Chapter XLIX The devout possess constant joy in their hearts
A good conscience is a perpetual feast
Nor do they merely enjoy peace within themselves, but likewise constant joy and delight, caused by the presence and consciousness of God’s love. For where God is, there is heaven; where heaven is, there is eternal joy, and where eternal joy is, there man knows not what else to desire. Compared with that, all earthly joys are but a shadow, a jest, a mockery; I am unable to describe or even to suggest it sufficiently in words. I saw and perceived, I saw and learned that to possess God with His heavenly treasures is so exceedingly glorious that all the glory of the world, its splendor and glitter cannot be compared with it. It is a thing more joyful than the world can add to or detract from. It is greater and more excellent than the world can apprehend or comprehend.
2 For how otherwise than happy and joyous can a man be who is conscious of, and perceives within himself, such light of God, such noble inner harmony caused by the Holy Spirit, such freedom from the world and its slavery, such sure and abundant care of God for himself, such protection against enemies and accidents, and finally such constant peace, as has already been demonstrated? That is the sweetness that the world understands not; the sweetness that if anyone but taste, he must thereafter dare everything for its sake; the sweetness from which no other sweetness can entice, no bitterness can alienate, no delight can allure, no calamity, not even death itself, can deprive us.
3 Then I understood what it is that at times has impelled many of God’s saints willingly to throw away honors, favor of men, possessions and wealth, that makes them equally ready to surrender the world itself, were it theirs; others, to deliver their bodies gladly over to imprisonment, scourging, and death, being ready to undergo a thousand deaths — if the world could repeat them — by water, fire, and the sword, singing amidst the tortures. Oh, Lord Jesus, how sweet thou art to the hearts that have tasted Thee! Blessed is he who understands this delight!