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WALTER HILTON, OSA, AUGUSTINE BAKER, SERENUS CRESSY, OSB

THE PARABLE OF THE PILGRIM


A quarter of a millenium separates these texts from each other, the first written by an Augustinian Canon to an anchoress, the second by two Benedictines to English Benedictine nuns in exile and for others. The parable of the pilgrim is not unlike the Russian account of a pilgrim, The Tale of a Pilgrim and its 'Prayer of Jesus'. I find myself much drawn to it, having written on pilgrimage in America, having made the literal pilgrimage to Jerusalem; then, having discovered and treasured these echoing texts in my former convent in Sussex, where I was librarian, following that pilgrimage; next, as a hermit going daily to Mass in the mountains above Florence, reciting this prayer in the form of 'I am nought, I have nought, I seek nought, but sweet Jesus in Jerusalem', 'Sono nessuno, non ho niente, cerco soltanto il dolce Gesù a Gerusalemme', in the winters in the dark to the hoots of owls, in the summers to lark and blackbird song, in the spring and fall to the dawn chorus, regaining my faith.

Walter Hilton (1396)

From the Scale of Perfection Book II.21-23:
[For manuscript transcription in its original Middle English, see
Walter Hilton, The Parable of a Pilgrim, from The Scale of Perfection
]

21. An introduction as to how a soul should behave in purpose and in practise if it wants to come to this reforming, through the example of a pilgrim going to Jerusalem; and the two kinds of humility.

Nevertheless, because you desire to have some kind of practice by which you could approach that reforming more quickly, I shall tell you by the grace of our Lord Jesus what seems to me the shortest and promptest aid that I know in this work. And how that shall be I will tell you in this manner, through the example of a good pilgrim.

There was a man wanting to go to Jerusalem, and because he did not know the way he came to another man who he thought knew it and asked whether he could reach that city. The other man told him he could not get there without great hardship and labour, for the way is long and the perils are great, with thieves and robbers as well as many other difficulties to beset a man on his journey; also there are many different ways seeming to lead in that direction, yet people are being killed and robbed daily and cannot come to the place they desire. However, there is one way, and he would undertake that anyone who takes and keeps to it shall come to the city of Jerusalem, and never lose his life or be slain or die of want. He would often be robbed and badly beaten and suffer great distress on his journey, but his life would always be safe. Then the pilgrim said: 'If it is true that I can keep my life and come to the place I desire, I do not care what trouble I suffer on the journey, and therefore tell me what you will, and I promise faithfully to do as you say'. The other man answered and said this: 'See, I am setting you on the right road. This is the way, and be sure to keep the instructions I give you'.

'Whatever you hear, see or feel that would hinder you on your way, do not willingly stay with it, and do not tarry for it, taking rest; do not look at it, do not take pleasure in it, and do not fear it; but always go forth on your way and think that you want to be in Jerusalem. For that is what you long for and what you desire, and nothing else but that; and if men rob you, strip you, beat you, scorn you and despise you, do not fight back if you want to have your life, but bear the hurt that you have and go on as if it were nothing, lest you come to more harm. In the same way, if men want to delay you with stories and feed you with lies, trying to draw you to pleasures and make you leave your pilgrimage, turn a deaf ear and do not reply, saying only that you want to be in Jerusalem. And if men offer you gifts and seek to enrich you with worldly goods, pay no attention to them, always think of Jerusalem. And if you will keep on this way and do as I have said, I promise you your life - that you shall not be slain but come to the place that you desire'.

According to our spiritual propositions, Jerusalem is as much as to say sight of peace and stands for contemplation in perfect love of God, for contemplation is nothing other than a sight of Jesus, who is true peace. Then if you long to come to this blessed sight of true peace and to be a faithful pilgrim toward Jerusalem - even though it should be that I was never there, yet as far as I know - I shall set you in the way that leads toward it.

The beginning of the highway along which you shall go is reforming in faith, grounded humbly in the faith and in the laws of holy church, as I have said before, for trust assuredly that although you have formerly sinned, you are on the right road, if you are now reformed by the sacrament of penance according to the law of holy church. Now since you are on the sure way, if you want to speed on your travels and make a good journey each day, you should hold these two things often in your mind - humility and love. That is: I am nothing; I have nothing; I desire only one thing. You shall have the meaning of these words continually in your intention, and in the habit of your soul, even though you may not always have their particular form in your thought, for that is not necessary. Humility says, I am nothing; I have nothing. Love says, I desire only one thing, and that is Jesus. These two strings, well-fastened with mindfulness of Jesus, make good harmony on the harp of the soul when they are skillfully touched with the finger of reason. For the lower you strike upon the one, the higher sounds the other; the less you feel that you are or that you have of yourself through humility, the more you long to have of Jesus in the desire of love. I do not mean only that humility that a soul feels as it looks at its own sin or at the frailties and wretchedness of this life, or at the worthiness of his fellow Christians, for although this humility is true and medicinal, it is comparatively rough and carnal, not pure or soft or lovely. But I mean also this humility that the soul feels though grace in seeing and considering the infinite being and wonderful goodness of Jesus, and if you cannot see it yet with your spiritual eye, that you believe in it, for through the sight of his being - either in full faith or in feeling - you shall regard yourself not only as the greatest wretch that there is, but also as nothing in the substance of your soul, even if you had never committed sin. And that is lovely humility, for in comparison with Jesus who is in truth All, you are but nothing. In the same way think that you have nothing, but are like a vessel that always stands empty, as if with nothing in it of your own for however many good works you do, outwardly or inwardly, you have nothing at all until you have - and feel that you have - the love of Jesus. For your soul can be filled only with that precious loquor, and with nothing else; and because that thing alone is so precious and so valuable, regard anything you have and do as nothing to rest in, without the sight and the love of Jesus. Throw it all behind you and forget it, so that you can have what is best of all.

Just as a true pilgrim going to Jerusalem leaves behind him home and land, wife and children, and makes himself poor and bare of all that he has in order to travel light and without hindrance, so if you want to be a spiritual pilgrim you are to make yourself naked of all that you have - both good works and bad - and throw them all behind you, and thus become so poor in your own feeling that there can be no deed of your own that you want to lean upon for rst, but you are always desiring more grace of love, and always seeking the spiritual presence of Jesus. If you do so, you shall then set in your heart, wholly and fully, your desre to be at Jerusalem, and in no other place but there; and that is, you shall set in your heart, wholly and fully, your will to have nothing but the love of Jesus and the spiritual sight of him, as far as he wishes to show himself. It is for that alone you are made and redeemed, and that is your beginning and your end, your joy and your glory. Therefore, whatsoever you have, however rich you may be in other works of body and spirit, unless you have that, and know and feel that you have it, consider that you have nothing at all. Print this statement well on the intention of your heart, and hold firmly to it, and it will save you from all the perils of your journey, so that you will never perish. It shall save you from thieves and robbers (which is what I call unclean spirits), so that though they strip you and beat you with diverse temptations, your life shall always be saved; and in brief if you guard it as I shall tell you, you shall within a short time escape all perils and distresses and come to the city of Jerusalem.

Now that you are on the road and know the name of the place you are bound for, begin to go forward on your journey. Your going forth is nothing else but the work of the spirit - and of the body as well, when there is need for it - which you are to use with discretion in the following way. Whatever work it is that you should do, in body or in spirit, according to the degree and state in which you stand, it if helps this grace-given desire that you have to love Jesus, making it more whole, easier and more powerful for all virtues and all goodness, that is the work I consider the best, whether it be prayer, meditation, reading or working; and as long as that taks most strenghtens your heart and your working; and as long as that task most strengthens your heart and you will for the love of Jesus and draws your affection and your thought farthest from worldly vanities, it is good to use it. And if it happens that the savour of it becomes less through use, and you feel that you savour anothing kind of work more, and you feel more grace in another, take another and leave that one. For though your desire and the yearning of your heat for Jesus should always be unchangeable, nevertheless the spiritual practices that you are to use in prayer or the meditation to feed and nourish you desire may be diverse, and may well be changed according to the way you feel disposed to appply your own heart, through grace.

For it goes with works and desire as it does with a fire and sticks. The more sticks are laid on a fire, the greater is the flame, and so the more varied the spiritual work that anyone has in mind for keeping his desire whole, the more powerful and ardent shall be his desire for God. Therefore notice carefully what work you best know how to do and what most helps you to keep whole this desire for Jesus (if you are free, and are not bound except under the common law), and do that. Do not bind yourself unchangeably to practices of your own choosing that hinder the freedom of your heart to love Jesus if grace should specially visit you, for I shall tell you which customs are always good and need to be kept. See, a particular custom is always good to keep if it consists in getting virtue and hindering sin, and that practice should never be left. For if you behave well, you will always be humble and patient, sober and chaste; and so with all other virtues. But the practice of any other thing that hinders a better work should be left when it is time for one to do this; for instance in a certain way for a particular length of time, or waking or kneeling for a certian time, or doing other such bodily work, this practice is to be left off sometimes when a reasonable cause hinders it, or else if more grace comes from another quarter.

22. The delays and temptations that souls shall feel from their spiritual enemies on their spiritual journey to the heavenly Jerusalem, and some remedies against them.

Now you are on the way and know how you shall go. Now beware of enemies that will be trying to hinder you if they can, for their intention is to put out of your heart that desire and that longing that you have for the love of Jesus, and to drive you home again to the love of worldly vanity, for there is nothing that grieves them so much. These enemies are principally carnal desires and vain fears that rise out of your heart through the corruption of your fleshly nature, and want to hinder you desire for the love of God, so that they can fully occupy your heart without disturbance. These are your nearest enemies. There are other enemies too, such as unclean spirits that are busily trying to decieve you with tricks and wiles. But you shall have one remedy, as I said before: whatever it may be they say, do not believe them, but keep on your way and desire only the love of Jesus. Always give this answer: I am nothing, I have nothing, I desire nothing but the love of Jesus alone. If your enemies speak to you first like this, by stirrings in your heart, that you have not made a proper confession, or that there is some old sin hidden in your heart that you do not know and never confessed, and therefore you must turn home again, leave your desire and go to make a better confession: do not believe this saying, for it is false and you are absolved. Trust firmly that you are on the road, and you need no more ransacking of your confession for what is past: keep on your way and think of Jerusalem. Similarly, if they say that you are not worthy to have the love of God, and ask what good it is to crave something you cannot have and do not deserve, do not believe them, but go forward, saying thus, 'Not because I am worthy, but because I am unworthy - that is my motive for loving God, for if I had that love, it would make me worthy; and since I was made for it, even though I should never have it I will yet desire it, and therefore I will pray and meditate in order to get it'. And then, if your enemies see that you begin to grow bold and resolute in your work, they start getting frightened of you; however, they will not stop hindering you when they can as long as your are going on your way. What with fear and menaces on the one hand and flattery and false blandishment on the other, to make you break your purpose and turn home again, they will speak like this: 'If you keep up your desire for Jesus, labouring as hard as you have begun, you will fall into sickness or into fantasies and frenzies, as you see some do, or you will fall into poverty and come to bodily harm, and no one will want to help you; or you might fall into secret temptations of the devil, in which you will not know how to help yourself. It is very dangerous for any man to give himself wholly to the love of God, to leave all the world and desire nothing but his love alone; for so many perils may befall that one does not know of. And therefore turn home again and leave this desire, for you will never carry it through to the end, and behave as other people do in the world'.

So say your enemies; but do not believe them. Keep up your desire, and say nothing else but that you want to have Jesus and to be in Jerusalem. And if they then perceive your will to be so strong that you will not spare yourself - for sin or for sickness, for fantasies or frenzy, for doubts or fears of spiritual temptations, for poverty or distress, for life or for death - but that you will is set ever onward, with one thing and one alone, turning a deaf ear to them as if you did not hear them, and keeping on stubbornly and unstintingly with your prayers and your other spiritual works, and with discretion according to the counsel of your superior or your spiritual father; then they begin to be angry and to draw a little nearer to you. They start robbing you and beating you and doing you all the injury they know: and that is when they cause all your deeds - however well done - to be judged evil by others and turned the worst way. And whatever you may want to do for the benefit of your body and soul, it will be hampered and hindered by other men, in order to thwart you in everything that you reasonably desire. All this they do to stir you to anger, resentment or ill-will against your fellow Christians.

But against all these annoyances, and all others that may befall, use this remedy; take Jesus in your mind, and do not be angry with them; do not linger with them, but think of your lesson - that you are nothing, you have nothing, you cannot lose any earthly goods, and you desire nothing but the love of Jesus - and keep on your way to Jerusalem, with your occupation. Nevertheless, if through your own frailty you are at some time vexed with such troubles befalling your life in the body through the ill-will of man or the malice of the devil, come to yourself again as soon as you can; stop thinking of that distress and go forth to your work. Do not stay too long with them, for fear of your enemies.

23. A general remedy against wicked stirrings and painful vexations that befall the heart from the world, the flesh and the devil.

And your enemies will be much abashed, when they see you so well-disposed that you are not annoyed, heavyhearted, wrathful, or greatly stirred against any creature, for anything that they can do or say against you, but that you fully set your heart upon bearing all that may happen - ease and hardship, praise or blame - and that you will not trouble about anything, provided you can keep whole your thought and your desire for the love of God. But then they will try you with flattery and vain blandishment, and that is when they bring to the sight of your soul all your good deeds and virtues and impress upon you that all men praise you and speak of your holiness; and how everybody loves you and honors you for your holy living. Your enemies do this to make you think that their talk is true, and take delight in this vain joy and rest in it; but it you do well you shall hold all such vain jabbering as the falsehood and flattery of your enemy, who proffers you a drink of venom tempered with honey. Therefore refuse it; say you do not want any of it, but want to be in Jerusalem.

You shall feel such hindrances, or others like them - what with your flesh, the world and the devil - more than I can recite now. For as long as a man allows his thoughts to run willingly all over the world to consider different things, he notices few hindrances; but as soon as he draws all his thought and his yearning to one thing alone - to have that, to see that, to know that, and to love that  (and that is only Jesus) - then he shall well feel many painful hindrances, for everything that he feels and is not what he desires is a hindrance to him. Therefore, I have told you particularly of some as an example. Furthermore, I say in general that whatever stirring you feel from your flesh or from the devil, pleasant or painful, bitter or sweet, agreeable or dreadful, glad or sorrowful - that would draw down your thought and your desire from the love of Jesus to worldly vanity and utterly prevent the spiritual desire that you have for the love of him, so that your heart should stay occupied with that stirring: think nothing of it, do not willingly receive it, and do not linger over it too long. But if it concerns some worldly thing that ought to be done for yoruself or your fellow Christian, finish with it quickly and bring it to an end so that it does not hang on your heart. If it is some other thing that is not necessary, or does not concern you, do not trouble about it, do not parley with it, and do not get angry; neither fear it nor take pleasure in it, but promptly strike it out of your heart, saying thus: 'I am nothing; I have nothing; I neither seek nor desire anything but the love of Jesus'. Knit your thought to this desire and make it strong; maintin it with prayer and with other spiritual work so that you do not forget it; and it shall lead you in the right way and save you from all perils, so that although you feel them you shall not perish. And I think it will bring you to perfect love of our Lord Jesus.

On the other hand I also say: Whatever work or stirring it may be that can help your desire, strengthen  and nourish it, and make your heart furthest from the enjoyment and remembrance of the world, and more whole and more ardent for the love of God - whether it be prayer or meditation, stillness or speaking, reading or listening, solitude or company, walking or sitting - keep it for the time and work in it as long as the savor lasts, provided you take with it food, drink and sleep like a pilgrim, keeping discretion in your labor as your superior advises and ordains. For however great his haste on his journey, yet at the right time he is willing to eat, drink and sleep. Do so yourself, for although it may hinder you at one time it shall advance you at another.

[For manuscript transcription in its original Middle English, see Walter Hilton, The Parable of a Pilgrim, from The Scale of Perfection]


Dom Augustine Baker
(†1638)
, Dom Serenus Cressy, OSB (†1674)

'The Parable of the Pilgrim' in Holy Wisdom, Chapter 6, edited by Dom Serenus Cressy from Don Augustine Baker's writings, acknowledges its souce in Walter Hilton's Scala Perfectionis.

Now for a further confirmation and more effectual recommendation of what hath hitherto been delivered touching the nature of a contemplative life in general, the superminent nobleness of its end, the great difficulties to be expected in it, and the absolute necessity of a firm courage to persevere and continually to make progress in it, whatsoever it costs us (without which resolution it is in vain to set one step forward in these ways), I will here annex a passage extracted out of that excellent treatise called Scala Perfectionis, written by that eminent contemplative, Dr Walter Hilton, a Carthusian Monk, in which, under the parable of a devout pilgrim desirous to travel to Jerusalem (which he interprets as the vision of peace or contemplation), he delivers instructions very proper and efficacious touching the behaviour requisite in a devout soul for such a journey; the true sense of which advice I will take liberty so to deliver briefly as, notwithstanding, not to omit any important matter there more largely, and according to the old fashion, expressed.

'There was a man', saith he, 'that had a great desire to go to Jerusalem; and because he knew not the right way, he addressed himself for advice to one that he hoped was not unskilful in it, and asked him whether there was any way passable thither. The other answered, that the way there was both long and full of very great difficulties; yea, that there were many ways that seemed and promised to lead tither, but the dangers of them were too great. Nevertheless, one way he knew which, if he would diligently pursue according to the directions and marks he would give him - though, said he, I cannot promise thee a security from many frights, beatings, and other ill-usage and temptations of all kinds; but if thou canst have courage and patience enough to suffer them without quarrelling, or resisting, or troubling thyself, and so pass on, having this only in thy mind, and sometimes on thy tongue, I have nought, I am nought, I desire nought but to be at Jerusalem - my life for thine, thou wilt escape safe with thy life and in a competent time arrive thither.

The pilgrim, overjoyed with that news, answered: 'So I may have my life safe, at last come to the place that I above all only desire , I care not what miseries I suffer in the way'. Therefore let me know only what course I am to take, and, God willing, I will not fail to observe carefully your directions. The guide replied: Since thou hast so good a will, though I myself never was so happy as to be in Jerusalem, notwithstanding, be confident that by the instructions that I shall give thee, if thou wilt follow them, thou shalt come safe to thy journey's end.

'Now the advice that I am going to give thee in brief is this: Before thou set the first step into the highway that leads thither, thou must be firmly grounded in the true Catholic faith; moreover, whatsoever sins thou findest in thy conscience, thou must try to purge them away by strong penance and absolution, according to the laws of the Church. This being done, begin thy journey in God's name, but be sure to go furnished with two necessary instruments, humility and charity, both of which are contained in the forementioned speech, which must always be ready in thy mind: I am nought, I have nought, I desire but only one thing, and that is our Lord Jesus, and to be with him in peace at Jerusalem. The meaning and virtue of these words therefore thou must have continually, at least in thy thoughts, either expressly or virtually; humility says, I am nought, I have nought; love says, I desire nought but Jesus. These two companions thou must never part from; neither will they willingly be separated from one another, for they accord very lovingly together. And the deeper thou groundest thyself in humility, the higher thou raisest thyself in charity; for the more thou seest and feelest thyself to be nothing, with the more fervent love wilt thou raisest desire Jesus, that by Him, who is all, thou mayst become something.

Now this same humility is to be exercised, not so much in considering thine own self, thy sinfulness and misery (though to do thus at the first be very good and profitable), but rather in a quiet loving sight of the infinite endless being and goodness of Jesus; the which behldinging of Jesus must be either through grace in a savourous felling knowledge of hi, or at least in a full and firm faith in Him. And such a beholding, when thou shalt attain to it, will work in thy mind a far more pure, spiritual, solid and perfect humility, than the former way of behlding thyself, the which produces a humility more gross, boisterous and unquiet. By that thou wilt see and feel thyself, not only to be the most wretched filthy creature in the world, but also in the very substance of thy soul (setting aside the foulness of sin) to be a mere nothing, for truly, in and of thyself and in regard to Jesus (who really and in truth is all), thou art a mere nothing; and till thou hast the love of Jesus, yea, and feelest that thou hast His love, although thou hast done to thy seeming never so many good deeds both outward and inward, yet in truth thou hast nothing at all, for nothing will abide in thy soul and fill it but the love of Jesus. Therefore, cast all other things behind thee, and forget them, that thou mayest have that which is best of all; and thus doing, thou wilt beome a true pilgrim that leaves behind him houses, and wife, and children, and friends, and goods, and makes himself poor and bare of all things, that he may go on his journey lightly and merrily without hindrance.

'Well, now thou art in thy way travelling towards Jerusalem; the which travelling consists in working inwardly, and (when need is) outwardly too, such works as are suitable to thy condition and state, and such as will help and increase in thee this gracious desire that thou hast to love Jesus only. Let thy works be what they will, thinking, or reading, or preaching or labouring, etc.; if thou findest that they draw thy mind from worldly vanity, and confirm thy heart and will more to the love of Jesus, it is good and profitable for thee to use them. And if thou findest that through custom such works do in time lose their savour and virtue to increase this love, and it seems to thee that thou feelest more grace and spiritual profit in some other, take these other and leave those, for though the inclination and desire of thy heart to Jesus must  ever be unchangeable, nevertheless thy spiritual works thouu shalt use in thy manner of praying, reading, etc., to the end to feed and strengthen this desire, may well be changed, according as thou feelest thyself by grace disposed in the applying of thy heart. Bind not thyself, therefore, unchangeably to voluntary customs, for that will hinder the freedom of thy heart to love Jesus, if grace would visit thee specially.

'Before thou has made many steps in the way, thou must expect a world of enemies of several kinds, that will beset thee roun about, and all of them will endeavour busily to hinder thee from going forward; yea, and if they can by any means, they will, either by persuasions, flatteries, or violence, force thee to return home again to those vanities that thou hast forsaken. For there is nothing grieves them so much as to see a resolute desire in thy heart to love Jesus, and to travail to find Him. Therefore they will all conspire to put out of thy heart that good desire and love in which all virtues are comprised.

'Thy first enemies that will assult thee will be fleshly desires and vain fears of thy corrupt heart; and with these there will join unclean spirits, that with sights and temptations will seek to allure thy heart to them, and to withdraw it from Jesus. But whatsoever they say, believe them not; but betake thyself to thy old only secure remedy, answering ever thus, I am nought, I have nought, and I desire nought, but only the love of Jesus, and so hold forth on thy way desiring Jesus only.

'If they endeavour to put dreads and scruples into thy mind, and would make thee belief that thou hast not done penance enough, as thou oughtest for thy sins, but that some old sins remain in thy heart not yet confessed, or not sufficiently confessed and absolved, and that therefore thou must needs return home and do penance better before thou have the boldness to go to Jesus, do not beleive a word of all that they say, for thou art sufficiently acquitted of thy sins, and there is no need at all that thou shouldst stay to ransack thy conscience, for this will now but do thee harm, and either put thee quite out of thy way or at least unprofitably delay thy travailing in it.

'If they shall tell thee that thou art not worthy to have the love of Jesus, or to see Jesus, and therefore that thou oughtest not to be so presumptious to desire and seek after it, believe them not, but go on and say: It is not because I am worthy, but because I am unworthy, that I therefore desire to have the love of Jesus, for if once I had it, it would make me worthy. I will therefore never cease desiring it till I have obtained it. For, for it only was I created, therefore, say and do what you will, I will desire it continually, I will never cease to pray for it, and so doing I hope to obtain it.

'If thou meetest with any that seem friends unto thee, and that in kindness would stop thy progress by entertaining thee, and seeking to draw thee to sensual mirth by vain discourses and carnal solaces, whereby thou wilt be in danger to forget thy pilgrimage, give a deaf ear to them, answer them not; think only on this, That thou wouldest fain be at Jerusalem. And if they proffer thee gifts and preferments, heed them not, but think ever on Jerusalem.

'And if men despise thee, or lay any false calumnies to thy charge, giving thee ill names; if they go about to defraud thee or rob thee; yea, if they beat thee and use thee despitefully and cruelly, for thy life content not with them, strive not against them, nor be angry with them, but content thyself with the harm received, and go on quietly as if nought were done, that thou take no further harm; think only on this, that to be at Jerusalem deserves to be purchased with all this ill-usage or more, and that there thou shalt be sufficiently repaired for all thy losses, and recompensed for all hard usages by the way.

'If thine enemies see that thou growest courageous and bold, and that thou will neither be seduced by flatteries nor disheartened with the pains and troubles of thy journey, but rather well cotnented with them, then they will begin to be afraid of thee; yet for all that, they will never cease pursuing thee - they will follow thee all along the way, watching all advantages against thee, and ever and anon they will set upon thee, seeking either with flatteries or frights to stop thee, and drive thee back if they can. But fear them not; hold on thy way, and have nothing in thy mind but Jerusalem and Jesus, whom thou wilt find there.

'If thy desire of Jesus still continues and grows more strong, so that it makes thee to go on thy ways courageously, they will then tell thee that it may very well happen that thou wilt fall into coprporal sickness, and perhaps such a sickness as will bring strange fancies into thy mind, and melancholic apprehensions; or perhaps thou wilt fall into great want, and no man will offer to help thee, by occasion of which misfortunes thou wilt be grievously tempted by thy ghostly enemies, the which will then insult over thee, and tell thee that thy folly and proud presumption have brought thee to this miserable pass, that thou canst neither help thyself, nor will any man help thee, but rather hinder those that would. And all this they will do to the end to increase thy melancholic and unquiet apprehensions, or to provoke thee to anger or malice against thy Christian brethren, or to murmur against Jesus, who, perhaps for thy trial, seems to hide His face from thee. But still neglect all these suggestions as though thou heardest them not. Be angry with nobody but thyself. And as for all thy diseases, poverty, and whatsoever other sufferings (for who can reckon all that may befall thee?), take Jesus in thy mind, think on this lesson that thou art taught, and say, I am nought, I have nought, I care for nought in this world, and I desire nought but the love of Jesus, that I may see him in peace in Jerusalem.

'But if it shall happen sometimes, as likely it will, that through some of these temptations and thy own frailty, thou stumble and perhaps fall down, and get some harm thereby, or that thou for some time be turned a little out of the right way, as soon as possibly may be come again to thyself, get up again and return into the right way, using such remedies for thy hurt as as the Church ordains; and do not trouble thyself over much or over long with thinking unquietly on thy past misfortune and pain - abide not in such thoughts, for that will do thee more harm, and give advantage to thine enemies. Therefore, make haste to go on in thy travail and working again, as if nothing had happened. Keep but Jesus in thy mind, and a desire to gain his love, and nothing shall be able to hurt thee.

'At last, when thine enemies perceive that thy will to Jesus is so strong that thou wilt not spare neither for poverty nor mischief, for sickness nor fancies, or doubts nor fears, or life nor death, no, nor for sins neither, but ever forth thou wilt go on with that one thing of seeking the love of Jesus, and with nothing else; and that thou despisest and scarce markest anything that they say to the contrary, but holdest on in thy praying and other spiritual works (yet always with discretion and submission), then they grow even enraged, and will spare no manner of most cruel usage. They will come closer to thee than ever before, and betake themselves to their last and most dangerous assult, and that is, to bring into the sight of thy mind all thy good deeds and virtues, showing thee that all men praise thee, and love thee, and bear thee great veneration for thy sanctity, etc. And all this they do to the end to raise vain joy and pride in thy heart. But if thou tenderest thy life, thou wilt hold all this flattery and falsehood to be a deadly poison to thy soul, mingled with honey; therefore, away with it; caste it from thee, saying, thou wilt have none of it, but thou wouldest be at Jerusalem,

'And to the end, to put thyself out of the danger and reach of all such temptations, suffer not thy thoughts willingly to run about the world, but draw them all inwards, fixing them upon one only thing, which is Jesus; set thyself to think only on Him, to know Him, to love Him; and after thou hast for a good time brought thyself to do thus, then whatsoever thou seest or feelest inwardly that is not He, will be unwelcome and painful to thee, because it will stand in thy way to the seeing and seeking of Him whom thou only desirest.

'But yet, if there be any work or outward business which thou art obliged to do, or that charity or present necessity requires of thee, either concerning thyself or thy Christian brother, fail not to do it: despatch it as well and as soon as well thou canst, and let it not tarry long in thy thoughts, for it will but hinder thee in thy principal business. But if it be any other matter of no necessity, or that concerns thee not in particular, trouble not thyself nor distract thy thoughts about it, but rid it quickly out of thy heart, saying still thus, I am nought, I can do nought, I have nought, and nought do I desire to have, but only Jesus and his love.

'Thou wilt be forced, as all other pilgrims are, to take ofttimes, by the way, refreshments, meats and drink and sleep, yea, and sometimes innocent recreations; in all which things use discretion, and take heed of a foolish scrupulosity about them. Fear not that they will be much a hindrance to thee, for though they seem to stay thee for a while, they will further thee and give thee strength to walk on more courageously for a good long time after.

'To conclude, remember that thy principal aims, and indeed only business, is to knit thy thoughts to the desire of Jesus - to strengthen this desire daily by prayer and other spiritual workings, to the end it may never go out of thy heart. And whatsoever thou findest proper to increase that desire, be it praying or reading, speaking or being silent, travailing or reposing, make use of it for the time, as long as thy soul finds savour in it, and as long as it increases this desire of having or enjoying nothing but the love of Jesus, and the blessed sight of Jesus in true peace in Jerusalem; and be assured that this good desire thus cherished and continually increased will bring thee safe unto the end of thy pilgrimage'.

This is the substance of the parable of the Spiritual Pilgrim travailing in the ways of contemplation; the which I have more largely set down because, but the contexture of it, not only we see confirmed what is already written before, but also we have a draught and scheme represented, according to which all the following instructions will be conformably answerable.


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