Now if you wish to make good progress, there are two things that you must often have in mind: humility and charity.
That is, I am nothing, I have nothing, I desire only one thing. The sense of these words must be your constant guide, even though the words themselves are not formulated in your mind, for that is not necessary.
Humility says, I am nothing, I have nothing. Charity says, I desire only one thing, and that is Jesus. These two strings united by the thought of Jesus will produce harmony in the harp of your soul, when they are skillfully touched with the finger of reason. The lower you strike on one, the higher the other will sound. The less you feel that you are, or that you possess, through humility, the more you will desire to possess Jesus in love.
I am not referring to the humility that a soul feels at the sight of its own sin or weakness and at the misery of this life, nor yet that which it feels at the sight of the virtues of other people, for though such humility is genuine and helpful, still it is harsh and worldly, not pure, and gentle, and charming. But I am referring to the humility that the soul feels through grace in the contemplation of the infinite being and the great goodness of Jesus. If you cannot yet see this with the eyes of your spirit, believe that it is so. For the knowledge of his being that comes through perfect faith or through contemplation will make you consider yourself not only the most miserable creature in existence, but as absolutely nothing, even though you had never committed a sin.
And such humility is beautiful. For in comparison with Jesus, who is in truth all, you are nothing. And in the same way you ought to judge that you possess nothing, but are like an empty vessel that has no power to fill itself. For however many exterior and interior good works you perform, till you are conscious of the love of Jesus, you have nothing. For with that precious liquor only may your soul be filled and with no other. For since that alone is so precious, consider anything that you have and do as unable to satisfy you without the contemplation and the love of Jesus. Put everything else behind you and forget it, that you may have that which is best.
Walter Hilton. "Because We Belong to Christ." from The Scale of Perfection edited by Thomas H. Bestul. TEAMS Middle English Text Series. (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000): 158-59.
Reprinted with permission of Medieval Institute Publications.
Walter Hilton (d. 1396) was an English Augustinian mystic. He was the first man to write a book of mysticism in the English language. His works became influential in the 15th and 16th centuries. He is the author of The Scale of Perfection and Treatise Written to a Devout Man.Copyright © 2000 Medieval Institute Publications
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