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SECTION III: A short Exhortation to Humility and Charity, with a Conclusion how a Man may know how much Pride he hath in him

Now by what hath been said, thou mayest (if thou wilt understand them) conceive comfort for thy degree of living, and also matter of humility. For though it be true, that (in case thou come to Heaven) thou shalt there receive so much reward in special, for thy state of life; nevertheless it may be that there is many a wife, and many a woman, living at large in the world, that shall be nearer God than thou, and shall love God more, and know Him better than thou, for all thy religious state, and that ought to be a shame to thee. Yet if thou labour to get love and charity as fully and as perfectly as those that live in the world (for thou mayest have it by the gift of God, as much as they that live in worldly business), then shalt thou have as much of the Sovereign or Essential reward as they; and, moreover, shalt also have another singular and accidental reward and worship, for thy state of Religion which the others shall not have. If then thou wilt do well, be humble, and forget thy state, as if it were right nought; for in sooth it is so, that is, right nought in itself. And let thy desire and business be to destroy sin, and to get charity, and humility, and other ghostly virtues, for therein lieth all.

I have well-nigh forgotten that image I spake of, but now I turn again thereto. If thou wilt know how much pride is therein, thou mayest try it thus: Look to it wisely, and flatter not thyself; if loving, praising or worshipping, or human favours of worldly men or others, be pleasing to thy heart, and thou turnest them into vain gladness, and well paying of thyself, thinking secretly in thy heart, that men ought to praise thy life, and reward thy speeches more than other men’s; and also on the contrary, if it be so, that when men reprove thee, and set thee at nought, hold thee for a fool, or an hypocrite, or slander thee, or speak evil of thee falsely, and in any other way disease129129    Defame. thee unreasonably, and for this thou feelest in thy heart a grievous heaviness against them, and a great rising in thy heart, with an unwillingness to suffer any shame or disgrace in the sight of the world; if, I say, it be thus with thee, it is a token that there is much pride in this dark image, seem thou never so holy in the sight of men. For though these stirrings be but little and venial, nevertheless they show well that there is much pride hid in the ground of thy heart, as the fox dareth in his den. These stirrings, with many more, spring so fast out of this image that thou scarcely canst do any good deed but it will be mingled with some pride or vain delight in thyself, and so with thy pride thou defileth all thy good deeds, and makest them loathesome in the sight of thy Lord. I say not that they are lost because they are mingled with this pride. But I say that those good deeds are not so pleasant to thy Lord as they would be if they were simple and truly rooted in the virtue of humility. And, therefore, if thou wilt have cleanness of heart, to come to the love of God, it behoveth thee not only to fly the rest and repose of thy heart in vain-glory, by willingly consenting to pride, and also the wretchless liking therein out of frailty against thy will, but also the very feeling itself of pride, as well as thou canst, which will not be done unless thou be full quick and diligent about the keeping of thy heart, as I shall tell thee hereafter.


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