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74

EIGHTH CHAPTER

How it fared with the Doctor after this, and how he fell into great tribulation and contempt, till he fell ill thereby; and how the layman counselled him, and allowed him to help nature with some good food and spices, and afterwards departed from him.

ON the eleventh day after this, the Master sent for the man, and said to him, “Ah, dear son, what agony and struggle and fighting have I not had within me day and night, before I was able to overcome the Devil and my own flesh. But now by God’s grace I have gathered myself together with all my powers inward and outward, and set my hand to this work with good courage, and am purposed to remain steadfast therein, come weal come woe.” Then said the man, “Dear sir, do you remember still all I said to you when you asked me how you should begin?” The Master answered, “Yes, the moment thou didst depart I wrote down all thou hadst said to me, word for word.” Then said the man, “Dear sir, that through God you have found this bold heart, rejoices me from the bottom of my soul, and I am as well pleased as if it had happened to myself, so God be my witness. And now in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, set forward.” Then the man took 75his leave, and the Master did as he had been bidden.

Now it came to pass that before a year was out the Master grew to be despised of all his familiar friends in the convent, and his spiritual children all forsook him as entirely as if they had never seen him. And this he found very hard to bear, and it caused him such grief that his head was like to turn. Then he sent for the man and told him how it fared with him; how he was ill in his whole body, and especially in his head. Then said the man, “Sir, you must not be dismayed, but you must humbly cleave to God, and put your firm trust in Him. Know that this account of yours pleases me well, and it stands well with your life, and will grow better every day.

“Dear sir, you know well that he who will walk in the right way, and tread this path, must be made a partaker of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ; therefore be not afraid, but commit yourself wholly to God. For know that the same thing happened to me also. Meanwhile you must take some remedies while you are in this state, and treat your body well with good food which may strengthen it. A box of spices was made for me, and I will have such an one prepared for you to strengthen your head. But you must know that I always gave myself up body and soul to God, that He might do with them what he pleased.”

Then said the Master, “But thou didst tell me before that I must shun good eating and drinking.” The man answered, “Yes, sir, that was in the first beginning, when the flesh was yet wanton, but now that it is tamed and obedient to the spirit, we may 76come to its help with remedies, else we should tempt God. So long as you are in this sickness, you will be serving God to cherish your body by allowable means, but not to live disorderly; that must not be. Dear sir, make God your help, and go forward with cheerful mind, and commit yourself to God with true and thorough resignation, and put your trust in His boundless mercy, and wait for His grace to show you what He will have you to do, and then with His help strive to fulfil that to the uttermost, whether it be bitter or sweet. Further, I beseech you for God’s sake not to take it amiss of me, but I must go home on account of a very important matter, which I assure you in all earnestness I have much at heart; but if so be that you could not or would not do without me, send into the town for me, and I will gladly come; but if you can bear up without the aid of any creature, that would be best of all for you.” Then said the Master, “Dear son, say not so, for I cannot and would not do without thee for any length of time; it would be hard indeed if thou didst forsake me, for then I should have no consolation left in the world.” The man said, “Dear sir, I will show you a better Comforter, that is the Holy Ghost, who has called and invited and brought you to this point, by means of me His poor creature, but it is His work which has been wrought in you, and not mine; I have been merely His instrument, and served Him therein, and have done so right willingly, for the glory of God and the salvation of your soul.” Then said the Master, “Dear son, may God be thine eternal reward! Since it is so weighty a matter, I will commit myself to God, and bear this suffering as best I may.” The man said, “Dear sir, since you 77are now under the yoke, and have entered on a spiritual life and obedience to God, and have voluntarily devoted yourself thereto, you should know how to live discreetly and wisely, and to govern yourself aright; and do not let it repent you because you are forsaken of the creatures, but if it should happen that you lack money, or have need of some, put a part of your books in pawn, and do not suffer yourself to want for anything, but by no means sell the books, for a time will come when good books will be very useful, and you will have need of them.” Then the man took his leave and departed from that place, but the Master’s eyes filled with tears, and he began to weep.

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