“The place that Jesus taketh in our soul He shall never remove from, without end:—for in us His homliest home and His endless dwelling.” “Our soul can never have rest in things that are beneath itself—yet may it not abide in the beholding of its self”
And then our Lord opened my spiritual eye and shewed me my soul in midst of my heart. I saw the Soul so large as it were an endless world, and as it were a blissful kingdom. And by the conditions that I saw therein I understood that it is a worshipful City. In the midst of that City sitteth our Lord Jesus, God and Man, a fair Person of large stature, highest Bishop, most majestic King, most worshipful Lord; and I saw Him clad majestically. And worshipfully He sitteth in the Soul, even-right in peace and rest. And the Godhead ruleth and sustaineth heaven and earth and all that is,—sovereign Might, sovereign Wisdom, and sovereign Goodness,—[but] the place that Jesus taketh in our Soul He shall never remove it, without end, as to my sight: for in us is His homliest home and His endless dwelling.
And in this [sight] He shewed the satisfying that He hath of the making of Man’s Soul. For as well as the Father might make a creature, and as well as the Son could make a creature, so well would the Holy Ghost that Man’s Soul were made: and so it was done. And therefore the blessed Trinity enjoyeth without end in the making of Man’s Soul: for He saw from without beginning what should please Him without end. All thing that He hath made sheweth His Lordship,—as understanding was given at the same time by example of a creature that is to see great treasures and kingdoms belonging to a lord; and when it had seen all the nobleness beneath, then, marvelling, it was moved to seek above to the high place where the lord dwelleth, knowing, by reason, that his dwelling is in the worthiest place. And thus I understood in verity that our Soul may never have rest in things that are beneath itself. And when it cometh above all creatures into the Self, yet may it not abide in the beholding of its Self, but all the beholding is blissfully set in God that is the Maker dwelling therein. For in Man’s Soul is His very dwelling; and the highest light and the brightest shining of the City is the glorious love of our Lord, as to my sight.
And what may make us more to enjoy in God than to see in Him that He enjoyeth in the highest of all His works? For I saw in the same Shewing that if the blessed Trinity might have made Man’s Soul any better, any fairer, any nobler than it was made, He should not have been full pleased with the making of Man’s Soul. And He willeth that our hearts be mightily raised above the deepness of the earth and all vain sorrows, and rejoice in Him.
“He said not: Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be afflicted; but He said: Thou shalt not be overcome”
This was a delectable Sight and a restful Shewing, that it is so without end. The beholding of this while we are here is full pleasing to God and full great profit to us; and the soul that thus beholdeth, it maketh it like to Him that is beheld, and oneth it in rest and peace by His grace. And this was a singular joy and bliss to me that I saw Him sitting: for the [quiet] secureness of sitting sheweth endless dwelling.
And He gave me to know soothfastly that it was He that shewed me all afore. And when I had beheld this with heedfulness, then shewed our good Lord words full meekly without voice and without opening of lips, right as He had [afore] done, and said full sweetly: Wit it now well that it was no raving that thou sawest to-day: but take it and believe it, and keep thee therein, and comfort thee therewith, and trust thou thereto: and thou shalt not be overcome.
These Last Words were said for believing and true sureness that it is our Lord Jesus that shewed me all. And right as in the first word that our good Lord shewed, signifying His blissful Passion,—Herewith is the devil overcome,—right so He said in the last word, with full true secureness, meaning us all: Thou shalt not be overcome. And all this teaching in this true comfort, it is general, to all mine even-Christians, as it is aforesaid: and so is God’s will.
And this word: Thou shalt not be overcome, was said full clearly and full mightily, for assuredness and comfort against all tribulations that may come. He said not: Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shall not be travailed, thou shah not be afflicted; but He said: Thou shalt not be overcome. God willeth that we take heed to these words, and that we be ever strong in sure trust, in weal and woe. For He loveth and enjoyeth us, and so willeth He that we love and enjoy Him and mightily trust in Him; and all shall be well.
And soon after, all was close and I saw no more.
“I was delivered from the Enemy by the virtue of Christ’s Passion”
After this the Fiend came again with his heat and with his stench, and gave me much ado, the stench was so vile and so painful, and also dreadful and travailous. Also I heard a bodily jangling, as if it had been of two persons; and both, to my thinking, jangled at one time as if they had holden a parliament with a great busy-ness; and all was soft muttering, so that I understood nought that they said. And all this was to stir me to despair, as methought,—seeming to me as [though] they mocked at praying of prayers which are said boisterously with [the] mouth, failing [of] devout attending and wise diligence: the which we owe to God in our prayers.
And our Lord God gave me grace mightily for to trust in Him, and to comfort my soul with bodily speech as I should have done to another person that had been travailed. Methought that busy-ness might not be likened to no bodily busy-ness. My bodily eye I set in the same Cross where I had been in comfort afore that time; my tongue with speech of Christ’s Passion and rehearsing the Faith of Holy Church; and my heart to fasten on God with all the trust and the might. And I thought to myself, saying: Thou hast now great busy-ness to keep thee in the Faith for that thou shouldst not be taken of the Enemy: wouldst thou now from this time evermore be so busy to keep thee from sin, this were a good and a sovereign occupation! For I thought in sooth were I safe from sin, I were full safe from all the fiends of hell and enemies of my soul.
And thus he occupied me all that night, and on the morn till it was about prime day. And anon they were all gone, and all passed; and they left nothing but stench, and that lasted still awhile; and I scorned him.
And thus was I delivered from him by the virtue of Christ’s Passion: for therewith is the Fiend overcome, as our Lord Jesus Christ said afore.
“Above the Faith is no goodness kept in this life, as to my sight, and beneath the Faith is no help of soul; but inthe Faith, there willeth the Lord that we keep us”
In all this blessed Shewing our good Lord gave understanding that the Sight should pass: which blessed Shewing the Faith keepeth, with His own good will and His grace. For He left with me neither sign nor token whereby I might know it, but He left with me His own blessed word in true understanding, bidding me full mightily that I should believe it. And so I do,—Blessed may He be!—I believe that He is our Saviour that shewed it, and that it is the Faith that He shewed: and therefore I believe it, rejoicing. And thereto I am bounden by all His own meaning, with the next words that follow: Keep thee therein, and comfort thee therewith, and trust thou thereto.
Thus I am bounden to keep it in my faith. For on the same day that it was shewed, what time that the Sight was passed, as a wretch I forsook it, and openly I said that I had raved. Then our Lord Jesus of His mercy would not let it perish, but He showed it all again within in my soul with more fulness, with the blessed light of His precious love: saying these words full mightily and full meekly: Wit it now well: it was no raving that thou sawest this day. As if He had said: For that the Sight was passed from thee, thou losedst it and hadst not skill to keep it. But wit it now; that is to say, now that thou seest it. This was said not only for that same time, but also to set thereupon the ground of my faith when He saith anon following: But take it, believe it, and keep thee therein and comfort thee therewith and trust thou thereto; and thou shalt not be overcome.
In these six words that follow (Take it—[etc.]) His meaning is to fasten it faithfully in our heart: for He willeth that it dwell with us in faith to our life’s end, and after in fulness of joy, desiring that we have ever steadfast trust in His blissful behest—knowing His Goodness.
For our faith is contraried in diverse manners by our own blindness, and our spiritual enemy, within and without; and therefore our precious Lover helpeth us with spiritual sight and true teaching in sundry manners within and without, whereby that we may know Him. And therefore in whatsoever manner He teacheth us, He willeth that we perceive Him wisely, receive Him sweetly, and keep us in Him faithfully. For above the Faith is no goodness kept in this life, as to my sight, and beneath the Faith is no help of soul; but in the Faith, there willeth the Lord that we keep us. For we have by His goodness and His own working to keep us in the Faith; and by His sufferance through ghostly enmity we are assayed in the Faith and made mighty. For if our faith had none enmity, it should deserve no meed, according to the understanding that I have in all our Lord’s teaching.
“Three manners of looking seen in our Lord’s Countenance”
Glad and joyous and sweet is the Blissful lovely Cheer of our Lord to our souls. For He [be]holdeth us ever, living in love-longing: and He willeth that our soul be in glad cheer to Him, to give Him His meed. And thus, I hope, with His grace He hath [drawn], and more shall draw, the Outer Cheer to the Inner Cheer, and make us all one with Him, and each of us with other, in true lasting joy that is Jesus.
I have signifying of Three manners of Cheer of our Lord. The first is Cheer of Passion, as He shewed while He was here in this life, dying. Though this [manner of] Beholding be mournful and troubled, yet it is glad and joyous: for He is God.—The second manner of Cheer is [of] Ruth and Compassion: and this sheweth He, with sureness of Keeping, to all His lovers that betake them to His mercy. The third is the Blissful Cheer, as it shall be without end: and this was [shewed] oftenest and longest-continued.
And thus in the time of our pain and our woe He sheweth us Cheer of His Passion and His Cross, helping us to bear it by His own blessed virtue. And in the time of our sinning He sheweth to us Cheer of Ruth and Pity, mightily keeping us and defending us against all our enemies. And these be the common Cheer which He sheweth to us in this life; therewith mingling the third: and that is His Blissful Cheer, like, in part, as it shall be in Heaven. And that [shewing is] by gracious touching and sweet lighting of the spiritual life, whereby that we are kept in sure faith, hope, and charity, with contrition and devotion, and also with contemplation and all manner of true solace and sweet comforts.
“As long as we be meddling with any part of sin we shall never see clearly the Blissful Countenance of our Lord”
But now behoveth me to tell in what manner I saw sin deadly in the creatures which shall not die for sin, but live in the joy of God without end.
I saw that two contrary things should never be together in one place. The most contrary that are, is the highest bliss and the deepest pain. The highest bliss that is, is to have Him in clarity of endless life, Him verily seeing, Him sweetly feeling, all-perfectly having in fulness of joy. And thus was the Blissful Cheer of our Lord shewed in Pity: in which Shewing I saw that sin is most contrary,—so far forth that as long as we be meddling with any part of sin, we shall never see clearly the Blissful Cheer of our Lord. And the more horrible and grievous that our sins be, the deeper are we for that time from this blissful sight. And therefore it seemeth to us oftentimes as we were in peril of death, in a part of hell, for the sorrow and pain that the sin is to us. And thus we are dead for the time from the very sight of our blissful life. But in all this I saw soothfastly that we be not dead in the sight of God, nor He passeth never from us. But He shall never have His full bliss in us till we have our full bliss in Him, verily seeing His fair Blissful Cheer. For we are ordained thereto in nature, and get thereto by grace. Thus I saw how sin is deadly for a short time in the blessed creatures of endless life.
And ever the more clearly that the soul seeth this Blissful Cheer by grace of loving, the more it longeth to see it in fulness. For notwithstanding that our Lord God dwelleth in us and is here with us, and albeit He claspeth us and encloseth us for tender love that He may never leave us, and is more near to us than tongue can tell or heart can think, yet may we never stint of moaning nor of weeping nor of longing till when we see Him clearly in His Blissful Countenance. For in that precious blissful sight there may no woe abide, nor any weal fail.
And in this I saw matter of mirth and matter of moaning: matter of mirth: for our Lord, our Maker, is so near to us, and in us, and we in Him, by sureness of keeping through His great goodness; matter of moaning: for our ghostly eye is so blind and we be so borne down by weight of our mortal flesh and darkness of sin, that we may not see our Lord God clearly in His fair Blissful Cheer. No; and because of this dimness scarsely we can believe and trust His great love and our sureness of keeping. And therefore it is that I say we may never stint of moaning nor of weeping. This “weeping” meaneth not all in pouring out of tears by our bodily eye, but also hath more ghostly understanding. For the kindly desire of our soul is so great and so unmeasurable, that if there were given us for our solace and for our comfort all the noble things that ever God made in heaven and in earth, and we saw not the fair Blissful Cheer of Himself, yet we should not stint of moaning nor ghostly weeping, that is to say, of painful longing, till when we [should] see verily the fair Blissful Cheer of our Maker. And if we were in all the pain that heart can think and tongue may tell, if we might in that time see His fair Blissful Cheer, all this pain should not aggrieve us.
Thus is that Blissful Sight [the] end of all manner of pain to the loving soul, and the fulfilling of all manner of joy and bliss. And that shewed He in the high, marvellous words where He said: I it am that is highest; I it am that is lowest; I it am that is all.
It belongeth to us to have three manner of knowings: the first is that we know our Lord God; the second is that we know our self: what we are by Him, in Nature and Grace; the third is that we know meekly what our self is anent our sin and feebleness. And for these three was all the Shewing made, as to mine understanding.
“Two manners of sickness that we have: impatience, or sloth;—despair, or mistrustful dread”
All the blessed teaching of our Lord was shewed by three parts: that is to say, by bodily sight, and by word formed in mine understanding, and by spiritual sight. For the bodily sight, I have said as I saw, as truly as I can; and for the words, I have said them right as our Lord shewed them to me; and for the spiritual sight, I have told some deal, but I may never fully tell it: and therefore of this sight I am stirred to say more, as God will give me grace.
God shewed two manners of sickness that we have: the one is impatience, or sloth: for we bear our travail and our pains heavily; the other is despair, or doubtful dread, which I shall speak of after. Generally, He shewed sin, wherein that all is comprehended, but in special He shewed only these two. And these two are they that most do travail and tempest us, according to that which our Lord shewed me; and of them He would have us be amended. I speak of such men and women as for God’s love hate sin and dispose themselves to do God’s will: then by our spiritual blindness and bodily heaviness we are most inclining to these. And therefore it is God’s will that they be known, for then we shall refuse them as we do other sins.
And for help of this, full meekly our Lord shewed the patience that He had in His Hard Passion; and also the joying and the satisfying that He hath of that Passion, for love. And this He shewed in example that we should gladly and wisely bear our pains, for that is great pleasing to Him and endless profit to us. And the cause why we are travailed with them is for lack in knowing of Love. Though the three Persons in the Trinity be all even in Itself, the soul took most understanding in Love; yea, and He willeth that in all things we have our beholding and our enjoying in Love. And of this knowing are we most blind. For some of us believe that God is Almighty and may do all, and that He is All-Wisdom and can do all; but that He is All-Love and will do all, there we stop short. And this not-knowing it is, that hindereth most God’s lovers, as to my sight.
For when we begin to hate sin, and amend us by the ordinance of Holy Church, yet there dwelleth a dread that letteth us, because of the beholding of our self and of our sins afore done. And some of us because of our every-daily sins: for we hold not our Covenants, nor keep we our cleanness that our Lord setteth us in, but fall oftentimes into so much wretchedness that shame it is to see it. And the beholding of this maketh us so sorry and so heavy, that scarsely we can find any comfort.
And this dread we take sometime for a meekness, but it is a foul blindness and a weakness. And we cannot despise it as we do another sin, that we know [as sin]: for it cometh [subtly] of Enmity, and it is against truth. For it is God’s will that of all the properties of the blissful Trinity, we should have most sureness and comfort in Love: for Love maketh Might and Wisdom full meek to us. For right as by the courtesy of God He forgiveth our sin after the time that we repent us, right so willeth He that we forgive our sin, as anent our unskilful heaviness and our doubtful dreads.
“There is no dread that fully pleaseth God in us but reverent dread”
For I understand [that there be] four manner of dreads. One is the dread of an affright that cometh to a man suddenly by frailty. This dread doeth good, for it helpeth to purge man, as doeth bodily sickness or such other pain as is not sin. For all such pains help man if they be patiently taken. The second is dread of pain, whereby man is stirred and wakened from sleep of sin. He is not able for the time to perceive the soft comfort of the Holy Ghost, till he have understanding of this dread of pain, of bodily death, of spiritual enemies; and this dread stirreth us to seek comfort and mercy of God, and thus this dread helpeth us, and enableth us to have contrition by the blissful touching of the Holy Ghost. The third is doubtful dread. Doubtful dread in as much as it draweth to despair, God will have it turned in us into love by the knowing of love: that is to say, that the bitterness of doubt be turned into the sweetness of natural love by grace. For it may never please our Lord that His servants doubt in His Goodness. The fourth is reverent dread: for there is no dread that fully pleaseth God in us but reverent dread. And that is full soft, for the more it is had, the less it is felt for sweetness of love.
Love and Dread are brethren, and they are rooted in us by the Goodness of our Maker, and they shall never be taken from us without end. We have of nature to love and we have of grace to love: and we have of nature to dread and we have of grace to dread. It belongeth to the Lordship and to the Fatherhood to be dreaded, as it belongeth to the Goodness to be loved: and it belongeth to us that are His servants and His children to dread Him for Lordship and Fatherhood, as it belongeth to us to love Him for Goodness.
And though this reverent-dread and love be not parted asunder, yet they are not both one, but they are two in property and in working, and neither of them may be had without other. Therefore I am sure, he that loveth, he dreadeth, though that he feel it but a little.
All dreads other than reverent dread that are proffered to us, though they come under the colour of holiness yet are not so true, and hereby may they be known asunder.—That dread that maketh us hastily to flee from all that is not good and fall into our Lord’s breast, as the Child into the Mother’s bosom, with all our intent and with all our mind, knowing our feebleness and our great need, knowing His everlasting goodness and His blissful love, only seeking to Him for salvation, cleaving to [Him] with sure trust: that dread that bringeth us into this working, it is natural, gracious, good and true. And all that is contrary to this, either it is wrong, or it is mingled with wrong. Then is this the remedy, to know them both and refuse the wrong.
For the natural property of dread which we have in this life by the gracious working of the Holy Ghost, the same shall be in heaven afore God, gentle, courteous, and full delectable. And thus we shall in love be homely and near to God, and we shall in dread be gentle and courteous to God: and both alike equal.
Desire we of our Lord God to dread Him reverently, to love Him meekly, to trust in Him mightily; for when we dread Him reverently and love Him meekly our trust is never in vain. For the more that we trust, and the more mightily, the more we please and worship our Lord that we trust in. And if we fail in this reverent dread and meek love (as God forbid we should!), our trust shall soon be misruled for the time. And therefore it needeth us much to pray our Lord of grace that we may have this reverent dread and meek love, of His gift, in heart and in work. For without this, no man may please God.
“We shall see verily the cause of all things that He hath done; and evermore we shall see the cause of all things that He hath permitted”
I saw that God can do all that we need. And these three that I shall speak of we need: love, longing, pity. Pity in love keepeth us in the time of our need; and longing in the same love draweth us up into Heaven. For the Thirst of God is to have the general Man unto Him: in which thirst He hath drawn His Holy that be now in bliss; and getting His lively members, ever He draweth and drinketh, and yet He thirsteth and longeth.
I saw three manners of longing in God, and all to one end; of which we have the same in us, and by the same virtue and for the same end.
The first is, that He longeth to teach us to know Him and love Him evermore, as it is convenient and speedful to us. The second is, that He longeth to have us up to His Bliss, as souls are when they are taken out of pain into Heaven. The third is to fulfill us in bliss; and that shall be on the Last Day, fulfilled ever to last. For I saw, as it is known in our Faith, that the pain and the sorrow shall be ended to all that shall be saved. And not only we shall receive the same bliss that souls afore have had in heaven, but also we shall receive a new [bliss], which plenteously shall be flowing out of God into us and shall fulfill us; and these be the goods which He hath ordained to give us from without beginning. These goods are treasured and hid in Himself; for unto that time [no] Creature is mighty nor worthy to receive them.
In this [fulfilling] we shall see verily the cause of all things that He hath done; and evermore we shall see the cause of all things that He hath suffered. And the bliss and the fulfilling shall be so deep and so high that, for wonder and marvel, all creatures shall have to God so great reverent dread, overpassing that which hath been seen and felt before, that the pillars of heaven shall tremble and quake. But this manner of trembling and dread shall have no pain; but it belongeth to the worthy might of God thus to be beholden by His creatures, in great dread trembling and quaking for meekness of joy, marvelling at the greatness of God the Maker and at the littleness of all that is made. For the beholding of this maketh the creature marvellously meek and mild.
Wherefore God willeth—and also it belongeth to us, both in nature and grace—that we wit and know of this, desiring this sight and this working; for it leadeth us in right way, and keepeth us in true life, and oneth us to God. And as good as God is, so great He is; and as much as it belongeth to His goodness to be loved, so much it belongeth to His greatness to be dreaded. For this reverent dread is the fair courtesy that is in Heaven afore God’s face. And as much as He shall then be known and loved overpassing that He is now, in so much He shall be dreaded overpassing that He is now. Wherefore it behoveth needs to be that all Heaven and earth shall tremble and quake when the pillars shall tremble and quake.
“The soul that beholdeth the fair nature of our Lord Jesus, it hateth no hell but sin”
I speak but little of reverent dread, for I hope it may be seen in this matter aforesaid. But well I wot our Lord shewed me no souls but those that dread Him. For well I wot the soul that truly taketh the teaching of the Holy Ghost, it hateth more sin for vileness and horribleness than it doth all the pain that is in hell. For the soul that beholdeth the fair nature of our Lord Jesus, it hateth no hell but sin, as to my sight. And therefore it is God’s will that we know sin, and pray busily and travail earnestly and seek teaching meekly that we fall not blindly therein; and if we fall, that we rise readily. For it is the most pain that the soul may have, to turn from God any time by sin.
The soul that willeth to be in rest when [an] other man’s sin cometh to mind, he shall flee it as the pain of hell, seeking unto God for remedy, for help against it. For the beholding of other man’s sins, it maketh as it were a thick mist afore the eyes of the soul, and we cannot, for the time, see the fairness of God, but if we may behold them with contrition with him, with compassion on him, and with holy desire to God for him. For without this it harmeth and tempesteth and hindereth the soul that beholdeth them. For this I understood in the Shewing of Compassion.
In this blissful Shewing of our Lord I have understanding of two contrary things: the one is the most wisdom that any creature may do in this life, the other is the most folly. The most wisdom is for a creature to do after the will and counsel of his highest sovereign Friend. This blessed Friend is Jesus, and it is His will and His counsel that we hold us with Him, and fasten us to Him homely—evermore, in what state soever that we be; for whether-so that we be foul or clean, we are all one in His loving. For weal nor for woe He willeth never we flee from Him. But because of the changeability that we are in, in our self, we fall often into sin. Then we have this [doubting dread] by the stirring of our enemy and by our own folly and blindness: for they say thus: Thou seest well thou art a wretched creature, a sinner, and also unfaithful. For thou keepest not the Command; thou dost promise oftentimes our Lord that thou shalt do better, and anon after, thou fallest again into the same, especially into sloth and losing of time. (For that is the beginning of sin, as to my sight,—and especially to the creatures that have given them to serve our Lord with inward beholding of His blessed Goodness.) And this maketh us adread to appear afore our courteous Lord. Thus is it our enemy that would put us aback with his false dread, [by reason] of our wretchedness, through pain that he threateth us with. For it is his meaning to make us so heavy and so weary in this, that we should let out of mind the fair, Blissful Beholding of our Everlasting Friend.
“Accuse not thyself overmuch, deeming that thy tribulation and thy woe is all thy fault.” “All thy living is penance profitable.” “In the remedy He willeth that we rejoice”
Our good Lord shewed the enmity of the Fiend: in which Shewing I understood that all that is contrary to love and peace is of the Fiend and of his part. And we have, of our feebleness and our folly, to fall; and we have, of mercy and grace of the Holy Ghost, to rise to more joy. And if our enemy aught winneth of us by our falling, (for it is his pleasure,) he loseth manifold more in our rising by charity and meekness. And this glorious rising, it is to him so great sorrow and pain for the hate that he hath to our soul, that he burneth continually in envy. And all this sorrow that he would make us to have, it shall turn to himself. And for this it was that our Lord scorned him, and [it was] this [that] made me mightily to laugh.
Then is this the remedy, that we be aware of our wretchedness and flee to our Lord: for ever the more needy that we be, the more speedful it is to us to draw nigh to Him. And let us say thus in our thinking: I know well I have a shrewd pain; but our Lord is All-Mighty and may punish me mightily; and He is All-Wisdom and can punish me discerningly; and He is All-Goodness and loveth me full tenderly. And in this beholding it is necessary for us to abide; for it is a lovely meekness of a sinful soul, wrought by mercy and grace of the Holy Ghost, when we willingly and gladly take the scourge and chastening of our Lord that Himself will give us. And it shall be full tender and full easy, if that we will only hold us satisfied with Him and with all His works.
For the penance that man taketh of himself was not shewed me: that is to say, it was not shewed specified. But specially and highly and with full lovely manner of look was it shewed that we shall meekly bear and suffer the penance that God Himself giveth us, with mind in His blessed Passion. (For when we have mind in His blessed Passion, with pity and love, then we suffer with Him like as His friends did that saw it. And this was shewed in the Thirteenth Shewing, near the beginning, where it speaketh of Pity.) For He saith: Accuse not [thy]self overdone much, deeming that thy tribulation and thy woe is all for thy fault; for I will not that thou be heavy or sorrowful indiscreetly. For I tell thee, howsoever thou do, thou shalt have woe. And therefore I will that thou wisely know thy penance; and [thou] shalt see in truth that all thy living is penance profitable.
This place is prison and this life is penance, and in the remedy He willeth that we rejoice. The remedy is that our Lord is with us, keeping and leading into the fulness of joy. For this is an endless joy to us in our Lord’s signifying, that He that shall be our bliss when we are there, He is our keeper while we are here. Our way and our heaven is true love and sure trust; and of this He gave understanding in all [the Shewings] and especially in the Shewing of the Passion where He made me mightily to choose Him for my heaven.
Flee we to our Lord and we shall be comforted, touch we Him and we shall be made clean, cleave we to Him and we shall be sure, and safe from all manner of peril.
For our courteous Lord willeth that we should be as homely with Him as heart may think or soul may desire. But [let us] beware that we take not so recklessly this homeliness as to leave courtesy. For our Lord Himself is sovereign homeliness, and as homely as He is, so courteous He is: for He is very courteous. And the blessed creatures that shall be in heaven with Him without end, He will have them like to Himself in all things. And to be like our Lord perfectly, it is our very salvation and our full bliss.
And if we wot not how we shall do all this, desire we of our Lord and He shall teach us: for it is His own good-pleasure and His worship; blessed may He be!
“Though we be highly lifted up into contemplation by the special gift of our Lord, yet it is needful to us to have knowledge and sight of our sin and our feebleness”
Our Lord of His mercy sheweth us our sin and our feebleness by the sweet gracious light of Himself; for our sin is so vile and so horrible that He of His courtesy will not shew it to us but by the light of His grace and mercy. Of four things therefore it is His will that we have knowing: the first is, that He is our Ground from whom we have all our life and our being. The second is, that He keepeth us mightily and mercifully in the time that we are in our sin and among all our enemies, that are full fell upon us; and so much we are in the more peril for [that] we give them occasion thereto, and know not our own need. The third is, how courteously He keepeth us, and maketh us to know that we go amiss. The fourth is, how steadfastly He abideth us and changeth no regard: for He willeth that we be turned [again], and oned to Him in love as He is to us.
And thus by this gracious knowing we may see our sin profitably without despair. For truly we need to see it, and by the sight we shall be made ashamed of our self and brought down as anent our pride and presumption; for it behoveth us verily to see that of ourselves we are right nought but sin and wretchedness. And thus by the sight of the less that our Lord sheweth us, the more is reckoned which we see not. For He of His courtesy measureth the sight to us; for it is so vile and so horrible that we should not endure to see it as it is. And by this meek knowing after this manner, through contrition and grace we shall be broken from all that is not our Lord. And then shall our blessed Saviour perfectly heal us, and one us to Him.
This breaking and this healing our Lord meaneth for the general Man. For he that is highest and nearest with God, he may see himself sinful—and needeth to—with me; and I that am the least and lowest that shall be saved, I may be comforted with him that is highest: so hath our Lord oned us in charity; [as] where He shewed me that I should sin.
And for joy that I had in beholding of Him I attended not readily to that Shewing, and our courteous Lord stopped there and would not further teach me till that He gave me grace and will to attend. And hereby was I learned that though we be highly lifted up into contemplation by the special gift of our Lord, yet it is needful to us therewith to have knowing and sight of our sin and our feebleness. For without this knowing we may not have true meekness, and without this [meekness] we may not be saved.
And afterward, also, I saw that we may not have this knowing from our self; nor from none of all our spiritual enemies: for they will us not so great good. For if it were by their will, we should not see it until our ending day. Then be we greatly beholden to God for that He will Himself, for love, shew it to us in time of mercy and grace.
“I was taught that I should see mine own sin, and not other men’s sin except it may be for comfort and help of my fellow-Christians” (lxxvi.)
Also I had of this [Revelation] more understanding. In that He shewed me that I should sin, I took it nakedly to mine own singular person, for I was none otherwise shewed at that time. But by the high, gracious comfort of our Lord that followed after, I saw that His meaning was for the general Man: that is to say, All-Man; which is sinful and shall be unto the last day. Of which Man I am a member, as I hope, by the mercy of God. For the blessed comfort that I saw, it is large enough for us all. And here was I learned that I should see mine own sin, and not other men’s sins but if it may be for comfort and help of mine even-Christians.
And also in this same Shewing where I saw that I should sin, there was I learned to be in dread for unsureness of myself. For I wot not how I shall fall, nor I know not the measure nor the greatness of sin; for that would I have wist, with dread, and thereto I had none answer.
Also our courteous Lord in the same time He shewed full surely and mightily the endlessness and the unchangeability of His love; and, afterward, that by His great goodness and His grace inwardly keeping, the love of Him and our soul shall never be disparted in two, without end.
And thus in this dread I have matter of meekness that saveth me from presumption, and in the blessed Shewing of Love I have matter of true comfort and of joy that saveth me from despair. All this homely Shewing of our courteous Lord, it is a lovely lesson and a sweet, gracious teaching of Himself in comforting of our soul. For He willeth that we [should] know by the sweetness and homely loving of Him, that all that we see or feel, within or without, that is contrary to this is of the enemy and not of God. And thus;—If we be stirred to be the more reckless of our living or of the keeping of our hearts because that we have knowing of this plenteous love, then need we greatly to beware. For this stirring, if it come, is untrue; and greatly we ought to hate it, for it all hath no likeness of God’s will. And when that we be fallen, by frailty or blindness, then our courteous Lord toucheth us and stirreth us and calleth us; and then willeth He that we see our wretchedness and meekly be aware of it. But He willeth not that we abide thus, nor He willeth not that we busy us greatly about our accusing, nor He willeth not that we be wretched over our self; but He willeth that we hastily turn ourselves unto Him. For He standeth all aloof and abideth us sorrowfully and mournfully till when we come, and hath haste to have us to Him. For we are His joy and His delight, and He is our salve and our life.
When I say He standeth all alone, I leave the speaking of the blessed Company of heaven, and speak of His office and His working here on earth,—upon the condition of the Shewing.
“Himself is nearest and meekest, highest and lowest, and doeth all.” “Love suffereth never to be without Pity”
By three things man standeth in this life; by which three God is worshipped, and we be speeded, kept and saved.
The first is, use of man’s Reason natural; the second is, common teaching of Holy Church; the third is, inward gracious working of the Holy Ghost. And these three be all of one God: God is the ground of our natural reason; and God, the teaching of Holy Church; and God is the Holy Ghost. And all be sundry gifts to which He willeth that we have great regard, and attend us thereto. For these work in us continually all together; and these be great things. Of which great things He willeth that we have knowing here as it were in an A.B.C., that is to say, that we have a little knowing; whereof we shall have fulness in Heaven. And that is for to speed us.
We know in our Faith that God alone took our nature, and none but He; and furthermore that Christ alone did all the works that belong to our salvation, and none but He; and right so He alone doeth now the last end: that is to say, He dwelleth here with us, and ruleth us and governeth us in this living, and bringeth us to His bliss. And this shall He do as long as any soul is in earth that shall come to heaven,—and so far forth that if there were no such soul but one, He should be withal alone till He had brought him up to His bliss. I believe and understand the ministration of angels, as clerks tell us: but it was not shewed me. For Himself is nearest and meekest, highest and lowest, and doeth all. And not only all that we need, but also He doeth all that is worshipful, to our joy in heaven.
And where I say that He abideth sorrowfully and moaning, it meaneth all the true feeling that we have in our self, in contrition and compassion, and all sorrowing and moaning that we are not oned with our Lord. And all such that is speedful, it is Christ in us. And though some of us feel it seldom, it passeth never from Christ till what time He hath brought us out of all our woe. For love suffereth never to be without pity. And what time that we fall into sin and leave the mind of Him and the keeping of our own soul, then keepeth Christ alone all the charge; and thus standeth He sorrowfully and moaning.
Then belongeth it to us for reverence and kindness to turn us hastily to our Lord and leave Him not alone. He is here alone with us all: that is to say, only for us He is here. And what time I am strange to Him by sin, despair or sloth, then I let my Lord stand alone, in as much as it is in me. And thus it fareth with us all which be sinners. But though it be so that we do thus oftentimes, His Goodness suffereth us never to be alone, but lastingly He is with us, and tenderly He excuseth us, and ever shieldeth us from blame in His sight.
“God seeth all our living a penance: for nature-longing of our love is to Him a lasting penance in us.” “His love maketh Him to long”
Our Good Lord shewed Himself in diverse manners both in heaven and in earth, but I saw Him take no place save in man’s soul.
He shewed Himself in earth in the sweet Incarnation and in His blessed Passion. And in other manner He shewed Himself in earth [as in the Revelation] where I say: I saw God in a Point. And in another manner He shewed Himself in earth thus as it were in pilgrimage: that is to say, He is here with us, leading us, and shall be till when He hath brought us all to His bliss in heaven. He shewed Himself diverse times reigning, as it is aforesaid; but principally in man’s soul. He hath taken there His resting-place and His worshipful City: out of which worshipful See He shall never rise nor remove without end.
Marvellous and stately is the place where the Lord dwelleth, and therefore He willeth that we readily answer to His gracious touching, more rejoicing in His whole love than sorrowing in our often fallings. For it is the most worship to Him of anything that we may do, that we live gladly and merrily, for His love, in our penance. For He beholdeth us so tenderly that He seeth all our living [here] a penance: for nature’s longing in us is to Him aye-lasting penance in us: which penance He worketh in us and mercifully He helpeth us to bear it. For His love maketh Him to long [for us]; His wisdom and His truth with His rightfulness maketh Him to suffer us [to be] here: and in this same manner [of longing and abiding] He willeth to see it in us. For this is our natural penance,—and the highest, as to my sight. For this penance goeth never from us till what time that we be fulfilled, when we shall have Him to our meed. And therefore He willeth that we set our hearts in the Overpassing: that is to say, from the pain that we feel into the bliss that we trust.
“In falling and in rising we are ever preciously kept in one Love”
But here shewed our courteous Lord the moaning and the mourning of the soul, signifying thus: I know well thou wilt live for my love, joyously and gladly suffering all the penance that may come to thee; but in as much as thou livest not without sin thou wouldest suffer, for my love, all the woe, all the tribulation and distress that might come to thee. And it is sooth. But be not greatly aggrieved with sin that falleth to thee against thy will.
And here I understood that [which was shewed] that the Lord beholdeth the servant with pity and not with blame. For this passing life asketh not to live all without blame and sin. He loveth us endlessly, and we sin customably, and He sheweth us full mildly, and then we sorrow and mourn discreetly, turning us unto the beholding of His mercy, cleaving to His love and goodness, seeing that He is our medicine, perceiving that we do nought but sin. And thus by the meekness we get by the sight of our sin, faithfully knowing His everlasting love, Him thanking and praising, we please Him:—I love thee, and thou lovest me, and our love shall not be disparted in two: for thy profit I suffer [these things to come]. And all this was shewed in spiritual understanding, saying these blessed words: I keep thee full surely.
And by the great desire that I saw in our blessed Lord that we shall live in this manner,—that is to say, in longing and enjoying, as all this lesson of love sheweth,—thereby I understood that that which is contrarious to us is not of Him but of enmity; and He willeth that we know it by the sweet gracious light of His kind love. If any such lover be in earth which is continually kept from falling, I know it not: for it was not shewed me. But this was shewed: that in falling and in rising we are ever preciously kept in one Love. For in the Beholding of God we fall not, and in the beholding of self we stand not; and both these [manners of beholding] be sooth as to my sight. But the Beholding of our Lord God is the highest soothness. Then are we greatly bound to God [for] that He willeth in this living to shew us this high soothness. And I understood that while we be in this life it is full speedful to us that we see both these at once. For the higher Beholding keepeth us in spiritual solace and true enjoying in God; [and] that other that is the lower Beholding keepeth us in dread and maketh us ashamed of ourself. But our good Lord willeth ever that we hold us much more in the Beholding of the higher, and [yet] leave not the knowing of the lower, unto the time that we be brought up above, where we shall have our Lord Jesus unto our meed and be fulfilled of joy and bliss without end.
“Life, Love, and Light”
I had, in part, touching, sight, and feeling in three properties of God, in which the strength and effect of all the Revelation standeth: and they were seen in every Shewing, and most properly in the Twelfth, where it saith oftentimes: [It is I.] The properties are these: Life, Love, and Light. In life is marvellous homeliness, and in love is gentle courtesy, and in light is endless Nature-hood. These properties were in one Goodness: unto which Goodness my Reason would be oned, and cleave to it with all its might.
I beheld with reverent dread, and highly marvelling in the sight and in the feeling of the sweet accord, that our Reason is in God; understanding that it is the highest gift that we have received; and it is grounded in nature.
Our faith is a light by nature coming of our endless Day, that is our Father, God. In which light our Mother, Christ, and our good Lord, the Holy Ghost, leadeth us in this passing life. This light is measured discreetly, needfully standing to us in the night. The light is cause of our life; the night is cause of our pain and of all our woe: in which we earn meed and thanks of God. For we, with mercy and grace, steadfastly know and believe our light, going therein wisely and mightily.
And at the end of woe, suddenly our eyes shall be opened, and in clearness of light our sight shall be full: which light is God, our Maker and Holy Ghost, in Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in our night: which light is God, our endless Day.
The light is Charity, and the measuring of this light is done to us profitably by the wisdom of God. For neither is the light so large that we may see our blissful Day, nor is it shut from us; but it is such a light in which we may live meedfully, with travail deserving the endless worship of God. And this was seen in the Sixth Shewing where He said: I thank thee of thy service and of thy travail. Thus Charity keepeth us in Faith and Hope, and Hope leadeth us in Charity. And in the end all shall be Charity.
I had three manners of understanding of this light, Charity. The first is Charity unmade; the second is Charity made; the third is Charity given. Charity unmade is God; Charity made is our soul in God; Charity given is virtue. And that is a precious gift of working in which we love God, for Himself; and ourselves, in God; and that which God loveth, for God.
“Lord, blessed mayest Thou be, for it is thus: it is well”
And in this sight I marvelled highly. For notwithstanding our simple living and our blindness here, yet endlessly our courteous Lord beholdeth us in this working, rejoicing; and of all things, we may please Him best wisely and truly to believe, and to enjoy with Him and in Him. For as verily as we shall be in the bliss of God without end, Him praising and thanking, so verily we have been in the foresight of God, loved and known in His endless purpose from without beginning. In which unbegun love He made us; and in the same love He keepeth us and never suffereth us to be hurt [in manner] by which our bliss might be lost. And therefore when the Doom is given and we be all brought up above, then shall we clearly see in God the secret things which be now hid to us. Then shall none of us be stirred to say in any wise: Lord, if it had been thus, then it had been full well; but we shall say all with one voice: Lord, blessed mayst thou be, for it is thus: it is well; and now see we verily that all-thing is done as it was then ordained before that anything was made.
“Love was our Lord’s Meaning”
This book is begun by God’s gift and His grace, but it is not yet performed, as to my sight.
For Charity pray we all; [together] with God’s working, thanking, trusting, enjoying. For thus will our good Lord be prayed to, as by the understanding that I took of all His own meaning and of the sweet words where He saith full merrily: I am the Ground of thy beseeching. For truly I saw and understood in our Lord’s meaning that He shewed it for that He willeth to have it known more than it is: in which knowing He will give us grace to love to Him and cleave to Him. For He beholdeth His heavenly treasure with so great love on earth that He willeth to give us more light and solace in heavenly joy, in drawing to Him of our hearts, for sorrow and darkness which we are in.
And from that time that it was shewed I desired oftentimes to learn what was our Lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after, and more, I was answered in ghostly understanding, saying thus: Wouldst thou learn thy Lord’s meaning in this thing? Learn it well: Love was His meaning. Who shewed it thee? Love. What shewed He thee? Love. Wherefore shewed it He? For Love. Hold thee therein and thou shalt learn and know more in the same. But thou shalt never know nor learn therein other thing without end. Thus was I learned that Love was our Lord’s meaning.
And I saw full surely that ere God made us He loved us; which love was never slacked, nor ever shall be. And in this love He hath done all His works; and in this love He hath made all things profitable to us; and in this love our life is everlasting. In our making we had beginning; but the love wherein He made us was in Him from without beginning: in which love we have our beginning. And all this shall we see in God, without end.
POSTSCRIPT BY A SCRIBE
[The Sloane MS. is entitled “Revelations to one who could not read a Letter, Anno Dom. 1373,” and each chapter is headed by a few lines denoting its contents. These titles are in language similar to that of the text, and are probably the work of an early scribe. No doubt it is the same scribe who after the last sentence of the book adds the aspiration:] Which Jesus mot grant us
[And to him also may be assigned this conclusion:—]
Thus endeth the Revelation of Love of the blissid Trinite shewid by our Savior Christ Jesu for our endles comfort and solace and also to enjoyen in him in this passand journey of this life.
Amen Jesu Amen
I pray Almyty God that this booke com not but to the hands of them that will be his faithfull lovers, and to those that will submitt them to the faith of holy Church, and obey the holesom understondying and teching of the men that be of vertuous life, sadde Age and sound lering: ffor this Revelation is hey Divinitye and hey wisdom, wherfore it may not dwelle with him that is thrall to synne and to the Devill.
And beware thou take not on thing after thy affection and liking, and leve another: for that is the condition of an heretique. But take every thing with other. And, trewly understonden, All is according to holy Scripture and groundid in the same. And that Jesus, our very love, light and truth, shall shew to all clen soulis that with mekeness aske profe reverently this wisdom of hym.
And thou to whom this boke shall come, thank heyley and hertily our Saviour Christ Jesu that he made these shewings and revelations, for the, and to the, of his endles love, mercy and goodnes for thine and our save guide, to conduct to everlastying bliss: the which Jesus mot grant us. Amen.
- “solemnest.” ↵
- “solemnly” = in state. ↵
- i.e. straight-set. ↵
- “gemeth.” ↵
- “woning.” ↵
- “enjoyen.” ↵
- See lxx. “He shewed it all [the Revelation] again within in my soul.” ↵
- “sharply” = decisively. ↵
- “made me full besy.” ↵
- i.e. gabbling. ↵
- “bidding of bedes.” ↵
- see above, “made me full busy.” ↵
- see ch. lxviii. ↵
- “couthest not.” ↵
- i.e. learn, perceive, know for certainty by the conviction of reason and consciousness—grasp once for all the truth beheld. ↵
- “Cher,” in earlier chapters rendered by manner of Countenance or Regard. ↵
- The word of the MS. might be: “he havith” (possibly “draweth”), or “behadith” or “behavith.” There is a verb “bi-hawen” to behold—in other forms bihabben, bi-halden—; and “behave” had the meaning of to manage, govern. Elsewhere in the MS. to regard, if not to fix the eyes upon, is expressed (e.g. in xxxix.) simply by to “holden” without the prefix. S. de Cressy has here “he beheld.” ↵
- “that have to”; S. de Cressy, “have need to.” ↵
- That is: in the Shewing of Pity (Rev. ii) ch. x., in which it was shewed darkly. S. de Cressy has “in party” = part, but the word seems to be “pite” = pity. ↵
- halsith; beclosith. ↵
- levyn; tellen; thyn ken; stint; see. ↵
- “abiden, ne no wele fallen.” ↵
- “myrkehede, unethes we can leven and trowen.” ↵
- “sekirnes.” ↵
- The words “Blissful Cheer” cannot be rendered by the more beautiful and familiar Blessed Countenance, and even “Blissful Countenance” might fail to bring out the reference to one Aspect of the Divine Face, one part of the threefold Truth. ↵
- “for unknowing.” ↵
- seen as Might, Wisdom, Love. ↵
- i.e. equal. ↵
- i.e. Julian (xiii., xxiv., xlvi.). ↵
- “astynten.” ↵
- S. de Cressy: “a wickedness”; but the MS. word is “waykenes.” ↵
- Here the transcriber of the B. Mus. MS. repeats (by mistake, no doubt) “to seek,” etc. S. de Cressy: “helpeth us as an entry.” ↵
- S. de Cressy: “Mothers Arme,” but MS. (B.M.) “Moder barme.” ↵
- “kinde.” ↵
- i.e. permitted; “all that is good our Lord doeth, and that which is evil our Lord suffereth,” xxxv. ↵
- “kindness.” ↵
- “noyith.” ↵
- S. de Cressy—”thy Covenant.” ↵
- “on bakke.” ↵
- S. de Cressy, “likeness”; Collins, “business.” The word may be “Lifenes” = lefness, pleasure; lif = lef = lief = (Morris’ Specimens of Early English) pleasing, dear. ↵
- “neyghen him.” ↵
- ch. xix. ↵
- “sekir.” ↵
- See ch. xxxix. p. 81. ↵
- “chere” = manner of looking on us; mien. ↵
- S. de Cressy: “wasted,” but the indistinct word of the Brit. Mus. MS. is probably “castid,” for “cast,” or “casten” = conjectured. ↵
- ch. xxxvii. ↵
- i.e. in gratitude. ↵
- See xxxvii., xl., xlviii., lxi., lxxxii. ↵
- “ben it aknowen.” S. de Cressy, “be it a knowen.” ↵
- MS. “wretchful of our selfe.” S. de Cressy, “wretchful on our self.” ↵
- i.e. helped onwards. ↵
- ch. xi. ↵
- “solemne.” ↵
- “entenden to” = turn our attention, respond to. ↵
- or, at in S. de Cressy, “For kind longing in us to him is a lasting penance in us.” ↵
- “cometh.” ↵
- The exceeding Bliss. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—2 Cor. iv. 17. ↵
- i.e. truth. See xxvii., “It is sooth that sin it cause of all this pain.” ↵
- ch. li. ↵
- i.e. “demandeth not that we live.” ↵
- sooth, soothness: i.e. truth, trueness. “Both these ben soth, as to my syte. But the beholdyng of our Lord God is the heyest sothnes.” See chaps. xlv., liii., etc., the two “Deemings”: the Beholding by God of the higher Self and the Beholding by man of the lower self. ↵
- in gratitude, obligation. ↵
- Cf. chs. lxxxv. and lxxxvi. These words might be (as Life, Light, and Love) for the Trinity of Might("the Father willeth"), Wisdom ("the Son worketh"), Love ("the Holy Ghost confirmeth"): one Goodness: or as it is sometimes denoted, the Trinity of Might, Wisdom, Goodness: one Love. But here the thought seems to be centred in Light as the manifestation of Being (of Kyndhede = relationships, correspondences of nature): of the Triune Divine Light which in Man is corresponding Reason, Faith, Charity: Charity keeping man, while here, in Faith and Hope; Charity leading him from and through and into the Eternal Divine Love. ↵
- i.e. earning the endless praise. ↵
- "merkness" = dimness. ↵
- "witten" = to see clearly. ↵
- "witten" = to see clearly. ↵
- "lerid." ↵