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Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection
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SECTION I: How through gracious Opening of the Spiritual Eye a Soul is made Wise, humbly and truly to see the Diversities of Degrees in Holy Church, as Militant, and for to see the nature of Angels; and first of the Reprobate

NEVERTHELESS, other spiritual things there be also, which through light of grace are showed to the soul, and are these: the nature of all reasonable souls, and the gracious workings of our Lord Jesus in them; the nature of angels, both good and bad, and their workings, and the knowledge of the Blessed Trinity, according as grace teacheth. Holy Writ saith of the Spouse thus in the Canticles: Surgam et circuibo civitatem, &c.—I will arise, and go about the city, and will seek Him whom my soul loveth.337337    Cant. 3. That is, I will rise into highness of thought, and go about the city. By this city is understood the University of all creatures, corporal and spiritual, ordered and ruled under God by laws of nature, of reason and of grace. I go about this city when I behold the natures and causes of bodily creatures, the gifts of grace, and the blisses of spiritual creatures. And in all these I seek Him whom my soul loveth. It is pleasant looking with the inner eye on Jesus in bodily creatures, to see His power, His wisdom and His goodness in ordering of their natures; but it is much more beautiful to look on Jesus in spiritual creatures: First in reasonable souls, both elect and reprobate, to see the merciful calling of them to election, how He turneth them from sin by the light of His grace, how He helpeth them, teacheth them, chasteneth them, comforteth them; He sanctifieth, cleanseth and feedeth them; how He maketh them burning in love and in light through plenty of His grace. And thus doth He, not to one soul only, but to all His chosen according to the measure of His grace.

Also concerning the reprobate, he seeth how justly he forsaketh them, and leaveth them in their sins, and doth them no wrong. How He rewardeth them in this world, suffering them to have the fulfilling of their own will, and after to punish them endlessly. Lo, this is a little beholding of holy Church, whilst it is militant in this life, by seeing how black and how foul it seemeth in souls that are reprobate; and how fair and how lovely it is in chosen souls.

And all this spiritual sight is nought else but the sight of Jesus, not in Himself but in His merciful secret works, and in His righteous judgements every day showed, remembered and renewed to reasonable souls. Moreover, to see with the spiritual eye the pains of the reprobate and the joy and bliss of chosen souls is full comfortable. For truth cannot be seen in a clean soul without great delight and wonderful content of blessed burning love.

Also the sight of the nature of Angels, first of the damned, then of the blessed; as it is a full pleasant contemplation concerning the devil in a clean soul. When grace bringeth the fiend into the sight of the soul, as a clumsy caitiff bound by the power of Jesus that he cannot hurt; then the soul beholdeth him not bodily, but spiritually, seeing his nature and his malice, and turneth him upside down and spoileth him and rendeth him all to nought, scorneth him and despiseth him, and setteth nought by his malice. Thus biddeth holy Writ, when it saith thus: Verte impium, et not erit.—Turn the wicked, that is, the fiend, upside down, and he shall be as nought.338338    Prov. 12. Much wonder hath the soul that the fiend hath so much malice and so little might. There is no creature so weak as he is; and therefore it is great cowardice that men fear him so much. He can do nothing without leave of our Lord Jesus, not so much as enter into a swine, as the Gospel saith339339    St Matt. 8. , much less can he do then to annoy any man.

And therefore if our Lord Jesus give him leave to tempt us, it is full worthily and mercifully done, that he doth so; and therefore welcome be our Lord Jesus by Himself, and by all His messengers. The soul feareth no more the blustering of the fiend than the stirring of a mouse. Wondrous wroth is the fiend when we say nay to his temptations, but his mouth is stopped with his own malice. His hands are bound like a thieve’s, worthy to be judged and hanged in hell. And then the soul accuseth him, and doth justly condemn him according to his deserts. Wonder not at this saying, for St Paul meant the same, when he saith thus: Fratres, nescitis, &c.—Brethren, know ye not that we shall judge the angels?340340    1 Cor. 4:3. namely, those that are wicked spirits through malice that were made good angels by nature. As who should say, yes; this judging is figured before the day of judgement in Contemplative souls, for they feel a little tasting in likeness of all that shall be done afterwards of our Lord Jesus openly in truth. Shamed and troubled341341    Shent. is the fiend greatly in himself, when he is thus used by a clean soul. He would fain fly away, but he cannot, for the power of the Highest holdeth him still, and that grieveth him more than all the fire of hell. Then falleth the soul wonderfully humble under Jesus with hearty praises, for that He so mightily saveth a simple soul from all the malice of so cruel an enemy by His great mercy.


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