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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER VI. Wherefore, that thou may'st be rightly disposed both for thy soul and thy bodyà

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

CHAPTER VI. Wherefore, that thou may'st be rightly disposed both for thy soul and thy bodyà

Wherefore, that thou may'st be rightly disposed both for thy soul and thy body, thou shalt understand four things. The first thing is: what thing defiles a man. The second thing: what makes him clean. The third: what holds him in cleanness. The fourth: what thing draws him for to ordain his will entirely at GOD'S will. For the first, wit thou that we sin in three things that make us foul: that is with heart and mouth and deed. The sins of the heart are these: Ill-thought: ill delight: assent to sin: desire of ill; wicked will: ill suspicion: undevotion: if thou lettest thine heart any time be idle, without occupation of the love, of the praising of GOD: ill dread: ill love: error: fleshly affection to thy friends or to other that thou lovest: joy in any man's ill-faring, whether they be enemy or none: contempt of poor or sinful men: to honour rich men for their riches: unsuitable joy in any world's vanity: sorrow of the world: impatience: perplexity, that is doubt what to do and what not, for every man ought to be secure (about) what he shall do and what he shall leave: obstinacy in ill: annoyance (at having) to do good: sorrow that he did no more ill, or that he did not have that pleasure or that will of his flesh which he might have done: unstableness of thought: pain at penance: hypocrisy: love to please men: dread to displease them: shame of good deed: joy of ill deed: singular wit: desire for honour or dignity, or to be holden better than another, or richer, or fairer, or more to be dreaded: vain glory of any good of nature, of happening, or of grace: shame of poor friends: pride of rich or of gentle kin, for all we alike are free before GOD'S face, unless our deeds make any better or worse than another, in spite of good counsel and of good teaching. The sins of the mouth are these: to swear oftentimes: forswearing: slander of Christ or of any of His Saints; to name His name without reverence; gainsaying and strife against truthfulness; murmuring against GOD for any anguish or trouble or tribulation that may befall on earth: to say GOD'S Service undevoutly and without reverence: backbiting; flattering: lying: abusing: cursing: defaming: quarrelling: threatening: sowing of discord: treason: false-witness: ill counsel: scorn: unbuxomness in speech: to turn good deeds to ill: to make them be holden ill who do them: (we ought to wrap up our neighbours' deeds in the best not the worst); exciting any man to ire: reprehending in another what one does one's self: vain speech: much speech: foul speech: to speak idle words: or to speak words not needful: praising: polishing of words: defending sin: shouting with laughter: making grimaces at any man: to sing secular songs and to love them: to praise ill-deeds: to sing more for the glory of men than of GOD. The sins of deed are these: gluttony: lechery: drunkenness: simony: witch-craft: breaking of the holy-days: sacrilege: to receive GOD'S Body in deadly sin: breaking of vows: apostacy: dissipation in GOD'S service: to set example of ill deeds: to hurt any man in his body, or in his goods, or in his fame: theft: rapine: usury: deceit: selling of righteousness: to hearken ill: to give to harlots: to withhold necessaries from the body, or to give it to excess: to begin a thing that is above our might: custom to sin: falling often into sin: feigning of more good than we have: for to seem holier, more learned and wiser than we are: to hold office that we do not suffice to: or to hold one that cannot be held without sin: to lead dances: to bring up new fashions: to be rebellious against one's Sovereign: to insult those who are less: to sin in sight, in hearing, in smelling, in touching, in handling, in swallowing: in means: in signs: in beggings: writings. To receive the circumstances, that is to say time, place, manner, number, person, dwelling, knowledge, age, that makes thee sin more or less. To desire a sin or to be tempted: to constrain one to sin. Other many sins there are of omission, that is, of leaving good undone: when men leave the good they should do. Not thinking about GOD, nor dreading, nor praising Him, nor thanking Him for His gifts: to do not all that one does for love of GOD: to sorrow not for one's sins as one should do: not to dispose one's self to receive grace. And if one have taken grace, not to use it as one ought; not to keep it: to turn not to the inspiration of GOD: to conform not one's will to GOD'S will: to give not attention to one's prayers, but mutter on and never reck save that they be said; to do negligently what one was bound by vow to do, or by command, or else enjoined in penance: to draw out at length what should be done soon: having no joy at one's neighbour's profit as at one's own; not sorrowing at his ill-faring: standing not against temptations: forgiving not those who have done one harm: keeping not faith with one's neighbour as one would that he did to one's self: and yielding not a good deed for another if one can. Amending not those sins before one's eyes: not appeasing strifes: not teaching them that are unlearned: not comforting them that are in sorrow, or in sickness, or in poverty, or in penance, or in prison. These sins, and many others make men foul. The things that cleanse us of that filth, are three, against these three manners of sins. The first is: sorrow of heart against the sin of thought: and that it behoves (thee to) be so perfect that thou beest in full will never to sin more. And that thou mayest have sorrow for all thy sins. And that all joy and solace, except of GOD and in GOD, be put out of thine heart. The second is: shrift of mouth; against the sin of mouth. And that shall be hasty, without delaying. Naked, without excusing. Whole, without parting. Also (not) for to tell one sin to one priest and another to another. Say all that thou wottest to one, or else thy shrift is not worth. The Third is, Satisfaction; that has three parts, Fasting, Prayer, and Alms-Deed. Not only to give poor men meat and drink: but to forgive them that do thee wrong and pray for them: and inform them who are at the point to perish what they shall do. For the third thing, thou shalt wit that cleanness behoves to be kept in heart, in mouth and in work. Cleanness of heart, three things keep: one is, watchful thought and stable about GOD. Another is, care to keep thy five wits, so that all the wicked stirrings of them be closed out of the flesh. The third, honest and profitable occupation. Also, cleanness of mouth, three things keep: one is that thou should'st bethink thee before thou speakest. Another is that thou beest not of great but of little speech; and specially ever till thine heart be established in the love of JESUS Christ: so that men think thou ever lookest on Him, whether thou speakest or not. But such a grace may'st thou not have on the first day: but with long travel and great care to love Him from habit, so that the eye of thine heart be aye upward, shalt thou come thereto. The third, that thou for nothing, not even for meekness, shalt lie to any man. For every lie is sin and ill: and not GOD'S will. Thou needest not tell all the truth always, unless thou willest. But hate all lies. If thou sayest a thing of thyself that seems to thy praise, but thou sayst it to the praise of GOD and help of another, thou dost not unwisely for thou speakest truth. But if thou will have aught private, tell it to none but such a one that thou beest secure that it should not be shewed (disclosed) but only to the praise of GOD, of whom is all goodness, and who makes some better than others, and gives them special grace, not only for themselves, but also for them that will do well after their example. Cleanness of work, three things keep. One is: a careful thought of death: for the wise man says; |Bethink thee of thy last ending, and thou shalt not sin.| The second: flee from ill fellowship, that gives more example to love the world than GOD, earth than heaven, filth of body than cleanness of soul. The third is: temperance and discretion in meat and drink: that it be neither to excess, nor beneath suitable sustenance for thy body. For both come to one end: excess and over-great fasting: for neither is GOD'S will -- and that many will not suppose, for anything one may say. If you take sustenance of such good as GOD sends for the time and the day, whatever it be, I take out no manner of meat that Christian men use; with measure and discretion, thou dost well; for so did Christ and His Apostles. If you leave many meats that men have, not despising the meat that GOD has made for man's help, but because thou thinkest thou hast no need thereof, thou dost well: if thou seest that thou art stalwart to serve GOD, and that it breaks not thy stomach. For if thou hast broken it with over-great abstinence, appetite for meat is reft from thee: and often shalt thou be in tremblings, as if thou wert ready to give up the ghost. And wit thou well, thou didst sin that deed. And thou may'st not wit soon whether thine abstinence be against thee, or with thee. For the time thou art going, I counsel thee that thou should'st eat better and more, as it comes, that thou beest not beguiled. And afterward, when thou hast proved many things, and overcome many temptations, and knowest better thyself and GOD than thou didst, then if thou seest that it be to be done, thou mayst take to greater abstinence. And meanwhile thou mayst do privy penance which all men need not know. Righteousness is not all in fasting or in eating. But thou art righteous, if contempt and praise, poverty and riches, hunger and need or delights and dainties be all alike to thee. If thou takest these with love of GOD, I hold thee blessed and high before JESUS. Men who come to thee, they love thee because they see thy great abstinence, and because they see thee enclosed: but I may not love thee so lightly for anything I see thee do without, but if thy will be conformed entirely to GOD'S will. And set not by their praise and blame, and never give thou heed if they speak less good of thee than they did; but that thou shouldest be more burning in GOD'S love than thou wert. For one thing I warn thee: I hope that GOD has no perfect servant in earth without enemies of some men -- For only wretchedness has no enemy. For to draw us that we conform our will to GOD'S will: are three things. One is, example of holy men and women, who were intent, night and day, to serve GOD, and dread Him and love Him. If we follow them on earth, we must be with them in heaven. Another is the goodness of our Lord, which despises none, but gladly receives all that come to His mercy: and He is homelier to them than brother or sister, or any friend that they most love, or most trust in. The third is the wonderful joy of the kingdom of heaven, which is more than tongue may tell, or heart may think, or eye may see, or ear may hear. It is so great that, as in hell nothing might live for great pain but that the might of GOD suffers them not to die; so the joy in the sight of JESUS in His GOD-head is so great that they must die of joy, if it were not for His goodness, who wills that His lovers should be living aye in bliss: also His righteousness wills that all who loved Him not, be aye living in fire, which is horrible to any man that thinks: look then what it is to feel. But they who will not think of it and dread it now, they shall suffer it evermore. Now hast thou heard how thou mayst dispose thy life, and rule it to GOD'S will. But I wot well that thou desirest to hear some special point of the love of JESUS Christ, and of contemplative life, which thou hast taken to thee in all men's sight. (According) As I have grace and knowledge, I will teach thee.

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