Declaracion of Nature of the Sowle by Addicion of
Capitulo Visesimo Octauo
`To playner vnderstandyngb
of this mater, this is knowen thyng, that what tyme
a seed or pepyn is cast in
the erth, anone in processe of tyme by hete of
sonne and moysture of the grounde, hit draweth a
sowle vegetable, whiche
that augmentith and
noryssheth the mater of that seed, formyng it first
in to tender stalke. Sithen
shapen the leues, and sithen the flour, & so the
fruyte in to the ful rypyng, as tyme asketh.
`Ryght so, al so soone as a childe is conceyued in his moder wombe by hete of the herte & moysture of the moder blood, the mater draweth or engendreth of it self by the werk of God a sowle vegetatyf, which that noryssheth & augmentith hit, fourmyng the membres, eueriche in his kynde, in to the tyme that it be ful organysed, that is to seyn shapid, in al his lymes, able to receyuynge of the sowle, & so forth noryssheth, fedeth, and augmentith & kepeth that body in his beynge in to the tyme that this body haue drawen corrupcion by some accidence, or that it be assayled by vyolence or fayle by age, so that this sowle vegetatif cesseth of his worchyng, as thou seest an herbe that is fordryed for defaute of moysture, fallen to grounde after the wordes of Holy wryt: omnis caro fenum & omnis gloria eius ut flos feni71: euery man by his erthely nature is not else but heye thatc is fordryed, & if they wold reioyen them of ony godes of nature, as beaute, strength or fresshnes, sothly al his ioye is [73v] but as the floure of the hey, for also sone as the heye is drye, the floure is forfaded & al the beaute therof torned to nought.
`And when that this body is thus organysed, than it engendreth of hit self by the forsaid hete & norysshynge of the moder blood by influence of celestyal bodyes a soule sensitif, whiche soule oned verily to the forsaid vegetif; withouten more is euen of the same nature as is the soule of a rude beest. And this soule sensitif it is, which, as Holy Writ saith, euery beest beryth in his blood. The same it is, that properly is cleped anima quia animat corpus sibi coniunctum72, that is to say: it lyueth or quycketh the body to which he is conioyned. This is the sensualite of man, that draweth hym to synne & to bestly lustes. To this soule sensitif apperteynen the fyue comyn wyttes; the offyce & the vse. This sowle it is that Crist in his Gospel byddeth vs for to hate, not to destroyen it ne vtterly fordone, but for to repressen the outrageous mouynges.
`But thenne euen forth with in the same instant that this soule hath his ful beyng, the Fader of heuen maketh a newe creature, of the selue nature that is a very angel, & anon conioyneth to that other sowle sensitif, so that thenned they two ben very one withouten abylyte to ben disseuered.
`And this soule is propyrly cleped the spirit, and so meneth Saynt Austyn in his book De Spiritu et Anima. Of this soule it is that our Lord speketh when he seith thus: Spiritus est qui viuificat; caro non prodest quidquam 73. The spirit is that quyckneth the flesshe ne auaileth not. This soule sensitif it is that couetith & trauaileth alwey ayenst this spirite, desiryng for to drawe hym to his owne likenes to folowe the lustes of the flesshe, of whiche he took his beyng. And ther ayene the spirit stryueth & trauaileth for to drawen that other to his likenes, & folowe the wyl of God, of whiche he took his beyng & his first begynnyng. And this strif & batayl it is, that Seynt Powle speketh of whan he seith: caro concupiscit aduersus spiritum, et spiritus aduersus carnem, hec enim simul aduersantur 74. The flesshe, that is, the flesshely part of the sowle, coueteth ayenst the spirit, & the spirit ageyn the flesshe, so that these two ben alwey aduersaryes to geder, & notwithstandynge this contrariositef, these two ben veryly one in substanceg, so that I mene not that a man hath two soules, but that he hath a soule of two natures. One flesshly, another ghostly; another bestly, another manlyh.
`This sensitif parte of the soule it is, that bereth thy fardel of synne, which thou brennest here. And he it is, that maketh the suffre this dysease. And he it is, that must be purged fro all corrupcion of synne er [74r] that thou come in blysse.'
`Hit semeth thenne', quodi I,`that two contrariousj thynges ioyned so to geders with such continuelk strif, that one shald destroye that other in processe of tyme.'
`Sothly', quodl this Lady, `in maner so it is, for yf it so befalle that the spirit is the strenger & the myghtyer in Grace & Vertue, he destroyeth the vycious worchyng of the flesshely sowle, & draweth hym vtterly to that semblauncem of hym seluen, & soo ferre he may withdrawen hym fro the flesshe, that he no thyng shall worche after the flesshe, but only by ordynaunce of the spirite. And yf he be brought to this poynt, than is that vicious worching destroyed, & the soule as it were transformedn, holy renewed, & chaungedo in to very one hede with the forsaid spirit.
`Thus meneth the apostel that seith thus: renouamini in nouitate sensus75, be renewed in newe maner felyng. This maner of renewyng made the holy martirs foryete al maner of peynes that menp couthe do to them, for the felyng was clene drawen out fro flesshlynes, & rauysshed in to goostlynes by myght of the spirit. Andq who that thus can oppresse the soule sensitif, that he be veryly one with the spirit whan the spirit partid fro the body, he hath not what to letten hym to percen hye heuen, & ther to lyue blysfully for euer.
`And in that other side, yf the soule sensitif drawe doune tor the flesshlynes the forsaid spirit, than he destroyeth hym, and but Grace of amendement be grauntids hym of God er that he departe fro the body, no doute he is lost & destroyed euer withouten ende.'
`But this', quodt I,`is a wonderu thyng, that ye seyen, that the soule of man shold be made of the same nature that is an angel, for yf it so were sithen that angels had as parfite knowyng in their first creacion, as they shal haue at the worldes ende, it wold shewe thennev, that a soule shold ben as wise the houre of his creacion as euer he shal ben after. But this semeth not soth, wherfore me thynketh that a soule is of an other nature than is an heuenly angel.'
`Ful soth it is', quodw this Lady, that angels were as parfitely wise & had as moch knowing in their first creacion as ony tyme after. But that had they nought of nature, wite it wel, but only by the yift of the Souerayn Lord. For yf thou vnderstande wel that we before haue spoken of the clere polisshed myrrour of the Deyte, therynne the heuenly angels, as sone as they were made, gonne to behold, & therin they saw the very resemblauncex of al creatures, & of al that shold betide in to the last ende, so that some of them behelden so ententifly in the beaute of this selue myrrour that is the Souerayn Godhede, thaty thouh they saw therin al these forsaid resemblancesz, yet they forsokenaa vtterly theab siht of al [74v] that, and only delyted them in beholdynge the beaute and clernesse of this forsaid myrrour, & so were they rauysshed by a ioyfull wondrynge, that neuer ne mowe they desire none other delyte.
`Some other ther were, as Lucifer and his felaushyp, that also sone as theyac beholden this myrrour & saw theyr owne beaute, they foryete the worthynes of this forsaid myrrour, delitynge them to beholden and wondren vppon their owne excellence. But for as moche as they sawe this myrrour, passyng in beaute and more excellent in clernesse than them self were, anon they enuyed the worthynesse of this myrrour, desirynge for to ben euen y lyke to hit. But that was vnskilful and impossible, wherfore they conceyued a peyne, whiche peyne was so sore fastned withyn them, and peysid soo heuy, that it drowe them doune sodenly in to the pyt of helle, by whiche falle the remenaunt conceyued suche a gracious and ful reuerent drede, that they were fully confermyd in Grace, withoute possibilyte euer for to falle. And soothly soo sore they dredyn the lesynge of that blysse, that they enforceth them also ferforth as it is possyble for to precen nyhe to this myrrour, and preysen the excellence & the beaute therof with al their besinesse, and fully foryeten their owne beaute and al other thynges.
`By this it semeth well that the knowyng of the aungels is not of their nature, but only of the influence of the myrrour in which they biholden. But a newe formed sowle ne sawe neuer thys myrrour, wherfor he hath not the cause of knowynge lyke to an aungel. But knowynge moost he gete by laboure and exercise in this maner wey: In euery creature that may be apperceyued by bodily wittes, ther relecith a beme of this bryght myrrour, by whiche it hath his beaute, more either lesse, after the worthynesse of the mater what tyme that the sowle biholdith the beaute of these creatures, which they may wel wyte they haue not of them seluen, for why the matter that they comen of is no thynge y like, as the white lely, the rede rose, the fresshe violet, ben no thyng like erthe ne lyke the seed, nor wherof they taken their beynge. Thenne sheweth it that this beaute cometh fro els where. The sowle thenne, that is fourmed lyke to an angel, with abilite of knowyng kyndely, desireth to knowen, & put this abilite in to very worchyng. He seketh by discors of reson the skyles & the causes of the wonderfulad beaute of these forsaid creatures.
`And this conclusionae he fyndeth, that nothyng cometh of nouht, that is to seye, withoute a begynner, but a cause and pryncyple [75r] there must nedes be. And thus he apperceyueth that al this forsaid beaute is nought elles but a maner enlumynynge of this bryght fayre clene polysshed myrrour.
`Loo, these thynges foundenaf somtyme philosophres withouten mannes techynge, only by shewynge of reson. And thus meneth the text of Powle wrytynge to the Romayns, amonges whome at that tyme was had greete subtylite in philosophye: inuisibilia Dei, a creatura mundi, per ea que facta sunt, intellecta,conspiciantur; sempiterna quoque virtus eius, & diuinitas76. The inuysyble goodnes and beaute of our Souerayn God ben sene and vnderstand of these worldly creatures by these vysyble thynges, that ben made soo fayre and agreable to oure bodyly wyttes. For why, euery thynge that is made, must nedes haue a maker better than it self, and thylke maker, eyther he is a creature, and made of some other, els he is of hym self withouten ony maker. And this processe endeth nought tylle we come to hym that maketh al, and is nought made hym self. And by cause that a sowle knoweth his Maker thus by his creatures as Cause and Begynner of al that isag made, hym nedeth processe of tyme for to gete thus knowynge by discours of reson for to seke this connyng.
`But an aungel knoweth al thing in contrary wyse, for he knoweth al thynge only in the Maker, therfor there is nought ferther to seken by discours, but fully they resten in the speculacion of this forsaid myrrour of the Deyte.'
`Why is it thenne', quod I, `that a sowle anone as he is fourmed, vseth nought discours of reason to knowe oute the trouthe?'
`Soothly', quod this Lady, `in to the tyme that he haue apperceyued by the bodely wyttes the beaute & the merueyle of sensyble thynges, he wote neuer what to seke, though he wold, for it fareth by the sowle in his byrthe as it doth by a man enclosid in a derke hows fro his first daye. The soth it is, but yf that a man telle hym, he knoweth nought what is withouten, ne he wote neuer whether he may see or noo. He considereth nought therof, ne thynketh nought ther vpon. Yet hath he eyen & abylyte of syght yf he come to lyghte, for withouten lyght his eyen nought auaylen. Suche one ne iugeth nought of colours.
`Ryght soo a sowle in to the tyme that he come to the lyght of vnderstandyng by vse & exercyse of bodyly wyttes, al though he haue abylyte of knowyng, yet ne knoweth he not, saue only as a beest, that nature techeth hym. For as I said before, a sowle is not formed connyng, but he is formed with abylyte of connyngah he mote receyue of withouten, as a myrrour is not [75v] wrought with resemblaunces, but he is wrought able to receyue them fro withouten and representen to the bodely wyttes.
`And wyte it wel, the naure of an aungel, and also of a sowle, is for to resten ioyefully in knowynge of his Creatour, whiche the aungel hath by very fruycion, but a sowle conioyned and ploungedai in bodely mater is so sore oppressid, that he ne may nought come to that knowyng withoute grete labour of discors, whiche labour moch peyneth the organs or instrumentes of the worchyng, wherfor for tendyrnes in youthe, and in grete age, for feblenesse of these instrumentes, whiche I clepe the thre celles, wherof I spak before, he suffyseth nought to labouren in discours, sekyng causes, ne disputynge for to fynde trouthes, for it shold destroyen the instrumentes. Depremit terrena habitacio sensum multa cognitantem77: the flesshe, that is the erthely duellynge place, depressyth by his heuynesse a mynd that is moche pensyf and laboureth in discours.
`Somme sowles also ben plounged in soo boystous and soo rude mater, that they merueylen of no thynge that is often sene. They syken nought therfor the causes, but only resten theyr delyte vpon the same thynges, and these ne mowe nought come to knowynge of theyr Creatour, but ful rudely by informacion. Vnnethes may I fastne vpon them ony conceyte neyhynge to he trouthe.'