Here They Metyn
Folk of Knowlege
In the mene tyme, whyle we
yet were talkyng of this mater, I mett in the weye
moche dyuerse peple of men and of wymmen, my frendes
and my kyn, and also many other, whiche I right wel
knewe. I wolde haue spoke to them, but I ne myght
nought, but passed them wonder smartely.
Ne they vnto me made no maner
semblaunt, more ne lesse. Of this thyng wold I
nedes knowen the cause, and asked of myn aungel:
`Why is it', quod I, `that I ne may nought speken to
this peple wiche that I knowe, and why make they to
me no chere ne semblauntb of knowlege?'
`Hast thou foryeten', quod he, `that thou arte departid fro thy body? And soo be not they, but they ben abydyng in bodely lyf, in the whiche lyf al the whyle that they ben abydynge, for to sene the may they haue no power, sothly they hauen the nouther felyd ne sene, ne thy self hast no power for to speke to them, by cause thou haddest no lycence. And certeyn that lycence is nought easy to gete, spyrytes for to speken to dedely people, ne reson wyl it nought, for why they shold ther by be gretely distractid and abasshed, namely syth they may nought [69v] sene bodyly suche that speketh to them. And yf it so is that ony geteth leue in that wyse to speken to his frendes, hit is graunted to hym of God of very specialte for somme pryue cause. For soothly, in generall no spyrite hath that power.'
`I beseke yow', said I, `how may it soo be that this fyre, which that tormenteth vs peyned spyrytes, harmeth nought ne hurteth these mortal creatures, namely sith hit so is that I see them wel euen among these peynes that I my self am ynne. And wel I wote that clene withoute synne ben they nought; that is withoute doute.'
`Certes', quod myn aungel, `this folke that thou seest here in this mortal lyf neyhen nought this fyre, though the seme els. For sothly this fyre that felyst thou, excedeth nought thyne owne subtyle persone, ne in dedely bodyes this fyre hath no power while they ben here a lyue. But after that they ben passid fro that lif, thenne shalle theyr bodyes ben purged, nought with fyre, but by rotyng in the erthe in to the Last Day of Iugement. And thenne shall al erthely thyng be purged so with fyre, ryght as fyn gold, and euery thynge receyuen clerenesse after his dygnyte. Tho that ben founden fyne gold shal be receyued in to the Kynges tresoure, and tho that ben founden asshes and synder shal be cast oute in to that other fyre bynethe to brenne for euer.
`Ne hit were no right that God shold punysshe them in that lyf with suche maner of peynes in to the tyme that they ben iuged of the Prouost, and alle theyr merytes weyen ryght as thyn were. For soothe it is, though they now be sinners and of mysgouernaunce, yet may they herafterward doo soo grete penaunce & so many good werkes, that this fyre shal fynde in them nothyng to brenne ne purge. And suche wylful purgacion by bodely penaunce in the flesshely lyf God accepteth moche more than this that thou suffrest by a thousand parte, for this is nought in thyn choys, nouther qualite ne quantite, ne perdurabylyte of thy peyne, but only at his owne plesaunce.
`Also in that lyf, whyle body and sowle ben abydynge to geders, the body, that is chyef cause and mater of synne, suffreth the peyne that is taken of wylfull penaunce, or that God sendeth of sykenesse, of whiche penaunce, though the spirite fele, yet he reioyeth, for cause it is in his owne election, hopynge ther by to be relecid in the present peynes of Purgatory. Ne he may nought therof be deceyued.
`But the body that rooteth in the erthe felyth noo peyne. Therfore abydeth the sowle the bargeyn for them bothe, by cause [70r] that he dyde not his deuoyre to purgen and punysshen his flesshe by penaunce whyle it was in his owne power.
`Also somme mowe soo moche appeyren by synne in that flesshely lif, that this fyre shalle not medle with them, for they ben reseruyd to the fire of Helle. For this fyre draweth only to tho for whiche it is ordeyned.'