Translated from the text of MS Oxf.Bodl.Laud Misc.210

Conditions of use. Anyone may download or print out this document for personal use, or may link to this document on the University of Michigan web server. No one may post this document on another server without permission of the translator, or distribute it in print form without the permission of the translator and Cornell University Press. Distribution of this translation in print form (aside from fair use) is governed through April 2004 by an exclusive license to portions thereof held by Cornell University Press, who publish it in the anthology Cultures of Piety (1999).

Soul Life

To Live in Soul is to Live Forever

[f.114r] Q: "Friend in Christ, as Saint Paul says, 'we have no lasting city here, but seek one that is to come hereafter.' {He 13.14} And therefore I am persuaded that we should be yearning for it all the length of our life, with all our power, since we can have no rest and no stability except there. Unfortunately, I do not rightly know the way toward this place. And therefore I ask you to tell me the way toward this place."

A: "Dear friend, our Lord and our Master Jesus Christ said to his disciples that he himself is 'the way' toward heaven, and he is 'the truth' that leads us surely on our way, 'and' he is 'the life' that makes us alive in soul while we are in this world. {Jn 14.6} And after this life he will bring us to a joyous life that shall last forever, both in body and in soul."

The Life of Soul Begins with Faith

Q: "Friend, before you proceed further, I ask you, what is this 'life of soul'? And tell me, do all men have this life?"

A: "Sir, a man is made for two kinds of life: the first life is the life of the body, and this life is possessed by both good men and wicked; the second life is of the soul, and that [life] is to live without sin. Of this life Christ speaks in the gospel where he says: 'Unless a man be born again, he may not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'" {Jn 3.3}

"The first birth of a man takes place when he is born into bodily life from his mother's womb. But he is born again of water [f.114v] and of the Holy Spirit into a life of soul, and that birth takes place when a child or a man is baptized and accepts the faith of Christian men, and renounces the devil and his works, that is, sins. And mankind lacked this life of soul from the time that Adam had sinned in Paradise until the coming of Christ. For as Saint Paul says, 'death reigned from Adam to Moses,' {Ro 5.14} and sin reigned from Moses until the time of the grace that was given by Christ. Not all the righteousness of all the old law, nor the sacrifices that were performed for men's sin, nor the preaching or prayer of prophets or priests could make mankind clean of sin."

"And therefore our Father sent his own Son down from heaven into the world to fulfill the law and the prophets, and so he did. For whereas a man could not be justified of his sin by either the law or the prophets, he of his grace, and not of our righteousness nor of our merit, forgave all men their sins who believed in him, and brought them from the death of sin to the life of soul."

"For as Christ says, 'Whoever believes in me, though he be dead, he shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me, he shall never die.' {Jn 11.25-26} And whoever has this life of soul while he is in this world, he shall come after he is dead to an endless life of bliss both in body and in soul. And Saint Paul says, 'all the discomforts that we may suffer in this present time are not worth comparing to the bliss that is to come hereafter and shall be revealed in us.' {Ro 8.18} And therefore, he says, 'neither death, nor life, nor angels [MS: angers],' [f.115r] nor 'tribulations,' 'nor anything present,' nor past, 'nor that is to come here after, may separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus.'" {Ro 8.38-39}

Q: "Friend, as it seems to me, this life of soul that consists of the forsaking of sin is the right path to heaven, but we are too irresolute and too foolish to be able to go by this path, and we have strong temptations and strong enemies, such as the devil and the world and our own flesh that constantly tempts us to sin. And therefore we must cast ourselves wholly on the mercy of God, and though we may not live as perfectly as he taught us and as he lived himself, we hope to be saved, for he says himself 'Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved.'" {Mk 16.16}

The Life of Soul Consists of Good Works

A: "Sir, in some respects you speak quite truly, but not all is as true as you hope in what you say. True it is that the right way to heaven is the forsaking of sin, and there comes no man to heaven except he go by this path; and the forsaking of sin is no more than the keeping of God's commands and of his words and the renouncing of all those things that God forbids. And true it is that this is a hard way and a narrow, for as Christ says, 'it is a strait way that leads a man to the life of heaven, and few there be that find that way; and a broad way it is that leads a man to perdition and to death, and very many there be that find this way.' {Mt 7.13-14} True it is also that we are irresolute and foolish, and that we have strong enemies and strong temptations also. But it is certain that if we desire wisdom from God and resolve to resist sin, God will grant us what we ask for, so long as we ask in faith. For Christ says, 'you that are wicked and evil will give your children good things when they ask you for them, and much more will your heavenly Father give [f.115v] them a good Spirit who request it of him.' {Lk 11.13} And therefore, he says, 'seek and you shall find, ask and you shall receive, knock at the door and I shall open it to you.' {Lk 11.9} And Saint James says, "whoever wants wisdom, let him ask it of God who gives to all men abundantly and reproaches no man about what he shall give him; but let him ask in faith and have no doubt, for he that doubts in his request is like the current of the sea that is moved and borne about by the wind. And therefore let not such a man suppose that he shall receive anything from God.' {Jas 1.5-8} And he says, 'that man is blessed who endures temptation, for when he is proved he shall receive a crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. Let no man when he is tempted say that he is tempted by God, for he is no tempter to evil nor does he tempt any man, but every man is tempted by his own desire. And when that desire has conceived, it brings forth sin, and when the sin is brought to maturity, it engenders death.'" {Jas 1.5-8}

"From these words, sir, you may see then that it is nothing but our fault that we have no wisdom and no resolve to resist our temptations; and though we may have strong enemies and great temptations, it is nothing but our own unkindness and wickedness that we fall into sin. For God allows no man to be tempted in excess of his strength, and not all the devils in hell, nor all the power of the world, nor of man's flesh, may make a man or a woman break God's commands against his will. For God has given a man a free will, and has set before him both good and evil, life and death, blessing and cursing. [f.116r] And a man may choose which of these he will take. And if a man is obedient to his God and keeps his commands, then he chooses good, life, and blessing; and if he forsakes the commands of God, then he chooses evil and death and the curse of God. As Moses says in the first book of the Old Law, and David says in the Psalter, 'all these are accursed that fall away from thy commandments.' Hence it is but our own folly and our own unkindness that we fall into sin."

"True it is also that we must all cast ourselves on the mercy of God, and not demand heaven through justice, justifying ourselves before God. For David says in the Psalter, 'no living man shall be justified in thy sight.' {Ps 142.2 Vulg.} But nevertheless, let no man hope to come to heaven unless he renounce sin, neither for the faith that he has in Christ, nor for the great mercy of God. For as Saint James says, "The devils in hell believe and tremble.' {Jas 2.19} And he says, 'just as a body is dead without spirit, so faith and belief are dead without good works.' {Jas 2.26} And Saint John says, 'whoever says that he knows God and does not keep his commands, he is a liar.' {1 Jn 2.4} And Christ says, 'why do you call me, "Lord, Lord," and fail to do the things that I say?' {Lk 6.46} And he says also, 'all those that say to me "Lord, Lord" shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father that is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And he says also that 'in that day many shall come and say, "Lord, Lord, have we not cast devils out of men in thy name? and have we not prophesied in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?"' and Christ says that he will then say to them, '"I never knew you. Go away from me, all you who work wickedness."' {Mt 7.21-23} And Christ says also that the Son of Man will [f.116v] come and judge every man in accordance with his works, and those who have lived well shall come to the bliss of heaven; and the others who have led their lives in sin shall go to the everlasting pains of hell that are ordained for the devil and his servants."

"And, good sir, what shall Christ's passion or the shedding of his blood--in the which blood you are baptized and cleansed of your sin--profit you unless you renounce your sin and keep God's commands? Indeed, Saint Peter says: 'it were better for a man that he knew not the way of truth than that after knowing it he returned to sin.' For as he says, 'such men are like swine that when they are clean they go into a slough and make themselves filthier than they were before.' And he says also that they 'are like dogs that vomit up the food that they have eaten and then turn around and eat what they vomited.' {2 Pe 2.21-22} And on account of these foul habits of swine and dogs, Christ said to his disciples: 'Do not give holy things to dogs, nor cast pearls before swine, lest they befoul them with their feet and the dogs turn and rip you apart.'" {Mt 7.6}

Baptized Infants: Can they be Saved Without Good Works?

Q: "Friend, now I see that the right way to heaven is the life of soul, consisting of forsaking sins and keeping God's commands. And I see well that every man may renounce sin if he himself will. And I see well that no man shall be saved unless he renounce his sin, neither on the basis of the great mercy of God, nor on the basis of the faith that a man has in God, nor on account of his baptism, but only if he has good works to his credit."

"But friend, how shall young children be saved who are baptized and then die before they reach the age to understand God's commands?"

A: "Sir, you know well that when [f.117r] a child is baptized, he receives his faith by intermediaries. For at that time he has neither awareness of what his belief is, nor capacity to declare what his belief is. And just as he receives his faith by intermediaries, so also by those same mediaries he forsakes the devil and all his works, and promises to be obedient to God to keep his commands. And so the child is saved through the faith that he receives and through the covenant that he makes by these intermediaries."

Adults must Perform Good Works to Live in Soul

"But indeed, a man or woman of maturity shall not be saved, unless he does the works of his faith. That is to say, keep God's commands and renounce sin. For as Saint Paul says, 'all of us who are baptized into Jesus Christ are baptized into his death, and we are buried with him into death, so that as Christ rose from death to live by the glory of his Father, even so we walk in a new manner of life.' {Ro 6.3-4} And therefore he says: 'Know well that our old man is crucified, that the body of sin is destroyed, that we are slaves no longer to sin.' {Ro 6.6} And therefore he says: 'Believe that you are dead to sin but you are alive to God in our Lord Jesus Christ. And therefore let no sin reign in your mortal body, so that you are obedient to its desires. And give not your members to sin to be weaponry of wickedness, but make them over to God as weaponry of righteousness, for sin shall no longer have dominion over you.'" {Ro 6.11-13}

"And Saint Peter says: 'Just as in Noah's time a few souls (viz. eight) were saved by water, so also baptism makes us saved now, not as the removal of the filth from our flesh, but as the seeking of a good conscience in God by the resurrection from death to life of our Lord Jesus Christ.' {1 Pe 3.20-21} And therefore he says, 'since [f.117v] Christ has suffered in the flesh, be armed in the same thought: for he who suffered in the flesh forsook sin, so that the remnant that live afterwards in the flesh would not live for the desires of men, but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices to make an end of the wills of misbelieving men, who have walked in their lecheries and in eatings and in drinkings out of measure, and in illicit worship of idols.' {1 Pe 4.1-3} And when Saint John [the Baptist A] baptized men, he said '"I baptize you in water for repentance; but he that is coming after me is stronger than I am, and I am not worthy to carry his shoes, he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire."' {Mt 3.11 / Lk 3.16} And in this baptism, Christ baptized his disciples when he sent the Holy Spirit among them to be their comforter. And then they directed so ardent a love toward God that it was a solace and a mirth to them to suffer tribulation and persecution for love of their God. And this love is a fire to test which are God's true children. Of this fire Christ says, 'I come to send a fire onto the earth, and what do I wish but that it be kindled!'" {Lk 12.49}

"Here, sir, you may see two baptisms that Christian men receive: one is in water of faith--that they believe in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit--the which faith washes our soul of our uncleanness of sin just as bodily water washes our body of bodily uncleanness; the second baptism is in the Holy Spirit and in fire, when a man directs so ardent a love toward God that he will not displease him for anything, but will gladly suffer a great discomfort in order to fulfill his will. And in token of these two baptisms, children are christened in water and then confirmed by [f.118r] the bishop. And unfortunately, men attend more carefully to these outward actions than to the baptisms of their souls, but they may be very sure that unless they are firm in soul in their faith, and have such a burning love for God that they will not on any account perform works of sin, for all their outward bodily actions, they shall not come to heaven (if they come to maturity, so as to know both good and evil)."

"And how may we say that we dwell in Christ, and that we are branches that spring from him who is a true vine, unless we forsake sin and keep God's commandments? {Jn 15.5, 1 Jn 2.3} Saint John says, 'whoever says that he abides in Christ, he must walk as he walked,' {1 Jn 2.6} and then he is a good branch that bears much good fruit of good works, and then he shall have heaven for his reward. And 'if we bear no good fruit, the heavenly Father will prune us away from the vine, and then we shall wither and be cast into the fire to burn.'" {Jn 15.6}

What Food Nourishes the Life of Soul?

Q. "Friend, now I see that there is no other way to heaven except the life of soul and the forsaking of sin and keeping of God's commandments. But friend, as we know well, every living thing has some sustenance, such as food and drink, that keeps them alive. And since we have life of soul, I ask you, what is the food, and what is the drink, that causes our soul to live?"

The Risk of Knowing without Partaking

A. "Sir, now you are asking about a great matter, and I would dearly like to tell you what you ask if God gives me grace. And I hoped that you would adopt this life when you understood it and the nourishment that sustains it. But sir, more's the pity, I see very few who act according to Christ's teaching and his words, though they see them written or hear them spoken. And nevertheless, [f.118v] in his words is the life of our soul. For as he says, 'the words that I have spoken are spirit and life.' {Jn 6.64 Vulg.} And he says also, 'he that keeps my word shall never die.' {Jn 8.51} And he says moreover, 'I speak and I work as I have a bidding and a command from my Father, and I know well that his commandment is everlasting life.' {Jn 12.49-50} And unless a man or a woman will obey Christ's words when he hears them, it were better for him not to know them. For as Christ says, 'the servant that is ignorant of his master's will and acts against it shall receive a few strokes; but he that knows the will of his master and acts against it shall receive many strokes and beatings.' {Lk 12.47-48} He said also to the Jews on an occasion when he had caused a blind man to see, 'if you were blind, you would have no sin; but because you say that you see, your sin still remains in you.' {Jn 9.41} And he says also, 'if I had not come and I had not spoken to them, they would have had no guilt; but now they have no excuse for their sin.' {Jn 15.22} And he said furthermore, 'the more that is given to a man, the more shall be required of him.' {Lk 12.48} And therefore, sir, unless you were willing to fulfill Christ's teachings in your life when you knew what they were, there would be little profit for me to write more fully to you of the life of soul and its sustenance than I do. And great harm it would cause you, and an increase in your pain in the time that is to come, and an offence to your brethren if they saw that you knew Christ's teaching but did not live in accord with it."

"And Christ utters a very hard saying: 'Woe to that man by whom offense comes; it would have been good for him if he had not been born. And whoever it may be that offends one of these little children that believes in me, it would be preferable for [f.119r] him if a millstone were hung about his neck and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.' {Lk 17.1-2 + Mt 18.7} And therefore he says, 'see that you do not despise any of these small children. For I tell you for certain, their angels look ever upon the face of my Father.' {Mt 18.10} And indeed, the most perilous offense is to provide young innocents with an example of sin. And the more good that a man knows, if his life is sinful, the more perilous is his offense. And indeed, it would be better for a man to lose any member of his body than to offend thus his brethren or himself through sin. For as Christ says, 'if your foot or your hand offend you, cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is better to enter into life infirm or lame than to have two feet or two hands and be cast into the fire of hell. And if your eye should offend you, put it out and throw it away from you, for it is better to enter into life with one eye than to have two eyes and be sent into the fire of hell.' {Mt 18.8-9}

"And therefore, sir, confess your faith in our Lord and in our God, Jesus Christ, and do as he has bidden you do and forsake sin, and then you will have the life of soul and its sustenance. For faith in Christ is our bread and meat for our soul, and the keeping of his teaching is the drink of our soul, for it is both water and bread [?read: blood]."

Q. "Friend, the answer you gave to my question is very short and also very obscure to me. And therefore I ask you to give me a clearer answer. My hope is that when I know Christ's teaching I will live in accord with it, for otherwise I would not have striven to learn what it was! And friend, think how Christ says, 'whoever simply gives a [cup] of water to one of the least, in the name [f.119v] of a disciple, he shall not lose his reward.' {Mt 10.42} And friend, I pray you in Christ's own name that you give me some water of Christ's own wisdom to cool the thirst of my soul, that you might have reward for your gift, and profit too. And though you may own nothing of what I ask for, consider that Christ says, 'the unprofitable servant' who lived in sloth 'shall be thrown into darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,' {Mt 25.30} inasmuch as he had his lord's treasure in his keeping and hid it under the earth and would not buy and sell to increase his lord's goods. Think also how Christ says, 'if anyone asks anything of you, give it to him, and do not turn away from him that wishes to borrow from you.' {Mt 5.42} Consider also how he will at the day of judgment condemn those men to hell forever who have not done to him the works of love and mercy. That is to say, those who did not feed him when he was hungry, nor ever gave him anything to drink when he was thirsty, nor clothed him when they saw him naked, nor lodged him when he lacked a house, nor visited him when he was sick or in prison. {Mt 25.41-46} And since my soul is hungry for food and thirsty for drink and naked for want of virtues, and I have no strong house to protect me from the storms of the devil's temptations, and I am sick and in prison on account of the sin that I have committed previously, I pray you that you write to me more plainly about the sustenance of my soul wherewith to satisfy the hunger and the thirst of my soul, and tell me plainly the virtues that Christ teaches wherewith to clothe my soul that I may not be naked at the coming of my lord but well clothed in my wedding garment."

The Food that Nourishes the Life of the Soul

"And speak to me plainly in words, that I may fulfill them in deeds, in order that I may build for myself a house on a foundation of stone to withstand winds and rains and the other storms of the devil's temptations. {Mt 7.24-25} [f.120r] And write to me plainly the teaching of Christ, that I may be healed thereby of the sickness of my soul, and that I may be comforted thereby while I am in the prison of this world and in a strange land as a pilgrim far from my own country. And since my soul is dark through ignorance--for I do not know perfectly the light of Christ's words--I pray that you will write them openly and not hide them from me. For 'there is no man that lights a candle and sets it under a bushel basket, but upon a candlestick so that it gives light to all who are in the house.' {Mt 5.15} And 'God's word is a light for our feet and for the paths that we walk in,' {Ps 118.105 Vulg.} as David says in the Psalter. And therefore do not hide from me but tell me openly what I asked earlier: what is the nourishment of our soul?"

A: "Sir, Christ says, 'Father, I confess to you that you have hidden these things from wise men and prudent and have revealed them to little children.' {Mt 11.25 / Lk 10.21} And thus Christ said to his disciples, 'it is granted to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to other men it is [not] granted. For to him that has, it shall be given, and he that has nothing, even that which he seems to have shall be taken away from him. And therefore I speak to other men in parables (that is, obscure utterances), for they see yet see not, [hear H] yet hear not, neither do they understand, in order that the prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled, which declares thus: "You shall hear with hearkening ears and you shall not understand, you shall behold and not see, for the heart of this people has become fat, and they have ill heard with their ears and they have closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes and and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, so that they repent and so that I make them well of their sickness." But blessed be [f.120v] [...] your eyes that see and your ears that hear. For truly I say to you, there have been many prophets and righteous men who have longed to see the things that you see and they did not see them, and to hear what you hear, and they did not hear them.' {Mt 13.11-17} And sir, since God of his goodness has given some knowlege of his words, pray to him faithfully that he give you more knowledge, and I will endeavor through the grace of God to let you know what you asked about earlier."

Christ is the Bread of Life Received by Faith

In His Divinity

"You should understand, sir, that Christ is in two ways the nourishment of our soul through our faith that we place in him. In one way, he is a 'bread from heaven' for the sustenance of our soul. For as he said to the Jews, 'Moses did not give you bread of heaven, but my Father gives you true bread of heaven. For that is the true bread of God that came down from heaven and gives life to the world.' {Jn 6.32-33} And afterward he said to them, 'truly I say to you, he that believes in me has an everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the food of angels in the wilderness, and they are dead. This is a bread that came down from heaven so that whoever eats this bread never dies thereafter. I am a living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread shall live forever.'" {Jn 6.47-51}

"In this way, Christ is the bread of heaven and the nourishment of our soul as regards his godhood. For inasmuch as he is the bread that came down from heaven, he shows that he is true God. And this is a principal tenet of our belief. And whoever believes this, he eats this bread of heaven to the sustenance of his soul."

The Creed

"And as regarding the godhood of Christ that came down from heaven, there are other tenets that every Christian man must necessari[f.121r]ly believe. One is that we must believe in his Father that sent him down from heaven to earth by the assent of the Holy Spirit who is the third person of the Godhead. And we must believe that these three persons of the blessed Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, are one God and not many gods. Nevertheless, no one of them is the other, for the Father is neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit; nor is the Son either the Father or the Holy Spirit; nor is the Holy Spirit either the Father or the Son. We must believe also that these three Persons are infinitely mighty and all one might; infinitely good and all one goodness; and infinitely true and infinitely wise and infinitely beautiful and infinitely loving and infinitely just and infinitely merciful; and they are all one truth and one wisdom, one beauty, one love, one justice, and one mercy. And these three Persons were without beginning before they made the world from nothing. And before the world was made, they existed in an eternal bliss, and in that bliss they exist now, and shall exist in the same bliss hereafter, world without end. All this we must believe concerning the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the true bread of heaven and nourishment of our soul that believes in him."

In His Humanity

"And in a second way he is the nourishment of our soul: inasmuch as he is man. For he says, 'the bread that I will give is my own flesh for the life of the world.' {Jn 6.51} And he said to the Jews, 'truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you shall have no life in you. And whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, he shall have an everlasting life, and I shall raise him up from death to life at the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. And whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. And just as my [f.121v] living Father sent me and I live for him, so also whoever eats me shall live for me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your forefathers, who ate angels' food in the wilderness and are dead, whoever eats of this bread shall live forevermore.' {Jn 6.53-58} In this way, Christ is food and feeds our soul that believes him to be true man."

The Creed

"We must also believe many things as regards his humanity. One is that he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and not of human seed, and that he was born of the virgin Mary without loss of her virginity. We must believe also that he suffered his Passion under Pilate of Pounce, and was hanged on a cross, and was dead and buried, and went down to hell, and the third day arose from death to life. And we must believe that he ascended to heaven, and there he sits on the right hand of his Father, and from thence he shall come to judge both the living and the dead according to their works. And we should believe also that Christ through his death obtained for us forgiveness of our sins, and he himself forgave us our sins. And we must believe that we shall rise up from death to life both in body and in soul. And if we lived well, we shall come to an everlasting life of bliss both in body and in soul, and there our soul shall enjoy its bliss in the divinity of Christ and our body in his humanity. And thus Christ, who is true God and true man, is both bread and meat for the sustenance of our soul that believes thus in him. And so that we should remember and not forget this life of our soul nor its nourishment, on Maundy Thursday at night, when he was about to pass out of this world to his Father, as he and his disciples were eating supper, he took bread and blessed it and broke it and said, 'take this and eat this; this is my body that shall be taken for you. Do [f.122r] this in remembrance of me.'" {1 Cor 11.24 Vulg.}

God's Words are Drink for the Soul

"And thus, sir, every Christian man who believes that Christ is true God, eats every day the bread of heaven; and in that he believes that Christ is true man, he eats every day his flesh and his body. And this bread and this flesh is the food of our soul. But our [soul] is not [nourished] only by this bread. For as Christ says, 'a man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.' {Mt 4.4} And that word is the drink of our soul. And what kind of drink? Surely, clear water of heavenly wisdom. Christ spoke about this water one time to the woman of Samaria. For he said to that woman, 'if you knew the gift of God, and who he is that says to you, "Give me a drink," you might have asked of him and he would have given you the living water.' And then the woman said, 'you have no vessel with which to draw up the water, and the well is deep. From where, then, do you have living water? Are you greater than Jacob our forefather, who drank at this well, along with his children and animals?' And Christ said, 'every man that drinks of this water shall be thirsty again after a while, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give, he shall never thirst. For the water that I will give shall become a spring in him, that shall be leaping up into eternal life.'" {Jn 4.10-14}

The Two Words of Love

"Of this same water all men drink who keep Christ's words as he taught them. And these words are the two words of love that encompass all the ten commandments. The first of these words is the first and the greatest commandment of God's law, and that is: 'Thou shalt love thy Lord God above all other things.' {Cp. Mk 12.30 / Mt 22.37 / Lk 10.27} For Christ says that whoever loves father or mother, brother or sister, wife or child above him, he is not worthy of him. 'And whoever does not hate his own life for my sake, he is not worthy of me.'" {Lk 14.26 + Mt 10.37}

Love of God Fulfills Commandments 1-3 of the Ten

"And whoever loves God in this way, [f.122v] he keeps the first three of the ten commandments. For he will not then worship any God but one, and he will keep holy his holy day. For every day he will live holy, without sin, and so make holy not only the seventh day but every day of the week. And certainly every day that a man lives in sin is the devil's workday. For every day that a man does the devil's works, he serves the devil and not God, though he sing or read holy words. 'For no man may serve two lords at once.' {Mt 6.24} And God's service is doing good works and refraining from sin. And this is holy-day-living that every man enjoys who loves God above all other things."

"And he keeps also the third commandment of the ten, that is: 'Thou shalt not take thy Lord's name in vain.' For he who loves God above all other things will do nothing that God forbids, or that is displeasing to God, and then he will not take God's name in vain. A man may take God's name in vain in two ways: one is when he swears by the name of God when it is not necessary. A man takes God's name in vain in another way when he calls God his Lord and yet does not fear him as a servant should, or obey his commands; or when a man calls God his Father and does not love him as a good child should, or obey his will. But he that loves God above all other things, he will not take God's name in vain in either of these ways. And so whoever keeps this commandment of love, he keeps the first three of these ten commandments."

"Our Lord Jesus Christ showed this love toward his Father in heaven in order to set us an example of how we should love our Lord Father in heaven above all other things, and in two respects he showed his love: one was that in all [f.123r] his teaching and working he sought the glory of his Father and renounced many honors and pleasures, for he would not displease his Father and break his commandment. For when he was transfigured on a hill before his disciples and his face was as bright as the sun, and his clothes were as white as the snow, and Moses and Elias appeared to him, Peter said: 'Sir, it is good to stay here. If you want, we will set up three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elias. And a voice came from heaven that said, "This is my dear son, in whom I am pleased: listen to him."' {Mt 17.4-5} All these pleasures Christ left in order to go into the pain of the world to fulfill the will of his Father."

"And when the people would have had him for their king, he fled away from them into the wilderness, for he would not displease his Father. {Jn 6.15} And when the devil tempted him and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the happiness to be had from them, he said to Christ, 'all this I will give you if you fall down and worship me.' And Christ said, 'go away, Satan. It is written, 'you shall worship your Lord God and serve only him.' {Mt 4.8-10} In these actions and in many others, Christ put aside his own honors and desires in order to fulfill the will of his Father. And thereby he showed that he loved his Father above all other things."

"In another respect also he showed this same love, for he suffered willingly whatever pain men would inflict on him, whether of word or of blow or of death. For he would not be disobedient to his Father or act against his will. For on the night before his Passion, he said: 'the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' {Mt 26.41} And when he came to the place where he wished to pray and knew full well how great was the suffering before him, he said, 'Father, if it may be, let this cup pass from me; but nevertheless, [f.123v] not as I will but as you will.' {Mt 26.39} And he said also, 'Father, if this cup may not pass from me unless I drink it, let your will be done.' {Mt 26.42} And thus Christ was obedient to his Father in heaven unto death, teaching us to be obedient to our Father and to love him in the same way. And if we love our God so much that we would suffer death for his love, then we drink Christ's blood to the salvation of our soul, and drink from the same cup that Christ drank. And in order that we might remember how Christ shed his blood for the love of his father and the help of his brethren, on Maundy Thursday night at supper he took a cup of wine and blessed it and said to his disciples, 'let everyone drink of it. This is my blood of a new testament, which shall be shed for the forgiveness of sins.' {Mt 26.27-28} And whoever loves God above all other things and believes in Christ's passion, he drinks Christ's blood to the salvation of his soul. And unless he have this love, he shall not be saved, though he may believe all the tenets of our faith. For Saint Paul says, 'though I speak with the tongues of man or angels, and I have no love, I have become as a brass trumpet that sounds or a cymbal that tinkles. And though I possess every prophecy and insight, and understand mysteries, and though I have all faith so much that I may move mountains from their place, and have no love, I am nothing. And though I give away all my wealth to feed poor men, and give my body to be burned in the fire, and have no love, it profits me nothing.' {1 Cor 13.1-3} Thus, sir, if we lack love, neither faith nor any other thing shall stand us in good stead. And certainly the most principal part of love is to love God above all other things. And no man shall come to heaven unless he have this love and so drink of Christ's cup. [f.124r] For Christ asked all his disciples to drink of his cup, and so they did, but not all in the same way: for Judas drank of the bodily cup as the other bodily disciples did; but because he did not love God as they did, but was false in his heart and about to betray his Lord and his Master, therefore he drank of the cup of God's wrath and his indignation, and hanged himself in sorrow for his sin. But the other disciples, who loved God above all other things and were ready to suffer death for his love, they drank of Christ's cup and of his blood to the salvation of their souls. And afterward they drank a cup of clear wine with Christ in the kingdom of heaven, {Mt 26.29} that gladdened their hearts. For 'wine cheers men's hearts,' {Ps 103.15 Vulg.} and no wine so much as that wine that comes from him that is the true vine. {Jn 15.1} And of this wine shall no man drink unless he drinks of the cup that I spoke of earlier."

"For when Christ's cousin asked him if one of her sons might sit on his right side and the other on his left side in his kingdom, Christ said, 'you do not know what you ask. Can you drink the cup that I drink?' And they said, 'we can.' And Christ said, 'you shall drink my cup, but to sit on my right side or on my left side, it is not mine to grant you, but is granted to the one ordained by my Father.' {Mt 20.21-23} And sir, whoever has this aforesaid love for God, he drinks Christ's blood and of his cup, as I said earlier, to the salvation of his soul. He offers also to God the most pleasing offering and sacrifice that he may offer to him. For through this love he offers himself to God. And as God says through David in the Psalter: 'An offering of praise shall honor me, and there is the [MS: no] way by which I shall show him my salvation and my bliss.' {Ps 49.23 Vulg.} And among all the praises [f.124v] given to God the greatest act of praise is this love. For faith, hope, and love are three acts of praise to God, but the greatest act of praise to God is love, as Saint Paul says. {1 Cor 13.13} And love is Christ's law in this world and brings a man to the bliss of heaven, which bliss is the affection of love that creatures have toward God and to one another. And from this praise by love arises another great act of praise to God, of which David spoke in the psalter: 'a spirit that is troubled and distressed for its sin is a sacrifice to God.' And 'God, you will not despise a heart that is contrite and humbled before you.' {Ps 50.19 Vulg.} It is certain that if a man loves God with all his heart and above all other things, when he knows how he has displeased God through sin, he will grieve greatly in his heart for his sin and humble himself low before God in order to receive forgiveness for his trespass. And this is the way that Mary Magdalene received forgiveness for her sins. For Christ says, 'many sins were forgiven her, for she loved much.'" {Lk 7.47}

"And unless a man love God with all his heart, with all his heart having remorse for his sins, he can be certain that he will receive no forgiveness from God for his sins. All these benefits that I have mentioned attend such men as love God above all other things."

Love of Brother Fulfills Commandments 7-10 of the Ten

"And Christ says, 'the second greatest commandment is like the first: you shall love your brother as yourself, and on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.' {Mt 22.39-40} For whoever keeps the first commandment of love, he performs every kind of action that he ought to perform toward God, and keeps the first three of the ten commandments; and whoever keeps the second commandment of love, he performs every kind of action that he ought to perform toward his brother, and keeps the last seven of the ten commandments. For he honors his elders [f.125r] (and not only them, but also his brethren); and he will not slay his brother, nor defile his sister through his lust of stinking lechery; nor will he become a thief to rob his brethren; nor will he bear false witness against his brother; nor will he covet his brother's wife or his servant or any other good that he owns. Here are seven commandments kept out of the ten that God once commanded--contained in this one commandment: you shall love your brother as yourself. And so all the ten commandments are fulfilled in these two words of love. And therefore Saint Paul says, 'whoever loves, fulfills the law.'" {Ro 13.8}

The Two Words of Love Cure the Seven Deadly Sins

"Also, he who keeps these two commandments of love eschews the seven deadly sins:"


"For he will not be proud. For pride, either it is an unreasonable haughtiness by which a man becomes rebellious against God and his commandments, or it is an unreasonable haughtiness by which a man raises himself above his brethren and despises them. But whoever loves God does not have the first pride; and whoever loves his brother as himself does not have the second."


"Also, he who has this love eschews greed, for one who loves God will desire nothing that is against his ordinance. And God is so measured in giving what he has that he scants no man of things that he needs, nor grants to any man more than he needs. But covetous men, who for lack of love love their goods more than God, desire more than they need, against God's will. And because they do not love their brethren as themselves, they desire their brothers' possessions to make themselves rich. And those goods that they have they will not share with their needy brethren."


"And he who has this love will not live in sloth, for he will be busy with all his might to serve his God by obeying his commandments. And according to the [f.125v] grace that he has received from God, he will lay aside his own life and subject himself to pain and toil for the benefit of his brethren."


"And he who has this love will have no mortal wrath toward his brother, nor desire to take vengeance on him, though he had wronged him greatly."


"And he who has this love will have no envy toward his brother, for he will neither be glad at his harm, nor sorry at his good fortune, as envious men are. Nor will he speak spitefully about him behind his back or speak in front of him anything to hurt him."


"And he who has this love will not break the commandment of God, nor for his own pleasure bring his brother or sister into great mischief and sorrow, as vile lechers do who for their own foul lusts bring their brothers and sisters into the devil's servitude and slavery from the service of God, and afterward into the the endless pain of hell which is sorrow without joy."


"And he who has this love will not take his food or his drink except in moderation as need requires. And whoever practices gluttony [...] takes his food and drink against the will [and] ordinance of God, and such a glutton and wastrel devours many men's livelihood, both to his own harm and to the harm of his brethren, for want of love."

"Thus a man who keeps the two commandments of love avoids the seven deadly sins."

The Two Words of Love Produce the Corporal Works of Mercy

"And whoever has this love, he performs the works of mercy. And if he sees his brother hungry he will give him food, and if he is thirsty he will give him drink, and if he is naked he will give him clothes, and if he is homeless he will let him a house, and if he should be sick or in prison, he will visit him and comfort him, and if he should die he buries him in the earth. These are the works of love [f.126r] and of mercy that men will do who keep the aforementioned two commandments of love. And this love is Christ's law that all Christian men should keep. For as Christ says, 'everything that you wish that other men would do to you, do the same to them, for that is the law and the prophets.'" {Mt 7.12}

"And certainly, everything that Christ commands us to do to our brothers, either it is love, or it springs from love, or it nourishes love. Christ said to his disciples, 'this is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you. And by this shall people know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.' {Jn 13.34-35} And the kind of love that you should have toward your brethren, Christ teaches in this saying: 'Do to others as you would that others do to you.' {Lk 6.31} He says also, 'it used to be said, "you should love your friend and hate your enemy," but I say to you, love your enemies and do good to those who have hated you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you and revile you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven, who makes the sun rise upon the just and the unjust. For if you love only those who love you, what reward shall you have? Publicans do that much. And if you greet only your own brethren, what more shall you do? The heathen do that much. Be perfect, therefore, as your Father is perfect.'" {Mt 5.43-47}

"And many times, when Christ told a Pharisee that he should love his neighbor as himself and said that it was one of the greatest commandments of God's law, the Pharisee asked him who his neighbor was. And Christ told him a story and said that there was a man who went from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves and they robbed [f.126v] him and wounded him and bound him fast and went their way leaving him lying scarcely half alive. And as he lay there, a priest came by him and had no pity on him, but went on his way and let him lie. A deacon also went the same way and acted in the same way. But a Samaritan that came the same way sees the man and had pity on him and untied the man and washed his wounds with wine and with oil and bound up his wounds and then set him upon his ass and led him to town and brought him to an innkeeper and requested that he take care of the man and he would make good his labor and his costs. And he gave him tuppence to spend, and told him that for any greater amount he spent he would reimburse him. And when Christ had told this story, he asked the Pharisee which of these was the closest neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves. {Lk 10.29-36} And he replied, 'the one who had mercy on him.' {Lk 10.37} And Christ said, 'go and do likewise.' In this story, Christ teaches us to love our injured enemies as ourselves, for the Samaritan and the injured Jew were enemies. And yet the Samaritan had pity on him and treated him as he himself would have liked to be treated. And so every Christian man should love his enemy as himself. And therefore Saint Paul says, 'if your enemy is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty, give him drink. And if you do so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head....'" {Ro 12.20}

Love Empowers with Six Virtues

"This love and charity is Christ's law, and in order that we should not lose this charity, Christ empowers us with six virtues that spring from love and [f.127r] *[that nourish love."


"The first virtue that arises from love and that also nourishes love is peaceableness. As Christ says, 'do not resist evil.' {Mt 5.39} And Saint Paul says, 'return to] no man evil for evil, but do and ordain good things, not only before God but also before all good men. And so far as it is up to you, keep peace with all men, and do not defend yourselves, but give way before wrath. For it is written, "'vengeance should be left to me, and I will repay,' says God." And if your enemy is hungry, feed him; and if he is thirsty, give him drink. And by doing these things you shall heap coals of fire upon his head. And be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.'" {Ro 12.1-21}

"And just as under the old covenant men fought for their law and for their right, so men should under this new covenant suffer, rather than fight, for right. And Christ did so, he who was giver and creator of this new covenant. And when one of his servants struck a blow for love of him, Christ told him to put his sword in its sheath and said, 'whoever strikes with a sword, with a sword he shall perish.' {Mt 26.52} And in the Apocalypse it is written, 'Whoever slays with a sword, he must be slain with a sword.' {Re 13.10} And therefore Christ says, 'blessed be peaceable men, for they shall be called the children of God.' {Mt 5.19} And he says also, 'blessed are they who suffered persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' {Mt 5.10} And because of this suffering that Christ teaches men to accept, and because he teaches them to nourish love among themselves, he is called the Prince and the King of Peace, both by Isaiah and by Zechariah, the prophets. For Isaiah says, 'there shall be in the last days a hill prepared for God's house in the heights of the hills, and it shall be raised up above all hills. And all nations shall come to it, and many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us climb to God's hill and to the house of the God of Jacob and he will teach us his ways [f.127v] and we shall walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall come the law and God's word out of Jerusalem. And he shall judge many nations and rebuke many peoples. And men shall forge their swords into plowshares and their spears into sickles. And one people shall not lift up its sword against another, nor after that time shall they be accustomed to war.'" {Is 2.2-4}

"And Zechariah the prophet says, 'be very glad, O daughter of Zion, and make much mirth, O daughter of Jerusalem! For lo, your king comes to you, who is just and the savior. And he is poor and leaps upon an ass, and upon an ass's colt. And he will destroy the chariot of Ephraim and the horse of Jerusalem, and the rule of war shall be destroyed, and he shall declare peace to the peoples. And his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers to the ends of the earth.'" {Zch 9.9-10}


"And since Christ's law is charity, and patience is a condition of charity, whoever wishes to keep God's law must necessarily be patient and longsuffering, and otherwise he is surely no follower of Christ. And very much afraid should those proud men be who say that they cannot suffer, on account of shame before the world. It is certain that whoever is ashamed to suffer is ashamed to acknowledge that he is the servant of Christ, who suffered very much. And Christ says, 'whoever is ashamed to acknowledge me and my words before men, him I will be ashamed to acknowledge before my Father in heaven.' {Lk 9.26} And then as the Apocalypse says, 'kings of the earth and princes, and rich men and strong men, and slave and free, shall hide themselves in the caves and rocks of the hills. And they shall say to the hills and stones, "fall down upon us and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb." For the great day of his wrath is come, and who is there who [f.128r] may stand?'" {Re 6.15-17}


"Concerning meekness, which is another virtue that springs from love and also nourishes love, Christ says, 'blessed be the meek, for they shall see God.' {Mt 5.5 + 5.8} And of all the things that Christ taught his disciples, one of the greatest was that they should be humble and meek. One time, there was an argument among the disciples as to which of them was the greatest. And Christ said, 'the kings of the infidels have lordship over them. And those that have power over them are called benefactors, but it shall not be so among you: but he that is the greatest of you shall be as the youngest; and he that is a leader, let him be as a servant. For which is greater, the one who sits at the meal or the one who serves it? Is it not the one who sits at the meal? But I am among you as one who serves.' {Lk 22.24-27} And in another place also he taught them his meekness and says, 'the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.'" {Mt 20.28}

"And because he wished to teach them meekness by his deeds as well as by his words, the night before his Passion, he washed his disciples' feet and said to them, 'take note of what I have done. You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. And therefore if [I] have washed your feet--I who am both Master and Lord--every one of you should wash each other's feet. For I have given you an example that you might do as I have done to you.'" {Jn 12.13-15}

"And when his disciples asked him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Christ called to him a little child and set him in the midst of them and said, 'truly, I say to you, unless you be changed and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And therefore whoever humbles himself as this child does, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.' {Mt 18.2-4} And another time Christ said, 'allow little children to come [f.128v] to me, for the kingdom of heaven is of such.' And then he said, 'truly I say to you, whoever fails to accept the kingdom of heaven as a little child, he shall not enter therein.'" {Lk 18.16-17}

"There are two aspects of meekness that Christ teaches us to have. One is that we not despise our brothers who are not in such worthy estate as we are, nor exalt ourselves for our good works above our brothers who perhaps do not perform such good works. For as Christ says, 'there went two men into the temple to say their prayers. One was a Pharisee and the other a publican. And the Pharisee said, "Lord, I thank you that I am not as other men are who are robbers and unrighteous and adulterers and covetous--nor as this publican here. I fast twice a week and give tithes of all the goods that I own." But the publican did not raise his eyes, but struck his breast and said, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."' And Christ said, 'this man went home justified over the other. For whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.' {Lk 18.9-14} And Christ says in another place, 'it used to be said, "whoever kills is liable to judgment." But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother is liable to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, "Fie!" is liable to the council. And whoever says to his brother, "Fool!" is liable to the fire of hell.' {Mt 5.21-22} Thus a Christian man should be meek, for meekness nourishes love just as inappropriate arrogance destroys love."

"Christ teaches a second aspect of meekness, and that is that we should not seek the esteem of the world, nor do our good works in order to receive praise for them from other people. For he says, 'upon Moses's seat [f.129r] scribes and Pharisees have sat. And what they tell you to do, observe it and practice it. But do not imitate their actions, for they preach but do not themselves practice. And they impose heavy burdens that may not be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders. But with their own fingers they will not move them. And all their deeds they do in order to be seen by men. For they spread out their phylacteries and broaden the hems of their clothes. And they love the first seats at suppers and greetings in the markets and the pews of greatest honor in synagogues and to be called "teachers" [i.e., rabbis] by men. But you, do not desire to be called teachers, for you have only one teacher and you are brothers. And call no one on earth your "father," for you have only one Father, who is in heaven. Nor be called "teachers," for you have only one teacher, Christ. Whoever is greatest among you shall be your servant, for whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.' {Mt 23.2-12} Christ teaches us also that when we give alms or fast or pray we should do it privately and not so as to be regarded as holy men by the crowd. For he says, 'when you give alms, do not blare it out with a trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets in order to be esteemed by men. Indeed, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your alms may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will give you your reward. And when you pray, you should not be like the dreary hypocrites who love to pray standing in synagogues and on street corners to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you [f.129v] pray, go into your room and close your door and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will give you your reward. And when you pray, do not speak at length as the infidels do, for they suppose that they will be heard on account of their copious speech. Do not be like them, therefore, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him anything. And you shall pray thus: "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come to us. Thy will, be it done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. AMEN. And if you forgive other men their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you your sins. And if you do not forgive other men, your heavenly Father will not forgive you your sins. And when you fast, do not be like the dreary hypocrites. For they deface themselves in order to appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, annoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not seem to men to be fasting, but to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees it in secret will give you your reward.' {Mt 6.2-18} In this way, sir, Christ teaches us to perform our deeds with meekness, for otherwise we may lose our reward."

Poverty in Spirit

"About poverty in spirit Christ speaks also, and says, 'blessed be the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. And woe to the rich, for they find their comfort in this world.' {Mt 5.3 + Lk 6.20, 24} Such men are poor in spirit who do not desire to be rich, but desire what they need and no more. And so those who have few possessions, if they desire to be rich, are not poor in spirit, but they are greedy [f.130r] for want of love, and greed destroys love. Conversely, poverty in spirit arises from love, and also nourishes love. And there is no true Christian who lacks this poverty in spirit."

"In another place, too, Christ teaches us to be poor in spirit and to eschew greed. For a man came to Christ and asked him to divide his inheritance between his brother and himself. And Christ said, 'man, who made me judge over you?' And then he said to his disciples, 'beware of every covetousness, for no man's life consists of the abundance of possessions that he has.' {Lk 12.14-15} From these words it follows that it is covetousness for a man to desire more than is needful to sustain his life. And therefore Christ told his disciples that they should not establish their treasury on earth, where rust and moths may destroy it, and where thieves may dig into it and steal it away. But he said, 'establish your treasury in heaven where there is neither rust nor moth, and where thieves cannot approach nor steal it away. For wherever your treasure is, there is your heart.'" {Mt 6.19-21}

"And afterward he said, 'no man may serve two lords, for either he must hate the one and love the other, or uphold the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and your wealth. And therefore I say to you, do not be anxious about your life, what you eat, nor about your body, how you are clothed. For life is worth more than food, and the body is worth more than clothing. Look at the birds of heaven, who neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they are? Which of you by thinking may add a cubit to his stature? And [f.130v] beware of anxiety about clothing. Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither labor nor spin. And I tell you that Solomon in all his bliss was not clothed as one of these. And if God clothe so the grass of the field, which is growing today before tomorrow it is thrown into the oven, much more will he clothe you of little faith. And therefore do not be anxious, saying, "what shall we eat?" or "what shall we drink?" or "how shall we be clothed?" for infidels seek after all these things. And therefore seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.' {Mt 6.24-33} From this one can see that since a Christian should not be anxious in his mind about his food, nor about his drink, nor about his clothing, and yet all of this is necessary to his life, he should not be anxious at all to get much wealth, for that is not necessary to a man's life. And since God does all things in moderation, and is so measured in his giving that he gives to no man more than he needs, it is a great sin to desire more than a man needs, for it is covetousness. And someone who holds onto God's goods in his keeping in order to spend them on his own desire, where there is no need, it is certain that he holds these goods against God's will, and then he is a thief that robs God of his goods--and not only God, but also other men who need such goods. For God gives to one man more wealth than to another not for himself, but in order that he should divide it among his needy brothers. And unless a man does this, he is not in a state of charity. For as Saint John says, 'whoever possesses wealth of the world and sees his brother in need, if he closes his heart against [f.131r] his brother, how does the love of God abide in him?' {1 Jn 3.17} And therefore he says, 'let us not love in promise or in speech, but in deed and in truth.'" {1 Jn 3.18}

"And Saint James declares a very harsh saying to the rich men of the world, for he says, 'weep, you rich men and wail for the misery that shall come upon you hereafter. Your riches have rotted away and your clothes are moth-eaten; your gold and your silver have rusted; and your rust shall bear witness against you and consume your flesh like fire. You have laid in store for yourself the wrath of God in the last days.' {Jas 5.1-3} Would God that these rich men would heed Saint Paul's words as he says, 'we brought nothing into this world, and there is no doubt but that we cannot carry anything out of it. And therefore, have we food and clothing, we are content. For those who desire to become rich fall into temptation and into the devil's snare and into many unprofitable and destructive desires that drown men in death and perdition. For the root of all evil is the desire for wealth, which some men have desired and have erred from their faith and have brought themselves into great grief.' {1 Tm 6.7-10} And he tells the rich men of the world not to place hope in monetary success but in the living God who gives us all things abundantly to enjoy them and to do good with them, and to become rich in good works by giving freely and sharing their goods with those who are needy, in order to make for themselves a treasure and a good foundation for the future, that they may have that life that will last without end. {1 Tm 6.17-19} And therefore, sir, be poor in spirit and eschew covetousness, if you have any thoughts of going to heaven. For covetousness is service to false gods, as Saint Paul says, and such shall not [f.131v] possess the kingdom of heaven, as he declares." {Col 3.5}


Truth is another virtue that arises from love and also nourishes love. For whoever loves God will love truth and be true both in work and in word, for God himself is truth and is eternally true. As he says in the gospel, 'the devil was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, for truth is not in him and when he utters deceit [MS: the thing], he speaks about his own, for he is a liar and the father of deceits.' {Jn 8.44} And since Christ came to bring us out of servitude to the devil to become God's children and his servants also, we must necessarily avoid all kinds of lying. For Christ says, 'whoever commits sin is a servant of sin,' {Jn 8.34} and thus whoever tells lies is a servant of lying and of the devil, the father of lying. But a Christian who is God's child and loves him above all other things will do nothing that may separate him from his Father in heaven. And thus he must eschew all kinds of lying and all kinds of falsehood. And because Christ would that his servants were perfect both in love and in truth, just as he put an end to all kinds of untruth, so also at his coming he put an end to oaths that were never ordained except as an expedient for want of truth. For among true men, there is no need for oaths. And therefore Christ says, 'it used to be said that you should not be forsworn, but should make good your oaths to God. But I tell you not to swear for any reason: not by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by earth, since it is the stool for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair, white or black. Rather, what you say should be "yes, yes, no, no"; whatever is more than this comes from evil.' {Mt 5.33-37} And Saint [f.132r] James says, 'above all things, my dear brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, nor with any other oath. But let your word be "yes, yes, no, no," lest you fall under judgment.'" {Jas 5.12}


"Chastity is the sixth virtue that arises from love and also nourishes love. For he who loves God will take no pleasure that is displeasing to God or that is harmful to his brother or sister. But Christ said, '[it used to be said,] "you shall commit no adultery." But I say to you, whoever looks at a woman so as to desire her, he has committed adultery with that woman in his heart. And therefore, if your right eye causes you to sin, pull it out and throw it away from you. For it is beneficial to you that one of your members perish, rather than your body go whole into the fire of hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you, for it is beneficial to you that one of your members perish, rather than that your body go whole into the fire of hell.' Christ says also, 'it used to be said, "whoever leaves his wife, let him give her a certificate of her divorce." But I say to you, whoever leaves his wife, except because of her adultery, he makes her an adulterer. And he who marries a woman that was left by her husband violates marital fidelity.' {Mt 5.27-32} And one time the Pharisees asked Christ whether it was lawful for a man to desert his wife for any reason. And he said, 'have you not read that he who made man from the beginning made also woman and said, "For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and join himself to his wife and they shall be two in one flesh"? But now they are no longer two but one flesh, and therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.' [f.132v] And then they said, 'what is this then, that Moses commanded, that there should be given a certificate of divorce and by that means a man should leave his wife?' And Christ said, 'it is because Moses allowed you to have your wives as befit the hardness of your hearts. But from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever leaves his wife, unless it be on account of adultery, and marries another, he commits adultery. And whoever marries a woman that was left by her husband, commits adultery and lechery.'" {Mt 19.3-9}

"And then his disciples said, 'if that is the way it is between a man and his wife, it is not worthwhile to marry.' And Christ said, 'not all men can accept this saying, but only those to whom it is granted. For there are castrated men that are born so from their mother's womb, and there are some that are castrated by others, and there are some that castrate themselves for the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this, let him receive it in this way.'" {Mt 19.10-12}

Do This and Live

"Sir, in these two commandments of love is all goodness fulfilled and all evil put aside. And thus the life of our soul and the right way to heaven is to believe steadfastly in Christ and to keep these two commandments of love [to God and to our fellow Christian. And God grant that we so do! A]"


* The text has evidently suffered some loss or disarrangement here, likely the loss of an entire leaf. I have speculatively supplied a few sentences of bridging text, on the assumption that the first of the listed virtues should be "peaceableness." What is left of the context seems to point that way, but it should be noted that in Versions A and H the first virtue is in fact "mercy." Version H replaces the discussion of the first virtue with the following (a similar, shorter text is in Version A):

The first is mercy, and therefore he says, 'blessed be merciful men for they shall receive mercy.' And therefore he says, 'be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.' And he says moreover, 'unless you forgive other men their offences your Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins.' And he says also, 'judge not, lest you be judged, for the same measure that you measure out to other men shall be measured out to you in return.' And when Peter asked Christ how many times he had to forgive him if his brother should sin against him--he asked if he had to forgive his offense seven times--Christ said, 'I do not say seven times but seventy times seven times. And therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a lord that wished to settle accounts with his servants. And when one came who owed him ten thousand besants of gold, and when he was not able to pay his debt, the lord commanded that he and his wife and his children and all that he owned be sold to pay off his debt. And the servant fell down and begged his lord to have patience with him and he would pay him all he owed. And the lord had mercy on his servant and forgave him his entire debt. This servant went out and met one of his fellows who owed him a hundred pennies and he grabbed him and strangled him and said, "Pay what you owe!" And he fell down and said, "Have patience with me and I will pay you everything." And he would not, but sent him to prison till he had paid his entire debt. And when his fellows saw this, they [went] and told the lord all that he had done. And the lord called his servant and said, "Wicked servant! Did I not forgive you all your debt because you begged me? Did it not behoove you then to have mercy on your fellow as I had mercy on you?" And the lord was angry and handed him over to torturers till he had paid his entire debt. And so,' Christ says, 'my heavenly Father will do to you unless each of you forgives the other from his heart.' And in order to teach us this mercy cogently, Christ, when he hung on the cross, prayed to his Father for his enemies and said, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' Thus every Christian should be merciful to his brother or else he fails to fulfill Christ's commandment of love."

Copyright © 1997-1999 Paul F. Schaffner
Revised 15 March 1999. See the conditions of use at the head of this document.