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Prologue

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A Devout Exercise of the Purgative Way
Appointed for each day of the week
by Denys the Carthusian

"God hath made foolish the wisdom of this world," as saith the Apostle. For the world counteth as foolishness the wisdom of God. "Therefore", saith the Apostle, "whosoever would become wise let him become foolish, that he may be wise"; that is to say: whosoever would obtain wisdom from God, let him become foolish, as men count things; let him perform or embrace, do or suffer, what seemeth foolishness to the world. Hence St. Denys [the Areopagite] calleth Christian wisdom, mad or senseless, irrational or foolish: not indeed, that it is truly such; but that to men filled with this world's spirit, and not with the spirit of Christ, such seemeth it to be. And because it is above all natural reason and thought, as well. God's chosen ones, therefore, long to be disdained and to be scoffed at by the world, so to please God.
 
If then, thou desirest to become wise and pleasing to God, spurn the discretion of this world, nor desire to please it. No rational creature, not excepting the angels, can or could be saved, except by laying aside his own will, and by conforming it and subjecting it to the Divine Will. And the more truly shall he so do, so much the mightier grace shall he gain. Therefore, the more fully and completely, for God's love thou shalt forsake thyself, the more perfectly thou shalt subject thy will to the direction of another's, – apt for the matter – by so much shalt thou be dearer to God, and attain to loftier perfection. The proud are likened to hills, the humble to vales, and God's grace is like to rain. Now, just as rain doth not lodge nor gather on the mountain tops, but in the hollows: and the deeper the vales the greater the store of rain there: even so, the Holy Ghost with His grace, abideth not in the hearts of the proud, but of the humble; yea, in greater measure the lowlier those hearts. And because in sinning, man prefereth his self-will and fleeting good to the Divine unchangeable Will, the uncreated and supreme Good, which choice mounteth up to contempt of God; contrariwise, for such contempt, the sinner must first of all contemn himself with all his heart, and count himself worthy of all confusion and punishment. Again, since man, who should take no delight save in his Ceator, in sinning, delighteth in creatures inordinately and corruptly; so ought the sinner take to himself hearty sorrow for such delectation, and bear due punishment for his guilt.

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