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Of his public profession of faith, and of his delivering the true Gospel in his preaching
I GERARD, who am called in the vulgar tongue “Groote,” do declare in the presence of God Almighty and all the Saints, and before you and all men, that in regard to those things that are of faith, I have steadfastly preached and defended that faith which is certain, pure, and Catholic, resting upon Jesus Christ Himself Who is the chief corner Stone. Likewise that I have taught and spread abroad like seed, those doctrines and methods that are wholesome for morals, sure, undoubted, evangelical and apostolic, following the Divinely inspired 53Scriptures and the interpretation and meaning given thereunto by the Saints and Fathers, namely: Ambrose, Gregory, Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom, Dionysius, Bernard, Bede, Isidore, Hugo and Richard: and the writings of these Fathers, together with those of other Saints, I do hold and use as inspired.
Likewise as to those things which I have written and preached concerning Institutes made by men, the matter of the Decrees and Decretals, and above all concerning wicked and notorious wantons, I do hope that all men who have any intimate knowledge of the law may find that those things which I have laid down are either proved certainly and beyond doubt, or that (applying the same limits and qualifications which are given in my writings and discourses) such men may approve thereof as being somewhat safe, or probable, or likely to be true, subject always to the judgement of the Holy Roman Church, to whom with all humility I everywhere and always submit myself. And if any man—which God forbid—should say or feign that I have spoken aught against that Faith and sound doctrine which I everywhere defend, and should either expressly mention me by name as so doing, or (if he dare not so much) should speak more vaguely to that effect, and indirectly harass me by making use of the prejudices of Clerks or lay folk;—if anyone, I say, shall thus allude to, or openly defame me, his testimony shall be found to be lying and deceitful.
I do receive the doctrine of submission to the Bishop, to whom I pay deference in this respect, but if—which God forbid—any such accusation against me be found in the writings of our lord the Prince-bishop, I do make that answer which the 54blessed Bernard made to certain letters of the chief Pontiff which gave assent to an evil report. “Either our Pontiff hath been ensnared by lies, or he hath been overcome of importunity.”
(2) Resolutions and Intentions set forth by Master Gerard in the name of the Lord, but not confirmed by vows.
I purpose to order my life for the glory, honour, and service of God and the salvation of my soul; to prefer no temporal good either of the body, or of honour, or of fortune, or of knowledge, to my soul’s salvation. To strive to excel in every godly endeavour of which I may be assured that I have any knowledge or discernment, having regard to my bodily powers and my state of life; of which endeavours I have mentioned some hereafter.
(3) My first resolution is to desire no further preferment, and in the future not to set my hope upon, nor to long for any temporal gain; for the more I shall have, the more covetous shall I certainly become; and in the second place according to the rule of the Primitive Church, thou canst not hold several benefices. Likewise if thou doest so, it shall repent thee in the hour of thy death; for it is commonly reported that never hath any pluralist died without knowing such remorse. The more benefices and goods I hold, the more masters have I, and the more burdens must I bear; and this is contrary to that freedom of soul which is the greatest good in the Spiritual Life. By the holding of great possessions the affections are bound, and being bound are held thereby; and the desire of such things doth infect the soul, and is repugnant to peace of heart and quietness of mind; moreover the cares which are connected therewith do often defile and perturb the mind.55
Likewise as the appetite for more possessions must be cut off, so my present possessions must be reduced by little and little to a smaller compass, for if I can give alms of those things which I have, why should I strive after more? If having little I give but little to God, it is as if having much I also gave much, for God weigheth not the amount of the gift, but rather the heart of the giver; wherefore the widow who put in two mites was preferred by Him before the rich. Also I see that the things which I now have do exceedingly bind me, and if those which I should acquire were added thereto, how much more should I be bound? Moreover my present possessions are enough, having regard to our Common Life and my position.
(4) Having achieved this purpose, I resolve that I will not pay court to any Cardinal or Ecclesiastic so as to gain benefices or temporal goods, because such subservience doth lead to many falls and relapses into sin. Thou art weak, and if thou art subservient—except it be to God—thou shalt expose thyself to many dangers. Thou art near enough to death as it is, and thou art not so strong as to bear any revellings.
In like manner thou shalt not serve any temporal master for the sake of gain; nor shalt thou be willing to practice astrology at the bidding of any; nor oughtest thou to let any man in the world persuade thee to have dealings with any forbidden science since these are in themselves evil in many ways, they cause distrust and suspicion, and they are forbidden. Also it is thy duty, so far as it is possible, to drive away these superstitions and all other curious arts from the minds of men, preserving a quiet mind, purity, and liberty of will. So doing I shall please God, by following His good 56pleasure in these very matters in which I formerly displeased Him. Thou shalt never observe the seasons that are held to be propitious for journeying, or for blood letting or for any other thing save in the material sense of considering the density of the atmosphere, for such curious choice is forbidden in the decrees and by the Holy Fathers.
Likewise whatever I shall begin, I will begin it in the name of the Lord, and in the matter I will put my hope in the Lord that He will direct me therein to the way of my salvation; put not any trust in the divining of fate, or in reading the stars, but hope only in God, and in prayer; in good angels and their protection. How do I know whether in my journey, or mine undertaking success shall be profitable to me? Truly such success is very often unprofitable, and difficulties and tribulation are ofttimes most profitable; therefore I will submit me to the ordinance of God. “Blessed is the man whose hope is in God”; “Cast therefore all thy care upon Him, for He careth for thee!” How great is the mercy which hath recalled me (as I hope) to Him, by means of chastisements which I bore unwillingly! Since we should not be anxious as to what we shall eat, how much less should we be so about the forecasts of the stars and other superstitions? It is needful for every Christian to abandon himself in purity of heart and to commit himself to God.
(5) Also I will never try to anticipate the future, and for the most part will think but little upon it, for I will devote to God both myself and everything that doth concern me. Man is defiled by honours, by favours, and by greed,. after which all men do seek; and by such knowledge, whose object is gain, his mind is darkened, his passions are 56aroused, the straightness of his nature is made crooked and his desires are tainted, so that he cannot rightly discern what things are of God, and virtuous, and good for the body. Wherefore it is very seldom that a man who doth follow after knowledge which bringeth him wealth (as the study of medicine, or of laws or statutes), is right-minded or just in his reasoning, or righteous, or doth live the more contentedly or uprightly.
Do not spend thy time in the study of geometry, arithmetic, rhetoric, dialectic, grammar, songs, poetry, legal matters or astrology; for all these things are reproved by Seneca, and a good man should withdraw his mind’s eye therefrom and despise them: How much more, therefore, should they be eschewed by a spiritually-minded man and a Christian? Moreover such studies are an unprofitable expense of time, and are of no help for good living.
Of all the sciences of the heathen, their Moral Philosophy is least to be avoided—for this is often of great use and profit both for one’s own study and for teaching others. Wherefore the wiser amongst them, such as Socrates and Plato, turned all Philosophy into the consideration of moral questions, and if they spoke of deep matters they dealt therewith as in a figure and lightly, dwelling upon their moral aspect (as thou knowest from the blessed Augustine and thine own study) so that some rule for conduct might always be found side by side with knowledge.
Seneca, too, following this principle, as often mingles moral dissertations with his discussion of natural philosophy; for whatsoever doth not make us better, or induce us to avoid evil, is harmful.58
The secrets of nature should not be sought out in the writings of the heathen, or in the books of our Law, the Old and New Testaments, but when they meet us therein God is to be praised and glorified for them and in them; so that the knowledge of natural laws may be of profit and be offered as a sacrifice to God Most High by giving thank-offerings to Him like righteous Abel, and that like him we may draw holy thoughts therefrom to the honour of God. But in everything remember that all these things defile the mind and do not satisfy it; and through the grace of the Most High, thou shalt find, as I hope, that thou canst not stomach them.
(6) I resolve never to take a degree in medicine, because I do not purpose to get any gain or preferment by such a degree; and the same resolve doth hold for Civil and canon law; for the purpose of a degree is either gain or preferment, or vain glorification and worldly honour, which latter things if they lead not to the former, are simply useless, empty, and most foolish, being contrary to godliness and all freedom and purity. When a man doth crave for them he falleth into many evils, and they are worse than the motives of gain and preferment. I resolve not to study any art, nor to write any book, nor to undertake any journey nor any labour, nor to pursue any science, with the purpose of extending mine own fame and repute for knowledge, or of gaining honour, or the gratitude of any man or for the sake of leaving a memorial of myself behind me. For if I should do these things, or any act whatsoever with such motives and take my reward therein, I should not be rewarded of my Father Which is in Heaven. If I shall do any of these I will do it always for 59some good purpose, looking for a reward which is eternal: wherefore let the extending of my repute be in every way avoided. This desire for empty glory, for remembrance, and for fame is so admirably reproved, even by the Philosophers, that any man who is worthy of praise would scarce harbour such a motive. But if praise should follow any deed done really for the sake of God (but the motive of which was unseen, though the deed itself was in the light), give then that praise and glory to the Most High.
(7) Likewise after the example of Bernard, utter no word by the which thou mayest seem to be very religious, or endowed with knowledge. Resolve to avoid and abhor all public disputations which are but wranglings for success in argument, or the appearance thereof (such as the disputations of graduates in Theology and Arts at Paris), and take no part therein. These are unprofitable, always concerned with mere subtleties, and for the most part superstitious, sensual, devilish or earthly, so that the teaching thereof is often hurtful, ever unprofitable, and a useless waste of time;—meanwhile thou canst gain spiritual profit by prayer, or meditation, or the study of some holy book.
So also I will never argue with anyone in private unless it is certain and evident that some good end shall follow, or unless my fellow disputant doth desire to hear me, or is one with whom I can confer without wrangling, and temperately which conditions are to be observed except when malice doth demand severity for some eventual good: but even so I will never act without due deliberation. It is evident that to attain a good end, everything must ever be ordered for the Glory of God; that 60is, that one must pray continually: wherefore talk not with anyone unless he doth admit the truth.
(8) Thou shalt never study to take a degree in Theology, nor strive therefor, because: (l.) I care not to follow after gain or preferment or reputation, and knowledge I may have equally well without a degree. (2.) The common life of an university is carnal and is for them that savour carnal things. (3) In many respects thou mayest be hindered from promoting the spiritual health of thy neighbour, from prayer, from purity of mind and from contemplation. (4) One must be present at many vain lectures and be in the company of a multitude of men, by which things a man is defiled and turned from his path.
Thou shalt never busy thyself with law or medicine save when occasion ariseth and when thou canst do some good thereby, for: (l) These studies have no nourishment in them, but do turn aside the mind; yet for the sake of peacemaking, or in case of necessity, or when some urgent cause ariseth one may meddle with law; and with medicine also for the sake of one’s own bodily health or that of a fellow man. (2) These be worldly matters in which it is convenient rather to take the counsel of others, than to give advice. (3) The study of medicine is forbidden to Divines, Monks, and them that do long after the Law of God.
Thou shalt not give medicine of doubtful virtue, nor prescribe any medicine whatever for a disease the nature whereof is uncertain, nor give a potion to any sick man save under most urgent necessity when no other adviser may be had; otherwise thou shalt never intrude thyself: thou seest how greatly good men do rejoice in being freed from practising this art.61
Thou shalt not advise upon, nor busy thyself with causes concerning matters of opinion or controversy unless: (1) It be clearly apparent to thee that otherwise some falsehood might be propagated; or (2) for Charity’s sake; or (3) the whole cause be that of righteousness; or (4) it be most certainly for the curbing of evil manners; or (5) to prevent the oppression of the poor; or (6) unless thou canst intervene and yet preserve an equal mind. After such interference withdraw thyself so that there remain to thee no care for the residue of the matter. Likewise take good heed that thou be careful not to be moved by friendship, or kinship, or hatred, and if thy friend or kinsman, or one that was aforetime thine enemy be concerned, search thy heart to know if thou wouldest act in the same manner if he were a stranger or not thine enemy. It is evident, as Virgil saith, that the happiness of the dweller in the country is that “he hath not looked upon the iron rigour of the law and the mad turmoil of the Forum.”
Thou shalt not appear before a spiritual officer or judge, as a favour to any friend or kinsman or other man, nor at all unless the most urgent call of duty require it. If such case of necessity urge thee, thou oughtest to send a deputy, and not to go thyself, because by this is quietness of mind disturbed if thou dost intrude thyself into the affairs, the tumult and tempest of the world. In all other conditions let the dead bury their dead. Thou shalt not appear before the civil magistrates or the secular judge in Deventer save in the case of similar necessity, for thy friends deal well enough with all such matters before magistrates.
Never busy thyself with any controversies of 61men whatsoever (save as above) unless it be to compose them, and when this can be done in a short time and without brawling. Even when such composition ought to be made, if it can be done as well by another, do not intrude thyself; always consider this. Yet put not aside the making of peace when thou canst truly make it, out of deference to thine own quietness.
(10) Whensoever any kinsman of thine is beaten, or slain, or evilly entreated, thou shalt never evilly entreat him that did the injury; nor ever give counsel against him to his hurt; nor ever close thy mouth against him, nor avoid him. Rather admonish him with words of comfort, or lead him back to peace. Also if his friends would take vengeance thou shalt dissuade them therefrom with words of peace, and from injury that they do it not.
Do thou forgive all men, and be an ensample in so doing, and so much the more as thou dost admonish others. I will never have part in the doings of my friends or kinsmen or betters, save only such as are acts of piety, tending to mercy and duty and justice, and also such as may not be done so well through another man. Yet would it be evil to turn aside, for the sake of preserving mine own quietness, from works of piety and justice which could not be done through another, and from my duty in serving my neighbour.
Of the study of Holy Books
(11) I now return to consider the pursuit of knowledge. Let the root of thy study and the mirror of thy life be these: First, the Gospel of Christ, for therein is the Life of Christ. (2) The lives and discourses of the Fathers. (3) The 63Epistles of Paul and the other Canonical Epistles, and the Acts of the Apostles. (4) Holy Books, as the meditations of Bernard and the Horologium of Anselm, Bernard on the Conscience, the Soliloquies of Augustine, and suchlike books. (5) The legends and devotions of the Saints, the Instructions of the Fathers on Conduct, such as the Pastoral of Gregory, the blessed Augustine on Monastic work, Gregory on Job, and so forth. (6) The Homilies of the Holy Fathers and of the Four Doctors upon the Gospels, the Interpretations of the Holy Fathers and Commentaries upon the Epistles of Paul, for these are included in the authorized readings of the Church. (7) The study of the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus, for these are included in the lectionaries and authorized readings of the Church. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also.” (8) The study and interpretation of the Psalter, for this is included in the services of the Church of the Holy Fathers. “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also.” (9) The study of the Books of Moses; the historical books—Joshua, Judges and Kings; of the Prophets and the expositions of the Fathers upon the same.
(12) As to the manner of perusing the Decrees, so as to know what was determined of our forefathers and of the Church: one must not strive to master them, but only peruse them; (l) lest through ignorance of the law thou pervert piety into disobedience. (2) That thou mayest see the material fruit of the Primitive Church. (3) That thou mayest know from what thou thyself shouldest refrain, and from what thou shouldest admonish others to refrain.64
(13) Thou oughtest to hear Mass to the end, every day that thou canst, for thus it is ordained even for lay folk on Sundays in the directions for the Mass (de consec, I. C.) and for Clerks that they hear It daily, as is said in the note in the same place. Also remain in the Church on feast days until the solemnization of the Mass is completed. Singing 1 is a help to devotion for the natural body as thou knowest by experience. One should always rise for the reading of the Gospel, and stand up, wherefore it is said in the directions (de consec. I. C.): “By our Apostolic authority we command that men sit not, but stand, reverently bending at the reading of the Gospel.” In the word reverently is implied the honour due to the Gospel, as also in the place wherein it is said: “Let them hear the words thereof with attention and adore with faith,” that is, “Let them show reverence by the posture of the body”; this doth consist—first in the bending, secondly in the lowering of the hood as is customary, thirdly in bowing at the Names of Jesus and Mary; for those devoted to God have this custom.
Likewise, when the Gospel is read, the mind should not occupy itself with any other devotion, or reading which doth demand attention; for the senses, when occupied upon several matters, are less intent upon any single one. The words of the Gospel and of the Apostolic writings are ordained to be heard at the Celebrations, as is said in the directions (de consec. I. D.): “It is vain to hear if we attend not.”
Moreover, one should read nothing nor meditate upon aught else, for the duty of the moment is to attend duly to the Gospel, and we do take away therefrom any attention which we may expend 65upon other prayers and meditations. Our bowing ourselves at these words and the bodily posture of reverence are symbols of the reverence of our minds, and these be false symbols if so be that the things signified answer not thereto. Moreover, the outward observance is a means to induce inward reverence, but it is vain if the one answer not to the other.
(14) Furthermore, to be reverent with the lips and the understanding also is a greater thing than to show reverence with the lips only, or by the lowering of the hood; wherefore I will lower my hood to hear, I will hear with the ear, and I will hear with the understanding also. Otherwise the words are as a tinkling cymbal or as sounding brass. No words or sayings are mine own if the meaning thereof doth not reach my mind—also thou shalt stand with bended knee, with head uncovered and with bowed back after the Consecration of the Sacred Host, if thou art able to see It, or the Chalice. This humble adoration and abasement of body is seemly before God, and doth in every way betoken an attitude of mind which is fitting as a help to devotion; yea, and most fitting is the bending of the head over the arm as thou dost know: for the servant is by all means bound to show reverence in the presence of his Lord. A bended posture doth admirably befit devotion of mind, for the motions of the spirit do bear relation to the posture of the body. When thou art afar off or canst not see, prostrate thyself and bow thine head and pray to thy God in secret from the Sanctus to the Pax, and afterward, whether thou dost partake or not, until the Gospel of St. John.
(15) Receive the Pax with reverence and devotion, for it is a contact with the Body of the Lord 66through the mouth of the priest. Is not reverence paid to The Veronica, and to the picture of Christ, though it is not sanctified by His bodily presence? In the Primitive Church all the faithful were wont to communicate, and in place of such Communion the Pax is given as being in some measure a receiving of Christ’s Body. The reason (as I hold) that His Body is not now given so generally is that in the Primitive Church when His Blood was but lately shed, men were better, and religious fervour was in full vigour and at its height: but this is now grown old, wherefore He hath withdrawn Himself.
When the Pax doth come be thou prepared as if thou didst verily receive the Body of Christ, and at that time lift up the love of thine heart and prepare thyself so that though thou are not able carnally to receive the Elements of the Holy Sacrament, thou mayest at least do so in the Spirit. After receiving such communion through the Pax, the love of thine heart must abide and endure inwardly; but if thou dost begin to wander in mind, as doth often happen to thee when thou dost meditate without ordering thy thoughts beforehand, turn thy mind to Christ’s Passion.
(16) Likewise from the Sanctus onward prepare to look upon the Host—are not all men wont to make preparation before looking upon their King, by whom also they must be seen? After this make thyself ready for the Reception and do nought besides, for at that time the Presence of Christ doth work upon thee and doth help thy weakness; thus shalt thou be moved to love the Sacrament. This is evident from the words wherein it is said, “Lift up your hearts” and “We have lifted them up to the Lord.”67
Also always draw so near the Priest as thy condition doth permit, to hear the Mass and to look upon the Host, and stand in the Presence Thereof. Be not willing to consult for any man that he may be ordained, nor to speak for him, nor assist him to this end unless he be most devout. The first of these resolutions is on account of the responses pertaining to the office which ought to be made, and are not made, as is shown in the fourth of the Sentences and in the Decrees; the second is, on account of the risk of Simony which doth often occur; and also, by reason of the unprofitable state of the Church.
With regard to abstinence these things seem good, but are not the subject of promise. First to keep the fasts that are ordained; secondly, never to eat flesh meats. The reasons hereof are to be found in the Chapter of the Decrees which is called Margarita (de consec., § v). Thirdly, save for just cause, not to omit to fast during Advent and Septuagesima. Fourthly, let there be a daily fast which doth consist in not wholly satisfying the appetite unless cold weather doth hinder this resolve. All philosophers do advise this, specially Seneca and Aristotle. Withhold thy hand while appetite doth yet remain: the moment of its satisfaction is hard to know, yet do thou thus reflect upon it by considering how much thou wouldst wish to eat if it were right for thee to consult thy desire, and while this doth still endure, deny some part thereof as shall seem reasonable to thee.
Fifthly, toward the close of a meal, or before partaking of the last dish, consider how much thou hast consumed, and how much more thou wouldest eat if thou didst continue, and in future omit somewhat of the earlier or latter part of the meal. 68Sixthly, at the beginning when thou dost set forth to prepare thy food think upon the victual and how much thou dost require. Seventhly, take but one cooked pear after thy meal, and that not of inordinate size, or three of the very smallest. Eighthly, always eat in the evening between the fourth and fifth hours, unless the presence of guests, or infirmity, or some accident, such as a journey, compel thee. This is approved for the following reasons: (1) This hour is convenient for digestion and for the hindering of that corruption of food in the stomach which would take place in waking hours through lack of warmth; (2) during waking hours study and other matters such as care or sadness do impede digestion; (3) take food at this time lest drink following food may hinder digestion; (4) it doth prevent drink so taken from causing disturbance as otherwise doth often happen; (5) lest raw fruit, vegetables, and the like might do hurt as they would if taken in the daytime; (6) thy sleep will be the better, for a full belly doth slumber readily; (7) at that time study and prayer which are the portion of the daytime do less hinder sleep; (8) by this custom thou wilt get thee to bed quickly, and always at the same hour; (9) by so doing one may get continuous sleep through going to rest in good time; (10) the love of study will not tempt thee too much at night; (11) by this means thou hast the day unbroken for work and prayer. (12) Thus, all thy waking hours are spent in abstinence and fasting, are unhindered and fit for the service of God and for work. Also a man hath more desire for food when he is eating than when he is altogether abstaining, so that one cannot so readily practise abstinence when near to or at the table. From the 69Exaltation of the Holy Cross till Easter take but one daily meal; this is the custom of the Carthusians and Bernardines and others: this Season doth begin in September about the Equinox, and doth continue until near about the Vernal Equinox.
(17) In seasons of great cold it is lawful to take more food, but yet not exceeding one meal daily;—such is the teaching of Hippocrates; this doth help thee to resist the cold, which thou couldst scarce do otherwise; for the same reason thou mayest sleep longer by one hour or an hour and a half. When it is needful to eat twice in the day take a small amount, and food of light quality, such as one egg and no more, or rather some drying food as bread and wine, or vegetables, with a little bread, but if thou take wine let it be for thy stomach’s sake. The reasons of this are as above, where I have argued of the need to eat at night.
I would wish to be able never to drink wine unnecessarily so long as I am in good health, lest I violate the precepts of Paul; for to do so is luxury and is over costly. One should never drink immediately before or after a meal, nor during the course thereof unless infirmity or some most urgent cause compel. During and after manual work one should by no means drink anything unless the body is cool: this is healthy for body and soul. Let nothing lead thee to drink between times, or so as to break a fast: it is good to bind thy feet in the fetters of wisdom. Set a time wherein to read what thou dost write in this book for it doth order thy life. It doth seem to me that the fathers in the desert offered short and frequent prayers, so that the heart might be raised continually to the Lord, and might not be set on 70worldly affairs, but be abstracted therefrom, and thus should one do.
(18) I do purpose in the Name of the Lord always to fast upon the fourth day of the week unless infirmity, or reasonable cause hinder me. Yet this I ordain not as an unalterable rule, but as somewhat whereat to strive; and so also on the Sabbath, and on the sixth day—for upon the fourth Judas betrayed the Lord, and on the sixth was He crucified. He who fasteth not on these days doth needlessly betray Him and taketh part with His murderers. I am the more bound to observe these days in that by the apportionment of God it is my lot to be a Clerk, moreover by such fast my health is preserved and I do feel that thereby my soul is better with her God. But even if such abstinence should seem to hurt the body in some small measure, think not of that, for thou hast always been in better health when thou didst fast. Ever pay some tribute to thy God, and thou wilt ever remember Him the better.
(19) Avoid haste, eagerness, and gluttony in eating, for such greed proceedeth from inordinate love of its object. A greedy mouth and lust for meat have an intermixture of sin. Gregory in his Exposition of Job saith: “This doth stir up loquacity, leadeth to excess, doth heat the mind and turn it from the path just as drunkenness or too much talk do kindle it and lead it into snares.”
This doth also cut off and shut out all thought of God.
It is better to do one action well with great deliberation, than through lack thereof to be thrown out of one’s course. Also, as concerneth bodily health, in proportion as food is taken well and with deliberation, so much the more readily and wholesomely 71is it digested. The same habit of deliberation should prevail in writing and speaking and in action also, because it is impossible to seek therein the Glory of God, if a man so impetuously rush into a matter that his whole strength is occupied in it. Learn then to be slow and restrained in action.
Do not do any good thing in such a way as to run into disobedience. In matters of temporal wealth, repayments, and expenditure upon books, regard thyself as a steward, and look to it that thou be found faithful. Therefore be frugal in supplying to thyself food and raiment, that thou mayest the better supply the needy, and worthier men than thou, and mayest promote the salvation of souls. Never give aught that is of any worth to one that is not needy, for thou wilt find very many that are in want, and if thou dost give to them that have abundance, thou art not a faithful steward, nor prudent to thine own salvation. In thy giving take no thought of carnal things. I will not receive temporal gifts from any man so long as needier persons than I may be found, for what I would not do myself, that will I not ask of another.
(20) Likewise, Gerard said, a man ought not to be disturbed about any affair of this world. He who doeth that which he knoweth, doth deserve to know much. He who doeth not that which he knoweth doth deserve to be in darkness.
It is a great matter to obey in those things which are contrary to our natural man, and are burdensome—this is true obedience.
Before all things and in all things study specially to be humble inwardly, and also outwardly before the brethren.72
The knowledge of all knowledge is for a man to know that he knoweth nothing.
The more a man is assured that he is far from perfection, the nearer is he thereto.
The beginning of vainglory is to be pleasing to oneself.
By this is a man known better than by aught else, that he is praised.
Thou oughtest always to strive to note some good in another, and to think thereof.
Inordinate desire for anything not pertaining to God is as the sin of fornication: therefore the prophet saith: “It is good for me to cleave to God.”
We ought to be strenuous in prayer, and not lightly to desist from it nor think that God is unwilling to hear us.—Though oftentimes repelled, we should not despair.
He who is faint-hearted should pray as a son to a good father, as is said in the Gospel: “Which of you if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone,” and so forth.
In everything in the whole world there is temptation, though a man perceive it not.
(21) The greatest of temptations is not to feel temptation; so long as a man knoweth that there is somewhat in him to be pruned away, so long doth he stand well.
When any evil is suggested to thee, think what thou wouldest ask thy fellows to do in like case, then doth the Devil stand confused.
Always dwell more upon the hope of Eternal Glory than upon fear of Hell.
Let every man beware of causing scandal to others by his conduct; let him study to amend the same, and everywhere to behave himself honestly, that others may be the more edified.73
With whatsoever thoughts a man doth fall asleep, with such doth he awaken; at these times it is well to pray or to read some psalms.
Slight shame borne here doth do away unending shame before God and all the Saints.
Study only to please Him Who doth know thee and all that pertaineth to thee: suppose that thou dost please all men but dost displease God; what should it profit thee? therefore turn away thy heart from the creature, yea, even with great violence.
Think how thou mayest be altogether conqueror of thyself and lift up thy heart ever to God, as saith the prophet: “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord.”
Thanks be to God.74
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