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CHAPTER XXII

Of his patience, gentleness, and love toward all men

(1)

A CERTAIN Senator, who relied upon his own worldly cunning, was not afraid to trouble Master Florentius, this man of God, but shamelessly strove to deprive him of his benefice, thinking perchance that no one would oppose him, or answer on behalf of Christ’s vicar, who seemed to be devout and meek towards them that did him hurt. But when the cause came on and Florentius should have answered his adversary as to the plaint against him, the Master made use of no wordy argument or eloquent pleading, but replied shortly and humbly after this manner: “If ye have a better right than I, in the Name of God maintain it.” And they that stood by wondered, and were edified at his words.

(2) But one of the canons, a man zealous for God, who would not suffer the just and innocent 129to be oppressed, said to him, “Beloved Master, why dost thou speak thus? Hast thou so little care to keep thy benefice? Yet shall not the enemy gain that which he seeketh, but we on thy behalf will look to it that thou keep that which thou dost rightfully possess.” The adversary hearing these words was silent, and departed, having gained nothing, for indeed all men knew, both high and low alike, that the devout Master was a worthy Priest of Christ, and one whose life and doctrine had led many to despise the world. For he had made them that were aforetime great and worldly-wise to become lowly and simple-minded brothers, and some that were sufficiently instructed for the devout life and the dignity of the Priesthood, he had made able ministers therein as the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost increased in them.

(3) But he thought it his greatest gain and chiefest joy to have shown to any the way of eternal salvation, and to have recalled them from sinfulness to continence; for these things he was reverenced by men of the world, honoured by the great, and most tenderly loved by the good and the devout; his earnest life, his love of God, made perfect; his dutifulness to his neighbour, his bounty toward the poor, his honesty to his fellows, his kindliness to the afflicted made him to be so beloved of all. Wherefore one said of him: “There is no Monk whom I love and respect so much as Florentius; I look upon him as upon an Angel of God.” He, however, took no pleasure in his own reputation, but rather in the conversion of men and the progress of the Brotherhood, whose numbers were increased daily, for in his time the Lord bestowed His Grace without stint upon them. For this cause his name, which was in great esteem, 130and the good report of his reputation reached even to strange cities, and men both in Deventer and afar off praised and commended him greatly. Yet he thought not of the praise that men gave him, nor weighed it at all; yea rather he held it worthless and derided it, for having cast his eye upon certain laudatory letters that were sent him he threw them behind a chest, saying, “Is this all of which they have to write? Good were it if they had said nothing on such a matter.”

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