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CHAPTER III

THAT GHOSTLY SONG ACCORDS NOT WITH BODILY: AND THE CAUSE AND THE ERROR OF GAINSAYERS. AND OF KNOWLEDGE INSHED OR INSPIRED; AND HOW IT DIFFERS FROM KNOWLEDGE GOTTEN BY LABOUR

But in this every man raised in holiness may know that he has the song of which I spake: if he can not sustain the cry of singers unless his inward song be brought to mind, and he has glided, so to say, into outward. That among singers and readers some are distracted from their devotion is not from perfection but from unstableness of mind, because other men’s words break and destroy their prayers; and this forsooth happens not to the perfect. They truly are so stabled that by no cry or noise or any other thing can they be distracted from prayer or thought, but only cut off by such from song. For truly this sweet ghostly song is specially worth because it is given to the most special. It accords not with outward song, the which in kirks and elsewhere are used. It discords mickle from all that is formed by man’s outward voice to be heard with bodily ears; but among angels’ tunes it has an acceptable melody, and by them that have known it, it is commended with marvel.

See and understand and be not beguiled, for to you I have shown, to the honour of Almighty God and to your profit, why I fled strangers in the kirks, and for what cause I loved not to mingle with them, and desired not to hear organ players. Truly they gave me letting from songful sweetness, and made fail the full clear song. And therefore marvel not if I fled that that confused me; and in that I had been to blame, if I had not left what would have put me from so sweet song. Forsooth I had erred if I had done otherwise. But well I knew of whom I received it. Therefore I have alway conformed me to do His will, lest He should take from me, being unkind, that He gave to me kindly. I had great liking to sit in the wilderness that I might sing more sweetly far from noise; and with quickness of heart I might feel sweetest praise; the which doubtless I have received of His gift whom above all things I have wonderfully loved.

Truly my heart has not yearned in bodily desire, nor have I conceived this comfortable song that I have sung, singing in Jesu, from a creature. Therefore love has brought me thereto, that I should not stand in the plight in which the unthrifty are cast down; but that I should be raised above the height of all seen things, and from heaven should be kindled and lightened to praise God, whose praising is not comely in the sinner’s mouth.

To whom therefore that loves not anything save one shall the window, unthirled by all, be opened; and no marvel it were although his nature were changed into nobility of worthiness unable to be told, and made clear and free; which noble clearness no man shall know in eternity that now knows not love, and in Christ feels sweetness.

Nor doubtless ought I to cease from the best tried devotion because of backbiters that have cast evil biting into mind innocence; and I ought to cast all wickedness down, and love them that stirred me to greater ill; and thereof grace shall have been increased to the lover whiles he has not taken heed to words wavering in the wind, but with a perfect heart shall spread himself forth to his love, and unwearily pursue his purpose.

Herefore truly the desire for vanity is vanished and truthful love is risen in the mind, so that the soul of the lover shall not wax cold but shall remain in comfortable heat and the heart shall not be bruised from continual thought of his Beloved. Soothly in this steadfastness the excellence of love happens to a true lover, so that he shall be raised up to a fiery heaven and there shall be stirred to love more than may be spoken, and shall be more burned within himself than can be shown, and shall halse the degrees of grace. And hereof he has received and boldly say whatever he thinks; though before he were holden—or else were—a fool and unwise.

But those taught by knowledge gotten, not inshed, and puffed up with folded arguments, in this are disdainful: saying where learned he? who read to him? For they trow not that the lovers of endless love might be taught by their inward master to speak better than they taught of men, that have studied at all times for vain honours.

If in the old time the Holy Ghost inspired many, why should He not now take His lovers to contemplate the Joy of His Godhead? Some of this time are approved to be even to those of former times. I call not this approving men’s allowance, for oft they err in their approving, choosing such as God despised and despising those God has chosen. But such I call allowed whom eternal love has pithily enflamed and the grace of the Holy Ghost inspires to all good; these are marked with the flower of all virtue, and continually sing in the love of God. And all that longs to the world’s vain joy and the false honours of cursed and proud life they tread under the feet of their affections.

No marvel that these are outcasts of men. But in the sight of God and the holy angels they are greatly commended; whose hearts are strong to suffer all adversity, nor will they be blown about by the wind of vanity. At the last they are borne to Christ with high holiness, when they that men chose and allowed are cast down in damnation and are drawn in torments to be punished with the fiends withouten end.

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