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. Folio breaks marked in orange refer to Lambeth Palace MS 472.
In the notes, B refers to Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 100.
The Scale of Perfection
[fol. 86r]This chapitle scheweth that a man is seid the image of God aftir the soule and not aftir the bodi.
For as moche as thou coveitest greteli and askest it pur charité, for to heere more of an image the whiche y have bifore tymes in partie discried to thee, therfore I wole glaadli with drede falle to thi desire; and helpynge the grace of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, in whom I fulliche truste, y schal opene to thee a litil [fol. 86v]more of this image. And in the bigynnynge, yif thou wole witen pleynli what I mene bi this image, I telle thee forsothe that y undirstonde not ellis but thyn owen soule; for thi soule and my soule and everi resonable soule is an image, and that a worthi image, for it is the ymage of God, as the apostel seith: Vir est ymago dei (1 Corinthians 11:7). That is, man is the image of God and maad to the image and to the liknesse of him, not in bodili schap withoutin, but in the myghtes of it withinne, as holi writ seith: Formavit deus hominem ad similitudinem suam (Genesis 1:27). That is, oure Lord God schoop in soule man to the ymage and the liknesse of him. This is the ymage that I have spoke of and schal speken of. This ymage, maad to the liknesse of God in the first schapynge was wondirli faire and bright, fulle of brennynge love and goostli light. But thorugh synne of the first man Adam it was disfigured and forschapen into anothir liknesse, as y have bifore seid. For it fil from that gostli light and that heveneli foode into that peynful myrkenesse and beestli lust of this wrecchid liyf, exilid and flemed out fro the heritage of hevene that it schuld han had yif it hadde stonden, into the wrecchidnesse of this erthe, and aftyrward into the prisoun of helle, ther to have ben withouten eende. Fro the whiche prisoun to that heveneli heritage it myght nevere have comen ayen, but yif it hadde be reformed to the first schap and to the first [fol. 87r]liknesse. But that reformynge myght not ben had by noon ertheli man, for everiche man was in the sam meschief, and noon myght suffice to helpe hymsilf, and so mykil lasse ony othir man. Therfore it nedide bi doon by hym that is more thanne a man, and that is oonli God; and that was skilful, that he schulde reforme and restoren man to blisse yif he schulde be saaff, whiche of his eendeles goodnesse schoop him thereto. Hou thanne hit myght be reformed, and hou it is reformed to the firste likenesse bi him that first formed it, bi the grace of God schal I telle thee, for that is the entente of this writinge.
Hou it nedide to mankynde that oonli thorugh the passioun of oure Lord it schulde be restorid and reformed that was forsaken bi the first synne.
The rightwisenesse of God asketh that a trespaas doon be not forgyven but yif amendis be maad for it, yif it mai be doon. Now is it sooth mankynde, that was hool in Adam the first man, trespaced ayens God so wondir grevousli whanne hit forfetide the special biddynge of God and consentide to the fals conceile of the feend, that it deservide rightwiseli for to have be departid from him and dampned to helle withouten ende—so fer forth, that stondinge the rightwisenesse of God, the trespaas myght not be foryeven but yif amendis and ful satisfaccioun were first maad therfore. But this amendes myght no man make that was man oonli and come out of [fol. 87v]Adam by kyndeli generacion, for this skile, for the trespas and the unworschipe was endeles gret, and therfore it passide mannys myght for to make amendis for it. And also for this skile: he that hath trespaced and schal make amendis, hym bihoveth yyve to hym that he trespacide unto al that he oweth though that he hadde not trespaced, and also over that, hym bihoveth yyve him sumwhat that he oweth not, but oonli for that he trespacid. But oonly mankynde hadde not wherwith he myght paie God for his trespaas, over that he ought hym. For what good dede that man myght doon in bodi or in soule, it was but his dette. For everi man oweth, as the gospel seith, for to love God with al his herte and al his soule and alle his myghtes; and betere myght he not doo than this. And neverthelees this deede sufficed not to the reformynge of mankynde, ne this myght not he doon but yif he hadde first be reformed. Than nedid it that yif mannys soule schulde be reformed and the trespaas maad good, that oure Lord God hymsilf schulde reforme this image and make amendis for this trespaas, syn that no man myght. But that myght he not doo in his godhede, for he myght not, ne ought not, make amendis bi suffrynge of peyne in his owen kynde. Therfore it nedide that he schulde take the same mankynde that hadd trespaced, and bicome man; and that myght he not by the [fol. 88r]comon lawe of kyndeli generacion, for it was impossibile Goddis sone to be born of a touchid woman. Therfore he moste bicome man thorugh a gracious generacioun, bi wirkynge of the Holi Goost, of a clene gracious maiden, oure ladi Seynt Marie. And so was it doon. For oure Lord Jhesu Crist, Goddis sone, bicam man, and thorugh his precious deeth that he suffride made amendis to the Fadir of hevene for mannys gilt. And that myght he wel doon, for he was God, and he oughte not for hymsilf, but for as mykil as he was man born of the same kynde that Adam was that first trespacede. And so, though he ought not for his owen persone, for himsilf myght not synne, neverthelees he ought it of his free wille for the trespas of mankynde, the whiche kynde he took for savacioun of man of his endeles merci. For sooth it is ther was nevere man that myght yelde to God onythinge of his owene that he ought not, but oonli this blissid man Jhesu Crist. For he myght paien thingis that he oughte not as for himsilf, and that was not but o thynge: and that was for to yyve his preciouse liyf by wilfulle takynge of deeth for love of sothfastnesse. This ought he nout. As mykil good as he myght doo to the worschipe of God in his liyf, al was but dette. But for to take deeth for love of ryghtwisenesse, he was not bounden therto.
He was bounde to rightfulnesse, but he was not bounden to dyen. For deeth is oonli a peyne ordey[fol. 88v]ned of God to man for his owen synne; but oure Lorde Jhesu synned nevere, ne he myght not synnen, and therefore he oughte nought for to dien. And yit wilfulli he diede, than paid he to God more thanne he oughte. And syn that was the beste manere deede and most worthi that evere was doon, therfore was it resonable that the synne of mankynde schulde be forgyven, in as mykil as mankynde had founden a man of the same kynde withoutin weem of synne, that is Jhesu, that myght make amendis for thee trespaas doon and myght paien oure Lord God al that he oughte, and overmore, that he oughte not. Thanne siththe oure Lord Jhesu, God and man, diede thus for savacion of mannys soule, it was rightful that synne schulde be foryyven and mannys soule, that was his image, schulde mow be reformyd and restorid to the first likenesse and to the blisse of hevene.
This passioun of oure Lord and this precious deeth is the ground of al the reformynge of mannes soule, withouten whiche myght nevere mannys soule have be reformed to the liknes of him, ne come to the blisse of hevene. But blissid mot he be in al his wirkynge. Now is it so, that thorugh vertu of his passioun the brennynge suerd of cherubyn that droof Adam ought of paradise is now put awei, and the eendeles gates of hevene aren opened to ilk man that wole entre in therto. For the persone of Jhesu is bothe God and kynge, [fol. 89r]evene in blisse to the Fadir, and as man he is portour at the yate redi to receyve ilke a soule that wole be reformed heere in this liyf to his liknesse. For now mai ilke a soule, yif that he wole, be reformed to the liknesse of God, sith that the trespaas is foryeven and the amendis bee maad thorugh Jhesu for the first gilt. Neverethelees, though this be sooth, alle soules have not the profite ne the fruit of his precious passioun, ne aren reformed to the liknes of hym.
That Jewes and paynymes and also fals Cristene men are not reformed effectuali thorugh vertu of this passioun for here owen defaute.
Two maner of men aren not reformed bi vertu of his passioun. Oon is of hem that troweth it not; anothir is of hem that loven it not. Jewes and paynemes han not the benefeetes of this passioun, for thei trowen it not. Jewes trowen not that Jhesu man, the sone of the virgine Marie, is Goddis sone of hevene. Also paynemes trowen not that the sovereyn wisdom of God wolde bicome sone of man, and in manhede suffre the peynes of deeth. And therfore the Jewes holden the prechynge of the croos of the passioun of Crist not but sclaundre and blasfemye, and the paynemys holden it but fantom and folie. But trewe Cristen men holden it the sovereyne wisdom of God and his grete myght. Thus Seynt Poul seide: Predicamus vobis Christum crucifixum, Iudeis quidem scandalum, gentibus autem stulticiam: ipsis autem [fol. 89v]vocatis Iudeis, atque Grecis, Christum dei virtutem (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). That is: We prechen to you that we trowen, that Jhesu Crist crucified, the sone of Marie, is Goddis sone, sovereyne vertu and wisdom of God. The whiche Jhesu to Jewes and to paynemys that trowen not in hym is but sclaundre and folie. And therfore thise men bi there untrouthe putten hemsilf fro the reformynge of her owen soule, and stondynge there untrouthe, schullen thei never be saaf ne come to blisse of hevene. For sooth it is, fro the bigynninge of the world unto the laste ende, was there nevere man saaf, ne schal be saaf, but yif he hadde or have trouth general or special in Jhesu Crist, other comende or comen. For right as alle chosen soulis that weren bifore the incarnacioun undir the eelde testament hadden trouthe in Crist, that he schulde come and reforme mannys soule, eithir openli, as patriarkes and prophetes and othire holi men hadden, or elles priveli and generali, as children and othere simple and imperfight soulis hadden that knowen not speciali the pryvetees of the incarnacioun, right so alle the chosen soulis undir the newe testament han trowed in Crist that he is comen, oithir openli and felyngeli, as gosteli men and wise men han, or ellis generali, as children that dien cristened and othere symple and lewed soulis han that aren norischid in the bosom of holi chirche. Syn this is sooth, thanne thynketh me that [fol. 90r]thise men gretli and grevousli erren that seyn that Jewis and Sarcenys and paynemes, bi kepynge of hire owen lawe, mown be maad saaf, though thei trowen not in Jhesu Crist as holi chirche troweth and as Cristen men doon, in as mykil as thei wene that her owen trouth is good and siker and sufficient to here savacion, and in that trouthe thei doon, as hit semeth, many good deedes of rightwisenesse, and peraventure yif thei knewen that Cristen feith were betere than here is, thei wolde take it and leve here owen, that thei therfore schulde be saaf. Nai, it is not ynowgh so. For Crist, God and man, is bothe wei and eende, and he is mediatour atwix God and man, and withouten him mai no soule be reconsiled ne come to blisse of hevene. And therfore thei that trowen in hym that he is not bothe God and man mowen nevere be saaf ne come to blisse. Othere men also, that loven not Crist ne his passioun, aren not reformed in hire soule to the liknesse of hym; and thise men aren fals Cristen men, the whiche are out of charité and leven and dien in deedli synne. Thise men trowen wel, as it semeth, that Jhesu is Goddis sone, and that his passioun sufficeth to savacioun of mannys soule, and thei trowen also alle the articles of the feith, but it is an unschapli trouthe, and a deed, for thei loven him nought, ne thei chese not the fruit of his passioun, but thei liggen stille in here synne, and in here fals love of this world unto here [fol. 90v]laste eende. And so be thei not reformed to the liknes of God, but goon to peynes of helle eendelesli, as Jewes and Sarcenes doon, and into mykil more pyne thanne thei, in as mykil as thei hadden the trouthe and kepte it not; for that was more trespace than yif thei nevere hadde had it.
Thanne yif thou wolt wite whiche soules aren reformede heere in this liyf to the image of God thorugh vertu of his passioun, sothli oonli tho that trowen in him and loven hym. In the whiche soulis the ymage of God, that was thorugh synne forschapen as it were into a foule beestis liknesse, is restored and reformed unto the first schap, and into the worthynesse and worschipe that hit hadde in the bigynninge, withoutin whiche reformyng in feith schal nevere soule be saaf ne come to blisse.
Of two maner reformynge of this image, oon in fulnesse and othir in partie.
Now, seist thou, “Hou mai this be sooth that the image of God, the whiche is mannys soule, myghte be reformed here in this liyf to his liknesse in ony creature?” It semeth nai, it myght not ben. For if it were reformed, thanne schulde hit have stable mynde, cleer sight, and clene brennynge love in God and in goostli thinges ai lastandli, as it had in the bigynnynge. But that is in no creature, as thou trowest, lyvynge in this liyf. For as ayentis thisilf, thou canst wel sai thou thenkest thee ful feer therefroo. Thi mynde and thi resoun, and the love of thy sou[fol. 91r]le aren so mykil sette in bihaldynge and in the love of ertheli thynges, that of goostli thinges thou felist right litil. Thou feelist no reformynge in thisilf, but art soo umbilapped with this blak image of synne, for aught that thou maist doon, that upon what side thou turnest thee thou feelist thisilf defouled and spotted with fleischli stirynges of this foule ymage. Othir chaungynge feelist thou noon fro fleischliheed into goostlinesse, neither in the privei myghtis of thi soule withinne, ne in bodili feelynge withoute. Wherfore thou thenkest that it myght not be that this image myght be reformed; or ellis yif it myght be reformed, thanne askest thou hou it myght be reformed.
To this y answere and seie thus. There is two maner of reformynge of the ymage of God, the whiche is mannys soule. Oon is in fulnesse, anothir is in partie. Reformynge in fulnes mai not be had in this lif, but it is delaied aftir this lif to the blisse of hevene, where mannys soule schal fulli be reformed; not to that staat that it hadde atte the firste bigynnynge bi kynde, or myght have hadde thorugh grace yif it hadde stonde hool, but it schal be restored to mykil more blisse and mykil more highere joie thorugh the mykil merci and eendeles goodnesse of God thanne it schulde have had yif it nevere had fallen. For thanne schal the soule resseyven the hoole and the fulfillyng of God in alle mygh[fol. 91v]tis of it, withouten medlere of ony othir affeccioun; and it schal seen mankynde in the persoone of Jhesu above the kynde of angelis ooned to the godhede. For than schal Jhesu, bothe God and man, ben al in al, and oonli he and noon othir thanne he, as the prophete seith: Dominus solus exaltabitur in die illa (Isaiah 2:11). That is, oure Lord Jhesu in that dai that is the ai lastande dai schal be highed oonli, and noon but he. And also the bodi of man schal thanne be glorified, for it schal receyve fulli the riche dowarie of undeedlinesse with al that longeth therto. This schal a soule han with the bodi, and mykil more thanne I can seyn; but that schal ben in the blisse of hevene, and not in this lif.
For though it be soo that the passioun of oure Lord bi cause of this ful reformynge of mannys soule, neverthelees it was not his wille for to graunte this ful reformynge anoon aftir his passioun to alle chosen soulis that were lyvande in tyme of his passioun, but he delaied it unto the laste day, and for this skile. Sooth it is that oure Lord Jhesu of his merci hath ordayned a certayn nombre of soulis to savacion, the whiche nombre was not fulfilled in tyme of his passioun, and therfore hit nedide that bi the lengthe of tyme thorugh kyndeli generacion of men it schulde be fulfilled. Thanne yif it hadde so ben that as tite aftir the deeth of oure Lord, everi soule that wolde have trowed in hym schulde anoon sodeynli have ben blissid and be ful reformed withoutyn ony othir [fol. 92r]abidynge, there wolde noo creature that lyvede thanne that he ne wolde have resseyved the feith, for to have ben maad blissid. And thanne schulde generacioun have ceesid, and so schuld wee that been now lyvynge, chosen soules, and othere soulis that comen aftir us, not have ben born, and so schulde oure Lord have failid of his noumbre.
But that may not ben. And therfore oure Lord purveyede for us mykel betere, in that that he delaiede the ful reformynge of mannys soule unto the laste eende, as Seynt Poule seith: Deo pro nobis melius providente, ne sine nobis consummarentur (Hebrews 11:40). That is, oure Lord purveied betere for us in delaiynge of the ful reformynge thanne yif he hadde grauntid it thanne, for this skile: that the chosen soules heere bifore schulden not maken an ende withoutin us that comen aftir. And anothir skile is this: for syn that a man in his first formyng of God was sette in his free wil and hadde free chesynge whethir he wolde have fulli God or noon, it was therfore resonable that syn that he wolde not chese God thanne, but wrecchidli fle from hym, yif he schulde aftirward be reformed, that he schulde be sette ageyn in the same free cheesynge that he was first inne, wethir he wolde have the profite of his reformynge or noo. And this mai be a skile why mannys soule was not fulli reformed anoon aftir the passioun of oure Lord Jhesu Crist.
That the reformyng [fol. 92v]in partie is on two maneres. Oon in feyth, anothir in feith and in felynge.
Anothir reformynge of this image is in partie, and this reformynge mai be had in this lyf; and but yif it be had in this liyf, it schal nevere be had, ne the soule schal nevere be saaf. But this reformyng is on two maneres. Oon is in feith oonli, anothir is in feith and in felynge. The firste, that is the reformyng in feith, sufficeth to savacioun; the secunde is worthi to have passande mede in the blisse of hevene. The firste mai be had lightli and in schort tyme. The secunde mai not soo, but thorugh lengthe of tyme and mykil gosteli traveile. The firste mai be had with the feelynge of the ymage of synne, for though a man fele nothynge in himsilf but alle stirynges of synne and fleischli desires, yit he mai, not withstondynge al that felynge, yif he wilfulli assente not therto, ben reformed in feith to the liknesse of God. But the secunde reformynge putteth out the likynge and the feelynge of fleischli stirynges and worldly desires, and suffreth noon sich spottis abiden in this image. The firste reformynge is oonli of bigynninge and profitynge soulis, and of actif men. The secunde is of perfight soulis and of contemplatif men. For bi the firste reformynge the ymage of synne is not distroied, but it is left as it were al hool in felynge. But the secunde reformynge [fol. 93r]destroieth olde feelynges of this image of synne, and bringeth into the soule newe gracious feelynges thorugh wirkynge of the Holi Gost. The first is good, and the secunde is betere, but the thridde, that is in the blisse of hevene, that is alderbest. First bigynne we to speken of that toon and siththen of the tothir, and so schul we comen to the thridde.
That thorugh the sacrament of baptym that is groundid in the passioun of Crist this image is reformed fro the original synne.
Two maner of synne maken a soule to lese the schap and the liknesse of God. That oon is callid original, that is the first synne. That othir is callid actuel synne, that is wilfulli doon. Thise two synnes putten a soule fro the blisse of hevene and dampnen it to eendeles pyne of helle, but yif it be thorugh grace of God reformed to his liknesse, or it passe hens out of this lif. Neveretheles, two remedies there aren ayens thise two synnes, bi the whiche a forschapen soule mai be restored ageyn. Oon is the sacrament of baptym ayens the origynal synne; anothir is the sacrament of penaunce ayens the actuel synne. The soule of a childe that is born and is uncristened, bicause of the origynal synne hath no liknesse of God; he is not but an image of the feend and a brond of helle. But as soone as it is cristened, [fol. 93v]it is reformed to the ymage of God, and thorugh vertu of feith of holi chirche sodeynli is turned fro the liknes of the feend and maad like to an angel of hevene. Also the same falleth to a Jewe or in a Sarceyn, whiche or thei be cristened aren not but manciples of helle, but whanne thei forsaken ther errour and fallen mekeli to the trouthe in Crist, and receyven the baptym of water in the Holi Goost, soothli withouten ony taryyinge thei aren reformed to the liknesse of God—so fulli, as hooli chirche troweth, that yif thei myghten as swithe aftir baptym passen ought of this world, thei schulden streite fleen to hevene withoutyn ony more lettynge, hadde thei doo nevere so moche synne bifore in tyme of here untrouthe, and nevere schulde thei feele of the peyne of helle ne of purgatorie. And that pryvylege schulen thei have bi the merite of the passioun of Crist.
That thorugh the sacrament of penaunce that stondeth in contricion and in confessioun and in satisfaccioun this image is reformed fro actuel synne.
Also what Cristen man or woman that hath loste the liknesse of God thorugh deedli synne, brekynge Goddis comaundementis, yif he thorugh the touchynge of grace soothfastli forsake his synne with sorwe and contricioun of herte, and be in ful wil for to amende hym and turne hym to God and to good lyvynge, and in this wil he receyveth the sacrament [fol. 94r]of penaunce, yif that he mai, or ellis yif that he may not, he is in ful wille therto—sotheli y seie that this mannys soule or womannys, that was forschapen first to the liknesse of the devel thorugh deedli synne, is now bi the sacrament of penaunce restored and schapen ageyn to the image of oure Lord God. This is a greet curtesie of oure Lord, and an endeles merci, that so lightli forgyveth al manere synne, and so sodeynli yeveth plenté of grace to a synful soule that asketh merci of hym. He abideth no grete penaunce-doynge ne peynful fleischli suffrynge, or he forgyve it, but he asketh a lothynge of synne and a ful forsakynge of it in wille of the soule for love of hym, and a turnynge of the herte to hym. This asketh he, for thus gyveth he. And thanne, whanne he seeth this, withouten ony delaiynge he forgyveth the synne and reformeth the soule to his liknesse. The synne is forgyven, that the soule schal not be dampned. Neverthelees, the peyne dettid for the synne is not yit fulli foryeven but yif contricion and love be the more. And therfore schal he goon and schewen hym and schryven him to his gosteli fadir, and receyven penaunce enjoyned for his trespace and gladli fulfille it, soo that bothe the synne and the peyne mai be doon away, or he passe hens. And that is the skileful ordenaunce of holi chirche for gret profite of mannes soule, that though the [fol. 94v]synne be foryeven thorugh veri contricioun, neverthelees in fulfillynge of mekenesse and in makynge hool satisfaccioun, he schal yif he mai schewe to his prest plener confessioun. For that is his tokene and his warant of foryevenesse ayens alle his enemyes, and that is nedeful for to have.
For yif a man had forfeted his lif ayens a kynge of this erthe, it were not inow to hym as ful sikernesse for to have oonli foryyvenesse of the kynge, but yif he have a chartre, the whiche mai be his tokene and his warant ayens alle othere men. Right so mai it be seid goostli, yif a man have forfeted ayens the kyng of hevene his lif thorugh deedli synne, it is not ynow to hym to ful sikirnesse for to have foryyvenesse of God oonli bi contricion atwix God and hym, but yif he have a chartre maad bi holi chirche, yif he may come therto. And that is the sacrament of penaunce, the whiche is his chartre and his tokene of foryevenesse. For sith he forfeteth bothe ayens God and holi chirche, it is skilful that he have foryevenesse for that oon and a warant for that othir. And this is a skile whi that confession is nedeful.
Anothir skile is this, that syn the reformynge of the soule stondeth in feith oonli, not in felynge, therfore a fleschli man that is rude and boistous and cannot demen lightli, but outeward of bodily thinges, [fol. 95r]schuld not mowe han trowed that his synnes hadden ben foryeven, but yif he had sum bodili tokene. And that is confessioun, thorugh the whiche tokene he is maad as siker of foryevenesse, yif he doo that in him is. This is the trouthe of hooli chirche, as I undirstonde.
Also anothir skile is this. Though the ground of foryevenesse stonde not principali in confessioun, but in contricion of herte and forthenking of synne, neverethelees I hope that there is many a soule that schulde nevere have feelid veri contricioun, ne had ful forsakynge of synne, yif confession had not ben. For it falleth ofte sithes that in tyme of schrifte grace of conpunccioun cometh to a soule that bifore nevere feelid grace, but ai was coold and drie, and feer from feelynge of grace. And forthi, syn schrift was so profitable to the more part of Cristene men, holi chirche ordeyned it for more sikirnesse generali to alle Cristene men, that everiche man or woman schulde oones in the yeer atte the leste be schriven of alle here synnes that comen to ther mynde to ther goostli fadir, though thei han had never so mykil contricion bifore tyme.
Neverthelees, I hope wel that yif al men had ben as bisi aboughte the kepynge of hemself in feelynge of al maner synne, and had come to as grete knowynge and felynge of God as sum man is, that holi chirche schulde nevere have ordeynede the tokene of confessioun as for a needful bond, for [fol. 95v]hit had not nedid. But for alle men aren not so perfighte, and peraventure mykil of the more partie of Cristene men is unperfight, therfore holi chirche ordeyned confessioun in wei of general bond to alle Cristene men that wole knowen hooli chirche as her moder and wolen ben buxum to hir biddinge. Yif this be sooth, as I hope it is, thanne erreth he greteli that generali seith that confessioun of synne for to schewe to a prest is neither nedeful to a synnere ne bihoveful, and no man is bounden therto. For bi that that I have seid, it is bothe nedeful and spedful to alle soulis that in this wrecchid lif aren defouled thorugh synne, and nameli to thoo that aren thorugh deedli synne forschapen from the liknesse of God; the whiche mow not be reformed to his liknes, but bi the sacrament of penaunce, that principali standeth in contricioun and sorwe of herte, and secundarili in schrift of mouth folwande aftir, yif it mai be had. Upoun this manere, bi the sacrament of penaunce, is a synful soule reformed to the ymage of God and to his likenesse.
Hou in the sacrament of baptym and of penaunce thorugh a privei unperceivable wirkynge of the Hooli Goost this image is reformed though it be not seen ne feelid.
But this reformynge stondeth in feith and not in feelynge; for right as the propirtee of feith is for to trowen that thou seest not, right soo [fol. 96r]it is for to trowen that thou feelist not. But he that is reformed in his soule bi the sacrament of penaunce to the image of God, he feeleth noo chaungynge in himsilf, neithir in his bodili kynde withoutin, ne in the privé substaunce of his soule withinne, othir than he dide. For he is as he was unto his feelynge, and he feelith the same stirynges of synne and the same corrupcioun of his fleisch in passions and worldli desires risynge in his herte as he dide biforn. And yit neverthelees schal he trowe that he is thorugh grace reformed to the likenesse of God, though he neithir feele it ne see it. He mai feele wel sorwe for his synne, and a turnynge of his wil fro synne to clennesse of lyvynge, yif that he hath grace and take good keep of himsilf. But he mai neithir seen ne feele the reformynge of his soule, hou it is wondirfulli and unperceyvabli chaunged from filthe of the feend to the faireheed of an angel thorugh a privei gracious wirkinge of oure Lord God. That mai he not seen, but he schal trowe it; and yif he trowe it, thanne is his soule reformed in feith. For right as holi chirche troweth bi the sacrament of baptym soothfastli resseyved, a Jewe or a Sarasyn or a child born is reformed in soule to the liknesse of God thorugh a privé unperceyvable wirkynge of the Hooli Goost, not ayenstondynge alle the fleschli stirynges of his bodi of synne, the [fol. 96v]whiche he schal feelen aftir his baptym as wel as he dide bifore; right so bi the sacrament of penaunce mekeli and truli resseyved, a fals Cristen man that hath ben encombrid with deedli synne al his liyftyme is reformed in his soule withinne unperceyvabli, outtaken oonli a turnynge of his wille thorugh a privé myght and a gracious wirkynge of the Holi Gost, that sodaynli wirketh and in tyme of a moment or a twynkelynge of an iye righteth a froward soule, and turneth it from goostli filthe to fairenesse unseable, and of a servaunt of the feend maketh a sone of joie, and of the prisoner of helle maketh a partener of heveneli heritage, not ayenstondande al the fleisschli feelynge of this synneful image that is the bodili kynde.
For thou schalt undirstonde that the sacrament of baptym or of penaunce is not of that vertu for to lette and destroie uttirli alle the stirynges of fleischli lustes and peynful passiouns, that a man schulde nevere feele no manere risynge ne stirynge of hem no tyme. For if it were so, thanne were a soule fulli reformed here to the worschipe of the first makynge; but that mai not be fulli in this lif. But it is of that vertu that it clenseth the soule from alle the synnes bifor doon; and yif it be departed from the bodi, saveth it from dampnacioun; and yif it duelle in the [fol. 97r]bodi, it geveth the soule grace for to ayenstonde the stirynges of synne. And it kepith it in grace also, that no maner stirynge of lust or of passioun that it felith in the fleisch, be it nevere so grevous, schal dere it, ne departen it from God, as longe as it wilfulli senteth not therto. Thus Seynt Poul menede whanne he seide thus: Nichil dampnacionis est hiis qui sunt in Christo, qui non secundum carnem ambulant, etc. (Romans 8:1). That is: Thise soules that aren reformed to the ymage of God in feith, thorugh the sacrament of baptym or of penaunce, schal not be dampned for feelynges of this ymage of synne, yif it so be that thei goo not aftir the stirynges of the flesch bi fulfillynge of deede.
That we schul trowe stidefasteli reformynge of this image, yif oure conscience wittenesse us a ful forsakynge of synne and a trewe turnynge of oure wil to good lyvynge.
Of this reformynge in feith speketh Seynt Poul thus: Iustus autem ex fide vivit (Hebrews 10:38). The rightwise man lyveth in feith. That is, he that is maad rightful bi baptym or penaunce, he lyveth in feith, the whiche sufficeth to savacion and to heveneli pees, as Seynt Poul seith: Iustificati ex fide, pacem habemus ad deum (Romans 6:1). This is, we that aren righted and reformed thorugh feith in Crist han pees and acord maad atwixe God and us, not ayenstondynge the vicious feelinges of oure bodi of synne.
For though this reformynge be privei and mai not wel be feelid here in this liyf, neverthelees who[fol. 97v]so troweth it stidefasteli and schape his werkes bisili for to acorde to his trouthe, and that he turne not ageyn to deedli synne, sothli whanne the houre of deeth cometh and the soule is departed from this bodili liyf, thanne schal he fynde it sooth that I seie now. Thus Seynt Joon seide in confort of chosen soulis that lyven here in feith undir the feelynge of this peynful image: Karissimi, et nunc sumus filii dei; sed non apparuit quid erimus. Scimus autem quoniam cum apparuerit, tunc apparebimus cum eo, similes ei in gloria (1 John 3:2). That is: Mi dere frendis, we aren right now whiles that we lyven here the soones of God, for we aren reformed bi feith in Criste to his liknesse; but it schewith not yit what we aren, but it is al privei. Neverthelees we knowen wel that whanne oure Lord schal schewe him atte the laste dai, thanne schal we appere with hym like to hym in endeles joie.
Yif thou wolt witen thanne yif thi soule be reformed to the image of God or noo, bi that that I have seid thou maist have an entré. Ransake thyn owen conscience and loke what thi wille is, for thereinne stondeth al. Yif it be turned from al deedli synne, that thou woldest for nothynge wityngeli and wilfulli breke the comaundement of God, and for that thou hast mysdoon here bifore ayens his biddynge, thou haste beschreven mekeli, with ful herte to leve it and with sorwe that [fol. 98r]thou dedest it, I seie thanne sikirli that thi soule is reformed in feith to the likenesse of God.
That alle the soules that lyven mekeli in the trouthe of holi chirche and han here trouthe quykened with love and charité aren reformid bi this sacrament, though it so be that thei mown not fele the special yift of devocion or of goostli feelynge.
In this reformynge that is oonli in feith, the most parte of chosen soules leden heer liyf, that setten her wil stedefast for to fleen alle manere deedli synnes, and for to kepen hemsilf in love and charité to here evene Cristen and for to kepe the comaundement of God aftir hir kunnynge. And whanne it so is, that wikked stirynges and yvel willis risen in here hertis, of pride or of envie, of ire or of leccherie, or of ony othir heved synne, thei ayenstonden hem and striven ayens hem bi displesynge of wille, so that thei folwe not in deede thise wikkid willis. And neverthelees, yif it so be that thei falle lightli as it were ayens here wille, thorugh freelté of unkunnynge, as tite here conscience greveth hem and pyneth hem so grevousli that thei mown have noo reeste til thei ben schryven and may have foryyvenesse. Sothli alle thise soules that thus lyven, as y hope, aren reformed in feith to the image of God. And yif thei lasten in this reformynge, or be founden thereinne in the hour of deeth, thei schullen be saaf and come to the ful reformynge in the blis [fol. 98v]of hevene, though it be soo that thei nevere myghten have goosteli felynge ne inli savour ne special grace of devocioun in al her liyftime. For ellis yif thou sai that no soule schal be saaf but yif it were reformed into goostli felynge, that it myght feele devocioun and gosteli savour in God, as some soulys doon thorugh special grace, thanne schulden fewe soulis be saaf in reward of the multitude of othere.
Nai, it is not likli for to trowe that, that for thoo soulis that aren oonli devoute, and bi grace comen to goosteli feelynge, and for no mo, oure Lord Jhesu schulde have taken mankynde and suffrid hard passioun of deeth. It had bee but a litil purchace to hym for to have come fro so feer to so neer, and fro so high to so lowgh, for so fewe soulis. Nai, his merci is spreed largere than so. Neverthelees, on the contrarie wise, yif thou trowe that the passioun of oure Lord is so precious and the merci of God is so mochil that ther schal no soule be dampned, and nameli of no Cristen man, doo he nevere so ille, as summe foolis wenen, sotheli thei erren gretli. Therfore goo in the mene and helde the in the myddis, and trowe as holi chirche troweth. And that is that the moste synful man that lyveth in erthe, yif he turne his wil thorwgh grace from deedli synne with soothfast repentaunce to the servyce of God, he is re[fol. 99r]formed in his soule, and yif he die in that estate he schal be saaf. Thus behight oure Lord bi his profete, seiande thus: In quacunque hora conversus fuerit peccator et ingemuerit, vita vivet et non morietur (Ezekiel 18:21). That is: In what tyme that it be that the synful man is turned from synne to God and he have sorwe therfore, he schal lyven and he schal not dien endelesli. Also on that othir side, whoso liggeth in deedli synne, and wole not leve it ne amende hym therof, ne receyve the sacrament of penaunce, and though he receyve it he taketh it not soothfastli for the love of God, that is for love of vertu and clennesse, but oonli for drede of schame of the world, or ellis for drede oonli of the peynes of helle—he is not reformed to the likenesse of God. And yif he die in that plight he schal not be saaf. His trouthe schal not save hym, for his trouthe is a deed trouthe and lakketh love, and therfore hit serveth him of nought.
But thei that han trouthe quykened with love and charité aren reformed to the liknesse of God, though it be but the leste degré of charité, as aren symple soulis, the whiche feelen not the yifte of special devocion ne gostli knowynge of God, as some gosteli men doon, but trowen generali as holi chirche troweth, and witen not fulli what that is, for it nedeth not to hem. And in that trouthe thei kepen hem in love [fol. 99v]and charité to here even Cristen as mykil as thei moun, and fleen alle deedli synnes aftir her connynge, and doon the dedes of merci to here even Cristene. Alle thise longen to the blisse of hevene, for it is writen in the Apocalipsis thus: Qui timetis deum, pusilli et magni, laudate eum (Revelations 19:5). This is: Ye that dreden God, bothe grete and smale, thanketh him.
Bi grete aren undirstonde soulis that aren profitande in grace, or ellis perfight in love of God, the whiche aren reformed in goosteli feelynge. Bi the smale aren undirstanden soulis unperfite, of worldli men and women and othere, that han but a childisch knowynge of God and ful litil feelynge of hym, but aren brought forth in the bosom of holi chirche and norischid with the sacrament as children aren fed with mylk. Alle thise schullen thanke God and loven hym for savacioun of here soules bi his endelees merci. For holy chirche, that is moder of alle thise and hath tendir love to alle hir childrin goostli, praieth and asketh for hem alle tendirli of hir spouse (that is, Jhesu), and geteth hem heele of soule thorugh vertu of his passioun, and nameli for hem that counen not speken hemself bi goostli praiere for here owen nede.
Thus I fynde in the gospel that the woman of Chanane askide of oure Lord heele to hir doughter that was traveiled with a feend, and oure Lord [fol. 100r]maad daunger bicause sche was an aliene. Neverthelees, she ceeside not for to crien til oure Lord hadde grauntid to hire hire askynge and seide to hire thus: “A, woman, mykil is thi trouthe; be it doon to thee right as thou wolt.” And in the same hour was hir doughter maad hool. This woman bitokeneth holi chirche, that asketh helpe of oure Lord for symple unconnynge soules, that aren traveilid with temptacioun of the world and kunnen not speken perfightli to God bi fervour of devocioun ne brennande love in contemplacion; and though it seme that oure Lorde make daunger first bicause that thei aren as hit were alienes fro hym, neverthelees for the grete trouthe and the desert of holi chirche he graunteth hire al that sche wole. And so aren thise simple soulis, that trowen stidefasteli as holi chirche troweth, and putteth hem fulli in the merci of God and meken hem undir the sacramentes and lawes of holi chirche, maad saaf thorugh the praier and the trouthe of hir goostli modir, that is holi chirche.
That soules reformed neden ai for to fighten and stryven ayen stirynges of synne whiles thei lyven heer, and hou a soule mai witen whanne he assenteth to ille stirynges and whanne not.
This reformynge in feith mai lighteli be geten, but it mai not so lighteli be holden. And therfore what man or woman that is reformed [fol. 100v]to the liknesse of God in trouthe, mykil traveile and bisynesse hem bihoveth to have, yif thei wolen kepe this image hool and clene, that it falle not doun ageyn thorugh weikeynesse of wille to the ymage of synne. He mai not be idel ne rekles, for the image of synne is so neer festned to hym, and so contynueli preseth upon hym bi divers stirynges of synne, that but yif he be right waar he schal ful lightli thorugh asent falle ageyn therto. And therfore hym nedeth ay be stryvynge and fightynge ageyn wikked stirynges of this ymage of synne, and that he make noon acord therwith, ne take noo frendschipe with it, for to be buxum to his unskilfulle biddynges, for yif he do, he bigileth hymsilf. But sothli yif he stryve with hem, hym nedeth not mykil to drede of assentynge, for strif breketh pees and fals acord. It is good that a man have pees with al thynge, outetaken with the feend and with this image of synne, for ageyns hem it nedeth ai feighten in his thought and in his werk until he hath geten over hem the maistrie. And that schal nevere ben fulli in this lif, as longe as he berith and felith this ymage. I sei not but that a soule mai thorugh grace have the hyghere hand over this ymage, so fer forth that it schal not folwen ne senten to the unskilful stirynges of it. But for to ben so [fol. 101r]clene delivered fro this ymage, that hit schulde feele no suggestioun ne jangelynge of noo fleschli affeccion, ne of veyne thought noo tyme, may no man have in this lyf.
I hope that a soule that is reformed in feelynge by ravyschynge of love into contemplacion of God mai be so feer fro the sensualité and fro the veyn imaginacion, and soo feer drawen oute and departid from the fleischli feelynge for a tyme, that it schal not feelen but good; but that lasteth not alwai. And therfore seie I that every man bihoveth strive ageyns this ymage of synne, and nameli he that is onli reformed in feith, that so lightly mai be disseyved therwith. In the persone of the whiche men Seynt Poul seith thus: Caro concupiscit adversus spiritum et spiritus adversus carnem (Galatians 5:17). That is, a soule reformed to the liknesse of God fighteth ageyn the fleschli stirynges of this image of synne, and also this ymage of synne striveth ageyn the wille of the spirite. This maner of fightynge in this duble ymage Seynt Poul knew weel whanne he seide thus: Inveni legem in membris meis, repugnantem legi mentis mee, et captivum me ducentem in legem peccati (Romans 7:23). That is: I have founden two lawes in mysilf, o lawe in my soule withinne, and anothir lawe in my fleschli lymes withoute fightynge ageyns hit, that often ledeth me as a wrecchid prisoner into the lawe of synne. Bi thise two lawes in a soule I understond [fol. 101v]this double image: bi the lawe of the spirit I undirstonde the resoun of the soule whanne it is reformed to the image of God; bi the lawe of the flessch I undirstonde the sensualité, whiche I calle the ymage of synne. In thise two lawes a soule reformed ledeth his lif, as Seynt Poul seith: Mente enim servio legi dei, carne vero servio legi peccati (Romans 7:25). In my soule, that is, in my wil and in my resoun, I serve to the lawe of God; but in my flesch, that is, in the feelynge of my fleschli appetite, I serve to the lawe of synne. Neverthelees, that a soule reformed schulde not dispeiren, though he serve to the lawe of synne bi feelynge of the vicious sensualité ageynes the wille of the spirite bicause of corrupcion of his bodili kynde, Seynt Poul excuseth it, seiande thus of his owen persoone: Non enim quod volo bonum hoc ago; sed malum quod odi, hoc facio. Si autem malum quod odi facio, iam non ego operor illud, sed quod habitat in me, peccatum (Romans 7:19-20). I do not that good that y wolde doon, that is, I wolde feele noon fleschli stiringe, and that do y not; but I doo the yvel that I hate, that is, the synful stirynges of my flesch. I hate and yit I feele hem. Neverethelees, syn it is so that y hate wikkid stirynges of my flesch, and yit y fele hem and ofte delite in hem ayens my wille, thei schal not be arected ayens me for dampnacion, as yif y hadde doon hem. And whi? For the corrupcion [fol. 102r]of this image of synne dooth hem, and not I.
Loo, here Seynt Poul in his owen persone conforteth alle soulis that aren thorugh grace reformed in feith, that thei schuld not to mykil drede the berthene of this ymage with the unskilful stirynges thereof, bi so that thei sente not wilfulli therto. Neverethelees in this poynt many soulis that aren reformed in trouthe aren ofte sithis mykil tormentid and trobelid in veyn. As thus: whanne thei han feelid fleschli stirynges of pride, of envie, of covetise, or of leccherie, or of ony othir heed synne, thei witen not sumtyme whethir thei sentiden to hem or noo. And that is no grete wondir, for in tyme of temptacion a freel mannes thought is so trobled and so overleid that he hath no cleer light ne fredom of himself, but is taken often with likynge unwarli, and goth forth with it a grete while or thanne he perceyve it. And therfore fallen summe of hem in doute and in dwere whethir thei synneden or not in the tyme of temptacion.
As anemptis this poynt I seie as me thenketh, that a soule mai have assaiynge on this manere whethir he assenteth or noo. Yif it so be that a man be stired to ony maner of synne, and the likynge is so grete in his flesschli felynge that it trobleth his resoun and as it were thorugh maistrie occupieth the affeccioun of the soule; neverthelees he kepith hym, that he folweth not in dede,[fol. 102v] ne he wolde not though he myght, but it is rathere to hym peyneful for to feelen the likynge of that synne, and fayn he wolde putten hit awai yif he myght; and thanne whanne the stirynge is overpassid he is glaad and wil paied that he is delyvered of it and that he feelith no more of it—bi this assai mai he witen that were the likynge nevere so grete in the fleschli feelynge, that he assentide not, ne synnede not, nameli deedliche.
Neverthelees, a remedie there is that is sikir and certayn to siche a symple soule that is marred in itsilf and cannot helpin itsilf: that he be not to bold in himsilf, uttirli wenande that siche fleschli stirynges with likynges aren no synnes, for he myght so fallen into recchelesnesse and into a fals sikernesse, ne also that he be not to dredful ne to symple in witte, for to demen hem alle as deedli synnes, or elles as grete venyal, for neithir is sooth. But that he holde hem alle as synne and wrecchidnesse of hymsilf, and that he have sorwe for hem, and that he be not to bisi for to deme them neithir deedli ne venyal. But yif his conscience be gretli greved, that he hasteli goo and schewe to his confessour in general or in special siche stirynges, and nameli that ilke stirynge that bigynneth fastne roote in the herte and most often occupieth it, for to drawen it doun to synne and wordli vanité. And whanne he is thus schry[fol. 103r]ven of thise in general or in special, trowe thanne stidefastli that thei aren forgyven, and dispute no more aboughte hem that aren passid and forgyven, whethir thei weren deedli or venial, but that he be more besi for to kepen him betere ayens hem that aren comynge. And yif he doo thus, thanne mai he come to reste in conscience.
But thanne are some so fleschli and so unkunnynge that thei wolden feele or seen or heren the foryifnesse of hire synnes, as openli as thei moun feelen or seen a bodili thyng; and for as mykil as thei feelyn it not, so thei fallen often in siche dweris and doutes of hemsilf and nevere moun come to reste. And in that be thei not wise, for feith goth bifore felynge. Oure Lord seide to a man that was in the palsie whanne he heelid hym thus: Confide fili, remittuntur tibi peccata tua (Matthew 9:2). That is: Sone, trowe stidefasteli thy synnes aren foryeven thee. He seide not to him, see or feele how thi synnes aren foryeve thee, foryifnesse of synne is doon goostli and unseabli thorugh grace of the Holi Goost, but bileve it. Right upon the same wise, every man that wole come to reste in conscience, him bihoveth first yif he doo that in him is trowen withouten goostli feelynge foryifnesse of his synnes; and yyf he first trowe it, he mai aftirward thorugh grace feele it and undirstonde it, that it is so. Thus seide the apostil: Nisi crederitis, non intelligetis (cf. Isaiah 7:9) But yif ye [fol. 103v]first trowen, ye moun not undirstonde. Trouthe goth bifore and undirstondinge come aftir. The whiche undirstondynge, that I calle the sight of God yif it be gracious, a soule mai not have but thorugh grete clennesse, as oure Lord seith: Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi deum videbunt (Matthew 5:8). Blissed ben clene of herte, for thei schul see God—not with heer fleschli iye, but with the innere iye, that is, undirstondynge clensid and illumined thorugh grace of the Holi Gost for to seen soothfastnesse. The whiche clennesse a soule mai not feele but it have stable trouthe goynge bifore, as the apostil seith: Fide mundans corda eorum (Acts 15:9). That is, oure Lord clenseth the hertis of his chosen thorwgh feith. Therefore it is nedeful that a soule trowe first the reformynge of himsilf maad thorugh the sacrament of penaunce, though he see it not, and that he dispose him fulli for to lyven rightwiseli and vertuousli as his trouthe asketh, so that he mai aftir that come to the sight and to the reformynge in feelynge.
That this image is bothe fair and foule whilis it is in this lif, though it be reformed; and of dyversité of felyng priveli had atwixe thise soulis that aren reformede and othere that aren nought reformed.
Fair is mannys soule, and foule is a mannys soule. Fair in as mykil as it is reformed in trouthe to the liknesse of God, but it is foule in as mykil [fol. 104r]as it is yit medelid with fleschli felynges and unskilful stirynges of this ymage of synne. Foule withouten as it were a beest, faire withinne like to an angel. Foule in feelynge of the sensualité, fair in trouthe of the resoun. Foule for the fleschli appetite, faire for the good wil. Thus fair and thus foule is a chosen soule, seiynge holi writ thus: Nigra sum, sed formosa, filie Ierusalem sicut tabernacula cedar et sicut pelles Salomonis (Canticle 1:4). I am blak, but I am fair and schapli, yee doughteris of Jerusalem, as the tabernaculis of cedar and as the skynnes of Salomoun. That is: Yee angelis of hevene, that aren doughteres of the highe Jerusalem, wondreth not on me, ne dispice me not for my blak schadwe, for though I be blak withoute bicause of my fleschli kynde, as is a tabernacle of cedar, nevertheles I am ful fair withinne as is the skyn of Salomon, for y am reformed to the likenesse of God. Bi cedar is undirstonde myrkenesse, and that is the devyl. Bi tabernacle of cedar is undirstonde a reprevid soule, the whiche is a tabernacule of the devyl. Bi Salomon, that bitokeneth peseble, is undirstonden oure Lord, for he is pees and pesible. Bi the skyn of Salomon is undirstonden a blissid aungel, in whom oure Lord woneth and is hid, as lif is hid withinne the skyn of a quyk bodi, and therfore is an angel likened to [fol. 104v]a skyn.
Thanne mai a chosen soule with meke trust in God and gladnesse in herte seie thus: Though I be blak bicause of my bodi of synne, as is a reprevid soule that is the tabernacle of the feend, neverthelees I am withinne wel faire thorugh trouthe and good wille, like to an angil of hevene. For so seith he in anothir place: Nolite considerare me quia fusca sum, quoniam decoloravit me sol (Canticle 1:5). That is: Biholdeth me not for y am swart, for the sunne hath defaded me. The sunne maketh a skyn swart onli withoute and not withinne, and it bitokeneth this fleschli liyf. Therfore seith a chosen soule thus: “Repreve me not for y am swart, for the swartenesse that y have is al withouten, of touchynge and of berynge this ymage of synne. But it is nothinge withinne.” And therfore soothli, though it be so that a chosen soule reformed in feithe dwelle in this bodi of synne, and feele the same fleischli stirynges and use the same bodili werkes as doth a tabernacle of cedar, so fer forth that in mannes dome ther schulde no difference be bitwixe that oon and that tothir—neverthelees withinne in here soules is there ful grete diversité, and in the sight of God is there ful grete twynnynge. But the knowynge of this, whiche is oon and which is othir, is oonli kept to God, for it passeth mannys doom and mannys feelynge. And therfore we schal no man demen as ille for that thinge that mai be usid bothe yvel and weel. A soule that is not reformed is taken so [fol. 105r]fulli with the love of this world, and so mykil overleid with the likynge of his flesche in al his sensualité, that he cheseth it as a ful reste of his herte; and in his privei menynge hee wolde not ellis have, but that he myght ay be siker therof. He feleth noo licour of grace stirynge hym to lothe this fleschli liyf ne for to desiren heveneli blisse.
And therfore I mai seie that he bereth not this ymage of synne, but he is born of it, as a man that were sike and so weike that he myght not beren hymsilf, and therfore is leid in a bed and born in a liter. Right so siche a synful soule is so weike and so unmyghti for lakkynge of grace, that it mai neither stiren hand ne foot for to doon ony good dede, ne forayenstonde bi displesynge of wille the leeste stirynge of synne whanne it cometh, but it falleth doun therto as dooth a beest upon a carion. But a soule that is thorugh grace reformed, though he use his fleischeli wittis and feele fleischli likynges, neverthelees he lotheth hem in his herte, for he nolde for nothinge fulli resten in hem. But he feelith the reste in hem as the bityng of an eddre, and he hadde lyvere han his reste and the love of his herte in God, yif that he coude; and sumtyme desireth therto, and often irketh of the likynge of this liyf for love of the liyf ai lastande.
This soule is not bore in this image of synne as a sike man, though he feele it; but he bereth it. For thorugh grace he is maad myghti and stronge for to suffren and beren his bodi with alle the sti[fol. 105v]rynges of it, withouten hurtynge or defoulynge of himsilf; and that is in as mykil as he loveth hem not, ne folweth hem not, ne senteth not to hem, the whiche aren deedli synne, as anothir dooth. This was bodili fulfilled in the gospel of a man that was in the palsie and was so feble that he myght not goon, and therfore was he leid and born in a lighter and brought to oure Lord, and whanne oure Lord sigh hym in myschief, of his goodnesse he seide to hym thus: Surge et tolle grabatum tuum, et vade in domum tuam (Mark 2:11). That is: Rise up and take thi bed and goo into thi hous. And so he dide, and was hool. And sothli right as this man baar upon his bak whanne he was made hool the bed that bifore baar hym, right so it mai be seide goosteli, that a soule reformed in feith bereth this image of synne, in the whiche he was born in biforn.
And therfore be not adred to mykil of thi blakkenesse that thou haste of berynge of this ymage of synne. But ayens the schame and the discomfort that thou haste of the biholdynge of it, and also ayens the upbreidynge that thou feelist in thyn herte of thi goostli enemyes, whanne thei seyn to thee thus: “Where is thi Lord Jhesu? What feelist thou? Where is the fairhede that thou spekest of? What feelist thou ought but blyndenesse of synne? Where is the image of God that thou seist is reformed in thee?” Comforte thee thanne bi trouthe stilli, as I have bifore seid; and yif thou doo [fol. 106r]soo, thou schalt bi this trouthe destroien alle temptaciones of thyne enemyes. Thus seith the apostle: Accipe scutum fidei, in quo tela hostis nequissima poteris extinguere (Ephesians 6:16). That is: Take to thee a schelde of stidefast trouth, thorugh the whiche thou schalt moun quenche alle the brennynge daartes of thyn enemye.
Of thre maner of men, of the whiche summe aren not reformed, and summe ben reformed oonli in feythe, and summe in feithe and in feelynge.
Bi this that I have bifore seid maist thou seen that aftir diverse parties of the soule aren dyvers staatis of men. Summe aren not reformed to the liknesse of God, and summe aren reformed oonli in feith, and summe aren reformed in feith and in felynge.
For thou schalt undirstonde that a soule hath two parties. The toon is called the sensualité; that is the fleschli feelynge bi the fyve outeward wittes, the whiche is comoun to man and to beest. Up the whiche sensualité, whanne it is unskilfulli and unordynateli rulid, is maad the image of synne, as I have bifore seid, for than is the sensualité synne, whanne it is not rulid aftir resoun. That tothir partie is callid reson, and that is departid on two—the overe partie and the nethere partie. The overe is likned to a man, for it schulde be maister and sovereyne, and that is propirli the ymage of God, for bi that oonli the soule knoweth God and loveth God. And the nethere is likned to a woman, for it schulde be buxum to the overe partie of resoun, as a wo[fol. 106v]man is buxum to man. And that liyth in knowynge and rulynge of ertheli thinges, for to use hem discreteli aftir nede and for to refuse hem whanne it is no nede; and for to have ai with it thyn iye upward to the overe partie of resoun, with drede and with reverence for to folwe it.
Now mai y seie that a soule that lyveth aftir likynges and lustis of the flesch, as it were an unskilfull beest, and neither hath knowynge of God ne desire to vertues ne good lyvynge, but is al blynded in pride, freten in envye, overleid with coveitise, and defoulid with leccherie and othere grete synnes, it is not reformed to the ymage of God. For it lieth and resteth fulli in the ymage of synne, that is the sensualité. Anothir soule that dredeth God and ayenstondeth deedli stirynges of the sensualité and folweth hem not, but lyveth resonabli in rulynge and governaunce of wordli thinges, and setteth his entent and his wille for to plesen God bi his outeward werkes, is reformed to the liknesse of God in feith, and though he feele the same stirynges of synne as that othir dide, it schal not dere hym, for he resteth not in hem as that tothir dooth. But anothir soule that fleeth thorugh grace alle deedli steringes of sensualité and venyalis also, so fer forth that he felith hem not, it is reformed in feelynge. For he folweth the over partie of resoun in bihaldynge of God and of heveneli thinges, as I schal telle thee aftir.
Hou men thorugh synne forschapen hemsilf into seere bestis [fol. 107r]liknesse and thise aren callid the loveres of this world.
A wrecchid man is he thanne that knoweth not the worthinesse of his soule, ne wole not knowe it—hou it is the moste worthi creature that evere God made, outaken an angil whom it is like to, high aboven alle othir bodili kynde, to the whiche nothinge mai sufficen as ful reste but oonli God. And therfore he schulde noo thinge loven and liken but oonli God, ne coveiten ne seken but hou he myght be reformed to his liknesse. But for he knoweth not this, therfore he seketh and coveiteth his reste and his likynge outeward in bodili creaturis werse thanne himsilf is. Unkyndeli he dooth, and unresonabli he werketh, that loveth not the sovereyne good and ai lastande liyf that is God unsought and unloved, unknowen and unworschipid, and cheseth his reste and his blisse in a passynge delite of an ertheli thinge. Neverthelees thus don alle the loveres of this world, that han her blisse and her joie in this wrecchid liyf.
Summe han it in pride and veynglorie of hemsilf, that whanne thei have loste the drede of God thei traveilen and studien nyght and dai hou thei myght come to worschipe and praisynge of the world, and maken no force hou so be thei myghten comen therto and overpassen alle othere men oither in clergie or in crafte, in name or in fame, in richesse or in reverence, in sovereynté and in maistirschipe, in high estate and in lordeschipe. Sum men han heer delite and here reste in richesse and in outeragious [fol. 107v]aver of ertheli godes, and setten her hertis so fulli for to getin it that thei seken not ellis but hou thei myghten comen therto. Summe han heer likynge in fleschli lustes of glotonye and leccherie and othir bodili unclennesse, and summe in oo thynge and summe in anothir. And thus wrecchidli thise that doon thus forschapen hemsilf fro the worthinesse of man and turnen hem into dyvers beestis liknesse.
The proude man is turned into a lion for pride, for he wolde be dred and worschipid of alle men, and that noo man ageynstonde the fulfillynge of his fleschli wille, in word ne deede; and yif ony man wole letten his proud wille, he wexeth fel and wrooth, and wole be vengid of him as a lion vengeth him on a litil beest. This man that doth thus is now no man, for he dooth unresonabli ayeen the kynde of man, and so he is turned and transformed into a lioun. Envious and angri men aren turned into houndes thorugh wraththe and envye, that berken ayen hir even Cristene, and biten hem bi wikkid and malicious wordes, and greven hem that not trespaceden with wrongeful deedis, harmynge hem in bodi and in soule ayens Goddis biddynge. Summe men aren forschapen into assis, that aren slowe to the service of God, and unwillid for to doon ony good deede to here evene Cristene. Thei aren redi inow for to renne to Rome for wordli profite or for ertheli worschipe, or for plesance of an ertheli man, but for goostli [fol. 108r]mede, for helpe of heer owen soules, or for worschip of God, thei aren soone irke. Thei wole not therof, and yif thei ought doon thei goon but a paas and yit with a froward wille. Summe aren turned into swyne, for thei aren so blynde in witte and so beestli in maneres, that thei han no drede of God, but folwen oonli the lustes and the likynges of heer flesch, and han no rewarde to honesté of man, for to rulen hemself aftir the biddynge of resoun, for to restreyne the unskilful stirynges of the fleschli kynde; but as soone as ony fleschli styrynge of synne cometh, thei aren redi for to falle therto, and folwe it as a swyn doth. Summe men are turnyd into wolwes that lyven bi raveyn, as a fals covetous man dooth that thorugh maistrie and overledynge robbeth his even Cristene of here wordli goodes. Summe into foxis, as fals men and disceyvable that lyven in treccherie and in gile.
Alle thise and many othere moo, that lyven not in drede of God but breken his commaundementis, forschapen hemsilf from the liknesse of God and maken hem like unto beestis. Yhe, and worse than beestis, for thei aren like unto the feend of helle. And therfore sothli, thise that lyven thus, yif that thei ben not reformed whanne the hour of deeth cometh and the soules of hem aren departed from the bodies, than schal her iyen ben openyd that is now stoppid with synne, and thanne schal thei feelen and fynden the peyne of here wikkidnesse [fol. 108v]that thei lyveden inne here. And for as mykil as the image of God was not reformed thorugh the sacrament of penaunce in hem, neithir in feith ne in feelynge heere in this lif, thei schullen ben acursid, kest oute from the blissid face of oure Creatour, and thei schal be dampned with the devel into the depnesse of helle, there fore to ben ai withouten ende. Thus seith Seynt Johan in the Apocalips: Timidis, et incredulis, execratis, et homicidis, fornicatoribus, veneficis et ydololatris et omnibus mendacibus, pars illorum erit in stangno ardenti igne et sulphure (Revelations 21:8). That is, to proude men and mystrowande, to cursid and to mansleers, to lecchouris and to covetous, to poysoneris, worschiperis of maumetis, and to alle fals lieres, dool schal ben with the devyl in the pitte of helle brennynge with fier and bremston. Yif the loveris of this world wolden often thenke on this, hou al this world schal passen and drawen to an ende, and hou alle wikkid love schal ben hard ponysched, thei schulde withinne schort tyme lothe worldli lust that thei now moste liken. And thei schulde liften up here herte for to love God, and besili seken and traveilen hou thei myghten be reformed to his liknes or thei passiden hens.
Hou loveris of this world unable hemsilf on seere wise to the reformynge of here owen soulis.
But now seyn summe of hem thus: “I wolde fayne love God, and ben a good man and forsake the love of the world yif that I myght; but y have no grace therto. [fol. 109r]Yif I hadde the same grace that a good man hath, y schuld doo as he dooth; but for I have not, therfore y may not, and so it is not me to witen, but I am excusid.” Unto thise men y seie thus: Sooth it is as thei seyn, that they have no grace and therfore thei liggen stille in here synne and moun not risen oute. But that availeth hem right nought, it excuseth hem not ayens God, for it is heer owene defaute. Thei unablen hemsilf bi dyvers weies so mykil, that the light of grace mai not schynen to hem ne resten in here hertes. For summe aren so froward that thei wolen noo grace han, ne thei wolen no good men ben; for thei witen wel yif thei schulden be good men, hem bihoveth nedes forberen and leven the grete likynge and the luste of this world that thei han in ertheli thinges. And that wolen thei not, for thei thenken it so swete that thei wolde not forgoon it. And also thei moste take werkes of penaunce, as fastynge, wakynge, praiynge, and othere good-deedes-doynge in chastizynge of here fleisch, and in withdrawynge of her fleischly wille; and that moun thei not doon, for it is maad so scharpe and so pyneful to hire thenkynge that thei ugglen and lothen for to thenken therupon, and so cowardeli and wrecchidli dwellen thei stille in there synne.
Some wolden have grace, as it semeth, and thei bigynnen for to ablen hem therto; but here wille is wondir weik, for as soone as ony stirynge of synne cometh, though it be contrarie [fol. 109v]to the biddynge of God, thei fallen as tite therto, for thei aren so bounden thorugh custum bi often fallinge and ofte assentynge to synne bifore, that hem thenketh it impossible for to ayenstonde it, and so feyned hardenesse of performynge weiken her wille and smyten it doon ayen. Summe also feelen stirynge of grace, as whanne thei han bitynge of conscience for here yvele lyvynge, and that thei schulden leve it. But that is pyneful to hem and so hevy, that thei wole not suffren it ne abide with it, but thei fleen therefro and foryeten it yif thei moun, so fer forth that thei seken likyng and comfort outeward in fleschli creaturis, so that thei schuld not feelen this bitynge of conscience withinne her soule.
And overmore summe men aren so blynde and so beesteli that thei wenen that there is noon othir liyf but this, ne that there is no soule of man othir than of a beest, but that the soule of man dieth with the bodi as doth the soule of a beeste. And therfore thei seyn, “Ete we and drynke we, and make we merie heere, for of this be we siker. We seen noon othir hevene.” Sotheli summe aren siche wrecchis that seyn thus in her hertis, though thei seyn it not with her mouth. Of the whiche men the prophete seith thus: Dixit insipiens in corde suo, non est deus (Psalms 13:1). That is, the unwise man seide in his herte, ther is no God. This unwise man is everi wrecchid man that liketh and loveth synne and cheseth the love of this worlde as reste of his soule. He seith there is no God; not with his mouth, [fol. 110r]for he wole speken of him sum tyme whanne he fareth wel fleischli, as it were in reverence, whanne he seith, “Blissid be God,” summe in dispite whanne he is angry ayens God or his even Cristene, and swerith bi his blissid bodi or ony of his membris. But he seith in his thought that there is no God, and that is eithir for that he weneth that there is noon othir liyf than this or ellis yif he wene that there is anothir liyf.
Neverthelees he weneth that God seth not his synne, or that he wole not ponyssche it so harde as holi writ seith, or that he wole foryyve hym his synne though that he flee it not, or ellis that there schal no Cristen man be dampned doo he nevere so ille, or ellis yif he faste oure Ladi faste, or seie everi dai a certeyn orisoun, or heere everi dai two massis or thre, or do a certeyn bodili dede as it were in the worschipe of God, he schal nevere goo to helle, doo he nevere so mykil synne, though he forsake it not. This man seith in his herte that there is no God, but he is unwise as the prophete seith. For he schal feelen and fynden in peyne that he is God whom he forgaat and sette not bi in welthe of this world, as the prophete seith: Sola vexacio dabit intellectum (Isaiah 28:19). That is, oonli peyne schal yeve undirstondynge; for he that knoweth not this heere, schal wel knowen it whanne he is in peyne.
A litil conceile hou loveres of this world schullen doon yif thei wolen be reformed in heer soules bifore thei passen hennys.
[fol. 110v]Thise men, though that thei witen weel that thei ben oute of grace and in deedli synne, thei han no care ne sorwe ne thought therfore. But thei maken fleschli merthe and wordli solas as mykil as thei mowen, and the ferthere that thei ben from grace, the more mirthe thei maken. And perchance some hoolden hem wel paied that thei have no grace, so that thei mowen more fulli and freli folwe the likynge of fleschli lustes, as though God were on slepe and myght not seen hem. And this is oon of the moste defaute. And so bi her owen frowardenesse thei stoppe the light of grace from her owen soule that it may not resten thereinne; the whiche grace, in as mykil as in it is, schyneth to alle gosteli creatures, redi for to entren in there it is resseyved, as the sunne schyneth over alle bodili creatures there it is not letted. Thus seith Seynt Johan in the gospel: Lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebre eam non comprehenderunt (John 1:5). That is, the light of grace schyneth in merkenesse, that is, to mennys hertis that aren merke thorugh synne, but the merkenesse taketh it not. That is, thise blynde hertis receyven not that gracious light ne han not the profite of hit. But right as a blynde man is al umbilappid with light of the sunne whan he stondeth therinne and yit seeth he it not, ne hath no profite therof for to goon therbi, right so goostli a soule blyndid with deedli synne is al unbilappid with this goostli light, and yit is he nevere the betere, for he is blynde and wole not seen ne knowen his blyndenesse. And that is oon of the moste lettynge [fol. 111r]of grace, that a wikkid man wole not be aknowe his owen blyndenesse for pride of himself; or ellis yif he knowe it, he chargeth it not but maketh myrthe and game as he were over al siker.
Therfore unto alle thise men that aren thus blyndid and bounden with the fals love of this world and aren so foule forschapen from the fairehede of man, I seie and conceile that thei thenken on her soule, and that thei able hem to grace as mykil as thei mowen. And that mowen thei doon upon this wise, yif thei wolen. Whanne that thei feelen hem oute of grace and overleid with deedli synne, thanne that thei thenke what meschief and peril is to hem for to ben oute of grace and be departid from God as thei be, for there is nothynge that holdeth hem from the pitte of helle that thei ne schulden as tite fallen therinne, but oo baare sengle threed of this bodili lif wherby thei hangen, that lightliere mai be lost thanne a sengle threed mai be broken on two. For were the breeth stoppid in the bodi, and that mai lightli falle, her soule schulde passe forth and anoon ben in helle withouten ende. And yif thei wolden thenken thus, thei schulden quaken and schaken for drede of the rightwise domes of God and of the harde ponyschynge of synne; and thei schulden morne and sorwe for here synne and for thei han no grace.
And thanne schulde thei crien and praien that thei myghten have grace, and yif thei doon thus, thanne schulde grace fallen in hem, and putten oute myrkenesse and hardenesse of herte[fol. 111v] and weikenesse of wille, and yeven hem myght and strengthe for to forsake the fals love of this world as mykil as is deedli synne. For ther is noo soule so feer from God thorugh wikkidnesse of wille in deedli synne, I oughtake noon in this bodi of synne, that he ne mai thorugh grace be rightted and reformed to clennesse of good lyvynge, yif he wil bowen his wil to God with mekenesse for to amenden his liyf, and herteli aske grace and foryyvenesse of hym, and excusen oure Lord and fulli accusen himself. For hooli writ seith: Nolo mortem peccatoris, sed magis ut convertatur et vivat (Ezekiel 33:11). That is, oure Lord seith: “I wil not the deeth of a synnere, but I wole more that he be turned to me and lyve.” For oure Lord woleth that the moste froward man that lyveth forschapen thorugh synne, yif he turne his wille and aske grace, that he be reformed to his likenesse.
That reformynge in feith and in feelynge mai not sodeynli be geten, but thorugh grace and mochil traveile bodili and goostli.
This reformynge is in feithe, as I have bifore seid, that lighteli mai be had, but aftir this cometh reformynge in feith and in feelynge, that mai not lightli be geten, but thorugh longe traveile and mykil bisynesse. For reformynge in feith is comone to alle chosen soulis, though thei ben but in the lowest degree of charité, but reformynge in felynge is speciali of thise soulis that mowen come to the staat of perfeccioun, and that [fol. 112r]mai not sodeynli be had. But aftir grete plenté of grace and mykil goostli traveile a soule mai come therto; and that is whanne it is firste heeled of goostli sikenesse, and whanne alle bittir passions and fleschli lustis and othere oolde feelynges aren brente oute of the herte with fier of desire, and newe gracious feelynges aren brought in with brennynge love and goostli light. Than neigheth a soule to perfeccion and to reformynge in feelynge.
For soth it is, right as a man that is brought neigh to the deeth thorugh bodili sikenesse, though he resseyve a medicyn bi the whiche he is restorid and sikir of his liyf, he mai not for it as tite risen up and goon to werke as an hool man mai for the feblenesse of his bodi holdeth hym doun, that hym bihoveth to abiden a good while, and kepen hym with medicynes, and dioten hym with mesure aftir the techynge of a leche til he mai fulli recovere bodili heele. Right so goostli: he that is brought to goostli deeth thorugh deedli synne, though he thorugh medicyne of the sacrament of penaunce be restorid to lif, that he schal not be dampned, neverthelees he is not as tite hool of alle his passiouns and of his flesschli desires, ne able to contemplacion. But him bihoveth abiden a grete while and taken good kepe of himsilf, and rulen him so that he myght recovere ful heele of soule, for he schal langure a grete while or thanne he be fulli hool. Neverthelees, yif that he take medicynes of a good leche and use hem in tyme with me[fol. 112v]sure and descrecion, he schal mykil the sunnere be restorid and reformyd to his goostly strengthe and come to the reformyng in feelynge.
For reformynge in feith is the lowest staat of alle chosen soulis, for binethe that myght he not wel ben, but reformynge in feelynge is the highest staat in this liyf that the soule mai come to. But fro the loweste to the higheste mai not a soule sodeynli stirte, ne more than a man that wole clymbe upon an high laddre and setteth his foot upon the lowest stele mai atte the nexte fleen up to the higheste; but hym bihoveth bi processe gon oon aftir anothir, til he mai come to the overeste. Right so it is goostli: no man is maad sodeynli sovereyne in grace, but thorugh longe exercise and sligh wirkynge a soule mai come therto, nameli whanne he helpeth and techeth a wrecchid soule in whom al grace liggeth. For withoute special helpe and inli techynge of hym mai no soule come therto.
On encheson whi so fewe soulis as in regarde of the multitude of othere comen to this reformynge in feith and in feelynge.
But now seist thou, syn oure Lord is so curtais of his goodnesse, and of his gracious yiftes so free, wondir it is thanne that so fewe soules, as it semeth in reward of the multitude of othere, moun come to the reformyng in feelynge. Hit semeth that he were daungerous, and that is not soth; or that he took no reward of his creaturis, the whiche bi takynge of feith aren bicomen his[fol. 113r] servauntis. Unto this I mai ansuere and seyn as me thenketh, that oon chesoun is this. Many men that aren reformed in feith setten not here herte for to profite in grace, ne for to seken noon higher staat of good lyvynge thorugh besi traveile in praiynge and thenkynge and othere bodili and goostli workynge; but hem thenketh it hem inowgh for to kepe hem from deedli synne, for to stande stille in that plight as thei aren inne. For thei seyn that is yinowgh to hem for to ben saaf and have the leeste degree in hevene; thei wolen coveiten no more.
Thus perchaunce doon summe of the chosen soules that lyven in the world actif liyf, and that is litil wondir of hem, for thei aren so occupied with wordli besynesse that neden to be doon, that thei moun not fulli setten here herte to profiten in goosteli wirkynge. And neverthelees it is perilous to hem, for thei fallen often and al dai, and aren now up and now doon, and mowe not comen to stablenesse of good lyvynge. Neverthelees they aren sumwhat excusable, of here staat of lyvynge. But othere men and women that aren free fro worldli besynes yif thei wolen, and moun han here nedeful sustenaunce withoute grete bodili bisynesse, as speciali religious men and women moun that bynden hemsilf to the staat of perfeccioun bi takynge of religioun, and othere men also in seculere staat that han mochil resoun and grete kyndeli witte, and myghten yif thei wolde disposen hem therto come to mychil grace—thise men are more for to blamen, for thei stondeth stille as thei weren idel, and wolen nought profite in [fol. 113v]grace, ne no ferthere seken for to comen to the love and to the knowynge of God.
For soothli it is perilous to a soule that is reformed oonli in feith, and wole no more seken ne profiten ne yeven to bodili and goosteli traveile, for he mai so lighteli leese that he hath and fallen to deedli synne. For a soule mai not stonde stille alwei in oo staat while that he is in the flesch, for it is eithir profetynge in grace or ellis peirynge in synne. For it fareth bi hym as it dooth yif a man were drawen oute of a foule pit, and whanne he were uppe, he wolde no ferther goon thanne the pittis brinke. Soothli he were a mykil fool, for a litil puff of wynde or an unware styringe of himsilf schulde caste him doun ageyn werse than he was bifore. Neverthelees yif he flee from the brinke as feer as he mai, and goo forthe on the erthe, thanne, though there come a grete storm, he is more siker, for he fallith not ayen into the pitte.
Right so goostli: he that is drawen oute of the pitte of synne thorugh reformynge of feith, and whanne he is oute of deedli synne hym thenketh hym siker inowgh, and therfore he wole not profiten but wole holden him stille as he is bi the pittis brynke as neer as he mai. Sothli he is not wise, for at the leeste temptacion of the enemy or of his flesch he falleth into synne ayen. But nevertheles yif he flee fro the pytte, that is, yif he sette his herte fulli for to come to more grace and for to travaile bisili hou he mai come therto, [fol. 114r]and yyve him herteli to praiynge, thenkynge, and othere good-werkes-doynge, thanne though grete temptacions risen ayennys him, he fallith not lightli to deedli synne ayen.
And soothli it is wonder to me, that syn grace is so good and so profitable, whi a man whanne he hath but a litil therof, yhe, so litil that he myght noo lasse have, that he wole seyn, “Hoo! I wil no more of this, for I have ynowgh.” Whanne I see a wordli man, though he have of wordli good moche more thanne hym nedeth, yit he wole nevere seyn, “Hoo! y have inowgh, I wole no more of this.” But he wole ai coveite more and more, and travailen alle hise wittes and his myghtes, and nevere wole stynten of his covetise til he mai have more. Mikil more thanne schulde a chosen soule coveiten goostli good, for that is ai lastande and maketh a soule blissid, and he nevere schuld ceese of his yernynge, yif he dide wel, gete what he gete myghte. For he that most coveiteth, moste schal have; and soothli yif he dide thus, he schulde profiten and wexen in grace greteli.
Anothir encheson of the same, and hou wilful bodili custum undiscreteli rewarded and usid, sumtyme hyndren soulis fro felinge of more grace.
Anothir enchesoun is this. Sum men that aren reformed in feith in the bigynnynge of here turnynge to God setten hemsilf in a certeyn manere of doynge, whethir it be bodili or goostli, and thenken for to kepen ai that manere of forth werkynge, and [fol. 114v]not for to chaungen it for noon othir that cometh thorugh grace, though it were betere. For thei wenen that that doynge schulde be beste for hem alweie for to holden; and therfore thei resten hem therinne, and thorugh custum thei bynden hem so therto, that whan thei han fulfillid it thei thenken hem wondir weel esid, for thei wene that thei han doon a grete thynge to God. And perchaunce yif it falle that thei ben lettid from here custom, though it be for a skileful cause, thei ben hevy and angri and han trobelynge of conscience, as yif thei hadde doon a grete dedli synne. Thise men hyndren hemsilf sumwhat fro feelynge of more grace, for thei setten here perfeccion in a bodili werk, and so thei maken an ende in the myddis of the weie, where noon eende is.
For whi, bodili costoms that men usen first in hire bigynnynge are goode, but thei aren but meenes and weies, ledande a soule to perfeccion; and therfore he that setteth his perfeccioun in a bodili werke, or in ony goostli werk that he feleth in the bigynnynge of his turnynge to God, that he wole no ferthere seken, but ai reste therinne, he hyndreth himsilf greteli. For it is a sympil craft that apprentice is alwei alike wise inne, and that can on the first dai as mykil of it as he can twenti yeer aftir; or ellis yif the crafte be good and sotiel, he is of a dul witte or ellis of an yvel wille, that profiteth not therinne. But thanne is it sooth that of alle craaftis that aren, the service of God [fol. 115r]is moste sovereyn and moste sotil, the highest, the hardeste for to come to the perfeccioun of it, and also it is moste profitable and moste of wynnynge to him that mai soothfasteli performe it. And therfore it semeth that the prentis of it that is ai like ferforth in the leernynge, othir he is dul-witted or ellis ille-willid.
I repreve not thise customes that men usen in the staat of bigynnynge, whethir thei ben bodili or goostli, for y seie that thei aren ful goode and spedeful to hem for to usen. But y wolde that thei heelden hem not but as a wei and an entré towarde goosteli feelinge, and that thei usiden them a covenable mene, until a betere come, and that thei in usynge of it coveitide aftir betere; and thanne yif a betere come that were more goostli and more drawande in the thought from fleischlinesse and from the sensualité and veyn ymaginacioun, and that schuld be lettid bicause of othir wilful custum, that thei leve thanne here custom, whanne it mai be left withoute sclaundre or disese of othere, and folwe that thei feelen. But yif neither lette othir, thanne that thei use bothe yif that thei mai. I mene not of costoms nedeful thorugh bond of lawe, or of rule, or of penaunce, but of othere wilfulli taken. Thus techeth the prophete in the sautier, seiynge thus: Etenim benediccionem dabit legislator, ibunt de virtute in virtutem, et videbitur deus deorum in Syon (Psalms 83:8). Sothli the bringere of the lawe schal yeve his blissynge, thei schulen goon fro vertu to vertu, [fol. 115v]and God of goddis schal be seyn in Syon. The bringere of the lawe, that is oure Lord Jhesu Crist, schal yyve his blissynge, that is, schal yyve his yiftes of grace to his chosen soules, callende hem from synne and rightynge hem bi gode werkes to his liknesse; thorugh whiche grace thei schullen profiten and wexen from vertu to vertu until thei comen to Syon; that is until thei come to contemplacion, in the whiche thei schullen see God of goddis; that is, thei schullen see wel that ther is non but oon God, and thei schulen see that there is not but God.
Hou that withouten moche bodili and goostli bisynesse and withoute moche grace of mekenes of soulis mowen not be reformed in feelinge ne be kept in it whan thei mai come therto.
Now, seist thou, syn it so is that reformynge in feith is so lowgh and so perilous for to reste inne, bicause of drede of fallynge ayen to deedli synne, and reformynge in feelynge is so high and so siker, whoso myghte come therto—thanne coveitest thou for to wite what manere traveile were most spedeful for to usen, bi the whiche a man myghte profiten inne and come therto, or yif there were ony certeyn traveile or special deede bi the whiche a man myght come to that grace and to that reformynge in feelynge. As unto this I seie thus: Thou wost weel what man or woman wole dispose him for to come to clennesse of herte and to feelynge of grace, hem bihoveth [fol. 116r]have mykil traveile, and grete fightynge in wille and in werk lastyngeli ayens the wikkid stirynges of alle the heed synnes, not oonli ayens pride or envie, but ayens alle othere, with alle the spices that comen oute of hem, as I have seid heer biforn in the firste partie of this writynge. For whi, passions and fleschli desires letten the clennesse in herte and pees in conscience. And hem bihoveth also traveile for to geten alle vertues; not oonli chastité and abstinence, but also pacience and myldenesse, charité and mekenesse, and alle the othere. And this mai not be doon bi oo maner of werk, but bi diversis werkes and manye, aftir dyverse disposyngis of men, as now praiynge, now thenkynge, now wirkynge sum gode deede, now assaiynge hemself in dyverse weies; in hungir and in thurste, in coolde and suffrynge of schame and dispite yif nede be, and in othere bodili disesis for love of vertu and soothfastnesse.
This knowest thou wel, for this redist thou in every book that techeth of good lyvynge. Thus seith also everi man that wole stire mannys soule to the love of God. And so it semeth that there is no special traveile ne certeyn dede thorugh the whiche oonli a soule myghte come to that grace, but principali thorugh grace of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, and bi many deedis and grete in al that he mai doon, and yit al is litil ynowgh. And o skile mai be this: for sithen oure Lord Jhesu hymsilf is special maister of this craafte, and [fol. 116v]also special leche of goostli sikenesse, for withouten him al is nought; therefore it is resonable that aftir he stireth and techeth, so a man folwe and wirke. But he is a sympil maister that cannot kenne his disciple while he is in leernynge but ai oon lesson, and he is an unwise leche that bi oon medicyn wole heele alle soris. Therfore oure Lord Jhesu, that is so wise and so good, for to schewe his wisedom and his godenesse he techeth sundri lessounes to his disciplis, aftir that they profiten in here lyvynge, and yyveth to sundri soulis sundri medicynes aftir the felynge of hire sikenesse. And also anothir skille is this: yif that there were oon certayn deede bi whiche a soule myghte come to perfighte love of God, thanne schulde a man wene that he myght come therto bi his owen werke and thorugh his owen traveile, as a marchaunt cometh to his mede bi his owen traveile oonli, and bi his werke. Nai, it is not soo goostli of the love of God. For he that wole serve God wiseli and come to perfite love of hym, he schal coveiten for to han noon othir mede than him oonli. But thanne, for to have hym mai no creature deserve oonli thorugh his owene travaile, for though a man myghte travelen bodili and gosteli as mykil as alle creatures that evere were myghten, he myghte not deserven oonli bi his werkes for to have God for his mede. For he is sovereyn blisse and eendelees goodnesse, and [fol. 117r]passith withoute comparisoun alle mennys desertis; and therfore he mai not be getin bi noo mannys special werk, as bodili meede mai. For he is free and yeveth himsilf where he wole and whanne he wole, neithir for this werke ne for that, ne this tyme ne aftir this tyme; for though a soule werke al that he can and mai al his liyftyme, perfighte love of Jhesu schal he nevere have, til oure Lord Jhesu wole freeli yyven it. Neverethelees oon that othir side y seie also, that I hope he yeveth it not, but yif a man wirke and traveile al that he may and can, yhe til hym thenketh that he mai no more, or ellis be in ful wille therto yif that he myghte.
And soo it semeth that neithir grace oonli withouten ful wirkynge of a soule that in it is, ne wirkynge aloone withouten grace, bryngeth not a soule to reformynge in feelynge, the whiche reformynge stondeth in perfite love and charité. But that oon joyned with that othir—that is, grace joined to werke—bryngeth into a soule the blissid feelynge of perfite love, the whiche grace may not resten fulli but on a meke soule that is ful of dreede of God. Therefore I seie that he that hath not mekenesse, ne dooth not his bisynesse, mai not come to this reformynge in feelynge. He hath not ful mekenesse that cannot felen of himsilf soothfasteli as he is, as thus: he that dooth al the good deedes that he can, as in fastynge, wakynge, werynge of the heire and alle othere suffrynge of bodili penaunce, or dooth alle the ou[fol. 117v]teward werkes of merci to his evene Cristene, or ellis inward as praiynge, wepynge, sighhynge, and thenkynge: yif he reste ai in hem, and lene so mykil to hem, and rewarde hem so greteli in his owene sight that he presumeth in his owen desertes, and thenketh himsilf ai riche and good and holi and vertuous—sothli as longe as he feelith thus, he is not meke inow. Ne though he seie or thenke that al that he dooth is of Goddis grace and not of hymsilf, he is not yit meke inow, for he mai not yit make himsilf nakid from al his good deedes, ne make hymsilf pore soothfastli in spirit, ne feelen himsilf nought, as he is. And soothli, until a soule can felabli thorugh grace noughten himsilf, and baaren himsilf from al the good that he doth thorugh biholdynge of soothfastnesse of Jhesu God, he is not perfighteli meke.
For what is mekenesse but sothfastenesse? Sothli, not ellis. And therfore he that thorugh grace may see Jhesu, hou he dooth al, and hymsilf dooth right nought but suffreth hym werken in hym what him list, he is meke. But this is ful harde and as it were impossible and unresonable to a man that wirketh al bi mannys resoun and seeth no ferthere, for to doon many gode dedes and thanne for to arette hem alle to Jhesu, and setten hymself at not. Neverthelees whoso myght have a gosteli sight of soothfastenes, he schulde thenke it ful true and ful resonable to [fol. 118r]doon so. And soothli he that hath this sight he schal nevere doo the lasse, but he schal be stired for to traveile bodili and goostli mykil the more and with mykil the betere wil. And this mai be o cause whi that summe men peraventure swynken and sweten and pynen here wrecchid bodi with outeragious penaunce al here liyftyme, and aren ai seiynge orisons and sautiers and biddynge many othere bedis, and yit mowen thei nout come to that goostli feelynge of the love of God, as it semeth sum men doon in schortere tyme with lasse peyne, for thei han not that mekenesse that y speke of.
Also on that othir side I seie, he that dooth not his bisynesse mai not come to the felynge of grace. He dooth not his bisynesse that thenketh thus: Whereto schulde I traveile? Wherto schulde I praie or thenken, fasten or waken, or ony bodili penaunce doon for to come to siche grace, syn it mai not be geten ne had, but oonli of the free yift of Jhesu? Therfore I wole umbiden in fleischlihede right as I am, and right not doon of siche werkis bodili ne gosteli until he yeve it; for yif he wole yyve it, he asketh no wirkynge of me. Whatso that I doo, and hou litil that y doo, I schal have it. And yif he wole not yyve it, traveile I nevere so faste for it, I gete it nevere the more. He that seith thus mai not come to this reformynge, for he draweth himsilf wilfulli to ydel[fol. 118v]nesse of fleschlihede, and unablith hym to the yifte of grace, in as mykil as he putteth from him bothe inward werkynge that stondeth in lastynge desire and in longynge to Jhesu, and outeward werkynge bi traveile of his bodi in goode outeward deedes. So mai he not have it.
Therfore I seie that he that hath not trewe mekenesse ne ful herteli bisynes mai not come to the reformynge in feelynge. For withoute bisynesse—either inward oonli bi grete fervour and lastinge desire and bisi praiere and thought in God, or ellis bothe inward and outewarde—mai he not come to this goosteli reformyng of this image.
That a man that wil come to Jerusalem, that is undirstonde to the cité of pees, the which is contemplacion, muste hoolde him lowe in mekenesse and in feith, and suffir disese bothe bodili and gosteli.
Neverthelees, for thou coveitest to have sum maner wirkynge bi the whiche thou myghtest the rathere neighen to that reformynge, I schal seie thee as me thenketh bi the grace of oure Lord Jhesu, the schorteste and the redieste helpe that I knowe in this wirkynge. And hou that schal be, I schal telle thee bi ensample of a good pilgrine, upon this wise.
There was a man that wolde goon to Jerusalem, and for that he knewe not the weie, he come to anothir man that he hopid coude the weie thider, and askid whethir he myghte not come to that cité. That othir man seide to him that he myght not come thidir withoute grete disese and grete traveile, for the wei is longe and the perilis [fol. 119r]aren grete for theves and robberes, and many othere lettyngis ther ben that fallen to a man in the goynge. And also there are many sundri weies, as it semeth, ledynge thedirward, but men al dai are slayn and spoiled and mowen not come to that place that thei coveiten. Neverthelees, there is o weie, the which weie whoso wolde take it and hoolde it, he wolde undirtake that he schulde come to the cité of Jerusalem, and he schulde nevere lesen his liyf ne be slayn, ne dien for defaughte. He schulde ofte be robbid and yvel beten, and suffre mykil disese in the goynge, but he schulde have his liyf saaf.
Thanne seith the pilgrime: “Bi so y mai ascape and have my liyf saaf and come to that place that I coveite, I charge not what myschief I suffre in the goynge; and therfore seie me what thou wolt, and soothli I bihote thee for to doon theraftir.” That othir man ansuerith and seith thus: “Loo, I sette thee in the right weie.” This is the weie, and that thou kepe this lernynge that I kenne thee. Whatsoo thou herest or seest or feelist that schulde lette thee in thi weie, abide not with it wilfulli, tarie not for it restfulli, biholde it not, like it not, drede it not; but ai go forth in thi weie, and thenke that thou woldest not ellis but bee at Jerusalem. For that thou coveitest, that thou desirest, and not ellis but that. And yif men robben thee and spoilen thee, scorne thee, beten thee, and despice thee, stryve not ageyn yif thou wolt have thi liyf, but holde thee with [fol. 119v]the harm that thou hast and goo forth as nought were, that thou take no more harm. And also yif men wolen tarie thee with tales and fage thee with leesynges for to drawe thee to myrthis and to leve thi pilgrimages, make deef eere and ansuere not ayen, seie not elles but that thou woldest ben at Jerusalem. And yif men profre thee yiftis and wole make the riche with wordli goodes, tende not to hem; thenke ai on Jerusalem. And yif thou wolte holden this weie and doon as I have seide, I undirtake thi liyf thou schalte not be slayn, but thou schalt come to that place ther thu coveitest.
Goosteli to oure purpos, Jerusalem is as mykil for to say as sight of pees, and it bitokeneth contemplacion in perfighte love of God. For contemplacion is not ellis but a sight of Jhesu, the whiche is veri pees. Than yif thou coveite for to come to this blissid sight of veri pees and be a trewe pilgrim to Jerusalemward, though it be so that I were nevere there, neverthelees as ferforth as I can I schal sette the in the weie thedirward. The bigynnynge of the high weie in the whiche thou schalt goon is reformynge in feith, groundid mekeli in the feith and in the lawes of holi chirche, as I have seid bifore; for truste sikirli, though thou have synned here bifore, yif thou be now reformed bi the sacrament of penaunce aftir the lawe of holi chirche, that thou arte in the right weie. Now thanne, syn thou art in the siker weie, yif thou wilt spede in thy goynge and make good jornés, thee [fol. 120r]bihoveth holden thise two thinges often in thi mynde, mekenesse and love. That is, I am nought, I have nought, I coveite nought, but oon. Thou schalt have the menynge of thise wordes in thyn entente and in habite of thi soule lastanli, though thou have not thise wordes speciali formed ai in thi thought, for that nedeth nought. Mekenesse seith, I am nought, I have nought. Love seith, I coveite nought but oon, and that is Jhesu.
Thise two strynges, wel festened with mynde of Jhesu, maken good acord in the harpe of thi soule, whanne thei ben craftli touchid with the fyngir of resoun, for the lowere thou smytest upon that on, the highere souneth that tothir. The lasse thou felist that thou art or that thu hast of thisilf thorugh mekenesse, the more thou coveiteste for to have of Jhesu in desire of love. I mene not oonli of that mekenesse, the whiche a soule feelith in sight of his owen synne or frieltees or wrecchidnesse of this liyf, or of the worthinesse of his evene Cristene, for though this mekenes be soothfast and medicynable, neverthelees it is boistous and fleschli as in regard, not clene ne softe ne loveli. But I mene also this mekenesse that the soule feeleth thorugh grace, in sight and biholdinge of the endelees beynge and the wondirful goodnesse of Jhesu; and yif thou mowe not seen it yit with thi goostili iye that thou trowe it. For thorugh sight of his be[fol. 120v]ynge, either in ful feith or in feelynge, thou schalt holden thisilf not oonli as the moste wrecche that is, but also as nought in substance of thi soule, though thou haddest nevere doo synne. And that is loveli mekenesse, for in reward of Jhesu that is soothfastli al, thou art right nought. And also that thou thenke that thou haste right nought, but arte as a vessel that stondeth ai tome or voide as nought were thereinne, as of thisilf; for doo thou nevere so manye good deedes outeward or inward, until thou have and feele that thou hast the love of Jhesu, thou hast right nought. For with that precious licour oonli, mai thi soule be fulfilled, and with noon othir. And for as mykil as that thynge aloone is so precious and so worthi, therfore what thou haste or what thou doost, holde it as right nought as for to resten inne, withoute the sight and the love of Jhesu. Keste it al bihynde thee and forgete it, that thou myghtest have that that is beste of alle.
Right as a trewe pilgrym goynge to Jerusalem leveth bihynde him hous and lond, wif and childe, and maketh hemsilf pore and bare from al that he hath, that he myght goo lightli withoute lettynge: right so yif thou wolt ben a goostli pilgrim, thou schalt make thisilf nakid from al that thou haste, that are bothe gode dedes and badde, and casten alle bihynde thee, that thou be so pore in thyn owen feelynge that ther be nothing of thyn owen wirkynge that thou wolt lene upoun restandeli, but ai desirynge more grace of love and [fol. 121r]ai sekynge the goosteli presence of Jhesu. And yif thou doo thus, thanne schalt thou sette in thin herte fully and hooly that thou woldest ben at Jerusalem, and at noon othir place but there. And that is, thou schalt setten in thyn herte fulli and hooli, that thou woldeste nothynge have but the love of Jhesu and the goostli sight of him as he wole schewen him; for to that oonli thou art maad and bought, and that is thi bigynnynge and thyn ende, thi joie and thi blisse. And therfore, whatsoevere that thou have, be thou nevere so riche in othere dedis bodili and goostli, but yif thou have that, and knowe and feele that thou haste it, holde that thou hast right nought. Prente wel this resoun in the menynge of thyn herte, and cleve sadli therto; and hit schal save thee from alle perilis in thy goynge, that thou schalt not perischen, and it schal save thee fro theves and robbours, the whiche I calle unclene spiritis, that though thei spoile thee and bete thee thorugh dyvers temptaciouns thi liyf schal be ai saaf. And schorteli yif thou kepe it as I schal seie thee, thow schalt ascape alle periles and myschevys and come to the cité of Jerusalem withinne schort tyme.
Now thou art in the weie and knoweste what the place highte and whidir thou schalt drawe to. Bigyn than for to goon forth in thi jorné. Thi forthgoynge is not ellis but goostli werkes, and bodili also whanne that it nedeth, whiche thou schalte usen with discrecioun upon this wise. What werk that it be that thou schuldest doon, aftir the degree or staate asketh that thou stondest inne, bodili or goostli, yif it [fol. 121v]helpe this gracious desire that thou hast for to love Jhesu, and make it more hool and more esi, and more myghti to alle vertues and to al goodnesse, that werke holde I best; be it praiynge, be it thenkynge, be it redynge, be it wirkynge; and as longe as that werk strengtheth moste thyn herte and thi wille to the love of Jhesu, and ferthest draweth thyn affeccion and thi thought from wordli vanité, it is good for to use it. And yif it be so, that thorugh use savour of that lasseth, and the thenketh anothir werk savoureth thee more, and thou feelist more grace in anothir, take anothir and leef that. For though the desire and the yernynge of thyn herte to Jhesu schulde ai be unchaungeable, neverthelees thi goostli werkes that thou schalt usen in praiynge or in thenkynge for to feeden and norischen this desire mowen be dyvers, and moun ben wel chaungid aftir that thou feelist thee disposed thorugh grace and appliynge of thyn owen herte.
For it farith bi werkes and by disire, as it dooth bi stikkes and bi a fier. For the mo stikkis are leid to the fier, the grettere is the flawme and the hattere is the fier. Right so the more dyverse goostli werkynge that a man hath in his thought for to kepen hool his desire, the myghtiere and the more brennande schal be his desire to God. And therfore loke wisely what werk thou canst best doon, and that moste helpeth thee for to save hool this desire to Jhesu (yif thou be free, and arte not bounden but undir the comoun lawe), and that do. Bynde the not to wilful customs unchaun[fol. 122r]geabli, that schulde lette the fredom of thyn herte for to love Jhesu yif grace wole visite the speciali. For I schal telle thee whiche customs aren ai goode and nedeful to be kepte. Loo, siche a custom is ai good for to ben holden that stondeth in getynge of vertu and lettynge of synne, and that custom schulde nevere be left, for thou schalt ai be meke and pacient, sobre and chaste, yif thou wel doo, and so of alle othere vertues. But the custom of anothir thynge that letteth a betere is for to leven whanne tyme is, there a man mai. As thus, yif a man have in custom for to seyn thus many bedes, or for to thenken oonli this manere thought and thus longe tyme, or for to waken or knelen thus longe, or ony othir bodili deede, this custom is for to leeve sum tyme whan resonable cause letteth, or ellis yif more grace come on othir side.
Of a general remedie ayens wikkid stirynges and peynful taryynges that fallen in here hertis of the fleisch, the world, and the feend, and hou a stidefast desire to Jhesu mayntened and strenthed with devout praiere and bisi thenkynge on him is a sovereyn remedye.
Now art thou in the weie, and thou wost hou thou schalt goon. Now beware of enemyes that wolen be bisie for to lette thee yif thei mowen, for al here entente is for to putten oute of thyn herte that desire and that longynge that thou hast to the love of Jhesu, and for to dryve thee hoom ageyn to love of worldli vanyté, for ther is nothynge that greveth hem [fol. 122v]so mykil. Thise enemyes aren principali fleschli desires and veyne dredes, that risen oute of thi herte thorugh corrupcioun of thi fleschli kynde, and wolde lette the desire of the love of Jhesu, that thei myghten fulli and restefulli occupien thyn herte—these aren thi nexte enemyes. Also othere enemyes there aren, as unclene spirites that aren bisi with sleightes and wiles for to disseyven the. But o remedie schal thou have that I seide bifore—whatso it be that thei seyn, trowe hem not, but holde forth thy weie, and oonli desire the love of Jhesu. Ansuere ai thus: I am nought, I have nought, I coveite not, but oonli for to love Jhesu.
Yif thyne enemyes seyn to thee first thus, bi stirynges in thyn herte, that thou arte not schryven aright, or there is sum olde synne hid in thin herte that thou knowest not, ne were not schryven of, and therfore thou mostist turne hoom ayen and leve thi desire, and goo first and schryve thee betere: trowe not this seiynge, for it is fals, for thou arte schryven. Truste sikirli that thou art in the weie, and thee nedeth no more ransakynge of schrifte for that that is passid. Hold forthe thi wey and thenke on Jerusalem. Also yif thei seyn that thou arte not worthi for to have the love of God, wherto schalt thou coveite that thou myght not have, ne arte not worthi therto, trowe hem not, but goo forth, and seie thus: “Not for I am worthi, but for I am unworthi, therfore wolde I love God; for yif I hadde it, that schulde [fol. 123r]make me worthi. And syn I was maad therto, though I schuld nevere have it, yit wole I coveite it, and therfore wole I praien and thenken that I myght geten it.” And thanne yif thyn enemyes seen that thou bigynnest to wexen bold and wel willed to thi werk, thei bigynne to wexe aferd of thee.
Neverthelees thei wolen not ceesen of tariynge whanne thei mowen as longe as thou art goynge in the weie, what with drede and manassynge on that toon side, what with flaterynge and fals plesynge on that othir side, for to doo thee breke thi purpos and turnen hoom ayen. Thei wolen seie thus: “Yif thou holde forth this desire to Jhesu so fulli traveilynge as thou bigynnest, thou schal falle in sikenesse, or in fantasies, or into frenesies, as thou seest that sum men doon, or thou schalt fallen in poverté and bodily myschef, and no man schal wille helpe thee; or thou myght falle into privei temptacions of the feend, that thou schalt not conne helpe thisilf inne. For it is wondir perilous ony man to yyve him fulli to the love of God, and leve al the world, and nothynge coveiteyng but oonli him and the love of him, for so many periles mowen falle that a man knoweth not of. And therfore turne hoom ayen and leef this desire, for thou schalt never brynge it to a good ende, and doo as othere wordli men doon.” Thus seyn thyn enemyes, but trowe hem not, but holde ai forth thi desire, and seie not ellis but that thou woldest have Jhesu, and ben at Jerusalem. And yif thei perceyve thanne thi wille so strenthid [fol. 123v]that thou wolt not spare for synne ne for sikenesse, for fantasye, ne frenesie, for doughtes ne for dredes, ne for gosteli temptacions, for myschef ne for poverté, for liyf ne for deeth; but ai forth thou wolte with oo thynge, and no thinge but oon, and makest deef eere to hem whatsoevere thei seyn as though thou herdest hem not, and holdest forth stilli in thyn praieres and in thi othere goostli werkes withouten stintinge, and thou dost with discrecion aftir conceil of thi sovereyne or thi goostli fadir; thanne bigynne thei for to be wrooth and to goon a litil neer thee. Thei bigynne for to robbe thee and bete thee and doo thee al the schame that thei mowen. And that is, whanne thei make that alle thi deedes that thou doost, be thei nevere so weel doon, aren demed of othere men as ille and turnyd into wers partie. And whatsoevere it be that thou woldest have doon in helpe of thi bodi or of thi soule, it schal be lettid and hyndrid bi othere men, so that thou schalt be put fro thi wille in alle thinges that thou skilfuli coveitest. And al this thei doon that thou schuldest be stired to ire or malencolie or yvel wil ayens thyn even Cristene.
But ayens alle thise diseses and alle othere that mowen fallen, use this remedie. Take Jhesu in thy mynde, angre thee not with hem, tarie not with hem, but oonly on thi lesson. That is, thou arte not, thou hast not, thou maist not leesen of ertheli good, thou coveitest nought but the love of Jhesu, and holde forth thi weie to Jerusalem, with thyn occupacion. And neverthe[fol. 124r]lees yif thou be taried sum tyme thorugh frielté of thisilf with sich diseses that fallen to thi bodili liyf thorugh yvel wil of man or malice of the feend, as soone as thou maist come ayen to thisilf, and leve of the thenkynge of that disese and goo forth to thi werk. Abide not to longe with hem for drede of thyn enemyes.
Hou thou that art thus in this weie and wolt not be put out bi no diseses; thyne enemyes wolen than forgen thee and sette bifore thee alle thi good deedes and commende thee of hem and hou thou than schalt putte hem awey.
And aftir this, whanne thyne enemyes seen that thou art so wel-willed, that thou art not angri ne hevy ne wrooth, ne mykil stired ayen no creature for ought that thei mowen doon or speken ayens thee, but settest thyn herte fulli for to suffren al that mai falle, eese and uneese, praisynge or lackyng, and that thou wolt charge nothinge with thi, that thou myghtest kepe thi thought and thi desire hool to the love of God, thanne are thei mykil abasched. But thanne wolen thei assaie thee with flaterie and plesynge, and that is whanne thei brengen to the sight of thi soule alle thi good deedis and thi vertues, and beeren upon thee that alle men preisen thee and speken of thyn holinesse and hou alle men loven thee and worschipen thee for thi hooli lyvynge. This doon thyn enemyes that thou schuldest thenke here seiynge sooth, and han delite in this veyn joie and reste thee therinne. But yif thou doo wel, thou schalt holden al siche veyn jangelynge [fol. 124v]as falsheed and flaterie of thyn enemye, that profreth thee venym to drynken tempred with hony. And therfore refuse it and seie thou wolt not therof, but thou woldest ben at Jerusalem.
Siche lettynges thou schalt felen or elles othere like, what of thi flesch, what of the world, what of the feend, mo than I mai reherce now. For a man as longe as he suffrith his thought wilfulli rennen al aboughte the world in biholdinge of sundri thynges, he perceyveth fewe lettynges. But as soone as he draweth al his thought and his yernynge unto oo thynge oonli, for to have that, for to see that, and for to knowe that, and loven that, and that is oonli Jhesu, than schal he wel feelyn manye peynful lettynges, for every thought that he feleth and is not that that he coveiteth is lettynge to him. Therfore I have tolde thee of summe speciali, as for exsample; and overmore I seie generali, that what stirynge that thou feelist of thi fleische or of the feend, plesant or peynful, bittir or swete, likynge or dredeful, gladsum or sorweful, that wolde drawe doun thi thought and thi desire from the love of Jhesu to wordli vanité and lette uttirli thi goostli covetise that thou hast to the love of him, and that thyne herte schuld be occupied with that stirynge restandli: sette it at nought, receyve it not wilfulli, tarie not therewith to longe.
But yif it bee of a wordli thynge that bihoveth nedes to be doon unto thisilf or to thyn evene Cristene, spede thee soone of it, [fol. 125r]and brynge it to an ende that it hange not on thyn herte. Yif it be anothir thynge that nedeth not, or ellis it toucheth not thee, drede it not, like it not, but smyte it out of thyn herte redili. And seie thus: “I am nought; I have nought; nought I seke ne coveite but the love of Jhesu.” Knyt thi thought to this desire, and strengthe it with praier and with othir goostli werk that thou forgete it not, and it schal leede thee in the right weie and save thee from alle periles, that though thou feele hem thou schal not perischen; and I hope that it schal brynge thee to the perfight love of oure Lord Jhesu.
Neverthelees on that othir side I saide also, what werk or what stirynge it be that mai helpe thi desire, strenthe it and norische it, and make thi thought ferthest from the love and mynde of the world, more hool and more brennande to the love of Jhesu, whethir it be praiynge or thenkynge, stillenes or spekynge, reedynge or heerynge, oonlynes or comonynge, goynge or sittynge—kepe it for the tyme and wirke thereinne as longe as savour lasteth, bi so that thou take therwith mete and drynke and slepe as a pilgrym dooth, and kepe discrecion in thi wirkynge aftir conceile or ordenaunce of thi sovereyne. For have he nevere soo grete haste in his goynge, yit he wole in tyme ete and drynken and slepen. Do thou so. For though it lette oon tyme, it schal fortherene the anothir tyme.
Hou a soule whan it is his thorugh grace fro the vyle noise and besynesse of the world is a gode [fol. 125v]nyght and a lighti merkenesse, for thane may it freli praien and thenken on Jhesu.
Yyf thou wilte witen thane what this desire is, sotheli it is Jhesu. For he maketh this desire in thee and he yeveth the it. He it is that desireth in the and he it is that is desired. He is al and he dooth al, yif thou myght seen hym. Thou doost nought, but suffrist hym werken in thi soule and assentest to hym with grete gladenesse of herte that he voucheth saaf for to doo so in thee. Thou art not ellis but a resonable instrument whereinne that he werketh. And therfore whanne thou feelist thi thought bi touchynge of his grace bi taken up with this desire to Jhesu with a myghti devoute wille for to plesen him and loven him, thynke thanne that thou haste Jhesu; for he it is that desireth. Biholde him wel, he goth bifore thee, not in bodili liknesse, but unseabli bi privei hid presence of his goostli myght; therfore see hym gostly yif thou myght, or ellis trowe him and folwe him whidirso he goth; for hee schal leede thee in the righte weie to Jerusalem, that is, the sight of pees in contemplacioun. Thus praiede the prophete to the fadir of hevene, seiynge thus: Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua (Psalms 42:3). That is: Fader of hevene, sende oute thi light and thi soothfastenesse, that is, thi sone Jhesu; and he schal lede me bi desire in me into thi hooli hille and into thi tabernaculis, that is, to the feelynge of perfighte love and heighte in [fol. 126r]contemplacioun.
Of this desire speketh the prophete thus: Memoriale tuum domine in desiderio anime mee. Anima mea desideravit te in nocte, sed et spiritus meus in precordiis meis (Isaiah 26:8-9). That is: Lord Jhesu, the mynde of thee is printed in desire of my soule, for my soule hath desired thee in the nyght and my spirite hath coveited thee in al my thenkynge. And whi the prophete seith that he desired God al in the nyght, and what he meneth therbi, schal I telle thee. Thou woste weel that the nyght is a tymeful space atwixe to daies; for whanne oo dai is ended, anothir cometh not as tite, but first cometh nyght and departeth the daies, sumtyme longe and sumtyme schort, and thanne aftir that cometh anothir dai. The prophete menede not oonli of this maner nyght, but he menede of the goostli nyght. Thou schal undirstande that there ben two daies or two lightes; the first is fals light, the secunde is a trewe light. The fals light is the love of this worlde, that a man hath of himsilf of corrupcion of his fleisch; the trewe light is the perfight love of Jhesu feelid thorugh grace in a mannys soule. The love of the world is a fals light, for it passeth awei and lesteth not, and so it performeth not that it highte. This light byhighte the feend to Adam, whanne he stired hym to synne, and seide thus: Aperientur oculi vestri et eritis sicut dii (Genesis 3:5). That is: Youre iyen schullen ben opened and ye schullen ben as goddis. And he seide soth [fol. 126v]there; for whanne Adam hadde synned, anoon his innere iye was spered and goostli light withdrawen, and the utterere yyen were opened, and he felte and sigh a newe light of fleschli knowynge and wordli love that he sigh not bifore. And so sigh he a newe dai, but this was an ille dai; for this dai was it that Job wariede whanne he seide thus: Pereat dies in qua natus sum (Job 3:3). That is: Perische mote the dai in whiche I was born. He wariede not the dai rennynge in the yeere that God maade, but he wariede this dai that man maade, that is, the concupiscence and the love of the world in the whiche he was born, though he feelte it not thanne. This dai and this light he askide of God that it schulde perischen and no lengere lasten.
But the love of Jhesu is a trewe dai and a blissed light, for God is bothe love and light, and he is ai lastynge, thus Seynt Johan seith: Qui diligit deum manet in lumine (1 John 2:10). That is: He that loveth God duelleth al in light. Than what man that perceyveth and seeth the love of this world fals and failande, and forthi he wole forsake it and seke the love of God; he mai not as tite feele the love of hym, but him bihoveth a while abiden in the nyght, for he mai not sodeynli come from that oon light to that othir, that is, fro the love of the world to the perfite love of God. This nyght is not ellis but a foreberynge and a withdrawynge of the affeccioun and the thought of the soule from ertheli thynges, bi gret [fol. 127r]desire and yernynge for to seen and felen and loven Jhesu and gosteli thinges. This is the nyght; for right as the nyghte is myrke and an hidynge of alle bodili creatures and a restynge of alle bodili deedes, right so a man that setteth him fulli for to thenken on Jhesu, and desiren oonli the love of him, is besi for to hiden his thought from veyn biholdynge and his affeccion from fleischli likynge of alle fleschli creatures, so that his thought be maad free, not ficched, ne his affeccion bounden, ne trobeled in nothinge lowere ne werse thanne hymsilf. And yif he mai doo soo, thanne is it nyght with him, for thanne is he in myrkenesse.
But this is a good nyght and a lighti merkenesse, for it is a stoppynge ought of fals love of the world, and it is a neighynge to the trewe dai. And sotheli the merkere that the nyght is, the nerrere is the trewe light of the love of Jhesu; for the more that a soule mai thorugh longynge to God be hid fro noise and deene of fleschli affecciones, werldli desires, and unclene thoughtes, the nerrere is it for to feelen the light of the love of hym, for it is evene at it. Thus semede that the prophete menede whanne he seide thus: Cum in tenebris sedeo, dominus mea lux est (Micah 7:8). Whanne I sitte in myrkenesse oure Lorde is my light; that is, whanne my soule is hid from alle stirynges of synne as it were in sleep, thanne is oure Lord Jhesu my light, for thanne [fol. 127v]neigheth he of his grace for to schewe me of his light. Neverthelees this nyght is sumtyme peynful and sumtyme it is esi and confortable. It is peynful firste whanne a man is mykil foule and is nought thorugh grace usid for to ben often in this myrkenesse, but wolde fayne have it, and therfore he setteth his thought and his desire to Godward as mykil as he may, that he wolde not feelen ne thenken but oonli on hym.
And bicause that he may not lightli have it, therfore it is peynful, for the custom and the hoomlynesse that he hath had bifore with synne of the world, and fleschli affecciones and ertheli thynges, and his fleschli deedes, presen so upon him and ai smyten in bi maistrie and drawen doun alle the soule to hem, that he mai not wel ben hid from hem as soone as he wolde ben. And therfore is this merkenesse peyneful to hym, and nameli whanne grace toucheth him nought abondauntli. Neverthelees, yif it be so with thee, be not to hevy ne strive not to mykil, as yif thou woldest thorugh maistrie putten hem ought of thi thought; for thou may not doon soo. But abide grace, suffre esili, and breek not thisilf to mochil and slili yif thou maist drawe thi desire and thi goostli biholdynge to Jhesu, as yif thou woldest not charge hem.
For wite thou wel, whanne thou [fol. 128r]woldest desire Jhesu and oonli thenken on him, and thou mai not freli for presynge in of swilk wordli thoughtes, sothli thou art outeward of the fals dai, and thou art entred into this myrkenesse. But thi merkenesse is not restefulle, bicause of disuse and unconnynge and unclennesse of thisilf. And therfore use it often, and it schal bi processe thorugh feelynge of grace be more esi and more restful to thee. And that is whanne thi soule thorugh feling of grace is maad so free and so myghti and so gadred into hitsilf, that it lesteth to thenke on right nought, and that it mai withoute lettynge of ony bodili thynge thenke on right nought: than is it in a good myrkenesse.
This nought I mene thus: that a soule mai thorugh grace be gadred into itsilf and stonde stille in itsilf freli and hooli, and not be dryven ayens his wil ne drawen doun bi maistrie for to thenken or liken or loven with chesinge of affeccioun ony synne, or veynli or ertheli thynge. Than thenketh the soule nought, for thanne thenketh it on no ertheli thynge clevandeli. This is a riche nought. This nought and this nyght is a grete eese for a soule that desireth the love of Jhesu. It is in eese as for thought of ertheli thynge, but not as for Jhesu; for though the soule thenke not of ony ertheli thynge, neverethelees it is ful bisi for to thenken on him.
What thinge thanne maketh this merkenesse? Sothli not ellis but a gracious desire for to have the love of Jhesu. For [fol. 128v]that desire and that longynge that it hath that tyme to the love of Jhesu, for to seen hym and han hym, dryveth oute of the herte alle wordli vanytees and fleschli affecciones, and gadreth the soule into itsilf and occupieth it oonli for to thenke hou it myght come to the love of him, and so bryngeth into this riche nought. And sothli it is not al myrke ne nought whanne it thenketh thus; for though it bee myrke from fals light, it is not al merke fro the trewe light. For Jhesu that is bothe love and light is in this merkenesse, whethir it be peynful or resteful. He is in the soule as travailande in desire and longynge to light; but he is not yit as restande in love, ne as schewende his light. And therfore it is called nyght and merkenesse, in as mykil as the soule is hid fro the fals light of this woorld and hath not yit fulli felynge of trewe light, but is in abidynge of the blissid love of God that it desireth.
Thanne yif thou wolt wite whanne thou arte in this syker merkenesse and whanne not, thou myght assaie thus, and seke no ferthere but thus. Whanne thou feelist thyn entente and thi wille fulli sette for to desiren thus God and thenke oonli on hym, thou maight as it were first examyne thisilf in thi thought, whethir thou coveite for to have onythynge of this liyf for love of itsilf, or for to have the use of ony of thi bodili wittes in ony creature. And thanne yif thyne iye bigynne and ansuere thus, I wolde see right nought; and aftir that thyn eere, I wolde heere right [fol. 129r]nought; and thi mouthe, I wolde savoure right nought, I wold speke right nought of erthli thynge; and thi nose, I wolde smelle right nought; and thi bodi, y wolde feele right nought; and aftir, yif thyn herte seith, I wolde thenke right nought that is of ertheli thynge, ne of bodili deede, ne I wolde have affeccioun fastned fleschli in no creature, but oonli to God and to Godward, yif that y coude. And whanne thei ansuere alle thus to thee, and that is doon ful redili yif grace touche thee, thanne art thou entred sumwhat into merkenesse.
For though thou feele and perceyve glyntynges and proferynges of veyn thoughtes and presynge in of fleschli affeccions, neverthelees thou art in this profitable myrkenesse, bi so that thi thought be not ficchid on hem. For siche veyn ymaginacions that fallen in the herte unaviseli troblen this merkenesse and pyne the soule sumwhat, bicause that it wolde ben hid from hem and mai not. But thei doon not awai the profite of this myrkenesse, for the soule schal bi that weie come to reestful myrkenesse. And thanne is this myrkenesse restful, whanne the soule is hid for the tyme fro the pyneful feelynge of alle siche veyn thoughtes, and oonli is rested in desire and longynge to Jhesu with a goosteli biholdynge of hym, as it schal be seid aftir. But it lasteth but a while hool; neverthelees though it be but a schort tyme, it is ful profitable.
Hou that desire of Jhesu sothfastli feelid in this lightli myrkenesse sleeth alle stirynges of synne, and ableth the [fol. 129v]soule for to perceyve goostli lightnynges for the goostli Jerusalem, that is Jhesu.
Thanne sithen this merkenesse and this nyght is so good and so restful, though it be schorte, that stondeth oonli in desire and longynge to the love of Jhesu with a blynde thynkynge of him—hou good thanne and hou blissid is it for to feelen his love and for to be illumyned of his blissid unseable light for to seen soothfastenesse, the whiche light a soule resseyveth whanne the nyght passeth and the dai springeth. This I hope was the nyght that the prophete menede whanne he seide: “My soule hath desired thee in the nyght” (Isaiah 26:9), as I bifore seide. It is mykil betere for to ben hid in the myrke nyght fro biholdynge of the world, though it were peyneful, than for to ben oute in the fals likynge of this world that semeth so schynande and so comfortable to hem that are blynded in knowynge of gosteli light. For whanne thou art in this merkenesse thou art mykil neer Jerusalem than whanne thou art in myddis of that fals light.
Therfore applie thyn herte fulli to the stirynge of grace, and use thee for to wonen in this myrknesse, and bi often assaiynge to be hoomli thereinne, and it schal soone be maad resteful to thee and the trewe light of goosteli knowynge schal spryngen to thee; not al at oonys, but priveli bi litil and litil, as the prophete seith: Habitantibus in regione umbre mortis, lux orta est eis (Isaiah 9:2). To hem that wo[fol. 130r]nen in the contré of the schadwe of deeth, light was sprongen. That is, light of grace was sprongen and schal sprynge to hem that can wonen in the schadwe of deeth, that is, in this merkenesse that is like to deeth. For as deeth sleeth a livynge bodi and al fleschli feelynge of it, right so desire to love Jhesu felt in this myrkenesse sleeth alle synnes, alle fleschli affeccions and unclene thoughtes for the tyme, and thanne neigheste thou faste to Jerusalem. Thou art not yit at it, but bi smale sodeyn lightnynges that gliteren oute thorugh smale cranés fro the cité schalt thou mowen see it from feer, or thou come therto. For wite thou wel, though thi soule be in this resteful myrkenesse withoute troblynge of wordli vanyté, it is not yit there it schulde be; it is not yit clothid al in light, ne turned al into the fier of love; but it feeleth wel that there is sumwhat aboven itsilf that it knoweth not ne hath not yit, but it wolde have it, and brennandli yerneth it. And that is not ellis but the sight of Jerusalem withoutforth, the whiche Jerusalem is like to a cité that the prophete Ezechiel sawgh in his visions.
He seith that he sawgh a cité sette upon an hil heldande to the thought, that to his sight was no more whanne it was meten on lengthe and in brede than a rodde that was sixe cubites and a palme on lengthe; but as soone as he was brought into that cité and lokide aboughte him, thanne thoughte him that it was wondir moche, for he seigh many halles and chambris [fol. 130v]bothe open and privey. He sai bothe gates and porchis, uttirwarde and innerward, and mychil more biggynge than y seie now, on lengthe and on brede many hundrid cubitis. Thanne was this wondir to hym, hou this cité withinne was so longe and so large, that was so litil to his sight whanne he was withoute. This cité bitokeneth the perfight love of God, set in the liyf of contemplacioun the whiche unto the iye of a soule that is withoute the feelynge of it, and traveileth in desire toward it, semeth sumwhat, but it semeth but a litil thinge, no more thanne a reed, that is, sixe cubitis and a palme on lengthe. Bi sixe cubites is undirstande perfeccioun of mannys werk, bi this palme a litil touchinge of contemplacioun. He seeth wel there is siche a thinge, that passeth the dissert of wirkynge of man a litil, as the palme passeth overe the sixe cubites, but he seeth not withinne what that is. Neveretheles yif he may come withinne the cité of contemplacioun, thanne seeth he moche more thanne he sawe fyrste.
Hou a soule mai knowe fals illuminacions feyned bi the feend fro the trewe light of knowing that cometh oute of Jhesu; and bi what tokenes.
But now beware of the myddai feend, that feyneth light as it come oute of Jerusalem and it is not soo. For the feend seeth that oure Lord Jhesu scheweth to hise loveris light of sothfastenesse; therfore in discey[fol. 131r]vynge of hem that aren unwise he scheweth a light that is not trewe undir colour of trewe light, and so disceyveth hem. Neverthelees, hou a soule mai knowe the light of sothfastnes, whanne it schyneth fro God, and whanne it is feyned of the enemye, schal I seie thee as me thenketh bi ensaumple of the firmament.
Sumtyme in the firmament scheweth a light from the sunne and semeth the sunne and is not, and sumtyme scheweth the trewe sunne treuli. A knowynge of that oon from that othir is this. The feynede sunne schewith him not but atwixe tweyne blake reyny cloudes: than, bicause that the sunne is ney, there schyneth oute a lite from the cloudes as it were the sunne, and is noon. But the trewe sonne scheweth hym whanne the firmament is cleer or mykil clered from blake cloudes. Now to oure purpos. Sum men, as it semeth, forsaken the love of this world and wolden come to the love of God and to the light of undirstondynge of him, but thei wole not come thorugh this myrkenesse that I have spoken of bifore. Thei wolen not knowe hemsilf truli ne mekeli, what thei han ben, ne what thei aren yit thorugh synne, ne hou nought thei aren in hire owen kynde anemptis God. Thei aren not bisi for to entre into hemsilf, alle othere thinges left, and fleen alle wikked stirynges of synne that risen in here hertis, of pride, of envie, ire, and othere synnes, thorugh lastende desire to Jhesu, in [fol. 131v]prayynge and in thenkynge, in silence and in wepynge, and in othere bodili and goosteli exercise as devoute and holi men han doon. But as tite as thei han forsaken the world as it were outeward in liknesse, or ellis soone aftir, thei wenen that thei aren holi and able for to have the goosteli undirstondynge of the gospeel and of holi writ. And nameli yif thei mowen fulfille litteralli the commaundementis of God and kepe hem from bodili synnes, thanne thei wenen that thei loven God perfiteli; and therfore thei wolen as tite prechen and techen alle othere men, as though thei hadden receyved grace of undirstondynge and perfeccioun of charité thorugh special grace and yifte of the Holi Gooste. And also thei aren mykil the more stired therto, for as myche as thei feelen sumtyme moche knowinge, as it were sodeynli gyven to hem withoute grete studie bifore-goyinge, and also mykil fervour of love, as it semeth, for to preche truthe and rightwisenesse to here even Cristene.
Therfore thei holden it as a grace of God, that visiteth hem with his blissed light bifore othere soulis. Neverethelees yif thei wolen loken wel aboute hem, thei schullen wel seen that this light of knowynge and the heete that thei feelen cometh nought of the trewe sunne, that is oure Lord Jhesu; but it cometh fro the myddai feend that feyneth light and likneth him to the sunne. And therfore schal he be knowen [fol. 132r]bi the ensample bifore seid.
Light of knowynge that is feyned bi the feend to a myrke soule is ai schewed bitwixe two blake reyny cloudis. The overe cloude is presumpcioun in an highinge of himsilf; the nethere cloude is doon-puttynge and a lowynge of his evene Cristen. Than what light of knowynge or feelynge of fervour that it be that schyneth to a soule, with presumpcion and highynge of itsilf and disdeyn of his evene Cristene the silf tyme felt, it is not the light of grace yeven of the Holi Goste, though the knowynge in itsilf were sothfast; but it is either of the feend yif it come sodeynli or ellis of a mannys owen witte yif it come thorugh studie. And so mai it wel be knowen that this feyned light of knowynge is not the light of the trewe sunne.
For thei that han this knowynge on this manere aren ful of goostli pride and seen it not. Thei aren so blynt with this feyned light that thei holden the highenesse of here owen herte and unbuxumnesse to the lawis of hooli chirche, as it were perfite mekenesse to the gospel and to the lawes of God. And thei wenen that the folwynge of here owen wille were fredom of spirit, and therfore thei bigynne to reyne as blake cloudis watir of erroures and heresies, for the wordes that thei reynen bi prechynge sounen al to backebitynge, to stryvynge, and to discord-makynge, reprevynge of states and of persones; [fol. 132v]and yit thei seyn that al this is charité and zele of rightwisenesse. But it is not sooth, for Seynt Jame the apostil seith thus: Ubi enim zelus et contencio, ibi inconstancia et omne opus pravum. Non est hec sapiencia desursum descendens a patre luminum, sed terrena animalis et diabolica (James 3:16, 15). That is: Wherso that envie is and flitynge, ther is unstabilnesse and al yvel werk. And therfore that knowynge that bryngeth forth siche synnes cometh not fro the fadir of lightes, that is God, but it is ertheli, beestli and feendli.
And so bi thise tokenes, that aren pride, presumpcion, unbuxumnesse, indignacioun, bacbitynge, and othere siche synnes (for thise folwen aftir the fendes), thus may the fendes light be knowen from the trewe. For the trewe sunne scheweth him not bi spicial visitacioun for to yyve light of undirstondynge or perfite charité to a soule, but yif the firmament be first maad bright fro blake cloudis; that is, but yif the conscience be maad clene thorugh fier of brennynge desire to Jhesu in this merkenesse, the whiche fier wasteth and brenneth alle wikked stirynges of pride, veynglorie, ire, envie, and alle othere synnes in the soule, as the prophete seith: Ignis ante ipsum precedet, et inflammabit in circuitu inimicos eius (Psalms 96:3). Fier schal goo bifore him; that is, desire of love schal goo bifore Jhesu in mannys soule and it schal brennen alle his enemyes, that is, it schal waste alle synnes. For but yif a soule be first smyten doun fro [fol. 133r]the heighte of itsilf bi drede, and be wel examyned and brent in this fier of desire, and as it were purified from al goostli filthe bi longe tyme in devoute praieres and othere goostli exercises, it is not able to suffre the schynynges of goostli light, ne for to receyven the precious licour of the perfite love of Jhesu. But whanne it is thus purified and maad sutil thorugh this fier, than mai it receyve the gracious light of undirstandynge and the perfeccion of love, that is the trewe sunne. Thus seith hooli writ: Vobis qui timetis domini orietur sol iusticie (Malachi 4:2). The trewe sunne of rightwisenesse, that is, oure Lord Jhesu, schal springe to yow that dreden him; that is, to meke soulis that meke hemself undir her even Cristene bi knowynge of here owen wrecchidnesse, and casten hemsilf doun undir God bi noghtynge of hemsilf in here owen substaunce thorugh reverente drede and goostli biholding of him lastandli, for that is perfight mekenesse.
Unto thise soulis the trewe sunne schal risen, and illumynen here resoun in knowynge of soothfastnesse and kyndele here affeccioun in brennynge of love: and than schal thei bothe brennen and schynen. Thei schullen thorugh vertu of this heveneli sunne brennen in perfite love, and schynen in knowynge of God and goostli thynges, for than ben thei reformid in felinge. Therfore he that wole not be desceyved, I hope it is good to hym to drawe doun himsilf and hiden him in this merkenes, [fol. 133v]first fro entermetynge of othere men, as I have before seid, and foryete al the world yif he mai; and folwe Jhesu with lastyng desire offrid in praiere and thenkynge of him. And thanne I trowe that the light that cometh aftir this myrkenesse is siker and sothfast, and that it schyneth out of the cité of Jerusalem fro the trewe sonne to a soule that traveileth in myrkenesse and crieth aftir light, for to wissen it the weie and comforten it in traveile. For I hope aftir trewe myrkenes bifore cometh nevere feyned light. That is, yif a man treuli and fulli sette hym for to forsake the love of the world, and mai thorugh grace come to feelynge and knowynge of himsilf and holden mekeli in that feelynge, he schal not be disceyved with noon erroures, ne heresies, ne ypocrisies, ne fantasies, for alle thise comen into a soule bi the gate of pride. Thanne yif pride be stopped oute, ther schal noon sich resten in a soule, and though thei come and profren hem, thei schul not entre. For the grace that the soule feeleth in this meke merkenesse schal teche the soule soothfastenesse, and schewe to it that alle siche proferynges aren of the enemye.
Hou grete profite it is to a soule for to be brought thorugh grace into this lighti merkenes, and hou a man nedeth to dispose him yif he wole come therto and hou it is oonli the gate and the entré to contemplacioun.
Ther are manye devoute soules that thorugh grace comen into this myrkenesse and feelen the know[fol. 134r]ynge of hemself, and yit witen thei not fulli what it is; and that unkunnynge in partie hyndreth hem. Thei feelen wel often her thought and her affeccioun drawen oute and departid from the mynde of ertheli thynges, and brought into grete reste of delitable softenesse withoute peynful trobelyng of veyn thoughtes or of her bodili wittes; and they feelen that tyme so grete fredom of spirit that thei thenken on Jhesu pesibli and offren here praiers and here psalmes myghtili savourli and sweteli to him as longe as frielté of the bodeli kynde mai suffre it. Thei witen weel that this feelynge is good, but thei witen not what it is. Therfore to alle siche soules I seie as me thenketh, that this maner of feelinge, though it be but schort and but seldom, is soothfastli this myrkenesse that I speke of; for it is a feelynge of hemself first, and a risynge above hemsilf thorugh brennande desire to the sight of Jhesu; or ellis yif I schal seie more sooth, this gracious felynge is a gosteli sight of Jhesu. And yif thei mowen kepe hem in that reste, and brynge thorugh grace into custum so that thei myghten lightli and freli have it whan hem lust, and holden hem thereinne, thei schulde nevere be overcome bi temptacion of the feend ne of the flesch, ne bi errour ne heresie; for thei are set in the gate of contemplacion, able and redi for to receyve the perfighte love of Jhesu. Therfore he that hath it, it is good that he knowe it mekeli, kepe it tendirli, and pursue it ferventli; that no[fol. 134v] creature lette hym uttirli fro it that he ne folw it whan he mai, and that he forgete and sette at nought al thynge that schuld put him fro this, yif he be free of himsilf and mai goo where he wole withouten sclaundir or disese of his evene Cristen. For me thenketh he mai not come to this reste lightli, but yif he have grete plenté of grace and sette himself for to folwe aftir the stirynge of grace; and that oweth he for to doon, for grace wolde ai be free, and nameli fro synne and fro wordli bisynesse, and from alle othere thinges that letten the werkynge of it, though thei be no synne.
Neverthelees, anothere soule that hath not yit receyved this fulnesse of grace, yif he desire to come to this goostli knowinge of Jhesu, as moche as in him is, him bihoveth to ablen himsilf to it, and putten awei alle lettynges that stoppen grace as moche as he mai. Him bihoveth lerne for to dye to the world and forsake the love of it truli. First pride, bodili and gosteli, that he desire after no worschipe of the world ne praisinge, name ne fame, staat ne degré, maistrie ne lordeschipe, wordli connynge ne wordli crafte, benefices ne richesse, precious clothinge ne wordli aray, ne nothinge wherthorugh he schulde ben worschiped above othere men. He schal coveiten noon of al this, but yif thei ben put on him; he schal take hem with drede, so that he be bothe pore outewarde and inwarde, or ellis fulli inwarde in herte; [fol. 135r]and that he coveite for to be foryeten of the worlde, that men rewarde him no more, be he nevere so riche or so connynge, than the porest man that lyveth. Also that he suffre not his herte resten in biholdynge of hise owen good dedes or of his vertues, wenynge that he dooth betere than anothir for he forsaketh the world and othere doo not so, and therfore lete wel bi himsilf.
Also him bihoveth leven alle risynges of herte and yvel willes of ire and envie ayens his evene Cristene, and that he disese no man, ne angre hem unskilfulli in worde ne in dede, ne yyve ony man matier wherthorugh he myghte skilfulli ben angred or stired; so that he myght be free from every man, that no man have to doone with him ne he with ony man. Also that he forsake covetise, that he coveite right nought of ertheli good, but oonli aske his bodili sustenaunce as him nedeth, and holde him paid whan God stireth othere men for to yyve him. And that he putte no manere truste in avere of ertheli good, ne in helpe or favour of ony wordli frend, but principali and fulli in God, for yif he doo otherwise he byndeth hymsilf to the world, and he mai not therfore be free for to thenken on God. And also glotonye and leccherie, and othere fleschli unclennesse uttirli him bihoveth to leven, that the affeccion be not bounden to no woman by flesschli love or fleschli hoomlynesse. For it is no doute that siche blynd love that is sumtyme atwixe man [fol. 135v]and woman, and semeth good and honeste for as moche as thei wolden not synnen in deede, in the sight of God it is ful unclene and grete synne. For it is a gret synne that a man schal suffre his affeccion, that schuld be festened to Jhesu, and to alle vertues and to al goostli clennesse, for to be bounden with ony fleschli love of ony creature wilfulli; nameli yif it be so mykil that it bereth doun his thought and maketh it unrestful, that he mai no savour have in God. Thus I holde it wilfulli that a man doth it and seith it is no synne, or ellis it is so blent with it that he wole not seen it. And also coveite no delices of metes and drynkes oonli for lust of his flesch, but holde him paied with sich mete as he mai esili have withoute grete bisynes; nameli if he be hool, what mete it be that wole doon awai the hungir and kepe the bodi in comoun strengthe unto the service of God; and than he grucchith not, strive not, angre not for his mete, though he be not served sumtyme as the flesch wolde.
Alle thise synnes and alle him bihoveth forsake uttirli in his wille and in his dedes whanne he mai, and alle othere thynges that letten him, so that he mai dispose him for to thenken freli on Jhesu. For as longe as thise lettyngis and siche othere hangen upon hym he mai not dien to the world, ne come into the myrkenesse of knowynge of him[fol. 136r]silf; and therfore that he myght come therto him bihoveth for to doon al this as Seynt Poul dide, seiynge thus of himsilf: Michi mundus crucifixus est, et ego mundo (Galatians 6:14). The world is slayn and crucified to me, and I to the world. That is, he that forsaketh the love of the world in worschipes and richesses, and in alle worldli thyngis bifore seid for love of God, and loveth it not, ne desireth it not, ne pursueth it not, but is weel paied that he hath right nought of it, ne wolde have it though he myght—sotheli to him the world is deed, for he hath no savour ne delite therinne. Also yif the world sette him at nought and hath no rewarde to him, doth him no favour, ne worschip, setteth no price bi hym, but foryeteth him as a deed man, thanne is he deed to the world. And in this plight was Seynt Poule sette perfightli, and so bihoveth to anothir man in partie that wolde folwen and come to the perfite love of God; for he may not lyven to God fulli, until he die first unto the world.
This dyynge to the world is this myrkenesse, and it is the gate of contemplacioun and to reformynge in feelynge, and noon othir than this. Ther mowen ben many dyverse weies and seere werkes ledynge dyvers soules to contemplacion; for aftir sundri disposynges of men, and aftir sundri statis, as are religious and seculeres, that thei aren inne, aren divers exercises in wirkynge. Neverthelees, ther is no gate but oon; for [fol. 136v]what exercise it be that a soule have, but yif he mai come bi that exercise to this knowynge and to a meke feeling of himsilf, and that is that he be mortified and deed to the world as in his love, and that he mai feele himsilf sette sumtyme in this reestful myrkenesse bi the whiche he mai be hid fro vanitee of the world and seen himsilf what he is, soothli he is not yit comen to the reformynge in feelynge, ne hath not yit fulli contemplacion. He is ful feer therfro. And yif he wole come bi ony othir gate, he is but a theef and a brekere of the wal, and therfore he is unworthi he schal be caste oute. But he that can brynge himsilf firste to nought thorugh grace of mekenesse and dien on this maner, he is in the gate, for he is deed to the world and he lyveth to God. Of the whiche Seynt Poul speketh thus: Mortui enim estis, et vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in deo (Colossians 3:3). Ye are deede, that is, ye that for the love of God forsaken al the love of the world aren dede to the worlde, but youre liyf is hid with Crist in God. That is, ye that leven goosteli in love of God, but that lif is hid from worldli men as Crist lyveth and is hid in his godhede fro the love and the sight of fleschli loveris.
This gate oure Lord himsilf schewed in the gospel whanne he seid thus: Omnis qui reliquerit patrem aut matrem, fratrem aut sororem propter me, centuplum accipiet, et vitam eternam possidebit (Matthew 19:29). Every man that forsaketh for my love fadir or modir, suster or brother, [fol. 137r]or ony ertheli good, he schal have an hondredfoold in this liyf and afterward the blisse of hevene. This hundredfolde that a soule schal have yif he forsake the worlde is not ellis but the profight of this lighti merkenesse, that I calle the gate of contemplacioun. For he that is in this myrkenesse and is hid thorugh grace from wordli vanité, he coveiteth not of wordli good, he seketh it not, he is not taried withal, he loketh not thereaftir, he loveth it not, and therfore hath he an hundredfoold more than the kynge hath or than he hath that most coveiteth of ertheli good. For he that nought coveiteth but Jhesu hath an hondredfoold, for he hath more reste, more pees in herte, more verey love and delite in soule in o dai, thanne he hath that most coveiteth of the world and hath al the welthe of it undir his wille in al his liyftyme.
This is thanne a good myrkenesse and a riche nought, that bringeth a soule to so mykil goostli eese and so stille softenes. I trowe that the prophete David menede of this nought whanne he seide thus: Ad nichilum redactus sum, et nescivi (Psalms 72:22). That is: I was broute to nought, and I wiste nought. That is, the grace of oure Lord Jhesu sent into myn herte hath slayn in me and brent to nought al the love of the world, and y wiste not how. For thorugh no wirkynge of mysilf ne bi myn owen witte I have it not, but of the grace of oure Lord Jhesu Crist. And therfore, me thenketh, he that wole have the light of grace and fulsumli [fol. 137v]feele the love of Jhesu in his soule, hym bihoveth forsaken al the fals light of wordli love, and abiden in this merkenesse. And neverthelees yif he be adred first for to wone therinne, turne not ayeen to love of the world, but suffre awhile and putte al his hope and his truste in Jhesu, and he schal not longe be withoute goosteli light. Thus biddeth the prophete: Qui ambulat in tenebris, et non est lumen ei, speret in domino, et innitatur super deum suum (Isaiah 50:10). Whoso gooth in myrkenesse and hath no light, that is, whoso wole hiden him fro love of the world and mai not redili feele the light of goostli love, despeire not, ne turne not ayeen to the world but hope in oure Lord, and lene upon hym, that is, truste in God and cleve sadli to him bi desire and mekeli abide awhile, and he schal have light. For it fareth bi it as it dooth bi a man that hadde ben in the sunne a gret while, and aftir that come sodeynli into a merk hous there no sunne schyneth. He schuld first be as he were blynd and seen right nought; but yif he wole abide awhile he schal mowe soone seen aboute him, first grete thingis and aftirward smale, and sithen al that is in the hous. Right so goostli: he that forsaketh the love of the world and cometh to himsilf into his owen conscience, it is first myrk sumwhat and blynd to his sight. But yif he stande stille and holde forth with bisi praiere and often thenkenge the same wille to the love of Jhesu, he schal mowen seen aftirward grete thynges [fol. 138r]and smale, also that he first knewe not. Thus semede it that the prophete bihighte, seiynge thus: Orietur in tenebris lux tua, et tenebre tue erunt sicut meridies. Et requiem dabit tibi dominus deus tuus, et implebit animam tuam splendoribus (Isaiah 58:10-11). Light schal springen to thee in merkenesse. That is, thou that forsakest soothfastli the light of al worldeli love and hideste thi thought in this myrkenesse, light of blissid love and goosteli knowynge of God schal springe to thee. And thi merkenesse schal be as myddai. That is, thi mirkenesse of travailande desire and thi blynd trust in God that thou haste firste schal turne into cleer knowynge and into sikernesse of love. And thi Lord God schal yeve reste to thee. That is, thi fleschli desires and thi peynful dredis and doutis, and wikked spirites that han contynueli bifore traveiled thee, alle thise schullen weiken and leesen moche of here myght; and thu schalt be maad soo stronge that thei schal not deren thee, for thou schalt be hid in reeste from hem. And thanne schal oure Lord Jhesu Crist fulfille thi soule with schynyngges. That is, whanne thou arte brought into this goostli reste, thanne schalt thou more esily tende to God, and not ellis doon but love him. And thanne schal he bi beemys of goostli light fulfille alle the myghtes of thi soule. Have thou no wonder, though I calle the forsakynge of wordli love myrkenesse, for the prophete calleth it soo, seiynge to a soule thus: Intra in tenebras tuas, filia Caldeorum (Isaiah 47:5). Goo into thi myrkenesse, thou doughter of Caldee. That is, [fol. 138v]thou soule, thou arte as a doughter of Caldee for love of the world, forsake it and goo into thi myrkenesse.
That in reformynge of a soule the wirkynge of oure Lord is departed in foure tymes, that aren callynge, rightynge, magnifyyng, and glorifyynge.
Lo I have seid a litil yif thou coveite for to be reformed in feelynge, how thou schalt dispose thee toward thi forthgoynge. Neverthelees, I seie not that thou maight doon thus of thisilf, for I wot wel that oure Lord Jhesu bringeth al this to the ende, whereso he wole. For he oonli thorugh his grace stireth a soule, and bryngeth it into this myrkenesse first, and sithen into light, as the prophete seith: Sicut tenebre eius, ita et lumen eius (Psalms 138:12). That is, right as the light of knowynge and the feelynge of goosteli love is of God, right so the myrkenesse (that is, the forsakynge of wordli love) is of hym. For he dooth al; he formeth and he reformeth. He formeth oonli bi hymsilf, but he reformeth us with us; for grace yoven, and appliynge of oure wille to grace, werketh al this. And upon what maner wise he dooth that, Seynt Poul reherseth thus: Quos deus prescivit fieri conformes ymaginis filii eius, hos vocavit; et quos vocavit, hos iustificavit; quos iustificavit, hos magnificavit; quos magnificavit, hos glorificavit (Romans 8:29-30). Thise that God knew bifore, that schulde be maad schapli to the image of his Sone, thise he callide, and thise he righted, thise he magnified, and[fol. 139r] thise he glorified.
Though alle thise words mowen be seid of alle chosen soulis in the lowest degree of charité, that aren oonli reformed in feith, neverthelees thei mowen ben undirstonde more speciali of these soulis that are reformed in feelynge, unto the whiche oure Lord Jhesu schewith moche plenté of grace, and dooth moche more bisynesse aboughte hem. For thei aren his owen soones speciali, that beren the ful schap and the liknesse of his sone Jhesu. In the whiche wordis Seynt Poul departeth the wirkynge of oure Lord into foure tymes. First is the tyme of callynge of a soule from wordli vanytee, and that tyme is often esi and comfortable. For in the bigynnyng of turnynge siche a man that is disposid to mykil grace is so quykli and so felandeli inspired and feelith ofte so grete suettenesse in devocion, and he hath so manye teeris in conpunccion, that he thenketh him sum tyme as he were half in hevene. But this softnesse passeth awei aftir for a while; and thanne cometh the secunde tyme, that is tyme of rightynge. That is traveilous; for whanne he bigynneth for to goo forth myghtili in the weie of rightwisenesse and settith his wille fulli ayens alle synnes withouten and withinne, and streccheth out his desire to vertues and to the love of Jhesu, than feeleth he mykil lettynge and hardenesse, bothe withinne himsilf, of frowardnesse of his owen wille, and fro withoute, of temptacions [fol. 139v]of his enemye, that he is often in ful grete torment.
And that is no wondir, for he hath ben so longe croked to the fals love of the world, that he mai not be maad right and evene withoute grete beykynge and bowynge, right as a croked staaf mai not be maad evene, but yif it be cast and beyked in the fier. Therfore oure Lord Jhesu, seynge weel what thynge is bihofful to a froward soule, suffrith it to be taried and traveiled with sundri temptacions, and for to be wel examyned thorugh goostli tribulacions til al the ruste of unclennesse myght be brent ought of it.
And that schal be bothe withinne, of dredis and doughtis and perplexitees, that it schal neerhande fallen into dispeir; for it schal seemen as it were forsaken of God and left al in the handis of the feend, outaken a litil privei trust that it schal have in the goodnesse of God and his merci. For that privei trust oure Lord Jhesu leveth in siche a soule, goo he nevere so feer fro it, bi the whiche the soule is ai born up from dispeire and saved from goostli myschief. And also withouten itsilf schal it be mortfied and pyned in sensualité. Eithir bi dyvers sikenesse or bi feleable turmentis of the feend, or ellis thorugh a privé myght of God, the seli soule bi feelynge and berynge of the wrecchid bodi schal so be pyned, for it schal not wite where ne how that it schulde not mowen suffre for to ben in the bodi, ne were that oure Lord Jhesu kepith it therinne.
And yit neverthelees hadde the soule levere [fol. 140r]for to ben in al this pyne thanne for to be blyndid ayen with the fals love of this world. For that was helle to siche a soule; but the suffrynge of this manere pyne is not but purgatorie, and therfore he suffreth it gladli, and he wolde not putte it awai though he myght, for it is so profitable. Al this dooth oure Lord in grete profite of the soule, for to dryve it out fro the reste in fleschli feelynge, and departen it fro luste of the sensualité, that it myght receyve goostli light. For aftir this, whanne the soule is thus mortified and brought from worldli love into this myrkenesse, that it hath no more savour ne delite of wordli likynge than of a stree, but he thenketh it bittir as wormood; than cometh the thridde tyme of magnyfiynge. And that is whanne the soule is reformed in felynge in partie, and receyveth the yifte of perfeccioun and the grace of contemplacioun and that is a tyme of grete reste. And aftir this cometh the ferthe tyme, of glorifiynge; that is whanne the soule schal be fulli reformed in the blisse of hevene. For thise soulis that aren callid from synne and thus righted or ellis on othir manere likli, dyversli assaiande bothe thorugh fier and watir, and aftirward aren thus magnyfied, schullen be glorified. For oure Lord schal yyve hem fulli that thei coveitide, and more thanne thei coude coveiten. For he schal receyve up hem above othere chosen soulis to the evenehede of cherubyn and [fol. 140v]seraphyn, syn thei passiden alle othere in knowynge and love of God heere in this liyf.
Therfore he that wole come to this magnyfyynge drede not the rightynge, for that is the weie. For oure Lord seide bi his prophete a word of grete comfort to alle siche soules that aren examyned thorugh fier of tribulacions, thus: Puer meus non timere, si transieris per ignem, flamma non nocebit te (Isaiah 43:2). That is: Mi childe, yif thou passe thorugh fier, drede not, for the flamme schal not dere thee. It schal clense the soule from al fleschli filthe and make it able for to receyve goosteli fier of the love of God. And that nedeth for to be doon first. For as I have bifor seid, it mai not ellis be reformed in feelynge.
Hou it falleth sumtyme that soulis bigynnynge and profitynge in grace han more fervour of love as bi outeward tokenes than sum men han that are perfite and neverthelees yit is it not so.
But now seiest thou: “Hou mai this be sooth?” For there are many soulis newli turned that have manye goosteli feelynges. Sum han grete conpuncciouns of here synnes, and sum men han grete devocions and fervoures in praiere, and han ofte sundri touchynges of goostli light in undirstondynge; and summe han othere manere feelynges of comfortable heete or grete suettenesse. And neverthelees this soule come nevere fulli in this resteful myrkenesse that y speke of, with fervent desire and lastende thought [fol. 141r]in God. Than askist thou whethir thise soules be reformed in feelynge or not? It semeth yhis, in as mykil as thei han siche grete goosteli feelynges that othere men that stonden oonli in feith feelen not of.
Unto this I may seien, as me thenketh, that this goostli feelynges, whethir thei stonde in conpuccion or devocioun, or in goostli imaginacion, aren not the goosteli felynges whiche a soule schal have and fele in the grace of contemplacioun. I seie not but that thei aren soothfaste and graciousli yoven of God, but thise soulis that feelen sich aren not yit reformed in feelynge, ne thei han not yit the yifte of perfeccioun ne goosteli the brennynge love of Jhesu, as thei mai come to. And neverthelees often it semeth othirwise, that siche soulis felten more of love of God than othere that han the yifte of perfeccion, in as mykil as the feelynge scheweth more outeward bi fervour of bodili tokenes, in wepynge and sighhinge, praiynge, knelynge, and spekynge, and othere bodili stirynge, so fer forth that it semeth to anothir man that thei weren ai raveschid in love. And though me thenketh it not so, wele y woot that these maner felynges and fervours of devocion and conpuccioun that thise men feelen aren gracious yiftes of God sent into chosen soulis, for to drawen hem oute of worldeli love and fleschli luste that han be longe tym rooted in here herte, fro the whiche love thei schulde [fol. 141v]not ben drawen ought but bi siche feleable stirynges of grete fervoures.
Neverthelees, that the fervour is so moche in outward schewynge it is not oonli for mykilnesse of love that thei han, but it is for litilnesse and weikenesse of hire soulis, that mowen not beeren a litil touchynge of God. For it is yit as it were fleschli, festened to the flesch, and nevere was yit departed fro it thorugh goostli mortifiynge; and therfore the leeste touchynge of love and the leeste sparcle of goosteli light sent from hevene into siche a soule is so moche, so comfortable, so swete and so delitable, over al the likynge that evere it felte bifore in fleschli love of ertheli thynge, that it is overtaken with it; and also it is so newe and so sodeyn and so uncouth that it mai not suffren for to beren it, but bersteth and schewith it out bi wepynge, sobbynge, and othere bodili stirynge. Right as a costret that is olde, and resseyveth newe wyne that is fresch and myghti, the costret bolneth out and it is in poynt for to cleven and bresten, until the wyne hath boiled and spourged out al the unclennesse. But as sone as the wyne is fyned and clered, than stant it stille, and the costreet hool. Right so a soule that is olde thorugh synne, whanne it receyveth a litil of the love of God, that is so fresch and so myghti that the bodi is in poynt for to cleven and bresten, ne were that God [fol. 142r]kepith it hool. But yit it bersteth out at the iyen bi wepynge and atte the mouth bi spekynge, and that is more for weikenesse and feblenesse of soule than for mykilnesse of love. For aftirward, whan the love hath boiled out al the unclennesse of the soule bi sich grete fervours, than is the love cleer and stondeth stille and thanne is bothe the bodi and the soule mochil more in pees, and yit hath the selve soule moche more love thanne it hadde bifore, though it schewid lasse outeward. For it is now al hol in reste withinne, and not but litil in outeward schewynge of fervour.
And therfore I seie that thise soulis that feelen sich grete bodili fervours, though thei ben in mochil grace, aren not yit reformed in feelynge, but thei aren greteli disposyd toward. For I trowe siche a man, nameli that hath ben greteli defouled in synne, schal not come to reformynge in feelinge, but yif he be brent first and purified with sich grete conpuncciouns goyng bifore. Anothir soule that nevere was mykil defoulid with love of the world, but hath ai be kepid fro grete synnes in innocence, mai lightliere and more pryveli, withoute grete fervour schewed outeward, come to this reformynge. Thanne is this sooth, as I hope, that siche confortes and fervours that a soule feeleth in the staat of biginnynge or of profitynge aren as it were his goostli[fol. 142v] foode sent fro hevene, for to strengthen him in his traveile. Right as a pilgrym that traveileth al dai metelees and drynkeles, and is neerhande overcomen with werynesse, falleth at the laste to a good inne, and there hath he mete and drynk and is wel refreschyd for that tyme: right so goosteli a devoute soule that wole forsake the love of the world, and wolde fayn love God and setteth alle his besines therto, praieth and traveileth al dai gosteli and bodili, and sumtyme feelith no savour ne comfort in devocion. Thanne oure Lord havynge pité over al his creatures, that it schulde not perischen for defaute, ne turne into hevynesse or grucchynge, sendeth it amonge his goostli foode, and comforteth it in devocioun as he vouchith saaf. And whanne the soule feeleth ony gosteli comfort, thanne he hooldeth him weel apaied of al his traveile and al his disese that he hadde on the day, whanne he fareth wel at even bi feelyng of ony grace.
The selve wise falleth it of othere soulis that aren profitande and fer forth in grace. Thei feelen ofte sithes gracious touchynges of the Holi Goost in here soulis, bothe in undirstondynge and sightte of goosteli thingis, and in affeccioun of love. But yit ben thei not reformed in felynge, ne thei are not yit perfight. For whi, alle such feelynges comen to hem in that staat as it were unwarli, for [fol. 143r]thei comen or thei witen it, and goon from hem or thei witen it, and thei cannot come thereto ayen, ne thei knowen not where thei schullen seken it ne where they schullen fynde it. For thei han yit noon hoomlynesse with hem, but sodeynli goon and sodeynli comen. Thei are not yit maad lordes of hemsilf bi stabilnesse of thought and lastynge desire to Jhesu, ne the iye of here soule is not yit opened to behooldynge of goostli thynges, but they neighen faste toward. And therfore thei are not yit reformed in feelynge, ne thei han not yit the ful yifte of contemplacion.
On what manere a man schal have the knowing of his owen soule and hou a man schal setten his love in Jhesu God and man, oo persone and neverthelees yit is the love that is caused of biholdynge of him as God and man worthiere and betere than that that is causid of him oonli as man.
Hit nedeth to a soule that wolde have knowynge of goostli thynges, for to have first knowynge of itsilf. For it mai not have knowynge first of a kynde aboven itsilf but yif it have a knowynge of itsilf; and that is whanne the soule is so gadred into itsilf, and departed from biholdynge of alle ertheli thynges and fro the use of the bodili wittes, that it feelith itsilf as it is in the owen kynde withoute a bodi. Thanne yif thou coveite for [fol. 143v]to knowen and seen thi soule what it is, thou schalt not torne thi thought to thi bodi for to seken and feelen it, as it were hid withinne in thi fleschli herte as thyn herte is hid and hoolden withinne thi bodi. Yif thou seke so, thou schalt nevere fynde it in itsilf. The more thou sekest for to fynden and feelen it, as thou woldest feelen a bodili thynge, the ferthere thou art therfroo. For thi soule is no bodi, but a lyf unseable; not hid ne hoolden in thi bodi as a lasse thynge is hid and hoolden withinne a more, but it is holdande and quykenande thi bodi, mykil more thanne the bodi is of myght and vertu.
Than yif thou wolte fynden it, withdrawe thy thought from al bodili thynge outeward and fro mynde of thyn owen bodi also, and from alle thy fyve wittes as mykil as thou maist; and thenke on the kynde of a resonable soule goostli, as thou woldest thenken for to knowen ony vertu, as soothfastnesse or mekenesse or ony vertu. Right so thenke that a soule is a liyf, undeedli and unseable, that hath myght in itsilf for to seen and knowen the sovereyn soothfastnesse, and for to love the sovereyn goodnesse that is God. Whan thou seest this, than thu felist sumwhat of thisilf. Seke thisilf in noon othir place; but the more fulli and the more cleerli that thou maight thenken on the kynde and the worthynesse of a resonable soule, what it is, and what is the kyndeli wer[fol. 144r]kynge of it, the betere thou seest thisilf.
It is ful hard for a soule that is rude and mykil in the flesch for to have sight and knowynge of itsilf thus, for whanne it wolde thenke on itsilf or of angil, or of God, it falleth as tite into ymaginacion of a bodili schap, and it weneth bi that for to have the sight of itsilf, and so of God and othere goostli thinges. And that mai not ben; for alle goostli thinges are seen and knowen bi undirstondyng of the soule and not bi ymagynacioun. Right as a soule seeth bi undirstondynge that the vertu of rightwisenesse is for to yelden to ilke a thynge that it oweth for to han, ryght so on siche a manere bi undirstondynge mai the soule seen itsilf .
Neverthelees, I seie not that thi soule schal reste stille in this knowynge, but it schal be this seken highere knowynge aboven itsilf, and that is the kynde of God. For thi soule is but a myroure, in the whiche thou schalt seen God goostli. And therfore thou schalt first fynden thi myrour and kepen it bright and clene from fleschli filthe and wordli vanyté, and holden it wel up from the erthe, that thou mai seen it, and oure Lord therinne also. For to this ende travelen alle chosen soulis in this liyf, in here menynge and in here entente, though thei have not speciali the feelynge of this. And for that is it as I have seid bifore, that many soulis bigynnynge and profitynge han gret fervour and mykil suettenesse in [fol. 144v]devocion, and as it semeth brenne al in love, and yit han thei not perfight love, ne goosteli knowynge of God. For wite thou wel, feele a soule nevere so mykil fervour, so mykil that him thenketh the bodi mai not bere it, or though he melte al into wepynge, as longe as his thenkynge and his biholdynge of God is al in imaginacion and not in undirstondynge, he come not yit to perfight love ne to contemplacion.
For thou schalte undirstonde that the love of God is on three maner wise and al is good, but ilke is betere than othir. The first cometh oonli with feith, withouten gracious imaginacioun or goostli knowynge of God. This love is in the leste soule that is reformed in feith, in the lowest degree of charité; and it is good, for it sufficeth to savacioun. The secunde love is that a soule feeleth thorugh feith and by imaginacion of Jhesu in his manhede. This love is betere than the firste, whan the imaginacioun is stired bi grace, and for whi, the gostli iye is opened in bihooldynge of oure Lordis manhede. The thridde love is that a soule feeleth thorugh gosteli sight of the godhede in the manhede as it may been sen heere. This is the beste and the moste worthi, and that is perfight love. This love a soule feeleth not til it be reformed in feelynge. Soules bygynnande and profitande han not this love, for thei kunne not thenke on Jhesu ne love him godli, but as it were al manli and fleschli aftir the condici[fol. 145r]ons and the liknes of man. And upon that reward thei schapin al her werkynge, in here thoughtis and in here affeccions. Thei dreden him as man, and worschipen hym and loven hym principali in manli ymaginacioun, and goon no ferthere. As thus: yif thei have doon amys and trespaced ayens God, thei thenken thanne that God is wrooth with hem as a man schulde be yif thei hadden trespaced ayens hym, and therfore thei falle doun as it were to the foot of oure Lord with sorwe of herte and crien merci. And whanne thei han don thus thei han a good trust that oure Lord of his merci wole foryyve hem here trespas. This manere of doynge is right good, but it is not goostli as it myght ben.
Also whanne thei wole worschipe God thei presenten hemself in here thought as it were in bodili liknes bifore the face of oure Lord and ymagynen a wondirful light there oure Lord Jhesu is, and thanne thei reverencen hym, worschipen and dreden hym, and fulli putten hem in his merci for to don with hem what he wole. And also whanne thei wolen loven God, thei biholden him as a man, not yit as God in man, eithir in his passioun or in sum othir thynge of his manhede. And in that biholdynge thei feelen ther hertis moche stired to love of God. This maner of werkynge is gracious, but it is moche lasse lowere than is the wirkynge of undirstondynge; that is whann a sou[fol. 145v]le graciousli biholdeth God in man. For in oure Lord Jhesu aren to kyndes, the manhede and the godhede ooned togidere. For mankynde was taken up in the persoone of Jhesu and is ooned to the godhede. Than right as the godhede is more sovereyne and more worthi than is the manhede, right so the goostli biholdynge of the godhede in Jhesu man is more worthi, more goosteli, and more medful than biholdynge of the manhede aloone, whethir he biholde the manhede as deedli or as glorified. And right so bi the same skile the love that the soule felith in thenkynge and bihooldynge of the godhede in man, whan it is graciouseli schewid, is worthiere, goostliere, and more medful than the fervour of devocion that the soule feelith bi imaginacion oonli of the manhede, schewe it nevere so mykil outeward. For in reward of that, this is but manli; for oure Lord scheweth him not in ymaginacion as he is, ne that he is, for the soule myght not that tyme for freelté of fleschlihede suffren him so.
Neverthelees unto sich soulis that kunne not thenken on the godhede goostli, that thei schulde not erren in here devocion, but that thei schulden ben conforted and strengthed thorugh sum manere inward bihooldynge of Jhesu, for to forsake synne and the love of the worlde—therfore oure Lord Jhesu tempereth his unseable light of his godhede, and clothid it undir bodili liknesse of [fol. 146r]his manhede, and scheweth it to the innere iye of the soule and fedeth it with the love of his precious flesch goostli, the whiche love is of so greet myght that it sleeth al wikked love in the soule and strengthed it for to suffre bodili penaunce and othir bodili disese in tyme of neede for love of Jhesu. And this is the schadwynge of oure Lord Jhesu overe a chosen soule. In the whiche schadwynge the soule is kept fro brennynge of wordli love, for right as a schadwe is maad of a light and a bodi, right so this goostli schadwe is maad of the blissid unseable light of the godhede, and of the manhede ooned therto, and is schewed to a devoute soule. Of the whiche schadwe the prophete seith thus: Spiritus ante faciem nostram Christus dominus: sub umbra eius vivemus inter gentes (Lamentations 4:20). Oure Lord Crist bifore oure face is a spirit; undir his schadwe we schullen lyve amonge folkes. That is, oure Lord Jhesu in his godhede is a spiret, that mai not be seen of us lyvand in flesch as he is in his blissid light. Therfore we schulle lyven undir the schadwe of his blissid manhede as longe as we aren heere. But though this be sooth that this love in ymaginacion bi good, neverthelees a soule schulde desiren for to have goostli love in undirstondynge of the godhede, for that is the ende and the ful blisse of the soule, and alle othere bodili biholdynges aren but meenes ledynge a soule to it. I seie not that we schulden departe God [fol. 146v]fro man in Jhesu, but we schullen love Jhesu bothe God and man—God in man, and man in God; goostli, not fleschli.
Thus kennede oure Lord Marie Magdaleyn, that schulde be contemplatif, whanne he seide to hire thus: Noli me tangere, nondum enim ascendi ad patrem meum (John 20:17). Touche me not, I am not yit stied up to my Fader. That is for to seie, Marie Magdelene lovede brennandeli oure Lord Jhesu bifore the tyme of his passioun, but here love was moche bodili and litil goostli. Sche trowed wel that he was God, but sche lovyd him litil as God, for sche coude not thanne, and therfore sche suffride al hire affeccioun and hire thought fallen in him as he was in forme of man. And oure Lord blamede here not thanne, but praiside it moche. But aftir whanne he was risen from deeth and he apperde to hire, sche wolde have worschipide him with sich maner of love as sche dide bifore; and thanne oure Lord forbede hire and seide thus, “Touche me not.” That is, sette not the restynge ne the love of thyn herte in that forme of man that thou seest with thi fleschli iye oonli, for to resten therinne; for in that forme I am not stied up to my Fadir. That is, I am not evene to the Fadir, for in forme of man I am lasse than he. Touche me not so, but sette thi thought and thi love into that forme in the whiche I am evene to the Fader (that is, the forme of the godheede), and love me, and knowe me, and worschipe me as a God and man godli, not as [fol. 147r]man manli. So schalt thou touche me, for syn I am bothe God and man, and al the cause whi y schal be worschiped and loved is for I am God, and for y took the kynde of man; and therfore make me a God in thyne herte, and in thi love, and worschipe me in thyn undirstondynge as Jhesu God in man, sovereyn soothfastnesse, and as sovereyne goodenesse and blissid liyf, for that am I. Thus kennede oure Lord hire as I undirstonde, and also alle othere soulis that aren disposid to contemplacioun and able therto, that thei schulden doon so.
Neverthelees, othere soulis that aren not sotel in kynde, ne are not yit maad goostli thorugh grace, it is good to hem that thei kepe forth here owen wirkynge in imaginacion with manli affeccions, until more grace come freeli to hem. It is not sikir to a man for to leven a good werk uttirli until he see and feele a betere. Upon the same wise it mai be seide of othir manere feelynges that aren like to bodili thynges, as heeryng of delitable songe, or feelynge of comfortable heete in the bodi, or seynge of light, or swettenesse of bodili savour. Thise aren not goosteli feelynges, for goostli feelynges aren felt in the myghtis of the soule, principali in undirstondynge and in love and litil in imaginacioun; but thise feelynges aren in imaginacion, and therfore thei aren not goostli feelynges, but whan thei are best and moste trewe yit aren thei but outeward tokenes of inli grace that is feelt in the myght[fol. 147v]tis of the soule. This mai be openli prived bi holi writ seiynge thus: Apparuerunt apostolis dispertite lingue tanquam ignis, seditque super singulos eorum spiritus sanctus (Acts 2:3). The Holi Gooste apperide to the apostelis in the dai of Pentacost in liknesse of brennynge tunges, and enflawmede alle here hertis and satte upon ilke of hem. Now sooth it is the Holi Gost, that is God himsilf unseable, was not that fier ne the tunges that weren seen, ne the brennyng that was feelt bodili, but he was unseabli feelt in the myghtis of hire soulis, for he lightned here resoun and kyndelide here affeccioun thorugh his blisside presence so cleerli and so brennandeli, that thei hadden sodeynli the goostli knowynge of soothfastenesse and the perfeccion of love, as oure Lord bihighte hem, seyynge thus: Spiritus sanctus docebit vos omnem veritatem (John 16:13). The Holi Goost schal teche you al soothfastnesse. Thanne was that fier and that brennynge not ellis but a bodili tokene, outeward schewid in wittenessynge of that grace that was inwardeli feelt. And as it was in hem, so is it in othere soulis that aren visited and lightned withinne of the Holi Goste, and han with that siche outward feelynges in comfort and wittenessynge of the inward grace. But that grace is not, as I hope, in alle soulis that aren perfite, but there oure Lord wole. Othere soules unperfite that han siche feelynges outewarde [fol. 148r]and han not yit receyved the inward grace, it is not good to hem for to resten in siche feelynges to mykil, but in as mykil as thei helpen the soule to more stablenesse of thought in God and to more love. For summe mowen ben trewe and summe mowen be feyned, as I have seide bifore.
Hou this maner of spekyng reformynge of a soule in feelynge and in what wise it is reformed is founden in Seynt Poulis wordis.
Now I have seide to thee a litil of reformynge in feith, and also I have touched thee a litil of the forthgoynge from that reformynge to the highere reformynge that is in feelynge. Not in that entente as I wolde bi thise wordes setten Goddis werkinge undir a lawe of my spekynge, as for to seyn, thus wirketh God in a soule and noon othirwise. Nay, I meene not soo: but y seie aftir my symple feelynge that oure Lord Jhesu werkith thus in summe creatures as I hope. And I hope wel that he werketh otherewise also, that passith my witte and my feelynge. Neverthelees, wheer he werke thus or othirwise, bi sundry menys, in lengere tyme or in schorter tyme, with mykil traveile or litil traveile, yif al come to oon eende, that is to perfite love of hym, than is it gode inowgh. For yif he wole yeven a soule on o day the ful grace of contemplacion and withouten ony travaile, as he weel mai, as good it is to that soule [fol. 148v]as yif he had ben examyned, pyned and mortified, and purified twenti wyntir tyme. And therfore upon this manere wise take thou my seiynge, as I have seid; and namely as I thenke for to seyn. For now bi the grace of oure Lord Jhesu schal y speke a litil as me thenketh more openli of reformynge in feelynge—what it is and how it is maad, and whiche aren goostli feelynges that a soule receyveth.
Neverthelees first, that thou take not this maner of spekynge of reformynge of a soule in feelynge as feynynge or fantasie, therfore I schal grounden it in Seynt Poules wordis, where he seith thus: Nolite conformari huic seculo, sed reformamini in novitate sensus vestri (Romans 12:2). That is: Ye that aren thorugh grace reformed in feith, conforme yow not henneforward to maneres of the world, in pride, in covetise, and in othere synnes; but be ye reformed in newehede of youre feelynge. Loo, heere thou maist see that Seynt Poul speketh of reformynge in feelynge; and what that newe feelynge is he expounneth in anothir place thus: Ut impleamini in agnicione voluntatis eius, in omni intellectu et sapiencia spirituali (Colossians 1:9). That is: We praien God that ye mowen ben fulfilled in knowynge of Goddis wille, in al undirstondyng and in al maner goostli wisdom; that is, in reformynge in feelynge. For thou schalt undirstonde that the soule hath two manere of feelynges: on withoute of the fyve bodili wittes, anothir withinne of the goostli wit[fol. 149r]tes, the whiche aren propirli the myghtis of the soule, mynde, reson and wille. Whanne thorugh grace thise myghtes aren fulfilled in al undirstondinge of the wille of God and in goostli wisdom, than hath the soule newe gracious feelynges. That this is sooth, he schewith in anothir place thus: Renovamini spiritu mentis vestre, et induite novum hominem, qui secundum deum creatus est in iusticia, sanctitate, et in veritate (Ephesians 4:23-24). Be yee now renued in the spirit of youre soule; that is, ye schullen ben reformed not in bodili feelynge ne in imaginacion, but in the overe partie of youre resoun. And clothe yow in a newe man, that is schapen aftir God in rightwisenesse, holinesse, and soothfastnesse. That is, your reson, that is propirli the ymage of God thorugh grace of the Holi Goost, schal be clothid in a newe light of soothfastenesse, holynesse and rightwisenesse and thanne is it reformed in feelynge. For whanne the soule hath perfight knowynge of God, than is it reformed. Thus seith Seynt Poul: Exspoliantes veterem hominem cum actibus suis; induite novum, qui renovatur in agnicione dei, secundum ymaginem eius qui creavit eum (Colossians 3:9-10). Spoile yousilf of the oolde man with alle his deedis; that is, casteth fro yow the love of the world with alle wordli maneris. And clothe you in a newe man; that is, ye schullen be renewed in the knowynge of God aftir the liknesse of hym that made yow.
Bi thise wordes maist thou undirstonden that Seynt Poul wold have mennys [fol. 149v]soulis reformed in partie knowynge of God, for that is the newe feelynge that he speketh of generali. And therfore upon his word I schal seyn more pleynli of this reformynge, as God yeveth me grace. For ther is two maner of knowynge of God. On is had principali in imaginacion, and litil in undirstondynge. This knowynge is in chosen soulis bigynnynge and profitynge in grace, that knowen God and loven hym al manli not goostli, with manli affeccions and with bodili liknesse, as I have bifore seid. This knowynge is good, and it is likned to mylk bi the whiche thei aren tendirli norischid as children, til thei ben able for to come to the fadris boord and taken of his hande hool breed. And that othir knowynge is principaly felt in undirstondynge, whanne it is comforted and illumyned bi the Hooli Goost, and litil in imagynacion. For the undirstondynge is ladi, and ymaginacion is a maiden, servande to the undirstondynge whanne nede is. This knowynge is oolde breed, mete for perfite soulis, and it is reformynge in feelynge.
Hou grace openeth the innere iye of a soule into goostli biholdynge of Jhesu, and hou there is thre maner of knowynge of Jhesu bi example of thre men stondynge in the sunne, on blynd, anothir hath his iyen sperid, and the thridde forth lokynge.
A soule that is callid fro the love of the [fol. 150r]world, and aftir that it is righted and assaied, mortefied and purified, as I have bifore seid, oure Lord Jhesu of his merciful goodnesse reformeth it in feelynge whanne he vucheth saaf. He openeth the innere iye of the soule whanne he lightneth the reson thorugh touchynge and schynynge of his blyssid light, for to seen hym and knowe him; not al fulli at oones, but litil and litil bi dyverse tymes, as the soule mai suffre hym. He seeth hym not what he is, for that mai no creature doon in hevene ne in erthe; ne he seth him not as he is, for that sight is oonli in the blisse of hevene. But he seth him that he is: an unchaungeable beynge, a sovereyn myght, sovereyn soothfastnesse and sovereyne goodnesse, a blissid lyf, and an eendelees blisse. This seeth the soule, and moche more that cometh withal; not blyndli and savourli, as dooth a clerk that seeth him be clergie oonli thorugh myght of his naked resoun, but that othir seeth hym in undirstondynge that is comforted and lightned by the yifte of the Hooli Goost with a wondirful reverence and a privei brennande love, with goostli savour and heveneli delite, more cleerli and more fulli than mai be writen or seid.
This sight, though it be schortli and litil, is so worthi and so myghti that it draweth and ravescheth al the affeccion of the soule therto from biholdynge and the mynde of al ertheli thynge, for to reste therinne everemore yif that it myghte. And of this maner sight [fol. 150v]and knowynge the soule groundeth al his inward wirkynge in alle the affeccions. For thanne it dredeth God in man as soothfastnesse, wondreth him as myght, loveth him as goodnesse. This sight and this knowynge of Jhesu, with the blissid love that cometh oute of it, mai be called the reformynge of a soule in feith and in feelynge that I speke of. It is in feith, for it is myrk yit as in reward of that ful knowynge that schal ben in hevene. For than schullen we seen hym not oonli that he is, but even as he is; as Seynt Joon seith: Tunc videbimus eum sicuti est (1 John 3:2). That is: Thanne schulle we seen him as he is. Neverthelees, it is in feelynge also, as in reward of that blynde knowynge that a soule hath stondynge oonli in feith. For this soule knoweth sumwhat of the kynde of Jhesu God thorugh this gracious sight, but that othir knoweth it not, but oonli troweth it, this is sooth.
Neverthelees, that thou mowe the betere conceyve that I meene, I schal schewe thee thre manere reformynge of a soule bi ensample of three men stondynge in light of the sunne. Of the whiche three, oon is blynd, and anothir mai seen but he hath hise iyen spered, the thridde loketh forth ful sight.
The blynde man hath no maner knowynge that he is in the sunne, but he troweth it yif a trewe man telle hym; and he bitokeneth a soule that is oonli reformed in feith, that troweth in God as holi chirche techeth, and woot not what. This sufficeth as for savacion. The tothir seeth [fol. 151r]a light of the sunne, but he seeth it not cleerli what it is, ne as it is, for the liddes of his iyen letteth him that he mai not, but he seeth thorugh the liddes of his iyen a glymerynge of a greet light. And he bitokeneth a soule that is reformed in feith and in feelynge, and so is contemplatif. For he seeth sumwhat of the godhede of Jhesu thorugh grace; not cleerli ne fulli, for the iyen liddes, that is his bodili kynde, is yit a wal atwixe his kynde and the kynde of Jhesu, and letteth him fro the cleer sight of him. But he seeth thorugh this wal, aftir that grace toucheth him more or lasse, that Jhesu is God and that Jhesu is sovereyne goodnesse, and sovereyne beynge, and a blissid liyf, and that al othir goodnesse cometh of him. This seeth the soule bi grace, not ayenstondynge alle the bodili kynde; and the more clene and sotil that the soule ys maad, the more it is departid from fleschlihede, the scharpere sight it hath and the myghtiere love of the godhede of Jhesu. This sight is so myghti that though no man lyvand wolde trowe in Jhesu, ne love him, he wolde trowe nevere the lesse ne love him the lasse; for he seeth it so soothfastli thorugh grace that he mai not untrowe it.
The thridde man, that hath ful sight of the sunne, he troweth it not for he seeth it fulli; bitokeneth a ful blissid soule that withouten ony wal of bodi or synne seeth openli the face of Jhesu in the blisse of hevene. There is no feith, and therfore he is fulli reformed in feelynge.
There is no staat above the se[fol. 151v]cunde reformynge that a soule mai come to heere in this liyf; for this is the staat of perfeccion, in the weie to heveneward. Nevertheles alle the soulis that aren in this staat are not alle ilike ferforth. For summe have it litil, and schortli and seldom; and summe lengere, clerere and oftennere; and summe han it clerest and lengest, aftir the habundynge of grace; and yit alle thise han the yifte of contemplacioun. For the soule hath not perfighte sight of Jhesu al at onys, but first a litil, and aftir that it profiteth and cometh to more feelynge, and as longe as it is in this lyf it mai wexen more in the knowynge and in this love of Jhesu. And sothli I woot not what were more leef to siche a soule that hath a litil felt of it, than uttirli alle othire thynges left and sette hem at nought, and oonli tende therto for to have clerere sight and clennere love of Jhesu, in whom is al the blissid Trynyté.
This manere of knowynge of Jhesu, as I undirstonde, is the openynge of hevene to the iye of a clene soule, of the whiche holi men speken of in here writynge. Not as summe wenen, that the openynge of hevene is yif a soule myght seen bi imaginacion thorugh the skyes above the firmament, hou oure Lord Jhesu sitteth in his majesté in a bodili light as mykil as an hundred sunnes. Nai, it is not soo: ne though he see nevere so highe on that manere, sothli he seeth not the goostly [fol. 152r]hevene. The hiere he stiyeth above the sonne bi sich imagynacion for to see Jhesu God, the lowere he falleth bynethe the sunne. Neverthelees this maner sight is suffrable to symple soulis, that kunne no betere seke hym that is unseable.
Hou Jhesu is hevene to the soule; and hou a soule schal seke Jhesu above itself and withinne itsilf; and whi Jhesu is callid fier and light.
What is hevene to a resonable soule? Sothli, not ellis but Jhesu God. For yif that be hevene oonli that is above a thynge, than is God oonli hevene to mannys soule. For he is oonli above the kynde of a soule. Thanne yif a soule mai thorugh grace have knowynge of that blissid kynde of Jhesu, sothli he seeth hevene, for he seeth God.
Therfore ther are many men that erren in undirstondynge of summe wordes that aren seid of God, for thei undirstonden hem not goostli. Hooli writte seith that a soule that wole fynde God schal liften upward the innere iye and seke God above itsilf. Thanne summe that wolde doon aftir this seiynge undirstonden this word “aboven hemsilf,” as for higher settynge in stide and for worthiere of place, as oon element or oon planete is above anothir in settynge and in worthinesse of bodili place; but it is not so goostli. For a soule is above a bodili thynge not bi settynge of stide, but bi sutilté and worthi[fol. 152v]nesse of kynde. Right so, in the selve wise, God is above alle bodili and goostli creaturis, not bi settynge of stide, but thorugh sutilté and worthinesse of his unchaungeable blissid kynde. And therfore he that wole wisili seke God and fynden him, he schal not renne oute with his thought as yif he wolde clymbe above the sunne and persen the firmament, and imagyne the majesté as it were a light of an hundred sonnes. But he schal rathere drawe doun the sunne and al the firmament, and foryeten it and casten it binethen hym ther as he is, and setten al this and al bodili thinge also at nought, and thenken thanne yif he can goostli, bothe of himsilf and of God also. And yif he doo thus, thanne seeth the soule aboven himsilf and thanne seeth it hevene.
Upon this self manere schal this word “withinne” be undirstonden. It is comonli seid that a soule schal see oure Lord withynne al thynge and withinne itsilf. Sooth it is that oure Lord is withinne alle creatures, not on that manere as a kirnel is hid withinne the schale of a note, or as a litil bodili thinge is hid and holden withinne anothir mykil. But he is withinne alle creatures as hooldynge and kepynge hem in here beynge, thorugh sutilté and thorugh myght of his blissid kynde and clennesse unseable. For right as a thyng that is most precious and moste clene is leid innerest, right so bi that liknesse it is seid the kynde of God [fol. 153r](that is most precious and most clene and most goostli, feerthest from bodilihede) is hid withinne alle thynges. And therfore he that wole seke God withinne, he schal foryete first al bodili thynge (for al that is withouten) and his owen bodi; and he schal foryeten the thenkynge of his owen soule and thenken on that unmaad kynde that is Jhesu, that made him, quykeneth him, and holdeth him, and yyveth hym resoun and mynde and love; the whiche is withinne hym thorugh his privei myght and sovereyne sotilté. Upon this manere schal the soule doo whanne grace touchith hym, ellis it wole but litil availe to seken Jhesu and fynde him withinne itsilf and withinne alle cretures, as me thenketh.
Also it is seide in holi writ that God is light. So seith Seynt Joon: Deus lux est (1 John 1:5). That is, God is light. The light schal not ben undirstonden as for bodili light, but it is undirstonden thus: God is light, that is, God is truthe and soothfastnesse, for sothfastnesse is gostli light. Than he that most graciousli knoweth soothfastnesse, beest seeth God. And neverthelees it is likned to bodili light for this skile. Right as the sunne schewith to the bodili iye itsilf and al bodili thynge bright, right so soothfastnesse, that is God, scheweth to the reson of the soule itsilf first, and bi itsilf alle othere goostli thynge that nedeth to be knowen of a soule. Thus seith the prophete: Domine, in lumine tuo videbimus lumen (Psalms 35:10). Lord, we schullen see light bi thi light. [fol. 153v]That is, we schullen seen thee, that art soothfastnesse, bi thisilf.
On the selve wise it is seid that God is fier: Deus noster ignis consumens est (Hebrews 12:29). That is: Oure Lord is fier wastande. That is for to seyn, God is not fier elementarie, that heteth a bodi and brenneth it, but God is love and charité. For as fier wasteth al bodili thinge that mai be wasted, right so the love of God wasteth and brenneth al synne oute of the soule and maketh it clene, as fier maketh clene al manere metal. Thise wordis, and alle othere that aren spoken of oure Lord in hooli writynge bi bodili liknesse, moste nedis ben undirstonden goostli, ellis there is no savour in hem. Neverthelees, the cause whi siche maner wordis aren seid of oure Lord in holi writ is this. For we aren so fleschli that we conne not of God, ne undirstonde of hym, but yif we bi siche wordes first ben entred in. Neverthelees, whanne the innere iye is opened thorugh grace for to han a litil sight of Jhesu, thanne schal the soule turne lightli inowgh alle sich wordes of bodili thyngis into goostli undirstondynge.
This goostli oopenynge of the innere iye into knowynge of the godhede y calle reformynge in feith and in feelynge. For thanne the soule sumwhat feelith in undirstondinge of that thynge that it hadde bifore oonli in nakyd trowing. And that is bigynnynge of contemplacion, of the whiche Seynt Poul seith thus: Non contemplantibus [fol. 154r]nobis que videntur, sed que non videntur; quia que videntur, temporalia sunt, que autem non videntur, eterna sunt (2 Corinthians 4:18). That is: Oure contemplacion is not in thinges that are seen, but it is in thinges unseable. For thynges that are seen aren passynge, but thinges unseable aren ai lastande. To the whiche sight every soule schulde desire for to come, bothe heere in partie, and in the blisse of hevene fulli. For in that sight and in that knowynge of Jhesu is fulli the blisse of a resonable soule, and endelees liyf. Thus seith oure Lord: Hec est autem vita eterna: ut cognoscant te verum deum, et quem misisti Jesum Cristum (John 17:3). That is: Fadir, this is endelees liyf; that thi chosen soulis knowe thee and thi sone Jhesu Crist whom thou hast sent, oon soothfast God.
Of two maner of love formed, what it meeneth, and unformed; and hou we aren biholden for to love Jhesu moche for oure makynge, but moche more for oure biynge, but most for oure ful savynge whanne he yeveth the Holi Goost to us and maketh us saaf thorugh love.
But now, wondrist thou, syn this knowynge of God is the blisse and the ende of a soule, whi thanne have I seid heere bifore that the soule schal not ellis coveiten but oonli the love of God; but I spak nothynge of this sight, that a soule schulde coveite this?
Unto this I mai seyn thus: that the sight of Jhesu is ful blis of a soule, and that is not oonli for the sight, but it is also for the blissid love that cometh oute of the [fol. 154v]sight. Neverthelees, for love cometh oute of knowynge and not knowynge of love, therfore it is seid that in syght principali of God with love is the blisse of a soule, and the more he is knowen the betere he is loved. But for as mykil as to this knowynge, or to this love that cometh of it, mai not the soule come withoute love; therfore seide I that thou schuldest oonli coveiten love. For love is cause whi a soule cometh to this sight and to this knowynge; and that love is not the love that a soule hath in itsilf to God, but the love that God hath to a symple soule that can right nought loven him is cause whi this soule cometh to this knowynge and to this love that cometh of it. And on what manere that is, I schal telle the more openly.
Holi writeres seyn, and sooth it is, that there is two maneres of goostli love. On is callid unformed, anothir is called formed. Love unformed is God himsilf, the thridde persoone in Trinyté; that is, the Holi Goost. He is love unformed and unmaad, as Seynt Joon seith thus: Deus dileccio est (1 John 4:8). God is love, that is, the Holi Goost. Love formed is the affeccion of a soule, maad bi the Holi Goost of the sight and the knowynge of soothfastenesse (that is God oonli) stired and sette in hym. This love is callid formed, for it is maad bi the Hooli Goost. This love is not God in himsilf, for it is maad, but it is the love of the soule, felt of the sight of Jhesu [fol. 155r]and sterid to hym oonli. Now maist thou see that love formed is not cause whi a soule cometh to goostli sight of Jhesu, as sum men wolden thenke, that thei wolde love God so brennandli as it were bi there owen myght, that thei were worthi for to have the more goostly knowing of hym. Nai, it is not so. But love unformed, that is, God himsilf, is cause of al this knowynge. For a blynde wrecchid soule is so feer from the cleer knowynge and the blissid feelynge of his love thorugh synne and freelté of the bodili kynde, that it myght nevere come to it, ne were the endelees mekenesse of the love of God. But thanne bicause that he loveth us so moche, therfore he yeveth us his love, that is, the Hooli Goost. He is bothe the yifte and the yyvere, and maketh us thanne bi that yifte for to knowen him and loven him. Loo, this is the love that I spaak of, that thou schuldest oonli coveiten and desiren this unformed love that is the Hooli Goost. For sothli a lasse thynge or a lasse yift than he is mai not availe us for to bringen us to the blissid sight of Jhesu. And therefore schullen we fulli desiren and asken of Jhesu oonli this yift of love, that he wolde for the mykilnesse of his blissid love touchen oure hertis with his unseable light to the knowynge of him, and departen with us of his blissid love, that as he loveth us that we myght love him [fol. 155v]ayen. Thus seith Seynt Joon: Nos diligamus deum, quoniam ipse prior dilexit nos (1 John 4:19). That is: Love we now God, for he first loved us. He loved us mykil whanne he maade us to his liknesse, but he loved us more whanne he boughte us with his precious blood thorugh wilful takynge of deth in his manhede fro the power of the feend and from the peyne of helle. But he loveth most us whan he yeveth us the yifte of the Holi Goost, that is love, bi whiche we knowen him and loven hym, and are maad siker that we aren his sones chosen to savacion. For this love aren we more bounden to him than for ony othir love that evere he schewed for us, either in oure makynge or in oure biynge. For though he hadde made us and bought us, but yif he save us withal, what profite is it ellis to us oure makynge or oure biynge? Sothli right noon.
Therfore the moste tokene of love schewed to us, as me thenketh, is this: that he yeveth himsilf in his godhede to oure soulis. He yaf himsilf in his manhede first to us for oure raunsom, whanne he offride himsilf to the Fader of hevene upon the autier of the cros. This was a fair yifte, and a grete tokene of love. But whanne he yyveth himsilf in his godhede goostli to oure soulis for oure savacion, and maketh us for to knowen him and loven hym, thanne [fol. 156r]loveth he us fulli. For thanne yyveth he himsilf to us, and more myght he nought yyven us, ne lasse myght not sufficen to us. And for this skile it is seid that the rightynge of a synful soule thorugh foryifnesse of synnes is arrected and approprid principali to the wirkynge of the Holi Goost; for the Hooli Goost is love, and in the rightynge of a soule oure Lord Jhesu scheweth to the soule most of his love, for he doth awai al synne and oneth it to hym. And that is the beste thynge that he mai doon to a soule, and therfore it is approperid to the Hooli Goost.
The makynge of a soule is approprid to the Fadir as for sovereigne myght and powere that he schewith in makynge of it. The biynge is arectid and approprid to the Sone, as for the sovereyne witte and wisdom that he schewid in his manhede; for he overcam the feend principali thorugh wisdom and not thorwgh strenthe. But the rightynge and the ful savynge of a soule bi foryyvnesse of synnes is approprid to the thridde persone, that is, the Hooli Goost. For therin schewith Jhesu most love unto a mannys soule, and for that thynge schal he most sovereynli be loved ayen of us. His makynge is comyn to us and to alle unresonable creaturis. For as he mad us of nought, so he made hem; and therfore is this werk grettest of myght, but it is not most of love. Also the [fol. 156v]biynge is comone to us and to alle resonable soulis, as to Jewes and to Sarsenes and to fals Cristene men. For he died for alle soulis ilike and boughte hem, yif thei wolen han the profite therof; and also it sufficeth for the biynge of alle, though it so be that alle han it not. And this wirkynge was moste of wisdom, and not most of love. But the rightynge and the halewinge of oure soulis thorugh the yifte of the Holi Goost, that is oonli the wirkynge of love; and that is not comone, but it is a special yifte oonli to chosen soulis. And sothli that is the wirkynge of most love to us that aren his chosen children.
This is the love of God that I speke of, which thou schalt coveiten and desiren; for this love is God himsilf and the Holi Goost. This love unformed, whan it is yeven to us, it wirketh in oure soulis al that good is, and al that longeth to goodnesse. This love loveth us er than we loven him. For it clenseth us first of oure synnes, and maketh us for to loven him, and maketh oure wille stronge for to ayenstonden alle synnes, and it stireth us for to assaien ouresilf thorugh diverse exercises bothe bodili and goostli in alle vertues. It stireth us also for to forsake the love and the likynge of the world; it sleeth in us alle wikkid stirynges of synnes and flesschli affeccions and wordli dredis; it kepit us from alle malicious temptacions of the fend; [fol. 157r]and it dryveth us from bisynesse and from vanité of the world, and fro conversacioun of wordli loveris. Al this dooth the love of God unformed, whanne he yeveth himsilf to us. We doon right nought but suffre him, and assente to him, for that is the moste that we doon, that we assente wilfulli to his gracious werkynge in us. And yit is not that wille of us, but of his makynge, so that me thenketh he dooth in us al that is wel doon, and yit we seen it nought. And not oonli dooth he thus, but aftir this love dooth more. For he openeth the iye of the soule and scheweth to the soule the sight of Jhesu wondirfulli, and the knowynge of hym, as the soule mai suffre it thus bi litil and bi litil; and bi that sight he ravescheth al the affeccion of the soule to him.
And thanne bigynneth the soule for to knowen him goostli, and brennandli for to love him; than seeth the soule sumwhat of the kynde of the blisside godhede of Jhesu, hou he is al and he werketh al and that alle good dedis that aren doon and good thoughtis aren oonli of him. For he is al sovereyn myght and al sovereyn soothfastnesse and al sovereyn goodnesse; and therfore everiche good dede is doon oonli of him and bi him, and he schal oonli have the worschipe and the thanke for alle good deedis, and nothyng but he. For though wrecchid men stelen his worschipe from him heere for awhile, neverthelees [fol. 157v]atte laste ende schal soothfastnesse schewe wel that Jhesu dede al and that man dide right nought of himsilf; and thanne schullen theves of Goddis good that aren nought acordid with him heere in this lif for here trespace be demed to the deeth, and Jhesu schal fulli be worschipid and thanked of alle blissid creaturis for his gracious wirkynge.
This love is not ellis but Jhesu himsilf, that for love wirketh al this in mannys soule and reformeth it in feelynge to his liknesse, as I have bifore seid, and sumwhat as I schal seyn. This love bringeth into the soule the fulhede of alle vertues, and maketh hem alle clene and trewe, softe and esi, and turneth hem alle into love and in likynge; and on what manere wise he dooth that, I schal telle thee a litil aftirward. This love draweth the soule from fleschlihede into goostlinesse, from erthli feelyng into heveneli savour, and from veyn bihooldyng of wordli thinges into contemplacion of goostli creaturis and of Goddis privetees.
Hou sum soulis loven Jhesu bi bodili fervours, and bi ther owen affeccions that aren stired bi grace and bi resoun; and sum loven Jhesu more restfulli, bi gostli affeccions onli, stired inward thorugh grace of the Hooli Gost.
Thanne mai I seyn that he that hath most of this love heere in this lif most pleseth God, and most cleer sight schal have of him in the blisse of he[fol. 158r]vene: for he hath the most yifte of love here in erthe.
This love mai not be had bi a mannys owen traveile, as sum men wenen. It is freeli had of the gracious yifte of Jhesu, aftir moche bodili and goostli traveile goynge bifore. For there aren summe loveres of God that maken hemsilf for to love God as it were bi here owen myght; for thei streynen hemsilf thorugh grete violence, and panten so strongli that thei bersten al into bodili fervours as yif thei wolden drawe doun God from hevene to hem, and thei seien in her hertis and with her mouth, “A, Lord, I love thee, and I wole love thee. I wolde for thi love suffre deeth.” And in this maner wirkynge thei feelen grete fervour and mykil grace. And sooth it is, as me thenketh, this wirkynge is good and meedful, yif it be wel temprid with mekenesse and with discrecion. But neverthelees thise men loven not the yifte of love on that manere as I speke of, ne thei asken it not so. For a soule that hath the yifte of love thorugh gracious bihooldynge of Jhesu as I meene, or ellis yif he have it not yit but wolde have it, he is not bisi for to streyne itsilf over his myght, as it were bodili strenth, for to han it bi bodili fervours and so for to feelen of the love of Jhesu. But him thenketh that he is right not, and that he can doo right not of hymsilf, but [fol. 158v]as it were a deed thynge oonli hangynge and born up bi the merci of God. He seeth wel that Jhesu is al and doth al, and therfore asketh he not ellis but the yifte of his love. For syn the soule seeth that his owen love is nought, therfore it wold have his love, for that is inowgh. Therfore praieth he, and that desireth he, that the love of God wolde touche him with his blissid light, that he myght seen a litil of him bi schewynge of his gracious presence, for thanne schulde he love him; and so bi this weie cometh the yifte of love, that is God, into a soule.
The more that the soule noughteth itsilf thorugh grace bi sight of this sothfastnesse—sumtyme withoutin ony fervour schewed outeward—and the lasse it thenketh it loveth or seeth God, the nerrere neigheth it to perseyve the yifte of the blissid love. For thanne is love maister, and wirketh in the soule and maketh it for to foryeten himsilf, and for to seen and biholden oonli hou love dooth. And thanne is the soule more suffrynge than doynge, and that is clene love. Thus Seynt Poul mened whanne he seide thus: Quicumque spiritu dei aguntur, hii sunt filii dei (Romans 8:14). Alle thise that aren wrought with the spirit of God aren Goddis soones. That is, thise soulis that aren maad so meke and so buxum to God that thei wirke not with hemsilf, but suffren the Holi Goost ai stiren hem and wirke in hem feelynges of love with a ful swete acord [fol. 159r]to his stirynge, thise aren special Goddis sones, most like unto him.
Othere soulis that kunne not loven thus, but traveilen hemsilf bi here owen affeccions and stiren hemsilf thorugh thenkynge of God and bodili exercise for to drawen out of hem bi maistrie the feelynge of love, fervours and othere bodili signes, loven not so goostli. Thei doon wel and medefulli, bi so that thei wolen knowe mekeli that here wirkynge is not kindeli the gracious feelynge of love, but it is manli doon bi a soule at the biddyng of resoun. And neverthelees thorugh the goodenesse of God, bicause that soule doth that in it is, thise manli affeccions of the soule stired into God bi mannys wirkynge aren turned into goostli affeccions, and aren maad medful as yyf thei hadde be doon goostli in the first bigynnynge. And this is a greet curteisie of oure Lord, schewed unto a meke soule, that turneth alle thise manli affeccions of kyndeli love into affeccioun and into the mede of his owen love, as yif he hadde wrought hem alle fulli bi himsilf. And so thise affeccions so turned moun ben called affeccions of goostli love thorugh purchace, not thorugh kyndeli bryngynge forth of the Holi Goost. I seye not that a soule mai wirken siche manli affeccions oonli of itsilf withouten grace, for I woot weel that Seynt Poul seith that we moun [fol. 159v]right nought doon ne thenken that good is of ouresilf withouten grace. Non quod sumus sufficientes cogitare aliquid ex nobis, sed sufficiencia nostra ex deo est (2 Corinthians 3:5). That is: We that loven God wenen not that we sufficen for to love and thenken good of ouresilf onli, but oure sufficience is of God. For God wirketh in us al, bothe good wil and good werk, as Seynt Poul seith: Deus est qui operatur in nobis et velle et perficere pro bona voluntate (Philippians 2:13). That is: God that wirketh in us bothe wil and fillynge of good wille. But I seie that siche affecciouns aren of God, maad bi the mene of a soule aftir the general grace that he yyveth to alle hise chosen soulis; not of special grace maad goostli bi touchinge of his gracious presence, as he werketh in his perfite loveris, as I have bifore seid. For in unperfite loveres of God love werketh al ferli, bi the affeccions of man; but in perfite loveres, love werketh veryli, bi his owen goostli affecciouns, and sleeth for the tyme in a soule alle othere affecciouns bothe fleschli and kyndeli and manli. And that is propirli the wirkynge of love bi himsilf. This love mai be had a litil in partie heere in a clene soule, thorugh goostli sight of Jhesu; but in the blisse of hevene it is fulfillid bi cleer sight of Jhesu in his godhede, for there schal noon affeccion be left in a soule, but al godli and goostli.
That the yifte of love amonge alle the yiftes [fol. 160r]of Jhesu is worthiest and most profitable; and hou Jhesu doth al that is wel don in his chosen onli for love. And hou love maketh the usynge of alle vertues and alle good dedis, light and esy.
Aske thou thanne of God nothinge but this yifte of love, that is, the Holi Goost. For amonge alle the yiftes that oure Lord yeveth ther is noon so good ne so profitable, so worthi ne excellent, as this is. For there is no yifte of God that is bothe yifte and the yyvere, but this yifte of love; and therfore it is the beste and the worthieste. The yift of profesie, the yifte of myracles-werkynge, the yift of grete kunnynge and conceilynge, and the yifte of grete fastynge or of grete penaunce-doynge, or ony othir siche, aren grete yiftes of the Holi Goost, but thei aren not the Holi Goost, for a repreved soule and a dampnable myght have alle thise yiftes as fulli as a chosen soule.
And therfore al thise manere of yiftis aren not moche to be desired, ne greteli for to chargen. But the yifte of love is the Hooli Goost, God himsilf; and him mai no soule have and be dampned with him, for that yifte oonli saveth it fro dampnacion, and maketh it Goddis sone, partenere of heveneli heritage. And that love, as I have bifore seid, is not the affeccioun of love that is formed in a soule, but it is the Holi Goost himsilf, that is love unformed, that saveth a soule. [fol. 160v]For he yyveth himsilf to a soule first, or the soule loveth him; and he formeth affeccion in the soule and maketh the soule oonli for to loven him oonli for himsilf. And not oonli that, but also bi this yifte the soule loveth itsilf and alle his evene Cristene as himsilf, onli for God; and this is the yifte of love that maketh schedynge atwixe chosen soulis and the repreved. And this maketh ful pees atwixe God and a soule and oneth alle blissid creatures holli in God; for it maketh Jhesu to loven us, and us him also, and eche of us for to loven othir in him.
Coveite this yifte of love principali, as I have seid. For yif he wole of his grace yyve it on that manere wise, it schal openen and lightnen the resoun of thi soule for to seen sothfastnesse, that is, Jhesu and goostli thynges. And it schal stire thyn affeccions holli and fulli for to loven him and it schal werken in thi soule oonli as he wole, and thou schalt biholden him reverentli with softnesse of love and seen hou he dooth. This biddeth he bi his prophete that we schulde doo, seiynge thus: Vacate, et videte quoniam ego sum deus (Psalms 45:11). Ceese yee, and seeth that I am God. That is, ye that aren reformed in feelynge and han youre innere iye opened into sight of goostli thinges, ceese yee sum tyme of outeward wirkynge, and seeth that I am God. That is, “Seeth onli hou I, Jhesu, God doo; bihalde yee me, for I doo al. I am love, and for love I doo al that I do, and ye do nought. That this is sooth y schal schewe yow, for there is no good deede doon in yow ne good thought felt in yow, but yif it be doon thorugh me, that is, thorwgh [fol. 161r]myght, wisdom and love, that is mightili, wittili, and loveli, ellis it is it no good deede. Now is it sooth that I, Jhesu, am bothe myght, wisdom, and blissid love, and ye nought; for y am God. Than mowe yee wel seen that y oonli doo alle youre good deedes, and youre good thoughtes, and good loves in yow, and ye don right nought. And yit neverthelees are thise good deedis called your, not for yee wirken hem principali, but for I yeve hem to yow for love that y have to you. And therefore, syn I am Jhesu, and for love do al this, ceese ye thanne of bihaldynge of youresilf and setteth youresilf at nought, and looketh on me and seth that I am God, for y doo al this.” This is sumwhat of the menynge of the vers of David bifore seide.
See thanne and bihoolde what love werketh in a chosen soule that he reformeth in feelynge to his liknesse, whanne the reson is lightned a litil to the goostli knowinge of Jhesu and to the feelynge of his love. Thanne bringeth love into the soule the fulheed of vertues, and turneth hem alle into likynge and softenesse as it were withoute wirkynge of the soule; for the soule striveth not mykil for the getynge of hem as it dide bifore, but it hath hem esili and felith hem restfulli, oonli thorugh the yifte of love that is the Holi Goste. And that is a wel greet comfort to the soule and a gladnesse unspecable, whanne it feeleth sodeynli, and woot nevere hou, that vertu of mekenesse and pacience, sobirnesse and sadnesse, chastité and clen[fol. 161v]nesse, lovereden to his even Cristene, and alle othir vertues, the whiche weren sum tyme travelous, pyneful, and hard to him for to kepen, aren now turned into softenesse and likynge, and into wondirful lightnesse—so fer forth that hym thenketh it no maistrie ne hardenesse for to kepen ony vertu, but it is most likynge to him for to kepen it. And al this maketh love.
Othere men that stonden in the comoun weie of charité, and aren not yit so fer forth in grace, but wirken undir the biddynge of resoun, striven and fighten al dai ayens synnes for the getynge of vertues, and sumtyme ben aboven and sumtyme binethen, as wrasteleres aren. Thise men don ful wel. Thei han alle vertues oonli in resoun and in wille, not in savour ne in love, for thei fighten hemsilf as it were bi here owen myghtes for hem. And therfore mowe they not have ful rest ne fulli the highere hand. Neverthelees thei schullen han moche meede, but thei aren not yit meke inowgh. Thei han not yit put hemsilf al fulli in Goddis hand, for thei seen him not yit.
But a soule that hath goostli sight of Jhesu taketh no grete keep of strivynge for vertues, it is not bisi abouten hem speciali; but it setteth al her bysynesse for to kepe that sight and that bihaldynge of Jhesu that it hath, for to halde the mynde stabeli therto, and bynde the love oonli to it that it falle not fro it, and foryeteth alle othere thynges as mykil as it mai. And whanne it dooth thus, than is Jhesu soothfastli maister in the soule and the soule is fulli buxum [fol. 162r]to him and thanne fighteth Jhesu for the soule ayens alle synnes, and umbischadueth it with his blissid presence, and geteth it alle vertues; and the soule is so comforted, and soo born up with the soft feelynge of love that it hath of the sight of Jhesu, that it feeleth no grete disese outward. And thus sleeth love generali alle synnes in a soule, and reformeth it in newe feelynge of vertues.
Hou love, thoru a gracious biholding of Jhesu, sleth alle stirynges of pride and maketh the soule perfiteli meke; for it maketh the soule for to lese savour and delite in al ertheli worschip.
Neverthelees, hou love sleeth synnes and reformeth vertues in a soule more speciali schal y seyn; and firste of pride, and of mekenesse that is contrarie therto. Thou schalte undirstonden that there is two maner of mekenesse. Oon is had bi wirkynge of resoun. Anothir is feelt bi special yifte of love. But bothe aren of love. But that oon love wirketh bi resoun of the soule; that othir wirketh bi himsilf. The firste is imperfight, that othir is perfight.
The first mekenesse a man feelith of bihaldynge of his owen synnes and of his owen wrecchidnesse, thorugh which biholdynge he thenketh himsilf unworthi for to have ony yifte or grace or ony meede of God; but he thenketh it inowgh that he wolde of his grete merci graunte hym foryevenesse of hise synnes. And also he thenketh hym bicause of his owene synnes that he is wers than the moste synnere that lyveth, and that everi man doth betere than he. And so bi siche biholdynge casteth himsilf doun [fol. 162v]in his thoughtis undir alle men; and he is bisie for to ayenstonde the stirynges of pride as mykil as he mai, bothe bodili pride and goostli, and disposeth himsilf, so that he assenteth not to the feelynges of pride. And yif his herte be taken sumtyme with it, that it be defouled with veyn joie or worschipe or of connynge or of preisynge or of ony othir thinge, as sone as he mai perceyve it, he is yvel paid with himsilf, and hath sorwe for it in herte, and asketh foryyvnesse for it of God and schewith him to his confessour; and he accusith himsilf mekeli, and receyveth his penaunce. This is good mekenesse, but it is not yit perfite, for it is of soulis that are bigynnende and profitende in grace, causid of bihooldynge of synnes. Love werketh this mekenesse bi resoun of the soule.
Parfite mekenesse a soule feeleth of the sight and the goostli knowynge of Jhesu. For whanne the Holi Goost lightneth the reson into the sight of soothfastenesse, hou Jhesu is al and that he dooth al, the soule hath so grete love, and so grete joie in that goostli sight, for it is soothfaste that it foryeteth itsilf and fulli leneth to Jhesu with al the love that it hath for to biholden hym. It taketh no kepe of the unworthinesse of itsilf ne of synnes bifore doon. But setteth at nought itsilf with alle the synnes and alle the good deedis that evere he dide, as yif there were nothinge but Jhesu. Thus meke was David whanne he seide thus: Et substancia mea tanquam nichillum ante te (Psalms 38:6). That is: Lord Jhesu, the sight of thi blissid unmaad [fol. 163r]substance and thyn endelees beynge scheweth wel unto me that my substance and the beynge of my soule that is chaungeable is as nought ayens thee. Also anemptis his even Cristene he hath no reward to hem, ne demyng of hem, whethir thei ben betere or werse thanne himsilf is. For he hooldeth himsilf and alle othere men as it were evene, ilike nought of hemself anemptis God; and that is sooth, for al the goodnesse that is doon in himsilf or in hem is onli of God, whom he biholdeth as al. And therfore setteth he alle othere creatures at nought, as he dooth himsilf. Thus meke was the prophete whanne he seide thus: Omnes gentes quasi non sint, sic sunt coram eo, et quasi nichillum et inane ita reputati sunt (Isaiah 40:17). Alle men aren bifore oure Lord as nought and as veyn and nought thei aren acconttid to him. That is, anemptis the eendelees beynge and the unchaungeable kynde of God mankynde is as nought. For of nought it is maad, and into nought it schulde turnen, but yif he kepide it in the beynge that made it of nought. This is soothfastnesse, and this schulde make a soule meke yif it myght see thorugh grace this soothfastenesse. Therefore whanne love openeth the innere iye of a soule for to seen this soothfastnesse with othere circumstaunces that cometh withal, thanne bigynneth the soule for to be soothfasteli meke. For thanne bi the sight of God it feelith and seeth itsilf as it is; and thanne forsaketh the soule the bihooldynge and the lenynge to itsilf, and fulli fallith [fol. 163v]to the biholdynge of hym. And whanne it dooth so, thanne setteth the soule right nought bi al the joie and alle the worschipe of this world; for the joie of wordli worschipe is so litil and so nought in regarde of that joie and that love that it feeleth in the goostli sight of Jhesu and knowynge of soothfastnesse, that though he myght have it withouten ony synne, he wolde not of it. Ne though men wolde worschipen him, preisen hym, favoren hym, and sette hym at greet staat, it liketh hym right nought, ne though he hadde the kunynge of alle the sevene artis of clergie, and of alle craftes undir sunne, or hadde powere for to wirke alle maner miraclis, he hath no more deynté of al this, ne more savoure of hem, thanne for to gnawen upon a drie stikke. He hadde wel levere foryeten al this and for to ben alone out of the sight of thee world, than for to thenken on hem and be worschiped of alle men. For the herte of a trewe lovere of Jhesu is maad so mykil and so large thorugh a litil sight of him and a litil feelynge of his goostli love, that al the likynge and al the joie of al erthe mai not sufficen for to fillen oon corner of it. And thanne semeth it wel that thise wrecchid wordli lovers that aren, as it were, ravysched in love of here owen worschipe, and pursuen aftir it for to han it and with al the myght and al the witte that thei han, thei have no savoure in this mekenesse, thei aren [fol. 164r]wondir fer therfro. But the lovere of Jhesu hath this mekenesse lastandeli, and that not with hevynesse and stryvynge for it, but with likynge and goostli gladnesse, the whiche gladnesse it hath, not for it forsaketh al the worschipe of this world, for that were a proude mekenesse that longeth to an ypocrite, but for he hath a sight and a goostli knowynge of soothfastnesse and of worthinesse of Jhesu thorugh yifte of the Hooli Goost.
That reverent sight and that loveli bihaldynge of Jhesu conforteth the soule so wondirfulli and berith it up so myghtili and so softli, that it mai not liken ne fulli resten in noon ertheli joie, ne it wole not. He maketh no fors whethir men lakken him or preisen hym, worschipen him or despicen hym as fore hymsilf. He setteth it not at herte neithir for to be wel paied yif men despicen him, as for more mekenesse, ne for to be yvel paied that men schulde worschipe hym or praise him. He hadde wel levere foryete bothe that oon and that othir, and oonli thenken on Jhesu, and gete mekenesse bi that weie; and this is mykil the sikerere weie, whoso myght come therto. Thus dide David whanne he seide thus: Oculi mei semper ad dominum, quoniam ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos (Psalms 24:15). That is, myn iyen aren ai upon Jhesu my Lord, for whi he schal kepe my feet from the snaris of synne. For whanne he dooth so, thanne [fol. 164v]forsaketh he uttirli hymself and undircasteth hym hooli to Jhesu. And thanne is he in a siker warde, for the schelde of sothfastenesse, that he biholdeth, kepeth hym so wel that he schal not ben hurte thorugh no stirynge of pride as longe as he holdeth hym withinne the schelde.
As the prophete seith: Scuto circumdabit te veritas eius; non timebis a timore nocturno (Psalms 90:5). Sothfastnesse of God schal umbiclippe the with a scheeld, and that is yif thou, alle othere thynges lefte, oonli biholde hym. For thanne schalt thou not dreden for the nyghtes drede, that is, thou schalt not drede the spirit of pride, whethir he come by nyght or bi dai, as the next vers seith thus: A sagitta volante in die (Psalms 90:6). Pride cometh bi nyght for to assaile a soule, whanne it is despiced and repreved of othere men, that it schulde bi that falle into hevynesse and into sorwe. It cometh also as an arwe fleynge in the dai, whanne a man is worschipid and preysed of alle men, whethir it be for wordli doynge or for goostli, that he schulde have veyne joie in hymsilf and fals gladdenesse restyngli in a passynge thynge. This is a scharp arwe and a perilous arwe; it fleeth swifteli, it striketh softeli, but it woundeth deedli.
But the lovere of Jhesu, that stabli biholdeth hym bi devoute praieres and bisili thenkynge on hym, is so umbilapped with the siker schelde of soothfastnesse that he dredeth not, for this ar[fol. 165r]we mai not entren into the soule; ne though it come, it hurteth not, but glenteth away and passeth forth. And thus is the soule maad meke, as I undirstonde, bi wirkynge of the Holi Gost, that is, the yifte of love; for he openeth the iye of the soule for to seen and to loven Jhesu, and he kepith the soule in that sight restfulli and sikirly, and he sleeth alle the stirynges of pride wondir priveli and softeli, and the soule woot nevere how, and he also bringeth in bi that wai soothfasteli and loveli the vertu of mekenesse. Al this dooth love, but not in alle hise loveres ilikeful. For sum men han this grace but schorteli and litil, as it were yit in the bygynnynge of it, and a litil assaiynge towarde it, for her conscience is not yit fulli clensid thorugh grace. And sum men han it more fulli, for thei han clerere sight of Jhesu, and thei feele more of his love. And sum men han it most fulli, for thei han the ful yifte of contemplacion. Nevertheles he that leste hath on this manere as I have seid, sothli he hath the yifte of perfite mekenesse, for he hath the yifte of perfighte love.
Hou love sleeth alle stirynges of ire and envie softeli, and reformeth in the soule the vertues of pees and pacience and of perfite charité to his even Cristene, as he deede speciali in the apostelis and martyres.
Love wirketh wiseli and softeli in a soule there he wole, for he sleeth myghtili ire and envie and alle [fol. 165v]passions of angrinesse and malincolie in it, and brengeth into a soule vertues of pacience and myldenesse, pesiblité and lovereden to his even Cristene. It is ful gret maistrie and grete hardenesse to a man that stondeth oonli in the wirkynge of his owen resoun for to kepen pacience, oonli reste and softnesse in herte, and charité anemptis his even Cristen yif thei disese him unskilfulli and doon hym wrong, that he ne schal doon sumwhat ayens hem thorugh stirynge of ire or of malencolie, either in spekyng or in wirkynge or in bothe. And neverthelees, though a man be stired or trobeled in himsilf and be maad unrestful, bi so that it be not to mykil, passende over the boundis of resoun, and that he kepe his hand and his tunge and be redi for to foryyve trespace whanne merci is askid, yit this man hath the vertu of pacience, though it be but weikeli and nakidli; for as mykil as he wolde have it, and travayleth bisili in refreynynge of his unskilfulle passiouns that he myght have it, and also is sori that he hath it not so as he schulde. But to a trewe lovere of Jhesu it is no grete maistrie for to suffren al this, for whi love feighteth for him, and sleeth wondir softeli siche risynges of wraththe and al malencolie, and maketh his soule so esi, so pesible, so suffrande, and so goodli thorugh [fol. 166r]the goostli sight of Jhesu, with the feelynge of his blissid love, that though he be dispiced or reproved of othere men, or take wronge or harm, or schame or velany, he chargeth it not. He is not mykil stired ayens hem, he wil not ben angrid ne sterid ayens hem; for yif he were mykil stired he schulde forbeeren the confort that he feeleth withinne in his soule, but that wole he not. He mai lightliere foryeten al the wronge that is doon to hym, thanne anothir man mai foryeven it, though merci were asked. And so he hadde ful lyvere foryeten than foryyven it, for him thenketh it so moste eese to hym.
And love dooth al this, for love openeth the iye of the soule to the sight of Jhesu, and stablith it with the likynge of love that it feelith bi that sight, and conforteth it so myghtili that it taketh no kepe; whatso men jangelen or don ayens him, it hangeth nothynge upon him. The moste harm that he myght have were a forberynge of the goostli sight of Jhesu. And therfore it is levere to him to suffren alle othere harmes than that aloone. Al this mai a soule doo wel and esili, withoute grete trobelynge of the goostli sight, whanne disese falleth al withouteforth and toucheth not the bodi, as is bakbytynge or scornynge or spoilynge of siche as he hath. Al this greveth not. But it goth sumwhat neer whanne the flesch is touchid, and he feele smert; thanne it is hardere. Neverthelees, [fol. 166v]though hit be hard and impossible to the frele kynde of man for to suffre bodeli peyne gladli and pacientli, withouten bittir stirynges of ire, angir, and malencolie, it is not impossible to love (that is, the Hooli Gooste) for to werke this in a soule there he toucheth with his blissid yifte of love. But he yeveth to a soule that is in that plight myghti feelynges of love, and wondirfulli fasteneth it to Jhesu, and departeth the soule wondir feer fro the sensualité thorugh his privei myght, and conforteth it so sweteli bi his blissid presence that the soule feelith litil peyne or ellis noon of the sensualité; and this is the special grace yoven to the hooli martires. This grace hadden the apostelis, as holi writte seith thus of hem: Ibant apostoli gaudentes a conspectu consilii, quoniam digni habiti sunt pro nomine Jesu contumeliam pati (Acts 5:41). That is, the apostlis yeeden joiande fro the conceil of the Jewes whanne thei weren beten with scourges, and thei weren glaad that thei weren worthi for to suffre ony bodili disese for the name of Jhesu. Thei weren not stired to ire ne to felnesse, for to ben venged of the Jewes that beten hem, as a wordli man wolde ben whanne he suffreth a litil harm, be hit never so litil, of his even Cristen. Ne thei were not stired to pride and to heighnesse of hemsilf and to disdeyn and to demynge of the Jewes, as ipocrites and heretikes aren that wolen suffre [fol. 167r]mykil bodili peyne, and aren redi sumtyme for to suffre deeth with grete gladnesse and with myghti wille as it were in the name of Jhesu, for the love of hym. Soothli that glaadnesse and that love that thei han in suffrynge of bodili meschef is not of the Holi Gost. It cometh not fro the fier that brenneth in the highe autier of hevene, but it is feyned by the feend enflawmed of helle. For it is menged with the highest of pride and of presumpcioun of hemsilf, and dispite and demynge and disdeyn of hem that thus ponesche hem. And thei wenen yit that al is charité and that thei suffre al that wronge for the love of God, but thei aren bigiled bi the myddai feend. A trewe lovere of Jhesu, whanne he suffreth harm of his even Cristene, is so strengthed thorugh grace of the Hooli Goost, and is maad so meke, so pacient, and so peseble, and that sothfastli, that what wronge or harm what it be that he suffre of his even Cristene, he kepeth ai mekenesse. He dispiceth him not, he demeth him not, but preyeth for hym in his herte and hath of hym pité and compassioun, moche more tendirli thanne of anothir man that nevere dide hym harm; and sothli betere loveth him and more ferventeli desireth the savacion of his soule, bicause that he seeth that he schal have so mykil goosteli profite thorugh his yvel dede, though it be ayens his wille. But this love and this meke[fol. 167v]nesse wirketh oonli the Holi Goost, above the kynde of man, in hem that he maketh trewe loveres of Jhesu.
Hou love sleeth coveitise, leccherie, glotonye, and accidie, and the fleschli savour and delite in alle the fyve bodili wittes in the perfite love of Jhesu softli and esili thorugh a gracious biholdynge of hym.
Coveitise also is slayn in a soule bi the wirkynge of love, for it maketh the soule so covetous of goostli good and to heveneli richesse so ardant, that it setteth right nought bi al ertheli richesse. It hath no more deynté in havynge of a precious ston than on a chalke stoon; ne no more love hath he in an hundred pounde of gold thanne in a pounde of leed. It setteth al thynge that schal perisschen and passen at oo price; no more chargeth that oon than that othir as in his love. For it seeth wel that alle thise ertheli thynges that wordli loveris han in so greet price, and loven so deynteli, schullen passen awey and turne to nought, bothe the thyng in itsilf and the love of it. And therfore he bryngeth it in his thought bityme in that plight that it schal ben aftir, and so he accounteth it at nought. And whan wordli loveres striven and pleten and fighten fore wordli good, who mai first have it, the lovere of Jhesu stryveth with no man, but kepeth himsilf in pees and holdeth hym paied with that that [fol. 168r]he hath, and he wole stryve for no more; for hym thenketh hym nedeth no more of alle the richessis in erthe thanne a scant bodili sustenaunce for to save the bodili liyf withal, as longe as God wole, and that mai he lightli have, and therfore wole he no more han. He is wel at ese whanne he hath no more than scanteli him nedeth for the tyme, that he mai be freeli discharged from bisynesse aboute the kepynge and the dispendynge of it, and fulli yeven his herte and al his besynesse aboute the sekynge of Jhesu, for to fynde hym in clennesse of spirit. For that is al his coveitise, for whi, oonli clene of herte schullen seen hym.
Also fleschli love of fadir and of modir and of othere wordli frendis hangeth not up hym. It is evene kut from his herte with the swerde of goostli love, that he hath no more affeccioun to fadir ne to modir or to ony wordli frend than he hath to anothir man, but yif he see and feele in hem more grace and more vertu than in othir men. Outetaken this, that hym were levere that his fadir and his modir hadden the selve grace that summe othere men han; but neverethelees yif thei ben not so, thanne loveth he othere betere than hem, and that is charité. And so sleeth the love of Jhesu coveitise of the world and bringeth into the soule poverté in spirit.
And that dooth love not oonli in hem [fol. 168v]that han right nought of wordli good, but also in some creatures that aren in greet wordli estate and have dispendynge of ertheli richesse. Love sleeth in summe of hem coveitise, so fer forth that thei han no likynge ne savoure in havynge of hem more than in a stree. Ne though thei ben loste for defaute of hem that schulde kepe hem, thei sette not therbi; for whi, the herte of Goddis lovere is thorugh yifte of the Holi Goost taken so fulli with the sight and the love of anothire thynge, that is so precious and so worthi, that it wole receyve noon othir love restyngli that is contrarie therto.
And not onli dooth love this, but also it sleeth the likynge of leccherie and al othir bodili unclennesse, and bringeth into the soule veri chastité, and turneth hit into likynge. For the soule feeleth so grete delite in the sight of Jhesu that it liketh for to be chaste, and it is no grete hardenesse to it for to kepe chastité, for it is the moste eese and the moste reste.
And upon the selve wise the yifte of love sleeth fleschli lustis of glotonie, and maketh the soule sobre and temperat, and berith it up so myghtili that it mai not resten in likynge of mete and drynke, but it taketh mete and drynke, what it be that leest agreveth the bodili conpleccioun, yif he mai lightli have it, not for love of itsilf, but for love of God. And on this maner wise the lovere of Jhesu seeth wel that [fol. 169r]hym nedeth for to kepen his bodili liyf with mete and drynk as longe as God wole suffren hem to be togedre. Thanne schal this be the discrecioun of the lovere of Jhesu, as I undirstonde, that hath feelynge and wirkynge in love; that upon what manere that he mai most kepen his grace hool, and lest be letted fro the wirkynge in hit thorugh takynge of bodili sustenaunce, so schal he doo. That maner of mete that lest letteth and leest troblith the herte and mai kepe the bodi in strengthe—be it fleisch, be it fisch, be it breed and ale—that I trowe the soule chesith for to have yif it mai esily come therbi. For al the besynesse of the soule is for to thenken on Jhesu with reverent love, ay withoute lettynge of onythynge, yif it myght. And therfore syn that it bihoveth sumwhat be letted and hyndred, the lasse that it is letted and hyndred bi mete and drynk, or bi ony othir thyng, the leverere it is. It hadde leverer taken and usen the beste mete and most of price that is undir sunne, yif it lesse letted the kepynge of his herte, than for to take but breed and watir, yif that letted him more; for he hath no reward to geten him greet mede for the peyne of fastynge and be put therbi from softenesse in herte. But al his bisynesse is for to kepen his herte as stabli as he may in the sight of Jhesu and in the feelynge of his love. And sotheli, as I trowe, he myght with lasse likynge usen the beste mete that is good in the owen kynde, than anothir man that wirketh al in resoun withoute the [fol. 169v]special yifte of love schulde mowe usen the werste, outetaken mete that thorugh craft of curie is oonli maad for lust: that manere of mete mai he not weel acorden withal. And also on that othir side, yif litil mete, as oonli breed and ale, most helpeth and eseth his herte and kepeth it most in pees, it is thanne most leef to him for to use it so, and nameli yif he feele bodili strengthe oonli of the yifte of love withal.
And yit dooth love more, for it sleeth accidie and fleischli ydelnesse, and maketh the soule lifli and spedi to the service of Jhesu, so fer forth that it coveiteth ai to ben occupied in goodnesse, nameli inward in biholdynge of him, bi the vertu of whiche sight the soule hath savour and goostli delite in praiynge and thenkynge, and in al othir maner wirkynge that nedeth to be doon, aftir the staat and degree that he stondeth inne asketh (whethir he be religious or seculer), withouten hevynesse or peynful bittirnesse.
Also it sleeth the veyn likynges of the fyve bodili wittes. First the sight of the iye, that the soule hath no likynge in the sight of ony ertheli thynge, but it feelith rathere pyne and disese in biholdynge of it, be it nevere so faire, ne so precious, ne so wondirful. And therfore as wordli loveres rennen oute sumtyme for to seen newe thynges, for to wondren in hem, and so for to feden her herte with the veyn sight of hem; right so a lovere of Jhesu is bisi for to rennen awai and withdrawen hym [fol. 170r]from the sight of sich maner thynges, that the innere sight be not letted, for he seeth goostli anothir manere thynge that is fairere and more wondirfulle, and that wolde he not forbere.
Right on the selve wise it is of spekynge and herynge. It is a peyne to the soule of a lovere of Jhesu for to speke or heere onythynge that myte letten the fredom of his herte fro thenkynge of Jhesu. What songe or melodie or mynstralsie outeward that it be, yif it lette the thought that it mai not freli and restfulli prayen or thenken on Jhesu, it liketh right nought; and the more delitable that it is to othere men, the more unsaveri it is to him. And also for to heeren ony manere spekynge of othere men but it be sumwhat touchynge the wirkynge of his soule in the love of Jhesu, it liketh him right nought. He is ellis right soone irke of it. He hadde wel levere ben in pees and speke right nought, ne heere right nought, than for to heere the spekynge or the techynge of the grettest clerke on erthe, with alle the resons that he coude seyn to him thorugh mannys witte onli, but yif he coude speke felandli and stirendli of the love of Jhesu. For that is his craft principalli, and therefore wolde he not ellis heren ne seen, but that myght helpen him and fortheren him into more knowynge and to betere feelynge of him. Of wordeli speche it is no doute that he hath no savour in spekynge ne in heerynge of it, ne in wordli talis, ne in tydynges, ne in noon siche veyn jangelynge that [fol. 170v]longeth not to him.
And so it is of smellynge and savouryng and touchynge; the more that the thought schulde be distracte and broken of goostli reste bi the use eithir of smellynge or of savourynge or of ony of the bodili wittes, the more he fleeth it. And the lasse that he feeleth of hem, the levere is hym, and yif he myght lyven in the bodi withoute the feelynge of ony of hem, he wolde nevere feelen hem. For thei troblen the herte ofte sithes and putten oute fro reste, and thei mowen not ben fulli eschewed. But neverthelees, the love of Jhesu is sumtyme so myghti in a soule that it overcometh and sleeth al thynge that is contrarie to it.
What vertues and graces a soule receyveth thorugh openynge of the innere iye into the gracious biholdynge of Jhesu, and hou it mai not be geten oonli thorugh mannes traveile, but thorugh special grace and traveile also.
Thus werketh love outeward in a soule, openynge the goostli iye into biholdynge of Jhesu bi inspiracion of special grace, and maketh it clene, sotil, and able to the werke of contemplacioun. What this openynge of this goostli iye is the grettest clerk in erthe coude not ymagene bi his kyndeli wit, ne schewe fulli bi his tunge. For it mai not be geten thorugh studie ne bi mannys traveile oonli, but principali thorugh grace of the Hooli Goost and with traveile of man. I drede moche for to speke ought of it, [fol. 171r]for me thenketh y can nought; it passeth myn assay, and my lippes aren unclene. Neverthelees, for I hope love asketh and love biddeth, therfore I schal seyn a litil more of it as y hope love techeth. This openynge of the goostli iye is that lighti merkenesse and that riche nought that I spak of bifore, and it mai be callide purité of spirit and gosteli reste, inward stillenesse and pees in conscience, highnesse or deepnesse of thought and oonlynesse of soule, a liyfli feelynge of grace and priveté of herte, the waker sleep of the spouse and a taastynge of heveneli savour, brennynge in love, schynynge in light, entré of contemplacion and reformynge in feelynge. Alle thise resouns aren seid in holi writynge bi dyvers men, for eche of hem spak of hem aftir his feelynge in grace, and though thei aren dyvers in schewynge of wordes, neverethelees thei aren alle oon in sentence of sothfastnesse.
For a soule that thorugh visitynge of grace hath oon, hath alle; for whi, a sighhende soule to see the face of Jhesu, whanne it is touched thorugh special grace of the Hooli Goost, it is sodeynli chaunged and turned from the plight that it was inne to anothir maner feelynge. It is wondirfulli departed and drawen first into itsilf from love and likynge of al ertheli thynge, so moche that it hath lost savour of the bodili liyf and of al thynge that is, save oonli Jhesu. And thanne it is clene from al the filthe of synne, so fer forth that the mynde of [fol. 171v]it, and of alle unordinat affeccions to ony creature, is sodeynli wasschen and wiped awai, that there is no mene lettynge atwixe Jhesu and the soule, but oonli the bodili liyf. And thanne is it in goostli reste; for whi, alle the peynful doutes and dredis and othere temptaciouns of goostli enemyes aren dryven oute of the herte, that thei troble it not ne synke not thereinne for the tyme. It is in reste fro the noie of wordli besynesse, peyneful tariynge of wikkid stirynges, but it is ful bisi in the free goostli wirkynge of love, and the more it traveileth so, the more reste it feeleth.
This resteful traveile is ful fer fro fleischli ydilnesse, from blynd sikirnesse. It is ful of goostli werk, but it is called reste, for grace looseth the hevy yook of fleschli love fro the soule, and maketh it myghti and free thorugh the yifte of goostli love, for to wirken gladli, softeli, and delitabli in al thynge that grace stireth it for to wirken inne. And therfore it is callid an hooli ydelnesse and a reste most bisi, and so it is, in stilnesse fro the grete cryynge and beestli noise of fleschli desires and unclene thoughtes.
This stilnesse maketh the inspiracioun of the Hooli Goost, in biholdynge of Jhesu. For whi, his vois is so swete and so myghti that it putteth silence in a soule to jangelynge of alle othere spekeris; for it is a vois of vertu, softeli sowned in a clene soule, of the whiche the prophete seith thus: Vox [fol. 172r]domini in virtute (Psalms 28:4). That is: The vois of oure Lord Jhesu is in vertu. This vois is a liyfli word and a spedi, as the apostil seith: Vivus est sermo domini et efficax, penetrabilior omni gladio ancipiti (Hebrews 4:12). That is: Quyk is the word of Jhesu and spedi, more persynge than ony swerd is. Thorugh spekynge of this word is fleschli love slayn, and the soule keped in silence from alle wikkid stirynges. Of this silence it is seid in the Apocalips thus: Factum est silencium in celo, quasi dimidia hora (Revelations 8:1). Silence was maad in hevene as it were half an houre. Hevene is a clene soule, thorugh grace lifted up from ertheli love to heveneli conversacioun, and so it is in silence; but for as moche as that silence mai not lasten hool contynuelli, for corrupcion of bodili kynde, therfore it is likned but to the tyme of half an hour. A ful schort tyme the soule thenketh that it is, be it nevere so longe, and therfore it is but as half an hour. And thanne hath it pees in conscience; for whi, grace putteth oute gnawynge and prickynge, stryvynge and flitynge of synnes, and bringeth in pees and acord, and maketh Jhesu and a soule bothe at oon in ful accordaunce of wille. There is noon upbraidynge of synnes, ne scharp reprevynge of defautes maad that tyme in a soule, for thei aren kyssed and freendes—al is foryeven that was mysdoon.
Thus feelith the soule thanne with ful meke sikirnesse and greet goostli gladdenesse, and it conceyveth a ful greet boldenesse [fol. 172v]of savacioun bi this acord-makynge, for it heerith a privei wittenessynge in conscience of the Hooli Goost, that he is chosen sone to heveneli heritage. Thus Seynt Poule seith: Ipse spiritus testimonium perhibet spiritui nostro, quod sumus filii dei (Romans 8:16). That is: The Hooli Goost bereth wittenesse to oure spirit, that we aren Goddis sones. This wittenessynge of conscience, sothfastli feelid thorugh grace, is the verri joie of the soule, as the apostil seith: Gloria mea est testimonium consciencie mee (2 Corinthians 1:12). That is: My joie is the wittenessynge of my conscience, and that is whanne it wittenesseth pees and acord, trewe love and frendeschipe bytwixe Jhesu and a soule. And whanne it is in this pees than is it in highnesse of thought.
Whanne the soule is bounden bi love of the world, it is thanne binethe alle creatures; for eche a thynge overgooth it and bereth it doun bi maistrie, that it mai not freeli sen Jhesu ne loven him. For right as the love of the world is veyn and fleischli, right so the biholdynge and the thenkynge and the usynge of creatures is fleschli; and that is the thraldom of the soule. But thanne thorugh openynge of the goostli yye into Jhesu, the love is turned and the soule is reised up aftir here owen kynde above alle bodili creatures; and thanne the bihaldynge and thenkynge and usynge of hem is goostli, for the love is goostli. The soule hath thanne ful grete undeynté for to be buxum to love of bodili thynges, for it is highe sette aboven hem [fol. 173r]thorugh grace. It setteth right nought bi al the world, for whi, al schal passen and perischen. Unto this highnesse of herte, while the soule is keped thereinne, cometh noon errour ne disceyte of the feend, for Jhesu is sothfastli in the sight of the soule that tyme and al thynge bynethen hym. Of this speketh the prophete thus: Accedat homo ad cor altum; exaltabitur deus (Psalms 63:7-8). Come man to high herte and God schal be highed. That is, a man thorugh grace cometh to highnes of thought, schal seen that Jhesu is oonli highed aboven alle creatures and he in hym.
And thanne is the soule aloone, moche straunged fro felawschipe of wordli loveres, though here bodi be in myddis amonge hem, ful fer departed from fleschli affeccions of creatures. It chargeth not though it nevere sighe man, ne speke with him, ne hadde confort of hym, yif it myght ay be so in that goostli feelynge. It feelith so grete hoomlynesse bi the blissid presence of oure Lord Jhesu, and so moche savour of him, that it mai lightli for his love foryeten the fleschli affeccioun, and the fleschli mynde of alle creatures. I sei not that it schal not loven ne thenken of othere creatures. But y seie that it schal thenken on hem in tyme, and seen hem and loven hem goostli and freli, not fleschli ne peynfulli as it dede bifore. Of this oonlynesse speketh the prophete thus: Ducam eam in solitudinem, et loquar ad cor eius (Hosea 2:14). I schal leden hire into an oonli stide, and I schal speken to hire herte. That is, grace of Jhesu ledeth a soule from noious compaigné [fol. 173v]of fleschli desires into oonlynesse of thought, and maketh it foryete the likynge of the world and sounneth bi swettenesse of his inspiracioun wordis of love in eeres of the herte. Onli is a soule whanne it loveth Jhesu and tendeth fulli to hym, and hath lost the savour and the confort of the world; and that it myght the betere kepe this onlynesse it fleeth companye of alle men yif it mai, and seketh oonlynesse of bodi, for oonlynesse of bodi moche helpith to onlynesse of soule and to the free wirkynge of love. The lasse lettynge it hath withouteforth of veyn carpynge, or withinne of veyn thenkynge, the more free it is in goostli bihooldynge, and so it is in priveté of herte.
Al withoute is a soule while it is overleid and blynded with wordli love; it is as comone as the highwai. For eche a stirynge that cometh of the flesch or of the feende synketh in, and gooth thorugh it. But thanne thorugh grace is it withdrawen into privei chambre into the sight of oure Lord Jhesu, and hereth his pryvy conceiles and is wondirfulli comforted in the heerynge. Of this speketh the prophete thus: Secretum meum michi; secretum meum michi (Isaiah 24:16). Mi priveté to me, my privyté to me. That is, the lovere of Jhesu, thorugh inspiracion of his grace taken up from outeward feelynge of wordli love and ravyssched into priveté of goostli love, yeeldeth thankynges and seiyinge to hym thus: Mi pryveté to me. That is, my Lord Jhesu in priveté is schewed to me and pryveli hid fro alle the loveres of the world, for [fol. 174r]it is called hid manna, that mai lightliere be askid than teeld what it is. And that oure Lord Jhesu bihotith to his lovere thus: Dabo sibi manna absconditum, quod nemo novit, nisi qui accipit (Revelations 2:17). That is: I schal yeven manna hid that no man knowith but he that taketh it. This manna is heveneli mete and aungelis foode, as holi writ seith. For angelis aren fully feed and filled with cleer sight and brennynge love of oure Lord Jhesu, and that is manna. For we moun aske what it is, but not wite what it is. But the lovere of Jhesu is nat filled yit heere, but he is feed bi a litil taastynge of it whiles he is bounden in the liyf of his bodi.
This tastynge of manna is a liyfli feelynge of grace, had thorugh openynge of the goostli iye. And this grace is not anothir grace than a chosen soule feelith in the bygynynge of his conversioun; but it is the same and selve grace, but it is othirwise schewid and feelid in a soule. For whi, grace wexeth with the soule and the soule wexeth with grace, and the more clene that the soule is, fer departid fro love and likynge of the world, the more myghti is the grace, more inward and more goostli schewand the presence of oure Lord Jhesu. So that the same grace that turneth hem first from synne and makith him perfite bygynyng and profitynge bi yiftes of vertues and exercise of good werkes, maketh hem also perfite, and that grace also is called a liyfli feelynge of grace, for he that hath it feeleth it wele and knoweth it weel bi experience that he is in grace. It is ful lifli to hym, for it quikeneth [fol. 174v]the soule wondirli and maketh it so hool that he feelith no peynful disese of the bodi, though it be feble or sekely. For whi, thanne is the bodi mightiest, most hool, and most resteful, and the soule also.
Withoute this grace the soule cannot lyven but in peyne, for it thenketh that it myght ai kepe it and nothynge schulde putte it awai. And neverthelees, yit is it not so, for it passeth awai ful lightli; but neverthelees though the sovereyne feelynge of it passe awai and withdrawe, the releef leveth stille, and kepeth the soule in sadnesse and maketh it for to desiren the comynge ayen. And this is also the waker sleep of the spouse, of the which holi writ seith thus: Ego dormio, et cor meum vigilat (Canticle 5:2). I slepe and myn herte waketh. That is, I slepe goostli, whanne thorugh grace the love of the world is slayn in me, and wikkid stiringe of fleschli desires aren deeded and so moche that unnethis I feele hem; I am not taried with hem. Myn herte is maad free, and thane it waketh, for it is scharp and redi for to love Jhesu and seen hym. The more I slepe from outeward thynges, the more waker am y in knowynge of Jhesu and of inward thynges. I mai not waken to Jhesu but yif I slepe to the world. And therfore, the grace of the Hooli Goost sperynge the fleschli iye dooth the soule slepen from worldli vanyté, and openynge the goostli iye waken into the sight of Goddis magesté, helid undir cloude of his precious manhede, as the gospel seith of apostelis whanne thei were with oure [fol. 175r]Lord Jhesu in his transfiguracion; first thei slepiden and thanne: Evigilantes viderunt maiestatem (Luke 9:32). Thei that wakeneden sighen his majesté. Bi sleep of the apostelis is diynge of wordli love bi inspiracion of the Hooli Goost; bi heer wakyng, contemplacion of Jhesu. Thorugh this sleep the soule is brought into reste fro dene of fleschli lust; and thorugh wakynge it is reysed up into the sight of Jhesu and of goostli thinges. The more that the iyen aren spered in this maner sleep fro the appetite of wordli thinge, the scharpere is the innere sight in loveli biholdyng of heveneli fairheed. This slepynge and this wakynge love werketh thorugh the light of grace in the soule of the lovere of Jhesu.
Hou special grace in biholdynge of Jhesu withdraweth sumtyme from a soule, and hou a man schal han him in absence and presence of special grace, and hou a soule schal desiren that in it is ai the gracious presence of Jhesu.
Schewe me thanne a soule that thorugh inspiracioun of grace hath openynge of the goostli iye into biholdynge of Jhesu; that is departed and drawen oute fro love of the world, so feer forth that it hath purité and poverté of spirite, goostli reste, inward silence and pees in conscience, highenesse of thought, oonlynesse and privyté of herte, waker sleep of the spouse; that hath loste likynge and joie of this world, taken with delite of heveneli savour, ai thirstande and sothli sighhande the blissid presence of Jhesu; and I dar hardili pronouncen that this soule brenneth al in love and schyneth in goostli light, worthi for to come to the name and to the worschipe [fol. 175v]of the spouse, for it is reformed in feelinge, maad able and redi to contemplacion. Thise aren the tokenes of inspiracioun in openynge of the goostli iye. For whi, whan the iye is opened the soule is in ful feelynge of alle thise vertues bifore seid, for that tyme.
Neverthelees, ofte sithes it falleth that grace withdraweth in partie, for corrupcioun of mannes freelté, and suffreth the soule falle into itself in fleschlihede, as it was bifore; and thanne is the soule in sorwe and pyne, for it is blynd and unsaveri and can no good. It is weike and unmyghti, encombred with the bodi and with alle the bodili wittes; it seketh and desireth aftir the face of Jhesu ayen, and it mai not fynde it. For holi writ seith of oure Lord thus: Postquam vultum suum absconderit, non est qui contempletur eum (Job 34:29). That is: Aftir whanne oure Lord Jhesu had hid his face, there is noon that mai biholde him. Whanne he schewith him, the soule mai not unsee him for he is light; and whanne he hideth him, it mai not see him, for the soule is merke. His abidynge is but a sotil assaiynge of a soule; his schewynge is wondir merciful goodnesse in comforte of the soule.
Have thou no wondir, though the feelynge of grace withdrawe sumtyme fro a lovere of Jhesu. For hooli writ seith the same of the spouse, that sche fareth thus: Quesivi et non inveni illum: vocavi et non respondit michi (Canticle 3:1). I sought and I fond not; I callid him and he answerid not. That is, whan y falle doun to my freelté, than grace withdrawith; for my fallynge is cause [fol. 176r]therof, and not his feelinge. But thanne feele I the peyne of my wrecchidnesse in his absence, and therfore y soughte hym bi sotilté of thought ther I had hym bifore, and y fond him nought. I called him bi greet desirynge of herte, and he yaf to me no felable ansuerynge. And thanne I cried with al myn herte: Revertere dilecte mi. (Canticle 2:17). Turne ayen, thou my loved. And yit it semed that he herde me not. The peyneful feelynge of myself and the assailynge of fleschli loves and dredis in this tyme, and the wantynge of my goostli strengthe, is a continuel criynge of my soule to Jhesu; and neverthelees oure Lord maketh straunge awhile and cometh not, crie I nevere so fast. For he is siker inough of his lovere, that he wil not turne ayen fulli to wordli love; he mai no savour have thereinne. And therfore abideth he the lengere.
But at the laste, whanne he wole, he cometh ayen, fulle of grace and sothfastnesse, and visiteth the soule that langueschith in desire bi sighhinges of love to his presence, and toucheth it and anoynteth it wel softeli with the oile of gladnesse, and maketh it sodeynli hool from alle pyne. And than crieth the soule to Jhesu in goostli vois with a glad herte thus: Oleum effusum nomen tuum (Canticle 1:2). Oile yoten is thi name Jhesu. Thi name is Jhesu, that is heele; thanne as longe as I feele my soule soor and sike for synne, peyned with the hevy birdyne of my bodi, sori and dredande for periles and wrecchidnesse of this liyf, so longe Lord Jhesu, thi name is oile spared, not oile yoten to me. But whanne I feele my soule [fol. 176v]sodaynly towchid with the light of grace, heelid and softid from alle filthe of synne, conforted in love and in light with goostli strengthe and gladnesse unspecable, thanne mai y seyn with lusti lovynge and gostli merthe to thee: Oile yoten is thyn name Jhesu to me. For bi the effect of thi gracious visitynge y feele weel of thi name the trewe expounyng, thou arte Jhesu, heele. For onli thi gracious presence heeleth me fro sorwe and from synne.
Blissid is the soule that is feleabli feed in feelynge of love in his presence, or is born up bi brennynge desire to him in his absence. A wise lovere is he, and wel taught, that sadli and reverenteli hath him in his presence, and loveli biholdeth him withoute dissolute lightnesse, and pacientli and esili beereth him in his absence withouten venemous dispeir and over peynful bittirnesse.
This chaungeableté of absence and presence of Jhesu that a soule feeleth is not perfeccioun of the soule, ne it is not ayens the grace of perfeccioun or of contemplacioun; but in so moche, perfeccion is the lasse. For the more lettynge that a soule hath of itself fro contynuel feelynge of grace, and though neverthelees yit is the grace in itself grace of contemplacioun. This chaungeableté of absence and presence fallith as wel in staat of perfeccioun as in the staat of bigynnynge, but in anothir manere. For right as ther is diversité of feelynge in the presence of grace atwixe thise two statis, right so is there in the absence of grace. And therfore he that knoweth not the absence of grace is redi [fol. 177r]to be disseyved, and he that kepith not the presence of grace is unkynde to the visitynge, whethir he be in the staat of bigynneres or of perfite. Neverthelees, the more stabilnesse that there is in grace, unhurt and unbroken, the loveliere is the soule, more like unto him in whom is no maner chaungeableté, as the apostil seith. And it is ful semeli that the soule-spouse be like to Jhesu-spouse in maneres and in vertues, ful accordande to him in stabilnesse of perfite love. But it falleth seldom: nowhare but in the special spouse.
For he that perceyveth no chaungeableté in feelynge of his grace, but ay ilike stable and hool, unbroken and unhurt as him thenketh, he is eithir ful perfight or ellis he is ful blynd. He is ful perfight that is sequestred from alle fleschli affecciouns and comonynge of creatures, and alle menes aren broken awai of corrupcion and of synne atwixe Jhesu and his soule, fulli ooned to him with softnesse of love. But this is oonli grace above mannes kynde. He is fulle blynd and feyneth him in grace withoute goostli felinge of Goddis inspiracion, and setteth himsilf in manere of a stablenesse, as he were ai in feelynge and in werkynge of special grace, demynge that al is grace that he doth and feelith, withouten and withinnen, thenkynge that whatsoevere he doo or speke is grace, holdynge himself unchaungeable in specialté of grace. Yif there be ony siche, as I hope there is noon, he is ful blynd in feelynge of grace.
But than myght thou seie thus, that we schulde lyven oonli in truthe and [fol. 177v]not coveiten goostli feelynges, ne rewarden hem yif thei comen, for the apostil seith: Justus ex fide vivit (Hebrews 10:38). That is: The rightwise man lyveth in trouthe. Unto this I seie that bodili feelinges, be thei never so confortable, we schulle not coveiten, ne mykil rewarden hem if thei comen. But gostli feelynges, siche as I speke of now, yif thei comen in the manere as I have seid bifore, we schulen ai desiren that aren sleynge al wordli love, openynge of the goostli iye, purité of spirite, pees in conscience, and alle othere bifore seid. We schullen coveiten to feele ai the liyfli inspiracioun of grace maad bi the goostli presence of Jhesu in oure soule, yif that we myghten; and for to have him ai in oure sight with reverence, and ai feelen the swettenesse of his love bi a wondirful homlinesse of his presence. This schulde be oure liyf and oure feelynge in grace, aftir the mesure of his yifte in whom al grace is, to somme more and to some lasse; for his presence is feelid in diverse manere wise as he vouchith saaf. And in this we schullen lyven, and wirken al that longeth to us for to wirken, for withouten this we schuld not conne lyve. For right as the soule is liyf of the bodi, right so Jhesu is liyf of the soule bi his gracious presence. And neverthelees this maner of feelynge, be it nevere so moche, it is yight but trouthe as in reward of the fulnesse that schal ben of the selve Jhesu in the blisse of hevene.
Loo, this feelynge schulde we desire, for eche a soule resonable oweth for to coveiten with alle the [fol. 178r]myghtes of it neighynge to Jhesu and oonynge to hym, thorugh feelynge of his gracious unseable presence. Hou that presence is feelid, it mai betere be knowen bi experience than bi ony writynge; for it is the liyf and the love, the myght and the light, the joie and the reste of a chosen soule. And therfore he that hath ones soothfastli feelid it, he mai not forbere it withouten pyne; he mai not undesiren it, it is so good in itsilf and so confortable. What is more confortable to a soule heere thanne to be drawen oughte thorugh grace fro the vile noie of wordli bisynesse and fro filthe of fleschli desires, and from veyn affeccioun of alle creatures into reste and softenes of goosteli love, priveli perceivynge the gracious presence of Jhesu, feleabli feed with favour of his unseable blissid face? Sotheli nothynge. Me thenketh nothynge mai make the soule of a lovere ful merie, but the gracious presence of Jhesu as he can schewen him to a clene soule. He is nevere more hevy ne sori, but thanne, whanne he is with himsilf in fleschlinesse; he is nevere ful glad ne merie, but whanne he is out of himsilf fer, as he was with Jhesu in goostlynesse. And yit is that noo ful myrthe, for ai there hangeth an hevy lompe of bodili corrupcioun on his soule, and bereth it doun and moche letteth the goostli gladdenesse, and that mote ai be while it is in this lif.
But nevertheles, for I speke of chaungeableté in grace, hou it cometh and gooth, that thou mystake it not, therfore y [fol. 178v]mene not of the comone grace that is had and feelt in trouthe and in good wille to God, withoute the which havynge, and lastynge therinne, no man mai be saaf, for it is in the leste chosen soule that lyveth. But I mene of special grace feelt bi inspiracioun of the Hooli Goost, in manere as it is bifore seid. The comone grace, that is charité, lasteth hool whatsoevere a man doo, as longe as his wille and his entente is trewe to God, that he wolde not synne deedli, ne the deede that he dooth wilfulli is not forbed as for deedli synne, for this grace is not loste but thorugh deedli synne. And thanne it is deedli synne, whanne his conscience wittenesseth with avisement that it is deedli synne, and yit neverthelees he dooth it; or elles his conscience is so blynded that he holdeth it noo deedli synne, though he doo that deede wilfulli, the which is forboden of God and of hooli chirche as deedli synne.
Special grace feelt thorugh the unseable presence of Jhesu, that maketh a soule a perfite lovere, lasteth not ilike hool in the highnesse of feelynge, but chaungeabli cometh and gooth, as I have seide. Thus oure Lord seith: Spiritus ubi vult spirat; et vocem eius audis, sed nescis unde veniat, aut quo vadat (John 3:8). The Holi Goost spireth wheer he wole, and thou heerest his vois, but thou wost not fro whennes he cometh or whider he gooth. He cometh priveli sumtyme whanne thou art leest waar of him, but thou schalt wel knowen him or he goo, for wondirfulli he stireth and[fol. 179r] myghtili he turneth thyn herte into biholdynge of his goodnesse, and dooth thyn herte meelten delitable as wex ayens the fier into softenesse of his love, and this is his vois that he sowneth. But thanne he gooth or thou wite it, for he withdraweth him sumwhat, not al, but from excesse into sobirté. The highnesse passeth, but the substaunce and the effecte of the grace duelleth stille, and that is as longe as the soule of a lovere kepeth him clene and falleth not wilfulli to reccheleshede or dissolucioun in fleschliheed, ne to outewarde vanyté, as sumtyme it dooth, though it have no delite therinne, for freelté of itself. Of this chaungeabilité in grace speke I of now.
A commendacioun of praiere offrid to Jhesu in a soule contemplatif, and hou stablenesse in praiere is a siker werk to stonden in, and hou every feelynge of grace in a chosen soule mai be seid Jhesu, but the more clene that the soule is, the worthiere is the grace.
The soule of a man, whilis it is not touchid thorugh special grace, is blont and boistous to goostli werk, and can not thereon. It mai not therof for weikenesse of itself. It is bothe cold and drie, undevout and unsavori in itself. But thanne cometh the light of grace, and thorugh touchynge maketh it scharpe and sotiel, redi and able to gosteli werk, and yeveth a greet fredom and an hool redynesse in wille for to be buxum to alle the stirynge of grace, for bi ope[fol. 179v]nynge of the goostli iye it is applied al fulli to grace, redi to werken aftir that grace stireth. And thanne fallith it so somtyme, that grace stireth the soule for to praien; and hou the soule praieth thanne schal I telle the.
The most special praiere that the soule useth and hath most confort in, I hope, is the Pater Noster, or elles psalmes of the sautier; the Pater Noster for lewid men, and psalmes and ympnes and othere servyce of holi chirche for lettred men. The soule praieth thanne not in manere as it dide bifore, ne in comone manere of othere men by highnesse of vois or bi renable spekynge oute; but in ful greet stilnesse of vois and softenesse of herte. For whi, his mynde is not trobled ne taried with outeward thynges, but hool gadred togedre in itsilf, and the soule is sette as hit were into goostli presence of Jhesu; and therfore everiche silable and every word is sowned savourli, sweteli and delitabli, with ful acord of mouth and of herte. For whi, the soule is turned thanne al to fier of love, and therfore eche word that it priveli praieth is like unto a sparcle springynge out of a fierbrond, that clanseth alle the myghtes of the soule and turneth hem into love, and lightneth hem so confortabli that the soule list ai for to praien and to doo noon othere thynge. The more it praieth, the betere it mai, the myghtiere it is. For grace helpeth the soule weel, and maketh al thynge[fol. 180r] light and esi, that it list right weel for to psalmen and syngen the lovynges of God with goostli myrthe and heveneli delite.
This goostli werk is the foode of the soule. And this praier is of moche vertu, for it wasteth and bringeth to nought alle temptacions of the feend, privé and apeert, it sleeth alle the mynde and likynge of the world and of fleschli synnes, it bereth up the bodi and the soule from peynful feelynge of wrecchidnesse of liyf, it kepeth the soule in feelynge of grace and wirkynge of love and norischeth ai ilike hoot and fresch as stikkes norischen the fier. It putteth awai al irkynge and hevynesse of herte, and hooldeth it in myrthe and goosteli gladnesse. Of this praier speketh David thus: Dirigatur oratio mea sicut insensum in conspectu tuo (Psalms 140:2). That is: Dressed be my praier, Lord, as encense in thi sight. For right as encense that is caste in the fier maketh swete smeel bi the reek stiynge up to the iye, right so a psalme savourli and softeli songen or seid in a brennande herte yeldeth up a suete smeel to the face of oure Lord Jhesu and to al the corte of hevene.
There dare no flesch flie resten upon the pottis brynke boiland over the fier; right so mai ther no flesch flie delite resten on a clene soule that is lapped and warmed al in fire of love, boilende and plaiand psalmes and lovynges to Jhesu. This is verry praiere. This praiere is evermore herd of Jhesu, [fol. 180v]and receyveth grace ayen. It maketh a soule homli and felawli with oure Lord Jhesu, and with alle angeles of hevene. Use it whoso mai, the werke is good in itsilf and ful gracious.
And this maner praiere, though al it be not ful contemplacioun in itsilf, ne wirkynge of love bi itsilf, neverthelees it is a partie of contemplacioun. For whi, it mai not be doon on this manere wise but in plenté of grace thorugh openynge of the goosteli iye, and therfore a soule that hath this fredom and this gracious feelynge in praier, with goosteli savoure and heveneli delite, hath the grace of contemplacioun in manere as it is.
This praiere is a riche offrynge filled al in fattenesse of devocion, reseyved bi angelis and presented to the face of Jhesu. The praiere of othere men that are besied in actif werkes is maad of two wordes. For thei ofte sithes formen in here hertis o word thorugh thenkynge of wordli bisynesse, and sownen in here mouth anothir word of the psalme songen or seid; and neverthelees yif her entent be trewe, yit is here praiere good and medeful, though it lakke savour and swettenesse. But this manere praiere offred of a man contemplatif is maad but of o word. For as it is formed in the herte, right so hoolli it sowneth in the mouth, as it were but o thynge that formeth and sowneth. And soothli no more it is, for the soule thorugh grace is maad hool in itsilf, so fer forth departid from fleschliheede that it is [fol. 181r]maister over the bodi; and than is the bodi not ellis but as an instrument and a trompe of the soule, in whiche the soule bloweth swete nootes of goostli lovynges to Jhesu.
This is the trumpe that David speketh of thus: Buccinate in neominea tuba, insigni die solempnitatis vestre (Psalms 80:4). Blowe yee in a trompe in the newe moone. That is, ye soulis that aren reformed in goostli liyf thorugh openynge of the innere iye, blowe yee devouteli, sownynge psalmes with the trumpe of youre bodili tunge. And therefore, syn this praiere is so plesante to Jhesu and so profitable to the soule, than is hit good to him that is newe turned to God, what that he be, that wolde plesen hym and coveiteth for to have sum queynte feelynge of grace, for to coveite this feelynge, that he myght thorugh grace come to the liberté of spirit, and offre in his praieres and his psalmes to Jhesu contynueli, stabli, and devouteli, with hool mynde and brennand affeccioun in him, and han it neer hand in custom whanne grace stireth him therto.
This is a siker feelynge and a soothfast. Yif thou may come therto and holden it, the thar not neden to renne aboute heer and there and aske questions of ech goostli man what thou schalt doon, hou thou schalt love Jhesu, and how thou schalt serve hym, and speke of goostli materes that passen thi knowynge, as perchaunce some doon. That manere of [fol. 181v]doynge is not ful profitable, but yif more neede make it. Kepe thee to thi praieris stifli, first with travaile that thou mightest come aftirward to this reestful feelynge of this goostli praiere, and that schal teche thee wisdom inowgh sothfasteli, withoute feynynge or fantasie. And kepe it forth yif thou have it, and leve it not; but yif grace come othirwise and wil reeve it fro thee for a tyme and make thee for to werken in anothir maner, thanne maight thou leve it for a tyme and aftir turne ayen therto. And he that hath this grace in praier asketh not wheereupoun he schal sette the poynt of his thought in his praiere, whether upon the wordes that he seith, or elles on God or on the name of Jhesu, as some men asken. For the feelynge of grace techeth hem wel inowgh. For whi, the soule is turned al to the iye and scharpeli biholdeth the face of Jhesu, and is maad ful siker that that is Jhesu that he feeleth and seeth. I mene not Jhesu as he is in himsilf in fulnesse of his blissid godhede, but I mene Jhesu as he wole schewe him to a clene soule holden in bodi, aftir the clennesse that it hath. For wite thou weel, that ecche a feelynge of grace is Jhesu and mai be called Jhesu; and aftir that the grace is more or lasse, so feeleth the soule and seeth Jhesu more or lasse. Yhe, the firste feelynge of special grace of conpuccion and contricion for synnes is verili Jhesu. For whi, he [fol. 182r]maketh that contricion in a soule bi his presence. But Jhesu is thanne ful boistousli and rudeli feelid and seen, ful fer from his goostli sotilté, for the soule can no betere for unclennesse of itsilf thanne. Neverthelees aftirward yif the soule profite and encrese in vertues and in clennesse, the same Jhesu and noon othir is seen and feelid of the selve soule whanne it is touchid bi grace. But that is more goostli, nerrere to godli kynde of Jhesu.
And soothli that is the most thynge that Jhesu loveth in a soule, that it myght be maad goostli and godli in sight and in love, like to hym in grace, to that that he is bi kynde; for that schal be the ende of alle loveris. Than mait thou be siker that what tyme thou feelest thi soule stired bi grace, speciali in that manere as it is bifore seid, bi openynge of the goostli iye, that thou seest and feelest Jhesu. Hoolde him faste whiles thou maiste, and kepe the in grace, and late him not lightli fro thee. Loke aftir noon nothir Jhesu but the same, bi feelynge of the selve grace more godli, that it myght wexe more and more in thee; and drede the nought, though that Jhesu that thou feeliste be not Jhesu as he is in his ful godheed, that thou schuldest therfore mow ben disseyved yif thou loned to thi feelynge. But truste thou weel, yif thou be a lovere of Jhesu, that thi feelynge is trewe and that Jhesu is truli feelid and seen of thee thorugh his grace, as thou maist seen him here. And there[fol. 182v]fore lene fulli to thi feelynge whanne it is gracious and goostli, and kepe it tendirli and have grete deynté, not of thi silf, but of it, that thou myghtest seen Jhesu ai betere and betere. For grace schal evene teche thee bi itself yif thou wolte falle therto mekeli, til the ende.
But perchance thou bigynnest to wondren whi y seie o tyme that grace wirketh al this, and anothir tyme I seie that love werketh, or Jhesu werketh, or God wirketh. Unto this y seie thus, that whanne I seie grace wirketh I meene love, Jhesu, and God: for al is oon, and not but on. Jhesu is love, Jhesu is grace, Jhesu is God; and for he wirketh al in us bi his grace for love as God, therfore may I usen what word I wole of thise foure, aftir my stirynge, in this writynge.
Hou a soule thorugh openynge of the gosteli iye receyveth a gracious ablenesse for to undirstonden holi writ, and hou Jhesu, that is hid in hooli writte, scheweth hym to hise loveris.
Whanne the soule of a lovere feelith Jhesu in praiere in manere bifore seid, and thenketh that it wolde nevere feelen othirwise, neverthelees it falleth that some tyme grace putteth silence in a soule to vocal praiynge and stireth the soule for to seen and feelen Jhesu in othir maner. And that manere is first for to see Jhesu in hooli writte; for Jhesu, that is al sothfastnesse, is hid and helid therinne, wounden in a soft sendeel [fol. 183r]undir faire wordis, that he mai not be knowen ne feelid but of a clene herte. For whi, sothfastnes wole not schewe itself to enemys, but to freendes that loven it and desiren it with a clene meke herte. For sothfastnesse and mekenesse aren ful trewe sustris, festened togidre in love and charité; and for thi is ther no laynynge of conceiles atwixe hem two. Mekenesse presumeth on soothfastnesse, and nothynge of itsilf; and sothfastenesse trusteth wel on mekenesse, and so thei accorden wondir weel. Thanne for as moche as the soule of a lovere is maad meke thorugh inspiracion of grace bi openynge of the goostli iye, and seeth that it is not in itself, but oonli hangeth on the merci and the goodnesse of God, and lastyngeli is born up bi favour and helpe of hym oonli and truli desirynge his presence: therfore seeth it Jhesu, for it seeth sothfastnesse of holi writte wondirfulli schewed and opened, aboven studie and traveile and resoun of mannes kyndeli wit. And that mai wel be called the feelynge and the perceyvynge of Jhesu, for Jhesu is welle of wisdom, and bi a litil heldynge of his wisdom into a clene soule he maketh the soule wise ynowgh for to undirstonde alle hooli writte—not alle at ones in special biholdynge, but thorugh that grace the soule receyveth a newe ablenesse, and a gracious abite for to undirstonde it [fol. 183v]speciali whanne it cometh to mynde.
This openynge and cleernesse of wit is maad bi the goostli presence of Jhesu. For right as the gospel seith of two disciplis goynge to the castel of Emaus, brennande in desire and spekynge of Jhesu, oure Lord Jhesu appered to hem presentli as a pilgrime and taughte hem the prophecies of himsilf, and as the gospel seith: Apparuit illis sensum, ut intelligerent scripturas (Luke 24:45). He opened to hem cleernesse of witte that thei myten undirstonden holi writynges. Right so the goostli presence of Jhesu openeth the witte of his lovere that brenneth in desire to him, and bryngeth to his mynde bi mysterie of angelis the wordes and the sentence of holi writ, unsought and unavised, oon aftir anothir, and expouneth hem redili, be thei nevere so hard or so privei. The hardere that thei ben and the ferthere fro mennys resonable undirstondynge, the more delitable is the trew schewynge of it whan Jhesu is maister. It is expounned, declared litterali, morali, mistili, and heveneli, yif the mater suffre it. Bi the lettre, that is lightest and most playn, is the bodili kynde conforted; bi moralté of hooli writ, the soule is enformed of vices and vertues, wiseli to kunne departe the toon from the tother; bi mystihede it is illumined for to seen the werkes of God in holi [fol. 184r]chirche, redili for to applien wordes of holi writ to Crist oure heved and to holi chirche that is his mystik bodi; and the firthe, that is heveneli, longeth oonli to the werkynge of love, and that whanne al soothfastenesse in hooli writte is applied to love, and for that is most like to heveneli feelynge, therfore I calle it heveneli.
The lovere of Jhesu is his frende, not for he hath deserved it, but for Jhesu of his merciful goodnesse maketh him his freend bi trewe acord, and therfore as to a trewe frend that pleseth hym with love, not serveth him bi drede as a thral, he scheweth his priveté. Thus he seith himsilf to hise apostelis: Iam vos dixi amicos, quia quecumque audivi a patre meo, nota feci vobis (John 15:15). Now y seie that ye aren frendes, for I make knowen to yow alle thynges that I have herde of my Fader. To a clene soule that hath the palet purified from filthe of fleschli love, hooli writ is liyfli foode and sustenaunce delitable. It savoreth wondir sweteli whanne it is weel chewid bi goostli undirstondynge. For whi, the spirit of liyf is hid thereinne, that quykeneth alle the myghtes of the soule and filleth hem ful of swettenesse of hevenli savour and goosteli delite. But sotheli him nedeth for to han white teeth and scharpe and wel piked that schulde biten on this goostli breed, for fleschli loveres and heretikes mowe not tou[fol. 184v]che the inli flour of it. Here teeth aren blodi and ful of filthe, and therfore aren thei fastynge from feelynge of this breed. Bi teeth aren undirstonden inli vertues of the soule, the whiche in fleschli loveres and in heretikes aren blodi, ful of synne and of wordli vanyté; thei wolden, and thei kunnen not, come bi the curiousté of her kyndeli wit to the sothfast knowynge of holi writ. For here witte is corrupt bi the original synne and actuel also, and is not yit heelid thorugh grace, and therfore thei don but gnawen upon the bark withoute. Carpe thei nevere so moche thereof, the inli savoure withinne thei feelen not of. Thei aren not meke, thei aren not clene for to seen it; thei aren not frendis to Jhesu, and therfore he scheweth hem not his conceil.
The priveté of holi writ is closid undir keie seelid with a signet of Jhesuis fyngir, that is the Holi Goost; and forthi, withouten his love and his leve mai no man come in. He hath oonli the keie of connynge in his kepynge, as hooli writ seith; and he is keie himsilf and he leteth in whom he wole thorugh inspiracioun of his grace, and breketh not the seel. And that dooth Jhesu to his loveres; not to alle ilike, but to hem that aren speciali enspired for to seken sothfastnesse in hooli writ, with gret devocion in praiynge and with moche bisynesse in studiynge goynge bifore. Thise moun come to the fyndynge whan oure Lord Jhesu wole schewe it.
Se now thanne how [fol. 185r]grace openeth the goostli iye, and clereth the wit of the soule wondirli above the freelté of corrupt kynde. It yeveth the soule a newe ablenesse, whethir it wole reden holi writ or heeren or thenken it, for to undirstonde truli and savourli the sothfastnesse of it in the manere bifore seid, and for to turnen redili alle resones and wordes that aren bodili seid into goostely undirstondynge. And that is no gret mervaile, for the same spirit expouneth it and declareth it in a clene soule in confort of it, that first made it; and that is the Holi Goost. And this grace mai be, and is, as wel in lewed as in lettred men, as anemptis the substaunce and the trewe feelynge of soothfastnesse and of goosteli savour of it in general, though thei se not so manye resons of it in special, for that nedeth not. And whanne the soule is thus ablid and lightned thorugh grace, thanne it liste for to ben aloone sumtyme, out of lettynge or comonynge of alle creaturis, that it myght freeli assaien his instrument, that I calle his resoun, in bihooldynge of soothfastnesse that is conteyned in hooli writynge. And ther falleth to mynde wordes and resouns and sentence inowgh to occupien it ful ordinatli and ful sadli.
And what confort and goostli delite, savour and swettenesse, a soule mai feele thanne in this goosteli werk thorugh divers illuminacions, inli perceyvynges, privei know[fol. 185v]ynges, and sodayn touchynges of the Hooli Goost, bi assai the soule mai witen and elles not. And I hope that he schal not erren, bi so that his teeth, that aren his inli wittes, be kepid white and clene from goostli pride and from curiousté of kyndeli witte. I hope that David feelte ful grete delite in this maner werk whan he seide thus: Quam dulcia faucibus meis eloquia tua, super mel ori meo (Psalms 118:103). Hou swete aren thi spekynges, Lord Jhesu, to my chekes, or above hony to mouth. That is: Lord Jhesu, thyn holi wordes, endited in hooli writ, brought to my mynd thorugh grace, aren suettere to my chekes (that aren affeccions of my soule) than hony is to my mouth. Sothli this is a faire werke and an honest withoute pyneful travaile, for to seen Jhesu thus.
This is oo maner sight of Jhesu, as I seide bifore: not as he is, but clothed undir likenesse of werkes and of wordes, per speculum in enigmate (1 Corinthians 13:12), bi a myrore and likenesse, as the apostil seith. Jhesu is eendelees myght, wisdom and goodnesse, rightwysenesse, sothfastnesse, hoolinesse, and merci. And what this Jhesu is in himsilf mai no soule seen heere, but bi the effecte of his wirkynge he mai seen thorugh the light of grace, as thus: his myght is seen bi makynge of alle creatures of nought, his wisdoom in ordinat disposynge of hem, his goodnesse in savynge of hem, his merci in forgevynge of synnes, his hooli[fol. 186r]nesse in yiftes of grace, his rightwisnes in hard ponyschinge of synne, his soothfastnesse in trewe rewardynge of good werkes. And al this is expressed in holi writ, and this seeth a soule in hooli writ with alle othere accidentis that fallen therto. And wite thou wel that siche gracious knowynges, in hooli writ or in ony othir writynge that is maad thorugh grace, aren not ellis but swete lettres, sendynges maad atwixe a lovend soule and Jhesu loved; or ellis yif y schal seie sothliere, atwixe Jhesu the trewe lovere and the soulis loved of him. He hath ful grete tendirnesse of love to alle his chosen children, that aren heere closid in clei of this bodili liyf; and therfore, though he be absent from hem, high hid aboven in bosom of the Fadir, fulfilled in delices of his blissid godheed, neverthelees yit he thenketh of hem and visiteth hem ful ofte thorugh his gracious goosteli presence, and conforteth hem bi his lettres of hooli writ, and dryveth out of here hertes hevynesse and irkenesse, doutes and dredis, and maketh hem glaad and merie in hem, truli trowande to alle his bihetynges and mekeli abidynge the fulfillynge of his wille.
Seynt Poul seith thus: Quecumque scripta sunt, ad nostram doctrinam scripta sunt, ut per consolacionem scripturarum, spem habeamus (Romans 15:4). Al that is writen, to oure techynge it is writen, that bi confort of writynge we mai have hope of savacioun. And this is a[fol. 186v]nothir werk of contemplacion, for to seen Jhesu in scripturis, aftir openynge of the goosteli iye. The clennere that the sight is in biholdynge, the more conforted is the affeccioun in the taastynge. A ful litil savour, feelt in a clene soule of holi writ in this manere bifore seid, schulde make the soule sette litil price by knowynge of alle sevene artes or of alle wordli connynges. For the eende of this knowynge is savacion of a soule in ai lastynge liyf; and the ende of othere as for hemself is but vanité and a passynge delite, but yif thei be turned thorugh grace to this eende.
Of the privei vois of Jhesu sounned in a soule, wherebi it mai be knowen; and hou alle the gracious illuminaciouns maad in a soule aren called the spekynges of Jhesu.
Loo, thise aren newe feelynges in a clene soule, and yif a soule were fulfilled in siche, it myght be seid, and sothli, that it were sumwhat reformed in feelynge, but yit not fulli. For whi, yit Jhesu scheweth more and ledeth the soule innere, and bigynneth to speke more homeli and more loveli to a soule, and redi is the soule thanne for to folwe the feelynge of grace. For the prophete seith: Quocumque ibit spiritus, illuc gradiebantur et rote sequentes eum (Ezekiel 1:20). Whidirso yeede the spirit, thider yeeden the wheles folwynge hym. Bi wheles aren undirstonden (fol. 187r]trewe loveres of Jhesu, for thei aren round in vertues withouten angil of frowardnesse, and lightli whirland thorugh redynesse of wille to stirynge of grace. For aftir that grace stireth and toucheth, so thei folwen and so thei werken, as the prophete seith. But thei han first a ful myghti assai and a trewe knowynge of the vois of grace, or thei mowen doo so, that thei be not disseyved bi ther owen feynynge, or bi the myddai fend. Oure Lord Jhesu seith thus: Oves mee vocem meam audiunt, et cognosco eas, et cognoscunt me mee (John 10:27, 14). Mi scheep heeren my vois, and I knowe hem and thei knowe me. The privei vois of Jhesu is ful trewe, and it maketh a soule trewe. Ther is no feynynge in it, ne fantasie, ne pride, ne ypocrisie, but softenesse, mekenesse, pees, love, and charité, and it is ful of lif and of grace. And therfore whanne it sowneth in a soule it is of so greet myght sumtyme, that the soule sodenly leith of hande al that there is—praiynge, spekynge, redynge, or thenkynge in manere bifore seid, and al maner bodili werk—and lesteneth therto fulli, herende, perceyvande in reste and in love the swete stevene of this goostli vois, as it were ravesched fro the mynde of alle ertheli thynges. And thanne sumtyme in this pees scheweth Jhesu him, sumtyme as an eighful maister, and sumtyme as a reverent fadir, and sumtyme as a loveli spouse. And it kepeth the soule [fol. 187v]in a wondirful reverence and in a loveli bihooldyng of hym, that the soule liketh weel thanne and nevere so weel as thanne. For it feeleth so moche sikernesse and so grete reste in Jhesu, and so moche favour of his godnesse, that it wolde ai be so and nevere doon othir werk. It thenketh that it toucheth Jhesu, and thorugh vertu of that unspekable touchynge it is maad stable and hool in itsilf, reverentli biholdynge oonli Jhesu as yif there were nothynge but Jhesu oo thynge, and it anothir, born up bi the favour and the wondirfull goodnesse of hym; o thynge that it seeth and feeleth.
And this feelynge is ofte tyme withoute special biholdynge of holi writte, ne but with fewe wordes formed in the herte; not but thus among fallen in swete wordes acordynge to the feelynge, eithir lovende or wondrende, or othirwise sounnende as the herte liketh. The soule is ful moche departed fro love or likynge of the world thorugh vertu of this gracious feelynge, and also fro mynde of the world moche in the meene tyme; it taketh noon heede therof, for it hath no tome therto. But than sumtyme aftir with this fallen into a soule dyvers illuminacions thorugh grace, the whiche illuminacions I calle the spekynges of Jhesu and the sight of goostli[fol. 188r] thynges. For wite thou weel that al the bisynesse that Jhesu maketh aboute a soule is for to make it a trewe spouse to him in the highnesse of love. And for that mai not be doon sodeynli, therfore Jhesu, that is love and of alle loveres the wisest, assaieth bi many wises and bi wondirful menes or it mai comen aboute; and therfore that it myght come to effect of trewe spousage, he hath sich gracious spekynges in likenesse of a wowere to a chosen soule. He scheweth his privei jewelis, moche thinge he yeveth and more biheteth, and curtais daliaunce he scheweth. Often he visiteth with moche grace and goosteli confort, as I have bifore seid. But hou he dooth this in special al fulli can y not telle, for it nedeth not. Neverthelees sumwhat schal I seien, aftir that grace stireth.
The drawynge of a soule fulli to perfite love is first bi the schewynge of goostli thynges to a clene soule, whanne the gosteli iye is opened: not that a soule schuld reste thereinne, and make an ende there, but bi that yit seeke him and loven him oonli that is highest of alle, withouten ony bihooldynge of ony othir thynge than himsilf is. “But what aren thise goostli thinges?” seist thou; for y speke ofte of goostli thynges. To this I answere and seie that goostli thynge mai be seid al the sothfastnesse of holi writte. And therfore a soule [fol. 188v]that thorugh the light of grace mai seen the sothfastnesse of it, it seeth goostli thynges, as I have bifore seid.
Hou thorugh openynge of the goostli iye a soule is maad wise, mekeli and sothfastli for to seen hooli chirche as travalynge and as blissid, and for to seen angelis kynde repreved for ther malice.
Neverthelees, othere goosteli thynges ther ben also, the whiche thorugh light of grace aren schewed to the soule and aren thise: the kynde of alle resonable soules, and the gracious wirkynge of oure Lord Jhesu in hem; the kynde of aungelis, blissid and repreved, and hire wirkynge; and the knowynge of the blissid Trinité, aftir that grace techeth.
Holi writ seith in the Book of Songes thus: Surgam, et circuibo civitatem; et queram quem diligit anima mea (Canticle 3:2). I schal risen and I schal goon aboute the cité, and y schal seken him that my soule loveth. That is, I schal risen into highnesse of thought and goon aboute the cité. Bi this cité is undirstonde the université of alle creatures bodili and goostli, ordeyned and ruled undir God bi lawes of kynde, of resoun, and of grace. I umgo this cité, whanne I biholde the kyndes and the causis of bodili creatures, the yiftes of graces and blissis of goosteli creatures; and in alle I seke him that my soule loveth. It is fair lokynge with the innere iye on Jhesu in bodili [fol. 189r]creatures, for to seen his myght, his wisdoom, and his goodnesse in ordenaunce of here kynde, but it is moche fairere lokynge on Jhesu in goosteli creatures. Firste in the resonable soules, bothe of chosen and reproved, for to seen the merciful callyng of him to hise chosene; hou he turneth hem from synne bi light of his grace; hou he helpeth hem, techeth hem, he chastiseth hem, he conforteth hem; he righteth hem, he clenseth hem, he fedeth hem; hou he maketh hem brennende in light bi plenté of his grace. And this dooth he nought to oon soule onli, but to his chosen, aftir mesure of his grace. Also of the reproved, hou rightfulli he forsaketh hem and leveth hem in here synne and doth hem noo wronge; hou he rewardeth hem in this world, suffrynge hem for to have fulfillynge of here wille, and aftir this for to ponysch hem endelesli.
Loo, this is a litil biholdynge of hooli chirche whilis it is traveilynge in this liyf; for to seen hou blak and hou foule it semeth in soulis that aren repreved, hou fair and hou loveli it is in chosen soules. And al this goostli sight is not ellis but the sight of Jhesu; not yit in himsilf, but in merciful pryvey werkes and in his hard rightwise domes, ilke a dai schewed and renued to resonable soules. Also over this for to seen with the goostli iye pey[fol. 189v]nes of the repreved and the joie and the blisse of chosen soules, it is ful comfortable. For sothfastnesse may not be seen in a clene soule withouten greet delite and wondirful softenesse of brennynge love.
Also the sight of angelis kende; first of the dampned, and aftir that of the blissed. It is a ful faire contemplacioun of the feend in a clene soule, whanne grace bringeth the fend to the sight of the soule as a clumsid caitif bounden with the myght of Jhesu, that he mai not deren. Thanne the soule biholdeth hym, not bodili but goostli, seynge his kynde and his malice, and turneth him upsodoun, or spoileth him and rendeth him al to nought. It scorneth him and dispiseth hym and setteth nought bi his malice. Thus biddeth hooli writ whan he seith thus: Verte impium, et non erit (Proverbs 12:7). Turne the wikked, that is the feend, upsodoun, and he schal be as nought. Moche wondir hath the soule that the feend hath so moche malice and so litil myght. Ther is no creature so unmighti as he is, and therfore it is grete cowardise that men dreden him so moche. He mai nothynge doon withouten leve of oure Lord Jhesu, not so moche as entre into a swyne, as the gospel seith. Moche lasse mai he thanne noien ony [fol. 190r]man.
And thanne yif oure Lord Jhesu yeve him leve for to tarie us and troble us, it is ful worthili and mercifulli doon that oure Lord Jhesu dooth. And therfore welcome be oure Lord Jhesu, bi himself and bi alle his messangeres. The soule dredeth no more thanne the blusterynge of the feend than the stirynge of a mous. Wondir wrooth is the feend yif he durste seie nai; but his mouth is stopped bi his owen malice, his handes aren bounden as a theef worthi to ben demed and hanged in helle, and thanne the soule accuseth hym and rightfulli deemeth him aftir he hath disserved. Wondre not of this seiynge, for Seynt Poul mened the same whanne he seide thus: Fratres, nescitis quoniam angelos iudicabimus? (1 Corinthians 6:3). Bretheren, wite ye not weel that we schullen deeme angelis, that aren wikked spirites thorugh malice, that were maad good aungeles bi kynde, as who seith. This deemynge is figurid bifore the doom in contemplatif soulis, for thei feelen a litil tastynge, in likenesse of al that schal be doon and aftirward openli bi oure Lord Jhesu in soothfastenesse.
Schamed and schent is the feend in himsilf greteli whanne he is thus faren with of a clene soule. He wolde fayn fleen awey and he mai not, for the Holi Goost hooldeth hym [fol. 190v]stille, and that deereth him more thanne al the fier of helle. Wondir mekeli falleth the soule to Jhesu thanne, with herteli loovynges and thankynges that he so myghtili saveth a sympil soule fro al the malice of so fel an enemy thorugh his grete merci.
Hou bi the selve light of grace the blissed aungeles kynde mai be seen; and hou Jhesu as man aboven alle creatures, and as God aftir that the soule mai seen hym heere.
And thanne aftir this bi the selve mai the soule seen goosteli the fairheed of angelis, the worthinesse of hem in kende, the sotilté in substaunce, the confermynge of hem in grace, and the fulnesse of eendeles blisse; the sondriheed of ordres, the distinccion of persoones, hou thei leven al in light of endelees sothfastnesse and hou thei brennen al in love of the Hooli Goost aftir the worthynesse of ordres, hou thei seen and loven and preisen Jhesu in blissed reste withouten ceesynge. There is noo sight of bodi ne figure in ymaginacion in this maner wirkynge, but al goosteli of goosteli creatures.
Thanne bigynneth the soule for to have grete aqueyntaunce of his blissid spirites, and grete felawschipe. Thei aren ful tendir and ful bisy aboute sich a soule for to helpen it, [fol. 191r]thei aren maistres for to kenne it, and often thorugh hire goostli presence and touchynge of her light dryven oute fantoms fro the soule and mynistren to it al that it nedeth. This Seynt Poul seide of hem: Nonne omnes sunt administratorii spiritus, missi propter eos qui hereditatem capiunt salutis? (Hebrews 1:14). Wite ye not wel that alle holi spirites aren ministris, sent of Jhesu for hem that taken the heritage of helthe? Thise aren chosen soulis. As who seith, yhis; for wite thou weel, that al this goosteli wirkynge of wordes and of resounes broughte to the mynde, and sich fair liknesse, aren maad bi the ministerie of aungelis, whan the light of grace abundaunteli schyneth in clene soulis. It mai not be teeld bi tunge the feelynges, the lightnynges, the graces, and the comfortes in special, that clene soulis perceyven thorugh favourable felawschipe of blissed angeles. The soule is wel at ese with hem for to bihoolden hou thei doon, that it wolde tende to not elles.
But thanne with helpe of aungelis, yit the soule seeth more. For the knowynge riseth aboven al this in a cleene soule, and that is to bihoolden the blissed kynde of Jhesu. First of his glorious manheede, hou it is worthili highed above angelis kynde; and than aftir of his blissed godheede, for bi knowyng of creatures is knowen the creatour. And than[fol. 191v]ne bigynneth the soule for to perceyven a litil of the privetees of the blissid Trinité. It mai weel inowgh, for light of grace gooth bifore sche schal not erren as longe as sche hooldeth hire with the light.
Thanne is it opened soothfastli to the iye of the soule the oonheed in substaunce and distinccioun of persones in the blissed Trinité, as it may be seen here, and moche othir soothfastnesse of the blissid Trinité pertynent to this matier, the whiche is openli declared and schewed bi writyng of holy doctouris of hooli chirche. And wite thou weel that the same and the self soothfastnesse of the blisside Trinité that thise hooli doctours, enspired thorugh grace, writen in her bookes in strengthynge of oure trouthe, a clene soule mai seen and knowen thorugh the self light of grace. I wole not expresse to moche of this matier here, for it nedeth not.
Wonder grete love feeleth the soule with hevenli delite in bihaldynge of this sothfastnesse, whan it is maad thorugh special grace, for love and light goon bothe togidre in a clene soule. There is no love that riseth of knowynge and of special bihooldynge that mai touchen so neer oure Lord Jhesu, as thes love mai; for whi, this knowyng is worthiest and highest of itsilf oonli of Jhesu God and man, yif it be speciali schewed bi the light of grace. And therfore is the fier [fol. 192r]of love flaumynge of this more brennende, than it is of knowynge of ony creature bodili or gosteli.
Alle this gracious knowynge feelid in a soule of the université of alle creatures, in manere bifore seid, and of oure Lord Jhesu, makere and kepere of al this faire université—I calle hem faire wordes in swete spekynges of oure Lord Jhesu to a soule that he wole make his trewe spouse. He scheweth privetees and profreth riche yiftes of tresour, and arraieth the soule with hem ful honesteli. Sche daar not be aschamed with the company of hire felawes for to apperen aftirward to the face of Jhesu spouse. Alle thise loveli daliaunces of privei speche atwixe Jhesu and a soule mai be called an hid word, of the whiche holi writ seith thus: Porro ad me dictum est verbum absconditum, et venas susurrii eius percepit auris mea (Job 4:12). Sotheli to me is seid an hid word, and the veynes of his rownynges myn eere hath perceyved. The inspiracioun of Jhesu is an hid word, for it is hid from alle the loveres of this world, and schewed to hise loveres, thorugh the whiche a clene soule perceyveth redili the veynes of his rownynges, that aren special schewynges of his sothfastnesse. Or eche a gracious knowynge of soothfastnesse, feelt with inli savour and goostli delite, is a privey rownynge of Jhesu in the eere of a clene sou[fol. 192v]le.
nedeth for to han myche clennesse in soule, in mekenesse and in alle othere
vertues, and to ben haalf deeff to noyse of wordli janggelynge, that schuld
wiseli perceyven thise swete goostli rounynges. This is the vois of Jhesu, of the whiche David seith
thus: Vox domini preparantis
cervos, et revelabit condensa (Psalms
28:9). The vois of oure Lord Jhesu
and he schal schewe thikke. That
is, the inspiracion of Jhesu maketh soulis light as hertes that stirten fro the
herthe of bussches
and breres of alle wordli vanité; and he scheweth to hem the thikke,
that aren hise
privytees, that moun not be perceyved but of a scharp iye. Thise bihooldynges
maken a soule wise and brennynge in desire to the face of Jhesu. Thise aren the goostli thinges that I
spak of bifore, and thei mai be callid
gracious feelyngges. And I doo but
touche hem a litil, for wissynge of thy soule. For a soule that is clene, stired bi grace to use of this
wirkynge, mai seen more in an hour of siche goosteli matier than myght be
writen in a grete book.
 and that a worthi image. B omits.
 of him. B omits.
 and schal speken of. B omits.
 liknesse. B: ymage.
 myrkenesse. B: derknesse; B consistently uses derk- where the Lambeth MS has myrk- or merk-.
 beestli. B omits.
 goodnesse. B adds: ferst.
 the trespaas. B: hit.
 of. MS: of of.
 oweth. B adds: of duyté or dette.
 alle. B omits.
 deede. B: deth.
 kyndeli. B omits.
 Crist. B omits.
 man. B omits.
 thingis. B: God on thyng.
 He was bounde to rightfulnesse, but. Inserted from margin.
 dyen. B: deth.
 manere deede. B: mannes deth.
 his. B adds: preciose.
 troweth. B: leeveth (B regularly uses leeven where the Lambeth MS has trowen).
 untrouthe. B: unbyleeve (here and elsewhere).
 other comende or comen. B: comande as in the olde lawe or comen as now.
 and paynemes. B omits.
 kepynge. B: knowynge.
 and as Cristen men doon. B omits.
 trouthe. B: feyth (here and elsewhere).
 whiche. B adds: restorynge and.
 in feith. B omits.
 medlere. B: medlynge.
 to alle chosen soulis that were lyvande in tyme of his passioun. Added from margin.
 maad. B omits.
 feith. B adds: only
 thorugh lengthe. B: by processe.
 yit he mai. B omits.
 not withstondynge al. Following withstondynge, MS has synne, which seems to be expunged; B: ayeynstondynge.
 reformynge. MS: reformyge.
 whiche. Preceding whiche is a decorative filler.
 ther. The scribe’s usual usage is the southern forms, her(e), hire.
 as swithe. B: anoon.
 untrouthe. B adds: of byleeve.
 mekenesse. B: mekenesse and obedience.
 chirche. B adds: and the feyth.
 schrift. B: confessioun.
 oonli. B omits.
 unseable. B: that is gostly and invisible.
 partener. Hussey (1992, pp. 103-04) suggests the reading percener (“sharer”); see the same phrase below in chapter 36 with note.
 man. B: mannes soule.
 trouthe. B: feyth.
 ire. B: wreththe.
 heved. B: capital.
 as tite. B omits.
 likli. B omits.
 trouthe. B: leve or feyth.
 merci. B adds: and godnesse.
 desert. B: desire.
 hem bihoveth. B: moste they.
 neer. B omits.
 fightynge. B: chydynge.
 he. MS: he preceded by an expunged thou.
 outetaken. B: save.
 werk. B: dede.
 feer. B: free.
 feer. B: free.
 double. B: dedly.
 resoun. Capitalized in MS here and elsewhere, but not consistently.
 light. B: sight (perhaps correctly).
 and that he feelith no more of it. B omits.
 and certayn. B omits.
 thee. B adds: for (almost required by the sense).
 yif it be gracious. MS: yif it be gracicious; B omits.
 God. B adds: that is, they ssal see God.
 this. B adds: foule.
 defaded. B: defaced.
 weike. B: fable.
 likynges. B: styrenges.
 irketh. B: weryeth.
 the. B adds: evele.
 defoulynge. MS: defoulyge.
 in the whiche he was born in. B: the wiche bar hym.
 feelist. B: sechest.
 trouthe stilli. B: feyth styfly.
 trouth. B: byleve, that is trewe feyth.
 God. B: hym.
 ymage. B: lyknesse.
 heveneli. B: gostly.
 loveth not. not written above line; B: leeveth.
 proud. B: mysproude.
 unwillid. B: evele willed.
 stangno. Perhaps an error, but more likely a possible spelling of Vulgate stagno.
 worschipperis of maumetis. Inserted from margin.
 dool. B: here part.
 ugglen. B: abhorreth.
 flee. B: leeve.
 peyne. B adds: he ssal knowen it.
 stoppe. B: stoppeth.
 thei han no. B: lakkynge of.
 That. MS: That crossed out.
 brente. B: brought.
 schal langure. B: be feble and syklich.
 and reformyd. B omits.
 stele. B: gree.
 come to mychil grace. B omits.
 yeven. B adds: hym besyly.
 foule. B omits.
 yernynge. B: covetynge.
 dedli. MS: deeli; B: dedly.
 first. Inserted above the line; B omits.
 othir wilful custum. B: here customes.
 to deedli synne. B omits.
 and. MS: and and.
 kenne. B: teche.
 lyvynge. B: lernynge, perhaps correctly.
 mykil as. B omits.
 God. B omits.
 dedes. MS: des; B: dedys.
 biddynge. B omits.
 the schorteste and the redieste helpe that I knowe in this wirkynge. B omits.
 bigynnynge. MS: bigynnnynge (otiose abbr. stroke).
 speciali. B omits.
 strynges. MS: stirynges.
 that. MS: that that.
 tome or voide. B: empty.
 lene. B: abyde.
 flawme and the hattere is the. B omits.
 of the love of Jhesu. B: fro the love of God.
 for to love. B: the love of.
 first and. B omits.
 a good. B: the.
 oonly. Inserted above the line; B: thenk oonly (perhaps rightly).
 and. B adds: veyn.
 thee. B adds: charge hit noght, jangle naght therwyth, ne angre the naght.
 strengthe it. B adds: and meynteyne hit.
 wirkynge. MS: wirkyge.
 therfore see hym gostly yif thou myght. Inserted from margin.
 spered. B: closed.
 knowynge. B: likynge.
 thus. B: and therfore he that loveth hym he is in lyght everelastynge, as.
 him bihoveth a while abiden. B: he moste abyde a wyle.
 the affeccioun and. B omits.
 and loven. B omits.
 fleschli. B: bodily.
 bounden. B adds: ne peyned.
 light. B: day.
 werldli desires. B omits.
 feling of. B omits.
 chesinge. B: clefynde.
 bryngeth. B adds: hit (perhaps rightly).
 merkenesse. MS: altered from mekenesse; ir inserted above the line between e and k.
 unseable. B: invisible.
 thee. B omits.
 To hem that wonen. B: that is, wonynge.
 the. fals inserted here from margin, but expunged.
 thought. Marginal gloss: inere (“inner”); B: sowth. Despite the gloss, B’s reading is better (see Ezechiel 40:2).
 rodde. B: reed.
 biggynge. B: beldenges.
 liyf. B: hylle.
 iye. B: syght.
 semeth sumwhat, but it. B omits.
 of the enemye. MS: of enemye. Emendation may be unnecessary; see the heading for Book I, chapter 38, for feend without the article.
 ney. ney inserted above the line preceding an expunged newe; B omits newe.
 ben. B adds: byfore.
 hemsilf. corrected from himsilf.
 thinges. B adds: outward.
 wepynge. B: wakynge.
 holi and. B: hooly.
 knowinge. B: cunnynge.
 knowynge. MS: knowyge.
 knowynge. MS: knowyge.
 and. B: thorugh.
 zele. B: love.
 flitynge. B: chydynge.
 that knowynge. B: such cunnynge.
 God. MS: good, with the second o expunged. B: God.
 the fendes. B: comynly.
 fendes. B: feyned.
 blake. B omits.
 undirstandynge. B: gostly knowynge.
 risen. B: spryngyn.
 kyndele. B adds: or tenden.
 ne ypocrisies. B omits.
 into a soule. B: in.
 resten. B: rysen.
 goo where. B: do what.
 resten. B: rysen.
 mai. B adds: naght.
 dyverse. B: sondry.
 seere. B: diverse.
 gate. B: way (and elsewhere in this chapter).
 lif. B: love.
 nought. B: nyght.
 brent. B: brought.
 sadli. B omits.
 mekeli. B omits.
 fareth bi it. B: falleth therby.
 and. MS omits; B: and.
 knowynge. MS: knowyge.
 forsakynge. MS: forsakyge.
 bigynnyng. MS: bigynnyg.
 in conpunccion. B: of contemplacioun.
 beykynge. B: bethynge.
 staaf. B: stykke.
 brent. B: brought.
 for it schal not wite where ne how. Inserted from margin.
 feelynge. B: lyvynge.
 luste. B: the love
 receyve up hem. B: rysen up.
 knowynge. MS: knowyge.
 the soule. B: thee.
 bolneth. B: swelleth.
 falleth. B: faryth.
 thought. B: body.
 and for to love the sovereyn goodnesse. Inserted from margin.
 undirstondyng. MS: undirstondyg.
 thenkynge. MS: thenkyge.
 worschipen. B omits.
 is. B adds: good and.
 lasse. B adds: and (perhaps rightly).
 in. MS: in in.
 contemplatif. MS: conteplatif; emendation may be unnecessary; cf. the MS spelling conpuccion.
 heeryng. MS: heeryg.
 reformynge. MS: reformyge.
 schorter. Last two letters illegible; B: schortere.
 hool. B: holy.
 oolde. B: holy.
 blyndli. B adds: and nakedly.
 savourli. B: unsavourly.
 eum. Not in MS; see 1 John 3:2.
 spered. B: yclosed.
 Jhesu. B adds: God.
 thorugh grace. B omits.
 ferforth. B: forward.
 openynge. MS: openyge.
 worthiere. B: worthynesse.
 privei. B omits.
 sothfastnesse. MS: sostfastnesse.
 not. B adds: speken.
 aren. B adds: temporal and
 Thus seith oure Lord. B omits.
 Jhesu Crist. B omits.
 love. A following of Jhesu is expunged.
 that. B adds: in knowynge.
 symple. B: synful.
 mekenesse. B: mochelnesse.
 departen. B: share.
 foryyvnesse. MS: foryynesse.
 biynge. Corrected from biggynge (i.e. “buying”).
 wrecchid. B: wykkede.
 streynen. B: steren.
 Jhesu. B: God.
 schewynge of. B omits.
 fervours. B: by fervours.
 bothe. B: god.
 of God. B: goode.
 for the tyme. B omits.
 partenere. B: takere; Hussey (1992, pp.103-04) suggests percener (“sharer”); compare the same phrase above in chapter 8; and see Clark, p. 319n263.
 schedynge . B: disseveraunce.
 and it schal werken in thi soule oonli as he wole, and thou schalt biholden him. Interpolated from the margin; B: . . . biholden Jhesu.
 Ceese yee. B: Taketh heede.
 God. B: God and man.
 pacience. B: of penaunce.
 alle. Inserted above the line.
 biholding. MS: biholdig.
 disposeth. B: dispyseth.
 foryyvnesse. MS: foryynesse.
 veyn. Written over erasure.
 into. MS: into into.
 circumstaunces. MS: circustaunces; emendation may be unnecessary; cf. the MS spelling conpuccion.
 bihaldynge. MS: bihaldyge.
 ai upon. B: evere opene to.
 snaris. B adds: or greves.
 of God. B omits.
 passynge. B adds: and weyward.
 risynges. B: stirynge
 he wil not ben angrid ne sterid ayens hem. Inserted from margin.
 yeeden. B: wende or yeeden.
 wronge. B omits.
 thorugh his. B: of the.
 dede. B adds: of that other man.
 and passen. B omits.
 the love of Jhesu. B: Godes love.
 Jhesu. B: God.
 accidie. B: slouthe.
 heren. B: spekyn, huyren.
 or deepnesse. B omits.
 apostil. B: gospel.
 ancipiti. B omits.
 flitynge. B: chydynge.
 undeynté. B: dedeyn.
 ne peynfulli. B omits.
 oonlynesse. B: wyldernesse.
 an. B: wyldernesse or.
 of thought. B: or wyldernesse.
 oonlynesse of bodi. B: that.
 in. B: thy.
 the liyf of his bodi. B: thys bodyly lyf.
 bygynynge. MS: bygynnge.
 and likynge. B omits.
 perfite. B omits.
 bygynyng. MS: bygynng.
 that wakeneden. B: wakynge.
 is. B: is understonden.
 dene. B: dyynge.
 wordli. B: erthly.
 sothli. B: softly.
 openynge. MS: openyge.
 abidynge. B: hydynge.
 feelinge. B: fleynge.
 herte. B: soule.
 loves. B: lustys.
 to wordli love. B omits.
 sodaynly. MS: sosodaynly; so sodaynly makes sense, but the second so begins a folio and is thus more likely to be a repetition error at a folio break.
 merthe. B: myght.
 feleabli. B: evere.
 brennynge. B omits.
 grace. B adds: the lasse ys the grace.
 reverence. MS: rereverence.
 favour. B: savour.
 fer. B: fre.
 and of hooli chirche. B omits.
 reek stiynge. B: smoke rysynge.
 iye. B: eyre.
 flesch flie. B: flesschly.
 plaiand. B: reekynge.
 Jhesu. B adds: hit yeldeth grace to Jhesu.
 openynge. MS: openyge.
 Jhesu. B: God.
 hym. B: God.
 special. B omits.
 of conpuccion. B: in a bygynnere, that is called grace of contemplacion.
 and seen. B omits.
 goostli. B: godly.
 betere. B adds: ne may no betere.
 loned. B: lened.
 seen. B adds: and felen.
 mekeli til. B: til thou come to.
 love. B: grace.
 I wole of thise foure. B: of these foure that me lust.
 to. MS: fro added above the line after to, perhaps as an alternative.
 a clene. B omits.
 trusteth. B: troweth or byleveth.
 God. B: Jhesu.
 favour. B: fervour.
 mysterie. B: ministrynge.
 vertues. B: swetnesse.
 neverthelees yit. B: noght for than.
 aren. B adds: fayre.
 feelynge. B: styrynges.
 stirynge. B: the stondynge.
 toucheth. B: techeth.
 myghti. B: syker.
 favour. B: savoure.
 o. B: that is, that.
 wondrende. B: worschepande.
 spouse. B: perfyght spouse.
 highnesse. B adds: and the fulnesse.
 Songes. B adds: of the Spouse.
 umgo. B: go aboughte.
 light. B: love.
 grace. B: mercy.
 deren. Marginal gloss: or greve.
 and troble us. B omits.
 is. MS: his; B: is.
 Holi Goost. B: myght of the hygheste.
 heere. A following in this liyf has been expunged; not in the Table of Contents preceding Book II.
 selve. B adds lyght, perhaps correctly.
 sondriheed. B: diversité of sondry.
 of the Hooli Goost. B omits.
 maner. B omits.
 spirites. Replaces expunged creatures.
 soule. B adds: and they illumynen the soule gratiously, they conforten the soule with swete wordes sodeynly sowned in a clene herte and yyf eny disese falle gostly they serven the soule.
 bifore. B adds: and therfore.
 of. MS: of in.
 greithynge. B: ordeinynge.
 stirten fro the herthe of. B: lepen over.
 the thikke, that aren. B omits.
 bihooldynges. B adds: sothfastliche grounded in grace and mekenesse.
 callid. B adds: newe.