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CHAPTER XIV

Of the abundant fruit which he bore in the conversion of men

(1)

INASMUCH as every tree is known by his fruit, as Christ Himself beareth witness, I must now declare how rich and how abundant were the fruits of godliness which this tree bore during the short season of his preaching. I think that venerable and learned Master is worthy to be compared to three trees above all others; to the fertile olive, to the lofty cedar, and to the flourishing palm. For he, being planted like a fruitful tree by the water side, brought forth in his season most excellent increase to God. Moreover, as a stream running over with the waters of the Scriptures, he irrigated the vineyard of the Lord God of Sabaoth abundantly, whence the clusters of devout life, and the green leaves of good works were increased to the Glory of God our Saviour. This man of God was no barren stock, nor a forest tree whose leaf falleth, like the oak; but in very truth he flourished abundantly, like some fair olive in the field, as a noble cedar aloft in Libanus, and as a goodly palm 40upon the hill of Zion. The merciful God bestowed great grace upon him, which he received not with an empty heart, but used the same to the bringing forth of good works; he, therefore, who had been aforetime an occasion of error to many and a companion of the foolish, now became an ensample of virtue to all. The more he perceived how grievously he had erred in the paths of evil, so much the more humble did he now become, and the more zealous to tread in the right way. Wherefore being renewed and set on fire by the Spirit of God he was instant to be more diligent in works of mercy, in succouring his neighbours (being moved thereto by deep compassion); in preaching the Word of Salvation to the peoples; in administering, like a holy physician of souls, the comfort of Divine consolation to the sorrowful and the tempted: and in recalling back-sliders to their former earnestness of mind by frequent exhortation, prayer and lamentation.

(2) Because he had obtained great mercy from the Lord, and with true charity was eager to share the same liberally, and whensoever he could, with his neighbour, he might justly say with the holy poet David: “But I have borne fruit like an olive tree in the house of the Lord: I have hoped in the Mercy of God for ever.” He was not hard of heart and pitiless like that wicked servant who, though all his own debt was forgiven him, had not compassion upon his fellow servant: but from the beginning of his conversion, he forgave every debt of those that trespassed against him; prayed earnestly for those that slandered him; was ready to be beforehand in giving satisfaction if he had offended any, and to live peaceably with all so that the defence of the Truth were not endangered. 41Nor did he, like that slothful servant, hide his Lord’s money, looking only to his own convenience; but the gift of learning, and that talent which was entrusted to him he faithfully put out to earn an usury of souls. Rightly then is he compared to a fruitful olive, for he poured forth upon his neighbour in holy abundance the oil of mercy which he had received from God. But he put on bowels of mercy chiefly toward indigent clerks, lone widows, and virgins who preserved their chastity, and upon these he expended the anxious care of a father; also he studied to minister to the necessities of them that lacked both by his own efforts and through others, giving them whatsoever help and consolation he could.

(3) With reason, too, is he compared to a lofty cedar that groweth upward, because by his contempt of all earthly things and his contemplation of the Eternal, he grew toward Heaven: and knowing his own frailty, he rooted his heart in the depths of humility, and in proportion as his roots became finer and more deeply planted, so did he spread the more widely above. Although he was endowed with so much knowledge, and was in so great reputation with the famous doctors of his time, he nevertheless despised every pinnacle of worldly honour, and kept himself simple in bearing, so that anyone who did not know him would scarcely have given heed to, or saluted him.

Well, too, is the Master likened to a flourishing palm tree, for with the leaves of this were victors and fighters of old wont to be crowned; and, like them, Gerard strove against and overcame his enemies, that is, men guilty of heresies, simony, usury, self-seeking, lust, and the other various monsters of wickedness, enduring many labours 42and using the writings of the Scriptures as the weapons wherewith he was armed. Therefore was he worthy to be crowned with the palm of everlasting bliss, and to be commended of faithful people with due reverence and praise. Behold him! an Israelite indeed, a most devoted preacher and champion of sound doctrine: one who so loved God as not to neglect his neighbour: who so lifted his mind to the things of Heaven as not to be backward in ministering to the necessities of others, who moreover busied himself in looking not to his own salvation only but to the weal of many, and in leading them with him to the more perfect life.

(4) He was of a cheerful countenance, and in speech kindly; calm in mind and humble in clothing; in food abstinent, in counsel wise, in judgement discreet. Towards evil he was stern, toward virtue zealous. Fleeing from idleness he ever exercised himself with something profitable to edification: he loved simplicity and followed lowliness, thinking upon heavenly things. He was apt to understand hidden matters, and was never too much occupied for reading and prayer. Having God ever before his eyes he jealously guarded the rights of the Church. He set a good example to men of the world, seeking no temporal advantage from his preaching, thinking only of the profit of souls, and preaching the Gospel without price and without money from the Church. Thus though his life was not long, nor crowned with age, yet in his short season he brought forth abundant fruit by his preaching, and left behind him in divers places most devout disciples and brothers whom he had first faithfully built up and set on fire by the grace of that new light wherewith he himself was filled.

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