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CHAPTER VI

OF PATIENCE

The children of God disdain to come down to the meat of unreasonable beasts, but truly they despise all unlawful lusts and worldly solace for the love of Christ. He truly that is fed with the bread that comes from heaven inclines not his desire to those things that are moved by the devil. When temptations arise or tribulation, ghostly armour is to be taken and it is time to go to battle.

Temptations truly are overcome with steadfastness of faith and love; tribulation truly with patience. What is patience but goodly and wilful suffering of adversity? He therefore that is patient murmurs in no grief, but rather at all times with the prophet praises God. The more patient a man is in his noys the more glorious shall he be in heaven.

Gladly therefore are tribulations to be suffered in adversity, noys and bitterness, pains and sickness and thirst; for by these and such other our sins are cleansed and meeds increased. Truly it either behoves us in this life [to be burnt with the fire of God’s love and of tribulation, or else after this life] with the fire of purgatory or hell to be most bitterly crucified and punished. Choose therefore; we shall not escape the one. Here truly with little pain, yea with joy, if we cleave to God, we may eschew all pain to come.

Therefore tribulations are sent to us to call us from the love of the world, that we be not punished more grievously in the other life. With sorrow truly it behoves us to be cleansed of that ill we did in lust. If sinners build upon our backs, they noy us not, if we suffer it patiently, but themselves; for if they put us to a little pain for us they work a crown, but for themselves tormentry.

The sinful truly are suffered to pass this life withouten great tribulations; for in the time to come no joy is kept for them. Therefore holy men love tribulations, for they wot by them to win to endless life. Contrarily the rejected always murmur in adversity, and flee all that they can; for whiles they are given too mickle to seen things, they are deprived of the hope of things everlasting. In outward things only they find solace, because they have fully lost the savour of heavenly.

There is no reasonable soul here abiding but either she loves creatures, or the Maker of creatures. If she loves creatures she loses God and goes, with the good loved, to death. Truly such love in the beginning is labour and fondness; in the middle languor and wretchedness; and in the end hatred and pain.

He soothly that loves his Maker forsakes omnia quae that is in the world, and he thinks it full sweet of Him and with Him to speak; his refreshment is to think on Him. He bolts his outward wits that death ascend not by the windows; and that he be not unprofitably occupied in vanity. And sometimes despisings, reproofs, scorns, and slanders are raised against him, and therefore it is needful to take the shield of patience and be readier to forget wrongs than to know them. He shall pray for their turning that hate him and cast him down, and shall care not to please man, but dread to offend God.

If thou be tempted in the flesh make it subject, that the spirit be not overcome. Temptation truly that we consent not to is a matter for using virtue. For no man wots whether he be weak or strong until the time he be assayed. Likewise in peace no man is called patient, but when he is pulled with wrong; then he should see if he have patience. Many seem patient when they are not pricked, but when a soft blast—I say not of wrong but of correction—touches them, anon their mind turns to bitterness and wrath; and if they hear one word against their will they give again two more ungodly: into whose counsel my soul comes not.

Therefore the darts of our enemy are to be slakened with the meekness and sweetness of Christ’s love; nor is place to be given to temptation, although it be grievous. For the greater battle the worthier victory and higher crown, as says the psalm: Beatus vir qui suffert tentationem, quoniam cum probatus fuerit accipiet coronam vitae, etc.; that is to say: ‘Blest be the man that suffers temptation, for when he is proved a crown of life he shall receive that God behested to His lovers.’

Doubt not that thou art in the perfect life if despising be to thee as praising, poverty as riches, hunger as meat; so that thou sufferest them with even soul, and if thou fall in nought from height of mind. Flee and hate as mickle as thou canst the praise of man; for it is most praiseworthy to be worthy of praising, and not to be praised of men. The tongues of flatterers beguile many, and also the tongues of backbiters destroy many. Despise thou therefore favour, worship, and all vainglory; suffer meekly wraths, hatreds, and detractions; and so by slander and good fame, by tribulations and anger cease not to make haste to the heavenly kingdoms.

Ofttimes we fall, so that taught by many chances we should stand more strongly. The strong dread not, nor are the patient heavy, in adversity, as it is written: Non tristabit justum quicquid ei acciderit. ‘Whatever happens to the righteous man it shall not heavy him.’ Thus disposed, no marvel thou shalt overcome all temptation and slake all malice; thou shalt see thy noyers more wretched than thee, and with all thy mind thou shalt cleave to Christ.

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