21 November 2011


The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my ancient mistresses,  still held me; they plucked my fleshy garment, and whispered softly,  "Dost thou cast us off? and from that moment shall we no more be with  thee for ever? and from that moment shall not this or that be lawful  for thee for ever?" And what was it which they suggested in that I  said, "this or that," what did they suggest, O my God? Let Thy mercy  turn it away from the soul of Thy servant. What defilements did they  suggest! what shame! And now I much less than half heard them, and  not openly showing themselves and contradicting me, but muttering  as it were behind my back, and privily plucking me, as I was departing,  but to look back on them. Yet they did retard me, so that I hesitated  to burst and shake myself free from them, and to spring over whither  I was called; a violent habit saying to me, "Thinkest thou, thou canst  live without them?"   

But now it spake very faintly. For on that side whither I had  set my face, and whither I trembled to go, there appeared unto me  the chaste dignity of Continency, serene, yet not relaxedly, gay,  honestly alluring me to come and doubt not; and stretching forth to  receive and embrace me, her holy hands full of multitudes of good  examples: there were so many young men and maidens here, a multitude  of youth and every age, grave widows and aged virgins; and Continence  herself in all, not barren, but a fruitful mother of children of joys,  by Thee her Husband, O Lord. And she smiled on me with a persuasive  mockery, as would she say, "Canst not thou what these youths, what  these maidens can? or can they either in themselves, and not rather  in the Lord their God? The Lord their God gave me unto them. Why standest  thou in thyself, and so standest not? cast thyself upon Him, fear  not He will not withdraw Himself that thou shouldest fall; cast thyself  fearlessly upon Him, He will receive, and will heal thee." And I blushed  exceedingly, for that I yet heard the muttering of those toys, and  hung in suspense. And she again seemed to say, "Stop thine ears against  those thy unclean members on the earth, that they may be mortified.  They tell thee of delights, but not as doth the law of the Lord thy  God."