That men should have great wariness so that they understand not bodily a thing that is meant ghostly; and specially it is good to be wary in understanding of this word "in," and of this word "up."

AND therefore lean meekly to this blind stirring of love in thine heart. I mean not in thy bodily heart, but in thy ghostly heart, the which is thy will. And be well wary that thou conceive not bodily that that is said ghostly. For truly I tell thee, that bodily and fleshly conceits of them that have curious and imaginative wits be cause of much error.

Ensample of this mayest thou see, by that that I bid thee hide thy desire from God in that that in thee is. For peradventure an I had bidden thee shew thy desire unto God, thou shouldest have conceived it more bodily than thou dost now, when I bid thee hide it. For thou wottest well, that all that thing that is wilfully hidden, it is cast into the deepness of spirit. And thus me thinketh that it needeth greatly to have much wariness in understanding of words that be spoken to ghostly intent, so that thou conceive them not bodily but ghostly, as they be meant: and specially it is good to be wary with this word in, and this word up. For in misconceiving of these two words hangeth much error, and much deceit in them that purpose them to be ghostly workers, as me thinketh. Somewhat wot I by the proof, and somewhat by hearsay; and of these deceits list me tell thee a little as me thinketh.

A young disciple in God's school new turned from the world, the same weeneth that for a little time that he hath given him to penance and to prayer, taken by counsel in confession, that he be therefore able to take upon him ghostly working of the which he heareth men speak or read about him, or peradventure readeth himself. And therefore when they read or hear spoken of ghostly working--and specially of this word, "how a man shall draw all his wit within himself," or "how he shall climb above himself"--as fast for blindness in soul, and for fleshliness and curiosity of natural wit, they misunderstand these words, and ween, because they find in them a natural covetyse to hid things, that they be therefore called to that work by grace. Insomuch, that if counsel will not accord that they shall work in this work, as soon they feel a manner of grumbling against their counsel, and think--yea and peradventure say to such other as they be--that they can find no man that can wit what they mean fully. And therefore as fast, for boldness and presumption of their curious wit, they leave meek prayer and penance over soon; and set them, they ween, to a full ghostly work within in their soul. The which work, an it be truly conceived, is neither bodily working nor ghostly working; and shortly to say, it is a working against nature, and the devil is the chief worker thereof. And it is the readiest way to death of body and of soul, for it is madness and no wisdom, and leadeth a man even to madness. And yet they ween not thus: for they purpose them in this work to think on nought but on God.


How these young presumptuous disciples misunderstand this word "in," and of the deceits that follow thereon.

AND on this manner is this madness wrought that I speak of. They read and hear well said that they should leave outward working with their wits, and work inwards: and because that they know not which is inward working, therefore they work wrong. For they turn their bodily wits inwards to their body against the course of nature; and strain them, as they would see inwards with their bodily eyes and hear inwards with their ears, and so forth of all their wits, smelling, tasting, and feeling inwards. And thus they reverse them against the course of nature, and with this curiosity they travail their imagination so indiscreetly, that at the last they turn their brain in their heads, and then as fast the devil hath power for to feign some false light or sounds, sweet smells in their noses, wonderful tastes in their mouths; and many quaint heats and burnings in their bodily breasts or in their bowels, in their backs and in their reins and in their members.

And yet in this fantasy them think that they have a restful remembrance of their God without any letting of vain thoughts; and surely so have they in manner, for they be so filled in falsehood that vanity may not provoke them. And why? Because he, that same fiend that should minister vain thoughts to them an they were in good way--he, that same, is the chief worker of this work. And wit thou right well, that him list not to let himself. The remembrance of God will he not put from them, for fear that he should be had in suspect.


Of divers unseemly practices that follow them that lack the work of this book.

MANY wonderful practices follow them that be deceived in this false work, or in any species thereof, beyond that doth them that be God's true disciples: for they be evermore full seemly in all their practices, bodily or ghostly. But it is not so of these other. For whoso would or might behold unto them where they sit in this time, an it so were that their eyelids were open, he should see them stare as they were mad, and leeringly look as if they saw the devil. Surely it is good they be wary, for truly the fiend is not far. Some set their eyes in their heads as they were sturdy sheep beaten in the head, and as they should die anon. Some hang their heads on one side as if a worm were in their ears. Some pipe when they should speak, as if there were no spirit in their bodies: and this is the proper condition of an hypocrite. Some cry and whine in their throats, so be they greedy and hasty to say that they think: and this is the condition of heretics, and of them that with presumption and with curiosity of wit will always maintain error.

Many unordained and unseemly practices follow on this error, whoso might perceive all. Nevertheless some there be that be so curious that they can refrain them in great part when they come before men. But might these men be seen in place where they be homely, then I trow they should not be hid. And nevertheless yet I trow that whoso would straitly gainsay their opinion, that they should soon see them burst out in some point; and yet them think that all that ever they do, it is for the love of God and for to maintain the truth. Now truly I hope that unless God shew His merciful miracle to make them soon leave off, they shall love God so long on this manner, that they shall go staring mad to the devil. I say not that the devil hath so perfect a servant in this life, that is deceived and infect with all these fantasies that I set here: and nevertheless yet it may be that one, yea, and many one, be infect with them all. But I say that he hath no perfect hypocrite nor heretic in earth that he is not guilty in some that I have said, or peradventure shall say if God vouchsafeth.

For some men are so cumbered in nice curious customs in bodily bearing, that when they shall ought hear, they writhe their heads on one side quaintly, and up with the chin: they gape with their mouths as they should hear with their mouth and not with their ears. Some when they should speak point with their fingers, either on their  fingers, or on their own breasts, or on theirs that they speak to. Some can neither sit still, stand still, nor lie still, unless they be either wagging with their feet or else somewhat doing with their hands. Some row with their arms in time of their speaking, as them needed for to swim over a great water. Some be evermore smiling and laughing at every other word that they speak, as they were giggling girls and nice japing jugglers lacking behaviour. Seemly cheer were full fair, with sober and demure bearing of body and mirth in manner.

I say not that all these unseemly practices be great sins in themselves, nor yet all those that do them be great sinners themselves. But I say if that these unseemly and unordained practices be governors of that man that doth them, insomuch that he may not leave them when he will, then I say that they be tokens of pride and curiosity of wit, and of unordained shewing and covetyse of knowing.  And specially they be very tokens of unstableness of heart and unrestfulness of mind, and specially of the lacking of the work of this book. And this is the only reason why that I set so many of these deceits here in this writing; for why, that a ghostly worker shall prove his work by them.


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

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

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

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

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


How they be deceived that follow the fervour of spirit in condemning of some without discretion.

SOME men the fiend will deceive on this manner. Full wonderfully he will enflame their brains to maintain God's law, and to destroy sin in all other men. He will never tempt them with a thing that is openly evil; he maketh them like busy prelates watching over all the degrees of Christian men's living, as an abbot over his monks. ALL men will they reprove of their defaults, right as they had cure of their souls: and yet they think that they do not else for God, unless they tell them their defaults that they see. And they say that they be stirred thereto by the fire of charity, and of God's love in their hearts: and truly they lie, for it is with the fire of hell, welling in their brains and in their imagination.

That this is sooth, it seemeth by this that followeth. The devil is a spirit, and of his own nature he hath no body, more than hath an angel. But yet nevertheless what time that he or an angel shall take any body by leave of God, to make any ministration to any man in this life; according as the work is that he shall minister, thereafter in likeness is the quality of his body in some part. Ensample of this we have in Holy Writ. As oft as any angel was sent in body in the Old Testament and in the New also, evermore it was shewed, either by his name or by some instrument or quality of his body, what his matter or his message was in spirit. On the same manner it fareth of the fiend. For when he appeareth in body, he figureth in some quality of his body what his servants be in spirit.  Ensample of this may be seen in one instead of all these other. For as I have conceived by some disciples of necromancy, the which have it in science for to make advocation of wicked spirits, and by some unto whom the fiend hath appeared in bodily likeness; that in what bodily likeness the fiend appeareth, evermore he hath but one nostril, and that is great and wide, and he will gladly cast it up that a man may see in thereat to his brain up in his head. The which brain is nought else but the fire of hell, for the fiend may have none other brain; and if he might make a man look in thereto, he wants no better. For at that looking, he should lose his wits for ever. But a perfect prentice of necromancy knoweth this well enough, and can well ordain therefore, so that he provoke him not.

Therefore it is that I say, and have said, that evermore when the devil taketh any body, he figureth in some  quality of his body what his servants be in spirit. For he enflameth so the imagination of his contemplatives with the fire of hell, that suddenly without discretion they shoot out their curious conceits, and without any advisement they will take upon them to blame other men's defaults over soon: and this is because they have but one nostril ghostly. For that division that is in a man's nose bodily, and the which departeth the one nostril from the tother, betokeneth that a man should have discretion ghostly; and can dissever the good from the evil, and the evil from the worse, and the good from the better, ere that he gave any full doom of anything that he heard or saw done or spoken about him. And by a man's brain is ghostly understood imagination; for by nature it dwelleth and worketh in the head.


SOME there be, that although they be not deceived with this error as it is set here, yet for pride and curiosity of natural wit and letterly cunning leave the common doctrine and the counsel of Holy Church. And these with all their favourers lean over much to their own knowing: and for they were never grounded in meek blind feeling and virtuous living, therefore they merit to have a false feeling, feigned and wrought by the ghostly enemy. Insomuch, that at the last they burst up and blaspheme all the saints, sacraments, statutes, and ordinances of Holy Church. Fleshly living men of the world, the which think the statutes of Holy Church over hard to be amended by, they lean to these heretics full soon and full lightly, and stalwartly maintain them, and all because them think that they lead them a softer way than is ordained of Holy Church.

Now truly I trow, that who that will not go the strait way to heaven, that they shall go the soft way to hell. Each man prove by himself, for I trow that all such heretics, and all their favourers, an they might clearly be seen as they shall on the last day, should be seen full soon cumbered in great and horrible sins of the world in their foul flesh, privily, without their open presumption in maintaining of error: so that they be full properly called Antichrist's disciples. For it is said of them, that for all their false fairness openly, yet they should be full foul lechers privily.


How these young presumptuous disciples misunderstand this other word "up"; and of the deceits that follow thereon.

NO more of these at this time now: but forth of our matter, how that these young presumptuous ghostly disciples misunderstand this other word up.

For if it so be, that they either read, or hear read or spoken, how that men should lift up their hearts unto God, as fast they stare in the stars as if they would be above the moon, and hearken when they shall hear any angel sing out of heaven. These men will sometime with the curiosity of their imagination pierce the planets, and make an hole in the firmament to look in thereat. These men will make a God as them list, and clothe Him full richly in clothes, and set Him in a throne far more curiously than ever was He depicted in this earth. These men will make angels in bodily likeness, and set them about each one with diverse minstrelsy, far more curious than ever was any seen or heard in this life. Some of these men the devil will deceive full wonderfully. For he will send a manner of dew, angels' food they ween it be, as it were coming out of the air, and softly and sweetly falling in their mouths; and therefore they have it in custom to sit gaping as they would catch flies. Now truly all this is but deceit, seem it never so holy; for they have in this time full empty souls of any true devotion. Much vanity and falsehood is in their hearts, caused of their curious working. Insomuch, that ofttimes the devil feigneth quaint sounds in their ears, quaint lights and shining in their eyes, and wonderful smells in their noses: and all is but falsehood.  And yet ween they not so, for them think that they have ensample of Saint Martin of this upward looking and working, that saw by revelation God clad in his mantle amongst His angels, and of Saint Stephen that saw our Lord stand in heaven, and of many other; and of Christ, that ascended bodily to heaven, seen of His disciples. And therefore they say that we should have our eyes up thither. I grant well that in our bodily observance we should lift up our eyes and our hands if we be stirred in spirit. But I say that the work of our spirit shall not be direct neither upwards nor downwards, nor on one side nor on other, nor forward nor backward, as it is of a bodily thing. For why, our work should be ghostly not bodily, nor on a bodily manner wrought.


That a man shall not take ensample of Saint Martin and of Saint Stephen, for to strain his imagination bodily upwards in the time of his prayer.

FOR that that they say of Saint Martin and of Saint Stephen, although they saw such things with their bodily eyes, it was shewed but in miracle and in certifying of thing that was ghostly. For wit they right well that Saint Martin's mantle came never on Christ's own body substantially, for no need that He had thereto to keep Him from cold: but by miracle and in likeness for all us that be able to be saved, that be oned to the body of Christ ghostly. And whoso clotheth a poor man and doth any other good deed for God's love bodily or ghostly to any that hath need, sure be they do it unto Christ ghostly: and they shall be rewarded as substantially therefore as they had done it to Christ's own body. Thus saith Himself in the gospel. And yet thought He it not enough, but if He affirmed it after by miracle; and for this cause He shewed Him unto Saint Martin by revelation. All the revelations that ever saw any man here in bodily likeness in this life, they have ghostly bemeanings. And I trow that if they unto whom they were shewed had been so ghostly, or could have conceived their bemeanings ghostly, that then they had never been shewed bodily. And therefore let us pick off the rough bark, and feed us off the sweet kernel.

But how? Not as these heretics do, the which be well likened to madmen having this custom, that ever when they have drunken of a fair cup, cast it to the wall and break it. Thus should not we do if we will well do.  For we should not so feed us of the fruit, that we should despise the tree; nor so drink, that we should break the cup when we have drunken. The tree and the cup I call this visible miracle, and all seemly bodily observances, that is according and not letting the work of the spirit. The fruit and the drink I call the ghostly bemeaning of these visible miracles, and of these seemly bodily observances: as is lifting up of our eyes and our hands unto heaven. If they be done by stirring of the spirit, then be they well done; and else be they hypocrisy, and then be they false. If they be true and contain in them ghostly fruit, why should they then be despised? For men will kiss the cup for wine is therein.

And what thereof, though our Lord when He ascended to heaven bodily took His way upwards into the clouds, seen of His mother and His disciples with their bodily eyes? Should we therefore in our ghostly work ever stare  upwards with our bodily eyes, to look after Him if we may see Him sit bodily in heaven, or else stand, as Saint Stephen did? Nay, surely He shewed Him not unto Saint Stephen bodily in heaven, because that He would give us ensample that we should in our ghostly work look bodily up into heaven if we might see Him as Saint Stephen did, either standing, or sitting, or else lying. For howso His body is in heaven--standing, sitting, or lying--wots no man. And it needeth not more to be witted, but that His body is oned with the soul, without departing. The body and the soul, the which is the manhood, is oned with the Godhead without departing also. Of His sitting, His standing, His lying, needeth it not to wit; but that He is there as Him list, and hath Him in body as most seemly is unto Him for to be. For if He shew Him lying, or standing, or sitting, by revelation bodily to any creature in this life, it is done for some ghostly bemeaning: and not for no manner of bodily bearing that He hath in heaven. See by ensample. By standing is understood a readiness of helping. And therefore it is said commonly of one friend to another, when he is in bodily battle: "Bear thee well, fellow, and fight fast, and give not up the battle over lightly; for I shall stand by thee." He meaneth not only bodily standing; for peradventure this battle is on horse and not on foot, and peradventure it is in going and not standing. But he meaneth when he saith that he shall stand by him, that he shall be ready to help him. For this reason it was that our Lord shewed Him bodily in heaven to Saint Stephen, when he was in his martyrdom: and not to give us ensample to look up to heaven. As He had said thus to Saint Stephen in person of all those that suffer persecution for His love: "Lo, Stephen! as verily as I open this bodily firmament, the which is called heaven, and let thee see My bodily standing, trust fast that as verily stand I beside thee ghostly by the might of My Godhead. And I am ready to help thee, and therefore stand thou stiffly in the faith and suffer boldly the fell buffets of those hard stones: for I shall crown thee in bliss for thy meed, and not only thee, but all those that suffer persecution for Me on any manner." And thus mayest thou see that these bodily shewings were done by ghostly bemeanings.


That a man shall not take ensample at the bodily ascension of Christ, for to strain his imagination upwards bodily in the time of prayer: and that time, place, and body, these three should be forgotten in all ghostly working.

AND if thou say aught touching the ascension of our Lord, for that was done bodily, and for a bodily bemeaning as well as for a ghostly, for both He ascended very God and very man: to this will I answer thee, that He had been dead, and was clad with undeadliness, and so shall we be at the Day of Doom. And then we shall be made so subtle in body and in soul together, that we shall be then as swiftly where us list bodily as we be now in our thought ghostly; whether it be up or down, on one side or on other, behind or before, all I hope shall then be alike good, as clerks say. But now thou mayest not come to heaven bodily, but ghostly. And yet it shall be so ghostly, that it shall not be on bodily manner; neither upwards nor downwards, nor on one side nor on other, behind nor before.

And wit well that all those that set them to be ghostly workers, and specially in the work of this book, that although they read "lift up" or "go in," although all that the work of this book be called a stirring, nevertheless yet them behoveth to have a full busy beholding, that this stirring stretch neither up bodily, nor in bodily, nor yet that it be any such stirring as is from one place to another. And although that it be sometime called a rest, nevertheless yet they shall not think that it is any such rest as is any abiding in a place without removing therefrom. For the  perfection of this work is so pure and so ghostly in itself, that an it be well and truly conceived, it shall be seen far removed from any stirring and from any place.

And it should by some reason rather be called a sudden changing, than any stirring of place. For time, place, and body: these three should be forgotten in all ghostly working. And therefore be wary in this work, that thou take none ensample at the bodily ascension of Christ for to strain thine imagination in the time of thy prayer bodily upwards, as thou wouldest climb above the moon. For it should on nowise be so, ghostly. But if thou shouldest ascend into heaven bodily, as Christ did, then thou mightest take ensample at it: but that may none do but God, as Himself witnesseth, saying: "There is no man that may ascend unto heaven but only He that descended from heaven, and became man for the love of man." And if it were possible, as it on nowise may be, yet it should be for abundance of ghostly working only by the might of the spirit, full far from any bodily stressing or straining of our imagination bodily, either up, or in, on one side, or on other. And therefore let be such falsehood: it should not be so.


That the high and the next way to heaven is run by desires, and not by paces of feet.

BUT now peradventure thou sayest, that how should it then be? For thee thinkest that thou hast very evidence that heaven is upwards; for Christ ascended the air bodily upwards, and sent the Holy Ghost as He promised coming from above bodily, seen of all His disciples; and this is our belief. And therefore thee thinkest since thou hast thus very evidence, why shalt thou not direct thy mind upward bodily in the time of thy prayer?

And to this will I answer thee so feebly as I can, and say: since it so was, that Christ should ascend bodily and thereafter send the Holy Ghost bodily, then it was more seemly that it was upwards and from above than either downwards and from beneath, behind, or before, on one side or on other. But else than for this seemliness, Him needed never the more to have went upwards than downwards; I mean for nearness of the way. For heaven ghostly is as nigh down as up, and up as down: behind as before, before as behind, on one side as other. Insomuch, that whoso had a true desire for to be at heaven, then that same time he were in heaven ghostly. For the high and the next way thither is run by desires, and not by paces of feet. And therefore saith Saint Paul of himself and many other thus; although our bodies be presently here in earth, nevertheless yet our living is in heaven. He meant their love and their desire, the which is ghostly their life. And surely as verily is a soul there where it loveth, as in the body that Doeth by it and to the which it giveth life. And therefore if we will go to heaven ghostly, it needeth not to strain our spirit neither up nor down, nor on one side nor on other.


That all bodily thing is subject unto ghostly thing, and is ruled thereafter by the course of nature and not contrariwise.

NEVERTHELESS it is needful to lift up our eyes and our hands bodily, as it were unto yon bodily heaven, in the which the elements be fastened. I mean if we be stirred of the work of our spirit, and else not. For all bodily thing is subject unto ghostly thing, and is ruled thereafter, and not contrariwise.

Ensample hereof may be seen by the ascension of our Lord: for when the time appointed was come, that Him liked to wend to His Father bodily in His manhood, the which was never nor never may be absent in His Godhead, then mightily by the virtue of the Spirit God, the manhood with the body followed in onehead of person. The visibility of this was most seemly, and most according, to be upward.

This same subjection of the body to the spirit may be in manner verily conceived in the proof of this ghostly work of this book, by them that work therein. For what time that a soul disposeth him effectually to this work, then as fast suddenly, unwitting himself that worketh, the body that peradventure before ere he began was somewhat bent downwards, on one side or on other for ease of the flesh, by virtue of the spirit shall set it upright: following in manner and in likeness bodily the work of the spirit that is made ghostly. And thus it is most seemly to be.

And for this seemliness it is, that a man--the which is the seemliest creature in body that ever God made--is not made crooked to the earthwards, as be an other beasts, but upright to heavenwards. For why? That it should figure in likeness bodily the work of the soul ghostly; the which falleth to be upright ghostly, and not crooked ghostly. Take heed that I say upright ghostly, and not bodily. For how should a soul, the which in his nature hath no manner thing of bodilyness, be strained upright bodily? Nay, it may not be.

And therefore be wary that thou conceive not bodily that which is meant ghostly, although it be spoken in bodily words, as be these, up or down, in or out, behind or before, on one side or on other. For although that a thing be never so ghostly in itself, nevertheless yet if it shall be spoken of, since it so is that speech is a bodily work wrought with the tongue, the which is an instrument of the body, it behoveth always be spoken in bodily words. But what thereof? Shall it therefore be taken and conceived bodily? Nay, but ghostly, as it be meant.


How a man may wit when his ghostly work is beneath him or without him, and when it is even with him or within him, and when it is above him and under his God.

AND for this, that thou shalt be able better to wit how they shall be conceived ghostly, these words that be spoken bodily, therefore I think to declare to thee the ghostly bemeaning of some words that fall to ghostly working. So that thou mayest wit clearly without error when thy ghostly work is beneath thee and without thee, and when it is within thee and even with thee, and when it is above thee and under thy God.

All manner of bodily thing is without thy soul and beneath it in nature, yea! the sun and the moon and all the stars, although they be above thy body, nevertheless yet they be beneath thy soul.

All angels and all souls, although they be confirmed and adorned with grace and with virtues, for the which they be above thee in cleanness, nevertheless, yet they be but even with thee in nature.

Within in thyself in nature be the powers of thy soul: the which be these three principal, Memory, Reason, and Will; and secondary, Imagination and Sensuality.

Above thyself in nature is no manner of thing but only God.

Evermore where thou findest written thyself in ghostliness, then it is understood thy soul, and not thy body. And then all after that thing is on the which the powers of thy soul work, thereafter shall the worthiness and the condition of thy work be deemed; whether it be beneath thee, within thee, or above thee.


Of the powers of a soul in general, and how Memory in special is a principal power, comprehending in it all the other powers and all those things in the which they work.

MEMORY is such a power in itself, that properly to speak and in manner, it worketh not itself. But Reason and Will, they be two working powers, and so is Imagination and Sensuality also. And all these four powers and their works, Memory containeth and comprehendeth in itself. And otherwise it is not said that the Memory worketh, unless such a comprehension be a work.

And therefore it is that I call the powers of a soul, some principal, and some secondary. Not because a soul is divisible, for that may not be: but because all those things in the which they work be divisible, and some principal, as be all ghostly things, and some secondary, as be all bodily things. The two principal working powers, Reason and Will, work purely in themselves in all ghostly things, without help of the other two secondary powers. Imagination and Sensuality work beastly in all bodily things, whether they be present or absent, in the body and with the bodily wits. But by them, without help of Reason and of Will, may a soul never come to for to know the virtue and the conditions of bodily creatures, nor the cause of their beings and their makings.

And for this cause is Reason and Will called principal powers, for they work in pure spirit without any manner of bodilyness: and Imagination and Sensuality secondary, for they work in the body with bodily instruments, the which be our five wits. Memory is called a principal power, for it containeth in it ghostly not only all the other powers, but thereto all those things in the which they work. See by the proof.


Of the other two principal powers Reason and Will; and of the work of them before sin and after.

REASON is a power through the which we depart the evil from the good, the evil from the worse, the good from the better, the worse from the worst, the better from the best. Before ere man sinned, might Reason have done all this by nature. But now it is so blinded with the original sin, that it may not con work this work, unless it be illumined by grace. And both the self Reason, and the thing that it worketh in, be comprehended and contained in the Memory.

Will is a power through the which we choose good, after that it be determined with Reason; and through the which we love good, we desire good, and rest us with full liking and consent endlessly in God. Before ere man sinned, might not Will be deceived in his choosing, in his loving, nor in none of his works. For why, it had then by nature to savour each thing as it was; but now it may not do so, unless it be anointed with grace. For ofttimes because of infection of the original sin, it savoureth a thing for good that is full evil, and that hath but the likeness of good. And both the Will and the thing that is willed, the Memory containeth and comprehendeth in it.


Of the first secondary power, Imagination by name; and of the works and the obedience of it unto Reason, before Sin and after.

IMAGINATION is a power through the which we portray all images of absent and present things, and both it and the thing that it worketh in be contained in the Memory. Before ere man sinned, was Imagination so obedient unto the Reason, to the which it is as it were servant, that it ministered never to it any unordained image of any bodily creature, or any fantasy of any ghostly creature: but now it is not so. For unless it be refrained by the light of grace in the Reason, else it will never cease, sleeping or waking, for to portray diverse unordained images of bodily creatures; or else some fantasy, the which is nought else but a bodily conceit of a ghostly thing, or else a ghostly conceit of a bodily thing. And this is evermore feigned and false, and next unto error.

This inobedience of the Imagination may clearly be conceived in them that be newlings turned from the world unto devotion, in the time of their prayer. For before the time be, that the Imagination be in great part refrained by the light of grace in the Reason, as it is in continual meditation of ghostly things--as be their own wretchedness, the passion and the kindness of our Lord God, with many such other--they may in nowise put away the wonderful and the diverse thoughts, fantasies, and images, the which be ministered and printed in their mind by the light of the curiosity of Imagination. And all this inobedience is the pain of the original sin. 


SENSUALITY is a power of our soul, recking and reigning in the bodily wits, through the which we have bodily knowing and feeling of all bodily creatures, whether they be pleasing or unpleasing. And it hath two parts: one through the which it beholdeth to the needfulness of our body, another through the which it serveth to the lusts of the bodily wits. For this same power is it, that grumbleth when the body lacketh the needful things unto it, and that in the taking of the need stirreth us to take more than needeth in feeding and furthering of our lusts: that grumbleth in lacking of pleasing creatures, and lustily is delighted in their presence: that grumbleth in presence of misliking creatures, and is lustily pleased in their absence. Both this power and the thing that it worketh in be contained in the Memory.

Before ere man sinned was the Sensuality so obedient unto the Will, unto the which it is as it were servant, that it ministered never unto it any unordained liking or grumbling in any bodily creature, or any ghostly feigning of liking or misliking made by any ghostly enemy in the bodily wits. But now it is not so: for unless it be ruled by grace in the Will, for to suffer meekly and in measure the pain of the original sin, the which it feeleth in absence of needful comforts and in presence of speedful discomforts, and thereto also for to restrain it from lust in presence of needful comforts, and from lusty plesaunce in the absence of speedful discomforts: else will it wretchedly and wantonly welter, as a swine in the mire, in the wealths of this world and the foul flesh so much that all our living shall be more beastly and fleshly, than either manly or ghostly.


That whoso knoweth not the powers of a soul and the manner of her working, may lightly be deceived in understanding of ghostly words and of ghostly working; and how a soul is made a God in grace.

LO, ghostly friend! to such wretchedness as thou here mayest see be we fallen for sin: and therefore what wonder is it, though we be blindly and lightly deceived in understanding of ghostly words and of ghostly working, and specially those the which know not yet the powers of their souls and the manners of their working?

For ever when the Memory is occupied with any bodily thing be it taken to never so good an end, yet thou art beneath thyself in this working, and without any soul. And ever when thou feelest thy Memory occupied with the subtle conditions of the powers of thy soul and their workings in ghostly things, as be vices or virtues, of thyself, or of any creature that is ghostly and even with thee in nature, to that end that thou mightest by this work learn to know thyself in furthering of perfection: then thou art within thyself, and even with thyself. But ever when thou feelest thy Memory occupied with no manner of thing that is bodily or ghostly, but only with the self substance of God, as it is and may be, in the proof of the work of this book: then thou art above thyself and beneath thy God.

Above thyself thou art: for why, thou attainest to come thither by grace, whither thou mayest not come by nature. That is to say, to be oned to God, in spirit, and in love, and in accordance of will. Beneath thy God thou art: for why, although it may be said in manner, that in this time God and thou be not two but one in spirit--insomuch that thou or another, for such onehead that feeleth the perfection of this work, may soothfastly by witness of Scripture be called a God--nevertheless yet thou art beneath Him. For why, He is God by nature without beginning; and thou, that sometime wert nought in substance, and thereto after when thou wert by His might and His love made ought, wilfully with sin madest thyself worse than nought, only by His mercy without thy desert are made a God in grace, oned with Him in spirit without departing, both here and in bliss of heaven without any end. So that, although thou be all one with Him in grace, yet thou art full far beneath Him in nature.

Lo, ghostly friend! hereby mayest thou see somewhat in part, that whoso knoweth not the powers of their own soul, and the manner of their working, may full lightly be deceived in understanding of words that be written to ghostly intent. And therefore mayest thou see somewhat the cause why that I durst not plainly bid thee shew thy desire unto God, but I bade thee childishly do that in thee is to hide it and cover it. And this I do for fear lest thou shouldest conceive bodily that that is meant ghostly.


That nowhere bodily, is everywhere ghostly; and how our outer man calleth the word of this book nought.

AND on the same manner, where another man would bid thee gather thy powers and thy wits wholly within thyself, and worship God there--although he say full well and full truly, yea! and no man trulier, an he be well conceived--yet for fear of deceit and bodily conceiving of his words, me list not bid thee do so. But thus will I bid thee. Look on nowise that thou be within thyself. And shortly, without thyself will I not that thou be, nor yet above, nor behind, nor on one side, nor on other.

"Where then," sayest thou, "shall I be? Nowhere, by thy tale!" Now truly thou sayest well; for there would I have thee. For why, nowhere bodily, is everywhere ghostly. Look then busily that thy ghostly work be nowhere bodily; and then wheresoever that that thing is, on the which thou wilfully workest in thy mind in substance, surely there art thou in spirit, as verily as thy body is in that place that thou art bodily. And although thy bodily wits can find there nothing to feed them on, for them think it nought that thou dost, yea! do on then this nought, and do it for God's love. And let not therefore, but travail busily in that nought with a waking desire to will to have God that no man may know. For I tell thee truly, that I had rather be so nowhere bodily, wrestling with that blind nought, than to be so great a lord that I might when I would be everywhere bodily, merrily playing with all this ought as a lord with his own.

Let be this everywhere and this ought, in comparison or this nowhere and this nought. Reck thee never if thy wits cannot reason of this nought; for surely, I love it much the better. It is so worthy a thing in itself, that they cannot reason thereupon. This nought may better be felt than seen: for it is full blind and full dark to them that have but little while looked thereupon. Nevertheless, if I shall soothlier say, a soul is more blinded in feeling of it for abundance of ghostly light, than for any darkness or wanting of bodily light. What is he that calleth it nought? Surely it is our outer man, and not our inner. Our inner man calleth it All; for of it he is well learned to know the reason of all things bodily or ghostly, without any special beholding to any one thing by itself.


How that a man's affection is marvelously changed in ghostly feeling of this nought, when it is nowhere wrought.

WONDERFULLY is a man's affection varied in ghostly feeling of this nought when it is nowhere wrought. For at the first time that a soul looketh thereupon, it shall find all the special deeds of sin that ever he did since he was born, bodily or ghostly, privily or darkly painted thereupon. And howsoever that he turneth it about, evermore they will appear before his eyes; until the time be, that with much hard travail, many sore sighings, and many bitter weepings, he have in great part washed them away. Sometime in this travail him think that it is to look thereupon as on hell; for him think that he despaireth to win to perfection of ghostly rest out of that pairs Thus far inwards come many, but for greatness of pain that they feel and for lacking of comfort, they go back in beholding of bodily things: seeking fleshly comforts without, for lacking of ghostly they have not yet deserved, as they should if they had abided.

For he that abideth feeleth sometime some comfort, and hath some hope of perfection; for he feeleth and seeth that many of his fordone special sins be in great part by help of grace rubbed away. Nevertheless yet ever among he feeleth pain, but he thinketh that it shall have an end, for it waxeth ever less and less. And therefore he calleth it nought else but purgatory. Sometime he can find no special sin written thereupon, but yet him think that sin is a lump, he wot never what, none other thing than himself; and then it may be called the base and the pain of the original sin. Sometime him think that it is paradise or heaven, for diverse wonderful sweetness and comforts, joys and blessed virtues that he findeth therein. Sometime him think it God, for peace and rest that he findeth therein.

Yea! think what he think will; for evermore he shall find it a cloud of unknowing, that is betwixt him and his God. 


That right as by the defailing of our bodily wits we begin more readily to come to knowing of ghostly things, so by the defailing of our ghostly wits we begin most readily to come to the knowledge of God, such as is possible by grace to be had here.

AND therefore travail fast in this nought, and this nowhere, and leave thine outward bodily wits and all that they work in: for I tell thee truly, that this work may not be conceived by them.

For by thine eyes thou mayest not conceive of anything, unless it be by the length and the breadth, the smallness and the greatness, the roundness and the squareness, the farness and the nearness, and the colour of it.  And by thine ears, nought but noise or some manner of sound. By thine nose, nought but either stench or savour. And by thy taste, nought but either sour or sweet, salt or fresh, bitter or liking. And by thy feeling, nought but either hot or cold, hard or tender, soft or sharp. And truly, neither hath God nor ghostly things none of these qualities nor quantities. And therefore leave thine outward wits, and work not with them, neither within nor without: for all those that set them to be ghostly workers within, and ween that they should either hear, smell, or see, taste or feel, ghostly things, either within them or without, surely they be deceived, and work wrong against the course of nature.

For by nature they be ordained, that with them men should have knowing of all outward bodily things, and on nowise by them come to the knowing of ghostly things. I mean by their works. By their failings we may, as thus: when we read or hear speak of some certain things, and thereto conceive that our outward wits cannot tell us by no quality what those things be, then we may be verily certified that those things be ghostly things, and not bodily things.

On this same manner ghostly it fareth within our ghostly wits, when we travail about the knowing of God Himself. For have a man never so much ghostly understanding in knowing of all made ghostly things, yet may he never by the work of his understanding come to the knowing of an unmade ghostly thing: the which is nought but God. But by the failing it may: for why, that thing that it faileth in is nothing else but only God. And therefore it was that Saint Denis said, the most goodly knowing of God is that, the which is known by unknowing. And truly, whoso will look in Denis' books, he shall find that his words will clearly affirm all that I have said or shall say, from the beginning of this treatise to the end. On otherwise than thus, list me not cite him, nor none other doctor, for me at this time. For sometime, men thought it meekness to say nought of their own heads, unless they affirmed it by Scripture and doctors' words: and now it is turned into curiosity, and shewing of cunning. To thee it needeth not, and therefore I do it not. For whoso hath ears, let him hear, and whoso is stirred for to trow, let him trow: for else, shall they not. 


That some may not come to feel the perfection of this work but in time of ravishing, and some may have it when they will, in the common state of man's soul.

SOME think this matter so hard and so fearful, that they say it may not be come to without much strong travail coming before, nor conceived but seldom, and that but in the time of ravishing. And to these men will I answer as feebly as I can, and say, that it is all at the ordinance and the disposition of God, after their ableness in soul that this grace of contemplation and of ghostly working is given to.

For some there be that without much and long ghostly exercise may not come thereto, and yet it shall be but full seldom, and in special calling of our Lord that they shall feel the perfection of this work: the which calling is called ravishing. And some there be that be so subtle in grace and in spirit, and so homely with God in this grace of contemplation, that they may have it when they will in the common state of man's soul: as it is in sitting, going, standing, or kneeling. And yet in this time they have full deliberation of all their wits bodily or ghostly, and may use them if they desire: not without some letting (but without great letting). Ensample of the first we have by Moses, and of this other by Aaron the priest of the Temple: for why, this grace of contemplation is figured by the Ark of the Testament in the old law, and the workers in this grace be figured by them that most meddled them about this Ark, as the story will witness. And well is this grace and this work likened unto that Ark. For right as in that Ark were contained all the jewels and the relics of the Temple, right so in this little love put upon this cloud be contained all the virtues of man's soul, the which is the ghostly Temple of God.

Moses ere he might come to see this Ark and for to wit how it should be made, with great long travail he clomb up to the top of the mountain, and dwelled there, and wrought in a cloud six days: abiding unto the seventh day that our Lord would vouchsafe for to shew unto him the manner of this Ark-making. By Moses's long travail and his late shewing, be understood those that may not come to the perfection of this ghostly work without long travail coming before: and yet but full seldom, and when God will vouchsafe to shew it.

But that that Moses might not come to see but seldom, and that not without great long travail, Aaron had in his power because of his office, for to see it in the Temple within the Veil as oft as him liked for to enter. And by this Aaron is understood all those the which I spake of above, the which by their ghostly cunning, by help of grace, may assign unto them the perfection of this work as them liketh.


That a worker in this work should not deem nor think of another worker as he feeleth in himself.

LO! hereby mayest thou see that he that may not come for to see and feel the perfection of this work but by long travail, and yet is it but seldom, may lightly be deceived if he speak, think, and deem other men as he feeleth in himself, that they may not come to it but seldom, and that not without great travail. And on the same manner may he be deceived that may have it when he will, if he deem all other thereafter; saying that they may have it when they will. Let be this: nay, surely he may not think thus. For peradventure, when it liketh unto God, that those that may not at the first time have it but seldom, and that not without great travail, sithen after they shall have it when they will, as oft as them liketh. Ensample of this we have of Moses, that first but seldom, and not without great travail, in the mount might not see the manner of the Ark: and sithen after, as oft as by him liked, saw it in the Veil.


How that after the likeness of Moses, of Bezaleel, and of Aaron meddling them about the Ark of the Testament, we profit on three manners in this grace of contemplation, for this grace is figured in that Ark.

THREE men there were that most principally meddled them with this Ark of the Old Testament: Moses, Bezaleel, Aaron. Moses learned in the mount of our Lord how it should be made. Bezaleel wrought it and made it in the Veil after the ensample that was shewed in the mountain. And Aaron had it in keeping in the Temple, to feel it and see it as oft as him liked.

At the likeness of these three, we profit on three manners in this grace of contemplation. Sometime we profit only by grace, and then we be likened unto Moses, that for all the climbing and the travail that he had into the mount might not come to see it but seldom: and yet was that sight only by the shewing of our Lord when Him liked to shew it, and not for any desert of his travail. Sometime we profit in this grace by our own ghostly cunning, helped with grace, and then be we likened to Bezaleel, the which might not see the Ark ere the time that he had made it by his own travail, helped with the ensample that was shewed unto Moses in the mount. And sometime we profit in this grace by other men's teaching, and then be we likened to Aaron, the which had it in keeping and in custom to see and feel the Ark when him pleased, that Bezaleel had wrought and made ready before to his hands.

Lo! ghostly friend, in this work, though it be childishly and lewdly spoken, I bear, though I be a wretch unworthy to teach any creature, the office of Bezaleel: making and declaring in manner to thine hands the manner of this ghostly Ark. But far better and more worthily than I do, thou mayest work if thou wilt be Aaron: that is to say, continually working therein for thee and for me. Do then so I pray thee, for the love of God Almighty. And since we be both called of God to work in this work, I beseech thee for God's love fulfil in thy part what lacketh of mine. 


How that the matter of this book is never more read or spoken, nor heard read or spoken, of a soul disposed thereto without feeling of a very accordance to the effect of the same work: and of rehearsing of the same charge that is written in the prologue.

AND if thee think that this manner of working be not according to thy disposition in body and in soul, thou mayest leave it and take another, safely with good ghostly counsel without blame. And then I beseech thee that thou wilt have me excused, for truly I would have profited unto thee in this writing at my simple cunning; and that was mine intent. And therefore read over twice or thrice; and ever the ofter the better, and the more thou shalt conceive thereof. Insomuch, peradventure, that some sentence that was full hard to thee at the first or the second reading, soon after thou shalt think it easy.

Yea! and it seemeth impossible to mine understanding, that any soul that is disposed to this work should read it or speak it, or else hear it read or spoken, but if that same soul should feel for that time a very accordance to the effect of this work. And then if thee think it doth thee good, thank God heartily, and for God's love pray for me.

Do then so. And I pray thee for God's love that thou let none see this book, unless it be such one that thee think is like to the book; after that thou findest written in the book before, where it telleth what men and when they should work in this work. And if thou shalt let any such men see it, then I pray thee that thou bid them take them time to look it all over. For peradventure there is some matter therein in the beginning, or in the midst, the which is hanging and not fully declared there as it standeth. But if it be not there, it is soon after, or else in the end. And thus if a man saw one part and not another, peradventure he should lightly be led into error: and therefore I pray thee to work as I say thee. And if thee think that there be any matter therein that thou wouldest have more opened than it is, let me wit which it is, and thy conceit thereupon; and at my simple cunning it shall be amended if I can.

Fleshly janglers, flatterers and blamers, ronkers and ronners, and all manner of pinchers, cared I never that they saw this book: for mine intent was never to write such thing to them. And therefore I would not that they heard it, neither they nor none of these curious lettered nor unlearned men: yea! although they be full good men in active living, for it accordeth not to them.


Of some certain tokens by the which a man may prove whether he be called of God to work in this work

ALL those that read or hear the matter of this book be read or spoken, and in this reading or hearing think it a good and liking thing, be never the rather called of God to work in this work, only for this liking stirring that they feel in the time of this reading. For peradventure this stirring cometh more of a natural curiosity of wit, than of any calling of grace.

But, if they will prove whence this stirring cometh, they may prove thus, if them liketh. First let them look if they have done that in them is before, abling them thereto in cleansing of their conscience at the doom of Holy Church, their counsel according. If it be thus, it is well inasmuch: but if they will wit more near, let them look if it be evermore pressing in their remembrance more customably than is any other of ghostly exercise. And if them think that there is no manner of thing that they do, bodily or ghostly, that is sufficiently done with witness of their conscience, unless this privy little love pressed be in manner ghostly the chief of all their work: and if they thus feel, then it is a token that they be called of God to this work, and surely else not.

I say not that it shall ever last and dwell in all their minds continually, that be called to work in this work. Nay, so is it not. For from a young ghostly prentice in this work, the actual feeling thereof is ofttimes withdrawn for divers reasons. Sometime, for he shall not take over presumptuously thereupon, and ween that it be in great part in his own power to have it when him list, and as him list. And such a weening were pride. And evermore when the feeling of grace is withdrawn, pride is the cause: not ever pride that is, but pride that should be, were it not that this feeling of grace were withdrawn. And thus ween ofttimes some young fools, that God is their enemy; when He is their full friend.

Sometimes it is withdrawn for their carelessness; and when it is thus, they feel soon after a full bitter pain that beateth them full sore. Sometimes our Lord will delay it by an artful device, for He will by such a delaying make it grow, and be had more in dainty when it is new found and felt again that long had been lost. And this is one of the readiest and sovereignest tokens that a soul may have to wit by, whether he be called or not to work in this work, if he feel after such a delaying and a long lacking of this work, that when it cometh suddenly as it doth, unpurchased with any means, that he hath then a greater fervour of desire and greater love longing to work in this work, than ever he had any before. Insomuch, that ofttimes I trow, he hath more joy of the finding thereof than ever he had sorrow of the losing.

And if it be thus, surely it is a very token without error, that he is called of God to work in this work, whatsoever that he be or hath been.

For not what thou art, nor what thou hast been, beholdeth God with His merciful eyes; but that thou wouldest be. And Saint Gregory to witness, that all holy desires grow by delays: and if they wane by delays, then were they never holy desires. For he that feeleth ever less joy and less, in new findings and sudden presentations of his old purposed desires, although they may be called natural desires to the good, nevertheless holy desires were they never. Of this holy desire speaketh Saint Austin and saith, that all the life of a good Christian man is nought else but holy desire.

Farewell, ghostly friend, in God's blessing and mine! And I beseech Almighty God, that true peace, holy counsel, and ghostly comfort in God with abundance of grace, evermore be with thee and all God's lovers in earth. Amen.


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