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OF VIRTUOUS PATIENCE.
He that is truly fed with the bread that came down from heaven, boweth not his love to those things to which the fiend enticeth. Temptations are overcome by patience and meek suffering. What is patience ?ma glad and willing suffering of troubles. He that is patient, murmurs not at adversity, but rather, at all times, praises God with the prophet.
Evil men always grudge in adversities, and flee them as much as they may. For while they are unmeasurably given to visible things, they are deprived from true hope of everlasting things. They find solace or comfort only in earthly goods, for they have lost the savour of heavenly things. There is no soul of man in this world which cleaveth not either to the Creator or the creature.
If he love the creature he loseth God, and goeth to death with that which he loveth. Such love in the beginning is travail and folly, in the middle it is languor and wretchedness, and in the end it is hate and pain. He that truly loveth his Maker, refuses in will and liking all things that are in the world. He hath sweetness to speak of him and with him; to think upon his Maker is refreshing to him. He closes his outer senses lest death enter in by the windows, lest he be occupied unprofitably with any vanity. Sometimes there are reared against him despisings, reproofs, scorns, and slanders. Therefore it is needful that he take the shield of patience, and be ready to forget and to forgive all wrongs, and to pray for the turning to good of them that hate him and hurt him. No man is showed to himself whether he be strong or feeble, unless he be tempted when he is at peace. Many men seem to be patient when they are not impugned, but when a light blast, I say not of injustice, but of correction, touches them, their mind presently turns into bitterness and wrath, and if they hear one word against their will, they yield two more sternly again. Into their council come not, O my soul ! The darts of the enemy are to be quenched with the meekness and sweetness of the love of Christ. Give not way to
temptation, be it ever so grievous. For the greater the battle the more glorious the victory, and the higher the
Blessed is the man that suffereth temptation, for when he is proved to be true, he shall take a crown of life. Flee as much as thou canst the praising of men. Despise favour, worship, and all vain glory, and gladly sustain or suffer enmities, hates, backbitings, or reproofs. And so by evil fame, and by good praise ; by tribulations and gladnesses, cease thou not to press forward to heavenly kingdoms.
When thou art tempted or troubled, think upon the remedy that our Saviour saith in his gospel, Watch ye and pray ye, that ye enter not into temptation. He saith not, Pray ye that ye be not tempted. For it is good and profitable to good men to be tempted and troubled, as is shown by what the prophet saith, To him that is tempted and troubled, God saith, I am with him in tribulation; I shall deliver him, and shall glorify him. Let no man think himself to be holy because he is not tempted, for the holiest and highest in life have the most temptations. How much the higher a hill is, so much is the wind there greater ; so, how much higher the life is, so much stronger is the temptation of the enemy. God playeth with his child when he suffereth him to be tempted, as a mother rises from her much beloved child, and hides herself, and leaves him alone, and suffers him to cry, Mother, mother, so that he looks about, cries and
weeps for a time, and at last when the child is ready to be overset with troubles and weeping, she comes again, clasps him in her arms, and kisses him, and wipes away the tears. So our Lord suffereth his loved child to be tempted and troubled for a time, and withdraweth some of his solace and full pro tection, to see what his child will do; and when he is about to be overcome by temptations, then he defendeth him, and comforteth him with his grace. And therefore, when we are tempted, let us cry for the help of our Father, as a child cries after the comfort of its mother. For whoso prayeth devoutly, shall have help oft to pray, and profits much to establish the heart in God, and suffers it not to bow about, now into this, and now into that. The fiend is overcome by busy and devout prayer, and becomes as feeble and without strength to them that are strong and persevering in devout prayers. Devout prayer of a holy soul, is as sweet incense which driveth away all evil savours, and encers up by odour of sweetness into the presence of God.
CHARTER OF OUR HEAVENLY HERITAGE.
Every wise man that claims his heritage, asks great pardon, keeps busily, and oft has mind upon the charter of his challenge.* Therefore, let each man learn to live virtuously, and keep, and have mind upon the charter of heaven's bliss, and study stedfastly the meaning of this decree, for the pardon thereof shall endure without end.
Understand well that the charter of this heritage, and the bullt of this everlasting pardon, is our Lord Jesus Christ, written with all the might and virtue of God.
The parchment of this heavenly charter is neither of sheep nor of calf, but it is of the body of our Lord Jesus, a lamb that never was spotted with spot of sin. And there never was skin of sheep or of calf so sorely and so hard strained upon the tenter or harrow of any parchment maker, as the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ, for our love, was strained and drawn upon the cross. No man ever heard from the beginning of the world until now, nor shall hear from hence to doomsday, that a writer ever wrote upon sheep skin or upon calf-skin, with such hard and hideous pens, so bitterly, so sorely, and so deeply, as the accursed Jews wrote upon the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ, with hard nails, sharp spear, and sore pricking thorns, instead of their pens. They wrote so sorely and so deep, that they pierced his hands and feet with hard nails. They opened his heart with a sharp spear. They pressed upon his head a crown of sharp thorns. The wounds upon that blessed body are the letters with which our charter was written, by which we may claim our heritage, if we live rightly, and keep the charter stedfastly in mind.
The sentence and understanding written within and without this blessed charter, and body of Jesus Christ, is our belief. For he is the coffer, in whom is inclosed and locked all this treasure of knowledge, and wisdom of God.
Upon this blessod charter was written wailing, or mourning, and sorwhich to be healed and washed away, Christ, God and man, must suffer such hard and painful wounds. Upon Christ's body, that is oui heavenly charter, was written joy and singing, to all those that perfectly forsake their sins. For they have full medicine and help, by virtue of the bitter wounds and precious blood of Jesus. And upon the wounds of Jesus, may be read sorrow to all them that for false liking, and lust which endureth but a while, bind themselves to sin and serving of the fiend, and lose the help of the heavenly charter, and so lose their heritage, and go blindly to sorrow that endureth for ever.
Wailing or mourning for sorrow of our sins—for the * The title to what he claims. + The infallible decree.
The laces* of this leavenly charter are the promises of God; and that God may not lie, for he is sovereign truth. The first, is his promise, that what day or hour a sinful man or woman leave their sin, wholly, and heartily, with bitter sorrow, and turn them to him, he shall receive them to his mercy. But let each man beware that he tarry not too long, lest for his unkindness, grace be taken from him. The second, is the full trust we have that God may not lie, neither be false of his promise. And herein depends surely our trust of our heritage. By these two hang the seal of our charter, sealed with the blood of the Lamb, even Christ. That is Christ's flesh taken of the virgin Mary, more marvellously, than ever any bee engendered the wax of flowers of the field.
The print of this seal is the form of our Lord Jesus hanging for our sin on the cross. He hath his head bowed down, ready to kiss all those that truly turn to him. He hath his arms spread abroad, ready to embrace them. He is nailed fast, hand and foot, to the cross, for he will dwell with them, and never go away from man, but man forsook him first through sin. He hath all his body spread abroad, to give himself wholly to us, cleaving to him, and he hath his side opened, and his heart cloven for our sake, so that without hinderance we may creep into Christ's heart, and rest there by stedfast belief and hearty love.
This charter no fire can burn, nor water drown, nor thief rob, nor any creature destroy. For this scripture the Father of heaven hath hallowed or made stedfast, and sent it into the world, which scripture may not be undone, as the gospel witnesses. This scripture is OUR LORD JESUS Christ, the charter of our heritage of heaven. Lock not
* The strings by which the seal is appended to a charter.
this charter in thy coffer, but set it, or write it in thine heart, and none of the creatures, either in heaven, or on earth, or in hell, can steal it, or bereave it from thee; but if thou govern thyself from assenting to sin, and keepest well this charter in the coffer of thine heart with good living and devout love, lasting to thine end—as trustily and truly as he is true God, by virtue of this charter, thou shalt have thine heritage of bliss, enduring without end.
Therefore, haste we to repentance, as Augustine bids, and let the last day be often before our eyes.
Refrain we our bodies from vices and evil covetings, and ever let our heart think heavenly things, that when we shall come thither we may fully use heavenly goods. For why? We believe that when our soul shall be unknit from the bond of flesh, if we have lived well and rightly before God, the companies of angels shall bring us to worship the true Doomsman.
If we live, as I said, and do those things that are pleasing to God, then peace shall be our compasst and security. Then we shall not dread the fiery darts of the devil, nor any manner of enemy that desires to hurt our souls. The flesh shall no more be adversary to the spirit, nor shall we dread any perils. Then the Holy Ghost shall give to us a dwelling in heavenly things, and we, glad and joyful, shall abide the day of doom to come, in which the souls of all men shall receive for their deeds. Then sinners and unpiteous men shall perish. Ravenous and greedy men, proud men and adulterers, wrathful and covetous men, cursers and forsworn men, in vain shall weep most bitterly, and shall no get forgiveness of their evils, who left not their sins with bitter sorrow in their life. In most wailing shall they behold, who serve unlawful lusts of their flesh. And they shall be in mourning and everlasting sorrow who served vices and unreasonable desires. And when all these shall deserve to be sentenced to the fire of hell for their sins and their great trespasses, so, if we please God while we are here in body, we shall have everlasting reward with saints. Therefore let us despise all things that are vain and failing, that we may receive great glory of Christ, doing mercy. Therefore turn we away from vices and go we to virtues, nor let superfluous words come out of our mouths, for we shall yield reckoning for idle words in the day of doom. Neither accustom we our tongues to curse any man; which tongues are formed to bless and praise * Judge.
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