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SECOND CHAPTER

In the following gracious Sermon, twenty-four articles are rehearsed whereby a man may perceive who are the proper, true, reasonable, enlightened, contemplative men; and what sort of man it is to whom Christ may well speak these words: Ecce vere Israelita in quo dolus non est—Lo! see a true beholder of God in whom is no guile (John i. 47).

DEAR children, I have much to say to you in this sermon concerning those things of which I have promised to speak; wherefore I cannot for this time expound the gospel of the day to you as is my wont, neither shall I speak much Latin in this sermon; for what I have to say, I will prove with Holy Scripture [and he said]: “Dear children, I would have you to know that there be many men, who indeed attain to a clear understanding and reasonable judgment, but who do this by means of images and forms through the help of other men, and without the Scriptures. Further, there be found many who, when they mark that something is known to them through the Scriptures, are not therewith content. Such a man is still far from his highest and greatest good. Dear children, if a man had broken through these things, and was become dead to them, and had got above forty stages of 43contemplation, and above the conceptions of our reason, whether they come to us through images or forms of speech—if there were a man who had come to this, he would be dearer and more precious in God’s sight than a hundred thousand men who never get out of their own self, and live after the way of their own choosing; for to such God cannot find entrance, nor work in their souls. This all comes of their own will, and their self-glorifying folly, which takes delight in the dexterity of their own reason, in framing and handling conceptions. But those men who while on earth have broken through those things, and have given themselves to God in such sort that they have died unto themselves, and have both made themselves free from all outward forms, and the use of sensible images in their exercises of contemplation, and humbly toiled and pressed onwards above the images of mere reason, as Dionysius says, “the light of faith requires that a man should be raised above the apprehensions of reason;”—know, dear children, that in such souls God doth find rest, and a place wherein to dwell and to work when He chooseth. Now when God findeth thus no hindrance in such a man, He works His own works in him, and draweth him truly to Himself in Himself. Now know that such a man is rare, for his life and ways are hidden from others, and unknown to them, except to such as have a like life, of whom, alas! I fear there be but few. To this state, and this noble perfectness, none can come except through boundless humility, an unclouded understanding, and a clear reason; for it has happened ere now that some great doctors and priests have fallen; and a multitude of rational 44spirits belonging to the angelic hosts, who perceived nothing else in their nature and essence but mere reason, have erred hence, and fallen everlastingly away from eternal truth. And this is what happens still to all those who look to their own reason, and want to be and do as God by the light of their self-willed understanding. For which reason it is profitable and needful to know who are the proper, truly reasonable, enlightened, contemplative men. Now as far as I can find from Scripture, there are four and twenty tokens which such a man must possess.

The First is given us by the highest Master of all doctors, arts and wisdom, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ, when he says: “Hereby shall ye know whether ye be my disciples, if ye have love one to another even as I have loved you.” As much as to say, ‘Though ye should possess arts and wisdom, and high understanding, it is all in vain if ye have not withal fidelity and love.’ We believe that Balaam was so replete with understanding, that he perceived what things God purposed to do or reveal hundreds of years after his day; but it availed him nothing, forasmuch as he did not cleave with love and loyalty to the things which he understood.

The Second mark appertaining to a truly reasonable, enlightened man is that he must become empty of self; and this must not make him proud, but he shall consider how he may ever more attain to this freedom, and sit loose by all creatures.

The Third Article: He shall resign Himself utterly to God, that God may work His own works in him, and he shall not glory in the works as being his own, 45but always think himself too mean to have done them.

The Fourth Article: He shall go out from himself in all the things in which he is wont to seek and find himself, whether belonging to time or to eternity, and by so doing he shall win a true increase.

Fifth Article: He shall not seek his own ends in any creature, whether temporal or eternal, and hereby he shall attain to perfect satisfaction and content.

The Sixth Article: He shall always wait on that which God will have him to do, and shall try, with the help of God, to fulfil that to the uttermost, and shall take no glory to himself therefor.

The Seventh Article: He shall daily, without ceasing, give up his will to the will of God, and endeavour to will nothing but what God willeth.

The Eighth Article: He shall bend all his powers into submission to God, and exercise them so constantly and so strenuously in God, and with such power and love, that God may work nothing in him without his active concurrence, and he may do nothing without God.

The Ninth Article: He shall have the sense of the presence of God in all His works, at all times, and in all places, whatever it please God to appoint, whether it be sweet or bitter.

The Tenth Article: All his pleasure and pain he shall receive, not as from the creature, but from God; howbeit God ofttimes works through the creature, yet he shall receive all things as from God alone.

Eleventh Article: He shall not be led captive by any lusting or desire after the creatures without due necessity.

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The Twelfth Article: No contradiction or mishap shall have power to move or constrain him so that it separate him from the truth; therefore hold fast always and entirely by the same.

Thirteenth Article: He shall not be deceived by the glory of the creature, nor yet by any false light, but in a spirit of kindness and love he shall confess all things to be what they are, and from all things draw out what is best, and use it to his own improvement, and in no wise to his own detriment; for such a course is a certain sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Fourteenth Article: He shall at all times be equipped and armed with all virtue, and ready to fight against all vice and sin, and with his good weapons he shall obtain the victory and the prize in all conflicts.

Fifteenth Article: He shall confess the truth in simplicity, and he shall mark what it is in itself, what God requireth of us, and what is possible to man, and then order his life accordingly, and act up to what he confesses!

The Sixteenth Article: He shall be a man of few words and much inward life.

The Seventeenth Article: He shall be blameless and righteous, but in no wise be puffed up by reason of the same.

The Eighteenth Article: His conversation shall be in all uprightness and sincerity; thus he shall let his light shine before men, and he shall preach more with his life than with his lips.

The Nineteenth Article: He shall seek the glory of God before all things, and have no other aim in view.

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The Twentieth Article: He shall be willing to take reproof; and when he striveth with any he shall give way if the matter concern himself alone, and not God.

The Twenty-first Article: He shall not desire or seek his own advantage, but think himself unworthy of the least thing that falls to his lot.

The Twenty-second Article: He shall look upon himself as the least wise and worthy man upon earth, yet find in himself great faith; and above all he shall take no account of his own wisdom and the works of his own reason, but humble himself beneath all men. For the Author of all truth will not work a supernatural work in the soul, unless He find a thorough humility in a man, and go before his doings with his perfect grace, as he did with St. Paul. But I fear, alas! that little heed is taken to this in these our days.

The Twenty-third Article: He shall set the life and precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ before him for a pattern to his life, words, and works, and without ceasing look at himself therein as in a mirror, that, in so far as he is able, he may put off everything unbecoming the honoured image of our Lord.

The Twenty-fourth and last Article is: He shall comport himself as a man of small account,—as nothing more than a beginner in a good life; and though he should therefore be despised by many, it shall be more welcome to him than all the favour of the world.

Now, dear children, these are the signs that the ground of a man’s soul is truly reasonable, so that the image of all truth shineth and teacheth therein: 48and he who does not bear in himself these signs, may not and must not set any store by his own reason, either in his own eyes or those of others. That we all may become such a true image, in thorough sincerity and perfect humility, may He help us who is the Eternal Truth, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!

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