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CHAPTER VI

Of his conversion through the preaching of Master Gerard

(1)

THE tender care of our Saviour was not lacking to succour this wandering lamb who was straying in great peril amid the mists of worldly fame. Therefore when the time for showing mercy to him was come, the Good Shepherd of Souls carefully withdrew the Sheep which He had dearly bought at the price of His own Blood from the snares that encompassed him, and pitifully led him into the Fold of that Holy Flock over which he should rule.

94

When the venerable Master Gerard Groote was preaching the Gospel of Christ throughout the Diocese of Utrecht, many Clerks and lay folk, having heard the Word of God, deserted the vanities of the world, being anxious to avoid the punishment of Eternal fire, and by penitence and sorrow to gain the Kingdom of Heaven; for the voice of the Master as he preached was a living power which did so much the more prevail over the hearts of his hearers in that he himself was before all other men upon the path of virtue. So that his holy life showing itself in deeds gave confirmation to his words.

(2) At that time, therefore, when Gerard was preaching to large congregations in the Church of S. Mary at Deventer, Master Florentius came also, eagerly listening for what he should say; and being outwardly instructed in wisdom through the light of this heavenly discourse, he was pricked to the heart, and soon became enlightened inwardly. For the great preacher was wont to turn his eyes from time to time upon those that stood by, and to frame his discourse with regard to the depth and extent thereof to suit the quality and need of his hearers, gauging these by the zeal which they displayed; just so do eager fishers spread their net most widely where they deem that most fishes have congregated.

So it happened by the inspiration of God that Master Florentius, who was then endowed with all the grace of youth and sufficiently provided with all things necessary, gladly heard the Word of the Lord. He stopped not his ears nor turned aside from the music of that Heavenly Flute, but to his own profit he took to himself those words which proceeded forth from the mouth of the 95great preacher for the good of all and sundry. Therefore was he numbered amongst those Sheep of whom our Saviour said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”

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