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CHAPTER IV

THE DIFFERENCE BETWIXT GOD’S LOVERS AND THE WORLD’S: AND THEIR MEEDS

The soul of man feels nothing of the burning of endless love the which has not first perfectly forsaken all worldly vanity, studying busily to be given to heavenly things, and to desire God’s love without ceasing, and mannerly to love all creatures to be loved. Truly if all things that we love, we love for God, rather God in them, than them we love; and so not in them but in God we delight, whom to enjoy withouten end we shall be glad.

The wicked truly love this world, setting therein the lust of their delectation; and those things only that belong to this world’s joy, withouten ceasing they covet. And how may a man do more fondly, more wretchedly, or damnably than fully to love, for themselves only, transitory and failing things.

The Trinite God truly is to be loved for Himself only. Put we therefore our mind fully into it, and be we busy to bear all our thoughts unto that end, that withouten end we may be gladdened by it; so that ourselves and all things that we love, we love for that alone.

But that sinner lies that says he loves God and yet dreads not to serve sin. Ilk man truly that loves God is free, nor binds himself to bondage of sin, but steadfastly continues in the service of righteousness. Whiles we love earthly things or comfort for themselves, withouten doubt we love not God, serving Him not forsooth; but if we be delighted in creatures, so that we set our Maker behind, and care not to follow those things that are eternal, we shall be deemed as hating God. Full froward truly is it to the soul, and the token of damnation and of endless death, when a man gives himself wholly unto this world; and in divers desires and errors of the flesh, he goes as him lists. Thus no marvel a wretch is destroyed; and, while he seems to flow in pleasure, he hies to the ay-lasting penance of hell.

Therefore no man should dare presume, nor rise himself up by pride when he is despised to his reproach, or when insults are cast him; nor defend himself, nor for ill words give ill again; but all things, praise as well as reproof, bear evenly. Truly, doing in this wise, we shall withouten end with Christ be glad, if in this life we love Him without ceasing. Whose love, rooted in our hearts and made sicker, makes us like unto His likeness; and other joy, that is to say godly, He puts into us; mirthing our minds wholly with burning love. His love truly is fire, making our souls fiery and purging them from all degrees of sin, making them light and burning; which fire, burning in them that are chosen, ever makes them look up in mind, and continually to hold to the desire for death.

Wherefore, whiles we can sin, let us charge ourselves to flee this world’s prosperity, and to bear adversity gladly. Forsooth an evil mind while it joys is lost, and while it seeks gladness in creatures it, as it were with a flattering venom, kills the self; whose contagion let us be well aware to eschew, beholding the ghostly food that is ordained in heaven for burning lovers.

And so, Christ granting, be we comforted by sweet songs of charity and be we delighted in so sweet devotion; while the wicked sleep in horrible darkness, and full of sins, go down to pains.

Full great marvel it seems that mortal man may be taken up into such high love for God that he feels nothing but heavenly solace in his most privy substance; and so as, in the noise of an organ, he ascends on high to contemplate high desire. That which is done by others to sorrow then turns to joy, so that they seem unable to suffer pain in soul; also they can not be troubled with the dread of death, nor in any way be moved from restfulness to unease.

Truly he who is stirred with busy love, and is continually with Jesu in thought, full soon perceives his own faults, the which correcting, henceforward he is ware of them; and so he brings righteousness busily to birth, until he is led to God and may sit with heavenly citizens in everlasting seats. Therefore he stands clear in conscience and is steadfast in all good ways the which is never noyed with worldly heaviness nor gladdened with vainglory.

Truly those obstinate in unclean works know not the love of Christ, for they are burned with fleshly likings; and they yield no devotion to God because of the burden of riches by the which they are thrust to the earth. They are not, forsooth, ordained to have the delights of paradise, but go on in their frowardness unto their death; and therefore, worthily, their heaviness shall not be lessened, nor shall the sorrow of their damnation be put aback; because they wilfully walk in lusts and sin, and have frowardly, for false love, lost the love of the Endless Lover. Wherefore in perpetual pains they shall plainly repent that they have sinned; and yet they shall never be cleansed from sin, but be burned endlessly by continued fires withouten any comforter.

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