The light of the world a most true relation of a pilgrimess, M. Antonia Bourignon travelling towards eternity ... : divided into three parts ...
Bourignon, Antoinette, 1616-1680., Cort, Chrétien de, d. 1669.
Page  102

The Sixteenth Conference,

Shews, How the Resignation of our Will to that of God, is a Continual Prayer; that it supplies all particular Doctrines and Practices; and that the Gospel directs us only to the removal of the Obstacles which hinder it, the discovery of which is ne∣cessary.

I asked her, If it was needful to use any longer the Means of Devotion when one is resigned to God? If it was any longer needful to Pray, to Watch, to Fast, to go to Church, to frequent the Sacraments, to procure Indulgences, to Honour Images, especially that of the Virgin Mary, which Devotion they tell us is necessary for Salvation, with many other things which seem to be good?

She said: Sir, The Resignation of our Will to that of God supplies all Things; and when we are arrived at this Resignation, we have no longer need of any Means: Because God works then in us what pleases him; and we have no longer need toa Act, but to be still and passive. Our Devotions are then without ceasing, and we pray always when we are always resigned to God: For Prayer is nothing else but an Elevation of the Spirit unto him, and it is elevated unto him as long as we receive all from his Hands, and are pleased every Moment with what he ordains. This is the continual Prayer which he demands of Man, saying, That webmust alwayes pray, and not faint. He who lifts up his Heart to God only when he is in the Church, or sayes his Pater Noster's, does not pray alwayes: Because he cannot be alwayes in the Church, nor mutter his Prayers from Morning till Night: But he who resigns his Will to that of God prayes continually, whether he eat, drink, walk, or take his rest: He is Page  103 alwayes by his Will united to God, and has no need of other Means▪ because he is arrived at the End, where Means would be a Hindrance to him. He still watches c when he is ready at all times to follow the Will of God. He sasts alwayes. when he never takes but what is simply necessary for him in which God directs him. He is alwayes in the Church when he is continually in the presence of God. He frequents also the Sacraments as long as his Spirit converses with God, who comprehends in himself all that is Holy or Sacred. He has the Re∣mission and Indulgence of all his Sins by the Resignation that he makes of his Will to that of his God, because he can never attain to this Resignation without forsaking all sort of Evil; and this d is true Repentance, which ob∣tains the Remission of all Sins. He has no need of Images when his Eye and his Heart is fixt upon the Will of God, which makes him remember whatsoever is good and just; and he has no longer need of Intercessours for his Salvation, since he is united to the Will of Him who only can give it.

I said to her, That I saw clearly enough that all our Salva∣tion and Happiness did depend upon this Resignation of our Will to that of God: But that it was a Loss that this was not taught to all the World, who believed they were sure of their Salvation by the Means of Devotions.

She said: Sir, It is a Lamentable thing that all the World should perish for want of knowing the Truth. Secular Persons think they are good when they Trade and do their Business without Fraud, though they never consider that they are sent into this World to lead a Life of Penitence, and are created to be alwayes united in Will to God. Churchmen or Religions Persons believe they shall be saved, provided they go to Church and perform their customary Devotions, without thinking that to be saved they must be resigned to the Will of God. And thus both the one and the other perish through Ignorance, because all in general are creared to be resigned in Will to the Will of God, depending immediately upon him; and not on other Things: And though we are obliged to La∣bour in this Life, yet this is but accidentally, and to Page  104 satisfie the Penitence due for our Sins; not that God has created us for Labour, but only ordain'd it for Penitence: And instead of fulfilling it by our Labour, we encrease our Sins by the same Means by which we ought to purge them, glorying in our Chains, and rejoycing in our Vallie of Tears: And we will Act, where we ought only to Suffer; and Rule, where we ought to be Subject. This falls out through our Ignorance, for we do not know the True way of Salvation, and we imagine we shall find it by Means which divert us from it instead of bringing us to it. They go sometimes to a Cloyster to find the sure Means of Salvation, and in the mean time all the Exer∣cises that must be performed are often Diversions from God: For so many outward Rules and Gestures prove great Hindrances to the Conversation the Soul ought to have with its God; and these Studied Devotions are often Hypocrisies. If we bow the Knee to shew that we adore and pray to God, while our Thoughts are far from him, this is pure e Hypocrisie: If we give Honour or do Reverence to some Image without raising our Thoughts to that which it represents to us, this is pure Idolatry: If we pray to God with the Lips, and the Heart is far from him, it is a Contempt of God: If we use Mortifications of the Body, without the Spirit of Penitence, it is the Pride of Life, for we desire to be esteemed more than others be∣cause of our particular Pennances, when God has ap∣pointed us all in general common Ones which would be much more for our Salvation: For he who willingly suffers Heat, Cold, and other Incommodities of the Elements, or of our Body, does merit much more than he who chuses Fastings, Watchings, and other things according to his own desires: Because these things are done by our own Will, and will be recompenced only in this VVorld: But the Pennances that are common to all Men are Or∣dained and Chosen of God for saving Penitences. In which these Penitents do greatly deceive themselves in following their own VVill, and often will not bear patiently with a VVord that contradicts their Behaviour. The Blindness of Men now may truly be bewailed; for in all Things they take Falshood for Truth, and the way Page  105 of Damnation for that of Salvation. Which would be easie to make appear to all the World, in case they would give Ear to it: For there is but one only thing needful, which is, for Men to resign their Will to that of God: But they are so preoccupied with so many different sorts of Means, which they perswade them are good Things, that they should think they did Evil in resigning their Will to that of God, choosing rather to submit it to a Man subject to his Passions, having forgotten that the Holy Spirit said, fWo to the Man that puts his confi∣dence in Man. Take, Sir, this Lesson to your self, and put not your Confidence in any but God. For gall Men are Lyars and cannot give Salvation to those to whom they promise it. We have but one only Saviour, who is Jesus Christ; and one only Essential Commandment, which is, to DEPEND UPON GOD IN ALL THINGS: If Men have taught so many different Things, and filled the World with Books to shew that we must depend upon them, do not believe them, for one thing only is need∣fulh.

I asked her, Why she had shewn me so many different things since we began our Conferences, seeing there is one thing only needful, as I am certainly perswaded?

She said: Sir, I never taught you any other Means of Salvation but the Doctrine of the Gospel, which is suffi∣cient to bring back the greatest Sinners in the World to a Dependance upon God: Because that Doctrine teaches how to remove all that might hinder this Resignation to God: And when it says that iwe must deny our selves, it tells us that we must be resigned to God; and in saying that we must take up our Cross, it shews the Penitence that we are obliged to perform in this World; and when we consider the whole Life of Jesus Christ, we are thereby sufficiently taught that we must not rule in this World, nor seek after Dignities, Offices or Traffick, nor build Cloisters or other Edifices, nor lay up Riches here: For his whole Life and Conversation was quite another thing, and he has not at all taught us the Customs that are observed at present; but Goodness k, Humility, and Page  106l Poverty. These Things are the true Means to attain to this Dependance upon God, because they remove the Hindrances of our Soul, that thereafter it may resign it self the more easily and freely unto him. Jesus Christ has taught that we are to forsake many m Things which prove Hindrances of this Resignation to God: For he who loves the Riches, Honours, Pleasures and Delights of this World, cannot be resigned to God; nor yet the n who loves his Father, his Countrey, or even his own Life. By reason therefore of the Blindness of Men, it was needful that he should manifest to them in particular what they ought to forsake that they may be resigned to God. For if Jesus Christ had only said simply that a Man must be resigned to God, every one would have said or imagined, that they lived in this Resignation; be∣cause they have not Faith but in Speculation, for they imagine they are resigned to God, when they live in a Dependance on their own Will, or that of some Person to whom they submit: And since Jesus Christ came to bring Light into the World, it was necessary that he should open our Eyes by all the Means contain'd in his Gospel, that he might make us see how many Obstacles we put to this DEPENDANCE.

I said to her, She had declared to me many things besides those which are contained in the Gospel: And since Dependance only upon God was sufficient for Salvation, I might very well have remained ignorant of the Sins of Men, the poor Estate of the Church, the Dominion of Antichrist, with so many other things, which do not concern my Salvation.

She said: Sir, You imagine that these Things do not concern your Salvation, because they do not respect it directly, but indirectly. They respect it in such a manner, as I believe it would be impossible for you to obtain it if you were ignorant of the truth of so many dangerous Evils. You would build your Salvation upon falfe. Sup∣positions of being resigned to God, when there were no such thing; and if you have not the knowledge of Evil, you cannot avoid it, but will be deceived to your Loss. For the Wickedness of Men is now so covered over with Vertue, that 'tis hard to distinguish the one from the other. Page  107 If you perceive not that Men are deceitful, they will deceive you every Moment; and if you believe not that they have forsaken God, you will imitate them, believing that they do well: This pious Opinion of your Neighbour will make you follow Evil insensibly. Thus we must not walk blindly in the matter of our Salvation: For you have more need to discover Evil, that you may avoid it, than Good, to imitate it: Because if your Will were resigned to God without knowing the Wickedness of Men now, they would certainly draw you back from this Resignation to make you take your own Will: And this under pious Pretexts: For they will reckon you to be deceived if you do not follow their wayes of Acting; and if you be resigned to God, you will contract his Qualities of Righteousness, Goodness, and Truth: Which Men will not at all ac∣knowledge, but will take your Righteousness to be Self∣preciseness; and your Goodness to be Silliness and want of Wit; and your Truth will be reckoned Detraction as soon as by it you shall discover their Evils: And all this they shall do so dexterously, that you shall be puzled to know, whether you will not do better to follow their Sentiments than the Direction of God. Therefore it is so necessary that you know the Wickedness of Men, that you be not deceived by it. And if I have declared to you the poor Condition in which the Roman Church is now, I have done it more out of Charity than to make known to you the Works of God: Because so long as you believe that this Roman Church is the Holy Church, you will take up with a Dependance upon Her instead of de∣pending upon God; and will indirectly follow the Devil, while you believe you follow God: And if I had not declared to you that we are now in the Reign of Anti∣christ, you would certainly be deceived, because he Acts his greatest Villanies under the Cloak of Holiness, and introduces his Adherents into the most Eminent Prefer∣ments and Dignities of the Church: That o he may seduce the very-Elect, if it were possible: For now more than Three Fourths of People are bound to the Devil p by express Covenant. And if you be ignorant of all these Truths, by what Means shall you avoid their Snares? Page  108 As long as the Devil shall tempt you by evil Thoughts, you will not be in danger of following his Suggestions; but when he has on his Side, the Priests and the Religious, the Bishops and other Prelats of the Church, you will easily let your self be governed by them, thinking that they are guided by this Spirit of God, though in effect, by that of the Devil. By all which Things you may suffi∣ciently discover the need you have to be informed of all these Evils when you desire to resign your self to God, or else your Resignation will not last: Because Men, the Church and Antichrist, would very shortly find the Means to draw you back, as they do almost all well-disposed Persons, perswadeing them, that it is fit still to have a good Opinion of our Neighbour, and that we must also depend upon the Church, and that the Priests and the Religious are true Members of it: Though in the Sight of God there is no such thing: For all Men together are as a Deluge of Vices, and the Roman Church is the Babylon of Confusion, and many of her Pillars are the Members of Antichrist. This being supposed, Sir, do you not think I had reason to declare to you all these things in parti∣cular, that you may not be deceived by so great an Abyss of Evils, which would be but too sufficient to hinder you from this RESIGNATION TO THE WILL OF GOD, which is the only thing necessary for Salvation, to which you can never attain without discovering and removing all the Hindrances which out of great Charity I have manifested unto you?