The Little Flowers of St. Francis, tr. by W. Heywood, , at sacred-texts.com
THE man who would know much, must labour much and humble himself much, abasing himself and bowing down his head until he goeth with his belly upon the ground; and then the Lord will give him much knowledge and wisdom. The highest wisdom is to do good alway, labouring virtuously and keeping oneself carefully from every sin and from every occasion of sin, and to ever think upon the judgments of God. Once Friar Giles said to one who wished to go to school to get knowledge: "My brother, wherefore wouldst thou go to school? for I do thee to wit that the sum of all knowledge is to fear and to love, and these two things suffice thee; for so much wisdom as he can make use of sufficeth a man, and more he needeth not. Be not thou over careful to study much for the benefit of others, but alway study and be diligent to labour at those things which are useful unto thyself; for ofttimes this befalleth, that we would get much knowledge to help others, and little to help ourselves; and I say unto thee that the word of God is not for him that speaketh nor yet for him that heareth, but is for him that truly doeth it. Certain
men which knew not how to swim went into the water to aid those who were drowning; and it came to pass that they all drowned together. If thou dost not take good thought for the salvation of thine own soul, how shalt thou take thought for that of thy neighbours? And if thou dost not thy own business well, how shalt thou do well that of others? For it is not believable that thou lovest the soul of another more than thine own. The preachers of the word of God ought to be the banner, the candle and the mirror of the people. Blessed is that man who so leadeth others along the way of salvation that he himself doth not cease to walk in that way of salvation! Blessed is that man who on such wise urgeth others to run that he doth not cease to run himself! More blessed is he who on such wise helpeth others to earn and to be rich and ceaseth not to enrich himself. I believe that the good preacher admonisheth and preacheth to himself more than he doth to others. Meseemeth that the man who would convert and bring the souls of sinners into the way of God, ought alway to fear lest he be grievously perverted by them, and brought into the way of sin and of the devil and of hell."