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How that by Virtue of this word a man is governed full wisely, and made full seemly as well in body as in soul.


WHOSO had this work, it should govern them full seemly, as well in body as in soul: and make them full favourable unto each man or woman that looked upon them. Insomuch, that the worst favoured man or woman that liveth in this life, an they might come by grace to work in this work, their favour should suddenly and graciously be changed: that each good man that them saw, should be fain and joyful to have them in company, and full much they should think that they were pleased in spirit and holpen by grace unto God in their presence. p. 245

And therefore get this gift whoso by grace get may: for whoso hath it verily, he shall well con govern himself by the virtue thereof, and all that longeth unto him. He should well give discretion, if need were, of all natures and all dispositions. He should well con make himself like unto all that with him communed, whether they were accustomed sinners or none, without sin in himself: in wondering of all that him saw, and in drawing of others by help of grace to the work of that same spirit that he worketh in himself.

His cheer and his words should be full of ghostly wisdom, full of fire, and of fruit spoken in sober soothfastness without any falsehood, far from any feigning or piping of hypocrites. For some there be that with all their might, inner and outer, imagineth in their speaking how they may stuff them and underprop them on each side from falling, with many meek piping words and gestures of devotion: more looking p. 246 after for to seem holy in sight of men, than for to be so in the sight of God and His angels. For why, these folk will more weigh, and more sorrow make for an unordained gesture or unseemly or unfitting word spoken before men, than they will for a thousand vain thoughts and stinking stirrings of sin wilfully drawn upon them, or recklessly used in the sight of God and the saints and the angels in heaven. Ah, Lord God! where there be any pride within, there such meek piping words be so plenteous without. I grant well, that it is fitting and seemly to them that be meek within, for to shew meek and seemly words and gestures without, according to that meekness that is within in the heart. But I say not that they shall then be shewed in broken nor in piping voices, against the plain disposition of their nature that speak them. For why, if they be true, then be they spoken in soothfastness, and in wholeness of voice and of their spirit that p. 247 speak them. And if he that hath a plain and an open boisterous voice by nature speak them poorly and pipingly—I mean but if he be sick in his body, or else that it be betwixt him and his God or his confessor—then it is a very token of hypocrisy. I mean either young hypocrisy or old.

And what shall I more say of these venomous deceits? Truly I trow, unless they have grace to leave off such piping hypocrisy, that betwixt that privy pride in their hearts within and such meek words without, the silly soul may full soon sink into sorrow. p. 248

Next: Chapter 55: How they be deceived that follow the fervour of spirit in condemning of some without discretion