Saturday, February 21, 2015

That we must not believe everyone, and that we are prone to fall in our words. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 45


Chapter 45: That we must not believe everyone, and that we are prone to fall in our words.

Lord, be thou my help in trouble, for vain is the help of man.
How often have I failed to find faithfulness, where I thought I
possessed it. How many times I have found it where I least
expected. Vain therefore is hope in men, but the salvation of
the just, O God, is in Thee. Blessed be thou, O Lord my God, in
all things which happen unto us. We are weak and unstable, we
are quickly deceived and quite changed.
Who is the man who is able to keep himself so warily and
circumspectly as not sometimes to come into some snare of
perplexity? But he who trusteth in Thee, O Lord, and seeketh
Thee with an unfeigned heart, doth not so easily slip. And if he
fall into any tribulation, howsoever he may be entangled, yet
very quickly he shall be delivered through Thee, or by Thee shall
be comforted, because Thou wilt not forsake him that trusteth in
Thee unto the end. A friend who continueth faithful in all the
distresses of his friend is rare to be found. Thou, O Lord, Thou
alone art most faithful in all things, and there is none other
like unto Thee.
Oh, how truly wise was that holy soul which said, “My mind is
steadfastly fixed, and it is grounded in Christ.” If thus it
were with me, the fear of man should not so easily tempt me, nor
the arrows of words move me. Who is sufficient to foresee all
things, who to guard beforehand against future ills? If even
things which are foreseen sometimes hurt us, what can things
which are not foreseen do, but grievously injure? But wherefore
have I not better provided for myself, miserable that I am? Why,
too, have I given such heed to others? But we are men, nor are
we other than frail men, even though by many we are reckoned and
called angels. Whom shall I trust, O Lord, whom shall I trust
but Thee? Thou art the Truth, and deceivest not, nor canst be
deceived. And on the other hand, Every man is a liar, weak,
unstable, and frail, especially in his words, so that one ought
scarcely ever to believe what seemeth to sound right on the face
of it.
With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to beware of
men, and that a man’s foes are they of his own household, and
that we must not believe if one say unto us Lo here, or Lo
there. I have been taught by my loss, and O that I may prove
more careful and not foolish hereby. “Be cautious,” saith some
one: “be cautious, keep unto thyself what I tell thee.” And
whilst I am silent and believe that it is hid with me, he himself
cannot keep silence concerning it, but straightway betrayeth me
and himself, and goeth his way. Protect me, O Lord, from such
mischief-making and reckless men; let me not fall into their
hands, nor ever do such things myself. Put a true and steadfast
word into my mouth, and remove a deceitful tongue far from me.
What I would not suffer, I ought by all means to beware of doing.
Oh, how good and peacemaking a thing it is to be silent
concerning others, and not carelessly to believe all reports, nor
to hand them on further; how good also to lay one’s self open to
few, to seek ever to have Thee as the beholder of the heart; not
to be carried about with every wind of words, but to desire that
all things inward and outward be done according to the good
pleasure of Thy will! How safe for the preserving of heavenly
grace to fly from human approval, and not to long after the
things which seem to win admiration abroad, but to follow with
all earnestness those things which bring amendment of life and
heavenly fervour! How many have been injured by their virtue
being made known and too hastily praised. How truly profitable
hath been grace preserved in silence in this frail life, which,
as we are told, is all temptation and warfare.

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