Stanza XL

None saw it;
Neither did Aminadab appear
The siege was intermitted,
And the cavalry dismounted
At the sight of the waters.

THE bride perceiving that the desire of her will is now detached
from all things, cleaving unto God with most fervent love; that
the sensual part of the soul, with all its powers, faculties, and
desires, is now conformed to the spirit; that all rebellion is
quelled for ever; that Satan is overcome and driven far away in
the varied contest of the spiritual struggle; that her soul is
united and transformed in the rich abundance of the heavenly gifts;
and that she herself is now prepared, strong and apparelled,
‘leaning upon her Beloved,’ to go up ‘by the desert’ [326] of
death; full of joy to the glorious throne of her espousals,–she
is longing for the end, and puts before the eyes of her
Bridegroom, in order to influence Him the more, all that is
mentioned in the present stanza, these five considerations:

2. The first is that the soul is detached from all things and a
stranger to them. The second is that the devil is overcome and put
to flight. The third is that the passions are subdued, and the
natural desires mortified. The fourth and the fifth are that the
sensual and lower nature of the soul is changed and purified, and
so conformed to the spiritual, as not only not to hinder spiritual
blessings, but is, on the contrary, prepared for them, for it is
even a partaker already, according to its capacity, of those which
have been bestowed upon it.

‘None saw it.’

3. That is, my soul is so detached, so denuded, so lonely, so
estranged from all created things, in heaven and earth; it has
become so recollected in Thee, that nothing whatever can come
within sight of that most intimate joy which I have in Thee. That
is, there is nothing whatever that can cause me pleasure with its
sweetness, or disgust with its vileness; for my soul is so far
removed from all such things, absorbed in such profound delight in
Thee, that nothing can behold me. This is not all, for:

‘Neither did Aminadab appear.’

4. Aminadab, in the Holy Writings, signifies the devil; that is
the enemy of the soul, in a spiritual sense, who is ever fighting
against it, and disturbing it with his innumerable artillery, that
it may not enter into the fortress and secret place of interior
recollection with the Bridegroom. There, the soul is so protected,
so strong, so triumphant in virtue which it then practises, so
defended by God’s right hand, that the devil not only dares not
approach it, but runs away from it in great fear, and does not
venture to appear. The practice of virtue, and the state of
perfection to which the soul has come, is a victory over Satan,
and causes him such terror that he cannot present himself before
it. Thus Aminadab appeared not with any right to keep the soul
away from the object of its desire.

‘The siege was intermitted.’

5. By the siege is meant the passions and desires, which, when not
overcome and mortified, surround the soul and fight against it on
all sides. Hence the term ‘siege’ is applied to them. This siege
is ‘intermitted’–that is, the passions are subject to reason and
the desires mortified. Under these circumstances the soul entreats
the Beloved to communicate to it those graces for which it has
prayed, for now the siege is no hindrance. Until the four passions
of the soul are ordered in reason according to God, and until the
desires are mortified and purified, the soul is incapable of
seeing God.

‘The cavalry dismounted at the sight of the waters.’

6. The waters are the spiritual joys and blessings which the soul
now enjoys interiorly with God. The cavalry is the bodily senses
of the sensual part, interior as well as exterior, for they carry
with them the phantasms and figures of their objects. They
dismount now at the sight of the waters, because the sensual and
lower part of the soul in the state of spiritual marriage is
purified, and in a certain way spiritualised, so that the soul
with its powers of sense and natural forces becomes so recollected
as to participate and rejoice, in their way, in the spiritual
grandeurs which God communicates to it in the spirit within. To
this did the Psalmist refer when he said, ‘My heart and my flesh
have rejoiced in the living God.’ [327]

7. It is to be observed that the cavalry did not dismount to taste
of the waters, but only at the sight of them, because the sensual
part of the soul, with its powers, is incapable of tasting
substantially and properly the spiritual blessings, not merely in
this life, but also in the life to come. Still, because of a
certain overflowing of the spirit, they are sensibly refreshed and
delighted, and this delight attracts them–that is, the senses
with their bodily powers–towards that interior recollection where
the soul is drinking the waters of the spiritual benedictions.
This condition of the senses is rather a dismounting at the sight
of the waters than a dismounting for the purpose of seeing or
tasting them. The soul says of them that they dismounted, not that
they went, or did anything else, and the meaning is that in the
communication of the sensual with the spiritual part of the soul,
when the spiritual waters become its drink, the natural operations
subside and merge into spiritual recollection.

8. All these perfections and dispositions of the soul the bride
sets forth before her Beloved, the Son of God, longing at the same
time to be translated by Him out of the spiritual marriage, to
which God has been pleased to advance her in the Church militant,
to the glorious marriage of the Church triumphant. Whereunto may
He bring of His mercy all those who call upon the most sweet name
of Jesus, the Bridegroom of faithful souls, to Whom be all honour
and glory, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost,