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SECTION II: What the said Image of sin is, properly, and what cometh out of it

I HAVE already told thee of this image, that it is nought, Nevertheless, if thou canst not understand how this should be an image, seeing nought can be nothing else but nought, and so for all my telling thou canst make nothing of it, I shall therefore tell thee more plainly of this image as methinketh.

This image is a false inordinate love of thyself. Out of this there come all manner of sins by seven rivers, Which are these: pride, envy, anger, sloth, covetousness, gluttony and lechery. Lo, this is somewhat that thou mayest understand. By some one of these rivers runneth out all manner of sin, and putteth thee out of the state of charity, if it be a deadly sin; or letteth the fervour of thy charity if it be venial. Now mayest thou grope120120    To feel. at least that this image is not altogether nought; but it is much of bad, for it is a great spring of love unto thyself, with such rivers as I have said.

But now, sayest thou, how can this be true? For I have forsaken the world, and am shut up in a monastery; I meddle with no man, I chide not, I strive not, I neither buy nor sell, I have no worldly business, but by the mercy of God keep myself chaste, and withhold me from delights. And, besides this, I pray, I watch, I labour bodily and ghostly, as well as I can; how should this image then be so much in me as thou speakest of?

To this I answer, granting thee that I hope thou dost all these works and more; and yet may it be true as I say. Thou art busy to thy power to stop these rivers without, but the spring within perhaps thou leavest whole. Thou art like to a man which had in his yard a stinking well, with many runnings from it, who went and stopped the runnings, and left the spring whole, and thought all was well; but the water sprang up at the ground of the well, and stood still insomuch that it corrupted all the fairness of his garden, and yet did no water run out. Right so may it be with thee, if it be so that thou hast by grace stopped the rivers of this image without, so far that all is done well, but beware of the spring within; surely unless thou stop and cleanse that as much as thou canst, it will corrupt all the flowers of the garden of thy soul, show they never so fair outwardly in sight of men.

But now, sayest thou, whereby shall I know that the ground is stopped, if I go about it? As to this I shall tell thee, how by trying and experience thou shalt know this image if it be in thee, and how much it is in thee, and thereby shalt thou know how much it is stopped in thee, and how little also. And inasmuch as pride is the principal river, I shall begin with it.


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