The second Chapter, Of the soules affinitie with Christ.
WHat a thing is it, O God, that thou hast done so much for me? Thou art not onelie contented to haue forgiuen me my sinnes, but also hast giuen vnto mee the right for∣tunate gift of grace.
For it should suffice mee, I comming out of such a danger, to be like a stranger vsed. But thou doest han∣dle my soule, if I durst so say it, as a mother, daughter, sister, and wife: notwithstanding, my Lord, I am the trespasser, which am not woorthie to come neere the doore of thy right high place, to aske bread, where thy dwelling is. Oh what grace is this, that so suddenlie thou vouchsafest to drawe my soule into such highnes, that she feeleth hir selfe ruler of my bodie! She poore, ignorant, and lame, doth find hir selfe with thee rich, wise, and strong, bicause thou hast written in hir hart, the roote of thy spirit and holie word, giuing hir true faith to receiue it, which thing made hir to conceiue thy sonne, in beleeuing him to be man, God, Sauiour, and also the true forgiuer of sinnes. Therefore doest thou assure hir, that shee is mother to thy Sonne, of whome thou art the onlie father.
Page 6 And furthermore, O my father, here is a great loue of thy well dooing, that thy holie sonne hath taken on him the bodie of a man, & hath mingled himselfe with our ashes, which thing we may not vnderstand, with∣out a most true faith. It hath pleased thee to put him so neere vs, that he did ioine himselfe to our flesh, and I seeing him to be called man, am bold to call him bro∣ther. Now sith my soule may saie of hir selfe, that shee is the sister of God, ought she not to haue hir selfe as∣sured in him? Yes trulie. For thou doest declare with great loue, that hir creation was onlie of thy good wil, which it pleaseth thee alwaies to haue towards hir, giuing assurance, that before hir first daie, or time of being prouided for hir, thou thorough loue hast made hir, as thou of power alone canst well doo it, and also didst put hir within this bodie, not for to slacke with sloth, but that both of them should haue none other exercise, but only to thinke how to doo some seruice vn∣to thee.
Then this truth maketh hir to feele that there is in thee true paternitie. O what honor, what sweetnesse, and what glorie hath the soule, which doeth alwaies remember that she is thy daughter, and that in calling thee father, shee doth thy commandement! What is there more? Is that all? No, it doth please thee to giue hir another name, to call hir thy wife, and that she againe doo call thee husband, declaring therby how thou hast freelie manifested the mariage of hir. By baptisme hast thou made a promise, to giue hir thy goods and riches, and to take on thee hir sinnes: for she hath nothing by heritage but sinne of hir first father Adam. All hir treasures that she hath of nature, are nothing else but sinnes, which thou hast tied vpon the Crosse, and paid all hir debts with thy goodes & lands.
Thou hast made hir so rich, and with so great a ioin∣ture endued hir, that she knowing hir selfe to be thy Page 7 wedded wife, doth beleeue to be quit of all that she o∣weth, esteeming verie little that shee hath heere be∣neath. She forsaketh hir old father, and all the goods that he giueth hir, for hir husbands sake. For surelie, O my GOD, it hurteth my soule to be fed with such good: and againe releeued in leauing the pleasures of this world, for that which is eternal, and where peace is without warre. Father, alas, what ought I to thinke? Shall my spirit be so bold as to take vpon him to call thee father? yea, and also our father, for so hast thou taught in the Pater noster. But to call me daugh∣ter, hast thou so said? I praie thee tell me. Alas, yea Lord, when with great sweetnes thou saiedst: Daugh∣ter, lend me thy hart: and againe, thou saiedst, Daugh∣ter thy faith hath saued thee.
O my soule, instead of lending, my Lord is readie to giue himselfe wholie vnto thee: receiue him then, and do not permit that anie creature put him from thee, so that for euer with faithfull stedfastnesse he may loue thee, with a daughterlie loue. Now my Lord, if thou be my father, may I thinke that I may be thy mother? Indeede I can not well perceiue, how I should con∣ceiue thee that createdst me: but in this matter, thou diddest satisfie my doubt, when in preaching and in stretching forth thy hands, thou didst saie, Those that shall do the will of my father, they are my brethren, my sister, and my mother. I beleue then, that hearing, and reading the words that thou hast taught, and vttered by thy holie Prophets and Apostles: the same also which through thy true Preachers thou dost dailie de∣clare vnto men, in beleeuing it, and stedfastlie desiring to fulfill the same, I conceiue thee, and beare thee by loue.
Therfore without anie feare I wil take vpon me the name of a mother. What? Mother of Christ? O sweet virgine Marie, I beseech thee be not angrie that I Page 8 take vp such a title: I do neither steale, nor vsurpe a∣nie thing vpon thy priuiledge, for thou onelie aboue all women, receiuedst of him so great honour, that no man can in himselfe comprehend, how he hath beene willing to take in thee our flesh: for thou art the mo∣ther and perfect virgine, before, and after, and in his holie birth. In thy blessed wombe thou didst beare him and nourish him, thou didst followe him in his tribula∣tions, and also in his teachings. Now brieflie to con∣clude, thou hast with God found such grace, as the eni∣mie through malice and deceit had caused Adam and his posteritie to lose: by Eue, and him we haue lost it, and by the Sonne hath it been yeelded vnto vs againe.
Therefore hast thou bene rightfullie called full of grace, as one to whome the Lord hath shewed aboun∣dant fauour. Sith then that he, which is the best a∣mong them that be good, and also the spring of all good∣nesse and power, hath created in thee so pure innocen∣cie, endued thee with such grace, & exalted thee to such dignitie, that he in thee, of all other the example of ver∣tue, hath builded his dwelling and temple: he through loue did confirme himselfe with thee, and thou through grace art confirmed in him, therefore no man can giue thee greater praise, then God himselfe hath giuen thee, for there is no such praise, as is the same, which commeth from God. Thou also hast had so firme and constant a faith, that thou by the holie Ghost wast fil∣led with all godlinesse. I will not take vpon me there∣fore to giue to thee greater praise, than the honour which thy sonne and soueraigne Lord hath giuen thee. And as thou art his corporall mother, so art thou tho∣rough faith his spirituall mother: and I following thy faith with all humblenesse, am his spirituall mother also.
Alas, my God, the brotherlinesse that thou hast to∣wards me, thorough thy humblenesse, in calling me si∣ster, Page 9 is great, for thou hast broken the kindred of mine old father, calling me daughter by adoption. Seeing then that we haue both one father, I will not feare to call thee my brother. For thou hast so reported it by the wise Salomon in his Canticle, saieng: My sister and spouse, thou hast wounded my hart with the sweete looke of one of thine eies, &c. Alas my brother, I wish for nothing else, but that in wounding thee, I might finde my selfe wounded with thy loue, to that would I giue ouer my selfe. And likewise, thou doest call mee wife, speaking to me these amorous words: Arise my deere doue, and come hitherward my delectable spouse. Wherefore I may saie with louing faith, Thou art mine, and I am thine, bicause thou hast called me thy loue and faire spouse. If I be so, such hast thou made me. Alas, doth it please thee to giue me such names? Trulie they are able to breake the hart, and cause it to burne through loue vnspeakeable, when it thinketh vpon the honour that thou doest vnto the soule, which is much greater than it hath deserued. A mother, a mother? Alas, but of what child is it? My God, my sonne? O Iesus what speech is this! Mother, daugh∣ter, sister, and brother. O happie kindred! O what sweetnesse doth proceede out of that paternitie! But what daughterlie and reuerent feare ought I to haue towards him, my father, yea and my creator, my pro∣tector, and sauiour, to be my brother? Alas, heere is a great loue: I will therfore saie with Salomon, Now can my hart no longer refraine, but breake in sunder, to make roome for the same so sweete a brother, so that none other name be written in the same, but onlie the name of my brother Iesus the sonne of God. None o∣ther creature will I giue place to, for all the scurging and beating that can be done vnto me: keepe my hart then my deere brother and loue, and let not thine eni∣mie enter into it.