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SECTION II: That a Man should be busy to put away and hinder all Motions of sin, but more busy about those of Spiritual sins than those of Bodily

AND therefore he that riseth against the feeling of fleshly liking in meat and drink, more fully and more sharply than against those of pride, or covetousness, or lechery, or envy (the which because they be more spiritual and less perceivable, seem perhaps less evil, and are less reprehended). I say that he is half-blind, for he seeth not his spiritual uncleannesses (as of pride and envy), how foul they are in God’s sight, for, I believe that if a man could see with his spiritual eye how foul pride and covetousness are in God’s sight, and how contrary they are to Him, he would more loathe a stirring of pride, and the vain liking of it; and also he would more abhor and rise against that evil will of envy, or anger to his neighbour than many a stirring or liking either of gluttony or of lechery. Nevertheless, all men do not think so, for commonly men are more shy or troubled to feel a stirring of fleshly sin, and have for it more sorrow and heaviness than for great likings in vain-glory or in other ghostly sins. But they are not wise; for if they would understand the holy Scriptures and sayings of doctors they should find it as I say, which I neither may nor will rehearse now.

I will not excuse them that fall in the likings and delights of gluttony and lechery, as if they sinned not; for I wot well that all the kinds of them are sins more or less, according to the measure of the lust and misbehaviour in the sin, and other likings, with consideration of how far voluntary it was with other circumstances. But my desire is, that thou mightest know and esteem all sins according as they are, indeed, the greater to be the greater, as are spiritual sins; and the less to be the less, as are fleshly or sensual sins; and yet nevertheless would I have thee to hate and fly all, both bodily and spiritual, with all thy might. For know thou well, that fleshly desires and unreasonable likings in meat and drink, or any likings that belong to the body, exceeding reasonable needs, though they be not always great sins to him that is in charity. Nevertheless, to a soul that desireth cleanness and purity of heart, and a spiritual feeling of God, they are full heavy, painful and bitter, and greatly to be eschewed; for the spirit cannot feel his kindly savour within, till the flesh hath lost his beastly savour without.

And, therefore, if thou wilt come to cleanness of heart, thou must strive against the unreasonable stirrings of fleshly desires, but against the ground of them thou shalt not rise; for the ground of it is Need, as natural hunger, which thou must necessarily feel, and must attend thereto, and satisfy it in fitting time and manner, and help thyself against it by medicine of meat, as thou wouldst help thyself in a reasonable manner against a bodily sickness, that thou mayest more freely serve God both bodily and spiritually. For know thou well, that what man or woman that shall be occupied spiritually in thoughts, great pain or hunger wilfully undertaken or bodily sickness or pain in the stomach, or in the head, or in other parts of the body for want of good ruling of themselves in too much fasting, or in any other way, will much let the spirit, and much hinder him from the knowing and beholding of spiritual things, unless he have much grace, and be arrived to great abilities in the Contemplative life. For though it be true, that bodily pain either of penance, or of sickness, or of bodily occupation, sometime letteth not the fervour of love to God in devotion, but oft increaseth it, yet I believe that they let the fervour of love in Contemplation, the which may not be had nor felt fully, but in rest and freedom of body and soul from all the aforesaid corporal pains, wants, employments and solicitudes.

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