25 but onlie bicause he would, for my sake, vnder the pow∣er of mortall death? Now is Iesus dead, in whom we are all dead, and through his death we all shall liue: I meane those, which through faith are partakers of his passion. For euen as the death, before the great mysterie of the crosse, was hard to euerie man, & there was no man but was feared therewith, considering the copulation of the bodie, and the soule, their order, loue, and agreement; so were their sorowes extreme, in departing of the one from the other.
But since it hath pleased the sweet Lambe to offer himselfe vpon the crosse, his great loue hath kindled a fire within the hart, so vehement, that euerie true beleeuer esteemeth the passage of death but a plaie, or pastime, and so prouoketh other constantlie to die. And euen as the feare of death doth retrograde vs: so ought loue to giue vs a desire to die. For if true loue be vnfainedlie within the hart of man, he can feele none other thing; bicause loue is so strong of it selfe, that she keepeth all the room, and putteth out all other desires, suffering nothing there but God onlie. For wheresoe∣uer true and perfect loue is, there is remembred nei∣ther feare, nor sorowe: yet our owne pride to attaine honour, causeth vs to seeke death by manie strange waies. As if a man, to haue his foolish pleasure, put∣teth himselfe in ieopardie of life: if a merchant, to ob∣taine riches, doth danger himselfe somtime for a small value: if the theefe, conceiuing of roberie, or murther, crueltie, or deceit, doth so blind a man, that he doub∣teth nothing the danger of death, neither yet misfor∣tune, when he seeketh to aduenge himselfe, or doth any other euill: if the furie of sicknesse, or the rankenesse of melancholie, causeth a man fiercelie to wish for death, or oftentimes to drowne, hang, or kill themselues. Such euils are sometimes so great, that they cause their pained patient to choose death for libertie. If it Page 26 so be then, that these paines full of euils and imperfe∣ctions, cause them not to feare the hazard of death, but rather to thinke that death tarieth too long: alas, what ought true & laudable loue to doo? What ought the loue of the eternall creature to wish? Should she stir a hart in such wise, that she being maistered with such affections, should feele none other thing in hir? Alas yea. For death is a pleasant thing to the soule, which is in loue with God, and esteemeth the passage easie, thorough the which she commeth out of prison. For the hard waie, where through she commeth, can be no let for hir to embrace hir husband. O my Saui∣our, how good and pleasant is the same death, through whom I shall haue the end of all sorowes: & by whom I shall enioie thy sight without impediment, and be transformed into the likenesse of thy maiestie!
O death, through thy force I trust to haue such ho∣nour, as vpon my knees with crieng and weeping I dailie doo desire. Therefore come quicklie, and make an end of my sorowes. O happie daughters, right holie soules, ioined to the citie Ierusalem, open your eies, and with pitie looke vpon my desolation! I beseech you, that for me, and in my name, ye doo shew vnto my deere and best beloued, my God, my friend, & my King, how that euerie houre of the daie I doo languish for his presence. O sweet death, come vnto me, and lo∣uinglie bring me vnto my Lord God. O death, where is now thy sting and dart? Alas, are they banished from mine eies? Is not rigour changed into sweet∣nesse, seeing that for my sake, my friend did suffer vpon the crosse, whose death doth so encourage me, that death I wish to fol∣lowe him?