Note: this edition differs from the printed (TEAMS) edition as follows:
1. MS yogh is rendered as y and not g in words where modern spelling has g : e.g. yift, not gift; yeven, not geven.
2. MS spellings of second-person personal pronoun are kept as the or thee instead of normalized to thee. Likewise spellings of thee for modern English the are retained here.
3. Pronouns referring to the deity are not capitalized: e.g. him not Him.
4. Minimalist capitalization of ecclesiastical entities: e.g. “holy church,” not “Holy Church.”
5. Additions to the Cambridge MS are marked in dark red.
6. Substantial alterations or expansions of the Cambridge MS are marked in green.
7. Folio breaks marked in orange refer to Lambeth Palace MS 472.
In the notes, C refers to Cambridge, University Library, MS Additional 6686.
The Scale of Perfection
[fol. 4r] That the innere havynge schulde be like to the uttere.
Goostli suster in Jhesu Crist, y praye thee that in the callynge whiche oure Lord hath callyd thee to his servyse, thu holde thee paied and stond stedefastli thereinne, travailynge bisili with alle thyne myghtes of thy soule bi grace of Jhesu Crist to fullefille in sothfastnesse of gode lyvynge the staat whiche that thou hast take thee too in likenesse and in semynge. And as thu hast forsaken the world, as it were a deed man turnyd to oure Lord bodili in sight of men; right so that thyn hert myght be as it were deed to alle ertheli loves and dredes, turnyd hooli to oure Lord Jhesu Crist. For wite thu weel, a bodili turnynge to God without the herte folwynge is but a figure or a likenes of vertues and no soothfastnesse. Wherfore a wrecchid man or a woman is he or sche that leveth al the inward kepinge of hymself and schapith hym withoute oonli a fourme and likenes of hoolynesse, as in habite and in speche and in bodili werkes; biholdynge othere mennys deedys and demyng here defaughtes; wenynge hymsilf to be aught whanne he is right nought; and so bigileth hymsilf. Do thou not so, but turne thyne herte with thy bo[fol. 4v]dy principali to God, and schape thee withinne to his likenesse bi mekenesse and charité and othere goostli vertues, and thanne art thou truli turned to hym.
I sey not that thou so lightli on the first day may be turnyd to hym in thi soule bi fulheed of vertues as thu may with thi bodi be speryd in an hous, but that thu schuldest knowe that the cause of thy bodili enclosynge is that thu myght the betere come to goosteli enclosynge; and as thi bodi is enclosid fro bodili conversacioun of men, right so that thyn hert myght be enclosid from fleisschli loves and dredis of alle ertheli thynges. And that thu myght the betere come therto, I schalle telle the in this litel wrytinge, as me thynketh. Thou schalt undirstonde that ther ben in holi chirche two maner of lyves, as Seynt Gregor seith, in the whiche Cristene men schul be saaf. That on is callid actif lif, that other contemplatif lif. Withoutin the ton of thise two may no man be saaf.
Of actif lif and of the werkes of it.
Actif lif lieth in love and charité schewyd outward in good bodili werkes, in fulfillynge of Goddis comaundementes and of the sevene deedys of mercy, bodeli and goostli, to a mannys even Cristene. This lif longeth to alle worldeli men whiche han richesse and plenté of worldli goodes, and also to alle othere whiche eithir han staat, office, or cure over other [fol. 5r]men and han goodis for to spende, leryd or lewyd, temporal or spiritual; and generali alle worldli men. They aren bounden to fulfille up here myght and here connynge, as reson and discrecion asketh. Yif he mykil have, mykil doo; yif he litil have, litil doo; yif he nought have, that thanne he have a good wille. These aren werkes of actif lif, eyther bodili or goostli.
Also a partie of actif lif lieth in grete bodili deedes whiche a man dooth to hymsilf, as greet fastynge, mykil wakynge, and other scharp penaunce-doynge for to chastise the fleissch with discrecioun for trespaces that been bifore doon, and bi sich penaunce for to refreyne lustes and likynges of it, and make it buxum and redi to the wil of the Spirit. Thise werkes, though thei ben actif, not for thi they helpen mykel and ordaynen a man in the bigynnynge to come to contemplatif lif, yif thei ben usid bi discrecion.
Of contemplatif lif and the werkes of hit.
Contemplatif lif is in perfight love and charité feelid inwardli bi goostli vertues and bi soothfaste knowynge and sight of God in goosteli thynges. This lif longeth speciali to hem whiche forsaken for the love of God al worldli richesse and worschipes and outeward besynesse and oonly yyven hem body and soule, up her myght and here kunnynge, to the service of God bi goosteli occupacioun. Now sithen it is so [fol. 5v]that thy staat asketh to be contemplatif, for that is the ende and the entent of thyn enclosynge, that thu myght more freli and entierli yyve the to gosteli occupacioun—thanne bihoveth the for to be right bisy nyght and day with travaile of bodi and of spirit, for to come to that lif as neer as thu may bi swich meenys as thu hopist were best unto thee.
Neverthelees bifore that I telle thee of the meenys, I schal telle firste a litil more of this lif contemplatif that thu myght sumwhat see what it is and sette it as a mark in the sight of thi soule wherto thu schalt drawe in al thyn occupacion.
Of the first partye of contemplacioun.
Contemplatif liyf hath three parties. The first is in knowynge of God and goosteli thynges, geten by resoun, bi techynge of man and bi studie of hooly writ, withouten goostli affeccion and inward savour feelid bi the special yift of thee Hooli Goost. This party han speciali summe lettred men, and grete clerkes whiche bi longe studé and travaile in hooli writ comen to this knowynge, more or lesse, after the sutelté of kyndeli wit and contynuance of studie after the general yift that God yyveth to everi man that hath use of reson. This knowyng is good, and it may be called a partie of contemplacioun in as mykil as it is a sight of soothfastnesse and knowynge of goostli thynges.
Neverthelees it is but a figure and a [fol. 6r]schadewe of verry contemplacioun, for it hath no gosteli savoure in God ne the inwarde swetnesse of love, whiche may no man feele but he be in mykil charité. For that is the propir welle of oure Lord, to the whiche cometh noon alien. But this maner of knowinge is comone to gode and to badde, for it may be had withoute charité. And therfore it is not veri contemplacion, as ofte sithes heretikes, ypocrites, and fleisschly lyvynge men han more sich knowynge than many trewe Cristene men, and yit han thise men noo charité. Of this maner of knowynge speketh Seynt Poul thus: Si habuero omnem scienciam et noverim misteria omnia, caritatem autem non habuero, nichil sum (1 Corinthians 13:2). Yif I hadde ful knowynge of alle thyngis, yhe, and y knewe al privytees and I hadde no charité, I am right nought. Neverthelees, yif they that han this knowynge kepe hem in mekenesse and charité, sich as thei han, and fleen worldli and fleischly synnes up her myght, it is to hem a good wey and a gret disposynge to veri contemplacion yif thei desiren and prayen devouteli after the grace of the Hooli Goost.
Othere men whiche have this knowyng and turnen it into pride and veynglorie of hemsilf, or into coveityse or desirynge of worldli staatis, worschipes or richesses, not mekeli taken it in praisynge of God, ne charitabli spenden it in profight of here evene Cristene, summe [fol. 6v]of hem fallen oither into errours and heresies, or into othere opyn synnes bi the whiche thei sclaundren hemsilf and al holi chirche.
Of this knowynge seyde Seynt Poul thus: Sciencia inflat, caritas autem edificat (1 Corinthians 8:1). Knowynge aloone bolneth up the hert into pride, but medle it with charité and thanne turneth it to edificacion. This knowynge aloone is but water, unsavery and cold; and therfore yif thei wold mekeli offre it up to oure Lord and praye hym of his grace, he schulde with his blissinge turne the water into wyn as he dide for the praier of his moder at thee feest of Architriclyn. That is for to seie, he schulde turne the unsavery knowynge into wisdoom and the colde naked resoun into goosteli light and brennynge bi the yift of the Holi Goost.
Of the secunde partye of contemplacion.
The secunde partie of contemplacion lieth principali in affeccioun, withoute undirstondynge of gosteli thynges, and this is comonli of simple and unlettrid men which yyven hem hooli to devocion. And this is feelid on this maner. Whan a man or a woman in meditacioun of God feelith fervour of love and gostli swettenesse, bi mynde of his passioun or of ony of his werkes in his manhede; or he felith greet trust in the goodnesse and in the merci of God, of foryyvenesse of his synnes and for his grete yiftes of grace; or ellis he feeleth drede in his affeccioun with gret rever[fol. 7r]ence of the pryvey doomes of God which he seeth not, and of his rightwisenesse; or in praier he feelith the thought of his herte drawe up from alle ertheli thynges, streyned togedre with alle the myghtes of it, upstiande into oure Lord bi fervent desire and goostili dylite; and neverthelees in that tyme he hath noon opyn sight in undirstondyng in goostli thynges, ne of pryvitees of holi writ in special, but oonly that hym thenketh for the tyme nothyng liketh hym so mykil as for to praie or for to thynke as he dooth for savour, delite, and comfort that he fyndeth thereinne; and yit he can not telle weel what it is, but he feelith it wel, for oute of it springeth many good sweet teres, brennande desires, and many stille mornynges, whiche schoure and clensyn the herte fro al the filthe of synne, and maken hit melten into a wondirful swettenesse of Jhesu Crist, buxum, souple and redi to fulfulle al Goddis wille, in so mykil that hym thynketh he maketh no charge what come of hymsilf then, so that Goddis wille were folfillid, with siche many styrynges moo thanne y can or may seye. Thes felynges mai not be had without greet grace, and whoso hath hem, for the tyme I hope that he is in charité. Which charité may not be lorn ne lassed, though the fervour of it passe away, but bi a deedli synne; and that is counfortable. This may be [fol. 7v]called the secunde partie of contemplacioun.
Of the lower degré of the secunde partie of contemplacioun.
Neverthelees this partie hath two degrees. The lowere degré of this feelynge, men whiche aren actif may have bi grace whanne thei be visited of oure Lord, as myghtili and as ferventli as thei that yyven hem hooli to contemplatiff liyf and han this yift. But it lasteth not so longe. Also this feelynge in his fervour cometh not alwey whanne a man wolde, ne it lasteth not wel longe. It cometh and gooth as he wole that yyveth it. And therfore whoso hath it, meke hymsilf and thanke God, and kepe it prevey, but yif it be to his confessour, and holde it as longe as he may with discrecion. And whanne hit withdraweth, drede not to mykil, but stond in feith and in meke hope, with pacient abidynge til it come ayen. This is a litil tastynge of the swetenesse in the love of God, of the whiche David seith thus in the sautier: Gustate et videte quam suavis est dominus (Psalms 33:9). Tasteth and seeth the swettenesse of oure Lord.
Of the highere degree of the secunde partie of contemplacion.
But the highere degré of this partie may not be had ne halden, but of thoo that aren in grete reest of bodi and soule, the which bi grace of Jhesu Crist and longe travaile bodili and goostli [fol. 8r]felen rest of herte and clennesse in conscience, so that hem liketh nothynge so mykil for to do as for to sitte stille in reste of bodi and for to alwey pray to God and to thynke on oure Lord, and for to thynke sum tyme on the blissid name Jhesu, which is maad confortable and delitable to hem, that they bi the mynde of it, felen hem feed in here affeccion. And not oonli bi that name, but alle othere praieres, as the Pater Noster or the Ave Maria or ympnys or psalmes or other devoute seyynges of holi chirche aren turnyd as it were into gostli mirthe and swete songe, bi the which thei aren comfortid and strengthed ayens alle synnes, and mykil relevyd of bodili dishese. Of this degree speketh Seynt Poul thus: Nolite inebriari vino sed impleamini spiritu sancto, loquentes vobismetipsis in ympnis et psalmis, et canticis spiritualibus, cantantes et psallentes in cordibus vestris domino (Ephesians 5:18-19). Be not drunken with wyn, but be ye fulfilled of the Holi Goost, seiande to youresilf in ympnes and psalmes and goostli songes, syngynge and phalmynge in youre hertes to oure Lorde. Whoso hath this grace, kepe hymself in lowenesse, and that he be evermore desirynge for to come to more knowyng and feelynge of God in the thridde partie of contemplacioun.
Of the thridde partie of contemplacion.
The thridde partie of contemplacioun, whiche is perfite as it may be here, lieth bothe [fol. 8v]in cognicion and in affeccion: that is for to seie, in knowyng and in perfight lovynge of God. And that is whanne a mannys soule first is cleensid from alle synnes and reformyd bi fulheed of vertues to the ymage of Jhesu; and after whanne he is visitid and is taken up from alle ertheli and fleisschli affecciones, from veyn thoughtis and veyn ymaginacions of alle bodili thynges, and as it were mykil ravysschid out of the bodili wittes and thanne bi the grace of the Holi Gost is illumyned for to see bi undirstoondynge soothfastnesse, whiche is God, and also goostli thynges, with a soft swete brennande love in hym, so perfightli that bi ravyschynge of this love the soule is ooned for the tyme and conformyd to the ymage of the Trinité. The bigynnyng of this contemplacioun may be felid in this lif, but the fulheed of it is kepid in the blisse of hevene. Of this onynge and conformynge speketh Seynt Poul thus: Qui adheret deo unus spiritus est cum illo (1 Corinthians 6:17). That is for to seie, whoso bi raveschynge of love is fastned to God, thanne God and a soule aren not two but bothe oon. Not in fleisch, but in oo spirit. And sotheli in this onynge is the mariage maad bitwixe God and the soule, which schal nevere be brokyn.
Of the twynynge of the thridde partie of contemplacion fro the secunde, and of praysynge of it.
[fol. 9r]That othir partie mai be called brennande love in devocioun, but this is brennande love in contemplacion. That is the lowere, this is the highere. That is the swettere to the bodili felinge, this is swettere to the goostli felynge, for it is more inward, more goostli, and more worthi and more wonderful. For this is verili a taastynge, and as it were a sight of heveneli joye, not cleerli, but half in derkenesse, which schal be fulfillid and opynli clerid in the blisse of hevene, as Seynt Poul seith: Videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate; tunc autem videbimus facie ad faciem (1 Corinthians 13:12). We seen now God bi a myrour, as it were in deerkenesse, but in hevene we schulen see openli face to face. This is the illuminacion of undirstondynge in delites of lovynge, as David seith in the sautier: Et nox mea illuminacio mea in deliciis meis (Psalms 138:11). Mi nyght is my light in my delitees. That othere partie is mylk for children, this is hool mete for perfite men, which han assaied wittes to knowe the gode from the yvel, as Seynt Poul seith: Perfectorum est solidus cibus qui habent sensus exercitatos ad discrecionem boni et mali (Hebrews 5:14).
The wirkynge and the ful use of this yift may no man have, but yif he bee first reformed to the likenesse of Jhesu bi fulheed of vertues. Ther may no man lyvande in fleisch dedli have contynueli it in his fulheed, but bi tymes whanne he is visited. And as I conceyve of the writynge of holi men, it is [fol. 9v]ful schort tyme, for soone after he falleth into sobirté of bodili felynge. And alle this werke maketh charité. Thus, as I undirstonde, seid Seynt Poul of hymsilf: Sive excidimus, deo, sive sobrii sumus, vobis; caritas Christi urget nos (2 Corinthians 5:13-14). Whether we overpasse oure bodili wittes to God in contemplacion, or we aren more sobre to yow in bodily felynge, the charité of Crist stireth us. Of this partie of contemplacioun and conformynge to God speketh Seint Poul: Nos autem revelata facie gloriam domini speculamur, transformati in eandem ymaginem, a claritate in claritatem tanquam a domini spiritu (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is thus moche for to seie, Seynt Poul in the persone of hymsilf and of perfight men seith thus: We, first reformed bi vertues to the likenes of God se the face of oure soule unhiled bi openynge of the goostli iye, bihalden as in a myrour heveneli joye, ful schapen and oned to the ymage of oure Lord, fro brightnesse of feith into brightnesse of undirstondynge, or elles from clerté of desire into cleerté of blissid love. And al this is wrought of the sprite of oure Lord in a mannes soule, as Seynt Poule seith. This part of contemplacioun God yyveth where that he wole, to lerid or to lewed, men or women occupied in prelacie, and to solitarie also, but it is special and not comone. And also though a man which is actif have the yifte of it bi a special grace, neverthelees the ful use of it as I hoope may no man have, but he be solitarie and in liyf [fol. 10r]contemplatif.
How the schewynges to the bodili wittis and the feelynge of hem may be bothe good and yvel.
By this that I have seid myght thu sumwhat undirstonde that visiones or revelaciouns of ony maner spirite, bodili apperynge or in ymagynynge, slepand or wakand, or ellis ony othere feelinge in the bodili wittes maad as it were goosteli; either in sownynge of the eere, or saverynge in the mouth, or smellynge in the nose, or ellis ony felable heete as it were fier glowand and warmand the breest, or ony othere partie of the bodi, or onythinge that mai be feelyd bi bodili wit, though it be never so comfortable and lykande, aren not verili contemplacion; ne thei aren but symple and secundarie though thei be good, in regard of goostli vertues and in goosteli knowynge and loovyng of God.
For in vertues and in knowynge of God with love is noo disceit. But al swich maner of feelyng thei mowe by gode, wrought bi a good angil, and they may be deceyvable, feyned bi a wikkid angel whan he transfigurith him into an angel of light. Wherfore sithen thei moun be bothe good and yvel, it semeth that thei aren not of the beste; for wyte thou weel that the devyl may, whanne he hath leve, feyne in bodili felinge the liknes of the same thinges whiche a good angil may worche. For as the good angil cometh with light, so can the [fol. 10v]devel, and so of othere wittes. Whoso hadde felid bothe, he schulde kunne telle whiche were gode and whiche were yvele, but he that nevere feelid neither, or elles but that oon, may lightli be disseyved.
Thei aren like in maner of feelynge oughtward, but thei aren ful diverse withinne; and therfore thei aren not to desire greetli, ne for to resseyve lightli, but yif a soule myght bi spirite of discrecioun knowe the gode from the yvele, that he were not bigiled. Seynt Joon seith thus: Nolite credere omni spiritui, sed probate si ex deo sit (1 John 4:1). Seynt Joon biddeth us, we schulde not leve everi spirit, but we schullen assaien frist whether he be of God or no. Therfore bi oon assaie, I schal telle thee as me thenketh.
Hou thu schal knowe whanne the schewinges to thi bodili wittes and the feelynge of hem aren good or yvele.
If it be soo that thou see ony maner of light or brightnes with thi bodili iye or in ymagynynge, othir than every man mai see; or yif thou here ony meri or wondirful sowninge with thi bodili eere; or in thi mouth ony swete sodayne savour, othir than of kynde; or ony heete in thi breest as it were fier; or ony maner of deelighte in ony partie of thi bodi; or yif a spirit bodili appere to thee as hit were an angel for to conforte thee and teche thee; or ony swich feelynge which thu woost weel it cometh not of thiself ne of noo bodili creature—be thanne waar in that tyme or soone aftir and [fol. 11r]wisili bihoold the stirynge of thyne herte. Yif thou be stired bicause of that likinge that thu feelist, for to drawe oute thyn herte from biholdinge of oure Lord Jhesu Crist and fro goostli occupacions, as from preiers, and thenkinge of thisilf and of thi defautis, fro the inward desire of vertues and of goostli knowynge and the feelinge of God, for to sette the sight of thin herte and thyn affeccioun, thi delite and thi reest principali therinne, wenynge that bodili feelinge schulde be a partie of heveneli joie and of angilis blisse, and for thi the thynketh that thu schuldest never pray ne thinke not elles, but al hooli tende therto, for to kepe it and delite thee therinne: this feelinge is suspect and of the enemye. And therfore, yif it be never so likinge and wondirful, refuse it and assente not therto, for this is the sleighte of the enemy. Whanne he seeth that a soule yyveth him entierli to goostli occupacioun, he is wondirful wrooth, for he hateth nothinge more thanne for to see a soule in bodi of synne feele verili the savour of gostli knowinge and the love of God, the whiche he withouten bodi of synne loste wilfulli. And therefore yif he may not lette him bi opyn bodili synnes, he wole dere hym and bigile him bi swich a vanité of bodili savoures or swettenesse in the wittis, for to bringe a soule into goostli pride and into a fals sikernesse of himsilf, wenande therbi that he hadde [fol. 11v]a feelinge of heveneli joye, and that he were half in paradise for delite that he feeleth al aboute hym, whanne he is neer atte helle gates, and so bi pride and presumpcion he myght falle into errouris or into fantasies or into othere bodili or goostli myschevys.
Neverthelees, yif it so be that this maner of feelynge lette not thyn herte fro goostli occupacion, but it maketh thee the more devoute and the more fervent for to pray, it maketh thee the more wise for to thenke goostli thoughtes; and though it be so that it stonyeth thee in the first biginnynge, neverthelees aftirward it turneth and quykeneth thyn herte to more desire of vertues and encreseeth thi love more bothe to God and to thyn evene Cristen; also it maketh thee more meke in thyn owyn sight. Bi thise tokenes may thu knowe thanne that it is of God, maad bi the presence and the touchinge of the good angil, and that is of the goodnesse of God in confort of symple devoute soulis for to encrese ther trust and there desire to God, for to seke therbi the knowynge and the love of God more perfightli for swich a confort, or ellis, yif thei be perfight, that thei fele suyche a delite: it semeth than that it is an ernest, and as it were a schadewe of glorifyynge of the bodi which it schal have in the blisse. But I not whether ther be ony siche man lyvande in erthe. This pryvylegie hadde Marie Mawdeleyn, as hit seemeth to my sight, [fol. 12r]in tyme whanne sche was visited, whanne sche was aloone in the cave thritti wyntir and iche day was born up with angelis into the eyr, and was feed bothe bodi and soule bi the presence of hem. Thus we reden in the legend of hire.
Of this maner of assayinge of wirkynge of spirites speketh Seynt Joon in his epistil thus, and techeth us: Omnis spiritus qui solvit Jhesum, hic non est ex deo (1 John 4:3). Eche a spirit that looseth Jhesu or ellis unknitteth hym, he is not of God. Thise woordes may be undirstonde on many manerys; neverthelees upon oon maner I mai undirstonde to that purpos whiche y have seid.
What knetteth Jhesu to mannys soule and what looseth hym therfro.
The knyttyng and the festenynge of Jhesu to a mannys soule is bi good wille and a greet desire to hym oonli, for to love and for to have hym and see him in his blisse. The more goostli that he desireth, the fastere is Jhesu knyt to the soule; and the lesse that he desireth, the lousere he is knyt. Than what spirit or what felyng that it be that leeseth this desire and wolde drawe hit doun fro stable mynde of Jhesu Crist, and from the kyndeli stiynge up to hym, for to sette it upon himsilf, thys spirit wole unknytten and undo Jhesu from the soule, and therfore it is not of God, but it is of the wirkynge of the enemye. Neverthelees, yif a spirit, or a felynge, or revelacion maketh his desire more, knytteth the [fol. 12v]knotte of love and of devocion to Jhesu fastere, openeth the sight of the soule into goostli knowynge more cleerli, and maketh it more meke in itsilf, this spirit is of God. Here mai thu see sumwhat that thu schalt not suffre thyn herte wilfulli for to reste, ne for to delite hooli, in no bodili thynge of sich maner felinge, confortes or swettenessis, though thei were gode; but thou schalt holde hem in thyn owen sight as thei were right nought or litil in regard of gostli desire, ne sette not to mykil thyn herte upon hem. But thou schalt ay seke that thou myght come to goostli feelynge of God; and that is that thou myght knowe the wisdom of God, the eendelees myght of hym, the grete goodnesse of hym in hymsilf and in his creatures. For this is contemplacion and that othir is noon. Thus seith Seynt Poul: In caritate radicati, et fundati, ut possitis comprehendere cum omnibus sanctis, que sit longitudo, et latitudo, sublimitas, et profundum (Ephesians 3:17-18). Be ye rootid and groundid in charité, that ye may knowe, he seith, neither the sound of the eere, ne the swete savour in the mouth, ne siche bodili thyng, but that ye myght knowe and fele with alle halewes, whiche is the lengthe of the eendelees beynge of God, the brede of the wondirful charité and goodnes of God, the heighte of the almyghti magesté of hym, and the groundlees depnesse of the wisdom of God.
How and in what thynges a contemplatif man schuld ben occupied.
In knowynge and in felinge gostly, [fol. 13r]in thise schulde be the occupacion of a contemplatif man, for in thise mai be undirstonden the ful knowynge of gosteli thynges. This occupacion is that thynge that Seynt Poul coveitede, seiynge thus: Unum vero, que retro sunt obliviscens, in anteriora me extendam sequor si quomodo comprehendam supernum bravium (Philippians 3:13-14). O thynge, as who seith, is left to me for to coveite, and that is that I may forgeten al thynges whiche aren hyndward, and y schal strecche unto myn herte ay forward for to feele and for to gripe the sovereyne meede of the endelees blisse. Hyndward aren alle bodili thingis, foreward aren alle goostli thinges; and therfore Seynt Poul wolde foryeten al bodili thyng, and his owen bodi also, forthi that he myght see goostli thynges.
Hou in resoun and in wille vertues bigynnen, and in love and in likynge it is eendid and maad perfight.
Now have y toolde thee a litil of countemplacion, what it schulde be, for this entent, that thu myght knowe it and sette it as it were a mark bifore the sight of thi soule, and for to desire al thy lyvetyme for to come to ony partie of it bi the grace of oure Lord Jhesu Crist. This is the confoormynge of a soule to God, which may not be had but he be first reformyd bi fulheed of vertues turnyd into affeccion. And that is whanne a man loveth vertu, for it is good in the silf.
There is many man that hath vertues, as lowenesse, pacience, charité to his even Cristene, and siche othere, onli in his resoun and wille and hath no goostli de[fol. 13v]lite ne love in hem. For ofte tyme he felith grucchinge, hevynesse, and bittirnesse for to doo hem, and neverthelees yit he doth hem bi strengthe and stirynge of resoun for drede of God. This man hath vertues in resoun and in wille, but not the love of hem in affeccion. But whanne bi the grace of gode Jhesu, and bi goostli and bodili exercise, reson is turnyd into light and wil into love, thanne hath he vertues in affeccion, for he hath so wel gnawen upon the bittir bark of the note that he hath broken it and fedeth him with the swete kirnel. That is for to seie, the vertues whiche weren first hevy for to do aren now turnyd into delite and savour, as whanne a man liketh in mekenesse, in pacience, in clennesse, in sobirté and in charité, as in ony delices. Sothli whanne vertues be turned thus into affeccioun, he may have the secunde partie of contemplacioun, but to the thridde soothfastli he schal not come. Now sithen vertues aren so disposynge to contemplacion, than bihoveth thee for to use certayn meenes for to come to vertues.
Of the meenes that bryngen a man to contemplacioun.
Thre meenys there ben whiche men most comonli use that yyven hem to contemplacioun: redynge of holi writ and of hooli techynge, goosteli meditacion, and besi praeris with devocioun. Redynge of holi writ mai thu not wel use, and therfore thee bihoveth more occupye thee in prayer and in meditacioun. By meditacion schalt thou see [fol. 14r]hou mykil thee wanteth of vertues; and bi prayer schalt thou gete hem. Bi meditacion schalt thou see thi wrecchidnesse, thi synnes, and thi wikkidnessis, as pryde, coveytise, glotonye, leccherie, wikide stiryngis of envye, ire, haterede, malincolie, angrynesse, bittirnesse, sleughthe, and unskilful hevynesse. Thou schalt also see thyn herte ful of veyn schames and dredes of thi fleisch and of the world. Alle thise stirynges wole alwey boylen ought of the herte as watir wole renne from the sprynge of a stynkande welle, and letten the sight of thi soule, that thu mai neither see ne fele clenli the love of Jhesu Crist; for wite thou wel, til thyn herte be mykil yclensid from sich synnes thorugh stedefaste trouthe and bisi biholdynge on Jhesu Crist in praieres and in othir good werkes, thou mai not perfightli have goostli felynge of hym. Witnessinge hymsilf in the gospel thus: Beati mundo corde quoniam ipsi deum videbunt (Matthew 5:8). Blissid be the clene of herte, for thei schullen see God. Also in meditacioun thou schal see vertues whiche aren needful to thee for to have, as mekenesse, myldenesse, pacience, rightwisenesse, goosteli strengthe, temperaunce, pees, clennesse, and sobirnesse, feith, hope, and charité. Thise vertues schalt thou see in meditacion, hou goode, hou faire, hou profitable thei aren, and bi prayer thou schalt desire hem and gete hem, withoute whiche thu may not be contemplatif. [fol. 14v]For Job seith thus: In habundancia ingredieris sepulcrum (Job 5:26); that is for to seie, thou schalt in plenté of gode bodili werkes and goostli vertues entre thi grave, that is the reste in contemplacioun.
What a man schal use and refuse bi vertu of mekenes.
Now yif thou schuldest use wiseli thise goostli werkis and sikirli travaile in hem, thee bihoveth bigynne right lowe. Thre thinges thee nedith to have first, upon whiche as upon a siker ground thu schalt sitte al thi werk. These three aren mekenesse, siker feith, and hool entencion to God. First thee bihoveth to have mekenesse in this maner. Thou schalte holde thi silf in thi wille and in thi felynge, yif thou may, unable for to duelle amonge men or women, and unworthi to serve God in conversacion with his servauntis, unprofitable to thi even Cristene, wantynge bothe connynge and myght to fulfille gode werkes of actif lif in helpe of thyn even Cristene, as othere men and women doon; and therfore as a wrecche, outcaste and refuse of alle men and women, art spered in an hous aloone, that thou schuldest dere no man ne woman bi yvel ensaumple, sithen thou canst not profiten hem bi good wirkynge. Over this, thee bihoveth loke forthere that sithen thou art so unable to serve oure Lord bi bodili werkis outeward, hou mykil more thee bihoveth holde thee unable and unworthi to serve hym goosteli bi inward occupacion. For oure Lord is a spi[fol. 15r]rit, as the prophete seith: Spiritus ante faciem nostram Christus dominus est (Lamentations 4:20). Bifore oure face a goost is oure Lord Jhesu Crist. And the kyndeli service to him is goostli, as he seith himsilf: Veri adoratores adorabunt patrem in spiritu et veritate (John 4:23). Sothfast servauntes schullen worschipen the fadir in spirit and sothfastnesse. Thanne thou that art so boystous and so lewed, so fleischli, so blynd in goostli thinges, and nameli of thyn owyn soule, which thee bihoveth first to knowe yif thu schuldest come to the knowynge of God, hou schuldest thu thanne fele thisilf able or worthi to have that staat and the likenes of lif contemplatif, the which liyf, as y have seid, lith principali in goostli knowynge and lovynge of God? This y seie to thee, not for thou schuldest forthynke thi purpos and be myspaide with thyn enclosynge, but that thu schuldest fele this lowenesse soothfastli, yif thu myght, in thyn herte, for it is sooth and noo lees. And though thou fele thus, yit schalt thou yerne nyght and day up thi myght for to come as neer as thou myght to the staat that thou hast taken, trowand stedefastli that it is best to thee bi the merci of God for to travaile inne. And though it be so, that thu myght not come to the fulheed of it heere in this lif, that thu myghttest be here in the bigynnynge of hit; and truste sikirli for to have the fulheed of it bi the merci of God in the blisse of hevene. For soothli that is my liff. I feele me so wrecchid, and so freel, and so fleischli, and so fer [fol. 15v]fro the trewe feelynge fro that that I speke and have spoke, that y ne can not ellis but crie merci, and desire after as y may with hope that oure Lord wol brynge me therto of his grace in the blisse of hevene. Do thou soo, and betir, after that God yeveth thee grace. The felynge of this lowenesse schal putte oute of thyn herte unskilful bihooldynge of othere myslyvynge and demynge of othere mennys dedes, and it schal dryve thee oonli to biholde thisilf, as ther were no man lyvynge but God and thou; and thow schalte deeme and holde thisilf more vile and more wrecchid thanne is ony creature that berith liyf, that unnethes thou schal mowe suffre thisilf for mykilnesse of synne and filthe that thu schalt fynde and fele in thisilf. Thus bihoveth thee for to feele sum tyme, yif thou wolt be verili meke; for I telle the soothli, yif thou wolt be truli meke, thee schal thenke a venial synne more grevous and more peyneful to thee, and gretter schal be in thi sight sumtyme, thanne grete deedli synnes of othere men. And that for this skile, that thynge whiche putteth thi soule or letteth it moost from the felynge of love and knowynge of God, bihoveth to be moost grevous and peynful to thee. But a venyal synne of thisilf letteth thee more fro the felynge and fro the perfight love of Jhesu Crist thanne othere mennys synnes [fol. 16r]mai do, be it never so mykil. Thanne semeth it that thou schuldest arise up in thyn owen herte ayens thisilf, for to hate and deme in thisilf al maner of synne which letteth the from the sight of God, more bisili thanne ayens defautes of ony othir man. For yif thyn herte be clene of thyn owen synnes, sothli the synnes of alle othere men schullen not dere thee; and therfore yif thou wolt fynde reest here and in the blisse of hevene, up the counseil of oon of the hooli fadres seie every dai, “What am I?” and deme no man.
Who schulde blame mennys defautis and deme hem, and who not.
But now seist thou, hou mai this bee, sithen it is a dede of a charité for to undirneme men of here defautis, and for to deme hem for here amendynge, it is a dede of merci. As to this I answere as me thenketh, that to thee or to ony othir which hath the staat and the purpos of lif contemplatif it fallith not for to leve the kepynge of youresilf and underneme othir men of here defautis, but it were in wel greet nede, that a man schulde perische but yif he undernemyd hym. But to men which aren actif and han sovereynté and cure of othere, as prelatis and curates and swich othere, thei aren bounden bi there office and by wai of charité for to see and seke and deme rightfulli othere mennys defautis, not of desire and delite for to chastise hem, but oonli for nede, with drede of [fol. 16v]God and in his name, for love and savacioun of here soulis. Othere men that aren actif and han no cure over othere men, thei aren boundyn for to undirnyme othere men of her defautis bi wei of charité, oonly thanne whanne the synne is deedli and may not wel be correctid bi noon othir man, and whanne he troweth that the synnere schulde be amendid bi undirnymyng. Ellis it is betere that he cese. That this is sooth, it semeth bi Seynt Joon, which hadde the staat of contemplatif lif, and Seynt Petir, whiche hadde the staat of actif lif. Whanne oure Lord in his laste sopeer with his disciples, atte the pryvey stirynge of Seynt Petir to Seynt Joon, toolde Seynt Joon how Judas schulde bitraie hym, Seynt Joon tolde it not to Seynt Petir, as he askide, but he turnede him and leide his heed upon Cristis brest and was raveschid bi love into contemplacion of Goddis privetees, and so medfulli to hym he foryaat bothe Judas and Petir—in tokenynge and in techynge of othere men which wolden ben contemplatif that thei schulden dispose hem for to doo the same.
Thanne seest thou heere sumwhat that thu schalt neither deme othere men, ne conceyve ayens hem wilfulli noon evel suspicion. But thu schalt love hem in thyn herte, sich as leden in the world actif lif and suffren many tribulacions and greet temptaciones which thu sittynge in thyn hous felist not of. And thei han [fol. 17r]wel mykil travaile for here owen and othir mennys sustenaunce, and manye of hem hadde wel lyvere serve God, yif thei myghten, as thou doost in bodili reste; neverthelees thei in here worldli bisynesse fleen many synnes, which yif thou were in here astaat schuldest falle in, and thei doon many good deedes whiche thou kowdest not doo. It is no doute that many doon thus; whiche thei are, thou wost not.
Whi meke men schal worschip othere, and lowe hemself in her owen herte undir alle othere.
And therfore thou schalt worschipe alle, and sette hem in thyn herte al above thee as thi sovereynes, and caste thee doun undir her feet, that thou be vileste and lowest in thyn owen sight. For it is no drede ne peril to thee, how mykil thou may lowe thiself binethe alle othere, though it were so that in Goddis sight thou hadde more grace than anothir. But it is peril to thee for to highe thee and lifte thisilf in thi thought wilfulli above ony othir man, though he were the mooste wrecche or the most synful caytif that is in erthe. For oure Lord seith: Qui se humiliat exaltabitur, et qui se exaltat humiliabitur (Luke 14:11). Whoso higheth hymsilf, he schal be lowed, and whoso loweth himsilf, he schal be highed. This partie of mekenesse thee bihoveth for to have in thi bigynnynge, and bi this and bi grace schalt thou come to the fulhede of it and of alle othere vertues. For whoso hath oon vertu, hath alle. As mykil as thu hast [fol. 17v]of mekenesse, so mykil haste thou of charité, of pacience, and of othere vertues, though thei be not alle schewid outward. Be thanne besi for to gete mekenesse and for to holde it; for it is the first and the laste of alle vertues. It is the firste, for it is the ground, as Seynt Austyn seith: Yif thu thynke to bigge an high hous of vertues, ordeyne thee firste a deep grounde of meknes. And also it is laste, for it is savynge and kepynge of alle vertues, as Seynt Gregor seith: He that gadreth vertues withouten mekenesse, he is like to hym that maketh and berith poudre of spicerie in the wynde. Doo thou nevere so many good dedis, fast thou or wake thou, or ony good dede that thu doo, yif thu have no mekenesse it is nought that thou doost.
Hou men schullen don that wanten the feelynge of mekenes in affeccioun, not dredynge over mykil therof.
Neverthelees, yif thou mai not fele this mekenesse in thyn herte with affeccion as thu woldest, do as thou may: meke thisilf in wille bi thi resoun, trowynge that it schulde be so as I seie, though thou fele it not. And in that holde thee a more wrecche, that thou may not feele sothfastli as thou art. And yif thu doo so, though thi fleisch rise thereayen and wole not assente to thi wille, be not to mykil adraad, but thu schalt bere thanne and suffre the fals feelynge of thi fleisch as a peyne. And thou schalt thanne dispise and repreve that feelynge, and breke [fol. 18r]doun that risynge of thyn herte, as though thou woldest be wel paide for to be troden and spurnyd undir every mannys feet as a thynge whiche is outcast. And so bi grace of Jhesu Crist thorugh devoute biholdynge on his manhede and his mekenesse schalt thu mykil abate the stirynge of pride, and the vertu of mekenesse that was first in the nakid wille schal be turnyd into feelynge of affeccion. Withoutin which vertu, either in a trewe wil or in felynge, whoso disposeth hym for to serve God in lif contemplatif, as the blynde he schal stumble and nevere schal he come therto. The highere he clymbeth bi bodili penaunce and othere vertues and hath not this, the lowere he falleth. For as Gregor seith, he that cannot perfightli dispice hymsilf, he fond yit nevere the meke wisdom of oure Lord Jhesu.
Hou heretikes and ypocrites, for wantynge of mekenesse, highen hemself in herte bifore alle othere.
Ypocrites ne heretikes feele not this mekenesse, neither in good wille, ne in affeccioun; but wel drie and wel cold aren here hertis and here reynes fro the softe feelynge of this vertu; and so mykil thei aren the ferther fro it, that they wenen for to have it. Thei gnawen upoun the drie bark withoutyn, but the swete kirnel of it and the inli savoure may he not come to. Thei schewen outward mekenesse, in habite, in hooli speche, in loweli berynge, and, as it semeth, in many grete bodili and [fol. 18v]goostli vertues. But neverthelees in the wille and the affeccioun of here herte, where mekenesse schulde principali be, it is but feyned. For thei dispisen and setten at nought alle othere men that wolen not doo as thei doon and techen. Thei holden hem fooles bi unkunnynge, or blyndid bi fleischli likynge; and therfore thei liften hemsilf upoun high in there owen sight, above alle othere, wenynge that thei lyven betere than othere and that they haave oonli the soothfastnesse of good lyvynge and singuler grace of God, bothe in knowynge and goostli feelynge, passynge othere men. And of this sight in hemsilf riseth a grete delite in here hertes in the which thei worschipen and preisen hemself, as ther were noon but thei. Thei preisen and thanken God with here lippes, but in her hertis thei stelen as theves the worschip and the thankyng from God and setten it in hemself. And so thei have neither mekenesse in wille ne in felynge. A fleischli caytif or a synnere which falleth al day, and is sori for that he doth so, though he have not mekenesse in affeccioun, he hath in a gode wille. But an heretik or an ipocrite hath neither, for thei han the condicion of the pharisee, the which com as oure Lord seith in the gospel with the publican to the temple for to prey. And whanne he com he prayde not ne he askide not of God, for hym thoughte he hadde no nede, but he bigan for to thanke God, [fol. 19r]and seide thus: “Lord, y thanke the that thu yyvest me more grace thanne another, that y am not as othere men aren, robbours, lecchours, and sich synneres.” And he lokide bisides hym, and sigh the publican, whiche he knew for a wrecch, knokkand upon his brest onli, criande after merci. Thanne he thanked God that he was not sich oon as he was. “For Lord,” he seide, “I faste twies in the woke, and I paye truli my tithes.” And whanne he hadde doon, oure Lord seide he yede hoom ayen withouten grace as he com, and gaat right nought. But now seist thou, “Whereinne thanne trespacide this pharisee, sithen he thankid God, and was soth as he seide?” As to this I answere and seie, that this pharisee trespacide in as mykil as he demede and reprovede in his herte the publican, which was justifyed bi oure Lord. And also he trespacide, for he thanked God oonly with his mouth, but he delitede willfulli by a pryvé pride in hymsilf of the yiftes of God, stelande the worschipe and the loovynge from God and sette it in hymsilf. This same condicioun of this pharisee soothli han heretikes and ypocrites. Thei wolen not gladli praie, and yif thei praien they meke not hemself knowelechynge truli here wrecchidnesse, but thei maken hem by a feynynge for to thanke and loove God, and speken of hym with here mouth. But her delite is veyn and fals and not in God, and yit thei wenen not so. They conne not love God, for the wise man seith: Non est [fol. 19v]speciosa laus in ore peccatoris (Ecclesiasticus 15:9). It is neither fair ne semeli praisynge of God in the mouth of a synnere. Wherfor it is profitable to thee and to me, and sich othere wrecchis, for to leve the condicion of this pharisee and feyned lovyng of God, and folwe the publican first in lowenesse, askynge merci and foryifnesse of synnes and grace of goosteli vertues, that we myght afterward with a clene herte sothfastli thanke hym and love hym and yyve him hooli the worschipe withouten feynynge. For oure Lord asketh bi his prophete thus: Super quem requiescet spiritus meus nisi super humilem contritum spiritu et trementem sermones meos? (Isaiah 66:2). Upon whom schal my spirit reste? And he answereth himsilf and seith: upon noon but upon the meke, poverli and contrite in herte and dredynge my wordes. Thanne yif thou wolt have the spirit of God rulynge thyn herte, have mekenesse and dreede of hym.
What thinges men owen to trowe bi siker trouthe.
Secunde thynge which thee bihoveth for to have is a siker trouth in articlis of the feith and the sacramentes of holi chirche, trowand hem stidefastli with al the wille of thyn herte. And though thu feele ony stirynge in thyn herte ayens ony of hem bi suggestion of the enemye, for to putte thee in doute and in dweer of hem, be thu stidefast and not to mykil have drede of sich stirynges ne of the feelynge of hem, but forsake thyn owen witte with[fol. 20r]oute disputynge or ransakynge of hem, and sette thi feith generali in the feith of hooli chirche, and charge not the styrynge of thyn herte whiche, as thee thenkith, is contrarie therto. For that stirynge that thu felist is not thi feith, but the feith of holi chirche is thi feith, though thou neither see it ne fele it. And bere thanne sich stirynges pacienteli as a scourge of oure Lord, bi the which he wole clense thyn herte and make thi feith stidefast. Also thee bihoveth love and worschipe in thyn herte the lawes and the ordenaunces maad bi prelates and rulers of hooli chirche, either in declarynge of the feith, or in the sacramentis, or in general governance of alle Cristen men.
Mekeli and truli assente to hem, though it be so that thou knowe not the cause of here ordenaunce; and though the thenketh that summe were unskileful, thu schalt not deme hem, ne reprove hem, but receyve and worschipe hem alle, though thei longen but litil to thee; ne thou schalt not resseyve noon opynioun, ne fantasie, ne singuler conceyt undir colour of more holynesse, as summe doon that aren not wise, neither bi thyn owen ymaginacion ne bi kunnynge of noon othir man, whiche is contrarie to the leeste ordenaunce of general techynge of al hooli chirche.
And over this, thou schalt hopen stidefastli that thou art ordaynyd of oure Lord to be saaf as oon of his chosene, bi his merci, and stire not fro this hope, whatso thou herist [fol. 20v]or seest, what temptacion thou be inne. And though thou thenke thee so greet a wrecche that thou were worthi to synke to helle for that thu doost no good, ne servest God as thu schuldist doo, yit holde thee in this hope, and aske merci, and al schal be right weel. Yhe, and though alle the develis of helle appereden in bodili likenesse, slepynge or wakynge, seiden to thee that thou schulde not be saaf, or alle men lyvyng in erthe or alle the angelis in hevene, yif it myght be seid to thee the same, thou schulde not leve hem, ne bee myche stirid fro this truthe and hope of salvacioun. This y seie to thee, for summe aren so weyke and so symple, that whanne thei have yyven hem al hooli to serve God up here kunnynge, yif thei feelen ony styrynge withinne bi incastynge of the enemye, or fro withouten of ony word of the develis prophetis, whiche men callen soothseieris, that thei schulde not bee saaf, or here astaat or maner of lyvynge were not plesant to God, thei ben astonyed and stired with sich wordis, and so for unkunnynge thei fallen sum tyme into grete hevynesse, and as it were into dyspeir of savacioun. Wherfore as me thenketh it is spedeful to everi creature whiche bi grace of oure Lord Jhesu Crist is in ful wille to forsake synne, and as clerli as his conscience telleth hym he suffreth no deedli synne reste in hym that he ne schryveth hym sone therof, and meketh hym to the sa[fol. 21r]cramentis of holi chirche, for to have a trust and hope of savacion. And mykil more thanne they that yyven hem hooli to God, and flen venyal synnes up here myght. And on the contrarie wise, as perilous it is to hym whiche lieth wityngeli in a deedli synne for to hafe truste of savacion, and in hope of that trust wole not forsake his synne, ne lowe him trewli to God and to hooli chirche.
How a stable entent is nedefulle to thise that schal plese God and discrecioun in bodili werkes.
The thridde thynge whiche is nedeful thee to have in the bigynynge is an hool and a stable entencion, that is for to seie, an hool wille and a desyre oonli to plese God. For that is charité, withoute whiche al were not that thou doost. Thu schalt sette thyn entente alwey for to seke and traveile how thou myghttest plese oure Lord Jhesu Crist, no tyme for to cese wilfulli of good occupacion either bodili or gostli. For thu schalt not sette in thyn herte a tyme, as thus longe thou woldest serve God, and sithen to suffre thyn herte wilfulli to falle doun into veyn thoughtes and ydel occupacions, wenande that it were nedeful to thee for savynge of thi bodili kynde, levynge the kepynge of thy herte and gode occupacion, sekynge reste and confort oughtward bi the bodili wittes or in worldeli vanytees, as it were for recreacion of the spirit, that it schulde be more [fol. 21v]scharp afterward to goostli travaile. For y trowe it is not sooth. I seie not that thou schal mowen in deede ay performe thyn entent; for ofte sithes thi bodili nede in etynge, slepynge, and spekynge, and the freelté of thi fleisch schal lette thee and hyndre thee, be thu nevere so bisy. But I wolde that thyn entente and thi wille were alwey hool for to traveil bodili or goostli, and no tyme to be ydel, but alwey liftynge up thyn herte bi desire to thy lord Jhesu Crist and to the blisse of hevene, whethir thu ete or drynke, or ony othir bodili travaile that thu usist, as mykil as thou mai wilfulli leve it not. For yif thou have this entent, it schal make thee ay quyk and scharp in thi traveile; and yif thou falle bi freelté or necgligence to ony idel occupacion, or in veyn speche, it schal smyte upon thyn herte scharpeli as a prikke and make thee for to yrke with alle vanitees, and for to turne ayen hastili into inwarde biholdynge of Jhesu Crist bi praieres or bi summe gode dede or occupacion. For as anemptis thi bodili kynde, it is good to use discrecion in etynge, and drynkynge, and in slepynge, and in alle maner bodily penaunce, or in longe praier bi speche, or in bodili feelynge bi greet fervour of devocioun, eyther in weepynge or in swiche othere, and also in ymagynynge of the spirit. Whan a man feeleth no grace in alle thise werkes, it is good to kepe discrecion [fol. 22r]and for to breke of summe tyme, for the mene is the beste. But in destroyynge of synne bi kepynge of thyn herte fro alle maner of unclennesse, and in ay lastynge desire of vertues, and of the blisse of hevene, and for to have the goostli felynge and lovynge of God, halde thou noo meene, for the more it is of this, the betere is it. For thu schalt hate synne, and alle fleischli loves and dredis, in thyn herte withouten cesynge, and thou schalt love vertues and clennesse, and desire hem withouten stintynge, yif thou myghtest. I sey not that this is nedeful to savacion, but y hope that it ys spedeful; and yif thou kepe it thou schalt profite more in a yeer in vertues thanne thu schalt withoutin this entent profite in sevene.
Of a litil rehersynge of thynges biforseid, and of makynge offrynge of that schulde be offrid to God.
Now have y tolde thee first of the ende which thou schalt biholde in thi desire and drawe toward as myche as thou may. Also y have seide of the bigynnynge, what the nedeth for to have, as mekenesse, siker trowth, and an hool entente to God, upon whiche ground thou schalt sette thy goostli hous, bi praier and meditacioun and othere goostli vertues. Thanne sei I to thee thus: praie thou, or thenke thou, or ony othir deede that thou doost, good bi grace or badde bi synne or bi thin owne freelté, or what that thou feelist, seest, or smellest or savours, withouten in [fol. 22v]thi bodili wittes, or withinne in ymagynynge or feelynge in thi resoun or knowynge: brynge hit al withynne the trowthe and rulis of hooli chirche and caste it al in the morter of mekenesse and breke it smal with the pestel of drede of God, and throw the pouder of alle thise in the fier of desire, and offre it soo to thi lord Jhesu Crist. And y telle thee forsothe, wel schal that offrynge like in the sight of oure Lord Jhesu, and swete schal the smoke of that ilke fier smelle in the face of thi Lord Jhesu. This is for to seie, drawe al this that thou felist withinne the trowthe of holi chirche and breke thisilf in mekenesse, and offre the desire of thin herte oonli to thi Lord Jhesu Crist, for to have hym and not ellis but hym. And yif thou doo thus, I hope bi the grace of Jhesu Crist thou schalt nevere be overcomen with thyn enemye. Thus techeth us Seynt Poul, whanne he seide thus: Sive manducatis, sive bibitis, sive quicquid aliud facitis, omnia in nomine domini facite (1 Corinthians 10:31). Whether ye eten or ye drynken or what maner of dede that ye doon, dooth al in the name of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, forsakynge youresilf, and offreth up to hym. Menes whiche thu schalt most use, as I have biforseid, aren praier and meditacion. First I schal schewe thee a litil of praier, and sithen of meditacion.
Of praier that is spedful to gete clennes in herte and vertues.
Preyer is profitable and spedful to use [fol. 23r]for to gete clennesse of herte bi distroynge of synne and receyvynge of vertues. Not for thou schuldest bi thi praier kenne oure Lord what thou desirest, for he knoweth wel ynowgh al that thee nedeth; but for to make thee able and redi bi thi praier that thou myght receyve as a clene vessel the grace that oure Lord wole freeli yyve to thee, whiche grace mai not be felid til thou be purified bi fier of desire in devoute praier. For though it be so that praier is not the cause for whiche our Lord yeveth grace, neverthelees it is a weie bi the whiche grace freli yyven cometh to a soule.
But now desirest thou peraventure for to knowe hou thu schuldest praie and upon what thynge thu schal sette the poynt of thi thought in thi praier, and also what preier were best to thee for to use. As unto the first, I answere and seie thus: That whan thou art waken of thi sleep and art redi for to preie, thou schalt fele thisilf fleischli and hevy and ai dounward into veyn thoughtes, either of dreemes or of fantasies, or unskilful bisynesse of the world, or of thi fleisch. Thanne bihoveth thee for to quykene thyn herte bi praier and stire it als mykil as thou mai to sum devocioun.
Hou men schulde praie, and whereon the poynt of the thought schal be sette in prayere.
And in thi praier thou schalt not sette thyn herte in ony erthly thynge, but al thi travail schal be for to drawe in thi thoughtis fro alle bihooldynges of [fol. 23v]alle erthli thinges, that thi desire myght be, as it were, bare and nakid from alle ertheli thinges, evermore upward stiynge into Jhesu Crist as yif thu were in his presence whom thou may neither see bodili as he is in his godhede, ne bi bodili liknes in ymaginacion; but thou may thorugh devout biholdynge of his precious manhede fele his godenesse and the grace of his godhede, whanne thi desire is esid and holpen and as it were maad free and myghti from alle fleschli thoughtes and affeccions, and is mykil lifted up bi a goostli myght into gosteli savour and delite of his goostli presence, and holde stille thereinne mykil of the tyme of thi praiere, so that thou hast no grete mynde of noon ertheli thynge, or elles the mynde dereth the but litil. Yif thou praye thus, than can thou preyen wel; for praier is not ellis but a stiynge desire of the herte to God bi a withdrawinge of thi mynde from alle ertheli thoughtes. And so is praier likenyd to a fier whiche of the owen kynde leeveth the lowenesse of the erthe and alwei stieth up into the eir. Right so desire in praier, whanne it is touchid and lightned of the goostli fier whiche is God, it is ay upstyande to hym kyndeli whom it com fro.
Of the fier of love.
Alle men and women that speken of the fier of love knowe not wel what it is, for what it is I can not telle thee, save this may I telle thee, it is neither bodili, ne it is bodili feelid. A soule mai fele it in [fol. 24r]praiere or in devocioun, whiche soule is in the bodi, but he felith it not bi no bodili witt. For though it be so, that yif it wirke in a soule the bodi mai turne into an heete as it were chafid for likynge travaile of the spirit, neverthelees the fier of love is not bodili, for it is oonly in the goostli desire of the soule. This is no doute to no man ne woman that felith and knoweth devocion, but summe aren so symple and wenen bicause that it is callid fier that it schulde be hoot as bodili fier is. And forthi I seie that I have seid. Now as to that othir, for to knowe what prayer were best for to use, y schal seie as me thenkith. Thou schalt undirstonde that there are thre maner of praieres.
That certayn praier in speche ordeyned of God and of holi chirche is best to hem that aren bounden and ordeyned therto, and to hem that yyven hem newli to devocion.
The first is praier of speche maad speciali of God, as is the Pater Noster, and maad also more generali bi the ordenaunce of holi chirche, as mateyns and evesonge and houres; and also maad bi devout men of othere special seiynges, as to oure Lord and oure Ladi, and to his seyntis. As unto this matier of praier, whiche is callid vocal, me thenketh unto thee that art religious, and bi custum of rule art bounden for to seie mateyns and houres, I holde it moost spedful for to seie hem as devouteli as thou mai. For whanne thou seist thi [fol. 24v]mateyns, thou seist also thi Pater Noster principali; and over more to stire thee to more devocioun was it ordeyned for to seie psalmys and ympnys and siche othere whiche are maad bi the Holi Goost, as the Pater Noster is. And therfore thou schalt not seie hem gredili ne rekleesli, as thou were yvel paid that thou art bounden with hem, but thou schalt gadre thyn affeccioun and thi thought for to seie hem more sadli and more devouteli than ony othir special praier of devocioun, trowande for sothe, that sithen it is the praiere of holi chirche there is no praier so profitable to the whiche is vocale for to use comounli as that is. And so schalt thou put awey al the hevynesse, and bi grace thou schalt turne thi nede into good wille and thi boond into gret freedom, that it schal no lettynge be to thee of goostli occupacion. And after thise, yif thou wolte, thou mai use othere, as the Pater Noster or ony swiche othir. And in thise, in whiche thou felist most savour and most gostli confort, inne that holde y best for thee. This maner of praier is spedful to everi man comonli in the bigynnynge of his conversioun, for to use most of ony othir goostli occupacioun. For a man in the biginnynge is rude and boistous and fleiscli, but yif he have the more grace, and cannot thenke gostli thoughtis in meditacioun, for his soule is not yit clensid from olde synne. And therfore y hope it is most spedful [fol. 25r]to use this maner of praiere, as for to seie his Pater Noster and his Ave Marie and rede upon his sautier and sich othere. For he that cannot renne lightli bi goostli praier, for his feet of knowynge and lovynge aren syke for synne, hym nedeth for to have a siker staaf for to holde him bi. This staaf is special praier of speche ordayned of God and of holi chirche in helpe of mennys soulis, bi the whiche praier a soule of a fleischli man that is alwei fallynge dounward into worldli thoughtis and fleschli affeccions schal be liftid up from hem, and holden bi hem as bi a staaf, feed with suete wordis of the praier as a childe with mylk, and rulid bi it that he falle not in errours ne fantasies bi his veyn meditacioun. For in this maner of praiere is no disceite, whoso wole stidefastli and mekeli travaile thereinne.
What peril it is to men that in the bigynnynge of here turnynge to God leeven to sone the comone praier of the ordenaunce of holi chirche and yyven hem to meditacion hooli.
Thanne mai though bi this see, that thise men, yif ony ben siche, that in the bigynnynge of here conversioun or soone aftir, whanne thei han felid a litil of goostli comfort either in devocion or in knowynge, and not aren stablid yit therinne, thei leven siche praier vocal to sone, and othere bodili exercise, and yyven hem hooli to meditacion. Thei aren not wise, for ofte in reste of here meditacion thei ymagen and thenken of gostli thinges after here owen [fol. 25v]wittes, and folwen here bodili felyng, and han not yit receyved grace therto. And therfore thei bi undiscrecion, ofte sithes overtravailen hire wittes and breken here bodili myght, and so thei fallen into fantasies and singulere conceites, or into open errours, and letten the grace that God yyveth hem bi sich vanytees. The cause of al this is a prevei pride and presumpcion of hemself, as whanne thei han felid a litil grace thei wenen that it is so mykil, passand othere, that thei fallen in veynglorie and so thei leesen it. Yif thei wisten how litil it were that thei feelen in regard of that God yeveth or mai yeven thei schulde be aschamed for to speke ought therof, but if it were in grete nede. Of this maner of praiere bi speche speketh David in sautier thus: Voce mea ad dominum clamavi; voce mea ad dominum deprecatus sum (Psalms 141:2). David the prophete, for to stire othere men bothe with herte and with mouth seide: With my vois I criede to God, and with my speche y bisoughte oure Lord.
Of the secunde maner of praier, that is in speche not certayn, but folweth the stirenges that aren in devocioun.
The secunde maner of praiere is bi speche, but it is not of noon certayn special seiynge; and this is whanne a man or a woman felith grace of devocioun bi the yifte of God, and in his devocioun speketh to hym as yif he were bodili in presence, with sich wordis and acordande most to his stirynge for [fol. 26r]the tyme as comen to his mynde after sondri rewardes which he felith in his herte, either rehersynge hise synnes and his wrecchidnesse or the malice and the sleightes of the enemye, or ellis the godenesse and the merci of God. And with that he crieth with desire of herte and with speche of his mouth to oure Lord for socour and help, as a man that were in peril amonge his enemyes or as a man in sikenesse, schewynge his sooris to God as to a leche, seiynge thus: Eripe me de inimicis meis, deus meus (Psalms 58:2) Lord, delyvere me fro myn enemyes, or ellis thus: Sana, domine, animam meam, quia peccavi tibi (Psalms 40:5). A, Lord, heele my soule, for I have synned ayenys thee, or sich othere that come to mynde. And also hym thenketh so mykil godenesse, grace, and mercy in God, that hym liketh with grete affeccioun of the herte for to love hym and thanke hym by siche wordes and psalmys as acorden to the lovynge and preisynge of God, as Davyd seith: Confitemini domino, quoniam bonus, quoniam in seculum misericordia eius (Psalms 135:1). Loveth and preiseth oure Lord for he is good and merciful, and bi siche othere as he is sterid for to seie.
That this maner of praier pleseth moche God, and maketh a man to have him as he were dronken, and maketh his soule to be woundid with the suerd of love.
This maner of praier mykil pleseth God, for it is oonli in the affeccion of the herte, and therfore it goth nevere awey un[fol. 26v]sped withoutin sum grace. This praier longeth to the secunde partie of contemplacioun, as I have bifore seide. Whoso hath this yift of God ferventli, hym bihoveth for the tyme flee presence and cumpanye of alle men and to be alone that he be not lettid. Whoso hath it, holde it while he may, for it mai not longe laste in the fervour. For yif grace come plenteuousli, it is traveilous wondirfulli to the spirit, though it be likande; and it is mykil wastande the bodili kynde, whoso mykil useth it, for it maketh the bodi, yif grace come myghtili, for to stire and turne heer and theer as a man that were mad or dronken and can have noo reste. And this is a poynt of the passion of love, the whiche bi grete violence and maistrie breketh doun alle lustis and likynges of alle ertheli thinges, and it woundeth the soule with the blisful swerd of love, that the bodi faileth and falleth doun and mai not bere it. This touchynge is of so grete myght that the moste vicious or fleschli man lyvand in erthe, yif he were wel touchid ones myghtili with this scharp suerd, he schulde be right saad and sobre a grete while after, and lothe alle likynges and the lustis of the fleisch, and of alle ertheli thinges whiche he hadde bifore most likynge inne.
Hou fier of love wasteth alle fleischli lustes, as othir fier wasteth alle bodili thynges here.
Of this maner of felynge speketh the prophete Je[fol. 27r]remye thus: Et factus est in corde meo quasi ignis estuans, claususque in ossibus meis, et defeci, ferre non sustinens (Jeremiah 20:9). This is thus mykil to undirstonde: The love and the felynge of God was maad in myn herte not as fier, but as fier glowand; for as bodili fire brenneth and wasteth al bodili thyng where it cometh, right so gosteli fier, as is love of God, brenneth and wasteth fleischli loves and likynges in a mannys soule, and this fier is stokyn so in my boonys, as the prophete seith of himsilf. That is for to seie, this love filleth ful the myghtes of the soule, as mynde, wille, and resoun, of grace and goostli swettenesse, as marwe filleth fulle the boon; and that is withinne, not withouten in the wittis. Neverthelees, it is so myghti withinne that it smyteth oute into the bodi, and dooth al the bodi quake and tremble, for it is so feer from the bodili kynde and so uncouthe that he can no skile of it and mai not bere it, but faileth and falleth doun, as the prophete seide. Therfore oure Lord temprith it and withdraweth the fervour and suffreth the herte for to falle into sobirté of mor swettenesse. Whoso can preie thus ofte, he spedeth swithe in his travaile. He schal gete more of vertues in a litil tyme thanne sum man withoutyn this, or anothir as gode schal doo in a longe tyme, for al the bodili penaunce that he myght doo; and whoso hath this, it nedeth not to charge the bodili kynde with more penance than he bereth yif [fol. 27v]he have it ofte.
Of the thridde maner of praier, oonli in herte withouten speche.
The thridde maner of praier is oonli in herte withoute speche, bi grete reste of the bodi and of soule. A clene herte him bihoveth for to have that schulde prai wel thus, for it is of sich men and women that bi longe travaile bodili and goostli, or ellis bi swich smert smytynges of love, as I bifore seide, comen into reste of spirit, so that here affeccioun is turnyd into goostli savoure, that thei moun neer contynueli praie in here herte, and love and praise God withoutyn grete lettynge of temptacions or of vanitees, as I bifore seide in the secunde partie of contemplacioun. Of this maner of preier seith Seynt Poul thus: Nam si orem lingua, spiritus meus orat, mens autem mea sine fructu est. Quid ergo? Orabo spiritu, orabo et mente, psallam spiritu, psallam et mente (1 Corinthians 14:15). This is thus mykil for to seie: Yif y praie with my tunge oonli, bi wille of spirit and bi traveil, the preier is meedful, but my soule is not fed, for it felith not the frughte of goostli swettenesse bi undirstondynge. What schal y thanne doo? seith Seynt Poul. And he answereth and seith: I schal praie bi travaile and bi desire of the spirit, and I schal pray also more inward in my spirit withouten travaile, bi felinge of goosteli savour and the swettenesse of the love and the sight of God, bi the whiche sight and [fol. 28r] felynge of love my soule schal be fed. Thus, as y undirstonde, Seynt Poul cowde preie. Of this maner of preier speketh oure Lord in holi writ bi figure thus: Ignis in altari meo semper ardebit, et cotidie sacerdos surgens mane subiciet ligna, ut ignis non extinguatur (Leviticus 6:12). This is for to seie thus mykil: The fier of love schal be ay light in the soule of a devoute man or woman, the whiche is the autier of oure Lord, and the prest schal every dai at morwe lei to stikkes and norissch the fier. That is to seie, this man schal bi hooli psalmes, clene thoughtes, fervent desires, norische the fier of love in his herte, that it goo not out noo tyme. This reste oure Lord yeveth to summe of hise servauntis, as it were for a reward of here traveyle and a shadwe of the love whiche thei shullen have in the blisse of hevene.
How men schal do that aren traveylid with veyn thoughtes in her preier.
But now seist thou that y speke over highe to thee in this manere of praier, for it is no maistrie to me for to seie it, but for to doo it is the maistrie. Thou seist that thu cannot so hoolili ne thus devoutli prai in thyn herte as y speke of. For whanne thou woldest have the mynde of thyn herte upward to God in praier, thou felist so many veyn thoughtis of thyn owen deedis bifore doon, or what thu schalt doon, or of othir mennys dedis, and siche many othire lettynge and taryynge thee, so that thou mai nevere fele savor ne reste in thi praiere ne devocioun in thi seiynge. And ofte sithes the more thu traveilest to kepe thyn herte, the ferthere it is fro thee and the hardere, [fol. 28v]sumtyme fro the bigynnynge to the laste ende, that the thenketh it is but loste, al that thou doost. As unto this that I speke to highe to thee of praier, I graunt wel that y speke othirwise than y can do or mai do. Neverthelees y sei it for this entent, that thu schuldest knowe hou we oute to praie yif we dede wel. And sithen we mowen not do so, that we knowe thanne mekeli oure feblenesse and crie God merci. Oure Lord seide so himsilf whan he seide: Diliges dominum tuum ex tote corde tuo, et ex tota anima tua, et ex omnibus viribus tuis (Luke 10:27). Thou schalt love God of al thyn herte and al thi soule and al thi myghtis. It is inpossible to ony man for to fulfille this biddynge soo fulli as it is seid, lyvynge in erthe, and yit neverthelees oure Lord bad us for to love soo; for this entent, as Seynt Bernard seith, that we schulde knowe therbi oure feblenesse and thanne mekeli crie merci and we schul have it. Neverthelees, I schal telle thee as me thenketh in this askyng.
Whenne thu schalt praie, make thyn entente and thi wil in the biginnynge as hool and as clene to God as thou mai schorteli in thi mynde, and than bigynne and do as thou mai; and though thou be never so mykil lettid ayens thi first wil, be not to mikil adreed, ne to angri with thisilf, ne unpacient ayens God, that he yyveth not thee that savour and goostli swettenesse with devocioun as thee thenketh that he yyveth to othere creatures. But se therbi thyn owen feblenesse and bere it esili, holdynge in thyn owyn sight [fol. 29r]thi praier, simple as it is, with mekenesse of herte, trustynge also sikirli in the merci of oure Lord, that he schal make it good more thanne thou knowyste or feeliste. And yif thou doo thus, al schal be wel. For wite thou weel that thou art excusid of thi dette, and thou schalt have meede for it as for anothir good dede that thou doost in charité, though thyn herte were not thereupon in the doynge. Therfore doo thou that longeth to thee, and suffre oure Lord to yyve what he wole, and kenne hym not; and though thee thenketh the reklees and necgligent, and as thou were in greet defautis for sich thinges, yit neverthelees schalt thu for this defaute and for alle othere veniales, whiche moun not alle been eschewed in this wrecchid lif, lift up thyn herte to God, knowelechynge thi wrecchidnesse, and crie merci with a good truste of foryyvenesse, and God schal foryyve thee. Stryve no more therewith, ne hange noo lenger therupon, as thou woldest bi maistrie not fele siche wrecchidnesse. Leve of and goo to sum good deede, bodili or goostli, and thenke to doo betere another tyme. But though thou falle another tyme in the same, yhe an hundrid tymes, a thousand tymes, yit doo as I have seid, and al schal be wel. For ther is many a soule that never mai fynde reste of herte in praiere, but al here liftyme aren stryvande with here thoughtis and taried and troblid with hem. Yif thei kepe hem in mekenesse and charité in othir sides, thei schul have wel mykil mede in hevene [fol. 29v]for here gode travaile.
Now of meditacioun schal y telle thee as me thenketh. Thou schalt undirstonde that in meditacion mai no certayn rule be sette ai a man for to kepe, for thei aren the free yift of oure Lord, aftir the sondrie disposynges of chosen soules and aftir the staat that thei ben inne. And also aftir that thei profiten in vertues and in here astaat, so he encreseth here meditacion, in goostli knowynge and lovynge of him; for whoso is ai likewise in knowinge of God and of goosteli thinges, it semeth he wexith but litil in the lovynge of God. And that mai be schewid opynli in the apostelis, whanne thei in the dai of Pentecost weren fulfilled with brennynge love of the Holi Gost; thei weren noo foolis ne fooltes, but thei were maad wondir wise in knowynge and spekynge of God and goostli thinges, als mykil as a man might have in fleschly lyvyng. Thus seith holi writ of hem: Repleti sunt omnes spiritu sancto et ceperunt loqui magnalia dei (Acts 2:4, 11). Thei weren fulfillid of the Holi Goost, and thei bigan to speke the grete merveiles of God. And al that knowynge thei hadden bi ravyschynge of love of the Hooli Goost.
Of meditacion of synful men, aftir that thei ben turned hooli to God.
Sundrie meditacions ther aren whiche oure Lord putteth in a mannys herte. Sum schal y telle thee, as me thenketh, for this entent, yif thou fele ony of hem, that thou schulde the betere travaile in hem. In [fol. 30r]the bigynnynge of conversioun of siche a man as hath ben mykil foulid with worldli or fleschli synnes, comounli his thought is most upon his synnes, with gret conpuccion and sorwe of herte, grete wepynges and many teeris of the iye, mekeli and bisili askynge merci and foryyvnesse of God for hem. And yif he be touchid scharpeli, for oure Lord wole make him soone clene, hym schal thenke that in his sight his synnes aren ai so foule and so horrible that unnethes schal he mowe bere himsilf for hevynesse of synne. And though he schryve him never so cleerli, yit schal he fynde bitynge and fretynge of conscience, that him schal thynke that he is not schriven aright. And unnethe schal he mowe have ony reste, in so mykil that he schulde not endure in siche traveile, ne were it that oure Lord of his merci comforteth him sum tyme as he wole, bi grete devocioun of his passioun or bi sum othir wai. Upon this maner werketh oure Lord in sum mennys hertis, more or lasse as he wole. And this is the grete merci of oure Lord, that not oonli wole foryyve the synne and the trespace, but he wole foryyve bothe trespas and peyne for it in purgatorie, for siche a litil peyne here of bitynge of conscience. And also yif he wole dispose a man for to receyve ony special yift of his lofe, him bihoveth first to be scourid and clensid bi siche a fier of conpunccioun for alle the grete synnes bifore doon. Of this maner of travaile speketh David in many [fol. 30v]psalmes of the sautier, and speciali in the psalme Miserere mei deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam (Psalms 50:3).
Thanne after this traveile, and sum tyme with alle, sich a man or ellis anothir, whiche bi grace of God hath ben kepid in innocence, oure Lord yyveth a meditacion with gret conpunccioun and with plenté of teeris of his manhede, as of his birthe or of his passioun, or of the compassioun of oure Ladi Seynt Marie.
That the meditacion of the manhede of Crist or of his passion is yyven of God, and how it schal be knowen whanne it is yeven.
Whanne this meditacion is maad bi the Holi Goost, thanne it is right profightable and gracious, and that schalt thou wite bi this tokene: whanne it is so that thou art stired to devocion, and sodeynli thi thought is drawen up from alle worldli and fleischli thinges, and the thenketh as thu seighe in thi soule thi Lord Jhesu Crist in bodili liknesse as he was in erthe, how he was taken of the Jewes and bounden as a theef, beten and dispisid, scourgid and demed to the deeth; hou mekeli he baar the cros upon his bak, and hou crueli he was nailed therupon; also of the crowne of thornes upon his heed, and upon the scharp spere that stonge him to the herte. And thou in this goostli sight thou felist thyn herte stired into so greet compassioun and pité of thi Lord Jhesu that thou mornest, and wepist, and criest with alle thy myghtes of thi bodi and of thi soule, wondrynge the goodnesse and the love, the pacience and the mekenesse of oure [fol. 31r]Lord Jhesu, that he wolde for so synful a caitif as thou art suffre so mykil peyne. And also over this thou felist so mykil goodnesse and merci in oure Lord that thi herte riseth up into love and glaadnesse of him with manye swete teeris, havynge greet trust of foryyvenesse of thi synnes and of savacioun of thi soule bi the vertu of this precious passioun. Thanne whanne the mynde of Cristis passioun or ony poynt of his manhede is thus maad in thi herte bi siche goostli sight, with devout affeccioun answerynge therto, wite thou wel thanne that it is not thyn owen werkynge, ne feynynge of noo wikkid spirit, but bi grace of the Holi Goost, for it is an openynge of the goostli iye into Cristis manhede. And it mai be called the fleischli love of God, as Seynt Bernard callith it, in as mekil as it is set in the fleischli kynde of Crist. And it is right good, and a greet help in distroyynge of grete synnes, and a wei for to come to vertues. And so aftir to come to contemplacioun of Jhesu Crist in his godhed. For a man schal not come to goostli delite in comtemplacioun of his godhede, but yif he come first in ymaginacion bi bitirnesse and compassioun and bi stable trouthe and stidefaste mynde of his manhede. Thus Seynt Poul dide. For first he seide thus: Nichil iudicavi me scire inter vos, nisi Jesum Christum, et hunc crucifixum (1 Corinthians 2:2). I schewed yow right nought that y couthe, but oonli Jhesu Crist and him crucified. As yif he had seid: My [fol. 31v]knowynge and my trust is oonli in the passioun of Crist. And therfore seide he thus also: Michi autem absit gloriari, nisi in cruce domini nostri Jhesu Cristi (Galatians 6:14). Forbed be it fro me al maner of joie and of likynge, but in the cros and in the passioun of oure Jhesu Crist. And aftirward he seid thus: Predicamus vobis Christum dei virtutem, et dei sapientiam (1 Corinthians 1:24). As who seie: First he prechid to yow of the manhed and of the passion of Crist; now y preche to yow of the godhede and Cristis myght and the eendeles wisdom of God.
That the meditacioun of the passioun of Crist is withdrawen from hem that it is yyven to ofte sithes for divers skyles.
This maner of meditacioun with gracious conpunccion a man hath not alwei whan he wolde, but whanne oure Lord wole yyve it. Unto sum men and women he yeveth it al here lyvetyme, bi sithes whan he visiteth hem; as summe devout men and women aren so tendre in here affeccion that whanne thei here men speke or ellis that thei thenken of this precious passioun, her hertis melten in devocion and thei are fed and confortid bi vertu of it ayens al maner temptacions of the enemye, and that is a grete yift of God. To summe men he yyveth it first plenteuousli, and aftirward he withdrawith it for dyverse causis, either yif a man wex proud of it in his owen sight, or for sum othir synne bi the whiche he maketh himsilf unable for to resseyve the grace; or ellis oure Lord withdrawith [fol. 32r]it and al othir devocion sumtyme from a man or a woman, for he wole suffre hem for to be assaied bi temptacions of his enemye, and so wole he dispose a man for to knowe and fele him more goostli. For he seide so himsilf to his disciples: Expedit vobis ut ego vadam; si enim non abiero, paraclitus non veniet ad vos (John 16:7). It is spedful to you that y goo fro yow bodili; for yif y goo not, the Holi Goost mai not come to yow. For as longe as he was with hem, thei lovyd him mykil, but it was flesschli oonli in the manhed; for thei trowed not fulli that Jhesu man was God, and therfore it was spedful to hem that he schulde drawe the bodili forme from here sight that the Hooli Goost myght come to hem, and kenne hem for to love him and knowe hym as god more goostli, as he dide on the dai of Pentecost. Right so it is spedeful to summe that oure Lord withdrawe a litil the bodili and the fleschli likenesse from the iye of her soule, that the herte myght be set and ficchid more bisili in gosteli desire and felynge of his godhed.
Of divers temptaciouns of the feend of helle.
Neverthelees it bihoveth a man for to suffre many temptacions first, and thise temptacions fallen ofte sithes to sum men and women after whanne comfort is withdrawen upon divers maneres bi the malice of the enemye, as thus. Whanne the devyl perceyveth devocioun mykil [fol. 32v]withdrawen, that the soule is left as it were nakid for a tyme, thanne he sendeth to summe men temptacions of leccherie or glotonye, so hoot and so brennynge that hem schal thenke thei felid nevere noon so grevous in al here lif bifore whanne thei yave hem to synne most. In so mykil that thei schul thenke it impossible for to stonde longe and suffre, that thei ne schul nedynges falle but yif thei have helpe. And therfore han thei than mykil sorwe, bothe for lakkynge of comfort and devocioun that thei weren wonte to have, and mykil drede of fallyng from God bi siche open synnes. And al this worcheth the devel for to doo hem forthenke here good purpos and turne ayen to synne as they were wont to doo; but whoso wole abide awhile and suffre a litil peyne, the hande of oure Lorde is ful neer and helpeth swithe soone. For he kepeth hem wel sikirli, and thei wot not how; as the prophete David seide in the persoone of oure Lord: Cum ipso sum in tribulacione, eripiam eum et glorificabo eum (Psalms 90:15). I am with him in tribulacion and in temptacion; I schal delivere him and y schal make him glorious in my blisse. Sum men he tempteth bi gosteli synnes maliciousli, as of mystrowynge of the articles of the feith or of the sacrament of goddis bodi, also dispeir or blasphemye in oure Lord or in ony of his seyntis, or lo[fol. 33r]thynge of here lif, or bittirnesse and unskilful hevynesse, or to mykil drede of hemsilf or of here bodi, yif thei putten hem hooli to Goddis service. Sum men he tempteth also, and nameli solitarie men and women, bi dredes and ugglynesse and quakynges and schakynges, either apperynge to hem in bodili liknesse or ellis in ymagynyng, slepynge and wakynge, and tarieth hem so that thei mai unnethes have ony reste. And also on many othere wises he tempteth mo than I can or mai seie.
Of sere remedies ayennes temptaciounes of feend.
Remedie unto siche maner of men and women that aren thus travaled, or ony othir wise, mai be this: first that thei wolen putten al hire trust in oure Lord Jhesu Crist and bringe thanne to mynde his passioun and his peynes that he suffride, and that thei trowe thanne stidefastli that al this sorwe and traveile that thei suffren in siche temptacions, whiche to an unkunynge man semeth forsakynge of God, is no reprovynge of God, ne non forsakynge, but assayynge for here betere, either for clensynge of here synnes bifore doon, or for grete encresynge of here mede, or for greet disposynge to mykil grace, yif thei wole abide and suffre a litil while and stonde faste with a nakid trouthe and stidefaste mynde of Jhesu Crist, so that thei turne not wilfulli ayene to synne. Another remedye is that thei drede not ne sette not at herte siche [fol. 33v]malicious stirynges of despeir or blasfemye, or of the sacrament or ony siche othere that were uggly to here, for the felynge of thise temptacions foulen the soule no more than yif thei herde an hound berke or felid a flee bite. Thei tarie the soule, but thei apeire not the soule, yif a man wolde despice hem and sette hem at nought. It is not good to stryve with hem, for to putte hem ought bi maistrie; for the more that men stryven with siche thoughtes the more thei cleve to hem. And therfore thei schullen as mykil as thei moun drawe oute the thought from hem, as yif thei chargiden hem not, and sette it to summe othir good occupacion. And yit yif thei wolen ai hange upoun hem, thanne it is good to hem that thei ben not angri ne hevy for to fele hem, but that thei with a good trust in God wole bere hem as it were a bodili peyne and a scourge of oure Lord for clensynge of here synnes, as longe as he wole. And over this it is good to hem, to schewe hire hertes to sum wise man in the bigynnynge bifore thei ben rooted in the herte, and that thei leve here owen witte and folwe the counsel of him; and that thei schewe hem not lightli to noon uncouth man, that is to seie, to noon unkunnynge man and worldli, which never hadde felid siche temptacions, for thei myghte lightli bringe a symple soule into despeir bi [fol. 34r]unkunynge of hemsilf. Of this maner of temptacions, bi the whiche a man semeth forsaken of God and is not, in comfort of hem that aren temptid oure Lord seith thus bi his prophete: In modico dereliqui te et in memento indignacionis mee percussi te, et in miseracionibus meis multis congregabo te (Isaiah 54:7). In a litil y forsook thee, that is for to seie, I suffrid thee for to be taried a litil, and in a poynt of my wraththe y smoot thee, that is to seie, al the penaunce and the peyne that thou suffrest heere is but a poynt of my wraththe in reward of peyne of helle or of purgatorie. And yit in my manyfold mercies y schal gadre thee togedre, that is for to sai, whanne that thee theenketh that thou art forsaken, thanne schal y of my greet merci gadre thee ayen to me, for thanne whanne that thu wenest that thou art but lost, thanne schal oure Lord helpe thee, as seith Job: Cum te consumptum putaveris, orieris ut lucifer et habebis fiduciam (Job 11:17). That is for to seie, whanne thou art brought so lowe bi traveil in temptacion that thee thenketh noon help ne comfort, but as it were a fordoon man, yit stond stifli in hope, and prai God, and sotheli thou schalt sodaynli springe up as the dai sterre in gladnesse of herte, and have a veri trust in God, as Job seide.
Hou God suffreth hem that he cheseth for to be tarid and temptid; and aftirwarde he comfortith hem and stableth hem yn grace.
[fol. 34v]And also in confort of sich men that thei schulde not despeire, the wise man seith thus of oure Lord: In temptacione ambulat cum eo. In primis eligit eum. Timorem et metum et approbacionem inducit super illum; et cruciabit illum in tribulacione doctrine sue, donec temptet illum in cogitacionibus suis, et credat anime illius, ad iter directum adducet illum et firmabit illum et letificabit illum; et denudabit abscondita sua illi, et thesaurizabit super illum scienciam et intellectum iusticie (Ecclesiasticus 4:18-21). This is thus mykil for to sai: The wise man, for he wolde not that men schulde dispeire in temptacion, in comfort of hem he seith thus: In tribulacion, ne in temptacioun oure Lord forsaketh not a man, but he goth with him fro the bigynnynge to the laste ende, for he seith, first he cheseth him, and that is whanne he draweth a man to him bi confort of devocion; and aftirward sorwe and drede and assaiynge he bringeth upon him, and that is whanne he withdraweth devocion and suffreth him to be temptid. Also he seith he tormenteth him in tribulacion, until he hath assaied hym wel in his thoughtis, and til a man wole putte al his trust fulli in him. And thanne aftir this oure Lord bringeth hym oute to the right wai and festeneth him to hym, and gladith hym, and sithen scheweth him his pryvetees, and yeveth him his tresour of knowynge and undirstondinge and rightwisenesse.
Bi thise wordes of holi writ mai thou see that thise temptacions, or ony othere, be thei nevere [fol. 35r]so uggli to a man that bi grace is in ful wille to forsake synne, aren spedful and profitable, yif he wole suffre as he mai and abide Goddis wille, and not turne ayen to synnes which he hath forsake for no sorwe ne peyne ne drede of siche temptacioun, but ai stondeth stille in travaile, and in praiere. Oure Lord of his endelees godenesse, havynge pité and merci of alle his creatures, whanne he seeth tyme he leith to his hond, and smyteth doun the devel and al his power; and eseth hem of here travaile, and putteth awei dredis and sorwes and merkenesse oute of here hertes and bringeth into hire soules light of grace, and openeth the sight of here soule, yyvynge hem a newe goostli myght to ayenstonde al the fondynges of the fende and alle deedli synnes withoutin gret travaile, and ledeth hem into saddenesse of good vertues lyvynge. In the which, yif thei be meke, he kepeth hem to here laste ende, and thanne taketh he hem al hooli to hym. This thyng y seie to thee, yif thou be taried or traveiled with ony siche manere of temptacions, be not to mykil adred, but doo as I have seide, and betere yif thou may; and y hope bi the grace of Jhesu Crist thou schal never be overcome with thyn enemy.
That a man schulde not yeve him to idelnesse ne lightli leve the grace that were yyven to him of God.
Aftir this, whanne thou hast ascapid siche temptacions, or ellis oure Lord [fol. 35v]hath so kepid thee, as he hath doon many of his merci, that thou hast not ben mykil taried with non siche, thanne it is good to thee that thou turne not thi reste into idelnesse; for there is many man that taketh reste upon him to sone. But thou schalt, yif thou wolt, bigynne a newe travaile, and that is for to entre into thyn owen soule bi meditacion, for to knowe what it is, and bi the knowynge therof for to come to the goostli knowynge of God. For as Seynt Austyn seith: “Bi the knowynge of mysilf, I schalle gete the knowing of God.” I seie not that it is nedeful to thee and dette for to travaile so, ne to noon othir man, but yif he fele him stired bi grace and as it were callid therto. For oure Lord yyveth sundri yiftes whereso he wole, not oon man al, ne alle men oon, outaken charité whiche is comyn to alle. And therfore, yif a man or a woman have receyved a yifte of oure Lord, as devocion in praier or in the passion of Crist, or ony othir be it nevere so litil, leve it not to soone for noon othir, but yif he felid sothfastli a betere, whanne God wole yive it. Neverthelees aftirward yif hit be withdrawen sumwhat, and he see a betere and felith his hert stired therto, thanne semeth it a callynge of oure Lord to the betere, and thanne is tyme for to folwe aftir for to gete it.
That a man schulde knowe the mesure of his yifte, and evere desire [fol. 36r]more, and take a betere, whanne God wole yyve it.
Oure holi fadres heere bifore kenned us that we schulde knowe the mesure of oure yifte, and up that werk, not takynge upon us bi feynynge more thanne we han in felynge. We moun ai desire the beste, but we moun not ay werke the beste, for we han not yit receyved the grace. An hound that renneth aftir the hare oonli for he seeth othir houndes renne, whanne he is weri he resteth him and turneth hym ayen. But yif he renne for he seeth the hare, he wole not spare for werynesse til he have geten it. Right so it is gosteli. Whoso hath a grace, be it never so litil, yif he leve wilfulli the werkynge of it, and make himsilf for to traveile in anothir whiche he hath not yit, oonli for he seeth or heereth that othere men doo soo, sothli he may renne a while til he be weri, and thanne schal he turne him ayen, and but yif he be waar, he mai hurte his feet bi sum fantasies, or thanne he come hoom. But he that worcheth in siche grace as he hath, and desireth mekeli and lastandli aftir more, and aftir felith his herte stired for to folwe the grace whiche he hath desired, he mai sikirli renne, yif he kepe mekenesse. And therfore desire of God as mykil as thou mai, withoutyn mesure or discre[fol. 36v]cioun, of alle that longith to his love, and to the blisse of hevene; for woso can best desire of God, most schal fele of hym. But worche as thu mai, and crie God merci for that that thou mai not. Thus it semeth Seynt Poule seide: Unusquisque habet donum suum a deo, alius autem sic, alius vero sic (1 Corinthians 7:7). Item: unicuique nostrum data est gracia secundum mensuram donacionis Christi (Ephesians 4:7). Item: divisiones graciarum sunt, alii datur sermo sapiencie; alii sermo sciencie (1 Corinthians 12:4, 8). Item: ut sciamus que a deo donata sunt nobis (1 Corinthians 2:12). Seynt Poul seith that everi man hath his yift of God, oon thus, and anothir thus. For to everi man that schal be saaf is yeven grace aftir the mesure of Cristis gifte, and therfore it is spedful that we knowe the yiftis whiche are yyven us of God, that we myght worche in hem, for bi hem we schullen ben saaf; as summe bi bodili werkes and bi dedes of merci, summe bi grete penaunce, summe bi sorwes and wepyngis for here synnes al here liyftyme, sum bi prechynge and techynge, sum bi divers graces and yiftes of devocioun schullen ben saaf and comen to blisse.
That a man schulde travaile for to knowe his owen soule and the myghtes of it, and breke doun the ground of synne therinne.
Neverthelees, there is oon werke whiche is nedful and spedful for to traveile inne. And that is a man for to entre into himsilf, for to knowe his owen soule and the [fol. 37r]myghtes therof, the fairenesse and the foulenesse therof. In this inward biholdinge thou schalt mow see the worschipe and the dignité whiche it hadde bi kynde of the firste makynge, and thou schalt see also the wrecchidnesse and the myschief of synne whiche thou art fallen in. And of this sight schal come grete desire with longynge in thyn herte for to receyve ayen that clennesse and that worschipe whiche thou hast lost. Also thou schalt fele a lothynge and a grisynge of thisilf, with a grete wil for to distroie and bere doun thisilf and al that synne that letteth thee fro that dignité and fro that clennesse. This is a goostli travaile hard and scharp in bigynnynge, whoso wole quykli travayle thereinne, for it is a traveile in the soule ayens the ground of al synnes litil or mykil, which ground is not ellis but a fals mysrulid love of a man to himsilf. Oute of this love, as Seynt Austen seith, spryngeth alle manere of synne deedli and venial; and sothli until this ground be wel ransakid and depe dolven, and as it were up dried bi outecastynge of alle worldli and fleischli loves, a soule mai nevere fele goostli the brennande love of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, ne have hoomlinesse of his gracious presence,  ne cleer sightis of goostli thinges bi light of undirstondynge. This is the travaile that a man bihooveth drawe out [fol. 37v]his herte from the fleischli love of alle ertheli creatures and from veyn love of himsilf, that his soule schulde no reste fynde in noo fleischli thought, ne in eertheli affeccion. And yif he doo thus, thanne in as mykil as the soule mai not fynde redili his goostli reste in the love and in the hoomli presence and in the sight of Jhesu, it schal nedynge fele peyne. This travaile is sumdel streit and narwgh, and neverthelees it is a wai whiche Crist techid to hem that wolden ben his perfight folweres in the gospel, seiande thus: Contendite intrare per angustam portam; quoniam arta est via que ducit ad vitam, et pauci inveniunt eam (Luke 13:24; Matthew 7:13-14). Stryve ye for to entre bi this streite yate, for the wai that ledeth to hevene is narw, and fewe men fynden it. And hou streite this wei is, oure Lord tellith in another place thus: Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum, et tollat crucem suam, et sequatur me (Matthew 16:24). Item: qui odit animam suam in hoc mundo, in vitam eternam custodit eam (John 12:25). That is for to seie: Whoso wole come aftir me, forsake hymsilf and hate his owen soule. That is for to seie: Forsake alle fleischli love and hate his owen fleschli lif and the likynge of alle his fleischli wittis for the love of me; and take the cros, that is to seie suffre the peyne of this for awhile, and thanne folwe, that is to seie in contemplacioun of my manhede [fol. 38r]and of my godhede. This is a streit weie and narwe, for it is a sleynge of alle synnes, as Seynt Poul seith: Mortificate membra vestra, que sunt super terram, immundiciam, libidinem, concupiscenciam malam (Colossians 3:5). Slee youre membris upoun erthe—not youre membris of bodi, but the membris of thi soule, as unclenne lust and unskilful love to youresilf and to erthili thinges. Therfore as thi travaile hath ben here bifore for to ayenstonde grete bodili synnes and open temptaciouns of the enemye as hit were fro withoutin, right soo the bihoveth now in this gostli werk withinne thisilf, bigynnynge for to distroie and breke doun the ground of synne in thisilf, as mykil as thou mai. And that thou myghtest redili bringe it aboute, I schal telle the as me thenketh.
Hou a man schal knowe the worthinesse and the worschipe of his soule that it oweth to have bi kynde, and the wrecchidnesse and myschief that it is fallen in thorw synne.
The soule of a man is a liyf, made of thre myghtes—mynde, resoun, and wille—to the ymage and the likenes of the blissid holi Trinité, hooli perfight and rightwise. In as myche as the mynde was maad myghti and stidefaste bi the Fadir almyghti, for to holde hym withoughte foryetynge, distractynge, or lettynge of ony creature, and so it hath the likenes of the Fader. The [fol. 38v]resoun was maad cleer and bright withouten errour or derkenesse, as perfightli as a soule in a bodi unglorifiede myght have; and so it hath the likenes of the Sone, whiche is endelees wisdom. And the love and the wille was maad clene, brenynge into God withouten beestly lust of the fleisch or of ony creature, bi sovereyne goodnesse of God; and so it hath the likenes of the Hooli Goost, the whiche is blissid love. So that a mannys soule, whiche mai be callid a maad trinyté, was fulfillid in mynde, sight, and love, of the unmaad blissed Trinité, whiche is oure Lord. This is the dignité, the state and the worschipe of a mannys soule, bi kynde of the firste makynge. This staat haddest thou in Adam bifore the first synne of man; but whanne Adam synnede, chosynge love and delite in himsilf and in creaturis, he loste al this worschipe and his dygnyté, and thou also lostest it in hym and felle from that blissid Trinité into a foule merk wrecchid trinité, that is into foryetynge of God and unknowynge of him, and into beestli likynge of thisilf, and that skilefulli, for as David seith in the sautier: Homo, cum in honore esset, non intellexit; comparatus est iumentis, et similis factus est illis (Psalms 48:21). A man whanne he was in worschipe, he knewe it not, and therfore he loste it and was maad like to a beest. See now thanne the wrecchidnesse of thi soule, [fol. 39r]for as thi mynde was sum tyme stable in God, right so now it hath foryeten hym, and seketh his reste in creatures now froo oon to another, and never may fynde ful reste, for he hath lost him in whoom is ful reste. And right so it is of the resoun and of the love also, whiche was clene in goostli savoure and suettenesse; now it is turned into foule beestli lust and likynge into thisilf and into creatures and in fleischli savoures, bothe in the wittes, as in glotonye and leccherie, and in the ymagynynge, as in pride, veynglorie and covetise—in so mykil that thou mai unnethes doo ony good dede but yif thou be defouled by veynglorie, ne thou may not wel use noon of thi five wittes cleenli in noon creature delitable but yif thyn herte be take and gleymed with veyn lust and likynge of it, whiche putteth oute the love of God from the herte, as in felynge and the goosteli savour, that it may not come therinne. Everiche man that lyveth in spirite knoweth wel al this. This is the wrecchidnesse of thi soule and the myschief for the firste synne of man, withouten al othir wrecchidnesse and synnes whiche thou hast put therto wilfulli. And wite thou wel, though thou hadde nevere doo synne with thi bodi deedli ne venyal, but onli this that is callid origynal—for it is the first synne, and that is not ellis but the loesynge of thi right[fol. 39v]wisenesse whiche thou were maad inne—yit schuldest thou nevere have ben saaf yif oure Lord Jhesu Criste bi his precious passioun hadde not delyvered thee and restored the ayen.
Hou everi man mai be saved bi the passioun of Crist, be he never so wrecchid, yif he aske it.
And therfore yif thou thenke that y have heere bifore spoken over highe to thee, for thou mai not take it ne fulfille it as y have seid or schal seie, I wole fal doun to thee as lowe as thou wolt, as wel for my profight as for thyn. And than I seie thus, that be thou nevere so mykil a wrecche, have thou doon never so mykil synne, forsake thisilf and al thi werkes goode and badde, crie merci and aske oonli savacioun bi the vertu of his precious passion mekeli and trustili, and withoute doute thou schalt have it. And for this origynal synne and all othere that thou hast doon, thou schalt be saaf, as ankir incluse; and not oonli thou, but alle Cristene soulis whiche trusten upoun his passioun and meken hemself, knowelechynge her wrecchidnesse, askynge merci and forgyvenesse, by the fruit of his precious passioun oonli, lowynge hemsilf to the sacramentis of holi chirche. Though it be so that thei han ben encombrid with synne al here liyftyme and nevere hadden felynge of goostli savour or swetenesse or gostli knowynge of God, thei [fol. 40r]schullen in this feith and in here good wille, bi vertue of this precious passioun of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, be saf and come to the blisse of hevene. Al this knowist thou wel, but yit me liketh for to seie it. See here the endelees merci of oure Lord, how lowe he falleth to thee and to me and to alle synful caityves. Aske merci and have it. Thus seide the prophete in the persone of oure Lord: Omnis enim quicunque invocaverit nomen domini, salvus erit (Joel 2:32). Everi man, whatevere he be, calle the name of Jhesu, that is to seie aske savacion bi Jhesu and bi his passioun, he schal be saaf. This curtesie of oure Lord summe men taken wel, and ben savyd therbi, and summe in truste of merci and of this curtesie liyn stille in here synne, and wenen for to have it whanne hem list. And thanne mowe thei not, for thei aren taken or thei witen, and so thei dampnen hemself.
But than seist thou: “Yif this be sooth, thanne wondre y greteli for that y fynde writen in summe hooli mennys sawes. Sume seyn, as I undirstonde, that he that cannot love this blissid name Jhesu, ne fynde ne fele in it goostli joie and delitableté with wondirful swettenesse in this lif here, fro the sovereyn joie and goostli swettenesse in the blisse of hevene he schal be aliene, and nevere schal he come therto. Sotheli thise wordes, whanne I hem rede, stoneth me and maketh me greteli aferd; for y [fol. 40v]hope, as thou seist, that many bi the merci of oure Lord schullen ben saaf bi kepynge of hise comaundementis and by veri repentaunce for here yvel lif bifore doon, the whiche felid nevere goostli swetenesse ne inly savoure in the name of Jhesu or in the love of Jhesu. And forthi I mervaile me the more that thei seie contrarie hereto, as it semeth.”
As unto this y mai seie as me thenketh, that there seiynge, yif it be wel undirstonde, is sooth, ne hit is not contrarie to that that y have seid. For this name Jhesu is not ellis for to seie upon Ynglisch but heelere or hele. Now every man that lyveth in this wrecchid lif is goostli sike, for there is no man that lyveth withoutin synne, the whiche is goostli sikenesse, as Seynt Johun seith of hymsilf and othere perfight men thus: Si dixerimus quia peccatum non habemus, ipsi nos seducimus, et veritas in nobis non est (1 John 1:8). Yif we seyn that we have noo synne, we bigile ouresilf and there is noo soothfastnes in us. And forthi he mai nevere fele ne come to the joie of hevene unto he be first maad hool of this goostli sikenesse. But this gostli heele mai noo man have that hath use of resoun but yif he desire it and love it and have delite thereinne, in as michel as he hopith for to gete it. Now the name of Jhesu is nothyng ellis but this goostli hele; wherfore it is sooth that thei seyn, that ther mai no man be saaf but yif he [fol. 41r]love and like in the name of Jhesu, for there mai no man be goostli hool but yif he love and desire goosteli heele. For right as yif a man were bodili sike, there were noon ertheli thynge so dere ne so nedeful to hym, ne so mykil schulde be desired of him as bodili heele, for though thou woldest yeve hym alle the rychessis and worschipis of this world and nought make hym hool, yif thou myghtest, thou plesist hym not. Right soo it is to a man that is sike goostli and felith the peyne of goostli sikenesse. Nothinge is so dere, ne so nedeful, ne so mykil coveited of hym, as is goostli heele; and that is Jhesu, withouten which alle the joies of hevene mai not like hym.
And this is the skile, as I hope, whi oure Lord whanne he took mankynde for oure savacion, he nolde not be callid bi noon name that bitokenyd his endelees beynge, or his myght, or his wisdom, or his rightwisenesse, but oonli bi that that bitokened the cause of his comynge and was savacion of mannys soule, which savacion was most dere and most nedeful to man. And this savacion bitokeneth this name Jhesu. Thanne bi this it semeth sooth that there schal no man be saaf, but yif he love Jhesu; for there may no man be saaf but yif he love savacion oonli, for to have it thorugh that blissid persone Jhesu bi the mekenesse of his manhede and by the merite of his passioun, whiche love [fol. 41v]he may have that lyveth and dieth in the lowest degré of charité. Also y mai seie, on anothir manere, that he that cannot love this blissid name Jhesu with goostli mirthe, ne enjoie in it with heveneli melodie here, he schal nevere have ne fele in hevene that fulhed of sovereyne joie the whiche he that myght in this liyf bi habundaunce of perfight charité enjoie in Jhesu schal fele and have, and so mai here seiynge ben undirstande.
Neverthelees he schal be saaf and have ful mede in the sight of God, yif he in this liyf be in the lowest degré of charité bi kepinge of Goddis comaundementis; for oure Lord seith hymsilf thus: In domo patris mei multe mansiones sunt (John 14:2). In my Fadris hous aren many sere dwellynges. Summe are for parfite soules, the which in this liyf were fulfilled of grace of the Holi Gost and songen loovynge to God in contemplacion of hym, with wondirful swettenesse and heveneli savour. Thise soules, for thei hadden moost charité, schullen have highest mede in the blisse of hevene, for thise are callid Goddis derlyngges. Othere soulis that are not disposid to contemplacion of God, ne hadden not the fulhed of charité as aposteles or martyres hadden in the bigynnynge of hooli chirche, schullen have the lower meede in the blisse of hevene, for thise are callid God[fol. 42r]dis frendes. Thus calleth oure Lord in holi writ chosen soules, seiynge thus: Comedite, amici, et inebriamini, carissimi (Canticle 5:1). Mi freendes, ete yee, and my derlynges, be yee dronken. As yif oure Lord seid thus: Yee that aren my frendes, for yee kepid my comaundementis and sette my love bifore the love of the world, and loved me more thanne ony erthli thyng, yee schullen be feed with goostli foode of the breed of liyf. But ye that aren my derlynges, that not oonli keped my comaundementis, but also of youre owen fre wil fulfilleden my conceils, and over that ye loveden me oonli and entierli with alle the myghtis of youre soule, and brenneden in my love with goostli delite, as diden principali the aposteles and martires and alle othere soules that myghten bi grace come to the yifte of perfeccioun: yee schullen be maad dronken with the highest and freschest wyn in my celere, that is, the sovereyne joie of love in the blisse of hevene.
That a man schulde be besi for to recovere ayen his worthynesse, and reforme in him the ymage of the Trinité.
Neverethelees though this be sooth of the endelees merci of God unto thee and to me and al mankynde, we schullen not therfore in trust of this be the more rekles wilfulli in oure lyvynge, but more bisi unto plese hym, nameli now, syn we aren restorid ayen in hope bi this passioun of oure Lord to the dig[fol. 42v]nité and to the blisse whiche we hadden lorn by Adammys synne. And though we myghten nevere geete it here fulli, yit we schulde desire that we myght recovere here lyvand a figure and a likenesse of that dignité, that oure soule myght be reformed, as it were in a schadewe, bi grace to the ymage of the Trinité, whiche we hadden bi kynde and aftir schullen have fulli in blisse. For that is the lif that is veri contemplatif, unto bigynne here in that felynge of love and goosteli knowynge of God bi openyng of the goostli iye, whiche schal nevere be loste ne bi taken awey, but the same schal be fulfilled othirwise in the blisse of hevene.
This bihight oure Lord to Marie Mawdeleyn, whiche was contemplatif, and he seide thus of here: Maria optimam partem elegit, que non auferetur ab ea (Luke 10:42), that Marie hadde chosen the beste partie, that is the love of God in contemplacion, for it schal nevere be taken awey fro hire. I seie not that thou mai here lyvande recovere so hool ne so parfight clennesse, as innocence, knowynge and lovynge, as thou haddest first, ne as thou schalt have; ne thou may not eschape alle the wrecchidnessis ne the peynes of synne, ne thou lyvande in dedli fleisch may distroie and quenche al hooli the veyn fals love of thisilf, ne flee alle venial synnes, that thei ne wole—but yif thei ben stopped [fol. 43r]bi grete fervour of charité—alwey spryngyn oute of thyn herte, as watir renneth oute from a stynkinge welle. But I wolde yif thou myght not fulli quenche hit, that thou myghtest sumwhat sleke it and come to that clennesse as nygh as thou mai. For oure Lord bihighte the children of Israel whanne he ledde hem into the lond of biheste, and in figure of hem to alle Cristene men thus: Omne quod calcaverit pes tuus tuum erit (Deuteronomy 11:24). That is for to seie, as mykil as thou may trede upon with thi foot of verrey desire here, so mykil schalt thou have in the lond of biheste, that is in the blisse of hevene whanne thou comest thider.
Hou Jhesu schal be sought, desired, and founden.
Seke thanne that thou hast lost, that thou myght fynde it. Wel y woot, whoso myght oones have an inward sight a litil of that dignité and that goosteli fairenesse whiche a soule hadde bi kynde of the firste makynge and schal have bi grace, he schulde lothe and dispice in his herte alle the blisse, the likynge, and the fairnesse of al this world as stynk of carioun; and he schulde nevere have wil to doo othir dede nyght ne dai—savynge the freelté and the bare nede of the bodili kynde—but desire, morne, prai, and seke hou he myght come ayen therto. Neverthelees, in as moche as thou hast not yit fulli seen what it is, for thi goostli [fol. 43v]yye is not yit openyd, I schal telle oon word for alle whiche thou schalt seke, desire, and fynde, for in that word is al that thou hast loste. This word is Jhesu. I mene not oonli this word Jhesu peynted upon the wal, or writen bi letres on the book, or fourmed bi lippes in soun of the mouthe, or feyned in the herte bi traveil of mynde; for on this maner wise may a man oute of charité fynde hym. But I mene Jhesu Crist, that blissid persoone, God and man, son of Marie, that glorious virgyne, that is al goodnesse, endelees wisdom, love, and swettenesse, thi joie, thi worschipe, and thyn ai lastynge blisse, thi God, thi Lord, and thy savacioun.
Thanne yif it be so that thou felist grete desire in thyn herte to love and to plese Jhesu, either bi the mynde of this name Jhesu, or bi mynde or seynge of ony othir word, or praier, or in ony dede that thou doost, whiche desire is so mykil that hit putteth ought as it were bi strengthe alle othere thoughtes and desires of the world and of the fleisch, that thei moun not reste in thyn herte, thanne sekest thou wel Jhesu. And whanne thou felist this desire to God, to Jhesu Crist (al is oon) hoolpen and comfortid bi gostli myght thorugh light of Goddis grace so mykil that it is turnyd into love and into affeccioun, gosteli savour, and swettenesse, into [fol. 44r]light and knowynge, into soothfastnesse—so mykil that for the tyme the poynt of thi thought is sette upoun noon ertheli thynge, ne felith no stirynge of veynglorie, ne non othir yvel affeccioun (for thei moun not appere that tyme), but oonli is enclosid, rested, softed, anoynted, and comfortid thorugh gracious presence of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, thanne hast thou founden sumwhat of Jhesu. Not yit hym fulli as he is, but a schadewe of hym; for the betere that thou fyndest hym, the more schalt thou desire hym. Thanne bi what maner of praier or meditacioun or occupacion that thou mai have grettest desire to hym, and have most felynge of hym, bi that occupacion thou sekest hym best and best fyndest hym. Therfore yif it come to thy mynde as it were askand what hast thou lost and what sekest thou, lift up the mynde and the desire of thyn herte to thi Lord Jhesu Crist, that blissid maidenys sone, though thou be blynd and not mai see of his godhede, and seie hym hast thu lost, and hym wolde thou have, and nothynge but hym, noon othir joie, blisse in hevene ne in erthe, but hym, to be with hym wharso he is, and to see hym and love hym. And though it be so that thou fele a litil his goostli presence in devocion or in knowynge, or in ony othir yifte what it [fol. 44v]be, reste not therinne as though thou haddest fulli founden Jhesu and wolt no more seken aftir hym, but ai be desirande aftir Jhesu more and more for to fynde hym betere, as thou hadde right nought. For wite thou wel, what that thou felist of hym, be it nevere so mykil, yhe, though thou were raveschid into the thridde hevene with Poule, yit haste thou not fulli founden Jhesu as he is in his joie. Knowe thou or fele thou never so mykil of hym here in this liyf, he is yit above it. And therfore yif thou wolt fulli fynde hym as he is in the blisse, cese nevere while thou lyvest of praiers and of goostli desyrynge.
What profite is to have the desire of Jhesu.
Sotheli y hadde lever feele and have a sothfast desire and a clene love longynge in myn herte to my Lord Jhesu, though y myghte not seen of his godhede with my goostli iye, thanne for to have withoutin this desire alle bodili penaunce of alle men lyvynge, alle visiouns or revelacions of angels apperynge, songes and sownes, savours or smelles, brennynges and ony likynges, bodili felande, and schortli for to seie, alle the joies of hevene and of erthe whiche y myght have withouten this desire to my Lord Jhesu. David the prophete felid as y seie, as I undirstonde, whanne he seide thus: Quid enim michi est in celo, et [fol. 45r]a te quid volui super terram? (Psalms 72:25). Lord, what thynge is to me in hevene, or what wolde y, withouten thee above the erthe? As yif he seide thus: Lord Jhesu, what heveneli joie is likynge to me, withouten desire of the whiles y am in erthe, or withouten love of thee whanne I come to hevene? As who seith, right noon. Thanne yif thou woldest fele onythynge of hym bodili or goostli, coveite not but for to fele soothfasteli in thyn herte a desire of his grace and of his merciful presence that thee thenketh that thyn herte mai fynde noon othir reste in nothynge but in hym. Thus coveitide David whanne he seide thus: Concupivit anima mea desiderare iustificaciones tuas in omni tempore (Psalms 118:20). Lord, my soule coveitide the desire of thi rightwisenesse in every tyme. Seke thanne, as David dide, desire bi desire; and yif thou mai fele bi thi desire in thi praieres and in thy meditacions the homli and the merciful presence of thi Lord Jhesu Crist in thi mynde, bynde thyn herte feste therto, that thou falle not from hym, and yif thou stumble, that thou myght fynde hym soone ayen. Seke thanne Jhesu, whom thou haste loste, as he sought thee. He wole be sought and he mai sumdel be founde, for he seith hymsilf: Omnis qui querit, invenit (Matthew 7:8). Every man that seketh schal fynde. The sekynge is traveilous, but the fyndynge is blisful. Doo therfore af[fol. 45v]tir the conceile of the wise man, yif thou wilt fynde hym: Si quisieris quasi pecuniam sapienciam, sicut thesaurum effoderis illam; tunc intelliges timorem domini, et scienciam invenies (Proverbs 2:4-5). Yif thou seke wisdoom (which is Jhesu) as silver and gold, and delf deepe therafter, thou schalt fynde it. Thee bihoveth for to delve deepe in thyn herte, for thereinne he is hid, and cast ought clenli alle loves and likynges, sorwis and dreedis of alle ertheli thynges; and so schalt thou fynde wisdom, Jhesu.
Where and wherewith Jhesu schal be sought and founden.
Be thou like thanne to the woman of the gospel, of the whiche oure Lord seith thus: Que mulier habens dragmas decem, et si perdiderit unam, nonne accendit lucernam, et evertit domum suam et querit diligenter, donec invenerit illam? Et cum invenerit, convocat amicas suas, dicens, congratulamini michi, quia inveni dragmam, quam perdideram (Luke 15:8-9). What woman is that whiche hath lost a dragme, that sche ne wole lightne a lanterne and caste hir hous upsodoun and seke it til sche fynde it? As who seith, noon. And whanne sche hath founden hit sche calleth hire frendis to hire, and seith to hem thus: “Makith mirthe with me and melodie, for I have founden the dragme that I had lost.” This dragme is Jhesu, whiche thou hast lost; yif thou [fol. 46r]wilt fynde hym, light up a lanterne, whiche is Goddis word, as David seith: Lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum (Psalms 118:105). Lord, thi word to my feet is a lanterne. Bi this lanterne schalt thou see where he is, and hou thou schalt fynde hym; and yif thu wilt, thou mai with this light opyn anothir lanterne, that is the resoun of thi soule, for oure Lord seith: Lucerna corporis tui est oculus tuus (Matthew 6:22). The lanterne of thi bodi is thi bodili iye. Right so it mai be seid that the lanterne of thi soule is resoun, bi the whiche the soule mai see alle gosteli thinges. Bi this lanterne mai thou fynde Jhesu, and that is soth yif thou holde the lanterne up fro undirnethe the busschel, as oure Lord seith: Nemo accendit lucernam et ponit eam sub modio, sed super candelabrum (Matthew 5:15). There is no man that lighteth a lanterne for to sette it undir a busschel, but upon a candelstike; that is to seie, thi reson schal not be overleid with worldli bisinesse, ne veyn thoughtes and fleisschli affecciones, but ai upward above alle ertheli thynges, as mykil as thou may into biholdynge of Jhesu Crist; and yif thou doo soo, thou schalt thanne see bi hym (for he is light) alle the mulle and the filthe and smale motes in thy hous, that is to seie, alle flesschli loves and dredis in thi soule. Not al, as David seith: Delicta quis intelligit? (Psalms 18:13). Who mai knowe alle his trespaces? [fol. 46v]As who seith, no man. And thou schalt cast oute of thyn herte alle siche synnes, and swepe thi soule clene with the besome of the drede of God, and with watir of thyn iyen wassch it; and so schalt thou fynde thi dragme Jhesu. He is dragme, he is peny, and he is thyn heritage. This dragme wole not be founde so lightli as it mai be seid; for this werk is not of oon houre, ne of oon dai, but many daies and yeeris with mykil swete and swynke of the bodi and traveile of the soule. And yif thou cesist not, but sekest bisili, sorwe and seke depe, morne stille, and stoupe lowe til thyn iyen wateren for anguysche and for peyne for thou hast loste thi tresoure Jhesu; and at the laste, whanne that he wole, wel schalt thou fynde thi dragme Jhesu. And yif thou fynde as I have seide, that is, yif thou may in cleernesse and clennesse of conscience fele the hoomli and the peesful presence of Jhesu Crist mercifulli schewande hym to the face of thi soule as a schadewe or a glymerynge, thou mai, yif thou wolt, calle thi frendes to thee for to make mirthe with the, for thou hast founden thi dragme Jhesu.
Where Jhesu is loste and founden thorugh his mercy.
Se now thanne the curtesie of Jhesu and the merci of hym. Thou haste loste hym, but where? Soothli in thyn hous, that is in thi soule. Yif thou haddest lost hym oughte of [fol. 47r]thyn hous, that is to seie, yif thou haddest lost al the resoun of thy soule bi thi first synne, thi soule schulde nevere have founden him ayen; but he lefte to thee thi resoun, and so he is in thi soule and nevere schal be lost oute of hit. Neverthelees, thou art nevere the neer to hym til thou have founden him. He is in thee, though he be lost fro thee; but thou art not in hym til thou have founden hym. Thanne was this his merci, that he wold suffre hym be loste onli where he mai be founden. It nedeth not to renne to Rome ne to Jerusalem for to seke hym there, but turne thi thought into thyn owen soule, where he is hid—as the prophete seith, Vere tu es deus absconditus (Isaiah 45:15), Soothli Lord, thou art an hid God—and seke hym there. Thus seith hymsilf in the gospel: Simile est regnum celorum thesauro abscondito in agro; quem qui invenit homo, pre gaudio illius vadit, et vendit universa que habet, et emit agrum illum (Matthew 13:44). The kyngedom of hevene is like to tresoure hid in a feld, whiche, whanne a man fyndeth, for joie of it he goth and selleth al that he hath, and bieth that ilke feeld. Jhesu is tresoure hid in thi soule; thanne yif yow fynde myght hym in thi soule, and thi soule in him, I am siker for joie of it thou woldest yyve alle the likynges of alle ertheli thinges for to have it. Jhesu slepeth in thyn herte gosteli, as he dide sumtyme whanne [fol. 47v]he was in the schip with hese disciplis, but thei for drede of perisschynge wakeden hym, and as tite he savyd hem from tempest. Doo thou so stire him bi praiere and waken hym with criynge of desire, and he schal ryse sone and helpe thee.
What letteth a man to heere and see Jhesu withinne hymsilf.
Neverthelees, I hope betere that thou slepist to hym and not he to thee; for he calleth thee wel ofte with his swete prevy vois and stireth thyn herte wel stilli, that thou schuldest leve alle othere jangelynge of vanitees in thi soule and oonli take keep to him for to heere him speke. Thus seith David of oure Lord: Audi, filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam, et obliviscere populum tuum, et domum patris tui (Psalms 44:11). Mi doughter, heere and see and bowe thyn ere to me, and foryete the folk of thy worldeli thoughtes and the hous of thi fleischli and kyndeli affeccions. Loo, here mai thou see how oure Lord calleth thee and alle othere whiche wolen herkene to hym. What letteth thee thanne, that thou mai neither see hym ne heere him? Sotheli there is mykil dene and criynge in thyn herte of veyn thoughtes and fleischli desires, that thou mai neither heere hym ne see him; and therfore put awey unrestful dene and breke the love of synne and of vanité, and bringe [fol. 48r]into thyne herte love of vertues and ful charité, and thanne schalt thou here thi Lord speke unto thee. For as longe as he fyndeth not his ymage reformed in thee, he is straunge and fer fro thee.
That mekenesse and charité are the special lyveré of Jhesu, thorugh the whiche mannys soule is reformed to the liknes of him.
Forthi schape thee for to be araied in his likenes, that is in mekenesse and charité, whiche is his lyveré, and thanne wole he hoomli knowe thee and schewe to thee his privytee. Thus seide himsilf to his disciplis: Qui diligit me, diligetur a patre meo, et manifestabo ei meipsum (John 14:21). Whoso loveth me, schal be loved of my Fadir, and I schal schewe mysilf unto him. There is no vertu ne werk that thou mai doo mai make thee like to oure Lord, withouten mekenesse and charitee; for thise aren special Goddis lyveré. And that semeth wel in the gospel, where oure Lord speketh of mekenesse thus: Discite a me, quia mitis sum et humilis corde (Matthew 11:29). Lereth of me, he seith, not for to goo baarfoot ne for to goo into desert and faste fourti daies, ne for to cheese yow disciplis, but lerith of me mekenesse, for I am mylde and meke of herte. Also of charitee he seith thus: Hoc est preceptum meum: ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos. Item: in hoc cognoscent homines quia [fol. 48v]discipuli mei estis, si dileccionem habueritis ad invicem (John 13:34-35). This is my biddynge, that yee love you togedere, as I have loved you; for in that schal men knowe yow for my disciples. Not for ye worchen miraclis or casten out develis, or prechen or techen, but yif eche of you love other in charité. That charité is that thou coudest als wel love thyn even Cristene as thisilf.
Hou a man schal see the groound of synne in hymsilf.
Now hast thow herd a litil what thi soule is, and what worschipe it hadde, and how he loste it; and also y have told thee that this worschipe myght bi grace and bisi travaile sumwhat be recovered ayen in partie of felynge. Now schal I telle thee febli as y can hou thou schalt mow entre into thisilf, for to se the ground of synne and for to distroie it as mykil as thou may, and so schalt thou mowe recovere a partie of thi dignité. Thou schalt cese for a tyme from alle bodili werkes, from al outeward besinesse as thou mai wel. Thanne schalt thou drawe into thisilf thi thought from thi bodili wittes, that thou take noo kepe what thou heerest or seest or felist, so that the poynt of thyn herte be not ficchid in hem. Aftir this drawe inner thi thought from al ymaginynge, yif thou mai, of ony bodili thyng, and from alle thoughtis of thi bodili dedis bifore doon, or of o[fol. 49r]there mennys dedis. This is a litil maistrie for to doo whanne thou hast devocioun; but thou schalt doo thus as I seie whanne thou hast no devocioun, for thanne is it mykil the hardere. And sette thyn entent and thi purpoos as thou woldest not seke, ne fele, ne finde, but upon thi lord Jhesu oonly, the grace and the presence, the techynge and the comfort of thi Lord Jhesu Crist. This is traveilous, for veyn thoughtis wolen alwei presen to thyn herte thikke, for to drawe thi thought doun to hem. But thou schalt with stable mynde of Jhesu Crist with besinesse in praieres ayenstonde hem, and yif thou doo thus, thou schalt fynde sumwhat—not Jhesu whom thou sekest. What thanne? Sotheli, right nought but a merk ymage and a peynful of thyn owen soule, whiche hath neither light of knowynge ne felynge of love ne likynge. This ymage yif thou biholde it wittirly, is al bilappid with blake stynkande clothis of synne, as pride, envie, ire, accidie, glotonye, and leccherie.
Unto what thinge is the ymage of synne like, and what it is in itsilf.
This is not the ymage of Jhesu, but it is an ymage of synne; as Seynt Poul calleth hit, a bodi of synne and a bodi of deeth. This ymage and this blak schadewe thou berist aboughte with thee whereevere thou goost. Out of this springen many grete stremes of synne, and smale also. Right as out of the ymage of Jhesu, yif it were refor[fol. 49v]med in the beemes of goostli light, schulde steme up to hevene and brennynge desires, clene affecciouns, wise thoughtis, and alle honesté of vertues; right so out of this ymage springen stiryngis of pride, of envie, and sich othere, whiche casten thee doun from the honesté of man into a beestis likenesse. But peraventure thou bygynnest for to thenke unto what thynge this ymage schulde be like; and therfore that thou schuldest not longe studie thereaboughte, I telle thee it is like to no bodili thing. “What is it thanne?” seistow. Sothli it is not, and that may thou fynde yif thou wilt assaie as y have seid to thee. Drawe into thisilf thi thought from alle bodili thynges, and thanne schalt thou fynde right not whereinne thi soule mai reste. This nought is nothynge ellis but a lackynge of love and of light, as synne is not ellis but a wantynge of God.
Yif it so were that the ground of synne were mykil abatid and dried up in thee, and thi soule were clensid and reformyd lightli to the ymage of Jhesu, thanne yif thou drowgh into thisilf thyn herte thou schuldest not fynde nought, but thou schuldest fynde Jhesu—not oonli the nakid mynde of his name, but thou schuldest fynde light of undirstondynge bi hym, and no merkenesse of unknowynge; thou schuldest fynde love and likynge of hym, and noo peyne of bitternesse ne bitynge. But for thou art not yit reformed, [fol. 50r]therfore whanne thi soule cometh in fro al bodili thynge, and fyndeth not but merkenesse and hevynesse, hym thenketh an hundrid wynter til he be out ayen bi sum bodili delite or veyn thought. And that is no wonder; for whoso come to his hous and founde nothynge therinne but stynkynge smoke and a flitynge wif, he wolde sone renne oute of it. Right so thi soule, whanne it fyndeth noo comfort in the silf but blak smoke of goostli blyndenesse and grete flitynge of fleischli thoughtes criynge upon thee that thou may bee in noo pees, soothli it is sone irke til it be oute ayen. This merkenesse is that ilke nought the whiche y spak of and the ymage.
Whoso wole fynde Jhesu, hym bihoveth abide and traveile in this goostli merkenesse of this ymage of synne.
Neverthelees, in this nought bihoveth the to swynke and swete; that is to sai, thee bihoveth drawe in thi thought from alle bodili thynges as moche as thou may. And thanne, whanne thou fyndest right nout but sorwe and peyne and blyndenesse, yif thou wolt fynde Jhesu, the peyne of this nought bihoveth thee to suffre, and abide in this merkenesse and arise in thi thought ayens this ilke merkenesse, bi fervent desire to God; not settynge the poynt of thi thought in that ilke nought, but in Jhesu whiche thou desirest, as thou woldest bere it doun, and goo thorugh it. Thou schalt grise and lothe this [fol. 50v]nought right as it were the devyl of helle, and thou schalt despice it and al tobreke it; for al withinne this nought is Jhesu hid in his joie, whom thou mai not fynde bi thi sekynge, but yif thou passe thorugh this merkenesse of this nought. This is that goosteli traveile that I spak of; and this travaile is a cause of al this writynge, for to stire thee therto yif thou feele grace. This nought that y speke of is the ymage of the firste Adam. Seynte Poul knewe it wel, for he seid thus of it: Sicut portavimus ymaginem terreni hominis, ita portemus ymaginem iam et celestis hominis (1 Corinthians 15:49). As we han here biforn born the ymage of an ertheli man (that is, the first Adam), right so that we myght now bere the ymage of the heveneli man, whiche is Jhesu, the secunde Adam. He baar this ymage wel often ful hevye, for it was so comberous to hym that he criede oute of it seiynge thus: O quis me liberabit de corpore huius mortis? (Romans 7:24). A, whoo schal delyvere me fro this bodi and ymage of deeth? And thanne he comforteth hymsilf and othere thus: Gracia dei per Jesum Christum (Romans 7:25), the grace of God bi Jhesu Crist.
Now have y tolde thee a litil of this ymage, how it is nought. Neverthelees, yif it be feer fro thi knowynge hou it myght be sooth that y sai, that nought myght be an ymage, for nought is but nought; and so that thou mai lightli undirstande it, I schal telle the more opynli of this ymage as me thenketh.
[fol. 51r]What propirli is the ymage of synne and what cometh thereof.
This ymage is a fals mysruled love unto thisilf. Oute of this love cometh al maner of synnes bi sevene ryveres, the whiche aren thise: pride, envie, ire, accedie, coveitise, glotony, and leccherie. Loo, this is sumwhat that thou may see and feele, that bi oon of thise ryveris renneth out al maner of synne and putteth thee out of charité yif it be deedli, or it letteth the savour of charité yif it be venial.
Now mai thou grope that this ymage is nought, but is moche of badde; for it is a grete springe of love unto thisilf with sich sevene ryveris as I have seid. But now seist thou, “How mai this be sooth? I have forsaken the world and am stokyn in an hous; I deele with no man. I flite not, ne I stryve not, I neither bie ne selle, ne have no wordeli bisynesse, but bi the merci of God y kepe me chaste. I withhalde me from delites; and over this I preie, y wake, y travaile bodili and goostli as y mai. How thanne schulde this ymage be thus moche in me as thou seist?”
As unto this I graunte and answere to thee that I hope that thou doost alle thise werkis and many mo therto, and yit mai hit be soth that I seie. Thou art besi up thi myght for to stoppe the ryveres withoute, but inhap the sprynge withinne thou levest al opyn. Thou art like to a man whiche hadde in his gardeyn a stinkynge welle with many ryveres fro it. He wente [fol. 51v]and stopped the ryveres and lefte the sprynge hool, and wende al hadde be siker. But the water spronge up atte the ground of the welle and stood stille, so moche that it corruptid al the fairnesse of the gardeyn, and yit ran there no watir out. Right so it mai be with thee, yif it be soo that thou hast bi grace stopped the ryveris of this ymage withouten. So moche it is wel, but bewaar of the sprynge withinne. Soothli, but yif thou stoppe and clense that as moche as thou mai, it wole corrumpe alle the floures of the gardyn of thi soule, schewe thei nevere so faire outeward in sighte of men. But now seist thou: “Wherbi schal I knowe that the ground is stoppid, yif y traveile aboute it?” As unto this y schal telle thee bi asai, hou thou schalt knowe this image yif it be in thee, and hou moche it is in thee, and therbi thou schalt knowe how moche it is stoppid in thee, and how litil also. And in as moche as pride is the principal ryvere, I schal telle thee therof first.
What pride is and whanne it is synne.
Pride is not ellis, as clerkes tellen, but love of thyn owen excellence, that is, of thyn owen worschipe. Thanne the more thou lovest and likest in thyn owen worschipe, the more is thi pride, and so the more is this ymage in thee. Yif thou fele in thyn herte a stirynge of pride, that thou art holier, wisere, betere, and more vertuous than an nothir is, that God hath [fol. 52r]yeven thee grace for to serve hym betere than othir doon, and thee thenketh alle othire binethe thee and thee above hem, or ony othir thought of thisilf whiche schewith to the sight of thi soule ony excellence, and an overpassynge of othir men or of women, and of this stirynge thou felist a love and a delite, and a veyn plesynge in thi silf that thou art so: this is a tokene that thou berist this blak ymage, which though it be prevei in mannys iye, he schewith him opynli in Goddis sight. But now seist thou, that thou mai not flee siche styrynges of pride. For ofte sithes thou felist hem ayens thi wil, and therfore thou holdest hem no synne, or if thei be synne, thei are not but venial synne. As unto this I seie thus, that the felynge of thise stirynges of pride or of ony othir sich springen out, oither of the corrupcion of this foule ymage or bi incastynge of the enemye, it is no synne, in as moche as thou felist hem. And that is a grace and a privelege bi vertu of the passioun of Jhesu Crist grauntid to alle Cristene men baptizid in watir and in the Hooli Goost; for sothli to Jewes or Sarzynes, whiche trowen not in Crist, alle siche stirynges aren deedli synnes to hem. For Seynt Poul seith: Omne, quod non est ex fide peccatum est (Romans 14:23). Al that is doon withouten trouth in Crist is deedli synne. But we Cristene men have this privelegie of his merci, that sich felynges aren no synne, but thei are peyne of ori[fol. 52v]gynal synne. Neverthelees whanne bi necgligence of thisilf and blyndenesse of thisilf this felyng is receyved unwarli in thi thought and turned into love and a likynge, thanne is ther synne more or lasse aftir the mesure of the love sumtyme venyal and sumtyme deedli. Whanne it is venial and whanne deedli, fulli I cannot wel telle thee.
Whanne pride is deedli synne, and hou it is in fleischli lyvande men deedli synne.
Nevertheles, a litil schal I telle thee, as me thenketh. Whanne the stirynge of pride is receyved and turned into a likynge, so moche that the herte chesith hit for a ful reste and a ful delite, and seketh noon othir reste, but oonli likynge thereinne, thanne pride is deedli synne; for he maketh and cheseth this delite as his God, withouten ayenstondynge of resoun and of wille, and therfore it is deedli synne. But now seist thou: “What fool is he that wole chese pride for his God? No man that lyveth wolde doo so.” As unto this I seie y ne cannot, ne wole not, telle thee in special who doth so, ne who synneth so in pride deedli, but in general I schal seie thee ther is two maner of pride, oon is bodili pride, and anothir is gostli pride.
Bodili pride is of fleischli lyvynge men; goostli pride is of ypocrites and heretikes. Thise thre synnen dedli in pride. I mene of siche a fleischli lyvynge [fol. 53r]man as Seynt Poul speketh of thus: Si secundum carnem vixeritis, moriemini (Romans 8:13). Yif ye lyven aftir youre fleisch, ye schal die. Thanne seie y thus, that a worldli man whiche lyveth and seketh principali the worschipe of himsilf, and cheseth the likynge of it as a reste of his herte and the ende of his blisse, he synneth deedli. But now seist thou: “Who wolde chese love of his worschipe instide of God?” As unto this I sai that he that loveth his worschipe, as for to seme betere and grettere of staat, richere and highere than anothir, and travaileth aboute it as moche as he mai, yif he love it so moche, that for the getynge of it, the kepyng of it, and the savynge of it, he breketh the comaundement of God, or breketh love or charité to his evene Cristene, or is redi and in ful wille for to breke it rathere thanne he schulde forbere his worschipe, or his name or his fame or his staat or of fulfillynge of his wil, soothli he synneth deedli, for he loveth his worschipe and chesith it more than the love of God and of his even Cristene. And yit neverthelees this man that synneth thus deedli, he wolde seie with his mouth that he wolde not chese pride for his God; but he bigileth himsilf, for he chesith it bifore in his dede. Neverthelees, anothir worldli man that loveth worschipe of hymsilf and pursueth thereaftir, yif he loveth it not so moche that noithir he wold [fol. 53v]for the getynge or for the savynge of it doo a deedli synne or ellis breke charité to his even Cristene, he synneth not deedli but venyali, more or lasse aftir the mesure of his love and his likynge, with othire circumstancis.
Hou pride is in heretikes deedli synne.
An heretike synneth deedli in pride, for he chesith his reste and his delite in his owen opynyoun and in his owen seiynge, for he weneth it is sooth that opynyon or seiynge whiche is ayens God and hooli chirche. And therefore synneth he in pride deedli, for he loveth himsilf and his owen wil, and with so moche that though it be opynli ayens ordenaunce of hooli chirche, he wole not leve it, but reste thereinne, as in a ful soothfastnesse, and so maketh he it his god. But he bigileth himsilf, for God and holi chirche are so onyd and acordid togidere that whoso dooth ayen that oon, he dooth ayen that othir and so he doth ayens bothe. And therfore who that seith he loveth God and kepith his biddynge, and dispiceth hooli chirche, and setteth at nought the lawes and the ordenaunce of it maad bi the heed and the sovereyn in governaunce of alle Cristen men, he lieth. He chesith not God, but he cheseth the love of himsilf, whiche is contrarie to the love of God, and so he synneth deedli. And in that, that he weneth most for to plese God, he most dis[fol. 54r]pleseth him, for he is blynde and wole not see. Of this blyndenesse and of this fals restynge of heretikes in here owen felynge speketh the wise man thus: Est via que videtur homni recta; et novissima eius ducunt ad mortem (Proverbs 14:12). There is a wai whiche semeth to a man rightful, and the laste ende of hit bringith him to endelees deth. This wai speciali is called heresie, for othir fleischli synneres that synnen deedli and lyen stille thereinne comonli supposen evere amys of hemsilf, and felen bitynge in conscience that thei goo not the right wai. But an heretik supposith evere that he dooth wel and techeth wel, and so he weneth that his wai were the right wai, and therfore felith he no bitynge of conscience ne mekenesse in herte. And sothli but God sende hym mekenesse while he lyveth heere, of his merci, at the laste ende he goth to helle, and neverthelees yit weneth he for to have doon weel and geten him the blisse of hevene for his techynge.
Hou pride is in ypocrites deedli synne.
The ypocrite also synneth deedli in pride. He is an ipocrite that cheseth veyn joie of himsilf as the reste and ful delite of his herte, upon this manere wise: whanne a man dooth many good dedes bodili and goostli, and aftir is yput to his mynde by suggestioun of the enemye a biholdynge of hymsilf and of his good dedes, how [fol. 54v]good, how holi he is, how worthi in mennes doom, and hou high in Goddis sight above othere men, he perceyveth this styrynge and resseyveth it wilfulli, for he weneth it be gode and of God in as mykil as it is sooth, for he dooth alle thise good dedes betere thanne othere men. And whanne it is receyved thus bi assent of his wil as good, thanne riseth therof a love and a delite in his herte of himsilf that he is so good and so hooli and so moche grace hath, that it neer hande ravesschith his mynde out of alle othere thoughtis, bothe goostli and fleischli, for the tyme, and settith it in this veyn joie of himsilf as in a reste of his herte. This ravyschynge in goostli pride is delectable, and therfore he kepith it, holdeth it, and norischith it as moche as he mai; for this love and this veyn delite he praieth, he waketh, he fasteth, he wereth the heire, and othere affliccions, and al this greveth hym but litil. He looveth and thanketh God sumtyme with his mouth and sumtyme wringeth out a teer of his iyen, and thanne hym thenketh al saaf inowgh. But soothli al this is for love of hymsilf, whiche he cheseth and resseyveth it as it were love and joie in God. And in that is al the synne. He cheseth not synne wilfulli as for synne, but he cheseth this delite that he deliteth inne, this joie, as for god, as the reste of his soule, withouten [fol. 55r]displesynge or ayenstondynge of wille, for he weneth it were joie in God. And it is not so, and therfore he synneth deedli. Job seith thus of an ypocrite: Gaudium ypocrite ad instar puncti. Si ascendit in celum superbia eius, et caput eius nubes tetigerit, velut sterquilinium in fine perdetur (Job 20:5-6). The joie of an ypocrite is no more thanne a poynt, for yif he stiye into hevene with risynge of his herte, and his hed touche the skies, at the laste ende he is cast oute as a dongeheep. The joie of an ypocrite is but a poynt, for though he worschipe himsilf nevere so moche and joie in hymsilf al his liftyme, and depeynte himsilf with alle hise good deedes in sight and lovynge of the world, at the laste it is not but sorwe and peyne. But now seist thou, there are fewe sich or ellis noon that is so blynd that wolde chese veyn joie in hymsilf as for the joie in God. As unto this I cannot seie, ne wole not yif I knew; but oo thynge I telle the, there be many ypocrites, and neverthelees thei wene thei been none, and there ben many that dreden as ypocrites themself, and soothli thei ben none. Which is oon and whiche is othir, God knoweth and noon but he. Whoso wil mekeli drede, he schal not be bigiled, and whoso weneth to be siker he mai lightli falle; for Seynt Poul seith: Qui existimat se aliquid esse, cum nichil sit, ipse se seducit (Galatians 6:3). Whoso weneth hymsilf [fol. 55v]to be ought whanne he is right nought, he bigileth hymsilf.
Hou stirynges of pride and veynglorie in good men are but venial synne.
Neverthelees, a man or a woman whiche disposeth hym to lif contemplatif, yif it be so that he forsake hymsilf as in his wille and offre hym hooli to God with a ful general wil that he wolde not synne in pride wityngeli, ne have no veyn joye in hymsilf wilfulli, but oonli in God, yif he coude and myght; and aftir this ful wille offred hym to God he felith manye stirynges of veynglorie and deliteth in hem for the tyme, for he perceyveth hit not; this likyng is but venyal synne. And nameli yif it be so that whanne he cometh to himsilf he perceyveth this veyn likynge, he reproveth hymsilf and ayenstondeth this stirynge with displesynge of wille, and asketh merci and helpe of God, thanne the likynge that was bifore synne, oure Lord of his merci soone foryeveth it. And yit he schal have meede for his good travaile in the ayenstondynge. And that is the curtesie of oure Lord to alle thoo that aren speciali hise servauntis and more hoomli of his court, as alle thoo aren whiche for his love forsaketh in gode trewe wille alle worldli and fleischli synnes, and yif hem hooli, bodi and soule, unto his service up her myght and her knowynge, as ankeris enclosed and also trewe [fol. 56r]religious men, whiche principali for the love of God and savacioun of here soules entreden ony religion approvid bi hooli chirche. Or ellis yif it be so that they entre religion first for a wordli cause, as for here bodili sustenaunce or ony othir siche, yif thei repente hem and turne it into a goosteli cause, as for the service of God, thise, as longe as thei kepe this wille and pursue it as thei mai up here myght for freelté, thei are trewe religious. Also what man or woman that it be, in what degree he bee in holi chirche, preest, clerk, or lewed man, widue or wif or mayden, that wole for the love of God and salvacion of his soule forsake alle the worschippis and likynges of the world in his herte trewli and fulli bitwixe God and hym, and al wilfulle bisynesse of ertheli thynges unto bare nede, and offre his wille entierli for to be his servaunt up his myght, bi devoute praieres and hooli thoughtes with othere gode deedis that he mai doon bodili or goosteli, and kepeth this wille hool to God stidefastli—alle these aren special Goddis servauntis in holi chirche. And for this good wille and this good purpoos that thei have of the yift of God, thei schal encreese in grace and charité here lyvynge, and thei schal have for this special wille a special grace and a mede in the blisse of hevene bifore othere chosen soulis the whiche offrid not hooli here wille and [fol. 56v]here bodi to Goddis service, neithir opynli ne privelé, as thei diden. Alle thise, whiche y speke of and calle Goddis servauntes, and of his court more speciali, though thei bi frelté or bi unconnynge whanne thei feele sich stirynge of veynglorie, for the tyme delite therinne, and perceyve not it, for here resoun of here witte is letted bi the likynge that thei feele, that it mai not see the stirynge—thei synnen not deedli in this likynge of veineglorie. For that wille that they have sette general in here herte bifore unto plese God and for to forsake synne, yif thei knewe hit, kepith hem there in siche stirynges, and in alle othere that comen of freelté, that thei synnen not deedli, and schal kepe hem as longe as the ground of that wille is keped hool.
Hou sere states in holi chirche schulle have sere medes in the blisse of hevene, and of two medes, sovereyn and secundarie.
And overe this I seie more, in comforte of thee and of alle othere havynge the staat of anker incloos, and also bi the grace of God in comfort of hem alle that entren ony religioun approved bi holi chirche, that alle thoo that bi the merci of oure Lord schal be savyd, thei schal have special mede and a singuler worschipe in the blisse of hevene for here staat of lyvynge, bifore othere soulis that hadden not that staat in holi chirche, though thei be nevere so hooli. Whiche worschipe is betere thanne [fol. 57r]al the worschipe of this world withouten ony comparison, for yif thou myghte see what it were, thou woldest not for al the worschipe of this world, though thou myghtest have it withoutin synne, chaunge thi staat either of ankir or of religious, ne leese that syngulere mede in the blisse of hevene, whiche is called accidental meede.
Neverethelees, that othere men mystake not this that y seie, therfore I schal seie it more opynli. Thou schalt undirstonde that there are two meedis in the blisse of hevene, whiche oure Lord yeveth to chosen soulis. The toon is sovereyn and principal, as is love and knowynge of hym aftir the mesure of charité yeven of God to a soule lyvynge in deedli fleisch. This meede is best and sovereyne, for it is God himsilf; and it is comone to alle soulis that schul be saaf in what staat or gree that thei ben lyvynge in hooli chirche, more or lasse aftir the quantité and the mychilheed of here charité. For he that most loveth God in charité here in this liyf, what degree he be in, be he lewid or lerid, seculer or religious, he schal have most mede in the blisse of hevene, for he schal most love God and knowe hym, and that is thee sovereyne meede. And as for this meede, it schal falle that sum wordli man or woman, as a lord or a ladi, knyght or squyer, marchaunt or plowman, what degree he be in, man or woman, schal have more meede than [fol. 57v]sum prest or frere, monke or chanoun or ankir incloos. And whi? Soothli for he lovede more God in charité of his yifte. An nothir meede there is, that is secundarie, whiche oure Lord yeveth for special good deedes that a man dooth wilfulli over that he is bounden to doo. Of three deedis principali doctours of holi chirche maken mynde of, as of martirdom, prechynge, and maydenhed. Thise three werkes as for an excellence, in as moche as thei passe alle othere, thei schullen have a special meede, whiche thei calle auriole, and that is not ellis but a synguler worschipe and a special tokene ordeyned of God in reward of that special deede, bifore othere men that diden not so, over the sovereyne meede of the love of God whiche is comoun to hem and to alle othere. Right so is it of othere special gode dedis, the whiche yif thei be doo soothfastli aren speciali acceptable in the sight of God, and in the doom of hooli chirche thei are excellente; as are enclosynges of ankeris doon bi auctorité of holi chirche, also entrynges into ony religioun approved, and the streightere that the religioun is, the more excellent is the meede in the doom of hooli chirche. And also aftir thise and binethe thise, the takynge of the ordre of prest for cure of mennys soulis, and for to ministre the sacraments of holi chirche, or ellis for sin[fol. 58r]guler devocioun for to pleese God and profiten here even Cristene bi the sacrifice of the precious bodi of oure Lord Jhesu Crist. Sothli thise aren special deedis and excellent, opynli schewid in the doom of hooli chirche and in the sight of oure Lord, whanne thei aren doon soothfasteli for God; and thei schal have a special meede, ech man in his degree, in the blisse of hevene. The staat of bischop and of prelates is aboven alle thise deedes as for this accidental meede. That this is sooth it semeth bi holi writte in the prophete Daniel, where he seith thus: Tu autem, vade prefinitum tempus, et requiesces, et stabis in sorte tua in fine dierum (Daniel 12:13). This is thus moche to seie: The angel whanne he hadde schewed to Daniel the pryvitees of God, he seide to hym thus: Go thou to the reste of thi bodili deeth, and thou schalt stonde in thi soort as a prophete. And sothli as Daniel schal stonde as a prophete at the day of doom, and have the worschipe and the excellence as a prophete over the sovereyne blissid mede of the love and the sight of God, right soo schalt thou stonde in thy sorte as an anker, and a religious in the sort of religioun, and so have othere excellent dedes, and so have a synguler worschip passynge othere men at the dai of doom.
A schort stirynge to mekenesse and to charité.
Now bi this that I have seid, thou mai, yif thou wole thorugh it, conceyve comfort for thi degree [fol. 58v]of lyvynge and also maner of mekenesse. For though it so be that thou schalt have thus moche mede special for thi staat of lyvynge, yif thou be saaf, neverthelees it mai be that many a wif and many a wordli woman schal be neer God than thou, and more schal love God and betere schal knowe him than thou, for al thi staat, and that oweth to be schame to thee but thou be besi to gete love and charité of the yifte of God as he or sche hath that dwelleth stille in the wordli besynesse. For yif thou mowe have as moche charité of the yifte of God as sche or he hath that dwellith in wordli besynesse, thou schalt have as moche of sovereyne meede as he or sche schal have. And thou schalt have over that, for that staat whiche thou hast taken, have singuler mede and a worschipe whiche he schal not have. Thanne yif thou wolt doo wel, foryete thi staat, as hit were right nought, for it is sooth, bi itsilf it is nought; and loke that al thi desire be and thi bisynesse be for to gete charité and mekenesse and othere goostli vertues, for therin liyth al.
Hou a man schal knowe hou mykil pride is in hym.
I have nygh forgete this ymage, but now I turne ayen therto. Yif thou wolt wite hou moche pride there is in thee, thou mai assaie thisilf thus. Loke now wiseli, and flatere not thisilf, yif lovynge, praisynge or worschip or fleischli favour of wordli men or of othere be [fol. 59r]likynge to thyn herte, and turneth it into veyn gladnesse, and holde thee wel apaied of thisilf, thenkynge stilli in thin herte that men schulde preise thi liyf, and rewarde thi speche more thanne anothir; also, on the contrarie wise, yif it be so that men reprove thee and sette thee at nought, holde thee but a fool or an ypocrite, or yif thei sclaundre thee or speke yvel of thee falsli, or in ony othir wei that thei dispice thee or disese thee unskilfulli, and therfore thou felist in thyn herte anguisch hevynesse ayens the persoones and a greet risynge in thyn herte with ayenstondynge for to suffre ony schame or vilonye in sight of the world; yif it be thus with thee, this is a tokene that there is moche pride in this merke ymage, seeme thou nevere so hooli in the sight of men. For though thise stirynges be not but litil or venial, neverthelees thei schewe wel that ther is moche pride hid in the grounde of thyn herte, as a fox daareth in his den.
Thise stirynges and many moo springen out of this image, so moche, that it mai unnethis doo ony good deede but it schal be medeled with sum pride or sum veyn delite in thisilf, and so with thi pride thou defoulest thy good dedes and makest hem wlatsum in the sight of thi Lord. I seie not that thei aren lost for thei are medelid with this pride, but I seie that thei are not so plesaunt to thi Lord as thei schulde bee yif thei were symple and [fol. 59v]rooted in mekenesse. And therfore yif thou wolt have mekenesse and clennesse of herte for to come to the love of God, the bihoveth not oonli flee reste of thyn herte in veynglorie bi wilful assentynge to pride, and also the rekles likynge thereinne of freelté, though it be ayen thi wille; but also the feelynge of pride thou schalt flee and eschewe as moche as thu mai. But that may thu not doo but yif thou be ful quyk and redi aboughte the kepynge of thyn herte, as I schal telle the aftir.
Of envie and ire and of here braunchis, and hou sumtyme instide of synne mannys persoone is hated.
Turne this image upsodoun and loke wel thereinne, and thou schal fynde two membris of envie and ire fastned therto, with many branches spryngynge ought of hem, the whiche letten the love and charité that thou schuldest have to thyn even Cristene. The braunchis of envie and ire aren thise: haterede, yvel suspecioun, fals and unskilful demynge, malencolie, risynge of herte ayens hem that dispisen thee or speken yvel ayens thee, a gladnesse of here disese, and a felnesse ayens synful men that wole not doo as thee thenketh thei schulde doo, with gret desire of thyn herte undir colour of charité and rightwesnesse desirest that thei were wel ponysschid for here synne. This stirynge semeth good, neverthelees it is, yif thou ransake it wel, more [fol. 60r]fleischli ayens the persoone thanne goostli ayen the synne. Thou schalt love the man, be he nevere so synful, and thou schalt hate synne in everi man what that he bee. Manye aren bigiled in this, for thei sette the bittir instide of the swete, and taken myrkenesse instide of light, as the prophete telleth: Ve vobis, qui dicitis malum bonum, et bonum malum; ponentes lucem tenebras et amarum dulce (Isaiah 5:20). Woo bee to hem that seyn yvel is good and good is yvel, and setteth light as myrkenesse, and bittir instede of swete. Thus doon alle thoo that whanne thei schulden hate the synne of here even Cristene and love the persoone, thei hate the persoone instide of synne, and wene that thei hate the synne. Wherefore it is a craft bi hitsilf, whoso cowde doon it wel.
That it is mykil maistrie sothfastli to love men in charité and hate here synne.
It is no maistrie for to wake and faste til thyn heed wirke and thi bodi waike, ne for to goo to Rome and to Jerusalem upon thi bare feet, ne for to stirte aboute and preche as thou woldest turne alle men bi thi prechynge; ne it is noo maistrie for to make chirches and chapeles, for to feede pore men and make hospitales. But it is a greet maistrie for a man to kunne love his even Cristene in charité, and viseli hate the synne of him and love the man. For though it be soo that alle thise deedis toforeseide aren goode in hemsilf, never[fol. 60v]thelees thei aren comone to gode men and women and also to badde, for eche man mai doo hem yif he wolde and hadde wherof, and forthi for to doo that ech man mai doo, I holde no maistrie. But for to love his even Cristene in charité and hate his synne, mai there no man doo but gode men oonli, whiche have it of the yift of God and not of her owene travaile, as Seynt Poule seith: Caritas dei diffusa est in cordibus vestris per spiritum, qui datus est vobis (Romans 5:5). Love and charité is sched and spred in youre hertis bi the Hooli Goost, whiche is yyven to you, and therfore it is the more precious and the more deynté for to come bi.
That for the same deedis outewarde sere men schal have seere medis.
Alle othere gode deedis withouten this maketh not a man good, ne worthi the blisse of hevene, but this aloone, and oonli it, maketh a man good and alle his good deedis medeful. Alle othere yiftis of God and werkes of man are comoun to gode and to badde, but this yifte of charité is oonli to gode and chosen soulis.
A good man for the love of God he fasteth, he waketh, gooth on pilgrimage, and forsaketh the likynge of the world soothfasteli in his herte withoutin feynynge. Hee schal have his meede in the blisse of hevene. An ypocrite for veynglorie of himsilf dooth the same deedis and receyveth his meede heere. Also a verry pre[fol. 61r]chour of Goddis word, fulfilled of charité and of mekenesse, sent of God, and of holi chirche resseyved, schal have a special mede, that is the auriol, for his prechynge. An ypocrite or an heretik, that nevere hadde mekenesse ne charité, ne aren not sent off God ne of holi chirche, thei have here mede heere. Also a gode man in wordli staat, for love of God maketh chirchis and chapeles, habbeies, hospitales, and othere good deedis of merci. He schal have his mede in the blisse of hevene, not for the deede in hitsilf, but for the good wil and the charité that he hadde of the yifte of God for to doo thoo gode deedes. Anothir man for vanité of himsilf and worschipe and praisynge of the world and his owene name dooth the same good deedis and hath his meede heere. The cause is, in al thise, that the ton hath charité and the tothir hath noon. Whiche is oon and whiche is othir, oure Lord knowith and noon but he.
That alle menys good deedis schal be appreved that hath likenes of good, save of the opyn heretik and the opyn cursid man.
And therfor we schulden love and worschipe alle men in oure hertis, and receyve alle heere dedes that have the likenes of godenesse, though the dooeres in Goddis sight be badde, save of the opyn heretike and the opyn cursid man. Of thise two speciali we schullen flee and eschewe the presence and [fol. 61v]the comonynge with hem, and we schulde reprove and refuse here deedes, seme thei nevere so goode, as longe as thei are rebel to God and to holi chirche. As yif a wordli cursid man make a chirche, or feede a pore man, thou mai sikirli holde it nought and deme it as it is. Also yif an opin heretike, whiche is rebel to hooli chirche, preche and teche, though he converte an hundrid thousand soulis, halde the dede as to himsilf right nought. For thise men aren opinli oute of charité, withouten whiche al is nought that a man doth; and therfore seie I it is a grete maistrie a man for to kunne love his even Cristene in charité. Al this seiynge mai opynli be proved bi Seynt Poulis wordis thus: Si linguis hominum loquar, et angelorum, caritatem non habuero, nichil sum; et si habuero omnem fidem, ita ut montes transferam, caritatem non habeam, nichil sum. Et si noverim misteria omnia, nichil sum; et si distribuero omnes facultates meas in cibos pauperum, et tradidero corpus meum igni ut ardeam, caritatem non habuero, nichil michi prodest (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Seynt Poul in preisynge of charité seith thus: Yif I speke the langage of men and angelis also, and I have no charité, I am right nought. And yif I have so moche feith that y mai turne hillis and bere hem awey, and I have no charité, yit am I nought. And also yif I hadde knowynge of alle pryvitees, withouten charité I am [fol. 62r]nought. And yif I yyve al that y have to pore men, and my bodi to the fier to be brent, and y have no charité, it profiteth me nought. Heere it semeth wel bi Seynt Poulis wordis that a man mai doo alle bodily gode deedis withoute charité, and that charité is not ellis but for to love God and his even Cristen as himsilf.
That no good deede mai make a man sikir withoute charité; and that charité is oonli had of the yifte of God to hem that are meke, and who is parfightli meke.
How schulde thanne ony caytif lyvynge in erthe, what that he be, have delite or trust or sikirnesse in himsilf for aughte that he can doo or mai doo with alle his bodili myghtes and al his kyndeli reson, sethen al is not worth withouten love and charité to his even Cristene? And this charité mai not be geten bi no worchinge of hymsilf, for it is a free yift of God sent to a meke soule, as Seynt Poul seith. Who daar seie hardili, “I have charité,” or “I am in charité”? Sothli no man mai seie it sikirli, but he that is perfightli and sothfastli meke. Othir men mai trowe and hope of hemsilf that thei ben in charité bi tokenes of charité, but he that is perfightli meke feleth it, and therfore mai he seie it. Thus meke was Seynte Poul, and therfore he seide thus of himsilf: Quis me separabit a caritate dei? Tribulacio, an angus[fol. 62v]cia? (Romans 8:35). Who schal departe me fro the charité of God? Tribulacion or anguisch? And he answerith hymsilf and seith, that there schal no creature putte me from the charité of God whiche I have in Crist Jhesu.
Many man dooth deedis of charité and hath no charité, as I have seide. For to reprove a synner for his synne into his amendynge and in covenable tyme, it is a deede of charité, but for to hate the synnere instide of synne, it is ayens charité. He that is verili meke can departe the toon from the tothir, and no man but he; for yif a man hadde alle morale vertues of al philosophie, also yif man hadde knowynge of cleergie and of al dyvynyté and is not sothfastli meke, he schal erre and stumble and take the toon for the tothir; but mekenesse is worthi to receyve a yifte of God, the whiche mai not be leered bi techynge of man. And therfor he that is meke can hate the synne and truli love the man.
But now peraventure thou bigynnest for to dreede, for I seide that charité mai not be geten bi no werk of man that man mai doo. Hou thanne schal thou do? As unto this I seie that there is nothinge so harde for to gete as is charité; this is sooth, as with thyn owen traveile. Also, on the contrarie wise, there is no yift of God mai be hadde so lightli as charité, for oure Lord yyeveth noo yifte so freeli, ne so glaad[fol. 63r]li, ne so comonli as he dooth charité. “Hou schal y have it?” seist thou thanne. Be meke and lowe in spirite and thou schalt have it; and what is lightere for to doo thanne for to be meke? Sotheli noo thynge. Thanne semeth it that there is nothynge that mai so lightli be had as charité, and therfore be not thou to moche adrad; be meke, and have it. Thus seide Seynt Jame the Apostil: Deus superbis resistit, humilibus dat graciam (James 4:6). Oure Lord, he seith, ayenstondeth proude men, but to meke men he yeveth grace. Whiche grace is propirli charité, for aftir the mesure of thi mekenesse so schal thu have charité.
Yif thou have mekenesse unperfightli, oonli in thi wille not in thyn affeccion, than schalt thou have unperfight charité. This is good, for it sufficeth to savacioun, as David seith: Imperfectum meum viderunt oculi tui (Psalms 138:16). Lord with thyn iyen of merci thou seest my unperfeccioun. But yif thou have mekenesse perfightli, than thou schalt have perfight charité, and that is the beste. The tothir bihoveth us to have yif we wolen be saaf, and this we schullen desire. Than yif thou aske me who is perfightli meke, thou schalt no more have at this tyme of me of mekenesse but this: he is meke that soothfastli knoweth and felith himsilf as he is.
Hou a man schal wite hou moche ire and envie is hid in the ground of hys herte.
Now turne ayen [fol. 63v]to this image, yif thou wole asaie hou moche ire and envie is hid in the ground of thyn herte that thou felist not. Loke wel and biholde thiself visili whanne siche stirynges of envie and ire ayens thyn even Cristen spryngen out of thyn herte. The more arisynge that thou hast, and the more stired that thou art bi malencolie bittirnesse or wikkid wil ayens hem, the more is this image in thee; for the more thou grucchist bi unpacience either ayens God for tribulacion or sikenesse or for bodili disese sent of God, or ayens thyn even Cristene, for ought that thei dooth ayens thee, the lasse is the image of Jhesu reformed in thee.
Bi what tokenes thou schalt wite yif thou love thyn enemye and what ensample thou schalte take of Crist for to love hym also.
I seye not that siche maner of grucchynges or fleischli angres aren deedli synnes; but I seie that thei letten clennesse of herte and pees of consciencie, that thou mai not have ful charité, bi the whiche thou schuldest come to lif contemplatif. For that ende is the cause of al my seiynge, that thou schuldest not oonli clense thyn herte from deedli synnes, but also of venyal, as moche as thou mai, that the ground of synne myght bi grace of Jhesu Crist be sumwhat quenchid in thee. For though it be so that thou feelist noon yvel wil ayens thyn even Cristen for a tyme, yit art thou not sikir that the ground [fol. 64r]of ire is quenchid in thee, ne yit arte thou not lord of the vertu of charité. For suffre him touche thee a litil bi ony angrynesse or a schrewid word, and thou schalt feele anoon yif thyn herte be yit maad hool bi fulhede of charité. The more that thou art stirid and yvel willed ayens the persone, the ferthere art thou from perfight charité of thyn even Cristene and the lasse that thou art stirid, the neer art thu to charité.
And yif thou be not stirid ayen the persoone bi angir or bi feel cheer outeward, ne bi no privey hate in thyn herte for to dispice hym or deme hym or for to sette him at nought; but the more schame and velanye he doth to thee in word or in dede, the more pité and the more compassioun thou haste on hym, as thou woldst of a man that were oute of his mynde. And the thenketh that thou cannot fynde in thyn herte for to hate hym, for love is so good in the silf, but praie for hym and helpe hym and desire his amendynge, not oonli with thi mouth as ypocrites doon, but with thyn herte in affeccioun and love. And thanne hast thou perfight charité to thyn even Cristene. This charité had Seynt Stevene perfightli whanne he preide for hem that stooned him to the deeth. This charité counceilide Crist to alle thoo that wolden be his perfite folwers whanne he seide thus: Diligite inimicos vestros, benefacite hiis qui oderunt vos, orate pro persequen[fol. 64v]tibus vos (Matthew 5:44). Love youre enemyes and dooth good to hem that haten you; praieth for hem that pursue you. And therfore yif yee wolen folwe Crist, be like to hym in this craft. Leere for to love thyne enemyes and synful men, for alle thise been thyn even Cristene. Looke and bithenke thee how goodli Crist was to Judas, hou benynge, hou curteis, and how loweli to hym that he knewe dampnable. And neveretheles he chees him to his apostel, and sente him for to preche with othere apostelis. He yaaf hym powere to worche myracles, he schewed to him the same good chiere in worde and in deede as he dide to the tothire aposteles. He biwreied hym not, ne spak nevere yvel of hym; and yit though he hadde doon alle thise, he had seid nothynge but sooth. And overmore, whanne Judas toke hym, he kissid hym and called hym his frend. And al this charité schewed Crist to Judas, whiche he knewe for dampnable, in no manere of flaterynge ne feynynge, but in soothfastnesse of good love and clene charité. For though it were so that Judas were unworthi for to have had ony yift of God or ony signe of love for his wikkiddenesse, neverthelees it was worthi and skilful that oure Lord schulde schewe as he is. He is love and goodnes to alle hise creatures, as he was to Judas. Folwe aftir sumwhat if thou may, for though thu be stoken in [fol. 65r]an hous with thi bodi, neverthelees in thyn herte, where the stide of love is, thou schulde mow have part of siche love to thyn even Cristen as y speke of. Whooso weneth thanne hymsilf for to be a perfighte lovere and a folwer of Cristis techynge and his lyvynge (as sum man weneth that he is, in as mykil as he prechith and techith and is pore of wordli goodis as Crist was), and cannot folwe Crist in this love and in this charité for to love his evene Cristene, ecche man, good and badde, frendes and foos, withoutin feynynge or flateringe, dispisynge in his herte ayens the man, angrynesse, and maliciousli reprovynge, sothli he bigileth hymsilf. For the ner that he weneth for to bee, the ferthere he is; for Crist seide himsilf to hem that wolden be his folweres and his disciples thus: Hoc est preceptum meum, ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos (John 13:34). This is my biddynge, that ye love you togidre, as I lovede you. For yif ye love as I lovede, thanne are ye my disciplis.
But now, seist thou, how schal y love him that is badde als wel as him that is gode? As unto this I seie, that thou schalt love bothe in charité, but not for the same cause; as I schal telle the hou thou schalt love thyne evene Cristene as thysilf. Now thou schalt love thysilf oonli in God, or ellis for God. In God thou loveste thisilf whanne thu art rightful bi grace and vertues; and thou lovest not thisilf, but oonli for that right[fol. 65v]wisenesse and vertu that God yyveth thee. Thanne lovest thou thisilf in God, for thou lovest not thisilf but God; also for God thou lovest thisilf, as yif thou were in deedli synne and woldest be maad rightful and vertuous; thanne lovest thou thisilf not as thou art, for thou art unrightful, but as thou woldest be. Right so schalt thou love thyn even Cristene. Yif thei ben goode and rightful, thou schalt love hem bi charité in God, oonli for thei ben goode and rightful; for thanne lovest thou God in hem, as goodnesse and rightwisenesse, more thanne hem yif thei ben badde and in deedli synne, as thyn enemyes that haten thee or othere of the whiche thou haste ful evidence that thei aren not in grace. Yit schalt thou love hem not as thei aren, ne as good men and rightful, for thei are badde and unrightful, but thou schalt love hem for God, that thei myght be gode and rightful. And so schalte thou nothynge hate in hem, but the thynge that is contrarie to rightwisenesse, and that is synne. This is as I undirstonde the techynge of Seynt Austyn, for to departe the love of the man fro the hate of the synne in the love of thyn evene Cristene. He that is sothfastli meke, or wolde be meke, can love his evene Cristene, and noon but he.
Hou a man schal knowe hou mochel coveytise is hid in hys herte.
Lifte up this image and loke wel al aboughte, and thou schalt mowe see covetise and love of erthely [fol. 66r]thynge occupie a greet partie of this ymage, though it seme litil. Thou haste forsaken the richesse and moche avere of this world, and art sperid in a dongoun; but hast thou forsaken the love of al this? I hope not yit; it is lasse maistrie for to forsake goodis of the world thanne for to forsake the love of hem. Peraventure thou hast not forsake coveitise, thou haste chaunged fro grete thyngis into smale, as from a pound to a peny and from a silveren pece into a dische of an halpeny. This is a symple chaunge; thou art no good marchant. Thise ensamples aren childisch; neverthelees thei bitoken more. Yif thou trowe not me, assaie thisilf yif thou have love and delite in the havynge and in the biholdynge of ony thynge that thou haste, swich as it is, with the whiche love thou feedist thyn herte for a tyme or yif thou have desire and yeerne for to have sumthynge that thou haste not, with siche desire thyn herte is traveiled bi unskilful bisynesse, that the clene desire of vertues and of God mai not reste thereinne. This is a tokene that there is coveitise in this ymage, and yif thou wole assaie betere, loke yif onythinge that thou haste be taken awai from thee, bi maistrie or bi borwynge or bi ony othir wise, and thou mai not geten it ayen, and forthi thou art disesid in thyn herte, and angrid and trobelid in thyn herte; bothe thee wanteth that thynge that thou wolde have and mai not gete[fol. 66v] it, and also ayen hym that hath it thou art stired, for he myght restore it ayen and wole not. This is a tokene that thou lovest wordli goodes, for thus doon wordli men.
Whanne that heer good and her richesse is taken from hem, thei aren hevy, sori, and angry, and flite and stryve ayens hem that han it, openli with word and bi deede; but thou doost alle thise in thyn herte pryveli, where God seeth. And yit arte thou in more defaute thanne a wordli man, for thou hast forsaken in likenesse the love of alle wordli thynges; but a wordli man hath not so, and therfore he is excusid though he stryve and pursue bi lawful weies for to have hem ayen. But now seist thou, that thee bihoveth have thy necessaries of siche thinges as longeth to thee, as wel as a wordli man. I graunte wel therto, but thou schuldest not love hyt, ne noo likynge have in the biholdynge and in the kepynge of it, ne sorwe ne hevynesse fele in the leesynge or in the withdrawing of it; for, as Seynte Gregor seith, as moche sorwe as thou hast in the lesynge of a thynge, so moche love haddest thou in the kepynge. And therfore yif thyn herte were maad hool and thou hadde soothfastli felid a desire of goostli thynges, and hadde thereof a sighte of the leste goostli thynge that is, al the love and likyng of ony ertheli thynge thou schuldest sette it at nought, it schulde not cleve on thee. For to love and for to ha[fol. 67r]ve more thanne thee nedeth skilfulli, it is a grete defaute. Also for to love that thing that thee nedith is defaute, but not so greet; but for to have and use that thee nedeth withoutin love of it is no defaute. Soothli manye that han the staat and the likenesse of povertee aren moche blyndid in this poynt and hyndred froo the love of God. But I accuse no man, ne no staat reprove, for in every astaat summe aren goode and sume aren othir. But oo thynge I seie to eche man and woman whiche hath take the staat of poverté wilfulli, whethir he be religious or seculer, or what degree he be inne: As longe as his affeccioun is bounden, festened, and as it were glewid with the love of ony othir ertheli thynge that he hath or ellis wolde have, he mai not have ne feele soothfastili the clene love and the cleer sight of goostli thyngis.
For as Seynt Austyn seith to oure Lord thus: “Lord, he loveth the but litil, that loveth ony thynge with thee.” For the more love and coveitise of ony ertheli thinge is in thee, the lasse is the love of God in thyn herte. For though it be soo that this love of ertheli thinge putte hem not oute of charité, but it be so moche that it strangle the love of God and of here even Cristen, sothely it hyndreth hem and letteth thee from the fervour of charité, and also from that special meede that thei schulde have in the blisse of hevene for perfight poverté. And that is a grete losse yif they myght see it; for whooso myght knowe goosteli mede, how good, and how precious, and how worthi [fol. 67v]it is ay lastynge, he wolde not for al ertheli joie, or al ertheli thynge, though he myght have it withouten synne, lette ne leese the leeste meede of the blisse of hevene, whiche he myghte have yif that he wolde. I speke ferthere thanne y can do, but I pray thee thorugh the grace of God, doo soo yif thou mai, or ony othir whoso wole; for that were a comfort to me, that though y mai not have it in mysilf as I seie, that I myght have it in thee, or in ony othir creature whiche hath receyved of oure Lord more plenté of his grace thanne y. But see now thanne, hou coveitise in the nakid ground letteth a man or a woman so moche from the goosteli felynge of the love of God, how moche more it letteth thanne and encombrith wordli men and women whiche, bi alle here wittes and bisynesse, nyght and dai studie and travaile hou thei myght gete richesse and plenté of wordli goodis. Thei kunne noon othir delite have but in wordli thynges, ne thei wole not, for thei seke it not. I sei no more at this tyme of hem, for in this writynge y speke not to hem; but this I seie, yif thei myght see and wold see what thei doo, thei schulde not doo so.
Hou a man schal knowe whanne he synneth not in etynge and drynkynge and whanne he synneth deedli and whan veniali.
Yit mai thou see more [fol. 68r]in thys image, though it be myrk; and that is fleischli love to thisilf in glotonie, sleuthe, and leccherie. Thise fleischli likynges maken a man wel beestli, and fer from inli savour of the love of God and from the cleer sight of goostli thingis. But now seist thou, that y seie that thee bihoveth nedelynges ete and drynke and slepe, and that mai thou not doo withoute likynge, therfore thee thenketh this likynge is no synne.
As unto this I answere, yif thou kepe in etynge and drynkynge and in othir nedeful thinges to the bodi mesure, up thi nede as resoun asketh, and thou resseyvest no more thanne kynde asketh, and al this thou doost for thi goostli delite whiche thou felist in thi soule, I graunte for sothe that thou thanne synnest right nought. For thanne can thou wel ete and slepe, sothli and withoutin doute. I am ful fer from that knowynge, and ferthere from the wirkynge; for to ete I have bi kynde, but for to kunne ete I mai not but bi grace. Seynt Poul hadde bi grace this knowynge as he seide of himsilf thus: Ubique et in omnibus institutus sum; et scio satiari, et esurire, habundare, et penuriam pati. Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat (Philippians 4:12-13). I am enformed and taught in alle thinges, for I can hungre and can ete, I can with plenté and I can with poverté. I mai al in him that strengtheth me.
Seynt Austyn seid to oure Lord thus: “Lord, thou hast taughte me that I schulde take mete as medicene.” For [fol. 68v]honger is a sikenesse of kynde, and mete is medicyn therto and therfore the likynge that cometh withal, in as moche as it is kyndeli and nedefulle, it is no synne; but whanne it passith into luste and into wilful likynge, thanne it is synne. And therfore, there lieth al the maistrie, for to kunne departe visili the nede fro the lust and wilful likynge. Thei aren so knettid togedre, and that oon cometh so with the tothir, thanne it is hard to receyve that oon as the nede and reprove the tothir as wilful likynge and luste, whiche ofte tyme cometh undir colour of nede. Yif a man wolde oonli take mete and drynke as medicyn for sikenesse, he schulde kunne departe wel the luste from the nede. Neverthelees, syn it is so that nede is thee ground of this synne, and that neede is no synne. For be a man nevere so hooli, hym bihoveth ete and drynke and slepe, therfore the lust and the likynge that cometh undir colour of this nede and passeth this nede is the lasse synne.
For a man comonli synneth not deedli in glotonye, but he be cumbred with othere deedli synnes bifore doon. Thanne mai he the lightliere synne deedli in this. For this is sooth, he that chesith the luste and the likynge of his fleisch in delices and welfare of mete and drinke as a ful reste of his herte, nevere to have othir joie ne othir blisse, but to lyve ay in siche lustis of his fleisch, yif he myght, [fol. 69r]hit is no doughte but that he synneth deedli, for he loveth his fleisch more than God. But he that lieth in deedli synne as pride or envie or siche othere, he is blynde and so bounden to the devel that for the tyme he hath not the power clenli of his free wille; and therefore he mai not weel ayenstonde fleischli likynges, but falleth doun wilfulli into hem, as a beest doth upoun a carioun.
And in as moche as he hath noo general wille bifore to God principali, bicause that he is in deedli synne, therfore the lust of glotonye whiche he falleth inne is lightli to hym deedli synne, for he maketh noon ayenstondynge, general ne special. But anothir man or woman whiche is in grace and in charité hath alwei a good general wille to God in hise soule, whethir he slepe or wake, ete or drinke, or what dede that he dooth, so that the dede be not yvel in the silf; bi the whiche wille he chesith and desireth God aboven alle thynges, and he hadde wel levere forbere al the likynge of this world thanne his God, for the love of him. This wille, though it be but general, it is of so greet vertu bi the grace of oure Lord Jhesu, that though he falle bi freelté in luste and likynge of mete and drinke, or in siche othere sikenessis, othir in excesse of to moche etynge, or to often, or to gredili, or to lustli and delicatli, or to soone in untyme, it saveth and kepith hym from deedli synne. And this [fol. 69v]is soth, as longe as he is in charité bi othere good deedis and kepith this general wille hool in al that he dooth; and nameli yit, yif he knowe amonge his owen wrecchidnesse, and crieth God merci, and is in purpos speciali for to ayenstonde alle siche lustis fleischli.
Oure Lord is good and merciful, and thise venyal synnes of glotonye he foryyveth sone to a meke man; for the stirynges and the likynges of glotonye, in as moche as thei ben hardest for to flee bicause of nede of the bodili kynde, amonge alle othere synnes aren most excusable and lest perilous. And therfore thou schal not rise ayens the ground of this synne as thou schalt ayenes alle othere synnes. For the ground of this synne is oonli nede, whiche mai not be eschewid but yif thou wolt doo wors and slee the nede, as many foolis doo, whiche schulden slee the theef and spare the trewe man, that is to seie thei schulde slee the unskilful lust and the wilful likynge, and spare and kepe the bodili kynde. But ayen alle othere synnes thou schalt arise for to distroie; not oonli the gret deedli and the grete venyal synnes, but also ayens the ground of hem in as moche as thou mai.
See bi this skile, thou mai not lyve withoute mete and drinke; but thou mai lyve withoute leccherie yif thou wole, and nevere be but the betere. And therfore thou schalt not oonli flee the dede in the silf, whiche is deedli synne, [fol. 70r]and also the wilful likynge of it in thyn herte withoutin dede, whiche is venial, and sumtyme it is deedli; but also thou schalt arise ayen the ground of it, for to distroie the risynge and the felynge and the fleischli stirynges.
The ground of leccherie schulde be distroied with goostli travaile and not with bodili.
But this travaile ayen the ground of leccherie nameli schal be goostli, as bi prayers and goostli vertues, and not bodili bi no bodili penaunce. For wite thou wel, though thou wake and faste and scourge thisilf and doo al that thou can, thou schal nevere have the clennesse and that chastité withoute the yifte and the grace of mekenesse. Thou schulde mowe rathere slee thisilf thanne thou schuldest slee fleischli stirynges and likynges of lustis of leccherie, oither in thi herte or in thi fleisch, bi ony bodili penaunce. But bi the grace of Jhesu in a meke soule, the ground mai be stoppid and distroied, and the springe mai be dried and that is veri chastité in bodi and soule.
And the same manere mai be seid of pride, coveitise, and siche othere; for thou myghttest lyve though thou were neither proud ne covetous, and therfore thou schalt distroie alle the felynges of hem as moche as thou myght. But in glotonye thou schal arise and smyte awey alle unskilful stirynges, and save the ground hool. And therfore he that riseth ayens the feelynge of fleischli likynge in mete [fol. 70v]and drinke more fulli and more scharpli thanne ayen the feelynge and the stirynge of pride, for thei seme faire and are not lightli reprevyd, or of envie, ire, coveitise, or leccherie, I seie that he is half blynd. For he seeth not yit goostli the unclennesse of pride and envie, how foul it is in Goddis sight. I hope yif a man myght see with his goostli iye hou foule pride and coveitise aren in the sight of God, and hou contrarie to him, he schulde more lothe the stirynge of pride and the veyn delite of it; and also he schulde more agrise and arise ayen an yvel wil of envie or ire to his even Cristene, thanne ayens many stirynges and likynges, oithir of glotonye or leccherie. Nevertheles, alle men wenen not so, for comonli men aren more arwgh for to fele a stirynge of fleischli synne, and have for it more hevynesse, thanne for grete likynges in veynglorie or othere goostli synnes. But thei aren not wise, for yif thei wole undirstonde holi writ and doctours sawes thereof, schulde thei fynde as I saie, whiche y ne mai ne wole not reherce now.
That a man schulde be bisi for to putte awai alle stirynges of synne but more bisili goostli synnes than bodili.
I ne wole not excuse hem that fallen in likynges of glotonye and leccherie, that thei synnen not; for I woot wel that alle the spices of hem aren synne more or lasse, aftir the mesure of the lust and wilful likynges, [fol. 71r]with othere circumstaunces of hem. But I wolde that thou knewe and chargid eche a synne as it is: more or lasse the more, as aren alle goostli synnes, the lasse as aren alle fleischli synnes. Yit schal thou neverthelees hate and flee alle bodili and goostli synnes up thi myght; for wite thou wel, that fleischli desires and unskilfulle likynges in mete or drinke, or ony likynges that longen to the bodi passynge resonable nede, though thei be not ay grete synnes to hem that aren in charité, neverthelees to a soule that desireth clennesse and goostli felynge of God, thei aren ful hevy and bittir, and moche for to eschewe. For the spirit mai not fele hys kyndeli savour withinne of the gostli presence of Jhesu Crist til the fleisch have lost moche of his bestli savoure withoute; and therfore yif thou wole come to clennesse in herte, the byhoveth ayenstonde unskilful stirynges of fleiscli desires. But ayen the ground of it that is nede, as kyndeli honger whiche thou schal nedelynges fele and tente thertoo in tyme, and helpe thisilf ayens it bi medicyn of mete as thou woldest helpe thisilf resonabli ayens bodili sikenesse, that thou myght ete and the more freli serve thi God bodili and goostli.
That hunger and othere peynes of the bodi letteth moche goostly wirkynge.
For wite thou wel that what man or woman schal ben occupied in goostli thoughtes, unskilful pey[fol. 71v]ne of hungir wilfulli taken, or sikenesse in the stomac or in the heed or in ony othir partie of the bodie, for the defaute of thisilf bi to moche fastynge or in ony othir wise, schal moche lette the spirit and moche hyndre him from the knowynge and the biholdynge of goosteli thynges, but he have more grace. For though it be so that bodili peyne, othir of penaunce othir of siknesse, or ellis bodili occupaccion, sumtyme letteth not the fervour of love to God in devocioun but often encresith it. Sothli y hope that it letteth the fervour of lust in contemplacion, whiche mai not be had ne felid sadli, but in gret reste of bodi and soule. Forthi doo thou skilfulli that longeth to thee and kepe thi bodili kynde up resoun and suffre than til God sende what he wole, be it heele or sikenesse. Take it generali and grucche not ayens God wilfulli.
What remedie a man schal use ayenes defaute maad in etynge and drinkynge.
Doo thanne as I seie thee: take thi mete, and ordeyne for it yif nede it be up resoun, and take it gladli as for nede. But beware of lust that cometh with the nede; eschew to moche as wel as to litil. And whanne thou hast doon, and it cometh to thi mynde bitynge in conscience that thou hast eten to moche or to litil, and bigynnest to tarie and drawest thee to over moche bittirnesse, lift up thi desire of thyn herte to thi good Lord Jhesu, and know thisilf for a wrecche and a beeste, [fol. 72r]and aske him foryevenesse bi his merci. And whanne thou hast doon thus, the schortliere the levere, leve of thanne and tarie no lengere withal, ne stryve not to moche as thou wolde distroie it uttirli, for it is not for to doo. Thou schal never brynge it so aboute. But redili ordeyne thee to sum othir occupacioun bodili or gostli, aftir thou felist thee disposid, that thou mighttest the more profite in othire vertues, as mekenesse and charité.
For wite thou wel, he that hath in his desire and in his travaile noon othir reward to noon othir thinge but to mekenesse and charité, ai cravynge aftir hem how he myght gete hem, he schal in that desire with worchynge folwynge aftir, profite more and waxe in alle other vertues, as in chastité, abstinence, and siche othire, though he have but litil reward to hem, more in a yeer thanne he schulde have withouten this desire profite in sevene yeer, though he stryve with glotonye and leccherie and siche othire contynueli and bete himsilf eche dai with scourgis from morwe til evesong tyme.
That thorwgh besi desire and travaile in mekenesse and charité, a man cometh sunnere to othere vertues to travaile in hemself.
Gete to thee thanne mekenesse and charité, and yif thou wole traveile and swynke bisili for to have hem, thou schal mowe have inow for to doo in getynge of hem. Thei schal rule and[fol. 72v] mesure thee ful pryveli, hou thou schalt ete and drynke and socoure al thi bodili nede, that ther schal no man wite it but yif thou wole, and it schal not be in perplexité, ne in dwere, ne in angirnesse and hevynesse, but in a pees of glaad conscience with a sad restfulnesse. I speke forthere thanne I thought for to have spoken in this matier, but neverthelees doo, yif thou mai, as y sai, and I hope God schal make al wel.
Bi this thanne that I have seid mai thou sumdel see in this ymage of synne hou moche it letteth thee. The gospel seith how Abraham spak to the riche man that was biried in helle on this wise: Est chaos magnum inter nos et vos firmatum, ut hii qui volunt transire ad vos, non possunt, nec huc transmeare (Luke 16:26). There is a gret chaos (that is a grete myrkenesse to sai) is bitwix us and yow, that we moun not come to you ne yee to us. This myrke image in thi soule and in myn also mai be callid a greet chaos, for it letteth us that we moun not come to Abraham, whiche is Jhesu, and it letteth him that he wole not come to us.
What cometh of the merkenese of the image of synne and what cometh bi the wyndowes thereof.
Lifte up this lanterne and see in this ymage fyve wyndowis bi the whiche synne cometh into thi soule, as the prophete seith: Mors ingreditur per fenestras nostras (Jeremiah 9:21). Deeth cometh in bi oure [fol. 73r]wyndowes. Thise wyndowes aren oure fyve wittes, bi the whiche oure soule gooth out from himsilf and sicheth his delite and his feedynge in ertheli thynges, ayens his owen kynde: as bi the sight, for to se corious and faire thynges; bi the eere, for to heere wondres and newe tydynges; and so of the othere wittis. Bi unskilful usynge of thise wittes into vanyté wilfulli, the soule is moche letted from the goostli wittys withinne; therfore the bihoveth stoppe the wyndowis and spere hem, but oonli whanne nede asketh for to open hem. And that were litil maistrie yif though myghttest oones see thi soule bi cleer undirstondynge, what it is, and hou faire it is in his owen kynde, ne were that it is overleid with a blaak cloude of this foule ymage.
That a soule for defaute of knowynge of hitsilf wendith out bi the fyve wittes for to sek liking outward.
But now for thou knowest it not, therfore thou levest the inli sight of thisilf and sekest thi mete from withoutin as a beest unresonable. Thus seith oure Lord to a chosen soule in hooli writ: Si ignoras te, o pulcra inter mulieres, egredere et abi post vestigia gregum sodalium tuorum, et pasce edos tuos (Canticle 1:7). Thou faire amonge women, if thou knowe not thisilf, goo oute and walke aftir the steppis of the flok of thyne felawes and feede thy kedis. And it is thus moche for to seie: Thou soule faire in kynde, maad to thee likenesse of God, freel as [fol. 73v]woman in thi bodi for thi first synne, bicause that thou knowist not thisilf, that aungels foode schulde be thi delites withinne, therfore thou goost out bi thi bodili wittes and sekest thi mete and thi likynge as a beest of the flook, that is, as oon of the reproved; and therwith thou fedist thi thoughtes and thyn affecciouns, whiche aren unclene as kides.
This is a schame to thee for to do so. And therfore turne ayen hom into thisilf, and holde thee withinne and seke no more withouten, and nameli swynes mete; for yif thou algate be a beggere, aske and crave withinne of thi Lord Jhesu, for he is riche inow, curtais and free inow, and gladliere wole yyve thanne thou wolt aske. And renne no more out as a beest of the flook, as a wordli man or woman that hath no nothir delite but in his bodili wittes. And yif thou do thus, thy Lord Jhesu wole yyve thee al that thee nedeth, for he mai lede thee into his wyne seler and make thee to assaie of his wynes, for he hath many tonnes, whiche thee liketh best. Thus a chosen soule, joiynge in holi writ, seith to oure Lord: Introduxit me rex in cellam vinariam (Canticle 2:4). A kynge ledde me into his wyne seeler. And that is for to sai: In as moche as I forsook the dronkennesse of flesschli lustes and wordli likynges, whiche aren [fol. 74r]bittere as wormode, forthi the kynge of blisse, oure Lord Jhesu ledde me in; that is to saie, first into mysilf for to biholde and knowe mysilf, and aftir he ladde me into his seler, that is to seie, above mysilf bi overpassynge oonli into hym, and yaf me assaie of his wyne, that is to saie, a taast and a liknesse of goostli swettenesse and heveneli joie. Thise aren not wordes of me, a wrecchid caitif lyvynge in synne, but thei aren the wordes of the spouse of oure Lord in hooli writte. And thise wordes I seie to thee, that thou myght drawe in thi soule fro withoutin and folwe aftir as as thou may.
That the hoole of ymaginacion nedeth to be stopped, als wel as the wyndowes of the wittes.
But now seist thou, that thou doost soo. Thu seist thou hast no wordeli thinges, ne heerist, ne hast noon use of the bodili wittes more thanne nede asketh, and forthi thou art enclosid. As to this I seie: Yif thou doo thus, thanne hast thou stopped a grete wyndowe of this image. But yit art thou not siker, for thou hast not stopped the privey hoolis of this image in thyn herte. For though thou see not me with thi bodili iye, thou may see me with thi soule bi imaginacioun; and so mai thou doo of alle othere bodili thinges. Than yif thi soule be feed wilfulli bi imagynynge in vanitees of the world, in desirynge of wordeli thynge for a wilful comfort and delite, sothli though [fol. 74v]thi soule be withinne as for thi bodili wittes it is neverthelees ful feer withoute bi sich veyn ymaginacion.
But now askist thou for it be ony gret synne, a soule for to occupie him in sich vanytees, eithir in wittis or in ymagynynge. As unto this I wolde thou schuldest nevere aske no man this questioun, for he that loveth God or wole love soothfastli, he askith not whethir this is gretter synne. For him schal thenke what thynge letteth hym fro the love of God is gret synne, and hym schal thenke no synne but that thynge that is not good and letteth him fro the love of God. What is synne but a wantynge and a forberynge of God? I seie not that it schal be peynful to hym as a deedli synne or a venial schulde be, ne I seie not but that hee knowe deedli from a venyal.
Whanne the use of the wittes and of the imaginacioun is deedli synne, and whanne venyal.
Neverethelees, sumdeel schal y seie to thi questioun, for thi desire draweth oute of myn herte more thanne I thought for to have seid in the bigynnynge. Oure Lord seith in the goospel thus: Homo quidam fecit cenam magnam et vocavit multos. Et misit servum suum dicere invitatis ut venirent. Primus dixit: Villam emi; rogo te, habe me excusatum. Secundus dixit: Iuga boum emi quinque, et eo probare ea. Et tercius dixit: Uxorem duxi, et ideo non possum venire (Luke 14:16-20). A man made a gret sopeer and called many therto, and sent [fol. 75r]his servaunt at sopeer tyme to hem that weren praied. The first excuside hym that he myght not come, for he hadde bought a toun; the tothir also excuside hym that he myght not come, for he hadde bought fyve yokkes of oxsen and yeede for to assaie hem; the thridde excusid hym for he hadde wedded a wif. I leve for to speke of the firste and of the laste, and telle the myddel, of hym that boughte the oxen.
Thise fyve yokkes of oxen bitoken the fyve wittes, whiche aren beesteli, as an oxe. Now this man that was callid to the sopeer was not reproved for he boughte the oxen, but for he yeede for to assaie hem, and so he wolde not come. Right so y seie to thee, for to have thy wittes and use hem in nede, it is no synne; but yif thou goo for to assaie hem bi veyn delite in creaturis, thanne it is synne. For yif thou chese that delite as a fynal reste of thi soule and as a ful likynge, that thou kepist noon nother blisse have but sich othir wordli vanyté, thanne it is deedli synne. For thou chesist it as thi God, and so schal thou be putte fro the sopeer. For the wise man forbeed us that we schulde not assaie oure wittes so, whanne he seide thus: Non eatis post concupiscentias vestras (Ecclesiasticus 18:30). Thou schalt not goo aftir thi lustes, ne wilfulli assaie thyn likynges. A man or a woman that is encombred with deedli synnes schal not ascape deedli synne in this, though he see it not; but I hope that it toucheth not thee. Neverethelees, yif thou bi freelté delite the in thi wittes and [fol. 75v]in sich vanyté, but with that, thou kepist thee in charité in othir sides, and thou chesist not that delite for a ful reste of thi soule, but thou settest ai God bifore al thyng in thi desire, this synne is venyal, aftir the circumstaunces more or lasse. Ne thou schalt not for thise venyal synnes be putte fro the sopeer in the blisse of hevene, but thou schal wante the tastynge and the assaiynge of that delicat sopeer lyvynge in erthe, but yif thou be bisie with alle thi myghtes for to ayenstonde sich venyal synnes. For though it be soo that venial synnes breketh not charité, soothli thei lette the fervour and the goostli felynge of charité.
Hou an ankir schal have hir to hem that comen to hir.
But now seist thou that thou mai not kepe thee from heerynge of vanytees, for divers worldli men and othere that comen ofte tyme for to speke with thee, and telle the sumtyme talis of vanité. As unto this y seie thus, that comenynge with thyn evene Cristene is not moche ayens thee, but helpith thee sumtyme yif thou worche visili. For thou mai assaie therbi the mesure of thi charité to thyn evene Cristene, whethir hit be moche or litil. Thou art bounden, as eche man or woman is, to love thyn evene Cristene principali in thyn herte, and also in deede for to schewe hym tokenes of charité as resoun asketh, up thi myght and up thi knowing.
Now syn it is so that thou owest not to goo oute [fol. 76r]of thyn hous for to seche occasioun how thou myght profite thyn evene Cristene bi deedis of merci, for thou art inclose, neverethelees thou art bounden for to love hem alle in thyn herte, and to hem that comen to thee for to schewe hem tokenes of love sothfastli. And therfore whoso wole speke with thee, what that he be, or in what degree that he be, and thou knowe not what he is, ne whi that he cometh, be soone redi with a good wille for to wite what his wille is. Be not daungerous, ne suffre him stonde longe for to abide thee, but loke hou redi and hou glaad thou wolde be yif an angel of hevene wolde come and speke with thee. Soo redi and so buxum be thou in wille for to speke with thyn even Cristene whanne he cometh to thee. For thou wost not what he is, ne what he wolde, ne what nede he hath to thee, ne thou of hym, til thou have assaied hym.
And though thou be in preiere or in devocioun, that thee thenketh looth for to breeke of, for thee thenketh thou schuldest not leve God for mannys speche, me thenketh it is not so in this caas; for yif thou be wise, thou schal not leve God, but thou schal fynde hym and have hym and see him in thyn evene Cristene as wel as in praiere. Yif thou coude wel love thyn evene Cristene, but schulde not hyndre thee for to speke with hem discretli. Discrecioun schalt thou have upoun this manere as me thenketh. Whoso [fol. 76v]cometh to thee, aske hym mekeli what he wole; and yif he come to telle his disese and to be comfortid of thi speche, heere him glaadli, and suffre him to seie what he wole for ese of his owen herte. And whanne he hath doon, comforte hym goodli and charitabli, and sone breke of. And thanne aftir, yif he wole falle into idel tales or vanytees, or of othere mennys deedis, ansuere hym not but litil, ne feede not his speche; and he schal soone be irke and sone take his leve.
Yif it be anothir man that cometh to knowe thee, as a man of holi chirche, heere hym loweli with reverence for his ordre, and yif his speche comforte thee, aske of hym, and make thee not for to teche hym. For it falleth not to thee for to teche a preest, but in nede. Yif his speche comforte thee not, answere but litil, and he wole soone goo his wai. Yif it be anothir man that cometh for to yyve his almasse or ellis for to heere thee speke, or for to be knowen of the, speke mekeli and goodli to him withal. Repreve no man of his defautis; it falleth not to thee, but yif he be the more hoomli with thee, that thou wite wel that he wole not take it agreef. And schorteli for to seie, as moche as thou conceyvest that schulde profite thyn evene Cristene goostli, mai thou seie yif thou can and he wil take it. And of alle thynges kepe silence as moche as thou mai, and thou schal have litil prees in schort tyme that schal lette thee. Thus thenketh me; doo betere yif thou mai.
[fol. 77r]Of the myrke image of synne and of the clothinge therof.
Bi this that y have seide mai thou see a litil the myrkenesse of this ymage; nought for y have discreyed it to thee for fulli as it is, can y not. Neverthelees bi this litil mai thou see the more yif thou loke weel. But now seist thou: “Wherbi knowest thou that I bere siche an ymage aboute with me as thou spekest of?” As unto this I answere: y mai take upoun me a word of the prophete, and is this: Inveni idolum michi (Hosea 12:8) This is thus mykil to seie, I have founden a fals ymage, that men calle a mawmet, in mysilf, wel foule disfigured and forschapen with wrecchidnesse of alle thise synnes whiche I have spoken of, bi the whiche I am cast doun into many wrecchidnessis more thanne y can or mai seie; that me thenketh yvel fore and repente and crie merci. Bi this wrecchidnesse that y feele in mysilf, moche more than I have seide, mai I the betere telle thee of thyne image. For alle comen we of Adam and of Eve, cloothid with clothis of a beestis hide, as hooli writt seith of oure Lord thus: Fecit dominus Ade et uxori eius tunicas pelliceas (Genesis 3:21). Oure Lord maade to Adam and to his wif clothis of a beestis hide, in tokene that for synne he was forschapen like to a beest; with whiche beestli clothis we alle aren born, and umbilapped and disfigured from oure kyndeli schaap.
Whiche aren the lymes of the ymage of synne.
Thanne is this an [fol. 77v]uggli ymage for to loke upon. The heed is pride, for pride is principal and the firste synne, as the wise man seith: Inicium omnis peccati superbia (Ecclesiasticus 10:15). The bigynnynge of al maner synne is pride. The baak and the hyndre part of it is coveitise, as Seynt Poul seith: Que retro sunt obliviscens, in anteriora me extendam (Philippians 3:13). I schal foryete alle wordli thynges whiche aren bakward, and I schal strike me forward to endelees thynges. The brest, in whiche is the herte, is envie, for it is noo fleischli synne, but it is a develis synne, as the wise man seith: Invidia diaboli mors intravit in orbem terrarum. Imitantur illum omnes qui ex parte eius sunt (Wisdom 2:24-25). Bi envie of the devil deeth com into al the world; forthi al thoo that aren of his part folwen hym thereinne. The armes of it aren wraththe, in as moche as a man wreketh hym with his armes of his wraththe, ayens Cristis forbedynge in the gospel: Si quis percusserit te in unam maxillam, prebe sibi et alteram (Matthew 5:39). Yif a man smyte thee upon the ton cheke with his hond, thou schalt not smyte hym ayen, but offre hym that othir cheke. The beli of this image is glotonye, as Seynt Poul seith: Esca ventri, et venter escis; deus hunc et has destruet (1 Corinthians 6:13). Mete serveth to the beli, and the beli serveth for to gete mete; but God schal distroie bothe the beli and the mete. That schal be in the laste ende, in the ful[fol. 78r]le reformynge of chosene, and in the demynge of the reproved. The membris of hit aren leccherie, of the whiche Seynt Poul seith thus: Non exhibeatis membra vestra arma iniquitatis ad peccatum (Romans 6:13). Yee schullen not yyve youre membres, speciali youre pryvé membres, to be armes to synne. The feet of this ymage aren accidie, and therfore the wise man seith to the slowe for to stire him to goode werkis thus: Discurre, festina, suscita amicum tuum (Proverbs 6:3). That is to seie, renne quykli aboute to good werkes, and haste thee swithe, for the tyme passeth; and reise up thi freend, whiche is Jhesu, bi devoute praier and meditacioun.
Whereof the image of Jhesu is maad, and the ymage of synne and hou we aren passynge forth by the image of synne.
This is not the ymage of Jhesu, but it is likere an image of the devyl; for the ymage of Jhesu is maad of vertues with mekenesse, parfite love, and charité. But this ymage is off fals fleschli luste to thisilf, with alle thise membris festned therto. This ymage berist thou aboute, and eche man, what that he be, until bi the grace of Jhesu it be sumdel destroied and broken doun. Thus it semeth that David seith in the sautier: Verumptamen in ymagine pertransit homo; sed et frustra conturbatur (Psalms 38:7). This is for to seie, though it so were that a man were maad in the bigynnynge to the ymage of God, stable and stidefast, neveretheles bicause of synne he firste [fol. 78v]passith lyvynge in this world, in this image of synne, bi the whiche he is unstable and trobiled in veyn. Also Seynt Poule speketh of this ymage thus: Sicut portavimus ymaginem terreni hominis, sic portemus ymaginem celestis hominis (1 Corinthians 15:49). That is to seie, yif we wolen come to the love of God, as we have bore bifore the ymage of the ertheli man, that is of the first Adam, that is this ymage of synne, right so now that we myght bere the ymage of the heveneli man Jhesu, whiche is the image of vertues.
What schalt thou thanne doo with this ymage of synne? Unto this I answere thee bi the word that the Jewes seiden to Pilat of Crist: Tolle, tolle, crucifige eum! (John 19:15). Take this bodi of synne and doo hym on the cros, that is for to seie, breke doun this image and slee the fals love of synne in thisilf. As Cristis bodi was slayn for oure trespace, right so thee bihoveth, yif thou wole be like to Crist, slee thi bodili feelynge and fleschli luste in thisilf. Thus seid Seynt Poul: Qui autem Christi sunt, carnem suam crucifixerunt cum viciis et concupiscenciis (Galatians 5:24). Ye that aren Cristis folweres have crucified and slayn here fleisch, that is the image of synne, with alle the lustis and the unskilful likynges of it.
Slee thanne and breke doun pride and sette up mekenesse; also breke doun ire and envie and reise up love and charité to thyn even Cristene; also in stide of coveitise, poverté in spirite; in stide [fol. 79r]of accidie, fervour of devocioun with a glaad redynesse to alle good deedes; and in stide of glotonye and leccherie. sobirté and chastité in bodi and in soule. Thus counceileth Seynt Poul whanne he seid thus: Deponentes veterem hominem cum suis actibus, qui corrumpitur secundum desideria erroris; et induite novum hominem, qui secundum deum creatus est in sanctitate et iusticia (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Ye schal put doun the olde man, that is the ymage of the olde Adam with alle his membris, for he is roten in desires of errour, and ye schal schape you and clothe you in a newe man, whiche is the ymage of God, bi holynesse and rightwisenesse and fulheed of vertues. Who schal helpe the to breke doun this ymage? Sothli thi Lorde Jhesu. In the vertue and in the name of hym schal thou breke doun the mawmet of synne. Prai hym bisili, and desire, and he schal helpe thee.
What profite cometh of the kepynge of the herte, and hou moche the soule is.
Gadere thanne thyn herte togidre and doo aftir the conceile of the wise man, whanne he seith thus: Omni custodia serva cor tuum, quoniam ex ipso procedit vita (Proverbs 4:23). With al thi bisinesse kepe thyn herte, for out of it cometh liyf; and that is soth whanne it is wel kepid, for thanne wise thoughtes, clene affeccions, and brennynge desires of vertues and of charité and of the blisse of hevene comen oute of it, and maketh the soule for to lyve a blissid lif. Also upoun the contrarie wise, yif it [fol. 79v]be not wel kepid, thanne as oure Lord seith in the gospel: De corde exeunt cogitaciones male, que coinquinant hominem (Matthew 15:19-20). Badde thoughtes and unclene affeccions comen oute of the herte, the whiche filen a man, as oure Lord seith. Thei owthere bynemen the liyf of the soule bi deedli synne, or ellis thei feble the soule and maketh it seek, yef thei ben venial. For what is a man but hise thoughtes and his loves? Thise maken a man oonli good or badde. As moche as thou lovest thi God and thyn even Cristene and knowest hym, so moche is thi soule; and if thou litil love hym, litil is thi soule; and yif thou nought love hym, nout is thi soule. It is nought as for good, but it is moche as for synne. And yif thou wolt wite what thou lovest, loke whereupoun thou thenkest; for where thi love is, there is thyne iye; and where thy likynge is, there is most thyn herte thynkynge. Yif thou moche love God, the liketh to thenke moche upon hym. Rule wel thi thoughtes and thyne affeccions, and thanne art thou vertuous.
Hou the ymage of synne schal be broken doun.
Bigyn thanne on, and breke this image. Whanne thou hast inwardli bithought thee of thisilf and of thi wrecchidnesse as I have seid—how proud, hou veyn, how envious, how malicious, how covetous, and how fleischli and how ful of corrupcioun; also of how litil knowynge, felynge, or savour thou hast in God; how wise, how quyk, and [fol. 80r]how moche savour thou hast in ertheli thynges; and schorteli that thee thenketh thee as ful of synne as the hide is ful of fleisch—be thou not adreed to moche, yif thee thenketh so of thisilf. And whanne thou hast don thus, lift up thi desire and thyn herte to thi Lord Jhesu Crist, and prey hym of helpe. Crie to him bi greet desire and sighynges, that he wole helpe thee to breke the charge of this veyn image, or elles that he wole breke it. Thenke also that sich a schame it is to thee to be feed with swynes mete of fleischli savouris, that schuldest feele a goostli savour of heveneli joie. Yif thou doo thus, thanne bigynnest thou for to arise ayen the hool ground of synne in thee; and it mai so be that thou schal feele peyne and sorwe, for thou schalt undirstonde that there mai no soule lyve withoute greet peyne, but he have reste and delite in his creatour or in his creaturis.
Thanne whanne thou arisest ayens thisilf bi a fervent disire to feele of thi Lord Jhesu, and for to drawe thi love from al bodili thinge, in so moche that thou art encombred of thisilf and thee thenketh that alle cratures risen ayen thee and alle thynge whiche thou hadde delite in bifore turneth thee to peyne; and whanne thou forsakest thus thisilf and thou mai fynde no confort in God: nedelynges thi soule schal suffre peyne. Nevertheles, I hope whoso wolde suffre this peyne awhile, stidefastli clevynge upon that desire that [fol. 80v]he wolde have not but his Lord Jhesu, and falle not lightli therfro ne seeke no confort outward for a tyme, for it lasteth not longe, oure Lord is neer and soone schal eese thyn herte. For he wole helpe thee to bere thi bodi ful of corrupcioun, and he wole breke doun this image of love in thisilf; not al at oonys but litil and litil, til thou be sumdel reformed to his liknesse.
How a man schal have hym ayens stirynges of pride and of alle othere vices.
Aftir sich an hool risynge ayen thisilf, whanne it is passid thou schal the more sobirli and more esili rule thisilf and sette thee more saadli for to kepe thisilf and thi thoughtes in thyne affecciouns, for to knowe hem whethir thei ben good or badde. Thanne yif thou feele a stirynge of pride, or ony othir spice of it, be soone waar yif thou mai, and suffre hit not lightli passe awai, but take in thi mynde and rende it, breke it and dispice it, and doo al the schame that thou mai therto. Loke that thou spare it not, ne trowe it not, speke he nevere so faire, for it is fals though it seme sooth, as the prophete seith: Popule meus, qui beatum te dicunt ipsi te decipiunt, et in errorem te ducunt (Isaiah 3:12). This is to saie thus: Thou man of my peple, thei that seyn thou art blissid and holi, thei bigile thee and brynge thee into errour. And yif thou doo ofte thus bisili, thou schalt bi grace of Jhesu withinne schort tyme stoppe moche of the [fol. 81r]spryng of pride and moche abate the veyn delite therof, that thou schal unnethis fele it. And whanne thou felest it, it schal be so weyke, and as it were neerhande deed, that it schal not moche deere thee. And thanne schalt thou mow have a goostli sight of mekenesse, hou good and hou faire it is, and thou schalt desire it and love it for the goodnesse of itsilf, that thee schal like for to biholde as thou art, and yif nede be for to suffre gladli dispite and reprof for the love of rightwisenesse. Upon the self maner whanne thou feelist stirynges of ire, and malicious risynge of herte, or overmoche yvel wil ayens thyn even Cristene for ony maner of cause, though it seme resonable and for charité, bewaar of it and be redi with thi thought for to refreyne it, that hit turne not into fleschli appetite. Ayenstonde it, and folwe hit not neither in word ne in deede, as moche as thou mai, but as he riseth smyte him doun ayen; and so schalt thou slee it with the swerd of drede of God, that it schal not dere thee. For wite thou wel in alle thise stirynges of pride, envie, veynglorie, or ony othir, that as sone that thou perceyvest it, and with displesynge of thi wille and of thi resoun thou ayenstondist it, thou sleest it, though it so be that it cleve stille upon thyn herte ayens thi wille, and wole not lightli passe awai. Drede it not; for it letteth thi soule from pees, but it defouleth not thi soule. Right so upon the same wise schalt thou [fol. 81v]doo ayens alle yvele stirynges of covetise, accidie, glotonye, and leccherie, that thou schal be ay redi with thy reson and with thi wille for to reprove hem and despice hem.
What thynge helpith most a mannys knowynge, and geteth him that hym wanteth, and distroieth synne in hym.
And thanne mai thou doo the more redili and betere, yif thou be besi for to sette thyn herte most upon oon thyng. And that thyng is not ellis but a gosteli desire to God for to love him, for to knowe hym, for to see hym, for to have him heer bi grace in a litil felynge, and in the blisse of hevene a ful beynge. This desire, yif thou kepe, it schal wele telle thee whiche is synne and whiche is noon, and whiche is good and whiche is bettere good. And if thou wilt festyn thi thought therto, it schal teche thee al that thee nedeth, and it schal gete thee al that thee wanteth. And therfore, whanne thou schal arise ayens the ground of synne in general, or ellis ayens ony special synne, hange faste upon this desire and sette the poynt of thi thought more upon God whom thou desirest thanne upon the synne whiche thou reprovest; for yif thou doo so, thanne feighteth God for the and he schal destroie the synne in thee. Thou schalt moche sonnere come to thi purpos yif thou soo doo thanne yif thou lose this felynge and this meke desire to God principali, and wole sette thyn herte oonli ayen stirynge of synne, as [fol. 82r]thou woldest destroie it by maistrie of thisilf. Thou schalt nevere brynge it so aboute.
Hou a man schal be schapen to the image of Jhesu, and Jhesu schapen in hym.
But doo as I have seid, and betere yif thou may, and I hope bi grace of Jhesu thou schal make the devel aschamed, and alle sich wickid stirynges thou schalt breke adoune, that thei schal not moche dere the. And upon this maner wise mai this image of synne be broken doun and destroied in thee, bi the whiche thou art forschapen fro the kyndeli schap of the ymage of Crist. And thanne schalt thou be schapin ayen to the ymage of Jhesu bi mekenesse and charité; and thanne schalt thou be ful schapen to the image of God, heere lyvynge bi a schadewe in contemplacion, and in the blis of hevene be ful sothfastnesse.
Of this schapynge to the ful liknesse of Crist speketh Seynt Poul thus: Filioli, quos iterum parturio, donec Christus formetur in vobis (Galatians 4:19). Mi dere children, whiche y bere as a woman berith a child, unto Crist be ayen schapen in you. Thou hast conceived Crist bi truthe, and he hath liyf in thee in as moche as thou hast a good wille for to serve hym and please hym, but he is not yit ful schapen in thee, ne thou in him bi fulheed of charité. And therfore Seynt Poul baar me and thee and othere also with traveile, as a woman bereth a child, unto the tyme that Crist hath his ful schap in us and [fol. 82v]we in hym.
Whoso weneth for to come to the workyng and to the ful use of contemplacioun and not bi this way, that is for to sai not bi fulheed of vertues, he cometh not in bi the dore, and therfore as a theef he schal be caste out. I seie not but that a man bi yifte of God mai have bi tymes a taastynge and a glymerynge of lif contemplatif, sum man in the bigynnynge, but the saad feelynge of hit schal he not have. For Criste is the doore and porter, and withoute his leve and his lyveray mai there no man come in, as he seith hymsilf: Nemo venit ad patrem nisi per me (John 14:6). No man cometh to the Fadir but bi me. That is for to seie, no man mai come to the contemplacion of the godheed but he be first reformed bi fulhed of mekenesse and charitee to the liknesse of Jhesu in his manhede.
Hereinne is told the cause whi this writynge is maad, and hou sche schal have hire in the redynge that it was maad unto.
Lo, I have tolde thee a litil, as me thenketh, first of contemplacioun, what it is, and sithen of the weies that bi grace leden therto. Not for I have it in felynge and in worchynge as I have it in seiynge; nevertheles I wolde bi thise wordes, siche as thei aren, first stire myn owen necgligence for to doon betere than I have doon, and also my purpos is for to stire thee or ony othir man or woman that hath take the staat of contemplatif liyf for to traveile more bisili and more [fol. 83r]mekeli in that maner of lif bi siche simple wordes as God hath yyven me grace for to seie. And therfore yif ony word be thereinne that stireth or conforteth thyn herte more to the love of God, thanke God, for it is his yift and not of the word. And yif it conforteth thee nought, or ellis thou takest it not redeli, studie not to longe theraboute, but lei hit biside thee til anothir tyme, and yyve thee to praier or to othir occupacion. Take it as it wole come, and not al at onys.
Also thise wordes that I write, take hem not to streiteli, but there as the thenketh bi good avysement that I speke to schorteli, oithir for lackynge of Ynglisch or wantynge of resoun, I prey thee mende it there nede is oonli. Also thise wordis that y write to thee longen not alle to oon man whiche hath actif lif, but to thee or to anothir whiche hath the staat of liyf comtemplatif.
grace of oure Lord Jhesu Crist be with the. Amen.
 thyne. C: the.
 desirynge. C: yernyng.
 brennynge. C adds: love.
 maner. C: matier.
 oute. C omits.
 good. Inserted above the line; C omits.
 name. C adds: of.
 phalmynge. For the spelling, see MED under psalm(e), n.
 bigynnyng. MS: bigynnyg.
 deerkenesse. C: merkenes.
 contynueli it. C: it comunly.
 alle. Inserted above the line.
 by. C: be.
 it. C omits.
 from biholdinge of oure Lord Jhesu Crist and. C omits.
 yif. C: thogh.
 dere. C: hyndre.
 biginnynge. C adds: when it comes.
 the. C adds: comforth or.
 God. C adds: schewed eithir.
 love of. C: lovyng.
 a. C: bodily.
 ernest. C: erls.
 blisse. C adds: of heven.
 visited whanne sche was. C omits.
 legend. C: historie.
 for to love and. C omits.
 blisse. C adds: gostly.
 goostli that he desireth. C: that this desire is.
 he desireth. C: the desire is.
 fro stable mynde of Jhesu Crist, and. C omits.
 hym. C: Jhesu.
 revelacion. C adds: by an aungel.
 thynge. C: felinge.
 felinge. C omits.
 sette not to mykil. C: thou schalt noght cleve the thoght of.
 hem. C adds: but thou schalt foryete hem if thou myght.
 knowe. C adds: and fele.
 thise. C adds: foure.
 of. C adds: alle.
 bravium. C adds: thus mykel is this for to sey.
 hyndward. C adds: or bakward.
 unto. C: out.
 alle. MS: alld or alls; C: alle.
 it. C adds: is or.
 he. C: if it.
 bi strengthe and. C: only by.
 swete. C omits.
 into. C adds: verrey.
 renne. C adds: out.
 thorugh stedefaste trouthe and bisi biholdynge on Jhesu Crist in praieres and in othir good werkes. C omits.
 felynge of hym. C: knowyng of God.
 helpe. Following helpe MS has yng inserted above the line; C: helpe.
 knowynge. MS: knowyge.
 here. Inserted above the line; C omits.
 of love. C omits.
 no. C omits.
 and. C adds: Seint.
 in tokenynge and. C omits.
 thorugh devoute biholdynge on his manhede and his mekenesse. C omits.
 as. C adds: Seint.
 hath. C adds: it.
 herte. MS: hte; C: hert.
 in. C adds: alle.
 have drede. C: adred of felyng.
 ne of the feelynge of hem. C omits.
 and worschipe. C omits.
 hope. C: trouth.
 this. C adds: trouth and in this.
 or. C adds: elles.
 and hope. C omits.
 oure Lord Jhesu Crist. C: hym.
 bodili or. C omits.
 thy Lord Jhesu Crist. C: God.
 prikke. C: hamere.
 to. C adds: stirte and.
 into inwarde biholdynge of Jhesu Crist bi praieres or. C omits.
 bi. C: to.
 dede or. C omits.
 fro alle maner of unclennesse. C omits.
 felynge. C: knowyng.
 thi Lord Jhesu Crist. C: God.
 praier. MS: praien; C: preyere.
 ony erthly. C: a bodily.
 erthli. C: bodily.
 Jhesu Crist as yif thu were in his presence. C: God.
 as he is in his godhede. C omits.
 thorugh devout biholdynge of his precious manhede. C omits.
 of his godhede. C omits.
 his goostli presence. C: God.
 of thi mynde. C omits.
 praier. C: it.
 matier. C: maner.
 of. C: and.
 best. A preceding the has been erased.
 bigynnynge. MS: bigynnyge.
 to. MS: to to.
 him. C adds: umwhile [in] his bodie.
 it. MS: hit with h expunged.
 smert. C: scharp.
 ligna. MS: lingua; C: ligna.
 This reste oure Lord yeveth to summe of hise servauntis, as it were for a reward of here traveyle and a shadwe of the love whiche thei shullen have in the blisse of hevene. Inserted from margin in a different hand; C omits.
 fynde. C: fele.
 with gret conpunccioun and with plenté of teeris. C omits.
 Jhesu Crist. C omits.
 to come to. C: into.
 Jhesu Crist in his. C: the.
 come. C adds: comunly.
 comtemplacioun. An unusual spelling, but see also comtemplatif in 1.92 and compare the scribe’s common variation confort/comfort.
 and bi stable trouthe and stidefaste mynde. C omits.
 oure. C adds: Lord.
 oonli. C omits.
 for thei trowed not fulli that Jhesu man was God. C omits.
 a litil. C omits.
 maner of. C omits.
 putten al hire trust in oure Lord Jhesu Crist and bringe thanne to mynde his passioun and his peynes that he suffrede, and that thei. C omits.
 litil. C omits.
 with a nakid trouthe and stidefaste mynde of Jhesu Crist, so. C omits.
 foulen. C: filen.
 good. C omits.
 uncouth. C adds: or worldly.
 that is to seie to noon unkunnynge man and worldli. C omits.
 stond stifli in hope and. C omits.
 Jhesu Crist. Written following an expunged God.
 bigynne. C adds: a new gamen and.
 whanne God wole yive it. Inserted from margin; C omits.
 him. C: home.
 inne. C adds: and I hope an heghe plein wey, als mykel as may lye in mannes werk to contemplacioun.
 of synne. C omits.
 clennesse. C: dignité.
 al. C adds: thyng.
 fro that clennesse. C: that joye.
 oure Lord Jhesu Crist. C: God.
 ne have hoomlinesse of his gracious presence. C omits.
 out. Marginal gloss: or to drawe up; C: up.
 love. C adds: and felyng of hymself.
 of alle ertheli creatures, and from veyn love of himsilf. C omits.
 schulde. C adds: mo.
 and in the hoomli presence. C omits.
 Jhesu. C: God.
 hate. C adds: alle.
 the likynge of. C: his bodily felyng for.
 my manhede and of my godhede. C: me.
 narwe. C adds: that no bodily thyng may passe thorogh it.
 derkenesse. C: merknes.
 of God. God added above the line; C omits of God.
 and. MS: an.
 so. C omits.
 saaf. C adds: yee and thou schalt be saufe.
 by. C: and.
 hemself. Added in margin: From this to the ende of this chapitille is more than othere bookys have. (the scibe’s notice of the so-called Holy Name passage).
 Jhesu. C: savacioun.
 for there may no man be saaf but yif he love savacion oonli, for to have it thorugh that blissid persone Jhesu bi the mekenesse of his manhede and by the merite of his passioun. C omits.
 in. C adds: the blis of.
 are. C adds: in this life inperfite and are.
 of the firste makynge. C omits.
 Crist, that blissid persoone, God and man, son of Marie, that glorious virgyne that is. C omits.
 love and to plese. C omits.
 othir. C omits.
 thorugh light of Goddis grace. C omits.
 into. C: of.
 ertheli. C omits.
 thynge. C adds: that is made.
 anoynted. C adds: in Jhesu.
 and comfortid thorugh gracious presence of oure Lord Jhesu Crist. C omits.
 the mynde and. C omits.
 thi Lord Jhesu Crist, that blissid maidenys sone. C: Jhesu.
 his godhede. C: him.
 joie. C adds: non othere.
 to be with hym wharso he is and to see hym and love hym. C omits.
 a litil his goostli presence. C: him.
 and wolt no more seken aftir hym but. C: bot foryete that thou has founden and.
 in his joie. C omits.
 blisse; C adds: of lovyng.
 praiers and of. C omits.
 love. C omits.
 myghte not seen of his godhede. C: see ryght noght of him.
 ony. C omits.
 his grace and of his merciful presence. C: him.
 hym. C: that desire.
 bi thi desire. C: it.
 in thi praieres and in thy meditacions the homli and the merciful presence of thi Lord Jhesu Crist in thi mynde. C omits.
 from hym. C: therfro.
 hym. C: it.
 as he sought thee. C omits.
 and. MS: and erased; C: and.
 the dragme. C omits.
 lost. C adds: that is for to sey the dragme.
 into biholdynge of Jhesu Crist. C omits.
 bi hym (for he is light). C omits.
 that is yif thou may in cleernesse and clennesse of conscience fele the hoomli and the peesful presence of Jhesu Crist mercifulli schewande hym to the face of thi soule. C omits.
 glymerynge. C adds: of him.
 betere. MS: betetere.
 lyveré. C: lovers; on C’s erroneous reading, see Clark, p. 175n218.
 lyveré. C: lovere.
 of. MS: of of.
 lyveré. C: lovers.
 upon thi Lord Jhesu oonly, the grace and the presence, the techynge and the comfort of thi Lord Jhesu Crist. C: only Jhesu.
 with stable mynde of Jhesu Crist with besinesse in praieres. C omits.
 sekest. Following sekest MS has expunged: but oonli a nakid mynde of his name.
 steme. Some MSS (not C) have stien (“ascend”), which makes better sense; see Clark, p. 176n232.
 ymage. MS: yma; C: ymage.
 lackynge. Marginal gloss: merknesse of consciens.
 God. C: gode (“good”), perhaps a more satisfactory reading; see Clark, p. 176n235.
 clensid and. C omits.
 Jhesu not oonli the nakid mynde of his name but thou schuldest fynde. C omits.
 bi hym. C omits.
 of hym. C omits.
 smoke. C: reke.
 nought. Marginal gloss: merknes of consciens.
 nought. Marginal gloss: merknes of consciens.
 not settynge the poynt of thi thought in that ilke nought but in Jhesu whiche thou desirest. C omits.
 nought. Marginal gloss: merknes of consciens.
 nought. Marginal gloss: merknes of consciens.
 nought. Marginal gloss: merknes of consciens.
 hominis. C omits.
 opyn. C: hole.
 he. C: nevertheles it.
 of. C adds: the first.
 felyng. An illegible mark after g may be a final e.
 unwarli. C omits.
 reste. C: end.
 doth so ne who. C omits.
 so. C omits.
 richere and highere than anothir. C: then othere.
 comaundement. MS: comaundedement.
 or. C adds: lese it eithere of.
 noithir. C omits.
 with. C omits.
 he dooth ayen that othir and so. C omits.
 Cristen. MS: Criste; C: Cristen.
 and so he synneth deedli. C omits.
 homni. sic MS.
 stille. C omits.
 evere. C omits.
 while he lyveth heere. C omits.
 it is sooth for. C omits.
 men. C adds: for that is soth.
 neer hande. C omits.
 that he deliteth inne. C: and.
 as. C: that he feles.
 god. C: gode.
 soule. C adds: whilk is synne.
 is. C: schal be.
 wolde. C adds: hold and.
 and helpe. C omits.
 as. C adds: doun principaly.
 also. C omits.
 men. C omits.
 myght for. C omits.
 religious. MS: religigious.
 grace and a. An attempt has been made to erase, but still clearly visible; C omits.
 speke of and. C omits.
 resoun. MS: rosoun.
 of. C: and.
 forsake. C adds: al manere of.
 ony. C omits.
 of. C adds: alle.
 God. C adds: more.
 the love of God. C: love.
 is it. C: it may be seid.
 prefinitum tempus. C: ad tempus prefinitum.
 prophete. C adds: at the last day.
 the. C adds: last.
 in thy sorte. C omits.
 worschip. C adds: in.
 this that I have seid. C: thise words.
 thorugh it. C: trowe hem.
 of the yifte of God as he or sche hath that dwelleth stille in the wordli besynesse. C: als fully and als perfitely as a worldly man or woman.
 dwellith. C adds: stille.
 or sche schal have. C: schal.
 have. C omits.
 wel. C adds: meke thiself and
 is. C adds: ryght.
 loke. C omits.
 to. C adds: destrue synnes and for to.
 holde thee. C omits.
 or disese thee. C omits.
 anguisch. C: angrynes and
 the persoones. C: hem.
 and. C adds: trewly.
 in. C adds: vertue of.
 mekenesse and. C omits.
 herte. C adds: despisyng, bakbityng, unskilfulle blamyng, misseying, unkyndnes, mislikyng, angrynes and hevynes.
 men. C adds: and othere.
 ponysschid. C adds: and chastised.
 wel. C adds: thou schalt fynd it summe tyme
 prechynge. MS: prchynge.
 kunne. C omits.
 and women. C omits.
 vestris. MS: vestrs.
 spiritum. C adds: sanctum.
 badde. C adds: to chosen and to reproved.
 resseyved. C adds: if he preche and teche Goddes worde he.
 chirche. C adds: if thei prechen.
 and. C adds: approve and.
 of. C adds: alle.
 hadde. C adds: alle manere of.
 ony. C adds: wrecched.
 he. C adds: sikerly.
 philosophie. C: philosophers he couthe noght do this; he schuld kun hate the synne of al othere men for he hates it in hymself, but he couthe noght love the man in charité for al his philosophie.
 of. C adds: alle.
 techynge. C: kennyng.
 wise. C adds: I sey that.
 y. C: thou then.
 mekenesse. C adds: at this tyme.
 visili. C: wisely.
 for ought that thei dooth ayens thee. Inserted from margin.
 maner of. Added above the line; C omits.
 cause. C: purpose.
 quenchid. C: slekned.
 wil. C omits.
 or bi feel. C omits.
 thyn herte in affeccioun and love. C: affeccioun of love in thi hert.
 persequentibus. C adds: et calumpniatibus.
 pursue. C adds: and sclaundren.
 goodli. C omits.
 was to. C: loved.
 Judas. C adds: whilk was bothe his dedly enmy and a synfulle caytif, how godely Crist was to hym.
 benynge. C: benigne.
 aposteles. C adds: he wesch his fete and fede hym with his preciouse bodie, and preched hym als he did to othere apostles.
 not. C adds: openly for it was pryvé, ne mysseid hym noght ne despised hym.
 nothynge. C omits.
 goodnes. C adds: and forthi it falles to hym to schewe love and godenes.
 Judas. C adds: I sey noght that Crist loved hym for his synne, ne he loved hym noght for his chosen as he did Seint Petre, bot he loved hym in als mykel as he was his creature and schewed hym tokens of love if he wold have ben amended thereby.
 lovere and a. C omits.
 maliciousli. C: malencolious.
 thisilf. MS: silf, with a preceding caret for an addition, but none is supplied.
 forsaken. C adds: clenly.
 traveiled. C adds: and trobled.
 in thyn herte and. C omits.
 gete it. C omits.
 for. C adds: to stryve and flite with hym for.
 pursue. C adds: for his godes.
 hyt. C adds: for itself.
 skilfulli. C adds: only for lust and likyng.
 love. C: ficche thi love upon.
 nedith. C adds: for itself.
 that. C adds: thyng that.
 it. C adds: more then kynde or nede asketh withouten whilk the thyng may not be used it.
 Soothli. C adds: in this poynt as I trow.
 and the likenesse. C omits.
 blyndid in this poynt. C: letted.
 his. C adds: love and his.
 the love of ony othir ertheli thynge. C: covetise of erthly gode.
 ellis. C omits.
 thee. C adds: that he loves noght for the.
 it be so moche that it strangle the love of God and of here even Cristen, sothely. Inserted from margin.
 thee. C: hem.
 or. C adds: avere of.
 me. C: my hert.
 and. C adds: bodily.
 sleuthe. C: accidie.
 more. C adds: likyng.
 Yif a man wolde oonli take mete and drynke as medicyn for sikenesse, he schulde kunne departe wel the luste from the nede. C omits.
 herte. C adds: that he wold in his hert.
 likynges. C adds: when thei comen.
 so that the dede be not yvel in the silf. C omits.
 God merci. C: aftere merci specialy.
 fleischli. C omits.
 foryyveth. C adds: swythe.
 ayens. MS: ayns.
 venial. C adds: synne.
 arise. C: travaile.
 and the. C: of.
 no. C omits.
 slee fleischli. C: flee.
 be. C adds: mykel.
 fulli. C: felly.
 delite. C: likyng.
 agrise. C: ugge.
 it. C adds: more soroe and.
 or lasse. C omits.
 synnes the lasse. C: lesse the lesse.
 hevy. C adds: peynfulle.
 of the gostli presence of Jhesu Crist. C omits.
 ayen. C adds: the ground thou schalt noght aryse as I have seid bifore for.
 that. C omits.
 or. C adds: bodily.
 thisilf. C: gode rewlyng of hymself.
 lust. C: love.
 generali. C: gladly.
 mete. C adds: as it comes.
 foryevenesse. C adds: and sey thou wilt amend it and trust of foryyvenes.
 and. MS: an.
 more and waxe. C: and kepe.
 hem. C adds: and if thou may gete hem.
 hevynesse. C adds: ne in lust ne in lyghtnes.
 grete. C: thik.
 chaos. C adds: a grete merknes.
 Lifte. C: Lyght.
 sight. C: eye.
 tydynges. C: thynges.
 cloude. C: mantel.
 outward. Written in margin; C omits.
 Lord. C adds: manassand.
 kedis. C: gaytes.
 kides. C: gayte.
 seke. MS: begge inserted over seke, apparently as an alternate reading; begge is found in other MSS; see Underhill, p. 193.
 withoute. forth added above the line; not in the chapter heading in the Table at the beginning of the book; not in C.
 seke. C: beg.
 curtais and free inow. C omits.
 dronkennesse. C: drynkes
 kynge. C: likyng.
 thus. C adds: as I hope thou dos.
 delite. C: an ese.
 loveth God or wole love soothfastli. C: wil sothfastly love God.
 venyal. C adds: and more fle it.
 that he myght not come. C omits.
 excusid hym. C omits.
 oxen. C adds: for he is to this purpose.
 to. C adds: wilfully.
 the wise man. C: Seint Paule.
 love. C omits.
 ne what he wolde. C: ne whi he comes.
 hym. C omits.
 hym. C adds: if thou canst.
 vanytees. C adds: of the world.
 knowe. C: kenne.
 teche. C: kenne.
 teche. C: kenne.
 goo his wai. C: take his leve.
 knowen. C: kenned.
 him withal. C: hem alle.
 agreef. C: of the.
 alle. C adds: othere.
 into many wrecchidnessis. C: in mony fleschly likynges and worldly vanities fro clennes of hert and fro the felyng of gostly vertus.
 thenketh yvel fore and. C omits.
 writt. MS: wriit; C: writt.
 dominus. C: deus.
 firste. C adds: and the principale.
 extendam. C: extendo.
 ton. MS: to.
 meditacioun. C adds: here has thou herd the membres of this ymage.
 ymage. C omits.
 luste. C: love.
 of synne. C omits.
 of. C adds: synne and.
 lyve. Possibly corrected from have.
 comen. C: spryngen.
 filen. C: defoulen.
 and thyn even Cristene. C omits.
 hym. C adds: and if thou love hym litel then litel thynkes thou on hym.
 hou veyn. C omits.
 malicious. C: malencolios.
 to breke the charge of this veyn. C: bere this hevy birthen of this.
 sorwe. C adds: I hope thou feled nevere more.
 thinge. C adds: and fro rest in thin oun bodily felyng.
 fynde no. C: noght lightly fynde.
 this. C adds: false.
 in. C: and.
 neerhande. C: half.
 of. C: off.
 malicious. C: malencolie.
 overmoche. C: any.
 to. C adds: plese hym, for to.
 teche. C: kenne.
 this felynge and. C omits.
 alle. C omits.
 adoune. C: awey.
 of. C adds: Jhesu.
 be. Possibly bi; C: bi.
 ful. C omits.
 Christus. C omits.
 child. C: barn.
 contemplacioun. C: contemplatif life.
 of lif. C of, partially erased.
 thyn herte. C: the.
 it. C adds: be so that it.
 thee. C adds: and with hym that writes this boke.