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Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection
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CHAPTER XVI: Of a firm Faith necessary thereto, and what things we ought to believe thereby

THE second thing which it behoveth thee to have is a firm faith in all the articles of thy belief, and in the Sacraments of the holy Church, believing them stedfastly with all thy will in thy heart. If thou feel any stirring in thy heart against any of them, by suggestion of the enemy to put thee in doubt of them, be thou stedfast, and dread not therefore, but forsake thine own wit, without disputing or ransacking of them, and set thy faith in general on the faith of the holy Church, and make no reckoning of the stirrings of thy heart which seem to be contrary thereto; for those stirrings are not thy faith, but the faith of the holy Church is thy faith, though thou never see it nor feel it. And bear those suggestions patiently as a scourge of our Lord, by which He will cleanse thy heart and make thy faith stedfast. Also it behoveth thee to embrace and honour in thy heart all the laws and ordinances made by the prelates and rulers of the Church, either in declaring of the Faith, or concerning the Sacraments, or in general concerning all Christian men, meekly and truly assenting to them though thou understandest not the cause of making such ordinances; and though thou shouldst think that some of them were unreasonable,6666    Unskilful. yet shalt not thou judge them or find fault with them, but reverence and honour them although they little concern thy particular. Neither entertain thou any opinion or fancy or singular conceit under colour of more holiness (as some unwise people do) either out of thy own imagination, or by the teaching of any other man, which thwarteth the least ordinance or general teaching of the Church.

Moreover, together with such faith, thou shalt firmly hope that thou art ordained by our Lord to be saved as one of His chosen by His mercy, and stir not from this hope whatsoever thou hearest or seest, or what temptation befalls thee. Though thou think thyself so great a wretch that thou art worthy to sink into hell, for that thou doest no good nor servest God as thou shouldst, yet hold thee in this truth and in this hope, and ask mercy, and all shall be well with thee. And though all the devils in hell appeared in bodily shapes, saying to thee, sleeping or waking, that thou shouldst not be saved; or all men living on earth or all the angels in heaven (if possible) should say the same, yet believe them not, nor be stirred much from thy hope of salvation. This I speak to thee, because some are so weak and simple that when they have given up themselves wholly to serve God to their power, and feel any stirrings of this kind within them by the suggestion of the enemy, or any of his false prophets (which men call soothsayers) that they shall not be saved, or that their state or manner of living is not pleasing to God, they be astonished and moved with such words, and so through ignorance fall sometimes into great heaviness, and as it were into despair of salvation.

Wherefore it is (as it seems to me) necessary for every one (that by the grace of God is in a full and resolute will to forsake sin, and as clearly as his conscience telleth him, suffereth no deadly sin to rest in him, but he goes soon to confession for it, and humbly betakes himself to the sacraments of the Church) to have a good trust and hope of salvation. Much more then should they trust and hope, who give themselves wholly to God, and eschew venial sins the best they know and can.

But on the other hand, as perilous it is for him who lieth wittingly in deadly sin, to have trust in salvation, and in hope of this trust will not forsake his sin, nor humble himself truly to God and the holy Church.


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