Liber de gradibus humilitatis et superbiae


English translation adapted from: Saint Bernard The Twelve Degrees of humility and Pride Translated by Barton R. V. Mills, M.A.London SPCK New York and Toronto : The Macmillan Co. 1929 Translations of Christian Literature Series 1I.  Latin Text:  Liber de gradibus humilitatis et superbiae - Bernardi opera, ed. J. Leclercq et H.M. Rochais, 1963, vol. 3, p. 13-59

















In order to strengthen and support a certain opinion expressed in this little book I quoted the passage in the Gospel  in which Our Lord states that He was unaware of the date of the final Judgment. To this I inadvertently added a word which, as I have since discovered, does not occur in the Gospel. For the text has simply ‘neither the Son knoweth,’ whereas I, thinking rather of the sense than of the wording, and with no intention to mislead, by mistake wrote : The Son of Man Himself knoweth not. (Mk 13:32)

§ 1   In hoc opusculo, cum illud de Evangelio, quod Dominus ait, diem ultimi iudicii se nescire, ad aliquam sententiam confirmandam atque roborandam proferrem in medium, improvide quiddam apposui  quod in Evangelio scriptum non esse postea deprehendi. Nam cum textus habeat tantummodo: Neque filius scit, ego deceptus magis quam fallere volens, litterae quippe inmemor, sed non sensus: “Nec ipse, inquam, filius hominis scit”.

On this I based the whole of the subsequent argument, in which I attempted to prove the truth of my assertion by means of an inaccurate quota­tion. I did not discover my mistake until long after the publication of the pamphlet, and when a number of copies had been made. It is impossible to correct a misstatement in a book which has had a wide circulation, so I have thought it incumbent on me to resort to the only possible remedy—an admission that I was wrong.

§ 2  Unde etiam totam ordiens sequentem disputationem  ex eo quod non veraciter posui, veram conatus sum approbare assertionem. Sed quia talem errorem meum multo post, quam a me idem libellus editus et a pluribus iam transcriptus fuit, deprehendi, cum non potui per tot iam libellos sparsum persequi mendacium, necessarium credidi confugere ad confessionis remedium.

And in another passage I have expressed a definite opinion about the Seraphim which I never heard, and have nowhere read. Here also my readers may well consider that it would have been more reasonable on my part to have said ‘I suppose’, as I had certainly no desire to offer more than a conjecture on a matter which I was unable to prove from Scripture.

§ 3  Alio quoque in loco quamdam de Seraphim opinionem posui, quam numquam audivi, nusquam legi. Ubi sane lector meus attendat, quod proinde temperanter “puto” dixerim, volens videlicet non aliud quam putari, quod certum reddere de Scripturis non valui.

It is also possible that the title chosen ‘Concerning the Degrees of Humility’ may incur censure (Hos 5:11) — but this will come only from those who overlook or misunderstand the meaning of that title — an explanation of which I have been careful to give in the conclusion of the tract.

§ 4   Titulus quoque ipse qui “De gradibus humilitatis”. inscribitur, pro eo forsitan quod non humilitatis, sed superbiae potius hic distingui describique videntur gradus, calumniam patietur, sed hoc a minus vel intelligentibus, vel attendentibus eiusdem tituli rationem, quam tamen in fine opusculi ipse breviter intimare curavi.



You have asked me, brother Godfrey, to expand and put in writing the substance of the addresses ‘On the Degrees of Humility’ which I had delivered to the brethren. I admit that, anxious as I was to give to this request of yours the serious answer (Mk 15:15) that it deserved, I was doubtful whether I could comply with it. For with the evangelist’s warning in my mind (Lk 14:28), I did not venture to begin the work, until I had sat down and calculated whether my resources were sufficient for its completion.

§ 1  Rogasti me, frater Godefride, quatenus ea quae de gradibus humilitatis coram fratribus locutus fueram, pleniori tibi tractatu dissererem. Cui tuae petitioni digne, ut dignum erat, et volens satisfacere, et timens non posse, evangelici consilii memor, non prius, fateor, incipere ausus sum, quam sedens computavi, si sufficerent sumptus ad perficiendum.

Then, when love had cast out the fear (1Jn 4:18) that I had entertained of ridicule for failure to complete my work (Lk 14:30), it was replaced by misgiving of a different kind ; for I was apprehensive of greater danger from the credit that might attend success than of the disgrace that might attach to failure. So I found myself, as it were, at the parting of the way indicated respectively by affection and by fear ; and I was long in doubt as to which was the safer choice. For I was afraid that if I said anything worth saying about humility, I might myself be found wanting in that virtue, whereas if, on grounds of modesty, I refused to speak, I might fail in usefulness.

§ 2  Cum autem caritas foras hunc misisset timorem, quo mihi timebam illudi de opere non consummando, subintravit alius timor de contrario, quo coepi timere gravius periculum de gloria si perfecissem, quam de ignominia si defecissem. Unde inter hunc timorem et caritatem, velut in quodam bivio positus, diu haesitavi, cui viarum tuto me crederem, metuens aut loquendo utiliter de humilitate, ipse humilis non inveniri; aut tacendo humiliter, inutilis fieri.

And I saw that, though neither of these courses is free from peril, I should be obliged to take one or the other. So I have thought it better to give you the benefit of anything that I can say, than to seek personal safety in the harbor of silence. And I earnestly trust that, if I am fortunate enough to say anything which commends itself to you, I may have in your prayers a safeguard against pride, whereas if—as is more likely—I produce nothing worthy of your attention, there will be no possible cause for conceit.

§ 3  Cumque neutram tutam, alterutram tamen mihi tenendam esse conspicerem,  elegi potius tibi, si quem possem, communicare fructum sermonis, quam tutari me solum portu silentii: simul fiduciam habens, si quid forte, quod approbes, dixerim, tuis precibus posse non superbire; sin autem -quod magis puto- nihil tuo studio dignum effecerim, de nihilo superbire non posse.


Capítulo  1

The Reward that Results from The Ascent of the Steps of Humility


1.1. I PROPOSE to speak of the degrees of humility, as St. Benedict sets them before us, as not only to be enumerated but to be attained. And I will first indicate, to the best of my ability, the goal that may be reached by their means, so that when you have heard the result of its attainment, the toil involved in the ascent may be less severely felt

§ 1  Locuturus ergo de  gradibus  humilitatis,  quos beatus Benedictus non numerandos, sed ascendendos proponit, prius ostendo, si possum, quo per illos Perveniendum sit, ut: audito fructu perventionis, minus gravet labor ascensionis.

So let our Lord set before us the difficulties that we shalt encounter, and the reward that we shall receive for our toilsome journey. I am, saith He, The Way and the Truth and the Life. (Jn 14.6)  He calls humility ‘the way’ because it leads to the truth. In the former lies the labor, in the latter is the reward of labor (1 Cor 3:8). But, you may ask, how am I to know that He was here speaking of humility, since He says without further explanation, I am the Way ? Listen to His more explicit statement, Learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart. (Mt 11.29)

§ 2  Proponat  itaque  Dominus  nobis  viae  laborem,  laboris mercedem: Ego sum, inquit, via, veritas et vita. Viam dicit, humilitatem, quae ducit ad veritatem : altera labor, altera fructus laboris est. “Unde sciam” inquis, “quod ibi de humilitate locutus sit, cum indeterminate dixerit: “Ego sum via”? Audi apertius : Discite a me, quia mitis sum et humilis corde.

In this He exhibits Himself as a type of humility, a model of meekness. If you imitate Him, you are not walking in darkness, but you will have the light of life. (Jn 8.12)What is the light of life, unless it be the truth, which lightens every man that comes into the world, (Jn 1.9) and shows us wherein true life consists (1Tim 6:19) ? For this reason, to those words of His I am the Way and the Truth, He added and the Life, (Jn 17.23) as though He meant to say, I am the way because I lead to the truth, I am the truth because I promise life, I am myself the life which I give. For this, saith He, is life eternal, that they may know thee the true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. (Jn 17.3)

§ 3  Se ergo proponit humilitatis  exemplum, mansuetudinis formam. Si imitaris eum, non ambulas in tenebris, sed habebis lumen vitae. Quid est lumen vitae, nisi veritas, quae illuminans omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum, ostendit ubi sit vera vita? Ideo cum dixisset: Ego sum via et veritas, subdidit: et vita, at si diceret:Ego sum via, quae ad veritatem duco; ego sum veritas, quae vitam promitto; ego sum vita, quam do. Haec est enim, ait, vita aeterna, ut cognoscant te verum deum, et quem misisti Iesum Christum.

But admitting this, you may still say, I recognize humility as the way ; I long for truth as the reward ; but what if the toil of the journey be so great that I am unable to reach the desired goal? To this He replies, I am the life, that is the provision for the journey [viaticum] by which you will be supported on the way. (Dt 15:14; Jos 9:5)

§ 4  Vel sic, quasi tu dicas: “Viam considero, id est humilitatem; fructum desidero, veritatem. Se quid si tantus est labor viae, ut ad optatum luctum non possim pervenire?” Respondet: Ego sum vita, id est viaticum, quo sustenteris in via.

So He exclaims to the wanderers and to those who do not know the road, I am the way, to the doubters and dis­believers, I am the truth, to those who have begun the ascent and are getting tired, I am the life. I think that it has been made sufficiently clear by the passage quoted from the Gospel that

§ 5  Clamat igitur errantibus et viam ignorantibus: Ego sum via; dubitantibus et non credentibus: Ego sum veritas; iam ascendentibus, sed lassescentibus: Ego sum vita. Satis, ut reor, ostensum est ex proposito capitulo Evangelii

the fruit of knowledge of the truth is humility. (or: knowledge of the truth is the fruit of humility) cognitionem veritatis fructum esse humilitatis.

And take another passage, I praise thee, Father of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things’ (that undoubtedly means `secret truths’) from the wise and prudent (that is from the proud) and hast revealed them unto, babes (that is to the humble) (Mt 11:25). This affords( further evidence that the truth which is withheld from the proud, is disclosed to the humble (Jas 4:6; 1 Pt 5:5).

§ 6  Accipe et aliud: confiteor tibi, Pater caeli et terrae, quia abscondisti haec, haud dubium quin veritatis secreta, a sapientibus et prudentibus, id est a superbis, et revelasti ea parvulis, hoc est humilibus. Et in hoc apparet quod veritas, quae superbis absconditur, humilibus revelatur.


Capítulo  2

And the following may be taken as the definition of humility:

§ 1   Humilitatis vero talis  potest  esse definitio:

humility is the virtue that enables a man to know himself most truly [and thus also] his own unworthiness.

humilitas est virtus, qua homo verissima sui cognitione sibi ipse vilescit

Cf. Augustine, In Johannem Tract 25.16, CCSL 36


And this is the characteristic virtue of those who are disposed in their hearts to ascend by steps’ from virtue to virtue, until they reach the summit of humility ; where, standing on Sion (Ps 83:6) as on a watchtower, they may survey the truth. For, saith the Psalmist, the lawgiver shall give a blessing (Ps 83:8)He then who gave the law will also provide the blessing—that is to say, he who has prescribed humility will conduct us to the truth.

Haec autem convenit his, qui ascensionibus in corde suo dispositis, de virtute in virtutem, id est de gradu in gradum proficiunt, donec ad culmen humilitatis perveniant, in quo velut Sion, id est in speculatione, positi, veritatem prospiciant. Etenim, inquit, benedictionem dabit legislator, quia qui dedit legem, dabit et benedictionem, hoc est qui iussit humilitatem, perducet ad veritatem.

And who is this lawgiver but the kind and righteous Lord who has given a law to those who fail in the way (Ps 24:8)? And surely those who have forsaken the truth have failed on the way. But are they on that account forsaken by the kind Lord ? Nay, but it is for these very persons that the kind and righteous Lord prescribes the path of humility, by, their return to which they may discover the truth. He allows them an opportunity of regaining salvation because He is kind, yet not without the discipline of law because He is righteous. In His kindness He will not permit their ruin, in His righteousness He cannot omit their punishment.

§ 2  Quis vero est hic legislator, nisi dulcis et rectus Dominus; qui legem dedit delinquentibus in via? In via quippe delinquunt, qui veritatem derelinquunt. Sed numquid vel sic a dulci Domino derelinquuntur? Ipsis ergo dulcis et rectus Dominus legem dat viam humilitatis, per quam redeant ad cognitionem veritatis. Dat occasionem recuperandae salutis; quia dulcis est; non tamen absque disciplina legis quia rectus est. Dulcis, quia perire non patitur; rectus, qui punire non obliviscitur.


Capítulo  3

The ladder of humility, foreshadowed by that which Jacob saw in his vision. The refreshment provided by Christ—humility, love, and contemplation—of which love is the central course, as on Solomon’s table.


St. Benedict enumerates twelve degrees in this law by which the return to truth is made (RB 7.10-66); so that as access to Christ is gained when the Ten Commandments of the law (Ex 24:28) and the twofold circumcisions (Gn 17:26) —which together make up the number of twelve—have been passed, truth may likewise be attained by passing through these twelve degrees.

§ 1  Hanc itaque legem, qua reditur ad veritatem, beatus Benedictus per duodecim gradus disponit, ut sicut post decem praecepta legis ac geminam circumcisionem  -in quo duodenarius numerus impletur-  ad Christum venitur, ita his duodecim gradibus ascensis, veritas apprehendatur.

And what can be the significance of the fact that the Lord appeared leaning over that ladder which was shown to Jacob as a symbol of humility (Gn 28:12), but that § 2  Illud quoque quod in scala illa, quae in typo humilitatis Iacob monstrata est, Dominus desuper innixus apparuit, quid nobis aliud innuit, nisi quod
the knowledge of truth is constituted at the height of humility (RB 7.5)? in culmine humilitatis cognitio constituitur veritatis?

  For then the Lord, whose eyes, as He is the embodiment of truth, could neither deceive nor be deceived, was looking down from the top of that ladder over the sons of men (Ps 13:2) to discover whether there is anyone who understands or seeks after God. And does He not seem to you to cry aloud from on high and to say to those who seek Him (for He knows who are His [2Tim 2.19; Jn 10:14]) Come over to me ye who desire me, and be filled with fruits,’ and also, Come unto me ye who labour and are burdened and I will refresh you ? (Mt 11.28)

 Dominus quippe de summitate scalae prospiciebat super filios hominum tamquam Veritas, cuius oculi sicut fallere nolunt, ita falli non norunt, ut videret si sit intelligens aut requirens Deum. Annon tibi de alto videtur clamare ac dicere requirentibus se,-novit enim qui sunt eius: Transite ad me omnes qui concupiscitis me, et a generationibus meis implemini? Et illud; Venite ad me qui laboratis et onerati estis et ego vos reficiam.

Come He says.  Where?  To me – Who am the truth (Mt 11.28)How?  By humility.  What is the fruit? I will refresh you.

§ 3  Venite, inquit. Quo? Ad me veritatem. Qua? Per humilitatem. Quo fructu? Ego vos reficiam.

But what refreshments is this that Truth promises to those who attempt and gives to those who attain ? Is it perchance love ? Then this it is at which, as St. Benedict says, the monk who has passed through all the degrees of humility will ere long arrive (RB 7.67). Truly love is delightful and pleasant food, supplying, as it does, rest to the weary, strength to the weak (Is 35:3), and joy to the sorrowful. It in fact renders the yoke of truth easy and its burden light (Mt 11:30).

Sed quae est refectio quam Veritas ascendentibus promittit, pervenientibus reddit? An forte ipsa est caritas? Ad hac quippe, ut ait beatus Benedictus, ascensis omnibus humilitatis gradibus monachus mox perveniet. Vere dulcis et suavis cibus caritas, quae fessos allevat, debiles roborat, maestos laetificat, iugum denique Veritatis facit suave et onus leve.

  Capítulo  4

Love is good food,’ which, as the central dish on Solomon’s dinner table (Sg 3:9), by the aroma of various virtues (Sg 1:2) as by the fragrance of different condiments (Sg 3:6), refreshes those who are hungry and delights those who give the refreshment. For on it are set out peace, patience, kindness, forbearance (Gal 5:22), joy in the Holy Ghost (Rm 14:17); and if there are any other products of truth or of wisdom, they too are there.

§ 1  Bonus cibus caritas, quae media in ferculo Salomonis consistens, diversarum odore virtutum, velut diversi generis fragrantia pigmentorum, esurientes reficit, iucundat reficientes. Ibi siquidem apponitur pax, patientia, benignitas, longanimitas, gaudium in Spiritu Sancto; et si quae sint aliae veritatis seu sapientiae generationes, apparantur in illa.

Humility also has her dishes on the same tray, namely, the bread of sorrow (Ps 126:2) and the wine of compunction (Ps 59:5). These are the things which Truth offers in the first place to beginners, for to them it is said, Rise after ye have sat down, ye who eat the bread of sorrow (Ps 126:2).

§ 2  Habet et humilitas in eodem ferculo suas epulas, panem scilicet doloris et vinum compunctionis, quas primo Veritas incipientibus offert, quibus utique dicitur: Surgite postquam sederitis, qui manducatis panem doloris.

There also contemplation has its solid food of wisdom (Heb 5:14), made of the finest grain (Ps 147:14), and the wine that rejoices the heart of man (Ps 103:15). To this food Truth invites those who have accomplished their course, saying : Eat, my friends, and drink and be inebriated, my dearly-beloved (Sg 5:1). The midst, saith he, he covered with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem (Sg 3:10) — that is to say, for the sake of the immature souls which, while they are as yet unable to receive solid food, must meanwhile be fed with the milk of love instead of with bread, and with oil instead of with wine.

§ 3  Habet ibidem contemplatio ex adipe frumenti solidum cibum sapientiae, cum vino quod laetificat cor hominis, ad quem Veritas perfectos invitat, dicens: Comedite, amici mei, et bibite, et inebriamini, carissimi. Media, inquit, caritate constravit propter filias Ierusalem, propter imperfectas videlicet animas, quae dum adhuc solidum illum cibum minus capere possunt, interim caritatis pro pane, oleo pro vino nutriendae sunt.

And love is rightly called the central course, because beginners are unable, through their timidity, to take advantage of its sweetness, while to those who have arrived at maturity it is an insufficient substitute for the deeper delight of full vision. The first still require to be cleansed, by a very bitter dose of fear, from the pestilent poison of fleshly lust, and have not yet discovered the sweetness of milk. The latter have already turned away from milk and are revelling in the delight derived from their entrance into glory. Those only in the middle—who are on the journey—have found some delicious little morsels of love, with which, owing to their weak diges­tion, they so far have to be content.

 § 4  Quae recte media describitur, quia eius suavitas nec incipientibus praesto est, prohibente timore, nec perfectis satis est, pro abundantiori contemplationis dulcedine. Hi adhuc a noxiis carnalium delectationum humoribus, timoris amarissima potione purgandi, nondum lactis dulcedinem experiuntur; illi iam avulsi a lacte, epulari ab introitu gloriae gloriosius delectantur, solis mediis, id est proficientibus, ita iam melleas quasdam sorbitiunculas caritatis expertis, ut illis interim pro sui teneritudine contenti sint.


Capítulo  5

So the first course is humility, purifying by its bitterness, the second is love, comforting by its sweetness, the third is full vision, secure in its strength. Alas for me, Lord God of righteousness—how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy servant, how long wilt thou feed me with the bread of tears and give me tears for my drink (Ps 79:5ff.)?’ Who will call me even so far as to that delightful company of love, where the righteous feast in the sight of God,’ and revel in the fulness of their joy (Ps 67:4); where I need no longer speak in the bitterness of my heart, but may say to God ‘condemn me not (Jb 10:1), if while I feast on the unleavened bread of sincerity and of truth, I sing joyously in the paths of the Lord (1 Cor 5:8), for great is the glory of the Lord ?

§ 1  Primus ergo cibus est humilitatis, purgatorius cum amaritudine; secundus caritatis, consolatorius cum dulcedine; tertius contemplationis, solidus cum fortitudine. Ei mihi, Domine Deus virtutum, quousque irasceris super orationem servi tui, cibabis me pane lacrimarum, et potum dabis mihi in lacrimis? Quis me invitabit ad illud vel medium ac dulce caritatis convivium, ubi iusti epulantur in conspectu Dei, et delectantur in laetitia, ut iam non loquens in amaritudine animae meae, dicam Deo: Noli me condemnare, sed epulando in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis, laetus cantem in viis Domini, quoniam magna est gloria Domini?

Yet good also is the path of humility (Ps 137:5), for by it truth is sought, love is reached, and a share of the fruits of wisdom is obtained. So thus as Christ is the end of the law, so § 2  Bona tamen via humilitatis, qua veritas inquiritur, caritas acquiritur, generationes sapientiae participantur. Denique sicut finis legis Christus, sic
the perfection of humility, is the knowledge of truth. perfecto humilitatis cognitio veritatis.

Christ when He came brought grace. Truth gives grace to those to whom it has become known. But as it is by the humble that it is known, it is to them that it gives grace.

Christus, cum venit, attulit gratiam. Veritas quibus innotuerit, dat caritatem; innotescit autem humilibus: humilibus ergo dat gratiam.


Capítulo  6

The process by which the road of humility leads to the attainment of Truth. The three degrees of Truth. The teaching of Christ about these. Discussion of the difficulty involved in the statement that He learned compassion through suffering.


I have stated, as well as I can do so, the blessings to be gained by passing upwards through the degrees of humility. I will now, to the best of my ability, explain the process by which these lead to the promised prize—the attainment of truth.

§ 1 Dixi, ut potui, quo fructu humilitatis gradus ascendi debeant; dicam, ut potero, quo ordine ad propositum bravium veritatis perducant.



But as the recognition of truth is gradual, I will, if I can do so, indicate its three degrees, in order to make it more clear to which of these the twelfth degree of humility leads.’ We’ seek for truth in ourselves ; in our neigh­bours, and in its essential nature. We find it in ourselves by judging ourselves (1 Cor 11:31), then in our neighbours by suffering with them (1 Cor 12:26), and, finally, in its own nature by contemplation from a pure heart (Mt 5:8).

  Sed quia ipsa quoque veritatis agnitio in tribus gradibus consistit, ipsos breviter, si possum, distinguo quatenus ex hoc clarius innotescat, ad quem trium veritatis, duodecimus humilitatis pertingat. Inquirimus namque veritatem in nobis, in proximis, in sui natura. In nobis, nosmetipsos diiudicando, in proximis, eorum malis compatiendo; in sui natura, mundo corde contemplando.

Observe both the number and the sequence. To begin with, let Him who is the Truth teach you that you must search for truth in those around you before you look for it in its intrinsic purity. You will afterwards learn why you must search for it in yourself before you do so in your neighbours. Thus in the enumeration of the Beatitudes in His Sermon He placed ‘the merciful’ before ‘the pure in heart’ (Mt 5:7-8). For the merciful quickly discover truth in their neighbours when they extend their sympathy to them, and so kindly identify themselves with them that they feel their good and evil characteristics as if they were their own. They are weak with those that are weak, with those who are scandalized they burn (2 Cor 11:29). They have made it their custom to rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep (Rom 12:15). When their spiritual vision has been made clear and acute by this brotherly love, they delight to contemplate truth for its own sake, and in their affection for it they are indulgent towards errors which are not their own.

§ 3  Observa sicut numerum, ita et ordinem. Primo te doceat Veritas ipsa, quos prius in proximis quam in sui debeat inquiri natura. Post haec accipies, cur prius in te quam in proximis inquirere debeas. In numero siquidem beatitudinum, quas suo sermone distinxit, prius misericordes quam mundicordes posuit. Misericordes quippe cito in proximis veritatem deprehendunt, dum suos affectus in illos extendunt, dum sic per caritatem se illis conformant, ut illorum vel bona, vel mala, tamquam propria sentiam. Cum infirmis infirmatur, cum scandalizatis uruntur. Gaudere cum gaudentibus, flere cum flentibus consueverunt. Hac caritatis fraterna cordis acie mundata, veritatem delectantur in sui contemplari natura, pro cuius amore mala tolerant aliena.

But how can those who, so far from thus associating themselves with their brethren, insult them in their sorrow and deride them in their joy, possibly discern truth in their neighbours, seeing that they cannot enter into the feelings of others about things of which they have no personal experience ?

§ 4  Qui vero se ita fratribus non consociant, sed e contrario aut flentibus insultant, aut gaudentibus derogant, dum quod in illis est, in se non sentiunt, quia similiter affecti non sunt, veritatem in proximis qualiter deprehendere possunt?

Well, indeed, does the common saying fit them ‘a healthy man has no idea of the feelings of one who is ill, nor does a well-fed man realize what a hungry man suffers (Terence Andria, 309): A sick man feels for the sick and a hungry man for the hungry, with familiarity the greater as his own condition approaches theirs.

§ 5  Bene namque convenit illis illud vulgare proverbium: Nescit sanus quis sentiat aeger, aut plenus quid patiatur ieiunus. Et aeger aegro, et ieiunus ieiuno quanto propinquius, tanto familiarius compatiuntur.

For as pure truth can be discerned only by one whose heart is pure, so can the sorrow [miseria] of a brother be most truly felt by one whose heart is sad [misero].

Sicut enim pura veritas non nisi puro corde videtur, sic miseria fratris verius misero corde sentitur.

But if your heart is to be saddened by the sorrows of others, you must recognize your own evil state, which you may see reproduced in your neighbour, and may thus know how to help him. And in this you have the example of our Saviour, who was willing to suffer that He might know how to sympathize, (Heb. 2.17) to accept sorrow [miser]  that He might thus learn to pity [misereri]. For, as it is written of Him,

Sed ut ob alienam miseriam cor miserum habeas, oportet tuam prius agnoscas, ut proximi mentem in tua invenias, et ex te noveris qualiter illi subvenias, exemplo scilicet Salvatoris nostri, qui pati voluit ut compati sciret, miser fieri ut misereri disceret, ut quomodo de ipso scriptum est:

He learned obedience by the things which He suffered,’ (Heb. 5.8)

Et didicit ex his quae passus est oboedientiam,

Thereby learning -  He, whose compassion was from eternity to eternity (Ps 102:17 -  

ita disceret, cuius misericordia ab aeterno et usque in aeternum;

that what He knew in His nature from eternity, He learned by experience in time.

se quod natura sciebat ab aeterno, temporali didicit experimento.


 Capítulo  7

But you may find it difficult to accept my statement that Christ who is the Divine wisdom (1 Cor 1:24) learned compassion, as though it were possible for Him through whom all things were made (Jn 1:3), ever to have been ignorant of anything ; especially in view of the fact that the passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews which I have adduced in support of my argument, may be understood in a different sense, which would not involve us in this difficulty. For, on this interpretation, the words He learned’ would refer, not to His own Person, but to His body which is the Church (Col 1:24). In that case the meaning of the sentence, And He learned obedience by the things that He suffered would be that He learned obedience in His body through what He personally suffered.

§ 1  Sed forte durum tibi videtur, quos dixi dei sapientiam Christum didicisse misericordiam, quasi is per quem omnia facta sunt, aliquid aliquando ignorasset ex his quae sunt, maxime cum illud quod ex epistola ad Hebraeos ad id comprobandum commemoravi, alio sensu, qui non ita videatur absurdus, possit intelligi, tu hoc quod dictum est; didicit, non ad ipsum caput referatur in sui persona, sed ad corpus eius, quod est Ecclesia, et sit ita sensus: Et didicit ex his quae passus est oboedientiam, hoc est: oboedientiam didicit in suo corpore his quae passus est in capite.

For what was the meaning of that death, that cross, those insults, spittings and stripes, all of which Christ who is our head endured, unless that they afford to us who are His body, convincing evidence of His. Obedience ? For Christ, saith Paul, became obedient to his Father, even unto death (Phil 2:8).And what was the need for such obedience ? Let the Apostle Peter give the answer : Christ suffered for us leaving to you an example that you should follow his steps (1 Pt 2:21), that is that you shall imitate His obedience.

§ 2   Nam illa mors, illa crux, opprobria, sputa flagella, quae omnia caput nostrum Christus pertransiit, quis aliud corpori eius,id es nobis, quam praeclara oboedientiae documenta fuerunt?Christus factus est, ait Paulus, oboediens Patri usque ad mortem. Qua necessitate? Respondeat apostolus Petrus: Christus passus est pro nobis, vobis relinquens exemplum, ut sequamini, inquit, vestigia eius, id est tu imitemini oboedientiam eius.

So from His sufferings we learn how much we who are mere men, must be prepared to endure for the sake of obedience, in the exercise of which He, who is also God, did not hesitate to die. And this, you may say, is the sense in which it is not unreasonable to allege that Christ learned obedience or compassion, or anything else during His earthly life, although you at the same time believe that it was not possible for Him to acquire while on earth any knowledge which He did not previously possess in His divine Person. Thus He might Himself both learn and teach pity and obedience, since the head and the body (Col 1:18) is one Christ.

§ 3  Ex his ergo quae passus est, discimus quanta nos, qui puri homines sumus, oporteat pro oboedentia perpeti, pro qua is, qui et Deus erat, non dubitaverit mori. Et hoc modo, inquis, inconveniens non erit si dicitur Christus vel oboedientiam, vel misericordiam, seu aliquid aliud in suo corpore didicisse, dum tamen sibi in sui persona nil, quod se ante latuerit, credatur ex tempore potuisse accedere, sicque ipse sit qui misereri aut oboedire doceat, ipse qui discat, quia caput et corpus unus est Christus.


 Capítulo  8

I do not deny that this verse may reasonably be thus understood. But the former interpretation seems to be supported by another passage in the same Epistle, in which it is said For nowhere cloth he take hold of the angels, but of the seed of Abraham. he taketh hold, wherefore it behoved him in all things to be like unto his brethren, that he might become merciful (Heb 2:16-7). I think that these words have so close a reference to His Person, that they cannot be altogether applicable to His body. It is at any, rate said of the word of God that He ‘took’, that is He incorporated into His own personality, not ‘angels’ but ‘the seed of Abraham.’ For the passage reads not ‘the word was made an angel’ but the Word was made flesh (Jn 1:14),’ and that from the flesh of Abraham, in accordance with the promise made to him (Gn 17:7; Gal 3:29). Whereupon, that is by reason of this assumption of the seed, he ought in all things to be like unto his brethren, that is to say, it was right and necessary that He should be, as we are, susceptible to suffering and should share with us every kind of misfortune (Jas 5:17) with the exception of sin (Heb 4:15). If you ask ‘Wherefore this necessity ?’ the answer is that He may become merciful (Heb 2:16).

§ 1  Non nego hunc intellectum, quin rectus sit; sed ex alio loco ipsius epistolae, superior interpretatio videtur approbari, ubi dicitur: Nusquam enim angelos apprehendit, sed semen Abrahae apprehendit; unde debuit per omnia fratribus similari, tu misericors fieret. Puto quod haec verba sic ad caput referenda sint, tu corpori penitus aptari non possint. De Verbo utique Dei dictum est quod non angelos apprehendit, hoc est non unam sibi personam assumpsit, sed semen Abrahae. Neque enim legitur: Verbum angelus factum est, se: Verbum caro factum est, et caro de carne Abrahae, iuxta promissionem quae illi primum facta est. Unde, id est ex qua seminis assumptione, debuit per omnia fratribus similari, id est oportuit ac necesse fuit ut similis nobis passibilis, nostrarum omnia, excepto peccato, genera miseriarum percurreret. Si quaeris: Qua necessitate? Ut misericors, inquit.

And, you may say, why may not this be properly under­stood as referring to His body ? But listen to the words which so closely follow these. For in that wherein he himself hath suffered and been tempted ; he is able to succour them also that are tempted. (Heb 2:18) And for these words I can see no better meaning than that He was pleased thus to suffer and to be tempted and to associate Himself with all human misery except sin (Heb 4:15)—which is what being ‘like unto his brethren in all things’ means, in order that He might learn by personal experience to pity and to feel for those who similarly suffer and are tempted.

 § 2  Et hoc, ais cur non recte ad corpus referri potest? Sed audi quod paulo post sequitur: In eo enim, in quo passus est ipse et tentatus, potens est et eis qui tentantur auxiliari. In quibus verbis quid melius intelligi possit non video, nisi quod ideo pati ac tentari, omnibusque, absque peccato, humanis voluit communicare miseriis -quod est per omnia fratribus similari-, ut similiter passis ac tentatis misereri ac compati ipso disceret experimento.


 Capítulo  9

I do not say that this experience added to His knowledge, but that it brought Him closer to us, so that the weak sons of Adam whom He has not disdained to make His own and to call His brethren (Heb 2:11), need not hesitate to bring their infirmities to Him, who, recognizing what He has Himself endured, as God is able and as their neighbour is desirous to provide the remedy. For this reason Isaiah calls Him a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity, (Is 53:3) and the Apostle says, We have not a High Priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities (Heb 4:15). And to show how He can have such compassion the writer adds, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin (Heb 4:15).

§ 1  Quo quidem experimento non dico ut sapientior efficeretur, sed propinquior videretur, quatenus infirmi filii Adam, quos suos fieri et appellari fratres non dedignatus est, suas illi infirmitates committere non dubitarent, qui sanare illas et posset ut Deus, et vellet ut proximus, et cognosceret ut eadem passus. Unde Isaias virum eum appellat dolorum, et scientem infirmitatem. Et Apostolus: Non enim habemus, inquit, pontificem, qui non possit compati infirmitatibus nostris. Unde autem possit,indicans adiungit: Tentatum autem per omnia pro similitudine,absque peccato.

For surely the blessed God, while in that form in which He thought it not robbery’ to be equal with the Father (Phil 2:6), was beyond doubt incapable of suffering before He had emptied Himself; and taken the form of a slave (Phil 2:7); and as He had no experience of sorrow or of subjection, He had no opportunity of practising either compassion or obedience. He had indeed a natural but not an experimental knowledge of these. Yet as He not only laid aside His own dignity, but was made a little lower than the angels (Heb 2:9; Ps 8:6), who by favour not by nature are incapable of suffering, He took a form in which it was possible for Him to suffer and to submit, which, as has been stated, He could not have done in that form which was His own. Thus by suffering He learned compassion and by subjection obedience. This experience, however, led, as I have pointed out, to an increase, not of Wisdom on His part, but of confidence on ours, since by the knowledge thus painfully acquired He from whom we had been so widely separated was brought nearer to us (Eph 2:13).

§ 2   Beatus quippe Deus, beatus Dei Filius,in ea forma, qua non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem Patri, procul dubio impassibilis, priusquam se exinanisset firmam servi accipiens, sicut miseriam vel subiectionem expertus non erat,sic misericordiam vel oboedientiam experimento non noverat. Sciebat quidem per natura, non autem sciebat per experientiam. At ubi minoratus est non solum a seipso, sed etiam paulo minus ab angelis, qui et ipsi impassibiles sint per gratiam, non per natura, usque ad illam formam, in qua pati et subici posset, quod utique, sicut dictum est, in sua non posset, et in passione expertus est misericordiam, et in subiectione oboedientiam Per quam tamen experientiam, non illi, ut dixi, scientia, sed nobis fiducia crevit, dum ex hoc misero genere cognitionis, is a quo longe erraveramus, factus est propior nobis.

For when would we dare to approach Him while He was incapable of suffering ? But now the Apostle advises and exhorts us to go with confidence to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16) whereon is He whom we surely recognize as the one of whom it is elsewhere written that He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows (Is 53:4), and of whose power to sympathize with us in what He has himself endured (Heb 2:18, 4:15) we can entertain no doubt.

§ 3  Quando enim illi appropinquare auderemus, in sua impassibilitate manenti? Nunc autem, Apostolo suadente, monemur cum fiducia adire thronum gratiae ipsius, quem nimirum, sicut alibi scriptum est, languores nostros tulisse et dolores portasse cognoscimus, et in eo quo passus est ipse, nobis compati posse non dubitamus.


 Capítulo  10

So there appears to be no contradiction on the one hand, in saying that, as there is nothing of which Christ was ever unaware, His knowledge could have no commencement, and, on the other hand, in maintaining that while in His Divine nature (Ps 102:19). He knew compassion from all eternity, in another capacity He learned it under bodily and temporal conditions. And note the similar language which our Lord used when in reply to a question from His disciples He pleaded ignorance of the date of the Last Day (Mk 13:32). For how could He in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3) be unaware of that day? How could He, for whom ignorance of any sort was clearly impossible say that He did not know ? Could He possibly desire to conceal by a subterfuge informa­tion which He could not profitably disclose? God forbid the thought ! For neither could He who is Wisdom be unaware of anything, nor could He who is Truth be capable of falsehood. But in His desire to discourage the useless curiosity of the disciples, He pleaded ignorance of the matter about which they asked Him—not indeed without qualification but in a way in which He could truthfully disclaim such knowledge. For although by His Divine insight—ranging over all things past, present and future, He had that day clearly before Him, it was still true that He was unaware of it by the exercise of any bodily sense. Had it been otherwise He would already have slain Antichrist with the breath of his mouth (2 Thes 2:8), would have heard with His bodily ears the shout of the archangel and the sound of the trumpet (Jos 6:20)at whose call the dead are to rise (Mt 10:8), and would have surveyed with His bodily eyes the sheep and the goats who are then to be separated from each other (Mt 25:32).

§ 1 Non ergo debet absurdum videri, si dicitur Christum non quidem aliquid scire coepisse, quod aliquando nescierit, scire tamen alio modo misericordiam ab aeterno per divinitatem, et aliter in tempore didicisse per carnem. Vide ne et simili locutionis modo illud dictum sit, quod Domino requirentibus discipulis de die ultimo se nescire respondit. Nam quomodo diem illud ille nesciebat, in quo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae absconditi sunt? Cur ergo se scire negabat, quod certum est quia nescire non poterat? Numquid forte mendaciter eis voluit celare, quod utiliter non valuit innotescere? Absit. Sicut nil ignorare poterat, cum sapientia sit, sic nec mentiri, cum veritas sit. Sed volens discipulos ab inutilis inquisitionis curiositate compescere, quod inquirebant se scire negavit: non omni modo quidem, sed tali quodam modo, quo negare veraciter potuit. Nam etsi suae divinitatis intuitu aeque omnia praeterita scilicet, praesentia atque futura perlustrando, diem quoque illum palam habebat, non tamen ullis carnis suae sensibus experiendo agnoverat. Alioquin iam spiritu oris sui Antichristum interfecerat; iam auribus sui corporis Archagelum vociferantem et tubam sonantem, in quo strepitu mortui suscitandi sunt, audierat; iam oculis suae carnis oves haedosque, qui ab invicem segregandi sunt, perspexerat.


 Capítulo  11

But with the intention of making it clear that it was only in the sphere of that intelligence which He possessed in His human capacity that he asserted His ignorance of that day, He was careful in His answer not to say ‘I do not know’ but The Son of Man himself doth not know (Mk 13:32): Now what is this title of ‘Son of Man’ but the one which He assumed on taking on Himself our nature? By its use here, He means it to be understood that when He says that He is ignorant of anything, He is speaking not as God, but as man. When on the other hand He refers to His own Godhead, He usually says not ‘the Son’ or ‘the Son of Man’ but ‘I’ or ‘We’—as in the passage verily verily I say unto you, before Abraham was made, I am.’ He there speaks of Himself as `I’ not as the ‘Son of Man’. There can be no doubt that He then referred to that existence which was His before Abraham, and which never had a beginning—not to what He became after the time of Abraham and by descent from him.

§ 1 Denique, ut intelligas quod illa tantum cognitione, quae per carnem fit, se illum diem nescire perhibuerit, vigilanter respondens, non ait: “Nec ego scio”, sed: Nec ipse, inquit, filius hominis scit. Quid est filius hominis, nisi nomen assumptae carnis? Quo siquidem nomine intelligi datur, quia dicens se aliquid nescire, non iuxta quod Deus est, sed secundum hominem loquitur. Alias quippe loquens de se secundum suam deitatem, non filius vel filium hominis, sed: “Ego” vel “me”, saepius ponere consuevit, ut ibi: Amen, amen dico vobis, antequam Abraham fieret, ego sum.Ego sum, ait, non: “Filius hominis est”. Nec dubium, quin de illa essentia diceret, qua ante Abraham et sine initio est, non qua  post Abraham et ex Abraham factus est.

And when He elsewhere asks His disciples what men think of Him, He says Whom do men say not ‘that I am’ but that the Son of Man is ?’ But when He afterwards asks the same disciples what they themselves felt about Him, He says, But whom do you say not ‘that the Son of Man is,’ but that I am ? So when He asks the, opinion of worldly persons about His bodily nature He uses the term ‘Son of Man,’ but when He questions His spiritual followers about His God­head, He significantly says not ‘the Son of Man’ but `me’. And that Peter understood what He meant by putting the question in this form is apparent from his reply, for he says Thou art, not `Jesus the son of a Virgin,’ but Christ the Son of God. Had he made the former reply he would have said what is no less true. But shrewdly gathering from the wording of the question the meaning of Him who put it, he gave a suitable and sufficient answer by saying, Thou alit Christ the Son of God.1

§ 2  Alibi quoque hominum de se opinionem a discipulis inquirens: Quem dicunt, inquit, homines esse, non “me”, sed filium hominibus? Rursus eosdem interrogans, quid de se ipsi quoque sentirent: Vos autem, non “quem filium hominis”, sed quem me, ait, esse dicitis? Carnalis videlicet populi sententiam de carne inquirens, nomen carnis, quos proprie est filius hominis, posuit; spirituales vero discipulos de sua deitate interrogans, non filium hominis, sed signanter me dixit. Quod denique Petrus intelligens, quid per hoc quos dixerat: me, requisiti fuissent, sua responsione aperuit: Tu es, inquiens, non “Iesus filius Virginis”, sed Christus filius Dei. Quod utique si respondisset, nihilominus veritatem dixisset; sed in verbis interrogationis sensum interrogantis prudenter advertens, competenter proprieque ad interrogata respondit, dicens: Tu es Christus filius Dei.


Capítulo  12

Now from this you may see that Christ has two natures, albeit in one Person, one in which He has always existed, the other in which He had a beginning, and that while in that nature which is eternal He always knew everything, in that which is temporal He found out many things in the course of time. Why then do you find it difficult to admit that as there, was a time when His bodily existence began, so may His knowledge of the ills of the flesh—

§ 1 Cum igitur videas Christum in una quidem persona duas habere naturas, unam qua semper fuit, alteram qua esse coepit, et secundum sempiternum quidem suum esse, semper omnia nosse, secundum temporale vero, multa temporaliter expertum fuisse, cur fateri dubitas, ut esse ex tepore coepit in carne, sic carnis quoque miserias scire coepisse, illo dumtaxat modo cognitionis, quem docet defectio carnis?

at all events that sort of knowledge which bodily weakness conveys—have had a beginning? Our first parents would no doubt have been better and wiser had they not possessed knowledge of this sort, since they could acquire it only through folly and misfortune. But God, their Creator, seeking what had been lost, in His mercy followed up His own handiwork. He Himself mercifully descended to the level from which they had miserably fallen, and was willing Himself to endure what they deservedly suffered through their disobedience to Him—and this not from a curiosity like theirs, but from marvellous love, His purpose being not to remain in misery with the unfortunate, but to become merciful and so to deliver them from their misery.

§ 2  Quod utique genus scientiae Protoplasti sapientius feliciusque nescirent, quando ad attingere nisi stulte misereque non poterant. Sed plasmator eorum Deus requirens quod perierat, opus suum miseratus prosecutus est, descendens et ipse misericorditer, quo illi ceciderant miserabiliter. Voluit experiri in se, quos illi faciendo contra se merito paterentur, non simili quidem curiositate, sed mirabili caritate: non ut miser cum miseris remaneret, sed ut misericors factus miseros liberaret.

When I say that he became merciful I refer not to that compassion which had been His in His eternal condition of bliss, but to that which He acquired through the medium of misfortune, while He bore our nature. Moreover, He completed in the latter the work of love which He had commenced in the former state. He could undoubtedly have made it complete in the former alone, but without the latter it would not have been effectual for us. Both forms were essential, but the latter more closely concerns ourselves.

§ 3  Factus, inquam, misericors, non illa misericordia, quam felix manens habuit ab aeterno, sed quam mediante miseria reperit in habitu nostro. Porro pietatis opus, quod per illam coepit, in ista perfecit: non quos sola illa non posset perficere, sed quia nobis non potuit absque ista sufficere. Utraque siquidem necessaria, sed nobis haec magis congrua fuit.

How indescribable is the method of His goodness. Could we ever have understood that marvellous mercy unless previous suffering had given it shape ? Could we have discerned His sympathy, of which we had no knowledge, if He had had no previous suffering and had remained insusceptible to pain?

§ 4  O ineffabilis pietatis excogitatio! Quando illam adverteremus incognitam nobis compassionem, que non passione praeventa, cum impassibilitate perdurat?

Yet had He not possessed that compassion which knows no misfortune, He would never have attained that whose mother is misfortune. If He had not attained this He could not have drawn it to Himself. If He had not so drawn it, He could not have brought it out. And whence did He bring it out if not from the pit of misery and mire of dregs ?’

§ 5  Attamen si illa quae miseriam nescit, misericordia non praecessisset, ad hanc, cuius miseria mater est, non accessisset. Si non accessisset, non attraxisset; si non attraxisset, non extraxisset. Unde autem extraxit, nisi de lacu miseriae et de luto faecis?

Yet He did not abandon that earlier compassion, but added to it the later. He did not alter He augmented it, as it is written, Men and beasts thou -wilt preserve, 0 God, 0 how hast thou multiplied thy mercy, 0 God.’

§ 6  Nec illam tamen misericordiam deseruit, sed hanc inseruit; non mutavit, sed  multiplicavit,  sicut  scriptum  est: Homines et iumenta salvabis, Domine, quemadmodum multiplicasti misericordiam tuam, Deus.


 Capítulo  13

The first degree of Truth—self-scrutiny—reveals to us our own evil case.


But let us resume the thread of our argument. If then He in whose nature there was no sadness, made Himself sad in order that He might have personal experience of something of the existence of which He was already aware, how much more is it your duty, I will not say to alter, but to recognize your condition, which is indeed a pitiable one—and thus to learn compassion of which you could otherwise have no knowledge ?

§ 1  Sed iam ad propositum redeamus. Si ergo se miserum fecit, qui miser non erat, ut experiretur quo  et ante sciebat, quanto magis tu, non dico ut te facias quod non es, sed ut  attendas quod es,  quia vere miser es, et sic discas  misereri, qui hoc aliter scire non potes?

For it may well happen that by dwelling on the shortcomings of your neighbour without sufficient attention to your own, you may be moved not to pity but to anger—not to assist but to condemn, and so to destroy in a spirit of wrath, rather than to restore in a spirit of meekness. Ye who are spiritual,’ saith the Apostle, instruct such an one in the spirit of meekness. The counsel—aye, the command—of the Apostle is that you should aid your ailing brother in the same kindly spirit in which you would wish to be helped when you are ailing. And to show how it is possible to be forbearing towards a wrong-doer, he says, con­sidering thyself lest thou also be tempted.

§ 2  Ne forte si proximi malum consideres et tuum non attendas, movearis non ad miserationem, sed  ad  indignationem  non  ad  adiuvandum, sed ad  iudicandum, denique non ad instruendum in spiritu lenitatis, sed ad destruendum in spiritu furoris. Vos qui spirituales estis, ait Apostolus, huiusmodi instruite in spiritu lenitatis. Apostoli consilium sive etiam praeceptum est, ut mansueto, id est eo spiritu fratri aegrotanti subvenias, quod tibi vis subveniri cum aegrotas. Et ut scias qualiter erga delinquentem mansuescere possis : Considerans, inquit, te ipsum, ne et tu tenteris.


 Capítulo  14

And please to note how well the disciple of Truth follows the sequence of the Master. In the Beatitudes, to which I have already referred, the `merciful’ are named before the ‘pure in heart’, as are the ‘meek’ before the ‘merciful’. And the Apostle when he exhorted those who were spiritual to restore such as were carnal, added in the spirit of meekness. For the reformation of the brethren is the mark of the merciful, and a spirit of meekness that of the humble. He says in effect that no one who is not himself meek can be reckoned among the merciful. Note that the Apostle here clearly asserts exactly what I said just now that I would establish, viz., that truth must be sought in our­selves before we can look for it in others, for he says consider thyself—by which he means, think how easily you may be tempted—how liable you are to sin—so that by self-scrutiny you may be made humble and may thus come to the aid of others in a spirit of meekness. If, however, you heed not the warning of the Apostle, tremble before the rebuke of the Master. Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye and thus shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’

 § 1 Considerare libet, quam bene discipulus Veritatis ordinem sequatur Magistri. In beatitudinibus; quas supra memoravi, sicut prius misericordes quam  mundicordes, sic prius mites quam misericordes pronuntiati sunt. Et Apostolus cum spirituales hortaretur ad instruendum carnales, adiunxit: In spiritu lenitatis. Instructio quippe fratrum pertinet ad misericordes, spiritus lenitatis ad mites. Ac si diceret: Inter misericordes, deputari non potest, qui in semetipso mitis non est. Ecce Apostolus aperte ostendit, quod superius me ostensuruum promisi, prius, videlicet veritatem inquirendam esse in nobis quam in proximis: considerans, inquiens, te ipsum, hoc est, quam facilis ad tentandum, quam pronus ad peccandum, quatenus ex tui consideratione mitescas, sicque ad succurrendum aliis in spiritu lenitatis accedas. Alioquin si monentem non audis Discipulum, arguentem time Magistrum: Hypocrita, eice primum trabem de oculo tuo, et sic videbis festucam eicere de oculo fratris tui.

Pride in the mind is like a thick heavy beam in the eye, whose excessive size is due not to health but to vanity, to swelling rather than to strength. It so darkens the mental vision as to hide the truth. If then it has taken hold of your mind, you will be unable to see yourself as you really are, or to appreciate either your actual or possible condition, but you will fancy that you are or will become just what you would like to be. For what is pride if not—as a certain holy man defines it ‘appreciation of one’s own goodness’.2 If this be so, we may say, on the other hand, that humility is the disparagement of our own good­ness.

§ 2  Trabes in oculo grandis et grossa, superbia in mente est, quae quadam corpulentia sui vana, non sana tumida, non solida, oculum mentis obscurat, veritatem obumbrat, ita tu si tuam occupaverit mentem, iam tu te videre, iam te talem, qualis es, vel qualis esse potes, non possis sentire, sed qualem te amas, talem te vel putes esse, vel speres fore. Quid enim aliud est superbia, quam ut quidam sanctus diffinit, amor propriae excellentiae? Unde et nos possumus dicere, per contrarium humilitatem propriae excellentiae esse contemptum.

For love and hatred alike ignore the verdict of truth. Would you like to hear what that verdict is? As I hear so I judge,’ not as ‘I hate’ or ‘I love’ nor as ‘I fear’. There is the judgment of hate, such as that which said We have a late4 and according to our law he ought to die.’ And there is the judgment of fear like that one If we let him alone so the Romans will come and take away our place and nation.’ But there is a judgment of love, as that of David on the son who would have slain his father, Spare the boy Absalom.’

§ 3  Amor vero, sicut nec odium, veritatis iudicium nescit. Vis iudicium Veritatis audire? Sicut audio, sic iudico: non sicut odi, non sicut amo, non sicut timeo. Est iudicium odii, ut illud: Nos legem habemus, et secundum legem nostram debet mori. Est et timoris, tu illud: Si dimittimus eum sic, venient Romani et tollent nostrum locum et gentem. Iudicium vero amoris, ut David de filio parricida: Parcite, inquit, puero Absalon.

And I know that it is a rule of human law, which is binding alike in ecclesiastical and in civil actions, that personal friends of the litigants shall not be -allowed to take part in the proceedings lest through their affection for their friends they may be misled or may mislead others.’ And if affection for a friend leads you to extenuate or even to conceal his guilt, how much more will self-esteem preclude an unfavourable verdict upon yourself ?

§ 4  Et legibus humanis statutum, et in causis, tam ecclesiasticis quam saecularibus servatum scio, speciales amicos causantium non debere admitti ad iudicium, ne vel fallant vel fallantur amore suorum. Quod si culpam amici tuo iudicio amor illius aut minuit, aut prorsus abscondit, quanto magis amor tuis tuum contra te iudicium fallit?


 Capítulo  15

So the man who is really anxious to discover the truth about !himself must remove the beam of pride which prevents him from seeing the light, and must propose in his heart to ascend by steps by which he may scrutinize his inmost self, and from the twelfth degree of humility may pass on to the first degree of truth,

§ 1 Qui ergo plene veritatem in se cognoscere curat, necesse est ut, semota trabe superbiae, quae oculum arcet a luce, ascensiones in corde suo disponat, per qua in seipso seipsum inquirat, et sic post duodecimum humilitatis ad primum veritatis gradum pertingat.

But when a man has found truth in himself—or rather has found himself in truth—so that he can say, I have believed and therefore have I spoken, but I have been humbled exceedingly,’ he may rise to a high spiritual level in order that truth may be held up, and may say in his ecstasy, Every man is a liar. Do you not suppose that this was the trend of David’s thought ?’ Do not you think that the prophet felt as did the Lord, as did the Apostles, and as we do who come after them and share their feelings ? I believed, says this man, in Truth who says, He that followeth me walketh not in dark­ness.’ I therefore showed my faith by following, and expressed it by confessing. And by con­fessing what ? The truth—which I discovered through faith. But afterwards I believed unto righteousness and made confession unto salvation. I was humbled exceedingly,’ that is entirely. He appears to mean by this—since I was not ashamed of the fact that the truth which I discerned in myself bore witness against me, I carried, humility to its utmost extent. For this word ‘exceedingly’ may mean ‘completely’, as in the pasage, He shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.’ But some one may urge that ‘exceedingly’ is here used for ‘in a high degree’, not for ‘completely’ and that the commentators seem to uphold this interpretation. Even if this be so, there is nothing inconsistent with the meaning of the Prophet, which we may take as being to this effect :

§ 2  Cum autem veritate inventa in se, immo se invento in veritate, dicere potuerit: Credidi, propter quos locutus sum; ego autem humiliatus sum nimis ascendat homo ad cor altum, ut exaltetur veritas, et ad gradum secundum perveniens dicat in excessu suo: Omnis homo mendax. Putas hunc ordinem David non tenuit? Putas hoc Propheta non sensit, quod Dominus, quod Apostolus, quod et nos post ipsos et per ipsos sentimus? Credidi, inquit, Veritati dicenti: Qui sequitur me, non ambulat in tenebris. Credidi ergo sequendo, propter quod locutus sum confitendo. Quid confitendo? Veritatem quam cognovi credendo. Postquam autem et credidi ad iustitiam, et locutus sum ad salutem, humiliatus sum nimis, hoc est perfecte. Tamquam diceret: Quia veritatem cognitam in me confiteri contra me non erubui, ad perfectionem humilitatis profeci.Nimis enim pro perfecte potest intelligi, tu ibi: In mandatis eius volet nimis. Quod si quis contendat nimis hic pro “valde” positum esse, non pro “perfecte”, quia et expositores idipsum videntur astruere, neque hoc discordat a sensu Prophetae.

While I was still unaware of the truth, I did indeed suppose myself to be something—whereas I was nothing. But when I afterwards believed in Christ and therefore tried to imitate His humility, I recognized the truth. It was indeed uplifted in me by my confession, but I was exceedingly humbled,’ that is, was greatly depreciated in my own estimation as a result of my self-scrutiny.

§ 4  Ut si sentiamus eum dixisse: Ego quidem cum adhuc veritatem non nossem, aliquid me putabam esse, cum nihil essem. At postquam in Christum credendo, id est eius humilitatem imitando, veritatem agnovi, ipsa quidem exaltata est in me ex mea confessione; sed ego humiliatus sum nimis, id est: valde vilui mihi ex mei consideratione.


 Capítulo  16

The second degree of Truth—wherein consciousness of our own shortcomings makes us merciful to those of other people.


Thus in this, the first degree of Truth, the Prophet is so humbled that he says in another Psalm, In thy truth thou bast humbled me.’ He may then reasonably conclude that the wretched condition in which he finds himself to be, is that of mankind in general. And as he thus passes into the second degree, he may say in his ecstasy, Every man is a liar.’ And in what does this ecstasy consist ? Is it not without doubt due to the fact that in his detachment from himself and attach­ment to truth, he pronounced his own condemna­tion ? So in that ecstatic condition he may say, not in anger or insult—but with pity and regret, Every man is a liar. And why is every man a liar ? Every man is weak, every man is poor and powerless, since none can save himself or any one else. In much the same sense is it said, Vain is the horse for safety,’ not because the horse deceives anyone but because the rider deceives himself if he relies on the horse’s strength. So every man is said to be false, that is, fragile and fickle, because no one can hold out any assurance of safety to himself or to others, and any one who puts his trust in man is more likely to receive condemnation. Thus the humble Prophet, pro­ceeding under the guidance of Truth, observes in other people what he mourns in himself ; where he finds knowledge he will also find sorrow, and so may say broadly but truly, Every man is a liar.

§ 1 Humiliatus ergo Propheta in hoc primo gradu veritatis, ut ait in alio Psalmo: Et in veritate tua humiliasti me, semetipsum attendat, et ex propria misera generalem perpendat, sicque ad secundum transiens, dicat in excessu suo: Omnis homo mendax. In quo excessu suo? In illo, procul dubio, quo sese excedens ac veritati adhaerens, seipsum diiudicat. In illo ergo  excessu suo dicat, non indignando aut insultando, sed miserando  et compatiendo: omnis homo infirmus, omnis homo miser et impotens, qui nec se, nec alium possit salvare. Sicut dicitur fallax equus ad salutem, non quod equus aliquem fallat, sed quia is seipsum fallit, qui in fortitudine eius confidit, sic omnis homo dicitur mendax, id est fragilis, mutabilis, a quo salus non possit vel sua, vel aliena sperari, quin potius maledictionem incurrat, qui spem sum in homine ponit. Proficiens itaque humilis Propheta per ducatum veritatis, quodque in se lugebat videns in aliis, dum apponit scientiam, apponat et dolorem ac generaliter, sed veraciter dicat: Omnis homo mendax.


 Capítulo  17

Now note how widely different was the tone of that haughty Pharisee. What was the purport of his ill-considered utterance ?’ God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men.’ While he is strangely satisfied with himself, he is offen­sively rude to others. David takes quite another line. He says Every man is a liar. He will make no exceptions which might be misleading, for he knows that all have sinned and all do need the glory of God.

§ 1  Vide quam longe aliud senserit de se Pharisaeus ille superbus. Quid deprompsit in excessu suo? Deus, gratias ago tibi, quia non sum sicut ceteri hominum. Dum in se singulariter exsultat, aliis arroganter insultat. David aliter; ait enim: Omnis homo mendax. Neminem excipit, ne quem decipiat, sciens quia omnes peccaverunt, et omnes egent gloria Dei.

The Pharisee, while con­demning others claims exemption for himself alone. The Prophet does not exempt himself from the general guilt, lest he be excluded from mercy. The Pharisee stifles mercy by his dis­claimer of guilt. The Prophet asserts, of himself as of every one, Every man is false. The Pharisee endorses this of all except himself, when he says, I am not as the rest of men. And he returns thanks not that he is good, but that he stands alone—not so much for his own merits as for the ill which he sees in others. He has not yet cast out the beam out of his own eye, but he reckons up the motes in the eyes of his brethren—for he adds, unjust, extortioners.

§ 2  Pharisaeus se solum decipit, quem solum excipit, dum ceteros damnat. Propheta se non excipit a communi miseria, ne excipiatur a misericordia; Pharisaeus exsufflat misericordiam, dum dissimulat miseriam. Propheta affirmat tam de omnibus quam de se: Omnis homo mendax; Pharisaeus confirmat de omnibus praeter se: Non sum, inquiens, sicut ceteri hominum. Et gratias agit, non quia bonus, sed quia solus; non tam de bonis quae habet, quam de malis quae in aliis videt. Nondum de suo trabem eiecerat, et festucas in oculis fratrum enumerat; nam subdit: iniusti, raptores.

I think that this diversion from the subject may not have been without its value, if it has enabled you to appre­ciate the difference between these two utterances.

§ 3  Non frustra, ut arbitror, excessum a proposito feci, si utriusque excessus differentiam intellexisti.


 Capítulo  18

Let us now return to the main subject. If truth thus compels men to look into themselves and so to learn their own worthlessness, it follows as an inevitable consequence that all those things which have hitherto given them pleasure—yea, even their own selves—should become distasteful to them. For as they sit in judgment upon them selves, they cannot fail to see themselves in a light in which they are ashamed to be seen even by their own eyes. Their present condition displeases them and they long to be what they are not—a result which they distrust their power to achieve. Yet they find their consolation in the fact that their judgment of themselves has been stern and severe ; and they hope that their love of truth and their hunger and thirst after righteousness—even to the point of self-contempt —will enable them to exact a strict satisfaction for the past and to effect a real amendment in the future. But when they perceive their incapacity for any adequate and extensive reform, and realize that when they have done all that is com­manded they must still call themselves unprofitable servants, they fly from justice to mercy. And that they may obtain this they follow the advice given by Truth, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’

§ 1 Iam ad propositum redeundum est. Quos itaque Veritas sibi iam innotescere, ac per hoc vilescere fecit, necesse est, ut cuncta, quae amare solebant, et ipsi sibi amarescant. Statuentes nimirum se ante se, tales se videre cogunt, quales vel a se videri erubescunt. Dumque sibi displicet quod sunt, et ad id suspirant quod non sunt, quod utique per se fore diffidunt, vehementer sese lugentes, id solum consolationis inveniunt, ut severi iudices sui, qui scilicet amore veri esuriant et sitiant iustitiam, usque ad contemptum sui districtissimam de se ad id sufficere non posse conspiciunt, -cum enim fecerint omnia quae mandata fuerint sibi, servos se inutiles dicunt-, de iustitia ad misericordiam fugiunt. Ut autem illam consequantur, consilium Veritatis sequuntur: Beati misericordes, quoniam ipsi misericordiam consequentur.

This then is the second degree of truth, the one in which men look for it in their neighbours—when from the realization of their own shortcomings they discover those of other people and learn from their own painful experience to sympathize with those who suffer.

§ 2  Et hic est secundus gradus veritatis, quo eam in proximis inquirunt, dum de suis aliorum necessitates exquirunt, dum ex his quae patiuntur, patientibus compati sciunt.


The third degree of Truth—the clearing of the spiritual sight, so that it may gaze on holy and heavenly things.

 Capítulo  19

If therefore men practise perseverance in the three matters that have been mentioned—viz., the sorrow of repentance, the longing for righteous­ness, and works of mercy, they clear their spiritual sight of the three hindrances’ which either through ignorance, infirmity or disposition they have encountered, and may thus pass on to that direct vision in which the third degree of truth consists.

§ 1 In his ergo tribus quae dicta sunt, id est in luctu paenitentiae, in desiderio iustitiae, in operibus misericordiae si perseverant, a tribus impedimentis, quae aut ignorantia, aut infirmitate, aut studio contraxerunt, cordis aciem mundant, quo per contemplationem ad tertium veritatis gradum pertranseant.

These are the ways that seem good to men—at all events to those who are glad when they have done evil and rejoice in most wicked things,’ and who attempt to cover their sins with the cloak of ignorance or of weakness.’ But vainly do they whose ignorance or weakness is wilful put forward either of these pleas as an excuse for indulgence in sin.’ Do you suppose that the first man could successfully plead infirmity of the flesh on the ground that he sinned, not of his own accord, but at the instigation of his wife ? Or were the men who stoned the first martyr, and had themselves stopped their ears, excusable on the plea of ignorance ?

§ 2  Hae sunt viae, quae videntur hominibus bonae, illis dumtaxat qui laetentur cum male fecerint, et exsultant in rebus pessimi, ac se de infirmitate vel ignorantia tegunt ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis. Sed frustra sibi de infirmitate vel ignorantia blandiuntur, quo ut liberius peccent, libenter ignorant vel infirmantur. Putas primo homini profuit, licet ipse non libenter peccavit, quod se per uxorem, tamquam per carnis infirmitatem, defendit? Aut primi Martyris lapidatores, quoniam aures suas continuerunt, per ignorantiam excusabiles erunt?

Some people think that they have a natural antipathy to truth, and an inclina­tion to and affection for sin, and that they are overcome by weakness and ignorance. Let such persons turn inclination into aversion, affection into distaste ; let them conquer the weakness of the flesh by righteous energy, and dispel ignorance by better education.’ For if they disregard truth now, when it is needy, naked and weak; they may recognize it to their shame too late, when, coming with full authority and power, it overawes and rebukes them. Then will then tremble as they return the vain reply, When did we see thee in need, and did not minister to thee ?2 Surely the Lord whom they now disregard when He seeks sympathy shall be known when he executeth judgments.’ Finally they look on him whom their pierced4—as shall also the covetous on him whom they despised.

§ 3  Qui igitur studio et amore peccandi a veritate se sentiunt alienatos, infirmate et ignorantia pressos, studium in gemitum, amorem in maerorem convertant, infirmitatem carnis fervore iustitiae, ignorantiam liberalitate repellant, ne si nunc egentem, nudam, infirmam veritatem ignorant, cum potestate magna et virtute venientem, terrentem, arguentem, sero cum rubore cognoscant, frustra cum tremore respondeant; Quando te vidimus egere, et non ministravimus tibi? Cognoscetur certe Dominus iudicia faciens, qui nunc ignoratur misericordiam quaerens. Denique videbunt in quem transfixerunt, similiter et avari quem contempserunt.

Thus by the tears of penitence, by the pursuit of righteousness and by persistence in works of mercy, is the spiritual sight cleared from all stain, whether due to weakness, ignorance or disposition. And to it truth promises to reveal itself in its purity. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’ There are then three kinds of degrees of truth ; we rise to the first by humble effort, to the second by loving sympathy, to the third by enraptured vision. In the first truth is revealed in severity, in the second in pity, in the third in purity. Reason, by which we analyze ourselves, guides us to the first, feeling which enables us to pity others conducts us to the second ; purity by which we are raised to the level of the unseen, carries us up to the third.

§ 4  Ab omni ergo labe, infirmitate, ignorantia, studiove contracta, flendo iustitiam esuriendo, operibus misericordiae insistendo, mundatur oculus cordis, cui se in sui puritate videndam Veritas promittit: Beati enim mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt. Cum sint itaque tres gradus seu status veritatis, ad primum ascendimus per laborem humilitatis, ad secundum per affectum compassionis, ad tertium per excessum contemplationis. In primo veritas reperitur severe; in secundo pia, in tertio pura. Ad primum ratio ducit, qua nos discutimus; ad secundum affectus perducit, quo aliis miseremur; ad tertium puritas rapit, qua ad invisibilia sublevamur.


The work of the Persons of the Holy Trinity in leading men through the three degrees of Truth.

 Capítulo  20

Here I seem to discern a certain marvellous and individual operation of each Person of the Trinity—if indeed it is possible for the limited intelligence of man to conceive a difference such as cannot be expressed in words between persons who co-operate. On this supposition, the first degree appears to be due to the action of the Son, the second to that of the Holy Spirit, and the third to that of the Father.

§ 1 Interlucet hic mihi mira quaedam ac divisa individuae Trinitatis operatio, si quo modo tamen ab homine sedente in tenebris ineffabilis illa possit capi cooperantium sibi personarum divisio, In primo siquidem gradu Filius, in secundo Spiritus Sanctus, in tertio Pater operari videtur.

Would you wish to hear about the work of the Son? If, saith He, I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, how much more ought ye to wash one another’s feet.’ The Master of truth thus presented to His disciples a pattern of humility, that they might therein discern the first degree of truth. Mark also the work of the Holy Spirit, Love is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.’ Love is indeed the gift of the Holy Spirit, and this makes it possible for those who, under the instruction of the Son, have by humility already attained the first degree of truth, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to reach the second by sympathy with their neighbours. Her also what is said about the Father. Blessed art thou Simon Barr Jona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my father who is in heaven.’ And there is another passage, The father shall make thy truth known to the children.’ And yet again, I thank thee, Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and hast revealed them to little ones.’

§ 2  Vis audire Filii operationem? Si ego, inquit, lavi vos pedes Dominus et magister, quanto magis et vos debetis alter alterius lavare pedes? Tradebat discipulis humilitatis formam veritatis Magister, qua in primo gradu primum eis veritas innotesceret. Attende et opus Spiritum Sancti: Caritas diffusa est in cordibus nostris per Spiritum Sanctum qui datus est nobis. Caritas quippe donum Spiritus  Sancti est, qua fit, ut qui sub disciplina Filii per humilitatem ad primum usque gradum veritatis iam profecerunt, ad secundum per compassionem proximi, sub magisterio Spiritus Sancti perveniant. Audi et de Patre: Beatus es, Simon Bariona, quia caro et sanguis non revelavit tibi, se Pater meus qui in caelis est; et illud: Pater filiis notam faciet veritatem tuam; et: Confiteor tibi, Pater, quia abscondisti haec a sapientibus et revelasti ea parvulis.

You see then how the Father at last receives into glory those to whom the Son first taught humility by precept and by practice, and on whom the Holy Spirit then shed love. The Son receives them as learners, the Comforter encourages them as friends, the Father raises them as sons. For this reason the title of ‘The truth’ is rightly given, not only to the Son, but also to the Father and to the Holy Ghost. From this it follows that one and the same truth—preserving the characteristics of each of the Persons—performs this threefold work in the three degrees. In the first one it gives instruction as does a master ; in the second it affords counsel as does a friend or a brother ; in the third it provides a bond of union as does a father to his sons

§ 3  Vides quia quos verbo et exemplo prius Filius humiliavit, super quos deinde Spiritus caritatem effudit, hos tandem in gloria Pater recepit? Filius facit discipulos, Paraclitus consolatur amicos, Pater exaltat filios. Quia vero non solum Filius, sed et Pater et Spiritus Sanctus veraciter Veritas appellantur, constat quos una eademque Veritas, servata proprietate personarum, tria haec in tribus gradibus operatur. Primo scilicet instruit, ut magister; secundo consolatur, ut amicus vel frater; tertio adstringit, ut filios pater.


 Capítulo  21

Thus the Son of God—that is to say the word and wisdom of the Father—first found that intel­lectual faculty of yours which is called reason, fettered by the flesh, a captive to sin, blinded by ignorance, and surrendered to things external. In His mercy He took it up, by His power He raised it, by His wisdom He taught it, drew it to Himself, and in a marvellous manner made it His repre­sentative. He then caused it so to sit in judgment upon itself that, with due reverence to the Word with whom it was associated, it might act as its own accuser, witness and judge, and honestly pronounce condemnation on itself.

§ 1 Dei quippe Filius, Verbum scilicet ac sapientia Patris, primum quidem illam animae nostrae potentiam, quae ratio dicitur, cum reperit carne depressam, peccato captivam, ignorantia caecam, exterioribus deditam, clementer assumens, potenter erigens, prudenter instruens, introrsum trahens, ac mirabiliter utens tamquam pro se vicaria, ipsam sibi iudicem statuit, ita ut pro reverentia Verbi cui coniungitur, ipsa sui accusatrix, testis et iudex, contra se Veritatis fungatur officio.

It is from this first alliance between the Word and reason that humility has its origin. We then come to the second faculty, which is called will, and which was contaminated by the poison of the flesh, though this has already been in a measure counter­acted by reason. This the Holy Spirit honours with a visit, administers to it a gentle purgative, imparts to it a genial warmth, and thus renders it compassionate ; in such a way that after the fashion of a skin which is stretched by the applica­tion of an ointment, so the will that has been treated with the heavenly ointment may be so expanded as to become friendly to those that were its enemies. And this second alliance between the spirit of God and the will of man produces love. The Father finally takes the two faculties—reason and will—the one taught by the Word and sprinkled with the hyssop of humility, the other inspired by the spirit of truth and influenced by the fire of love, and unites them into a perfect soul, from which humility has removed all wrinkles and in which love has left no stain. In it will resists not reason. Nor does reason trifle with truth, for the Father unites it to Himself as His glorious bride, in such a way that reason may not be allowed to think of itself, nor will of its neighbour, but the entire delight of that blessed soul will be to say, The king has taken me into his chambor.i

§ 2  Ex qua prima coniunctione Verbi et rationis, humilitas nascitur. Aliam deinde partem, quae dicitur voluntas, veneno quidem carnis infectam, sed iam ratione discussam, Spiritus Sanctus dignanter visitans, suaviter purgans, ardenter afficiens, misericordem facit, ita ut more pellis, quae uncta extenditur, ipsa quoque unctione perfusa caelesti, usque ad inimicos per affectum dilatetur. Et sic ex hac secunda coniunctione Spiritus Dei et voluntatis humanae, caritas efficitur. Utramque vero partem, rationem scilicet ac voluntatem, alteram verbo veritatis instructam, alteram spiritu veritatis afflatam, illam hyssopo humilitatis aspersam, hanc igne caritatis succensam, tandem iam perfectam animam, propter humilitatem sine macula, propter caritatem sine ruga, cum nec voluntas rationi repugnat, nec ratio veritatem dissimulat, gloriosam sibi sponsam Pater conglutinat, ita ut nec ratio de se, nec voluntas de proximo cogitare sinatur, sed hoc solum beata illa anima dicere delectetur: Introduxit me Rex in cubiculum suum.

It was fitting that that soul should first learn in the school of humility under the tuition of the Son, to enter into herself—in accordance with the warning given. If thou knowest not thyself, go forth and feed thy kids.’ Thus did she become fit to be brought from the school of humility under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through affection into the store rooms of love—by which undoubtedly is meant the hearts of her neighbours. Thence, seated on flowers and surrounded by friends, that is by good habits and holy virtues, she may at last gain entrance to the chamber of the King, for whose love she longs.’

§ 3  Digna certe, quae de schola humilitatis, in qua primum sub magistro Filio ad seipsam intrare didicit, iusta comminationem ad se factam: Si ignoras te, egredere et pasce haedos tuos, digna ergo quae de schola illa humilitatis, duce Spiritu Sancto, in cellaria caritatis -quae nimirum proximorum pectora intelligenda sunt- per affectionem introduceretur, unde suffulta floribus ac stipata malis, bonorum scilicet moribus et virtutibus sanctis, ad Regis demum cubiculum, cuius amore languet, admitteretur.

There, when silence lias been made in heaven for a space, it may be of half an hour, she rests calmly in those dear embraces—herself asleep, but her heart on the watch how she may in the present range over those regions of hidden truth—on whose memory, she will feast as soon as she returns to herself—there she sees things invisible and hears things unutterable, of which it is not lawful for man to speak. These are the things that surpass all that knowledge which night showeth to night. Yet day unto day throws out language, and the wise are allowed to speak wisdom, and to compare spiritual things with spiritual.

§ 4  Ibi modicum, hora videlicet quasi dimidia, silentio facto in caelo, inter desideratos amplexus suaviter quiescens ipsa quidem dormit, sed cor eius vigilat, quo utique interim veritatis arcana rimatur, quorum postmodum memoria statim ad se reditura pascatur. Ibi videt invisibilia, audit ineffabilia, quae non licet homini loqui. Excedunt quippe omnem illam, quam nox  nocti indicat, scientiam; dies tamen diei eructat verbum, et inter sapientes sapientiam loqui, et spiritualibus spiritualia licet conferri.


The same sequence is seen in the ‘rapture’ of St. Paul to the third heaven.

 Capítulo  22

Do you suppose that St. Paul had not under­gone the same gradual process when, as he has told us, he was ‘caught up’ to the third heaven ? But why was he ‘caught up’ instead of being ‘led up’ ? The reason surely was that if so great an Apostle says that he was ‘caught up’ to a place whither no teaching nor leading could bring him, I, who am certainly a lesser man than Paul, may not venture to think that I can reach the third heaven by any strength or effort of my own ; so may I neither trust to strength nor shrink from exertion. For a man who is taught or led is obliged, from the fact that he follows his teacher or leader, to use some effort. He at all events does enough in assisting his removal to the place or condition at which he aims to enable him to say, Not I but the grace of God with me.1

§ 1 Putas hos gradus Paulus non transierat, qui usque ad tertium caelum se raptum fuisse dicebat? Sed quare raptum, et non potius ductum?  Ut videlicet si tantus Apostolus raptum se dicit fuisse, quo nec doctus scivit, nec ductus potuit ire, me, qui procul dubio minor sum Paulo, ad tertium caelum nulla mea  virtute, nullo meo labore pervenire posse praesumam, ne vel de virtute confidam, vel pro labore diffidam. Qui enim docetur aut ducitur, ex hoc ipso quod docentem  vel ducentem sequitur, laborare convincitur, et aliquid de se agit, ut ad destinatum vel locum vel sensum pertrahatur, ita ut dicere possit:  Non autem ego, sed gratia Dei mecum.

But the man who is carried away, not by his own action, but by that of others, and without even knowing his destination, cannot take the credit or any part of it to himself, since he accomplishes nothing either alone or with assistance. The Apostle might possibly have been directed or assisted to the first or to the middle heaven—to reach the third one he had to be caught up. For the Son is said to have come down for the purpose of help­ing men to rise to the first, and the Holy Spirit to have been sent to lead them to the second heaven. But the Father, though He always co-operates with the Son and the Holy Spirit, is never said to have come down from heaven, or to have been sent to the earth.

§ 2  Qui vero rapitur, non suis viribus, sed alienis innixus, tamquam nescius, quocumque portatur, nec cum alio aliquid operatur. Ad primum itaque sive ad medium caelum ductus vel adiutus Apostolus ascendere potuit; ad tertium autem ut perveniret, rapi oportuit. Nam et Filius ad hoc legitur descendisse, ut iuvaret ascensuros ad primum, et Spiritus Sanctus missus fuisse, qui perduceret ad secundum. Pater vero, licet Filio et Spiritui Sancto semper cooperetur, numquam tamen aut de caelo descendisse, aut ad terras legitur missus fuisse.

It is true that the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord,’ and that heaven and earth are full .of thy glory,’ and much to the same effect. And of the Son I read, when the fulness of the time came, God sent his Son,’ and the Son Himself says of Himself, The Spirit of the Lord hath sent me.’ And through the same Prophet He says, Now the Lord hath sent me and his si):,rit.5 And of the Holy Spirit I read, The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Lord will send in my name,’ and, when I have been taken up, I will send him unto you-2 with undoubted reference to the Holy Spirit. But though there is no region in which the Father does not exist, I find no mention of His own Person anywhere but in heaven, as in the Gospel, my father who is in heaven,’ and in the prayer, Our Father who art in heaven.

§ 3  Lego certe, quod misericordia Domini plena est terra, et pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua, et multa huiuscemodi. Lego et Filio: Postquam venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum; et ipse Filius loquitur de se: Spiritus Domini misit me. Et per eumdem Prophetam: Et nunc, inquit, Dominus misit me et Spiritus eius. Lego et Spiritu Sancto: Paraclitus autem Spiritus Sanctus, quem mittet Pater in nomine meo, et: Cum assumptus fuero, mittam vobis eum, haud dubium quin Spiritum Sanctum. Patrem autem in sua persona, licet nusquam non sit, nusquam tamen invenio nisi in caelis, ut in Evangelio: Et Pater meus qui in caelis est, et in oratione: Pater noster, qui es in caelis.


 Capítulo  23

From this I unhesitatingly conclude that as the Father did not come down, the Apostle could not go up to the third heaven in order to see Him, though he recalls that he was ‘caught up’ thither. Moreover, No man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven.’ And lest you should suppose that the reference here is to the first or second heaven, David tells you, His going out is from the end of heaven.’ And to this He was not suddenly caught up, or secretly conveyed, but, as is stated, in their sight’ (that is in that of the Apostles) he was raised up. It was not with Him, as with Elias who had one witness, or with Paul who could have none, to attest his statement, and who could hardly do so himself, for he admits I know not, God knoweth.’ But as the Almighty, He descended and ascended as He pleased, and chose at His discretion, the place, the time, the day and the hour, as well as the onlookers whom He thought worthy to be the witnesses of so great a spectacle, and while they looked on he was raised up.

§ 1 Unde nimirum colligo, quod, quia Pater non descendit, Apostolus, ut eum videret, ad tertium caelum ascendere quidem non potuit, quo tamen se raptum memoravit. Denique: Nemo ascendit in caelum, nisi qui descendit de caelo. Et ne putes de primo dictum vel secundo, dicit tibi David: A summo caelo egressio eius. Ad quod iterum non subito raptus, non furtim sublatus, sed: Videntibus, inquit, illis id est Apostolis, elevatus est. Non sicut Elias, qui unum, non sicut Paulus, qui nullum, -vix enim vel seipsum testem aut arbitrum habere potuit, ipso perhibente: Nescio, Deus scit-, sed ut omnipotens, qui quando voluit descendit, quando voluit ascendit, pro suo arbitrio arbitros et spectatores, locum et tempus, diem et horam exspectans, videntibus illis, quos scilicet tanta visione dignatur, elevatus est.

Elias and Paul were caught up ; Enoch was translated ; our Saviour is said to have been taken up, that is to have gone up by Himself, without help from anyone. He depended neither. on conveyance by a chariot, or Assistance by an angel, but on His own power.’ A cloud received him out of their sight.’ And what was the purpose of this cloud ? Was it to help Him in weakness, to stimulate Him in slack­ness, or to sustain Him when in danger of falling ? Such ideas are inconceivable. That cloud received Him out of the bodily sight of His disciples who, though they had known Him as Christ in the flesh, did not as yet know Him to be more than man. So those whom the Son calls through humility to the first heaven, the Spirit brings together by love in the second, and the Father raises by direct vision to the third.

§ 2  Raptus est Paulus, ratus est Elias, translatus est Enoch; Redemptor noster legitur elevatus, hoc est ex seipso levatus, non aliunde adiutus. Denique non currus vehiculo, non angeli adminiculo, sed propria  virtute subnixum suscepit eum nubes ab oculis eorum. Cur hoc? An fessum iuvit? An pigrum impulsit? An cadentem sustinuit? Absit. Sed suscepit eum ab oculis carnalibus discipulorum, qui etsi Christum noverant secundum carnem, sed ultra iam non noscerent.Quos ergo ad primum caelum per humilitatem Filius vocat, hos in secundo per caritatem Spiritus aggregat, ad tertium per contemplationem Pater exaltat.

In the first they are humbled by the truth and say, In thy truth thou hast humbled me.’ In the second they rejoice together with truth and sing, Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity-4 as also it is written con­cerning love. It rejoiceth with the truth’ In the third heaven they are carried up to the recesses of truth and say, My secret to myself, my secret to myself.’

§ 3  Primo humiliantur in veritate, et dicunt: In veritate tua humiliasti me. Secundo congaudent veritati, et psallunt: Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum, habitare fratres in unum, de caritate quippe scriptum est: Congaudet autem veritati. Tertio ad arcana veritatis rapiuntur, et aiunt: Secretum meum mihi, secretum meum mihi.


The writer sighs regretfully over his own shortcomings in the search for Truth.

 Capítulo  24

But how can a poor creature like myself ramble on about the two higher heavens in a way more suggestive of the outpouring of words than of spiritual activity, seeing that it is as much as I can do to crawl on my hands and feet under the lower one ?

§ 1 Sed quid ego miser, superflua magis loquacitate quam spiritus vivacitate, duos caelos superiores percurro, qui manibus pedibusque repens adhuc sub inferiore laboro?

Yet I have already, with the help of Him who calls me, set up for myself a ladder to that higher level. I am moving in the direction wherein I may show to myself the salvation of God.’ Now I look upwards to the Lord who is leaning over me, now I spring forward at the call of truth. He has called me and I have answered Him, to the work of thine hands thou, shalt reach out thy right hand.’

Ad quod tamen iam, ipso iuvante, quo et vocante, mihi scalam erexi. Illic siquidem iter est, quo ostendat mihi salutare Dei. Iam Dominum desuper innixum suspicio, iam ad vocem Veritatis exsulto. Vocavit me, et ergo respondi illi: Operi manuum tuarum porriges dexteram.

Thou, Lord, dost indeed number my steps, but I, slow climber and tired traveller, am looking for a resting place by the way. Woe is unto me if the darkness gets hold of me, or if my flight be in the winter or on the sabbath day, yet, though now is the accept­able time, and now is the day of salvation, I delay to set forth towards the light. Why do I thus hold back? Pray for me, son, brother, friend, fellow-traveller with me in the Lord—if such there be. Pray to the Almighty that He will strengthenmy feeble foot, yet in such a way that the foot of pride may not come to me.1 For though my foot is feeble and unable to attain to the truth, it is more reliable than one which, when it has reached it, cannot stand therein, as you have it in the Psalm, they are cast out, and could not stand.’

§ 2  Tu quidem, Domine gressus meos dinumeras, sed ego lentus ascensor, fessus viator, diverticula quaero. Vae mihi, si tenebrae me comprehendant, aut si mea fuga fiat in hieme, vel in sabbato, dum nunc ad lucem, cum tempus acceptabile et dies salutis sunt, proficisci dissimulo. Quid moror? Ora pro me, fili, frater, socie, et particeps profectus mei, si quis es, in Domino. Ora Omnipotentem, quatenus sic pigrum roboret pedem, ut tamen non veniat mihi pes superbiae. Etsi enim pes piger, ut ad veritatem ascendat, idoneus non  est; tolerabilior est tamen isto, qui in ea stare non potest, ut habes ibi: Expulsi sunt, nec potuerunt stare.


 Capítulo  25

So much for the proud. But what about their chief ? What about him who is called king over all the children of pride ? He, said the Master, stood not in the truth,’ and elsewhere, I saw Satan falling from heaven.’ Why did he thus fall, unless on account of the ? Woe be to me if he who knoweth the high afar off,’ should see me also indulging in pride, and should launch at me the terrible sentence, Thou wast indeed the son of the most high, but as a man thou shalt die, and thou shalt fall like one of the princes.’ Who would not quail before this voice of thunder ? 0 how much better it was for Jacob that the sinew of his thigh shrank at the touch of the angel than that it should swell, weaken and perish at that of the messenger of pride. Would that an angel would touch my sinew and make it shrink, so that I, who in my own strength cannot but fail, may from my weakness begin to make progress. I surely read, The weakness of God is stronger than men.

§ 1 Et hoc quidem de superbis. Sed quid de illorum capite? Quid de illo, qui dicitur rex super omnes filios superbiae? Et ipse, inquit, in veritate non stetit. Et alibi: Videbam Satanam cadentem de caelo. Quare hoc, nisi propter superbiam? Vae mihi, si et me viderit, qui alta a longe cognoscit, superbientem: et illam in me terribilem intonet vocem: “Tu quidem filius Excelsi eras, sed sicut homo morieris, et sicut unus de principibus cades”. Quis non ab huius tonitrui voce formidet? O quam salubrius ad tactum. Angeli nervus femoris Iacob emarcuit, quam angeli superbientis intumuit, evanuit, ruit. Utinam et meum nervum Angelus tangat ut marcescat, si forte ex hac infirmitate incipiam proficere, qui ex mea firmitate non possum nisi deficere. Lego profecto: Quod infirmum est Dei, fortius est hominibus.

So also did the Apostle, when he complained of the sinew which an angel, not of God but of Satan, was buffeting, receive the reply, My grace is sufficient for thee, for virtue is made perfect in infirmity. What is this virtue ? Let the Apostle himself give the answer, Gladly therefore will I glory in mine infirmity, that the virtue of Christ may dwell in me.’ But you may, perhaps, not quite understand to what virtue he particularly alludes, since Christ possesses all the virtues. But though He has them all, there is Zone which He pre-eminently possesses and specially commends to us in His own Person, namely, humility, for He says, Learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart.’

§ 2  Sic quoque Apostolus de suo nervo conquestus, quem angelus non Domini, sed Satanae colaphizabat, responsum audivit: Sufficit tibi gratia mea, nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur. Quae virtus? Ipse Apostolus respondeat: Libenter gloriabor in infirmitatibus meis, ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi. Sed nondum forsitan intelligis, de qua specialiter dixerit, quia Christus omnes virtutes habuit. Sed cum omnes habuerit, prae omnibus tamen unam, id est humilitatem, nobis in se commendavit, cum ait: Discite a me, quia mitis sum et humilis corde.


 Capítulo  26

Gladly therefore will I glory in mine infirmity, in the shrinking of my sinew, that thy virtue—which is humility—may be made perfect in me. For thy grace is sufficient for me, when my strength has failed. I will then by thy favour put my foot firmly down, and though through its weakness I must move slowly, I will mount safely by the ladder of humility until, by keeping to the truth, I reach the broad expanse of love. Then will I sing with ‘a gesture of thanks, the words Thou bast set my feet in a spacious place.’ Thus by close and careful following of the narrow way, by slow and sure ascent of the steep staircase, with steady but painful progress, I limp along until by some marvellous method, the goal is approached, But Woe is me that my sojourn is prolonged.’ Who will give me wings like a dove,’ wherewith I may fly more quickly to the truth, and so may rest in love ? Since these are wanting, lead me, Lord, in thy way and I will walk in thy truth, and the truth shall set me free. Woe unto me that I ever came down thence. For had I not foolishly and madly begun this descent, I should not have had this long and laborious climb.

§ 1 Libenter igitur et ego, Domine Iesu, gloriabor, si potero, in mea infirmitate, in mei nervi conctractione, ut tua virtus, id est humilitas, perficiatur in me. Nam Sufficit mihi gratia tua, cum defecerit virtus mea. Pedem profecto  gratiae fortiter figens, et meum, qui infirmus est, leniter trahens, securus ascendam per scalam humilitatis, donec veritati adhaerens, ad latitudinem transeam caritatis. Tunc psallam cum gratiarum actione, et dicam: Statuisti in loco spatioso pedes meos. Sic arcta via cautius strictim inceditur, sic ardua scala tutius pedetentim ascenditur, sic miro modo ad veritatem, licet pigrius, tamen firmius claudicando acceditur. Sed heu mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est! Quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbae, quibus celerius volem ad veritatem, ut iam requiescam in caritate? Quae quoniam desunt, deduc me, Domine, in via tua, et ingrediar in veritate tua, et verita liberabit me. Vae mihi quod de illa descendi. Nisi enim prius leviter, inaniter descendissem, in ascendendo tamdiu, tam graviter non laborassem.

But why do I speak of a `descent’ when I might more accurately call it a `fall’—unless indeed because, as no one comes at once to the top but all have to go up gradually, so no one becomes at once utterly bad but goes gradually down hill. Otherwise how could the saying stand, The wicked man is proud all the days of his life.’ There are, in fact, roads which seem good to men, which yet lead to destruction.

§ 2  Sed quid dico: “descendi”? Nam fortasse rectius “cecidi” dixerim. Nisi quia forte, sicut nemo repente fit pessimus, sed paulatim descendit. Alioquin quomodo stabit illud: Impius cunctis diebus vitae suae superbit? Denique sunt viae, quae videntur hominibus bonae et tamen ad malum deducunt.


 Capítulo  27

There is then an upward as well as a down­ward road—a road to good and a road to evil. Avoid the evil and choose the good. If you cannot do this by yourself, pray with the prophet and in his words : Remove from me the way of iniquity,’ and how shall this be ? He adds, Out of thy law have mercy on me. This means by the law which thou didst give to those who fainted by the way—that is to those who departed from the truth. And of these I, who have indeed fallen from the truth, am one. But does not a man who has fallen use every effort to rise again ? For this reason I have chosen the way of truth,’ by which I may rise through humility to the place from which I fell through pride.

§ 1 Est ergo via descensionis, sicut et ascensionis. Et via est ad bonum, et via est ad malum. Cave malam, elige bonam. Si per te non potes, ora cum Propheta, et dic: Viam iniquitatis amove a me. Quomodo? Et lege tua miserere mei, illa scilicet lege, quam dedisti delinquentibus in via, id est derelinquentibus veritate, de quibus unus ego sum, qui vere a veritate cecidi. Sed numquid qui cadit, non adiciet ut resurgat? Propter hoc viam veritatis elegi, qua humiliatus ascendam, unde superbiendo descendi.

I will rise, say I, and I will sing, It is good for me, Lord, that thou hast humbled me ; the law of thy mouth is good to me, above thousands of gold and silver.’ David seems to have set before you two roads, which, however, you know to be one—identical yet different—and called by different names—either that of wickedness for those who go down, or that of truth for those who go up. For you go up to a throne by the same steps by which you come down, you use the same road for approaching or withdrawing from a town, and the same door for entering or leaving a house. In like manner the angels appeared to Jacob as ascending and descending on the same ladder. What do these comparisons suggest ? Surely that if you wish to return to the truth, you need not look for a new and unknown road, but for the one by which you know that you came down, so that you may follow your own footsteps, and may humbly rise through the same degrees through which you fell in your pride. That which was the twelfth degree of pride in your fall will be the first degree of humility in your ascent the eleventh will correspond to the second, the tenth to the third, the ninth to the fourth, the eighth to the fifth, the seventh to the sixth, the sixth to the seventh, the fifth to the eighth, the fourth to the ninth, the third to the tenth, the second to the eleventh and the first to the twelfth.

§ 2  Ascendam, inquam, et psallam: Bonum nihi, Domine, quos humiliasti me; bonum mihi lex oris tui super millia auri et argenti. Duas tibi vias videtur David proposuisse, sed unam noveris esse; ipsam tamen a se diversam, et diversis nominibus appellatam, aut iniquitatis propter descendentes, aut veritatis propter ascendentes, quia et iidem gradus sunt ascendentium in solum et decendentium, et eadem via accedentium ad civitatem et recedentium, et unum ostium est ingredientium domum et egredientium. Per unam denique scalam ascendentes angeli et descendentes Iacob apparuerunt. Quo spectant haec? Ut videlicet si ad veritatem redire cupis, non necesse sit viam quaerere novam quam non nosti, sed notam qua descendisti: quatenus reciprocis gressibus tua ipse vestigia sequens, per eosdem gradus humiliatus ascendas, per quos superbiendo descenderas, ita ut qui duodecimus superbiae fuit descendenti, primus humilitatis sit ascendenti; undecimus, inveniatur secundus; decimus, tertius, nonus, quartus; octavus; quartus, nonus; tertius, decimus; secundus, undecimus; primus, duodecimus.

And when you have discovered and really recognized these degrees of pride in yourself, you will have no difficulty in looking for the path of humility.

§ 3  Quibus superbiae gradibus in te inventis, immo recognitis, iam non laboras in quaerendo viam humilitatis.


The first degree—Curiosity—the opposite of modesty—especially of the eyes.



Capítulo 28

The first degree of pride is curiosity. This you may detect by the following signs. Look at that monk, whom you have hitherto supposed to be a sensible man. He has now taken to staring about him, whether he is standing up, walking about or sitting down. He thrusts his head forward, and pricks up his ears. From his outward movements you can clearly see the inward change that he has undergone. For it is the froward man who winketh with the eye, presseth, with the foot, and speaketh with the finger,’ and from the unusual movements of his body is seen to have lately contracted disease of the soul—the careless sluggishness of which in self-examination makes it inquisitive about others. So since it takes no heed to itself it is sent out of doors to feed the kids. And as these are the types of sin, I may quite correctly give the title of ‘kids’ to the eyes and the ears, since as death comes into the world through sin, so does sin enter the mind through these apertures.

§ 1 Primus itaque superbiae gradus est curiositas. Hanc autem talibus indiciis deprehendes: si videris monachum, de quo prius bene confidebas, ubicumque stat, ambulat, sedet, oculis incipientem vagari, caput erectum, aures portare suspensas, e motibus exterioris hominis interiorem inmutatum agnoscas. Vir quippe perversus nuit oculo, terit pede, digito loquitur, et ex insolenti corporis motu, recens animae morbus deprehenditur, quam, dum a sui circumspectione torpescit incuria sui, curiosam in alios facit. Quia enim seipsam ignorat, foras mittitur, ut haedos pascat. Haedos quippe, qui peccatum significant, recte oculos auresque appellaverim, quoniam sicut mors per peccatum in orbem, sic per has fenestras intrat ad mente.

The curious man, therefore, busies himself with feeding them, though he takes no trouble to ascertain the state in which he has left himself. Yet if, 0 man, you look carefully into yourself, it is indeed a wonder that you can ever look at anything else. You inquisitive fellow, listen to Solomon—you silly fellow, hearken to the wise man, as he says, With all watchfulness guard thy heart,’ in other words, keep all your senses on the watch to protect that which is the source of life. For whither, inquisitive man, will you retire from your own presence—to whom will you in the meantime intrust yourself ? How dare you, who have sinned against heaven, lift up your eyes to the sky ? Look down to the earth if you want to recognize yourself. It will show you what you are, for earth thou art, and to earth shalt thou go.’

§ 2  In his ergo pascendis se occupat curiosus, dum scire non curat qualem se reliquerit intus. Et vere si te vigilanter, homo, attendas, mirum est si ad aliud umquam intendas. Audi, curiose, Salomonem; audi, stulte, Sapiente,: Omni custodia, inquit, custodi cor tuum, ut omnes videlicet sensus tui vigilent ad id, unde vita procedit, custodiendum. Quo enim a te, o curiose, recedis? Cui te interim committis? Ut quid audes oculos levare ad caelum, qui peccasti in caelum? Terram intuere, ut cognoscas te ipsum. Ipsa te tibi repraesentabit, quia terra es et in terram ibis.


 Capítulo 29

Now there are two reasons for which you may raise your eyes without being to blame for so doing—one is to seek, the other is to render, assistance. David raised his eyes to the moun­tains for the former, the Lord lifted His over the crowd for the latter purpose. The motive of the one was misfortune, that of the other was mercy, neither was to blame. If you likewise with due regard to place, time and occasion, look up when you or a brother are in distress, I not only do not blame you, I highly commend you. For mis­fortune allows the one action, mercy approves the other. But in different circumstances I should call you an imitator not of the Prophet nor of the Lord, but of Dina or of Eve, aye, verily, of Satan himself.

§ 1 Duabus tamen causis inculpabiliter oculos levas, ut vel petas auxilium, vel impendas. Levavit oculos suos David in montes, ut peteret; levavit et Dominus super turbas, ut impenderet: alter miserabiliter, alter misericorditer, ambo inculpabiliter. Tu quoque si locum, tempus et causam considerans, tua vel fratris necessitate oculos levas, non solum non culpo, sed et  plurimum laudo. Hoc enim excusat miseria, illud commendat misericordia. Sin alias, non Prophetae, non Domini, sed Dinae aut Evae, immo ipsius Satanae imitatorem te dixerim.

For Dina when she went out to feed her kids, was snatched away from her father and her maidenhood was taken from her. 0 Dina, what need was there for thee to look on strange women? Was it necessary—did it serve any useful purpose—or was it done out of mere curiosity ? Thy look may have no purpose, but it is not without purpose that men gaze on thee. There is curiosity in thy look, but more in the look that is turned on thee. Who could have supposed that thy curious carelessness or careless curiosity would afterwards prove to be not reckless but ruinous to thee, thy friends and thine enemies ?

§ 2  Dina namque, dum ad pascendos haedos egreditur, ipsa patri, et sua sibi virginitas rapitur, O Dina, quid necesse est ut videas mulieres alienigenas? Qua necessitate? Qua utilitate? An sola curiositate? Etsi ut otioso videris. Tu curiose spectas, sed curiosius spectaris. Quis crederet tunc illam tuam curiosam otiositatem, vel otiosam curiositate, fore post sic non otiosa, sed tibi, tuis, hostibusque tam perniciosam?


 Capítulo 30

And thou, O Eve, wast placed in Paradise, that thou mightest work with thine husband and bestow thy care on him ; and if thou hadst discharged thy duty, thou wouldst eventually have passed into a better sphere where there would have been no need for thee to be engaged in any work,’ or to be beset by any care. Leave was given to thee to eat of every tree in Paradise, except that one which is called the tree of knowledge of good and evil.1 For if the others are good and have a good savour, what need is there to eat of one which also ‘has an evil savour ? Not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise.’ For to know evil is not knowledge but folly. So preserve what is given, await what is promised, avoid what is for­bidden, lest thou lose what is allowed.

§ 1 Tu quoque, o Eva, in paradiso posita es, ut cum viro tuo opereris et custodias illum, si iniunctum perfeceris, quandoque transitura ad melius, ubi nec opus sit te in aliquo opere occupari, nec de custodia sollicitari. Omne lignum paradisi ad vescendum tibi conceditur, praeter illud quod dicitur scientiae boni et mali. Si enim cetera bona sunt et sapiunt bonum, quid opus est edere de ligno, quod sapit etiam malum? Non plus sapere, quam oportet sapere. Sapere enim malum, sapere non est, sed desipere. Serva ergo commissum, exspecta promissum; cave prihibitum, ne perdas concessum.

Why lookest thou so eagerly for thy death ? Why dost thou so often cast in that direction those wandering eyes of thine ? What pleasure hast thou in looking on that which thou mayest not eat ? Perchance thou dost reply, ‘I stretch forth mine eyes not my hand. It is not looking but eating that is forbidden. May I not turn those eyes which God has placed under my control in any direction that I please ?’ To which the Apostle shall answer, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient.’ Although it may not be in itself a guilty act, it affords an incentive to sin. For if thy mind had not shown insufficient attention to its own condition, it would have had no time for idle curiosity. Although there may, be no offence, there is an opportunity as well as a suggestion to offend and a reason for offending.

§ 2  Quid tuam mortem tam intente intueris? Quid illo tam crebro vagantia lumina iacis? Quid spectare libet, quod manducare non licet? “Oculos”, inquis, “tendo, non manum. Non est interdictum ne videam, sed ne comedam. An non licet oculos quo volo levare, quos deus in mea posuit potestate”?Ad quod Apostolus: Omnia mihi licent, sed non omnia expediunt. Etsi culpa non est, culpae tamen indicium est. Nisi enim mens minus se curiose servaret, tua curiositas tempus vacuum non haberet. Etsi culpa non est, culpae tamen occasio est, et indicium commissae, et causa est committendae.

For while thou art thinking of something else, the serpent creeps craftily into thine heart, and addresses thee in an alluring tone. He overcomes thy reason with his enticements, allays thy fear with falsehoods, and tells thee that thou art in no danger of death. He increases thy distress, as he stimulates thine appetite ; he sharpens curiosity and strengthens desire. At length he offers what is forbidden and takes away what is allowed. He presents thee with fruit and deprives thee of Paradise. Thou takest poison : thou wilt perish thyself and wilt bring forth children who will perish. Thou hast sacrificed salvation, without losing the power to give birth. We are born, we die and thus we are born only to die, because we are dead before we are born.

§ 3  Te enim intenta ad aliud, latenter interim in cor tuum serpens illabitur, blande alloquitur. Blanditiis rationem, mendaciis timorem compescit: “Nequaquam”, inquiens, “morieris”. Auget curam, dum incitat gulam; acuit curiositate, dum suggerit cupiditatem. Offert tandem prohibitum, et aufert concessum: porrigit pomum, et surripit paradisum. Hauris virus peritura, et perituros paritura. Perit salus, non destitit partus. Nascimur, morimur: ideoque nascimur morituri, quia prius morimur nascituri. Propterea grave iugum super omnes filios tuos usque in hodiernum diem.




Capítulo 31

And as for thee, ‘pattern of perfection,’ thou wast placed not in Paradise, but in Eden the garden of God. What more couldst thou reasonably desire ? Filled with wisdom, and exalted in honour, thou shouldst have expected nothing higher and worked for nothing stronger than thyself. Remain where thou art, lest thou fall from thy position, if thou walkest among things that are too great and wonderful for thee. But why dost thou sometimes turn round and look to the north ? I see thee, I already detect thee peering too inquisitively into the unknown heights above thee. I will place sayest thou, my throne towards the north.’ The other dwellers in heaven are standing, whilst thou alone dost desire to sit, and dost thereby disturb the harmony of the brethren, the peace of the whole heavenly community, and, so far as it lies in thy power to do so, the tranquillity of the Trinity.

§ 1 Sed et tu, signaculum similitudinis, non in paradiso, sed in deliciis paradisi Dei positus es. Quid amplius quaerere debes? Plenus ergo sapientia et perfectus decore, altiora te ne quaesieris et fortiora te ne scrutatus fueris.  Sta in te, ne cadas a te, si ambulas in magnis et in mirabilibus super te. Sed quid  interim ex obliquo intendis ad aquilonem? Iam te video, iam te perspicio nescio quae supra te curiosius alta rimantem. Ponam, inquis sedem meam ad Aquilonem. Ceteris astantibus caelicolis, dum tu sedere solus affectas, fratrum concordiam, totius caelestis patriae pacem ipsius, quantum in te est, quietem Trinitatis infestas.

Does this curiosity carry thee so far, thou wretched being, that with unrivalled presumption thou dost not scruple to give offence to the citizens and to do injury to the king? Thousands of thousands minister to him and ten times a hundred thousand stand before him,’ where no one is allowed to sit, but He alone who sitteth upon the cherubims3 and receiveth the ministrations of others. And dost thou—how shall I put it—claiming a wider outlook, a more incisive scrutiny and a freer entrance than that of the others, place a seat for thyself in heaven, that thou mayest be on a level with the Most High? What is thine object—on what dost thou rely ? Thou fool, estimate thy powers, think of the result, consider the process. Dost thou presume on the knowledge or on the ignorance—on the willingness or on the reluct­ance—of the Most High? But how can He whose purpose is all good, and whose knowledge is unlimited, either consent to or be unaware of, thine evil design ?

§ 2  Quo te tua, miser curiositas ducit, ut praesumptione singulari non dubites civibus scandalum, iniuriam facere Regi? Millia millium ministrant ei, et decies centena millia assistunt ei, ubi nemo sedere perhibetur, nisi solus is qui sedet super Cherubim, cui a ceteris ministratur;  et tu nescio quae prae ceteris differentius prospiciendo, curiosius inquirendo, irreverentius, pervadendo, sedem tibi collocas in caelo, ut sis similis Altissimo? Quo fine? Qua fiducia? Metire, insipiens, vires pensa finem, excogita modum Sciente hoc Altissimo praesumis, an nesciente? Volente, an nolente? Sed quomodo malum quodcumque machinaris, aut velle, aut ignorare potest, cuius optima voluntas, cuius perfecta scientia est?

Dost thou think that though He undoubtedly knows and disapproves it, He is unable to prevent it ? But unless indeed thou art doubtful whether thou art a created being, I cannot suppose that thou canst doubt the omni­potence, omniscience and excellence of thy Creator, seeing that He was able to create thee out of nothing, and, knowing what thou wouldst turn out to be, willed to make thee the powerful being that thou art.

Numquid autem et scire, et nolle non dubitas, sed non posse resistere putas? At vero nisi te conditum esse dubitaveris, dubitare te non crediderim de omnipotentia, sive de omnimoda scientia ac bonitate Conditoris, qui te de nihilo potuit, talem scivit, tantum condere voluit. Quomodo ergo Deum consentire aestimas, quod fieri nolit, ac refellere possit?

When therefore thou thinkest that God will tolerate that of which He disapproves and has the power to prohibit, do I perchance see in thee the completion—aye, and the origin—of that idea which after thee and because of thee is constantly held by those like thee on earth, and which is embodied in the common saying, ‘An usurper keeps reckless followers ?’1 Is thine eye evil because he is good ?’ This wicked presumption of thine on His benevolence has produced in thee an insolent disregard of His knowledge, and a daring defiance of His power.

§ 3  An forte in te video compleri, immo a te initiari, quod post te ac per te a tui similibus in terris frequentatum solet vulgariter dici: Privatus dominus temerarios nutrit? An oculus tuus nequam est, quia ille bonus? De cuius bonitate dum fiduciam nefariam sumis, factus es et contra scientiam impudens, et contra potentiam audax.


 Capítulo 32

For this, and nothing less than this, thou unholy one, is thy train of thought. This is the wickedness that thou dost devise on thy bed, and sayest `thinkest thou that the Creator will destroy His own work? I am well aware that no thought of mine escapes God, because He is God, nor does any such thought please Him, because He is good. Nor can I escape His hand—if He so wishes—because He is mighty. But need this be a cause of dread to me ? For if through His goodness He can (have no pleasure in evil done by me—how much less can He derive it from evil action of His own ? I should call it evil on my part to wish to oppose His will—and on His part to avenge Himself. He therefore cannot wish to take vengeance for any crime, since He neither will nor can part with His inherent goodness.’ It is thyself—thou wretch, alone that thou deceivest, not God. Thou deceivest thyself, I repeat, and thy wicked­ness lies to thyself not to God. Thou dost indeed act deceitfully, but He detects thy motive. Thus thou deceivest thyself not God. And since in return for His great goodness, thou dost contem­plate great evil towards Him, thy wickedness naturally leads thee to hate Him.

§ 1 Hoc est enim, o impie, hoc est quod cogitas; haec est iniquitas, quam meditaris in cubili tuo, et dicis: “Putas Creator opus suum destruat”? Scio quidem quia non latet Deum qualiscumque cogitatio mea: Deus enim est. Nec placet ei talis cogitatio mea, quia bonus est. Sed nec si velit, ego effugiam manus eius, quia potens est. Numquid tamen mihi timendum est? Si enim cum bonus sit, non potest illi placere malum meum, quanto minus suum? Meum quippe dixerim contra eius voluntatem aliquid velle; suum autem, si vindicet sese. Tam ergo quodcumque scelus non valet velle ulcisci, quam nec vult, nec valet sua bonitate privari. Fallis te, miser, fallis te, non Deum. Te, inquam, fallis, et mentitur iniquitas sibi, non Deo. Dolose quidem agis, sed in conspectu eius. Te ergo fallis, non Deum. Et quia de magno eius bono in te, tu magnum in eum excogitas malum, merito iniquitas tua invenitur ad odium.

For what can be more unjust than that the Creator should be scorned by thee for the very reason for which He most deserves thy love ? What can be more outrageous than that when thou hast no doubt that the power of God shown in thy creation, could be used for thy destruction, thou dost yet rely on His abundant kindness, and that this should lead thee to hope that He will be unwilling to exercise His vindictive power ? Wilt thou repay good with evil and love with hatred?

§ 2  Quae namque maior iniquitas, quam ut inde Creator a te contemnatur, unde plus amari merebatur? Quae maior iniquitas, quam cum de potentia Dei non dubites, quin te scilicet destruere possit, qui condere potuit, confisus tamen de multa eius dulcedine, qua speras eum nolle vindicare cum possit, mala pro nobis, odium  retribuas pro dilectione?


 Capítulo 33

Now I say that this malice is deserving, not of passing indignation but of abiding wrath. For it is thy desire and hope to be on an equality with the most gracious and most high Lord, although that is not His wish. Thou desirest that He shall have always before His eyes the distressing sight of thine unwelcome presence, and thou thinkest that though He is able to cast thee down, He will not do so, but that He will prefer Himself to suffer than to allow thee to perish. It is undoubtedly in His power to over­throw thee, if such be His will—but in thine opinion His kindness will not allow Him to entertain such a wish. If He be such as thou supposest Him to be, it is clear that thy conduct in not loving Him is so much the baser. And if He does allow action to be taken against Himself rather than take action against thee—how great must be thy malice in having no consideration for Him who disregards Himself in sparing thee ?

§ 1 Haec, in quam, iniquitas, non ira momentanea, sed odio digna est sempiterno, qua tuo dulcissimo et altissimo Domino, licet invito, desideras tamen ac speras aequari, quatenus semper videat quod doleat, dum te socium habeat cum nolit, nec deiciat cum possit; quin potius eligat ipse dolere, quam te patiatur perire; possit quidem deicere si velit, sed prae dulcedine, ut aestimas, velle non possit. Certe si talis est qualem putas, tanto nequius agis, si non amas. Et si ille aliquid fieri patitur contra se, potius quam ipse aliquid faciat contra te, quanta malitia est, ut vel tu non parcas illi, qui sibi non parcit, parcendo tibi?

But it is inconceivable that He who is perfect can fail to be both kind and just. It is not as though kindness and justice cannot exist together. Kind­ness is really better when it is just than when it is slack—nay more, kindness without justice is not a virtue. It therefore appears that thou remainest ungrateful for the loving-kindness of God whereby thou wast created without exertion on thy part, but thou fearest not His justice of which thou hast had no experience, and dost therefore audaciously incur guilt for which thou dost falsely promise thyself impunity. Now mark that thou wilt find Him whom thou hast known to be kind, to be also righteous, and thou wilt thyself fall into the ditch which thou hast dug for thy Creator. Thy design seems to be to inflict on Him an injury which He is able to avoid if He wishes to do so—a wish which thou thinkest that He cannot enter­tain, as He will not be wanting in that kindness which has led Him never within thine experience to punish anybody.

§ 2  Absit tamen ab eius perfectione, ut qua dulcis est, iustus non sit, quasi simul dulcis et iustus esse non possit, cum melior sit iusta dulcedo quam remissa, immo virtus non sit dulcedo sine iustitia. Quia igitur gratuitae Dei bonitati, qua gratis factus es, ingratus exsistis, iustitiam vero quam expertus non es, non metuis; ideoque audacter committis culpam, de qua tibi falso promittis impunitatem. Iam ecce iustum senties, quem bonum nosti, cadens in foveam, quam paras auctori, ut dum scilicet talem in eum poenam machinaris, qua tamen valeat carere, si velit, sed, ut putas, non valeat velle, et ideo nec carere ea utique bonitate, qua neminem expertus es illum punisse:

The righteous God will most justly retaliate by punishing thee, since He neither can nor ought to allow such a slight on His goodness to remain unpunished. He may, how­ever, so moderate the severity of His sentence that, if thou art willing to return to reason, He will not refuse thee pardon.’ But such is thy hardness and impenitent heart,’ that thou art incapable of such a wish, and therefore canst not escape the penalty.

§ 3 talem iustus Deus iustissime in te retorqueat poenam, qui nec valet, nec debet pati suam  impune bonitatem offendi, sic utique temperans in vindicta sententiam, ut, si velis resipiscere, non neget veniam, secundum tamen duritiam tuam et cor impaenitens, non possis velle, et ideo nec poena carere.


 Capítulo 34

But now listen to the accusation against thee. Heaven, saith He, is my throne and the earth my footstool.’ He did not say ‘east’ or ‘west’, or any one region in the heaven, but the whole heaven is my throne. Thou must not therefore seat thyself in a portion of the heaven, since He has chosen the whole of it for Himself. Thou canst not place thyself on earth, for it is His footstool. For the earth is a solid body, on which is seated the Church, founded on a strong rock. What wilt thou do ? Driven out of heaven, thou canst not remain on earth. Choose then for thy­self a place in the air, not for session but for flight, so that thou, who didst attempt to shatter the security of eternity, shall pay the penalty of thine own unrest. For, whilst thou art driven to and fro between heaven and earth, the Lord is seated on a throne high and elevated’ and the whole earth is full of His majesty—so that thou canst find no place except in the air.

§ 1 Se iam audi calumniam: Caelum, inquit mihi sedes est, terra autem scabellum pedum meorum. Non dixit “Oriens” aut “Occidens” aut una aliqua caeli plaga, sed “totum caelum mihi sedes est”. Non potes ergo in parte sedere caeli, cum ille totum elegerit sibi. In terra non potes, quia pedum eius scabellum est. Terra etenim locus solidus est, ubi sedet Ecclesia, fundata supra firmam petram Quid facies? E caelo pulsus, in terris remanere non potes. Elige ergo tibi in aere locum, non ad sedendum, sed ad volandum, ut qui tentasti concutere statum aeternitatis, poenam sentias propriae fluctuationis. Te ergo fluctante inter caelum et terram sedet Dominus super solium excelsum et elevatum, et plena est omnis terra maiestate eius, ut nusquam nisi in aere invenias locum.


Capítulo 35

For the Seraphim with their wings of contemplation fiy from the throne to the footstool, and from the footstool to the throne, while with their other wings they cover the head and feet of the Lord. And I think that they are purposely so placed that, as the access to Paradise was barred against sinful men by the Cherubim, so also shall a limit be set to thy curiosity by the Seraphim.’ The result will be that thou wilt no longer, with more impudence than prudence, investigate the secrets of heaven, nor wilt thou discover the mysteries of the Church on earth, but shalt find a home only in the hearts of the proud, who neither deign to live on earth like other men, nor fly like the angels to heaven.

§ 1 Seraphim namque aliis quidem alis suae contemplationis de throno ad scabellum, de scabello ad thronum volantia, aliis caput Domini pedesque velantia, ad hoc ibi posita puto, ut sicut peccanti homini paradisi per Cherubim prohibetur ingressus, ita et per Seraphim suae curiositate modus imponatur, quatenus nec caeli iam magis impudenter quam prudenter arcana rimeris, nec Ecclesiae mysteria cognoscas in terris, sed solis contentus sis cordibus superborum, qui nec in terra esse dignantur sicut ceteri hominum, nec sicut angeli volant ad caelum.

But although His head is hidden from thee in heaven and His feet on earth, thou mayest as it were be allowed to see—and to envy—some part of what lies between, whilst thou art suspended in the air, and dost behold the angels descending and ascending past thee, though thou art altogether ignorant of what they hear in heaven or tell on earth.

§ 2  Licet vero et caput in caelo, et pedes in terra a te abscondantur, quiddam tamen tibi medium videndum ad invidendum dumtaxat permittitur, dum suspensus in aere, descendentes quidem per te et ascendentes angelos intueris, sed quid vel audiant in caelis, vel nuntient terris, penitus nescis.


 Capítulo 36

O Lucifer,’ thou who didst rise in the morning, surely a bearer no longer of light, but of night-- aye, even of death—thy proper course was from the east to the south, and dost thou invert the order and perversely tend towards the north? In proportion to thy haste to rise is the rapidity of thy decline and fall.

§ 1 O Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris, immo non iam lucifer, sed noctifer, aut etiam mortifer, rectus cursus tuus erat ab Oriente ad Meridiem, et tu praepostero ordine tendis ad Aquilonem? Quanto magis ad alta festinas, tanto celerius ad occasum declinas.

Yet, thou curious one, I should wish to investigate more closely the object of thy curiosity. I will place, sayest thou, my throne towards the north. And as thou art a spirit, I think that neither ‘north’ nor ‘throne’ is to be understood in a local or literal sense. For, I suppose that by ‘the north’ is meant evil men, and by ‘my throne’ thy control over them.2 For in the foreknowledge of God, thou hast from thy chosen proximity to Him, a clearer insight into the future than had others ; and as these were neither enlightened by any ray of wisdom, nor warmed by the love of the spirit, thou didst find in them as it were thine opportunity. Thus didst thou establish thy rule over them, so that thou mightest pour into them some of thy clever cunning, and influence them with thy wicked warmth ; so that as the Most High controlled all the sons of obedience by His wisdom and His goodness, thou mightest govern these by thy cunning wickedness and wicked cunning, and in this respect thou mightest resemble Him. But I am surprised that, since in God’s foreknowledge thou didst foresee thy rule, thou didst not in like manner foresee thy ruin. For if thou didst foresee it, what madness it was to be so wickedly eager for dominion as to prefer rule and wretched­ness to submission and happiness. Or was it not better for thee to be a partner in those regions of light than ruler of those dark places ? But it is more likely that thou didst not look forward—either for the reason which I gave above—that in thy reliance on the kindness of God thou didst say in thine heart, He will not require it,’ and didst therefore wickedly offend Him, or because when thou didst see thy rule, the beam of pride at once rose up in thine eye—which through its inter­ference was unable to discern its danger.

§ 2  Velim tamen curiosius, o curiose, intentionem tuae curiositatis inquirere. Ponam, inquis, sede meam ad Aquilonem. Nec Aquilonem hunc corporalem, nec sedem hanc, cum sis spiritus, intelligo materialem. Puto autem per Aquilonem, reprobandos homines fuisse designatos, per sedem potestatem in illos. Quos utique in praescientia Dei, quanto ei vicinior, tanto ceteris perspicacior praevidens nullo quidem sapientiae radio coruscantes, nullo spiritus amore ferventes, velut vacuum repereris locum, affectasti super illos dominium, quos quadam tuae astutiae claritate perfunderes, tuae malitiae aestibus inflammares, ut quomodo Altissimus sua sapientia ac bonitate omnibus filiis oboedientiae praeerat, ita et tu super omnes filios superbiae rex constitutus, tua eos astuta malitia ac ac malitiosa astutia regeres, per quod Altissimo similis esses. Sed miror, cum in praescientia Dei tuum praevideris principatum, cur non in eadem praevidisti et praecipitium? Nam si praevidisti, quae insania fuit, ut cum tanta miseria cuperes principari, ut malle misere praeesse, quam feliciter subesse? Aut non expediebat participem esse plagarum illarum luminosarum, quam principem tenebrarum harum? Sed credibilius est, quod non praevidisti:  aut propter quod, o impie, Deum irritasti; aut quia, viso pricipatu, in oculo statim superbiae trabes excrevit, qua interposita casum videre non potuit.


 Capítulo 37

In like manner Joseph did not foresee his sale though he had foreseen his promotion—and this although the sale was to precede the promotion. I should not from this conclude that the great patriarch was guilty of pride, but that his experi­ence proves that those who possess the spirit of prophecy must not be supposed to have foreseen nothing because they did not foresee everything. Some one may, perhaps, maintain that the fact that this youth recorded his dreams—of whose symbolic significance he was at the time unaware —was a mark of self-sufficiency. I still think that this should be ascribed to their symbolic character or to his boyish innocence, rather than to conceit.. And if there were such conceit, he was able to atone for it by his subsequent painful experiences.

§ 1 Sic Ioseph, cum suam praevidisset exaltationem, non tamen praescivit sui venditionem, quamvis propior esset venditio quam exaltatio. Non quod tantum Patriarcham in superbiam crediderim incidisse, sed ut eius exemplo pateat, quod hi qui futura praevident per spiritum prophetiae, etsi non omnia, non ideo tamen putandi sunt nulla vidisse. Quod si quis contendat, in eo quod sua somnia adhuc adolescentulus narrabat, quorum tunc mysterium ignorabat, vanitatem posse notari, ego tamen mysterio magis sive simplicitati pueri de putandum arbitror, quam vanitati; quae tamen, si qua fuit, per ea quae passus legitur, potuit expiari.

For revelations of a character pleasing to them­selves are sometimes made to certain persons, and though such knowledge must inevitably engender conceit in the human mind, the prediction may, nevertheless be fulfilled—albeit in such a way that the vanity which has caused even a slight delight in the importance of the revelation shall not be unpunished. For a physician uses not only oint­ment but fire and iron, with which he cuts out or cauterizes everything which is useless for the treatment of the wound, so that there may be no obstacle to the remedial working of the ointment. In like manner does God as the physician of souls, prescribe and administer to a soul of such a disposition, temptations and troubles in order that, chastened and humbled, it may turn joy into sorrow, and think the revelation a delusion. The result is that vanity disappears, though the truth of die revelation is not impaired.

§ 2  Nonnullis enim aliqua aliquando de se per revelationem iucunda monstratur, quae etsi humanus animus absque ulla vanitate scire non potest, non minus ideo eveniet quod monstratum est, sic tamen ut illa vanitas impunita non sit, qua de magnitudine aut revelationis aut promissionis in se vel leviter exsultavit. Sicut enim medicus, non solum unguento, sed et igne utitur et ferro, quo omne  quod in vulnere sanando superfluum excreverit, secet et urat, ne sanitatem, quae ex unguento procedit, impediat, sic medicus animarum Deus huiusmodi animae procurat tentationes, immittit tribulationes, quibus afflicta et humiliata, gaudium vertat in luctum, revelationem putet illusionem. Unde fit ut et vanitate careat, et veritas revelationis non pereat.

Thus Paul’s tendency to self-exaltation is checked by his thorn in the flesh, while he is himself uplifted by repeated revelations. Thus want of faith in Zacharias is punished by loss of speech, yet the declaration of the angel that the truth would be made clear during his lifetime is un­altered. Thus again, by honour and dishonour’ do the saints make progress, though among the special gifts which each receives, they are only too well aware of the existence in them of that vanity which is common to mankind ; so that while they know themselves to be the possessors of supernatural favour, they may ever remember whom they truly are.

§ 3  Sic Pauli extollentia per stimulos carnis reprimitur, et ipse revelationibus crebris attollitur. Sic Zachariae infidelitas linguae obligatione mulctatur, et Angeli veritas suo in tempore manifestanda non mutatur. Sic, sic per gloriam et ignobilitatem sancti proficiunt, dum inter singularia dona quae recipiunt, gratiam supra se aliquid cernunt, non obliviscantur quod sunt.


 Capítulo 38

But what about revelations to mere curiosity ? I took the opportunity of dealing with these in a digression, when I tried to show that the wicked angel before his fall was allowed to foresee that dominion which he afterwards acquired over wicked men, but not to anticipate his own condemnation. That is a matter about which questions of small moment may be raised which it is easier to ask than to answer, and of which the sum and substance is but this—that he fell from the truth because his idle speculation led him to unlawful desire and thus to presumptuous aspiration. Curiosity therefore rightly claims the first place among the degrees of pride, and is thus revealed as the beginning of all sin. But unless this is suppressed very speedily it will soon develop into a careless frame of mind which constitutes the second degree.

§ 1 Sed quid de revelationibus ad curiositatem? De quibus, ut haec per excessum intermiscerem, inde sumpta occasio est, cum ostendere vellem, reprobum Angelum ante casum suum sic potuisse praevidere illam quam post accepit, in reprobos homines dominationem, ut tamen suam non praesciret damnationem. De quo etiam nonnullis quaestiunculis motis magis quam solutis, totius disputatiunculae haec summa sit: quod per curiositatem a veritate ceciderit, quia prius spectavit curiose, quod affectavit illicite, speravit paesumptuose. Iure igitur in gradibus superbiae primum curiositas vindicat sibi, quae etiam inventa est initium omnis esse peccati. Sed nisi haec citius cohibeatur, in levitatem animi, quae secundus gradus est, cito delabitur.


The second degree—Levity of mind. (The opposite of the eleventh degree of humility—short and sensible speech in a subdued tone.)



Capítulo 39

For the monk who is careless about himself and unduly inquisitive about other people, looks up to some as his betters and looks down upon others as his inferiors—in some he sees cause for envy, while others are the objects of his scorn. It thus happens that his mind, enervated by his habit of staring about him, is oppressed by no anxiety on its own account, now through pride soars to the heights and then sinks through envy to the depths. He shows at one moment a sulky acquiescence in his own wickedness, at another a childish delight in his excellence. In the former he exhibits his weakness, in the latter his vanity, in both his pride ; for it is love of his own excellence that gives him distress when others surpass him, and joy when he surpasses them.

§ 1 Monachus enim, qui sui negligens, alios curiose circumspicit, dum quosdam suspicit superiores, quosdam despicit inferiores, et in aliis quidem videt quod invidet, in aliis quod irridet. Inde fit ut pro mobilitate oculorum levigatus animus, nulla utique sui cura aggravatus, modo per superbiam ad alta se erigat, modo per invidiam in ima demergat: nunc per invidiam nequiter tabescit, nunc pro excellentia pueriliter hilarescit. In altero nequam, in altero vanus, in utroque superbus exsistit, quia et quod superari se dolet, et quod superare se gaudet, amor propriae excellentiae facit.

This unbalanced disposition shows itself in speech sometimes brief and bitter, sometimes full and feeble, alternately jocose and doleful, and always silly. Compare if you please these two earliest degrees of pride with the two highest degrees of humility, and see if the last one of these latter does not repress curiosity, and the one before it levity. You will find the same contrast if the other degrees are similarly compared. But now let us go on to the study of the third degree—without, however, falling into it.

§ 2  Has autem animi vicissitudines nunc pauca et mordacia, nunc multa et inania, nunc risu, nunc luctu plena, semper vero irrationabilia indicant verba. Compara, si vis, hos duos primos superbiae gradus supremis duobus humilitatis, et vide si non in ultimo curiositas, in penultimo levitas cohibetur: idipsum in ceteris reperies, si alterutrum comparentur. Sed iam ad tertium docendo, non descendendo veniamus.


The third degree—Unseasonable merriment. (The opposite of the tenth degree of humility—refraining from frequent and light laughter.)



Capítulo 40

It is characteristic of the proud that they always look out for pleasure and shun sadness, in accord­ance with the saying : The heart of fools is where there is mirth.’ So it is that the monk who has already descended two degrees of pride and through inquisitiveness has arrived at levity, when he sees the joy for which he is always on the look out constantly interrupted by the distress which he feels at the sight of good in others, chafes under the sense of humiliation and takes refuge in a suggestion of unreal comfort. Henceforth he restrains his inquisitiveness on that side on which his own worthlessness and his neighbour’s excellence are shown to him, and turns his whole attention to the other side. He may thus mark only too carefully those things in which he seems to be the better man, and may hide those in which others surpass him, and so may put away all thought of sorrow and remain always merry. It thus happens that silly merriment soon gains sole possession of the man whom joy and sorrow alternately claim.

§ 1 Proprium est superborum, laeta semper appetere et tristia devitare, iuxta illud: Cor stultorum, ubi laetitia. Unde et monachus, qui duos iam superbiae gradus descendit, dum per curiositatem ad animi levitatem devenit, cum gaudium, quod semper appetit, frequenti videt interpolari tristitia, quam de bonis alterius contrahit, impatiens suae humiliationis, fugit ad consilium falsae consolationis. Ex illa denique parte, qua sua sibi vilitas et aliena excellentia monstratur, retringit curiositatem, ut totum se transferat in contrariam partem, quatenus in quo ipse videtur praecellere, curiosius notet, in quo alter praecellit, semper dissimulet, ut dum devitat quod triste putatur, laetitia continuetur. Sicque fit, ut quem sibi vicissim vindicabant gaudium et tristitia, sola possidere incipiat inepta laetitia.

I set this before you as the third degree of pride ; now note the marks by which you may  it, either in yourself or in anyone else. You seldom or Dever hear a man of this kind groan, or see him shed tears. You will think, if you consider, that his faults are either forgotten or forgiven. His gestures are those of a buffoon, his look that of a coxcomb, his step that of a dandy. He is always making jokes, and never loses a chance of laughing. He cuts out of his mind all discreditable and therefore distressing recollec­tions, and concentrates his mental vision on his real or pretended merits. As he thinks of nothing but what is pleasant without considering whether it is lawful, he can neither restrain laughter nor hide his unseasonable merriment.

§ 2  In hac autem tertium tibi gradum constituo: accipe quibus eam signis vel in te deprehendas vel in altero. Illum qui eiusmodi est, aut raro, aut numquam gementem audies, lacrimantem videbis. Putes, si attendas, aut sui oblitum, aut ablutum a culpis. In signis scurrilitas, in fronte hilaritas, vanitas apparet in incessu. Pronus ad iocum, facilis ac promptus in risu. Cunctis quippe quae in se contemptibilia, et ideo tristia noverat, a memoria rasis, bonisque, si qua sentit in se, adunatis vel simulatis ante oculos mentis, dum nil cogitat nisi quod libet, nec attendit si licet, iam risum tenere, iam ineptam laetitiam dissimulare non valet.

A bladder swells when it is full of wind, but if a small hole is pricked in it and it is squeezed, it creaks as it collapses, and the air does not rush out at once, but is gradually expelled and gives out frequent intermittent sounds. In like manner when a monk has filled his mind with vapid and vulgar thoughts, the flood of folly which cannot, owing to the rule of silence, find full and free vent,’ is thrown out from his narrow jaws in guffaws of laughter. He constantly hides his face as if ashamed, compresses his lips, and clenches his teeth. He laughs loudly without meaning to do so, and even against his will. And when he has stopped his mouth with his fists he is frequently heard to sneeze.

§ 3  Ut enim vesica collecto turgida vento punctoque forata exiguo, si stringitur, crepitat dum detumescit, ac ventus egrediens non passim effusus, sed strictim emissus crebros quosdam sonitus reddit, sic monachus, ubi vanis scurrilibusque cor suum cogitationibus impleverit, propter disciplinam silentii non inveniens ventus vanitatis qua plenius egrediatur inter angustias faucium per cachinnos excutitur. Saepe vultum pudibundus abscondit, claudit labia, dentes stringit; ridet tamen nolens, cachinnat invitus. Cumque os pugnis obstruxerit suis, per nares adhuc sternutare auditur.


The fourth degree—Boastfulness. (The opposite of the ninth degree of humility. Reticence until questioned.)



Capítulo 41

But when vanity increases, and the bladder begins to be inflated, it becomes necessary to loosen the belt and allow a larger outlet for the air, otherwise the bladder will burA. So the monk who is unable to discharge his super­abundant store of unseemly merriment by laughter or by gesture, breaks forth with the words of Elihu, My belly is as new wine which wanteth vent, which bursteth the new vessels.’ He must speak out or break down. For he is full of matter to speak of, and the spirit of his bowels con­straineth him.’ He hungers and thirsts for hearers, at whom he may throw his banalities, to whom he may pour out his feelings, and let them know what a fine fellow he is. But when he has found his opportunity of speaking—if the conver­sation turns on literary matters, old and new points are brought forward ; he airs his ideas in loud and lofty tone. He interrupts his questioner and answers before he is asked. He himself puts the question and gives the answer, nor does he even allow the person to whom he is talking to finish his remarks. When the striking of the silence gong puts a stop to conversation, he complains that a full hour is not a sufficient allowance, and asks for indulgence that he may go on with his gossip after the time for it is over—not to add to the knowledge of any one else, but to boast of his own. He has the power but not the purpose of giving useful information. His care is not to teach you or to learn from you things which he does not know, but that the extent of his learning may be made known.

§ 1 At postquam vanitas crescere et vesica grossescere coeperit necesse est ut ampliori foramine, laxato sinu, ventositas eructuetur; aliquin rumpetur. Sic monachus, inepta redundante laetitia, dum risu vel signis eam aperire non sufficit, in Heliu verba prorumpit: En venter meus quasi mustum absque spiraculo, quod lagunculas novas dirumpit. Aut loquetur ergo, aut rumpetur. Plenus est enim sermonibus, et coarctat eum spiritus uteri sui. Esurit et sitit auditores, quibus suas iactitet vanitates, quibus omne quod sentit effundat, quibus qualis et quantus sit innotescat. Inventa autem occasione loquendi, si de litteris sermo exoritur, vetera proferuntur et nova; volant sententiae, verba resonant ampullosa. Praevenit interrogantem, non quaerenti respondet. Ipse quaerit, ipse solvit, et verba collocutoris imperfecta praecidit. Cum autem, pulsato signo, necesse est interrumpi colloquium, horam longam, breve queritur intervallum; quaerit licentiam ut ad fabulas revertatur post horam, non ut quempiam aedificet, sed ut scientiam iactet. Aedificare potest, sed non aedificare intendit. Non curat te docere vel a te docere ipse quod nescit, sed ut scire sciatur quod scit.

If the subject under discussion is religion, he is forward with his vision and his dreams. He upholds fasting, prescribes vigils, and maintains the paramount importance of prayer. He en­larges at great length but with excessive conceit on patience, humility and all the virtues in turn, with the intention that you on hearing him should say, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,’ and that a good man out of his good treasure bringing forth good things.

§ 2  Quod si de religione agitur, statim visiones et somnia proferuntur. Deinde laudat ieiunia, commendat vigilias, super omnia orationes exaltat; de patientia, de humilitate, aut de singulis virtutibus plenissime, sed vanissime disputat, ut tu scilicet, si audieris, dicas quod ex abundantia cordis os loquitur, et quia bonus homo de bono thesauro suo profert bona.

If the talk turns on light subjects he becomes more loquacious, because he is on more familiar ground. If you hear the torrent of his conceit you may say that his mouth is a fount of such buffoonery as to move even strict and sober monks to light laughter. To put it shortly, mark his swagger in his chatter. In this you have the name and description of the fourth degree of pride. Remember the description and avoid the reality. With this warning, go on to the fifth degree which I call eccentricity.

§ 3  Si ad ludicra sermo convertitur, in his quanto assuetior, tanto loquacior invenitur. Dicas, si audias, rivum vanitatis, fluvium esse scurrilitatis os eius, ita ut severos quoque et graves animos in levitatem concitet risus. Et ut totum in brevi colligam in multiloquio nota iactantiam. In hoc habes quartum gradum et descriptum et nominatum. Fuge rem, et tene nomen. Hac eadem cautela iam accede ad quintum, quem nomino singularitatem.


The fifth degree—Eccentricity. (The opposite of the eighth degree of humility, observance of the general rule of the monastery.)



Capítulo 42

A man who prides himself on being better than his fellow-men thinks it a disgrace if he does not do something more than they do, whereby his superiority may be apparent. Therefore the general rule of the monastery and the example of its senior members are not enough for him. Yet his anxiety is not to be, but to be seen to be better than they. His effort is not to lead a better life but visibly to surpass others, so that he may be able to say, I am not as the rest of men.’ He takes more credit to himself for having once gone without a meal while others were having theirs, than he does in having shared in a fast of seven days. One little private prayer of his own seems to him more commendable than the recitation of all the Psalms set for an entire night. At meal­time he has a habit of casting his eyes all round the tables, and if he sees anyone eating less than himself, he is annoyed at being outdone. He begins severely to cut down the amount of food which he had ‘hitherto recognized as his necessary ration, because he is more afraid of loss of credit than of the pangs of hunger. If he catches sight of anyone more shrunken and sallow than himself, he cannot rest under what he considers to be a disgrace. And, since he cannot see his own face and the aspect under which he presents himself to onlookers, he examines his hands and arms which he can see, beats his breast, taps his shoulders and loins, and from the more or less attenuated condition of his limbs forms an opinion as to the paleness or colour of his face.

§ 1 Turpe est ei, quo se supra ceteros iactat, si non plus ceteris aliquid agat, per quod ultra ceteros appareat. Proinde non sufficit ei quod communis monasterii regula vel maiorum cohortantur exempla. Nec tamen melior esse studet, sed videri. Non melius vivere, sed videri vincere gestit, quatenus dicere possit: Non sum sicut ceteri hominum. Plus sibi blanditur de uno ieiunio, quod ceteris prandentibus facit, quam si cum ceteris septem dies ieiunaverit. Commodior sibi videtur una oratiuncula peculiaris, quam tota psalmodia unius noctis. Inter prandendum crebro solet oculos iactare per mensas, ut si quem minus comedere viderit, victum se doleat, et incipiat idipsum sibi crudeliter subtrahere, quod necessarium victui indulgendum praeviderat, plus gloriae metuens detrimentum quam famis cruciatum. Si que macriorem, si quem pallidiorem perspexerit, vilem se aestimat, numquam requiescit. Et quoniam vultum ipse suum videre non potest, qualem scilicet se intuentibus offert, manus, quas potest, et brachia spectans, palpat costas, humeros attrectat et lumbos, ut secundum quod corporis sui membra, vel minus, vel satis exilia probat, pallorem ac colorem oris discerant.

But while active in all his private devotions, he is indolent in public worship. He keeps vigil while in bed, and goes to sleep in his stall. He sleeps all night while others are chanting the early Psalms. When the vigil is over, and the other monks are resting in the cloister, he alone lingers in the oratory. He coughs and spits, and the ears of those sitting outside are filled with the sighs and groans from his corner. By his silly and singular action he has established a high reputation with his more simple brethren, who quite approve what they see of hisdoings, though they do not detect their motive, and, by the commendation which they bestow on him, they aid and abet the wretched man’s mistake.

§ 2  Ad omnia denique sua strenuus, ad communia piger. Vigilat in lecto, dormit in choro; cumque aliis psallentibus ad vigilias tota nocte dormitet, post vigilias, aliis in claustro quiescentibus, solus in oratorio remanet: excreat et tussit, gemitibus ac suspiriis aures foris sedentium de angulo implet. Cum autem ex his quae singulariter, sed inaniter agit, apud simpliciores eius opinio excreverit, qui profecto opera probant quae cernunt, sed unde prodeant non discernunt, dum miserum beatificant, in errorem inductunt.


Sixth degree—Conceit. (The opposite of the seventh degree of humility—belief and acknowledgment of one’s inferiority to others.)



Capítulo 43

He believes what he hears, praises his own action,’ and pays no attention to the motive_ He welcomes a favourable opinion and forgets its purpose. And he who in everything else puts more trust in himself than in other men, attaches more weight to the opinions of others about him than to his own. So not only does he think that he exhibits superior religion on account of his verbal profession or special display of piety, but in his inmost heart he considers himself more holy than any one else. And if he knows that he is praised for anything, he ascribes it, not to the ignorance or the kindliness of the person who commends him, but, with much conceit, to his own deserts. So after eccentricity, conceit has made good its claim to be the sixth degree. After it, audacity shows itself—and in it the seventh degree consists.

§ 1  Credit quod audit, laudat quod agit, et quid intendat non attendit. Obliviscitur intentionem, dum amplectitur opinionem. Quique de omni alia re plus sibi credit quam aliis, de se solo plus aliis credit quam sibi, ut iam non verbotenus aut sola operum ostentatione suam praeferat religionem, sed intimo cordis credat affectu se omnibus sanctiorem; et quidquid de se laudatum agnoverit, non ignorantiae aut benevolentiae laudatoris, se suis meritis arroganter ascribit. Unde post singularitatem, sextum  sibi gradum iure arrogantia vindicavit. Post hanc praesumptio invenitur, in qua septimus gradus constituitur.


Seventh degree—Audacity. (The opposite of the sixth degree of humility—acknowledgment of oneself as unworthy and useless.)



Capítulo 44

For if a man thinks himself superior to others, is it likely that he will not push himself in front of them ? He is the first to take his seat at meetings, the first to intervene in debate. He comes forward without invitation, and with no introduction but his own he re-opens questions that have been settled, and goes again over work that has been done. He considers that nothing that he has not himself designed and carried out, has been properly organized or satisfactorily exe­cuted. He criticises those who sit in judgment, and tells them what their decisions should be.  

§ 1 Qui enim alios se praecellere putat, quomodo plus de se quam de aliis non praesumat? Primus in conventibus residet, in consiliis primus respondet; non vocatus accedit, non iussus se intromittit; reordinat ordinata, reficit facta. Quidquid ipse non fecerit aut ordinaverit, nec recte factum, nec pulchre aestimat ordinatum. Iudicat iudicantes, praeiudicat iudicaturis.

If, when the time comes for the appointment of a Prior, he is not promoted to the office, he is certain that his Abbot is either jealous or mistaken. But if some less important duty is assigned to him, he is displeased and contemptuous, for, as he feels himself qualified for greater work, he thinks that he ought not to be employed in smaller matters.

Si, cum tempus advenerit, non promoveatur ad prioratum, suum abbatem aut invidum iudicat, aut deceptum. Quod si mediocris ei aliqua oboedientia iniuncta fuerit, indignatur, aspernatur, arbitrans se non esse minoribus occupandum, qui se ad maiora sentit idoneum.

But it is inconceivable that a man who, with more rashness than readiness, is very anxious to under­take all sorts of work, should not sometimes make mistakes. And it is the duty of the Abbot to reprove such an one for his error. But how will he confess his fault, if he neither thinks himself, nor will allow others to think him, worthy of censure ? Therefore when his fault is pointed out to him, it is not removed but grows worse. So if, when he is reproved, you see him incline his heart to wicked words, you may know that he has sunk to the eighth degree, which is called defence of wrong-doing.

§ 2  Sed qui sic promptulus possibile est eum aliquando non errare. Ad praelatum autem pertinet errantem arguere. Sed quodmodo culpam sum confitebitur, qui nec esse putat, nec putari culpabilis patitur? Propter ea cum ei culpa imputatur, crescit, non amputatur. Si ergo, cum argutus fuerit, declinare cor eius videris in verba malitiae, in octavum gradum, qui dicitur defensio peccatorum, noveris corruisse.


The eighth degree—Defence of wrong-doing. (The opposite of the fifth degree of humility—a humble and straightforward disclosure of sins and evil thoughts.)



Capítulo 45

There are many ways in which defence is made for sin. A man either says ‘I did it not’ or `I no doubt did it, but I acted rightly in so doing’, or ‘I may have acted wrongly but not to a serious extent,’ or, ‘If I was seriously wrong, I had no bad intention’. If, however, he, like Adam and Eve, is proved to be guilty, he attempts to excuse himself on the ground that he was tempted by some one else. But if a man un­blushingly defends even open sins, will he ever humbly disclose to the Abbot the hidden evil thoughts which come into his mind ?

§ 1 Multis vero modis fiunt excusationes in peccatis. Aut enim dicit qui se excusat: “Non feci”, aut: “Feci quidem, sed bene feci”, aut si male “Non multum male”; aut si multum male; “Non mala intentione”. Si autem et de illa, sicut Adam vel Eva, convincitur, aliena suasione, excusare se nititur. Sed qui procaciter etiam aperta defendit, quando occultas et malas cogitationes, cordi suo advenientes, humiliter revelaret abbati?


The ninth degree—Dishonest confession. (The oppo­site of the fourth degree of humility, willing endurance of hardship as a matter of obedience.)



Capítulo 46

But although defences of this kind are considered so wrong that they are called by the Prophet evil words,’ a false and perverse confession is much more dangerous than even a brazen and stubborn defence. For there are some who, when they are reproved for rather conspicuous offences, and know that no excuse which they may offer will be accepted, have recourse to a more cunning form of defence—they reply by a deceitful confession. For there is, as it is written, one that humbleth himself wickedly and his interior is full of deceit.’ The countenance is downcast—the body is prostrate. They exact from themselves, if they are able to do so, some tears. They interrupt their speech by sighs and intersperse their words with groans. A man of this description not only offers no excuse for the offences with which he is charged, but himself even exaggerates his guilt. He does this that you, when you hear him make a further accusation against himself of some im­possible or inconceivable crime, may be disposed to disbelieve even that of which you thought him guilty—and thus, from the fact that he makes a confession which you fully believe to be false, some doubt may be thrown on that which you held to be almost certain. And when these men make a statement the acceptance of which they do not desire, by their confession they excuse, and by their disclosures they conceal, their fault. Their confession sounds praiseworthy in the mouth, but wickedness is hidden in the heart ; so that he who hears may think that the confession is made with more humility than accuracy, and may apply to them that Scriptural saying, The righteous man at the beginning of his speech is his own accuser.’

§ 1 Licet vero genera haec excusationis eatenus mala iudicentur, quatenus ore prophetico verba malitiae appellentut, multo tamen periculosior est fallax ac superba confessio, quam pervicax et obstinata defensio. Nonnulli enim, cum de apertioribus arguuntur, scientes, si se defenderent, quod sibi non crederetur, subtilius inveniunt argumentum defensionis, verba respondentes dolosae confessionis. Est quippe, ut scriptum est, qui nequiter humiliat se, et interiora eius plena sunt dolo. Vultus demittitur, prosternitur corpus; aliquas sibi lacrimulas extorquent, si possunt; vocem suspiriis, verba gemitibus interrumpunt. Nec solum qui eiusmodi est obiecta non excusat, sed ipse quoque culpam exaggerat, ut dum impossibile aliquid aut incredibile culpae suae ore ipsius additum audis, etiam illud, quod ratum putabas, discredere possis, et ex eo quod falsum esse non dubitas, dum confitetur, in dubium veniat quod quasi certum tenebatur. Dumque affirmant quod credit nolunt, confitendo culpam defendunt, et aperiendo tegunt, quando et confessio laudabiliter sonat in re, et adhuc iniquitas occultatur corde,quatenus magis ex humilitate quam ex veritate confiteri putet qui audit aptans eis illud Scripturae: Iustus in principio sermonis accusator est sui.

For in the sight of men they would rather be thought wanting in truthfulness than in humility—while in the sight of God they are lacking in both. But if their guilt is so clear that by no subterfuge can it be entirely concealed, they nevertheless adopt the tone, though not the spirit of repent­ance, and by this means remove the mark, though not the reality of their guilt, as they make up for ignoring an open offence by the credit of a public confession.

§ 2  Malunt enim apud homines veritate periclitari quam humilitate, cum apud Deum periclitentur utrimque. Aut si adeo culpa manifesta sit, quod nulla penitus tegi versutia possit, nihilominus tamen vocem, non cor paenitentis assumunt, qua notam, non culpam deleant, dum ignorantiam  manifestae transgressionis decore recompensant publicae confessionis.


 Capítulo 47

A fine sort of humility is this, in which pride seeks to array itself, that it may not lose caste ! But this double-dealing is soon detected by the Abbot, unless he is to some extent imposed upon by this haughty humility, and thus induced to pass over the fault or postpone the penalty. The furnace trieth the potter’s vessels,’ and distress reveals the real penitent. For the man who is truly penitent does noj shrink from the trouble of Repentance! Whatever is prescribed to him on account of the fault which he detests, he accepts with submissive and silent acquiescence.’ And if through this very obedience unexpected hard­ships arise, and he thereby sustains injuries that were not intended, he does not give up, so that he may show that he has his place in the fourth degree of humility.

§ 1 Gloriosa res humilitas, qua ipsa quoque superbia palliare se appetit, ne vilescat! Sed haec cito tergiversatio a praelato deprehenditur, si ad hanc superbam humilitatem non leviter flectitur, quo magis dissimulet culpam vel differat poenam. Vasa figuli probat fornax, et tribulatio vere paenitentes discernit. Qui enim veraciter paenitet, laborem paenitentiae non  abhorret, sed quidquid sibi pro culpa quam odit iniungitur, tacita conscientia patienter amplectitur. In ipsa quoque oboedentia duris ac contrariis rebus obortis, quibuslibet irrogatis iniuriis, sustinens non lassescit, ut in quarto gradu stare se indicet humilitatis.

But he whose confession is unreal, when he is confronted with a slight rebuke, or trifling penalty, is unable either to feign humility or to conceal his dissimulation. He murmurs, gnashes his teeth and loses his temper, and it becomes clear that, so far from standing in the fourth degree of humility, he has fallen into the ninth degree of pride, which from the above description of it, may well be called sham con­fession. How great, think you, must be the proud man’s consternation when his deceit is detected, his pardon forfeited, and his fault not condoned ? He is at last found out and condemned by all—and the general indignation is all the greater when men see how erroneous was their former judgment of him. It is then the duty of the Abbot to be less ready to pardon him, because the forgiveness of one would be an offence to all

§ 2 Cuius vero simulata confessio est, una vel levi contumelia aut exigua poena interrogatus, iam humilitatem simulare, iam simulationem dissimulare non potest. Murmurat, frendet, irascitur, nec in quarto stare humilitatis, sed in nonum superbiae gradum corruisse probatur, qui, secundum quod descriptus est, recte simulata confessio appellari potest. Quanta putas tunc confusio sit in corde superbi, cum fraus decipitur, pax amittitur, laus minuitur, nec culpa diluitur? Tandem notatur ab omnibus, iudicatur ab omnibus, eoque vehementius omnes indignatur, quo falsum conspiciunt quidquid de eo prius opinabantur. Tunc opus est praelato, ut eo minus illi parcendum putet, quo magis omnes offenderet, si uni parceret.


The tenth degree—Rebellion. (The opposite of the-third degree of humility—Obedient submission to superiors.)



Capítulo 48

Unless by a merciful intervention of Providence this man quietly accepts the unanimous verdict—a thing which it is very difficult for such persons to do—he soon becomes shameless and defiant, and more hopelesly degenerate, and sinks through rebellion into the tenth degree, so that he who had hitherto by ihis conceit treated his brethren with veiled discourtesy, now by his disobedience shows open contempt for authority.

 § 1 Hic, nisi eum miseratio superna respiciat, ut -quod valde talibus difficile est- universorum iudiciis tacitus acquiescat, frontosus mox et impudens factus, tanto deterius quanto desperatius in decimum gradum per rebellionem corruit, quique prius latenter arrogans fratres contempserat, iam patenter inoboediens etiam magistrum contemnit.


 Capítulo 49

For it should be observed that all the degrees—which I have divided into twelve—may be arranged in three groups ; in the first six there is disrespect to the brethren, in the four that follow defiance of authority, while the last two show complete con­tempt for God. And it should also be noted that, just as the first two degrees in the ascending scale of humility must be attained before entering the community so the last downward steps in pride, which are their counterpart, cannot be taken whilst in it.

§ 1 Sciendum namque, quod omnes gradus, quos in duodecim partitus sum, in tres tantummodo colligi possunt, ut in sex superioribus contemptus fratrum, in quatuor sequentibus contemptus magistri, in duobus, qui restant, consummetur contemptus Dei. Notandum quoque, quod hi duo ultimi superbiae gradus, qui et humilitatis ascendendo primi inveniuntur, sicut extra congregationem ascendendi sunt, ita in congregatione descendi non possunt.

That the first two degrees must be previously passed, the language of the Rule makes clear. For it says that ‘The third degree is that anyone for love of God should submit with entire obedience to his superior.’ Therefore if this submission, which beyond doubt is made when the novice enters the convent, is assigned to the third degree, the necessary presumption is that the two preceding degrees have been passed. Therefore when a monk scorns alike the harmony of the brethren and the decision of his ruler, what more can he do in the monastery except cause scandal?

§ 2  Quod autem  ante ascendi debeant, ex hoc aperte intelligi datur, quod de tertio gradu in Regula legitur: Tertius, inquit, gradus est, ut quis pro Dei amore omni oboedentia se subdat maiori. Si ergo in tertio gradu subiectio collocatur, quae procul dubio fit, quando primum novitius conventui sociatur, consequens est quod duo iam anteriores transcensi intelligantur. Denique ubi fratrum concordiam ac magistri sententiam  monachus spernit, quid ultra in monasterio, nisi scandalum facit?


Eleventh degree—Freedom to sin. (The opposite of the second degree of humility—Forbearance to press personal desire.)



Capítulo 50

So after the tenth degree—which has been described as ‘rebellion’—the man is at once caught in the eleventh. He then enters those paths which are attractive to men, at the end of which (unless God shall perchance have interposed some barrier for his protection) he will be plunged into the nethermost hell—that is into contempt of God. For the wicked man when he is come into the depth of evils, contemneth.2 The eleventh degree may be called freedom to sin, since in it a monk, who sees that he has now neither a ruler to fear nor brethren to respect, can safely and freely give full play to his own desires, which shame as well as fear prevented him from doing while in the monastery.

§ 1  Post decimus itaque gradum, qui rebellio dictus est, expulsus vel egressus de monasterio statim excipitur ab undecimo. Et tunc ingreditur vias, quae videntur hominibus bonae, quarum finis -nisi forte Deus eas sibi saepierit- demerget eum in profundum inferni, id est in contemptum Dei. Impius, siquidem, cum venerit in profundum malorum, contemnit. Potest autem undecimus gradus appellari libertas peccandi, per quam monachus, cum iam nec magistrum videt quem timeat, nec fratres quos revereatur, tanto securius quanto liberius sua desideria implere delectatur, a quibus in monasterio tam pudore quam timore prohibebatur.

But although he no longer dreads his brethren or his Abbot, he has not yet lost all awe of God. Reason, some faint echo of which still remains, places this check upon his inclination, and it is not without some hesitation that he enters on his sinful course, and, like a man who is trying to ford a stream, steps rather than runs into the torrent of vice.

§ 2  Sed etsi iam vel fratres vel abbatem non timet, nondum tamen Dei penitus formidine caret. Hanc ratio, tenuiter adhuc submurmurans, voluntati proponit, nec sine aliqua dubitatione quaeque primum illicita perfecit; sed, sicut is qui vadum tentat, pedetentim, non cursim, vitiorum gurgitem intrat.


Twelfth degree—Habitual sin. (The opposite of the first degree of humility—constant abstinence from sin for fear of God.)



Capítulo 51

But when, by the awful judgment of God, his first offences have been unpunished, the pleasure that he has derived from them is freely repeated, and its repetition engrosses him. Lust is quickened, reason lulled, and habit becomes bond­age. The wretched man’is drawn into the abyss of evil, made prisoner to the despotic rule of vice, and so overwhelmed by the whirlpool of his carnal desires that he forgets alike his own reason and the fear of God, and says madly in his heart, There is no God,’ He now, without scruple, puts pleasure in the place of law, his mind, his hands and his feet are no longer forbidden to consider, execute and pursue courses that are unlawful ; but whatever comes to his heart, his mouth or his hand, he designs, discusses and carries out, with evil intent, idle utterance, and sinful action.

§ 1 Et postquam terribili Dei iudicio prima flagitia impunitas sequitur, experta voluptas libenter repetitur, repetita blanditur. Concupiscentia reviviscente, sopitur ratio, ligat consuetudo. Trahitur miser in profundum malorum, traditur captivus tyrannidi vitiorum, ita ut carnalium voragine desideriorum  absorptus, suae rationis divinique timoris oblitus, dicat insipiens in corde suo: Non est Deus. Iam indifferenter libitis pro licitis utitur,  iam ab illicitis cogitandis, patrandis, investigandis animus, manus vel pedes non prohibentur; sed quidquid in cor, in buccam, ad manum venerit, machinatur, garrit, et operatur, malevolus, vaniloquus, facinorosus.

Just as a righteous man, when he has risen through all the degrees, is able by his habitual goodness to run eagerly and easily to life ; so does the wicked man, who has gone down through the same degrees, in consequence of his evil practice emancipated from the rule of reason and unres­trained by the bridle of fear, hasten undaunted to his death. There are some in the middle who are wearied and worried—who, alternately tortured by the fear of hell, and hindered by longstanding habit, find the descent or ascent hard work.

§ 2  Quemadmodum denique ascensis his omnibus gradibus, corde iam alacri et absque labore pro bona consuetudine iustus currit ad vitam, sic descensis impius eisdem, pro malo usu non se ratione gubernans, non timoris freno retentans, intrepidus festinat ad mortem. Medii sunt quo fatigantur, angustiantur, quo nunc metu cruciati gehennae, nunc pristina retardati consuetudine, descendendo vel ascendendo laborant.

The first one and the last one alone move quickly and without hindrance. The latter hastens to death—the former to life—the one more speedily, the other with greater care. Love makes the one eager, lust renders the other inert. The affection of the one, the indifference of the other make both insensible to toil. So in the one perfect love, in the other consummate wickedness drives out fear. Loyalty gives confidence to the one, blind­ness does the same for the other. So the twelfth degree may be called the habit of sinning, because in it the fear of God is lost, and its place is taken by scorn.

§ 3  Supremus tantum et infirmus currunt absque impedimento et absque labore. Ad mortem hic, ad vitam ille festinat; alter alacrior, alter proclivior. Illum alacrem caritas, hunc proclivem cupiditas facit. In altero amor, in altero stupor laborem non sentit. In illo denique perfecta caritas, in isto consummata iniquitas foras mittit timorem. Illi veritas, huic caecitas dat securitatem. Potest ergo duodecimus gradus appellari consuetudo peccandi, qua Dei metus amittitur, contemptus incurritur.


To what extent may prayer be offered for the incorrigible, and spiritually dead ?

 Capítulo 52

For such an one,’ says John the Apostle, I do not say that any one shall pray. But sayest thou, 0 Apostle, that no one may hope? Surely he who loves that man may groan. He ventures not to pray, he need not for­bear to weep. What is this that I say—that perchance there remains the resource of hope, where prayer has no place? Take an instance of one who believes and hopes, yet does not pray. Lord, she says, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.’ What mighty faith to believe that by His presence the Lord could have prevented death. But what comes next? It is inconceivable that she should doubt that He whom she believed could have kept him alive, was unable to raise him from the dead. But now, says she, I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.’ Then when He asks where they had laid him, she replies, Come and see.’ Why dost thou stop there?

§ 1 Pro tali iam, inquit Ioannes apostolus, non dico ut quis oret. Sed numquid dicis, o Apostole, ut quis desperet? Immo gemat qui illum amat. Non praesumat orate, nec desistat plorare. Quid est quod dico? An forte ullum remanet spei refugium, ubi oratio non invenit locum? Audi credentem, sperantem, nec tamen orantem: Domine, inquit, si fuisses hic, frater meus non fuisset mortuus. Magna fides, qua credit sua praesentia Dominum mortem prohibere potuisse, si adfuisset. Modo autem quid? Absit ut quem credidit vivum potuisse servare, mortuum dubitet posse resuscitare: Sed et nunc, inquit, scio, quia quaecumque poposceris a Deo, dabit tibi Deus. Deinde quaerenti ubi posuissent eum, respondet: Veni et vide. Quamobrem?

Why, if thou art not without hope, dost not thou go further and say, ‘and raise him up’ ? If, on the other hand, thou art in despair, why givest thou the Master unreasonable trouble ? Is it perchance that faith sometimes obtains that for which we dare not pray ? Then as He approaches the corpse thou dost object to His coming near, and sayest, Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days.’ Was this said in despair, or in pretence ? In somewhat the same sense the Lord Himself after His Resurrection made as -though he would go further,’ while His intention was to remain with the disciples.

O Martha, magna nobis fidei tuae insignia tribuis; sed quomodo cum tanta fide diffidis? Veni, inquis, et vide. Cur, si non desperas, non sequeris, et dicis: “Et resuscita”? Si autem desperas, cur magistrum sine causa fatigas? An forte fides aliquando recipit, quod oratio non praesumit? Denique appropinquantem cadaveri prohibes, et dicis: Domine iam foetet: quatriduanus enim est. Desperando dicis hoc, an dissimulando? Sic quippe  ipse Dominus post resurrectionem finxit se longius ire, cum mallet cum discipulis remanere.

O ye holy women, intimate friends of Christ, if ye love your brother why do ye not appeal to the compassion of Him of whose power and pity ye cannot entertain a doubt ? Their answer is, We pray all the better for not uttering a prayer, we trust the more com­pletely for concealing our confidence. We show our faith and suppress our feelings. He who has no need of any information Himself knows what we desire. We indeed know that He can do all things ; but a miracle so great, so unprecedented, though it is within His power, far surpasses anything that in our insignificance we deserve. It is enough for us to have afforded scope for his power and an opportunity for His pity and we prefer patiently to await His will than daringly to demand that which it may not be His pleasure to give. And finally our modesty may perhaps obtain for us something more than we. deserve. And I observe that Peter wept after his serious fall, but I do not hear that he prayed. Yet I have no doubt about his pardon.

§ 2  O sanctae mulieres Christi familiares, si fratres vestrum amatis, cur eius misericordiam non flagitatis, de cuius potentia dubitare, pietate diffidere non potestis? Respondent: “Sic melius tamquam non orantes oramus, sic efficacius quasi diffidentes confidimus. Exhibemus fidem, perhibemus affectum: scit ipse, cui non est opus ut aliquid dicatur, quid desideremus. Scimus quidem quod omnia potest; sed hoc tam grande miraculum, tam novum, tam inauditum, etsi eius subest potentiae, multum tamen excedit universa merita humilitatis nostrae. Sufficit nobis potentiae locum, pietati dedisse occasionem, malentes patienter exspectare quid velit, quam impudenter quaerere quod forsitan nolit. Denique quod nostris meritis deest, verecundia fortasse supplebit”. Petri quoque post gravem lapsum lacrimam quidem video, sed precem  non audio; nec tamen de indulgentia dubito.


 Capítulo 53

Learn further from the Mother of the Lord how to have full faith in the marvellous and in the full­ness of faith to preserve modesty. Learn to adorn faith with modesty and to avoid presumption. They have no wine,’ says she. With what brevity, with what reverence she made a sugges­tion on a matter in which she felt a kindly anxiety. And that you may learn in similar circumstances rather to heave a sympathetic sigh than to venture to make a direct request, she concealed her eager earnestness under a shade of shyness, and modestly refrained from expressing the confidence she felt in prayer. She did not come boldly forward with a clear request, and say straight out before every one appeal to thee, my son : the wine has run short, the guests are annoyed, the bridegroom is dismayed—show what thou canst do’. But although as her breast was burning with these and many other thoughts, she might have expressed her feelings warmly, yet the devout Mother quietly approached her mighty Son, not to test His power but to discover His will. They have no wine, says she. How could she better have combined modesty and confidence? There was no lack of faith in her devotedness, of serious­ness in her voice, or of earnestness in iher desire. She, however, though she was His Mother, waived the claims of kinship, and did not venture to ask for a miraculous supply of wine. With what face, then, can I, a common slave, to whom it is a high honour to be in the service at once of the Son and of the Mother, presume to ask for the life of one who has been dead for four days ?

§ 1 Disce et in Matre Domini magnam in mirabilibus fidem habere, in magna fide verecundiam retinere. Disce verecundia decorare fidem, reprimere praesumptionem. Vinum, inquit, non habent. Quam breviter, quam  reverenter suggessit, unde pie sollicita fuit! Et ut discas in huiusmodi magis pie gemere quam petere praesumptuose, pietatis aestum  pudoris temperans umbra, conceptam precis fiduciam verecunde suppressit. Non frontose accessit, non palam locuta est, ut audacter coram omnibus diceret: “Obsecro, fili, deficit vinum, contristantus convivae, confunditur sponsus; ostende quid possis”. Sed licet haec aut multo plura pectus aestuans, fervens loqueretur affectus, privatim tamen potentem pia Filium mater adivit, non potentiam tentans, sed voluntatem explorans: Vinum, inquit, non habent. Quid modestius? Quid fidelius? Non defuit pietati fides, voci gravitas, efficacia voto. Si ergo illa, cum mater sit, matrem se oblita non audet petere miraculum  vini, ego vile mancipium, cui permagnum est Filii simul ad Matris esse vernaculum, qua fronte praesumo pro vita petere quatriduani?


 Capítulo 54

It is also recorded in the Gospel’ that two blind men had sight given or restored to them—one the sight which he had lost, the other that which he had never possessed—for one had become blind, the other had been so born. But the one who had lost his sight earned marvellous mercy by piteous and persistent prayer, while the one who was born blind received from his divine enlightener a yet more merciful and more marvellous benefit without any previous petition from himself. To him it was afterwards said, Thy faith hath made thee whole.’ I also read of the raising of two persons who had lately died—and of a third one who had been dead for four days ; but only the one who was still lying in her father’s house was thus raised at his prayer—the other two were restored by a great and unexpected manifestation of mercy.

§ 1 Duo etiam in Evangelio caeci visum, alter accepisse, alter recepisse leguntur: alter quem amiserat, alter quem numquam habuerat; unus scilicet excaecatus, alter vero caecus natus. Sed quo excaecatus, miserabilibus mirisque clamoribus miram misericordiam meruit; qui vero caecus natus, tanto misericordius quanto mirabilius nullis suis precibus praeventum, sui illuminatoris beneficium nihilominus sensit. Illi denique dictum est: Fides tua te salvum fecit; huic autem non. Duos quoque recens mortuos, tertium iam quatriduanum, lego resuscitatos; solam tamen, in domo adhuc positam , precibus patris; duos autem ex insperata magnitudine pietatis.


 Capítulo 55

So if, in like manner, it should happen (which may God avert) that any one of our brethren should meet not bodily but spiritual death ; as long as he shall be with us, I, sinner that I am, will persistently assail the Saviour with my prayers and with those of the brethren. If he revives, we shall have gained our brother ; but if we do not deserve to be heeded and the time comes when he cannot endure those who are alive, or be endured by them, but must be carried out for burial, I go on faithfully with my mourning, though I cannot pray with so much confidence. I dare not say openly, ‘Lord raise up our dead brother,’ but with anxious heart and inward trembling I cease not to cry out. If by any chance at all the Lord shall listen to the desire of the poor, his ear will heed the readiness of their hearts. And there is that saying, Wilt thou show wonders to the dead ? or shall physicians raise to life and give praise to thee ?2 and concerning him who has been dead four days. Shall anyone in the sepulchre declare thy mercy ; and thy truth in destruction ?1 Meanwhile it is possible that the Saviour may be pleased to meet us unforeseen and un­expectedly, and moved by the tears, not by the prayers of the bearers, to restore the dead man to those who live, or actually to recall from among the dead one who is already buried.

§ 1 Simili etiam forma si contigerit, quod Deus avertat, aliquem de nostris fratribus, non in corpore, sed in anima mori, quamdiu adhuc inter nos erit, pulsabo et ego meis qualiscumque peccator, pulsabo et fratrum precibus Salvatorem. Si revixerit, lucrati erimus fratrem, sin vero non mereamur exaudiri, ubi iam vel tolerare vivos, vel tolerari a vivis non poterit, sed incipiet efferri, semper quidem fideliter gemo, sed iam non ita fiducialiter oro. Non aperte audeo dicere: “veni, Domine, suscita mortuum nostrum”; corde tamen suspenso tremulus intus clamare non cesso: “Si forte, si forte, si forte desiderium pauperum exaudiet Dominus, praeparationem cordis eorum audiet auris eius”, et illud: Numquid mortuis facies mirabilia, aut medici suscitabunt, et confitebuntur tibi? Et de quatriduano: Numquid narrabit aliquis in sepulcro misericordiam tuam, et veritatem tuam in perditione? Potest interim Salvator, si vult, improvise et insperate occurrere nobis, lacrimisque portantium motus, non precibus, mortui vitam reddere vivis, aut certe iam sepultum revocare mortuis.

But I should describe as dead the man who by excusing his sins, has already come down to the eighth degree. For praise porisheth from the dead as from one who does not exist.’ But after the tenth degree, which’ is third from the eighth, he is already being carried out into liberty to sin, when he is expelled from the monastic community. But after he has passed the fourth degree he is rightly said to be ‘four days dead’, and when he falls into the fifth degree of habitual sin he is already buried.

§ 2  Mortuum autem dixerim illum, qui sua peccata defendens, in octavum iam corruit gradum. A mortuo enim, tamquam qui non est, perit confessio. Post decimum  vero, quo tertius est ab octavo, iam effertur in libertatem peccandi, quando expellitur a consortio monasterii. At postquam  quartum transierit, iam recte quatriduanus dicitur,  dum in quintum decidens per consuetudinem sepelitur.


 Capítulo 56

But God forbid that we should cease to pray in our hearts for such even as these—though we do not venture to do so openly, as Paul also mourned for those whom he knew to have died impenitent. For although they shut themselves out from our united prayers, they cannot altogether do so from their effects.’ They should nevertheless realize the great danger which those incur whom the Church, which prays confidently for Jews, heretics and heathen, dares not to mention in her worship. For when on Good Friday prayer is expressly offered for certain wicked persons, no mention is made of those who are excommunicated.

§ 1 Absit autem a nobis, ut etiam pro talibus, etsi palam non praesumimus, vel in cordibus nostris orare cessemus, cum Paulus eos quoque lugeret, quos sine paenitentia mortuos sciret. Etsi enim a communibus orationibus ipsi se excludunt, sed ab affectibus omnino non possunt. Viderint tamen in quanto periculo sint, pro quibus Ecclesia palam orare non audeat, quae fidenter etiam pro Iudaeis, pro haereticis, pro gentilibus orat. Cum enim in Parasceve nominatim oretur pro quibuslibet malis, nulla tamen mentio fit de excommunicatis.




Capítulo 57

You may perhaps say, brother Godfrey, that in thus describing the degrees of pride instead of those of humility, I seem to have gone beyond your request and my own tardy promise. To which my answer is that I was unable to teach anything but what I had learned. I did not think it seemly on my part to speak of an ascent, since I am aware that my own movements have been in a downward rather than in an upward direction. Blessed Benedict may set before you the degrees of humility, for he has previously set his own heart upon them. I have nothing to put before you, unless it be my own downward course. Yet if that is carefully examined, the way to go up may haply be found therein. For if as you are going towards Rome, a man who is coming thence meets you, and you ask him the way, how can lie better tell you than by pointing out die route that he has followed ? In naming the castles, villages, cities, rivers and mountains which he has passed, he records his own journey and foretells yours, so that as you go on you may recognize the places that he has passed.

§ 1 Dicis forsitan, fratres Godefride, me aliud quam tu quaesisti, quam ipse promisi, tandem exhibuisse, cum pro gradibus humilitatis, superbiae gradus videar descripsisse. Ad quod ego: non potui docere nisi quod didici. Non putavi congruum me describere ascensiones, qui plus descendere quam ascendere novi. Proponat tibi beatus Benedictus gradus humilitatis, quos ipse prius in corde suo disposuit,; ego quid proponam non habeo, nisi ordinem meae descensionis. In quo tamen, si diligenter inspicitur, via forsitan ascensionis reperitur. Si enim tibi Romam tendenti homo inde veniens obviaret, quaesitus viam, quid melius quam illam, qua venit, ostenderet? Dum castella, villas et urbes, fluvios ac montes, per quos transierit, nominat, suum denuntians iter, tuum tibi praenuntiat, ita ut eadem loca recognosca eundo, quae ille pertransiit veniendo.

In like manner in this down­ward course of mine you may possibly discover the upward steps, and as you ascend, may you study them to more purpose in your own heart than in my book.

§ 2  In hac similiter nostra descensione gradus ascensorios fortasse reperies, quos ascendendo melius tu in tuo corde quam in nostro codice leges.




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