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Chapter 59 The Great Gospel of John

At Sychar. The weakness of the merchant's trust in God's providence. His deep reverence for Jehovah and his charity towards the poor. God is to be loved more than feared.

1. On the way to the castle the merchant says, 'My Lord and friend, I see that through you speaks pure, devout Godly wisdom, and does so with a gentleness I have not heard from human mouth yet; but to abide by your teaching a strong trust in Jehovah is needed, which I am lacking in spite of my strong faith. I know that it is He Who created all and now guides, rules and sustains everything, yet I cannot adequately visualise as to how, as the supremely high Spirit, He could or wanted to get involved in personal affairs! Because for me He is too exaltedly holy, so that I hardly dare to enunciate His holiest name, let alone my expecting Him to offer help with my filthy money affairs through His almighty, holy hand!

2. Yet I too give to the poor who come to me, without keeping a dog to bark at the destitute so he would not approach my threshold. Only this grove, which is my favourite, I don't like seeing trodden by strangers and the poor, who often wantonly damage the grounds and new plantations, yet being hungry and thirsty, find nothing therein for stilling hunger or quenching thirst. For this reason I have set up a fig and plum plantation some twenty furlongs from here, for the use of strangers and the poor, only they must not damage the trees, wherefore I have placed several keepers there.

3. From this you can see that I think of the poor; yet be it far from me that I should ask the most exalted spirit to manage my moneys either terrestrially or celestially! If He wants to do something, and really has already done so, which I don't doubt, then that is His holiest free will! But I hold Him in such unlimited reverence that I hardly dare thank Him, as it seems to me that such purely material thanks, through which I would signify Him to have served me as a mere handyman, would greatly profane Him. I therefore act as a most righteous human, in accordance with the law, out of the powers loaned to me by God, not binding the oxen and donkey's jaws when they tread down my grain. But the great Spirit I honour only on His day! Because it is written: 'Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain'.

4. Say I: 'Had I not known you to be a righteous and most reverential man, I would not have come to you. But behold, it is not completely right of you to fear Him Who you should actually love above all; and hence I came to you to show you how in future you should love God more than fear Him. In this way God shall then lower Himself down to you and shall then be to you in everything a most sure, powerful and trustworthy Handyman!'

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