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CHAPTER VII: How Love through gracious Beholding of Jesus slayeth all stirrings of Pride; and maketh the Soul to lose the savour and delight in all earthly Honours245245 Worship.
NEVERTHELESS I shall tell thee more particularly how love killeth sins in a soul, and reformeth virtues. And first of Pride, and the virtue contrary thereto, namely, Humility. Thou must understand that there be two kinds of Humility; one is had by working of reason; another is felt by the special gift of love. Both are of love, but the former love worketh by, and with the reason of the soul, and the latter love worketh by herself. The first is imperfect, the other is perfect. The first a man feeleth from the beholding of his own sins and wretchedness, through the which beholding he thinketh himself unworthy to have any gift of grace, or any reward of God, but thinketh it enough that He would of His great mercy, grant him forgiveness of his sins. And also he thinketh himself, because of his sins, to be worse than the greatest sinner that liveth, and that every man doth better than he. And by such beholding thrusteth he himself down in his thoughts under all men. And he is busy to withstand the stirrings of pride as much as he can, both bodily and spiritual pride, and despiseth himself so that he assenteth not to the feelings of pride. And if his heart be taken sometimes with it, that it be defiled with vain joy of worship and praise from others; or from the conceit of his wit, or of any other thing, as soon as he perceiveth it he is displeased with himself, and hath sorrow for it in heart, and asketh forgiveness for it of God, and showeth himself to his confessor, and accuseth himself humbly, and receiveth his penance. This is good humility, but it is not yet perfect humility; for it is of souls that are beginning and profiting in grace caused by the beholding of their sins. Love worketh this humility by reason.
Perfect humility a soul feeleth from the sight and spiritual knowing of Jesus; for when the Holy Ghost lighteneth the reason into the sight of verity, how Jesus is all, and that He doth all, the soul hath so great love and so great joy in that spiritual sight (for it is really so indeed) that it forgetteth itself, fully leaneth to Jesus with all the love that it hath to behold Him. It taketh no heed246246 Keep. of any unworthiness of itself, nor of sins aforedone, but setteth at nought itself, with all the sins, and all the good deeds that ever it did, as if there were nothing but Jesus. Thus was David humble when he said thus: Et substantia mea tanquam nihilum ante Te.—And my substance is as nothing before Thee.247247 Ps. 38. That is, Lord Jesus, the sight of why blessed uncreated substance and of Thine endless Being showeth well unto me that my substance and being of my soul is as nought in regard of Thee.
Also, such a soul in respect to his neighbour hath no regard to him, nor judging of him, whether he be better or worse than himself; for he esteemeth himself and all other men to be all alike, and to be just nought of themselves in regard of God (and this is very so). For all the goodness that is wrought in himself, or in others, is only of God, whom he beholdeth as all in all. And therefore setteth he all other creatures at nought, as he doth himself. Thus humble was the Prophet when he said thus: Omnes gentes quasi non sint sic sunt coram eo, &c.—All nations are before our Lord as if they were not, and are reputed as nothing,248248 Unnoteful. and as a vain thing.249249 Isa. 40. That is, in comparison250250 Anentes. of the endless Being, and the unchangeable nature of God, mankind is as nought; for of nought was it made, and to nought shall it return, unless He keep it in its being that made it of nought. This is truth, and this should make a soul humble, if by grace it could see this truth. Therefore when once love openeth the inner eye of the soul, for to see this truth, with other circumstances that attend it, then beginneth the soul to be really humble; for then through the sight of God it feeleth and seeth itself as it is; and then doth the soul forsake the beholding and leaning upon itself; and fully falleth to the beholding of Jesus. And when it doth so, then setteth the soul nought by all the joy and worship of the world, for the joy of worldly worship is so little, and so nought, in regard of that joy and of that love that it feeleth in the spiritual sight of Jesus and knowledge of the truth that, though it might have it without any sin, he would have nothing to do with it. No, though men would worship him, praise him, and favour him, or set him in great state, it would nothing at all please him. No, though he had great skill in all the seven liberal sciences, and of all skill under the sun, or had power to work all manner of miracles, yet would he take no more delight251251 Dainty. in all this, nor no more savour than to gnaw on a dry stick. He had rather forget all this, and to be alone out of the sight of the world, than to think of them and be worshipped of all men; for the heart of a true lover of Jesus is made so much, and so large through a little sight of Him, and a little feeling of His spiritual love, that all the liking and all the joy of all the earth cannot suffice to fill a corner of it. And then appeareth it well that these wretched worldly lovers, that are, as it were, ravished with the love of their own worship, and pursue after it to have it with all the might and all the wit they have, they have no taste of this Humility, but are wondrous far from it. But the lover of Jesus hath this humility lastingly, and that not with heaviness and striving for it, but with liking and gladness. The which gladness he hath not therefore, because he forsaketh the worship of the world, for that were a proud humility belonging to an hypocrite; but because he hath a sight and a spiritual knowing of the verity and worthiness of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Ghost. That reverend sight, and that lovely beholding of Jesus comforteth his love so wonderfully, and beareth it up so mightily and so easily,252252 Softly. that verily it cannot like, nor fully rest in any earthly joy, nor would he if he could. He maketh no matter whether men praise him or dispraise253253 Lack. him, worship him or despise him, as to himself he sets it not to heart, neither to be well pleased254254 Well paid. (for his greater humiliation) when men despise him, nor to be displeased when men worship him or praise him. He had rather forget both the one and the other, and only think on Jesus, and get humility by that way. And that is much the securer way whosoever can attain to it. Thus did David when he said: Oculi mei semper ad Dominum, &c.—My eyes are always to the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.255255 Ps. 24. For when he doth so, then forsaketh he utterly himself, and casteth himself wholly under Jesus, and then is he in a secure guard; for the shield of Truth which he holdeth keepeth him so well that he shall not be hurt through any stirring of pride, as long as he holdeth himself within the shield. As the Prophet saith: Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus, &c.—Verity shall compass thee with a shield.256256 Ps. 90:5. And that is, if thou, leaving all other things, only beholdest Him; for then shalt thou not dread for the night’s dread; that is, thou shalt not fear the spirit of pride, whether he come by night or by day, as the next verse saith thus: A sagitta volante in die—From the arrow that flieth by day. Pride cometh by night to assail a soul when it is despised and contemned of other men, that thereby it should fall into heaviness and into sorrow. It cometh also as an arrow flying on the day, when a man is praised and worshipped of all men; whether it be for wordly doing or spiritual, that he should have vain joy in himself, and to rest therein, and false gladness in a thing that is passing. This is a sharp arrow and a perilous, it fleeth swiftly, and it striketh softly, but it woundeth deadly. But the lover of Jesus, that stably beholdeth by devout prayers, and busy thinking on him, is so encompassed with the safe shield of Truth that he dreadeth it not; for this arrow cannot enter into his soul. Nay, though it come it hurteth him not, but glanceth257257 Glenteth. away and passeth forth.
And thus is the soul made humble, as I understand, by the working of the Holy Ghost, that is, the gift of love; for He openeth the eye of the soul to see and love Jesus, and He keepeth the soul in that sight restfully and securely; and He slayeth all the stirrings of pride wonderfully and privily and softly, and the soul knoweth258258 Wotteth. not how. And also He bringeth in by that way verily and lovely the virtue of humility. All this doth love, but not in all lovers alike fully; for some have this grace but short and little, as it were in the beginning of it, and a little assaying toward it; for the conscience is not yet cleansed fully through grace. And some have it more fully, for they have clearer sight of Jesus, and they feel more of this love. And some have it most fully, for they have the full gift of Contemplation. Nevertheless, he that hath the least on this manner that I have said, I hope verily he hath the gift of perfect humility, for he hath the gift of perfect love.
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