By that the Maunciple had his tale endid,
The sonne fro the south line is descendid
So lowe, that it was nought to my sight
Degrees nyne and twenty as in hight.
Foure on the clokke it was, so as I gesse,
For eleven foote, or litil more or lesse,
My shadow was at thilk tyme of the yere,
Of which feet as my lengthe parted were
In sixe feet equal of proporcioun.
Therwith the mones exaltacioun,
In mena Libra, alway gan ascende,
As we were entryng at a cownes ende.
For which our Host, as he was wont to gye,
As in this case, our joly compainye,
Sayd in this wise: “Lordyngs, every one,
Now lakketh us no tales mo than oon,
Fulfillèd is my sentens and decré;
I trowe that we have herd of ech degré
Almost fulfillèd is myn ordynaunce;
I pray to God so geve him right good chaunce,
That tellith to us his tale lustily.
Sir prest,” quoth he, “art thou a vicary?
Or art a parsoun? say soth, by thy fay.
Be what thou be, breke thou nought oure play;
For every man, save thou, hath told his tale.
Unbocle, and tell us one withoute faile,
For trewely me thinketh by thy chier,
Thou sholdist wel knyt up a gret matier.
Tel us a fable anon, for Goddes sake!”
This Persoun to oure oste quikly spake:
“Thou getist fable noon i-told for me,
For Poul, that writeth unto Timothé,
Repreveth them that flee fro sothfastnesse,
And tellen fables, and such wrecchednesse.
Why shuld I sowen chaff out of my fist,
Whan I may sowe whete, and that the best?
For which I say, if that you list to here
Moralité and vertuous matére,
And thanne that ye wil give me audience,
I wil ful fayn at Cristis reverence
Do you plesaunce lawful, as I can.
But truste wel, I am a suthern man,
I can not jeste, ‘rum-rum-ruf,’ by letter,
And, God wot, ryme I hold but litel better.
And therfor, if you list, I wol not glose,
I wol you telle a litle tale in prose,
To knyt up al this fest, and make an ende;
And Jhesu for his grace wit me sende
To shewe you the way, in this voyáge,
Of thilke parfyt glorious pilgrimage
That highte Jerusalem celestial.
And if ye vouchesauf, anon I shal
Bygynne my tale, for which I you pray
Pardon of al, I can no better say.
But natheles, this meditacioun
I put it ay under correccioun
Of clerkes, for I am not textuel;
I take but the sentens, truste wel.
Therfor I make protestacioun,
That I wil stonde to correccioun.”
Upon this word we have assented soone.
For, as it semèd, it was for to done,
To enden in som vertuous ennténce,
And for to geve him space and audience;
And bad oure Host he shulde to him say,
That alle we to telle his tale him pray.
Our host the wordes hadde for us alle;
“Sir prest,” quoth he, “now faire you bifalle;
Say what you list, and we wil gladly here.”
And with that word he said in this manere;
“Telle,” quoth he, “your meditacioun;
But haste you, the sonne wil adoun.
Be fructuous, and that in litel space,
And to do wel God sende you his grace.”
Jer. 6°. State super vias, et videte et interrogate de semitis antiquis quæ sit via bona, et ambulate in eâ, et invenietis refrigerium animabus vestris, etc.
Owre swete Lord God of heven, that no man wil perische, but wol that we comen alle to the knowleche of him, and to the blisful lif that is durable, admonisheth us by the prophet Jeremye, that saith in this wise: Stond upon the weyes, and see the axe of olde pathes, that is to sayn, of old sentence, which is the good way, and walk in that weie, and ye shul fynde refresshyng for youre soules, etc. Many be the wayes spirituels that leden folk to oure Lord Jhesu Christ, and to the regne of glorie; of whiche weyes, ther is a ful noble way, and ful convenient, which may not faile to man nor to womman, that thrugh synne hath mysgon fro the righte way of Jerusalem celestial; and this wey is cleped penitence. Of which men shulden gladly herken and enquere with al there herte, to wyte what is penitence, and whens it is cleped penitence, and in what maner, and in how many maneres been the actiones or workynges of penaunce, and how many species be of penitences, and whiche thinges apperteyne and byhoven to penitence, and whiche thinges destourben penitence.
Seint Ambrose saith, that penitence is the pleynyng of man for the gilt that he hath doon, and no more to do ony thing for which he ought to pleyn. And som doctour saith, penitence is the lamentynge of man that sorweth for his synne, and peyneth himself for he hath mysdoon. Penitence, with certeyn circumstaunces, is verray repentaunce of man, that holdeth himself in sorwe and in wo for his giltes; and for he shal be verray penitent, he shal first bywaile the synnes that he hath do, and stedfastly purpose in his hert to have schrifte of mouth, and to doon satisfaccioun, and never to do thing for which he oughte more to bywayle or to complayne, and to continue in goode werkes, or elles his repentaunce may nought avayle. For, as saith saint Isidre, he is a japere and a gabbere, and no verray repentaunt, that eftsoone doth thing for which he oughte to repente. Wepynge, and nought for to stynte to doon synne, may nought avayle. But natheles, men shal hope that at every tyme that man fallith, be it never so ofte, that he may arise thrugh penitence, if he have grace; but certeyn it is a gret doute. For as saith seint Gregory, scarcely ariseth he out of his synne that is charged with the charge of yvel usage. And therfore repentaunt folk that stinte for to synne, and leave synne er that synne leaves them, holy chirche holdeth them sure of their salvacioun. And he that synneth, and verraily repentith him in his last ende, holy chirche yit hopeth his salvacioun, by the grete mercy of oure Lord Jhesu Crist, for his repentaunce; but take ye the sure way.
And now sith that I have declared yow, what thing is penitence, now shul ye understonde, that ther be thre actiouns of penitence. The first is, that if a man be baptized after that he hath synned. Seint Augustyn saith unless he be penitent for his olde synful lif, he may not bygynne the newe clene lif. For certes, if he be baptized withoute penitence of his olde gilt, he receyveth the mark of baptisme, but nought the grace, ne the remissioun of his synnes, til he have repentaunce verray. Another defaute is this, that men do deedly synne after that thay have receyved baptisme. The thridde defaute is, that men fallen into venial synne after there baptisme fro day to day. Therof saith seint Austyn, that penitence of goode men, and of humble folk, is the penitens of every day.
The species of penitence be thre. That oon of them is solemne, another is comune, and the thridde is pryvé. Thilke penaunce that is solemne, is in tuo maners; as is to be put out of holy chirche in lente, for slaughtre of childre, and such maner thing. Another is, whan a man hath synned openly, of which synne the fame is openly spoken in the contré; and thanne holy chirche by judgement streyneth him to do upon penaunce. Comune penaunce is, that prestes enjoynen men comunly in certeyn caas, as for to goon, peradventure, naked in pilgrimage, or barfot. Privé penaunce is thilk that men doon alday for privé synnes, of whiche we schryve us prively, and receyven privé penaunce.
Now shalt thou understonde what bihoveth and is necessarie to verray parfyt penitence; and this stondith in thre thinges, contricioun of hert, confessioun of mouth, and satisfaccioun. For whiche saith seint Johan Crisostom, penitence distreyneth a man to accepte benignely every peyne that him is enjoyned with contricioun of herte, and schrift of mouth, with satisfaccioun, and in werking of alle maner of humility. And this is fruytful penitence agayn tho thre thinges, in which we anger oure Lord Jhesu Crist; this is to sayn, by delit in thinking, by recklessness in speking, and by wicked synful werkyng. Against these thre wickid giltes is penitence, that may be likned unto a tre.
The roote of this tre is contricioun, that hydith him in the hert of him that is verray repentaunt, right as the roote of a tree hidith him in the earthe. Of the roote of contricioun springeth a stalk, that bereth braunches and leeves of confessioun and fruyt of satisfaccioun. For whiche Crist saith in his Gospel, do fruyt worthy of penitence, for by this fruyt may men knowe this tree, and nought by the roote that is hyd in the hert of a man, nor by the braunches nor the levys of confessioun. And therfore oure Lord Jhesu Christ saith thus, by the fruyt of them shul ye knowe them. Of this roote eek springeth a seed of grace, the which seed is moder of safety, and this seed is egre and hote. The grace of this seed springeth of God, thrugh remembraunce of the day of doom, and of the peynes of helle. Of this matier saith Salomon, that in the drede of God man forleteth his synne. The hete of this seed is the love of God and the desiring of the joye durable. The hete draweth the hert of man to God, and maketh him hate his synne. For sothe, ther is nothing that serveth so wel to a child, as the mylk of his nurse, nor nothing is to him more abominable than the milk whan it is mingled with othere mete. Right so the synful man that loveth his synne, thinketh it is to him most swete of eny thing; but fro that tyme that he loveth firmly oure Lord Jhesu Crist, and desireth the lif durable, ther is to him nothing more abominable. For sothly the lawe of God is the love of God. For which Davyd saith, I have loved thy lawe, and hated wikkednesse and hate; he that loveth God, keepeth his lawe and his word. This tree saw the prophete Daniel in spirit, upon the visioun of Nabugodonosor, whan he counseiled him to do penaunce. Penaunce is tre of lif to them that it receyve; and he that holdeth him in verray penitence, is blessed, after the sentence of Salomon.
In this penitence or contricioun men shal understonde foure thinges, that is to sayn, what is contricioun, and whiche be the causes that move men to contricioun, and how he shulde be contrit, and what contricioun availeth to the soule. Thanne it is thus, that contricioun is the verray sorwe that a man receyveth in his herte for his synnes, with firm purpos to shryve him, and to do penaunce, and never more to do synne. And this sorwe shal be in this maner, as saith seint Bernard; it shal be hevy and grevous, and ful sharp and poynaunt in herte; first, for man hath sinned against his Lord and his creatour; and more sharp and poynaunt, for he hath sinned against his fader celestial; and yit more sharp and poynaunt, for he hath wratthed and sinned against him that bought him with his precious blood, and hath delyvered us fro the bondes of synne, and fro the cruelté of the devel, and fro the peynes of helle.
The causes that ought to move a man to contricioun be vj. First a man shal remembre him of his synnes. But loke that thilke remembraunce be to no delyt of him by no way, but gret shame and sorwe for his gilt. For Job saith that synful men do werkes worthy of confessioun. And therfor saith Ezechiel, I wol remembre me alle the yeres of my lyf, in bitternesse of myn herte. And God saith in the Apocalypse, Remembre yow from whens that ye be fallen, for biforn that tyme that ye synned, ye were the children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of God; but for youre synne ye be woxe thral, and foul, and membres of the feend, hate of aungels, slaunder of holy chirche, and foode of the false serpent, perpetual mater of the fyr of helle, and yet more foule and abominable, for ye trespass so ofte tyme, as doth the hound that torneth to ete his spewyng; and yet ye be fouler for youre longe continuyng in synne, and youre synful usage, for whiche ye be roten in youre synne, as a beest in his donge. Suche maner of thoughtes make a man have shame of his synne, and no delit; and God saith, by the prophete Ezechiel, ye shul remembre yow of youre weyes, and thay shal displese yow. Sothly, synnes ben the wayes that leden folk to helle.
The secounde cause that oughte to make a man to have disdeyn of his synne is this, that, as seith seint Petre, who so doth synne, is thral of synne, and synne putteth a man in gret thraldom. And therfore saith the prophete Ezechiel, I wente sorwful, in disdeyn of myself. Certes, wel oughte a man have disdeyn of synne, and withdrawe him fro that thraldom and vilonye. And lo what saith Seneca in this matiere? He saith thus, though I wiste, that neythere God ne man shulde never knowe it, yit wold I have disdeyn for to do synne. And the same Seneca also saith, I am born to gretter thinges than to be thral to my body, or than for to make of my body a thral. No fouler thral may no man, ne womman, make of his body, than yive his body to synne.
And were it the foulest cherl, or the foulest womman, that lyveth, and lest of value, yet is he chaunged thanne by synne and more foul, and more in servitude. Ever fro the higher degre that man fallith, the more he is thral, and more unto God and to the werlde, vile and abominable. O goode God! wel oughte a man have gret disdayn of such a thing that thrugh synne, when he was free, now is he maked bonde. And therfore saith seint Austyn, if thou hast disdayn of thy servaunt, if he sin against thee, have thou than disdeine that thou thiself shuldist doon synne. Tak reward of thy value, that thou be nought too foul in thiself. Allas! wel oughte men have disdeyn to be servauntes and thralles to synne, and sore be ashamed of themself, that God of his endeles goodnes hath set them in high estate, or geven hem witte, strength of body, helth, beauté, or prosperité, and bought them fro the deth with his herte blood, that thay so unkindely ageinst his gentilesse quyten him so vileynsly, to slaughter of their oune soules. O goode God! ye wommen that ben of so gret beauté, remembre yow of the proverbe of Salamon, that saith he likeneth a fair womman, that is a fool with hir body, to a ryng of gold that were in the groyn of a sowe; for right as a sowe walloweth in everich ordure, so rolleth she hir beauté in stynkyng ordure of synne.
The thridde cause, that oughte move a man to contricioun, is drede of the day of doome, and of the orrible peynes of helle. For as seint Jerom saith, at every tyme that I remembre me of the day of doom, I quake; for whan I ete or drinke, or what so that I do, ever semeth me that the trompe sowneth in myn eere, Rise ye up that be deede, and come to the judgement. O goode God! moch ought a man to drede such a judgement, where we shul be alle, as saith seint Poul, biforn the sete of our Lord Jhesu Crist; where he shal make a general congregacioun, wher no man may be absent; for certes ther avayleth non excusacioun; and nought oonly, that oure defaute shal be judged, but eek that alle oure werkes shul be openly knowen.
And, as seint Bernard saith, ther shal no pleynyng avayle, nor no sleight; we shuln yive rekenyng of every ydel word. Ther shulle we have a judge that may nought be disceyved nor corrupt; and why? for certes, alle oure thoughtes be descovered as to him, nor for prayer nor for meede he wil not be corupt. And therfore saith Salamon, the wrath of God wol nought spare no wight, for praier nor for gifte. And therfore at the day of doom ther is noon hope to escape. Wherfore, as seint Anselm seith, ful greet anguish shul the synful folk have at that tyme; there shal be the sterne and the wroth judge sitte above, and under him the horrible pit of helle open, to destroye him that wolde not acknowledge his synnes, which synnes openly be shewed biforn God and biforn every creature; and on the lift syde, more divelis than herte may thynke, for to harry and to drawe the synful soules to the pyne of helle; and withinne the hertes of folk shal be the bytyng conscience, and withoute shal be the world al brennyng. Whider shal thanne the wrecched synful man flee to hyden him? Certes he may not hyden him, he moot come forth and shewe him. For certes, as seith seynt Jerom, the erthe shal caste him out, and the see also, and the aer also, that shal be ful of thunder-clappes and lightnynges. Now sothly, who-so wel remembrith him of these tydynges, I gesse his synne shal not torne him to delit, but to gret sorw, for drede of the peyne of helle. And therfor saith Job to God, suffre, Lord, that I may a while biwayle and wepe, ere I go withoute retournynge to the derke lond, covered with derknes of deth, to the lond of mysese and of derknesse, wher is the shadow of deth, wher as is noon order nor ordinaunce, but grisly drede that ever shal laste. Lo, here may ye see, that Job prayde respit a while, to wepe and biwayle his trespas; for forsothe oon day of respit is bettre than al the tresor in this world. And for as moche as a man may aquyte himself byforn God by penaunce in this world, and not by tresor, therfore schuld he praye to God yive him respit a while, to wepe and to waile his trespas. For certes, al the sorwe that a man myht make fro the begynnynge of the werld, is but a litel thing, in regard of the sorwe of helle. The cause why that Job calleth helle the lond of derknes, understond, that he clepith it lond or earthe, for is it stable and never shal fayle; and derk, for he that is in helle hath defaut of light material; for certes the derke light that shal come out of the fyr that ever shal brenne, shal torne him to peyne that is in helle, for it shewith him to thorrible develes that him tormenten. Covered with the derknes of deth; that is to sayn, that he that is in helle, shal have defaulte of the sight of God; for certes the sight of God is the lif durable. The derknes of deth be the synnes that the wrecchid man hath doon, whiche that distourben him to see the face of God, right as a derk cloude doth bitwixe us and the sonne. Lond of myseyse; bycause that there ben thre maner of defaultes against thre thinges that folk of this world have in this present lif, that is to sayn, honures, delices, and richesses. Agayns honours have they in helle shame and confusioun; for wel ye wit, that men clepyn honure the reverence that men doon to the man; but in helle is noon honour nor reverence; for certes no more reverence shal ben doon ther to a kyng, than to a knave. For which God saith by the prophete Jeremie, thilke folk that me displesen, shul be in despit. Honour is eke cleped gret lordshipe. There shal no wight serven othir, but with harm and of torment. Honour eek is cleped gret dignité and highnes; but in helle shulle thay be al trod by develes. And God saith, thorrible develes shuln goon and comen upon the hedes of damned folk; and this is, for as moche as the higher that thay were in this present lif, the more shuln thay be abatid and defouled in helle. Agayns riches of this world shuln they han mysese of poverty, and this poverty shal be in iiij. thinges: in default of tresor; of which, as David saith, the riche folk that embrased and owned in al here herte the tresor of this world, shuln slepen in the slepyng of deth, and nothing shuln thay fynde in their hondes of al their tresor. And moreover, the mysease of helle shal be in the default of mete and drink. For God saith thus by Moyses, thay shul be wasted by hunger, and the briddes of helle shuln devoure them with bittir teeth, and the galle of the dragoun shal be their drink, and the venym of the dragoun there morsels. And forther-moreover their misease shal be in default of clothing, for thay shul be naked in body, as of clothing, save of fyr in which thay brenne, and other filthis; and naked shuln thay be of soule, of alle maner vertues, which that is the clothing of the soule. Wher be thanne the gaye robes, and the softe sheetis, and the smale shirtes? Lo, what saith of them the prophete Isaye, under them shuln be strawed motthis, and there covertours shuln ben of worms of helle. And forther-morover there disease shal be in defaulte of frendes, for he is not poor that hath goode frendes; but there is no frend, for neyther God ne no creature shal be frend unto them, and everich of them shal hate other with dedly hate. The sones and the doughtres shuln rebellen agaynst the fader and the moder, and kyndrede agyanst kyndrede, and chiden and despisen everich of them other, bothe day and night, as God saith by the prophete Michas, and the lovyng children that whilom loveden so fleshly everych other wolden everych of them eten other if thay mighten. For how shulden thay loven them togider in the peyne of helle, whan thay hated everich of them other in the prosperité of this lif? For trust wel, their flesshly love was dedly hate; as saith the prophete David, who-so that loveth wickidnes, he hateth his soule, and who-so hatith his oune soule, certis he may love noon other wight in no manere. And therfore in helle is no solace nor frendshipe, but ever the more flesshly kyndredes that be in helle, the more cursynge, the more chydynges, and the more deedly hate ther is among hem. And fortherover thay shul have defaulte of alle manere delices; for certis delices ben the appetites of thy fyve wittes; as sight, hieryng, smellyng, savoring, and touching. But in helle there sight shal be ful of derknes and of smoke, and there eyen therfore ful of teeris; and their hieryng ful of lamentynge, and of grantynge of teeth, as saith Jhesu Crist, their nostrils shuln ben ful of stynkyng stynk; and, as saith Ysaye the prophete, their savoringe shal be ful of bitter galle; and for touchyng, al their body shal be y- covered with fuyr, that never shal quenche, and with wormes that never shuln deyen, as God saith by the mouth of Ysaie. And for al so moche as thay shuln nought think that thay may deyen for peyne, and by their deth fle fro peyne, that may thay understonde in the word of Job, that saith, ther as is the shadow of deth. Certes a shadow hath the liknesse of the thing of which it is a shadow, bot the shadowe is nouht the same thinge of whiche it is shadowe; right so fareth the peyne of helle; it is lik deth, for the horrible anguissh; and why? for it peyneth them ever as though men sholden deye anon; but certes thay shul not deye. For as saith seint Gregory, to wrecchid caytifs shal be give deth withoute deth, and ende withouten ende, and defaulte withouten faylinge; for there deth shal alway lyven, and there ende shal evermore bygynne, and there defaulte shal not fayle. And therfor saith seint Johan the Evaungelist, thay shul folwe deth, and thay shuln nought fynde him, and thay shul desire to deyen, and deth shal flee fro them. And eek Job saith, that in helle is noon ordre of rule. And al be it that God hath created al thing in right ordre, and no thing withoute ordre, but alle thinges be ordeyned and noumbred, yit natheles that be damned been nought in ordre, nor holden no ordre. For the earthe shal bere them no fruyt; (for, as the prophete David saith, God shal destroye the fruyt of the earthe, as for them) nor watir shal give them no moysture, nor the aier no refreisching, nor fyr no light. For as seith seint Basile, the brennyng of the fyr of this world shal God give in helle to them that ben damnyd, but the light and the clerness shal be geven in hevene to his children; right as the goode man geve fleish to his children, and bones to his houndes. And for thay shul have noon hope to escape, saith seint Job, atte laste, that ther shal horrour and grisly drede duelle withouten ende. Horrour is alway drede of harm that is to come, and this drede shal ever duelle in the hertes of them that ben damnyd. And therfore have thay lost al their hope for vij. causes. First, for God that is there judge shal be withoute mercy on them, nor thay may not please him, nor soon of his saintes; nor they may give no thing for there raunsoun; nor thay have no voice to speke to him; nor thay may not fle fro peyne; nor thay have no goodnes in them that thay may shewe to deliver them fro peyne. And therfore saith Salamon, the wikked man deyeth, and whan he is deed, he shal have noon hope to escape fro peyne. Who-so wolde thanne wel understonde these peynes and bythynke him wel that he hath deserved thilke peynes for his synnes, certes he shulde have more talent to be sick and to wepe, than for to synge or pleye. For as that Salamon saith, Who-so that hadde the science to knowe the peynes that ben establid and ordeynt for synne he wolde make sorwe. Thilke science, as saith seint Austyn, maketh a man to lament in his herte.
The fourthe poynt, that oughte make a man have contricioun, is the sorwful remembraunce of the good that he hath left to doon heer in earthe, and eek the good that he hath lost. Sothly the goode werkes that he hath lost, eyther thay been the goode werkes that he wrought ere he fel into deedly synne, or elles thai ben the goode werkes that he hath wroughte whil he laie in synne. Sothely the gode werkes that he dede ere he fel into synne ben destroyed, and astoneyed, and dullid by ofte synnynge; that othere goode werkes that he wroughte whil he lay in dedly synne, been utterly deede, as to the lif durable in heven.
Thanne thilke goode werkes that ben mortified by ofte synnyng, whiche goode werkes he dede whiles he was in charité, may never quyken agayn withouten verray penitence. And thereof saith God by the mouth of Ezechiel that if the rightful man tourne agayn fro his rightwisnesse and werke wikkednesse, shal he live? nay; for alle the goode werkes that he hath wrought, shuln never be in remembrance, for he shal dye in his synne. And upon thilke chapitre saith seint Gregory thus, that we shuln understonde this principally, that whan we doon dedly synne, it is for nought thanne to reherse or to drawe into memorie the goode werkes that we have wrought biforn; for certis in the werkyng of the dedly synne, ther is no trust to no good werkes that we han don biforne this tyme; that is to say, as for to have therby the lif durable in heven. But natheles, the goode werkes quiken agayn and comen again, and helpen and availen to have the lif durable in heven whan we have contricioun; but sothly the goode werkes that men doon whil that thai ben in deedly synne, for as moche as thay were doon in dedly synne, thay may never quyken ayeine. For certes, thinge that never hadde lif, may never quicken; and al be it so that thay availen not to have the lif durable, yit avaylen thay to abridging of the peyne of helle, or elles to gete temporal riches, or elles that God wol the rather enlumyne and lightene the hert of the synful man to have repentaunce; and eek thay availen for to usen a man to do goode werkes, that the feend have the lesse power of his soule. And thus the curteys Lord Jhesu Crist wolde nought no good werk be lost, for in somwhat it shal availe. But for als moche as the goode werkes that men don whil thay ben in good lif ben destroyed by synne folwyng, and eek sith that alle the goode werkes that men doon whil thay ben in dedly synne, been utterly deede as for to have the lif durable, wel may that man that no goode werkes werkith synge thilke newe Frenshe song, Jay tout perdu moun temps et moun labour. For certis synne byreveth a man bothe of goodnes of nature, and eek of the goodnes of grace. For sothly the grace of the holy gost fareth lik fyre that may not ben ydel; for fyr as it forletith its werkyng, it faileth anoon, and right so when the grace faileth than losith the synful man the goodnes of glorie, that oonly is byhight to goode men that labouren and werken. Wel may be he sory thanne, that oweth al his lif to God, as longe as he hath lyved, and eek as longe as he shal lyve, that no goodnes hath to paye with his dette to God, to whom he oweth al his lyf; for trust wel he shal give accompt, as saith Bernard, of alle the goodes that have been geven him in his present lif, and how he hath them dispendid, nat so moche that ther shal not perische an heer of his heed, nor a moment of an hour shal not perische of his tyme, that he shal not yive of it a rekenyng.
The fifte maner of contricioun, that moveth a man therto, is the remembraunce of the passioun that oure Lord Jhesu Crist suffred for us and for oure synnes. For as seith seint Bernard, whil that I lyve, I shal have remembraunce of the passioun that oure Lord Jhesu Crist suffred for us in preching, his werynesse in travayling, his temptacioun whan he fastid, his longe wakinges whan he prayde, his teeres whan he wepte for pité of good peple; the wo and the shame and the filthe that men saide to him; of the foule spittyng that men spitten on his face; of the buffettis that men gaf him; of the foule mocks and of the reproves that men to him saiden; of the nayles with whiche he was nayled to the cros, and of al the remenaunt of his passioun, that he suffrede for my synnes and no thing for his owne gilt. And ye shal understonde that in mannes synne is every maner ordre of ordinaunce turned up-so-doun. For it is soth, that God, and resoun, and sensualité, and the body of man, be so ordeyned, that everich of thise foure thinges shulde have lordshipe over that other, as thus: God sholde have lordschip over resoun, and resoun over sensualité, and sensualité over the body of man. But sothly whan man synneth, al this ordre, or ordinaunce, is torned up-so-doun; and thanne, for as moche as the resoun of a man wol not be subject nor obeissant to God, that is his lord by right, therfore losith it the lordshipe that it shulde have over sensualité, and eek over the body of man; and why? for sensualité rebellith thanne agayns resoun; and by that way losith resoun the lordshipe over sensualité, and over the body. For right as resoun is rebel to God, right so is bothe sensualité rebel to resoun and the body also. And certis this disordynaunce, and this rebellioun, oure Lord Jhesu Crist bought upon his precious body ful deere; and herken in which wise. For as moche as resoun is rebel to God, therfore is man worthy to have sorwe, and to be deed. This suffred oure Lord Jhesu Crist for man, after that he was bytrayed of his disciple, and distreyned and bounde, so that blood brast out at every nayl of his hondes, as saith seint Austyn. And fortherover, for as moch as resoun of man wol nought conquer sensualité whan it can, therfore is man worthy to have shame; and this suffered oure Lord Jhesu Crist for man, whan thay spitten in his face. And fortherover thanne, for as moche as the caytif body of man is rebelle bothe to resoun and to sensualité, therfore it is worthy the deth; and this suffred oure Lord Jhesu Crist for us upon the cros, wher ther was no part of his body fre, withoute gret peyne and bitter passioun. And al this suffred oure Lord Jhesu Crist that never forfeted; and thus sayd he, too moche am I streyned, for the thinges that I never deservyd; and too moche defouled for shame that man is worthy to have. And therfore may the synful man wel seye, as saith seint Bernard, acursed be the bitternesse of my sinne, for which ther muste be suffered so muche bitternes. For certis, after the dyvers discordaunces of oure wickednes was the passioun of oure Lord Jhesu Crist ordeyned in divers thinges; as thus. Certis sinful mannes soule is bytrayid of the devel, by coveitise of temporal prosperité; and scorned by disceyt, whan he chooseth fleishly delytes; and yit is it tormentid by impacience of adversité, and byspit by servage and subjeccioun of synne, and atte last it is slayn finally. For this discordaunce of synful man, was Jhesu Crist first bytraied; and after was he bounde, that com for to unbynden us fro synne and of peyne. Than was he scorned, that only shulde be honoured in alle thing of alle thinges. Than was his visage, that oughte be desired to be seyn of al mankynde (in which visage aungels desiren to loke) vileynously byspit. Thanne was he scourged that nothing had done; and fynally, thanne was he crucified and slayn. Thanne was accomplished the word of Ysaye, he was woundid for oure mysdede, and defouled by oure felonyes. Now, sith Jhesu Crist tok upon him thilke peyne of alle oure wikkednes, moch oughte synful men wepe and bywale, that for his synnes shulde Goddes sone of hevene al this endure.
The sixte thing that oughte to move a man to contricioun, is the hope of thre thinges, that is to sayn, forgevenes of synne, and the gifte of grace wel for to do, and the glorie of heven, with which God shal guerdon man for his goode deedis. And for as moche as Jhesu Crist geveth us these giftes of his largesse and of his soverayn bounté, therfore is he cleped, Jhesus Nazarenus rex Judæorum. Jhesus is for to saye, saveour or salvacioun, of whom men shal hope to have forgevenes of synnes, which that is proprely salvacioun of synnes. And therfore seyde the aungel to Joesph, thow shalt clepe his name Jhesus, that shal save his poeple of there synnes. And herof saith seint Petir, ther is noon other name under heven, that is given to any man, by which a man may be sayvd, but oonly Jhesus. Nazarenus is as moche to saye as florishing, in which a man shal hope, that he that geveth him remissioun of synnes, shal give him grace wel to doo. For in the flour is hope of fruyt in tyme comynge, and in forgivenes hope of grace wel to do. I was at the dore of thin herte, saith Jhesus, and cleped for to entre; he that openith to me, shal have forgevenes of synne; I wol entre into him by my grace, and soupe with him by the goode workes that he shal doon, whiche werkes be the foode of God, and he shal soupe with me by the grete joye that I schal give him. Thus shal man hope, that for his werkis of penaunce God shal give him his kingdom, as he promiseth him in the Gospel.
Now shal man understonde, in what maner shal be his contricioun. I say, it shal be universal and total, this is to say, a man shal be verray repentaunt for alle his synnes, that he hath doon in delyt of his thought, for delit is ful perilous. For ther ben tuo maners of consentyng, that one of hem is cleped consentynge of affeccioun, whan a man is moved to synne, and delitith him longe for to thinke on that synne, and his resoun parceyveth wel that it is synne agayns the lawe of God, and yit his resoun refreyneth not his foule delit or talent, though he seeth wel apertly, that it is ayenst the reverence of God; although his resoun consente not to do the synne in dede, yit say some doctours, delyt that duellith longe it is ful perilous, al be it never so little. And also a man shulde sorwe, namely for al that he hath desired agayn the lawe of God, with parfyt consentynge of his hert and of his resoun, for therof is no doute, that it is dedly synne in the consentynge, for certis ther is no dedly synne, but that it was not first in mannes thought, and after that in his delit, and so forth into consentyng, and into dede. Wherfore say I, that many men repente them never of suche thoughtes and delites, nor never shrive hem of it, but oonly of the dede of grete synnes outward. Wherfore I say, that suche wickid delitis and wickid thoughtes be subtile bigilours of them that shuln be damned. Moreover man oughte to sorwe for his wicked wordes, as wel as his wikked dedes; for certis the repentaunce of a singuler synne, and nought to repente of alle his other synnes, or elles repente him of alle his othere sinnes, and not of a singulere sinne, may nought availe. For certis God Almighty is al good, and therfore he forgeveth al, or elles right nought. And hereof saith seint Augustin, I wot certeynly, that God is enemy to every synnere; and how-thanne he that observith oon synne, shal he have remissioun of the remenant of his other synnes? Nay. And fortherover, contricioun shulde be wondrous sorwful and anguisshous, and therfore givith him God pleinly his mercy. And therfore whan my soule was anguisshous withinne me, I hadde remembraunce of God, that my prayer mighte come to him. And fortherover, contricioun moste be continuelly, and that a man have stede-fast purpos to shryve him, and for to amende him of his lyf. For sothly, whil contricioun lastith, man may ever hope of forgevenes. And of this cometh hate of synne, that destroyeth synne bothe in himself, and eek in other folk at his power. And therfore saith David, ye that loven God, hatith wikkidnesse; for trust wel for to love God, is for to love that he loveth, and hate that he hateth.
The laste thing that a man shuld understonde in contricioun is this, wherof availith contricioun? I say, that som tyme contricioun delivereth man fro synne; of which that David saith, I say, quoth David, that is to saye I purposid fermely to shryve me, and thou, Lord, relesedist my synne. And right so as contricioun availith nat withoute firm purpos of shrift if man have oportunité, right so litil worth is shrifte or satisfaccioun withoute contricioun. And, moreover, contricioun destruyeth the prisoun of helle, and makith wayk and feble the strengthes of the develes, and restorith the gift of the holy gost, and of alle vertues, and it clensith the soule of synnes, and delivereth the soule fro the peynes of helle, and fro the companye of the devel, and fro the servage of synne, and restorith it to alle goodes spiritueles, into the companye and communioun of holy chirche. And fortherover, it makith him that somtyme was sone of ire, to be the sone of grace; and alle these thinges he provith by holy writte. And therfore he that wil sette his herte to these thinges, he were ful wys. For sothe he sholde not thanne in al his lyf have corrage to synne, but given his body and al his herte to the service of Jhesu Crist, and therof do him homage. For certis oure swete Lord Jhesu Crist hath sparid us so debonairly in oure folyes, that if he ne hadde pité of mannes soule, sory songe mighte we alle synge.
Explicit Prima Pars Penitentiæ; et Incipit Secunda Pars Ejusdem
The secounde part of penitence is confessioun, that is, signe of contricioun. Now shul ye understonde what is confessioun; and whethir it oughte needes be doon or noon; and whiche thinges ben convenable to verray confessioun. First shalt thou understonde, that confessioun is verrey shewyng of synnes to the prest; this is to sayn verray, for he must shewe him of alle the condiciouns that ben longynge to his synne, as ferforth as he can; al must be sayd, and nought excused, nor hyd, nor forwrappid; and nought avaunte him of his goode werkis. And forthermore it is necessary to understonde whens that synnes springe, and how thay encresen, and whiche thay be.
Of the springing of synnes as seint Poul saith, in this wise; that right as by a man synne entrede first into this world, and thrugh that synne deth, right so thilke deth entred into alle men shat synneden; and this man was Adam, by whom that synne entred into this world, whan he brak the comaundement of God. And therfore he that first was so mighty, that he shulde not have deyed, bicam since such an one that he moste needis deye, whethir he wolde or noon, and al his progenie that is in this world, that in thilke manner synneden. Loke that in the estate of innocence, whan Adam and Eve nakid were in Paradys, and no thing shame hadden of their nakidnesse, how that the serpent, that was most wily of alle other bestis that god hadde makid, sayde to the womman, why comaundid God to yow ye shulde nought ete of every tree in Paradys? The womman answerde, of the fruyt, quoth she, of the trees in Paradys we feede us, but sothly of the fruyt of the tre that is in the myddil of Paradis God forbad us for to eten, nor not touche it, lest peraventure we shulde deye. The serpent syde to the womman, nay, nay, ye shal not deye of deth, for sothe God wot, that what day ye ete therof youre eyen shal open and ye shul ben as goddis, knowing good and harm. The womman saw the tree was good to feedyng, and fair to the eyen, and delitable to sight; she tok of the fruyt of the tree and eet it, and gaf to hir housbond, and he eet it; and anoon the eyen of them bothe openeden; and whan that thay knewe that thay were naked, thay sowed of fige leves in maner of breches, to hiden their membris. Here may ye see, that dedly synne hath first suggestioun of the feend, as sheweth here by the Adder (serpent); and aftirward the delit of the fleish, as sheweth here by Eve; and after that the consentyng of resoun, as shewith by Adam. For trust wel, though so were that the feend temptid oon, Eve, that is to sayn the fleissh, and the flesshe hadde delit in the beauté of the fruyt detendid, yit certes til that resoun, that is to say, Adam, consentide to the etyng of the fruyt, yit stood he in thastaat of innocence. Of thilk Adam took we thilke synne original; for of him flesshly descendit be we alle and engendrit of vile and corrupt matiere; and whan the soule is put in oure body, right anoon is contracted original synne; and that, that was erst but onely peyne of concupiscence, is afterwarde bothe peyne and sinne; and therfore be we alle i-born sones of wraththe, and of damnacioun durable, if it were not for baptisme that we resceyven, which taketh from us the culpe. But forsothe the peyne duellith with us as to temptacioun, which peyne highte concupiscence. And this concupiscence, whan it is wrongfully disposed or ordeyned in man, it makith him to coveyte, the covetise of fleisshly synne, by sight of his eyen, as to erthely thinges, and eek coveityse of highnesse, as by pride of herte.
Now as to speke of the firste coveitise, that is concupiscence after the lawe of oure membris, that weren lawfulli maked, and be rihtful judgement of God, I saie, for as moche that a man is nought also obeissant to God, that is his Lord, therfore is fleissh to him disobeisant thurgh concupiscence, which that yit is cleped norisshing of synne, and occasion of synne. Therfore, al the while that a man hath in him the peyne of concupiscence, it is impossible but he be tempted somtyme and moved in his fleish to synne. And this may not faile, as longe as he liveth. Hit may wel wexe feeble and faille by vertu of baptisme, and by the grace of God thorugh penitence; but fully shal it never quenche, that he shal somtyme be moved in himself, but if he were al refreynit by siknes, or by malefice of sorcerye, or colde drinkes. For what saith seint Poul? the fleissh coveitith agayn the spirit, and the spirit agayn the fleisch; thay ben so contrarie and so stryven, that a man may nought alway do as he wolde. The same seint Poul, after his penaunce, in watir and in lond; in watir by night and by day, in gret peril, and in gret peyne; in lond and in famyne and in thurst, and colde and clothless; oones almost stoned al to the deth; yit saide he, allas! I caytif man, who shal delyvere me fro the prisoun of my caytif body? And seint Jerom, whan he long tyme hadde lived in desert, here wher as he hadde no compainye but of wilde bestes; wher he hadde no mete but herbes, and water to his drinke, nor no bed but the nakid erthel for which his fleish was as blak as an Ethiopen, for hete, and neight destroyed for cold; yit sayde he, that the brennyng of lecchery boylid in al his body. Wherfore I wot wel surely that thay be desceyved that say, thay ben not temptid in their body. Witnesse on seint Jame thapostil, that saith, that every wight is tempted in his oune concupiscence; that is to sayn, that everych of us hath matere and occasioun to be tempted of the norishyng of synne that is in his body. And therfore seint Johan the Evaungelist saith, if that we sayn we be withoute synne, we deceyve ouresilf, and trouthe is nought in us.
Now shal ye understonde in what maner that synne waxith and encreseth in a man. The firste thing is thilke norishing of synne, of which I spak biforn, thilke concupiscence; and after that cometh the suggestione of the devel, this is to sayn, the develes bely, with which he bloweth in man the fyr of fleisshly concupiscence; and after that a man by thinketh him whether he wol don it or non, thilke thing to which he is tempted. And thanne if that a man withstonde and wayve the firste entisynges of his fleisshe, and of the feend, it is no synne; and if so be he do not so, thanne feleth he anoon a flame of delit, and thanne it is good to be war and kepe him wel, or ellis he wil falle anoon into consentyng of synne, and thanne wol he do it, if he may have tyme and space, and place. And of this matere saith Moyses about the devel, in this maner; the feend saith, I wol chace and pursewe the man by wickid suggestiouns, and I wil catch him by movyng or steryng of synne, and I wil parte my prise, or my pray, by deliberacioun, and my lust shal be accomplisit in delit; I wil drawe my sword in consentynge; (for certes, right as a swerd departith a thing in tou parties, right so consentynge departeth God fro man;) and thanne wol I sle him with my hond in dede of synne. Thus saith the feend; for certis, thanne is a man al deed in soule; and thus is synne accomplisid, by temptacioun, by delit, and by consentyng; and thanne is the synne cleped actuel.
For sothe synne is in two maneres, either it is venial, or dedly synne. Sothly, whan man lovith any creature more than Jhesu Crist oure creatour, thanne it is dedly synne; and venial synne is, if a man love Jhesu Crist lesse than him oughte. For sothe the dede of this venial synne is ful perilous, for it lesseneth the love that men shulde have to God, more and more. And therfore if a man charge more himself with many suche venial synnes, certes, but if so be that he som tyme discharge him of hem by shrifte, thay maye ful lightly lessen in him al the love that he hath to Jhesu Crist; and in this wise skippith venial into dedly synne. For certes, the more that a man chargith his soule with venial synnes, the more is he enclyned to falle in deedly synne. And therfore let us nought be negligent to descharge us of venial synnes. For the proverbe saith, that many smale makith a gret. And herken this ensample; a greet wawe of the see cometh som tyme with so gret a violence, that it sinketh the schip; and the same harm do som tyme smale droppis of watir, that entrith thurgh a litil crevice into the hold, and into the bothum of a schip, if men be so negligent, that thay descharge it nought by tyme. And therfore, although ther be difference betueene these tuo causes of sinking, algates the ship is sunk. Right so farith it som tyme of deedly synne, and of hurtful venial synnes, whan thay multiplien in a man so gretly, that thilke wordly thynges that he loveth, thurgh which he sinneth venially, are as gret in his herte as the love of God, or more. And therfore the love of every thing that is not set in God, nor doon principally for Goddes sake, although a man love it lesse than God, yit is it venial synne; and deedly synne, whan the love of eny thing weyeth in the hert of a man, as moche as the love of God, or more. Dedly synne, is, as saith seint Austyn, whan man torneth his hert from God, which that is verray soverayn bounté, that may not chaunge and flitte, and give his herte to a thing that may chaunge and flitte; and certes, that is every thing save onely God of heven. For sothe, if that a man give his love, the which that he owith to God with al his herte, unto a creature, certes, as moche of love as he giveth to thilke creature, so moche he reveth fro God, and therfore doth he synne, for he that is dettour to God, nor yeldeth not to God al his dette, that is to sayn, al the love of his hert.
Now since man understondith generally which is venial synne, thanne is it convenable to telle specially of synnes, whiche that many a man peraventure demith them no synnes, and shryveth him not of the same thinges, and yit natheles thay ben synnes; and, sothly, as clerkes writen; this is to say, at every tyme that man etith or drinkith more than suffiseth to the sustenaunce of his body, in certeyn he doth synne; and eek whan he spekith more than it needith, he doth synne; and eek whan he herkeneth nought benignely the pleynt of the pore; eek whan he is in health of body, and wil not faste whan other folk fasten, withouten cause resonable; eek whan he slepith more than needith, or whan he cometh by thilk reason too late to holy chirche, or to other werkes of charité; eke whan he useth his wyf withoute soverayn desir of engendrure, to thonour of God, and for thentent to yelde his wyf the dette of his body; eek whan he wil not visite the sike, and the prisoner, if he may; eek if he love wyf, or child, or other worldly thing, more than resoun requireth; eek if he flatere or blaundisshe more than him oughte for eny necessité; ek if a man lessen or with-drawe the almesse of the povere; eek if he apparaylith his mete more deliciously than it nedith, or ete it to hastily by licouresnes; eek if he talke of vanitees at chirche, or at Goddis service, or that he be a talkere of ydile wordes of vanité or of vilonye, for he shal yelde of them acount at the day of doome; eek whan he assureth to do thinges that he may nought performe; eek whan that by lightnes of foly he mys-saith or scorneth his neighebor; eek whan he hath eny wicked suspeccioun of thing, that he wot of it no sothfastnesse: these thinges and mo withoute nombre ben synnes, as saith seint Austyn. Now shal men understonde, that al be it so that nonn erthely man may eschewe alle venial synnes, yit may he refreyne them by the brennyng love that he hath to oure Lord Jhesu Crist, and by prayeres, and by confessioun, and other goode werkes, so that it shal but litil greve. For, as saith seint Austyn, yif a man love God in such a maner, that al that ever he doth is in the love of God, or for the love of God verraily, for he brenneth in the love of God, loke how moche that a drope of watir, that fallith in a furneys ful of fyr, annoyeth or greveth the brenninge of the fyre, so moche in like manere annoyeth or greveth a venial synne unto a man that is perfyt in the love of Jhesu Crist. Men may also refreyne venial synne, by the resceyvyng of the precious body of Jhesu Crist; by resceyvyng eek of holy water; by almes dede; by general confessioun of Confiteor at masse, and at pryme, and at complyn; and by blessing of bisshops and of prestes, and by other goode werkis.
Now it behoveth to telle whiche ben dedly synnes, that is to sayn, cheeftaines of synnes; for as moche as alle thay renne in oon way, but in divers maners. Now ben thay cleped cheeftaines, for as moche as thay be chief and springers of alle othere synnes. The roote of these seven synnes thanne is pride, the general synne and roote of alle harmes. For of this roote springen general braunches; as ire, envye, accidie or sleuthe, avarice or coveitise (to commune under-stondynge), glotonye, and leccherie: and everich of these synnes hath his braunches and his twigges, as shal be declarid in there chapitres folwinge.
And though so be, that no man can telle utterly the nombre of the twigges, and of the harm that cometh of pride, yit wol I shewe a party of them, as ye shul understonde. Ther is inobedience, avauntyng, ypocrisye, despit, arragaunce, impudence, swellyng of hert, insolence, elacioun, inpacience, strif, contumacie, presumpcioun, irreverence, pertinacie, veinglorie, and many another twigge that I can not telle nor declare. Inobedient is he that disobeieth for despyt to the comaundements of God, and to his sovereigns, and to his gostly fader. Avauntour, is he that bosteth of the harm or of the bounté that he hath don. Ypocrisy, is he that hydeth to shewe him such as he is, and sheweth him such as he is not. Despitous, is he that hath desdayn of his neighebour, that is to say, of his evencristen, or hath despit to doon that him oughte to doon. Arragaunt, is he that thinketh that he hath thilke bountees in him, that he hath not, or weneth that he shulde have them by desert, or elles he demeth that he is that he is not. Impudent, is he that for his pride hath no shame of his synne. Swellyng of hert, is whan a man rejoysith him of harm that he hath don. Insolent, is he that dispisith in his judgement alle other folk, as to regard of his valeu, and of his connyng, and of his spekyng, and of his beryng. Elacioun, is whan he may never suffre to have maister ne felawe. Impacient, is he that wil not ben i-taught nor robbed of his vices, and by stryf werreth against trouthe wityngely, and defendeth his folie. Contimax, is he that thrugh his indignacioun is agains everych auctorité or power of them that been his soverayns. Presumpcioun, is whan a man undertakith and emprisith that him oughte not to do, or elles that he may not doo, and that is cleped surquidrye. Irreverence, is whan men doon not honour ther as they oughte to doon, and wayteth to be reverenced. Pertinacie, is whan man defendith his folye, and trusteth too moche to his owne witte. Vaynglorie, is for to have pomp, and delit in temporal highnes, and glorifie him in worldly estaat. Jangelyng, is whan a man skekith to moche biforn folk, and clappith as a mille, and taketh no keep what he saith.
And yit is ther a privé spice of pride, that wayteth first to be saluted ere he salute, al be he lesse worth than that other is, paradventure; and eek wayteth or desireth to sitte above him, or to go above him in the way, or kisse the pax, or ben encensed, or gon to the offringe biforn his neighebore, and suche semblable thinges, against his duté peraventure, but that he hath his herte and his entente in suche a proud desir to be magnified and honoured before the people.
Now be ther tuo maners of pride; that oon is highnes withinne the hert of a man, and that other is withoute. Of which sothly these forsayde thinges, and mo than I have said, aperteynen to pride that is in the hert of a man; and that other species of pride be withoute; but natheles, that oon of thise species of pride is signe of that other, right as the gay arbour at the taverne is signe of wyn that is in the celer. And this is in many thinges; as in speche and contenaunce, and in outrageous array of clothing. For certis, if ther hadde be no synne in clothing, Crist wolde not so soone have notid and spoke of the clothing of thilke riche man in the gospel. And seint Gregorie saith, that precious clothing is culpable for derthe of it, and for his shortnes, and for his straungenes and disguising, and for the superfluité, or for the inordinat skantnes of it; allas! many man may sen as in oure dayes, the synful costly array of clothing, and namely in too moche superfluité, or elles in to disordinat scantnes.
As to the firste synne that is in superfluité of clotheynge, which that makid is so dere, to harm of the poeple, not oonly the cost of embrowdyng, the deguyse, endentyng or barryng, waving, palyng or bendyng, and semblable wast of cloth in vanité; but ther is also costly furring in there gownes, so moch punching of chiseles to make holes, so moche daggyng of sheris, for with the superfluité in lengthe of the forsaide gownes, traylinge in the donge and in the myre, on hors and eek on foote, as wel of man as of womman, that al thilke traylyng is verraily (as in effect) wasted, consumed, thredbare, and rotyn with donge, rather than it is geven to the pore, to gret damage of the forsaide pore folke, and that in sondry wise; this is to sain, the more that cloth is wastid, the more most it coste to the poeple for the scarsenes; and forthermore, if it so be that thay wolde give suche punched and daggid clothing to the pore folk, it is not convenient to were to the pore folk, nor suffisaunt to serve their necessité, to kepe them fro the desperaunce of the colde firmament. Upon that other syde, to speke of the horrible disordinat scantnes of clothing, as be these cuttid sloppis or smocks, that thurgh their shortnes cover not the shamful membres of man, to wickid entent; allas! som men of them shewen the shap and the boce of the horrible swollen membres, that semeth like to the maledies of hirnia, in the wrapping of there hose, and eek the buttokes of them, that faren as it were the hinder part of the she ape in the fulle of the moone. And moreover the wrecchid swollen membres that thay shewe thurgh desgysyng, in departyng of there hoses in whyt and reed, seemith that half the shameful privé membres were flayn. And if it so be that thay departe there hosen in other colours, as is whit and blew, or whit and blak, or blak and reed, and so forth; thanne semith it, as by variaunce of colour, that half the party of his privy membris ben corrupt by the fyr of seint Antony, or by cancre, or by other such meschaunce. And yit of the hynder partye of there buttokes it is ful horrible for to see, for certis in that partie of there body ther as thay purgen her stynkyng ordure, that foule party shewe thay to the poeple proudly in despyt of honesté, which honesté that Jhesu Crist and his frendes observeden to shewen in their lif. Now as of the outrageous array of wommen, God wot, that though the visage of some of them seme ful chaste and debonaire, yit notifye thay, in there array of attyre, licorousnesse and pride. I say not that honesté in clothing of man or womman is uncovenable, but certis the superfluité or disordinat skantnes of clothing is reprevable. Also the synne of there ornament, or of apparaile, as in thinges that aperteynen to rydyng, as in to many delicat horses, that ben holden for delyt, that thay ben so faire, fat, and costly; and also in many a vicious knave, mayntened bycause of them; and in to curious harnoys, as in sadelis, and bridlis, croupours, and breastplates, covered with precious clothing, and riche barres and plates of gold and of silver. For whiche God saith by Zacharie the prophete, I wol confounde the ryders of such horsis. These folk take litil reward of the ryding of Goddes sone of heven, and of his harneys whan he rode upon an asse, and hadde noon other harneys but the clothing of his povere disciples. We rede not that ever he rode on other beest. I speke this for the synne of superfluité, and nought for resonable honesté, whan resoun it requirith. And fortherover, certes pride is gretly notified in holdyng of gret retinue, whan thay ben of litil profyt or of right no profyt, and namely whan that retinue is felenous and daungerous to the poeple by hardynesse of lordshipe, or by way of offices; for certes, suche lordes selle thanne there lordschipe to the devel of helle, whan thay susteyne the wickidnes of there retinue. Or elles, whan these folk of low degré, as is thilke that holden hostilries, and susteyne the theftes of their hostilers, and that is in many maneres of disceytes; thilke maner of folk be the flyes that folwen the hony, or elles the houndes that folwen the carrion. Suche forsayde folk strangelen spirituelly there lordshipes; for whiche thus saith David the prophete, wikked deth shal come upon such lordshipes, and God geve that thay descende into helle adoun; for in there houses ben iniquities and shrewednesses, and not God of heven. And certes, save thay do amendement, right so as Jacob gaf his benisoun to Laban by the service of God, and to Pharao by the service of Joseph, right so God wil geve his malisoun to such lordshipes as susteynen the wikkednes of their servauntes, unless thay come to amendement.
Pride of the table apperith ful ofte; for certes riche men ben cleped to festes, and pore folk ben put away and rebuked; also in excesse of divers metis and drinkis, and namely of suche maner of bake metis and dishe metes brennyng in wilde fuyr, and peynted and castelid with papire, and semblable waste, so that it is abusioun for to thinke. And eek in greet preciousnes of vessel, and in curiousnesse of vessel, and of mynstralcye, by the whiche a man is stired the more to delitis of luxurie; if so be that thay sette their herte the lasse upon oure Lord Jhesu Crist, certeyn it is a synne; and certeinly the delites mighte be so grete in this caas, that men mighte lightly falle by them into dedly synne. The species that spring from pride, sothely whan thay spring from malice y-magined and avised, aforn cast, or elles of usage, ben dedly synnes, it is no doute. And whan thay spring by frelté unavysed sodeinly, and sodeinly withdrawe agayn, al be thay grevous synnes, I gesse thay ben not dedly. Now mighte men axe, whereof pride cometh and springeth. I say som tyme it springith of the goodes of nature, and som tyme of the goodes of fortune, and som tyme of the goodes of grace. Certes the goodes of nature stonden either in goodes of body, or goodes of soule. Certis, the goodes of the body ben helth of body, strengthe, delivernesse, beauté, gentrie, fraunchise; the goodes of nature of the soule ben goode wit, sharp understondyng, subtil engyn, vertu naturel, good memorie; goodes of fortune been richesses, highe degrees of lordshipes, and preisyng of the poeple; goodes of grace been science, power to suffre spirituel travaile, benignité vertuous contemplacioun, withstondyng of temptacioun, and semblable thinges; of whiche forsayde goodes, certes it is a ful gret foly, a man to pryden him in any of them alle. Now as for to speke of goodes of nature, God wot that som tyme we have them in nature as moche as to oure damage as to oure profit. As for to speke of helth of body, certes it passith ful lightly, and eek it is ful ofte reason of the siknesse of the soule. For God wot, the flesshe is a ful grete enmy to the soule; and therfore the more that oure body is hool, the more be we in peril to falle. Eke for to pride him in his strengthe of body, it is a foly; for certes the fleish coveytith against the spirit; and ay the more strong that the fleish is, the sorier may the soule be; and overal, this strengthe of body and worldly hardynes causeth ful ofte many man peril and meschaunce. Eek for to pride him of his gentrie is ful gret folye; for othen tyme the gentrie of the body taketh away the gentery of the soule; and we ben alle of oon fader and of oon moder; and alle we ben of oon nature roten and corrupt, bothe riche and pore. For sothe oon maner gentry is for to prayse, that apparailleth mannes corrage with vertues and moralitees, and makith him Cristes child; for trust wel, over what man that synne hath maistry, he is a verray serf to synne.
Now ben ther general signes of gentilessce; as shewyng of vice and rybaudrie, and servage of synne, in word, in werk and contenaunce, and usinge vertu, curtesie, and clennes, and to be liberal, that is to sayn, large by mesure; for thilke that passith mesure is foly and synne. And another is to remembre him of bounté that he of other folk hath receyved.
Another is to be benigne to his goode subjectis; wherfore, as saith Senek, ther is nothing more covenable to a man of high estate, then debonairté and pité; and therfore thise flies than men clepen bees, whan thay make there king, thay choosen oon that hath no pricke wherwith he may stynge. Another is, a man to have a noble herte and a diligent, to atteine to hihe vertuous thinges. Certis, also who that prideth him in the goodes of grace, is eek an outrageous fool; for thilke giftes of grace that shulde have i-torned him to goodnes and medicyne, torneth him to venym and to confusioun, as saith seint Gregory. Certis also, who-so pridith him in the goodes of fortune, he is a ful gret fool; for som tyme is a man a gret lord by the morwe, that is a caytif and a wrecche er it be night; and some tyme the riches of a man is cause of his deth: and som tyme the delice of a man is cause of his grevous maledye, thurgh which he deieth. Certis, the commendacioun of the poeple is som tyme ful fals and ful brutil for to truste; this day thay prayse, to morwe thay blame. God wot, desir to have commendacioun of the poeple hath causid deth of many a busy man.
Remedium Contra Superbiam
Now since so is, that ye have herd and understonde what is pride, and whiche ben the species of it, and whens pride cometh and springeth; now shul ye understonde which is the remedy agayns pride; and that is humilité or meekenes, that is a vertu thurgh which a man hath verray knowleche of himself, and holdith of himself no pride, nor pris, nor deynté, as in regard of his desertes, considering evermore his frelté. Now ben ther thre maners of humilité; as humilité in hert, another is humilité in his mouth, the thridde in his workes. The humilité in herte is in foure maners; that oon is, whan a man holdith himself not worth biforn God of heven; another is, whan he despiseth no man; the thrid is, whan he ne rekkith nought though a man holde him nought worth; the ferthe is, whan he holdeth him nought sory of his humiliacioun. Also the humilité of mouth is in foure thinges; in attempre speche; in humbles of speche; and whan he byknowith with his owne mouth, that he is such as him thenkith that he is in herte; another is, whan he praisith the bounté of another man and nothing thereof lesseneth. Humilité eek in werk is in foure maneres. The first is, whan he puttith other men tofore him; the secounde is, to chese the lowest place over al; the thrid is, gladly to assente to good counseil; the ferthe is, gladly to stonde to thaward of his sovereyns, or of him that is in higher degré; certeyn this is a gret werk of humilité.
After pride now wol I speke of the foule synne of envye, which that is, as by the word of the philosophre, sorwe of other mennes prosperité; and after the word of seint Austyn, is it sorwe of other mennes wele, and joye of other mennes harm. This foule synne is platly agayns the Holy Gost. Al be it so, that every synne is agayn the Holy Gost, yit natheles, for as moche as bounté aperteyneth proprely to the Holy Gost, and envye cometh proprely of malice, therfore is it proprely agayns the bounté of the Holy Gost. Now hath malice tuo species, that is to sayn, hardnes of hert in wickednes, or ellis the fleish of man is so blynd, that he considereth not that he is in synne, or rekketh not that he is in synne; which is the hardnes of the devyl. That other species of envye is, whan a man abuseth trouthe, and wot that it is trouthe, and eek wan he abuseth the grace that God hath geve to his neighebor, and al this is by envye. Certes than is envye the worste synne that is; for sothely alle other synnes ben somtyme oonly agains oon special vertu; but certes envye is agayns alle vertues and agayns al goodnes; for it is sory of alle the bountees of his neighbor; and in this maner it is divers from all the synnes; for wel scarce is ther any synne that it hath not som delit in hitself, sauf oonly envye, that ever hath in itself anguish and sorwe. The species of envye ben these. Ther is first sorwe of other mennes goodnes and of their prosperité; and prosperité is kyndely matier of joye; thanne is envye a synne agayns kynde. The secounde spice of envye is joye of other mennes harm; and that is proprely lik to the devyl, that ever joyeth him of mennes harm. Of these tuo species cometh bakbityng; and this synne of bakbytyng or detraccioun hath certein species, as thus: som man praisith his neighebor by a wickid entent, for he makith alway a wickid knotte atte last ende; alway he makith a but at the last ende, that is thing of more blame, than worth is al the praysing. The secounde species is, that if a man be good, and doth or saith a thing to good entent, the bakbiter wol torne al thilke goodnes up-so-doun to his shrewed entent. The thridde is to lessen the bounté of his neighebor. The ferthe species of bakbytyng is this, that if men speke goodnes of a man, than wil the bakbiter seyn, “Parfay, yit such a man is bet than he;” in dispraysynge of him that men praise. The fifte species is this, for to consente gladly and herken gladly to the harm that men speke of other folk. This synne is ful gret, and ay encresith after thentent of the bakbiter. After bakbytyng cometh grucching or murmuracioun, and som tyme it springith of inpacience agayns God, and somtyme agains man. Agayns God is it whan a man grucchith agayn the pyne of helle, or agayns poverté, or of losse of catel, or agayns reyn or tempest, or elles grucchith that shrewes have prosperité, or ellis that goode men have adversité; and alle these thinges shulde men suffre paciently, for thay come by rightful judgement and ordinaunce of God. Som tyme cometh grucching of avarice, as Judas grucched ayens the Maudeleyn, whan she anoyntede the hed of oure Lord Jhesu Crist with hir precious oynement. This maner murmur is swich as whan man grucchith of goodnes that himself doth, or that other folk doon of there owne catel. Som tyme cometh murmur of pride, as whan Symon the Pharise grucchid agavn the Maudeleyn, whan she approchide to Jhesu Crist and wepte at his feet for hir synnes; and somtyme it cometh of envye, whan men discoveren a mannes harm that was privé, or bereth him on hond thing that is fals. Murmuryng eek is ofte among servaunts, that grucchen whan there soverayns bidden them to doon lawful thinges; and for as moche as thay dare nought openly withstonde the comaundements of there soverayns, yit wol thay sayn harm and grucche and murmure prively for verray despit; whiche wordes men clepe the develes Pater noster, though so be that the devel hadde never Pater noster, but that lewed men calle it so. Som tyme it cometh of ire of privé hate, that norisheth rancour in herte, as afterward I shal declare. Thanne cometh eek bitternes of herte, thorough which bitternesse every good deede of his neighebore semeth to him bitter and unsavery. But thanne cometh discord that unbyndeth alle maner of frendshipe. Thanne cometh scornynge of his neighebor, al do he never so wel. Thanne cometh accusyng, as whan man seketh occasioun to annoyen his neighebore, which that is lik the craft of the devel, that waytith bothe night and day to accuse us alle. Thanne cometh malignité, thurgh which a man annoyeth his neighebor prively if he may, and if he may not, algate his wikkid wille shal nought wante, as for to brenne his hous prively, or empoysone him, or sleen his bestis prively, and semblable thinges.
Remedium Contra Invidiam
Now wol I speke of the remedies agayns thise foule things and this foule synne of envye. First is the love of God principal, and lovynge of his neighebor as himself; sothely that oon may nought ben withoute that other. And truste wel, that in the name of thy neighebour thou shalt understonde the name of thy brother; for certes alle we have oon fader fleisshly, and oon mooder, that is to sain, Adam and Eva; and eek oon fader spirituel, and that is God of heven. Thy neighebor art thou holden for to love, and wilne him al godenesse, and therfore seith God, Love thine neyghebour as thiself; that is to sayn, bothe to salvacioun of lif and of soule. And moreover thou shalt love him in word, and in benigne admonishing and chastising, and conforte him in his annoyes, and praye for him with al thin herte. And in dede thou shalt love him in such wise that thou shalt do to him in charité, as thou woldist it were doon to thin oune persone; and therefore thou shalt doon him noon harme in wikked word, ne damage him in his body, nor in his catel, nor in his soule, by wicked entising of ensample. Thou shalt nought desiren his wif, nor noone of his thinges. Understonde eek that in the name of thy neighebor is comprehendid his enemy; certes man shal love his enemy by the comaundement of God, and sothly thy frend shalt thou love in God. I sayde thin enemy shalt thou love for Goddes sake, by his comaundement; for if it were resoun that man shulde hate his enemy, forsothe God wolde nought receyve us to his love that be his enemyes. Agains thre maner of wronges that his enemy doth to him, he shal do thre thinges, as thus: agayns hate and rancour of herte, he shal love him in herte; agayns chydyng and wicked wordes, he shal praye for his enemye; agains wikked dede of his enemy, he shal doon him bounté. For Crist saith, love youre enemyes, and pray for them that speke yowe harme, and eke for them that yow chacen and pursewen; and do bounté to them that yow haten. Lo, thus comandeth us oure Lord Jhesu Crist to do to oure enemyes; for sothely nature driveth us to love oure frendes; and parfay oure enemyes have more neede to love than oure frendes. For sothely to them that more neede have, certis to them shul men do goodnes. And certis in thilke dede have we the remembraunce of the love of Jhesu Crist that dyede for his enemys. And in as moche as thilke love is more grevous to parforme, so moche is the more gret remedye and meryt, and therfore the lovyng of oure enemy hath confoundid the venym of the devel; for right as the devel is confoundid by humilité, right so is he woundid to the deth by love of oure enemy. Certes thanne is love the medicine that castith out the venym of envye fro mannes hert. The species of this part shuln be more largely declared in chapitres folwynge.
After envye wol I descryben the synne of ire; for sothely who so hath envye upon his neighbor, anoon he wol comunly fynde him a matere of wrath in word or in dede agayns him to whom he hath envie. And as wel cometh ire of pride as of envye, for sothly he that is proud or envyous is lightly wroth. This synne of ire, after the descrybyng of seint Austeyn, is wikked wille to be avengid by word or by dede. Ire, after the philosofer, is the fervent blood of man i-quiked in his hert, thurgh which he wolde harm to him that him hatith; for certes the hert of man by heting and movyng of his blood waxith so trouble, that he is out of alle judgements of resoun. But ye shal understonde that ire is in tuo maneres, that oon of hem in good, that other is wikked. The good ire is by jalousy of goodnesse, thurgh which a man is wroth with wikkidnes and ayeines wykkednesse. And therefore saith a wise man, that ire is bet than play. This ire is with debonaireté, and it is wroth without bitternes; not wroth with the man, but wroth with the mysdedes of the man; as saith the prophet David, Irascimini, et nolite peccare, etc. Now understonde that wikked ire is in tuo maners, that is to sayn, sodeyn ire or hasty ire withoute avysement and consenting of resoun; the menynge and sentence of this is, that the resoun of a man consentith not to this sodein ire, and thanne is it venial. Another ire is ful wicked, that cometh of felony of herte, avysed and cast biforn, with wicked wille to do vengeaunce, and therto his resoun consentith; and sothely this is deedly synne. This ire is so displesaunt to God, that it troublith his hous, and chaceth the holy Gost out of mannes soule, and wastith and destroyeth the liknes of God, that is to saye, the vertu that is in mannes soule, and put in him the likenes of the devel, and taketh the man fro God that is his rightful lord. This ire is a ful greet plesaunce to the devel, for it is the develes furnace that is warmed with the fyr of helle. For certes right so as fyr is more mighty to destroye erthely thinges, than eny other element, right so ire is mighty to destroye alle spirituel thinges. Loke how that fyr of smale sparks, that ben almost dede under asshen, wolden quiken agayn whan thay be touched with brimstoon, right so ire wille evermore qwyken ayeine whan it is touched by pride that is covered in mannes herte. For certes fyr may nought come out of no thing, but-if it were first in the same thinge naturelly; as fyr is drawe out of flintes with steel. Right so as pride is often tyme mater of ire, right so is rancour norice and keper of ire. Ther is a maner tree, as saith seint Isydre, that whan men maken fyr of thilke tree, and cover the colis with asshen, sothly the fyr of it wol lasten al a yer or more; and right so fareth it of rancour, whan it oones is conceyved in the hertis of som men, certein it wol lasten from oon Estren day until another Ester day, and more. But certis thilke man is ful fer fro the mercy of God al that while.
In this forsaide develes furnace ther forgen thre shrewes; pride, that ay blowith and encresith the fuyr by chidyng and wickid wordis; thanne standeth envye, and holdeth the hoote iren upon the hert of man, with a paire of longe tonges of rancour; and thanne standeth the sinne of contumelie or strif and quarrel, and baterith and forgeth by wikked slander. Certes this cursed synne annoyeth bothe to the man himsilf, and eek to his neighbor. For sothely almost al the harm that eny man doth to his neighbour cometh thurgh wrath. For certes, outrageous wrath doth al that ever the devyl him comaundeth; for he ne spareth neyther for our Lord Jhesu Crist, nor his swete moder; and in his outrageous anger and ire, allas! ful many oon at that tyme felith in his herte ful wikkedly, bothe of Crist, and eek of alle his saints. Is nat this a cursed vice? Yis, certis. It taketh fro man his witte and his resoun, and al his deboneire lyf spirituel, that sholde kepen his soule. Certes it taketh eek Goddis dewe lordshipe (and that is mannes soule) and the love of his neighbor; hit stryveth eek alday agayns trouthe; it robbeth him eek the quiete of his hert, and subvertith his herte and his soule.
Of ire cometh these stynkynge engendrures; first, hate, that is old wrath; discord, thurgh which a man forsakith his olde frend that he hath loved ful longe; and thanne cometh werre, and every maner of wronge that man doth to his neighebor in body or in catel. Of this cursed synne of ire cometh eek manslaughter. And understonde wel that homicide (that is, manslaughter) is in divers wise. Som maner of homicide is spirituel, and som is bodily. Spirituel manslaughter is in sixe thinges. First, by hate, as saith seint Johan, he that hateth his brother is an homicide. Homicide is eek by bakbytyng, of whiche bakbiters saith Salamon, that thay have twaye swerdes with whiche thay slen there neighbors; for sothely it is as wikked to take his good name as his lif. Homicidy is eek in gevyng of wikkid counseil by fraude, as for to geve counseil to rouse wicked and wrongful custumes and taliages; of whiche saith Salomon, a leoun roryng and bere hungry be like to the cruel lordshipes, in withholdyng or abrigging of the hyre or the wages of servauntes, or ellis in usure, or in withdrawyng of almes of pore folk. For whiche the wise man saith, feed him that almost dyeth for hunger, for sothely unless thou feede him thou slest him. And eek these be dedly synnes. Bodily manslaughter is, whan thou sleest him with thy tonge in other manere, as whan thou comaundist to slen a man, or elles givest counseil to slee a man. Manslaughter in dede is in foure maneres. That oon is by lawe, right as a justice damnith him that is coupable to the deth; but let the justice be war that he do it rightfully, and that he do it nought for delit to spille blood, but for keping of rightwisnes. Another homicidy is doon for necessité, as whan a man sleth another defending himself, and that he ne may noon other wise escape fro his owen deth; but certeynly, if he may escape withoute slaughter of his adversarie, and sleth him, he doth synne, and he shal bere penaunce as for dedly synne. Eek if a man by caas or adventure shoot an arwe or cast a stoon with which he sleth a man, he is an homicide. Eke if a womman by negligence overlye hir child in hir sleping, it is homicide and deedly synne. Eke whan man distourbith concepcioun of a child, and makith a womman either bareyn by drinke of venemous herbis, thurgh whiche she may nought conceyve, or sleth hir child by drynkes, or elles putteth certeyn material thinges in hir secre place to slee the child, or elles doth unkyndely synne, by which man, or womman, schedith there nature in manere or in place ther as the child may nought be conceyved; or ellis if a womman have conceyved, and hurt hirself, and sleth the child, yit is it homycide. What say we eek of wommen that mordren here children for drede of worldly schame? Certes, it is an horrible homicidy. Eek if a man approche to a womman by desir of lecchery, thurgh the which the child is perischt; or elles smitith a womman wytyngly, thurgh which she sleeth hir child; alle these be homicides, and dedly orrible synnes. Yit cometh ther of ire many mo synnes, as wel in word, as in werk and thought; as he that accuseth God, and blamith God of thing of which he is himself gulty, or despisith God and alle his saints, as doon these cursed gamblers in diveris cuntrees. This cursed synne don thay, whan thay felen in there herte ful wickidly of God and his saints. Also whan thay treten unreverently the sacrament of the auter; thilke synne is so gret, that scarce may it be relessed, but that the mercy of God passith alle his werkes, and is so gret and so benigne.
Thanne cometh of ire poisonous anger, whan a man is sharply admonished in his shrifte to forlete synne, thanne wol he be angry, and answere mockingly and angrily, to defenden or excusen his synne by unstedefastnesse of his fleish; or elles he dide it to holde companye with his felawes; or ellis he saith the fend entised him; or elles he dide it for his youthe; or ellis his complexioun is so corrageous that he may not forbere; or ellis it is desteny, as he seith, unto a certeine age; or elles he seith it cometh him of gentilesce of his auncestrie, and semblable thinges. Alle these maner of folk so wrappen them in there synnes, that thay wol nought deliver themself. For sothely, no wight that excuseth him wilfully of his synne, may nought be delivered of his synne, til that he mekely acknowledgeth his synne. After this thanne commeth swereinge, that is expres agayns the comaundements of God; and this bifallith often of angir and of ire. God saith, thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord God in vayn or idly. Also, oure Lord Jhesu Crist saith by the word of seint Mathew, ye shal not swere in alle manere, neither by heven, for it is Goddes trone, nor by the eorthe, for it is the benche of his feet, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the cité of a gret king, nor by thin heed, for thou may nought make an hair whit nor blak; but say, by youre word, yea, yea, and nay, nay; and what it is more, it is of evel. Thus saith Jhesu Crist. For Cristes sake, swere not so synfully, in dismembring of Crist, by soule, herte, bones, and body; for certes it semeth, that ye thenke that cursed Jewes dismembrit nought ynough the precious persone of Crist, but ye dismembre him more. And if so be that the lawe compelle yow to swere, thanne reule yow after the lawe of God in youre swering, as saiith Jeremie, c°. iiij to. Thou shalt kepe thre condiciouns, thou shalt swere in trouthe, in doom, and in rightwisnes. This is to sayn, thou shalt swere soth; for every lesyng is agayns Crist; for Crist is verray trouthe. And think wel this, that every gret swerer, not compellid lawfully to swere, the wounde shal not depart fro his hous, whil he useth such unleful sweringe. Thou shalt eek swere in doom, whan thou art constreined by thy domesman to witnesse the trouthe. Eek thou shalt not swere for envye, nor for favour, nor for meede, but onely for rightwisnesse, and for declaring of it to the worship of God, and helping of thin evencristen. And therfore every man that takith Goddes name idly, or falsly swerith with his mouth, or elles takith on him the name of Crist, and callith himself a cristen man, and lyveth agaynst Cristes lyvyng and his teching, alle thay take Goddes name idly. Loke eek what saith seint Peter, Act. c°. iiijto. Non est aliud nomen sub cælo, etc,; There is noon other name, saith seint Peter, under heven yeven to no men, in which thay may be saved, that is to sayn, but in the name of Jhesu Crist. Tak heede eek how precious is the name of Crist, as saith seint Poule, ad Philippenses ij°. In nomine Jhesu, etc. that in the name of Jhesu every knee of hevenly creatures, or erthely, or of helle, shulde bowe; for it is so hihe and so worshipfulle, that the cursed fende in helle sholde tremble to heeren it named. Thanne semeth it, that men that sweren so horribly by his blessed name, that thay despise it more boldely than dede the cursed Jewes, or elles the devel, that tremblith whan he heerith his name.
Now certis, since that swering (but if it be lawfully doon) is so hihly forbidden, moche wors is forswering falsely, and yit needeles.
What say we eek of hem that delite them in swering, and holden it a gentry or manly dede to swere grete othis? And what of them that of verray usage cease nought to swere grete othis, al be the cause not worth a strawe? Certes this is horrible synne. Sweryng sodeynly without avysement is eek a gret synne. But let us now go to thilke horrible sweryng of adjuracioun and conjuraciouns, as doon these false enchauntours or nigromanciens in basines ful of water, or in a bright swerd, in a cercle, or in a fyr, or in the shulder bon of a sheep; I can not sayn, but that thay doon cursedly and damnably agains Christ, and the faith of holy chirche.
What saye we of them that bilieven on divinailes, as by flight or by nois of briddes or of bestes, or by sort, by geomancie, by dremes, by creaking of dores or crakking of howses, by gnawyng of rattis, and such maner wrecchidnes? Certis, al this thing is forbidden by God and holy chirche, for whiche thay ben accursed, til thay come to amendement, that on such filthe set there bileeve. Charmes for woundes or malady of men or of bestes, if thay take eny effect, it may be paradventure that God suffreth hit, for folk shulde yeve the more faith and reverence to his name.
Now wol I speke of lesynge, whiche generally is fals signifiaunce of word, in entent to deceyven his evencristen. Som lesyng is, of whiche ther cometh no avauntage to no wight; and som lesyng torneth to the ease or profit of som man, and to damage of another man. Another lesyng is, for to save his lif or his catel. Another lesyng cometh of delit for to lye, in which delit thay wolle forge a long tale, and paynte it with alle circumstaunces, wher as the ground of the tale i fals. Som lesyng cometh, for he wolde susteyne his word. Som lesyng cometh of rechelesnes withoute avisement, and semblable thinges.
Let us now touche the vice of flaterie, which cometh not gladly, but for drede, or for coveitise. Flaterie is generally wrongful preysing. Flaterers ben the develes nurses, that norisshen his children with mylk of flattery. For sothe Salamon saith, that flaterie is worse than detraccioun; for som tyme detraccioun makith an high man be the more humble, for he dredith detraccioun, but certes flaterie makith a man to enhaunsen his hert and his countenaunce. Flaterers ben the develes enchauntours, for thay make man to wene of himself that he is like to that he is nought like. Thay ben like Judas, that bitraied God; and thise flaterers bitrayen a man to selle him to his enemy, that is the devel. Flaterers ben the develes chapeleyns, that singen ay Placebo. I rekene flaterie in the vices of ire; for ofte tyme if oon man be wroth with another, thanne wol he flatere som man to mayntene him in his quarrel.
Speke we now of such cursyng as cometh of irous hert. Malisoun generally may be said every maner power of harm; such cursyng bireveth man fro the regne of God, as saith seint Poule. And ofte tyme such cursyng wrongfully retourneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a birde retourneth agayn to his owne nest. And over alle thinges men ought to eschewe to cursen there oune children, and give to the devel there offspring, as ferforth as in them is; certis it is gret peril and gret synne.
Let us thanne speke of chydynge and reproche, whiche be ful grete woundes in mannes hert, for they unsew the semes of frendshipe in mannes herte; for certis, scarcely may a man plainly be accordid with him that him openly revyled, reproved, and slandered; this is a ful grisly synne, as Crist saith in the Gospel. And tak keep now, that he that reproveth his neighbor, either he reproveth him by som harm of peyne, that he hath on his body, as leper, croked, harlotte; or by somme sinne that he doth. Nowe if he repreve him by harme of peyne, thanne tornith the reproef to Jhesu Crist; for peyne is sent by the righteous sending of God, and by his suffraunce, be it leprosy, or many other maladies; and if he repreve him uncharitably of sinne, as thou whoremonger, thou dronke harlot, and so forth, thanne aperteyneth that to the rejoysing of the devel, that ever hath joye that men doon synne. And certis, chidyng may nought come but out of a vileins herte, for after the abundaunce of the herte speketh the mouth ful ofte. And ye shal understonde, that loke by any way, whan any man shal chastise another, that he be war of chidyng or reprevyng; for trewely, save he be war, he may ful lightly quicken the fyr of anger and of wraththe, which that he shulde quenchen; and paraventure sleth, that he mighte chasten with benignité. For, as sayth Salamon, the amiable tonge is the tree of lif; that is to sayn, of life spirituel. And sothely, a bitter tonge sleth the spirit of him that repreveth, and also of him which is repreved. Lo, what saith seint Augustyn, ther is no thing so lik the fendes child, as he that ofte chideth. Seint Poule seith eek, a servaunt of God bihoveth nought to chide. And though that chidyng be a vileins thing bitwixe alle maner folk, yit is it certes more uncovenable bitwix a man and his wif, for ther is never rest. And therfore saith Salamon, an hous that is uncovered in rayn and droppyng, and a chidyng wyf, be alike. A man, that is in a dropping hous in many partes, though he eschewe the dropping in oon place, it droppeth on him in another place; so farith it by a chydinge wyf, but she chide him in oon place, she wol chide him in another. And therfore better is a morsel of bred with joye, than an hous ful of delices with chyding, seith Salamon. Seint Poul saith, o ye wommen, be ye sugettis to youre housbondes as bihovith in God; and ye men, loveth youre wyves. Epistle to the Colossians, iij°.
After-ward speke we of scornyng, which is a wikked thing, and sinful, and namely whan he scornith a man for his goode workes; for certes, suche scorners faren lik the foule toode, that may nought endure the soote smel of the vine roote, whan it florishith. These scorners ben partyng felawes with the devel, for thay have joye whan the devel wynneth, and sorwe whan he loseth. Thay be adversaries of Jhesu Crist, for thay haten that he loveth, that is to saye, salvacioun of soule.
Speke we now of wikked counseil; for he that wickid counseil giveth he is a traytour, for he deceyveth him that trusteth in him, as Achitofel to Absalom. But natheles, yet is his wikkid counseil first against himself. For, as saith the wise man, every fals lyvyng hath his propreté in himself, that he that wil annoye another man, he annoyeth first himself. And men shul understonde, that men shulde nought take his counseil of fals folk, nor of angry folk, nor of grevous folk, nor of folk that loven specially too moche their oune profyt, nor in too moche worldly folk, namely, in counselyng of mannes soule.
Now cometh the synne of them that sowen and maken discord amonges folk, which is a synne that Crist hateth utterly; and no wonder is, for God diede for to make concord. And more shame do thay to Crist, than dede thay that him crucifiede. For God loveth bettre, that frendshipe be amonges folk, thanne he dide his owne body, which that ye gaf for unité. Therfore ben thay likned to the develes, that ever ben aboute to make discord.
Now comith the sinne of double tonge, suche as speken faire biforn folk, and wikkedly bihynde; or elles they make semblaunt as though thay speke of good entencioun, or ellis in game and play, and yit thay speke in wikked entent.
Now cometh the twisting of counseil, thurgh which a man is defamed; certes scarce may he restore that damage. Now cometh menace, that is an open foly; for he that ofte menaceth, he threttith more than he may parfourme ful ofte tyme. Now cometh idele wordes, that is withoute profyt of him that spekith tho wordes, and eek of him that herkeneth tho wordes; or elles ydele wordes ben tho that ben needeles, or withouten entent of naturel profyt. And al be it that ydile wordes ben som tyme venial synne, yit shulde men doute them for we shuln yive rekenynge of them bifore God. Now comith jangeling, that may nought be withoute synne; and, as saith Salomon it is a signe of apert folie. And therefore a philosophre saide, whan men askid him how men shulde plese the people, and he answerde, do many good werkes, and spek fewe jangeles. After this cometh the synne of japers, that ben the develes apes, for thay maken folk to laughen at here japes or japerie, as folk doon at the gaudes of an ape; suche japes Saint Paul forbiddeth. Loke how that vertuous and holy wordes conforten them that travailen in the service of Crist, right so conforten the vilens wordes and knakkis and japeries them that traveyle in the service of the devyl. These ben the synnes that cometh of ire, and of other synnes many mo.
Remedium Contra Iram
Remedye agayns ire, is a vertue that men clepe mansuetude, that is deboneirté; and eek another vertue that men clepe pacience or sufferaunce. Debonaireté withdrawith and restreineth the stiringes and the movynges of mannys corrage in his herte, in such manere, that thai skippe not out by anger nor by ire. Suffraunce suffrith swetely al the annoyaunce and the wronges that men doon to man outward. Seint Jerom saith thus of debonairté, that it do non harm to no wight, nor saith; nor for noon harm that men doon nor sayn, he chafeth not agayns his resoun. This vertu cometh som tyme of nature; for, as saith the philosopher, man is a quik thing by nature, debonaire and tretable by goodnesse; but whan debonaireté is enformed of grace, than is it the more worth.
Pacience that is another remedie agains ire, is a vertu that suffreth swetely every mannes goodnes, and in not wroth for noon harm that is doon to him. The philosopher saith, that pacience is thilke vertue that suffrith deboneirly alle the outrages of adversité and every wickid word. This vertue makith a man lik to God, and makith him Goddes oune dere child, as saith Crist. This vertu destroyeth thin enemy. And therfore saith the wise man, if thou wolt venquisch thin enemy lerne to suffre. And shou shalt understonde, that man suffrith foure maners of grevaunces in out-ward thinges, agains whiche he moot have foure maners of patience. The firste grevaunce is of wicked wordes. Thilke suffred Jhesu Crist, withoute grucching, ful paciently, whan the Jewes despised him and reproved him ful ofte. Suffre thou therfore paciently, for the wise man saith, if thou strive with a fool, though the fool be wroth, or though he laughhe, thou shalt have no rest. That other grevaunce out-ward is to have damage of thi catel. Ther agayn suffred Crist ful paciently, whan he was despoylid of al that he had in his lif, and that was but his clothis. The thridde grevaunce is a man to have harm in his body. That suffrede Crist ful paciently in al his passioun. The ferthe grevaunce is in outrageous labour in werkis; wherfore I say, that folk that maken there servauntz to travaile too grevously, or out of tyme, as on holy dayes, sothely thay doon greet synne. Here against suffrede Crist ful paciently, and taughte us pacience, whan he bar upon his blisful shulder the cros upon which he shulde suffre despitous deth. Here may men lerne to be pacient; for certes, nought oonly cristen men ben pacient for the love of Jhesu Crist, and for guerdoun of the blisful life that is durable, but the olde paynymes, that never were cristen, comaundedin and useden the vertu of pacience. A philosopher upon a tyme, that wolde have bete his disciple for his grete trespas, for which he was gretly moved, and brought a yerde to scourge the child, and whan the child saw the yerde, he sayde to his maister, “what thenke ye to do?” “I wolde bete the,” quoth the maister, “for thi correccioun.” “Forsothe,” quoth the child, “ye oughte first correcte yoursilf, that have lest al youre pacience for the gilt of a child.” “Forsothe,” quoth the maister al wepyng, “thou saist soth; have thou the yerde, my deere sone, and correcte me for myn impacience.” Of pacience cometh obedience, thurgh which a man is obedient to Crist, and to alle them to which he oughte to be obedient in Crist. And understonde wel, that obedience is parfyt, whan a man doth gladly and hastily with good herte utterly al that he sholde do. Obedience is generally to parforme the doctrine of God, and of his soveraignes, to whiche he oughte to ben obeissant in alle righteousness.
After the synne of envye and ire, now wol I speke of sloth; for envye blendith the hert of a man, and ire troublith a man, and sloth makith him hevy, thoughtful, and peevish. Envye and ire maken bitternes in herte, which bitternesse is moder of accidie, and bynimith the love of alle goodnes; thanne is accidie the anguische of a trouble hert. And seint Augustyn saith, it is anoye, it is anoye of goodenesse and anoye of harme. Certes this is a damnable synne, for it doth wrong to Jhesu Crist, in as mocht as it taketh the service that we oughte to do to Crist with alle diligence, as saith Salomon; but accidie doth noon such diligence. He doth alle thing with anoy, and with peevishness, slaknes, and excusacioun, and with ydelnes and unlust; for which the book saith, accursed be he that doth the service of God necligently. Than is accidie enemy to every astaat of man. For certes thestate of man is in thre maners; eythere it is thestate of innocence, as was thastate of Adam, biforn that he fel into synne, in which estate he is holden to worche, as in praising and honouryng of God. Another astat is thestate of sinful man; in which estate men ben holden to labore in praying to God for amendement of their synnes, and that he wolde graunte them to rise out of there synnes. Another estaat is thestate of grace, in which he is holde to werkis of penitence; and certes, to alle these thinges is accidie enemye and contrarie, for it loveth no busynes at al. Now certis, this foule synne accidie is eek a ful gret enemy to the maintenance of the body; for it hath no purveaunce against temporal necessité, for it for-slowthith, and forsluggith, and destroyeth alle goodes temporels by rechelesnes.
The ferthe thing is that accidie is like them that be in the peyne of helle, bycause of their slouthe and of their hevynes; for thay that been damned, ben so bounde, that thay maye nought wel do nor wel thenke. Of accidie cometh first, that a man is annoyed and encombrid for to do eny goodnes and makith that God hath abhominacioun of such accidie, as saith seint Johan.
Now cometh slouthe, that wol suffre noon hardnes ne no penaunce; for sothely, slouthe is so tendre and so delicat, as saith Salomon, that he wol suffre no hardnes nor penaunce, and therfore he spoileth al that he doth. Agayns this roten hertid synne of accidie and of slouthe shulden men exercise themself to do goode werkes and manly and vertuously get corrage wel to doo, thinking that oure Lord Jhesu Crist payeth every good dede, be it never so lyte. Usage of labour is a ful greet thing; for it makith, as saith seint Bernard, the laborer to have stronge armes and harde synewes; and slouthe maketh hem feble and tendre. Thanne cometh drede to bygynne to werke eny goode deedes; for certes, who that is enclined to don synne, he thinkith it is so gret emprise for to undertake to doon werkes of goodnes, and castith in his herte that the circumstaunces of goodnesse ben so grevous and so hard for to suffre, that he dar not under-take to do werkes of goodnesse, as saith seint Gregory.
Now cometh wanhope, that is, despair of the mercy of God, that cometh som tyme of to moche outrageous sorwe, and som tyme of to moche drede, ymagynynge that he hath do so moche synne that it wil not availe him, though he wolde repent him, and forsake synne; thurgh which despeir or drede, he abandounith al his herte to alle maner synne, as saith seint Augustin. Whiche damnable synne, if that it continue unto his lyves ende, it is clepped the synnyng of the holy gost. This horrible synne is so perilous, that he that is despaired, ther is no felonye, ne no synne, that he doutith for to do, as shewede wel by Judas. Certes, above alle synnes than is this synne most displesant to Crist, and most adversarie. Sothely, he that despeirith him, is like the coward recreaunt, that seith recreaunt withoute neede. Allas! allas! needeles is he recreaunt, and needeles despaired. Certes, the mercy of God is ever redy to the penitent, and is above alle his werkes. Allas! can not a man bythenk him on the Gospel of seint Luk, wher as Crist saith, that as wel shal ther be joye in heven upon a synful man that doth penitence, as upon nynety and nyne that ben rightful men that needen no penitence? Loke forther in the same Gospel, the joye and the fest of the goode man that hadde lost his sone, whan the sone with repentaunce was torned to his fader. Can not thay remembre eek that as saith seint Luk, xxiij°, how that the thef that was hangid biside Jhesu Criste, sayde, Lord, remembre of me, whan thou comest into thy Kingdom? For sothe saith Crist, to-day thou shalt be with me in paradis. Certis, ther is noon so horrible synne of man, that it may not in his lif be destroyed with penitence, thorugh vertue of the passioun of the deth of Crist. Allas! what needith it man thanne to be despaired, since that his mercy is so redy and large? Aske and have.
Thanne cometh somnolence, that is, sluggy slumbring, which makith a man ben hevy and dul in body and in soule, and this synne cometh of slouthe; and certes, the tyme that by way of resoun man shulde nought slepe, that is in the morning, but if ther were cause resonable. For sothely the morning tyde is most convenable to a man to say his prayers, and for to thenk upon his God, and to honoure God, and to geve almes to the pore that first cometh in the name of Crist. Lo what saith Salamon; who-so wol by the morwe arise and seeke me, shal fynde me. Than cometh negligence that rekkith of nothing. And how that ignoraunce be moder of alle harm, certis, negligence is the norice. Necligence cares not, whan he shal doon a thing, whethir he doo it wel or baddely.
Of the remedy of these tuo synnes, as saith the wise man, that he that dredith God, he sparith nought to do that he oughte to don; and he that loveth God, wol do diligence to plese God by his werkis and abounde himself, with alle his might, wel for to doon. Thanne cometh ydelnes, that is the yate of alle harmes. An ydil man is like an hous that hath noone walles; the develes may entre on every syde or shoot at him at discovert by temptaciouns on every syde. This ydelnes is the hold of alle wickid vileyns thoughtes, and of alle jangles, tryfles, and of alle ordure. Certes the heven is geven to them that wol laboure and nought to ydil folk. Eke David saith, that thay ben not in the labour of men, ne thay shul not be whiped with men, that is to sain, in purgatorie. Certis thanne semeth it that thay shal be tormentid with the devel in helle, but-if thay don penitence.
Thanne comith the synne that men clepe tarditas, as whan a man is so slow or tarying ere he wil torne to God; and certis, that is a gret foly. He is like him that fallith into the diche, and wol not arise. And this vice cometh of a fals hope, that he thinkith he shal lyve longe; but that hope fayleth ful ofte.
Thanne comith laches, that is, he that when he bigynneth any good werk, anoon he wol forlete it and stynte, as doon thay that have eny wight to governe, and take of them no more keep anoon when thay fynde eny contrarie or eny anoy. These ben the newe shepherdes, that leten her shep wityngely go renne to the wolf, that is in the breres, or care nothing for their oune governaunce. Of this cometh povert and destruccioun, bothe of spirituel and of temporel thinges. Thanne cometh a maner coldenesse, that freseth al the hert of man. Thanne cometh undevocioun thurgh which a man is so blunt, and as saith seint Bernard, he hath such a langour in soule, that he may neyther rede nor synge in holy chirche, nor heere nor thinke on devocioun in holy chirche, nor travayle with his hondes in no good werk, that is not to him unsavory and al apalled. Than waxith he slowe and slombry, and soone wol he be wroth, and soone is enclined to hate and to envye. Thanne comith the synne of worldly sorwe such as is clepid tristitia, that sleth man, as saith seint Poule. For certis such sorwe werkith to the deth of the soule and of the body also, for therof cometh, that a man is anoyed of his oune lif, which sorwe shorteth ful ofte the lif of a man, ere that his tyme is come by way of kynde.
Remedium Contra Accidiam
Agains this horrible synne of accidie, and the braunches of the same, ther is a vertu that is cleped fortitudo or strengthe, that is, an affeccioun thurgh which a man despiseth alle noyous thinges. This vertu is so mighty and so vigurous, that it dar withstonde mightily the devel, and wisely kepe himself from perils that ben wicked, and wrastil agains the assautes of the devel; for it enhaunsith and enforceth the soule, right as accidie abateth it and makith it feble; for this fortitudo may endure with long sufferaunce the travailes that be convenable. This vertu hath many species; the first is cleped magnanimité, that is to sayn gret corrage. For certis ther bihoveth gret corrage agains accidie, lest that it swolwe not the soule by the synne of sorwe, or destroye it by wanhope. This vertu makith folk undertake harde and grevous things by her owne wille, willfuly and resonably. And for als moche as the devel fighteth agaynst a man more by cunning and by sleight than by strengthe, therfore many a man shal ayeinstonde him by witte, and by resoun, and by discrecioun. Thanne is ther the vertu of faith, and hope in God and in his seintes, to acheven and to acomplice the goode werkes, in the whiche he purposith fermely to continue. Thanne cometh surety or sikernes, and that is whan a man doutith no travaile in tyme comyng of good werk that a man hath bygonne. Thanne cometh magnificence, that is to saye, whan a man doth and parformith grete werkes of goodnesse that he hath bygonne, and that is thend why that men shulden do goode werkes. For in the accomplishing of grete goode werkes lith the grete guerdoun. Thanne is ther constaunce, that is stablenes of corrage, and this shulde ben in herte by stedefast faith, and in mouthe and in berying, and in cheer, and in deede. Eek ther ben mo special remedies agayns accidie, in dyvers werkis, and in consideracioun of the peyne of helle and of the joye of heven, and in the trust of the hyhe grace of the holy gost, that wil geve him might to parforme his good entent.
After accidie I wil speke of avarice, and of coveytise; of whiche synne saith seint Poule, that the roote of alle eveles and harmes is coveytise. For sothely whan that the hert of man is confoundid in itself and troublid, and that the soule hath lost the comfort of God, thanne seekith he an ydel solas of worldly thinges. Avarice, after the descripcioun of seint Austyn, is a likerousnes in hert to have erthely thinges. Some other folk sayn, that avarice is for to purchase many erthely thinges, and no thing geve to them that have neede. And understonde, that avarice stont not oonly in lond nor in catel, but som tyme in science and in glorie, and every maner of outrageous thinges is avarice or covetyse. And the difference bytwixe avarice and coveytise is this: coveitise is for to coveyte suche thinges as thou hast not; and avarice is to withholde and kepe suche thinges as thou hast, withouten rihtful nede. Sothely, this avarice is a synne that is ful damnable, for al holy writ curseth it, and spekith agayn that vice, for it doth wrong to Jhesu Crist; for it bireveth him the love that men to him owen, and turnith it bakward agains al resoun, and makith that the avarous man hath more hope in his catel than in Jhesu Crist, and doth more observaunce in kepynge of his tresour, than he doth to the service of Jhesu Crist. And therfore saith seint Poule, ad Ephes. that an averous man is in the thraldom of ydolatrie.
What difference is ther bitwen an ydolater and an avarous man, but that an ydolater peradventure hadde but an idol or tuo, and the avaricious man hath monye? for certes, every floreine in his coffre is his idol. And certes, the synne of idolatry is the firste thing that God forbiddeth in the ten comaundementz, as berith witnes in Exod. cap. xx, Thou shalt have noone false goddes biforn me, nor thou shalt make to thee no graven thing. Thus is he an averous man, that loveth his tresor toforn God, and an ydolater. Thurgh this cursed synne of avarice and coveytise comen these harde lordshipes, thurgh whiche men ben destreyned by talliages, custumes, and cariages, more than there dueté of resoun is; and elles take thay of there bondemen amercimentes, whiche mighte more resonably ben callid extorciouns than mercymentis. Of whiche mersyments and raunsonyng of bondemen, some lordes stywardes seyn, that it is rightful, for as moche as a cherl hath no temporel thing that it is not his lordes, as thay sayn. But certes, thise lordeshipes doon wrong, that bireven here bondemen thinges that thay never yave them. Augustinus de Civitate Dei, libro ix. Soth is that the condicioun of thraldom, and the firste cause of thraldom is for sin. Genes. v.
Thus may ye seen, that the gilt deserved thraldom, but not nature. Wherfore these lordes shulden nought to moche glorifie in there lordshipes, sith that by naturel condicioun thay ben nought lordes over here thralles, but for that thraldom com first by the desert of synne. And forther-over, ther as the lawe sayth, that temporel goodes of bondefolk been the goodes of their lordshipes; ye, that is to understonde, the goodes of the emperour, to defend them in there right, but not to robbe them nor to steal from them. And therfore seith Seneca, thi prudence shulde live benignely with thi thrallis. Thilke that thay clepe thralles, ben Goddes poeple; for humble folk ben Cristes frendes; thay ben home friends with the Lord. Thenk eek as of such seed as cherles springen, of such seed springe lordes; as wel may the cherl be saved as the lord. The same deth that takith the cherl, the same deth taketh the lord. Wherefore I rede, do riht so with thi cherle as thou woldist thi lord dide with thee, if thou were in his plyt. Every sinful man is a cherl as to synne. I counsel thee certes, thou lord, that thou werke in such a wise with thy cherles that thay rather love thee than drede thee. I wot wel, ther is degre above degre, as resoun is and skil, that men don her devoir ther as it is dewe; but certes, extorciouns, and despit of oure undirlinges, is damnable.
And forthermore understonde wel, that conquerours or tyrauntes maken ful ofte thralles of them that born be of as royal blood as be thay that them conqueren. This name of cherldom was never erst known til Noe sayde that his sone Chanaan shulde be thral of his bretheren for his synne. What say we thanne of them that rob and doon extorciouns to holy chirche? Certis, the swerdes that men yeven first to a knight whan he is newe dubbyd, signifieth faith, and that he shulde defende holy chirche, and not robbe hit ne pill hit; and who so doth ys traitour to Crist. And as seith seint Austin, thay ben the develes wolves, that stranglen the sheep of Jhesu Crist, and doon wors than wolves; for sothely, whan the wulf hath ful his wombe, he stintith to strangle sheep; but sothly, the pilours and the destroyers of the goodes of holy chirche ne doon nought so, for thai stinte never to pile. Now as I have sayd, sith so is, that synne was first cause of thraldom, thanne is it thus, that ilke tyme that al this world was in synne, thanne was al this world in thraldom, and in subjeccioun; but certis, sith the tyme of grace com, God ordeynede that somme folk shulde be more high in estaate and in degre, and somme folkes more lowe, and that everich shulde be served in there estate and in degree. And therfore in somme contrees where thay ben thralles, whan thay have turned them to the faith, thay make there thralles free out of thraldom. And therfor certis the lord oweth to his man, that the man owith to the lord. The pope callith himself servaunt of servaunts of God. But for as moche as thestaat of holy chirche mighte not have ben, nor the commune profit mighte nought have ben kepte, nor pees nor reste in erthe, but-if God had ordeyned som man of heiher degre, and some men of lower, therfore was soveraignté ordeyned to kepe, and to mayntene, and defende their underlynges or their subjectis in resoun, as ferforth as it lith in their power, and not to destroye nor confounde them. Wherfore I say, that thilke lordes that be like wolves, that devouren the possessioun or the catel of pore folk wrongfully withoute mercy or mesure, thay shul receyve by the same mesure that thay han mesured to pover folk the mercy of Jhesu Crist, but-if it be amendid. Now cometh deceit bitwixe marchaunt and marchaunt. And thou shalt understonde that marchaundise is in tuo maneres, that oon is bodily and that other is gostly; that oon is honest and lawful, and that other is dishonest and unlawful. Of thilke bodily marchaundise that is honest and leful is this, that where as God hath ordeyned that a regne of a cuntre is suffisaunt to himself, thanne is it honest and leful that of the abundaunce of this contre the men helpe another cuntre that is more needy; and therfore ther moote be marchauntz to bringe fro that oon cuntre to that other their marchaundise. That other marchaundise, that men hauntyn with fraude, and treccherie, and deceit, with lesynges and fals othis, is cursed and damnable. Spirituel marchaundize is proprely symonie, that is entent and desire to buy thing spirituel, that is, thing that apperteyneth to the seintuarie of God, and to the cure of the soule. This desire, if so be that a man do his diligence to parforme it, al be it that his desir take noon effect, yit is it to him a dedly synne; and if he be ordrid, he is irreguler. Certis, symonye is called from Symon Magus, that wolde have bought for temporel catel the gifte that God had given by the holy gost to seint Petir and to thapostlis; and therfor understonde, that bothe he that sellith and he that buyeth thinges spiritueles be cleped symonials, be it by catel, be it by procurement, or by fleisshly prayere of his frendes, either of fleisshly frendes or spirituel frendes; fleisshly in tuo maneres, as by kyndrede or other frendes. Sothely, if thay praye for him that is not worthy and able, it he take the benefice it is symonie; and if he be worthy and able, it is non. That other maner is, whan man, or woman, prayen for folk to avaunce them oonly for wikked fleisshly affeccioun that thay have unto the persone, and that is foul symonye. But certis, in services, for whiche men geven thinges spirituels unto their servauntes, it must be understonde, that the service must be honest, and ellis not, and eek that it be withoute bargaynynge, and that the persone be able. For, as saith seint Damase, alle the synne of this world, compared with this synne, is a thing of nought, for it is the gretteste synne that may be after the synne of Lucifer and of Antecrist; for by this synne God forlosith the chirche and the soule, that he boughte with his precious blood, by them that geven chirches to them that be not digne, for thay putten in theves, that stelen the soules of Jhesu Crist, and destroyen his patrimoigne. By suche undigne prestis and curates have ignorant men lasse reverence of the sacrament of holy chirche; and suche geveres of chirches putten out the children of Crist, and putten into the chirche the develes oune sones; thay sellen soules (that is the lambes they shulde kepe) to the wolf that stranglith them; and therfore shul thay never have part of the pasture of lambes, that is, the blisse of heven.
Now cometh hazardrie with his appertenaunce, as tables and rafles, of whiche cometh deceit, fals othis, chidynges, and alle raveynes, blasphemyng, and deneying of God and hate of his neighebors, wast of goodes, myspendinge of tyme, and som tyme manslaughter. Certes, hazardours may not be withoute gret synne, whil they haunte that craft. Of avarice cometh eek lesynges, thefte, and fals witnesse and fals othes. And ye shul undirstonde that these ben grete synnes, and expressly agains the comaundementz of God, as I have sayd. Fals witnesse is in word and eek in dede; in word as for to bireve thin neighebor his good name by thy false witnessinge, or bireve him his catel or his heritage by thy false witnesse, whan thou for ire, or for meede, or for envie, berest fals witnes, or accusist him, or excusist him by thy false witnes, or ellis excusist thiself falsly. Ware you, questemongers and notaries. Certis, for fals witnessynge was Susanna in ful gret sorwe and peyne, and many another mo. The synne of thefte is eek expresse agayns Goddes hestis, and that in tuo maners, coporel and spirituel; cor-porel, and as for to take thy neighebours catel agayns his wille, be it by force or by sleight; be it by mette or by mesure; by stelynge eek of fals enditements upon him; and in borwyng of thin neighebores catelle in entent never to pay, and in semblable thinges. Spirituel thefte is sacrilege, that is to sayn, hurtynge of holy thinges, or of thing sacred to Crist. Sacrilege is in tuo maneres; that oon is by resoun of holy place, as chirches or chircheyards; for whiche every vileins synne that men doon in suche places may be clepid sacrilege, or every violence in semblance place; that other maner is as those that withdrawen falsly the rentes and rightes that longen to holy chirche; and generally, sacrilege is to reve holy thing fro holy place, or unholy thing out of holy place, or holy thing out of unholy place.
Remedium Contra Avariciam
Now shul ye understonde that the relevynge of avarice is misericorde and pité largely taken. And men might axen, why that misericord and pité is relievyng of avarice; certes, the avaricious man shewith no pité nor misericorde to the needeful man. For he delitith him in the kepyng of his tresor, and nought in the rescuing nor relivyng of his even-cristen. And therfore speke I first of misericord. Thanne is misericord, as saith the philosopher, a vertu, by which the corrage of a man is stired by the myseise of him that is myseysed. Upon which misericorde folwith pytie, in parformynge of chariteable werkis of mercie, helping and comfortinge him that is miseased. And certes, these moven men to the misericord of Jhesu Crist, that gaf himself for oure gilt, and suffrede deth for misericord, and forgaf us oure original synne, and therby relessid us fro peyne of helle, and lessened the peynes of purgatorie by penitence, and geveth grace wel to do, and at the laste the joye of heven. The species of misericorde ben for to love, and for to give, and eek for to forgive and for to relesse, and for to have pité in herte, and compassioun of the meschief of his even cristen, and eek chastize ther as neede is. Another maner of remedye agayns avarice, is resonable largesse; but sothely here bihovith the consideracioun of the grace of Jhesu Crist, and of the temporel goodes, and eek of the goodes durable that Crist gaf us, and eek to have remembraunce of the deth that he shal resceyve, he knoweth not whanne, wher ne how; and eke he shal forgo al that he hath, save oonly that he hath dispendid in goode werkes.
But for moche as some folk ben unresonable, men oughte to eschiewe fole-largesse, that men clepen wast. Certes, he that is fool-large, he giveth nought his catel, but he loseth his catel. Sothely, what thing that he giveth for vaynglorie, as to mynstrals, and to folk for to bere his renoun in the world, he hath synne therof, and noon almes; certes, he losith foule his goodes, that sekith with the gift of his goode no thing but synne. He is like to an hors that sekith rather to drynke drovy watir, and trouble, than for to drinke watir of the welle that is cleer. And for as moche as thay give where thay shulde not give, to them appendith thilke mali-soun that Crist shal give at the day of doom to them that shal be damned.
After avarice cometh glotenye, which is expresse eke agayns the comaundement of God. Glotenye is unresonable and desordeyned coveytise to ete and to drynke or elles to done ynouhe to the unmesurable or disordeyn covetyse to ete and to drinke. This synne corruptid al this world, as is wel shewed in the synne of Adam and of Eva. Loke eek what saith seint Poul of glotouns; many folk so, saith he, gon, of whiche I have ofte said to you, and now I say it wepyng, that thei be thenemyes of the cros of Crist, of whiche thende is deth, and of whiche there wombe is there God and there glorie; in confusioun of them that so saveren erthely thinges. He that is accustomed to this sinne of glotoyne, he may no sinne withstande, he moste be in servage of alle vices, for it is the develes horde, where he hideth him inne and resteth. This synne hath many species. The firste is dronkenes, that is thorrible sepulture of mannes resoun; and therfore whan man is dronken, he hath lost his resoun; and this is dedly synne. But shortly, whan that a man is not wont to strong drinke, and paraventure knowith not the strengthe of the drynk, or hath feblesse in his heed, or hath travayled, thurgh which he drynkith the more, and be sodeynly caught with drynke, it is no dedly synne, but venial. The secounde species of glotenye is, whan the spirit of a man wexith al trouble for drunkenesse, and bireveth him his witte and his discressioun. The thridde species of glotouns is, when a man devoureth his mete, and hath no rightful maner of etyng. The ferthe is, whan thurgh the grete abundance of his mete, the humours of his body be distemprid. The fifte is, forgetelnesse by to moche drinking, for which a man somtyme forgetith by the morwe what he dide at eve, or on the night bifore.
In other maner ben distinct the species of glotonye, after seint Gregory. The firste is, for to ete or drynke byfore tyme to ete. The secound is, whan man giveth him too delicate mete or drinke. The thridde is, whanne man takith too moche therof over mesure. The ferthe is, curiosité, with gret entent to make and apparayle his mete. The fifte is, for to ete too gredely. These be the fyve fyngres of the develes hand, by which he drawith folk to synne.
Remedium Contra Gulam
Agayns glotonye the remedie is abstinence, as saith Galien; but that holde I nought meritorie, if he do it oonly for the helth of his body. Seint Austyn wol that abstinence be don for vertu, and with pacience. Abstinence, he saith, is litil worth, but if a man have good wille therto, and but it be enforced by pacience and by charité, and that men doon it for Goddes sake, and in hope to have blisse of heven. The felawes of abstinence ben temperaunce, that holdith the mene in alle thinges; eek shame, that eschiewith al dishonesté; suffisaunce, that seeketh noone riche metes ne drynkes, ne careth not for outrageous apparaillyng of mete; mesure also that restreyneth by resoun the appetit of etyng; sobernes also, that restreyneth the outrage of drinke; sparynge also, that restreyneth the delicat ese to sitte longe atte his mete and softely, wherfore summe folk stonden of there owen wille to ete, because they wol ete atte lasse laysir.
After glotonye thanne cometh leccherie, for these two synnes ben so neih cosyns, that ofte tyme thay wol not de-parte. Unde Paulus ad Ephes., nolite inebriari vino in quoest luxuria, etc. God wot this synne is ful displesaunt thing to God, for he sayde himself, Do no leccherie. And therfore he putte gret peyne agayn this synne. For in the olde law, if a womman thral were take in this synne, she sholde be beten with staves to the deth; and if she were a gentil-womman, she shulde be slayn with stoones; and if she were a bisshoppis doughter, she shulde be brent by Goddis com-aundement. Fortherover, for the synne of leccherie God drouned al the world at the flood, and after that he brente fyve citees with thonder and lightning, and sonk them into helle.
Now let us thanne speke of thilke stynkyng synne of leccherie, that men clepen advoutry, that is of weddid folk, that is to sayn, if that oon of them be widded, or elles bothe. Seint Johan saith, that advouteris shuln be in helle in watir brennyng of fyr and of brimston; in fyr for the leccherie, in brimston for the stynk of their ordure. Certis the brekyng of this sacrament is an horrible thing; hit was makid of God himself in Paradis, and confermed of Jhesu Crist, as witnesseth seint Mathew; a man shal lete fader and mooder, and take him to his wif, and thay shul ben two in oon fleish. This sacrament bitokeneth the knyttyng togider of Crist and of holy chirche. And nat oonly that God forbad advotrie in dede, but eek he comaundede, that thou sholdest not coveyte thy neyhebors wif. In this heste, seith seint Austyn, is for-boden al maner coveytise to do leccherie. Lo what seith seint Mathew in the Gospel, that who-so seth a womman, to coveytise of his lust, he hath done lecchery with hir in his herte. Here may ye se, that nought oonly the dede of this synne is forboden, but eek the desir to do that synne. This cursed synne annoyeth grevously them that it haunten: and first to there soule, for he obligith it to synne and to pyne of the deth that is durable; unto the body annoyeth it grevously also, for it dreyeth him and wastith him, and spoileth him, and of his blood he makith sacrifice to the devel of helle; it wastith eek his catel and his substaunce. And certes, if that it be a foul thing, a man to waste his catel on wommen, yit is it a fouler thing, whan that for such ordure wommen dispende upon men there catel and there substaunce. This synne, as saith the prophete, byreveth man and womman their good fame and al there honour, and it is ful pleasaunt to the devel; for therby wynneth he the moste pray of this world. And right as a marchaunt deliteth him most in chaffare that he hath most avauntage of, right so delitith the feend in this ordure.
This is the other hond of the devel, with fyve fyngres, to cacche the poeple to his vilonye. The firste fynger is the foule lokyng of the foule womman and of the foule man, that sleth right as a basiliskoc sleth folk by the venym of his sight; for the coveytise of eyen folwith the coveytise of the herte. The secounde fynger is the vileynes touchinge in wikkid manere. And therfore saith Salamon, that who-so touchith and handelith a womman, he farith lik him that handelith the scorpioun, that styngith and sodeinly sleeth thurgh his envenemynge; or as who so touchith warm picche, it soileth his fyngres. The thridde is foule wordes, that farith lik fyr, that right anoon brenneth the herte. The ferthe is the kissyng; and trewely he were a greet fool that wolde kisse the mouth of a brennyng oven or of a forneys; and more fooles ben thay that kyssen in vilonye, for that mouth is the mouth of helle; and namely thise olde dotard fooles, yit wol thay kisse and smater them, though thay maye nought do. Certes thay ben like to houndes; for an hound when he cometh to a roser, or by other busches, though he may nought pisse, yet wil he heve up his leg and make a countenaunce to pisse. And for that many man weneth he may not synne for no licorousnes that he doth with his wif, certis that oppinioun is fals; God wot a man may sle himself with his owne knyf, and make himself dronk of his oughne tonne. Certis, be it wif, or child, or eny worldly thing, that he lovyth biforn God, it is his idol, and he is an ydolastre. Man shulde love his wyf by discrescioun, paciently and attemperelly, and thanne is she, as it were, his suster. The fyfte fynger of the develes hond, is the stynkynge dede of leccherie. Certes the fyve fyngres of glotonye the devel put in the wombe of a man; and his fyve fyngres of lecchery bygripeth him by the reynes, for to throwe him into the fourneys of helle, there as they shuln have the fyr and the wormes that ever shal lasten, and wepyng and wayling,and sharp hunger and thurst, and grislines of develes, that shul al to-tere them withoute respit and withouten ende. Of leccherie, as I sayde, come divers species: as fornicacioun, that is bitwene man and womman that ben nought maried, and this is dedly synne, and against nature. Al that is enemy and destruccioun to nature, is agayns nature. Par fay the resoun of a man tellith him wel that it is dedly synne, for als moche as God forbad leccherie. And seint Poule gevith them that place that is due to no wight but them that doon synne dedly. Another synne of lecchery is, for to bireve a mayden of hir maydenhode; for he that so doth, certes he casteth a mayden out of the highest degre that is in the present lif, and birevith hir thilke precious fruyt that the book clepith the hundrid fruyt — I can yeve it noon other name in English, but in Latyn it is i-clepid centesimus fructus (secundum Hieronimum contra Jovini-annum). Certes he that so doth, is cause of many harmes and vilenyes, mo than eny man can rekene; right as he som tyme is cause of alle the damages that bestis doon in the feeld, that brekith the hegge of the closure, thurgh which he destroyeth that may not be restored; for certes no more may maydenhode be restored, than an arm, that is smyten fro the body, retourne agayn to waxe; she may have mercy, this wot I wel, if she have wille to do penitence, but never shal it be put that she is not corrupt. And al be it so that I have spoke somwhat of advoutre, yit is it good to speke of mo perils that longen to advoutre, for to eschiewe that foule synne. Advoutrie, in Latyn, is for to sayn, approching of other mannes bed, thorugh the which those that whilom were oon fleish, abaundone there bodyes to other persones. Of this synne, as saith the wise man, many harmes cometh thereof; first, brekyng of faith; and certes faith is the keye of cristendom, and whan that faith is broke and lorn, sothely cristendom is lorn, and stont veyn and withouten fruyt. This synne is eek a theef, for thefte is generally to speke to reve a wight his thing agayns his wille. Certis, this is the foulest thefte that may be, whan a womman stelith hir body from hire housbonde, and giveth it to hire lover to defoule hire, and stelith hir soule fro Crist, and gevith it to the devel. This is a fouler thefte than for to breke a chirche and stele chalises, for these advouterers breke the temple of God spirituelly, and stelen the vessel of grace, that is the body and the soule; for which Jhesu Crist shal destroyen hem, as saith seint Poule. Sothely of this thefte doutyde gretly Joseph, whan that his lordes wyf prayde him of vilonye, whan he saide, “Lo, my lady, how my lord hath take to me under my warde al that he hath in this world, and no thing of his thinges is oute of my power, but oonly ye that ben his wyf; and how shuld I do thanne this wikkidnes, and synne so horribly agayns God, and my Lord? God it forbede!” Alas! al too litel is such trouthe now i-founde. The thridde harm is the filthe, thurgh which thay breken the comaundement of God, and defoule the auctour of there matrimonye, that is Crist. For certis, in so moche as the sacrament of mariage is so noble and so digne, so moche is it the gretter synne for to breke it; for God makide mariage in Paradis in thestat of innocence, to multiplie mankynde to the service of God, and therfore is the brekyng therof the more grevous, of which breking cometh fals heires ofte tymes, that wrong-fully occupien mennes heritage; and therfore wolde Crist putte them out of the kingdom of heven, that is heritage to goode folk. Of this breking cometh eek ofte tyme that folk unwar wedden or synnen with her kynrede; and namely these harlottis, that haunten bordels of these foule wommen, that mowe be likened to a comune gonge, where as men purgen her entrayles of her ordure. What saye we eke of putours, that Iyven by the orrible synne of putrie, and con-streyne wymmen, ye, som tyme his oughne wyf or his child, as don these baudes, to yelde hem a certeyn rente of here bodily putrie? certes, these ben cursede synnes. Under-stondeth eek that avoutrie is set gladly in the ten comaundements bitwixe manslaughter and thefte, for it is the grettest thefte that may be, for it is thefte of body and soule, and it is lik homicidie, for it kerveth a-tuo them that first were makid oon fleish. And therfore by the olde lawe of God thay sholde be slayn, but natheles, by the lawe of Jhesu Crist, that is the lawe of pité, whan he sayde to the womman that was founde in advoutrie, and shulde have ben slayn with stoones aftir the wille of the Jewes, as was their law,
“Go,” quoth Jhesu Crist, “and haue no more wille to synne or wilne no more to do synne;” sothely, the vengeance of avouterye is awardid to the peyne of helle, but-if it be destourbed by penitence. Yit ben ther mo species of this cursed synne, as whan that oon of them is religious, or ellis bothe, or for folk that ben entred into ordre, as sub-dekin, or dekin, or prest, or hospitalers; and ever the higher that he be in ordre, the gretter is the synne. The thinges that gretly aggreggith her synne, is the brekyng of here avow of chastité, whan thay resceyved the ordre; and fortherover is soth, that holy ordre is chef of alle the tresor of God, and is a special signe and mark of chastité, to shewe that thay be joyned to chastité, which that is the moste precious lif that is. And eek these ordred folk be specially tytled to God, and of the special servants of God; of whiche whan thay don dedly synne, thay ben the special traytours of God and of his people, for they lyven of the peple to praye for the peple, and whil thay ben suche traytours there prayer avayleth not to the poeple. Prestis ben aungels, as by the dignité of there service; but for sothe seint Poul saith, that Sathanas transformeth him into an aungel of light. Sothely, the prest that hauntith dedly synne, he may be likened to the aungel of derknes, transformed into the aungel of light; and he semeth aungel of light, but for sothe he is aungil of derknes. Suche prestes ben the sones of Helie, as shewith in the book of Kinges, that thay were the sones of Belial, that is, the devel. Belial is to saye, withoute juge, and so faren thay; thay thynke hem fre, and have no juge, no more than hath a fre bole, that takith which cow that him liketh in the toun. So faren thay by wommen; for right as a fre bole is y- nough for al a toun, right so is a wikked prest corrupcioun y-nough for al a parisch, or for al a contray. These prestes, as saith the book, ne conne not ministere the mistery of presthode to the poeple, nor God knowe thay not; thay holde them nought apayed, as saith the book, of soden fleissch that was to hem offred, but thay tooke by force the fleissh that is raw. Certes, so these shrewes holde them not appayed with roasted fleissh and sod fleissh, with whiche the poeple feeden hem in gret reverence, but thay wil have raw fleish of folkes wyves and there doughters. And certes, these wommen that consenten to there harlotrie, don gret wrong to Crist and to holy chirche, and to alle saints, and to alle soules, for thay bireven alle these them that shulde worshipe Crist and holy chirche and praye for cristen soules. And therfore have suche prestis, and there lemmans eeke that consenten to there leccherie, the malisoun of al the court cristian, til thay come to amendement. The thridde spice of advoutry is som tyme bitwix a man and his wif, and that is, whan thay take noon reward in their assembling but oonly to the fleishly delit, as saith seint Jerom, and ne rekke of no thing but that thay be assemblid bycause that thay ben maried; al is good y-nough as thinkith hem. But in suche folk hath the devel power, as saith the aungel Raphael to Thoby, for in there assemblyng, thay putten Jhesu Crist out of their herte, and given themself to alle ordure. The ferthe species is the assemblynge of them that ben of there kyndrede, or of them that ben of oon affinité, or elles with them with whiche there fadres or there kyndrede have deled in the synne of leccherie; this synne makith hem like houndes, that taken noon heede of kyndrede. And certes, parenteal is in tuo maneres, eyther gostly or fleisshly. Gostly, as for to dele with her gossib; for right so as he that engendrith a child, is his fleisshly fader, right so is his godfather his fader espirituel; for which a womman may in no lasse synne assemble with hir gossib, than with hire oune fleishly fader or brother. The fifte species is thilke abhominable synne, of which that no man scarce oughte to speke ne write, natheles it is openly rehersed in holy wryt. But though that holy writ speke of horrible synne, certes holy writ may not be defouled, no more than the sonne that shyneth on a dongehul. Another synne appertieneth to lecchery, that cometh in sleping, and this synne cometh ofte to them that ben maydenes, and eek to them that ben corrupte; and this synne men clepen pollucioun, that cometh in foure maners; som tyme it cometh of languisschynge of the body, for the humours ben too rank and too abundaunt in the body of man; som tyme of infirmité, for the feblenesse of the vertu retentyf, as phisik maketh mencioun; and some tyme for surfete of mete and drynke; som tyme of vileins thoughtes that ben enclosed in mannes mynde whan he goth to slepe, whiche may not ben withoute synne; fro whiche a man moste kepe him wisely, or elles may men synne grevously.
Remedium Contra Luxuriam
Now cometh the remedye against lecchery, and that is generally chastité and continence that restreyneth alle the disordeigne movynges that comen of fleishly talentes; and ever the gretter meryt shal he have that most restreyneth fires of ordure of this synne; and this is in tuo maneres; that is to sayn, chastité of mariage, and chastite of widewhede. Now shalt thou understonde, that matrimoigne is leful assemblynge of man and womman, that receyven by virtu of this sacrement the bond thurgh which thay maye not be departid in al there lif, that is to saye, while thay lyven bothe. This, as saith the boke, is a ful gret sacrement: God makid it (as I have said) in Paradis, and wolde himself be born in mariage; and for to hallow mariage he was at the weddyng wher as he turnede watir into wyn, which was the firste miracle that he wrought in erth biforn his disciples. The trewe effect of mariage clensith fornicacioun, and replenishith holy chirche of good lynage, for that is the ende of mariage, and it chaungith dedly synne into venyal synne bituixe them that be weddid, and maketh the hertes al one, as wel as the bodyes. This is verray mariage that was first blessed by God, ere that the synne bigan, whan naturel lawe was in his righte poynt in Paradis: and it was ordeyned, that oon man shulde have but oon womman, and oon womman but oon man, as saith seint Augustyn, by many resouns. First, for mariage is figured bitwixe Crist and holy chirche; another is, for a man is heed of a womman (algate by ordinaunce it shulde be so); for if a womman hadde mo men than oon, than shulde she have mo hedes than oon, and that were an horrible thing biforn God; and eek a womman myghte nought please many folk al at oones; and also ther shulde never be pees and rest among them, for everich wolde aske his oune thing. And fortherover, no man shulde knowe his oune engendrure, nor who shulde have his heritage, and the womman sholde be the lasse loved fro the tyme that she were joyned to many men.
Now cometh how that a man shuldebere him with his wif, and namely in tuo thinges, that is to sayn, in sufferaunce and in reverence, and that shewede Crist when he made first womman. For he made hire not of the heed of Adam, for she shulde not to gret lordschipe have; for ther as the womman hath the maistry, she makith too moche disaray; ther needith noon ensample of this, the experience that we have day by day oughte to suffice. Also certes, God made nought womman of the foot of Adam, for she ne sholde nought be holden too lowe, for she can not paciently suffre. But God made womman of the ribbe of Adam, for womman shulde be felawe unto man. Man shulde bere him to his wif in faith, in trouthe, and in love; as saith seint Poule, that a man shulde love his wif, as Crist loved holy chirche, that loved it so wele that he deyede for it; so shulde a man for his wyf, if it were neede.
Now how that a womman shulde be subject to hir housbonde, that tellith seint Peter; first in obedience. And eek, as saith the decré, a womman that is a wif, as longe as she is a wif, she hath noon auctorité to swere nor to bere witnesse, withoute leve of hir housbonde, that is hir lord; algate he shulde be so by resoun. She shulde eek serve him in al honesté, and be temperate of hir array. I wot wel that thay shulde sette there entent to please their housbondes, but nought by there quaintness of array. Seint Jerom saith, that wyves that ben arrayed in silk and in purpre, can nought clothe them in Jhesu Crist. Loke what saith saint Johan eek in the same matier. Seint Gregori saith eek, that no wight sekith precious clothing nor array, but oonly for veynglorie to be honoured the more biforn the poeple. It is a gret folly, a womman to have fair array outward, and hirsilf to be foul in-ward. A wyf shulde eek be mesurable in lokyng, and in beryng, and in laughing, and discrete in alle hir wordes and hir dedes, and above alle worldly thinges she shulde love hir housebonde with al hire herte, and to him to be trewe of hir body; so sholde an housebonde eeke be trewe to his wif; for since that al the body is the housbondes, so shulde there herte be, or elles ther is bitwixe them tuo, as in that, no parfyt mariage. Thanne shal men understonde, that for three thinges a man and his wyf may fleishly assemble. The first is, in entent of engendrure of children, to the service of God, for certis that is the cause fynal of matrimoyne. The secounde cause is, to yelden everych of them unto other the dette of his body; for neyther of hem hath power of his oune body. The thridde is, for to eschewe leccherie and vilenye. The ferthe for sothe is dedly synne. As to the firste, it is meritory; the secounde also, for, as saith the decré, that she hath merite of chastité, that yeldith to hir housebonde the dette of hir body, ye though it be agayn hir likyng and the lust of hir hert. The thridde maner is venial synne; and trewly, scarsly may eny of these be withoute venial synne, for the corrupcioun and for the delit. The ferthe maner is for to understonde, as if thay assemble oonly for amorous love, and for noon of the forsayde causes, but for to accomplise thilke brennynge delyt, thay rekke never how ofte, sothely it is dedly synne; and yit, with sorwe, some folk wole more peyn them for to doon, than to their appetit suffiseth.
The secounde maner of chastité is to be a clene widewe, and to eschewe the embrasynges of men, and desiren the embrasynges of Jhesu Crist. These be those that have been wyves, and have forgon there housebondes, and eek wommen that have doon leccherie, and be relieved by penitence. And certis, if that a wyf coude kepe hir al chast, by licence of hir housebonde, so that she geve non occasioun that he agilt, it were to hir a gret merit. Thise maner wymmen, that observen chastité, moste be clene in herte as wel as in body, and in thought, and mesurable in clothing and in countenaunce, abstinent it etyng and drynkyng, in speche and in dede, and thanne is she the vessel or the box of the blessed Magdaleyne, that fulfillith holy chirche ful of good odour. The thridde maner of chastité is virginité, and it bihoveth that she be holy in herte, and clene of body, and thanne is she spouse of Jhesu Crist, and she is the lif of aungels; she is the preysyng of this world, and she is as these martires in egalité; she hath in hir that tongue may nought telle. Virginité bar oure Lord Jhesu Crist, and virgine was himselve.
Another remedye agayns leccherie is specially to withdrawe such thinges as given occasion to thilke vilonye; as is ease, and etyng, and drynkyng; for certes, whan the pot boylith strongely, the beste remedye is to withdrawe the fyr. Sleping eek longe in gret quiete is also a greet nurse unto leccherie.
Another remedy agains leccherie is, that a man or a womman eschewe the companye of them by whiche he doutith to be tempted; for al be it so that the dede be withstonde, yet is ther gret temptacioun. Sothely a whit wal, although it brenne not fully by stikyng of a candel, yet is the wal blak of the leyte. Ful ofte tyme I rede, that no man truste in his oune perfeccioun, unless he be strenger than Sampson, or holiere than Davyd, or wiser than Salamon.
Now after that I have declared you the seven dedly synnes as I can, and some of there braunches, and there remedyes, sothely, if I coude, I wolde telle yow the ten comaundements, but so high a doctrine I leve to divines. But natheles, I hope to God thay be touchid in this litel tretys everich of them alle.
Now for as moche as the secounde part of penitence stant in confessioun of mouth, as I bigan in the firste chapitre, I say, seint Austyn saith, synne is every word and every dede, and al that men coveyten agayn the lawe of Jhesu Crist; and this is for to synne, in herte, in mouthe, and in dede, by thy fyve wittis, that be sight, heeryng, smellyng, tastyng, or savoryng, or felyng. Now it is good to understonden the circumstaunces that aggreggen moche to every synne. Thou shalt considre what thou art that dost the synne, whethir that thou be mal or femal, old other yong, gentil or thral, fre or servaunt, hool or seek, weddid or sengle, ordrid or unordred, wys or fool, clerk or seculer; if she be of thy kyn, bodily or gostly, or noon; if eny of thy kyndrede have synned with hire or noon, and many mo thinges.
That other circumstaunce is, whether it be don in fornicacioun or in advoutry, or incest or noon, or mayden or noon, in maner of homicide or noon, horrible grete synne or smale, and how long thou hast continued in synne. The thridde circumstaunce is the place wher thou hast don synne, whether in other mennes houses, or in thin owne, in feld, or in chirche, or in chircheyard, in chirche dedicate, or noon. For if the chirche were halewed, and man or womman spillede his kynde withynne that place, by way of synne or by wycked temptacioun, it is enterdited til it be reconsiled by the bishop; and the prest sholde be enterdyted that dede such a vilonye to terme of al his lyf, and sholde no more synge no masse; and if he dede, he shulde do dedly synne, at every tyme that he song masse. The ferthe circumstaunce is, by which mediatours, as by messagers, or for entysement, or for consentement, to bere companye with felawshipe; for many a wrecche, for to bere companye, wol go to the devel of helle. For thay that eggyn or consentyn to the synne, be parteneres of the synne, and of the damnacioun of the synnere. The fyfte circumstaunce is, how many tymes that he hath synned, if it be in his mynde, and how ofte that he hath falle. For he that ofte fallith in synne, despiseth the mercy of God, and encreseth his synne, and is unkynde to Crist, and he waxith the more feble to withstonde synne, and synneth the more lightly, and the latter arrisith, and is the more eschewe to shrive him, and namely to him that hath ben his confessour. For whiche that folk, whan thay falle agayn to there olde folies, eyther thay forletin her confessours al utterly, or ellis thay departen there shrifte in divers places; but sothely such departed shrifte hath no mercy of God of his synnes. The sixte circumstaunce is, why that a man synneth, as by which temptacioun; and yf himself procure thilke temptacioun, or by excityng of other folk; or if he synne with a womman by force or by hir owne assent; or if the womman maugre hir heed hath ben enforced or noon, this shal she telle, and whether it were for coveytise or for poverté, and if it was hire procuryng or noon, and alle such maner harneys. The seventhe circumstaunce is, in what maner he hath don his synne, or how that she hath suffred that folk have doon to hire. The same shal the man telle pleynly, with alle the circumstaunces, and whether he have synned with commune bordeal womman or noon, or doon his synne in holy tyme or noon, in fastyng tyme or noon, or biforn his shrifte, or after his latter shrifte, and hath paradventure broken therby his penaunce enjoyned therfore, by whos help or by whos counseil, by sorcery or by other craft, al moste be told. Alle these thinges, after thay be grete or smale, add to the consciens of a man; and eek the prest that is the judge, may the better be avysed of his judgement in givyng of thy penaunce, and that is after thy contricioun. For understonde wel, that after the tyme that a man hath defoulde his baptisme by synne, if he wol come to salvacioun, ther is noon other wey but penitence, and shrifte of mouthe, and by satisfaccioun; and namely by those tuo, if ther be a confessour to which he may shryve him, and the thridde if ye have lif to parforme it.
Thanne shal men loke it and considre, that if he wol make a trewe and a profitable confessioun, ther moste be foure condiciouns. First, it moste ben in sorweful bitternesse of herte, as sayde the king Ezechiel to God, I wol remembre me alle the yeres of my lif in bitternes of myn hert. This condicioun of bitternes hath fyve signes; the first is, that confessioun moste be shamefast, not for to covere nor hyde his synne, but for he hath sinned against his God and defoulid his soule. And herof saith seint Augustyn, the herte tremblith for shame of his synne, and for he hath gret shame-fastnes he is digne to have gret mercy of God. Such was the confessioun of the publican, that wolde nought heve up his eyen to heven, for he had offendid God of heven; for which shamefastnes he had anon the mercy of God. And therefor seith seint Augustyn, that such shamefast folk be next forgevenes of remissioun. The secounde signe is humilité of confessioun; of which saith seint Petre, humblith yow under the might of God; the hond of God is myghty in confessioun, for therby God forgiveth the thy synnes, for he alone hath the power. And this humilité shal be in herte, and in signe outward; for right as he hath humilité to God in his herte, right so shulde he humble his body out-ward to the prest, that sittith in Goddes place. For which in no manere, since that Crist is soverayn, and the prest is his mene and mediatour betwix Crist and the synnere, and the synner is the lasse as by way of resoun, thanne shulde nought the confessour sitte as lowe as the synnere, but the synnere shulde knele biforn him or at his feet, but if maladye distourbid it; for he shal take no keep who sittith there, but in whos place that he sitteth. A man that hath trespassed to a lord, and cometh for to axe him of mercy and to maken his accord, and settith him doun anoon by the lord, men wolde holde him outrageous, and not worthy so soone for to have mercy ne remissioun. The thridde signe is, that thy shrifte shulde be ful of teeris, if men may wepe; and if he may not wepe with his bodily eyen, let him wepe with his herte. Such was the confessioun of seint Peter; for after that he hadde forsake Jhesu Crist, he wente out and wepte ful bitterly. The ferthe signe is, that he lette nought for shame to shryve him and to shewen his confessioun. Such was the confessioun of Magdaleyn, that sparede for no shame of them that were at the feste to go to oure Lord Jhesu Crist and byknowe to him hire synne. The fifte signe is, that a man or a womman be obeisaunt to receyve the penaunce that him is enjoyned. For certis Jhesu Crist for the giltes of one man was obedient to his deth.
The other condicioun of verray confessioun is, that it hastily be doon; for certes, if a man had a dedly wounde, ever the lenger that he tariede to cure himself, the more wolde it corrupte and haste him to his deth, and eek the wounde wolde be the worse to hele. And right so fareth synne, that long time is in a man unshewed. Certes a man oughte soone shewe his synne for many causes; as for drede of deth, that cometh sodeinly, and he is not certeyn what tyme it shal come, or be in what place; and eek the delaying of oon synne draweth another; and eek the lenger he tarieth, the ferther is he from Crist. And if he abyde unto his laste day, skarsly may he shrive him or remembre him of his synnes, or repente hym for the grevous malady of his deth. And for as moche as he hath not in his lif herkened Jhesu Crist, whan he hath spoken, he shal crien to Jhesu Crist at his laste day, and scarsly wol he herken him. And understonde that this condicioun moste have foure thinges. First thy shrifte moste ben provided byforn, and avysed, for wikked haste doth no profyt; and that a man can shryve him of his synnes, be it of pride or of envye, and so forth alle the species and the circumstances; and that he have comprehendid in his mynde the nombre and the gretnes of his synne, and how longe that he hath leyn in synne; and eek that he be contrit of his sinnes, and in stedefast purpos (by the grace of God) never eft to falle in synne; and eek that he drede and watch himself, and that he flee the occasiouns of synne, to whiche he is enclyned. Also that thou shalt shrive thee of alle thin synnes to oon man, and nat a parcel to oon man, and a parcel to another man; that is, understonde, in entent to parte thy confessioun as for shame or drede, for it nys but strangelyng of thy soule. For certes, Jhesu Crist is enterely al good, in him is noon imperfeccioun, and therfore either he foryiveth al parfitely, or elles never a del. I say nought, if thou be assigned to thy penitencere for certein synne, that thou art bounde to shewe him al the remenaunt of thy synnes, of whiche thou hast ben shryven of thy curate, unless it like the of thin humilité; this is no partyng of schrifte. I say not, when I speke of divisoun of confessioun, that if thou have licence to shryve thee to a discret and to an honest prest, wher thee likith, and eek by the licence of thy curate, that thou ne maist wel shrive thee to him of alle thyn synnes; but let no synne be byhinde untold as fer as thou hast remembraunce. And whan thou shalt thee shrive to thi curate, telle him eeke al thy synne that thou hast doo since thou were last i-shryve. This is no wikkid entent of divisioun of shrifte.
Also thy verrey shrifte askith certeyn condiciouns. First, that thou shrive the by thy fre wille, nought constreyned, nor for shame of folk, nor for maladye, or such thing; for it is resoun, that he that trespassith with his fre wille, that by his fre wille he confesse his trespas; and that noon other man shal telle his synne but himself; ne he shal not naye it or denye his synne, ne wraththe him with the prest for his admonishing to lete synne. The secounde condicioun is, that thy shrifte be laweful, that is to sayn, that thou that shrivest thee, and eek the prest that herith thy confessioun, be verrayly in the feith of holy chirche, and that a man be nought despaired of the mercy of Jhesu Crist, as Caym or Judas. And eek a man moot accuse himself of his owne trespas and not another; but he shal blame and wite himself and his oune malice of his synne, and noon other. But natheless, if that another man be occasioun or ellis enticer of his synne, or that the estate of a persone be such thurgh which his synne aggreggith, or elles that he may not playnly shryve hym but he telle the person with which he hath synned, thanne may he telle it, so that his entent be nought to bakbyte the persone, but oonly to declare his confessioun.
Thow shalt nought eke make no lying in thy confessioun for humilité, paraventure to sayn that thou hast don synnes of whiche thou were never gulty; as seint Augustyn saith, if thou bycause of humilité makest lyings on thiself, though thou were not in synne biforn, yit art thou thanne in synne thurgh thy lyings. Thou most also shewe thy synne by thyn oune proper mouth, but thou woxe dombe, and not by no lettre; for that thou hast don the synne, thou shalt have the shame of the confessioun. Thou shalt noughte peynte thy confessioun, by faire subtil wordes, to cover the more thy synne; for thanne bigilist thou thiself, and not the prest; thou moste telle it platly, be it never so foul nor so horrible. Thou shalt eek shrive thee to a prest that is discrete to counsaile thee; and thou shalt nought shryve thee for veinneglorie, nor for ypocrisie, nor for no cause but only for the doute of Jhesu Crist and the helth of thy soule. Thou shalt not eek runne to the prest sodeinly, to telle him lightly thy synne, as who tellith a tale or a jape, but avysily and with gret devocioun; and generally shrive thee ofte; if thou ofte falle, ofte thou arise by confessioun. And though thou shryve thee ofter than once of synne of which thou hast ben shriven, it is the more merite; and, as saith seint Augustyn, thou shalt have the more lightly relessyng and grace of God, bothe of synne and of payne. And certes once a yer atte lest way it is laweful to be shriven, for sothely once a yer alle thinges in the erthe renovelen.
De Tertia Parte Penitentiæ
Now have I told of verray confessioun, that is the secounde partye of penitence. The thridde partye of penitence is satisfaccioun, and that stondith generally in almesdede and bodily peyne. Now be ther thre maner of almesdede; contricioun of herte, where a man offereth himself to God; the secounde is, to have pité of the defaulte of his neighbor; the thridde is, in geving of good counseil and comfort, gostly and bodily, where men have neede, and namely in sustenaunce of mennes foode. And take keep that a man hath neede of thise thinges generaly, he hath nede of fode, of clothing, and of lodging, he hath neede of charitable counseil and visityng in prisoun and malady, and sepulture of his dede body. And if thou may not visite the needeful with thy persone, visite by thy message and by thy giftes. These be general almesses or werkes of charité, of them that have temporal riches or discrecioun in counselynge. Of these werkes shalt thou hieren at the day of doom.
This almes shalt thou doon of thin oune propur thinges, and hastily, and prively if thou maist; but natheles, if thou maist not do it prively, thou shalt nought forbere to do almes, though men see it, so that it be nought don for thank of the world, but oonly for thonk of Jhesu Crist. For, as witnessith seint Mathewe, a cite may not be hid that is set on a mountayn, nor non men lighten not a lanterne and put it under a busshel, but men sette it on a candel-stikke, to lighte the men in the hous; right so shal youre light lighten biforn men, that they may see youre goode werkes, and glorifien youre Fader that is in heven.
Now as to speke of bodily peyne, it is in prayere, in wakinges, in fastynges, in vertuous techinges. Of orisouns ye shul understonde, that orisouns or prayeres, is for to seyn, a piteous wil of herte, that redressith it in God, and expressith it by word out-ward, to remove harmes, and to have thinges spirituel and durable, and som tyme temporel thinges. Of whiche orisouns, certes in the orisoun of the Pater-noster hath oure Lord Jhesu Crist enclosed most thinges. Certis it is privileged for thre thinges in his dignité, for whiche it is more digne than any other prayer; for Jhesu Crist himself maked it; and it is short, for it shulde be cond the more lightly, and for to withholde it the more esily in herte, and helpe himselfe the oftere with this orisoun, and for a man shulde be the lasse wery to say it, and for a man may not excuse him to lerne it, it is so short and so easy; and for it comprehendith in itself alle goode prayeres. The exposicioun of this holy praier, that is so excellent and so digne, I bitake to these maystres of theology, save thus moche wol I sayn, whan thou prayest that God shulde forgive thee thy giltes as thou forgivest them that they gilten to thee, be ful wel war that thou be not out of charité. This holy orisoun lesseneth eek venial synne, and therfore it appendith specially to penitence.
This praier moste be trewely sayd, and in verray faith, and that men praye to God ordinatly, discretly, and devoutly; and alway a man shulde putte his wille to be subject to the wille of God. This orisoun moste eek be sayd with greet humblesse and ful pure, and honestly, and nought to the annoyaunce of eny man or womman. It most eek be continued with the werkis of charité. Hit avaylith agayns the vices of the soule; for, as seith seint Jerom, by fastyng ben saved the vices of flessh, and by prayere the vices of the soule.
After this thou shalt understonde, that bodily peyne stant in wakyng. For Jhesu Crist saith, wake and pray, that ye entre not into temptacioun. Ye shul understonde also, that fastynge stout in three thinges, in forbering of bodily mete and drink, and in forberyng of worldly jolité, and in forbering of worldly synne; this is to sayn, that a man shal kepe him fro dedly synne in al that he may.
And thou shalt understonde eek, that God ordeynede fastyng, and to fastyng appurteyn foure thinges: largesse to pover folk, gladnes of hert spirituel: not to be angry nor annoyed nor grucche for he fastith; and also resonable hour for to ete by mesure, that is to sayn, a man shulde not ete in untyme, nor sitte the lenger at his mele, for he fastith.
Thanne shal thou understonde, that bodily peyne stant in discipline, or teching, by word, or by writyng, or by ensample. Also in weryng of heires or of cloth or of haberjeouns on their naked fleish for Cristes sake, and suche maner penaunce; but ware thee wel that such maner penaunce of thyn fleissh make nought thin herte bitter or angry, or anoyed of thiself; for better is to cast away thin hayre than for to caste away the swetnes of oure Lord Jhesu Crist. And therfore seith seint Poule, clothe yow, as thay that be chosen of God in herte, of misericorde, debonaireté, sufferaunce, and such maner of clothing, of the which Jhesu Crist is more appayed than of haires or of hauberkis.
Than is discipline eek in knokkyng on the brest, in scourgyng with yerdes, in knelynges, in tribulaciouns, in suffring paciently wronges that ben doon to him and eek in pacient sufferaunce of maledies, or losyng of worldly catel, or of wif, or of child, or of othir frendes.
Thanne shalt thou understonde whiche thinges destourben penaunce, and this is in foure thinges; that is drede, shame, hope, and wanhope, that is, desperacioun. And for to speke first of drede, for which he weneth that he may suffre no penaunce, ther agayns is remedye for to thinke that bodily penaunce is but short and litel compared with the peyne of helle, that is so cruel and so long, that it lastith withouten ende.
Now agains the shame that a man hath to shryve him, and namely these ypocrites, that wolde be holde so parfyt that thay have no neede to shryve them; agayns that shame shulde a man thinke, that by way of resoun he that hath not ben ashamed to do foule thinges, certis him oughte not be ashamed to doon faire thinges and goode thinges, and that is confessioun. A man sholde eek thinke, that God seeth and knoweth, alle thy thoughtes, and thy werkes; to him may no thing be hyd nor covered. Men shulde eek remembre them of the shame that is to come at the day of doom, to them that be nought penitent and shriven in this present lif; for alle the creatures in heven and in erthe, and in helle, shuln seen apertly al that they hydith in this world.
Now for to speke of them that be so negligent and slowe to shryve them; it stant in tuo maneres. That oon is, that he hopith for to lyve longe, and for to purchace moche riches for his delyt, and thanne he wol shrive him; and, as he saith, he may, as him semith, tymely y-nough come to shrifte; another is, of the presumption that he hath in Cristes mercy. Agains the firste vice, he shal thinke that oure lif is in no sureness, and eek that al the riches in this world be in adventure, and passen as a shadowe on the wal; and, as saith seint Gregory, that it apperteyneth to the grete rightwisnes of God, that never shal the peyne stynte of them, that never wolde withdrawe them fro synne willingly, but ay continue in synne; for thilke perpetuel wille to doon synne shul thay have perpetuel peyne.
Wanhope is in tuo maneres. The firste wanhope is, in the mercy of Crist; that other is, that thay thinke thay mighte nought longe persever in goodnesse. The firste wanhope cometh of that he demyth that he hath synned so highly and so ofte, and so longe layn in synne, that he shal not be saved. Certis ayens that cursed wanhope shulde he thenke, that the passioun of Jhesu Crist is more strong for to unbynde, than synne is strong for to bynde. Agains the secounde wanhope he shal thinke, that as ofte as he fallith, he may arise agayn by penitence; and though he never so longe have leyn in synne, the mercy of Crist is alway redy to receyve him to mercy. Agains the wanhope that he demeth or he thinketh he shulde not longe persevere in goodnesse, he shal thinke that the feeblenes of the devel may no thing doon, except men wol suffre him; and eek he shal have strengthe of the help of God, and of al holy chirche, and of the proteccioun of aungels, if him list.
Thanne shal men understonde, what is the fruyt of penaunce; and after the word of Jhesu Crist, it is the endeles blisse of heven, where joye hath no contrarieté of wo nor of penaunce nor grevance; where alle harmes be passed of this present lif; where is safety fro the peyne of helle; where is the blisfulle companie that rejoysen them evermore everych of otheres joye; where the body of man, that whilom was foule and derk, is more clere than the sonne; where the body of man that whilom was seek and frel, feble and mortal, is immortal, and so strong and so hool, that ther may no thing impeire it; ther is neyther honger, nor thurst, nor colde, but every soule replenished with the sight of the parfyt knowyng of God. This blisful realm may men purchase by poverté spirituel, and the glorie by lowenes, the plenté of joye by hunger and thurst, and reste by travaile, and the lif by deth and mortificacioun of synne; to thilke lyf he us brynge, that boughte us with his precious blode. Amen.
Preces De Chauceres
Now pray I to yow alle that heren this litel tretis or reden it, that if ther be any thing in it that liketh them, that therof thay may thanke oure Lord Jhesu Crist, of whom procedith alle witte and al goodnes; and if ther be eny thing that displesith them, I pray them that thay arette it to the defaulte of myn unconnyng, and not to my wille, that wolde fayn have sayd better if I hadde connyng; for the book saith, al that is writen for oure doctrine is writen, and that is mynentent. Wherfore I biseke yow mekely for the mercy of God that ye praye for me, that God have mercy on me and forgeve me my giltes, and nameliche of my translaciouns and endityng in worldly vanitees, whiche I revoke in my retracciouns, as is the book of Troyles, the book also of Fame, the book of twenty-five Ladies, the book of the Duchesse, the book of seint Valentines day and of the Parliment of briddes, the Tales of Caunturbury, alle thilke that sounen into synne, the book of the Leo, and many other bokes, if thay were in my mynde or remembraunce, and many a song and many a leccherous lay, of the whiche Crist for his grete mercy forgive me the synnes. But of the translacioun of Boce de consolacioun, and other bokes of consolacioun and of legend of lyves of seints, and Omelies, and moralitees, and of devocioun, that thanke I oure Lord Jhesu Crist, and his moder, and alle the seintes in heven, bisekyng them that thay fro hennysforth unto my lyves ende sende me grace to biwayle my giltes, and to studien to the salvacioun of my soule, and graunte me grace and space of verray repentaunce, penitence, confessioun, and satisfaccioun, to don in this present lif, thurgh the benigne grace of him, that is king of kynges and prest of alle prestis, that bought us with his precious blood of his hert, so that I may be one of them at the day of doom that shal be saved; qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus per omnia secula. Amen.
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Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48