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Thou shalt come up above
AFORE this time I had great longing and desire of God’s gift to be delivered of this world and of this life. For oftentimes I beheld the woe that is here, and the weal and the bliss that is being there: (and if there had been no pain in this life but the absence of our Lord, methought it was some-time more than I might bear ;) and this made me to mourn, and eagerly to long. And also from mine own wretchedness, sloth, and weakness, me liked not to live and to travail, as me fell to do.
And to all this our courteous Lord answered for comfort and patience, and said these words: Suddenly thou shalt be taken from all thy pain, from all thy sickness, from all thy distress and from all thy woe. And thou shalt come up above and thou shalt have me to thy meed, and thou shalt be fulfilled of love and of bliss. And thou shalt never have no manner of pain, no manner of misliking, no wanting of will; but ever joy and bliss without end. What should it then aggrieve thee to suffer awhile, seeing that it is my will and my worship?
And in this word: Suddenly thou shalt be taken,—I saw that God rewardeth man for the patience that he hath in abiding God’s will, and for his time, and [for] that man lengtheneth his patience over the time of his living. For not-knowing of his time of passing, that is a great profit: for if a man knew his time, he should not have patience over that time; but, as God willeth, while the soul is in the body it seemeth to itself that it is ever at the point to be taken. For all this life and this languor that we have here is but a point, and when we are taken suddenly out of pain into bliss then pain shall be nought.
And in this time I saw a body lying on the earth, which body shewed heavy and horrible,256256 "uggley." without shape and form, as it were a swollen quag of stinking mire.257257 a "bolned quave of styngand myre." And suddenly out of this body sprang a full fair creature, a little Child, fully shapen and formed, nimble258258 "swifte" = agile, quick. and lively, whiter than lily; which swiftly259259"sharply." glided up into heaven. And the swollenness of the body betokeneth great wretchedness of our deadly flesh, and the littleness of the Child betokeneth the cleanness of purity in the soul. And methought: With this body abideth260260 "beleveth." no fairness of this Child, and on this Child dwelleth no foulness of this body.
It is more261261 "full blissful .... mor than." blissful that man be taken from pain, than that pain be taken from man;262262 "full blissful .... mor than." for if pain be taken from us it may come again: therefore it is a sovereign comfort and blissful beholding in a loving soul that we shall be taken from pain. For in this behest263263 i.e. promise, proclamation. I saw a marvellous compassion that our Lord hath in us for our woe, and a courteous promising264264 "behoting." of clear deliverance. For He willeth that we be comforted in the overpassing;265265 i.e. the exceeding fulness of heavenly bliss. and that He shewed in these words: And thou shalt come up above, and thou shalt have me to thy meed, and thou shalt be fulfilled of joy and bliss.
It is God’s will that we set the point of our thought in this blissful beholding as often as we may,—and as long time keep us therein with His grace; for this is a blessed contemplation to the soul that is led of God, and full greatly to His worship, for the time that it lasteth. And [when] we fall again to our heaviness, and spiritual blindness, and feeling of pains spiritual and bodily, by our frailty, it is God’s will that we know that He hath not forgotten us. And so signifieth He in these words: And thou shalt never more have pain; no manner of sickness, no manner of misliking, no wanting of will; but ever joy and bliss without end. What should it then aggrieve thee to suffer awhile, seeing it is my will and my worship?
It is God’s will that we take His behests266266See foot-note 4, p. 161. and His comfortings as largely and as mightily as we may take them, and also He willeth that we take our abiding and our troubles267267 "diseases" = discomforts, distresses. as lightly as we may take them, and set them at nought. For the more lightly we take them, and the less price we set on them, for love, the less pain we shall have in the feeling of them, and the more thanks and meed we shall have for them.
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