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CHAPTER IV: Of certain Temptations and Lettings which Souls feel from their Spiritual Enemies, in their Spiritual knowing and going towards Jerusalem, and the Remedies against them

NOW that thou art in the way, and knowest how thou shouldst go, beware of thy enemies, that will be busy to let thee if they can. For their intent is to put out of thy heart that desire, and that longing that thou hast to the love of Jesus, and to drive thee home again to the love of worldly vanities; for that nothing grieveth them so much as this desire. These enemies are principally fleshly desires, and vain fears, which rise out of thy heart, through the corruption of thy fleshly nature, and would hinder thy desire of the love of God, that they may fully and peaceably possess thy heart; these are thy nearest enemies. Also other enemies there are, as unclean spirits, which are busy with slights and wiles to deceive thee. But one remedy hast thou, which I mentioned before, and that is, that whatsoever they say, believe them not; but hold on thy way, and only desire the love of Jesus. Answer them ever on this wise: I am nothing, I have nothing, I covet nothing only the love of our Lord Jesus.

If thy enemies, by suggestions in thy soul, say unto thee that thou hast not made thy Confession aright, or that there is some old former sin hid in thy heart that thou knowest not, nor never madest thy Confession aright of it, and therefore thou must turn home again, and leave off thy desire, and go confess thyself better; believe not this saying, for it is false, for thou art rightly confessed, and so do thou surely hope and trust; and that thou art in the right way, and that thou needest no further to ransack thy soul for confession of that which is past, hold on thy way, and think only on Jerusalem.

Also, if they say that thou art not worthy to have the love of God, and therefore why shouldst thou covet that which thou wilt not be able to attain, nor art not worthy of; believe them not but go on, and say thus: Not because I am worthy, but because I am unworthy, therefore would I love God; for if I had His love, that would make me worthy; and since I was created to that end, though I should never have it, yet will I covet it, and therefore will I pray and think that I may get it. And then if thy enemies see that thou beginnest to wax bold, and well-willed to thy work, they will begin to be afraid of thee, yet will they not cease to seek to stay and hinder thee as much as they can, as long as thou art going in the ways what with affrighting and threatening thee on one side, and what with flattering and vain pleasing thee on the other side, to make thee break thy purpose and turn home again. And they will say thus: If thou hold on thus thy desire to Jesus, travailing so fervently as thou now beginnest, thou wilt fall into bodily sickness, or thou wilt craze thy head and fall into fancies or melancholy, as thou seest some do; or thou wilt fall into poverty, or bodily mischief, and none will be able to help thee, or thou wilt fall into secret temptations and illusions of the devil, that thou shalt not be able to help thyself; for it is very dangerous for any man to give himself over to the love of God, and leave all the world, and covet nothing but only the love of Him. For that many perils may fall out that a man knows nothing of, and therefore turn home again, and leave off this desire, for thou shalt never bring it to pass, and do as other worldly men do.

Thus will thy enemies say, but believe them not, but hold on thy desire, and say naught else; but that thou wouldst have Jesus, and be Jerusalem; and if they perceive that thy will is so strong, that thou wilt not give over, neither for fear of sin, nor of sickness, for fancies nor for frenzies, for doubts nor for dreads of spiritual temptations, for mischiefs nor for poverty, for life nor for death, but ever seekest and longest after one thing, and nothing else but that one thing, and turnest a deaf ear to them, as though thou heardest them not, and holdest thee on stiffly and constantly in thy course of prayer, and in thy other spiritual exercises without stinting, but yet with discretion, after the counsel and directions of thy Superior, or of thy ghostly Father, then begin they to be wroth, and to come a little nearer to thee. Then they begin to rob thee and beat thee, and do thee all the shame that they can, and that is, when they make that all the deeds that thou doest, be they never so well done, are judged by others to be evil, and turned into the worse part. And whatsoever thou wouldst do, or have done for the help or comfort of thy body or soul, it shall be letted or hindered by other men, so that thou shalt be put from thy will in everything which thou reasonably desirest. And all this they do, that thou mayest be stirred up to anger, or melancholy, or evil will against thy neighbour. But against all these diseases, and all other that thou mayest feel, use this remedy. Take Jesus into thy mind, and trouble not thyself with them, nor be angry; tarry not with them, but think on thy lesson: That thou art nothing, that thou hast nothing, that thou canst nothing lose of earthly goods, that thou covetest nothing but the love of Jesus; and hold on thy way, with thy exercises, to Jerusalem. And though thou be sometimes tarried and letted in thy way, through thy frailty, with such inconveniences as befall thy bodily life, through evil will of man, or malice of the enemy; as soon as thou canst, come again to thyself, leave off the thinking of thy inconveniences, and go on with thy exercise. Abide not long upon the thinking of those thy defects for fear of thy enemies.

And after this, when they see that thou art so well willed, that thou art not angry, nor heavy, nor wroth, nor much moved against any creature for aught that they can do or say against thee, but settest thy heart fully to suffer all that may fall, ease or unease, praise or dispraise, and that thou dost esteem or regard nothing so that thou mayest keep thy thought and thy desire whole to the love of God, then are they much abashed. But then will they set upon thee with flattery and vain pleasing, and that is when they set before thee all thy good deeds and virtues, and tell thee that all men praise thee and speak well of thy holiness, and how all men love thee and worship thee for thy holy living. Thus will thy enemies do, that thou mayest believe them, and take delight in this vain joy, and rest therein. But if thou do well thou shalt esteem all such janglings and suggestions to be false flatterings of thy enemy, that proffereth thee to drink venom tempered with honey, and therefore refuse it, and say thou wilt have none of it, but thou wouldst be at Jerusalem.

Such lettings shalt thou feel, or the like, what from thy flesh, and what from the world, and what of the fiend, more than I can rehearse. Now for as long as a man suffereth his thoughts willingly to run about the world in beholding of sundry things, he perceiveth few lettings. But as soon as he draweth all his thoughts and his yearnings to one thing only, to have it, to know it, and to love it, which is Jesus; then shall he feel many painful lettings; for whatsoever thing he feeleth which is not that which he coveteth, that same thing is a letting to him. Therefore I have set down some of them for examples in particular. And moreover in general, I shall now tell thee that whatsoever stirring thou feelest of the flesh, or of the fiend, either pleasant or painful, bitter or sweet, lovely or dreadful, gladsome or sorrowful, that would draw down thy thoughts or thy desires from the love of Jesus to worldly vanities, and would hinder or cool thy spiritual covetousness that thou hast to the love of Him, and would have thy heart to be occupied with that stirring and rest upon it, set it at naught, entertain it not willingly, tarry not therewith too long. But if it be any worldly thing that is necessary to be done, for thyself or thy neighbour, dispatch it, and quit thee soon of it, and bring it to an end that it hang not on thy heart. But if it be another thing that may be spared and is not very needful, or else concerns thee not, heed it not, jangle or dally not therewith, nor trouble or vex thyself about it, fear it not, like it not, but cast it out of thy heart speedily, and say thus: I am nothing, I have nothing, I seek nor covet nothing but the love of Jesus. Fasten thy thoughts to this desire and strengthen it, and maintain it by prayer and other spiritual exercises that thou forget it not, and it shall lead thee in the right way, and save thee from all dangers; that though thou feel them thou shalt not perish, and I hope that it shall bring thee to the perfect love of our Lord Jesus.

Nevertheless on the other side, I say also, what work or what stirring it is that may help or strengthen or nourish thy desire, and draw thy thoughts farthest from lust and the minding of the world, more entire and more burning to the love of God, whether it be praying, meditating, reading or hearing, solitariness or being in company, silence or talking, going or sitting, hold to it for the time, and exercise thyself therein as long as any savour or relish therein lasteth, if it be so that thou take therewith meat, and drink, and sleep, as a pilgrim doth, and use discretion in thy exercises, after the advice and directions of thy superior. For a pilgrim, though he be in never so great haste in his journey, yet will he eat and drink and sleep. Do thou likewise; and though it hinder and stay thee at one time, it shall further thee at another time.

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