The Imitation of Christ

(Thomas a Kempis)

 

 

The Beginning of The Spiritual Life

 

He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, says the Lord.  These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and way, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart.  Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ.

 

His teaching surpasses all teaching of holy men, and such as have His Spirit find therein the hidden manna.  But there are many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel, yet feel but little longing after it, because they have not the mind of Christ.  He, therefore, that will fully and with true wisdom understand the words of Christ, let him strive to conform his whole life to that mind of Christ.

 

What does it profit you to enter into deep discussion concerning the Holy Trinity, if you lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity?  For truly it is not profound words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which makes him dear to God.  I would rather experience contrition than be skillful in its definition.  If you knew the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would all this profit you without the love and grace of God?  Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, except to love God, and to serve Him only.  That is the highest wisdom, to cast worldliness behind us, and to reach forward to the heavenly kingdom.

 

It is vanity then to seek after, and to trust in, the riches that shall perish.  It is vanity, too, to covet honors, and to be puffed up with pride.  It is vanity to follow the desires of the flesh and be led by them, for this shall bring misery at the end.  It is vanity to desire a long life, and to have little care for a good life.  It is vanity to take thought only for this life, and not to look forward to the life to come.  It is vanity to love that which passes away quickly, and not to hasten to where eternal joy is everlasting.

 

Often be mindful of the saying, "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing."  Strive, therefore, to turn away your heart from the love of things visible, and to set it upon things that are invisible (spiritual).  For they who follow after their own fleshly lusts, defile their conscience, and destroy the grace of God.

 

 

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