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CHAPTER LXXVIII

“Though we be highly lifted up into contemplation by the special gift of our Lord, yet it is needful to us to have knowledge and sight of our sin and our feebleness”

OUR Lord of His mercy sheweth us our sin and our feebleness by the sweet gracious light of Himself; for our sin is so vile and so horrible that He of His 187 courtesy will not shew it to us but by the light of His grace and mercy. Of four things therefore it is His will that we have knowing: the first is, that He is our Ground from whom we have all our life and our being. The second is, that He keepeth us mightily and mercifully in the time that we are in our sin and among all our enemies, that are full fell upon us; and so much we are in the more peril for [that] we give them occasion thereto, and know not our own need.319319See ch. xxxix. p.81. The third is, how courteously He keepeth us, and maketh us to know that we go amiss. The fourth is, how steadfastly He abideth us and changeth no regard:320320 "chere" = manner of looking on us, mien. for He willeth that we be turned [again], and oned to Him in love as He is to us.

And thus by this gracious knowing we may see our sin profitably without despair. For truly we need to see it, and by the sight we shall be made ashamed of our self and brought down as anent our pride and presumption; for it behoveth us verily to see that of ourselves we are right nought but sin and wretchedness. And thus by the sight of the less that our Lord sheweth us, the more is reckoned321321 S. de Cressy: "wasted," but the indistinct word of the Brit. Mus. MS. is probably "castid" for "cast," or "casten" = conjectured. which we see not. For He of His courtesy measureth the sight to us; for it is so vile and so horrible that we should not endure to see it as it is. And by this meek knowing after this manner, through contrition and grace we shall be broken from all that is not our Lord. And then shall our blessed Saviour perfectly heal us, and one us to Him.

This breaking and this healing our Lord meaneth for the general Man. For he that is highest and nearest 188 with God, he may see himself sinful—and needeth to—with me; and I that am the least and lowest that shall be saved, I may be comforted with him that is highest: so hath our Lord oned us in charity; [as] where He shewed me that I should sin322322 ch. xxxvii. .

And for joy that I had in beholding of Him I attended not readily to that Shewing, and our courteous Lord stopped there and would not further teach me till that He gave me grace and will to attend. And hereby was I learned that though we be highly lifted up into contemplation by the special gift of our Lord, yet it is needful to us therewith to have knowing and sight of our sin and our feebleness. For without this knowing we may not have true meekness, and without this [meekness] we may not be saved.

And afterward, also, I saw that we may not have this knowing from our self; nor from none of all our spiritual enemies: for they will us not so great good. For if it were by their will, we should not see it until our ending day. Then be we greatly beholden323323 i.e. in gratitude. to God for that He will Himself, for love, shew it to us in time of mercy and grace.


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