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CHAPTER V

How holy Bishops held and used the said Mixed Life

THE said mixed life did holy Bishops hold and lead, who had charge over men's souls and had the ministration and disposal of temporal goods; for those holy men did not wholly forsake the administration looking to, and the disposal of worldly goods, and give themselves altogether, or unreasonably to Contemplation, notwithstanding the grace and gift they had for Contemplation; but very often left their own rest in Contemplation (which for their parts they had much rather have continued in still) for the love and service of their Christian brethren, and were contented to intermeddle with worldly businesses, for succouring and helping of those that were under their charge; and surely such doing of theirs was true charity. For justly and discreetly did they divide the time of their life into two parts, whereof the one they bestowed in the lower part of love and charity, that is to say, in the works of the active life (for they were bound thereto by taking on them their Prelacy): and another part of their time they spent in the higher part of love and charity, and that was in the contemplation of God, and of spiritual things by prayers and holy recollections; and so they had and held charity to God and their Christian brethren, both interiorly in affection of soul, and also exteriorly by doing and performing good corporal or external works. Other men that were only contemplatives, and were free from all cares and Prelacies, they also had charity towards God and their Christian brethren, but it was only interiorly in the affection of their soul, and not used outwardly in corporal deeds; and it may be it was so increased inwardly through their contemplations, that they needed not to intermeddle with external things for the bettering their charity, nor did it belong to their state of life to seek after such external workings, nor to intermeddle therewith, there being no necessity nor obligation for it on them; and so their internal charity sufficed for them. But those, whom before I mentioned, that were in Prelacy, and others also that were holy secular men, had perfect charity, both interiorly in their affection and did also exercise the same exteriorly in bodily working or deeds, and such doing is properly the mixed life which I have spoken of, consisting of the active and contemplative both together. And surely for such men that are in spiritual superiority, or have charge of the souls of others, as Prelates, Pastors and Curates have, or that are in temporal authority in the government of others, as worldly Lords and Masters are, I hold this mixed life best, and most expedient or necessary for them, so long as they remain in the said superiority and charge over others. But as for others that are free, and not obliged to any ministration or superiority, temporal or spiritual, I judge that the contemplative life alone by itself (if they have grace and calling to it) were, in truth, the best, the most expedient, most meritorious, most fair and most worthy for them to use, and not willingly to leave it for any outward working of the active life, unless it were in case of great need, as for the helping or comforting of some other men, either in their bodies or in their souls; and need requiring it, he to go about the doing of it, either when the party, or some other for him, requesteth, and craveth at his hands the doing of it; or that himself sees a mere necessity in the case, or else (being religious) when he is bidden by his superior to undertake or intermeddle with the work.

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