On Concealing Grace under Humility
CHRIST. My son, it is safer and better for you to conceal the grace of devotion; do not boast of it, do not speak much of it, and do not dwell much on it. It is better to think the more humbly of yourself, and to fear that this grace has been granted to one who is unworthy of it. Never depend too much on these feelings, for they may be rapidly changed to the opposite. When you enjoy such grace, consider how sad and needy you are without it. Progress in the spiritual life consists not so much in enjoying the grace of consolation, as in bearing its withdrawal with humility, resignation and patience, neither growing weary in prayer nor neglecting your other acts of devotion. Do willingly, and to the best of your ability and understanding, whatever lies in your power,and do not neglect your spiritual life because of any dryness or anxiety of mind.
There are many who grow impatient or indolent when all does not go according to their wishes. But man's life is not always in his control;(Jer.10:23) it belongs to God alone to give and to comfort when He wills, as much as He wills, and whom He wills, just as He pleases and no more. Some people, lacking discretion, have brought ruin on themselves through the grace of devotion, attempting more than lay in their power, ignoring the measure of their own littleness, and following the promptings of the heart rather than the dictates of reason. And because they presumed to greater things than pleased God, they soon lost His grace. These souls, who aspired to build their nest in Heaven,(Isa.14:13) became needy and wretched outcasts, in order that, through humiliation and poverty, they might learn not to fly with their own wings, but to trust themselves under My wings.(Ps.41:4) For those who are still new and untried in the Way of the Lord can easily be deceived and lost, unless they are guided by wise counsel.
If they follow their own notions rather than trust others of proved experience, their end will be perilous unless they are willing to be drawn away from their own conceit. Those who are wise in their own conceit seldom humbly accept guidance from others. A little knowledge and understanding tempered by humility is better than a great store of learning coupled with vain complacency. It is better to have few talents than many of which you might be conceited. Whoever yields himself to joy, forgetful of his former poverty, is very unwise, for he forgets also that pure reverence for the Lord which fears to lose grace already given. Nor is he wise who, in trouble and adversity, yields to despair, and fails to put his trust in Me.
The man who feels secure in time of peace, will often in time of war be found discouraged and afraid. If you were careful to remain always humble and modest in your own esteem, and to direct and control your mind rightly,(James 4:6) you would not fall so readily into danger and disgrace. It is good advice, that when the spirit of devotion is aflame in your heart, you should consider how you will fare when the light leaves you. When this happens, remember that this light will one day return, which I have now for a while withdrawn(Job 7:19; Ps.13:1) as a warning to you and for My glory.
Such a trial is often more profitable than if all went agreeably with you, and in accordance with your wishes. For a man's merit is not to be reckoned by the visions and comforts he may enjoy, nor by his learning in the Scriptures, nor by his being raised to high dignity. Rather is it by his being grounded in humility and filled with divine love; by his pure, constant, and sincere seeking of God's glory; by his low esteem and honest depreciation of himself;(Ps.15:4) and by his preference for humiliation and despite rather than honours a the hands of men.
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