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Cloud of Unknowing
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HERE BEGINNETH THE ONE AND SEVENTIETH CHAPTER

 

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.

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