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CHAPTER XXIII

THAT PERFECT LOVE MINGLES NOTHING WITH GOD: AND WHY. AND THAT IT IS NEEDFUL TO LOVE: AND OF THE BLINDNESS OF FLESHLY LOVE

If we perfectly forsake the filth of sins and the vices of this world, we love nothing but God. How truly should God be all in all if anything were in man beside His love? No man truly has joy unless he loves the good.

The more therefore that a man loves God, no marvel the more plenteously he shall joy in Him; because the more busily and fervently we desire anything, it being gotten, the more heartily we joy. Therefore truly has a man joy because he has God; and God truly is that Joy: the which forsooth none of them have that seek anything besides God. For if I desire anything for myself, and I set not my God as the end of that desire, sicker it is that I have made a traitor of myself, and my hidden guilt is openly shown.

God truly will be loved in this wise: that no man be mingled with Him in His love. For if thou dividest thy heart and dreadest not to love another thing with Him, without doubt know well that thy love is forsaken of God; the which vouchsafes not for to behold a part of love. All the whole truly or nought He takes; for He gainbought the whole. For in the sin of Father Adam forsooth thy body and thy soul were damned; wherefore God is come down into a Maiden’s body and become man, and has given the price of thy deliverance, that not only He might deliver thy soul from the power of the fiends, but also He might make thy body with thy soul blessed at the end of the world. Therefore thou hast the commandments of eternal life. If thou wilt enter the kingdom, lost, and after reparalled with Christ’s blood, it behoves thee to keep God’s commandments.

And truly as thou desirest after thy death to ascend into full and perfect joy, so it behoves thee in this life to have mind to love God with a whole and perfect heart. Else as now thou art not given to God’s love, so then not perfect joy but endless torment shalt thou have. For truly whiles thou takest not heed to thy Maker with whole love and mind, thou art proved soothly to love some creature of God more than is honest or lawful. A soul can not be reasonable without love whiles it is in this life: wherefore the love thereof is the foot of the soul, by which, after this pilgrimage, it is borne to God or the fiend; that it may be subject to him whose will here it served.

Nothing truly can be loved but for the goodness that it has, or else seems that it has, and which is either in the loved or certainly thought to be in that that is loved. Herefore truly it is that lovers of bodily beauty or worldly riches are beguiled as it were by witchcraft; for delight is not those things the which we think we feel or see, nor the joy that is feigned, nor the good name that we give it.

No man therefore more damnably forgets his soul than he that sets his eye on woman for lechery; truly whilst the sight of the eye kindles the soul, anon from the things seen thought enters and engenders desire in the heart, and defiles the inward beauty. Wherefore suddenly with burning of a noyous fire it is umbelapped and blinded, that it may not see the sentence of the strait Judge. And thus the soul, taken from heavenly sight by evil and unclean love, stints not to show tokens of her error; and unless she may bring forth the filth that is conceived, she mistrusts of her prosperity.

Filth forsooth she conceived, that is to say wicked desire; thereby shall wickedness worthily be brought forth, because the soul the sooner slides to slippery lust inasmuch as she takes no heed to the great peril in which she errs. The dooms of God are withdrawn also from her face. Whiles truly she begins to take pleasure in fleshly desires, she sees not into how great a pit of wretchedness she casts herself.

Soothly the doom of God is that he who wilfully despised God, casting himself down into deadly sin, shall, God deeming, unwillingly be damned after this life. In the time to come truly he can not defend himself from the pains of hell, that, set in this life, would not, when he could, with all his power forsake deadly sins, and wholly hate all wickedness.

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