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OF TRUE MEEKNESS AND ADVERSITY: AND OF THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS: AND OF THE MANNER OF GHOSTLY PROFITING: AND OF THINKING ON CHRIST’S PASSION
The very meek behold not other men’s sins, but their own; and not their good deeds, but other men’s they praise. The rejected truly do the reverse; for they see rather other men’s sins than their own, and in comparison they count their own sins as little or none; but their good deeds—if any happen—they praise before all others, whose goodness they desire to lessen if they cannot fully destroy it.
Two things have I been heavy to hear: one was when they praised me, wretched, whom I knew only as despised; another, when I saw my neighbour, the which I loved in God and for God, reproved or with slander backbitten. Nevertheless thou that forsakest the world and art busy to follow Christ in poverty, be busy to know thyself; for truly if thou forsakest the deeds and desires of the world, thou bindest thyself to suffer worldly diseases gladly for Christ, and truly to flee wealth strongly. If, forgetting, thou takest no heed to this, thou goest beguiled from Christ’s love.
Therefore marvel not though thou be noyed with divers and many temptations; for if thou withstand steadfastly, thou shalt be dearer and sweeter before God. Have in mind that God proves His own as gold is proved by fire. They truly that inwardly feel the sweetness of Christ’s love, gladly halsing tribulation, seek not outward worldly solace. For the sweetness in mind of those truly loving Christ is so mickle that if the joys of the world were gathered together in one place, they were liever run to the wilderness than to once look thereon with the eye. And certain it is no marvel, for all worldly cheer seems to it heaviness rather than comfort.
Soothly the soul that is wont to be visited with the joy of Christ’s love, can not be fed with vain joy, whose heart is not parted from his Beloved, for he would sooner die than offend his Maker. And that thou mayest have this grace keep thy sins in thy mind as an example of penitence and be busy to follow saints’ lives; so that thou a sinner, yet turned to God’s service, may rise to hope by sinners raised to heaven, and by the ransacking of the lives of righteous men refrain thyself from all pride. Truly by mind of a holier thing is the holy man’s mind meeked; for whose life soever thou findest written or hearest told, alway trust it without comparison better than thine.
Such truly are called Christ’s lovers that for His name receive sharp adversity from the world, and despise prosperity and vainglory. They are fulfilled with despisings, reproofs, and slanders, and in their praising they are punished, the which for God live solitary in this world, and dying are taken up to the company of angels in heaven.
Truly I fled into the wilderness because I could not accord with men; for sickerly they oft let me from joy, and because I did not as they did, they put error and indignation upon me; and therefore I have found sorrow and tribulation, but I have ay worshipped the Name of our Lord.
Therefore that we fail not in temptation let us study to be weary of all earthly comforts, and constantly to keep in mind the crown of eternal joy, that being found waking we may receive the bliss promised. In the meantime also use we such rule that fleshly desires may be utterly restrained and worldly covetousness wisely forsake the heart, so that the body may alway stand stable and strong in God’s service.
He truly that for Jesu’s love forsakes all things, and leaves the having of his will, and abides steadfast and profiting, says with joy, ‘I have found that my soul loves.’ Christ is truly found in the heart when the heat of endless love is felt in it, the which covets to be sought without feigning. Christ certain alights in a soul with honey sweetness and ghostly song, so that he that has this joy may boldly say: ‘I have found my Love.’ Whosoever, truly, whiles he prays, sees his mind raised high, yea lift up above this bodily heaven, if he fail not but alway more and more desires to savour everlasting things, may therefore merrily abide the meekness of Christ; for within a few years he shall feel himself ravished to behold glorious things. Wherefore with meek heart, he shall not cease advancing in profit unto the time he comes to the fellowship of everlasting rest.
If the eye of thy heart be ravished in prayer to behold heavenly things, then full near is it that thy soul, passing earthly things, be made perfect in Christ’s love. He soothly that in praying is not yet raised to behold heavenly things, must not cease discreetly to meditate, pray, and wake, unto the time he may perceive higher joys; so that he, lying on the earth, be not despised with griefs and diseases.
Egredimini filiae Syon et videte regem Salomonem in diademate. That is to say: Go forth ye souls renewed, and understand Christ truly, put to death for your health. Behold Him, and ye shall see His godly head with thorns crowned; His face bespat; His full fair eyes wan by pain; His back scourged; His breast hurt; His worthy hands thirled; His sweetest side with a spear wounded; His feet nailed through, and wounds set through all His soft flesh; as it is written: ‘From the sole of His foot to the crown of His head there is no health in Him.’
Go forth, therefore, from your unlawful desires and see what Christ has suffered for you; that your sins be altogether cast out, and your hearts be taught the burning of love.
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