Life of Soul

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Frend in Crist, as Seynt Poule seith, we ne haven here no cyte that is dwelling, but we sechen on that is to come hereafter. And therfore me thinketh that we schulden ben longyng thiderward alle the tyme of oure lyf with al oure power, sith we han no rest ne non abydyng but there. But more harme is, I knowe noght aright the weye toward this place. And therfore I preye the that thou telle me the weye toward this place.

Dere frend, oure lord and oure mayster Jesu Crist seyde to his disciples that he hymsilven is the weye toward hevene and he is truthe that ledeth us sykurly in oure weye, and he is lyf that maketh us lyve in soule whyles we ben in this world. And after that lyf he wil bringe us to a blisful lif that schal lasten withouten ende, bothe in body and in soule.

Frend, or than thou passe ferther, I preye the, what is that lyf of soule? And telle whethir alle men han this lif.

Sire, a man is made to t[wo] manere of lives: the first lif is the lif of the body, and this lif han bothe goodemen and schrewis. The secunde lif is of the soule, and that is to lyven out of synne. Of this lif Crist speketh in the gospel ther as he seith, but a man be born eftsones he ne may not entren into the kyngdom of hevene.

The first bering of a man is whan he is i-born into a bodyliche lyvyng of his moder wombe. But he is borun eftsones of water | and of the holy gost into a lyf of soule. And that beryng is whan a child or a man is i-fulled and underfongeth Cristene mennes beleve and forsaketh the devel and his werkes, that ben synnes. And this lif of soule mankynde hadde noght from the tyme that Adam hadde i-synned in paradys into the comyng of Crist. For as Seynt Poule seith, deth regnede from Adam to Moyses, and synne regnede from Moyses into the tyme of grace that was i-yeve be Crist. Ne al the rightwisnes of alle the olde lawe, ne sacrifices that weren i-doon for mannes synne, ne prechyng ne preeyer of prophetes ne of prestes, ne might not make mankynde clene of his synne.

And therfore oure fadur of hevene sente his owne sone adoun into the erthe to fulfille the lawe and the prophetes, and so he dide. For theras a man ne myhte nother be the lawe ne be the prophetes ben i-justified of his synne, he of his grace and noght of oure rightwisnes, ne of oure disservyng, foryaf alle thilk men her synnes that bileveden in hym and broughte hem from deth of synne into lif of soule.

For as Crist seith, who that beleveth in me, thof he be ded, he schal lyve, and who that lyveth and beleveth in me, he schal nevere dye. And who that hath this lif of soule whyles he is in this world, he schal come after that he is ded to an endeles lif of blis bothe in body and in soule. ***

Frend, as me thinketh, this lif of soule that is forsakyng of synne is the right weye to hevene. But we ben ful unstabul and ful unconyng to go this weye. And we han strong temptaciouns and strong enemyes, as the devel and the world and oure owne fleshe that evere more tempteth us to synne. And therfore we moten putte us fulliche in the mercy of God. And thof we lyve not so perfytliche as he taught us and as he lyvede hymsilf, we hopen to ben saved. For he seith hymself, who that beleveth and is cristened schal be savid.

Sir, in summe thinges ye seye ful sothe, bot it is not al sothe as ye hopen in yowre seying. Sothe it is that the right weye to hevene is forsakyng of synne. *** And soth it is that this is an hard wey and a streyt. For as Crist seith, it is a streyt weye that ledeth a man to lif, and fewe ther ben that fynden that weye; and a brode wey it is that ledeth a man to perdicioun and to deth, and ful many ther ben that fynden thilk weye. Ful sothe it is also that we ben unstable and uncunnyng, and that we han strong enemyes and strong temptaciouns also. But it is certeyn yif we desire wisdome of God and stabulnes to ayenstonde synne, God wil yeven us that we axen, so that we axen trustiliche. For Crist seith, ye that ben wicked and yvul wollen yeven youre childeren good thinges whan thei axen yow gode, and myche more wille youre hevenliche fadur yeven | hem a goode spiright that axen hit of him. And therfore, he seith, secheth and ye schullen i-fynde, axeth and ye schullen underfongen, knocketh at the dore and I schal open hit to yow. And Seynt Jame seith, who that nedeth wisdome, axe hit of God that yeveth al men plenteuoslyche and obreideth no man of that he schal yeven hym. But axe he trustiliche and have no doughte, for he that doughteth in his axyng is lyche the flood of the see that is meved and i-born aboughte with the wynd, and therefore suche a man ne trowe he nought that he schal underfongen any thing of God. And he seith, that man is i-blessed that abydeth temptacioun, for whan he is i-previd he schal undurfong a crowne of lif that God hath behote to thilk that loven hym. Ne no man whan he is i-tempted seye that he is i-tempted of God, for he ne is no temptour of yvul, ne he tempteth no man. But everyche man is tempted of his owne coveytyng. And whan that coveytyng hath conceyved, hit bryngeth forth synne. And whan the synne is brought to the ende hit engendereth deth.

Of thes wordes, sire, thou might then i-seen that hit ne is but oure defaughte that we ne han cunnyng and stabulnes to ayeynstonde oure temptaciouns; and thof we han strong enemyes and grete temptaciouns, hit ne is but oure owne unkyndenes and wickednesse that we fallen in to synne. For God suffereth no man to ben i-tempted passyng his might. And alle the devels in helle, ne alle the might of the world, ne of mannes flesche ne mown not maken a man ne a womman breken Godis hestys ayens his wille. For God hath i-yeven a man a fre wil and hath i-sette beforun hym bothe good and yvul, lif and deth, blessyng and cursyng, | and a man may chese whether of thes he wil take. And yif a man is buxum to his God and kepith his hestis, thanne he cheseth good, lif, and blessyng; and yif he forsaketh the hestis of God, than he cheseth yvul and deth and the cursyng of God. As Moyses seith in the first boke of olde lawe and Dauith seith in the Sauter, alle thes ben acursed that bowen awey from thi hestis. Thanne it is bot oure owne folye and oure owne unkyndenes that we fallen in to synne.

Soth it is also that we moten alle putten us in the mercy of God and not axen hevene thoru ryghtfulnes, justifying oureself before God. For Dauid seith in the Sauter, everiche lyvyng man schal not ben justified in thi sight. But nathereles no man hop to come to hevene but if he leve synne, nother for the beleve that he hath in Crist, ne for the grete mercy of God. For as Seynt Jame seith, develes in helle beleven and dreden. And he seith, right as a body is ded withouten spiright, right feith and beleve is ded withouten good werkes. And Seynt Jon seith, who that seith that he knoweth God and kepith not his hestes, he is a lyere. And Crist seith, wharto clepe ye me lord, lord, and doth noght thilke thinges that I seyye? And he seith also, al thilke that seyyen to me lord, lord ne schul not entren into the kyngdome of hevene, but he that doth the wille of my fader that is in hevene, he schal entren into the kyngdom of hevene. *** And Crist seith also that mannes sone wil | come and deme everiche man aftir his werkis. And thilk that han wil i-lyved schullen comen to the blis of hevene, and the other that han continued her lif in synne schul gon to the everelastynge peynes of helle that ben i-ordeyned for the devel and his servauntes. ***

Here sire thou might i-sen two baptemes that Cristen men han. On is in water of bileve, that thei beleven in the Fader and in the Sone and in the Holy Gost, the whyche beleve wascheth oure soule of oure unclennesse of synne right as bodiliche watur wascheth oure body of bodily unclennesse. The other baptem is in the Holy Gost and in fuyr, whan a man casteht so brennynge a love to God that he nil for nothing displesen hym, but wil gladeliche sufferen a gret disese to fulfillen his wille. ***

Frend, now I se that ther ne is non other wey to hevene bot lif of soule and forsakyng of synne and in kepyng Goddis hestis. But frend, as we wyten wele, everyche lyvyng thing hath summe liflode, as mete and drynke, that maketh hem for to lyve. And sithe we han lif of soule, I preye the, whyche is the mete and whyche is the drynke that maketh oure soule to lyve?

Sire, now ye axeth a gret thing, and fayn I wolde telle yow that ye axeth, if God wulde yeve me grace. And I hopede that ye wolden drawe yow to that lyvyng whanne ye knewen bothe hit and his liflode. But sire, more harme is, I se ful fewe doon after Cristes techyng and his wordis, thof thei seen hem i-wryten outher heren hem i-spoken. And nevertheles | in his wordes is the lyf of oure soule. For as he seith, the wordes that I have of spoken ben spiright and lif. And he seith also, he that kepith my word schal never dye. And he seith eftsones, I speke and I worche as I have an hest and a comaundement of my fader, and I wot wele that his comaundement is an everelastyng lyf. And but a man or a womman wil doon aftur Cristes wordes whanne he knewe hem, it were bettere for hym that he knewe hem not. For as Crist seith, that servaunt that knoweth not his lordes wille and doth ther-ayen schal have a fewe strokes. But he that knoweth the wille of his lord and doth ther-ayen schal have many strokes and betynges. He seyde also to the Jewes, in a tyme that he had i-mad a blynd man seen, yif ye weren blynde, ye ne hadden no synne. But for ye seyn that ye seen, youre synne dwelleth stille in yow. And he seith also, if I had not i-come, and I ne hadde i-spoken not to hem, thei ne hadden i-hadde no synne, but now thei han non excusacioun of here synne. And he seith eftsones, the more that is i-taken to a man, the more schal ben i-axed of hym. And therfore, syre, but if ye wulden fulfille Cristes techynges in youre lyvyng whan ye knewen whyche it were, it were litil profyght for me to wryte more opunlyche unto yow of the lyf of soule and of his lyflode than I do. And a gret harm it were to yow, and encres of yowre peyne in tyme that is to come, and a sclaundre to youre bretheren, yif thei seien that ye knowen Cristes techyng and lyvede not therafter. ***

And herefore, sire, knowit yowre beleve in oure lord and in oure God Jesu Crist, and doth as he hath beden yow doon and leveth synne, and than ye han the lyvyng of soule and his liflode. For the beleve in Crist is bothe bred and fleysch to oure soule, and the kepyng of his techyng is the drynke of oure soule, for it is bothe water and brede [?read: ?blode, ?wyne].

Frend, thi answere that thou yevest in my axyng is ful schort and ful derk also for me. And therfore I preye the, yif me a more open answere. And myn hope is that whan I know Cristes techyng, I wil lyf therafter. For ellis I ne kept not to wyten whyche it were. And frend, thenk how Crist seith, who that yeveth a disc[hfu]l of cold water to oon of thes lest, onliche in the name | of a discyple, he schal not lese his mede. And frend, I praye the in Cristis owne name that thou yeve me sum water of Cristis wisdom to kele the thrist of my soule, that thou mow have mede for thi yifte and profight also. And thof thou owene nought of this mede, thenk that Crist seith, the unprofytable servaunt, that lyvede in slowthe, schal be throwen in to derkenes there as schal be wepyng and grentyng of teth, for as myche as he hadde his lordis tresour in his kepyng and hid hit undur the erthe and nolde not chafferen to encresen his lordis goodis. Thenk also how Crist seith, who that axeth ought of the, yeve hym, and ne turne thou noght awey from hym that wil borewe of the. Thenk also how he wil in the day of dome deme thilke men to helle withouten ende that han not i-don to hym the werkes of love and of mercy--that is to seyn, thilk men that feden hym not whan he was anhongred, ne yyf nevere hym non drynken whan he was athirst, ne clothed hym not whan thei syghe him naked, ne herborewed hym nought whan him lacked an hows, and visite hym not whan he was syke and in prisoun. And sithe my soule is anhungered after mete and athirst aftur drynk and naked for defaut of vertues, and [I] ne have no strong hous to kepe me from stormes of the develes temp[t]aciouns, and am sike and in prisone for synne that I have doon herebyforen, I preye the that thou write to me more opunliche of the liflode of my soule, to kele the hungur and the thrist of my soule, and telle me opunlyche the vertues that Crist techith to clothe with my soule that I be not naked in the comyng of my lord but be wil i-clothed in my weddyng cloth.

And tel me opunliche wordes that I mow fulfillen hem in dede, that I bylde me an hows on a fondement of ston to ayeynstonde wyndes and reynes and other stormes of the develes temptaciouns. | And wryte to me opunliche the techyng of Crist, that I mowe ben i-heled therby of the sekenes of my soule, and that I mowe ben i-counforted therby whyles I am in prysoun of this world and in a strange lond as a pylgrym far fro myn owene cuntre. *** And therfore ne hyde hit not from me but telle openliche that I axed rather: whyche is the lyflode of oure soule?

Sir, Crist seith, Fader, I knowleche to the that thou hast i-hyde thes thinges from wyse men and redy men and hast i-schewid hem to smale childeren. And herefore Crist seyde to his disciples, it is i-graunted to yow to know the priveytees of the kyngdom of hevene, but to othere men it is [nought] i-graunted. For to hym that hath, men schul yeven; and thilk that hath nought, that men semeth that he hath schal ben taken awey from hym. *** And sire, sithe Good of his goodnesse hath yeve sum knowyng of his wordis, preyeth hym tristyliche that he yeve yow more knowyng. And I wil do my travayle thoru the grace of God to make yow knowen that ye axeden rather.

Ye schul understonde, sire, that Crist is in two maneres the liflode of oure soule thoru oure beleve that we byleveth in hym. He is in on manere a bred of hevene to the sustinaunce of oure soule, for as he seyde to the Jewes, Moyses ne yaf yow no bred of hevene, but my fader yeveth yow verray bred of hevene. For that is verrey bred of God that com doun from hevene and yifeth lyf to the world. ***

In this manere Crist is bred of hevene, and the liflode of oure soule touchyng his godhede. For in that he is bred that com doun fro hevene, he scheweth that he is verrey God and this is a principal poynt of oure byleve. And who that beleveth this, he eteth this bred of hevene to the sustinaunce of his soule.

And as touchyng the godhede of Crist that com adoun from hevene, ther ben other poyntes that evereche Cristen man mote nede|lyche beleve. On is we moten byleven in his fader that sende hym adoun from hevene to erthe thoru the assent of the Holy Gost, that is the thridde persone of the Godhede. And we moten beleve that these thre persones of the blessed trinite, Fader and Sone and Holy Gost, ben oo God and not manye goddis, but yit nevere on of hem is other. For the Fader is not the Sone ne the Holy Gost. Ne the Sone is not the Fader ne the Holy Gost. Ne the Holy Gost is not the Fader ne the Sone. We moten beleven also that thes thre persones ben endeles mighty, and alle on myght; and endeles god, and alle on goodnes; and endeles trewe, and endeles witty, and endeles fayr, and endeles lovyng, and endeles rightful, and endeles mercyful; and al thei ben on trewthe, and oon wysdome, on fayrnesse, on love, on rightfulnesse, and on mercy. And thes thre persones weren withouten begynnyng er than thei maden the world of nought. And er the world was i-mad, thei weren in an endeles blisse. And in that blisse thei ben now and schullen ben in the same blisse hereaftir, world withouten ende. Al this we moten beleve towchyng the godhede of oure lord Jesu Crist, that is verray bred of hevene and the liflode of oure soule that byleveth in hym.

And in another maner he is the liflode of oure soule, in that he is man. For he seith, that bred that I will yeven is myn owne flesche for the lif of the world. And he seyde to the Jewes, sotheliche I seye yow, but ye eten the flesche of man sone and drynken his blode ye ne schul not have lif in yow, and who that etith my flesch and drynketh myn blood, he schal have an everelastyng lif, and I will areren hym up from deth to lif in the last day. For my flesche is verrayliche mete, and my blood is verrayliche drynk. And who that etith my flesche and drynketh my blood dwellith in me and I in hym. And right as my | fader that lyveth sent me and I lyve for hym, right so who etith me schal lyve for me. This is bred that comme doun from hevene: nought as youre fadres that eten aungels mete in wildernes and ben dede, who that etith of this bred schal lyven everemore. In this manere Crist is flesch and fedeth oure soule that bileveth that [he] is verrey man.

And touchyng his manhede, we moten bileve many thinges. Oon is that he was conceyved of the Holy Gost and not of mannes seed. And that he was i-borne of the mayde Marye withoute lesyng of here maydenhed. We moten byleve also that he suffered his passioun under Pilat of Pounce and was i-hangid on a cros, and was ded and biryed and wente adoun to helle and the thridde day aros from deth to lyve. And we moten beleve that he stey up to hevene, and there he settith on the right hond of his fader, and from thenne he schal come to deme bothe qwyk and dede aftir her werkis. And we schullen beleve also that Crist thoru his deth gat us of his fader foryevenes of oure synnes, and he hymself foryaf us oure synnes. And we moten beleve that we schul rysen up fro deth to life bothe in body and in soule, and if we han wil i-lyved, we schul come to an everelastyng lif of blisse bothe in body and in soule, and ther oure soule schal have his blisse in the godhede of Crist and oure body in his manhede. And thus is Crist that is verrey God and verrey man bothe bred and flesche to the sustinaunce of oure soule that belevith thus in hym. And for we schulden have mynde and not foryeten this lyvynge of oure soule ne his liflode, a Scher Thorsday at nyght, er than he schulde passe ought of this world to his fader, as he and his disciples seten at the soper, he toke bred and blessid hit and brake hit and seyde, tak this and eteth this: this is my body that schal be take for yow; maketh | this in mynde of me.

And thus, syre, everyche Cristen man that beleveth that Crist is verrey God etith everyche day bred of hevene. And in that he beleveth that Crist is verray man, he eteth everyche day his fleische and his body. And this bred and this flesche is the mete of oure soule. But oure [soule lyveth] not onlyche in this bred, for as Crist seith, a man ne lyveth not in bred alone, but in everyche word that passeth ought of Goddis mouthe. And that worde is the drynk of oure soule. And what maner drynk? In certeyn, clere water of hevenelyche wysdom. Of this water Crist spak on a tyme to the womman of Samarye. For he seyde to that womman, yif thou knewe the yift of God and who he is that seith to the, yif me drynke, peraunter thou woldest an axid of hym and he wolde have yeve the lyvyng water. And thoo the womman seyde, nother thou hast a vessel to drawe up water, and the pitte is depe. From whennes thanne hast thou lyvyng watir? Whether thou be gretter thanne Jacob oure fader that dranke hereof, and his childeren and his bestes? And Crist seyde, everyche man that drinketh of this water schal ben athirst eftsones. But who that drinketh of that water that I wil yeven, he schal nevere ben athirst. For that water that I wil yeven hym schal ben made a well in hym that schal be lepyng into an everelastyng lif.

Of this ilke water drynken alle thilke men that kepen Cristes wordes as he taughte to hem. And thes wordes ben two wordes of love that enclosen alle the ten hestis. The first word of thes is the first and the grettest comaundement of Goddis lawe. And that is, thou schalt love thi lord God aboven alle other thinges. For Crist seith, who that loveth fader or moder, brother or syster, wif or child aboven hym, he ne is not worthi to hym. And who that hatith not his owne lif for me, he ne is not worthi to me.

And who that loveth God in this wyse, | he kepith thre the first of the ten hestis. For he nil thanne heryen no god bot oon. And he wil halewen his halyday, for evereyche day he wil lyven holyliche ought of synne, and so he haleweth not oonlyche the seventhe day, but everiche day of the wyke. And in certeyn, everyche day that a man lyveth in synne is the develes werke day. For that day that a man doth the develes werkes, thanne he servith the devele and not God, thof he synge or rede holy wordes. For ther may no man serve two lordes at ones. And Goddis servise is doyng of goode werkes and levyng of synne, and this is holy day lyvyng, that everiche Cristen man hath that loveth God aboven alle other thinges.

And he kepeth also the thridde heste of the ten, that is, thou schalt not take thi lordes name in veyn. For he that loveth God aboven alle other thinges nyl do nothing that God forbedeth, ne that is desplesyng to God, and thanne he nyl not take Goddis name in veyn. In two maners a man may take Goddis name in veyn. On is whan a man swereth be the name of God there as it is no nede. In another manere a man taketh Goddis name in veyn, whan he clepith God his lord, and yit ne dredith hym not as a servaunt schulde, ne is not buxum to his hestis; other whan a man clepith God his fader, and ne loveth hym nought as a good child schulde, ne is not buxum to his wille. But he that loveth God aboven alle other thinges, he nil not take Goddis name in veyn in noon of thes maners. And so who that kepith this comaundement of love, he kepith thre the first of thes ten hestis.

This love had oure lord Jesu Crist to his fader of hevene, to yeven us ensample how we schulden love oure lord fader of hevene aboven alle other thinges. And in two thinges he schewed his love. On thing was that in al | his techyng and worchyng he soughte the worschipe of his fader and forsok many worschipes and lykynges for he nolde not displesen his fader and breken his heste. *** Whan the peple wolde han i-hadde hym to here kyng, he fleth awey fro hem into the wildernes, for he wolde not displesen his fader. And whan the devel temptid hym and schewid hym al the kyngdoms of the world and the blisse of hem, he seyde to Crist, al this I wil yeve the yif thou wilt falle adoun and heryen me. And Crist seyde, go awey Satanas! It is wryten, thou schalt heryen thi lord God and serven hym al alone. In thes doynges and in many othere, Crist forsoke his owne wurschipes and lykynges to fulfillen the wil of his fader. And in that he scheweth that he lovede hys fader aboven al othere thinges.

In another thing also he schewith this same love, for he suffered wilfullyche what disese men wolden do to hym, bothe of word and of stroke and of deth, for he wolde not ben unbuxum to his fader ne doon ayeyns his wille. For in the nyght beforn his passioun he seyde, the spiryt is redy, but the flesche is seke [?read: weke]. And whan he come to the place there as he wolde make his preyere and knew ful wele how gret a penaunce him was toward, he seyde, Fader, if it mow be, late this cuppe passe awey from me. But neveretheles, | nought as I wole, but as thou wilt. *** Yif we loven so myche oure God that we wulden for his love sufferen the deth, thanne drynk we Cristes blood to sauacioun of oure soule, and of the same cuppe that Crist drank. And for we schulden have mynde how Crist schede his blood for love of his fader and help of his bretheren, a Schire Thorsday at night at the soper, he toke a cuppe with wyn and blesside it and seyde to his disciples, drynketh here of evereychon. This is my blood of a newe testament that schal ben scheed in foryevenes of synnes. And who that loveth God aboven alle othere thinges and byleveth in Cristes passioun, he drynketh Cristes blood to sauacioun of his soule. And but he have this love, he schal not ben i-saued, thof he beleve alle the poyntes of oure beleve. For Seynt Poule seith, thof *** I have everyche byleve in so muche that I mowe meve hulles from here place, and I ne have not charite, I ne am nought; and thof I dele al my good to fede poore men and yeve my body to brenne in the fyre, and I ne have not charite, it profyteth me nothing. Thus, syre, and us lacke charite, nouther beleve ne non other thing schal stonde us to profyght. And in certeyn, the first and the most princypal party of charite, it is to love God aboven alle other thingges. And ther cometh no man to hevene but he have this love, and so drynke of Cristes cuppe. | For Crist bad alle hys disciples drynken of his cuppe, and so thei diden. *** The *** discyples that loveden God aboven alle other thinges and weren redy for his love to suffre the deth, thei drunken of Cristis cuppe and of his blood to the sauacioun of here soules. And afterward thei drunken a cuppe of clere wyne with Crist in the kyngdom of hevene that made here hertes glade. For wyne gladeth mannes hertes and no wyne so myche as that wyne that cometh of hym that is a verrey vyne, and of this wyne schal no man drynke but yif he drynke of the cuppe that I spake of rather. ***

Who that hath this forsayde love to God, *** he offereth also to God the most plesyng offeryng and sacrifice that he may offere to hym. For thoru this love he offereth hymselven to God. *** And among alle the heryinges | of God, the grettest herying is this love. For feith, hope, and charite ben thre heryinges to God. But the grettest herying of God is charite, as Seynt Poule seith. And charite is Cristes lawe in this world and bryngeth a man to the blisse of hevene, the whyche blisse is likyng of love that creatures han to her God and everychon to other. And of this herying of love, ther cometh another gret herying to God, of the whyche heriyng David seyde in the Sauter, a sacrifice to God is a spiryght that is i-trubeled and anoyed for his synne. And God, thou ne wilt not dispisen an herte that is contrit and humulied to the. It is certeyn that yif a man loveth God with al his herte and aboven alle other thinges, whan he knoweth how he hath displesyd God thoru synne, he wil make miche sorowe in his herte for his synne and humylien hymselven ful lowe to God to have foryevenes of his trespas. And in this wyse Mary Maudeleyne hadde foryevenes of hire synnes. For Crist seith, many synnes were foryeven hire for scho loved myche.

And but a man love God with al his herte, and with al his herte forthinkyng his synne, elles be he certeyn that he geteth not of God foryevenesse of his synne. Alle thes prophetes that I have i-told folewen siche men that loven God aboven alle othere thinges.

And Crist seith, the secunde grettest comaundement is i-lyche to this, thou schalt love thi brother as thiselven and in thes two comaundementis hangeth alle the lawe and the prophetes. For who that kepith the first comaundement, he doth alle manere thinges that he oweth to do to God, and he kepith thre the firstes of the ten hestes. And who that kepith the secunde comaundement, he doth alle thinges that he oweth doon to his brother, and kepith the sevene hestes of the ten. For he wurschipeth his aldren, | and not onliche hem, but also his bretheren. And he nyl not sleen his brother, ne defoulen his sister thoru his lust of stynkyng lecherye. Ne he nil be no thef to robben his bretheren. Ne he nyl bere no fals witnes ayeyns his brother. Ne he nyl not coveyten his brother wyf, ne his servaunt, ne non other good that he oweth. Her ben sevene hestes i-kept of the ten that God bad summe tyme in this on heste, thou schalt love thi brother as thiseluen. And so alle the ten hestes ben i-kept in thes two wordes of love. And therfore Seynt Poule seith, who that loveth fulfilleth the lawe.

Also, he that kepith thes two hestis of love, he leveth the sevene dedly synnes.

For he nil not ben proud. For pride, or hit is an unskilful heighnes thoru the whyche a man is unbuxum to God and to his hestes, other it is an unskilful heighnes that a man heigheth hymselven unskilfulliche aboven his bretheren and dispiseth hem. But who that loveth God ne hath not the first pride, and he that loveth his brothere as hymselven ne hath nought the secunde.

Also, he that hath this love leveth coveytise. For he that loveth God nyl desyren nothing that is ayeyns his ordenaunce. And God is so mesurable in yevyng that he hath that he fayleth no man in that thing that hym nedeth, ne granteth no man more than hym nedeth. But coveytouse men that loven here goodis more than God for defaute of love, desireth more than hem nedeth, ayeyn Goddis wille. And for thei loven not here bretheren as hemselven, therfore thei desyren here bretheren goodis to maken hemselven ryche. And of thilk goodis that thei han, thei nyl not departen with here nedy bretheren.

And he that hath this love nyl not lyven in slouthe. For he wil ben aboughte with al his might to serven his God in kepyng his hestis. And after that | grace that he hath undurfongen of God, he wil forsaken his owne lif and putten himself to disese and to travaile for help of his bretheren.

And who that hath this love, he nyl have no dedly wrathe to his brother ne desire no vengeaunce on hym, thof he have i-trespased ful gretliche ayeyns hym.

And he that hath this love nil have non envye to his brother. For nowther he wil be glad of his harme, ne sory of his weele, as envyous men ben. Ne he wyl not bacbiten him, ne speke nothing biforen hym for his harm.

And he that hath this love wyle nought breke the heste of God, ne for his owne lykyng bryngen his brother ne his sister into grete mischef and sorowe, as thes foule lechoures doon that for here stynkyng lustes bryngen here bretheren and here sisteren into the develes servise and his thraldom from the servise of God, and afterward into the endeles peyne of helle, that is a sorowe withouten mirthe.

And he that hath this luf wile not take his mete ne his drynke but in mesure as hym nedith. For who that doth glotonye *** taketh his mete and drynk ayeyn the wille of [?read: and] ordinaunce of God. And siche a glotoun and a wastoure devoureth many mennes liflode, bothe to his owne harm and to harm of his bretheren, for defaute of love.

Thus a man leveth the sevene dedly synnes that kepith the two comaundementes of love.

And who that hath this luf, he doth the werkes of mercy. For yif he seeth his brotherre anhungred, he wil yeve hym mete. And if he is athirst, he wil yeve hym drynke. And if he be naked, he wil yeven hym clothes. And if he lacke herborewe, he wil leenen hym an hous. And yif he be seke othere in prisone, he wole visiten hym and conforten hym. And if he be ded, he byryeth his body in the erthe. Thes ben the werkes of love | and of mercy that men wolen doon that kepen the two forseyde comaundementes of love. ***

And in certeyn, alle thinges that Crist biddeth doon to oure bretheren, or it is love, or it cometh ought of love, or it norischeth love. Crist seyde to his disciples, this is my comaundement, that ye loven togedere as I have loved yow. And in this men schul knowe that ye ben my disciples, yif ye loven togedere. And what manere of love ye schul have to youre bretheren, Crist techith in that word, do ye to othere men as ye wil that othere men do to yow. He seith also, *** blesseth hem that cursen yow, and preyeth for hem that purswen yow and that desclaundren yow, that ye ben youre fadres childeren that is in hevene, that maketh his sone risen upon good men and upon yvul men, and reyghneth upon rightful men and upon unrightful men. For if ye loveth onliche thilk that loven yow, what mede schul ye have? So doon puplicanes. And if ye gretteth oonliche yowre owne bretheren, what schul ye doon more? So doon hethen men. Wherfore, be ye perfyght as youre hevenely fadre is perfight. *** Crist techeth us to love oure enemyes as oureselven. For the Samaritan and the Jew that was i-woundid weren enemys. And yit he hadde reuthe of hym and dide to hym as he wolde that men diden to hym. And so every Cristen man schulde loven his enemy as hymselven. And therfore Seynt Poule seith, yif thin enemy is anhungred, yif him mete. And if he is athirst, yeve hym drynk. And yif thou dost so, thou schalt gedere to hepe coles of fuyr upon is hede. ***

This love and charite is Cristes lawe, and for we schulden not lesen this charite, Crist chargeth us with six vertues that comen out of love and | [norischen love. Oon of thes is myldnesse. Seynt Poule seith, yeldeth] no man yvul for yvul, but doth and ordeyneth goode thinges, not oonliche before God but also beforen alle goode men. And yif hit mow be that in yow is, have ye pees with alle men. And ne defendeth not youreselven, but yeveth place to wrathe. For it is i-write, to me vengeaunce and I wil yelden ayeyn, seith God. ***

And right as in the oolde testament men foughten for here lawe and for here rightfulnes, right so men schulden in this new testament sufferen and nought fyghten for rightfulnesse. ***

And sith Cristis lawe is charite, and pacience is a condicioun of charite, nedeliche who that wil kepe Goddis lawe mut be pacient and sufferynge, and certeyn elles he foleweth nought Crist. And sore adrade mowe thes proud men ben that seyen that thei mowe not sufferen for schame of the world. It is certeyn that he that is aschamed to sufferen, is aschamed to knowleche that he is Cristis servaunt, that suffered ful myche. And Crist seith, who that is aschamed to knowleche me and my wordes before men, I wil ben aschamed to knowleche hym before my fader in hevene. ***

Of mekenesse, that is another vertu that cometh ought of love and norischeth love also, Crist seith, i-blessed be meke men, for thei schullen i-see God. And of alle thinges that Crist hath taughte his disciples, oon of the moost was that thei schulden ben humble and meke. In a tyme ther was a stryvyng betwyne the disciples whyche of hem were grettest. And Crist seyde, kynges of mysbeleved men haven lordschipe of hem. And thilk that han power upon hem ben i-cleped wel-doeres. But it schal not be so among yow, but he that is grettest of yow schal ben as the yongeste, and he that is a forgoere, be he as a servaunt. For whether is he that sitteth at the mete grettere then he that serveth? Ne is he not that sitteth at the mete? But I among yow as he that serveth. ***

Of porenesse in spiright Crist speketh and seith, i-blessed ben pore men in spyright, for the kyngdom of hevene is heres. And woo to riche men, for thei han here counfort in this world. Suche men ben pore in spiright that wilne not to ben riche, but desiren that hem nedeth and no more. And so thilk that han litul good, yif thei desiren to be riche, thei ben not pore in spiright, but thei ben coveytous | for defaught of love. And coveytise distrieth love. Right so, porenesse in spiright cometh ought of love and norischeith love also. And ther is no trewe Cristen man but yif he have this porenesse in spiright. *** Sithen a Cristen man ne schulde not ben bisy in his thought aboute his mete, ne aboute his drynk, ne aboute his clothing, and yit hym nedeth al this to his lyvyng, for nothing he ne schulde not be besy to gete myche richesse, for that nedeth not to a mannes lyvyng. And sith God doth al that he doth in mesure, and is so mesurable in yevyng that he ne yeveth no man more then hym nedeth, ne fayleth no man in that thing that him nedit, a gret synne it is to wilne more than a man nedith. For it is coveytise. And he that holdeth Goddis goodes in his kepyng to spende hem for is owne lust, ther as it is no nede, it is certeyn that he holdeth thilk goodis ayeyns Goddis wille, and thanne he is a thef that robbeth God of his goodis--and not oonliche God, but othere pore men also that neden siche goodis. For God ne yeveth nought to oo man more richesse than to a nother oonliche for hymselven, but for he schulde departen it among his nedy bretheren. And but a man do thus, he nis not in charite. For as Seynt Joon seith, who that hath substaunce of the world and seeth his brother have nede, yif he close his herte from | his brothere, how dwellith the charite of God withinne hym? And therfore he seith, ne love we not in word ne in tunge but in dede and in treuthe. *** And herfore, sire, be ye pore in spiright and leveth covetise yif ye thinken come to hevene. For coveytise is a service of fals goddis, as Seynt Poule seith. And siche schul not have | the kyngdome of hevene, as he seith in certen.

Treuthe is another vertu that cometh ought of love, and norischeth love also. For who that loveth God, he wole love trewthe and be trewe bothe in werk and in word. For God hymself is treuthe and endeles trewe. *** And for Crist wolde that his servauntes weren perfyght bothe in love and in treuthe, right as he made an ende of alle maner untreuthe, right so in his cummyng he made an ende of othes, that nevere weren i-ordeyned but for defaute of treuthe. For among trewe men nedeth noon othes. And herfore Crist seith, it was seyd sumtyme, thou schalt not forswere the but thou schalt yelde to God thin othes. But I sey yow that ye sweren for no thing *** but [y]oure word be ye, ye, nay, nay. And that that is more than this is of yvul. ***

Chastite is the sixte vertu that cometh ought of love, and noryscheth love also. For he that loveth God nyl not take no lust that is displesyng to God, ne that is harmeful to his brother ne to his sister. And Crist [seyth, it was] seyde summe tyme thou schalt doon no lecherie, but I seye yow, who that seth a womman for to coveyten hire, he hath doon lecherye in his herte with that womman. And therfore, yif thi right eye sclaundre the, pul hym ought and throw hym awey from the, for hit is spedeful to the that on of thi membris perysche than al thi body go into the fuyr of helle. ***

Sire, in thes two comaundementes of love is al goodnesse fulfild and al evel eschewed. And so the lyvynge of oure soule and the right weye to hevene is to belevyn stedefastliche in Crist and to kepe thes two comaundementes of love... [From "A" manuscript: God and to oure evene-Cristen. And God graunt that we so doo!]

15 March 1999 / pfs

Copyright © 1998, 1999 Paul F. Schaffner
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