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CHAPTER II: Of two Manners of reforming of this Image, one in fulness, another in part

NOW thou wilt say: How can this be, that the image of God, which is man’s soul, should be reformed here in this life to His likeness in any creature? Whereas the contrary seemeth true, nay, it seems that it cannot possibly be so? For if it were reformed, then should it have a stable memory, a clear sight or understanding, a clear burning love to God and spiritual things everlastingly, as it had in the beginning. But these hath no creature living here in this life, as thou perceivest; for as for thyself, thou canst truly say, that thou art far from it. Thy memory, thy reason, and thy love of thy soul, are so much set upon the beholding and loving of earthly things, that of spiritual things thou feelest right little. Thou feelest no reforming in thyself, but art so wrapped about with this black image of sin, for all that thou canst do, that upon what side soever thou turnest, thou feelest thyself defiled and spotted with fleshly stirrings of this foul image; and other changings thou feelest none, fresh fleshliness into spiritualness, neither in the inward faculties of thy soul within, nor in bodily feelings or thy senses without. Wherefore it seems to thee that it cannot be that this image should be so reformed.

Thou askest, therefore, how it can be reformed?

To this I answer, and say thus: There be two manners of reforming of the image of God which is man’s soul, whereof one is in fulness, another is in part. Reforming in fulness cannot be had in this life, but is deferred till after, to the bliss of Heaven, where man’s soul shall fully be reformed; not to that state that it had at the first by nature, or might have had through grace if it had stood whole; but it shall be restored to much more bliss, and much higher joy through the great mercy and the endless goodness of God, than it should have had if it had never fallen. For then shall the soul receive the whole and the full feeling of God in all its faculties, without any other love or affection to anything else interposing itself. And it shall see mankind in the person of Jesus exalted above the kind or nature of Angels, united to the Godhead, for then shall Jesus, both God and man, be all in all, and only He, and none other but He, as the Prophet saith: Our Lord (Jesus) in that day shall be exalted only.162162    Is. 2. And also the body of man shall then be glorified, for it shall receive fully the rich dowry of immortality, with all that belongeth thereto. This shall a soul have with the body, and much more than I can say; but that shall be the bliss of Heaven, but not in this life. For though it be so that the Passion of our Lord be the cause of all this full reforming of man’s soul; nevertheless it was not His will to grant it straightways after passion, to all chosen souls that were living at the time of His Passion, but He delayed it unto the last day, and that for this reason: Manifest it is that our Lord Jesus Christ of His mercy hath ordained a certain number of souls to salvation, which number was not fulfilled in the time of His Passion, and therefore it needed that by length of time through natural generation of men that number should be made up; then if it had so been, that so soon as after the death of our Lord, every soul that would have believed in Him should have been blessed and fully reformed by His life, without any further delay, there would no creature that lived then have been that would not have received the Faith for to have been made blessed, and then should generation have ceased. And so should we that are now chosen souls living, and other souls that come after us, not have been born, and so should our Lord have failed of His number. But that might not be, and therefore our Lord provided much better for us, in that He delayed the full reforming of man’s soul till the last end, as St Paul saith; God providing better for us, that they should not be consummate without us.163163    Heb. 11. That is, our Lord providing better for us in the delaying of our reforming, than if He had granted it then, for this reason, that the chosen souls should not make a full end without us that come after.

Another reason is this: Since that man in his first creation was set in his free will, and had free choice whether he would have God fully or no, it was therefore reasonable that since he would not choose God then, but wretchedly fell from Him, if he should afterwards be reformed, that he should be set again in the same free choosing that he was first in, as whether he would become reformed or no. And this may be also a cause why man’s soul was not fully reformed speedily upon the Passion of Jesus Christ.

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