ON THE MEANS OF PRESERVING AND MAINTAINING THE PEACE OF THE SOUL
Consider first, that it is of great advantage to the soul, both in order to defend her from all evil, and to advance her in all good, to keep herself always in peace within her own interior: because this inward peace, when it is true, brings along with it courage, strength and grace, by the favours which God always shows to the truly peaceable. Now, the first and most necessary means of the acquiring or preserving of this peace in the soul, must be to banish all wilful sin from the soul; for there can be no true peace where wilful sin resides. For no one can be at war with God and have any peace within himself, except it be that false peace, which is sometimes formed by an erroneous conscience, that shuts its eyes against God’s light, that it may not be obliged to embrace his truth. O dear Jesus, never let me be so miserable as to be deluded by any such false peace, or ever to be a rebel to thy light!
Consider 2ndly, that the true peace of the soul is not to be acquired without subduing the passions and keeping them in order. For what peace can there be in the midst of daily storms, tumults, and rebellions, such as are raised by headstrong and untamed passions? What peace can there be for the slaves of pride and ambition, of avarice and worldly solicitude, of wrath and envy, &c.? Alas, all these and the like passions disturb and distract the soul, they put her in a ferment, they suffer her not to find any solid rest or tranquillity, or any manner of share in that calmness and evenness of soul, which those enjoy that are perfectly masters of themselves by the victory they have acquired over all their passions. O! how true it is that our peace and happiness, even here, is not to be found by yielding to our disorderly inclinations but by mortifying and overcoming them.
Consider 3rdly, that the way to acquire true peace, and true liberty of soul, is thus marked out by a servant of God (Following of Christ, L. 3. c. 23): ‘endeavour, my son, rather to do the will of another than thy own: ever choose rather to have less than more; always seek the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one; always wish and pray that the will of God may be entirely fulfilled in thee. Behold such a man as this enters upon the coasts of peace and rest.’ Whosoever will but observe these rules shall not easily be disquieted, but rather shall meet with a paradise of delights in his soul. And we shall find upon examination, that whenever we are disturbed ’tis because we have transgressed some or other of these rules; either by being too much bent upon our own will; or by the desire of having more, or of being higher; or at least by not being entirely resigned to the will of God.
Conclude to set out in quest of this happy way that leads to true peace, by giving up thy own desires, and ever embracing the holy will of God.