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XIII

Therefore find I that in the night's fear one great part is the fault of pusillanimity; that is, of faint and feeble stomach, by which a man for faint heart is afraid where he needeth not. By reason of this, he flieth oftentime for fear of something of which, if he fled not, he should take no harm. And a man doth sometimes by his fleeing make an enemy bold on him, who would, if he fled not but dared abide, give over and fly from him.

This fault of pusillanimity maketh a man in his tribulation first, for feeble heart, impatient. And afterward oftentimes it driveth him by impatience into a contrary affection, making him frowardly stubborn and angry against God, and thereby to fall into blasphemy, as do the damned souls in hell. This fault of pusillanimity and timorous mind hindereth a man also many times from doing many good things which, if he took a good stomach to him in the trust of God's help, he would be well able to do. But the devil casteth him in a cowardice and maketh him take it for humility to think himself unfit and unable to do them. And therefore he leaveth undone the good thing of which God offereth him occasion and to which he had made him fit.

But such folk have need to lift up their hearts and call upon God, and by the counsel of other good spiritual folk to cast away the cowardice of their own conceiving which the night's fear by the devil hath framed in their fancy. And they have need to look in the gospel upon him who laid up his talent and left it unoccupied and therefore utterly lost it, with a great reproach of his pusillanimity, but which he had thought to have excused himself, in that he was afraid to put it forth into use and occupy it.

And all this fear cometh by the devil's drift, wherein he taketh occasion of the faintness of our good and sure trust in God. And therefore let us faithfully dwell in the good hope of his help, and then shall the shield of his truth so compass us about that of this night's fear we shall have no fear at all.

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