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CHAPTER I: In what Sense this Manner of Speaking of Reforming of a Soul in Feeling is to be understood; and in what Manner it is reformed, and how it is found in St Paul’s Writings

I HAVE heretofore told thee somewhat of reforming in Faith, and also I have touched concerning thy proceeding from that reforming to a higher reforming which is in feeling. Not that I would by these discourses limit God’s working by the law of my speaking, as to say that God worketh thus in a soul and no other wise. No, I mean not so, but I speak after my simple feeling that our Lord worketh thus in some creatures as I conceive. And I hope well, also, that He worketh otherwise, which passeth my wit and my feeling. Nevertheless, whether He worketh thus or otherwise by several ways, in longer time or shorter, with much travail or little, if all come to one end, that is, the perfect love of Him, then is it good enough. For if He will give one soul on one day the full grace of Contemplation, and without any travail, as He well may; as good is that to that soul as if he had been tried, pained,214214    Pyned. mortified and purified twenty years. And therefore in this manner take my sayings as I have said, and namely as I meant to say them. For now by the grace of our Lord Jesus shall I speak a little as methinketh more plainly of reforming in feeling, what it is, and how it is made, and what are spiritual feelings which a soul receiveth. Yet in the first place, that I may not be understood to make this manner of speaking of reforming of a soul in feeling as a fiction or fancy of my own, I shall ground it on St Paul’s words, where he saith thus: Nolite conformari huic saeculo, &c. That is, ye that are through grace reformed in Faith, conform not yourselves henceforward to the manner of the world, in pride, in covetousness and in other sins, but be ye reformed in newness of feeling.215215    In novitate sensus. Rom. 12. Lo, here thou mayest see that St Paul speaketh of reforming in feeling; and what that newness of feeling is he expoundeth in another place thus: Ut impleamini in agnitione, &c. That is: We pray God that ye may be fulfilled in knowing of God’s will in all understanding and in all manner of spiritual wisdom.216216    Col. 1. This is reforming in feeling; for thou must understand that the soul hath two manners of feelings, one without by the five bodily senses; another within of the spiritual senses, which are properly the faculties of the soul—memory, understanding and will. When these faculties are through grace fulfilled in all understanding of the will of God and spiritual wisdom, then hath the soul new gracious feelings. That this is so he showeth in another place, thus: Renovamini spiritu mentis vestri, &c.—Be ye renewed in the spirit of your soul.217217    Eph. 4. That is, ye shall be reformed, not in bodily feeling nor in imagination, but in the upper part of your reason. And be clothed with the new man, that is shapen after God in righteousness, holiness and truth. That is, your reason, which is properly the image of God, through grace of the Holy Ghost, shall be clothed in a new light of truth, holiness and righteousness, and then is it reformed in feeling. For when the soul hath perfect knowledge of God, then is it reformed. Thus saith St Paul: Expoliantes veterem hominem, &c.—Spoil yourself of the old man with all his deeds.218218    Col. 3. That is, cast from you the love of the world with all worldly manners, and clothe you with the new man. That is, you shall be renewed in the knowing of God, after the likeness of Him that made you.

By these words thou mayest understand that St Paul would have men’s souls reformed in perfect knowledge of God, for that is the new feeling which he speaketh of generally. And therefore upon his words I shall speak more plainly of this reforming as God shall give me grace. For there be two manners of knowing of God.

One is had principally in imagination, and little in understanding. This knowing is in chosen souls beginning and profiting in grace, who know God, and love Him humanly (not spiritually) with human affections, and with a corporal image of His Humanity, as I have spoken before.

This knowing is good, and is likened to milk, by which they are tenderly nourished as children until they be able to come to the Father’s table, and take from His hand substantial bread.

Another knowing is principally felt in the understanding, and little in imagination; for the understanding is the lady, and the imagination is the maid, serving the understanding when need is. This knowing is solid bread meet for perfect souls, and is reforming in feeling.


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