The Scale of Perfection, Book 2, Part 1 – Chapter 11

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How Men that abide and live in Sin, misshape themselves into the likeness of divers Beasts, and they be called the Lovers of the World

This is chapter 14 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 2 in Middle English:
Hou men thorugh synne forschapen hemsilf into seere bestis liknesse and thise aren callid the loveres of this world.

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Chapter 11 comments

Hello everyone,

In this chapter Hilton considers the wretchedness of the soul that dwells in its sensual nature. The soul is wretched because it does not know its dignity. Hilton sums this up in the following words: Unnaturally doth he, and unreasonably, that leaveth the sovereign Good and everlasting Life (which is God) unsought and unloved, unknown and unworshipped, and chooseth his rest and his bliss in the fading delight of an earthly thing. This is the fate of all who love the world. They are so given to sensuality that they neither know nor care about God.

Thus they become misshapen from their worthiness and tern themselves into the likeness of animals. The proud man becomes a lion. The envious and angry become hounds. Those that run after worldly profit or earthly honour become asses. The blind and brutish in manners become swine. The covetous that steal from their neighbour become wolves, those false and deceiving people that live by treachery become foxes.

There are many more animals that we transform ourselves into when we live not in the fear of God, but break His commandments, transform themselves from the likeness of God. They transform themselves into devils. They shall be cast forever from the blessed face of the creator. They shall descend to hell and will never see or know God. As Saint John says in Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Hilton laments that if only the lovers of this world would often think of this, how all this world shall pass away, and draw to an end, and how that all wicked love shall be most severely punished, they would in a short time loathe all worldly lusts which they now take most delight in, and would lift up their hearts to love God, and would carefully seek and labour how they might be reformed to His likeness ere they pass hence.

Hilton says that all wicked love shall be most severely punished, what worse punishment is there, than to never see or be aware of God? To never be able to love your neighbour as you love yourself as you love God. This must surely be a hell that burns like fire and brimstone.

Peter Smith
Co-Group Leader