Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


 

The Parson's Tale

A Translation into Modern English

The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer,
Houghton-Mifflin Company; used with permission of the publisher.

 

 

 

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Jer. 6o. State super vias et videte, et interrogate de viis antiquis que sit via bona, et ambulate in ea et invenietes refrigerium animabus vestris, etc.

[75] Our sweet Lord God of heaven, who wants no man to perish but wants that we all come to the knowledge of him and to the blissful life that is eternal, admonishes us by the prophet Jeremiah, who says in this way: "Stand upon the ways, and see and ask of old paths (that is to say, of old opinions) which is the good way, and walk in that way, and you shall find refreshment for your souls, etc." Many are the spiritual ways that lead folk to our Lord Jesus Christ and to the reign of glory. [80] Of which ways there is a very noble and a very suitable way, which can not fail to man nor to woman who through sin has gone astray from the right way to Jerusalem celestial; and this way is called Penitence, of which man should gladly hearken and enquire with all his heart to know what is Penitence, and why it is called Penitence, and in how many manners are the actions or workings of Penitence, and how many species there are of Penitence, and which things pertain and are suitable to Penitence, and which things hinder Penitence.

Saint Ambrose says that Penitence is the complaining of a man for the guilt that he has done, and (his desire) no more to do any thing for which he ought to complain. [85] And a certain theologian says, "Penitence is the lamentation of man who sorrows for his sin and punishes himself because he has done wrong." Penitence, with specific details, is true repentance of a man that holds himself in sorrow and other pain for his guilt. And because he must be true penitent, he shall first bewail the sins that he has done, and steadfastly intend in his heart to have confession by mouth, and to do satisfaction, and never to do thing for which he ought any more to bewail or to complain, and to continue in good works, or else his repentance can not avail. For, as says Saint Isidore (of Seville), "He is a trifler and a foolish talker and no true repentant that once again does a thing for which he ought to repent." [90] Weeping, and not to stop doing sin, can not avail. But nonetheless, men should hope that every time that man falls, be it never so often, that he can arise through Penitence, if he have grace; but certainly it is great doubt. For, as says Saint Gregory, "Hardly arises out of his sin he, who is burdened with the burden of evil usage." And therefore repentant folk, who stop sinning and abandon sin ere sin abandons them, holy church holds them sure of their salvation. And he who sins and truly repents himself in his last hours, holy church yet hopes for his salvation, by the great mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, for his repentance; but take the sure way.

[95] And now, since I have declared you what thing is Penitence, now shall you understand that there are three effects of Penitence. The first is that if a man be baptized after he has sinned. Saint Augustine says, "Unless he be penitent for his old sinful life, he may not begin the new clean life." For, certainly, if he be baptized without penitence of his old guilt, he receives the mark of baptism but not the grace nor the remission of his sins, until he have true repentance. Another deficiency is this: that men do deadly sin after they have received baptism. [100] The third deficiency is that men fall into venial sins after their baptism day after day. Thereof says Saint Augustine that penitence of good and humble folk is the penitence of every day.

The species of Penitence are three. One of them is solemn, another is common, and the third is private. This penance that is solemn is in two manners; as to be put out of holy church in Lent for slaughter of children, and such sort of thing. Another is, when a man has sinned openly, of which sin the fame is openly spoken in the country, and then holy church by judgment compels him to do open penance. [105] Common penance is what priests enjoin men commonly in certain cases, as to go perhaps naked in pilgrimages, or barefoot. Private penance is this that men do every day for private sins, of which we confess ourselves privately and receive private penance.

Now shalt thou understand what is suitable and necessary to true, perfect Penitence. And this consists of three things: Contrition of Heart, Confession of Mouth, and Satisfaction. For which says Saint John Crisostom, "Penitence compels a man to accept patiently every pain that to him is enjoined, with contrition of heart, and shrift of mouth, with satisfaction, and in working of all sorts of humility." [110] And this is fruitful penitence against three things in which we anger our Lord Jesus Christ; this is to say, by delight in thinking, by recklessness in speaking, and by wicked sinful conduct. And against this wicked guilt is Penitence, that can be likened unto a tree.

The root of this tree is Contrition, that hides himself in the heart of him that is true repentant, just as the root of a tree hides itself in the earth. Of the root of Contrition springs a stalk that bears branches and leaves of Confession, and fruit of Satisfaction. [115] For which Christ says in his gospel, "Do the worthy fruit of Penitence"; for by this fruit can men know this tree, and not by the root that is hid in the heart of man, nor by the branches, nor by the leaves of Confession. And therefore our Lord Jesus Christ says thus: "By the fruit of them shall you know them." From this root also springs a seed of grace, the which seed is mother of safety, and this seed is bitter and hot. The grace of this seed springs from God through remembrance of the day of doom and on the pains of hell. Of this matter says Solomon that in the dread of God man abandons his sin. [120] The heat of this seed is the love of God and the desiring of the joy eternal. This heat draws the heart of a man to God and causes him to hate his sin. For truly there is nothing that tastes so good to a child as the milk of his nurse, nor nothing is to him more abominable than this milk when it is mixed with other food. Just so the sinful man who loves his sin, to him it seems that it is to him the most sweet of any thing; but from that time that he loves firmly our Lord Jesus Christ, and desires the life eternal, there is to him no thing more abominable. [125] For truly the law of God is the love of God; for which David the prophet says: "I have loved thy law and hated wickedness and hate"; he who loves God keeps his law and his word. This tree saw the prophet Daniel in spirit, upon the vision of the king Nebuchadnezzar, when he counseled him to do penitence. Penance is the tree of life to them that it receive, and he that keeps himself in true penitence is blessed, according to the teaching of Solomon.

In this Penitence or Contrition man shall understand four things; that is to say, what is Contrition, and which are the causes that move a man to Contrition, and how he should be contrite, and what Contrition avails to the soul. Then is it thus: that Contrition is the true sorrow that a man receives in his heart for his sins, with steadfast purpose to confess himself, and to do penance, and nevermore to do sin. [130] And this sorrow shall be in this manner, as says Saint Bernard: "It shall be heavy and grievous, and very sharp and piercing in heart." First, for man has sinned against his Lord and his Creator; and more sharp and poignant for he has sinned against his Father celestial; and yet more sharp and piercing for he has angered and sinned against him that bought him, that with his precious blood has delivered us from the bonds of sin, and from the cruelty of the devil, and from the pains of hell.

The causes that ought to move a man to Contrition are six. First a man shall remind himself of his sins; but let him take care that this remembrance not be to him any delight in any way, but great shame and sorrow for his guilt. For Job says, "Sinful men do works worthy of damnation." [135] And therefore says Ezekiel, "I will remember all the years of my life in the bitterness of my heart." And God says in the Apocalypse, "Remind yourself from whence that you are fallen"; for before that time that you sinned, you were the children of God and limbs of the reign of God; but for your sin you have become enslaved, and foul, and members of the fiend, hated by angels, slander of holy church, and food of the false serpent, perpetual matter of the fire of hell; and yet more foul and abominable, for you trespass as many times as does the hound that returns to eat his vomit. And yet are you fouler for your long continuing in sin and your sinful usage, for which you are rotten in your sin, as a beast in his dung. [140] Such manner of thoughts make a man to have shame of his sin, and no delight, as God says by the prophet Ezekiel, "You shall remind yourself of your ways, and they shall displease you." Truly sins are the ways that lead folk to hell.

The second cause that ought make a man to have disdain of sin is this: that, as says Saint Peter, "whosoever that does sin is slave of sin"; and sin puts a man in great slavery. And therefore says the prophet Ezekiel: "I went sorrowful in disdain of myself." Certainly, well ought a man have disdain of sin and withdraw him from that slavery and villainy. And lo, what says Seneca in this matter? He says thus: "Though I knew that neither God nor man should never know it, yet would I have disdain for to do sin." [145] And the same Seneca also says, "I am born to greater things than to be a slave to my body, or than to make of my body a slave." Nor a fouler slavery can no man nor woman make of his body than for to give his body to sin. Although were it the foulest churl or the foulest woman that lives, and least of value, yet is he then more foul and more in servitude. Ever from the higher degree that man falls, the more is he slave, and more to God and to the world vile and abominable. O good God, well ought man have disdain of sin, since that through sin where he was free now is he made bond. [150] And therefore says Saint Augustine: "If thou hast disdain of thy servant, if he do wrong or sin, have thou then disdain that thou thyself should do sin." Have regard for thy value, that thou not be too foul to thyself. Alas, well ought they then have disdain to be servants and slaves to sin, and sorely be ashamed of themselves that God of his endless goodness has set them in high estate, or given them wit, strength of body, health, beauty, prosperity, and bought them from the death with his heart-blood, that they so unkindly, in return for his gentle acts, repay him so villainously to the slaughter of their own souls. [155] O good God, you women that are of so great beauty, remind yourself of the proverb of Solomon. He says, "He compares a fair woman that is a fool of their body as like to a ring of gold that were in the snout of a sow." For right as a sow roots in every ordure, so roots she their beauty in the stinking ordure of sin.

The third cause that ought to move a man to Contrition is dread of the day of doom and of the horrible pains of hell. For as Saint Jerome says, "At every time that I remember the day of doom I quake; [160] for when I eat or drink, or whatever I do, ever it seems to me that the trumpet sounds in my ear: `Rise up, you that are dead, and come to the judgment.'" O good God, much ought a man to dread such a judgment, "where we shall be all," as Saint Paul says, "before the seat of our Lord Jesus Christ"; whereas he shall make a general assembly, whereas no man may be absent. For certainly there avails no legal excuse nor forgiveness. [165] And not only shall our faults shall be judged, but also all our works shall openly be known. And, as says Saint Bernard, "There shall no pleading avail, nor no ingenuity; we shall give reckoning of every idle word." There shall we have a judge that can not be deceived nor corrupt. And why? For, certainly, all our thoughts are revealed to him, neither for prayer nor for bribery he shall be corrupt And therefore says Solomon, "The anger of God will not spare any creature, for prayer nor for gift"; and therefore, at the day of doom there is no hope of escaping. Wherefore, as says Saint Anselm, "Very great anguish shall the sinful folk have at that time; [170] there shall the stern and angry judge sit above, and under him the horrible pit of hell open to destroy him that must acknowledge his sins, which sins openly are showed before God and before every creature; and in the left side more devils than heart can imagine, for to harass and draw the sinful souls to the pain of hell; and within the hearts of folk shall be the biting conscience, and outside shall be the world all burning. Whither shall then the wretched sinful man flee to hide him? Certainly, he can not hide himself; he must come forth and show himself." For certainly, as says Saint Jerome, "the earth shall cast him out of itself, and the sea also, and the air also, that shall be full of thunderclaps and lightnings." [175] Now truly, whoever will remind himself of these things, I guess that his sin shall not turn itself into delight, but to great sorrow for dread of the pain of hell. And therefore says Job to God, "Grant, Lord, that I may a while bewail and weep, ere I go without returning to the dark land, covered with the darkness of death, to the land of suffering and of darkness, where is the shadow of death, where there is no order nor ordinance but grisly dread that ever shall last." Lo, here can you see that Job prayed respite a while to weep and bewail his trespass, for truly one day of respite is better than all the treasure of this world. And forasmuch as a man can acquit himself before God by penitence in this world, and not by treasure, therefore should he pray to God to give him respite a while to weep and bewail his trespass. [180] For certainly, all the sorrow that a man might make from the beginning of the world is but a little thing at regard of the sorrow of hell. The cause why Job calls hell the "land of darkness.": understand that he calls it "land" or earth, for it is stable and never shall fail; "dark," for he who is in hell has a lack of physical light. For certainly, the dark light that shall come out of the fire that ever shall burn shall turn him all to pain that is in hell for it shows him to the horrible devils that torment him. "Covered with the darkness of death" -- that is to say, that he that is in hell shall have lack of the sight of God, for certainly the sight of God is the life eternal. [185] "The darkness of death" are the sins that the wretched man has done, which prevent him from seeing the face of God, right as does a dark cloud betwixt us and the sun. "Land of suffering," because there are three manners of faults, against three things that folk of this world have in this present life; that is to say, honors, pleasures, and riches. Instead of honor, have they in hell shame and confusion. For well you know that men call honor the reverence that man does to man, but in hell is no honor nor reverence. For certainly, no more reverence shall be done there to a king than to a knave. [190] Honor is also called great lordship; there shall no creature serve other, but of harm and torment. Honor is also called great dignity and high rank, but in hell shall they be all stomped upon by devils. And God says, "The horrible devils shall go and come upon the heads of the damned folk." And this is forasmuch as the higher that they were in this present life, the more shall they be abated and defiled in hell. Against the riches of this world shall they have misery of poverty, and this poverty shall be in four things: In lack of treasure, of which David says, "The rich folk, that embraced and united all their hearts to treasure of this world, shall sleep in the sleeping of death; and they shall find in their hands nothing of all their treasure." And moreover the misery of hell shall be in lack of mete and drink. [195] For God says thus by Moses: "They shall be wasted with hunger, and the birds of hell shall devour them with bitter death, and the bile of the dragon shall be their drink, and the venom of the dragon their morsels." And furthermore, their misery shall be in lack of clothing, for they shall be naked in body as of clothing, save the fire in which they burn, and other filths; and naked shall they be of soul, as of all manner virtues, which is the clothing of the soul. Where are then the gay robes, and the soft sheets, and the delicate shirts? Lo, what says God of them by the prophet Isaiah: that "under them shall be strewed maggots, and their covers shall be of worms of hell." And furthermore, their misery shall be in lack of friends. For he that has good friends is not poor; but there is no friend, [200] for neither God nor any creature shall be friend to them, and every one of them shall hate the other with deadly hate. "The sons and the daughters shall rebel against father and mother, and kindred against kindred, and chide and despise every one of those others both day and night," as God says by the prophet Micah. And the loving children, that once loved so fleshly each other, would every one of them eat other if they might. For how should they love them together in the pain of hell, when every one of them hated the other in the prosperity of this life? For trust well, their fleshly love was deadly hate, as says the prophet David: "Whoso that loves wickedness, he hates his soul." [205] And whosoever hates his own soul, certainly, he can love no other creature in any manner. And therefore, in hell is no solace nor no friendship, but ever the more fleshly kinsmen that are in hell, the more curses, the more chidings, and the more deadly hate there is among them. And furthermore, they shall have a lack of all manner of pleasures, For certainly, pleasures are a consequent of the appetites of the five wits, as sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. But in hell their sight shall be full of darkness and of smoke, and therefore full of tears; and their hearing full of lamentation and of grinding of teeth, as says Jesus Christ. Their nostrils shall be full of stinking stink; and, as says Isaiah the prophet, "their tasting shall be full of bitter bile"; [210] and touching of all their body covered with "fire that never shall quench and with worms that never shall die," as God says by the mouth of Isaiah. And forasmuch as they shall not suppose that they can die for pain, and by their death flee from pain, that can they understand by the word of Job, who says, "there is the shadow of death." Certainly, a shadow has the likeness of the thing of which it is shadow, but shadow is not the same thing of which it is shadow. Right so fares the pain of hell; it is like death for the horrible anguish, and why? For it pains them ever, as though they should die at once; but certainly, they shall not die. For, as says Saint Gregory, "To wretched caitiffs shall be death without death, and end without end, and lack without end. [215] For their death shall always live, and their end shall evermore begin, and their lack shall not cease."216] And therefore says Saint John the Evangelist, "They shall follow death, and they shall not find him; and they shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." And also Job says that in hell is no order of rule. And although it be so that God has created all things in right order, and no thing without order, but all things are ordained and numbered; yet, nonetheless, they that are damned are not at all in order, nor hold any order, for the earth nor shall bear them no fruit. [220] For, as the prophet David says, "God shall destroy the fruit of the earth as from them; nor water shall not give them any moisture, nor the air any refreshing, nor fire any light." For, as says Saint Basil, "The burning of the fire of this world shall God give in hell to them that are damned, but the light and the clearness shall be given in heaven to his children," right as the good man gives flesh to his children and bones to his hounds. And for they shall have no hope to escape, says Saint Job at the last that "there shall horror and grisly dread dwell without end." Horror is always dread of harm that is to come, and this dread shall ever dwell in the hearts of them that are damned. And therefore have they lost all their hope, for seven causes. [225] First, because God, that is their judge, shall be without mercy to them; and they can not please him nor any of his saints; nor they can not give any thing for their ransom; nor they have no voice to speak to him; nor they can not flee from pain; nor they have no goodness in them, that they can show to deliver them from pain. And therefore says Solomon: "The wicked man dies, and when he is dead, he shall have no hope to escape from pain." Whoso then would well understand these pains and consider well that he has deserved these pains for his sins, certainly, he should have more desire to sigh and to weep than to sing and to play. For, as says Solomon, "Whoso that had the knowledge to know the pains that are established and ordained for sin, he would make sorrow." [230] "This knowledge," as says Saint Augustine, "makes a man to lament in his heart."

The fourth point that ought to make a man to have contrition is the sorrowful remembrance of the good that he has failed to do here in earth, and also the good that he has lost. Truly, the good works that he has lost, either they are the good works that he did ere he fell into deadly sin or else the good works that he did while he lay in sin. Truly, the good works that he did before he fell in sin are all killed and paralyzed and dulled by the frequent sinning. The other good works, that he did while he lay in deadly sin, they are utterly dead, as to the life eternal in heaven. [235] Then these good works that are mortified by frequent sinning, which good works he did while he was in charity, nor can never revive again without true penitence. And thereof says God by the mouth of Ezekiel, that "if the righteous man return again from his righteousness and do wickedness, shall he live?" Nay, for all the good works that he has wrought shall never be in remembrance, for he shall die in his sin. And upon this chapter says Saint Gregory thus: that "we shall understand this principally; that when we do deadly sin, it is for nothing then to tell or draw into memory the good works that we have done before." [240] For certainly, in the doing of the deadly sin, there is no trust to no good work that we have done before; that is to say, as for to have thereby the life eternal in heaven. But nonetheless, the good works revive again, and come again, and help, and help to have the life eternal in heaven, when we have contrition. But truly, the good works that men do while they are in deadly sin, forasmuch as they were done in deadly sin, they can never revive again. For certainly, thing that never had life can never revive; and nonetheless, although it be so that they do not help one to have the life eternal, yet they help to shorten the pain of hell, or else to get temporal riches, or else that God will the rather illuminate and lighten the heart of the sinful man to have repentance; [245] and also they help to accustom a man to do good works, so that the fiend may have the less power of his soul. And thus the courteous Lord Jesus Christ wishes that no good work be lost, for to some degree it shall help. But, forasmuch as the good works that men do while they are in good life are all rendered powerless by sin that follows, and also since all the good works that men do while they are in deadly sin are utterly dead so far as having the life eternal, well may that man who does no good work sing this new French song, "[Jay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour I have lost my time and my labor.]" For certainly, sin bereaves a man of both goodness of nature and also the goodness of grace. [250] For truly, the grace of the Holy Ghost fares like fire, that can not be idle; for fire fails as soon as it abandons its function, and right so grace fails as soon as it abandons its function. Then loses the sinful man the goodness of glory, that only is promised to good men that labor and work. Well may he be sorry then, that owes all his life to God as long as he has lived, and also as long as he shall live, that has no goodness with which to pay his debt to God to whom he owes all his life. For trust well, "He shall give accounts," as says Saint Bernard, "of all the goods that have been given him in this present life, and how he has spent them, insomuch that there shall not perish a hair of his head, nor a moment of an hour shall not perish of his time, but that he shall give of it a reckoning."

[255] The fifth thing that ought move a man to contrition is remembrance of the passion that our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for our sins. For, as says Saint Bernard, "While I live I shall have remembrance of the difficulties that our Lord Christ suffered in preaching: his weariness in working, his temptations when he fasted, his long vigils when he prayed, his tears when he wept for pity of good people, the woe and the shame and the filth that men said to him, of the foul spitting that men spit in his face, of the buffets that men gave him, of the foul grimaces, and of the insults that men to him said, of the nails with which he was nailed to the cross, and of all the remnant of his passion that he suffered for my sins, and not at all for his guilt." [260] And you shall understand that in man's sin is every manner of order or regulation turned upside down. For it is true that God, and reason, and sensuality, and the body of man are so arranged that every of these four things should have lordship over that other, as thus: God should have lordship over reason, and reason over sensuality, and sensuality over the body of man. But truly, when man sins, all this order or arrangement is turned upside down. And therefore then, forasmuch as the reason of man will not be subject nor obedient to God, that is his lord by right, therefore it loses the lordship that it should have over sensuality, and also over the body of man. [265] And why? For sensuality rebels then against reason, and by that way reason loses the lordship over sensuality and over the body. For just as reason is rebel to God, right so is both sensuality rebel to reason and the body also. And certainly this disorder and this rebellion our Lord Jesus Christ purchased with his precious body very dear, and hearken in which manner. Forasmuch then as reason is rebel to God, therefore is man worthy to have sorrow and to be dead. This suffered our Lord Jesus Christ for man, after he had be betrayed by his disciple, and confined and bound so that his blood burst out at every nail of his hands, as says Saint Augustine. [270] And furthermore, forasmuch as reason of man will not daunt sensuality when it can, therefore is man worthy to have shame; and this suffered our Lord Jesus Christ for man, when they spit in his visage. And furthermore, forasmuch then as the wretched body of man is rebel both to reason and to sensuality, therefore is it worthy of the death. And this suffered our Lord Jesus Christ for man upon the cross, where there was no part of his body free without great pain and bitter suffering. And all this suffered Jesus Christ, who never sinned. And therefore reasonably may be said by Jesus in this manner: "Too much am I pained for the things that I never deserved, and too much defiled by shame that man is worthy to have." And therefore may the sinful man well say, as says Saint Bernard, "Cursed be the bitterness of my sin, for which there must be suffered so much bitterness." [275] For certainly, in accord with the various rebellions of our wickedness was the passion of Jesus Christ ordained in various things. As thus: Certainly sinful man's soul is betrayed by the devil by covetousness of temporal prosperity, and scorned by deceit when he chooses fleshly pleasure; and yet is it tormented by impatience of adversity and spat upon by slavery and subjection of sin; and at the last it is slain finally. For by this disorderliness of sinful man was Jesus Christ first betrayed, and after that was he bound, he who came to unbind us of sin and pain. Then was he scorned, he who only should have been honored in all things and by all things. Then was his visage, that ought to be desired to be seen by all mankind, in which visage angels desire to look, villainously spat upon. [280] Then was he whipped, who in no thing had sinned; and finally, then was he crucified and slain. Then was accomplished the word of Isaiah, "He was wounded for our mideeds and defiled for our felonies." Now since Jesus Christ took upon himself the pain of all our wickedness, much ought sinful man to weep and bewail, that for his sins God's son of heaven should all this pain endure.

The sixth thing that ought to move a man to contrition is the hope of three things; that is to say, forgiveness of sin, and the gift of grace in order to do well, and the glory of heaven, with which God shall guerdon man for his good deeds. And forasmuch as Jesus Christ gives us these gifts of his generosity and of his perfect goodness, therefore is he called [Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews]. [285] Jesus is to mean "savior" or "salvation," on whom men shall hope to have forgiveness of sins, which is properly salvation of sins. And therefore said the angel to Joseph, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, that shall save his people of their sins." And hereof says Saint Peter: "There is no other name under heaven that is given to any man, by which a man can be saved, but only Jesus." Nazarenus is as much to say as "flourishing," in which a man shall hope that he that gives him remission of sins shall give him also grace for to do well. For in the flower is hope of fruit in time coming, and in forgiveness of sins hope of grace to do well. "I was at the door of thy heart," says Jesus, "and called to enter. He that opens to me shall have forgiveness of sin. [290] I will enter into him by my grace and sup with him," by the good works that he shall do, which works are the food of God; "and he shall sup with me" by the great joy that I shall give him. Thus shall man hope, for his works of penance that God shall give him his reign, as he promises him in the gospel.

Now shall a man understand in which manner shall be his contrition. I say that it shall be universal and total. This is to say, a man shall be truly repentant for all his sins that he has done in delight of his thought, for delight is very perilous. For there are two manner of consenting: that one of them is called consenting of affection, when a man is moved to do sin, and delights him long for to think on that sin; and his reason perceives it well that it is sin against the law of God, and yet his reason restrains not his foul delight or desire, though he see well clearly that it is against the reverence of God. Although his reason consent not to do that sin in deed, [295] yet say some theologians that such delight that dwells long, it is very perilous, although it be never so little. And also a man should sorrow especially for all that ever he has desired against the law of God with perfect consenting of his reason, for thereof is no doubt, that it is deadly sin in consenting. For certainly, there is no deadly sin that it was not first in man's thought and after that in his delight, and so forth into consenting and into deed. Wherefore I say that many men repent them never of such thoughts and delights, nor never confess themselves of it, but only of the deed of great sins outward. Wherefore I say that such wicked delights and wicked thoughts are subtle deceivers of them that shall be damned. [300] Moreover, man ought to sorrow for his wicked words as well as for his wicked deeds. For certainly, the repentance of a singular sin, and not to repent of all his other sins, or else to repent him of all his other sins and not of a singular sin, can not avail. For certainly, God almighty is all good, and therefore he forgives all or else nothing at all. And hereof says Saint Augustine, "I know certainly that God is enemy to every sinner." And how then? He that observes one sin, shall he have forgiveness of the remnant of his other sins? Nay. And furthermore, contrition should be wonderfully sorrowful and anxious; and therefore God gives him fully his mercy; and therefore, when my soul was anxious within me, I had remembrance of God that my prayer might come to him. [305] Furthermore, contrition must be continual, and that man have steadfast purpose to confess himself, and to amend himself of his life. For truly, while contrition lasts, man can ever have hope of forgiveness; and of this comes hate of sin, which destroys sin, both in himself and also in other folk in his power. For which says David: "You who love God, hate wickedness." For trust well, to love God is to love what he loves, and hate what he hates.

The last thing that men should understand in contrition is this: by what means contrition avails. I say that sometimes contrition delivers a man from sin; of which David says, "I say," said David (that is to say, I purposed firmly) "to confess myself, and thou, Lord, set me free from my sin." [310] And right so as contrition avails not without firm purpose of confession, if man have opportunity, just so little worth is confession or satisfaction without contrition. And moreover contrition destroys the prison of hell, and makes weak and feeble all the strengths of the devils, and restores the gifts of the Holy Ghost and of all good virtues; and it cleanses the soul of sin, and delivers the soul from the pain of hell, and from the company of the devil, and from the slavery of sin, and restores it to all goods spirituals, and to the company and communion of holy church. And furthermore, it makes him who whilom was son of ire to be son of grace; and all these things are proved by holy writ. And therefore, he who would set his intent to these things, he would be very wise; for truly he should not then in all his life have desire to sin, but give his body and all his heart to the service of Jesus Christ, and thereof do him homage. [315] For truly our sweet Lord Jesus Christ has spared us so graciously in our follies that if he had not had pity of man's soul, a sorry song we might all sing.

Explicit prima pars Penitentie; Et sequitur secunda pars eiusdem.
[Here ends the first part of Penance; and its second part follows.]

The second part of Penitence is Confession, which is a sign of contrition. Now shall you understand what is Confession, and whether it ought necessarily be done or not, and which things are appropriate to true Confession.

First shalt thou understand that Confession is true showing of sins to the priest. This is to say "true," for he must confess himself of all the conditions that belong to his sin, insofar as he can. [320] All must be said, and no thing excused nor hid nor concealed, and do not boast thee of thy good works. And furthermore, it is necessary to understand from whence that sins spring, and how they increase, and what they are.

Of the springing of sins says Saint Paul in this manner: that "Just as by a man sin entered first into this world, and through that sin death, just so this death entered into all men that sinned." And this man was Adam, by whom sin entered into this world, when he broke the commandments of God. And therefore, he who first was so mighty that he should not have died, became such one that he must needs die, whether he would or not, and all his progeny in this world, that in this man sinned. [325] Look that in the estate of innocence, when Adam and Eve naked were in Paradise, and in no way had shame of their nakedness, how that the serpent, that was most wily of all other beasts that God had made, said to the woman, Why commanded God to you you should not eat of every tree in Paradise?" The woman answered: "Of the fruit," said she, "of the trees in Paradise we feed us, but truly, of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of Paradise, God forbad us to eat, and not touch it, lest by chance we should die." The serpent said to the woman, "Nay, nay, you shall not die of death; truly, God knows that whatever day that you eat thereof, your eyes shall open and you shall be as gods, knowing good and harm." The woman then saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delectable to the sight. She took one of the fruit of the tree, and ate it, and gave it to her husband, and he ate, and at once the eyes of them both opened. [330] And when that they knew that they were naked, they sewed of fig leaves a sort of breeches to hide their private parts. There can you seen that deadly sin has, first, suggestion of the fiend, as shows here by the adder; and afterward, the delight of the flesh, as shows here by Eve; and after that, the consenting of reason, as shows here by Adam. For trust well, though it were so that the fiend tempted Eve -- that is to say, the flesh -- and the flesh had delight in the beauty of the forbidden fruit, yet certainly, until reason -- that is to say, Adam -- consented to the eating of the fruit, yet stood he in the state of innocence. Of this Adam we took this sin original, for of him fleshly descended are we all, and engendered of vile and corrupt matter. And when the soul is put in our body, right away is contracted original sin; and what was at first but only pain of concupiscence is afterward both pain and sin. [335] And therefore are we all born sons of anger and of eternal damnation, if it were not that we receive baptism, which takes away from us the guilt. But truly, the pain dwells with us, as a temptation, which pain is called concupiscence. And this concupiscence, when it is wrongfully disposed or arranged in man, it makes him covet, by covetousness of flesh, fleshly sin, by sight of his eyen as to earthly things, and also covetousness of high rank by pride of heart.

Now, as for to speak of the first covetousness, that is concupiscence, according to the law of our members that were lawfully made and by righteous judgment of God, I say, forasmuch as man is not obedient to God, who is his lord, therefore is the flesh to him disobedient through concupiscence, which yet is called nourishing of sin and occasion of sin. Therefore, all the while that a man has in him the pain of concupiscence, it is impossible but that he be tempted sometime and moved in his flesh to sin. [340] And this thing can not fail as long as he lives. it may well wax feeble and fail by the power of baptism and by the grace of God through penitence, but fully shall it never quench, that he shall not some time be moved in himself, unless he were all cooled by sickness, or by evildoing of sorcery, or cold drinks. For lo, what says Saint Paul: "The flesh covets against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; they are so contrary and so quarrel that a man may not always do as he would." The same Saint Paul, after his great penance in water and in land -- in water by night and by day in great peril and in great pain; in land, in famine and thirst, in cold and without clothing, and once stoned almost to the death -- yet said he, "Alas, I wretched man! Who shall deliver me from the prison of my wretched body?" [345] And Saint Jerome, when he long time had dwelt in desert, where he had no company but of wild beasts, where he neither had no food but herbs, and water to his drink, nor no bed but the naked earth, for which his flesh was black as an Ethiopian because of heat, and nigh destroyed because of cold, yet said he that "the burning of lechery boiled in all his body." Wherefore I know well truly that they are deceived that say that they are not tempted in their body. Witness on Saint James the Apostle, who says that "every creature is tempted in his own concupiscence"; that is to say, that every of us has matter and occasion to be tempted by the nourishing of sin that is in his body. And therefore says Saint John the Evangelist, "If we say that we are without sin, we deceive ourselves, and truth is not in us."

[350] Now shall you understand in what manner that sin waxes or increases in man. The first thing is this nourishing of sin of which I spoke before, this fleshly concupiscence. And after that comes the subjection of the devil -- this is to say, the devils bellows, with which he blows in man the fire of fleshly concupiscence. And after that, a man considers whether he will do or not this thing to which he is tempted. And then, if a man withstands and resists the first enticing of his flesh and of the fiend, then is it no sin; and if it so be that he do not so, then feels he at once a flame of delight. And then is it good to beware and guard himself well, or else he will fall at once into consenting of sin; and then will he do it, if he may have time and place. [355] And of this matter says Moses concernming the devil in this manner: "The fiend says, `I will chase and pursue the man by wicked suggestion, and I will seize him by moving or stirring of sin. And I will take away my capture or my prey by careful consideration, and my lust shall be accomplished in delight. I will draw my sword in consenting.' -- for certainly, just as a sword parts a thing in two pieces, right so consenting parts God from man -- "`and then will I slay him with my hand in death of sin'; thus says the fiend." For certainly, then is a man all dead in soul. And thus is sin accomplished by temptation, by delight, and by consenting; and then is the sin called actual.

In truth, sin is in two manners; it is either venial or deadly sin. Truly, when man loves any creature more than Jesus Christ our Creator, then is it deadly sin. And venial sin is it, if man love Jesus Christ less than he ought. Truly, the death of this venial sin is very perilous, for it diminishes the love that men should have to God more and more. [360] And therefore, if a man charge himself with many such venial sins, certainly, unless it so be that he sometimes discharge himself of them by confession, they can very easily diminish in him all the love that he has to Jesus Christ; and in this manner skips venial into deadly sin. For certainly, the more that a man burdens his soul with venial sins, the more is he inclined to fall into deadly sin. And therefore let us not be negligent to disburden us of venial sins. For the proverb says that "Many small make a great." And hearken this example. A great wave of the sea comes some time with so great a violence that it sinks the ship. And the same harm do some time the small drops of water, that enter through a little crevice into the bilge, and in the bottom of the ship, if men be so negligent that they do not empty them in time. And therefore, although there is a difference betwixt these two causes of sinking, in either case the ship is sunk. [365] Right so fares it sometimes of deadly sin, and of harmful venial sins, when they multiply in a man so greatly that [the love of] these worldly things that he loves, through which he sins venially, is as great in his heart as the love of God, or more. And therefore, the love of every thing that is not set in God, nor done principally for God's sake, although a man love it less than God, yet is it venial sin; and deadly sin when the love of any thing weighs in the heart of man as much as the love of God, or more. "Deadly sin," as says Saint Augustine, "is when a man turns his heart from God, which is true perfect goodness, that can not change, and gives his heart to thing that can change and pass away." And certainly, that is every thing save God of heaven. For it is true that if a man gives his love, the which he owes all to God with all his heart, unto a creature, certainly, as much of his love as he gives to this creature, so much he takes away from God; [370] and therefore does he sin. For he that is debtor to God yields not to God all his debt; that is to say, all the love of his heart.

Now since man understands generally what is venial sin, then is it appropriate to tell specially of sins which many a man by chance deems them not sins, and shrives him not of the same things, and yet nonetheless they are sins truly, as these clerks write; this is to say, that at every time that a man eats or drinks more than suffices to the sustenance of his body, in certain he does sin. And also when he speaks more than it needs, it is sin. Also when he hearkens not graciously the complaint of the poor; also when he is in health of body and will not fast when other folk fast, without cause reasonable; also when he sleeps more than he needs, nor when he comes for this cause too late to church, or to other works of charity; [375] also when he uses his wife without controlling desire of procreation to the honor of God or for the intent to yield to his wife the debt of his body; also when he will not visit the sick and the prisoner, if he can; also if he love wife or child, or other worldly thing, more than reason requires. also if he flatter or wheedle more than he ought for any necessity; also if he diminish or withdraw the alms of the poor; also if he prepares his food more deliciously than need is, or eats it too hastily because of greed; also if he talk vanities at church or at God's service, or that he is a talker of idle words of folly or of villainy, for he shall yield accounts of it at the day of doom; also when he promises or assures to do things that he can not perform; also when that he by frivolity or folly slanders or scorns his neighbor; [380] also when he has any wicked suspicion of thing where he knows of it no truthfulness: these things, and more without number, are sins, as says Saint Augustine.

Now shall men understand that, although it be so that no earthly man can eschew all venial sins, yet can he restrain himself by the burning love that he has to our Lord Jesus Christ, and by prayers and confession and other good works, so that it shall but little grieve. For, as says Saint Augustine, "If a man loves God in such manner that all that ever he does is in the love of God and for the love of God truly, for he burns in the love of God, look how much that a drop of water that falls in a furnace full of fire annoys or grieves, so much annoys a venial sin unto a man that is perfect in the love of Jesus Christ." [385] Men can also restrain venial sin by receiving worthily of the precious body of Jesus Christ; by receiving also of holy water, by alms, by general confession of Confiteor [I confess] at mass and at evening prayers, and by blessing of bishops and of priests, and by other good works.

Explicit secunda Pars Penitentie
[Here ends the second part on Penance]

Sequitur de septem peccatis mortalibus
et eorum dependenciis, circumstanciis, et speciebus.

[Now follows the section on the seven deadly sins
and their subdivisions, circumstances, and species.]

Now is it a suitable thing to tell what are the seven deadly sins, this is to say, chieftains of sins. They all run on one leash, but in diverse manners. Now are they called chieftains, forasmuch as they are chief and origin of all other sins. Of the root of these seven sins, then, is Pride the general root of all harms. For of this root spring certain branches, as Anger, Envy, Accidia or Sloth, Avarice or Covetousness (to common understanding), Gluttony, and Lechery. And every of these chief sins has his branches and his twigs, as shall be declared in their chapters following.

De Superbie
[Concerning Pride]

[390] And though it be so that no man can completely tell the number of the twigs and of the harms that come from Pride, yet will I show a part of them, as you shall understand. There is disobedience, boasting, hypocrisy, scorn, arrogance, impudence, swelling of heart, insolence, elation (see 400), impatience, contumaciousness (see 402), rebelliousness, presumption, irreverence, pertinacity (see 404), vainglory, and many another twig that I can not declare. Disobedient is he that disobeys for spite to the commandments of God, and to his superiors, and to his spiritual father. Boaster is he that boasts of the harm or of the goodness that he has done. Hypocrite is he who hides showing himself such as he is and shows himself such as he is not. [395] Scornful is he that has disdain of his neighbor -- that is to say, of his fellow-Christian -- or scorns to do what he ought to do. Arrogant is he that thinks that he has these good things in him that he has not, or supposes that he should have them by his deserts, or else he supposes that he is what he is not. Impudent is he that for his pride has no shame of his sins. Swelling of heart is when a man rejoices him for harm that he has done. Insolent is he that despises in his judgment all other folk, as compared to his value, and of his understanding, and of his speaking, and of his bearing. [400] Elation is when he can tolerate having neither master nor fellow. Impatient is he who will not be taught nor reproved for his vice, and by strife wages war on truth wittingly, and defends his folly. Contumacious is he that through his indignation is against every authority or power of them that are his superiors. Presumption is when a man undertakes an enterprise that he ought not do, or else that he can not do; and this is called presumption. Irreverence is when men do not honor where as they ought to do, and expect to be reverenced. Pertinacity is when man defends his folly and trusts too much to his own wit. [405] Vainglory is to have pomp and delight in his temporal high rank, and to exult in this worldly estate. Jangling is when a man speaks too much before folk, and clatters like a mill, and takes no care what he says.

And yet is there a private species of Pride that waits first to be greeted ere he will greet, although he is less worthy than that other is, indeed; and also he expects or desires to sit, or else to go before him in the way, or kiss the pax, or be incensed, or go to the offering before his neighbor, and such similar things, beyond what duty requires, indeed, but that he has his heart and his intent in such a proud desire to be made much of and honored before the people.

Now are there two manners of Pride: one of them is within the heart of man, and the other is without. [410] Of which, truly, these aforesaid things, and more than I have said, pertain to Pride that is in the heart of man; and are without that other species of Pride. But nonetheless the one of these species of Pride is sign of the other, just as the gay bush at the tavern is sign of the wine that is in the storeroom. And this is in many things: as in speech and countenance, and in outrageous display of clothing. For certainly, if there had been no sin in clothing, Christ would not so soon have noted and spoken of the clothing of this rich man in the gospel. And, as says Saint Gregory, that "precious clothing is sinful for the costliness of it, and for its softness, and for its exotic style and elaborateness, and for the superfluity, or for the excessive scantiness of it." [415] Alas, can man not see, in our days, the sinful excessively costly display of clothing, and namely in too much superfluity, or else in too excessive scantiness?

As to the first sin, that is in superfluity of clothing, which makes it so dear, to the harm of the people; not only the cost of embroidering, the ostentatious notching or ornamenting with bars, undulating stripes, vertical stripes, folding or decorative borders, and similar waste of cloth in vanity, but there is also costly fur trimming in their gowns, so much punching with chisels to make holes, so much slitting with shears; immediately the superfluity in length of the aforesaid gowns, trailing in the dung and in the mire, on horse and also on foot, as well of man as of woman, that all this trailing cloth is truly in effect wasted, consumed, threadbare, and rotten with dung, rather than it is given to the poor, to great damage of the aforesaid poor folk. [420] And that in various ways; this is to say that the more that cloth is wasted, the more must it cost to the people for the scarceness. And furthermore, if it so be that they would give such ornamentally punched and artfully slitted clothing to the poor folk, it is not convenient to wear for their estate, nor sufficient to allay their necessity, to keep them from the bad weather of the heavens. Upon that other side, to speak of the horrible excessive scantiness of clothing, as are these coats cut short, or short jackets, that through their shortness do not cover the shameful members of man, to wicked intent. Alas, some of them show the bulge of their shape, and the horrible swollen members, that it seems like the malady of hernia, in the wrapping of their leggings; and also the buttocks of them fare as it were the back part of a she-ape in the full of the moon. And moreover, the wretched swollen members that they show through their style of clothing, in parting of their hoses into white and red, seems that half their shameful private members were flayed. [425] And if so be that they divide their hoses in other colors, as is white and black, or white and blue, or black and red, and so forth, then seems it, as by variance of color, that half the part of their private members were corrupt by the fire of Saint Anthony (inflamation of the skin), or by cancer, or by other such mischance. Of the back part of their buttocks, it is very horrible to see. For certainly, in that part of their body where they purge their stinking excrement, that foul part show they to the people proudly in scorn of decency, which decency that Jesus Christ and his friends observed to show in their lives. [430] Now, as of the outrageous array of women, God knows that though the visages of some of them seem very chaste and meek, yet they make known in their display of attire lechery and pride. I say not that decency in clothing of man or woman is unseemly, but certainly the superfluity or excessive scarcity of clothing is blameworthy. Also the sin of excessive adornment or of apparel is in things that pertain to riding, as in too many delicate horses that are maintained for delight, that are so faire, well-fed, and expensive; and also in many a vicious knave that is sustained by cause of them; and in too elaborate harness, as in saddles, in cruppers, collars, and bridles covered with precious clothing, and rich bar and plates of gold and of silver. For which God says by Zechariah the prophet, "I will destroy the riders of such horses." These folk take little regard of the riding of God's son of heaven, and of his harness when he rode upon the ass, and had no other harness but the poor clothes of his disciples; and we do not read that ever he rode on another beast. [435] I speak this for the sin of superfluity, and not for reasonable decent array, when reason requires it. And furthermore, certainly, pride is greatly made known in holding of great households, when they are of little profit or of no profit at all, and namely when that group of retainers is felonious and injurious to the people by harshness of high lordship or by way of assigned tasks. For certainly, such lords sell then their lordship to the devil of hell, when they sustain the wickedness of their household. [440] Or else, when these folk of low degree, such as these that hold inns, sustain the theft of their workers, and that is in many sorts of deceits. This sort of folk are the flies that follow the honey, or else the hounds that follow the carrion. Such aforesaid folk strangle spiritually their lordships; for which thus says David the prophet: "Wicked death must come upon these lordships, and God grant that they must descend into hell all down, for in their houses are iniquities and wicked deeds and not God of heaven." And certainly, unless they do amendment, just as God gave his blessing to Laban] by the service of Jacob, and to [Pharaoh] by the service of Joseph, just so God will give his curse to such lords as sustain the wickedness of their servants, unless they come to amendment. Pride of the table appears also very often; for certainly, rich men are invited to feasts, and poor folk are put away and rebuked. [445] Also in excess of diverse foods and drinks, and namely such manner of meat pies and stews, burning with wild fir and painted and adorned with paper towers, and similar waste, so that it is absurdity to think of. And also in too great preciousness of vessels and intricate performances of music, by which a man is stirred the more to pleasures of lechery, if it so be that he set his heart the less upon our Lord Jesus Christ, certainly it is a sin; and certainly the pleasures might be so great in this case that man might easily fall by them into deadly sin. The species that arise of Pride, truly when they arise from of malice plotted, considered, and premeditated, or else by custom, are deadly sins, it is no doubt. And when they arise from frailty unpremeditated, and suddenly withdrawn again, although they are grievous sins, I guess that they are not deadly.

[450] Now might men ask whereof Pride arises and springs, and I say, sometimes it springs of the goods of nature, and sometimes of the goods of fortune, and sometimes of the goods of grace. Certainly, the goods of nature stand either in goods of body or in goods of soul. Certainly, goods of body are health of body, strength, agility, beauty, gentle birth, freedom. Goods of nature of the soul are good wit, sharp understanding, subtle ingenuity, power over the senses, good memory. Goods of fortune are riches, high degrees of lordships, praise of the people. [455] Goods of grace are knowledge, power to suffer spiritual travail, benignity, virtuous contemplation, withstanding of temptation, and similar things. Of which aforesaid goods, certainly it is a very great folly a man to pride him in any of them all. Now to speak of goods of nature, God knows that sometimes we have them in nature as much to our damage as to our profit. As for to speak of health of body, certainly it passes very lightly, and also it is very often the cause of the sickness of our soul. For, God knows, the flesh is a very great enemy to the soul, and therefore, the more that the body is whole, the more are we in peril to fall. Also to pride oneself in his strength of body, it is an high folly. For certainly, the flesh covets against the spirit, and ever the more strong that the flesh is, the sorrier may the soul be. [460] And over all this, strength of body and worldly hardiness causes very often many a man to be in peril and mischance. Also to pride oneself of his gentle birth is very great folly; for oftentimes the gentility of the body takes away the gentility of the soul; and also we are all of one father and of one mother; and we are all of one nature, rotten and corrupt, both rich and poor. For truly, one sort of gentility is to be praised, that provides man's determination with virtues and moralities, and makes himself Christ's child. For trust well that over whatever man that sin has mastery, he is a true slave to sin.

Now are there general signs of gentility, as avoidance of vice and ribaldry and bondage to sin, in word, in deed, and manner, [465] and using virtue, courtesy, and cleanness, and to be liberal -- that is to say, reasonably generous, for that which passes moderation is folly and sin. Another is to remind himself of good things that he of other folk has received. Another is to be gracious to one's good subjects; wherefore says Seneca, "There is no thing more suitable to a man of high estate than graciousness and pity. And therefore these flies that men call bees, when they make their king, they choose one that has no stinger with which he can sting." Another is, a man to have a noble heart and a diligent to attain to high virtuous things. [470] Now certainly, for a man to pride himself in the goods of grace is also an outrageous folly, for this gift of grace that should have turned him to goodness and to medicine, turns him to venom and to ruin, as says Saint Gregory. Certainly also, whosoever prides himself in the goods of fortune, he is a very great fool; for sometimes is a man a great lord by the morrow, that is a captive and a wretched one ere it be night; and sometimes the riches of a man is cause of his death; sometimes the pleasures of a man are cause of the grievous malady through which he dies. Certainly, the commendation of the people is sometimes very false and very brittle to trust; this day they praise, tomorrow they blame. God knows, desire to have commendation also of the people has caused death to many a busy man.

Remedium contra peccatum Superbia
[The remedy against the sin of Pride]

[475] Now since it is so that you have understood what is Pride, and what are the species of it, and whence Pride arises and springs, now shall you understand what is the remedy against the sin of Pride; and that is humility, or meekness. That is a virtue through which a man has true knowledge of himself, and considers himself worthy of no esteem nor dignity, as in regard to his deserts, considering ever his frailty. Now are there three manners of humility: as humility in heart; another humility is in his mouth; the third in his deeds. The humility in heart is in four manners. That one is when a man considers himself worth nothing before God of heaven. Another is when he despises no other man. [480] The third is when he cares not, though men consider him worth nothing. The fourth is when he is not sorry for his humiliation. Also the humility of mouth is in four things: in temperate speech, and in humbleness of speech, and when he acknowledges with his own mouth that he is such as it seems to him what he is in his heart. Another is when he praises the goodness of another man, and nothing thereof diminishes. Humility also in deeds is in four manners. The first is when he puts other men before him. The second is to choose the lowest place of all. The third is gladly to assent to good counsel. The fourth is to stand gladly to the decisions of his superiors, or of him that is in higher degree. Certainly, this is a great work of humility.

Sequitur de Invidia
[The (section on) Envy follows]

After Pride will I speak of the foul sin of Envy, which is, as by the word of the Philosopher (Aristotle), "sorrow of another man's prosperity"; and according to the word of Saint Augustine, it is "Sorrow of other men's well-being, and joy of other men's harm." [485] This foul sin is flatly against the Holy Ghost. Although it is so that every sin is against the Holy Ghost, yet nonetheless, forasmuch as goodness pertains particularly to the Holy Ghost, and Envy comes particularly of malice, therefore it is particularly against the goodness of the Holy Ghost. Now malice has two species; that is to say, hardness of heart in wickedness, or else the flesh of man is so blind that he considers not that he is in sin or cares not that he is in sin, which is the hardness of the devil. That other specie of malice is when a man wages war on truth, when he know that it is truth; and also when he wages war on the grace that God has given to his neighbor; and all this is by Envy. Certainly, then is Envy the worst sin that is. For truly, all other sins are sometimes only against one special virtue, but certainly Envy is against all virtues and against all goodness. For it is sorry of all the goodness of his neighbor, and in this manner it is diverse from all other sins. [490] For well hardly is there any sin that has not some delight in itself save only Envy, that ever has in itself anguish and sorrow. The species of Envy are these. There is first, sorrow of other man's goodness and of his prosperity; and prosperity is natural cause of joy; then is Envy a sin against nature. The second species of Envy is joy of other man's harm, and that is particularly similar to the devil, who always rejoices for man's harm. Of these two species comes backbiting; and this sin of backbiting or detraction has certain species, as thus: A certain man praises his neighbor with a wicked intent, for he makes always a wicked knot at the last end. Always he makes a "but" at the last end, that is worthy of more blame than is worth all the praising. [495] The second species is that if a man be good and does or says a thing to good intent, the backbiter will turn all this goodness upside down (opposite) to his wicked intent. The third is to detract the goodness of his neighbor. The fourth species of backbiting is this: that if men speak goodness of a man, then will the backbiter say, "Indeed, so and so is yet better than he," in dispraising of him that men praise. The fifth species is this: to consent gladly and hearken gladly to the harm that men speak of other folk. This sin is very great and ever increases according to the wicked intent of the backbiter. After backbiting comes grouching or grumbling; and sometimes it springs of impatience against God, and sometimes against man. [500] Against God it is when a man grouches against the pain of hell, or against poverty, or loss of possessions, or against rain or tempest; or else grouches that scoundrels have prosperity, or else because good men have adversity. And all these things should man suffer patiently, for they come by the rightful judgment and decree of God. Sometimes grouching comes from avarice; as Judas grouched against the Magdalene when she anointed the head of our Lord Jesus Christ with her precious ointment. This sort of murmur is such as when man grouches of goodness that himself does, or that other folk do of their own possessions. Sometimes comes murmur of Pride, as when Simon the Pharisee grouched against the Magdalene when she approached to Jesus Christ and wept at his feet for their sins. [505] And sometimes grouching arises from Envy, when one discovers a man's harm that was private or deludes someone about a thing that is false. Murmur also is often among servants that grouch when their superiors command them to do lawful things; and forasmuch as they dare not openly deny the commandments of their superiors, yet will they say harm, and grouch, and murmur privately for true disobedience; which words men call the devil's Pater noster, though it is so that the devil never had Pater noster, but that ignorant folk give it such a name. Sometimes it comes of Anger or privy hate that nourishes rancor in heart, as afterward I shall declare. [510] Then comes also bitterness of heart, through which bitterness every good deed of his neighbor seems to him bitter and unsavory. Then comes discord that unbinds all sort of friendship. Then comes scorning of his neighbor, although he does never so well. Then comes accusing, as when man seeks occasion to annoy his neighbor, which is like the craft of the devil, that waits both night and day to accuse us all. Then comes malignity, through which a man annoys his neighbor privately, if he can; and if he can not do, surely his wicked will shall not be lacking, as to burn his house stealthily, or poison or slay his beasts, and such things.

Remedium contra peccatum Invidie.
[The remedy against the sin of Envy.]

[515] Now will I speak of the remedy against this foul sin of Envy. First is the love of God principal and loving of his neighbor as himself, for truly that one can not be without that other. And trust well that in the name of thy neighbor thou shalt understand the name of thy brother; for certainly we all have one fleshly father and one mother -- that is to say, Adam and Eve -- and also one spiritual father, and that is God of heaven. Thy neighbor art thou commanded to love and desire for him all goodness; and therefore says God, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" -- that is to say, to salvation both of life and of soul. And moreover thou shalt love him in word, and in gracious admonishing and chastising, and comforting him in his troubles, and pray for him with all thy heart. And in deed thou shalt love him in such a manner that thou shalt do to him in charity as thou wouldest that it were done to thy own person. [520] And therefore thou shalt do him no damage in wicked word, nor harm in his body, neither in his possessions, nor in his soul, by enticing of wicked example. Thou shalt not desire his wife nor any of his things. Understood also that in the name of neighbor is comprehended one's enemy. Certainly, one must love his enemy, by the commandment of God; and truly thy friend shalt thou love in God. I say, thy enemy shalt thou love for God's sake, by his commandment. For if it were reasonable that a man should hate his enemy, truly God would not receive us that are his enemies to his love. Against three manner of wrongs that his enemy does to him, he shall do three things, as thus: [525] Against hate and rancor of heart, he shall love him in heart. Against chiding and wicked words, he shall pray for his enemy. Against the wicked deed of his enemy, he shall do him good. For Christ says, "Love your enemies, and pray for them that speak you harm, and also for them that you chase and persecute, and do good to them that you hate." Lo, thus commands us our Lord Jesus Christ to do to our enemies. For truly, nature drives us to love our friends, and indeed, our enemies have more need to be loved than our friends; and they that more need have, certainly to them shall men do goodness; and certainly, in this deed have we remembrance of the love of Jesus Christ that died for his enemies. And inasmuch as this love is the more grievous to perform, so much is the more great the merit; and therefore the loving of our enemy has confounded the venom of the devil. [530] For just as the devil is discomfited by humility, just so is he wounded to the death by love of our enemy. Certainly, then is love the medicine that casts out the venom of Envy from man's heart. The species of this process shall be more fully declared in the chapters following.

Sequitur de Ira
[The (section on) Anger follows.]

After Envy will I describe the sin of Anger. For truly, whoever has envy of his neighbor, anon he will commonly find him a matter of anger, in word or in deed, against him to whom he has envy. And as well comes Anger from Pride as from Envy, for truly he that is proud or envious is easily angered.

[535] This sin of Anger, according to the description of Saint Augustine, is wicked desire to be avenged by word or by deed. Anger, according to the Philosopher, is the hot blood of man enlivened in his heart, through which he wants harm to him that he hates. For certainly, the heart of man, by heating and moving of his blood, grows so troubled that he is out of all judgment of reason. But you shall understand that Anger is in two manners; that one of them is good, and that other is wicked. The good Anger is zeal for the good, through which a man is angry with wickedness and against wickedness; and therefore says a wise man that Anger is better than play. [540] This Anger is with graciousness, and it is angry without bitterness; not angry against the man, but angry with the misdeed of the man, as says the prophet David, "Irascimini et nolite peccare"
["Be angry and do not sin.]" Now understand that wicked Anger is in two manners; that is to say, sudden Anger or hasty Anger, without aforethought and consenting of reason. The meaning and the sense of this is that the reason of a man consents not to this sudden Anger, and then is it venial. Another Anger is very wicked, that comes of felony of heart aforethought and planned before, with wicked will to do vengeance, and thereto his reason consents. and truly this is deadly sin. This Anger is so displeasing to God that it troubles his house and chases the Holy Ghost out of man's soul, and wastes and destroys the likeness of God -- that is to say, the virtue that is in man's soul -- [545] and put in him the likeness of the devil, and takes away the man from God, that is his righteous lord.

This Anger is a very great pleasance to the devil, for it is the devils furnace, that is heated with the fire of hell. For certainly, just as fire is more mighty to destroy earthly things than any other element, just so Anger is mighty to destroy all spiritual things. Look how that fire of small coals that are almost dead under ashes will kindle again when they are touched with brimstone; just so Anger will evermore rekindle again when it is touched by the pride that is covered in man's heart. For certainly, fire can not come out of nothing, except if it were first in the same thing naturally, as fire is drawn out of flints with steel. [550] And just so as pride is oftentimes matter of Anger, just so is rancor nurse and keeper of Anger. There is a sort of tree [juniper], as says Saint Isidore (of Seville), that when men make fire of this tree and cover the coals of it with ashes, truly the fire of it will last a full year or more. And just so fares it of rancor; when it is once conceived in the hearts of some men, certainly, it will last perhaps from one Easter day unto another Easter day, and more. But certainly, this man is very far from the mercy of God all this while.

In this aforesaid devil's furnace where forge three scoundrels: Pride, that ever blows and increases the fire by chiding and wicked words; [555] then stands Envy and holds the hot iron upon the heart of man with a pair of long tongs of long rancor; and then stands the sin of Contentiousness, or strife and quarreling, and batters and forges by churlish reproving. Certainly, this cursed sin annoys both the man himself and also his neighbor. For truly, almost all the harm that any man does to his neighbor comes of anger. For certainly, outrageous anger does all that ever the devil him commands, for he spares neither Christ nor his sweet Mother. And in his outrageous anger and ire -- alas, alas! -- very many a one at that time feels in his heart very wickedly, both at Christ and also at all his saints. [560] Is not this a cursed vice? Yes, certainly. Alas! It takes from man his wit and his reason, and all his blessed life spiritual that should guard his soul. Certainly, it takes away also God's due lordship, and that is man's soul and the love of his neighbors. It strives also always against truth. It takes from him the quiet of his heart and overthrows his soul.

Of Anger come these stinking offspring: First, hate, that is old anger; discord, through which a man forsakes his old friend that he has loved very long; and then comes war and every manner of wrong that man does to his neighbor, in body or in possessions. Of this cursed sin of Anger comes also manslaughter. And understand well that homicide, that is manslaughter, is in a variety of ways. Some sort of homicide is spiritual, and some is bodily. [565] Spiritual manslaughter is in six things. First by hate, as says Saint John: "He that hates his brother is an homicide." Homicide is also by backbiting, of which backbiters says Solomon that "they have two swords with which they slay their neighbors." For truly, it is as wicked to take away his good name as his life. Homicide is also in giving of wicked counsel by fraud, as for to give counsel to impose wrongful rents and taxes. Of which says Solomon, "Lion roaring and hungry bear are similar to the cruel lordships" in reduction or abridging of the payment (or the hire), or of the wages of servants, or else in usury, or in withdrawing of the alms of poor folk. For which the wise man says, "Feed him that almost dies for hunger"; for truly, unless thou feed him, thou slayest him; and all these are deadly sins. [570] Bodily manslaughter is, when thou slayest him with thy tongue in other manner, as when thou commandest to slay a man or else givest him counsel to slay a man. Manslaughter in deed is in four manners. That one is by law, just as a justice damns him that is culpable to the death. But let the justice beware that he do it righteously, and that he do it not for delight to spill blood but for keeping of righteousness. Another homicide is what is done for necessity, as when one man slays another in self-defense and that he can not otherwise escape from his own death. But certainly if he can escape without slaughter of his adversary, and slays him, he does sin and he shall bear penance as for deadly sin. Also if a man, by accident or chance, shoot an arrow, or cast a stone with which he slays a man, he is a homicide. [575] Also if a woman by negligence lies upon her child in her sleeping, it is homicide and deadly sin. Also when man disturbs conception of a child, and makes a woman either barren by drinking venomous herbs through which she can not conceive, or slays a child by drinks willfully, or else puts certain material things in her secret places to slay the child, or else does unnatural sin, by which man or woman sheds their nature (commits sodomy) in manner or in place where a child can not be conceived, or else if a woman have conceived, and hurts herself and slays the child, yet is it homicide. What say we also of women that murder their children for dread of worldly shame? Certainly, an horrible homicide. Homicide is also if a man approaches to a woman by desire of lechery, through which the child is killed, or else smites a woman wittingly, through which she loses their child. All these are homicides and horrible deadly sins. [580] Yet come there of Anger many more sins, as well in word as in thought and in deed; as he that blames God, or blames God for a thing of which he is himself guilty, or despises God and all his saints, as do these cursed gamblers in various countries. This cursed sin do they, when they feel in their heart very wickedly about God and his saints. Also when they treat irreverently the sacrament of the altar, this sin is so great that hardly may it be forgiven, but that the mercy of God passes all his works; it is so great, and he so gracious. Then comes of Anger poisonous anger. When a man is sharply admonished in his confession to abandon his sin, then will he be angry, and answer disdainfully and angrily, and defend or excuse his sin by the instability of his flesh; or else he did it in order to hold company with his fellows; or else, he says, the fiend enticed him; [585] or else he did it because of his youth; or else his temperament is so ardent that he can not abstain; or else it is his destiny, as he says, unto a certain age; or else, he says, it comes to him of gentility of his ancestors; and similar things. All these sort of folk so wrap them in their sins that they nor will not save themselves. For truly, no person who excuses him obstinately of his sin can be saved from his sin until he meekly acknowledges his sin. After this, then comes swearing, that is expressly against the commandment of God; and this happens often of wrath and of Anger. God says, "Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord God in vain or in idleness." Also our Lord Jesus Christ says, by the word of Saint Matthew, "Nor will you not swear in any manner; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by earth, for it is the bench of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of a great king; nor by thy head, for thou canst not make a hair white nor black. [590] But says by your word `yea, yea,' and `nay, nay'; and what is more, it is of evil" -- thus says Christ. For Christ's sake, swear not so sinfully in dismembering of Christ by soul, heart, bones, and body. For certainly, it seems that you think that the cursed Jews dismembered not enough the precious person of Christ, but you dismember him more. And if it so be that the law compels you to swear, then rule yourself according to the law of God in your swearing, as says Jeremiah, quarto capitulo [in the fourth chapter]: Thou shalt keep three conditions: thou shalt swear "in truth, in a case at law, and in righteousness." This is to say, thou shalt swear truth, for every lie is against Christ; for Christ is true truth. And think well this: that "every great swearer, not compelled lawfully to swear, the wound shall not depart from his house" while he uses such unlawful swearing. Thou shalt swear also in case at law, when thou art constrained by thy judge to witness the truth. [595] Also thou shalt not swear for envy, nor for favor, nor for reward, but for righteousness, for declaration of it, to the worship of God and helping of thy fellow Christian. And therefore every man that takes God's name in vain, or falsely swears with his mouth, or else takes on him the name of Christ, to be called a Christian man and lives against Christ's living and his teaching, all those take God's name in vain. Look also what Saint Peter says, Actuum quarto, Non est aliud nomen sub celo, etc., [Acts, chapter four]: "There is no other name" says Saint Peter, "under heaven given to men, in which they can be saved"]; that is to say, but the name of Jesus Christ. Take note also how precious is the name of Christ, as says Saint Paul, ad Philipenses secundo, In nomine Jhesu. etc. [Epistle to the Philippians, second chapter]: "That in the name of Jesus every knee of heavenly creatures, or earthly, or of hell should bow," for it is so high and so worshipful that the cursed fiend in hell should tremble to hear it named. Then seems it that men that swear so horribly by his blessed name, that they despise it more boldly than did the cursed Jews or else the devil, that trembles when he hears his name.

[600] Now certainly, since swearing, unless it be lawfully done, is so highly forbidden, much worse is forswearing falsely, and yet needless.

What say we also of them that delight themselves in swearing, and hold it a gentle or a manly deed to swear great oaths? And what of them that of true habit cease not to swear great oaths, even though the cause is not worth a straw? Certainly, this is horrible sin. Swearing suddenly without aforethought is also a sin. But let us go now to this horrible swearing of exorcism and conjuring spirits, as do these false enchanters or necromancers in basins full of water, or in a bright sword, in a circle, or in a fire, or in a shoulder-bone of a sheep. I can not say anything but that they do cursedly and damnably against Christ and all the faith of holy church.

[605] What say we of them that believe in divinations, as by flight or by noise of birds, or of beasts, or by drawing lots, by necromancy, by dreams, by squeaking of doors or creaking of houses, by gnawing of rats, and such sort of wretchedness? Certainly, all this thing is forbidden by God and by holy church. For which they are accursed, until they come to amendment, that on such filth set their belief. Charms for wounds or malady of men or of beasts, if they take any effect, it may be perhaps that God allows it, so that folk should give the more faith and reverence to his name.

Now will I speak of lies, which generally is false significance of a word, in intent to deceive one's fellow-Christian. One sort of lie is one of which there comes no advantage to any person; and some lie turns to the ease and profit of one man, and to disease and damage of another man. [610] Another lie is in order to save one's life or his possession. Another lie comes of delight in lying, in which delight they will falsify a long tale and adorn it with full details, where all the substance of the tale is false. Some lie comes for he will sustain his word; and some lie comes of recklessness without forethought; and similar things.

Let us now touch on the vice of flattering, which comes not customarily but for dread or for covetousness. Flattery is generally wrongful praising. Flatterers are the devils nurses, that nourish his children with milk of deceit. For truly, Solomon says that "Flattery is worse than detraction." For sometimes detraction makes a haughty man be the more humble, for he dreads detraction; but certainly flattery, that makes a man to make his heart and his behavior grow proud. [615] Flatterers are the devils enchanters; for they make a man to suppose himself to be like what he is not like. They are like to Judas that betray a man to sell him to his enemy; that is to the devil. Flatterers are the devils chaplains, that sing ever "Placebo [I shall please]." I reckon flattery in the vices of Anger, for oftentimes if one man is angry with another, then will he flatter some person to sustain him in his dispute.

Speak we now of such cursing as comes of irate heart. Cursing generally may be said to be every sort of power of harm. Such cursing bereaves man from the reign of God, as says Saint Paul. [620] And oftentimes such cursing wrongfully returns again to him that curses, as a bird that returns again to his own nest. And over all thing men ought to eschew cursing their children, and giving to the devil their offspring, insofar as they can. Certainly, it is great peril and great sin.

Let us then speak of chiding and reproach, which are very great wounds in man's heart, for they unravel the seams of friendship in man's heart. For certainly, hardly may a man fully be reconciled with him that has him openly reviled and reproved and slandered. This is a very grisly sin, as Christ says in the gospel. And take note now, that he who reproves his neighbor, or he reproves him for some harm of pain that he has on his body, as "leper," "crippled rascal," or by some sin that he does. [625] Now if he reprove him for harm of pain, then the reproof turns to Jesus Christ, for pain is sent by the righteous dispensation of God, and by his permission, be it leprosy, or bodily injury, or illness. And if he reprove him uncharitably of sin, as "thou lecher," "thou drunken rascal," and so forth, then appertains that to the rejoicing of the devil, who ever has joy that men do sin. And certainly, chiding can not come but out of a churl's heart. For in proportion to the abundance of the heart speaks the mouth very often. And you shall understand you who look, by any way, when any man shall chastise another, that he be warned by chiding or reproving. For truly, unless he be warned, he may very easily kindle the fire of anger and of wrath, which he should quench, and perhaps slays him whom he might chastise with graciousness. For as says Solomon, "The amiable tongue is the tree of life" -- that is to say, of life spiritual -- and truly, an unbridled tongue slays the spirits of him that reproves and also of him that is reproved. [630] Lo, what says Saint Augustine: "There is nothing so like the devil's child as he that often chides." Saint Paul says also, "The servant of God it behooves not to chide." And how that chiding is a churlish thing betwixt all sort of folk, yet is it certainly most unsuitable betwixt a man and his wife, for there is never rest. And therefore says Solomon, "A house that is without a roof and leaking and a chiding wife are alike." A man that is in a house leaking in many places, though he avoid the dripping in one place, it drips on him in another place. So fares it by a chiding wife; unless she chide him in one place, she will chide him in another. And therefore, "Better is a morsel of bread with joy than a house full of delicacies with chiding," says Solomon. Saint Paul says, "O you women, be you subject to your husbands as behooves in God, and you men love your wives." Ad Colossenses tertia[(Epistle to the) Colossians, chapter three].

[635] Afterward let us speak of scorning, which is a wicked sin, and namely when one scorns a man for his good works. For certainly, such scorners fare like the foul toad, that can not endure to smell the sweet-smelling savor of the vine when it flourishes. These scorners be equal partners with the devil; for they have joy when the devil wins and sorrow when he loses. They be adversaries of Jesus Christ, for they hate that he loves -- that is to say, salvation of soul.

Let us speak now of wicked counsel, for he that gives wicked counsel is a traitor. For he deceives himself who trusts in him, ut Achitofel ad Absolonem[as Achitofel (did) to Absolon]. But nonetheless, yet is his wicked counsel first against himself. [640] For, as says the wise man, "Every false person living has this property in himself, that he that will annoy another man, he annoys first himself." And men shall understand that man shall not take his counsel of false folk, nor of angry folk, nor hostile folk, nor of folk that love specially too much their own profit, nor too much worldly folk, namely in counseling of souls.

Now comes the sin of those who sow and make discord amongst folk, which is a sin that Christ hates utterly. And no wonder is, for he died for to make concord. And more shame do they to Christ than did they that him crucified, for God loves better that friendship be amongst folk, than he did his own body, the which that he gave for unity. Therefore are they likened to the devil, who ever is diligent to make discord.

Now comes the sin of double tongue, such as to speak fair before folk and wickedly behind, or else they make pretense as though they speak of good intention, or else in game and play, and yet they speak of wicked intent.

[645] Now comes betraying of counsel, through which a man is defamed; certainly, hardly can he restore the damage.

Now comes menace, that is an open folly, for he that often menaces, he threatens more than he can perform oftentimes.

Now come idle words, that is without profit of him who speaks those words, and also of him who hearkens those words. Or else idle words are those that are needless or without intent of ordinary use. And although it may be that idle words are sometimes venial sin, yet should men fear them, for we must give reckoning of them before God.

Now comes idle chattering, which may not be without sin. And, as says Solomon, "It is a sign of clear folly." [650] And therefore a philosopher said, when men asked him how men should please the people, and he answered, "Do many good works, and speak few idle words."

After this comes the sin of mockers, that are the devil's apes, for they make folk to laugh at their mockery as folk do at the tricks of an ape. Such mockers Saint Paul forbids. Look how virtuous and words holy comfort them that travail in the service of Christ, just so the churlish words and tricks of mockers comfort those that travail in the service of the devil. These are the sins that come of the tongue, that come of Anger and of other sins more.

Sequitur remedium contra peccatum Ire.
[The remedy against the sin of Anger follows].

The remedy against Anger is a virtue that men call humility, that is meekness; and also another virtue, that men call patience or sufferance.

[655] Meekness withdraws and restrains the stirrings and the moving of man’s mood in his heart, in such manner that they skip not out by anger nor by ire. Patient endurance suffers sweetly all the annoyances and the wrongs that men do to man outward. Saint Jerome says thus of meekness, that "it does nor says no harm to any person. nor for any harm that men do or say, he not become inflamed against his reason." This virtue sometimes comes of nature, for, as says the Philosopher (Aristotle), "A man is a living thing, by nature meek and tractable to goodness; but when meekness is informed by grace, then is it the more worthy."

Patience, that is another remedy against Anger, is a virtue that suffers sweetly every man's goodness, and is not angry for any harm that is done to him. [660] The Philosopher says that patience is that virtue that suffers meekly all the outrages of adversity and every wicked word. This virtue makes a man like to God, and makes him God’s own dear child, as says Christ. This virtue discomfits thy enemy. And therefore says the wise man, "If thou wilt vanquish thy enemy, learn to suffer." And thou shalt understand that man suffers four sorts of grievances in outward things, against the which four he must have four sorts of patience.

The first grievance is of wicked words. This suffered Jesus Christ without grouching, very patiently, when the Jews despised and reproved him very often. Suffer thou therefore patiently; for the wise man says, "If thou strive with a fool, though the fool be angry or though he laugh, nevertheless thou shalt have no rest." [665] That other grievance outward is to have damage of thy possessions. Against this Christ suffered very patiently, when he was despoiled of all that he had in this life, and that was nothing but his clothes. The third grievance is a man to have harm in his body. That suffered Christ very patiently in all his passion. The fourth grievance is in outrageous forced labor in works. Wherefore I say that folk who make their serfs to travail too grievously or out of time, as on holy days, truly they do great sin. Against this suffered Christ very patiently and taught us patience, when he bore upon his blessed shoulder the cross upon which he should suffer cruel death. Here can men learn to be patient, for certainly not only Christian men are patient for love of Jesus Christ and for the reward of the blissful life that is eternal, but certainly, the old pagans that never were Christian commended and used the virtue of patience.

[670] A philosopher upon a time, that would have beaten his disciple for his great trespass, for which he was greatly moved, and brought a stick with which to scourge the child; and when this child saw the stick, he said to his master, "What think you to do?" "I will beat thee," said the master, "for thy correction." "Truly," said the child, "you ought first to correct yourself, that have lost all your patience for the guilt of a child." "Truly," said the master all weeping, "thou sayest truth. Have thou the stick, my dear son, and correct me for my impatience." Of patience comes obedience, through which a man is obedient to Christ and to all them to which he ought to be obedient in Christ. [675] And understand well that obedience is perfect when a man does gladly and hastily, with good heart entirely, all that he should do. Obedience generally is to perform the doctrine of God and of his superiors, to which him ought to be obedient in all righteousness.

Sequitur de Accidia
[The (section on) Sloth follows].

After the sin of Envy and of Anger, now will I speak of the sin of Sloth. For Envy blinds the heart of a man, and Anger troubles a man, and Sloth makes him heavy, thoughtful, and fretful. Envy and Anger make bitterness in heart, which bitterness is mother of Sloth, and deprives him of the love of all goodness. Then is Sloth the anguish of troubled heart; and Saint Augustine says, "It is vexation of goodness and joy of harm." Certainly, this is a damnable sin, for it does wrong to Jesus Christ, inasmuch as it takes away the service that men ought do to Christ with all diligence, as says Solomon. [680] But Sloth does no such diligence. He does all thing with vexation, and with fretfulness, slowness, and making excuses, and with idleness, and disinclination; for which the book says, "Cursed be he that does the service of God negligently." Then is Sloth enemy to every estate of man, for certainly the estate of man is in three manners. Or it is the state of innocence, as was the state of Adam before that he fell into sin, in which estate he was obliged to work as in praising and adoring of God. Another state is the state of sinful men, in which state men are obliged to labor in praying to God for amendment of their sins, and that he will grant them to arisen out of their sins. Another state is the state of grace, in which state he is obliged to works of penitence. And certainly, to all these things is Sloth enemy and antithesis, for he loves no business at al. [685] Now certainly this foul sin Sloth is also a very great enemy to the sustenance of the body, for it has no preparation against temporal necessity, for it loses by delaying and spoils through sluggishness and destroys all temporal goods by carelessness.

The fourth thing is that Sloth is like those that are in the pain of hell, by cause of their sloth and of their heaviness, for they that are damned are so bound that they can neither do well nor think well. Of Sloth comes first that a man is annoyed and encumbered to do any goodness, and makes that God has abomination of such Sloth, as says Saint John.

Now comes Sloth, that will not suffer any hardness nor any penance. For truly, Sloth is so tender and so delicate, as says Solomon, that he will not suffer any hardness nor penance, and therefore he ruins all that he does. Against this rotten-hearted sin of Sloth and Sloth should men exercise themselves to do good works, and manly and virtuously take determination to do well, thinking that our Lord Jesus Christ rewards every good deed, be it never so little. [690] Exercise of labor is a great thing, for it makes, as says Saint Bernard, the laborer to have strong arms and hard sinews; and sloth makes them feeble and tender. Then comes dread to begin to do any good works. For certainly, he that is inclined to sin, he thinks it is so great an enterprise to undertake to do works of goodness, and thinks in his heart that the circumstances of goodness are so grievous and so burdensome to suffer, that he dare not undertake to do works of goodness, as says Saint Gregory.

Now comes wanhope, that is despair of the mercy of God, that comes sometimes of too much outrageous sorrow, and sometimes of too much dread, imagining that he has done so much sin that it will not avail him, though he would repent himself and abandon, through which despair or dread he abandons all his heart to every sort of sin, as says Saint Augustine. [695] Which damnable sin, if it continue unto its end, it is called sinning against the Holy Ghost. This horrible sin is so perilous that he that is in despair, there is no felony nor no sin that he fears to do, as showed well by Judas. Certainly, above all sins then is this sin most displeasing to Christ, and most adverse. Truly, he that despairs himself is like the cowardly defeated champion, who says "I surrender" without need. Alas, alas, needless is he defeated and needless in despair. Certainly, the mercy of God is ever ready to the penitent, and is above all his works. [700] Alas, can a man not remember the gospel of Saint Luke, 15, where Christ says that "as well shall there be joy in heaven upon one sinful man that does penitence, as upon ninety and nine righteous men that need no penitence." Look further, in the same gospel, the joy and the feast of the good man that had lost his son, when his son with repentance was returned to his father. Can they not remember also that, as says Saint Luke, 23, how the thief that was hanged beside Jesus Christ said, "Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy reign."? "Truly," said Christ, "I say to thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Certainly, there is none so horrible sin of man that it may not in his life be destroyed by penitence, through virtue of the passion and of the death of Christ. [705] Alas, what needs man then to be in despair, since his mercy so ready is and generous? Ask and have. Then cometh somnolence, that is sluggish slumbering, which makes a man be heavy and dull in body and in soul, and this sin comes of Sloth. And certainly, the time that, by way of reason, men should not sleep, that is in the morning, unless there were a reasonable cause. For truly, the morning time is most suitable for a man to say his prayers, and to think on God, and to honor God, and to give alms to the poor that first comes in the name of Christ. Lo, what says Solomon: "Whoever would in the morning awaken and seek me, he shall find." [710] Then comes negligence, or carelessness, that takes account of nothing. And how that ignorance is mother of all harm, certainly, negligence is the nurse. Negligence cares nothing, when he shall do a thing, whether he do it well or badly.

Of the remedy of these two sins, as says the wise man, that "He that dreads God, he does not neglect to do what he ought to do." And he that loves God, he will do diligence to please God by his works and devote himself, with all his might, to do well. Then comes idleness, that is the gate of all harms. An idle man is like to a place that has no walls; the devils may enter on every side, or shoot at him in an exposed position, by temptation on every side. [715] This idleness is the storage place of all wicked and churlish thoughts, and of all gossip, trifles, and of all filth. Certainly, the heaven is given to them that will labor, and not to idle folk. Also David says that "they are not in the labor of men, and they shall not be whipped by men" -- that is to say, in purgatory. Certainly, then seems it they shall be tormented by the devil in hell, unless they do penitence.

Then comes the sin that men call tarditas, as when a man is too tardy or tarrying ere he will turn to God, and certainly that is a great folly. He is like to him that falls in the ditch and will not arise. And this vice comes of a false hope, that he thinks that he shall live long; but that hope fails very often.

[720] Then comes laziness; that is he that when he begins any good work quickly he shall abandon it and stint, as do they that have any person to govern and not take of him no more care as soon as they find any adversity or any annoyance. These are the new shepherds that knowingly let their sheep go run to the wolf that is in the briers, or take no account of their own governance. Of this comes poverty and destruction, both of spiritual and temporal things. Then comes a sort of coldness, that freezes all the heart of a man. Then comes lack of devotion, through which a man is so deceived, as says Saint Bernard, and has such suffering in soul that he can neither read nor sing in holy church, nor hear nor think of any devotion, nor travail with his hands in any good work, but that it is to him unsavory and all faded. Then he becomes slow and sleepy, and quickly will be angry, and is quickly inclined to hate and to envy. [725] Then comes the sin of worldly sorrow, such as is called tristicia, that slays man, as says Saint Paul. For certainly, such sorrow works to the death of the soul and of the body also; for thereof it comes that a man is annoyed of his own life. Wherefore such sorrow shortens very often the life of man, ere that his time be come by way of nature.

Remedium contra peccatum Accidie.
[The remedy against the sin of Sloth.]

Against this horrible sin of Sloth, and the branches of the same, there is a virtue that is called fortitudo or strength, that is an affection through which a man despises harmful things.

This virtue is so mighty and so vigorous that it dare withstand mightily and wisely keep himself from perils that are wicked, and wrestle against the assaults of the devil. [730] For it enhances and strengthens the soul, just as Sloth decreases it and makes it feeble. For this fortitudo can endure by long forbearance the travails that are suitable. This virtue has many species; and the first is called magnanimity, that is to say, great valor. For certainly, great valor is needed against Sloth, lest that it swallow the soul by the sin of sorrow, or destroy it by despair. This virtue makes folk to undertake hard things and grievous things, by their own will, wisely and reasonably. And forasmuch as the devil fights against a man more by ingenuity and by trickery than by strength, therefore men must withstand him by wit and by reason and by discretion. Then are there the virtues of faith and hope in God and in his saints to achieve and accomplish the good works in the which he plans firmly to continue. [735] Then comes security or self-confidence, and that is when a man fears no suffering in time coming of the good works that a man has begun. Then comes magnificence; that is to say, when a man does and performs great works of goodness; and that is the reason why men should do good works, for in the accomplishing of great good works lies the great reward. Then is there constancy, that is stableness of determination, and this should be in heart by steadfast faith, and in mouth, and in bearing, and in appearance, and in deed. Also there are mo special remedies against Sloth in diverse works, and in consideration of the pains of hell and of the joys of heaven, and in the trust of the grace of the Holy Ghost, that will give him might to perform his good intent.

Sequitur de Avaricia.
[The (section on) Avarice follows.]

After Sloth will I speak of Avarice and of Greed, of which sin Saint Paul says that "the root of all harms is Greed." ad Thimotheum sexto
[(Epistle) to Timothy, chapter six]. For truly, when the heart of a man is confused in itself and troubled, and when the soul has lost the comfort of God, then seeks he an idle solace of worldly things. [740] Avarice, according to the description of Saint Augustine, is an inordinate desire in heart to have earthly things. Some other folk say that Greed is to purchase many earthly things and give nothing to them that have need. And understand that Greed consists not only of land and possessions, but sometimes in knowledge and in glory, and in every manner of outrageous thing is Avarice and Greed. And the difference betwixt Avarice and Greed is this: Greed is to covet such things as thou hast not; and Avarice is for to and keep such things as thou hast, without just need. [745] Truly, this Avarice is a sin that is very damnable, for all holy writ curses it and speaks against that vice, for it does wrong to Jesus Christ. For it takes from him the love that men owe to him, and turns it backward against all reason, and makes that the avaricious man have more hope in his possessions than in Jesus Christ, and pays more attention to keeping of his treasure than he does to the service of Jesus Christ. And therefore says Saint Paul (Ad Ephesios quinto [In (the Epistle) to the Ephesians, chapter five]), that an avaricious man is in the bondage of idolatry.

What difference is betwixt an idolater and an avaricious man, but that an idolater, perhaps, has only one idol or two, and the avaricious man has many? For certainly, every coin in his coffer is his idol. [750] And certainly, the sin of idolatry is the first thing that God forbad in the ten commandments, as bears witness in Exodi capitulo vicesimo [the twentieth chapter of Exodus]: "Thou shalt have no false gods before me, and thou shalt make for thyself no graven thing." Thus is an avaricious man, who loves his treasure before God, an idolater, through this cursed sin of avarice. Of Greed come these hard lordships, through which men are oppressed by taxes, rents, and payments, more than their feudal duty or reason is. And also they take of their bond-men payments (in lieu of service), which might more reasonably be called extortions than payments. Of which payments and forced payments of bond-men some lords' stewards say that it is legal, forasmuch as a churl has no temporal thing but rather it is his lord's, as they say. But certainly, these lord-ships do wrong that take from their bond-folk things that they never gave them. Augustinus, De Civitate libro nono [St. Augustine City (of God) in the ninth book.] [755] "Sooth is that the condition of bondage and the first cause of bondage is because of sin. Genesis nono [Genesis, in the ninth chapter]. Thus may you seen that the guilt, but not nature, deserves bondage." Therefore these lords should not much glorify themselves in their lordships, since by natural condition they are not lords over bondsmen, but that bondage comes first by the just deserts of sin. And furthermore, whereas the law says that temporal goods of bond-folk are the goods of their lordships, yea, that is for to understand, the goods of the emperor, to defend them in their right, but not for to rob them nor to take from them. And therefore says Seneca, "Thy prudence should live benignly with thy bondsmen." [760] Those that thou callest thy bondsmen are God's people, for humble folk are Christ's friends; they are on familiar terms with the Lord.

Think also that of such seed as churls spring, of such seed spring lords. As well may the churl be saved as the lord. The same death that takes the churl, such death takes the lord. Therefore I advise, do just so with thy churl, as thou wouldest that thy lord did with thee, if thou were in his condition. Every sinful man is a churl to sin. I advise thee, certainly, that thou, lord, work in such a way with thy churls that they rather love thee than dread. I know well there is degree above degree, as is consonant with reason, and it is reasonable that men do their duty where it is due, but certainly, extortions and scorn for your underlings is damnable.

[765] And furthermore, understand well that these conquerors or tyrants make very often bondsmen of them that are born of as royal blood as are they that conquer them. This name of bondage was never before known until Noah said that his son Ham should be in bondage to his brethren for his sin. What say we then of them that rob and do extortions to holy church? Certainly, the sword that men give first to a knight, when he is newly dubbed, signifies that he should defend holy church, and not rob it nor pillage it; and whosoever does is traitor to Christ. And, as says Saint Augustine, "They are the devil's wolves that destroy the sheep of Jesus Christ," and do worse than wolves. For truly, when the wolf has his belly full, he stops destroying sheep. But truly, the robbers and destroyers of the goods of holy church do not so, for they stint never to pillage.

[770] Now as I have said, since it is so that sin was the first cause of bondage, then is it thus: that time that all this world was in sin, then was all this world in bondage and subjection. But certainly, since the time of grace came, God ordained that some folk should be more high in state and in degree, and some folk more low, and that every one should be treated in accorance with his state and with his degree. And therefore in some countries, where they buy bondsmen, when they have turned them to the faith, they make their bondsmen free out of bondage. And therefore, certainly, the lord owes to his man what the man owes to his lord. The Pope calls himself servant of the servants of God; but forasmuch as the estate of holy church might not have been, nor the common profit might not have been kept, nor peace and rest in earth, unless God had ordained that some men had higher degree and some men lower, Therefore was supreme power ordained, to keep and maintain and defend their underlings or their subjects in accord with reason, insofar as it lies in their power, and not to destroy nor confuse them. [775] Wherefore I say that these lords that are like wolves, that devour the possessions or the belongings of poor folk wrongfully, without mercy or measure, they shall receive by the same measure that they have measured out to poor folk the mercy of Jesus Christ, unless it be amended. Now comes deceit betwixt merchant and merchant. And thou shalt understand that merchandise is in many sorts; that one is bodily, and that other is ghostly; that one is honest and lawful, and that other is dishonest and unlawful. Of that bodily merchandise that is lawful and honest is this: that, whereas God has ordained that a reign or a country is sufficient to himself, then is it honest and lawful that of the abundance of this country, men help another country that is more needy. And therefore there must be merchants to bring from that one country to that other their merchandises. [780] That other merchandise, that men exercise with fraud and treachery and deceit, with lies and false oaths, is cursed and damnable. Spiritual merchandise is properly simony, that is eager desire to buy a thing spiritual; that is, a thing that appertains to the sanctuary of God and to caring for the soul. This desire, if it so be that a man do his diligence to perform it, although it be so that his desire is not realized in fact, yet is it to him a deadly sin; and if he be ordained, he is in violation of the rules of his order. Certainly simony is named after Simon Magus, that would have bought for temporal riches the gift that God had given by the Holy Ghost to Saint Peter and to the apostles. And therefore understand that both he that sells and he that buys things spirituals are called simoniacs, be it by riches, be it by procuring an office for someone, or by worldly prayer of his friends, worldly friends or spiritual friends: [785] Worldly in two manners; as by kinship, or other friends. Truly, if they pray for him that is not worthy and suitable, it is simony, if he take the benefice; and if he be worthy and suitable, there is none. That other manner is when men or women pray for folk to advance them, only for wicked fleshly affection that they have unto the person, and that is foul simony. But certainly, as a reward for service, for which men give things spirituals unto their servants, it must be understand that the service must be honest and else not; and also that it be without fraud, and that the person be suitable. For, as says Saint Damasus, "All the sins of the world, compared to this sin, be as thing of naught." For it is the greatest sin that can be, after the sin of Lucifer and Antichrist. For by this sin God loses completely the church and the soul that he bought with his precious blood, by them that give churches to them that be not worthy. [790] For they put in thieves that steal the souls of Jesus Christ and destroy his patrimony. Because of such unworthy priests and curates ignorant men have the less reverence of the sacraments of holy church, and such givers of churches put out the children of Christ and put into the church the devil's own son. They sell the souls that should guard the lambs to the wolf that destroys them. And therefore shall they never have part of the pasture of lambs, that is the bliss of heaven. Now comes gambling with its appurtenances, such as backgammon and raffles (a dice game), of which comes deceit, false oaths, quarrels, and all sorts of robberies, blaspheming and renouncing God, and hate of his neighbors, waste of goods, squandering of time, and sometimes manslaughter. Certainly, gamblers can not be without great sin whilst they practice that craft. [795] Of Avarice come also lies, theft, false witness, and false oaths. And you must understand that these are great sins and expressly against the commandments of God, as I have said. False witness is in word and also in deed. In word, as for to take away thy neighbors good name by thy false witnessing, or take away from him his possessions or his heritage by thy false witnessing, when thou for ire, or for payment, or for envy, bearest false witness, or accusest him or excusest him by thy false witness, or else excusest thyself falsely. Beware, jurymen and notaries! Certainly, for false witnessing was Susanna in very great sorrow and pain, and many another more. The sin of theft is also expressly against God's command, and that in two manners, bodily or spiritual. Bodily, as to take thy neighbor's possessions against his will, be it by force or by trickery, be it by measuring or by measure; [800] by stealing also by means of false accusations upon him, and in borrowing of thy neighbors possessions, in intent never to pay it back, and similar things. Spiritual theft is sacrilege; that is to say, hurting of holy things, or of things sacred to Christ, in two manners: because of the holy place, as churches or churchyards, for which every churlish sin that men do in such places may be called sacrilege, or every violence in the similar places; also, they that withhold falsely the rights that belong to holy church. And fully and generally, sacrilege is to take away holy thing from holy place, or unholy thing out of holy place, or holy thing out of unholy place.

Relevacio contra peccatum Avaricie
[The Relief against the sin of Avarice].

Now shall you understand that the relieving of Avarice is mercy, and pity broadly understood. And men might ask why mercy and pity is relieving of Avarice. [805] Certainly, the avaricious man shows no pity nor mercy to the needy man, for he delights himself in the keeping of his treasure, and not in the rescuing nor relieving of his fellow-Christian. And therefore speak I first of mercy. Then is mercy, as says the Philosopher, a virtue by which the mood of a man is stirred by the distress of h1m that is distressed. Upon which mercy follows pity in performing of charitable works of mercy. And certainly, these things move a man to the mercy of Jesus Christ, that he gave himself for our guilt, and suffered death for mercy, and forgave us our original sins, and thereby released us from the pains of hell, and diminished the pains of purgatory by penitence, and gives grace to do well, and at the last the bliss of heaven. [810] The species of mercy are, to be generous and to give, and to forgive and release, and to have pity in heart and compassion of the suffering of his fellow-Christian, and also to chastise, where need is. Another manner of remedy against avarice is reasonable generosity; but truly, here behooves the consideration of the grace of Jesus Christ, and of his temporal goods, and also of the goods eternal that Christ gave to us; and to have remembrance of the death that he shall receive, he knows not when, where, nor how; and also that he shall give up all that he has, save only what he has spent in good works.

But forasmuch as some folk are immoderate, men ought to avoid foolish generosity, which men call waste. Certainly, he that is foolishly generous does not give his possessions, but he loses his possessions. Truly, whatever thing that he gives for vainglory, as to minstrels and to folk for to maintain his renown in the world, he has sin thereof and no (credit for) alms. [815] Certainly, he loses foully his goods who seeks with the gift of his goods nothing but sin. He is like a horse that seeks rather to drink dirty or troubled water than to drink water of the clear well. And forasmuch as they give where they should not give, to them appertains that curse that Christ shall give at the day of doom to them that shall be damned.

Sequitur de Gula
[(The section on) gluttony follows]

After Avarice comes Gluttony, which is also expressly against the commandment of God. Gluttony is immoderate appetite to eat or to drink, or else to give enough to the immoderate appetite and excessive covetousness to eat or to drink. This sin corrupted all this world, as is well shown in the sin of Adam and of Eve. Note also what says Saint Paul of Gluttony: "Many," says Saint Paul, "go, of which I have often said to you, and now I say it weeping, that are the enemies of the cross of Christ; of which the end is death, and of which their belly is their god, and their glory in ruin of them that so savor earthly things." He that is accustomed to this sin of gluttony, he can no sin withstand. He must be in bondage to all vices, for it is the devil's hiding place where he hides himself and rests. This sin has many species. The first is drunkenness, that is the horrible sepulcher of man's reason; and therefore, when a man is drunk, he has lost his reason; and this is deadly sin. But truly, when a man is not accustomed to strong drink, and perhaps knows not the strength of the drink, or has feebleness in his head, or has labored, through which he drinks the more, although he be suddenly caught with drink, it is no deadly sin, but venial. The second species of gluttony is that the spirit of a man waxes all troubled, for drunkenness takes away from him the discretion of his wit. [825] The third species of gluttony is when a man devours his food and has no reasonable manner of eating. The fourth is when, through the great abundance of his food, the humors in his body are out of balance. The fifth is forgetfulness because of too much drinking, for which sometimes a man forgets ere the morning what he did at evening, or on the night before.

In another manner the species of Gluttony are differentiated, according to Saint Gregory. The first is to eat before time to eat. The second is when a man gets himself too delicate food or drink. The third is when men take too much beyond moderation. The fourth is elaborate preparation, with great intent to prepare and adorn his food. The fifth is to eat too greedily. [830] These are the five fingers of the devils hand, by which he draws folk to sin.

Remedium contra peccatum Gule.
[The remedy against the sin of Gluttony]

Against Gluttony the remedy is abstinence, as says Galen; but that hold I not meritorious, if he do it only for the health of his body. Saint Augustine desires that abstinence be done for virtue and with patience. "Abstinence," he says, "is worth little unless a man have good will thereto, and unless it be strengthened by patience and by charity, and that men do it for God's sake, and in hope to have the bliss of heaven."

The fellows of abstinence are temperance, that holds the mean in all things; also shame, that eschews all disgrace; satisfaction, that seeks no rich foods nor drinks, and does not care for excessive decoration of food; moderation also, that restrains by reason the unrestrained appetite of eating; soberness also, that restrains the excesses of drink; [835] frugality also, that restrains the delicate ease to sit long at his food and luxuriously, therefore some folk stand of their own will to have less time to eat.

Sequitur de Luxuria.
(The section on) Lechery follows.

After Gluttony then comes Lechery, for these two sins are so near cousins that oftentimes they will not separate. God knows, this sin is a very displeasing thing to God, for he said himself, "Do no lechery." And therefore he put great pains against this sin in the old law. If bond-woman were taken in this sin, she should be beaten with staves to the death; and if she were a gentle woman, she should be slain with stones; and if she were a bishop's daughter, she should be burned, by God's commandment. Furthermore, because of the sin of lechery God drowned all the world at the deluge. And after that he burned five cities with lightening bolts, and sank them into hell.

[840] Now let us speak then of that stinking sin of Lechery that men call adultery of wedded folk; that is to say, if that one of them is wedded, or else both. Saint John says that adulterers shall be in hell, in a pool burning of fire and of brimstone -- in fire for their lechery, in brimstone for the stink of their filth. Certainly, the breaking of this sacrament is a horrible thing. It was made by God himself in paradise, and confirmed by Jesus Christ, as witnesses Saint Matthew in the gospel: "A man shall leave father and mother and give himself to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh."843] This sacrament betokens the knitting together of Christ and of holy church. And not only that God forbad adultery in deed, but also he commanded that thou shouldest not covet thy neighbor's wife. [845] "In this commandment," says Saint Augustine, "is forbidden all sorts of desire to do lechery." Lo, what says Saint Matthew in the gospel, that "whosoever sees a woman to desire for his lust, he has done lechery with her in his heart." Here may you see that not only the deed of this sin is forbidden, but also the desire to do that sin. This cursed sin annoys grievously them that practice it. And first to their soul, for he obligates it to sin and to pain of death that is eternal. Unto the body annoys it grievously also, for it dries it, and wastes it, and ruins it, and of his blood he makes sacrifice to the fiend of hell. It wastes also his cattle and his substance. And certainly, if it is a foul thing for a man to waste his possessions on women, yet is it a fouler thing when, for such filth, women spend upon men their possessions and substance. [850] This sin, as says the prophet, takes away from man and woman their good fame and all their honor, and it is very pleasant to the devil, for thereby wins he the most part of this world. And just as a merchant delights himself most in business that he has most advantage of, just so delights the fiend in this filth.

This is that other hand of the devil with five fingers to catch the people to his villainy. The first finger is the foolish looking of the foolish woman and of the foolish man; that slays, just as the basilisk slays folk by the poison of his sight, for the desire of the eyes follows the desire of the heart. The second finger is the churlish touching in wicked manner. And therefore says Solomon that "whosoever touches and handles a woman, he fares like him that handles the scorpion that stings and suddenly slays through his poisoning envenoming"; as whosoever touches warm pitch, it injures his fingers. [855] The third is foul words, that fares like fire, that right away burns the heart. The fourth finger is the kissing; and truly he would be a great fool that would kiss the mouth of a burning oven or of a furnace. And greater fools are they that kiss in villainy, for that mouth is the mouth of hell; and namely these old aged lechers, yet will they kiss, though they can not do, and defile themselves. Certainly, they are similar to hounds; for a hound, when he comes by the rosebush or by other [bushes], though he can not piss, yet will he heave up his leg and make a pretence to piss. And because of that many a man supposes that he can not sin for any lechery that he does with his wife, certainly, that opinion is falls. God knows, a man can slay himself with his own knife, and make himself drunk of his own tun. [860] Certainly, be it wife, be it child, or any worldly thing that he loves before God, it is his idol, and he is an idolater. Man should love his wife by discretion, patiently and moderately, and then is she as though it were his sister. The fifth finger of the devil's hand is the stinking deed of Lechery. Certainly, the five fingers of Gluttony the fiend put in the belly of a man, and with his five fingers of Lechery he grips him by the loins for to throw him into the furnace of hell, where they shall have the fire and the worms that ever shall last, and weeping and wailing, sharp hunger and thirst, and] fierceness of devils, that shall all trample them without respite and without end. [865] Of Lechery, as I said, arise diverse species, as fornication, that is betwixt man and woman that are not married, and this is deadly sin and against nature. All that is enemy and destruction to nature is against nature. Indeed, the reason of a man also tells him well that it is deadly sin, forasmuch as God forbad lechery. And Saint Paul gives them the reign that is due to no person but to them that do deadly sin. Another sin of Lechery is to deprive a maiden of her maidenhead, for he that so does, certainly, he casteth a maiden out of the highest degree that is in this present life and deprives her of that precious fruit that the book calls the hundredfold fruit. I can not say it otherwise in English, but in Latin it is called [Centesimus fructus [870] Certainly, he that does so is cause of many damages and villainies, more than any man can reckon; just as he sometimes is cause of all damages that beasts do in the field, that breaks the hedge or the enclosure, through which he destroys what can not be restored. For certainly, no more can maidenhood be restored than an arm that is cut from the body can return again to grow. She may have mercy, this know I well, if she do penitence; but never shall it be that she was not corrupted. And although it be so that I have spoken somewhat of adultery, it is good to show more perils that belong to adultery, for to eschew that foul sin. Adultery in Latin is to say approaching of other man's bed, through which those that once were one flesh yield their bodies to other persons. [875] Of this sin, as says the wise man, follow many harms. First, breaking of faith, and certainly in faith is the key of Christianity. And when faith is broken and lost, truly Christianity stands empty and without fruit. This sin is also a theft, for theft generally is to deprive a person of his property against his will. Certainly, this is the foulest theft that may be, when a woman steals her body from her husband and gives it to her lecher to befoul her, and steals her soul from Christ and gives it to the devil. This is a fouler theft than to break into a church and steal the chalice, for these adulterers break into the temple of God spiritually, and steal the vessel of grace, that is the body and the soul, for which Christ shall destroy them, as says Saint Paul. [880] Truly, of this theft greatly feared Joseph, when his lord's wife prayed him to do villainy, when he said, "Lo, my lady, how my lord has given to me under my custody all that he has in this world, nor nothing of his possessions is out of my power, but only you, that are his wife. And how should I then do this wickedness, and sin so horribly against God and against my lord? God it forbid!" Alas, all too seldom is such faithfulness now found. The third harm is the filth through which they break the commandment of God, and befoul the author of matrimony, that is Christ. For certainly, insomuch as the sacrament of marriage is so noble and so worthy, so much is it greater sin to break it, for God made marriage in paradise, in the state of innocence, to multiply mankind to the service of God. And therefore is the breaking thereof the more grievous; of which breaking come false heirs oftentimes, that wrongfully occupy folk's heritages. And therefore will Christ put them out of the reign of heaven, that is the heritage of good folk. [885] Of this breaking comes also oftentimes that folk unaware wed or sin with their own kin, and namely those rogues that frequent brothels of these foolish women, that must be likened to a common privy, where men purge their filth. What say we also of pimps that live by the horrible sin of prostitution, and constrain women to yield them a certain rent of their bodily prostitution, yea, sometimes of his own wife or his child, as do these bawds? Certainly, these are cursed sins. Understand also that Adultery is set commonly in the ten commandments betwixt theft and manslaughter; for it is the greatest theft that may be, for it is theft of body and of soul. And it is similar to homicide, for it carves in two and breaks to two them that first were made one flesh. And therefore, by the old law of God, they should be slain. But nonetheless, by the law of Jesus Christ, that is law of pity, when he said to the woman that was found in adultery, and should have been slain with stones, after the will of the Jews, as was their law, "Go," said Jesus Christ, "and have no more desire to sin," or, "will no more to do sin." [890] Truly the vengeance of Adultery is awarded to the pains of hell, unless it so be that it is disturbed by penitence. Yet are there more species of this cursed sin; as when one of them is in a religious order, or else both; or of folk that are entered into holy orders, as subdeacon, or deacon, or priest, or Knights Hospitallers. And ever the higher that he is in holy orders, the greater is the sin. The things that greatly aggravate their sin is the breaking of their avow of chastity, when they received the order. And furthermore, the truth is that holy order is chief of all the treasury of God and his especial sign and mark of chastity is to show that they are joined to chastity, which is the most precious life that is. And these ordained folk are specially dedicated to God, and of the special household of God, for which, when they do deadly sin, they are the special traitors of God and of his people; for they live off the people, to pray for the people, and while they are such traitors, their prayer avails not to the people. [895] Priests are angels, as by the dignity of their profession; but truly, Saint Paul says that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Truly, the priest that practices deadly sin, he may be likened to the angel of darkness transformed into the angel of light. He seems angel of light, but truly he is angel of darkness. Such priests be the sons of Helie, XXX check 2] kings as shows in the Book of Kings, that they were the sons of Belial -- that is, the devil. Belial is to say, "without yoke." And so fare they; it seems to them that they are free and have no yoke, no more than has a bull that runs free and that takes whichever cow that he likes in the town. So fare they concerning women. For just as one free bull is enough for all a town, just so is a wicked priest corruption enough for all a parish, or for all a country. [900] These priests, as says the book, know not the office of priesthood to the people, nor God they know not. They considered themselves not satisfied, as says the book, by cooked meat that was offered to them, but they took by force the meat that is raw. Certainly, so these rascals consider themselves not satisfied by roasted meat and boiled meat, with which the people feed them in great reverence, but rather they will have raw flesh of folk’s wives and their daughters. And certainly, these women that consent to their lechery do great wrong to Christ, and to holy church, and all saints, and to all souls; for they take away all these from him that should worship Christ and holy church and pray for Christian souls. And therefore have such priests, and their lovers also that consent to their lechery, the curse of all the ecclesiastical court, until they come to amendment. The third species of adultery is sometime betwixt a man and his wife, and that is when in their having intercourse they take no regard but only to their fleshly delight, as says Saint Jerome, [905] and reckon of nothing but that they have intercourse; because they are married, all is good enough, as it seems to them. But in such folk the devil has power, as said the angel Raphael to Tobias, for in their intercourse they put Jesus Christ out of their heart and give themselves to all filth. The fourth species is the intercourse of those that are of their relationship by blood, or of those that are related by marriage, or else with them with which their fathers or their kinsmen have dealt in the sin of lechery. This sin makes them similar to hounds, that pay no attention to kinship. And certainly, kinship is in two manners, either spiritual or fleshly; spiritual, as for to deal with the children of one's godparents. For just as he that engenders a child is his fleshly father, just so his godfather is his father spiritual. For which a woman may have intercourse with her spiritual kin in no less sin than with her own fleshly brother. [910] The fifth species is that abominable sin, of which no man hardly ought to speak nor write; nonetheless it is openly narrated in holy writ. This cursedness do men and women in diverse intent and in a variety of ways; but though that holy writ speak of horrible sin, certainly holy writ can not be befouled, no more than the sun that shines on the dung hill. Another sin pertains to lechery, that comes in sleeping, and this sin comes often to them that are maidens, and also to them that are corrupt; and this sin men call pollution, that comes in four manners. Sometimes of weakness of body, for the humors are too profuse and too abundant in the body of man; sometimes of infirmity, for the feebleness of the power to retain fluids, as the science of medicine physic makes mention; sometimes for surfeit of food and drink; and sometimes of churlish thoughts that are enclosed in man's mind when he goes to sleep, which can not be without sin; for which men must guard themselves wisely, or else may men sin very grievously.

Remedium contra peccatum Luxurie.
The remedy against the sin of Lechery.

[915] Now comes the remedy against Lechery, and that is generally chastity and continence, that restrains all the excessive inclinations that come of fleshly desires. And ever the greater merit shall he have that most restrains the wicked inflammations of the [ardor] of this sin. And this is in two manners -- that is to say, chastity in marriage, and chastity of widowhood. Now shalt thou understand that matrimony is lawful assembling of man and of woman that receive by virtue of the sacrament the bond through which they can not be separated in all their life -- that is to say, while they live both. This, as says the book, is a very great sacrament. God made it, as I have said, in paradise, and would himself be born in marriage. And for to sanctify marriage he was at a wedding, where he turned water into wine, which was the first miracle that he wrought in earth before his disciples. [920] True effect of marriage cleanses fornication and replenishes holy church with good lineage, for that is the end of marriage; and it changes deadly sin into venial sin betwixt those that are wedded, and makes the hearts completely united of them that are wedded, as well as the bodies. This is true marriage, that was established by God, ere sin began, when natural law was in is proper condition in paradise; and it was ordained that one man should have but one woman, and one woman but one man, as says Saint Augustine, by many reasons.

First, because marriage is symbolized betwixt Christ and holy church. And that other is for a man is head of a woman; at any rate, properly it should be so. For if a woman had mo men than one, then should she have more heads than one, and that were an horrible thing before God; and also a woman could not please too many folk at once. And also there should never be peace nor rest among them, for every one would ask his own thing. And furthermore, no man should know his own engendering, nor who should have his heritage; and the woman should be the less beloved from the time that she was joined to many men.

[925] Now comes how that a man should conduct himself with his wife, and namely in

two things; that is to say, in patience and reverence, as showed Christ when he made first woman. For he made her not of the head of Adam, for she should not claim too great lordship. For where the woman has the mastery, she makes too much disorder. There needs no examples of this; the experience of day by day ought suffice. Also, certainly, God made not woman of the foot of Adam, for she should not be considered too low; for she can not patiently suffer. But God made woman of the rib of Adam, for woman should be fellow unto man. Man should conduct himself to his wife in faith, in truth, and in love, as says Saint Paul, that a man should love his wife as Christ loved holy church, who loved it so well that he died for it. So should a man for his wife, if it were need. [930] Now how a woman should be subject to their husband, that tells Saint Peter. First, in obedience. And also, as says the decree, a woman that is wife, as long as she is a wife, she has no authority to swear nor to bear witness without leave of her husband, that is their lord; at any rate, he should be so by reason. She should also serve him in all honesty, and be moderate of her array. I know well that they should set their intent to please their husbands, but not by their elaborate fashion of dress. Saint Jerome says that "wives that are appareled in silk and in precious purple can not clothe themselves in Jesus Christ." Look what Saint John says also in this matter? Saint Gregory also says that "No person seeks precious array but only for vainglory, to be honored the more before the people." [935] It is a great folly, a woman to have a fair array outward and in herself be foul inward. A wife should also be moderate in looking and in bearing and in laughing, and discreet in all her words and her deeds. And above all worldly thing she should love their husband with all her heart, and to him be true of her body. So should a husband also be to his wife. For since that all the body is the husband's, so should their heart be, or else there is betwixt them two, as in that, no perfect marriage. Then shall men understand that for three things a man and his wife may fleshly assemble. The first is in intent of engendering of children to the service of God, for certainly that is the cause final of matrimony. [940] Another cause is to yield each of them to other the debt of their bodies, for neither of them has power of his own body. The third is to eschew lechery and churlishness. The fourth is truly deadly sin. As to the first, it is meritorious; the second also, for, as says the decree, that she has merit of chastity that yields to their husband the debt of her body, yea, though it be against her will and the desire of her heart. The third manner is venial sin; and, truly, scarcely can there any of these be without venial sin, because of for the corruption and because of the delight. The fourth manner is for to be understood, if they assemble only for amorous love and for none of the aforesaid causes, but for to accomplish that burning delight, they reckon never how often. Truly it is deadly sin; and yet, with sorrow, some folk will exert themselves to do more than to their appetite suffices.

The second manner of chastity is for to be a clean widow, and eschew the embraces of man, and desire the embracing of Jesus Christ. [945] These are those that have are wives and have lost their husbands, and also women that have done lechery and are relieved by penitence. And certainly, if a wife could keep herself all chaste by permission of her husband, so that she never give any occasion that he do wrong, it would be to her a great merit. These sorts of women that observe chastity must be clean in heart as well as in body and in thought, and moderate in clothing and in behavior, and be abstinent in eating and drinking, in speaking, and in deed. They are the vessel or the box of the blessed Magdalene, that fulfills holy church with good odor. The third manner of chastity is virginity, and it is fitting that she be holy in heart and clean of body. Then is she spouse to Jesus Christ, and she is the life of angels. She is the praising of this world, and she is equal to these martyrs; she has in her what tongue can not tell nor heart think. [950] Virginity bore our Lord Jesus Christ, and he was virgin himself.

Another remedy against Lechery is specially to withdraw such things as give occasion to that villainy, such as ease, eating, and drinking. For certainly, when the pot boils strongly, the best remedy is to withdraw the fire. Sleeping long in great quiet is also a great nurse to Lechery. Another remedy against Lechery is that a man or a woman eschew the company of them by which he fears to be tempted, for although it may be so that the deed be withstood, yet is there great temptation. Truly, a white wall, although it burn not fully by placing of a candle, yet is the wall blackened by the flame. [955] Very oftentimes I read that no man should trust in his own perfection, unless he be stronger than Sampson, and holier than David, and wiser than Solomon. Now according to what I have declared to you, so far as I know how, the seven deadly sins, and some of their branches and their remedies, truly, if I could, I would tell you the ten commandments. But so high a doctrine I leave to theologians. Nonetheless, I hope to God, they be touched in this treatise, every one of them all.

Sequitur secunda pars Penitencie
[Now follows the second part of Penance.]

Now forasmuch as the second part of Penitence consists of confession of mouth, as I began in the first chapter, I say, Saint Augustine says, "Sin is every word and every deed, and all that men covet, against the law of Jesus Christ; and this is to sin in heart, in mouth, and in deed, by thy five wits, that are sight, hearing, smelling, tasting or savoring, and feeling." [960] Now is it good to understand the circumstances that aggravate much every sin. Thou shalt consider what thou art that doest the sin, whether thou be male or female, young or old, gentle or serf, free or servant, whole or sick, wedded or single, in holy orders or unordered, wise or fool, clerk or secular; if she be of thy kindred, bodily or spiritually, or not; if any of thy kindred have sinned with her, or not; and many more things. Another circumstance is this: whether it be done in fornication or in adultery or not, incest or not, maiden or not, in manner of homicide or not, horrible great sins or small, and how long thou hast continued in sin. The third circumstance is the place where thou hast done sin, whether in other men's house or in thine own, in field or in church or in churchyard, in church consecrated or not. [965] For if the church be sanctified, and man or woman spill his semen within that place by way of sin or by wicked temptation, the church is interdicted until it be reconciled by the bishop. And the priest should be interdicted that did such a villainy; to the end of all his life he should no more sing mass, and if he did, he should do deadly sin at every time that he so sang mass. The fourth circumstance is by which mediators, or by which messengers, as for enticement, or for consenting to bear company with fellowship; for many a wretch, for to bear company, will go to the devil of hell. Wherefore they that incite or consent to the sin are partners of the sin, and of the damnation of the sinner.

The fifth circumstance is how many times that he has sinned, if it be in his mind, and how often that he has fallen. [970] For he that often false in sin, he despises the mercy of God, and increases his sin, and is unnaturally rebellious to Christ; and he grows the more feeble to withstand sin, and sins the more easily, and the latter arises, and is the more reluctant to confess himself, and namely, to him that is his confessor. For which that folk, when they fall again in their old follies, either they abandon their old confessors all utterly or else they divide their confession in diverse places; but truly, such divided confession deserves no mercy of God of his sins. The sixth circumstance is that a man sins, as by which temptation, and if himself procure that temptation, or by the inciting of other folk; or if he sin with a woman by force, or by her own assent; or if the woman, despite her heed, has been forced, or not. This shall she tell: for greed, or for poverty, and if it was her contrivance, or not; and such sorts of circumstances. [975] The seventh circumstance is in what manner he has done his sin, or how she has allowed what folk have done to her. And the same shall the man tell completely in full detail; and whether he has sinned with common prostitutes or not, or done his sin in holy times or not, in fasting times or not, or before his confession, or after his most recent confession, and has perhaps broken therefore his assigned penance, by whose help and whose counsel, by sorcery or craft; all must be told. All these things, according to whether they be great or small, burden the conscience of man. And also the priest, who is thy judge, can the better be advised of his judgment in giving of thy penance, and that is according to thy contrition. [980] For understand well that after the time that a man has befouled his baptism by sin, if he will come to salvation, there is no other way but by penitence and confession and satisfaction, and namely by the two, if there be a confessor to which he may confess himself, and the third, if he have life to perform it.

Then shall man look and consider that if he will make a true and a profitable confession, there must be four conditions. First, it must be in sorrowful bitterness of heart, as said the king Hezekiah to God, "I will remember all the years of my life in bitterness of my heart." This condition of bitterness has five signs. The first is that confession must be made with a sense of shame, not to cover nor hide his sin, for he has sinned against his God and befouled his soul. [985] And hereof says Saint Augustine, "The heart suffers for shame of its sin"; and because he has great sense of shame, he is worthy to have great mercy of God. Such was the confession of the tax-collector that would not heave up his eyes to heaven, for he had offended God of heaven; for which sense of shame he had straightway the mercy of God. And thereof says Saint Augustine that such shame-fast folk are nearest to forgiveness and remission. Another sign is humility in confession, of which says Saint Peter, "Humble yourself under the might of God." The hand of God is mighty in confession, for thereby God forgives thee thy sins, for he alone has the power. And this humility shall be in heart and in outward sign, for just as he has humility to God in his heart, just so should he humble his body outward to the priest, that sits in God's place. [990] For which in no manner, since Christ is sovereign, and the priest agent and mediator betwixt Christ and the sinner, and the sinner is the last by way of reason, then should not the sinner sit as high as his confessor, but kneel before him or at his feet, unless illness disturb it. For he shall not take note of who sits there, but in whose place that he sits. A man that has trespassed against a lord, and comes to ask mercy and make his reconciliation, and set him down at once by the lord, men would consider him presumptuous, and not worthy so soon to have remission nor mercy. The third sign is how thy confession should be full of tears, if man can, and if man can not weep with his bodily eyes, let him weep in heart. Such was the confession of Saint Peter, for after he had forsaken Jesus Christ, he went out and wept very bitterly. [995] The fourth sign is that he cease not for shame to show his confession. Such was the confession of the Magdalene, that spared not for any shame of them that were at the feast, for to go to our Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge to him her sin. The fifth sign is that a man or a woman be obedient to receive the penance that to him is assigned for his sins, for certainly, Jesus Christ, for the guilt of one man, was obedient to the death.

The second condition of true confession is that it be hastily done. For certainly, if a man had a deadly wound, ever the longer that he delayed to cure himself, the more would it corrupt and hasten him to his death, and also the wound would be the worse to heal. And right so fares sin that long time is in a man unconfessed. [1000] Certainly, a man ought hastily show his sins for many causes; as for dread of death, that comes often suddenly, and no certainty what time it shall be, nor in what place; and also the continuance of one sin draws in another; and also the longer that he delays, the farther he is from Christ. And if he abide to his last day, scarcely can he confess himself or remind himself of his sins or repent himself, for the grievous illness of his death. And forasmuch as he has not in his life hearkened to Jesus Christ when he has spoken, he shall cry to Jesus Christ at his last day, and scarcely will he hearken him. And understand that this condition must have four things. Thy confession must be prepared before and deliberated; for wicked haste does no profit; and that a man should know how to confess himself of his sins, be it of pride, or of envy, and so forth with the species and circumstances; and that he has comprehended in his mind the number and the greatness of his sins, how long that he has lain in sin; [1005] and also that he be contrite of his sins, and in steadfast purpose, by the grace of God, never again to fall into sin; and also that he dread and watch out for himself, that he flee the occasions of sin to which he is inclined. Also thou shalt confess thyself of all thy sins to one man, and not one part to one man and one part to another; that is to understand, in intent to divide thy confession, as for shame or dread, for it is nothing but strangling of thy soul. For certainly Jesus Christ is entirely all good; in him is no imperfection, and therefore either he forgives all perfectly or else not a bit. I say not that if thou are assigned to the priest who assigns penance for a certain sin, that thou art bound to show him all the remnant of thy sins, of which thou hast been confessed by thy curate, unless it pleases to thee of thy humility; this is no division of shrift. Nor I say not, where I speak of division of confession, that if thou have license to confess thee to a discreet and an honest priest, where it pleases thee , and by permission of thy curate, that thou canst not well confess thyself to him of all thy sins. [1010] But let no stain of sin be behind; let no sin be unconfessed, so far as thou hast remembrance. And when thou shalt be confessed to thy curate, tell him also all the sins that thou hast done since thou were last confessed; this is no wicked intent of division of confession.

Also the true confession requires certain conditions. First, that thou confess thyself by thy free will, not constrained, nor for public shame, nor for illness, nor such things. For it is reasonable that he who trespasses by his free will, that by his free will he confess his trespass, and that no other man tell his sin but he himself; nor he shall not disclaim nor deny his sin, nor anger himself against the priest for his admonishing to abandon sin. The second condition is that thy confession be lawful; that is to say, that thou that confesses thyself and also the priest that hears thy confession be truly in the faith of holy church, [1015] and that a man be not in despair of the mercy of Jesus Christ, as Cain or Judas. And also a man must accuse himself of his own trespass, and not another; but he shall blame and reproach himself and his own malice of his sin, and none other. But nonetheless, if that another man be occasion or enticer of his sin, or the state of a person be such through which his sin is aggravated, or else that he may not completely confess himself unless he tell the person with whom he has sinned, then may he tell it, provided that his intent be not to backbite the person, but only to declare his confession.

Thou shalt not also make any lies in thy confession, for humility, perhaps, to say that thou hast done sins of which thou were never guilty. [1020] For Saint Augustine says, "If thou, by cause of thy humility, makest lies on thyself, though thou were not in sin before, yet art thou then in sin through thy lies." Thou most also show thy sin by thy own proper mouth, except if thou be grown dumb, and not by any letter; for thou that hast done the sin, thou shalt have the shame therefore. Thou shalt not also paint thy confession by faire subtle words, to cover the more thy sin; for then beguilest thou thyself, and not the priest. Thou most tell it flatly, be it never so foul nor so horrible. Thou shalt also confess thyself to a priest who is discreet in giving thee counsel; and also thou shalt not confess thyself for vainglory, nor for hypocrisy, nor for any cause but only for the fear of Jesus Christ and the health of thy soul. Thou shalt not also run to the priest quickly to tell him easily thy sin, as whosoever tells a joke or a tale, but deliberately and with great devotion. [1025] And generally, confess thyself often. If thou often fall, often thou arise by confession. And though thou confess thyself more often than once of sin of which thou hast been confessed, it is the more merit. And, as says Saint Augustine, thou shalt have the more easily forgiveness and grace of God, both of sin and of pain. And certainly, once a year at the least way it is lawful to be given communion, for certainly, once a year all things renew themselves.

Now have I told you of true Confession, that is the second part of Penitence.

Explicit secunda pars Penitencie,
et sequitur tercia pars eiusdem,

[The second part of penitence ends,
and its third part follows.]

The third part of Penitence is Satisfaction, and that consists most generally in alms and in bodily pain. [1030] Now there are three sorts of alms: contrition of heart, where a man offers himself to God; another is to have pity of the sin of his neighbors; and the third is in giving of good counsel and comfort, spiritual and bodily, where men have need, and namely in sustenance of man's food. And take note that a man has need of these things generally: he has need of food, he has need of clothing and lodging, he has need of charitable counsel and visiting in prison and in illness, and burial of his dead body. And if thou canst not visit the needy with thy person, visit him by thy message and by thy gifts. These are general alms or works of charity of them that have temporal riches or discretion in counseling. Of these works shalt thou hear at the day of judgment.

These alms shalt thou do of thine own personal property, and hastily and privately, if thou canst. [1035] But nonetheless, if thou canst not do it privately, thou shalt not forbear to do alms though men see it, so that it be not done for gratitude of the world, but only for gratitude of Jesus Christ. For, as witnesses Saint Mathew, [capitulo quinto [in the fifth chapter]. "A city can not be hid that is set on a mountain, nor men light not a lantern and put it under a bushel, but men set it on a candle-stick to give light to the men in the house. Just so shall your light lighten before men, that they can see your good works, and glorify your father that is in heaven."

Now to speak of bodily pain, it consists of prayers, in keeping vigil, in fasts, in virtuous teachings of orisons. And you shall understand that orisons or prayers is for to say a pious will of heart, that directs itself toward God and expresses it by word outward, to remove harms and to have things spiritual and durable, and sometimes temporal things; of which orisons, certainly, in the orison of the [Pater noster[Our father] has Jesus Christ enclosed must things. [1040] Certainly, it is endowed with three things in its dignity, for which it is more worthy than any other prayer, because Jesus Christ himself made it; and it is short, so that it should be learned the more easily, and to retain it the more easily in heart, and help himself the more often with the orison, and so that a man should be the less weary to say it, and so that a man can not excuse himself for not learning it, it is so short and so easy, and because it comprehends in itself all good prayers. The exposition of this holy prayer, that is so excellent and worthy, I entrust to these masters of theology, save thus much will I say; that when thou prayest that God should forgive thee thy trespasses as thou forgivest them that do wrong to thee, be very well aware that thou art not out of charity. This holy orison reduces also venial sin, and therefore it pertains specially to penitence.

[1045] This prayer must be truly said, and in true faith, and that men pray to God in an orderly manner and discreetly and devoutly; and always a man must put his will to be subject to the will of God. This orison must also be said with great humbleness and very purely, honestly and not to the annoyance of any man or woman. It must also be continued with the works of charity. It avails also against the vices of the soul, for, as says Saint Jerome, "By fasting are saved the vices of the flesh, and by prayer the vices of the soul."

After this, thou shalt understand that bodily pain consists of keeping vigil, for Jesus Christ says, "Keep vigil and pray, that you not enter in wicked temptation." You shall understand also that fasting consists of three things: in refraining from bodily mete and drink, and in refraining from worldly jollity, and in refraining from deadly sin; this is to say, that a man shall keep him from deadly sin with all his might.

[1050] And thou shalt understand also that God ordained fasting, and to fasting pertain four things: generosity to poor folk, gladness of heart spiritual, not to be angry nor annoyed, nor grouch because he fasts, and also reasonable hour for to eat; eat by measure; that is for to say, a man shall not eat at inappropriate times, nor sit the longer at his table to eat because he fasts.

Then shalt thou understand that bodily pain consists of discipline either teaching, by word, or by writing, or in example; also in wearing of hair shirts, or of coarse cloth, or of coats of mail on their naked flesh, for Christ's sake, and such manner penances. But beware thee well that such sorts of penances on thy flesh not make thy heart bitter or angry or annoyed of thyself, for better is to cast away thy hair shirt, than to cast away the sweetness of Jesus Christ. And therefore says Saint Paul, "Clothe yourself in heart, as they that are chosen by God, with mercy, meekness, forbearance, and such sort of clothing," of which Jesus Christ is more pleased than by hair shirts, or coats of mail, or plate armor.

[1055] Then is discipline also in knocking of thy breast, in whipping with sticks, in kneeling, in tribulations, in suffering patiently wrongs that are done to thee, and also in patient suffering of maladies, or losing of worldly possessions, or of wife, or of child, or other friends.

Then shalt thou understand what things disturb penance; and this is in four manners: that is, dread, shame, hope, and wanhope, that is despair. And for to speak first of dread, for which he supposes that he can tolerate no penance; there-against is remedy for to think that bodily penance is but short and little in regard to the pain of hell, that is so cruel and so long that it lasts without end.

[1060] Now against the shame that a man has to confess himself, and namely these hypocrites that would be held so perfect that they have no need to confess themselves; against that shame should a man think that, by way of reason, that he that has not been ashamed to do foul things, certainly him ought not to be ashamed to do fair things, and that is confessions. A man should also think that God sees and know all his thoughts and all his works, to him can no thing be hid nor covered. Men should also remind themselves of the shame that is to come at the day of doom to them that be not penitent and confessed in this present life. For all the creatures in heaven, in earth, and in hell shall see clearly all that they hide in this world.

[1065] Now to speak of the hope of them that are negligent and slow to shrive themselves, which consists of two sorts. That one is that he hopes to live long and to obtain much riches for his delight, and then he will confess himself; and, as he says, it seems to him then timely enough to come to confession. Another is of presumption that he has in Christ's mercy. Against the first vice, he shall think that our life is in no security, and also that all the riches in this world are at risk and pass as a shadow on the wall; and, as says Saint Gregory, that it pertains to the great righteousness of God that never shall the pain stint of them that never would withdraw themselves from sin, voluntarily, but ever continue in sin; for that perpetual will to do sin shall they have perpetual pain.

[1070] Despair is of two sorts: the first despair is in the mercy of Christ; that other is that they think that they might not long persevere in goodness. The first despair comes from that he supposes that he has sinned so greatly and so often, and so long lain in sin, that he shall not be saved. Certainly, against that cursed despair should he think that the passion of Jesus Christ is more strong to unbind than sin is strong to bind. Against the second despair he shall think that as often as he falls he may arise again by penitence. And though he never so long have lain in sin, the mercy of Christ is always ready to receive him to mercy. Against the despair that he supposes that he should not long persevere in goodness, he shall think that the feebleness of the devil can do nothing, unless men will allow him; [1075] and also he shall have strength of the help of God, and of all holy church, and of the protection of angels, if he wishes.

Then shall men understand what is the fruit of penance; and, according to the word of Jesus Christ, it is the endless bliss of heaven, where joy has no contrary of woe nor grievance; where all harms of this present life are passed; there is the safety from the pain of hell; there is the blissful company that rejoice themselves evermore, every one of others' joy; there the body of man, that formerly was foul and dark, is more clear than the sun; there the body, that formerly was sick, frail, and feeble, and mortal, is immortal, and so strong and so healthy that there can no thing injure it; there is neither hunger, thirst, nor cold, but every soul replenished with the sight of the perfect knowing of God. [1080] This blissful reign may men purchase by poverty spiritual, and the glory by lowness, the plenty of joy by hunger and thirst, and the rest by travail, and the life by death and mortification of sin.

Here the maker of this book takes his leave

Now pray I to them all that listen to this little treatise or read it, that if there be any thing in it that pleases them, that thereof they thank our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom proceeds all wit and all goodness. And if there be any thing that displeases them, I pray them also that they blame it on the fault of my lack of wit and not to my will, that would much prefer to have said better if I had had cunning. For our book says, "All that is written is written for our doctrine," and that is my intent. Wherefore I beseech you meekly, for the mercy of God, that you pray for me that Christ have mercy on me and forgive me my sins; [1085] and namely of my translations and compositions of worldly vanities, the as is the book of Troilus; the book also of Fame; the book of the XXV. Ladies; the book of the Duchesse; the book of Saint Valentines day of the Parliament of Birds; the tales of Canterbury, those that tend toward sin; the book of the Lion; and many another book, if they were in my remembrance, and many a song and many a lecherous lyric, that Christ for his great mercy forgive me the sin. But of the translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, and other books of legends of saints, and homilies, and morality, and devotion, that thank I our Lord Jesus Christ and his blissful Mother, and all the saints of heaven, [1090] beseeching them that they from henceforth unto my life's end send me grace to bewail my sins and to study to the salvation of my soul, and grant me grace of true penitence, confession and satisfaction to do in this present life, through the benign grace of him that is king of kings and priest over all priests, that bought us with the precious blood of his heart, so that I may be one of them at the day of doom that shall be saved. Qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat Deus per omnia secula. [He who lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit, God, world without end.] Amen.

Here is ended the book of the tales of Canterbury, compiled by
Geffrey Chaucer, of whose soul Jesus Christ have mercy. Amen.

 

 

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