We shall the better understand the contemplative state, if we keep in mind that it is naturally preceded by the meditative state. Every religious man knows what it is to direct his thoughts to God; in other words, to meditate upon him and upon those objects which are closely connected with him. In the meditative state, the religious man not only holds God in view by means of the meditative act, namely, by acts of perception and reflection upon the divine character; but he always does it with more or less of mental effort; — that is to say, by a definite and formal act of the will. So that the meditative state, though necessary and important in its place, is in some degree painful. And hence it is, that meditation, in order to render the mental operation more easy and effective, is generally understood to imply and to require a particular time to be set apart, and also a particular place remote from interruption. Meditation, therefore, though very necessary, is not in all respects a natural state; and, consequently, implying as it does a degree of effort and of resistance against other tendencies, does not appear to be entirely consistent with the highest rest and peace of the soul.
But it is not so with the contemplative state. Contemplation, in the religious sense of the term, is meditation perfected. Considered as a religious state, contemplation, without formally aiming at the discovery of new truths in relation to God, is a calm dwelling upon him in thought, as he is already known to the mind, attended with faith, with such new views also as are naturally and easily presented, and with affectionate exercises of the heart.
— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 10.