Often I wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not hindered: for then, methought, all should have been well.” “Sin is behovable—[playeth a needful part]—; but all shall be well”
After this the Lord brought to my mind the longing that I had to Him afore. And I saw that nothing letted me but sin. And so I looked, generally, upon us all, and methought: If sin had not been, we should all have been clean and like to our Lord, as He made us.
And thus, in my folly, afore this time often I wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not letted: for then, methought, all should have been well. This stirring [of mind] was much to be forsaken, but nevertheless mourning and sorrow I made therefor, without reason and discretion.
But Jesus, who in this Vision informed me of all that is needful to me, answered by this word and said: It behoved that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.
In this naked word sin, our Lord brought to my mind, generally, all that is not good, and the shameful despite and the utter noughting that He bare for us in this life, and His dying; and all the pains and passions of all His creatures, ghostly and bodily; (for we be all partly noughted, and we shall be noughted following our Master, Jesus, till we be full purged, that is to say, till we be fully noughted of our deadly flesh and of all our inward affections which are not very good;) and the beholding of this, with all pains that ever were or ever shall be,—and with all these I understand the Passion of Christ for most pain, and overpassing. All this was shewed in a touch and quickly passed over into comfort: for our good Lord would not that the soul were affeared of this terrible sight.
But I saw not sin: for I believe it hath no manner of substance nor no part of being, nor could it be known but by the pain it is cause of.
And thus pain, it is something, as to my sight, for a time; for it purgeth, and maketh us to know ourselves and to ask mercy. For the Passion of our Lord is comfort to us against all this, and so is His blessed will. And for the tender love that our good Lord hath to all that shall be saved, He comforteth readily and sweetly, signifying thus: It is sooth that sin is cause of all this pain; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner [of] thing shall be well.
These words were said full tenderly, showing no manner of blame to me nor to any that shall be saved. Then were it a great unkindness to blame or wonder on God for my sin, since He blameth not me for sin.
And in these words I saw a marvellous high mystery hid in God, which mystery He shall openly make known to us in Heaven: in which knowing we shall verily see the cause why He suffered sin to come. In which sight we shall endlessly joy in our Lord God.
“Each brotherly compassion that man hath on his fellow Christians, with charity, it is Christ in him”
Thus I saw how Christ hath compassion on us for the cause of sin. And right as I was afore in the [Shewing of the] Passion of Christ fulfilled with pain and compassion, like so in this [sight] I was fulfilled, in part, with compassion of all mine even-Christians—for that well, well beloved people that shall be saved. For God’s servants, Holy Church, shall be shaken in sorrow and anguish, tribulation in this world, as men shake a cloth in the wind.
And as to this our Lord answered in this manner: A great thing shall I make hereof in Heaven of endless worship and everlasting joys.
Yea, so far forth I saw, that our Lord joyeth of the tribulations of His servants, with ruth and compassion. On each person that He loveth, to His bliss for to bring [them], He layeth something that is no blame in His sight, whereby they are blamed and despised in this world, scorned, mocked, and outcasted. And this He doeth for to hinder the harm that they should take from the pomp and the vain-glory of this wretched life, and make their way ready to come to Heaven, and up-raise them in His bliss everlasting. For He saith: I shall wholly break you of your vain affections and your vicious pride; and after that I shall together gather you, and make you mild and meek, clean and holy, by oneing to me.
And then I saw that each kind compassion that man hath on his even-Christians with charity, it is Christ in him.
That same noughting that was shewed in His Passion, it was shewed again here in this Compassion. Wherein were two manner of understandings in our Lord’s meaning. The one was the bliss that we are brought to, wherein He willeth that we rejoice. The other is for comfort in our pain: for He willeth that we perceive that it shall all be turned to worship and profit by virtue of His passion, that we perceive that we suffer not alone but with Him, and see Him to be our Ground, and that we see His pains and His noughting passeth so far all that we may suffer, that it may not be fully thought.
The beholding of this will save us from murmuring and despair in the feeling of our pains. And if we see soothly that our sin deserveth it, yet His love excuseth us, and of His great courtesy He doeth away all our blame, and beholdeth us with ruth and pity as children innocent and unloathful.
“How could all be well, for the great harm that is come by sin to the creature?”
But in this I stood beholding things general, troublously and mourning, saying thus to our Lord in my meaning, with full great dread: Ah! good Lord, how might all be well, for the great hurt that is come, by sin, to the creature? And here I desired, as far as I durst, to have some more open declaring wherewith I might be eased in this matter.
And to this our blessed Lord answered full meekly and with full lovely cheer, and shewed that Adam’s sin was the most harm that ever was done, or ever shall be, to the world’s end; and also He shewed that this [sin] is openly known in all Holy Church on earth. Furthermore He taught that I should behold the glorious Satisfaction: for this Amends-making is more pleasing to God and more worshipful, without comparison, than ever was the sin of Adam harmful. Then signifieth our blessed Lord thus in this teaching, that we should take heed to this: For since I have made well the most harm, then it is my will that thou know thereby that I shall make well all that is less.
“Two parts of Truth: the part that is open: our Saviour and our salvation;—and the part that is hid and shut up from us: all beside our salvation”
He gave me understanding of two parts [of truth]. The one part is our Saviour and our salvation. This blessed part is open and clear and fair and light, and plenteous,—for all mankind that is of good will, and shall be, is comprehended in this part. Hereto are we bounden of God, and drawn and counselled and taught inwardly by the Holy Ghost and outwardly by Holy Church in the same grace. In this willeth our Lord that we be occupied, joying in Him; for He enjoyeth in us. The more plenteously that we take of this, with reverence and meekness, the more thanks we earn of Him and the more speed to ourselves, thus—may we say—enjoying our part of our Lord. The other [part] is hid and shut up from us: that is to say, all that is beside our salvation. For it is our Lord’s privy counsel, and it belongeth to the royal lordship of God to have His privy counsel in peace, and it belongeth to His servant, for obedience and reverence, not to learn wholly His counsel. Our Lord hath pity and compassion on us for that some creatures make themselves so busy therein; and I am sure if we knew how much we should please Him and ease ourselves by leaving it, we would. The saints that be in Heaven, they will to know nothing but that which our Lord willeth to shew them: and also their charity and their desire is ruled after the will of our Lord: and thus ought we to will, like to them. Then shall we nothing will nor desire but the will of our Lord, as they do: for we are all one in God’s seeing.
And here was I learned that we shall trust and rejoice only in our Saviour, blessed Jesus, for all thing.
“The Spiritual Thirst (which was in Him from without beginning) is desire in Him as long as we be in need, drawing us up to His Bliss”
And thus our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubts that I might make, saying full comfortably: I may make all thing well, I can make all thing well, I will make all thing well, and I shall make all thing well; and thou shalt see thyself that all manner of thing shall be well.
In that He saith, I may, I understand [it] for the Father; and in that He saith, I can, I understand [it] for the Son; and where He saith, I will, I understand [it] for the Holy Ghost; and where He saith, I shall, I understand [it] for the unity of the blessed Trinity: three Persons and one Truth; and where He saith, Thou shalt see thyself, I understand the oneing of all mankind that shall be saved unto the blessed Trinity. And in these five words God willeth we be enclosed in rest and in peace.
Thus shall the Spiritual Thirst of Christ have an end. For this is the Spiritual Thirst of Christ: the love-longing that lasteth, and ever shall, till we see that sight on Doomsday. For we that shall be saved and shall be Christ’s joy and His bliss, some be yet here and some be to come, and so shall some be, unto that day. Therefore this is His thirst and love-longing, to have us altogether whole in Him, to His bliss,—as to my sight. For we be not now as fully whole in Him as we shall be then.
For we know in our Faith, and also it was shewed in all [the Revelations] that Christ Jesus is both God and man. And anent the Godhead, He is Himself highest bliss, and was, from without beginning, and shall be, without end: which endless bliss may never be heightened nor lowered in itself. For this was plenteously seen in every Shewing, and specially in the Twelfth, where He saith: I am that [which] is highest. And anent Christ’s Manhood, it is known in our Faith, and also [it was] shewed, that He, with the virtue of Godhead, for love, to bring us to His bliss suffered pains and passions, and died. And these be the works of Christ’s Manhood wherein He rejoiceth; and that shewed He in the Ninth Revelation, where He saith: It is a joy and bliss and endless pleasing to me that ever I suffered Passion for thee. And this is the bliss of Christ’s works, and thus he signifieth where He saith in that same Shewing: we be His bliss, we be His meed, we be His worship, we be His crown.
For anent that Christ is our Head, He is glorified and impassible; and anent His Body in which all His members are knit, He is not yet fully glorified nor all impassible. Therefore the same desire and thirst that He had upon the Cross (which desire, longing, and thirst, as to my sight, was in Him from without beginning) the same hath He yet, and shall [have] unto the time that the last soul that shall be saved is come up to His bliss.
For as verily as there is a property in God of ruth and pity, so verily there is a property in God of thirst and longing. (And of the virtue of this longing in Christ, we have to long again to Him: without which no soul cometh to Heaven.) And this property of longing and thirst cometh of the endless Goodness of God, even as the property of pity cometh of His endless Goodness. And though longing and pity are two sundry properties, as to my sight, in this standeth the point of the Spiritual Thirst: which is desire in Him as long as we be in need, drawing us up to His bliss. And all this was seen in the Shewing of Compassion: for that shall cease on Doomsday.
Thus He hath ruth and compassion on us, and He hath longing to have us; but His wisdom and His love suffereth not the end to come till the best time.
“There be deeds evil done in our sight, and so great harms taken, that it seemeth to us that it were impossible that ever it should come to good end.” “That Great Deed ordained … by which our Lord God shall make all things well”
One time our good Lord said: All thing shall be well; and another time he said: Thou shalt see thyself that allmanner [of] thing shall be well; and in these two [sayings] the soul took sundry understandings.
One was that He willeth we know that not only He taketh heed to noble things and to great, but also to little and to small, to low and to simple, to one and to other. And so meaneth He in that He saith: All manner of thingsshall be well. For He willeth we know that the least thing shall not be forgotten.
Another understanding is this, that there be deeds evil done in our sight, and so great harms taken, that it seemeth to us that it were impossible that ever it should come to good end. And upon this we look, sorrowing and mourning therefor, so that we cannot resign us unto the blissful beholding of God as we should do. And the cause of this is that the use of our reason is now so blind, so low, and so simple, that we cannot know that high marvellous Wisdom, the Might and the Goodness of the blissful Trinity. And thus signifieth He when He saith: Thou shalt see thyself if all manner of things shall be well. As if He said: Take now heed faithfully and trustingly, and at the last end thou shalt verily see it in fulness of joy.
And thus in these same five words aforesaid: I may make all things well, etc., I understand a mighty comfort of all the works of our Lord God that are yet to come. There is a Deed the which the blessed Trinity shall do in the last Day, as to my sight, and when the Deed shall be, and how it shall be done, is unknown of all creatures that are beneath Christ, and shall be till when it is done.
[“The Goodness and the Love of our Lord God will that we wit [know] that it shall be; And the Might and the Wisdom of him by the same Love will[Pg 66] hill [conceal] it, and hide it from us what it shall be, and how it shall be done.”]
And the cause why He willeth that we know [this Deed shall be], is for that He would have us the more eased in our soul and [the more] set at peace in love—leaving the beholding of all troublous things that might keep us back from true enjoying of Him. This is that Great Deed ordained of our Lord God from without beginning, treasured and hid in His blessed breast, only known to Himself: by which He shall make all things well.
For like as the blissful Trinity made all things of nought, right so the same blessed Trinity shall make well all that is not well.
And in this sight I marvelled greatly and beheld our Faith, marvelling thus: Our Faith is grounded in God’s word, and it belongeth to our Faith that we believe that God’s word shall be saved in all things; and one point of our Faith is that many creatures shall be condemned: as angels that fell out of Heaven for pride, which be now fiends; and man in earth that dieth out of the Faith of Holy Church: that is to say, they that be heathen men; and also man that hath received Christendom and liveth unchristian life and so dieth out of charity: all these shall be condemned to hell without end, as Holy Church teacheth me to believe. And all this [so] standing,methought it was impossible that all manner of things should be well, as our Lord shewed in the same time.
And as to this I had no other answer in Shewing of our Lord God but this: That which is impossible to thee is not impossible to me: I shall save my word in all things and I shall make all things well. Thus I was taught, by the grace of God, that I should steadfastly hold me in the Faith as I had aforehand understood, [and] therewith that I should firmly believe that all things shall be well, as our Lord shewed in the same time.
For this is the Great Deed that our Lord shall do, in which Deed He shall save His word and He shall make all well that is not well. How it shall be done there is no creature beneath Christ that knoweth it, nor shall know it till it is done; according to the understanding that I took of our Lord’s meaning in this time.
“It is God’s will that we have great regard to all His deeds that He hath done, but evermore it needeth us to leave the beholding what the Deed shall be”
And yet in this I desired, as [far] as I durst, that I might have full sight of Hell and Purgatory. But it was not my meaning to make proof of anything that belongeth to the Faith: for I believed soothfastly that Hell and Purgatory is for the same end that Holy Church teacheth, but my meaning was that I might have seen, for learning in all things that belong to my Faith: whereby I might live the more to God’s worship and to my profit.
But for [all] my desire, I could [see] of this right nought, save as it is aforesaid in the First Shewing, where I saw that the devil is reproved of God and endlessly condemned. In which sight I understood as to all creatures that are of the devil’s condition in this life, and therein end, that there is no more mention made of them afore God and all His Holy than of the devil,—notwithstanding that they be of mankind—whether they be christened or not.
For though the Revelation was made of goodness in which was made little mention of evil, yet I was not drawn thereby from any point of the Faith that Holy Church teacheth me to believe. For I had sight of the Passion of Christ in diverse Shewings,—the First, the Second, the Fifth, and the Eighth,—wherein I had in part a feeling of the sorrow of our Lady, and of His true friends that saw Him in pain; but I saw not so properly specified the Jews that did Him to death. Notwithstanding I knew in my Faith that they were accursed and condemned without end, saving those that converted, by grace. And I was strengthened and taught generally to keep me in the Faith in every point, and in all as I had before understood: hoping that I was therein with the mercy and the grace of God; desiring and praying in my purpose that I might continue therein unto my life’s end.
And it is God’s will that we have great regard to all His deeds that He hath done, but evermore it needeth us to leave the beholding what the Deed shall be. And let us desire to be like our brethren which be saints in Heaven, that will right nought but God’s will and are well pleased both with hiding and with shewing. For I saw soothly in our Lord’s teaching, the more we busy us to know His secret counsels in this or any other thing, the farther shall we be from the knowing thereof.
“All that is speedful for us to learn and to know, full courteously will our Lord shew us”
Our Lord God shewed two manner of secret things. One is this great Secret [Counsel] with all the privy points that belong thereto: and these secret things He willeth we should know [as being, but as] hid until the time that He will clearly shew them to us. The other are the secret things that He willeth to make open and known to us; for He would have us understand that it is His will that we should know them. They are secrets to us not only for that He willeth that they be secrets to us, but they are secrets to us for our blindness and our ignorance; and thereof He hath great ruth, and therefore He will Himself make them more open to us, whereby we may know Him and love Him and cleave to Him. For all that is speedful for us to learn and to know, full courteously will our Lord shew us: and [of] that is this [Shewing], with all the preaching and teaching of Holy Church.
God shewed full great pleasance that He hath in all men and women that mightily and meekly and with all their will take the preaching and teaching of Holy Church. For it is His Holy Church: He is the Ground, He is the Substance, He is the Teaching, He is the Teacher, He is the End, He is the Meed for which every kind soul travaileth.
And this [of the Shewing] is [made] known, and shall be known to every soul to which the Holy Ghost declareth it. And I hope truly that all those that seek this, He shall speed: for they seek God.
All this that I have now told, and more that I shall tell after, is comforting against sin. For in the Third Shewing when I saw that God doeth all that is done, I saw no sin: and then I saw that all is well. But when God shewed me for sin, then said He: All shall be well.
“I desired to learn assuredly as to a certain creature that I loved…. It is more worship to God to behold Him in all than in any special thing”
And when God Almighty had shewed so plenteously and joyfully of His Goodness, I desired to learn assuredly as to a certain creature that I loved, if it should continue in good living, which I hoped by the grace of God was begun. And in this desire for a singular Shewing, it seemed that I hindered myself: for I was not taught in this time. And then was I answered in my reason, as it were by a friendly intervenor: Take it generally, and behold the graciousness of the Lord God as He sheweth to thee: for it is more worship to God to behold Him in all than in any special thing. And therewith I learned that it is more worship to God to know all-thing in general, than to take pleasure in any special thing. And if I should do wisely according to this teaching, I should not only be glad for nothing in special, but I should not be greatly distressed for no manner of thing: for Allshall be well. For the fulness of joy is to behold God in all: for by the same blessed Might, Wisdom, and Love, that He made all-thing, to the same end our good Lord leadeth it continually, and thereto Himself shall bring it; and when it is time we shall see it. And the ground of this was shewed in the First [Revelation], and more openly in the Third, where it saith: I saw God in a point.
All that our Lord doeth is rightful, and that which He suffereth is worshipful: and in these two is comprehended good and ill: for all that is good our Lord doeth, and that which is evil our Lord suffereth. I say not that any evil is worshipful, but I say the sufferance of our Lord God is worshipful: whereby His Goodness shall be known, without end, in His marvellous meekness and mildness, by the working of mercy and grace.
Rightfulness is that thing that is so good that [it] may not be better than it is. For God Himself is very Rightfulness, and all His works are done rightfully as they are ordained from without beginning by His high Might, His high Wisdom, His high Goodness. And right as He ordained unto the best, right so He worketh continually, and leadeth it to the same end; and He is ever full-pleased with Himself and with all His works. And the beholding of this blissful accord is full sweet to the soul that seeth by grace. All the souls that shall be saved in Heaven without end be made rightful in the sight of God, and by His own goodness: in which rightfulness we are endlessly kept, and marvellously, above all creatures.
And Mercy is a working that cometh of the goodness of God, and it shall last in working all along, as sin is suffered to pursue rightful souls. And when sin hath no longer leave to pursue, then shall the working of mercy cease, and then shall all be brought to rightfulness and therein stand without end.
And by His sufferance we fall; and in His blissful Love with His Might and His Wisdom we are kept; and by mercy and grace we are raised to manifold more joys.
Thus in Rightfulness and Mercy He willeth to be known and loved, now and without end. And the soul that wisely beholdeth it in grace, it is well pleased with both, and endlessly enjoyeth.
“My sin shall not hinder His Goodness working…. A deed shall be done—as we come to Heaven—and it may be known here in part;—though it be truly taken for the general Man, yet it excludeth not the special. For what our good Lord will do by His poor creatures, it is now unknown to me”
Our Lord God shewed that a deed shall be done, and Himself shall do it, and I shall do nothing but sin, and my sin shall not hinder His Goodness working. And I saw that the beholding of this is a heavenly joy in a fearing soul which evermore kindly by grace desireth God’s will. This deed shall be begun here, and it shall be worshipful to God and plenteously profitable to His lovers in earth; and ever as we come to Heaven we shall see it in marvellous joy, and it shall last thus in working unto the last Day; and the worship and the bliss of it shall last in Heaven afore God and all His Holy [ones] for ever.
Thus was this deed seen and understood in our Lord’s signifying: and the cause why He shewed it is to make us rejoice in Him and in all His works. When I saw His Shewing continued, I understood that it was shewed for a great thing that was for to come, which thing God shewed that He Himself should do it: which deed hath these properties aforesaid. And this shewed He well blissfully, signifying that I should take it myself faithfully and trustingly.
But what this deed should be was kept secret from me.
And in this I saw that He willeth not that we dread to know the things that He sheweth: He sheweth them because He would have us know them; by which knowing He would have us love Him and have pleasure and endlessly enjoy in Him. For the great love that He hath to us He sheweth us all that is worshipful and profitable for the time. And the things that He will now have privy, yet of His great goodness He sheweth them close: in which shewing He willeth that we believe and understand that we shall see the same verily in His endless bliss. Then ought we to rejoice in Him for all that He sheweth and all that He hideth; and if we steadily and meekly do thus, we shall find therein great ease; and endless thanks we shall have of Him therefor.
And this is the understanding of this word:—That it shall be done for me, meaneth that it shall be done for the general Man: that is to say, all that shall be saved. It shall be worshipful and marvellous and plenteous, and God Himself shall do it; and this shall be the highest joy that may be, to behold the deed that God Himself shall do, and man shall do right nought but sin. Then signifieth our Lord God thus, as if He said: Behold and see! Here hast thou matter of meekness, here hast thou matter of love, here hast thou matter to make nought of thyself, here hast thou matter to enjoy in me;—and, for my love, enjoy [thou] in me: for of all things, therewith mightest thou please me most.
And as long as we are in this life, what time that we by our folly turn us to the beholding of the reproved, tenderly our Lord God toucheth us and blissfully calleth us, saying in our soul: Let be all thy love, my dearworthy child: turn thee to me—I am enough to thee—and enjoy in thy Saviour and in thy salvation. And that this is our Lord’s working in us, I am sure the soul that hath understanding therein by grace shall see it and feel it.
And though it be so that this deed be truly taken for the general Man, yet it excludeth not the special. For what our good Lord will do by His poor creatures, it is now unknown to me.
But this deed and that other aforesaid, they are not both one but two sundry. This deed shall be done[Pg 75] sooner (and that [time] shall be as we come to Heaven), and to whom our Lord giveth it, it may be known here in part. But that Great Deed aforesaid shall neither be known in Heaven nor earth till it is done.
And moreover He gave special understanding and teaching of working of miracles, as thus:—It is known that I have done miracles here afore, many and diverse, high and marvellous, worshipful and great. And so as I have done, I do now continually, and shall do in coming of time.
It is known that afore miracles come sorrow and anguish and tribulation; and that is for that we should know our own feebleness and our mischiefs that we are fallen in by sin, to meeken us and make us to dread God and cry for help and grace. Miracles come after that, and they come of the high Might, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, shewing His virtue and the joys of Heaven so far at it may be in this passing life: and that to strengthen our faith and to increase our hope, in charity. Wherefore it pleaseth Him to be known and worshipped in miracles. Then signifieth He thus: He willeth that we be not borne over low for sorrow and tempests that fall to us: for it hath ever so been afore miracle-coming.
“In every soul that shall be saved is a Godly Will that never assented to sin, nor ever shall.”—”For failing of Love on our part, therefore is all our travail”
God brought to my mind that I should sin. And for pleasance that I had in beholding of Him, I attended not readily to that shewing; and our Lord full mercifully abode, and gave me grace to attend. And this shewing I took singularly to myself; but by all the gracious comfort that followeth, as ye shall see, I was learned to take it for all mine even-Christians: all in general and nothing in special: though our Lord shewed me that I should sin, by me alone is understood all.
And therein I conceived a soft dread. And to this our Lord answered: I keep thee full surely. This word was said with more love and secureness and spiritual keeping than I can or may tell. For as it was shewed that [I]should sin, right so was the comfort shewed: secureness and keeping for all mine even-Christians.
What may make me more to love mine even-Christians than to see in God that He loveth all that shall be saved as it were all one soul?
For in every soul that shall be saved is a Godly Will that never assented to sin, nor ever shall. Right as there is a beastly will in the lower part that may will no good, right so there is a Godly Will in the higher part, which will is so good that it may never will evil, but ever good. And therefore we are that which He loveth and endlessly we do that which Him pleaseth.
This shewed our Lord in [shewing] the wholeness of love that we stand in, in His sight: yea, that He loveth us now as well while we are here, as He shall do while we are there afore His blessed face. But for failing of love on our part, therefore is all our travail.
In Heaven “the token of sin is turned to worship.”—Examples thereof
Also God shewed that sin shall be no shame to man, but worship. For right as to every sin is answering a pain by truth, right so for every sin, to the same soul is given a bliss by love: right as diverse sins are punished with diverse pains according as they be grievous, right so shall they be rewarded with diverse joys in Heaven according as they have been painful and sorrowful to the soul in earth. For the soul that shall come to Heaven is precious to God, and the place so worshipful that the goodness of God suffereth never that soul to sin that shall come there without that the which sin shall be rewarded; and it is made known without end, and blissfully restored by overpassing worship.
For in this Sight mine understanding was lifted up into Heaven, and then God brought merrily to my mind David, and others in the Old Law without number; and in the New Law He brought to my mind first Mary Magdalene, Peter and Paul, and those of Inde; and Saint John of Beverley; and others also without number: how they are known in the Church in earth with their sins, and it is to them no shame, but all is turned for them to worship. And therefore our courteous Lord sheweth [it thus] for them here in part like as it is there in fulness: for there the token of sin is turned to worship.
And Saint John of Beverley, our Lord shewed him full highly, in comfort to us for homeliness; and brought to my mind how he is a dear neighbour, and of our knowing. And God called him Saint John of Beverleyplainly as we do, and that with a most glad sweet cheer, shewing that he is a full high saint in Heaven in His sight, and a blissful. And with this he made mention that in his youth and in his tender age he was a dearworthy servant to God, greatly God loving and dreading, and yet God suffered him to fall, mercifully keeping him that he perished not, nor lost no time. And afterward God raised him to manifold more grace, and by the contrition and meekness that he had in his living, God hath given him in Heaven manifold joys, overpassing that [which] he should have had if he had not fallen. And that this is sooth, God sheweth in earth with plenteous miracles doing about his body continually.
And all this was to make us glad and merry in love.
“Sin is the sharpest scourge…. By contrition we are made clean, by compassion we are made ready, and by true longing towards God we are made worthy”
Sin is the sharpest scourge that any chosen soul may be smitten with: which scourge thoroughly beateth man and woman, and maketh him hateful in his own sight, so far forth that afterwhile he thinketh himself he is not worthy but as to sink in hell,—till [that time] when contrition taketh him by touching of the Holy Ghost, and turneth the bitterness into hopes of God’s mercy. And then He beginneth his wounds to heal, and the soul to quicken [as it is] turned unto the life of Holy Church. The Holy Ghost leadeth him to confession, with all his will to shew his sins nakedly and truly, with great sorrow and great shame that he hath defouled the fair image of God. Then receiveth he penance for every sin [as] enjoined by his doomsman that is grounded in Holy Church by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. And this is one meekness that greatly pleaseth God; and also bodily sickness of God’s sending, and also sorrow and shame from without, and reproof, and despite of this world, with all manner of grievance and temptations that we be cast in, bodily and ghostly.
Full preciously our Lord keepeth us when it seemeth to us that we are near forsaken and cast away for our sin and because we have deserved it. And because of meekness that we get hereby, we are raised well-high in God’s sight by His grace, with so great contrition, and also compassion, and true longing to God. Then they be suddenly delivered from sin and from pain, and taken up to bliss, and made even high saints.
By contrition we are made clean, by compassion we are made ready, and by true longing toward God we are made worthy. These are three means, as I understand, whereby that all souls come to heaven: that is to say, that have been sinners in earth and shall be saved: for by these three medicines it behoveth that every soul be healed. Though the soul be healed, his wounds are seen afore God,—not as wounds but as worships. And so on the contrary-wise, as we be punished here with sorrow and penance, we shall be rewarded in heaven by the courteous love of our Lord God Almighty, who willeth that none that come there lose his travail in any degree. For He [be]holdeth sin as sorrow and pain to His lovers, to whom He assigneth no blame, for love. The meed that we shall receive shall not be little, but it shall be high, glorious, and worshipful. And so shall shame be turned to worship and more joy.
But our courteous Lord willeth not that His servants despair, for often nor for grievous falling: for our falling hindereth not Him to love us. Peace and love are ever in us, being and working; but we be not alway in peace and in love. But He willeth that we take heed thus that He is Ground of all our whole life in love; and furthermore that He is our everlasting Keeper and mightily defendeth us against our enemies, that be full fell and fierce upon us;—and so much our need is the more for [that] we give them occasion by our falling.
“True love teacheth us that we should hate sin only for love.” “To me was shewed no harder hell than sin.” “God willeth that we endlessly hate the sin and endlessly love the soul, as God loveth it”
This is a sovereign friendship of our courteous Lord that He keepeth us so tenderly while we be in sin; and furthermore He toucheth us full privily and sheweth us our sin by the sweet light of mercy and grace. But when we see our self so foul, then ween we that God were wroth with us for our sin, and then are we stirred of the Holy Ghost by contrition unto prayer and desire for the amending of our life with all our mights, to slacken the wrath of God, unto the time we find a rest in soul and a softness in conscience. Then hope we that God hath forgiven us our sins: and it is truth. And then sheweth our courteous Lord Himself to the soul—well-merrily and with glad cheer—with friendly welcoming as if it had been in pain and in prison, saying sweetly thus: My darling I am glad thou art come to me: in all thy wo I have ever been with thee; and now seest thou my loving and we be oned in bliss. Thus are sins forgiven by mercy and grace, and our soul is worshipfully received in joy like as it shall be when it cometh to Heaven, as oftentimes as it cometh by the gracious working of the Holy Ghost and the virtue of Christ’s Passion.
Here understand I in truth that all manner of things are made ready for us by the great goodness of God, so far forth that what time we be ourselves in peace and charity, we be verily saved. But because we may not have this in fulness while we are here, therefore it falleth to us evermore to live in sweet prayer and lovely longing with our Lord Jesus. For He longeth ever to bring us to the fulness of joy; as it is aforesaid, where He sheweth the Spiritual Thirst.
But now if any man or woman because of all this spiritual comfort that is aforesaid, be stirred by folly to say or to think: If this be true, then were it good to sin [so as] to have the more meed,—or else to charge the less [guilt] to sin,—beware of this stirring: for verily if it come it is untrue, and of the enemy of the same true love that teacheth us that we should hate sin only for love. I am sure by mine own feeling, the more that any kind soul seeth this in the courteous love of our Lord God, the lother he is to sin and the more he is ashamed. For if afore us were laid [together] all the pains in Hell and in Purgatory and in Earth—death and other—, and [by itself] sin, we should rather choose all that pain than sin. For sin is so vile and so greatly to be hated that it may be likened to no pain which is not sin. And to me was shewed no harder hell than sin. For a kind soul hath no hell but sin.
And [when] we give our intent to love and meekness, by the working of mercy and grace we are made all fair and clean. As mighty and as wise as God is to save men, so willing He is. For Christ Himself is [the] ground of all the laws of Christian men, and He taught us to do good against ill: here may we see that He is Himself this charity, and doeth to us as He teacheth us to do. For He willeth that we be like Him in wholeness of endless love to ourself and to our even-Christians: no more than His love is broken to us for our sin, no more willeth He that our love be broken to ourself and to our even-Christians: but [that we] endlessly hate the sin and endlessly love the soul, as God loveth it. Then shall we hate sin like as God hateth it, and love the soul as God loveth it. And this word that He said is an endless comfort: I keep thee securely.
- “Synne is behovabil, but al shal be wel & al shal be wel & al manner of thyng shal be wele.” ↵
- Being made as nothing, set at nought. ↵
- S. de Cressy has “this” instead of thus. ↵
- i.e. truth, an actual reality. See lxxxii. ↵
- As it were, an unreasonable contravention of natural, filial trust. ↵
- See also chap. lxi. From the Enchiridion of Saint Augustine:—”All things that exist, therefore, seeing that the Creator of them all is supremely good, are themselves good. But because they are not like their Creator, supremely and unchangeably good, their good may be diminished and increased. But for good to be diminished is an evil, although, however much it may be diminished, it is necessary, if the being is to continue, that some good should remain to constitute the being. For however small or of whatever kind the being may be, the good which makes it a being cannot be destroyed without destroying the being itself…. So long as a being is in process of corruption, there is in it some good of which it is being deprived; and if a part of the being should remain which cannot be corrupted, this will certainly be an incorruptible being, and accordingly the process of corruption will result in the manifestation of this great good. But if it do not cease to be corrupted, neither can it cease to possess good of which corruption may deprive it. But if it should be thoroughly and completely consumed by corruption, there will then be no good left, because there will be no being. Wherefore corruption can consume the good only by consuming the being. Every being, therefore, is a good; a great good, if it cannot be corrupted; a little good, if it can: but in any case, only the foolish or ignorant will deny that it is a good. And if it be wholly consumed by corruption, then the corruption itself must cease to exist, as there is no being left in which it can dwell.” Chap. x. “By the Trinity, thus supremely and equally and unchangeably good, all things were created; and these are not supremely and equally and unchangeably good, but yet they are good, even taken separately. Taken as a whole, however, they are very good, because their ensembleconstitutes the universe in all its wonderful order and beauty.”—The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, (Edited by the Rev. Marcus Dods, D.D.), vol. ix. ↵
- “Something that is no lak in his syte, whereby thei are lakid & dispisyd in thys world, scornyd” (a word like “rapyd”—probably “mokyd,” as in S. de Cressy) “& outcasten.” ↵
- “gruching.” ↵
- "asyeth" = asseth, Satisfying, Fulfilment. See note for p. 2. ↵
- "asyeth making". See preceding note. ↵
- i.e. profit. ↵
- "It longyth to the ryal Lordship of God to have his privy councell in pece, and it longyth to his servant for obedience and reverens not to wel wetyn his counselye." ↵
- “if” = “that.” (Acts xxvi. 8.) ↵
- Inserted from Serenus de Cressy’s version. ↵
- “pecid in love—levyng the beholdyng of al tempests that might letten us of trew enjoyeng in hym.” S. de Cressy: “let us of true enjoying in him.” ↵
- S. de Cressy, “many.” ↵
- S. de Cressy, “many.” ↵
- “stondyng al this.” ↵
- “I coude of this right nowte.” ↵
- “A friendful mene” = intermediary (person or thing), medium: compare chaps. xix., lv. [ ↵
- See xxxvi. 74. ↵
- i.e. alloweth. ↵
- “lettyn his goodnes werkyng.” ↵
- “wilfully.” ↵
- “to nowten.” ↵
- “is a perceyvid” (S. de Cressy, “pearced”; Collins, “pierced”;) = has perception. ↵
- See v., xlviii., lix., lxi. ↵
- Perhaps the omitted word is “all“; but de Cressy has “I” as above: “that I should sin.” ↵
- S. Thomas and S. Jude. According to tradition the Gospel was carried to India by these Apostles. ↵
- S. John of Beverley was consecrated Bishop of Hexham in 687, and was afterwards Archbishop of York. “He founded the monastery of Beverley in the midst of the wood called Deira, among the ruins of the deserted Roman settlement of Pentuaria. This monastery, like so many others of the Anglo-Saxons, was a double community of monks and nuns. In 718 John retired for the remaining years of his life to Beverley, where he died in 721 on the 7th of May…. He was canonised in 1037. Henschenius the Bollandist, in the second tome of May, has published books of the miracles wrought at the relicks of St John of Beverley written by eye-witnesses. His sacred bones were honourably translated into the church of Alfric, Archbishop of York, in 1037. A feast in honour of his translation was kept on the 25th of October.”—Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints, etc. Perhaps the fact that the Saint’s original Feast Day of the 7th of May occurred on the second day of Julian’s illness, had something to do with his being brought to her mind a few days after with so much vividness. ↵
- “and browte to mynd how he is an hende neybor and of our knowyng”—i.e. he was a countryman of our own. “hende” = near, urbane, gentle. ↵
- “al forbetyth.” S. de Cressy: “all to beateth,” Judges ix. 53. ↵
- “otherwhile.” ↵
- S. de Cressy: “Dome’s-man, i.e. Confessarius.” ↵
- MS. “will be cast in.” ↵
- letteth not Him to love us. ↵
- See chap. lxxviii. In both passages the Brit. Mus. MS. seems to have "him," not "hem" = them. The reading here might be: "For we give Him occasion by our failing"—occasion to keep and defend us: and so in lxxviii.: "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 we give Him occasion thereto and know not our own need." Or possibly the sense is (1): He defendeth us "so much [as] our need is the more" [so much more as]; and (2) "so much [more as] we are in the more peril." But S. de Cressy's version has in both passages "them," and this reading agrees with chap. lxxvi.: "We have this [fear] by the stirring of our enemy and by our own folly and blindness"—we who "fall often into sin." ↵
- “he,” that is, the soul. ↵
- A naturally-loving, filial human soul. ↵
- A naturally-loving, filial human soul. ↵