Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Of the desire after eternal life, and how great blessings are promised to those who strive. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 49


Chapter 49: Of the desire after eternal life, and how great blessings are promised to those who strive.

“My Son, when thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness to be
poured into thee from above, and longest to depart from the
tabernacle of this body, that thou mayest contemplate My glory
without shadow of turning, enlarge thine heart, and take in this
holy inspiration with all thy desire. Give most hearty thanks to
the Supreme Goodness, who dealeth with thee so graciously,
visiteth thee so lovingly, stirreth thee up so fervently, raiseth
thee so powerfully, lest thou sink down through thine own weight,
to earthly things. For not by thine own meditating or striving
dost thou receive this gift, but by the sole gracious
condescension of Supreme Grace and Divine regard; to the end that
thou mayest make progress in virtue and in more humility, and
prepare thyself for future conflicts, and cleave unto Me with all
the affection of thy heart, and strive to serve Me with fervent
“My Son, often the fire burneth, but the flame ascendeth not
without smoke. So also the desires of some men burn towards
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from the temptation of
carnal affection. Thus therefore they are not acting with an
altogether simple desire for God’s glory when they pray to Him so
earnestly. Such, too, is oftentimes thy desire, when thou hast
imagined it to be so earnest. For that is not pure and perfect
which is tainted with thine own self-seeking.
“Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to thyself,
but what is acceptable and honourable unto Me; for if thou
judgest rightly, thou must choose and follow after My appointment
rather than thine own desire; yea, rather than anything that can
be desired. I know thy desire, and I have heard thy many
groanings. Already thou longest to be in the glorious liberty of
the children of God; already the eternal home delighteth thee,
and the heavenly country full of joy; but the hour is not yet
come; there remaineth still another season, even a season of
warfare, a season of labour and probation. Thou desirest to be
filled with the Chief Good, but thou canst not attain it
immediately. I AM that Good; wait for Me, until the Kingdom of
God shall come.
“Thou must still be tried upon earth, and be exercised in many
things. Consolation shall from time to time be given thee, but
abundant satisfying shall not be granted. Be strong therefore,
and be thou brave both in working and in suffering things which
are against thy nature. Thou must put on the new man, and be
changed into another man. Thou must often do what thou wouldst
not; and thou must leave undone what thou wouldst do. What
pleaseth others shall have good success, what pleaseth thee shall
have no prosperity. What others say shall be listened to; what
thou sayest shall receive no heed. Others shall ask and receive;
thou shalt ask and not obtain. Others shall be great in the
report of men, but about thee shall nothing be spoken. To others
this or that shall be entrusted; thou shalt be judged useful for
“For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with sadness;
and it is a great thing if thou bear it silently. In this and
many like things the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be
tried, how far he is able to deny himself and bring himself into
subjection in all things. Scarcely is there anything in which
thou hast need to mortify thyself so much as in seeing things
which are adverse to thy will; especially when things are
commanded thee to be done which seem to thee inexpedient or of
little use to thee. And because thou darest not resist a higher
power, being under authority, therefore it seemeth hard for thee
to shape thy course according to the nod of another, and to
forgo thine own opinion.
“But consider, My Son, the fruit of these labours, the swift
end, and the reward exceeding great; and thou shalt find it no
pain to bear them then, but rather the strongest solace of thy
patience. For even in exchange for this trifling desire which
thou hast readily forsaken, thou shalt always have thy will in
Heaven. There verily thou shalt find all that thou wouldst, all
that thou canst long for. There thou shalt have all good within
thy power without the fear of losing it. There thy will, ever at
one with Mine, shall desire nothing outward, nothing for itself.
There no man shall withstand thee, none shall complain of thee,
none shall hinder, nothing shall stand in thy path; but all
things desired by thee shall be present together, and shall
refresh thy whole affection, and fill it up even to the brim.
There I will glory for the scorn suffered here, the garment of
praise for sorrow, and for the lowest place a throne in the
Kingdom, for ever. There shall appear the fruit of obedience,
the labour of repentance shall rejoice, and humble subjection
shall be crowned gloriously.
“Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of all men;
nor let it trouble thee who said this or who ordered that; but
take special heed that whether thy superior, thy inferior, or thy
equal, require anything from thee, or even show a desire for it;
take it all in good part, and study with a good will to fulfill
the desire. Let one seek this, another that; let this man glory
in this, and that man in that, and be praised a thousand thousand
times, but rejoice thou only in the contempt of thyself, and in
Mine own good pleasure and glory. This is what thou art to long
for, even that whether by life or by death God may be ever
magnified in thee.”

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