The Cloud of Unknowing
For the author of the Cloud all human virtue is comprised in the twin qualities of Humility and Charity. He who has these, has all. Humility, in accordance with the doctrine of Richard of St. Victor, he identifies with self knowledge; the terrible vision of the soul as it is, which induces first self abasement and then self purification— the beginning of all spiritual growth, and the necessary antecedent of all knowledge of God. . . .
As all man’s feeling and thought of himself and his relation to God is comprehended in Humility, so all his feeling and thought of God in Himself is comprehended in Charity; the self-giving love of Divine Perfection “in Himself and for Himself” which Hilton calls “the sovereign and the essential joy.” Together these two virtues should embrace the sum of his responses to the Universe; they should govern his attitude to man as well as his attitude to God. “Charity is nought else . . . but love of God for Himself above all creatures, and of man for God even as thyself.”
Charity and Humility, then, together with the ardent and industrious will, are the necessary possessions of each soul set upon this adventure. Their presence it is which marks out the true from the false mystic. . .