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CHAPTER XII


OF HOLY SPIRITUAL PRUDENCE


O thou servant of the heavenly King, who wouldst learn the mysteries and the profitable and virtuous lessons of holy spiritual doctrine, open wide the ears of thine understanding, receive with earnest desire of heart, and carefully lay up in the treasure-house of thy memory the precious store of these spiritual doctrines, warnings and admonitions, which now I unfold to thee; by the which thou shalt be illuminated and directed in thy journey on the way of the spiritual life, and shalt be defended from the malignant and subtle assaults of thy material and immaterial enemies: and so, with humble boldness, thou shalt steer thy course safely through the stormy sea of this present life, until thou shalt attain to the desired haven of salvation. Listen, then, my son, and note well what I say to thee.

If thou wouldst see well, pluck out thine eyes and become blind; if thou wouldst hear well, become deaf; if thou wouldst speak well, become dumb; if thou wouldst work well, cut off thy hands, and labour with thy heart; if thou wouldst love well, hate thyself; if thou wouldst live well, mortify thyself; if thou wouldst gain much and become rich, lose and become poor; if thou wouldst enjoy thyself and take thine ease, afflict thyself, and continually fear and distrust thyself; if thou wouldst be exalted and had in honour, humble and reproach thyself; if thou wouldst be reverenced, despise thyself, and do reverence to those who despise and reproach thee; if thou wouldst always receive good, continually endure evil; if thou wouldst be blessed, desire that all men should curse thee and speak evil of thee; if thou wouldst enjoy true and eternal repose, labour and afflict thyself, and desire every kind of temporal suffering. Oh, what great wisdom is it to know and do all these things! but, because it is so high and so sublime, it is granted by God to few. But I say, of a truth, that if any man will study these things and carry them into effect, he will have no need to go to Paris or to Bologna to learn any other theology. For, if a man were to live a thousand years, and have no external action to perform, nor any word to speak with his tongue, I say that he would have enough to do within his own heart, in labouring internally at the purifying, governing, and justifying of his heart and of his mind.

A man should not desire either to see, to hear, or to speak any thing but for profit of his soul. The man who knows not himself is not known. Woe to us, then, when we receive the gifts and graces of the Lord, and know not how to acknowledge them! Woe still greater to those who neither receive nor acknowledge them, nor care to receive or possess them! Man was made to the image of God, and changes as he wills; but the good God changeth never.


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