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CAPITULUM VII

HOW JOY OF INWARD SWEETNESS RISETH IN THE AFFECTION

THUS when the enemy fleeth and the city is peased,7878 Pacified. Harl. MS. 1022, ed. Horstman, reads: "the cite of conscience is made pesebule." then beginneth a man to prove what the high peace of God is

20that passeth man's wit. And therefore it is that Leah left bearing of children unto this time that Gad and Asher were born of Zilpah, her maiden. For truly, but if it be so that a man have refrained the lust and the pain of his five wits in his sensuality by abstinence and patience, he shall never feel inward sweetness and true joy in God and ghostly things in the affection. This is that Issachar, the fifth son of Leah, the which in the story is cleped "Meed."7979 Merces. [And well is this joy of inward sweetness cleped "meed"];8080 So Harl. MS. 674; omitted in Harl, MS. 1022 and by Pepwell. for this joy is the taste of heavenly bliss, the which is the endless meed of a devout soul, beginning here. Leah, in the birth of this child, said: "God hath given me meed, for that I have given my maiden to my husband in bearing of children."8181 Gen. xxx. 18. And so it is good that we make our sensuality bear fruit in abstaining it from all manner of fleshly, kindly, and worldly delight, and in fruitful suffering of all fleshly and worldly disease; therefore our Lord of His great mercy giveth us joy unspeakable and inward sweetness in our affection, in earnest8282 The MSS. read: "erles." of the sovereign joy and meed of the kingdom of heaven. Jacob said of Issachar that he was "a strong ass dwelling between the terms."8383 Gen. xlix, 14: "Issachar asinus fortis accubans interterminos" (Vulgate).

21And so it is that a man in this state, and that feeleth the earnest of everlasting joy in his affection, is as "an ass, strong and dwelling between the terms"; because that, be he never so filled in soul of ghostly gladness and joy in God, yet, for corruption of the flesh in this deadly life, him behoveth bear the charge of the deadly body, as hunger, thirst, and cold, sleep, and many other diseases; for the which he is likened to an ass as in body; but as in soul he is strong for to destroy all the passions and the lusts of the flesh by patience and abstinence in the sensuality, and by abundance of ghostly joy and sweetness in the affection. And also a soul in this state is dwelling between the terms of deadly life and undeadly life. He that dwelleth between the terms hath nearhand forsaken deadliness, but not fully, and hath nearhand gotten undeadliness, but not fully; for whiles that him needeth the goods of this world, as meat and drink and clothing, as it falleth to each man that liveth, yet his one foot is in this deadly life; and for great abundance of ghostly joy and sweetness that he feeleth in God, not seldom but oft, he hath his other foot in the undeadly life. Thus I trow that saint Paul felt, when he said this word of great desire: "Who shall deliver me from this deadly body?"8484 Rom. vii. 24. And when he said thus: "I covet to be loosed and to be with Christ."8585 Phil. i. 23. And thus doth the soul that feeleth Issachar in his affection, that is to say, the joy of inward

22sweetness, the which is understanden by Issachar. It enforceth it to forsake this wretched life, but it may not; it coveteth to enter the blessed life, but it may not; it doth that it may, and yet it dwelleth between the terms.


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