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Fire of Love
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CHAPTER X

OF CLEANNESS OF MIND

By these nine degrees before touched upon man comes to cleanness of mind, where God is seen. Cleanness, I say, that may be had in this life. How may perfect cleanness be gotten here where so oft man, with venial sins at least, is defiled? The feet of saints are to be washed for they draw the dust of the earth.

Who may truly say, ‘I am clean from sin?’ Truly none in this life; for as Job says: Si lotus fuero aquis nivis, et effulserint velut munditiae manus meae, tamen sordibus intinges me, et abominabuntur me vestimenta mea; that is to say: ‘If I be washed with snow water,’ that means true penance, ‘and if my hands shine with cleanness,’ because of works of innocence, ‘yet shalt thou touch me with filth,’ because of venial sins that can not be eschewed; ‘and my clothes shall abhor me,’ that is to say my flesh makes me abhor myself; and sensuality that is so frail, slippery, and ready to love the liking beauty of this world, ofttimes makes me sin. Therefore the apostle says: Non regnet peccatum in nostro mortali corpore. ’Sin reigns not in our mortal body,’ as who should say: Sin may un-reign in us, but it may not un-be.

What cleanness therefore can man have in this life? Truly worthy and great if he rightly use himself in the study of reading, prayer, and meditation, as it is before noted. Truly although he sometimes sin venially yet forthwith, because his whole mind is dressed to God, it is destroyed. The heat truly of charity wastes in him all rust of sin, as it were a drop of water put into a great fire.

The virtue therefore of a cleansed soul is to have the mind busy to God, for in this degree all the thought is dressed to Christ; all the mind, although he seems to speak to others, is spread unto Him. Truly in a clean conscience nothing is bitter, sharp, or hard, but all is sweet and lovely. Out of cleanness of heart rises a song of joy, sweet ditty and joyful mirth. Then full oft a wonderful joy of God is given, and heavenly song is inshed. In this state a man may know that he is in charity that he shall never lose; he lives not without great dread—not lest he should suffer tormentry but that he offend not his Lover.

I spare to say more here for I seem to myself a full great wretch. For oft my flesh is noyed and assayed. Although forsooth the love of God and contemplative life is contained in these things beforesaid, yet somewhat of them is more specially to be said to your need and profit.

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