Now, if we wish to possess these virtues, and to cast out their
opposites, we must possess righteousness, and we must practise and
preserve it in purity of heart unto death; for we have three
powerful adversaries, who tempt us and make war on us at all
times, in all places, and in many ways. If we make peace with one
of these three, and become subject to him, we are vanquished; for
the three of them agree together in all iniquity.
These three adversaries are the devil, the world and our own
flesh; and this last is the nearest to us and often the worst and
most harmful of all three to us; for our fleshly lusts are the
weapons with which our enemies make war on us. Idleness and
indifference to virtue and the glory of God, these are the causes
and the occasions of the struggle. But the weakness of our nature,
our carelessness and ignorance of truth, these are the swords with
which our enemies often wound, and sometimes conquer us.
And for this reason we should build up a wall and make a
separation within ourselves. And the lower part of ourselves,
which is beastly and contrary to the virtues, and which wills our
separation from God, we should hate and persecute, and we should
torment it by means of penances and austerity of life; so that it
be always repressed, and subject to reason, that thereby
righteousness and purity of heart may always have the upper hand
in all the works of virtue. And all the suffering, grief, and
persecution, which God sends us through these enemies of virtue,
we should gladly bear for the glory of God, and for the honour of
the virtues, and that we may obtain and possess righteousness in
purity of heart; for Christ says: Blessed are they which are
persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of
Heaven. For a righteousness which is maintained in suffering and
in virtuous deeds is like the penny which is counted as heavy as
the kingdom of God; and with it is bought eternal life.
And with these virtues a man goes out towards God, towards
himself, and towards his neighbour, in good customs, in virtues,
and in righteousness.
Whosoever wishes to obtain and to keep these virtues should adorn
and possess and rule his soul like a kingdom. Free-will is the
king of the soul. It is free by nature and still more free by
grace. It shall be crowned with a crown that is called charity.
The crown and the kingdom shall be received from the Emperor, Who
is Lord and Master and King of kings; and the kingdom should be
possessed, ruled, and maintained in His name. This king,
free-will, should dwell in the chief city of the kingdom; namely,
in the desirous power of the soul. And he should be clad and
adorned with a garment of two parts.
The right side of his garment
should be a virtue called strength, that therewith he may be
strong and mighty to overcome all hindrances, and to ascend up to
heaven, into the palace of the most high Emperor, and to bow down
his crowned head before the most high King, with love, and with
self-surrendered desire. This is the proper work of charity:
through it the crown is received, through it the crown is adorned,
through it the kingdom is maintained and possessed in eternity.
The left side of the garment should be a cardinal virtue called
moral force. Through it, free-will, the king, shall quell all
immorality, and fulfil all virtues, and shall possess his kingdom
in power, even unto death.
This king should also choose councillors in his kingdom: the
wisest in the country. These should be two divine virtues:
knowledge and discretion, enlightened by the light of Divine
grace. They should dwell near the king, in a palace called the
rational power of the soul, and they should be clad and adorned
with a moral virtue called temperance, so that the king may always
do or leave undone according to their counsels. By means of
knowledge our conscience shall be cleansed of all its failings and
adorned with all virtues; and by help of discretion we shall give
and take, do and leave undone, be silent and speak, fast and eat,
listen and reply, and act in all things according to knowledge and
discretion, clad in the moral virtue called temperance or
This king, free-will, should also appoint in his kingdom a judge:
that is, righteousness. This is a divine virtue when it springs
from love, and it is one of the highest of moral virtues. This
judge should dwell in the heart, in the midst of the kingdom, in
the irascible power. And he should be adorned with a moral virtue
called prudence; for righteousness cannot be perfect without
prudence. This judge, righteousness, should travel through the
kingdom with the king's own power and majesty, and furnished with
the wisdom of the councillors, and with his own prudence. And he
should set up and cast down, judge and condemn, kill and leave
alive, put to the torture, blind and restore sight, raise and
suppress, scourge and chastise, extirpate all vices, and order all
things according to righteousness.
The common people of the kingdom are all the other powers of the
soul, which should be grounded in humility and godly fear, and
should be subject to God in all virtues, each power according to
its own character.
Whosoever possesses, maintains, and has ordered, the kingdom of
his soul in this way, has gone out with love and with virtue
towards God, towards himself and towards his neighbour.
And this is the third of the four principal points which we would