What is the Vertu
of Pardon Yeuen by Holy Chirche
`And wherof', quod
I, `auayleth suche pardon graunted by prelates of
Holy Chirche of yeres and of dayes lymyted with huge
nombre, wherof, as me semyth, I haue hadde so moche
that yf it ony thynge auayleth, I shold longe or
this tyme haue ben relecyd of my peynes.'
`Soothly', quod myn Angel, `al suche pardon whiche thou receyued in good disposicion, that is to seye, veryly contrite and confessyd of thy synnes, fully repentaunt in thy wylle to forsake them for euermore therafter, they shalle stande the moche in stede in abredgynge of thy dayes and yeres as they ben limyted, and also in alledgynge of thy greuous peynes.
`For this wotest thou wel, that in these olde bokes34 that were made in assignement of certeyne penaunce for certeyne sinnes dyuerse, it is writen and founden that for euerya dedely sinne thou sholdest ben seuen yere in penaunce, for also oftymes as thou hast fallen in that same synne, whiche were not possible for the, that hast ben so recheles, to fulfillen in Erthe. And sothe it is that the courage of man is so moche afebled, that they suffiseth nought to bere the penaunce in Erthe soo moche as is dewe to the synne. Notwithstandyng that, they fallen sorer in synne, and more ben acustommed therto than they were somtyme.
`Therfore the mynistres of Holy Chirche, consideringe the feblenesse of mannesb nature, that they myght nought, or wold nought, perfourme so greuous penaunce, they assigneth them a parcel to fulfille in Erthe, reseruyng the remenaunt in peyne of Purgatorye.
`And thenne loke what dayes thou haddest of pardon while thou were in Erthe, clene shriuen and contrite of thy sinnes for time of the receyuyng, and suche relece shalt thou finden here. Neuertheles we ben ouer hastif for to holde now parlement of passing hennes, for yet hast thou ben here but only a moment, that is a ful litel space of time, and nought to ben acountid.'
`A moment?' quod I. `Allas! Now see I wel that it endeth neuer, for suche many moments shold neuer be adetermined. I haue ben here, me semeth, more than a thousand yere, I note how I haue endured, that I ne was many yeres gone torned to asshes. And also I merueile moche of my burdon that is nought forbrent. O swete God Ihesu Criste, how shal I lenger liuen in this peine and torment? My fardel is but a litel yet y wasted, and euer I loke therupon when it wol be brent and fully fordone, but it auaileth nought, wherof me sore agreueth. But I may noo more doo but suffre and compleine. And wel I wote that there is nouther iron ne stele, so stronge roche [39v] ne flynt so hard, ne carboncle ne dyamant of suche myght ne vertu that myght enduren in this fire, that if it were but sodeynly cast in and lepte oute agayne, hit must be forbrent. The kryket35, that of nature lyueth in the fire, ne myght nought lyue therynne. And if the Grete See myght passe thorugh this place, full soone it sholde be dryed. There is noo welle so cold, ne ryuer soo smart, that it ne shold be brent in to very asshes yf that it neyhed to this fire that I am peyned inne.'