The canterbury tales, p.80
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.80
 

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  The fourthe point that oghte make a man have contricioun is the sorweful remembrance of the good that he hath left to doon here in erthe, and eek the good that he hath lorn. | Soothly, the goode werkes that he hath lost, either they ben the goode werkes that he wroghte er he fil into deedly sinne, or elles the goode werkes that he wroghte whil he lay in sinne. | Soothly, the goode werkes that he dide biforn that he fil in sinne ben al mortefied233 and astoned and dulled by the ofte sinning. | The othere goode werkes, that he wroghte whil he lay in dedly sinne, thei ben outrely dede as to the lif perdurable in hevene. | Thanne thilke goode werkes that ben mortefied by ofte sinning – whiche goode werkes he dide while he was in charitee235 – ne mowe nevere quiken again withouten verray penitence. [235] | And therof seyth God by the mouth of Ezechiel, that ‘if the rightful man returne again from his rightwisnesse and werke wikkednesse, shal he lyve?’ | Nay, for ‘alle the goode werkes that he hath wroght ne shulle nevere ben in remembraunce, for he shal die in his sinne.’ | And upon thilke chapitre seyth Seint Gregorye thus: that ‘we shul understonde this principally, | that whan we doon dedly sinne it is for noght thanne to reherce239 or drawen into memorye the goode werkes that we han wroght biforn.’ | For certes, in the werkinge of the dedly sinne, ther is no trust to no good werk that we han doon biforn (that is to seyn, as for to have therby the lif perdurable in hevene). [240] | But nathelees, the goode werkes quiken again and comen again, and helpen and availlen to have the lif perdurable in hevene, whan we han contricioun. | But soothly, the goode werkes that men doon whil they been in dedly sinne, forasmuche as they were doon in dedly sinne, they may nevere quike again. | For certes, thing that nevere hadde lif may nevere quiken. And natheles, al be it that they ne availle noght to han the lif perdurable, yet availlen they to abregge243 of the peine of helle, or elles to gete temporal richesse, | or elles that God wole the rather enlumine and lightne244 the herte of the sinful man to have repentance. | And eek they availen for to usen245 a man to doon goode werkes, that the feend have the lasse power of his soule. [245] | And thus the curteis lord Jesu Crist ne wole246 that no good werk be lost, for in somwhat it shal availle. | But forasmuche as the goode werkes that men doon whil they ben in good lif ben al mortified by sinne folwinge, and eek sith that alle the goode werkes that men doon whil they ben in dedly sinne ben outrely dede as for to have the lif perdurable, | wel may that man that no good werk ne dooth singe thilke newe Frenshe song, ‘J’ay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour248’. | For certes, sinne bireveth a man bothe goodnesse of nature and eek the goodnesse of grace. | For soothly, the grace of the Holy Goost fareth250 lik fir, that may nat ben idel; for fir faileth anon as it forleteth his werkinge, and right so grace faileth anon as it forleteth his werkinge. [250] | Thanne leseth the sinful man the goodnesse of glorye, that oonly is bihight251 to goode men that labouren and werken. | Wel may he be sory thanne, that oweth al his lif to God, as longe as he hath lived, and eek as longe as he shal live, that no goodnesse ne hath to paye with his dette to God to whom he oweth al his lif. | For truste wel, he shal yeve acountes, as seyth Seint Bernard, of alle the goodes that han ben yeven him in this present lif, and how he hath hem despended, | in so muche that ther shal nat perisse an heer of his heed, ne a moment254 of an houre ne shal nat perisse of his time, that he ne shal yeve of it a rekeninge. |

  The fifthe thing that oghte moeve a man to contricioun is remembrance of the passion that oure lord Jesu Crist suffred for oure sinnes. [255] | For, as seyth Seint Bernard: ‘Whil that I live I shal have remembrance of the travailes that oure lord Jesu Crist suffred in prechinge, | his werinesse in travailinge, hise temptacions whan he fasted, hise longe wakinges257 whan he preyde, hise teeres whan that he weep for pitee of good peple, | the wo, and the shame, and the filthe that men seiden to him, of the foule spitting that men spitte in his face, of the buffettes that men yave him, of the foule mowes258 and of the repreves that men to him seiden, | of the nailes with whiche he was nailed to the crois, and of al the remenant of his passioun that he suffred for my sinnes, and nothing259 for his gilt.’ | And ye shal understonde that in mannes sinne is every manere of ordre or ordinaunce turned up-so-doun. [260] | For it is sooth that God, and reson, and sensualitee, and the body of man ben so ordeined, that everich of thise foure thinges sholde have lordshipe over that oother, | as thus: God sholde have lordshipe over resoun, and resoun over sensualitee, and sensualitee over the body of man.| But soothly, whan man sinneth, al this ordre or ordinance is turned up-so-doun. | And therfore, thanne, forasmuche as the reson of man ne wol nat be subget ne obeisaunt264 to God, that is his lord by right, therfore leseth it the lordshipe that it sholde have over sensualitee, and eek over the body of man. | And why? – for sensualitee rebelleth thanne agains resoun, and by that way leseth reson the lordshipe over sensualitee and over the body. [265] | For right as reson is rebel to God, right so is bothe sensualitee rebel to reson and the body also. | And certes, this desordinaunce267, and this rebellioun, oure lord Jesu Crist aboghte upon his precious body ful deere, and herkneth in which wise. | Forasmuche thanne as reson is rebel to God, therfore is man worthy to have sorwe and to be deed. | This suffred oure lord Jesu Crist for man, after that he hadde be bitraysed269 of his disciple, and destreined and bounde so that the blood brast out at every nail of hise handes, as seyth Seint Augustin. | And forther over, forasmuchel as reson of man ne wol nat daunte270 sensualitee whan it may, therfore is man worthy to have shame, and this suffred oure lord Jesu Crist for man whan they spette in his visage. [270] | And forther over, foras-muche thanne as the caitif271 body of man is rebel bothe to resoun and to sensualitee, therfore is it worthy the deeth, | and this suffred oure lord Jesu Crist for man upon the crois, whereas ther was no part of his body free withoute gret peine and bitter passioun. | And al this suffred Jesu Crist, that nevere forfeted273. ‘To muchel am I peined for the thinges that I nevere deserved, and to muche defouled for shendshipe that man is worthy to have.’ | And therfore may the sinful man wel seye, as seyth Seint Bernard, ‘Acursed be the bitternesse of my sinne, for which ther moste be suffred so muche bitternesse!’ | For certes, after the diverse disordinaunces275 of oure wikkednesses was the passioun of Jesu Crist ordeined in diverse thinges, [275] | as thus: certes, sinful mannes soule is bitraysed of the devel by coveitise of temporel prosperitee, and scorned by deceite whan he cheseth flesshly delices, and yet is it tormented by inpacience of adversitee, and bispet276 by servage and subjeccioun of sinne, and atte laste it is slain finally. | For this disordinaunce of sinful man was Jesu Crist first bitraysed, and after that was he bounde, that cam for to unbinde us of sinne and peine; | thanne was he biscorned278, that oonly sholde ben honoured in alle thinges and of alle thinges; | thanne was his visage, that oghte be desired to be seyn279 of alle mankinde, in which visage angels desiren to looke, vileinsly bispet; | thanne was he scourged, that nothing hadde agilt280, and finally thanne was he crucified and slain. [280] | Thanne was acompliced the word of Isaie: ‘He was wounded for oure misdedes and defouled for oure felonies.’ | Now sith that Jesu Crist took upon himself the peine of alle oure wikkednesses, muchel oghte sinful man wepe and biwaile that for hise sinnes Goddes sone of hevene sholde al this peine endure. |

  The sixte thing that oghte moeve a man to contricioun is the hope of three thinges: that is to seyn, foryevenesse of sinne, and the yifte of grace wel for to do, and the glorye of hevene, with which God shal gerdone283 man for hise goode dedes. | And forasmuche as Jesu Crist yeveth us thise yiftes of his largesse and of his soverein bountee284, therfore is he cleped Jesus Nazarenus rex Judeorum. | ‘Jesus’ is to seyn ‘saveour’ or ‘savacioun’, on whom men shal hope to have foryifnesse of sinnes, which that is proprely savacioun of sinnes. [285] | And therfore seide the aungel to Joseph, ‘thow shalt clepe his name Jesus, that shal save his peple of hire sinnes.’ | And heerof seyth Seint Peter, ‘ther is noon oother name under hevene that is yeve287 to any man by which a man may be saved, but oonly Jesus.’ | ‘Nazarenus’ is as muche for to seye as ‘florisshinge
, in which a man shal hope that he that yeveth him remissioun of sinnes shal yeve him eek grace wel to do, for in the flour is hope of fruit in time cominge, and in foryifnesse of sinnes hope of grace wel to do. | ‘I was atte dore of thin herte,’ seyth Jesus, ‘and cleped for to entre. He that openeth to me shal have foryifnesse of sinne. | I wol entre into him by my grace, and soupe290 with him’ (by the goode werkes that he shal doon, whiche werkes been the foode of God), ‘and he shal soupe with me’ (by the grete joye that I shal yeve him). [290] | Thus shal man hope that for hise werkes of penaunce God shal yeve him his regne291, as he biheteth him in the gospel. |

  Now shal man understonde in which manere shal ben his contricioun. I seye, that it shal ben universal and total; this is to seyn, a man shal be verray repentaunt for alle hise sinnes that he hath doon in delit of his thoght, for delit is ful perilous. | For ther ben two manere of consentinges: that oon of hem is cleped consentinge of affeccion, whan a man is moeved to do sinne and deliteth him longe for to thinke on that sinne. | And his reson aperceyveth wel that it is sinne agains the lawe of God, and yet his resoun refreineth294 nat his foul delit or talent, though he se wel apertly that it is agains the reverence of God. Although his resoun ne consente nat to doon that sinne in dede, | yet seyn somme doctours that swich delit that dwelleth295 longe, it is ful perilous, al be it never so lite. [295] | And also a man sholde sorwe namely for al that evere he hath desired again296 the lawe of God with parfit consentinge of his resoun, for therof is no doute that it is dedly sinne in consentinge. | For certes, ther is no dedly sinne that it nas first in mannes thoght, and after that in his delit, and so forth into consentinge and into dede. | Wherfore I seye that many men ne repenten hem nevere of swiche thoghtes and delites, ne nevere shriven hem298 of it, but oonly of the dede of grete sinnes outward. | Wherfore I seye that swiche wikked delites and wikked thoghtes ben subtile bigileres299 of hem that shullen ben dampned. | Mooreover man oghte to sorwe for hise wikkede wordes as wel as hise wikkede dedes; for certes, the repentaunce of a singuler sinne, and nat repente of alle hise othere sinnes, or elles repente him of alle hise othere sinnes, and nat of a singuler sinne, may nat availe. [300] | For certes, God almighty is al good, and therfore he foryeveth al, or elles right noght. | And herof seyth Seint Augustin: | ‘I woot certeinly that God is enemy to everich sinnere’; and how thanne, he that observeth o sinne, shal he have foryevenesse of the remenant of hise othere sinnes? Nay! | And forther over, contricioun sholde be wonder sorweful and anguissous304, and therfore yeveth him God pleinly his mercy. And therfore, whan my soule was anguissous withinne me, I hadde remembraunce of God, that my prayere mighte come to him. | Forther over, contricioun moste be continuel, and that man have stedefast purpos to shrive him, and for to amende him of305 his lif. [305] | For soothly, whil contricioun lasteth, man may evere have hope of foryevenesse, and of this cometh hate of sinne, that destroyeth sinne bothe in himself and eek in oother folk at his power306. | For which seyth David: ‘Ye that loven God, hateth wikkednesse.’ For trusteth wel, to love God is for to love that he loveth, and hate that he hateth. |

  The laste thing that man shal understonde in contricioun is this: wherof availeth308 contricioun. I seye that som time contricioun delivereth man fro sinne, | of which that David seyth, ‘I seye’, quod David (that is to seyn, I purposed fermely) ‘to shrive me, and thow, lord, relessedest309 my sinne.’ | And right so as contricioun availeth nat withouten sad310 purpos of shrifte, if man have oportunitee, right so litel worth is shrifte or satisfaccioun withouten contricioun. [310] | And mooreover, contricion destroyeth the prisoun of helle, and maketh waik311 and feble alle the strengthes of the develes, and restoreth the yiftes of the Holy Goost and of alle goode vertues. | And it clenseth the soule of sinne, and delivereth the soule fro the peine of helle, and fro the compaignye of the devel, and fro the servage312 of sinne, and restoreth it to alle goodes espirituels, and to the compaignye and communioun of Holy Chirche. | And forther over, it maketh him that whilom was sone of ire to be sone of grace. And alle thise thinges ben preved by holy writ. | And therfore, he that wolde sette his entente to314 thise thinges, he were ful wis, for soothly he ne sholde nat thanne in al his lif have corage to sinne, but yeve his body and al his herte to the service of Jesu Crist, and therof doon him hommage. | For soothly, oure swete lord Jesu Crist hath spared us so debonairly315 in oure folies, that if he ne hadde pitee of mannes soule, a sory song we mighten alle singe. [315] |

 
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