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Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection
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CHAPTER V: How that some Souls love Jesus by bodily Fervours, and by their own human Affections that are moved by Grace and by Reason. And how some love Him more quietly228228    Restfully. by spiritual Affections only moved inwardly through spiritual Grace of the Holy Ghost

THEREFORE I may truly say, that he that hath most of this love here in this life, most pleaseth God, and shall have most clear sight of Him, and most fully love Him in the bliss of Heaven, for that he hath the greatest gift of love here in earth. This love cannot be had by a man’s own travail, as some imagine. It is freely had by the gracious gift of Jesus after much bodily and spiritual pains going before. For there are some lovers of God that make themselves to love God as it were by their own might; for they strain themselves through great violence, and pant so strongly, that they burst into bodily fervours, as if they would draw God down from Heaven to them. And they say in their hearts and with their mouth: Ah, Lord! I love Thee, and I will love Thee, and I will suffer death for the love of Thee. And in this manner of working they feel great fervour and much grace. And true it is, I think, this working good and meritorious,229229    Medeful. if it be well tempered with humility and discretion. But yet these men love not, nor have the gift of love on that manner that I speak of, neither do they ask it so. For a soul that hath the gift of love through gracious beholding of Jesus, as I mean, or that soul that hath it not yet, but would have it, she is not busy to strain herself above her strength, as it were by bodily might, for to have it by bodily fervours, and so far to feel the love of God, but thinketh herself to be right nought, and that she can do right nought of herself; but as it were a dead thing, only depending and borne up by the mercy of God. She seeth well that Jesus is all, and doth all, and, therefore, asketh she nought else but the gift of love; for since the soul seeth that her own love is nought, therefore she desireth His love, for that is enough. Therefore she prayeth and desireth that the love of God should touch her with His blessed light, that she may see a little of Him by His gracious presence, for then should she love Him; and so by this way cometh the gift of love, which is God, into a soul. The more that a soul noughteth itself through grace by sight of this verity, sometime without any fervour showed outwardly, and the less that it thinketh that it loveth or seeth God, the nearer it approacheth230230    Nigheth. for to perceive the gift of this blessed love; for then is love master, and worketh in the soul, and maketh it forget itself, and for to see and look on only how love worketh; and then is the soul more suffering than doing, and that is pure love. Thus St Paul meant when he said thus: Quicumque spiritu Dei aguntur, &c.—They that are wrought by the spirit of God are God’s sons.231231    Rom. 8. That is, souls that are made so humble, and so pliable232232    Buxom. to God, that they work not of themselves, but suffer the Holy Ghost to stir and work in them the feelings of love with a sweet chord to His stirrings. These are in a special manner God’s sons most like unto Him.

Other souls that cannot love thus, but travail themselves by their own afflictions, and stir themselves through their own thinking of God and bodily exercise, for to draw out of themselves, by mastery, the feeling of love, by fervours and other bodily signs, these love not spiritually. They do well and meritoriously, if so be they understand humbly that this their working is not the kindly gracious feeling of love, but is a human acting of the soul at the bidding of reason. And, nevertheless, through the goodness of God, because the soul doth as much as in it is, these human affections of the soul stirred into God by man’s working are turned into spiritual affections, and are meritorious, as if they had been done spiritually in the first beginning. And this is a great courtesy of our Lord showed to humble souls, which turneth all these human affections of natural love into the affection and into the reward233233    Mede. of His own love, as if He had wrought them all fully by Himself. And so these human affections thus turned may be called affections of spiritual love through purchase, not through kindly bringing forth of the Holy Ghost. I say not that a soul can work such human affections only of itself without grace; for I wot well that St Paul saith that we can do just nought, nor think anything that is good of ourselves without grace. Non enim quod sumus sufficientes, &c.—Not as if we were sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but all our sufficiency is of God.234234    1 Cor. 3. For God worketh in all both good work and good will, as St Paul saith: It as God that worketh in us both to will and to do, according to His good pleasure.235235    Phil. 2. But I say that such affections are good, being made by the will and endeavours of a soul according to the general grace that He giveth to all chosen souls, not of special grace made spiritually by the touching of His gracious presence, as He worketh in His perfect love, as I said before; for in unperfect lovers love worketh at a distance by human affections; but in perfect lovers love worketh nearly by her own spiritual affections, and killeth in a soul, for the time, all other affections, both carnal, natural and human; and that is properly the working of love by itself. Thus love may be had in some measure,236236    In little. in part, here in a pure soul through the spiritual sight of Jesus; but in the bliss of Heaven it is fulfilled by clear sight in His Godhead; for there shall no affections be felt in a soul but such as are divine and spiritual.


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