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CHAPTER VIII: How Love slayeth all stirrings of Wrath and Envy easily;259259    Softly. and reformeth in the Soul the virtues of Peace and Patience, and of perfect Charity to his Neighbour, as He did specially in the Apostles

LOVE, where it worketh, worketh wisely and easily260260    Softly. in a soul; for he slayeth mightily anger and envy, and all passions of wrath and melancholy in it, and bringeth into the soul the virtues of patience and mildness, peaceableness and amity to his neighbour. It is full hard and a great mastery for a man that standeth only in working of his own reason to keep patience, holy rest and softness in heart and charity to his neighbour, when they use him hardly and do him wrong, that he do not through motion or rising of anger or bitterness261261    Melancholy. within him something against them, either by word or deed, or both. (And nevertheless though a man be stirred and troubled in himself, and made unrestful, if so be it passeth not too much the bounds of reason, and that he keep his hands and his tongue, and be ready to forgive the trespass when forgiveness is asked, yet this man hath the virtue of patience, though it be but weak and nakedly. Forasmuch as he desires to have it, and laboureth busily in restraining his unruly passions to the end that he may have it, and also is sorry that he hath it not as he should.) But to a true lover of Jesus it is no great mastery for to suffer all this; for why? Love fighteth for him, and slayeth wondrous easily such stirrings of wrath and of melancholy; and maketh his soul so easy and so peaceable, so suffering and so goodly, through the spiritual sight of Jesus, with the feeling of His blessed love, that though he be despised and contemned of other men, or suffer wrong or harm, shame or villainy, he heedeth262262    Chargeth. it not, he is not much stirred against them; he will not be angered nor stirred against them, for, if he were much stirred, he should forego the comfort which he feeleth within his soul, but that will he not. He can lightlier forget all the wrong that is done him than another man can forgive it, though forgiveness263263    Merch. was asked him; and so he had rather264264    Well lever. forget it; for he thinketh it most easy to him. And love doth all this, for love openeth the eye of the soul to the sight of Jesus, and establisheth it with the pleasure265265    Liking. and content of love that it feeleth by that sight, and comforteth it so mightily that it taketh no heed266266    Kepe. whatever men jangle or do against him; it resteth267267    Hangeth. nothing upon him; the greatest harm that he can suffer is a forbearing of the spiritual sight of Jesus; and therefore it is better268268    Lever. for him to suffer all harms than that alone. All this can the soul do well and easily without great disturbing of this spiritual sight, when the grievances fall outwardly and touch not the body, as do backbitings or scornings or spoiling of his goods. All these grieve him nought; but it goeth somewhat nearer when his flesh is touched, and he feeleth smart, then is it harder.

Nevertheless, though it be hard and impossible to the frail nature of man to suffer bodily penance gladly and patiently, without bitter stirrings of ire, anger and melancholy, and yet it is not impossible to love, that is, the Holy Ghost for to work this in a soul, when He toucheth it with the blessed gift of love. But He giveth a soul that is in that plight mightily the feelings of love, and wonderfully fasteneth it to Jesus, and separateth it very far from sensuality through His secret might, and comforteth it so sweetly by His blessed presence that the soul feeleth little pain or else none at all in the sensual part; and this is a special grace given to the holy Martyrs.

This grace had the Apostles, as holy Writ saith of them thus: Ibant Apostoli gaudentes, &c.—The Apostles went from the Council rejoicing, when they were beaten with scourges, and they were glad that they were accounted worthy to suffer any bodily pain for the love of Jesus.269269    Acts 5. They were not stirred to anger, nor to bitterness,270270    Felness. to be revenged on the Jews that beat them, as a worldly man would be when he suffered a little harm, were it never so little, from his neighbour. Nay, they were not stirred to any pride, nor highness of mind, nor to disdain or judge the Jews, as hypocrites and heretics are who will suffer much bodily pain, and are sometimes ready to suffer death with great gladness and with mighty will, as it were in the name of Jesus, for love of Him. Verily, that love and that gladness that they have in suffering of bodily mischief is not of the Holy Ghost, it cometh not from the fire that burneth on the High Altar of Heaven, but it is feigned by the enemy, inflamed of hell; for it is fully mingled with the height of pride, and of presumption of themselves, of despite and judging and disdaining of those that thus punish them. They imagine that all this is charity, and that they suffer all that for the love of God, but they are beguiled by the mid-day fiend.

A true lover of Jesus, when he suffereth harm from his neighbour, is so strengthened through grace of the Holy Ghost, and is made so humble, so patient, so peaceable, and that so really, that what harm or wrong soever he suffereth from his neighbour, he still preserveth his humility, he despiseth him not, he judgeth him not, but he prayeth for him in his heart, and hath pity and compassion on him much more tenderly than of another man that never did him harm; and verily loveth him better, and more fervently desireth the salvation of his soul, because he seeth that we shall have so much spiritual profit out of that evil deed of that man though it be against his will. But this love and this meekness is wrought only by the Holy Ghost above the nature of man in them whom He maketh true lovers of Jesus.

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