Here Mercy with
Certeine Demaundes Axyng of Iustyce Induceth THAT
MERCY Must Haue Place
Mysericord thenne spak and
said to the iuge in this wise: `Sire Prouost', quod
she, `as it is to yourselue clerely knowen thyng,
witness vpon al wise clerkes
of whiche many one that here is now present haue
redde the bokes, and Trouth her selue wil record the
sothe, that euery clerke oweth to be considered in
iugement after the ende and the pryncipal purpos
that ony wight is inne yf it maye be knowen. But the
principal purpoos and entent of this pilgrym was
alweye to perfourme his iourneye, as it wel semeth
by that he lefte neuer pilgryms habite, that is,
scrip and burdon. Al were it soo that he was many
dyuerse tymes empechyd in his
weye, and put oute therof, ne he entendyd neuer to forlete his iourneye, as it
clerly is preuyd. And also not withstandyng al his
errour, in his laste [24v] ende he was founde
contrite of hertea
in wyll to amende and satysfye for his
trespaas of al that he had mysdone ayenst God and
man euen forth his power. Confession also he hadde,
al be it that not so clerly and openly in specyal as
it had ben nedeful, of euery synguler dede. Yet
neuertheles that general knowlege of al his synnes
that he yelde hym self
fynally ayenst God gylty is suffysaunt record for
hym that he forsoke his synne. Neuerthelesse, by lycence of the Iuge, to yow,
suster Iustice, I haue for to speke.
`Ye ben as e semyth somwhat ouersharp and rygorous ageynst pilgryms, more than it nedyd. But wyl ye vouchesauf to answere me to a fewe demaundes that I shal aske of yow?'
Quod Iustyce: `As ye lyste.' `Syth it soo is`, quod Mercy, `that no thyng is done, ne neuer was ne shal, of God oure Souerayne Lorde withouten skilful cause, as Reson hyr selue wyl recorde, to what ende or for what encheson was man made for to be chyef and pryncipal of erthely creatures?'
Her to answerd Iustyce and said in this wyse. `Man was made chyef of erthely creatures for to receyue the seruyce of al lower creatures, and hym selue to serue and obeye his Creatour, yelding to him and retornyng by thankyng and preysyng, and by his other good obseruaunces, al the seruyse that he receyued of these other creatures, and soo by his seruyse al creatures shal be knyt in compas to hyr Fyrst Maker.'
`Ful sothe it is' quod Mercy. `And therfore is he the partyner of bothe two kyndes, hauynge bodely matere of the Erthe, and forme substancial23 fro Heuen, that ryght as the eyer, that of nature is hoote and moist, knettith to geders fyre and water, as parteyner of bothe tho kyndes. Ryght so man, of Heuenly nature and Erdely very partyner, knytteth to geders bothe Heuen and Erthe.
`Yet ferthermore', quod Mercy,`to what ende was Lawe made and ordeyned of God, and taken to Moyses in the montayne24, and whether alle other lawes ordeyned of man be not subalternat for to serue the Lawe of oure Lord?'
Thenne said Iustice `The lawe that oure Lord wrote in the two tables ben only Ten Hestes, and al the remenaunt of the Lawe ne were not but obseruaunces and menes necessary for the tyme to kepynge of these Hestes, whiche obseruaunces Crist at his comyng auoyded as than nought necessarye. But the course of the Law he renoueled in his Gospel by his subtyle and necessary counceyls. The cause of the ordynaunce of this Lawe was for to teche the rude peple in what wise they shold serue [25r] theyr Creatour, & obeye to his plesaunce with resonable werkes doyng and vnskylful werkes forberyng. And al other worldly lawes ben as ye seyn subalterned to Gods Lawe in enforcyng ther of for to compelle vnbuxom men to kepynge of this Lawe.'
`Syth it so is thenne', quod Mercy, `that bothe by Goddes Lawe and mannes ben ordeyned peynes & punysshementes, in to what were they fyrst deuysed?'
`In chastysyng', quod Iustyce, `of mysdoers and brekers of Goddes Lawe, for to drawe theyr hertes by drede & felynge of peynes fro mysrewled affections, & for to make them for to thynke theyr forfet & compelle them by suche wyse to kepe Goddes Lawe, for to suche folk, as seyth the wyse man: sola vexacio dabit intellectum25; tribulacion & anguysshe only maketh such men vnderstand that al is nouht leeful that lusteth'.
`This is ful sothe' quod Mercy. `But I wold wyte of yow in to what ende was ordeyned iugement of deth, bothe bodely & ghoostely.'
`Sothly', quodb Iustyce, `Iugement of deth was ordeyned for tho that ben obstynate & rebelle, & wylle by no weye obeye to Goddes Lawe, leste they shold with theyr malyce drawe many other to the same maner of mysgouernaunce, & so destroublen the rewle & the ordre of al the wnyuersyte, that God and his creatures shold not be knette to geders by due seruyse & obeisauncec done to hym selue, so that by the drede of deth potest vltimum terribilium26, The last and most dredeful thing, other shold be chastised & withdrawen fro forfet. Also the iugementd of eternal peyn was made for al tho that fynally rebellyth ayene Gods wil.'
`Yet put I this cas', quode Mercy, `that a certain lord hath bouht and payed for hym his raunsonf in purpos for to haue hym for his seruauntg perpetuel, & therto he is assured. This lord chargith him vpon peyne of sore punishementh that he hast him to his own court, ther to done hym seruyse. This seruaunti, thus bouht & raunsondj is lettid by the wey, somwhatk by the foly of hym self, somwhatl by other that desire his seruyse, so that he taryeth fro his lord dayes & yeres. Yet at the last he breketh out of these malicious mennesm handes & comyth to his lord, submyttyng hym lowely to his grace, & offrith hym self redy to his seruyse, so as he can or may. Whether shal the lord refusen this seruauntn & deliuer hym to thylk that haue withdrawen him, either els he shal receyue hym in to his owne seruyse.'
`By myn auys', quodo Iustyce, `he shall be punisshed proporcionably after the tyme of his absence, & sithen receiued in to his seruyse at his lordes wil. Ne to tho that withhelden hym he ne shal not be delyuerd.'
`Thennep', quod Mercy, `the punysshement shalle nought beq executedr by thoses27 [25v] that enpechyd hym.'
`No, sothly' quodt Iustyce.`Standyng that he hath thus lowely submytted hym to his lordes seruyse.
`Yet aske I ferthermore', quod Mercy, `Whether a seruaunt thus bought maye make ony testament.'
`Sothly', quodu Iustyce, `he may make none withouten his lordes leue, as for to alyene ony goodes oute of his lordes hond.
`What', quod she, `yf he byquethe al his good to his owne lord standing the testament?'
`Why shold it not', quodv she,`as veray strengthyng of the lordes ryght?'
`Thenne', quod Mercy, `who that enforcen for to byreuen this lord that seruaunt or ony of his goodes by that same seruauntes lyf, or after his deth, wrongeth the lord in the dede?'
`In certeyne', quod Iustyce, `this is ful sothe.'