Las Virtudes y los Vicios

I am mindful of your request and my promise, in which you entreated me with all your might to write some exhortation in brief words for your occupation, which we know that you have in martial activities, so that you would continually have in your hands words of paternal admonition, in which you would be able to consider yourself, and to arouse zeal for eternal blessedness. To this honest request I willingly confess I assent, wishing the writings of my devotion may help you to perpetual salvation. These writings indeed, although they seem to be less eloquently composed, yet I know very certainly that the same are dictated with the force of holy charity. Since I have separated a series of these words into individual chapters, so that my words were more easily able to stick to the mind of your devotion, knowing that you are occupied in many considerations of secular matters. From whence I ask that the holy desire of your salvation may run very often back to the reading of these letters, as if to a certain comfort; so that the spirit tired out by external troubles may have a return to itself, in which it may rejoice; and that it may know to what it ought chiefly to hasten. Just as you carefully entreated my little letters of pious exhortation, so I humbly request that you often deign to read them. And I pray your love with all my might, dearest son, that you take care to prepare for yourself a habitation of heavenly glory with unwearied will by very great largesse of alms giving and equity of judging and zeal for mercy. In which work and wish may divine mercy always everywhere deign to help you, dearest son.

About wisdom

The first thing of all that should be sought by a person is what true knowledge and true wisdom may be: since the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God (1 Corinthians 3, 19) The true knowledge is to withdraw from the servitude of the devil, which are sins; and the perfect wisdom is to worship God, according to the truth of his mandates: since in these two things [another manuscript: mandates] a blessed life is acquired, just as the Psalmist says: Turn from bad and do good (Psalms 33, 15). For it does not suffice someone not to do bad things, unless he also does good things, nor to do good things unless he also does not commit bad things [another manuscript: he also loses bad things]. Anyone, therefore, who is thus wise without doubt will be blessed in eternity; since the blessed thing [life] is knowledge of the Godhead; [indeed] the knowledge of the Godhead is the virtue of good work: the virtue of good work is the fruit of eternal beatitude.

About faith

But this knowledge of the Godhead and knowledge of the truth is to be learned through the catholic faith; since without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11, 6). Truly, he is blessed who both lives well by believing rightly and keeps the right faith by living well. Therefore just as faith is useless without [good] works, so good works profit nothing without right faith. Whence also the blessed apostle James said: What would it profit, my brothers, if someone should say he has faith, but does not do [Some manuscripts: have] works? Will his faith be able to save him? Faith without works is dead [Some manuscripts: useless]. For just as a body without spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead (James 2, 14, 26). The excellence of this is to be discussed at other times; since a summary in brief words, which you asked to be made for you about the mandates of God, [manuscript from the Scots Abbey, Regensburg: since the summary, which we decided to write] will not be able to explain the very profound accounts about the catholic faith.

About charity

Charity obtains first place in the precepts of God; without its perfection, the apostle Paul is a witness that nothing can please God (1 Corinthians 13). He shows that neither martyrdom nor contempt of the world, nor largesse of alms is able to profit [another manuscript: benefit] anything without the service of charity. Therefore the Lord himself, asked by a certain scribe what was his greatest mandate, replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. He also added: The second, however, is similar to this: Love your neighbor as yourself; in these two mandates hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22, 3740). But when he says: 'with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind', that is, God is to be loved with all your intellect, with all your will, and from the whole memory. Indeed the whole love of God consists in the observation of his mandates, just as elsewhere he says: If someone loves me, let him keep my words (John 14, 23). From whence the Truth himself says elsewhere: By this all will know that you are my disciples: if you should have love for each other (John 13, 35). Likewise the Apostle: Love is the fulfilment of the law (Romans 13, 10) Likewise the evangelist John: We have this mandate from the Lord [another manuscript: God], that he who loves the Lord [another manuscript: God] also loves his neighbor (1 John 4, 21). If perhaps anyone seeks to learn who his neighbor may be, let him know that every Christian is rightly said to be his neighbor, since we are all sanctified in the baptism of the son of God, so that we are spiritually brothers in perfect charity. Spiritual generation is nobler than carnal, about which in the gospel the Truth himself says: Unless someone is reborn [another manuscript: born] from water and the [Holy] Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3, 5). Let a person learn what the precepts of God are and let him keep them as much as he is able: and let him thus know himself to have the charity of God. I will take care to show one by one some of these precepts to your devotedness, dearest son, so that you will more easily have the power to understand the virtues of others from a few inspections. [The manuscript from the Scots Abbey, Regensburg has this last sentence as: It is suitable to demonstrate briefly some of these precepts, so that other virtues may be understood more easily].

About hope

The excellent doctor of the gentiles also set out [another manuscript: set out a certain] three things necessary to our souls, saying: Hope, faith, charity, these are three: but the greater from these is charity (1 Corinthians 13, 13) Therefore, no-one, however much he is forced to weigh the enormity of his sins, ought to despair about the goodness of divine piety: but to pray for indulgence for himself with daily tears with hope of his certain mercy [manuscript has: with certain hope of his mercy]. This they are rightly able to expect, if they would cease from the action of wrong works. Therefore we ought neither to sin perseveringly because of hope of mercy, nor, since God justly punishes sins, ought we to despair of mercy: but with both dangers avoided, let us both turn aside from bad and expect mercy from the piety of God. Similarly, in all difficulties of tribulation also, one should run with hope to the solace of supernal piety, since all hope and salvation consists, without doubt, in him alone. As the Prophet says: In God is my salvation and my glory: God is my help and my hope is in God (Psalms 61, 8).

About zeal of reading

The reading of the Holy Scriptures is the knowledge of divine blessedness. For in these as if in a certain mirror, a person is able to consider himself, what he might be or to what he might aim. Assiduous reading purifies the soul, produces fear of hell, stimulates the heart of the reader to eternal joys. He who wants to be with God always, frequently ought to pray and read. For when we pray we ourselves talk with God: when indeed we read, God talks with us. Reading of the holy Scriptures confers a twin gift: whether because it educates the understanding of the mind or whether it leads a person to the love of God, abstracted from the vanities of the world. The labor of reading is honest and it profits much to the cleansing of the soul. For just as the flesh is nourished from carnal foods, so the inner person is nourished and fed from divine eloquence, just as the Psalmist says: How sweet is your eloquence to my jaws, O God, above honey and honey-comb to my mouth (Psalms 118, 103). But that one is most blessed, who reading divine Scriptures, turns words into deeds. Plainly, all Holy Scripture is written for our salvation, so that we profit in these things in the knowledge of truth. The blind man offends more often than the seeing: thus the one not knowing the law of God sins ignorantly more often than he who knows. Just as a blind man without a leader walks the right way with difficulty, so a person without a teacher.

About peace

The Savior returning to the Father, as if as a special gift gave the precepts of peace, saying: I give my peace to you, I leave peace to you (John 14, 27). In peace I send you out, in peace let me find you. Departing, he wished to give those things, which he desired to find in all when returning. He showed marvelously in another place the ornament of this peace: Blessed are the peaceful, since they will be called the sons of God. (Matthew 5, 9). Lo, he begins to be called the son of God, who now begins to be peaceful. He does not want to be called the son of God, who did not want to embrace peace. He denies God is Father to himself, who disdains to be peaceful. But this peace is to be kept with the good and those keeping the precepts of God, not with the iniquitous and wicked, who have peace among themselves in their sins. The peace of Christ profits to eternal salvation. The peace which is in the devil leads to [another manuscript: arrives at] perpetual perdition. Peace should always be had with the good and war with the vices. Since the bad deeds of impious people should be had in odium, not the people themselves, even though they are bad, since they are creatures of God. Indeed, peace, which is in us [another manuscript: in good people] combines concord of brothers and charity of neighbors. Peace specially merits the spirit of God. Peace is the mother of love. Peace is a token of sanctity, about which God says through the prophet: Love truth and peace (Zechariah 8, 19). Peace is the health of the people, the glory of priests and the joy of the country, and the terror of the enemy, whether visible or invisible. Peace is to be kept with all vigor, since it remains in God always. He who remains in holy peace, remains with the holy ones of God. It is for the priests to admonish the people in peace what they ought to do: it is for the people to hear in humility what the priest admonishes. Whatever is not allowed, it is for the pastor to prohibit it being done: it is for the people to hear, so that they do not do.

About mercy

The good of mercy is special, about which the Savior himself says: Blessed are the merciful, since they themselves will obtain mercy (Matthew 5, 7). A sinner cannot expect mercy from God who does not have mercy to those sinning against himself. Therefore let a person forgive a sin in this world, so that he may merit receiving good eternally. If we desire our souls to be cleansed from the filth of sins, we should not deny mercy to those sinning against us, so that in the day of retribution we are helped by works of mercy to the deserved mercy of God. In what way may he expect mercy from God who is cruel to his fellow unfree? Just as anyone desires God to be merciful to him, thus let him be merciful to his debtors. Very certainly he will be able to expect remission, who has learned to remit others. The Lord strengthened us for the work of mercy in the gospel, by the best example, where he says: Be merciful, just as also your Father in the heavens is merciful (Luke 6, 36). He makes his sun to shine on the good and the bad and rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5, 45). All mercy will make a place for each single person, according to the merit of his works. He who has mercy offers a sacrifice of salvation [manuscript has: a sacrifice sufficiently] acceptable to God. Mercy and discipline ought to be in a judge, since one without the other could not [manuscript has: will not be able to] be well. For if there were mercy alone it gives security for sinning to subjects. Again, if only discipline were always present, the mind of the delinquent is turned into desperation and the judge will not merit mercy from God: but a person ought to begin this mercy from himself. In what way is he merciful to others, who is cruel to himself? He is cruel to himself who prepares perpetual flames for himself by his sins. He is rightly merciful who starts from himself and keeps himself diligently, so that he is not punished by the devil, and thus he shows to others what he sees to be good for himself.

About remission

The Lord says in the gospel: Forgive and it will be forgiven to you (Luke 6, 37). Again: If you should forgive people their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins. If you should not forgive people, neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your sins (Matthew 6, 1415). Indeed this sentence of the Lord utters great mercy about us to these who can understand it correctly. God judges us, therefore, from our judgment and in a measure it is in our power, in what way we are judged by God our judge. If we judge mercifully about those offending against us, God will judge mercifully about us offending against him. Let us turn our attention to his example, just as the doctor of the gentiles says: Forgive among yourselves, if anyone has a quarrel against someone. Just as God forgives [manuscript has: forgave] you in Christ, thus also should you do (Colossians 3, 13). In the way God in Christ forgave us our sins, thus also let us forgive those who sin against us. Again: No-one returning evil for evil. And in another place: Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil in good (Romans 12, 17, 21). It is to be known most certainly that every single person will receive such mercy from God as he also himself should give to his neighbor. A prayer for our sins will come quickly to the ears of omnipotent God if the prayers of offenders [against us] are acceptable to our ears. He who has learned to forgive sinners with clemency will most certainly receive the clemency of divine piety. For thus it is remitted to us, so that we remit those who have done harm to us by whatever malignancy.

About patience

In your patience, it is said in the gospel, you will possess your souls (Luke 21, 19). For in all human life patience is necessary. Just as accordingly we ought to suffer patiently injuries brought on us by others, so it is also necessary to suffer patiently the tribulations which will happen to us. Very often in this world the good suffer tribulations from the false. Therefore if anyone at all after good works suffers tribulations, he ought not to say in reflection: I have wasted my good works, which I used to do. For he who should say this is known to have done good work not for the love of God, but for the reward of the happiness of this life or for human praise. For a person will be tested by the whips of God, by which he may benefit in soul, or by the courage with which he may suffer the temptations coming upon him. For God tests you, says the Apostle, so that he may know if you love him. Truly, tribulation produces patience, but patience is a perfect work. For blessed is the man who suffers temptations, since, when he has been tested, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those loving him (James 1, 3, 4, 12). No-one is rightly wise, who does not have patience. The ruler [manuscript has: conqueror] of his mind is stronger than the attacker of cities (Proverbs 16, 32). Indeed the ability of forgiving, not the opportunity of revenging, is to be sought in patience. Such are those, who suffer patiently at the time of the injuries, so that subsequently they may have the strength to revenge more easily. These do not have true patience. True patience is bravely to endure injuries in the face and in the future not to seek revenge, but to forgive from the heart. We can be martyrs without sword or flames if we truly preserve patience in mind with our neighbors. It is more praiseworthy to avoid injury by being silent than to overcome by responding. He who tolerates evils patiently will merit an eternal crown in the future.

About humility

How great the virtue of true humility is may be easily learned from the words of the Lord, who in order to condemn the pride of the Pharisees, said: Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23, 12). One ascends to the height of heaven by steps of humility; since sublime God is approached not by pride but by humility. About whom it is said: God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble (James 4, 6). Whence also it is said in the Psalms: The elevated God both sees low things and recognizes high things from afar (Psalms 137, 6). The 'high things' are cited for the sake of the proud, 'low things' indeed for the sake of the humble [another manuscript: meek]. He sees low things that he may raise up, high things, that is the proud, he recognizes, so that he may put down. Let us therefore learn humility, through which we will be able to approach God, just as he himself says in the gospel: Learn from me since I am mild and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11, 29). Through pride the marvelous creation of the angels fell from heaven: through humility [of God] the fragility of human nature ascended to the heaven. For honest is the custom of humility among people, just as Solomon says: Where there is pride, there also there will be reproach (Proverbs 11, 2) Also another [certain] wise one: However great you are, humble yourself in all things and you will find grace before God (Ecclesiasticus 3, 20). Likewise the Lord said through the prophet: To whom shall I have regard, unless it be the humble, and the quiet and the one trembling at my words (Isaiah 66, 2)? Whoever will not be humble and quiet cannot have the grace of the Holy Spirit live in him. God was made humble for the sake of our salvation, so that humans might be ashamed to be proud. As much as the heart is inclined to the depths with humility, that much it profits in the height. For he who will be humble [another manuscript: he who will have been humble here on earth] will be exalted in [another manuscript: future] glory. The first step of humility is to listen to the word of truth humbly, to retain it accurately, to carry it out voluntarily. He [the truth] flees when he does not find a humble mind. The more someone will be humble from himself, the greater he will be in the eyes of God. But the more the proud man appears more glorious among people, the more he will be cast down before God. For he who does good works without humility, carries dust into the wind. Why is earth and dust proud when that which it seems to collect by fasting and almsgiving is scattered by the wind of pride? Do not glory, O human, in your virtues; since you will have another as a judge, not you yourself; in whose sight it is necessary that you humble yourself in your heart, so that he may exalt you at the time of your repayment. Descend, so that you may ascend, be humble so that you might be exalted, lest exalted, you may be humiliated. For he who is cheap to himself is great [another manuscript: beautiful] before God, and he who is dissatisfied with himself, pleases God [another manuscript: and those who please themselves, displease God]. Therefore be small in your eyes, so that you may be great in the eyes of God. For the more you will be more precious before God, the more you should be more contemptible before your eyes. May humility in the highest honor be the highest thing to you. The praise of honor is the virtue of humility.

About compunction of the heart

Compunction of the heart is born from the virtue of humility; from compunction confession of sins; from confession, penance; from true penance will come forth remission of sins. Compunction of the heart is humility of mind, with tears and recollection of sins and fear of judgment. Tears are accustomed to flow from the twin fountains of compunction; one is when it considers diligently the merits of its work [the manuscript: when the mind diligently considers the evils]; the other when it longs for the desire of eternal life. Whence the prophet says: My soul thirsted for the living God. When shall I come and appear before the face of God? My tears have been bread to me day and night (Psalms 41, 3, 4). Again: My soul desires and fails from the courts of the Lord. And: My heart and my flesh exulted in the living God (Psalms 83, 3). There are four qualities of feelings [the manuscript: afflictions] by which thought of the just is pricked by salubrious loathing, that is, the memory of past deeds, the recollection of future punishments, the consideration of our pilgrimage in the misery of this life; the desire of the heavenly country, so that he may be able to reach there as soon as possible. Since therefore those things are made in the heart of a person, it is then to be known that God through his grace is present in the human heart. Whence also it is said in the Psalm: O God I have declared my life to you; I [the manuscript: you] have placed my tears in your sight, just as also in your promise (Psalms 55, 9). May the promise of forgiveness which we have from God rouse tears of repentance from our heart. There is a desirable treasure in the heart of humans, the sweetness of compunction. The soul of a person which is pricked in prayer profits greatly to salvation. When, through prayer, compunction is poured out, it is not to be doubted that the presence of the Holy Spirit is present in our hearts.

About confession

Scripture exhorts us frequently to flee to the medicine of confession: not because God needs our confession, to whom all things which we think, say or do are present; but we cannot be made saved otherwise, unless we should confess the sins that we unjustly negligently have done. The person who accuses himself in his sins, the devil will not have him to accuse again in the day of judgment: if confessing, he washes away the things he has done by repenting, nor again renews the things he has done [the manuscript: calls back what he lamented]. Confess, says the apostle James, your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be saved (James 5, 16). Also St Paul the apostle: Make confession however by mouth for salvation (Romans 10, 10). But also Solomon said about the confession of sins: He who hides his sins [the manuscript: crimes] will not be set straight, but whoever has confessed and relinquished them will follow mercy (Proverbs 28, 13). The great medication of salvation is not to repeat the things that we have done wickedly [the manuscript: impiously], not to re-wound the scars of earlier wounds. But thus said John the evangelist: If we were to confess our sins, God is faithful and just, so that he forgives our sins to us and cleanses us from all iniquity (1 John 1, 9). Similarly the Psalmist also says: I said, I will confess my injustices to the Lord against myself: and you have dismissed the iniquity [the manuscript: impiety] of my sins (Psalms 31, 5). Let the sinner, while living confess the things he has done, since confession is not fruitful in the underworld, not repentance profiting to salvation. Lo now is the time of salvation, lo, now is the time acceptable to God (2 Corinthians 6, 2). It is now the time of forgiveness to those repenting; but there will be a time of punishment after death for those neglecting to confess their sins. For all the impious have bitter repentance in torments, but the repentance does not profit to salvation [the manuscript: remission] for them: but conscience tortures them to the augmentation of the punishments which they suffer. For they were able to guard against the cruelty of the punishment beforehand through confession and they neglected this. Thus just like outside by flames, so inside in their own conscience they are tormented. In what way is a doctor able to heal wounds that the patient blushes to show? For God desires our confession, so that he has a just cause for forgiving. He who hides his sins and blushes to confess healthily now has God as a witness and he will have him again as a revenger. A person judges himself most rightly in this life, lest he be judged by God to perpetual damnation. Every sinner ought to have a double lamenting in repentance, whether because through negligence he has not done good, or whether through audacity he has perpetrated evil. For he did not do what was suitable, and what was not suitable, he did. Confession justifies, confession gives mercy to sin. All hope of mercy consists in confession. Confession is a work of mercy: deliverance of the diseased with repentance is the only medicine for our powers [vices].

About repentance

The Savior himself in the gospel showed the virtue of this, saying: Be repentant, for the kingdom of heaven will come near (Matthew 3, 2). And John the Baptist says: Make worthy fruits of repentance (Luke 3, 8). The worthy fruit of repentance is to weep the sins carried out and not to do the same again, just as Scripture says: Do not add sin on sin (Ecclesiasticus 5, 5). Be washed, says the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, and be clean (Isaiah 1, 16). For he is washed and clean who bewails past things and does not admit [another manuscript: commit] lamentable things again. And he is not washed and clean who bewails what he has done, but does not desert it, and after tears repeats what he has wept. About these who after tears return to worse [another manuscript: earlier] crimes, St Peter says terribly: The dog returns to its vomit (2 Peter 2, 22). Son, you have sinned, it is said in Holy Scripture, do not add again, but pray about the former things, and they will be remitted to you (Ecclesiasticus 21, 1). True repentance is not rated by number of years, but by sadness of spirit. Whence blessed Peter soon received forgiveness from the Lord, since he wept very sadly the fault of the three denials. Although repentance may be of short time, if the interior of the heart is moved by sadness, it is not despised before the just judge God, who considers the secrets of the heart. For God does not so much require length of time, as much as weigh the state of sincerity [of the repentant one]. For he who confides in Christ with his whole heart, even if he dies in many sins, lives in eternity by his faith, just as the Lord himself says in the gospel: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he is dead, shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me, shall not die in eternity (John 11, 25). He said about the death of the soul, that it will happen to him because of the sickness of sins [another manuscript: which will happen to him, because of sickness]. But God is merciful by nature and is prepared to save through mercy those whom he will not come [the manuscript: does not find] to save through justice, who wants all to be saved and no-one to perish (1 Timothy 2, 4). He says through the Prophet: In whatever day a sinner should be converted, he will live by life and will not die (Ezekiel 18, 21). Although each person may be a sinner and impious, if he is converted to repentance let him not doubt himself able to attain to forgiveness through the mercy of God. In this world mercy will assist those being repentant to God. But in the future, repentance does not profit, but we are going to render account of our deeds [works]. In this life only, liberty is open to the repentant [the manuscript: for repentance], but after death there is no freedom of correction.

About not delaying conversion to God

The word of inspiration is read in the divine Scriptures: Son, do not delay to be converted to God [the manuscript: the Lord], since you do not know what a future day may prepare (Ecclesiasticus 5, 8). He who delays to be converted makes peril of his soul, since death does not delay (Ecclesiasticus 14, 12). If this should find one delaying being converted, it leads him to torments. It is a dissolute and paralytic [the manuscript: perilous] thought to think about tomorrow's conversion and neglect today's. Why O sinner, do you neglect [to be converted] and do not fear that unexpected death may snatch away the day of conversion for you? Do you not know that people die suddenly? If it is good to cast away sins and be converted to God, let it be done quickly. God promises to you who are converting remission from sins, he has not promised you security of living long. [Read the prophets, read the apostles and see if the hour or day are promised to you] Therefore let each individual convert himself quickly to God and when he has found him, let the impious person leave his way. If he enters the last day suddenly, the delaying passes away and the damnation remains. You do not want to die, return to Christ and you will live. Do not despair about [the manuscript: spurn by sinning] the mercy of sinners, nor have confidence in a longer life. Therefore convert and do penance. Tomorrow, you will say, I will convert. Why not today? What evil, you say, if I were to say tomorrow? What evil if today? Perhaps you say: My life will be long. I will say, if it should be [the manuscript: will be] long, let it be good; if short let it also be good. Who would bear a long evil? You do not want to have a long bad meal, and you want to have a long bad life? You buy a villa, you want a good one. You want to take a wife, you seek a good one. You want sons born to you: you wish for good ones. And, if I may also talk even about the very cheapest things, you buy shoes and you don't want bad ones: and you love a bad life? Why does your life offend you, which you wish alone to be bad, so that among all [your] good things, only you may be bad? Neither should you delay to be converted to God and do not defer from day to day (Ecclesiasticus 5, 8). These are the words of God, not mine. You do not hear these words from me, but I hear them with you from the Lord. Perhaps you reply: Tomorrow, tomorrow. O raven voice! The raven does not return to the ark, the dove returns. For if you want to do repentance then, when you are not able to sin, the sins have cast you down, not you them. He is alien enough from faith who expects the time of old age for doing repentance. It is to be feared that while he spurns mercy, he falls into judgment. For nor will he find mercy then, who just now lost the suitable time of mercy. Now there, he cannot merit what he seeks from God, who here did not want to hear what he ordered. He who neglects the time of repentance given [to him] pours out prayers in vain before the tribunal of Christ. Every single person ought to hasten to the Lord by conversion, while he can; lest, if he does not want to while he is able, later indeed when he should want to, he were not able.

About fear of God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 110, 10). It is a great caution for the sin always to fear God being present [the manuscript: the presence of God]. He who fears God perfectly diligently keeps himself from sins. It will be well in the last day for those fearing God and their reward will last for ever (Ecclesiasticus 1, 13). He who blushes to sin in the sight of people, how much more he ought to blush to do iniquity in the sight of God, who considers not only the works but also the heart. They who fear God with holy fear ask what things are well pleasing to him. One is the fear of sons, the other the fear of slaves. For slaves fear their masters because of torments, but sons indeed fear their fathers because of love. If we are sons of God, let us fear him from the sweetness of charity, not from the bitterness of fear. The wise person in all his works fears God, knowing that he can never flee from his presence, just as the Psalmist says to God: Whence will I go from your spirit and where will I flee from your face? (Psalms 138, 7). Again: Since neither from the east nor from the west (Psalms 74, 7), it is understood, that place of the fleeing is open to God. He who fears God will accept his doctrine and those who will wait in his mandates will find eternal blessing (Ecclesiasticus 32, 18) The soul is blessed in fearing God and remains safe from diabolical temptations. Blessed is the person who is always trembling (Proverbs 28, 14) and whose gift is to have the fear of God always before his eyes. He who fears the Lord withdraws from the crooked way and directs his ways to the path of virtue. The fear of God repels sins and adds virtues. Fear makes a person cautious and careful, lest he sin. Indeed where there is no fear of God, there is dissolution of life. Whoever does not fear God in favorable circumstances, or [the manuscript: at least] in adversities, let him take refuge in him, who punishes so that he may cure. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who longs exceedingly in his mandates (Psalms 111, 1). The fear of the Lord expels the fear of hell. Let us [therefore] thus fear God, in order that we may love him; since perfect charity will put out servile fear (1 John 4, 18).

About fasting

A fast is perfect, which is done in alms and prayer. It passes heaven [another manuscript: by prayers into the heaven] and arrives at the throne of the highest God. For then a human, made spiritual, is joined with the angels and is united freely with God, if abstinence of the flesh is exalted by prayers. Through fasting and prayers the secrets of the celestial mysteries are revealed, and the mysteries of the divine sacrament are unfolded. As long as Adam abstained, he remained in paradise: he ate and was expelled. Fasts are strong weapons against the temptations of demons; for they are quickly defeated through abstinence. Whence also our Lord and Savior advised to overcome an attack of them by fasting and prayer, saying: This kind is not thrown out except in prayer and fasting (Matthew 17, 20; Mark 9, 28). For the foul spirits send themselves there into the self-confident, where they will frequently see consumption and drunkenness exercised. Abstinence weakens the body, but makes the heart fat. It debilitates the flesh, but greatly strengthens the soul. But it should be known that fasts with good works are best acceptable to God. Those, however, who abstain from food and do evilly, imitate demons, for whom there is no carnal food, and spiritual wickedness is always inside. For that person abstains well from food who also both abstains from bad acts and fasts from ambitions of the world. It is better to renew the mind going to conquer in perpetuity with the food of holy preaching [and the food of the word of God] than to satiate the belly of death-bringing flesh with [earthly bread and] delicious dishes.

About alms giving

It should be known that it is a work of piety that we help others also from the things which the celestial father has mercifully given us from heaven. For there are very many who have no share in fields, none in vineyards, none in the riches of the world. Whose wants we ought to provide for from that abundance which God has given to us, so that they also with us may bless the Lord for the fecundity of the earth and rejoice that there are gifts from those possessing things, which have also been made common to the poor and pilgrims. Fortunate is that storehouse, and very worthy for the multiplication of all fruits, from whence the hunger of the needy and the weak and pilgrims is filled. These the justice of God therefore allowed to labor under diverse troubles, so that he may crown both the wretched for patience and the merciful for benevolence. For intercession for sins is most effectual in alms-givings and fastings and the prayer raised up from such decisions ascends quickly to divine ears, since it is written: A merciful man benefits his soul (Proverbs 11, 17). For a part of the corporeal wealth that is administered to the indigent passes over into eternal riches for the giver. Thus we merit the mercy of God and the forgiveness of sins by pity of the poor and alms: since he who does not turn away his mind from the weak, quickly turns the hearing of God to himself; since the Lord says: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6, 36). That which the Truth promises he himself will return, let humanity, secure, pay out and bestow. Be constant, O Christian giver, give that you might receive, sow that you might reap, spend that you might collect. Do not fear expense, do not sigh about doubtful yield. Your substance, when expended well, is augmented. Your rewarder wants you to be generous. And he who gives, so that you may have, orders that you bestow, saying: Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6: 36). O avaricious one, if you love gold or the riches of the world, give, lest you lose. If you will save, without doubt you will lose. If you will give, you will have these things altogether eternally, since the Truth himself says: Treasure up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where they are destroyed neither by rust or worm; nor do thieves ransack and steal. For where your treasure is, there also is your heart (Matthew 6, 1921). And certainly those dispensing temporal things will acquire eternal things. Do not be timid in giving, lest you are poor in repayment; since he who sows sparingly, also reaps sparingly (2 Corinthians 9, 6) He whoever who has pity for the poor will be blessed (Proverbs 14, 21) Thus the redemption of the soul of a man is of his riches (Proverbs 13, 8). He honors God, who has pity on the poor. Hide alms in the bosom of the poor man, says Holy Scripture, and they themselves will pray for you (Ecclesiasticus 29, 15). Just as water extinguishes fire, so alms extinguish sin. Do not despise the needy soul and do not provoke the poor man in his cry (Ecclesiasticus 4, 2). He who averts his ear from the cry of the poor man, that one's prayer does not [the manuscript: will not] merit the clemency of God. In your life benefit your soul, giving alms to the wretched, since after death you do not have the power of doing good. Let the poor be fed in your banquets and Christ in these. There are three forms of alms: one corporeal, to give to those needing whatever you should be able; another spiritual, to forgive him, by whom you might have been injured; the third to correct the delinquent and to lead the erring back into the way of truth.

About chastity

Chastity is an angelic life. Chastity with humility will merit the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, which the uncleanliness of desires expels, since as Scripture says: The Holy Spirit will avoid the body subject to sins (Wisdom of Solomon 1, 5). Our limbs ought to be promised to God, not to fornication. Let a person set against desire of the flesh the flames of eternal torments. Let him accustom himself as a young man to chastity, so that he may be worthy for the wisdom of God. Where there is uncleanliness of the body, there is a habitation of a diabolical spirit, who rejoices very greatly in the defiling of our body. All uncleanlinesses are displeasing to God and especially those which are not natural. Thus the Holy Scripture admonishes us, saying: Do not go after your desires and turn from your will. If you were to prefer your desires to your soul, it will make you come into being a delight for your enemies (Ecclesiasticus 18, 30, 31). Also the very wise Solomon used to proffer sentences of this sort about avoiding uncleanliness of the flesh, saying: The lip of the harlot trickles down honeycomb and her throat is more shining than oil. But her last bitterness is like wormwood and sharp like a two-edged sword. Her feet descend to death and their courses penetrate the depths. They do not walk through the paths of life, their courses have wandered and are not traceable. Now therefore, my son, hear me and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Make your ways far from her and do not approach the doors of her house (Proverbs 5, 38). Since he said this not only about the uncleanliness of harlots, but also about concupiscence of all flesh, which tempts the soul to consent to its desires. But the reason of the mind ought to prevent the impulse of the flesh and curb its injurious pleasures. Again that one above, prohibiting living together with women, said to young men: Is a person able to hide fire in his bosom without his clothes burning? Or walk on live coals, so that his feet are not burned? Thus he who goes in to the wife of his neighbor, he will not be clean when he should touch her (Proverbs 6, 2729). Similarly also the blessed apostle Paul admonishes us, saying: It is good not to touch a woman (1 Corinthians 7, 1) as if immediately there were danger in the touch. Beautiful is pure chastity in youth and pleasant to God and useful for every good. He who has spiritual or carnal sons, let him nourish them in the chastity of God, not in diabolical fornication. What does it profit a person to have, nourish, love a son, if he will nourish him for eternal torments? Those who live in chastity have an angelic way of life on earth. Chastity joins a person together with heaven, makes him a fellow citizen to the angels. He who has a legitimate wife, let him use her legitimately, at suitable times, so that he may merit to receive the blessing of sons from God. Let no-one say he is not able to keep himself chaste. For faithful is God, says the blessed Apostle, who does not permit us to be tempted beyond that which we are not [the manuscript omits not] able to bear: but will also make provision with temptation (1 Corinthians 10, 13). Such temptation is given to each individual, whether in desire of the flesh, or in ambition of the world, or also in whatever vexation of temptation, that either he might be able to conquer with praise or succumb with disgrace. For chastity is always necessary to all, but most greatly to the ministers of Christ's altar, whose life ought to be the instruction of others and the assiduous preaching of salvation. For it befits the Lord to have such ministers, who are corrupted by no contagion of the flesh; but rather let them glitter in continence of chastity and shine with all examples of honesty among the people.

About avoiding fraud

The Lord himself, who admonishes us to be generous from our substance to the poor and wretched, forbids us all avarice and unjust acquisition of money. Who indeed says: Make alms from your just labors (Tobit 4, 7). He himself through his apostle urges us, saying: Do not commit a fraud [the manuscript: Do not defraud] against each other. He who by any kind of fraud acquires something, loses justice and equity [the manuscript: justice of equity]. Say avariciously, say greedily, say wickedly, what have you acquired? Perhaps you say: I have acquired gold? and you say the truth. Behold, you have acquired gold through fraud and you have lost faith through injustice. If in the market you were finding faith for sale: if you were good, to what would you compare [the manuscript: would you have compared] it? Why do you not fear to lose those things [the manuscript: that thing] which God wanted you to have in the heart? You have gold or silver or another thing precious in the place, but damage in the heart. With all these things you have lost the better riches, that is faith and justice and love of God and neighbor. You contemplate your money, you do not consider your damage. If you rejoice in this money, why do you not lament this loss? You have therefore lost more than you have acquired. O rich man, through power you snatch that which it pleases you to have and through injustice you lose what God wants you to have, that is eternal blessedness. If every thief or plunderer had lost the light of his eyes in the theft or plunder, would he afterwards have committed a theft or plunder? And he does not know that in a sin of that kind he loses the light of the heart, which is better than all light of the body. Rather, avaricious man, give to the poor what you have, so that you may find in heaven what you have given on earth. Why do you fear to lose your money and you do not fear that you will wholly perish? For the sake of acquiring money, you say false testimony, you lie, you snatch another's things. You take an oath, you commit perjury, which the law forbids. Since you do all these things, why do you not fear, lest you burn wholly in eternity? Why, avaricious man, do you love gold more than your soul? For what will it profit you if you gain the whole world, but suffer the detriment of your soul? (Matthew 16, 26) And the Lord himself says in the gospel: Beware of all avarice, since anyone's life is not in the abundance which he possesses (Luke 12, 15) Do not rich men similarly die, just like poor men? Riches cannot benefit in the day of vengeance, nor will they free those using them [another manuscript: living] badly from eternal pains. Nothing is worse than the avaricious man, who holds his soul cheap for the sake of the desire of riches. Avarice ignores measure and when it devours everything, does not know to be sated inwardly. It is always hungry and needy. The avaricious man is like a depth, which is never filled.

About judges

Everyone who judges rightly, let him bear the balance in his hand. In each sense [the manuscript: thought] he bears justice and mercy, so that for the sake of justice he may return sentence for sins, for the sake of mercy moderate the punishment of sin. Certain things indeed are to be corrected by the good judge through equity, certain through mercy to be conceded. Judgment ought to be without regarding of persons. For nothing is more iniquitous than to accept gifts in judgments, since gifts blind the hearts [the manuscript: eyes] of the prudent and turn the hearts [the manuscript: words] of the just (Deuteronomy 16, 19). For in the judgment you do, says the Lord, you will be judged; it will be judged from you (Matthew 7, 2). Therefore let the judge fear God the judge, lest perhaps he be damned by God judging. He who condemns the innocent or justifies the impious for the sake of gifts or from love or hate of any person at all [judges falsely, will endure punishment on judgment day]. No prince ought to place the stupid or dishonest as judges. For the stupid man through laziness is ignorant of justice, the dishonest, however, through cupidity subverts the truth itself which he has learned. The poor are lacerated almost more gravely by wicked judges than by the cruelest enemies. For no robber is as desirous of others' things as an unjust judge is of his. Unjust judges are worse than the enemy. Enemies are often avoided by flight, [but] judges because of their power cannot be fled, who take pains to collect riches, by oppression of citizens also. At different times, good judges have iniquitous ministers; in whose crime they are wholly polluted, if they do not prevent their rapacity. These perish in the sins of others, since not only, as the excellent doctor of the world says, those who do, but also those who consent to those doing are made worthy of perpetual death (Romans 1, 32). Often wicked judges for the sake of cupidity either delay or pervert judgment. Nor do they finish cases until their generation may be filled up. For when they judge they consider not cases, but gifts. Wicked judges, according to the word of the prophet, are like wolves in the evening: they do not leave behind a thing in the morning (Zephaniah 3, 3); that is they think so much about the profit of the present life, nothing however about the future: snatching all things in the manner of wolves and scarcely leaving a few things to the poor. An irascible judge is plainly not able to consider an examination attentively, since from the gloom of fury he does not see the clarity of justice. The person should not be considered in a judgment, but the case. For it is written: Do not receive a person in judgment (Deuteronomy 1, 17). Unjust judges err in the sentence of truth, since they apply the quality of a person: and thus they often harm the just, while they wickedly defend the impious. Accepting gifts in judgments is a violation of truth. They who fearing God judge justly are going to receive eternal rewards from God.

About false witnesses

The false witness, Solomon said, will not be unpunished (Proverbs 19, 9). He who offers false witness against his neighbor, his lamp will be extinguished in the last day. He who hides the truth from fear of any power whatever, provokes the anger of God on himself, since he fears a person rather than God. The falsely speaking witness is in three ways obnoxious as a person: first to God, whose presence he condemns, then to the judge, whom he deceives by lying, at last to the innocent, whom he injures by false testimony. If false witnesses are separated, they are soon found to be lying. Each [equally] is a criminal: both he who hides the truth and he who says a lie. Since both the one does not want to do good and the other desires to do harm. Blessed is the person whose testimony will be found pleasing in the sight of the Lord. In four ways justice is subverted in judgments: by fear, cupidity, hate and love. By fear when anyone at all dreads to [say or] judge the truth for fear of the power of someone; from cupidity, when a judge is corrupted by the reward of some gift; hate, when he desires to harm another for the sake of any kind of enmity; by love, when a more powerful man defends friends or relatives against justice. By these four ways the equity of judgment is often subverted and innocence is harmed. More to be mourned are those who oppress the poor than those who suffer injury. For those who are oppressed quickly finish [another manuscript: pass over] their temporal misery: but those who oppress them through injustice will be condemned [the manuscript: are condemned] with eternal flames. Here indeed the good are often judged by the bad, in the future life indeed, the evil are judged by the good. For here often both the good are unfortunate and wretched before people and the bad are fortunate. So in that eternal retribution the good will always be happy and the bad always be wretched. Those to whom there are good things [the manuscript: it may be good] in this world, let them labor greatly lest they lose perpetual good things; and those who suffer injustices, let them suffer these more bravely, so that they may be found worthy for eternal beatitude.

About envy

Death entered into the circle of the lands with the devil's envy (Wisdom 2, 24). Since he envied the heaven to a terrestrial human, he sought in what way he might lose it through the transgression of that mandate which the Creator decided for humans. For nothing can be worse than envy, which is tortured by the good of others: and what it does not have itself envies other having. Envy is the enemy to all good things. Where there is envy there cannot be charity. And where there is not charity, there nothing will be able to be of good. He who envies is like the devil, who through envy ejected humans from the felicity of paradise. A man is great who conquers envy by humility, destroys discord by charity. What is more unfortunate for a person than to have made the good of another his punishment? For every envious person is tormented in the mind. Therefore from that which the good person profits, the envious person wastes away. It is better therefore to imitate the example of good people than to consider them with the goad of envy. Envy kills the sense, burns the breast, afflicts the mind. Let none lament the good of anyone else at all, or from another's felicity be made sad. For a person can have his good of another, since he loves in another what he does not do in himself [the manuscript: what he himself does not do].

About pride

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4, 6; 1 Peter 5, 5). Pride was the greatest sin of the devil. Wherefore worse than every sin [the manuscript: the worst of all evils] is pride, which is also often born from good works, since a person will take pride in his good works; and thus he loses through pride what he had through charity. Pride is the newest of all vices, since a person was adorned with virtues and in these begins [the manuscript: has begun; another manuscript desires] to take pride: Also pride is the start of every sin (Ecclesiasticus 10, 15); when the soul scorns the precepts of the creator, it soon falls into the pit of some kind of sin. All pride throws into the depths as much as it raises itself in the height. And so much deeper it falls, as much higher it is elevated. For he who is lifted up through his own pride, is condemned through the justice of God. Before the ruin of a person, his spirit is exalted. Nothing should be more avoided by the Christian than pride, which provokes the anger of God. For pride made demons from angels, but humility renders people like holy angels. The proud desire what they do not do to be praised in themselves: the humble, whatever good they are engaged in, avoid being acknowledged. Let a person not be raised in his good work, nor seek praise for himself, although he may do something good: but let him desire to praise God [the manuscript: God to be praised] in his gifts, since he does [the manuscript: did] nothing good except what God gave him to do.

About proneness to anger

The excellent preacher of the world says: For let all bitterness and anger and indignation and clamor and blasphemy be removed from you (Ephesians 4, 31). For nor will the anger of a man be able to work the justice of God (James 1, 20). Anger without measure is without reason. A soft answer assuages anger, a hard word stirs up fury. An irascible man, just as Solomon says, provokes quarrels: he who is patient assuages things stirred up (Proverbs 15, 18). Indeed who would be able to sustain a gentle spirit towards the person in a rage (Proverbs 18, 14)? Anger does not have mercy, nor does fury, breaking out, know a limit to vengeance (Proverbs 27, 4). If anger preoccupies you, O human, assuage it. That anger is bad which disturbs the mind, so that it squanders correct counsel. That anger is just and necessary when a person is angered against his own sins, and is indignant against himself, when he does wrongly. For the prophet said: Be angry and do not sin (Psalms 4, 5). He allowed what is of nature, removed what is of fault. Let the anger of another be anointed with your patience. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil in good (Romans 12, 21). Let the sin of another be your reward. Does the anger of another displease you? What displeases you in another, let it also displease you in yourself. Do not pollute the tranquility of your mind with another's perturbation. Do not seek to make yourself equal to the fool, since anger rests in the bosom of the fool (Ecclesiastes 7, 10). If you are angry against him, there will be [another manuscript: you will be] two evils, you and him. It is [the manuscript: would be] better for you to be good, although he may be bad. Why will you be made bad from the wickedness of another?

About not seeking human praise

The Lord said in the gospel: Take care lest you do your justice before people, so that you are seen by them (Matthew 6, 1), that is, so that you do not do good things from this intention, so that you may have vain praise from people: but whatever good a person does, let him do it for the sake of God's love and the salvation of his soul and fraternal charity. Therefore the Lord himself says about certain people who make alms, or prayers or fasts, so that they may receive praise from people: Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward (Matthew 6, 2). He who does whatever kind of good thing, for this sake, so that he is praised by people, it is this reward from them which he has sought and he has no recompense to hope from God, since he has not done things for the sake of his love, but for the vain boasting of human praise, just as the hypocrites are accustomed to do. This fault of pleasing people in good works the Lord Jesus Christ detests much and he more often shocked the Pharisees, who were so great in Judea, with a terrible [another manuscript: so great] malediction, saying, Woe unto you hypocrites (Matthew 23, 13)! [But let us not imitate them], but according to the Apostle: He who glories, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1, 31). He does not grasp after praise, nor is disquieted for the sake of insult. Therefore let no person think himself good, although praised by another, since God is the beholder of the heart. For what profits it to a bad person, if he is proclaimed to be good? That which a person does is truly good, then, when he desires to please God, from whom he has whatever good he has or does. He who seems to do good things and by these desires to please not God, but people, labors in vain and sows into the wind. Let everyone take care to be great in his works; but let him not search for human favor about his greatness, lest he lose what he had, and may be made small. For whatever good a person may do, let him know he has this not from himself, but from God. St Paul the apostle rebukes those who glory in their own good deeds, saying: What did you have, that you did not receive? But if you have received, why do you glory as if you have not received (1 Corinthians 4, 7)? He who converts into his praise any gift of God which he merited, without doubt changes virtue into vice and the good that he has done into sin. For when the poor person is fed for the sake of boasting, the work of mercy itself is also converted into sin. Whatever good a person does, let him seek praise for God, not for himself, just as the Lord himself says in the Gospel: Thus let your light shine before people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven (Matthew 5, 16).

About perseverance in good works

It is not the start of good work that is looked for in a Christian, but the end: since everyone will be judged about his end. For there are those who begin well and end their way of life badly: just like Judas, who was first an apostle and afterwards betrayer of the Lord and conscious of his deed, hanged himself with a noose (Acts 1). Saul [Another manuscript: Paul] began badly, but finished well: first a persecutor, afterwards a preacher. The virtue of good work is perseverance, since the Lord himself says: He who perseveres up to the end, this one will be saved (Matthew 10, 22). Therefore not he who begins good, but he who perseveres in good, will be saved. For then our way of life pleases God, when the good which we begin, persevering, we will complete [the manuscript: complete] at the end. Therefore virtue is not to have begun good, but to have completed it. The prize is not promised to those beginning, but given to those persevering. Always in a person's life, the end is sought: what he may be at the last time of his life: since by his end, everyone is either justified or condemned. Therefore let everyone most urgently strive to complete the good things that he has begun, so that he may merit to receive perpetual mercy from God.

About the eight principal vices

There are eight principal vices or the originals of all vices, from which, as if from roots, all the vices of diverse unreasonableness of corrupt mind and unchaste body sprout. About which we reckon it is valid to say a few things, or at least from which roots those shoots of faulty germination seem to grow, so that each individual may know that he can easily cut off shoots, when the roots have been rooted out.

The first of the vices is spiritual: pride. About which is said: Pride is the start of all sin (Ecclesiasticus 10, 15), which is queen of all evils, through which the angels fell from heaven, which happens from contempt of the mandates of God. It also happens when the mind is raised about its good works and thinks itself better than others, when in itself it is worse than others by the fact that it reckons itself better. Pride also happens through obstinacy, when people despise obeying their lords. From that indeed is born all disobedience, and all presumption and all obstinacy, contentions, heresies, arrogance, all which evils the true humility of the servant of God will be able to conquer very easily.

About greed

The first corporal sin is greed, that is, intemperate desire of food or drink, through which the first parents of the human race lost the felicity of paradise and were ejected into the wretched misery of this life, where every person is born through sin, lives through work, dies through sorrow. This seems to live in people in three ways, that is, when a person desires to anticipate the canonical and statutory hours for the sake of greed, or orders more expensive foods prepared for himself than the needs of the body or the quality of his person demands, or if he will take more in eating or drinking because of desires of his intemperance than may profit his health. From which, that is greed, is born unsuitable merriment, scurrility, levity, empty talk, uncleanliness of the body, instability of mind, drunkenness, desire, since from fullness of the belly, desire of the body is prepared, which is best conquered through fastings and abstinence and assiduity of works of this kind.

About fornication

Fornication is all uncleanliness of body, which is accustomed to come from incontinence of the desire and weakness of the soul, which unites with its flesh to sin. For the soul ought to be the mistress and command the flesh, and the flesh servant and obey her mistress, that is the rational soul. This fornication happens through the mingling of flesh with whatever woman, or also any uncleanliness whatever in {satisfying} the ardor of desire. From which, that is fornication, is born blindness of the mind, inconstancy of the eyes and immoderate love of the whole body; often peril of life, lewdness, jokes, petulance and all incontinence, hatred of the mandates of God, weakness of the mind and unjust desires, negligence of the future life and delight of the present. It is conquered through chastity and continence and customary remembering of eternal fire and fear of the eternal presence of God.

About avarice

Avarice is an excessive desire for acquiring, having or keeping riches, which is a deadly filling up. Just like the dropsical man, who, the more he drinks, the more added thirst increases for him: thus avarice: the more it has, the more it desires more. And since there is no moderation in this having, there will not be moderation in desiring. The offspring of this are envies, theft, highway robberies, homicide, lies, perjury, pillaging, violence, restlessness, unjust judgments, contempt of truth, forgetfulness of future blessedness, hardness of heart. This is made the opposite of mercy and alms-giving to the poor and all piety to the wretched. This is conquered through fear of God and through fraternal charity and through works of mercy and through alms-giving to the poor and through hope of future blessedness, since the false riches of this world are conquered through the true riches of future blessedness.

About anger

Anger is one from the eight principal vices, which, if it is not ruled by reason, is turned into fury: such that a person will be powerless in his soul, doing what is not fit. For this, if it sits down in the heart, banishes all foresight made from it, nor will the heart be able to seek after judgment of right discretion or have the strength of honest contemplation or maturity of council, but it seems to do all things through a certain headlong falling. From which, that is anger, sprouts ferment of mind, quarrels, violence, clamor, indignation, audacity, blasphemies, shedding of blood, homicide, desire for vengeance, remembrance of injuries. This is conquered through patience and long-sufferingness and through intellectual reason, which God inserted in human minds and through remembrance of the Lord's Prayer, where it is said by God: Forgive us our trespasses, just as we also forgive those who trespass against us (Matthew 6, 12).

About weariness

Weariness is a disease which tries greatly to harm those serving God, when the idle person becomes inactive in carnal desires, nor delights in spiritual work or rejoices in the salvation of his soul, nor grows cheerful in the assistance of fraternal labor, but covets and desires so much, and the idle mind runs about through all things. This is what most greatly sends monks from the cell into the world and throws them from a regular way of life into descents of vices. This, when it besieges his wretched mind, infects it with many miseries, which teach many evils. From this is born sleepiness, laziness of good works, instability of place, wandering about from place to place, tepidity in working, weariness of heart, murmuring, and vain talking. This is conquered through zeal of reading, assiduity of good works through the desire of the profits of future blessedness, through confession of temptation, which he has in the mind, through stability of his place and prior, and the instant exercise of whatever kind of art and labor or prayers and vigils, so that the servant of God is never found idle. The devil finds it harder to find a place of temptation in a person, whom he finds in good work than him who he finds idle and doing nothing good.

About sorrow

This is sorrow: there are two kinds, one bringing healing, one bringing pestilence. Healthful sorrow is when the mind of the sinner is made sad from his sins and made so sad that he seeks to do confession and repentance and desires to be converted to God. The sadness of this world is different, which works the death of the soul, which is able to profit nothing in good work, which perturbs the mind and often sends it into desperation and takes away hope of future good things. And from this is born malice, rancor, timidity of spirit, bitterness, despair. Often also even no delight of the present life. This is conquered by spiritual joy and hope of future things and consolation of the scriptures or fraternal conversation in spiritual enjoyment.

About vain glory

Vain glory is when a person strives after being praised in his good things and does not give honor to God nor reckon to divine grace whatever good he has done but (acts) as if from himself he has either dignity of secular honors or adornment of spiritual wisdom. Since a person is able to have nothing good without the grace and help of God, just as the Truth himself says in the gospel to his disciples: Without me you are able to do nothing (John 15, 5). Therefore, let he who glories, glory in the Lord, since he will be able to do nothing good without God giving it. From the roots of this vice many twigs of malice are seen to grow: whence boasting, arrogance, disdain, discord, desire of empty glory, and hypocrisy, that is simulation of good works, when a person wants that to be praised about himself which he does not know himself to do. Indeed almost all things which he does, he does uniformly so that he is praised by people. About whom the Lord himself says: Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward (Matthew 6, 2). The medicine of this disease is recollection of divine goodness, through which all good things are conferred on us, which we seem to have; and also the perpetual charity of God himself, in whose praise we ought to do all things, whatever good in this world we do, and we ought to desire rather to be praised by God in the day of eternal retribution, than by whatever person in the way of life of this transitory life.

These are the eight leaders (duces) of all impieties with their armies and the very strong warriors of diabolical fraud against the human race, who with God helping are very easily conquered by the warriors of Christ through the holy virtues. First pride through humility, greed through abstinence, fornication through chastity, avarice through wisdom, anger through patience, weariness through constancy of good works, bad sadness through spiritual joy, vain glory through the charity of God. Therefore also four very glorious leaders command these commanders of the Christian religion, whom we oppose to the warriors of diabolical impiety, whose names are these: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance.

About the four virtues

First it should be known what a virtue may be. A virtue is a habit of the mind, an ornament of nature, a reason of life, the piety of morals, the adoration of the Godhead, the honor of a human, the merit of eternal blessedness. Whose principal parts are, as we have said, four: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance. Prudence is the knowledge of divine and human things, just as is given to a person, by which is to be understood what is to be avoided or what to be done by a person, and this is what we read in the Psalm: Turn from evil and do good (Psalms 33, 15). Justice is nobility of the mind, giving its own dignity to each and every matter. In this adoration of the Godhead and the laws of humanity and just judgments and equity of all life is preserved. Fortitude is great patience of the mind and long-sufferingness and perseverance in good works and victory against all forms of vices. Temperance is moderation of all life, so that a person does not love or have in hate something excessively, but regulates all varieties of this life with considered carefulness. Indeed these prizes of eternal glory are promised to those observing in faith and charity by the Truth himself, Christ Jesus. There is no better wisdom than that by which God is known according to the measure of the human mind and feared and his future judgment believed. What is more just than to please God and keep his commandments, through whom, while we were not, we were created, while we were lost, we were recreated and freed from diabolical servitude, who gave to us all good things which we have? And what is better than by this fortitude to conquer the devil and overcome all his suggestions and bravely bear all adversities of the world for the sake of God's name? Temperance is a very noble virtue, through which all honor of this life remains among people, so that a person may think, speak and be led temperately in every case whatever, with counsel of his salvation. For these things are light and sweet to those loving God from the heart, who says: Learn from me, since I am mild and humble {in heart} and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden is light (Matthew 11, 29). Is it not better and more blessed also to love God, who is eternal beauty, eternal sweetness, eternal pleasantness, eternal fragrance, eternal delight, perpetual honor, unfailing bliss, than to love the beautiful things of this world, agreeable flavors, sweet sounds, {fragrant smells}, pleasant nourishments, the transitory honors and delights of the world, {which} all just like a flying shadow recede and pass away, and deceive those loving them and send them into eternal misery. He who indeed loves God and the Lord faithfully and worships incessantly and perseveringly fulfils his mandates will be made worthy with the angels to possess perpetually the glory of God.

With the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, world without end, Amen.

Here ends the beneficial book, thanks be to God. Amen

I have composed this for you, dearest son Guy, in brief words, just as you asked; so that you may have every day, as if a manual, this little book in your sight, in which you may be able to consider yourself, what you ought to avoid or what to do; and through the individual adversities or prosperities of this life be exhorted, in what way you ought to ascend to the height of perfection. Let neither the habit of a layman not the quality of a secular way of life frighten you, as if in this habit of life you might not able to enter the doors of heaven.

Therefore just as in all equally the blessing of the kingdom of God is preached, so the entrance of the kingdom of God opens equally to every sex, age, and person, according to dignity of merits. Where there is no distinction, who was lay or cleric in the world, rich or poor, junior or senior, unfree or lord, but each one according to merit of good work will be crowned with perpetual glory. Amen.