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CHAPTER XI: How Men that abide and live in Sin, misshape themselves into the likeness of divers Beasts, and they be called the Lovers of the World

A WRETCHED man is he then that knoweth not the worthiness of his soul, nor will know it, how it is the most worthy creature that ever God made, except an angel, to whom yet it is like; high above all others, the which nothing can satisfy as its full rest, but only God. And therefore should he not love nor like anything, but Him only, nor covet nor seek anything, but how he may be reformed to His image; for he knoweth not this, therefore seeketh he and coveteth his rest and his liking outwardly in bodily creatures that are worse than himself. Unnaturally doth he, and unreasonably, that leaveth the sovereign Good and everlasting Life (which is God) unsought and unloved, unknown and unworshipped, and chooseth his rest and his bliss in the fading delight of an earthly thing. And yet thus do all the lovers of this world, that have their joy and their bliss in this wretched life. Some have it in pride and vain glory of themselves, that when they have lost the fear of God they travail and study night and day how they may come to the worship and praise of the world, and care not by what means they come thereto, and surpass all other men, either in learning or any other skill, in name or in fame, in riches or in respect, in sovereignty and mastership. Some men have their rest in riches, and in outrageous getting of worldly goods, and set their hearts so fully to get them, that they seek nothing else but how they may come thereto. Some have their liking in fleshly lusts of gluttony and lechery, and other bodily uncleanness, and some in one thing, and some in another.

And thus wretchedly these that do thus, misshape themselves from the worthiness of a man, and turn themselves into the likeness of divers beasts. A proud man is turned into a lion, for pride; for he would be feared and worshipped by all, and that none should withstand the fulfilling of his fleshly will, neither in word nor deed. And if any one contradict his proud will, he becometh angry and wroth, and would revenge himself175175    Wroken of him. on him, as a lion wreaketh himself on a little beast. He that doth this is not a man, for he doth unnaturally and unreasonably against the kind of a man, and so is turned and transformed into a lion.

Envious and angry men are turned into hounds, through wrath and envy, that barketh against his neighbour, and biteth him by wicked and malicious words, and with wrongful deeds grieveth them that have not trespassed against him, harming them both in body and soul, contrary to God’s bidding.

Some men are misshapen into asses, that are slow to the service of God, and evil willed to do any good deed to their neighbour. They are ready enough to run for worldly profit, and for earthly honour or for pleasing of earthly man. But for procuring reward in heaven, for helping of their own souls, or for the worship of God, they are soon weary, they have no list thereto; and if they must go about any such thing, they go but slowly and with an unwilling mind.

Some are turned into swine, for they are so blind in their understandings and so brutish in their manners that they have no fear of God, but follow only the lusts and likings of the flesh, and have no regard to the virtues and honesty beseeming the noble nature of man, nor to order themselves according to the rules of right reason, nor to refrain the unreasonable motions of sensual nature, but as soon as a fleshly or sensual motion of sin riseth within them, they are ready to fall down thereto, and follow it as swine.

Some men are turned into wolves, that live by ravening; as bad covetous men do that, through violence or might, rob or deceive their neighbours of their worldly goods; and some are turned into foxes, as false and deceiving people that live in treachery and guile.

All these and many more, that live not in the fear of God, but break His commandments, transform themselves from the likeness of God, and make themselves like beasts, yea and worse than beasts, for they are like to the fiend of hell. And therefore verily these men that live thus, if they be not reformed when the hour of death cometh and their souls part from their bodies then shall their eyes be opened, which are now blinded with sin, and then shall they find and feel the torment of their wretchedness that they lived in here. And, forasmuch as the image of God was not reformed through the Sacrament of Penance in them neither in faith nor feeling here in this life, they shall be cast out from the blessed face of our Creator as cursed, and shall be condemned with the devil into the depth of hell, there to remain for ever. Thus saith St John in the Apocalypse: The fearful and unbelievers, the cursed, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all that love and make a lie, their portion shall be in the pit that burns with fire and brimstone.176176    Apoc. 21. If the lovers of this world would often think of this, how all this world shall pass away, and draw to an end, and how that all wicked love shall be most severely punished, they would in a short time loathe all worldly lusts which they now take most delight in, and would lift up their hearts to love God, and would carefully seek and labour how they might be reformed to His likeness ere they pass hence.

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