Page images

donge. Suche maner of thoughtes make a man have schame of his synne, and no delit; and God saith, by the prophete Ezechiel, ye schul remembre yow of youre weyes, and thay schal displese yow. Sothly, synnes ben the way that leden folk to helle.

The secounde cause that oughte make a man to have disdeyn of his synne is this, that, as seith seint Petre, who so doth synne, is thral of synne, and synne put a man in gret thraldom. And therfore saith the prophete Ezechiel, I wente sorwful, in disdeyn of myself. Certes, wel oughte a man have disdeyn of synne, and withdrawe him fro that thraldom and vilonye. And lo what saith Seneca in this matiere. He saith thus, though I wiste, that nere God ne man schulde never knowe it, yit wold I have disdeyn for to do synne. And the same Seneca also saith, I am born to gretter thinges, than to be thral to my body, or than for to make of my body a thral. Ne a fouler thral may no man, ne womman, make of his body, than give his body

And were it the foulest cherl, or the foulest womman, that lyveth, and lest of value, yet is thanne synnemore foul, and more in servitute. Ever fro the heigher degré that man fallith, the more is he thral, and more to God and to the worldó vile and abhominable. O goode God! wel oughte a man have gret disdayn of such a thing that thorugh synne, ther he was free, now is he maked bonde. And therfore saith seint Austyn,

to synne.

4 thanne synne. Tyrwhitt reads, yet is he than more foule.

and to the world. These words, taken from the Lansd. MS., are not in the Harl. MS.


if thou hast disdayn of thy servaunt, if he agilte or synne, have thou than disdeigne, that thou thiself schuldist do synne. Tak reward of thy value, that thou be nought to foul in thiself. Allas! wel oughte men have disdeyn to be servauntes and thralles to synne, and sore ben aschamed of hemself, that God of his endeles goodnes hath set hem in heigh estate, or geven hem witte, strength of body, hele, beauté, or prosperité, and bought hem fro the deth with his herte blood, that thay so unkindely ageinst his gentilesce quyten him so vileynsly, to slaughter of her oughne soules. O goode God! ye wommen that ben of so gret beauté, remembreth yow of the proverbe of Salomon, that saith he likeneth a fair womman, that is a fool of hir body, to a ryng of gold that were in the groyn sowe; for right as a sowe wroteth in everich ordure, so wrootith sche hir beauté in stynkyng ordure of synne.

The thridde cause, that oughte to moeve a man to contricioun, is drede of the day of doome, and of the orrible peynes of helle. For as seint Jerom saith, at every tyme that I remembre of the day of doom, I quake; for whan I ete or drinke, or what so that I doo, ever semeth me that the trompe sowneth in myn eere, riseth ye up that ben deede, and cometh to the juggement. O goode God! mochil ought a man to drede such a juggement, ther as we schul be alle, as seith seint Poul, biforn the sete of our Lord Jhesu Crist; wher as he schal make a general congregacioun, wher as

of a


of thy servaunt ... disdeigne. These words, omitted by an evident error of the scribe in the Harl. MS., are supplied from the Lansd. MS.

no man may ben absent; for certes ther avayleth non essoyne ne excu

cusacioun; and nought oonly, that oure defaute schal be juged, but eek that alle oure werkes schul? be openly knowen. And, as seint Bernard saith, ther schal no pleynyng avayle, ne no sleight; we schuln give rekenyng of every ydel word. Ther schulle we have a juge that may nought be disceyved ne corrupt; and why? for certes, alle oure thoughtes ben descovered as to him, ne for prayer ne for meede he nyl not be corupt. And therfore saith Salomon, the wraththe of God ne wol nought spare no wight, for praier ne for gift. And therfore at the day of doom ther is noon hope to eschape. Wherfore, as seint Anselm seith, ful greet anguisch schuln the synful folk have at that tyme; there schal be the sterne and the wroth juge sitte above, and under him the horrible put of helle open, to destroye him that wolde not byknowe his synnes, which synnes openly ben schewed biforn God and biforn every creature; and on the lift syde, mo divelis than herte may thynke, for to hary and to drawe the synful soules to the pyne of helle; and withinne the hertes of folk schal be the bytyng conscience, and withoute forth schal be the world al brennyng. Whider schal thanne the wrecche synful man flee to hyden him? Certes he may not hyde him, he moot come forth and schewe him. For certes, as seith seynt Jerom, the erthe schal caste him out of him, and the see also, and the aer also, that schal be ful of

? he juged ... schul. These words have been accidentally omitted in the Harl. MS. They are supplied from the Lansd. MS.

thunder clappes and lightnynges. Now sothly, who so wel remembrith him of these tydynges, I gesse his synne schal not torne him to delit, but to gret sorw, for drede of the peyne of helle. And therfore saith Job to God, suffre, Lord, that I may a while biwayle and wepe, or I go withoute retournynge to the derk lond, covered with derknes of deth, to the lond of mysese and of derknesse, wher as is the schadow of deth, wher as is noon order ne ordinaunce, but grislich drede that ever schal last. Loo, her may ye see, that Job prayde respit a while, to wepe and biwayle his trespas; for forsothe oon day of respit is bettre than al the tresor in this world. And for as moche as a man may aquyte himself byforn God by penaunce in this world, and not by tresor, therfore schuld he praye to God give him respit a while, to wepe and to waile his trespas. For certes, al the sorwe that a man myght make fro the begynnynge of the world, nys but a litel thing, at regard of the sorwe of helle. The cause why that Job calleth helle the lond of derknes, understondith, that he clepith it lond or eorthe, for it is stable and never schal fayle, and derk, for he that is in helle hath defaut of light material; for certes the derke light that schal come out of the fuyr that ever schal brenne, schal torne him to peyne that is in helle, for it schewith him to thorrible develes that him tormenten. Covered with the derknes of deth ; that is to sayn, that he that is in helle, schal have defaute of the sight of God; for certes


sorwe... the. Omitted in the Harl. MS. They are supplied from the Lansd. MS.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the sight of God is the lif perdurable. The derknes of deth, ben the synnes that the wrecchid man hath doon, whiche that stourben him to see the face of God, right as a derk cloude doth bitwixe us and the sonne. Lond of myseyse; bycause that there ben thre maner of defautes agains thre thinges that folk of this world ban in this present lif, that is to sayn, honures, delices, and richesses. Agayns honours han they in helle schame and confusioun; for wel ye witеn, that men clepyn honure the reverence that men doon to the man; but in helle is noon honour ne reverence; for certes no more reverence schal ben doon ther to a kyng, than to a knave.

For which God saith by the prophete Jeremie, thilke folk that me displesen, schul be despit. Honour is eke cleped gret lordschipe. There schal no wight serven othir, but of harm and torment. Honour eek is cleped gret dignité and heighnes; but in helle schulle thay be al fortrode of develes. And God saith, thorrible develes schuln goon and comen upon the heedes of dampned folk; and this is, for als moche as the heyher that thay were in this present lif, the more schuln thay ben abatid and defouled in helle. Agayns riches of this world schuln thay han mysese of povert, and this povert schal be in iiij. thinges : in defaut of tresor; of which, as David saith, the riche folk that embraseden and onedin in al here herte the tresor of this world, schuln slepen in the slepyng of deth, and nothing schuln thay fynde in her hondes of al her tresor. And moreover, the mysease of helle schal be in the defaut of mete and drink. For God saith thus

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »