HOW JOY OF INWARD SWEETNESS RISETH IN THE AFFECTION
THUS when the enemy fleeth and the city is peased, then beginneth a man to prove what the high peace of God
is that passeth man's wit. And therefore it is that Leah left
bearing of children unto this time that Gad and Asher were born of Zilpah, her
maiden. For truly, but if it be so that a man have refrained the lust and the
pain of his five wits in his sensuality by abstinence and patience, he shall
never feel inward sweetness and true joy in God and ghostly things in the
affection. This is that Issachar, the fifth son of Leah, the which in the story
is cleped "Meed." [And well is this joy of
inward sweetness cleped "meed"]; for this
joy is the taste of heavenly bliss, the which is the endless meed of a devout
soul, beginning here. Leah, in the birth of this child, said: "God hath given
me meed, for that I have given my maiden to my husband in bearing of
children." And so it is good that we make
our sensuality bear fruit in abstaining it from all manner of fleshly, kindly,
and worldly delight, and in fruitful suffering of all fleshly and worldly
disease; therefore our Lord of His great mercy giveth us joy unspeakable and
inward sweetness in our affection, in earnest of the sovereign joy and meed of the kingdom of heaven.
Jacob said of Issachar that he was "a strong ass dwelling between the terms." And so it is that a man in this
state, and that feeleth the earnest of everlasting joy in his affection, is as
"an ass, strong and dwelling between the terms"; because that, be he never so
filled in soul of ghostly gladness and joy in God, yet, for corruption of the
flesh in this deadly life, him behoveth bear the charge of the deadly body, as
hunger, thirst, and cold, sleep, and many other diseases; for the which he is
likened to an ass as in body; but as in soul he is strong for to destroy all
the passions and the lusts of the flesh by patience and abstinence in the
sensuality, and by abundance of ghostly joy and sweetness in the affection. And
also a soul in this state is dwelling between the terms of deadly life and
undeadly life. He that dwelleth between the terms hath nearhand forsaken
deadliness, but not fully, and hath nearhand gotten undeadliness, but not
fully; for whiles that him needeth the goods of this world, as meat and drink
and clothing, as it falleth to each man that liveth, yet his one foot is in
this deadly life; and for great abundance of ghostly joy and sweetness that he
feeleth in God, not seldom but oft, he hath his other foot in the undeadly
life. Thus I trow that saint Paul felt, when he said this word of great desire:
"Who shall deliver me from this deadly body?" And when he said thus: "I covet to be loosed and to be
with Christ." And thus doth the soul that
feeleth Issachar in his affection, that is to say, the joy of inward sweetness, the which is understanden by Issachar. It enforceth it to
forsake this wretched life, but it may not; it coveteth to enter the blessed
life, but it may not; it doth that it may, and yet it dwelleth between the
 Pacified. Harl. MS. 1022, ed. Horstman,
reads: "the cite of conscience is made pesebule."
 So Harl. MS. 674; omitted in Harl, MS.
1022 and by Pepwell.
 Gen. xxx. 18.
 The MSS. read: "erles."
 Gen. xlix, 14: "Issachar asinus fortis
accubans interterminos" (Vulgate).
 Rom. vii. 24.
 Phil. i. 23.