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How he set a guard upon his tongue and avoided oaths


ONCE when he was residing at Amersfoort he was received with all veneration by the inhabitants of that city and by the great men of the district, who visited him from time to time in pious devotion. Then also certain honourable men came to dine with him and the Brothers, in order to hear his discourse, desiring to enjoy familiar intercourse with him, and to be instructed by his good example and doctrine. These he treated kindly, exhorting them with wholesome counsel according to their station, and when they had heard the Word of God they returned severally to their own homes with thanksgiving.

(2) And when they had departed he briefly admonished the Brothers, saying, “It is a dangerous thing to speak and to associate with the Great 137and them of the world. It is not expedient to flatter the rich, nor is it convenient that the inner secrets should be told to them; wherefore it is needful for a man to look carefully to what he saith to such, lest they be scandalized by any light word or unseemly action. For their eyes are ever looking upon us to consider our bearing, by reason of the good report which they hear of us. Let us stand therefore upon our guard, and set a good example to those from without who seek to visit us, for they see our outward actions only, and from these judge of what is within. Although we are not perfect in all things, let us take care that we give no ill example nor occasion of stumbling to the weak. These guests of ours are too kind to us, and perhaps their kindness is not to our profit. Let us not be over-pleased with empty praise, for it is our duty to be simple and lowly. It were better therefore to return quickly to our former dwelling, where there are many who take less thought of us, and some who even mock, and speak evil of us, a thing which is very profitable, and doth constrain us the more to turn again to God.

(3) And thus Florentius was guarded and thoughtful in all his speech, especially before them of the world and persons whom he knew not. Likewise he was strict in avoiding that most evil custom of swearing, which is common among men of the world; and he forbade any of his Community in their daily talk to use such phrases as “Verily I do swear,” or “Of a surety I swear”; lest by such heedless swearing they should pile up sin on sin. Wherefore whenever he wished to lay stress upon any notable or important matter, or when he must bear testimony to anything, he 138would not lightly or hardily introduce the form of an oath, but would answer in his gentle way, “This is the conclusion of the matter,” or “this is surely so”; and thus he satisfied his questioner. Nor would he confidently affirm anything wherein he might be mistaken, but remembering the saying of the Lord, “Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay,” he was careful to guard against any slip of the tongue, and to instruct others by his good example, and by telling the plain truth; wherefore men trusted his word without an oath rather than that of others whose tongues had the evil custom of much swearing.

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