Turn ye unto Him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted” (Isa. xxxi. 6). Conversion is nothing else but a turning from the creature to God. Conversion is not perfect, though it is necessary for salvation, when it is merely a turning from sin to grace. To be complete, it must be a turning from without to within.
The soul, being turned in the direction of God, has a great facility for remaining converted to Him. The longer it is converted, the nearer it approaches to God, and attaches itself to Him; and the nearer it approaches to God, the more it becomes necessarily drawn from the creature, which is opposed to God.
But this cannot be done by a violent effort of the creature; all that it can do is to remain turned in the direction of God in a perpetual adherence.
God has an attracting virtue, which draws the soul more strongly towards Himself; and in attracting it, He purifies it: as we see the sun attracting a dense vapour, and gradually, without any other effort on the part of the vapour than that of letting itself be drawn, the sun, by bringing it near to himself, refines and purifies it.
There is, however, this difference, that the vapour is not drawn freely, and does not follow willingly, as is the case with the soul.
This manner of turning within is very simple, and makes the soul advance naturally and without effort; because God is its centre. The centre has always a strong attractive power; and the larger the centre, the stronger is its attractive force.
Besides this attraction of the centre, there is given to all natural objects a strong tendency to become united with their centre. As soon as anything is turned in the direction of its centre, unless it be stopped by some invincible obstacle, it rushes
towards it with extreme velocity. A stone in the air is no sooner let loose, and turned towards the earth, than it tends to it by its own weight as its centre. It is the same with fire and water, which, being no longer arrested, run incessantly towards their centre.
Now I say that the soul, by the effort it has made in inward recollection, being turned towards its centre, without any other effort, but simply by the weight of love, falls towards its centre; and the more it remains quiet and at rest, making no movement of its own, the more rapidly it will advance, because it thus allows that attractive virtue to draw it.
All the care, then, that we need have is to promote this inward recollection as much as possible, not being astonished at the difficulty we may find in this exercise, which will soon be recompensed with a wonderful co-operation on the part of God, which will render it very easy. When the passions rise, a look towards God, who is present within us, easily deadens them. Any other resistance would irritate rather than appease them.