OF THE OBEDIENCE OF DISCIPLES.
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This beseemeth those who, either on account of the holy servitude they have professed, through fear of hell or for the glory of life everlasting, count nothing more dear to them than Christ. These, presently, as soon as anything is commanded them by the Superior, make o delay in doing it, just as if the command had come from God. Of such, our Lord saith: “At the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed me.”109 And to teachers He saith: “He that heareth you, heareth me.”110Therefore, such as these, leaving immediately everything, and forsaking their own will, leave unfinished what they were about, and with the speedy foot of obedience follow by deeds the voice of him who commands. And thus, as it were in one and the same moment the command of the master and the perfect work of the disciple in the speed of the fear of God, go both jointly together, and are quickly effected by those who ardently desire to advance in the way of eternal life. These take the narrow way, of which the Lord saith: “Narrow is the way which leadeth to life.”111 They live not according to their own will, nor follow their own desires and pleasures, but, abiding in monasteries, walk according to the command and direction of another, and will to have an Abbot over them. Without doubt these fulfil that saying of our Lord: “I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him Who sent me.”112
This obedience will then be acceptable to God and pleasing to men, if what is commanded be not done fearfully, slowly, coldly, or with murmuring, or an answer showing unwillingness; because the obedience which is given to superiors is given to God, Who hath said: “He that heareth you, heareth Me.”113 Hence it ought to be done by the disciples with a good will, because God “loveth a cheerful giver”114 If the disciple obey with ill-will, and murmur, not only in words, but also in heart, although he fulfil what is commanded him, it will not be acceptable to God, Who considereth the heart of the murmurer. For such a work he shall not have any reward, but rather incurreth the penalty of murmurers, unless he amend and make satisfaction.