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as Cryste suffrede all thys for loue of the, thou arte moste y holde of all thyngs to loue hym; and therfor, my dere frende, loke that thou be yn stydfaste fey, what euer thou hyre or se; and put the onlych in to the mercye of Gode our Saueour, & drede the nouzte of no thyng that thou haste y do: be sory for thy synnes, & schreue the clene, & thynke to synne no more. For seint Austyn sey3t, the goodnesse & the mercy of all myg3ty Gode our Saueour ys so meche, that throw sorow of herte & schryfte of mouthe, wyllyng to do no more amysse, he forzeue the clen his syn, for God hym sylfe seythe thus; what tyme that eny man ore woman for sakythe his synnes, and makuthe hym clen therof, he schall be sauyd: and holy doctours & blessyd seintts seythe, that God all myзtty ys mor redy to zeue mercye than eny man or woman be for to axy. Austyn seythe, be the synne neuer so grete ne neuer so foule, and y wolde axe mercye of all my3tty God our Saueour, thou schalte se saue [sic] thouse thou schulduste dey anon: therfor my der worthe frende, drede the nouzte of dethe, but be glade as seint Austyn was when he schulde deyze; whan he seyde, welkome be thou dethe, for thou art ende of all wykkydnes of synnes & care & all wrechydnesse; and thou artt the begynnyng of all goodnesse of ever lastynge joyze, & blysse, & all blessydnes. And so he was glade to passye owt of thys wrechyd worlde, to the ioyfull blysse of heuen, there ys all blessyde company. And therfor, my dere brother, be gladde to passy to the blysse of heuen, for tho thou my33ttyste be lorde of all this wrechyd worlde, thou shuldyste be glad to passy to the blysse of heuen: for then thou schalt y se all my3tty God our Saueour, and all blessyd company, & ther thou schalt y fynde all goodness: for as seint
Paule seythe, that is no herte that may thenke, nore no tonge may telle, all the goodnesse that God all myte our Saueour hathy ordeynyd to alle thukke men and wemen, that with all hur herte clen forsakuthe hur synnes, and loueth all my3tty God our Saueour aboue all thyng: therefor, my dere frende, do thou so, and thou schalt com to the grete blysse of heuen, that euer schall laste, wythe owte ende. Amen, for charite.
De Uisitatione Infirmorum.'
Y dere sone in God, thou hiest fast thi wai to Godward; there thou shalt see alle thi former faderis, apostils, martiris, confes
soris, virginis, and alle men and wommen that be sauid. And therfor be of gode comfort in God, and thou must leyen a ston in the wal of cite of heuen witouten ani noise or strif. And therfor ar thou wenden out of this world, thou must make thi ston redi, and than shalt thu nouzt be lette. C. The ston is thi soule wiche thou makest clene; the noise that thu must make here is the thinking of thi sinne, wyche thou must telle the prest; the stroke is penaunce, that thou shalt be sori for thi sinne, and smithe thiself on thi brest; and whan thou hast made redi thus thi ston, than may thou go thi wai in God, and lai thi ston sykerlie [surely] witoute noise in the cite of heuene; and therfor I counsail the, that thou schriue the clene, and make the redi. And this is nou3t only to seke men but also to hole, for everi dai a man nehieth [approacheth] his deth ner and ner; and of a man it is seid, the more he wexith the more he unwexith, and therfor seith the gospel, Awake, for thu wost never whan oure God wil come; and therfor loke thu alwai be redi. And thu shalt wite, [know]
1 From a manuscript (No. 117, fol. 123. b.) in the library of St. John's College, Oxford.
I need scarcely desire the
reader to compare this with the exhortations in our present Form of Visitation of the Sick.
gode man, that God visiteth mani man for his sinnes diversly; some wit prisoning, some wit diverse sekenes, and if the sinne were awai, than his sekenes shuld aslake. Hereof berith witnes the Gospel, that God seith thus to ten mesels [lepers], whan he had helid hem of here lepre, go, he said, and sinne no more on aunter thow falle wors, as who seith, for thowre sinne the had this sekenes. And therfor it is ordeined be the law, that ther shal no leche zeve no bodili medicine to a seke man, til he be helid gostli; and that he have take gostli medicine, that is to sai, schrift and housel; and if ze be wel schrive and veray repentaunt I drede nou3t that the sekenes shal aslake wiche he hath for sinne, or ellis it shal turne him to more blisse after his deth; and therfor if his sekenes aslake nouzt thou shalt comfort him on this maner.
How thou shalt comfort a man that he grucche [grudge] nouzt whan he is seke.
Sone loueste thou thi Lord God? he wil sai, ze. Than thus, 3f thou loue God, thou louest that He doith, and He skorgeth the, and therfor thou shalt gladli suffre it. Here of spekit Salamon, and seith, Sone speke nouzt azen the chastising of thi fader, for it is no sone whom the fader chastisith nouzt, and it acordith wit commine maner of speche. For if a man see anotheris child do schreudeli in his fader presence, and the fader chastised him nouzt, than wold that othir man seie, it is nouzt his sone, or ellis he loueth him nougt, for if he were his child or ellis loued him, he wold chastise him: and therfor be nouzt evil afraide of thi Fadirs chastising of heuene, for he seith himself: whom I loue, him I chastise. Also sekenes of bodi makith soule hele [health], and soule hele is nou3t but of God; therfor despice nought Godis
scorge, but whan God ponissche the, thanke him and loue him, that he emendith the, and undernemith [judgeth] the, and blameth the, and ponische the nouzt in his wrath ne in his wodnes [fury], but in his grete mercy. Thank thi God, and thinke that his merci passeth alle his grete wreche; he is jugge, [?], he wil nouzt damne the, but he wil haue merci on the. Mercifulli he chastise the, and ther [where] thou hast deservid for to have his wrath, and be damned for ever, he puttith ouer his veniaunce, and suffrith of his grete mercy, and ponische the here but awile, and therfor despice nou3t his 3erde [rod] of merci, ne grucche nou3t ther agens, but suffre it gladli, for al the domis [judgments] of God ben rithful. Now sethen [since] sekenes of God is hele to the soule, and wille thou or nilt, thou shal haue hit, 3if thou grucche azen God, and wit thi grucching thou makist thi soule more feble, and so thou profitist nou3t to thiself wit thi grucching azen thi Fadir, wiche is thi leche, but greuist thiself on diuerses maners; on [one] is, that thou greuist thi God: another thou shalt nouzt haue so miche gostly mede [reward] as thou shuldest, zif thou suffred deth pacientliche. And thou shalt knowe that God Fadir of heuene ponissche nout o [one] thing tuyes, and therfor wit a glad hert thou shalt suffre sekenes that God hathe sent the here, for it shal alegge [allay] the of the peyne of purgatorie, so that thou the more soner shal come to the kingdome of heuene. Thinke that if the king to whom thou hast ben tretour, forzeuith the thi deth and ponische the but awile in esi prison, thou art michil hold to him. So thou art to God, to whom thou hast ben tretour, and he hath forziue the euerlasting deth, and ponischinge the wit a litul sekenes here.