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THIS Book teacheth how a man should follow the poor life of our Lord Jesu Christ, and how a man should live inwardly, and how he should come to right true perfection, and teacheth sundry lovely differences of godly truth.


In the first place, this book teacheth how poverty is a (state of) being withdrawn (detached) from all creatures


What is a poor man’s holding, since he holdeth to nothing, and yet all things hold to something


How some folk say this is the highest poverty and detachment, that a man be as when he was nothing


How man ought to know and love God


What man’s knowledge is


What use there is in a man’s having in him a rational distinction in images and forms, since with them he cannot be saved (or blessed). To this it is answered that distinction is useful for right poverty in four ways


If man should be also poor in graces and virtues

6, 7


If a man can have virtue essentially who has his bodily necessity, and yet inwardly doth not possess it as property


What chance or accident is


If the favour of creatures hindereth poverty

11, 12

Rich folk cannot have a thorough love and truth to a right poor man; this be proved by eight matters

14, 15

In the next place, how true poverty is a free capacity or power (vermögen).

A question, What is freedom?


If freedom is hindered when a man giveth himself up into obedience to another man, and how in three ways a man letteth himself to another


It is not necessary that a right perfect man, who hath become empty of himself and of all things, should let himself to another for the sake of four things


How a poor man should hold himself in lawful matters

19, 20, 23

A poor man may let himself in three wise


If a poor man should at all times take heed of his heart, and never cumber himself with outward things


How shall we understand if the impulse to outward works of love be from the evil spirit, or from nature, or from God


Through four matters shall a man know if the impulse to outward works of love is from the evil spirit


Through three matters a man should know if the impulse to outward works be of nature


Through three matters shall a man know if the impulse to outward works of love be from God



Distinction between godly freedom and subordinate freedom

35, 36

Of two kinds of subordinate freedom


In the third place, how true poverty is a pure working.

How what is called pure is when a thing is one and separate from the manifold or mixed


How working is to make something out of nothing, or of one thing another or better than it was before, and out of something nothing


Of how working can be in poverty, since it is a pure being


In man is a natural work, a work of grace and a godly work. In the first place

How three kinds of work are in man, bodily, sensual, and spiritual


How natural knowledge is to be attributed and not attributed


What difference there is between knowledge natural, of grace and godly

56, 57

A natural man is to be known by three things


This natural understanding is useful to a man to come to a complete detachment from himself and all things


Secondly, of the work and knowledge of grace.

How Holy Scripture is understood fundamentally through divine grace


Through the knowledge of grace is also understood the distinction of virtue and what is unvirtuous (vice)


Through grace also man knows his sins


Through grace a man knoweth the injury that lieth in sin


How not nature but the badness in nature ought to be blamed


Through grace each sin is known in its degree and how it is called


Through grace the distinction of spirits is known, for there are four kinds of spirit that speak in man


Secondly, how the natural spirit speaketh in man

82, 83

What distinction there is between natural and divine truth


If divine truth can be known without images


In the third place, how the angelic spirit speaketh in man


If a true repentance hath all virtue


How many men guard against sins, and yet have not all virtues


How man should not drive out the images and forms of the angel if he hath need of them


Distinction between natural, angelic, and devilish images


Since a right poor man is raised above all creatures in God, how can he then tarry at the images of the angel or of another creature


In the fourth place, how the Divine Spirit speaketh in man


Three things make a friend


How some men say, If they knew the dearest will of God they would fulfil it, and how they say untruth in this

102, 103

Since no accident or defective quality can attach to God, how then can He hate sin?



How it is the noblest gift that a man can give, that he give himself


Threefold use lieth in this, that man getteth his temporal good through God


If a man can be perfect, who keepeth his necessity from without, and yet holdeth all things to be nothing for the love of God


How the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh


Why Christ said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, as you cannot be perfect without poverty of temporal things?

113, 114

In the third place. Of the godly work and of three kinds of men.

Some keep their necessity from without, but are empty (of all earthly desire), and leave themselves to God inwardly; others leave temporal good outwardly for God’s sake, and yet remain coarse and unenlightened inwardly, and these two classes war (contend) with one another, and each of these think it is right; the third leave all things outwardly and inwardly through God, and look inwardly what God will have of them; with this they are satisfied, and they dispute with no one


What the work of God is in souls

116, 117

Whoso followeth Christ as He went before us becometh one spirit with God


How Christ hath two kinds of work in Him, and which work we ought to follow


That we follow Christ as close as we can on earth, maketh us near to God in the kingdom of heaven


By two kinds of work a man draweth nigh the aim, that is Christ—one is internal, xxviiithe other external; and in the internal work man should have three aims


The first aim that man ought to have internally is to see his own defects, and how he may he free of them


The second object that a man ought to have internally is the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ

124, 125

Whoso will know and seek godly truth, he findeth them nowhere else than in the Passion of Jesu Christ

126, 127

Of a bodily heaven that is over us, and of a spiritual heaven that is in us, and that is the essential being of the soul in which God dwelleth


The third object that man ought to have in his internal work that he may come to the right aim, that is God in His simple divinity


Of the external work that man may draw nigh the right aim, that is Christ


The Spirit of God speaketh in man without image and form, life, light, and truth.

In the first place, the Spirit of God speaketh life in man


Why sermons should be heard, since the highest happiness of man lies in this, that he hear the eternal Word in himself


When man has heard the word of the Teacher, or hath exercised himself in other virtues, he should turn inwardly and perceive the eternal Word in himself, and he ought to drive out violently what hindereth him in this


How God the Father speaketh His Word in the being or essence of the soul, and is the Teacher in the powers of the soul

140, 141


The other way that the Spirit of God speaketh in the soul is light


What light can the soul receive since she is herself light, as she hath sundered herself from all grossness


If the soul is to receive the divine light she must turn to it


Man must exceed the righteousness of the hypocrites and scribes if he is to be enlightened with the divine light

146, 147

Whereby a man can know the distinction between natural and divine light


How several men have not much divine influence (or influx), and yet their soul is not on that account dead

149, 150

The divine sun begetteth the fish in the water, the beast on the earth, the bird in the air, the phoenix in the fire, and many hidden secret things that God only knoweth

151, 152

The third thing that God speaketh in the understanding of man, without image or form, is truth, and how the understanding of man is likened unto lust


What a perfect will is, whereof the works and virtue are essential.

How the will is movable if it turneth to the creature, and immovable if it turneth to God


What an essential work is


How the will given up to God is immovable and yet always advanceth (runneth) in God


How the will of man ought to be immovable, but yet he turneth to this and to that as long as man is in time


What a man’s own self-will is, and what a resigned will is



How there are several men, who have their necessity, and yet inwardly hold nothing as property, and thereby they think that they are empty of their own will


How man possesseth himself in spiritual things in a twofold manner


If it be better that a man should take heed of his heart inwardly, or that he should cumber himself with external matters


If it be good or not that a man should give himself up to the authority of another, since the lights shining into him are various


If you should always follow the teaching of an exemplary man


In two things man should understand if he is touched by God


The other part of this little Book teacheth how a man can come by four means to a perfectly poor life.

In the first place, the teaching and the life of our Lord Jesus Christ impel a man to a poor life.

A man must deny himself in four things if he wisheth to follow Christ


In the first place, man should kill sins in himself by virtues

3, 4

How a man is to know if he have all virtues


If a man can have all virtue so that he need no more


In the second place, man must overcome and kill in himself the love of creatures with a poor life



In the third place, man must overcome bodily lust and kill it with continual internal contemplation of the Passion of our Lord Jesu Christ

8, 9

Of the fruit of the Passion of our Lord Jesu Christ


How the men, who contemplate the Passion of Christ internally, from the hot hunger which they have for God, run to the Holy Sacrament of the Body of our Lord that they may be satisfied

11, 12

They who contemplate internally the Passion of Christ with a steady earnestness, they are so overflowed by divine love that they would have nothing of self, either internally or externally, and will also love God with their whole heart, with their whole soul, with all their might, and all their mind


Since divine love binds the mind so that it becomes powerless over itself, it might be said that in this way the freedom of the will is taken away from man


In the fourth place, if man wisheth to follow Christ, he must leave himself and kill in himself all spiritual and natural lust which subsists in images and forms that are created. He must do this through the inspeaking of the eternal Word, that God the Father speaketh in the ground of the soul


Of an indwelling work and of an outflowing work of God


What use it is that man should work, since with his works he cannot come to God


Whereby a man shall know if his work is of himself or of God


God worketh two kinds of work in the soul, a work of grace and an essential work


In the second place, perfection of virtue driveth a man to a poor life.

If a man is weak by nature and keepeth the thing he needeth for his necessity, if that something hindereth perfection


In the third place, this ought to drive man to a poor life, that he may die to himself and to all creatures, and God alone may live in him.

How a poor man must always die, since he sometimes appeareth quite cheerful with other men

25, 26

Whoso wisheth to be blessed (saved) must always die, on account of two things

27, 28

Five uses are found in this that a man must always die


If no one can come to this, that he fundamentally dieth, without external poverty


In the fourth place, the perfection of a contemplative life should impel a man to a poor life.

If rich folk can also be bound with the bond of divine love, and if they can also have a contemplative life


How many men say, If our Lord were still on earth, He would not bid me leave all things externally, for it may be it doth not belong to me to do


Rich folk, who have not divine love, work from two kinds of love, from natural love, and from the love of grace


Eight uses lie in a contemplative life


If all those are contemplative men who give themselves to a poor life



Since a poor life and a contemplative life both stand in emptiness of all works, and in a pure suffering God to act, how can they then have works?


Four ways lead a man to a poor, perfect, contemplative life, seeing God inwardly. The first way is, that a man have a perfect will to give up all that is against God, that is not a matter of God and that is not solely God, and thereby you obtain all virtue.

To the man who hath obtained all virtue it is easy to turn inwards, and he can well wait in fasting, and hath also the greatest joy from within; and whoso hath not all virtue, he also hath not this


How can good people rejoice in this time since our Lord saith, Happy are they that weep and are troubled


The other way which leadeth a man into a poor, perfect, contemplative life, is, that man steppeth in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ and followeth Him.

In two ways you should go through the humanity of Christ into His divinity. In the first place, man should clothe his outer man with the outer image of our Lord


Secondly, you should go through the humanity into His divinity, by man clothing himself inwardly with continual contemplation of the work and of the Passion of our Lord


How the natural light of the heathen was as xxxivnight to day compared with the light that cometh to a Christian man, who turneth his understanding entirely to Christ


How the will of man is perfected and united with God in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ


What is the treasure hidden in the field, and how it shall be found, and wherewith it may be bought


Whoso were to know what noble fruit grows on the field of the Passion of our Lord, he would make a trench round the field, and would build a tower and sit in it, and would make a winepress in it; and what this trench and this tower and this winepress are; and on the field stand wine and corn, summer and winter; nor can the hail destroy it, nor the frost freeze it up


How God compelleth the will of man by the Passion of Christ, and maketh it at once subject to Him, and maketh a man free of himself


By six signs shall a man know if his will is overcome by God


If a man satisfieth in all that God willeth to have from him, then God must satisfy him in what he willeth


How a perfect will doeth as much with one good work, as an imperfect will with many good works


How the highest power of the soul, which is called synteresis, is also brought to its highest nobility in the Passion of Christ


Whoso cumbereth himself and considereth the most about the Passion of Christ, he is the most blessed and the likest Christ


Whoso adhereth to Christ and considereth His Passion, can be as little abandoned by God as the Son can be abandoned by the Father



What is the cause why God letteth sinners live, and slew them more swiftly under the Old Law


How the friends of God remain unknown by other men, who are not like unto them, on account of seven things


How it is the highest wisdom that a man can have, that he should know good men, and whoso winneth the grace that is in Christ, to him all that is intermediate vanisheth, so that all things become known to him without medium

56, 57

The third way of a poor, perfect life, when you contemplate God internally, is, that a man do not fly from what may kill him in spiritual things.

The man who shall be ready for a poor perfect life, wherein you see God internally, must endure all judgments that fall upon him, and should omit no true virtue for the sake of any judgment

58, 59

If man can give no cause of falling to his fellow-man by any kind of virtue


A work of love hath four rules by which it should be worked


Whoso wisheth to receive the Lord worthily in the Blessed Sacrament, must be like unto Him as far as can be


The man who shall be ready for a poor, perfect life, wherein you see God internally, must suffer all contradictions through God, and how sufferings are very profitable to man

68, 69

If the suffering that a man inflicteth on himself is better, or that which others inflict upon him, or that God layeth upon him


If it be better that a man do not seek for xxxvisuffering, and leave it to events, since suffering at the hand of others is better than that self-sought


How suffering is like unto a press with which wine is pressed


How good people may always be cheerful, since our Lord saith, My soul is sorrowful, even unto death


How good people may alway have joy, since our Lord curseth them who rejoiced in their time


Since good folk alway rejoice, what suffering can they then have, since joy and sorrow do not consist very well together?


How a true friend of God alway suffereth in a fourfold way


First, he suffereth in the works


Secondly, man suffereth in the will


How the will may love God, according to His eternal existence, since he cannot know Him according to His eternal entity. But what a man doth not know he also cannot love?


In the third place, man suffereth in the spirit


In fivefold ways the spirit of a righteous man is not troubled

83, 84

Many men have rest and great pleasure in a rational distinction of truth through images, such as the heathen had; and we ought to part with this rest and pleasure and seek pleasure in God only


If a man loved a natural man above a good holy man, if God would on that account give him reward, as if this natural man were also (good and holy)


Since you do not love man without you know him, or without faith in him, shall not therefore God give more reward to the man who loveth his neighbour, especially xxxviithrough faith and a good trust, than to another who hath not so much faith in him, and also doth not love him so thoroughly?


If God must reward the irrational man, as much for his faith as the rational who have much distinction in them, since the light of faith is above all knowledge


What is the most useful way in which unenlightened men come to the true faith, in which their love may be right and good?


The men who live in the senses cannot guard themselves against sins for two reasons


In the fourth place, a man must have suffering in God


Two kinds of work are in the soul; one is the rational and the work of grace, the other is divine and essential


Two kinds of birth take place in the soul; one is called an inbirth, the other an outbirth


How man can be guarded from venial and mortal sins in six different ways


How God can be seized hold on in two ways


Voluntary poverty, outward and inward, guards men from venial sins in four ways


If the men, who have received the Holy Ghost, live always without sin, since the love of the Holy Ghost makes all sin to disappear


To a God-living man all things are bitter that sever him from God, for two reasons


The fourth way that leadeth a man into a poor, perfect, contemplative life, is a zealous avoidance of all that which can please men, whether it be spiritual or bodily, so that whatever it be, it be so xxxviiireceived as not to mix up the soul with it.

What is the cause that we have unrest, and do not find God when we seek Him; and of the external senses?


In what wise a man can best master and kill his senses


How the sensual men, who altogether live in the senses, have not a right faith that could uphold them and save them, for they are in their works like unto the heathen


Why the senses must turn inwardly into the internal man, since they are not capable of receiving the most intimate truth


For three reasons man should draw in all his senses.

In the first place, man ought to draw in all his senses and quiet his powers, and only hear what God speaketh in the soul, if he wisheth to have right godly love

113, 114

Whoso worketh virtue on God-loving men worketh it most intimately on God, and it may well be that God will never let such a man be lost


How God-loving men ought properly to be hated, dishonoured, and scorned by the world

116, 117

Why voluntary poor men are ordained for God, so that they should wait on Him only and no one else


Whereby man can be right free

119, 120

In the second place, as the best part of man is within, therefore he should draw in his senses and take heed of the internal man


How God damneth no man, but man damneth himself


In the third place, man should draw in his senses on this account, because they commonly receive something impure, when he turneth them outwardly


How right inwardness is a quite perfect giving up of oneself, and all things, externally and internally

122, 123

A question—“What is a poor, internal, mortified life?”


Whoso occupieth himself with visions and giveth much attention to images, this is a sign that the ground of the man is not simple and pure, and he hath more communion with Antichrist than with Christ


How God-loving men have the greatest labour, and also inwardly the greatest divine pleasure, and of two kinds of love of working love and of suffering love

127, 128

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