« הקודםהמשך »
God in all things. Whatever is unmeasured, * maketh dissolution of the soul, and negligence concerning the Lord's commands. Neither does he readily call his trespass to mind, and so, forgetting himself, he stirs not himself to penance, and so by little and little he goes from goodness, and he shall not have true compunction of heart where unlawful covetings dwell. But where sorrow shall truly be, the spiritual fire is kindled, which lighteth the inward parts of the soul and showeth to it heavenly things.
Therefore, use thou the fellowship of perfect men, and turn not away thine ears from their words. For the words of men that fear God, are words of life and holiness of soul to them that hear and perceive them. As the sun rising, driveth away the mist, so the teaching of holy men casteth away the darkness from our hearts.
I beseech you, shun proud men, envious men, backbiters, liars, forsworn men, and men despising their salvation, who are dead to virtues, and joy in their own lusts, and want God's joy. I speak not only of those that are in thy house, but wherever thou shalt hear such, shun them, and come thou not with such men if thou canst not dissuade them from their error.
For by one sickly sheep all the flock is defiled, and a little portion of gall turns much sweetness into bitterness. For though a man seem to thee clean in clothing, and noble in bringing forth sweet words, nevertheless if he doeth the contrary works, his feignings hurt more than his figure or his words can please.
And every work that thou thinkest to do, first think thou in God, and examine diligently if that thou thinkest is of God; and if it be rightful before God, perform it, or else cut it away from thy soul. And likewise be aware of each wickedness and sin, in word and deed, in thought, in hands, in feet, in sight, and in hearing, and keep we our body and our soul.
For Jesus Christ our Lord God, the Son of God the Father, that came down from heaven to earth, he was lifted up on the cross, and died for us sinners, to deliver us from the tormenting of the devil. He suffered pain to deliver us from everlasting pain. He suffered death to deliver us from death. He again arose from death, that we should again rise in body and soul in the last day of the great doom. And therefore it is said of the first church, that one heart, one will, and one soul is in them to the Lord. For the charity and love of Christ hath
* Beyond moderation.
joined them in one ; and so must all christian men and women if they will be saved. But fleshly men and women, and lovers of this world, are parted against themselves and separated, moving slanders each to the other, strifes, wraths, chidings, dissensions, manslaughters, forswearings, thefts, rapines, licentiousness, drunkenness, and all things which the world and the flesh loveth; according to what the apostle saith, He that soweth to the flesh shall reap corruption. In such flesh it is that the devil soweth his seed. Our flesh indeed would ever be mighty in malice, but in abstinence and fastings, watchings and prayers, and good works, it feigns itself to be sick. But the flesh coveteth, and it ever showeth evil enticing. The flesh stirreth venomous doings, the flesh calleth for wrath, the flesh stirreth murder, the flesh stirreth adultery, the flesh sitteth in drunkenness, the flesh coveteth all of this world, and the flesh desireth all evils.
Oh, thou wretched flesh! not only thou slayest thyself, but also the soul. Thine own loss suffices thee not, but also thou desirest that thy soul be drowned in hell. Wo to thee, soul, which hast taken the flesh contrary to thee, which neither entereth nor suffereth thee to enter into the kingdom of God. Wherefore, as Christ saith, it behoveth to wake and to pray, Lord, make thou my soul to have glory in thee; that vain glory and boasting come not out of me; but that the bitterness of sin be assuaged.
Also, Lord, give me grace to hold righteousness in all things ; spiritual hardiness and temperance, and make simpleness to be prudent within me, that I lead cleanly blessed life, and prudently flee evil.
And that I may understand the treacherous and deceitful falseness of the devil, lest he beguile me under the likeness of goodness, make me mild, well-willing, peaceable, courteous, and temperate, and to accord goodness without feigning, unto all. And make me stedfast and strong, in wakings, in fastings, in prayers. And also, Lord, give thou to me, to act in mildness, that I be silent in words, that I speak what beseemeth, and that I speak not that which it is not right to speak. Give me grace to keep the faith unspotted without any errors, and that my works henceforth be worthy. All this sentence saith Augustine.
Almighty God saith by holy Job, that all man's life upon earth is fighting, that is battle against spiritual enemies and sin. St. Paul saith, Clothe yourselves in the armour of God, that ye may stiffly stand against temptations and deceits of the fiend. Man's body is as a cloth with which his soul is
and as a horse that bears his master through many perils. And to this horse, that is, man's body, belong many things, if he will bear his master aright out of perils. For no knight can securely fight against his enemy, unless his horse be obedient to him; no more can the soul fight against the wiles of the fiend, if the flesh, which is his horse, live in lusts and likings at his own will.
For holy writ saith, He that nourisheth his servant, that is, his body, delicately or lustfully, shall find him rebel when he least expecteth. As soon as man begins to live wisely, and flees divers lusts and likings, and vanities, which he before used and loved, and bows himself under the yoke of God's holy doctrine, then his enemies begin to contrive by wiles, frauds, and temptations, to make him fall. And therefore it is needful that his horse be meek, and helping his master to overcome his enemies. For if the soul and the body be well agreed together, and either of them helps the other in this spiritual contest, the fiend shall soon flee and be overcome. For holy scripture saith, Withstand ye the fiend, and he shall flee from you.
But it were great folly for any man to fight upon an unbridled horse, and if the horse be wild and ill taught, the bridle must be heavy, and the bit sharp, to hold him again. And if the horse be easy and obedient to his master, his bridle shall be light and smooth also. This bridle is called abstinence, with which the flesh shall be restrained, that he have not all his will, for he is wild and wilful, and loth to bow to goodness. With this bridle his master shall restrain him, to be meek and bow to his will. For if he will fight without a bridle upon him, it is impossible but that he fall.
* The spiritual contest.
But this bridle of abstinence should be led by wisdom, so that nature he holden by strength, and the wildness of the flesh be restrained by this bridle. For else his horse will fail at the greatest need, and harm his master, and make him lose his victory.
This bridle must have two strong reins, by which thou mayest direct thy horse at thy will ; also they must be even, and neither pass the other in length. For if thou drawest one faster than the other, thy horse will glide aside, and go out of his way. Therefore, if thy horse shall hold the even way, it behoves thee to draw the reins of thy bridle even. The one rein of thy bridle is too loose, when thou sufferest thy flesh to have his will too much, in eating and drinking, in speaking, in sleeping, in idle standing or sitting, and vain tale telling, and all other things that the flesh desires beyond measure and reason. The other rein of the bridle is held too strait when thou art too stern against thine own flesh, and withdrawest from it that which reason would that it should have. Whoso straineth either of these reins uneven, will make his horse glide aside and lose his right way. If thou sufferest thy flesh to have its full liking, he that should be thy friend becomes thy decided foe. If thou withholdest therefrom that which it ought to have to sustain its nature, as its need requires, then thou destroyest its strength and its might, so that to help thee as it should it
Therefore sustain thy horse, that he faint not, nor fail at thy need. And withdraw from him that which might turn thee to folly. Yet thy horse needs to have a saddle, to sit upon him
the more stedfastly, and seemly to other men's sight. This saddle is mansuetude* or easiness. That is, whatsoever thou doest, be it done with good consideration ; wisely thinking of the beginning and the ending, and what may fall thereof; and that it be done sweetly and meekly, and with mild semblance. That is, that thou mildly suffer slanders and scorns, and other harms that men do against thee, and neither grieve thyself in word nor in deed. And though thy flesh be aggrieved, keep mildness in heart, and let not any wicked words out of thy mouth or tongue, and then thou shalt be made glad. As the prophet saith, The mild and the meekly suffering shall joy for ever, who do mildly, with easiness and love, whatsoever they do ; that their outward and inward semblance and cheer, be so mild
* Mildness or gentleness.
and lovely in word and deed, that others may be turned to good by their example. This virtue, which is called mansuetude—that is, mildness of heart and of appearancemakes man gracious to God, and seemly to man's sight, as a saddle makes a horse seemly and praiseable.
Two spurs it is needful that thou have to thy horse, and that they be sharp to prick thy horse if needful, that he loiter not in his way; for many horses are slow if they be not spurred. These two spurs are love and dread; which of all things most stir men to the way of heaven. The right spur is the love that God's dear children have for the lasting weal that shall never end. The left spur is dread of the pains of purgatory* and of hell, which are without number, and never may be told out.
With these two, spurs prick thy horse if he be dull and unwilling to stir himself to good. And if the right spur of love be not sharp enough to make him go forward on his journey, prick him with the left spur of dread to rouse him.
Separate thy soul from thy body by inward thought, and send thy heart before, into that other land; and do as a man would do that of two dwelling places must choose one, into which when he had once entered he must dwell world without end. Certainly, if he were wise, he would send before some of his near friends to see what these places
Two places are ordained for man to dwell in after this life. While he is here, he may choose, by God's mercy, which he will; but if he be once gone hence, he may not
For whithersoever he first cometh, whether he like it well or ill, there he must dwell for evermore. He shall never after change his dwelling, though he feel it ever so evil. Heaven and hell are these two places, and in one of them, each man must dwell. In heaven is more joy than may be told with tongue, or thought with heart; and in hell is more pain than any man may suffer. With these two spurs awake thou thy horse, and send thy heart before, as a secret friend, to espy these dwelling places, what they
In hell thou shalt find all that heart may hate, default of all good, plenty of all evil that may grieve any thing in body or in soul. —Hot fire burning, darkness, brimstone most offensive, foul storms and tempests, greedy devils, open mouthed as raging lions, hunger and thirst that never
* It has been already stated that Wickliff's views were not clear on this point. Dr. James has however shown that they widely differed from the opinions of the church of Rome.