ere followeth of Saint Forsey, and first of his name.
Forsey is said of forma, that is the rule of vertu to others by example. Or he may be said Forsey, like as sitting out of paradise as long as the battle of angels and of devils dured for him. Or he is said of tors, which is clarte, and of sedio sedis to sit, for he sitteth in the clearness perdurable.
Of Saint Forsey.
Forsey was a bishop, and Bede writeth the history of him. And like as he shone in all bounty and virtue, so at his last end he yielded up his spirit. And when he passed, he saw two angels coming to him which bare his soul up to heaven; and the third angel came with a white shield shining, and he went before. And after that he saw devils crying, and heard how they said: Let us go tofore and make a battle tofore him. And when they were gone tofore him they returned against him, and threw to him burning darts, but the angel that went before received them with his shield. And then the devils set them against the angels, and said that he had always said idle words, and therefore he ought not without pain use the blessed life. And the angel said to them: If ye purpose not against him the principal vices, he shall not perish for the small. And then the devil said: If God be righteous this man shall not be saved, for it is written: If ye be not converted and made like as one of my little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. To whom the angel, excusing him, said. He had indulgence in his heart, but he obtained the custom and usage. And the devil said: Like as he hath taken evil custom, so let him receive vengeance by the sovereign judge. And the holy angel said: We shall be judged tofore God. Then the devil was still; yet he arose again, and said: Unto now we trowed that God had been true, for all those sins that be not purged in earth, he promised that they should everlastingly be punished. This man received a vesture of a usurer and was not thereof punished, where is then the righteousness of God? To whom the angel said: Hold your peace, for ye know not the secret judgments of God. As long as a man hopeth to do his penance, so long the mercy of God is ready to the man. The devil answered: Here is no place of penance. To whom the angel said: Ye know not the profoundness of the judgments of God. Then the devil smote him so grievously that, after, when he was re-established to life, the token and trace of the stroke abode ever after. Then the devils took one that was tormented in the fire and threw him on Forsey so that he burnt his shoulder, and then Forsey saw well that it was the usurer of whom he had received the vestment. And the angel said to him: Because thou receivedst it, he hath burnt thee, if thou hadst not received the gift of him that is dead in sins, this pain should not have burnt thee, and thou hast this pain of burning because thou receivedst of the vestment of him. And that other devil then said: Yet must he pass by the strait gate whereas we may surmount and overcome him. And said to the angel. God commanded to love his neighbour as himself. And the angel said: This man hath done good works to his neighbours. And the adversary said: It sufficeth not but if he hath loved them as himself. To whom the angel said. The fruit of love is to do well, for God shall reward ever man after his works. And the enemy said: Because he hath not fulfilled the words of love he shall be damned. Then the devils fighting were overcome of the angels, and yet the devil said: If God be not wicked, this man shall not escape without pain, for he promised to renounce and forsake the world, and he hath not done it. Then the angel answered: He loved not those things that be of the world, but he loved well to dispend them unto them that had need. And the devil answered: In whatsomever manner he loved them it was against the commandment of God. And these adversaries thus vanquished, yet the devil began again malicious accusations, saying: It is written: If thou show not to the wicked man his wickedness, I shall require his blood of thine hand and this man hath not showed worthily penance to the sinners. And the angel said. When the sinners despise the word that they hear, then the tongue of the doctor is letted to speak. When he seeth that his predication is heard and despised, then it appertaineth well to a wise man to be still, when it is no time to speak. And this battle was right strong, so much that they came tofore the angel of God, and that the good had overcome the adversaries. Then this holy man was environed with great clearness, and as Bede saith one of the angels said to him: Behold the world. Then he turned him, and saw a valley dark and tenebrous, and four fires in the air above, which were far that one from that other. And the angel said to him: These be four fires that burn, that one is the fire of leasings, for in baptism all promise to renounce the devil and all his works, and they accomplish it not. The second is of covetise, that is when the richesse of the world is set tofore heavenly things. The third is of dissension, that is when men dare not offend their neighbours for villainous and vicious things. The fourth is of wickedness and felony, when they despoil them that be feeble and poor, by fraud and deceit, as by extortion and tyranny for nought. And after, these fires assembled together in one, and he approached to it and doubted and was afeard, and said to the angel: Sir, this fire approacheth to me. And the angel answered: This that thou hast not set afire shall not burn thee, for this fire here examineth the people after their merits, and like as the bodies burn by will not convenable, right so burneth the fire by pain due. And at the last the soul was brought again to his proper body, and his neighbours wept, which had supposed that he had been dead. And after this he lived a certain time, and finished his life laudably in good works.