The Sowle Axeth
Why Sowles Ben Dampned Eternally and the Angel
`And why', quod I, `ben
they dampned to eternall peyne, that were deceyued
by the Deuyl & by their owne flesshely febylyte,
why may they not be releuyd by other, which that by
other were falsely begyled?'
`For cause', quoda he, `thatb they [42r] haue done wors, & in maner more ben to blame than the Fend hym self, for why also sone as Sathan had synned, he was confermyd in malyce by symplenes of his nature. Ne he myght not be refourmyd by cause of vnchaungeabylyte. But these that ben dampned, no doute they hadden lyberte of choys and resonable space for to amende them. And yf the Fende haue mysconceyledc them, they hadden also counceyll in that other side, which that descouered to them the venym and the malyce that was hyd in his fals suggestion. And skylful menes thay hadde also how they shold auoyden it. And plenyly was it shewed them; the meschyef & the foly with his counceyll, and in that other syde the medeful reward and excellent ioye that was ordeyned for them that myhtely withstandeth his suggestion.
`Some of them haue redde and herd in Scriptures approued examples of many good pylgrymes, how they haue gone and wel acheued theyr iourney. But al this haue they set at nought, and better loued theyr enemy, that drewe them to meschyef, than theyr frendes, whiche that enforced to saue them ther fro. And soo they dyden euen contrary to that they hadde lerned. And notwithstandynge al that mysgouernaunce, when Grace was proferred to them, and Mercy of al that was mysdone, yf that they wold torne theyr fowle affection, they refusid it and wold nought therof, wherfor I sey, and wel may, that a creature that hath hadde good counceylle and vtterly refuseth, it is moche more to blame than he whiche neuer had counceyl, ne Grace profered to hym after hys mysdede. Sythen thenne, that these dampned sowles haue ben euer adherent to the Fendes counceyl, obstynat to Grace, and rebelle to al good enformacion with a peruerted wil and malicious herte, good skyle it is that they with hym be peyned and tormented endeles perdurable.'
So thenne whyle that he helde me with this parlement, I sawed sodenly a thynge that me somwhat abasshed. This fire of Purgatorye, whiche that I was ynne, semyd al round, lyke to a spere or a round ball. And this had I nought apperceiued byfore hand, ne sawe nought the forme ne the shap therof. But thenne with outen this spere, al aboute in compas, was another spere, whiche was clere & bryght, closynge withynne hit the cercle of the Mone. As me semyd, therynne was neyther fyre ne smoke.
`Sothly', quode I, `me liketh wel this syht, & wel it plesith me to see the forme of this place, al be it thatf I am ful sore peyned and tormentedg therin. But I may not ben in rest tyl that I know what meneth [42v] this bryght spere that soo enuyronneth this place of Purgatory.'
`That spere', quod he, `Is Abrahams Bosom, whyder the good Lazarh was borne, of whom the ryche gloton somtyme asked water for to kele his tonge. In that place were put the ryghtful lyuers in the Old Testament, whiche that aboden the comyng of oure Lord Ihesu Crist. Ther was Iohan Baptist. Ther was also Adam, Eue, Dauid and Samuel, and other holy Prophetes and Patriarkes, and many other that tendyrly had loued our Lord & kepte his commandementesi. There were they prysoned & loken in derkenesse, & shold haue ben for euer withoute ony repayre, had nought oure Blisful Lord descended to deliuer them thennes & led them in to the ioye of Paradys. By cause of his comyng, now is the place clere & bryht, whiche that before hand was wonder derke & hydous, & derkenes was it cleped of som in to his Gracious Comynge. Ful sothe it is that they were not punysshed with fyre, but theyr peyne was only defaute and lack of the sight of our Lord God. Other felynge of payne had they none at al.'