The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
WHAT doth it profit a man to fast much and to pray and to give alms, and to afflict himself, with his mind ever fixed upon things celestial, if he cometh not to the blessed haven of salvation which he longeth for, to wit the haven of good and steadfast perseverance? Sometimes it befalleth that some great ship appeareth upon the sea, passing fair and great and strong and new, and laden with much riches; and it cometh to pass that by reason of a storm or through some fault of the helmsman, that ship doth perish and sink and foundereth miserably and cometh not to the haven where she would be; what then do all her beauty and excellence and riches profit her, after she hath thus miserably perished in the depths of the sea? Also sometimes there appeareth upon the sea a small ship and old, and with but little cargo, and she, having a good and prudent helmsman, overcometh Fortune, and escapeth from the profound abyss of the sea, and cometh to the desired haven; and so doth it befal to men in the tempestuous ocean of this world. And therefore Friar Giles was wont to say: "Man ought alway to fear, and albeit he is in great prosperity, or in high estate, or in great dignity, or in great perfection of condition, if he hath not a good helmsman, to wit prudent self-government, he may perish miserably in the deep sea of sin; and therefore for well-doing there is great need of perseverance, as saith the Apostle: Not he who beginneth, but he who endureth unto the end, shall have the crown. When a tree springeth up, it becometh not great at once; and after that it be grown it doth not therefore yield fruit at once; and when it yieldeth fruit, all that fruit cometh not to the
mouth of the owner of that tree; for much of the fruit falleth to the ground, and becometh rotten and is wasted, and such the beasts of the field do eat; but if it continueth to grow unto the proper season, the greater part of its fruit will be gathered by the owner of that tree." Likewise Friar Giles said: "What would it profit me if I should taste the kingdom of Heaven for full a hundred years, and persevered not therein, so that thereafter I came not to a good end?" And also he said: "I deem that these are two exceeding great graces and gifts of God unto him who can obtain them in this life, to wit to persevere with love in the service of God, and alway to keep oneself from falling into sin."