CHAPTER I: OF REFORMING IN FAITH AND FEELING ALSO: That this Reforming cannot be suddenly gotten, but in length of Time, by Grace, and much Spiritual and Corporal Industry

THE reforming in Faith, which I have before treated of, may easily be gotten. But after this cometh reforming in Faith and Feeling, which will not easily be gotten, but by much pains and industry. For reforming in Faith is common to all chosen souls, though they be in the lowest degree of charity. But reforming in Feeling is only in those souls that are coming to the state of perfection, and that cannot be attained unto suddenly, but after great plenty of grace, and much and long spiritual exercising, and thereby shall a man attain thereto, and that will be after that he is first healed of his spiritual sickness, and after that all bitter passions and fleshly lusts and other old feelings are burnt out of the heart by the fire of desire: and new gracious feelings are brought in with burning love and spiritual light. Then doth the soul draw very near to perfection, and to reforming in feeling.

And here it is no otherwise then, as when a man through bodily sickness is brought near to death, though he receive a medicine, by the which he is restored, and is freed from the danger of death, yet cannot he, therefore, presently rise up, and go to work as a sound man may; for the feebleness of his body keeps him down, so that he must rest, and follow the use of medicines, and use a good diet, by measure, according to the advice of a physician, till he hath fully recovered his health. Right so in this spiritual business, he who through deadly sin is brought to a spiritual death, though through the medicine of the Sacrament of Penance he be restored to life, so that he shall not be damned, nevertheless he is not presently whole, and cured of all his passions and of all his fleshly desires, nor is apt for contemplation; but he must abide a great while, and take good heed to himself and order himself so, that he may recover perfect health of soul; for he shall linger a great while, ere he be fully whole. Yet if he take medicines, by the counsel of a good spiritual Physician, and use them in time with measure and discretion, he shall much the sooner be restored to his spiritual strength, and come to reforming in feeling. For reforming in Faith is the lowest state of all chosen souls, for beneath that they cannot well be.

But reforming in feeling is the highest state in this life that the soul can come to. But from the lowest to the highest a soul cannot suddenly start, no more than a man that would climb upon a ladder that is high, and setteth his foot on the lowest stave, can at the next step get up to the highest, but must go by degrees from one to another till he come to the highest.

Even so it is spiritually, no man becometh suddenly supreme or high in grace, but through long exercise and cunning182182    Sly. working of the soul may he come thereto, namely when He (in whom all grace lieth) helpeth and teacheth a wretched soul, for without His special help and inward teaching can no soul arrive thereto.

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