To any degree of true love to Jesus, no soul can attain unless he is truly meek. For a proud soul seeks to have his own will, and so shall he never comes to any degree of God’s love. However, the lower that a soul sits in the valley of meekness, so many more streams of grace and love come thereto. And if the soul be high in the hills of pride, the wind of the fiend blows away all manner of goodness therefrom. Therefore as St. Augustine biddeth. Whoso will attain to the bliss that is in heaven above, let him set the ground of his foundation here low in meekness. Nothing more overcomes the fiend than meekness, and therefore he hates it so much. For he may fast, he may wake, and suffer more pain than any other creature, but meekness and love he may not have, neither any of his disciples.
By two things principally, may a man knows whether he is meek. If his heart be not moved, though his own will be contraried and gainsaid — and when he is despised, falsely accused, and slandered; if his will stand unmoved to the desiring of revenge, and his mouth be shut from unmeek answer. For whoso is entered verily into God’s love, it grieves him not, whatsoever slander, shame, or reproof he suffers for the love of his Lord; but he covets and is glad that he is worthy to suffer pain for Christ’s love.
Thus Christ’s disciples went joying from the council of the Jews, that they were worthy to suffer despites and wrongs in the name of Jesus. For the apostle saith, All that will live meekly, and please Jesus Christ, shall suffer persecution, and by many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. For it is given to such, not only that they believe in Christ, but also that they suffer for him. Therefore the meek lover of Christ is to be as a dead body, which, whatsoever I do or say thereto, answers not. The prophet of God affirms that he did this, saying. Those that sought to do me evil spake vanities and thought guiles all day; but I as deaf heard not, and was as a dumb man not opening his mouth.
By seven tokens a man may suppose that he hath the love of Christ. The first is, when all coveting of earthly things, and fleshly lusts, is slacked in him. For where coveting is, there is not the love of Christ. Then if a man has not coveted it is a sign that he has love. The second is, burning desire of heaven. For when he hath felt aught of that savour, the more he feels the more he coveteth, and he that hath felt nought, desires nought. The third token is if his tongue is changed. That which was wont to speak of the earth now speaks of heaven. The fourth is exercise or practising what is for spiritual good. As when a man, leaving all other things, hath goodwill and devotion to’ prayer, and finds sweetness therein. The fifth is when things which are hard in themselves, through love seem light to be done. The sixth is, the hardiness of soul to suffer all anguishes and troubles that befall. All the other tokens suffice not without this; for he that is righteous hates nothing but sin; he loves God alone, and for God; he hath no joy but in God; he fears not, but to offend God. And all his hope is to come to God. The seventh is, the joyfulness of soul when he is in tribulation, and that he loves God, and thank him in all diseases that he suffers. It is the greatest token that he hath the love of God, when no woe, tribulation or persecution can bring him down from this love. Many love God, as it seems to them, while they are in ease, but in adversity, or in sickness, they grudge against God; thinking that they do not deserve so to be punished for any trespass they have done. And ofttimes some say that God does them wrong. All such are feigned lovers and have not the true love of God. For the Holy Ghost saith, He that is a true friend loves at all times. Three principal goods come from meek suffering of sickness. It cleanses the soul from sin before done; it keeps from those into which it was likely to fall; it increases reward in bliss, and over gilds the crown; and the longer it endures the brighter waxs the crown, and the soul cleaner. And in trust hereof St. Paul said that he would joy gladly in his sicknesses, that the virtue of Christ dwell in him.