PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD THE BEST RULE OF A HOLY LIFE being Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence

Good when He gives, supremely good; Nor less when He denies: Afflictions, from His sovereign hand, Are blessings in disguise. AUTHENTIC EDITION LONDON THE EPWORTH PRESS (Edgar C Barton) 25-35 City Road, E.C.1 PREFACE "I believe in the ... communion of saints." SURELY if additional proof of its reality were needed, it might be found in the universal oneness of experimental Christianity in all ages and in all lands. The experiences of Thomas … Kempis, of Tauler and of Madame Guyon, of John Woolman and Hester Ann Rogers, how marvellously they agree, and how perfectly they harmonize! And Nicholas Herman, of Lorraine, whose letters and converse are here given, testifies to the same truth! In communion with Rome, a lay brother among the Carmelites, for several years a soldier, in an irreligious age, amid a sceptical people, yet in him the practice of the presence of GOD was as much a reality as the "watch" of the early Friends, and the "holy seed" in him and others was the "stock" (Isa. vi. 16) from which grew the household and evangelistic piety of the eighteenth century, of Epworth and of Moorfields. "When unadorned, adorned the most" is the line which deters from any interpolations or interpretations other than the few "contents" headings which are given. May the "Christ in you" be the "hope of glory" to all who read.

FIRST CONVERSATION Conversion and precious employment. þ Satisfaction in God's presence. þ Faith our duty. þ Resignation the fruit of watchfulness. THE first time I saw Brother Lawrence was upon the 3rd of August, 1666. He told me that GOD had done him a singular favour, in his conversion at the age of eighteen. That in the winter, seeing a tree stripped of its leaves, and considering that within a little time, the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear, he received a high view of the Providence and Power of GOD, which has never since been effaced from his soul. That this view had perfectly set him loose from the world, and kindled in him such a love for GOD, that he could not tell whether it had increased in above forty years that he had lived since. That he had been footman to M. Fieubert, the treasurer, and that he was a great awkward fellow who broke everything. That he had desired to be received into a monastery, thinking that he would there be made to smart for his awkwardness and the faults he should commit, and so he should sacrifice to GOD his life, with its pleasures: but that GOD had disappointed him, he having met with nothing but satisfaction in that state. That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD's Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries. That we should feed and nourish our souls with high notions of GOD; which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him. That we ought to quicken, i.e., to enliven, our faith. That it was

and that then he received strength more than sufficient. and nothing else. he gave himself no farther trouble. saying. but if not. he was surprised there were not more. That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually. we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but that after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty. he only confessed his fault. that as he could do nothing of himself. or insensibilities and irksomenesses in prayer. not even His gifts. and that instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct.lamentable we had so little. That to arrive at such resignation as GOD requires. for all would be equal to a soul truly resigned. whether He lead us by suffering or by consolation.. but that GOD still continued to bestow them in abundance. without selfish views. we should watch attentively over all the passions which mingle as well in spiritual things as those of a grosser nature: that GOD would give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him. when He pleased. that all the men in the world could not have persuaded him to the contrary. whatever becomes of me. sincerely to serve GOD. and that it was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection. þ All scruples brought to God. That the way of Faith was the spirit of the Church. þ Diligence and love. he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method. on the contrary. but that he was not uneasy about it. Simplicity the key to Divine assistance. seeking Him only. I will always continue to act purely for the love of GOD. That he placed his sins betwixt him and GOD. That he was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of GOD. þ Business abroad as at home. That we ought to give ourselves up to GOD. That when an occasion of practising some virtue offered. but knowing that GOD could remedy the mischiefs they did. that I ought no more to visit him. SECOND CONVERSATION Love the motive of all. considering the malice sinners were capable of: that for his part. þ Once in fear. but that he had thus reasoned with himself about it: I did not engage in a religious life but for the love of GOD. and referring all we do to Him. That since that time he had passed his life in perfect liberty and continual joy. I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me. without any fear of being troublesome. with regard both to things temporal and spiritual. That when he had failed in his duty. that then was the time for us to make good and effectual acts of resignation. he prayed for them. to tell Him that he did not deserve His favours. Lawrence) as often as I pleased. whether I be lost or saved. and that having resolved to make the love of GOD the end of all his actions. now in joy. that. and I have endeavoured to act only for Him. I might come to him (Bro. That as for the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world. during which time he had suffered much. which changed daily. as it were. That he had been long troubled in mind from a certain belief that he should be damned. that till death I shall have done all that is in me to love Him. whereof one alone would oftentimes very much promote our spiritual advancement. he addressed himself to GOD. That he had always been governed by love. That this trouble of mind had lasted four years. That there needed fidelity in those drynesses. saying . I shall have this good at least. That he expected after the pleasant days GOD had given him. and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling His will. knowing very well. GOD would not fail to give him the strength to bear them. men amused themselves with trivial devotions. he should have his turn of pain and suffering. by which GOD tries our love to Him. he was so far from wondering at them. viz. þ times of prayer and self-mortification not essential for the practice. That if this was my design. LORD.

It was His business he was about. or our salvation. he gave himself no further uneasiness about it. That in his trouble of mind. doing them with a desire to please GOD. likewise. That our only business was to love and delight ourselves in GOD. That we ought. That however he gave himself no uneasiness about it. That nevertheless. as more signal monuments of His mercy. as soon as we perceived their impertinence to the matter in hand. he contented himself with directing all his actions to Him. That at the beginning he had often passed his time appointed for prayer. i. at first he had meditated for some time. and with prayer. to expect the pardon of our sins from the Blood of JESUS CHRIST. That he had been lately sent into Burgundy. When he had so done. only endeavouring to love Him with all our hearts. and did not plead against Him to excuse them. So. I shall never do otherwise. speaking to Him frankly and plainly. but not discouraged by them. he had consulted nobody. That we ought to make a great difference between the acts of the understanding and those of the will. because his greatest business did not divert him from GOD. that the first were comparatively of little value. but that he was as ready to quit that as the former. having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of GOD. That GOD never failed to grant it. just as they happen. That as he know his obligation to love GOD in all things. let what would come of it. and falling back into them. which was a very unwelcome task for him. "tis You must hinder my falling. but that he needed much a confessor to absolve him. That all possible kinds of mortification. That with him the set times of prayer were not different from other times: that he retired to pray. nor about the purchase of the wine. according to the directions of his Superior. he peaceably resumed his usual practice of love and adoration. that he had well considered this. during the fifteen years that he had been employed there. nor ask for it.e. because he had no turn for business and because he was lame. in his business in the kitchen (to which he had naturally a great aversion). but that we ought to reject them. and return to our communion with GOD.. upon all occasions. he had no need of a director to advise him. That he had been sent into Auvergne the year before upon the same account. That we ought to act with GOD in the greatest simplicity. if they were void of the love of GOD. could not efface a single sin. and mend what is amiss. that he confessed them to GOD. by doing little things for the love of GOD. without anxiety. and doing all things for His sake. . but as they serve to arrive at the union with GOD by love. as he had often experienced. that he could not tell how the matter passed. That he was very sensible of his faults. That he said to GOD. and imploring His assistance in our affairs. and as he endeavoured so to do. and the others all. if You leave me to myself. That after this. since he was always pleasing himself in every condition. and could not go about the boat but by rolling himself over the casks. he had found everything easy. for His grace to do his work well. That all bodily mortifications and other exercises are useless. and that he afterwards found it very well performed. in a manner that he could give no account of. to buy the provision of wine for the society. but that it proved very well. but that he did not want such retirement. That useless thoughts spoil all: that the mischief began there. That he could never regulate his devotion by certain methods as some do. but afterwards that went off. That he was very well pleased with the post he was now in. but knowing only by the light of faith that GOD was present. in rejecting wandering thoughts. That GOD seemed to have granted the greatest favours to the greatest sinners. and found it the shortest way to go straight to Him by a continual exercise of love.

because they stick in penances. but when it was time to do it. That he had so often experienced the ready succours of Divine Grace upon all occasions. That when sometimes he had not thought of GOD for a good while. and had no occasion to consult with anybody about his state. and therefore that he feared nothing. when he had business to do. then I give GOD thanks.That the greatest pains or pleasures. he had no other care at first. FOURTH CONVERSATION The manner of going to God. and particular exercises. and that as he was conscious of his readiness to lay down his life for the love of GOD.. that he might perform all his actions for the love of GOD. that the foundation of the spiritual life in him had been a high notion and esteem of GOD in faith. þ The whole substance of religion. with which everything became easy. saying. That there needed neither art nor science for going to GOD. without anticipating care. he did not disquiet himself for it. when I fail in my duty. I readily acknowledge it. which when he had once well conceived. but before the experience above mentioned. for. not only that GOD should deceive. þ Outward business no detriment. but after that unspeakable pleasures followed: that in difficulties we need only have recourse to JESUS CHRIST. and was the reason why we see so little solid virtue. than when he left them for devotion in retirement. but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him. and draws down great graces. That the trust we put in GOD honours Him much. That when he had attempted to do it. he did not think of it beforehand. That he expected hereafter some great pain of body or mind. said he. That he had no scruples. he had no apprehension of danger. if I am left to myself. If I fail not. That this appeared plainly by their works. and to love Him only. acknowledging that it comes from Him. þ Perfect resignation the sure way. while they neglect the love of GOD. That in the beginning of the spiritual life. by how much he found himself more wretched to have forgot Him. þ Sanctification in common business. That he was more united to GOD in his outward employments. and that He would give him strength to bear whatever evil He permitted to happen to him. a way in which we had always sufficient light for our conduct. that the worst that could happen to him was. and resolved to endure everything for His sake. that he might not offend Him. were not to be compared with what he had experienced of both kinds in a spiritual state: so that he was careful for nothing and feared nothing. a fresh remembrance coming from GOD invested his soul. and so inflamed and transported him that it was difficult for him to contain himself. but faithfully to reject every other thought. That of late he had acted thus. When outward business diverted him a little from the thought of GOD. I am used to do so: I shall never do otherwise. and beg His grace. but also that He should long let a soul suffer which is perfectly resigned to Him. þ Prayer and the presence of God. THIRD CONVERSATION Faith working by love. or for His sake. That it was impossible. That perfect resignation to GOD was a sure way to heaven. which is the end. of this world. but after having acknowledged his wretchedness to GOD. as in a clear mirror. we ought to be faithful in doing our duty and denying ourselves. viz. that from the same experience. þ . He told me. he had used it in his affairs. þ Prayer and praise prevent discouragement. to lose that sense of GOD. þ Hearty renunciation. he found in GOD. he returned to Him with so much the greater trust in Him. all that was fit for him to do. desiring but one only thing of GOD. but that the goodness of GOD assured him He would not forsake him utterly. That many do not advance in the Christian progress. which he had enjoyed so long. he had always come away more perplexed.

That his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of GOD. yet hoped that GOD would give him somewhat to suffer. but that at last we should gain a habit. i. 5. and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues. That in this conversation with GOD. 10. heartily to put our whole trust in GOD. hope. 6. we often failed in our endeavours. addicting themselves to certain works. and to our exceeding great delight. That we need only to recognize GOD intimately present with us. with freedom and in simplicity. [Gal. for His infinite goodness and perfection. that all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything which we are sensible does not lead to GOD. that they are less difficult to him who hopes. concerning his manner of going to GOD. and never failed of it. which will naturally produce its acts in us. offering them to Him before we do them.Self-estimation þ Further personal experience. that we may arrive at our end. and loving him incessantly. who regards not the greatness of the work. by the practice of which we become united to the will of GOD: that all beside is indifferent and to be used as a means. was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men. and giving Him thanks when we have done. as relying upon the infinite merits of our LORD. That. by reason of their human or selfish regards. unless when his thoughts had wandered from a sense of GOD's Presence. and be swallowed up therein. and for rightly performing those which we plainly see He requires of us. but the love with which it is performed. and charity. in this life. He told me. he found no difference. we should pray for His grace with a perfect confidence. when he should grow stronger. to address ourselves to Him every moment. as by prayer in its season. which we commonly do for our own. vi. that we may beg His assistance for knowing His will in things doubtful. That the end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become. without being discouraged on account of our sins. That it was lamentable to see how many people mistook the means for the end. when we had no other design but to please Him. adoring. or he had forgot to ask His assistance. that we might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him. without our care. He discoursed with me very frequently. the most perfect worshippers of GOD we can possibly be. that we are as strictly obliged to adhere to GOD by action in the time of action. That the whole substance of religion was faith. once for all. which they performed very imperfectly. that he distinctly perceived it. and with great openness of heart. Eph. in the beginning. That GOD always gave us light in our doubts. whereof some part is related already. they are more easy to him who loves. because he still continued with GOD. That we ought.] and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of GOD. That all things are possible to him who believes. as we hope . That our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works. That the most excellent method he had found of going to GOD. That it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. and make a total surrender of ourselves to Him. That GOD never failed offering us His grace at each action. but in doing that for GOD's sake. by faith and charity. That we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of GOD. so that he passed his life in continual joy. we are also employed in praising. secure that He would not deceive us. That we should not wonder if. praising and blessing Him with all his might. his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine love: and that when the appointed times of prayer were past.

and bear them as long as GOD pleases. but his example was a stronger inducement than any arguments he could propose. That when he had thus in prayer filled his mind with great sentiments of that infinite Being. he spent all the intervals of his time. on the contrary. That by this short and sure method." As Bro. as things highly advantageous to us. That in the beginning of his novitiate he spent the hours appointed for private prayer in thinking of GOD. he asked pardon. receive all my works. and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen. "does not with me differ from the time of prayer. he set his mind right again. wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of GOD. such a sweet and calm devotion appearing in it. as the mark to which they should tend. the Divine existence. as well before as after his work. since his first coming to the monastery. but did each thing in its season. he exercised himself in the knowledge and love of GOD. and such as do not deserve the name of Christians. After this." As he proceeded in his work. and in which they should terminate. as if he had never deviated from it. temptations. oppositions and contradictions. happen to us from men. he still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen. We ought. if possible. His very countenance was edifying. as it was at first to accustom myself to it. never to forget Him more. and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love. That when we enter upon the spiritual we should consider. and possess all my affections. with a filial trust in Him. When he had finished. Being questioned by one of his own society (to whom he was obliged to open himself) by what means he had attained such an habitual sense of GOD? he told him that. and examine to the bottom. "by rising after my falls. and cause perpetual vicissitudes in our health. since Thou art with me. and without being discouraged. what we are. so as to convince his mind of. while several persons are at the same time calling for different things. in prayer. That. I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy Presence. And it was observed. which trouble us. in our humours. and to impress deeply upon his heart. we should not wonder that troubles. persons whom GOD would humble by many pains and labours. he returned thanks to GOD. when he began his business. and when and how each thing was to be done. there having first considered severally the things his office required. as could not but affect the beholders. and continued his exercise of the presence of GOD. he went to his work appointed in the kitchen (for he was cook to the society). He was never hasty nor loitering. the more dependent it is upon Divine grace. than by studied reasonings and elaborate meditations. "Thus. in our internal and external dispositions: in fine. apply my mind to these outward things. he said to GOD. and offering to Him all his actions. he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker. I am come to a state. it was natural for him to recommend it earnestly to others. "O my GOD. he examined himself how he had discharged his duty. as well within as be through all eternity. he had considered GOD as the end of all his thoughts and desires. imploring His grace. and. in obedience to Thy commands. resolving to use his utmost endeavour to live in a continual sense of His Presence. and numberless accidents. and submission to the lights of faith." said he. And then we should find ourselves worthy of all contempt. if he found well. to submit ourselves to them. Lawrence had found such an advantage in walking in the presence of GOD. if otherwise. with an even uninterrupted composure and tranquillity of spirit. "The time of business. and I must now. and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance." said he. That the greater perfection a soul aspires after. subject to all kinds of misery. rather by devout sentiments. I possess GOD in as great .

wherewith we ask. if you please. Amen. even in the height of my business. yet I have found great advantages by it. which begins with servile fear. for at all times. and I still less than any. by often repeating these acts. and which is consummated by pure love. I well know. If I knew that you would let it be seen. at least wilfully. I have not followed all these methods. and now I do it only upon the terms. as my GOD: I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could. and though I have done it very imperfectly. for the . I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me. þ Faith alone consistently and persistently. I made this my business. SECOND LETTER Difference between himself and others. In fine. notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred. and divers practices of the spiritual life.tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament. Give Him thanks. that it is with great difficulty that I am prevailed on by your importunities. to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins. and the presence of GOD is rendered as it were natural to us. This was the reason why. for greater security. which is increased by hope of eternal life. yet. because we can do nothing without Him. and doing anything that may displease Him. without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily. Sometimes I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his judge. and that successfully. for His great goodness towards me. has been pleased to vouchsafe to me. but it also begets in us a holy freedom. I took a resolution to give myself up to GOD. I shall be glad to know your thoughts concerning it. that you show my letter to nobody. and if I may so speak. a familiarity with GOD. keeping my mind in His holy Presence. that each of these states had its different stages. But when we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy Presence. These. I found no small pain in this exercise. I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of GOD. þ Deprecates this state being considered a delusion. are to be imputed to the mere mercy and goodness of GOD. which our LORD. at other times I beheld Him in my heart as my FATHER. This made me resolve to give the all for the All: so after having given myself wholly to GOD. The account I can give you is: Having found in many books different methods of going to GOD. and yet I continued it. of His mercy. In a conversation some days since with a person of piety. I found they discouraged me. by which one arrives at last at that blessed consummation. NOT finding my manner of life in books." LETTERS FIRST LETTER How the habitual sense of God's Presence was found. although I have no difficulty about it. they become habitual. I renounced. Such has been my common practice ever since I entered into religion. he told me the spiritual life was a life of grace. May all things praise Him. as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer. and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. every hour. which I can never sufficiently admire. and. the graces we stand in need of. at my entrance into religion. from I know not what instincts. I must tell you. this not only hinders our offending Him. SINCE you desire so earnestly that I should communicate to you the method by which I arrived at that habitual sense of GOD's Presence. On the contrary. than facilitate what I sought after. with me. everything that was not He. for the love of Him. and set Him always before us. all the desire that I have for your advancement would not be able to determine me to it. every minute. for the many favours He has done to so miserable a sinner as I am. which was nothing but how to become wholly GOD's. as the best satisfaction I could make for my sins. and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world.

that He may do what He pleases with me. and my soul. which till that time was in trouble. and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. and a general fond regard to GOD. I have quitted all forms of devotion and set prayers but those to which my state obliges me. full of sores and corruption. I commonly employed myself during the time set apart for devotion. with the thoughts of death. It seemed to me that the creatures. I hope that when I have done what I can. I found myself changed all at once. This King. embraces me with love. wherein I keep myself by a simple attention. Thus I continued some years applying my mind carefully the rest of the day. often as in me. I have no pain or difficulty about my state. that I may not be tedious to you. For the first years. so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them. reason. to renounce all besides. Ever since that time I walk before GOD simply. as if she were in her centre and place of rest. were he matter and source of my sufferings. When I thought of nothing but to end my days in these troubles (which did not at all diminish the trust I had in GOD. and my sins. which apprehends GOD as infinite and incomprehensible. which I may call an actual presence of of Him. that to believe I had received such favours was an effect of my presumption. I was troubled sometimes with thoughts. I pass over many things. and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him. and therefore his mind was not to be satisfied but by the views of faith. that my soul has been with GOD above these thirty years.] Such was my beginning. silent. to speak better. hell. judgement. which I endeavour to accomplish in all things. with humility and with love. which often causes in me joys and raptures inwardly. I consider myself as the most wretched of men. I am assured beyond all doubt. that for the first ten years I suffered much: the apprehension that I was not devoted to GOD. I cannot express it. at other times that it was a wilful delusion. makes me eat at His table. and treats me in all respects as His favourite. [I suppose he means that all distinct notions he could form of GOD were unsatisfactory. And faith alone for me. my past sins always present to my mind. or from any other motive but purely that of love to Him. and prevent their appearance to others. At length I came insensibly to do the same thing during my set time of prayer. and which served only to increase my faith). that I would not take up a straw from the ground against His order. as He is in Himself. He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly. It is thus I . whom I behold as my King. I abandon myself in His hands. I ask His forgiveness. and to which I am so resigned. As for what passes in me at present. and rose again presently. and that there was no salvation for me. an habitual. because he perceived them to be unworthy of GOD. and GOD Himself were against me. During this time I fell often. and not as He can be conceived by human ideas. which pretended to be at once where others arrive with difficulty. And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence. and sometimes also outwardly. He will do with me what He pleases. felt a profound inward peace. full of mercy and goodness. in a thousand and a thousand ways. and the great unmerited favours which GOD did me. or. and even in the midst of my business. serves me with His own hands. touched with a sensible regret I confess to Him all my wickedness. In short. which caused in me great delight and consolation. because I have no will but that of GOD. yet I think it proper to inform you after what manner I consider myself before GOD. heaven. as I wished to be. that faith alone was capable to satisfy me in that point. whom I considered always as with me. gives me the key of His treasures. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for GOD. to the presence of GOD. in faith. very far from chastising me. and yet I must tell you. and secret conversation of the soul with GOD.

however short. so charming and delicious that I am ashamed to mention them. but would now rather hinder than assist her. If this be delusion in me. as in its centre and place of rest. Yet I cannot bear that this should be called delusion. because the soul which thus enjoys GOD desires herein nothing but Him. if you please. and would be a happy self-love. I desire your reverence to reflect rather upon my great wretchedness. she cannot be disturbed by such acts as she was formerly accustomed to. a little remembrance of GOD. I always thought that He would reduce you to extremity. as a stone before a carver. I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine. and a great deal of youth. one act of inward worship. and when you least expect it. My most usual method is this simple attention. who is daily exposed to dangers of life. for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there. it is very fit and most necessary for a soldier. WE have a GOD who is infinitely gracious. I admire also the fortitude and bravery of M. I should choose to call this state the bosom of GOD. it is an accident very proper to engage him to put all his trust in Him. oblige me in sending me your opinion. Let Him do what He pleases with me: I desire only Him. Recommend to him. . than upon the great favours which GOD does me. are nevertheless very acceptable to GOD. but there is in him still a little of the world. I am presently recalled by inward motions. in the manner here directed. THIRD LETTER For a soldier friend whom he encourages to trust in God. A little lifting up the heart suffices. when I apply myself to prayer. let him accustom himself. by degrees. I hope the affliction which GOD has sent him will prove a wholesome remedy to him. and it continues as it were suspended and firmly fixed in GOD. if the soul in that state were capable of it. and self-love: I confess that it is a holy inactivity. who accompanies him everywhere: let him think of Him the oftenest he can. to which I always pay a great deference. and a good will. it belongs to GOD to remedy it. Let him then think of GOD the most he can. they arc only a continuation of the same exercise. all unworthy and ungrateful as I am. Hope in Him more than ever: thank Him with me for the favours He does you. and give thanks for all. and to be wholly devoted Him. to this small but holy exercise. though upon a march. however. and knows all our wants. particularly for the fortitude and patience which He gives you in your afflictions: it is a plain mark of the care He takes of you. He will come in His own time. to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother's breast: so that if I dare use the expression. If sometimes my thoughts wander from it by necessity or infirmity. whereof he is to make a statue: presenting myself thus before GOD. and . they best serve to fortify it. I know that some charge this state with inactivity. You will. especially in the greatest dangers. because in effect. nobody perceives it. are prayers which. comfort yourself then with Him. and which were then her support. and sword in hand. I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul. and nothing is easier than to repeat often in the day these little internal adorations. for I have a singular esteem for your reverence. Sometimes I consider myself there. that he think of GOD the most he can. GOD has given him a good disposition.consider myself from time to time in His holy presence. of which you are fully informed. and such a general passionate regard to GOD. while she is in this repose. At other times. and render me entirely like Himself. delusion. and make him enter into himself. and far from lessening a soldier's courage in occasions of danger. As for my set hours of prayer. and am yours in our Lord.

his soul has been filled with joys so continual. FOURTH LETTER Writes of himself as of a third person. The experience of these things gives him such an assurance that GOD is always in the depth or bottom of his soul. that . spreads itself with impetuosity and abundance. If sometimes he is a little too much absent from that Divine presence. But let us stop it no more: let us enter into ourselves and break down the bank which hinders it. Blind as we are. and cries often that we are to be pitied who content ourselves with so little. that you will not be surprised. there they flow like a torrent. You must know. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith. it is the one thing necessary: we must. let us awake the LORD. He pours into it His graces and favours plentifully. who reposes in it. Let you and me both profit by them. If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms. nevertheless. He is now so accustomed to that Divine presence. while he continually finds in himself so great a treasure: he is no longer in an anxious search after it. or by such words as love forms upon these occasions. always work at it. and sometimes so great. GOD presently makes Himself to be felt in his soul to recall him. and we take up with a little sensible devotion which passes in a moment. to whom I present my service. to be always with GOD. when it has found a passage. being theirs and yours. satisfied with such few words. for above forty years past that he has spent in religion. and to hinder their appearing outwardly. My GOD. I have taken the liberty to impart to you these good sentiments. or by a meek and fond regard to Him. I hope that GOD will assist him and all the family. The time presses: there is no room for delay. death follows us close. we often stop this torrent. Let us make way for grace. that he is forced to use means to moderate them. because not to advance. let us be well prepared for it. for we die but once. which often happens when he is most engaged in his outward business: he answers with exact fidelity to these inward drawings. which. in the spiritual life. upon any account whatever. say nothing. either by an elevation of his heart towards GOD. his continual care has been. but has it open before him. has infinite treasure to bestow. I believe you have taken such effectual measures. GOD. He complains much of our blindness. and think nothing which may displease Him. I say again. here I am all devoted to Thee: LORD. and renders him incapable of doubting it. and this without any other view than purely for the love of Him. that he receives from it continual succours upon all occasions. for perhaps we have but little left. and rests in the depth and centre of his soul. after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course. I HAVE taken this opportunity to communicate to you the sentiments of one of our society concerning the admirable effects and continual assistances which he receives from the presence of GOD. Judge by this what content and satisfaction he enjoys. our souls are at stake. and a miscarriage there is irretrievable. For about thirty years. and encourages his correspondent to press on to fuller practising of the Presence of God. is to go back. let us redeem the lost time. we hinder GOD. Yes. by the little value we set upon it. as for instance.often of his salvation. make me according to Thy heart. And then it seems to him (as in effect he feels it) that this GOD of love. and stop the current of His graces. But those who have the gale of the HOLY SPIRIT go forward even in sleep. saith he. and He will quickly calm the sea. and to do nothing. I commend you for it. and because He deserves infinitely more. let us enter into ourselves. and may take what he pleases of it. reposes again.

þ. pray do not disappoint her. who is preparing to make her profession. if by misfortune (which GOD forbid. I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of GOD. Beg of GOD that she may make her sacrifice in the view of His love alone. deprived for the love of Him. I should advise all the world to do it: so necessary do I think it. SIXTH LETTER To a member of the order who had received from him a book. and do in it what He pleases. and those of your holy society. There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful. contains the whole spiritual life. I RECEIVED this day two books and a letter from Sister. Set heartily about this work. without emptying it of all besides. but known of GOD. For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can. FIFTH LETTER Prayer for a sister who is about to make a vow and profession. þ Encouragement to persevere. and extremely caressed by Him. but the least turning from Him is insupportable. and if you do it as you ought. unless it be left vacant to Him. and to spend the rest of your days in His sacred presence. because GOD will possess the heart alone. and it seems to me that whoever duly practises it will soon become spiritual. and which you must have received. Pray set heartily about the practice of it in your old age. nay often. a subject which. may compare them with your own: they will serve again to kindle and inflame them. and while I am so with Him I fear nothing. it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise. who is little known of the world. not for a moment. who am yours in our LORD. of many little pleasures which are innocent and lawful: for GOD will not permit that a soul which desires to be devoted entirely to Him should take other pleasures than with Him. do you pray instantly for me. and yours in particular. and because GOD would have us. it is better late than never. Believe me. Were I a preacher. I know that for the right practice of it. I should above all other things preach the practice of the presence of GOD. we should never lose sight of Him. for it would be indeed a great misfortune) they should be. I will send you one of those books which treat of the presence of GOD. and as He cannot possess it alone. if He thinks fit. and were I a director. though never so little. Let us then both recall our first fervours. but let us do it from a principle of love. make immediately a holy and firm resolution never more wilfully to forget Him. and to whom he again enlarges on his favourite topic. þ A fresh insisting upon the necessity and virtue of practising the Presence of God. so neither can He act there. of all consolations. that is more than reasonable. and upon that account desires the prayers of your holy society. yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive. I wonder that you have not given me your thoughts of the little book I sent to you. in my opinion. I HAVE received from Mrs. Let us profit by the example and the sentiments of this brother. I perceive that she reckons much upon them. Ah! knew we but the want we have of the grace and assistance of GOD. proper to deprive it sometimes. be assured that you will soon find the effects of it. and with a firm resolution to be wholly devoted to Him. I will pray for you. the heart must be empty of all other things. than that of a continual conversation with GOD: those only can comprehend it who practise and experience it. This exercise does not much fatigue the body: it is.the things which you gave her for me. however. poor as they are: I recommend myself earnestly to yours. . cooled. and so easy too. I will assist you with my prayers.

so when by this exercise of the presence of GOD we are with Him who is our end. as often as we find it wandering from Him. and spend the remainder of your life only in worshipping GOD. and when you are in company: the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. May He be blessed for all. Have courage.of my poor prayers. for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection. to converse with Him in meekness. It is. and I am almost eighty. you must do yourself violence. Amen. We have but little time to live. notwithstanding all the difficulties that may occur. and yours in particular. some less: He knows what we can do. When the mind. at our first engaging in devotion. Be not discouraged by the repugnance which you may find in it from nature. and even some particular forms of devotion. or thanksgiving. At the first. and commonly . in the midst of your troubles. and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favours He has given you. No. of adoration. but we may continue with Him our commerce of love. without trouble or disquiet. but you must go on. while we are with Him: and the greatest pleasures will be. to beg His grace. YOU tell me nothing new: you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts. who is sixty-four. I am yours in our LORD.I do not say that therefore we must put any violent constraint upon ourselves. as their last end. I PITY you much. It will be of great importance if you can leave the care of your affairs to. though very good in themselves. and yours particularly. laying aside all other cares. and still gives you. EIGHTH LETTER Concerning wandering thoughts in prayer. even every moment if you can. with love and humility. yet such as one often engages in unreasonably: because those devotions are only means to attain to the end. Use yourself then by degrees thus to worship Him. He is nearer to us than we are aware of. Every one is capable of such familiar conversation with GOD. to offer Him your heart from time to time. you are near sixty-four. some more. has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation. recalling our mind to GOD mildly and with tranquillity. You need not cry very loud. she must recall them. You may assure þ. and love. wherein to retire from time to time. and carry them to GOD. but as the will is mistress of all our faculties. or particular forms of devotion. however. Let us live and die with GOD: sufferings will be sweet and pleasant to us. humility. persevering in His holy presence: one while by an act of praise. or of desire. and resolve to persevere in it to death. they are difficult to overcome. one while by an act of resignation. perhaps He expects but one generous resolution on our part. and in all the manner which our spirit can invent. Our mind is extremely roving. a cruel punishment to us. He requires no great matters of us. in the midst of your business. I recommend myself to the prayers of your holy society. sometimes even at your meals. Lift up your heart to Him. SEVENTH LETTER At the age of nearly fourscore exhorts his correspondent. without Him. Do not always scrupulously confine yourself to certain rules. and that I am their servant. it is then useless to return to the means. but act with a general confidence in GOD. Let us begin then. necessary to put our whole trust in GOD. one often thinks it lost time. we must serve GOD in a holy freedom. a little adoration: sometimes to pray for His grace. It is not necessary for being with GOD to be always at church. we must do our business faithfully. a little remembrance of Him from time to time. sometimes to offer Him your sufferings. we may make an oratory of our heart. to live and die with God and promises and asks for prayer.

you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer. to the things of the earth. pray deliver it to her. in receiving the abundance of His grace. upon the ill use I have made of them. let us generously renounce. in my former letters. In order to know GOD. and without which we can do nothing but sin. She seems to me full of good will. who by His mercy has called us to this state and for that very end? I am filled with shame and confusion. and my small advancement in the way of perfection. even against our wills. You and I have lived above forty years in religion [i. is not to let it wander too far at other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of GOD. Let us think of Him perpetually.e. but she would go faster than grace. You will oblige me to let me hear of her from time to time. and to humble ourselves before GOD. for this is the best and easiest method I know. þ The . Let us put all our trust in Him: I doubt not but we shall soon find the effects of it. whom he regards with respect tinged with fear. than to re-collect it. but by a holy habit which we should form of it? You will tell me that I am always saying the same thing: it is true. to confess our faults. One does not become holy all at once. and incessantly continues to do. þ His old theme concisely put. like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man's gate: let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the LORD.. do not much disquiet yourself for that. Let us thus think often that our only business in this life is to please GOD. One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer. me. We must know before we can love. we shall then also think of Him often. THE enclosed is an answer to that which I received from þ . and whether she be very fervent and very obedient. and when we come to love Him. NINTH LETTER Enclosing a letter to a corresponding sister. with which we can do all things. when I reflect on the one hand upon the great favours which GOD has done. Have we employed them in loving and serving GOD. for our heart will be with our treasure. trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind. many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering: hold yourself in prayer before GOD. and preserve it more in tranquillity. and as I use no other. we must often think of Him. This is an argument which well deserves your consideration. all that is not Himself. let us repair the lost time. We cannot escape the dangers which abound in life. the will must bring it back in tranquillity. but sacrifices his will. and on the other. and yet more by our good examples. let us then pray to Him for it continually. without the actual and continual help of GOD. a monastic life]. He deserves infinitely more. If it sometimes wander. TENTH LETTER Has difficulty. I advise all the world to it. I have told you already at large. Since by His mercy He gives us still a little time. of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of GOD: let us set about it seriously and pray for one another. GOD will have pity on you. I believe one remedy for this is. if you persevere in this manner. Let us renounce. who is always ready to receive us affectionately. How can we pray to Him without being with Him? How can we be with Him but in thinking of Him often? And how can we often think of Him. let us return with a full assurance to that FATHER of mercies. and withdraw itself from Him.draw us. and being accustomed to think of Him often. to write as requested. I recommend her to you: we ought to help one another by our advice. let us begin in earnest. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer. or at least to recall it from its wanderings. for the love of Him. that perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.

they find nothing in it but grief and distress. Whatever remedies you make use of. Pains and suffering would be a paradise . He often sends diseases of the body. and puts all his confidence in GOD. by putting greater confidence in physic than in GOD. þ makes his advantage of the loss he has had. but without encroaching upon the love of GOD. and you will soon find the effects of it in your recovery. YOU have reason: but think you that it would be a small pain to the greatest criminal in the world. by night. to eat at the king's table. but only his trust in the goodness of his sovereign. to think often on GOD. as well as the uncertainty of my pardon. which we often retard. in your business. they will succeed only so far as He permits. I DO not pray that you may be delivered from your pains. and be served by him. and I do it now purely because you and Madam desire me. yet my sins. He only can cure them. as He shall judge to be necessary for you. in a word. which must be the principal. as the effects of His mercy. that I eat and drink at the table of the LORD. and as long. leave Him not alone. this is the glorious employment of a Christian. Be satisfied with the condition in which GOD places you: however happy you may think me. Perhaps M. He will soon give him another friend. this is our profession. I will endeavour to help you with my prayers. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross: He will loose you when He thinks fit. I am very well pleased with the trust which you have in GOD: I wish that He may increase it in you more and more: we cannot have too much in so good and faithful a Friend. nor is it to be wondered at. Happy those who suffer with Him: accustom yourself to suffer in that manner. though in truth that torment itself is pleasing. and not as a favour from GOD. So I assure you. I HAVE had a good deal of difficulty to bring myself to write to M. ever present before my eyes. and seek from Him the strength to endure as much. But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of GOD. þ . The men of the world do not comprehend these truths. and the means which He employs for their salvation. since they suffer like what they are. He reserves your cure to Himself. and notwithstanding such favours to be without assurance of pardon? I believe he would feel exceeding great uneasiness. that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my King. I envy you. if we do not know it we must learn it. and am yours in our LORD. more powerful and more inclined to serve him. I wish you could convince yourself that GOD is often (in some sense) nearer to us and more effectually present with us. He disposes of hearts as He pleases. þ Feels that he would gladly suffer at His wish. Put then all your trust in Him. When pains come from GOD. and such as nothing could moderate. God is the Physician of body and of soul. He is always near you and with you. ELEVENTH LETTER To one who is in great pain. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone. torment me. by day.loss of a friend may lead to acquaintance with the Friend. Pray write the directions and send it to him. We ought to love our friends. for. which is. according to my apprehension. in sickness than in health. If M. to cure those of the soul. but I pray GOD earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. commonly find in it great sweetness and sensible consolation. who came to visit you: why then must GOD be neglected? Do not then forget Him. and even in your diversions. Rely upon no other Physician. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of soul and body. and seeing it only in that light. who will never fail us in this world nor in the next. Pray remember what I have recommended to you. þ was too much attached to him he has lost. I foresee that you will tell me that I am very much at my ease. and not like Christians: they consider sickness as a pain to nature. but think on Him often. adore Him continually live and die with Him.

in that assurance and that practice of faith. and sweet to those that love Him. it will not be tempting GOD to abandon yourself in His hands. and. Take courage. and resign yourself entirely to the providence of GOD. "tis my opinion that you should leave off human remedies. and you will bear them more easily. as I for you. all that He should please. and so great. offer yourself to Him from time to time. and your malady still increases. because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do. if I could relish them without Him. that He sometimes permits bodily diseases to cure the distempers of the soul. TWELFTH LETTER To the same correspondent probably. that I can scarce contain them. and the foundation of our confidence. Above all. I AM in pain to see you suffer so long. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone. Do you pray for me. GOD often permits that we should suffer a little. ought to be our support. in the height of your sufferings. indeed. for the love of Him. Such prayers. perhaps He stays only for that resignation and a perfect trust in Him to cure you. and I. what gives me some ease. and sweetens the feeling I have of your griefs. As your case is. He is the FATHER of the afflicted. physic has hitherto proved unsuccessful. beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will. offer Him your pains incessantly. I must. Do you so. who is the only Physician of all our maladies. not deliverance from your pains. I will live and die with Him. I told you. I feel what faith teaches us. that He never forsakes us. He sometimes hides Himself from us: but faith alone. all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. I beseech you. I present my service. which will not fail us in time of need. IF we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of GOD. Let us live and die in His presence. who deserve the severest discipline. pray to Him for strength to endure them. I shall endeavour to assist you with my poor prayers. THIRTEENTH LETTER To the same he exhorts for fuller and entire confidence in God. I believe no more. Let us be always with Him. Love sweetens pains. in a little time. but I see. feel joys so continual. while I should suffer with my GOD. to purify our souls. one suffers for His sake with joy and courage. and. I shall beseech Him to be with you. Continue then always with GOD: "tis the only support and comfort for your affliction. and I see Him in such a manner as might make me say sometimes. and the greatest pleasure would be hell to me. Let us fear to leave Him. which must be all in GOD. and forget Him the least you can. all my consolation would be to suffer something for His sake. I should be the most wretched man alive. but that I know my weakness. . and oblige us to continue with Him. till we have first forsaken Him. that if He left me one moment to myself. but most acceptable to GOD. are a little hard to nature. get a habit of entertaining yourself often with GOD. in my last. and when one loves GOD. I know not how GOD will dispose of me: I am always happy: all the world suffer. that I now see Him by faith. but strength to bear resolutely. I would willingly ask of GOD a part of your sufferings. is that they are proofs of GOD's love towards you: see them in that view. comfort yourself with Him. Have courage then: make a virtue of necessity: ask of GOD. GOD has many ways of drawing us to Himself. for body and me. Adore Him in your infirmities. and expresses his own abiding comfort through faith. and as long as He shall please. What comforts me in this life is. which is so great. go to GOD. and expect all from Him. Since notwithstanding all your cares.

] Appendix A . though I was never so much satisfied as then. Let us seek Him often by faith: He is within us. which He never refuses to them who ask it earnestly. for having relieved you a little. that we may love. we shall soon see that change wrought in us which we aspire after. but when we see them in the wrong light. which do not please Him and perhaps offend Him? 'Tis to be feared these trifles will one day cost us dear. I will help you with my prayers. Let all our employment be to know GOD: the more one knows Him. Such favours. Let us cast everything besides out of our hearts. If we do what we can on our parts. The sorest afflictions never appear intolerable. if we leave Him alone. to busy ourselves about trifles. and all that He does is for our good. seek Him not elsewhere. FOURTEENTH LETTER Gratitude. we must accustom ourselves to a familiar. the beginning is very difficult. we should be always ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter. Are we not rude and deserve blame. . humble. Pray to Him for me. and measure of relief while he has himself been near death. I know that to arrive at this state. nor say. and shall be. who dispenses them: when we know that it is our loving FATHER. and seek not consolation elsewhere: I hope you will soon receive it. but I prayed for strength to suffer with courage. we know also that we can do all things with the grace of GOD. Beg this favour of Him. I have been often near expiring. Let us begin to be devoted to Him in good earnest. FIFTEENTH LETTER From his death-bed. wherein to adore Him incessantly: we must watch continually over ourselves. GOD knoweth best what is needful for us. for mercies to his correspondent. When we see them in the hand of GOD. but with consolation in his suffering. for we must act purely in faith. and become even matter of consolation. I hope from His mercy the favour to see Him within a few days. When our minds are thus employed about GOD.always ready to help us. though never so great. I hope to see Him quickly. Let us pray for one another. He loves us infinitely more than we imagine: love Him then. and grant you all at once what He has deferred during many years. the more one desires to know Him. persevere in knocking. and I answer for it that He will open to you in His due time. He would possess them alone. affectionate conversation with Him: we must hinder our spirits wandering from Him upon any occasion: we must make our heart a spiritual temple. But though it is difficult. receive them with love. as I pray to Him for you. always. Accordingly I did not pray for any relief. the greater will be our love: and if our love of GOD were great we should love Him equally in pains and pleasures. who abases and distresses us: our sufferings will lose their bitterness. And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love.The electronic edition. that we may not do. the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be. Adieu. cannot bring us so near to GOD as faith does in one simple act. nor think anything that may displease Him. so that if in this life we would enjoy the peace of paradise. yours in our LORD. all would please that came from Him. I cannot thank Him sufficiently for the relaxation He has vouchsafed you. Let us not amuse ourselves to seek or to love GOD for any sensible favours (how elevated soever) which He has or may do us. Ah. and love. Adieu. If we knew how much He loves us. according to your desire. suffering will become full of unction and consolation. [He took to his bed two days after and died within the week. "Tis paradise to suffer and be with Him. þ Repeats the same exhortation to knowledge. how sweet is it to suffer with GOD! however great the sufferings may be. I RENDER thanks to our LORD. poor as they are. humility. Knock.

uk tel: +44 272 738386 (fax same number. I label this release 1.It is a privilege to release this Public Domain edition of Brother Lawrence's Practice. England. though I fear I know very little about it. bristol. It would appear from internal evidence to have been first published between 1670 and. Edgar Charles Barton was Book Steward of the Epworth Press from the time of the Methodist Union of 1932 until 1948. John Harris e-mail: harris@cix. which gives the limits within which the edition came out. say. Bristol. call voice first) 27th January 1994. request that all distributed copies bear the name bs8 2ts. The text given here is taken from a 16vo paperback pamphlet of unknown date. In order to distinguish this version from a subsequent corrected copy. end of book: THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD THE BEST RULE OF A HOLY LIFE .uk mail: 24 beaconsfield rd. and to facilitate ARCHIE location.compulink.

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