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Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection
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SECTION II: A little Counsel how Lovers of this World should do, if they will be reformed in their Souls before their departure hence

THESE men, though they know well that they are out of grace, and in deadly sin, they have no care nor sorrow nor thought therefore, but give themselves to sensual mirth and worldly solace as much as they can. And the farther they be from grace the more mirth they make, and perchance some of them hold themselves well apaid that they have no grace, that they may as it were the more fully and freely follow the liking of fleshly lusts as though God were asleep and did not see them. And this is one of the greatest faults that can be. And thus, by their own perverseness, they stop the light of grace from their own soul, that it may not rest therein. The which grace, for its part, is most willing and ready to shine to all creatures, and enter into the souls of men, that will but be willing to receive it, even as the sun shineth upon all creatures bodily, where it is not hindered. Thus saith St John in the Gospel: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.180180    St John 1. That is, these blind hearts receive not the gracious light, nor have the benefit of it, but even as a blind man is becompassed with the light of the sun when he standeth in it, and yet seeth it not, nor receiveth any benefit of it, as for going, or walking, or working by it. Even so, spiritually, a soul blinded with deadly sin is all encompassed with this spiritual light, and yet he is never the better, for he is blinded, and will not see nor know his blindness, and this is one of the greatest impediments of grace, that a man so wretched will not, by reason of his pride, be aknown of his blindness; or else, if he know it, careth not for it, but maketh merry, as if he were very secure and safe.

Therefore, unto all these men that are thus blinded and bound with the love of this world, and are fallen from the natural fairness of man, and are become misshapen, I say and counsel that they would think on their souls, and dispose themselves for grace as much as they can; which they may do on this wise, if they will, when they find themselves out of a state of grace, and overlaid with deadly sin, let them first think with themselves what a miserable and dangerous thing it is to be out of the state of grace and separated from God; for there is nothing that holdeth them from falling into the pit of hell presently, save the bare single thread of this bodily life, whereby they hang; and what may more easily be broken in two than a single thread? For, were the breath stopped in their body (and that may easily happen) their soul would presently pass out, and would instantly be in hell, there to remain everlastingly. And if they would but thus think with themselves for some time, they would shake and tremble at the righteous judgements of God and at His severe punishing of sins, and they would begin to grieve and sorrow for their sins, and for their want of God’s grace and favour, and then would they cry and pray that they might have grace, and if they did thus, then would grace enter in and put out darkness and hardness of heart and weakness of their will, and give them might and strength to forsake the false love of this world, so far at least as it is deadly sin; for there is no soul so far from God through wilfulness of deadly sin (I except none that liveth in this body of sin) that may not, through grace, become righteous, and be restored to cleanness of living, if he will but bow and submit his will to God with humility, for to amend his life, and heartily ask grace and forgiveness of Him, and excuse our Lord and wholly accuse himself. For holy Writ saith: I will not, saith the Lord, the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live,181181    Ezec. 33. for our Lord’s will is that the most froward man that liveth, and who through sin is misshapen in soul, if he will but change his will and ask grace, may be reformed to His likeness.


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