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HERE BEGINNETH THE FORTIETH CHAPTER

 

That in the time of this work a soul hath no special beholding to any vice in itself nor to any virtue in itself.

 

DO thou, on the same manner, fill thy spirit with the ghostly bemeaning of this word “sin,” and without any special beholding unto any kind of sin, whether it be venial or deadly: Pride, Wrath, or Envy, Covetyse, Sloth, Gluttony, or Lechery. What recks it in contemplatives, what sin that it be, or how muckle a sin that it be? For all sins them thinketh—I mean for the time of this work—alike great in themselves, when the least sin departeth them from God, and letteth them of their ghostly peace.

And feel sin a lump, thou wottest never what, but none other thing than thyself. And cry then ghostly ever upon one: a Sin, sin, sin! Out, out, out!” This ghostly cry is better learned of God by the proof, than of any man by word. For it is best when it is in pure spirit, without special thought or any pronouncing of word; unless it be any seldom time, when for abundance of spirit it bursteth up into word, so that the body and the soul be both filled with sorrow and cumbering of sin.

On the same manner shalt thou do with this little word “God.” Fill thy spirit with the ghostly bemeaning of it without any special beholding to any of His works—whether they be good, better, or best of all—bodily or ghostly, or to any virtue that may be wrought in man’s soul by any grace; not looking after whether it be meekness or charity, patience or abstinence, hope, faith, or soberness, chastity or wilful poverty. What recks this in contemplatives? For all virtues they find and feel in God; for in Him is all thing, both by cause and by being. For they think that an they had God they had all good, and therefore they covet nothing with special beholding, but only good God. Do thou on the same manner as far forth as thou mayest by grace: and mean God all, and all God, so that nought work in thy wit and in thy will, but only God.

And because that ever the whiles thou livest in this wretched life, thee behoveth always feel in some part this foul stinking lump of sin, as it were oned and congealed with the substance of thy being, therefore shalt thou changeably mean these two words—sin and God. With this general knowing, that an thou haddest God, then shouldest thou lack sin: and mightest thou lack sin, then shouldest thou have God. 202

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