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Cloud of Unknowing
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HERE BEGINNETH THE SEVEN AND FIFTIETH CHAPTER

 

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.

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