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CHAPTER V

Of his change of garb and character

(1)

NOT long afterwards, Gerard began to carry into effect that upon which of his own good will he had determined. So his mind being made sure, and confirmed in Christ, he resigned all his preferments, 12and changed his secular dress for a simple habit as befitted an humble clerk who prefers the contempt of the world before riches.

A rumour went abroad amongst the people; and many wondering at the strangeness of the matter, spoke to one another saying “What can his reason be, and what change hath befallen him; hath much learning made him mad? Lo! he who formerly went in fair clothing, now is clad in rough and sad coloured wool. He who delighted in feasting and in varied meats, doth now reject pleasant food, and seeketh poor fare; he doth flee from high place, and loveth poverty.” But yet the hand of God was with him, and he began to labour faithfully in the name of the Lord.

(2) Holding the common talk and vain chatter of men in small esteem, Gerard turned himself to God with the strength of his whole heart, for he said, “I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners”; and so, God working with him, he exchanged riches for poverty, pride for humility, luxury for self-denial, unstableness for a stedfast mind, worldliness for a spiritual life, subtlety for devotion and singlemindedness. While the people were talking and wondering at the sudden change in so great a man, one of his fellow citizens who was of high position came to him secretly, wishing to know more fully the purpose of the reverend master in fleeing from the joyous companionship of the world.

(3) And when he had inquired anxiously of him about many things, and had heard fully the explanation of the mystery of Gerard’s renunciation, he was so instructed in the matters of which he had doubted, that he went away greatly edified 13and said: “Why do these ignorant and vulgar folk speak words so senseless of this good and prudent man? Never was he so wise and full of knowledge as when of late he fled from the world and left its ways, and in an humble spirit resolved to be the servant of God. How happy would that man be who should be willing to imitate rather than to insult one who hath done so well. If he shall continue in this good course, he shall be the means of much good.”

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