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CHAPTER IV

How be was drawn to God by the Carthusian

(1)

THERE was in the district of Gelders, near the city of Arnheim, a certain Religious that was Prior of the Carthusian Monastery in Monichuysen, a man of learning and piety who had formerly, when in the world, been intimate with Gerard. This man being full of compassion and drawn towards his neighbour by his zeal for souls, began to consider in what way he could have speech with Gerard and treat in private with him for his salvation, so that a man so great, and a master so learned might not perish in the world, but might be snatched from out the snares of the Devil by the aid of God and be joined to the number of the elect.

Now at that time particularly the disposition of the world seemed to be on all sides turned to evil, so that there were few who preached the Word of Life both by example and precept, and fewer still who followed the rule of continency; and this was above all things lamentable, that those who professed the name of Holy Religion and the state of the Devout Life through lack of inspiration followed but lamely in the footprints of the Fathers who had gone before. Amongst the Carthusians indeed the light of the Heavenly Life remained, though hidden; to carnal men their rule seemed to be austere enough, but yet it was most acceptable to God, and to men of fervent spirit a thing pleasant and worthy to be chosen.

10

(2) Meantime it happened that for some reason which arose, the aforesaid Prior went to Utrecht, and when he knew that his beloved Gerard was there he hastened lovingly to hold converse with him; and soon, on a good opportunity, let down the net of holy exhortation to draw this great fish from the waves of worldliness.

He approached Gerard as his familiar friend, greeted him as his old comrade and exhorted him with words of wisdom as his kindly host: he spoke to him as to a man of learning of “The Sovereign Good”; he laid before him the rewards of Eternity and the terrors of the judgement to come, with mingled kindliness and severity: he praised the Religious Life, and denounced the ways of the world, showing that everything beneath the sun shall perish. “Death,” he said, “doth hang over every man, but the day and hour of death are unknown. But oh! how great are the gifts promised to those that follow Christ." The grace of God was present with them during this holy converse, which was oftentimes repeated; the heart of the hearer was softened, and the reverend Master believed the words spoken to him; he assented to the Prior’s words as true, and was led by his reasoning; he was attracted by the promises, and confirmed by the examples of the Saints. At length he resolved to change his mode of life for a better, and by the favour of God to renounce the pomps of the world.

(3) The Prior, perceiving this, was greatly delighted in that the seed from God had fallen upon good ground: and he rejoiced with exceeding joy over this great fish which was caught by the hook of Christ to be drawn thereby the sooner from the whirlpools of the Sea. He returned joyfully to his 11community and rendered thanks to God from Whom is every good thing, and confessed that he himself had not framed his discourse in vain. “For,” quoth he, “I have hopes that I have captured Gerard, and in regard to his conversion I have faith that he will be ready to hold to his good resolution and to prove it by his deeds.” Oh! overpowering and glorious mercy of our Saviour! Oh! unspeakable virtue and grace of the Holy Ghost, which with ease can change the heart of man when He taketh up His abode therein, and doth enlighten it. This is the transforming power of the right Hand of the most High Who doeth marvels in the heaven above, and showeth signs in the earth beneath: Who driveth away the darkness and poureth light into the heart. This is the mighty power of God alone, who with the blessings of His mercy hath prevented His beloved servant, Gerard, and hath changed him from a lion into a lamb. Before time was He ordained that Gerard should be one with Himself, and in the fullness of time He hath made him ready to preach the Word of good tidings to many cities and peoples, for the glory and honour of His Holy Name.

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