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.




(Edgar C Barton)

25-35 City Road, E.C.1


"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


"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.



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

lamentable we had so little; and that instead of taking faith for the

rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions,

which changed daily. That the way of Faith was the spirit of the

Church, and that it was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of


That we ought to give ourselves up to GOD, with regard both to things

temporal and spiritual, and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling

His will, whether He lead us by suffering or by consolation, for all

would be equal to a soul truly resigned. That there needed fidelity in

those drynesses, or insensibilities and irksomenesses in prayer, by

which GOD tries our love to Him; that then was the time for us to make

good and effectual acts of resignation, whereof one alone would

oftentimes very much promote our spiritual advancement.

That as for the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world, he was

so far from wondering at them, that, on the contrary, he was surprised

there were not more, considering the malice sinners were capable of:

that for his part, he prayed for them; but knowing that GOD could

remedy the mischiefs they did, when He pleased, he gave himself no

farther trouble.

That to arrive at such resignation as GOD requires, 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. That

if this was my design, viz., sincerely to serve GOD, I might come to him

(Bro. Lawrence) as often as I pleased, without any fear of being

troublesome; but if not, that I ought no more to visit him.


Love the motive of all. þ Once in fear, now in joy. þ Diligence and

love. Simplicity the key to Divine assistance. þ Business abroad as at

home. þ times of prayer and self-mortification not essential for the

practice. þ All scruples brought to God.

That he had always been governed by love, without selfish views; and

that having resolved to make the love of GOD the end of all his actions,

he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method. That he was

pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of

GOD, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts.

That he had been long troubled in mind from a certain belief that he

should be damned; that all the men in the world could not have

persuaded him to the contrary; 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 I have endeavoured to act only for Him; whatever becomes of

me, whether I be lost or saved, I will always continue to act purely for

the love of GOD. I shall have this good at least, that till death I

shall have done all that is in me to love Him. That this trouble of

mind had lasted four years; during which time he had suffered much.

That since that time he had passed his life in perfect liberty and

continual joy. That he placed his sins betwixt him and GOD, as it were,

to tell Him that he did not deserve His favours, but that GOD still

continued to bestow them in abundance.

That in order to form a habit of conversing with GOD continually, and

referring all we do to Him; 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.

That he expected after the pleasant days GOD had given him, he should

have his turn of pain and suffering; but that he was not uneasy about

it, knowing very well, that as he could do nothing of himself, GOD would

not fail to give him the strength to bear them.

That when an occasion of practising some virtue offered, he addressed

himself to GOD, saying, LORD, I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me;

and that then he received strength more than sufficient.

That when he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying

to GOD, I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself; "tis You