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Of his effectual preaching and his knowledge of the Scriptures


THIS revered Priest preached not smooth flatteries, but testified clearly of the Truth; his aim was not worldly eloquence but simple instruction in conduct and to lead his hearers by reasoning to reject the world after the example of the Saints, He sought not money from the rich, nor honour among the great, but discoursed more freely with simple folk, on whose behalf he was instant with those in high places that they should be mindful of the poor, and “by means of the mammon of unrighteousness make to themselves friends in the habitations of the Kingdom of Heaven.” Could any lightly refuse to hear his intercession? Verily he dared not do so lest an offended God should refuse to hear his own petitions.

(2) Once a priest who had charge of the Church of Deventer, and was a good friend to Florentius, came to him offering him service in sincere goodwill and said, “My beloved Master, if I can do anything to please thee, spare me not”; and that good father answered, “For the present time there 134is nothing save that thou wouldest show thyself to be well disposed to the Brothers and Sisters who are placed in thy charge, that they be not troubled by them of the world and froward men”; and the other piously assenting to this, replied, “I will gladly do this for the love of God and of you all that ye may be also mindful of me.”

Master John Boheme also, who was Rector of the Scholars, and Vicar of the Great Church, under whose direction I long attended the school, was a friend to Florentius, and heard him gladly, doing what he knew would be pleasing to God. And when the time to pay the fees was come, each scholar brought what was justly due, and I also put my fee into his hand and asked for a book which I had deposited as a pledge for payment. And he having some knowledge of me, and aware that I was under the care of Florentius, said, “Who gave thee this money?” and I answered, “My lord Florentius.” “Then go,” said he, “take back his money, since for love of him I will take nothing from thee.” So I took back the money again to my lord, Florentius, and said, “The Master hath given back my fee for love of thee”; and Florentius said, “I thank him and will repay him, after another fashion with gifts more excellent than money.” He knew by his discerning spirit what answer to make to everyone, and by his gift of counsel could supply an wholesome medicine both to the learned and unlearned, and all who sought aid for their divers needs, but he required no earthly reward for such service.

(3) Wherefore one who had committed himself to his direction said, “As often as I have followed the counsels of Florentius, it hath been well with me; but whensoever I have striven in the light of 135mine own understanding evil hath ever happened to me, and I have repented that I acted not according to his direction. “His knowledge of the Holy Scriptures shone brightly like some ray from heaven within him, and his mind was illumined with so pure a light of divine radiance that whether he was reading the Old or New Testament some mystic interpretation of every passage came to him, and he everywhere found something to instruct him and lead him to God, the Fount of all; knowledge and the End of every word. The books that he kept to his hand were simple moral Treatises, especially the “Mirror for Monks,” and certain manuals of virtuous exercises against sin wherewith he trained himself and his fellow soldiers in Christ’s army to fight triumphantly against the temptations of the devil. But the Novices, the inexperienced, and those that were swollen with worldly pride, and those that were yet tainted with love of carnal things, he did dissuade from studying deep and subtle questions, and from prying curiously into dark and doubtful matters.

(4) Therefore he taught that all such must first learn to humble themselves, to know well their own weakness, to submit themselves utterly to their Superiors, to prefer themselves before no man, to keep peace and amity with all, to have the fear of God ever in their heart, and having made their foundation sure in lowliness, at length by the indwelling grace of the Holy Ghost to climb to the height of clear knowledge and the light of that full vision of God which is promised to the pure in heart by that saying of the Lord, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

(5) They that seek to be thought subtle rather 136than to be humble, and desire knowledge more than a good life are easily puffed up, and are carnally minded; such men Florentius would severely reprove, and recall to a wholesome knowledge of their own weakness by humiliation and frequent exercises of devotion. When it was necessary for him to impeach any, he was held in such awe that none ventured to contradict him, or excuse himself, by reason of the reverence inspired by his holy life, which none durst offend lest they should incur the wrath of God by not humbly obeying such directions.

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