Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 54


Chapter 54: Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace.

“My Son, pay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of Grace,
because they move in a very contrary and subtle manner, and are
hardly distinguished save by a spiritual and inwardly enlightened
man. All men indeed seek good, and make pretence of something
good in all that they say or do; and thus under the appearance of
good many are deceived.
“Nature is deceitful and draweth away, ensnareth, and
deceiveth many, and always hath self for her end; but Grace
walketh in simplicity and turneth away from every appearance of
evil, maketh no false pretences, and doeth all entirely for the
sake of God, in whom also she finally resteth.
“Nature is very unwilling to die, and to be pressed down, and
to be overcome, and to be in subjection, and to bear the yoke
readily; but Grace studieth self-mortification, resisteth
sensuality, seeketh to be subdued, longeth to be conquered, and
willeth not to use her own liberty. She loveth to be held by
discipline, and not to have authority over any, but always to
live, to remain, to have her being under God, and for God’s sake
is ready to be humbly subject to every ordinance of man.
“Nature laboureth for her own advantage, and considereth what
profit she may gain from another; but Grace considereth more, not
what may be useful and convenient to self, but what may be
profitable to the many.
“Nature willingly receiveth honour and reverence; but Grace
faithfully ascribeth all honour and glory to God.
“Nature feareth confusion and contempt, but Grace rejoiceth to
suffer shame for the name of Jesus.
“Nature loveth ease and bodily quiet; Grace cannot be
unemployed, but gladly embraceth labour.
“Nature seeketh to possess things curious and attractive, and
abhorreth those which are rough and cheap; Grace is delighted
with things simple and humble, despiseth not those which are
rough, nor refuseth to be clothed with old garments.
“Nature hath regard to things temporal, rejoiceth in earthly
lucre, is made sad by loss, vexed by any little injurious word;
but Grace reacheth after things eternal, cleaveth not to those
which are temporal, is not perturbed by losses, nor embittered by
any hard words, because she hath placed her treasure and joy in
heaven where nought perisheth.
“Nature is covetous, and receiveth more willingly than she
giveth, loveth things that are personal and private to herself;
while Grace is kind and generous, avoideth selfishness, is
contented with a little, believeth that it is more blessed to
give than to receive.
“Nature inclineth thee to created things, to thine own flesh,
to vanities and dissipation; but Grace draweth to God and to
virtues, renounceth creatures, fleeth from the world, hateth the
desires of the flesh, restraineth vagaries, blusheth to be seen
in public.
“Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in which the
senses may have delight; but Grace seeketh to be comforted in God
alone, and to have delight in the chief good above all visible
“Nature doeth everything for her own gain and profit, can do
nothing as a free favour, but hopeth to attain something as good
or better, or some praise or favour for her benefits; and she
loveth that her own deeds and gifts should be highly valued; but
Grace seeketh nothing temporal, nor requireth any other gift of
reward than God alone; neither longeth she for more of temporal
necessities than such as may suffice for the attaining of eternal
“Nature rejoiceth in many friends and kinsfolk, she boasteth
of noble place and noble birth, she smileth on the powerful,
flattereth the rich, applaudeth those who are like herself; but
Grace loveth even her enemies, and is not lifted up by the
multitude of friends, setteth no store upon high place or high
birth, unless there be greater virtue therewith; favoureth the
poor man more than the rich, hath more sympathy with the innocent
than with the powerful; rejoiceth with the truthful, not with the
liar; always exhorteth the good to strive after better gifts of
grace, and to become by holiness like unto the Son of God.
“Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of trouble; Grace
beareth want with constancy.
“Nature looketh upon all things in reference to herself;
striveth and argueth for self; but Grace bringeth back all things
to God from whom they came at the beginning; ascribeth no good to
herself nor arrogantly presumeth; is not contentious, nor
preferreth her own opinion to others, but in every sense and
understanding submitteth herself to the Eternal wisdom and the
Divine judgment.
“Nature is eager to know secrets and to hear new things; she
loveth to appear abroad, and to make experience of many things
through the senses; she desireth to be acknowledged and to do
those things which win praise and admiration; but Grace careth
not to gather up new or curious things, because all this
springeth from the old corruption, whereas there is nothing new
or lasting upon earth. So she teacheth to restrain the senses, to
shun vain complacency and ostentation, to hide humbly those
things which merit praise and real admiration, and from
everything and in all knowledge to seek after useful fruit, and
the praise and honour of God. She desireth not to receive praise
for herself or her own, but longeth that God be blessed in all
His gifts, who out of unmingled love bestoweth all things.”
This Grace is a supernatural light, and a certain special
gift of God, and the proper mark of the elect, and the pledge of
eternal salvation; it exalteth a man from earthly things to love
those that are heavenly; and it maketh the carnal man spiritual.
So far therefore as Nature is utterly pressed down and overcome,
so far is greater Grace bestowed and the inner man is daily
created anew by fresh visitations, after the image of God.

Recommended version: 

No comments:

Post a Comment