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Chapter 56

God the Father spoke to the spouse, Saint Bridget, and said: ”Listen to the things that I say, and speak of the things that I order you; not for your power, nor for your reproach. But singly and evenly hold in your heart the praiser and the reprover, so that you may never be moved to ire for reproof, nor raised to pride for praising. For he is worthy of praise who is and was endless in himself, who has made angels and men only to that end, that many should be partners in his glory. I am now he, and the same in power and in will that I was when the Son took man's nature; in which Son I am and was, and he in me, and the Holy Spirit in both.

And though it were secret to the world that he was the Son of God, yet it was known to some, though it were few. And know that the Justice of God which had no beginning nor end, no more than God himself, was first shown to angels as light before they see God; for they fell not from ignorance of the law of the Justice of God, but because they would not hold it or keep it. For they understand that all who love God should see him and abide with him for ever, and they who hated God should be punished endlessly and never see him in his glory.
And yet in their ambition and desire for praise they chose rather to hate God and to have the place where they shall be punished, than to love him that they might rejoice endlessly. And of like justice is that of a man as of angels. For man ought first to love God and afterward see him, that he should more be seen in manhood; for he might not be seen in his Godhead. And free choice is given also to man as to angels, that they should desire heavenly things and despise earthly.
Therefore I, God, visit many in many ways, although my Godhead is not seen. And in many parts of the world I have shown to many persons how the sin of each land might have been amended, and how mercy might have been obtained, before ever I did justice and my righteousness in those places. But men take no heed of these things, nor consider them. This justice is also in God, that all who are upon earth first hope surely for those things that they do not see, and which they believe in relation to the Church of God and to the holy Gospel. And furthermore that they love God above all things, who has given them all things; and he has given himself to death for them, that all should endlessly rejoice with him. Therefore I, myself, God, speak to such as desire me, that it be known how sin ought to be amended, and how pain may be lessened and bliss increased”.
”After this I see”, said Saint Bridget, ”as if all the heavens had been one house, in which sat a Judge on a throne. And the house was full of servants and praisers of the Judge, each of them in his voice. And under this Heaven was seen a kingdom. And soon there was heard a voice that all might hear it, which said: 'Come, both angels and fiends, to the Judgement; that is to say, you angel who are guardian of the king, and you fiend who are governor of the king'.
And as soon as the word was spoken, an angel and a fiend stood before the Judge. The angel seemed like a man troubled, and the fiend like a joyous man.
Then said the Judge: 'O you angel, I put you as the king's guardian, when he made the covenant of peace with me and made confession of all his sins that he had done from his childhood, that you should be nearer to him than the fiend. How is he now therefore so far from you?'
The angel answered, 'O Judge, I am burning in the fire of your charity, with which the king was warmed for a time. But when the king loathed and despised those things that your friends said to him, and it was tedious to him to do the things that you counseled to him, then the king went according as his own lust drew him, away from me, and nearer each hour to the enemy'.
The fiend answered, 'I am the self which is cold, and you are the self which is hot with godly fire. Therefore such as who comes closer to you is more fervent to good works, so likewise the king, drawing near to me, is made more cold towards your charity and hot towards my works'.
Then answered the Judge: 'The king was stirred to love God above all things, and his neighbour as himself. Why, therefore, have you taken from me the man whom I bought with my own blood, and made him to deny to his neighbour, not only his temporal goods but even his life?'
The fiend answered: 'O Judge, now it is for me to speak and the angel to keep silence. For when the king went from you and from your counsels and came to me, then I counseled him to love himself more than his neighbour; and that he should not care for the health of souls, if he had the power of the world; and that he should not take heed of those who were needy or defrauded, if his friends had plenty'.
Then said the Judge to the fiend: 'Who so will go from you, they may; for you may hold none with violence. Therefore I shall yet send some of my friends to the king, who will warn him of his peril'.
The fiend answered: 'Justice is that who ever will obey me, he ought to be governed by me; and therefore I shall send my counselors also to the king, and it shall be seen to whose counsel he would rather give audience'.
Then said the Judge: 'Go, for my justice is to judge to the tormenter what is his, as well as to him who has action of what is due to him in his cause'.
After this, said Saint Bridget, when certain years were past, I see again the same Judge with his heavenly host, more moved than he was wont to be, and as though he were angry. And then he said to the angel and to the fiend: 'Tell', he said, 'which of you has overcome'.
The angel answered: 'When I came to the king with godly inspiration, and your friends with spiritual words, soon the messengers of the fiend whispered in his ears and said: 'Will you spare temporal goods or your praise or souls or bodies, that your friends whom you love more than yourself may have praise and prosperity?' To this stirring the king assented and to the stirring of the friends he, saying, answered: 'I am sufficient enough and wise enough from counsel without you. Go your way from me with shame'. And so the king turned his back to them, and his face to the enemy, and put from him friends with dishonest reproof and the scorn of the friends of the world.'
Then cried the fiend and said: 'Judge, see, now it is for me to govern the king and to give him counsel by my friends'. The Judge answered: 'Go, and as much as you are allowed, punish the king. Because he has provoked me to indignation against him'.
Two years after this, the Judge appeared again, and the angel and the fiend before him. Then said the fiend: 'O Judge, decide now whether I shall pronounce judgement. You are truly the essence of charity, and therefore it is not fitting to you to be in the heart of him where envy and anger are rooted. You are also true wisdom and therefore you ought not to be in the heart of him who desires to deny the life of his neighbours, their goods, and their praise. You are also the true truth, and therefore it is not proper to dwell with that man who has bound himself with oaths to do treason and deceit. Therefore because this king has spit you out from him as that thing is spit out that is abominable, therefore allow me to stir him and oppress him, that he be all out of his mind and actions. For my counsels he holds as wisdom, and your counsel he takes for scorn. And with such reward I desire to reward him, for he has done my will. Nevertheless I may not harm him without your permission'.
And when this was heard, the Judge seemed to have a marvelous changing; for then he appeared as bright as the sun, and in the sun were seen three words: that is, Virtue, Truth and Justice. Virtue spoke and said: 'I have made all things without merit beforehand. And therefore I am worthy to be praised by my creature and not to be despised. I am also worthy of being praised by my friends for my charity. I ought also to be praised and feared by my enemies, for I support them patiently without their merits, where they have worthily deserved damnation. And therefore, you fiend, it is fitting to me to decide all after my justice and not after your malice'.
Then soon Truth spoke also and said: 'I in my Godhead took manhood of a Virgin, in which manhood I spoke and preached to people. I sent also the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and I spoke by their tongues. As I spoke each day by spiritual infusion to such as I chose, therefore my friends must know that I myself who am Truth have sent my words to a king, which he has despised. Therefore, you fiend, hear now; for I will speak that it be known whether the king has obeyed my counsel or my stirrings. For I will tell all the counsel I gave to the king, rehearsing now in a few words what I expressed earlier at greater length.
For the king was stirred and counseled to beware of all sins forbidden by holy Church and to have moderate fastings, so that he might hear and answer his subjects' complaints, and be ready to do right to rich and poor who asked it; so that for much abstinence the good of the community of the people of the realm and the governance of the common profit not be lessened, nor that he should not be the more slothful from overmuch excess to give audience to all. Also the king was counseled and stirred how he should serve God and pray, and which days and times he should leave other occupations and purposes for the common profit of his realm. Also the king was counseled which days he should treat all his counsels with men who loved Truth and with the friends of God; and that he should never knowingly pass over truth nor law; and that he should not put any unwanted grievance to the common people of his realm but for the defence of the same, and for war against the pagans.
Also the king was counseled to have a number of servants in his household, according to the faculty of livelihood and rents of the exchequer of his realm. And all that was left over, he should share with his knights and friends. Also the king was counseled wisely to admonish them who were insolent and lewd with charitable words, and manfully to correct them; and that he love in goodly charity those who were prudent and sober; and that he should defend the people dwelling in his realm and give his gifts with discretion; and all those things that belong to the crown he should not diminish nor alienate; and he should judge rightfully both men of the land and strangers; that he should love the clergy, and charitably gather to him his chivalry, and nourish in peace the common people of his realm'.
When these things were heard, the fiend answered to the Judge and said: 'And I counseled the king to do some sins privately which he dared not do in the open. I counseled him also to say long and many prayers and psalms without attention and devotion of heart, so that he should prolong and occupy the time in vain, and not hear any who would complain, nor do any right to such as had suffered wrong. Also I stirred the king to leave and despise other good men of the realm; and to lift up and prefer one man above all others; and to love him with all his heart, more than himself; and to hate his own son; and to grieve the common people of the realm with his exactions; and to slay men and spoil churches.
I stirred the king also to simulate justice; and to permit each man to deny others, that he should alienate and give lands belonging to his crown to a great prince of another realm, my sworn brother; and this I counseled to that end that treason and war should come about; that good men and rightful should be cast down; wicked people should be drowned the deeper in Hell; and they who shall be purged in Purgatory should be the more grievously tormented; women should be defiled; ships in the sea should be robbed; sacraments of the Church should be despised; lecherous lives should the more boldly be continued; and all my will more freely fulfilled. And thus, Judge, by these sins, and many others, which I do and and which are fulfilled by the king, it may be proved and known whether the king has obeyed your counsel or mine'.
At this spoke Justice, answering, and said: 'Because the king has hated Virtue and despised Truth, therefore it is now proper for you to increase some of your counsel given to the king. And I ought according to justice to lessen and withdraw from him some of my graces I gave to him'.
The fiend answered: 'O Judge, I shall multiply and increase my gifts to the king. And first, I shall send him negligence, that he take no heed of the works of God in his heart, and that he think not on the works and examples of your friends'.
Justice answered: 'And I shall diminish for him the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and I shall withdraw from him the good thoughts and comfort that he had before'.

Then said the fiend: 'I shall send him boldness to think and to do deadly sins and venial without embarrassment or shame'.

Justice answered: 'I shall lessen his reason and discretion that he discern not nor discuss the rewards and judgements of deadly and venial sins'. The fiend said: 'I shall give him dread that he dare not speak nor do right against the enemies of God'.
Justice answered: 'I shall lessen his prudence and knowledge of things to be done so lewdly, that he shall seem more like a fool and clown in words and deeds than a wise man'. Then said the fiend: 'I shall bring him anguish and tribulations of heart, because he has not prosperity after his will'.
Justice answered: 'I shall lessen for him ghostly comforts, which he had sometimes in prayers and in his actions'.

The fiend said: 'I shall put to him evil to think subtle inventions, by which he may beguile and deceive those whom he wishes to destroy'.

Justice answered: 'I shall lessen his understanding so much that he shall take no heed of his own praise nor of his own profit'. The fiend said: 'I shall put to him such joy of heart that he shall not heed his own shame, nor of the harm and peril of his soul, while he may have temporal prosperity after his will'.
Justice answered: 'I shall lessen his thinking beforehand and that consideration that wise men have in their words and deeds'.

Then said the fiend: 'I shall give him a woman's boldness, and an unseemly fear, and such a bearing that he shall seem more like a ribald or a harlot than a crowned king'.

Justice answered: 'Of such a judgement is he worthy, that separates him from God. For he ought to be despised by his friends, and to be hated by the community of his people, and to be cast down of God's enemies; for he has misused the gifts of God's charity, both spiritual and physical'.

Then spoke Truth again and said: 'These things that are shown to you are not for the merits of the king, whose soul is not yet judged; but it shall be judged in the last moment of his life'.

After these things were said, I saw that the three, that is to say, Virtue, Truth and Justice, were like the Judge who spoke before.
And then I heard the voice, as if of a beadle saying, 'O you, all heavens with all planets, be silent; and all you fiends who are in darkness, listen; and all you others that are in darkness, hear; for the sovereign emperor proposes to hear judgement upon the princes of the earth'.
And then the kings whom I saw were not bodily but spiritual. And my ghostly ears and eyes were opened to hear and to see. And then I saw Abraham come with all the saints who were born of his generation. Then came all Patriarchs and Prophets. And afterwards I saw the four Evangelists, whose shape was like to four beasts, as they are painted upon walls in the world, except that they appeared to be living and not dead. After this, I saw twelve seats, and in them the twelve Apostles, waiting for the coming of the power. Then came Adam and Eve with Martyrs and Confessors and all other saints that came from them. But the manhood of Christ was not yet seen, nor the body of his blessed Mother; but all waited for her arrival. The earth and the water seemed to be lifted up to Heaven, and all things that were in them humbled themselves, and with reverence bowed themselves to the power.
Then after this, I saw an altar that was in the seat of the majesty, and a chalice with wine and water and bread in the likeness of a host offered up upon the altar; and then I saw how in a church of the world a priest began mass, arrayed in a priest's vestments. And when he had done all that belonged to the Mass, and came to the words with which he should bless the host, I saw as if the sun and the moon and the stars with all the other planets, and all the heavens with their courses and moving spheres, sounded with the sweetest note and with sundry voices. And all the song and melody was heard, and seemed as if it had been innumerable manners of music, whose most sweet sound was impossible to comprehend by man's wit or to be spoken about. They who were in the light beheld the priest and bowed themselves to the power with reverence and worship, and they who were in darkness shuddered and were afraid.
But when the words of God were said by the priest upon the host, it seemed to me that the same sacred host was in the seat of the majesty in three figures, staying nevertheless in the hand of the priest. And the same holy host was made a living Lamb, and in the Lamb appeared the face of a man. And a burning flame was seen within and without the Lamb and the face. And when I fastened my eyes intently to behold the face, I saw the same face in the Lamb. And the Virgin sat crowned by the Lamb, and all angels served them, who were of so great a multitude as the beams of the sun. And a marvelous shining proceeded from the Lamb.
There was also so great a multitude of holy souls, that my sight could not behold them in length, breadth, height and deepness. I see also some places being empty, that are yet to be fulfilled to the worship of God. Then I heard a voice out of the earth, of innumerable thousands, crying and saying: 'O Lord God, rightful Judge, give your judgement upon our kings and princes, and take heed to the shedding of our blood, and behold the sorrows and weeping of our wife and children. Behold our hunger and shame, our wounds and our imprisonments, the burning of our houses, and the violation of the chaste maidens and women. Behold the wrong done to churches and all the clergy. And see the false promises and deceits of kings and of princes, and the pillage that they wreak to them with violence and anger. For they heed not how many thousands die, so that they may spread abroad their pride'.
Then cried there out of Hell as it had been innumerable thousands, saying: 'O Judge, we know that you are maker of all things. Give judgement therefore upon the lords whom we served on earth. For they have drowned us in Hell deeper than we should have been, and though we will you harm, yet justice compels us to complain and say the truth. For our earthly lords loved us without charity; for they cared no more about our souls than about those of dogs. And it was alone to them whether we loved you, our Creator, or no, desiring ever to be beloved and served by us. Therefore they are unworthy of Heaven; for they care not for you. And they are worthy of Hell, unless your grace help them. For they have deserved us; and therefore we would suffer more grievous pains than suffer that their pain should never have end'.
Afterward, they who were in Purgatory, speaking by likenesses, cried and said: 'O Judge, we are condemned to Purgatory for contrition and good will that we had at the end of our life. And therefore we complain upon the lords who yet live on the earth. For they ought to have governed us, and to have warned us with words and criticism, and to have taught us with wholesome counsels and examples. But they comforted us rather, and provoked us rather to evil deeds and sins. And therefore our pain is now the more grievous for them; and the time of pain is the larger; and our shame and tribulation is greater'.
Then spoke Abraham with all the Patriarchs, and said: 'O Lord, among all things desirable, we desire that your Son should be born of our lineage, which is now despised by the princes of the earth. Therefore we ask judgement upon them, for they take no heed of your mercy, nor do they dread your judgement'.
Then spoke the Prophets and said: 'We prophesied the coming of the Son of God; and we said that for the deliverance of the people it was necessary that he should be born of a Virgin and endure treason and be taken and be scourged and be crowned with thorns and at last die on the cross, that Heaven should be opened and sin taken away. Wherefore those things are now fulfilled of which we said; therefore we ask judgement upon the princes of the earth who despise your Son who of your charity died for them'.
Then spoke the Evangelists and said: 'We are witnesses that your Son has fulfilled in himself all things which were prophesied of him'.
Also the Apostles spoke and said: 'We are Judges, therefore it belongs to us to judge according to the truth. Wherefore he who despises the body of God and his precepts, we judge to perdition'.
After all this, the Virgin who sat by the Lamb said: 'O most sweet Lord, have mercy upon them'. To her the Judge answered: 'It is not right', he said, 'to deny you any thing. Therefore they who cease from sin and do worthy penance shall find mercy; and judgement shall be turned away from them'.
After this I saw that the face that was seen in the Lamb spoke to the king and said: 'I have done grace with you, for I have shown you my will: how you should bear and demean yourself in your governing, and how you should govern yourself honestly and worthily. I cherished you also with sweet words of charity like a mother, and I frightened you with warnings like a piteous father. But you, obeying the fiend, have cast me from yourself, as a mother casts away a stillborn child whom she does not touch nor put her teats to his mouth. And therefore all the good that is promised you shall be taken from you and given to one who shall come after you'.
After this the Virgin who sat with the Lamb spoke to me and said: 'I will tell you how understanding of spiritual visions is given to you; for the saints of God receive the Holy Spirit in different ways. For some of them know before the time when those things should happen which were shown to them, such as holy Prophets. Others knew before what end any battle should have, before they who should fight entered battle. Others knew in spirit what they should answer to persons who came to them when any thing was asked of them.
Others knew whether they were dead or alive who were far from them. But it is not lawful to you to know other things, but to hear and see ghostly things, and to write the things which you see, and to tell and say them to such people as you are ordered. And it is not lawful to you to know whether they be alive or dead, to whom you are asked to write; or whether they will obey or not the counsels of your writing given to you from God in spiritual visions from him. But though this king has despised my words; yet shall there come another who shall receive them with reverence and praise and use them to his health.' ”

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