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CHAPTER XXV

OF PERFECT LOVE: AND WHAT MUST BE HAD FOR GHOSTLY JOY: AND OF LOVE AND CORRECTION

Excellence of meed stands in greatness of love; so that a lover burns with ever burning fire and is fulfilled within with heavenly sweetness. He truly that loves most shall be set highest in heaven. For this love is in the heart, and the more it loves God the more joy it feels in itself. They err therefore that but seldom and shortly have the joy of love, and that trow they love as mickle as he that is fed, as it were all day, with the sweetness of love. Some truly love with difficulty and some with ease, but the love of God is the more blessed in that it be light; the lighter, the heartier; the quicker, the sweeter; the sweeter, the more. Truly it is greater in resters than in labourers; therefore they that continually rest and fervently love are higher than they that some time take heed to rest, and some time to other occupations.

Nothing truly is better than love, nothing sweeter than holy charity. For to be loved and to love is a sweet change; the delight of all man’s life, and of angel’s, and of God’s; and also the meed of all blessedness. If therefore thou desirest to be loved, love; for love gainyields itself. No man has ever lost by good love who keeps in view the end of love. Soothly he that knows not to burn in love knows not to be glad. Therefore never is a man more blessed than he that is borne without himself by the might of love, and by the greatness of God’s love receives within himself a songful sweetness of everlasting praising.

But this happens not anon to every man; but when a man, turned to God, marvellously exercises himself and has cast away all desire for worldly vanity; then God sheds into His lovers that unspoken praising. The mind truly disposed to cleanness, receives from God the thought of eternal love; and soothly clean thought rises up to ghostly song. Clearness of heart, certain, is worthy to have heavenly sound; and so that God’s praising should bide in ghostly joy, the soul is warmed with God’s fire, and is gladdened with full marvellous delight.

But although a man forsake the world perfectly; and busily take heed to prayer, waking, and fasting; and have cleanness of conscience, so that he desire to die for heavenly joy, and to be dissolved and be with Christ; unless his mind be fully knit unto Christ, and it lasts in desires and thoughts of love—the which are certain and endlessly intent—and which thoughts, wherever he be, sitting or going, he meditates within himself without ceasing, desiring nothing but Christ’s love; he else soothly receives not the heavenly sound, nor in ghostly song shall he sing JESU, nor His praise, in mind or mouth.

Pride forsooth destroys many; when they trow they have done aught that others have not, anon they bear themselves before others, and they that are better than themselves they put behind. But, know it well, he himself knows not love that presumes to despise common nature in his brother; for he does wrong to his own condition that knows not his right in another. He that honours not the community of nature in his neighbour, defiles the law of man’s fellowship.

In this many men err from the love of God, nor know they how to come to His love because they study not to love their brother as they are bound. And soothly they either leave the sinner uncorrected, or if they correct or rebuke the sinner, with so great sharpness and fierceness they speak that oft they that they snib are made, by their words, worse than they are. Truly with meekness they should speak, that by sweet words they might win those that sharp correcting would make worse.

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