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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER II. Because thou hast forsaken the solace and the joy of this worldà

The Form Of Perfect Living And Other Prose Treatises by Richard Rolle

CHAPTER II. Because thou hast forsaken the solace and the joy of this worldà

Because thou hast forsaken the solace and the joy of this world, and taken thee to solitary life, for GOD'S sake to suffer tribulation and anguish here, and afterwards to come to that bliss which never more ceases, I trow truly that the comfort of JESUS Christ, and the sweetness of His love, with the fire of the Holy Ghost, that purges all sin, shall be in thee, and with thee, leading thee and teaching thee how thou shalt think, how thou shalt pray, what thou shalt work, so that in a few years thou shalt have more delight to be by thy lone, and to speak to thy Love and thy Spouse JESUS Christ, Who is high in heaven, than if thou wert lady here of a thousand worlds. Men suppose that we are in torture and in penance great; but we have more joy and more very delight in a day than they have in the world all their life. They see our body: but they see not our heart where our solace is. If they saw that, many of them would forsake all that they have, for to follow us. Therefore, be comforted and stalwart, and dread no annoy or anguish: but fasten all thine intent in JESUS, that thy life be good and convenient; and look that there be nothing in thee that should be displeasing to Him that thou dost not soon amend it. The state which thou art in, which is solitude, is most able of all other to revelation of the Holy Ghost. For when S. John was in the Isle of Patmos, then GOD shewed him His secrets. The goodness of GOD it is that He comforts them wonderfully that have no comfort of the world, if they give their heart entirely to Him, and covet not nor seek but Him: then He gives Himself to them in sweetness and delight, in burning of love, and in joy and melody and dwells aye with them, in their soul, so that the comfort of Him departs never from them. And if they any time begin to err, through ignorance or frailty; soon He shews them the right way; and all that they have need of, He teaches them. No man to such revelation and grace on the first day may come; but through long travel and carefulness to love JESUS Christ, as thou shall here-afterward. Nevertheless, then he suffers them to be tempted in sore manners, both waking and sleeping. For aye the more temptations and the grievouser they stand against and overcome, the more they shall joy in His love when they are passed. Waking, they are sometimes tempted with foul thoughts, vile lusts, wicked delights, with pride, ire, envy, despair, presumption and other many. But their remedy shall be: Prayer: Weeping: Fasting: Waking. These things, if they be done with discretion, they put away sin and filth from the soul, and make it clean to receive the love of JESUS Christ, Who may not be loved, but in cleanness. Also, sometimes the fiend tempts men and women, who are solitary, by their love in a quaint manner and a subtle: he transfigures himself in the likeness of an angel of light, and appears to them, and says he is one of GOD'S angels come to comfort them, and so he deceives fools. But they that are wise and will not quickly trust to all spirits, but ask counsel of knowing men, he can not beguile them. Also, I find written of a recluse, that was a good woman, to whom the ill-angel oft-times appeared in the form of a good angel, and said that he was come to bring her to heaven. Wherefore, she was right glad and joyful. But nevertheless, she told it to her Shrift-father, and he, as a wise man and wary, gave her this counsel. When he comes, he said, bid him that he shew thee our Lady, S. Mary. When he has done so, say Ave Maria. She did so. The fiend said: |Thou hast no need to see her; my presence suffices to thee.| And she said by all means she would see her. He saw that it behoved him either to do her will, or she would despise him: so quickly, he brought forth the fairest woman that might be as to her sight, and shewed to her. And she set her on her knees and said, Ave Maria. And so quickly all vanished away, and for shame never after came he to her. This I say not, because I hope he shall have leave to tempt thee in this manner, but because I will that thou beware, if any such temptation befall thee sleeping or waking, that thou trust not over quickly till thou knowest the truth. More privily he transfigures himself into an angel of light -- that commonly all men are tempted with -- when he hides ill under the likeness of good. And that is in two manners. One is, when he eggs us on to over-great ease and rest of body, and softness to our flesh, for need to sustain our nature. For such thoughts he puts in us: that unless we eat well, and drink well, and sleep well, and lie soft and sit warm, we can not serve GOD, nor last in the labour that we have begun. But he thinks to bring us to over-great pleasure. Another is, when under the likeness of ghostly good, he entices us to sharp and over-great penance, for to destroy ourselves; and says thus: |Thou wot'st well that he who suffers most penance for GOD'S love, he shall have most meed. Therefore eat little, and feeble meat; and drink less, the thinnest drink is good enough to thee. Reck not of sleep: wear the hair-shirt and the habergeon. All thing that is affliction for thy flesh, do it; so that there may be none that can pass thee in penance. He that speaks thee thus, is about to slay thee with over-great abstinence; as he that said the other to slay thee with over-little. Therefore, if we will be rightly disposed, it behoves us to set ourselves in a good mean, and that we may destroy our vices and hold our flesh under, and nevertheless that it should be stalwart in the service of JESUS Christ. Also, our enemy will not suffer us to be in rest when we sleep, but then he is about to beguile us in many manners. Sometimes, with ugly images, for to make us afraid and to make us hateful of our state: sometimes with fair images, fair sights and that seem comfortable; for to make us glad in vain, and make us think we are better than we are. Sometimes, tells us we are holy and good, for to bring us into pride; [sometimes says we are wicked and sinful for to make us fall into despair.] But He Who is Ordainer of all things, suffers not that our sleep be without reward to us, if we dress our life to His Will. And wit thou well, thou sinnest not sleeping, if waking thou beest evermore without excess of meat and drink, and without ill-thoughts. But many a one the devil has deceived, through dreams, when he has made them set their heart on them. For he has shewn them some truth, but afterwards beguiled them with one that was false. Therefore says the wise man that many cares follow dreams; and they fell that hoped in them. Wherefore that thou beest not beguiled with them, I will that thou wit that there are six manners of dreams. Two are, that no man, holy or other, may escape: they are, if their stomach be over-empty or over-full; then many vanities, in sore manners, befall them sleeping. The third is of illusions of our enemy. The fourth is, of thought before and of illusions following. And the fifth through the revelation of the Holy Ghost, that is done in many a manner. The sixth is, of thoughts before that are due to Christ or Holy Church, revelation coming after. In thus many manners, the image of dreams touches men when they sleep. But so much the less shall we give faith to any dream, because we can not wit which is truth, which is false; which is of our enemy, which is of the Holy Ghost. For where many dreams are, there are many vanities. And many they may make to err, for they set up unwise men, and so deceive them.

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