Walter Hilton (1340 – 24 March 1396) was canon of an Augustinian priory in England and author of a number of religious works in Latin, of which the best known was The Ladder of Perfection (Scala Perfectionis), a spiritual guide.
The Ladder of Perfection (1494)
- Scala Perfectionis as translated by Leo Sherley-Price (1988), Penguin Classics ISBN 0-14-044511-0
- A venial sin of your own is a greater obstacle to your experiencing the love of Jesus Christ than the sin of anyone else, however great it may be. It is clear, then, that you must harden your heart against yourself, humbling and detesting yourself more strongly for all the sins that hold you back from the vision of God than you detest the sins of others. For if your own heart is free from sin, the sins of others will not hurt you. Therefore, if you wish to find peace, both in this life and in heaven, follow the advice of one of the holy fathers, and say each day: "What am I?" and do not judge others.
- Book I, ch. 16 (p. 18)
- Regard yourself all the more as a sinner because you cannot feel yourself to be what you are.
- Book I, ch. 19 (p. 21)
- The purpose of prayer is not to inform our Lord what you desire, for He knows all your needs. It is to render you able and ready to receive the grace which our Lord will freely give you. This grace cannot be experienced until you have been refined and purified by the fire of desire in devout prayer. For although prayer is not the cause for which our Lord gives grace, it is nevertheless the means by which grace, freely given, comes to the soul.
- Book I, ch. 24 (p. 28)
- They must not fear, nor regard as sin, or take to heart any evil impulses to sin or to blasphemy, or doubts about the Sacrament, or any other such ugly temptations; for to experience these temptations defiles the soul no more than the bark of a dog or the bite of a flea. They trouble the soul but do not harm it provided a man puts them aside and ignores them. It does no good to struggle against them, or to try and master them by force, for the more a person struggles against them, the more persistent they become.
- Book I, ch. 38 (p. 43)
- We therefore need to know the gifts given us by God, so that we may use them, for by these we shall be saved.
- Book I, ch. 41 (p. 47)
- Some people understand the charity of our Lord and are saved by it; others, relying on this mercy and kindness, continue in their sins, thinking that it may be theirs whenever they wish. But this is not so, for then they are too late and are taken in their sins before they expect it, and so damn themselves.
- Book I, ch. 43 (p. 52)
- There are many who are hypocrites although they think they are not, and there are many who are afraid of being hypocrites although they certainly are not. Which is the one and which is the other God knows, and none but He.
- Book I, ch. 59 (p. 72)
- I desire the love of God not because I am worthy, but because I am unworthy.
- Book II, ch. 22 (p. 160)
- Others, who have the common amount of charity and have not yet grown in grace to this extent, but are guided by their own reason, struggle and strive all day against their sins in order to acquire virtues. Like wrestlers, they are sometimes on top, and sometimes underneath. Such people are doing well. They acquire virtues through their own reason and will, but not because they love and delight in virtue, for they have to exert all of their energy to overcome their natural instincts in order to possess them. Consequently they never enjoy true peace or final victory. They will receive a great reward, but they are not yet sufficiently humble. They have not yet put themselves wholly into God's hands, because they do not yet see Him.
- Book II, ch. 36 (p. 211)
- One who loves God retains this humility at all times, not with weariness and struggle, but with pleasure and gladness.
- Book II, ch. 37 (p. 214)