Time now clamours for us to terminate this treatise which we have composed concerning the love of books; in which we have endeavoured to give the astonishment of our contemporaries the reason why we have loved books so greatly. But because it is hardly granted to mortals to accomplish aught that is not rolled in the dust of vanity, we do not venture entirely to justify the zealous love which we have so long had for books, or to deny that it may perchance sometimes have been the occasion of some venial negligence, albeit the object of our love is honourable and our intention upright. For if when we have done everything, we are bound to call ourselves unprofitable servants; if the most holy Job was afraid of all his works; if according to Isaiah all our righteousness is as filthy rags, who shall presume to boast himself of the perfection of any virtue, or deny that from some circumstance a thing may deserve to be reprehended, which in itself perhaps was not reprehensible. For good springs from one selfsame source, but evil arises in many ways, as Dionysius informs us.
Wherefore to make amends for our iniquities, by which we acknowledge ourselves to have frequently offended the Creator of all things, in asking the assistance of their prayers, we have thought fit to exhort our future students to show their gratitude as well to us as to their other benefactors in time to come by requiting our forethought for their benefit by spiritual retribution. Let us live when dead in their memories, who have lived in our benevolence before they were born, and live now sustained by our beneficence. Let them implore the mercy of the Redeemer with unwearied prayer, that the pious Judge may excuse our negligences, may pardon the wickedness of our sins, may cover the lapses of our feebleness with the cloak of piety, and remit by His divine goodness the offences of which we are ashamed and penitent. That He may preserve to us for a due season of repentance the gifts of His good grace, steadfastness of faith, loftiness of hope, and the widest charity to all men. That He may turn our haughty will to lament its faults, that it may deplore its past most vain elations, may retract its most bitter indignations, and detest its most insane delectations. That His virtue may abound in us, when our own is found wanting, and that He who freely consecrated our beginning by the sacrament of baptism, and advanced our progress to the seat of the Apostles without any desert of ours, may deign to fortify our outgoing by the fitting sacraments. That we may be delivered from the lust of the flesh, that the fear of death may utterly vanish and our spirit may desire to be dissolved and be with Christ, and existing upon earth in body only, in thought and longing our conversation may be in Heaven. That the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation may graciously come to meet the prodigal returning from the husks; that He may receive the piece of silver that has been lately found and transmit it by His holy angels into His eternal treasury. That He may rebuke with His terrible countenance, at the hour of our departure, the spirits of darkness, lest Leviathan, that old serpent, lying hid at the gate of death, should spread unforeseen snares for our feet. But when we shall be summoned to the awful judgment-seat to give an account on the testimony of conscience of all things we have done in the body, the God-Man may consider the price of the holy blood that He has shed, and that the Incarnate Deity may note the frame of our carnal nature, that our weakness may pass unpunished where infinite loving-kindness is to be found, and that the soul of the wretched sinner may breathe again where the peculiar office of the Judge is to show mercy.
And further, let our students be always diligent in invoking the refuge of our hope after God, the Virgin Mother of God and Blessed Queen of Heaven, that we who for our manifold sins and wickednesses have deserved the anger of the Judge, by the aid of her ever-acceptable supplications may merit His forgiveness; that her pious hand may depress the scale of the balance in which our small and few good deeds shall be weighed, lest the heaviness of our sins preponderate and cast us down to the bottomless pit of perdition. Moreover, let them ever venerate with due observance the most deserving Confessor Cuthbert, the care of whose flock we have unworthily undertaken, ever devoutly praying that he may deign to excuse by his prayers his all-unworthy vicar, and may procure him whom he hath admitted as his successor upon earth to be made his assessor in Heaven. Finally, let them pray God with holy prayers as well of body as of soul, that He will restore the spirit created in the image of the Trinity, after its sojourn in this miserable world, to its primordial prototype, and grant to it for ever to enjoy the sight of His countenance: through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE END OF THE PHILOBIBLON OF MASTER RICHARD DE
AUNGERVILLE, SURNAMED DE BURY, LATE BISHOP OF
DURHAM THIS TREATISE WAS FINISHED IN OUR
MANORHOUSE OF AUCKLAND ON THE 24TH
DAY OF JANUARY, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD
ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND
FORTY-FOUR, THE FIFTY-EIGHTH
YEAR OF OUR AGE BEING EXACTLY
COMPLETED, AND THE ELEVENTH
YEAR OF OUR PONTIFICATE
DRAWING TO AN END;
TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
This is taken from The Philobiblon of Richard de Bury.
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