As long as I look at myself, my eye is filled with bitterness; but if I look up and fix my eyes on the aid of divine mercy, this happy vision of God soon tempers the bitter vision of myself. I say to him, “I am disturbed within so I will call you to mind from the land of the Jordan.” This vision of God is not a little thing. It reveals him to us as listening compassionately to our prayers, truly kind and merciful, as one who will not indulge resentment. His very nature is to be good, to show mercy always and to spare the sinner. By this kind of experience and in this way God makes himself known to us for our good.
When a person first discovers that he is in difficulties he will cry out to the Lord–who will hear him and says, “I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” In this way, your self-knowledge will be a step towards the knowledge of God; he will become “visible” to you according to his image that is being renewed within you. And you, gazing confidently on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, will be transformed into that same image with ever increasing brightness, by the work of the Spirit of the Lord.
You can see now how each of these kinds of knowledge is so necessary for your salvation that you cannot be saved if you lack either of them. If you lack self-knowledge, you will possess neither the fear of God nor humility. And whether you presume to be saved without the fear of God and humility, is for you to judge!
From Bernard of Clairvaux’s Sermon 36 On the Song of Songs, CF 7, p.179