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Contemplative men that are highly burnt with the love of everlasting life are forsooth highest in this most lovely burning, and most beloved of the Lover Everlasting; so that they seldom or never go out to worldly business, nor yet receive the dignity of prelacy nor honours; but rather, certainly, withholding themselves within themselves, with joy and in song of praise they alway in mind ascend to Christ. Truly in this the kirk follows the hierarchy of angels, in the which the highest angels are not sent outward, being evermore near to God. They that are high in Christ’s love and contemplation are so busy in the sight of God alone, that they take not sovereignty among men; but it is kept for others, that are more occupied with the business of man, and enjoy less of inward delight.
Therefore irk one chosen has his degree ordained before of God; so that whiles this one is chosen to prelacy, this other is busy to take heed to God within, and God within uplifts him thereto, so that he leaves all outward occupations. Soothly such are most holy and yet of men are held lowest, because they only dwell in mind for they seldom go outward to do miracles.
Others truly both submit themselves to God’s service and discreetly govern their subjects.
Others also that live in fleshly penance, unseen in the sight of men, are ofttimes in their lives granted or shown tokens; or else after their death, although they be full sharply punished some while in purgatory.
Truly all saints have not done miracles, either in their life or after their death; nor all damned have lacked miracles, either in their life or after their death. The doom truly of God is privy, lest, by seen tokens of sinners, evil should be made worse, and they that are good, despising those things that may be had in common by good and ill, should be more quick in the love of their Maker.
Some forsooth have wrought good deeds, but not God’s but man’s honour have they sought; and this perishes after their death, only having what they have desired in this world. Truly ofttimes it happens that the meanly good and less perfect, have done miracles; also full many of those high in devotion are placed in heavenly seats, and altogether rest before the Majesty of God, having their meed among the high companies of heaven. For the feast of Saint Michael is specially honoured, and yet he is not trowed of the highest order of angels.
Some also, turned to God and doing penance, and forsaking worldly errands, joy in mind if, after death, their name may be honoured among the living; to the which Christ’s true servant should take no heed, as peradventure he may lose all that he works for.
Those things truly that are common to good and ill, are not to be desired by saints; but charity and ghostly virtues should be fastened without ceasing in their hearts; the which not only keep the soul from filth of sins, but in the doom shall raise the body also to endless memory.
All things that are done here soon cease and flee. There truly, either in honour or confession, they shall last withouten end. The active therefore and prelates, eminent in cunning and virtue, should set contemplative men before themselves, and hold them their betters before God; not trowing themselves worthy to be given to contemplation, unless peradventure God’s grace to that should inspire them.
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