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PROLOGUE OF RICHARD MISYN

For the honour of our Lord Jesu Christ, at the asking of thy desire, Sister Margaret, coveting1616    desiring to make satisfaction, and for increase also of ghostly comfort, to thee and more, that understand not curiosity1717    skill of Latin, I, among lettered men simplest and in living unthriftiest, have taken this work to translate from Latin into English for the edification of many souls. And since it is so that all good pleasure and ghostly life of man’s soul stands in perfect love, therefore this holy man, Richard Hampole, has named his book Incendium Amoris, that is to say “The Fire of Love.” The which book I think to change neither in meaning nor substance, but truly to write it in good exposition after mine understanding.

Therefore I pray all readers hereof, if your discretion find aught thankworthy, to God give the praise thereof and to this holy man; and if any thing be mis-said, to my ignorance ascribe it. Nevertheless I make protestation to reform, with intent to write or say nothing against the faith or determination of holy kirk, God being witness.

Furthermore, sister, have in mind the mortality of this life, and always in thy hand some holy lesson keep. For if thou keepest holiness thou shalt not love fleshly sins; and holiness, wherein it stands, I said before, in perfect love.

But perfect love, what may that be? Certain, when thy God, as thou oughtest, for Himself thou lovest; thy friend in God; and thine enemy thou lovest for God. For neither God without thy neighbour, nor thy neighbour without God, is truly loved. Perfect love therefore stands in love of God and of thy neighbour; and love of God in keeping of His commandments.

Keep, therefore, His commandments, and when thou enterest thy prayers or contemplation, all worldly things altogether forsake; forget the care of all outward things, and to God only take heed. If thou find any doubts call to thee sad1818    serious or wise. counsel, for dread thou arrest; especially in such things as touch the twelve articles of thy faith; also of the Holy Trinity, and divers others as in this holy book following is wisely written to our learning.


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