The scale (or ladder) of perfection



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Also I hold it good, that thou observe this discretion in thy exercise, which is, that thou tarry not too long at it, that thereby thou put thyself from taking thy meat or of thy sleep, when the time shall be for taking of them, or do give just cause of displeasure or damage to any other man, through occasion of overlong tarrying at such thy devotion. The wise man saith: That all things have their time.351

Another thing which behoveth thee to beware of is that when thy mind hath been employed for a time in the imagination of the humanity of our Saviour, or any other good matter, and after this thou seekest with all the desire of thine heart, for to have a more spiritual knowing or feeling of the divinity; press not too much upon such desire, nor suffer the desire of thine heart to tarry too long therein, as if thou wert expecting and tarrying for some better or higher elevation of thy spirit, or for a feeling that had more worth or excelling in it than any thou hast hitherto had. Thou shalt not do so. It is enough for thee and for me for to have a desire and a longing to our Lord; and if He out of His grace and goodness will vouchsafe, over and above such desires of ours, freely, and of His own accord, to send us of His spiritual light, and open our spiritual eye, for to see or know more of Him than heretofore he did or could, by our own labour and industry, let us thank him for it; but if He do not (because we are not as yet humble enough, but were likely to grow proud by reason of such extraordinary favours, if He bestowed them on us, or are not disposed in other respects, and namely, by cleanness of conscience through well living, for to receive such grace and favour at His hands), then let us humbly acknowledge our own unworthiness, and hold ourselves satisfied with the desire we have of Him, and with other common good thoughts, that may easily be had and used by our imagination; as thinking of our sins, of Christ's Passion, or other such like things, or else with some vocal prayers of the Psalter or other vocal prayers, and thank Him with all our hearts, that He bestoweth upon us any portion of His grace or favour, though it be the least that any man hath. And if thou do otherwise, thou mayest easily be deceived (for thy presumption) by the spirit of error; for it is a great folly for a man of his own head or wilfulness to press or strain himself too much, to get into the sight or exercise of spiritual things further than he seeth well that he hath invitation and enablement for it. For the wise man saith that the searcher of the Majesty (of God) shall be oppressed by the glory of Him;352 for not having humility, cleanness and worthiness in soul, for such a sight he shall be cast down, and made to know himself better than he did through this confusion. And therefore the same wise man in another place saith thus: Do not seek for things that are higher, nor search into things that pass thy strength;353 that is to say, high things that are above thy natural reason and apprehension seek not after, and great matters that are above thy ability or strength do not search into. By these words the wise man doth not wholly forbid us to seek after and desire the knowing and having of spiritual and heavenly things, but he forbiddeth us to seek for them in a preposterous manner, which is too soon, and sooner than we are fit for them or that God calleth us to them, as when we are as yet sensual, and not cleansed from the vain love of the world; being in that degree, we are not to take upon us as if we could or would by our labour or industry, or by our own wit, enable ourselves to discern, see or know spiritual things, or procure in us great fervour of the love of God; so that albeit we see that we set at nought all worldly things, and it seem to us that we would for God's love forsake all the wealth, honour and joys of this world; yet for all this we are unfit and indisposed for to seek and behold spiritual things that are above us, until our souls through precedent exercises of the imagination, become to be more subtle, or as it were thin, or somewhat spiritual, and withal he become well mortified and settled in virtues by process of time and by increase in grace. For (as St Gregory saith) no man suddenly (or hastily) becometh supreme or perfect in grace, but beginneth with little, and proceedeth on by little and little, until that he come to be perfect, the which God grant that we all may one day be. Amen.

FINIS.


1It should be remembered that the book was written in the fourteenth century, and the reader must expect inaccuracies which would not be tolerated now. For instance, I would mention the author's views about the sins of heathens, and inadequate notions of the Sacrament of Penance.

2This treatise exists in manuscript in the library of Merton College. Mr Bliss, one of the librarians of the Bodleian, has kindly examined it, and assures me that it nowhere implies that Hilton himself belonged to the Order.

3Many of these particulars are taken from the very interesting account of the Anchorets in Dr Rock's "Church of our Fathers."

4Compare "Ancren Riwle," p. 24, with Brockie, tom. IV, 121. It is also plain, from p. 38 of the Riwle, that the author did not believe the Immaculate Conception.

5Chaire Franaise au Moyen Age, 414.

6Ancren Riwle, p. 13.

7P. 291.

8P. 241.

9This interpretation is rather different from that of the learned translator of the "Riwle."

10P. 417.

11Blomfield, in his History of Norfolk, p. 546, mentions a MS., apparently existing in his day, and belonging to a clergyman of the name of Peck, author of "The Antiquities of Stamford." The book was first published by Cressy in 1670, and reprinted in 1843.

12Sir Thomas Erpingham has the credit of having been a partisan of Wycliffe. That for twenty-eight years before his death he was a good Catholic is certain. From the year 1400 he was an intimate friend of the Bishop of Norwich, the great enemy of the Lollards. He is said to have built a gate at the west end of the Cathedral as an atonement for his errors. In the same will there is a legacy for Masses for his soul, and special bequests to each Monk. -- Blomfield, 372, 526.

13It is true that Juliana Lampit is there said to be the recluse of Carrow (v. Blomfield, p 515). The church of St Julian, however, belonged to the nunnery of Carrow, and therefore the recluse might very well have been called by that name. -- Pp. 545, 546, 862, where 1528 is evidently a misprint for l428.

14P. 157.

15Pfeiffer, p. 386.

16P. 110.

17P. 62.

18P. 71.

19P. 111.

20P. 9.

21P. 63.

22Purg. vii.

23Quoted in Longman's Edward, i, 295.

24Compare Purg. 23 and Par. 15, 16.

25Cant, Histoire des Italiens, tom. 7, c. 123.

26Chaire Franaise au Moyen Age. P. 409.

27Cant, Ibid.

28Schwab, Johannes Gerson, p. 38.

29Chaire Franaise, 357.

30Longman's Life of Edward III, ii, 24.

31Ibid., 259.

32It is true that Malespina mentions Epicureans (Muratori, 8, 933), even in the Countess Matilda's time, but there seem to have been heretics of an older type to whom Malespina gives a name more familiar to himself.

33Neander, vol. ix, p. 241, Bohn's edition. He appends the following note, "Among the forty-five articles attributed to Wycliffe, the proposition, 'Omnia de necessitate absolute eveniunt,' might justly be condemned as one actually belonging to him." Neander is my authority throughout, for I am not acquainted with Wycliffe's writings.

34For instance, p. 131.

35"We premise this, that when we attribute Personality to God, we intend to asseverate of Him nothing else than that He is a Being (Wesen) separated from all other existence (Sein), self-subsisting, self-conscious, and free." -- Kleutgen, Theologie, i, 229. In other words, though freedom does not constitute Personality, yet every free intellectual being must be personal. Thus, because the Sacred Humanity was free, it must ipso facto have possessed a personality, i.e., since it had none of its own, that of the Divine Word.

36P. 149.

37P. 67.

38How accessible were anchoresses to the influence of the outer world is proved by the curious fact that the last anchoress of Carrow was actually perverted by Bilney, and turned Protestant in 1530. -- Blomfield, p. 145.

39Blomfield, 546. All that is known is that she was alive in 1443, but was a hundred years old. She had two servants to wait upon her.

40V. Mone, i, 286, 293, 254, and Ancren Riwle.

41P. 151.

421 Cor. 13.

431 Cor. 8.

44Ps. 33.

45Ephes. 5.

461 Cor. 6:17.

47Hansel, a first gift.

481 Cor. 13.

49Ps. 138.

502 Cor. 5:13-14.

512 Cor. 3:18.

52Since.

531 St John 4:1.

54Know.

551 St John 4:3.

56Ephes. 3:18.

57Phil. 3:13.

58Stable truth.

59St Matt. 5.

60Right rule.

61St John 4.

62Respect.

63St Luke 14.

64Ecclus. xv.

65Is. 66.

66Unskilful.

671 Cor. 10.

68Assayed.

69Psalm 141.

70Ps. 40.

71Ps. 135.

72Unprosperous.

73Interrupted.

74Jer. 20:9.

751 Cor. 14:14,15.

76Levit. 6.

77Acts 2.

78Ps. 1.

791 Cor. 2.

80St John 16.

81Ps. 90.

82Is. 54:7-8.

83Job 11.

84Ecclus. 4:18.

851 Cor. 7.

861 Cor. 12.

87Ephes. 4.

88The fairness and the foulness of it.

89St Luke 13.

90St Matt. 16, St John 12.

91Col. 3.

92Romans 10.

931 St John 1.

94St John 14.

95Cant. 5.

96Luke 10.

97Deut. 11.

98Ps. 72.

99Ps. 118.

100St Matt. 8.

101Prov. 2.

102St Luke 15.

103Ps. 118.

104St Matt. 6.

105St Luke 8.

106Molle.

107Ps. 18.

108Swink.

109Silently.

110Is. 45.

111St Matt. 13.

112Ps. 44.

113St John 14.

114St Matt. 11.

115St John 13.

116Rom. 6.

117Agrise.

118Brest it.

119Rom. 7.

120To feel.

121Rom. 8.

122Mede.

123Homely.

124Manhood.

125Dan. 12.

126Prov. 14.

127Job 20.

128Gal. 4.

129Defame.

130Is. 5.

131Rom. 5.

1321 Cor. 13.

133Sickerly.

134Rom. 8.

135Ps. 138:16.

136S. Matt. 5.

137St John 13.

138St Luke 16.

139Jerem. 9.

140Cantic. 1.

141Reprieved.

142Cantic. 2.

143St Luke 14.

144Joel 12.

145Gen. 3.

146Ecclus. 10.

147Phil. 3.

148Wisd. 2.

149St Matthew 5.

1501 Cor. 4.

151Prov. 6.

152Ps. 38.

1531 Cor. 15.

154Ga. 5.

155Ephes. 4.

156Prov. 4.

157Is. 3.

158Gal. 4.

159St John 14.

160Gen. 1.

1611 Cor. 1.

162Is. 2.

163Heb. 11.

164Rom. 8.

165Heb. 10.

1661 John 3.

167Gal. 5.

168Rom. 8.

169St Matt. 5.

170Cant. 1.

171Cant. 1.

172Twining.

173St John 5.

174Ephes. 6.

175Wroken of him.

176Apoc. 21.

177It is to me to wyte no more.

178Uggen.

179Jer. 28.

180St John 1.

181Ezec. 33.

182Sly.

183Speedful.

184Disease.

185Ps. 83.

186Swink and sweat.

187Ps. 42.

188Is. 26.

189Job 3.

190St John 1.

191Din.

192Homeliness.

193Claude fenestras ut luceat domus.

194Isa. 9.

195Ezec. 40.

196St James 3.

197Ps. 96.

198Mal. 4.

199Hinder.

200Gal. 6.

201Colos. 3.

202St Matt. 19.

203Ps. 72.

204Is. 9.

205Isa. 58.

206Is. 47.

207Ps. 138.

208Rom. 8.

209Isa. 43.

210Mirror.

211Lam. 4.

212Subtle in kind.

213Acts 2.

214Pyned.

215In novitate sensus. Rom. 12.

216Col. 1.

217Eph. 4.

218Col. 3.

219St John 3.

2201 St John 1.

221Ps. 35.

222Heb. 12.

2232 Cor. 4.

224St John 17.

2251 St John 4.

2261 St. John 4.

227Arrected.

228Restfully.

229Medeful.

230Nigheth.

231Rom. 8.

232Buxom.

233Mede.

2341 Cor. 3.

235Phil. 2.

236In little.

237Perceiver.

238Ps. 45.

239Softness.

240Sadness.

241Laboursome.

242Softness.

243Full mede.

244Soft.

245Worship.

246Keep.

247Ps. 38.

248Unnoteful.

249Isa. 40.

250Anentes.

251Dainty.

252Softly.

253Lack.

254Well paid.

255Ps. 24.

256Ps. 90:5.

257Glenteth.

258Wotteth.

259Softly.

260Softly.

261Melancholy.

262Chargeth.

263Merch.

264Well lever.

265Liking.

266Kepe.

267Hangeth.

268Lever.

269Acts 5.

270Felness.

271Minstrelsy.

272Craft.

273Lever.

274Assay.

275Privity.

276Entre.

277Virtue.

278Ps. 28.

279Heb. 4.

280Apoc. 8.

281Boldness.

282Rom. 8.

2832 Cor. 1.

284Buxom.

285Ps. 63.

286Homeliness.

287Oneliness.

288Osee 2.

289Noyous.

290Privity.

291Isa. 24.

292Apoc. 2.

293Relief.

294Sadness.

295Cant. 5.

296Luke 9.

297Spered.

298Fairhead.

299Highing.

300Hardly.

301Fleshly heed.

302Job 34.

303Cant. 3.

304Cant. 4.

305Sothfastness.

306Softly.

307Cant. 1.

308Sorted.

309Keeps not.

310Unkind.

311Jas. 1.

312Commoning.

313Meanes.

314Oonyd.

315Heb. 10.

316St John 3.

317Sobriety.

318Dissolution.

319Buxom.

320Chaffeth.

321Lovings.

322Ps. 140.

323Happed.

324Homely.

325Fleshly heed.

326Ps. 130.

3271 John 4.

328St Luke 24.

329St John 15.

330Cunning.

331Is. 22.

332Ps. 118.

3331 Cor. 13.

334Ezec. 1.

335St John 10.

336Haughtful.

337Cant. 3.

338Prov. 12.

339St Matt. 8.

3401 Cor. 4:3.

341Shent.

342Heb. 1.

343Job 4.

344Ps. 28.

345Cant. 2:4.

346Lev. 6:12,13.

347Deut. iv, 24; Heb. xii, 29.

348Luke 12:49.

3492 Cor. 5:6.

350Col. 2:9.

351Eccles. 3.

352Prov. 25:27.

353Ecclus. 3:22.
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