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Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection
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CHAPTER III: That a Man should know the measure of his Gift, that he may desire and take a better when God giveth it

OUR holy Fathers heretofore taught us that we should know the measure of our gift, and therefore to work upon it, and according to it, and not take upon us, out of our head or imagination, to have more in our feeling or ability than indeed we have. We may ever desire the best, but we may not ever work the best or our utmost, because we have not yet received that grace and ability. A hound that runneth after the hare only because he seeth other hounds run, when he is weary, he stayeth and resteth, or turneth home again; but if he run because he seeth or is in view of the hare, he will not spare for weariness till he have caught her. Right so it is in the spiritual course, whoso hath grace, be it never so little, and wittingly leaveth it, and the working upon it, and putteth himself to the exercise or practice of another kind, for which he hath not as yet received a gift or grace, but doth it only because he seeth, readeth, or heareth that some others do so, he may perhaps run awhile till he be weary and then will he turn home again, and if he be not the more wary, may hurt his feet with such fancies before he get home. But he that continueth working upon such grace as he hath, and humbly beggeth by prayer perseverantly for more, and after feeleth his heart stirred to follow after the grace which he desired, he may securely run, if he keep himself humble. Therefore, desire of God as much as thou wilt or canst, without measure or moderation at all concerning any thing that belongs to His love or Heaven’s bliss, for he that can desire most of God shall feel and receive most; but work as thou mayest and cry God mercy, for that thou canst not do. Thus St Paul seems to mean, when he said: Every one hath a proper gift of God, one so, and another so.8585    1 Cor. 7. Also, when he said: There are varieties of gifts, to one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge,8686    1 Cor. 12. etc. And also when he said: To every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the donation of Christ.8787    Ephes. 4. And further, where he said: That we may know the things that are given us by God. He saith that every one hath his gift of God: For to every man that shall be saved is given a grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is speedful that we know the gifts that are given us by God, that we may work in them, for by those we shall be saved, as some by bodily works, and by deeds of mercy, some by great bodily penance, some by sorrow and weeping for their sins all their lifetime, some by preaching and teaching, some by divers graces and gifts of devotion shall be saved and come to bliss.


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