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LIVES OF THE FOLLOWERS OF FATHER FLORENTIUS

PREFACE

The Elder Brother

ENABLED by the gift of God I have now in my account of these venerable fathers and illustrious men Master Gerard and Father Florentius described certain of their vertuous deeds, using that unpolished style to which the poverty of my genius doth compel me. It remaineth in the next place to set down as they come into my mind such memorials of their followers as may avail to instruct in humility the lives and characters of simple brethren.

These men followed Christ by the narrow way that leadeth unto life, manfully treading under foot the pomp of the world, and the softness of the flesh, so that they are not unworthy to be compared to the luminaries of heaven, for by their virtues they enlightened a vast multitude of faithful people whom they unceasingly exhorted to 166good deeds during their lifetime. Wherefore one may not keep silence as to their godly conversation in Christ, but must set forth their deeds, which are worthy of veneration, for the instruction of the little ones.

Novice

I earnestly entreat thee that in speaking of men so notable thou show me at least some few sparks of their devotion that I may be enkindled thereby to the love of virtue, seeing that I may set before me a new standard of life when I hear of the conduct of men of our own time. For many poets have written of the deeds of the heathen so as to profit their readers in this manner, and how much more oughtest thou for the consolation of the devout to set forth the example of these servants of God who have triumphed over the world, so that the good may go forward continually to better things, and the sluggish be roused the more quickly from the slothfulness of the body.

The Elder Brother

If thou deignest to hear me I will tell thee somewhat that shall edify thee not a little at this present time. I will set before thee the lives of men who had not only the reputation of virtue but in addition to that reputation led lives illustrious by virtuous deeds. Yet now (fie upon it) there are some who having deserted their first enthusiasm, love to wander abroad, delight in vain talking, prefer their own wisdom to the primitive institutions of our Fathers, and to justify the satisfaction of their own desires, employ cunning arguments in place of obeying the Holy Law. Do thou above all things avoid this foolish presumption 167and follow the humble character and habit of those approved fathers who in our time were illustrious in Deventer under the rule of our reverend Father Florentius.

May grace be given me to set forth those things which tend to edification, that this present discourse may so instruct simple and humble brethren that all those who desire to follow Christ in the Devout Life may entirely lay aside care for this world, and study in the fervour of their devotion and their obedience to the law of holy simplicity to exhibit that same zeal which these devout and virtuous men exhibited in their earnest preaching.

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