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CHAPTER XXX

A PARABLE: HOW ONE MAY BE HINDERED IN THIS FOURTH DEGREE

At this season of the year, so soon as the equinox is come, the sun begins to descend and the weather becomes cooler. And then some imprudent men become full of noxious humours, which enter into the stomach, and spoil the health and bring many diseases: and these destroy the appetite and the taste of good food, and bring many to death. And some men are corrupted by these noxious humours, so that they get dropsy, and have therefrom long torments and sometimes die. And from the super-abundance of these humours come sickness and fever from which many men suffer, and of which some die. And so likewise it is, when men of good-will, who once tasted God, have swerved from Him and from truth, and have gone astray; these either sicken in the way of perfection, or wither away as regards virtue, or fall into eternal death, through one of these maladies, and some through all three. Especially when he is forsaken a man has need of much strength, and must exercise himself in the way I have just taught you: thus he shall not be deceived. But the unwise man, who rules himself ill, falls easily into these maladies; for in him the weather has grown cooler. For this reason his nature becomes slow in virtue and in good works, and craves for comfort and softness of the body; often without discretion and more than is needful. And other men would like well to receive solace from God, if they might partake of Him without pains and labour. And some seek for solace in creatures, wherefrom great harm often ensues. And some think themselves sick and feeble and that their powers are exhausted, and believe that they have need of all that they can get, and that they must cherish their bodies in comfort and repose. When a man yields himself in such a way, and seeks without discretion after bodily things and comforts; then all such things are noxious humours which fulfil the stomach, that is to say, the man’s heart, and take from him the taste and the enjoyment of good food, that is to say, of all the virtues.

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