Thursday, April 30, 2015

Of deeper matters, and God’s hidden judgments which are not to be inquired into. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 58


Chapter 58: Of deeper matters, and God's hidden judgments which are not to be inquired into.

“My Son, beware thou dispute not of high matters and of the
hidden judgments of God; why this man is thus left, and that man
is taken into so great favour; why also this man is so greatly
afflicted, and that so highly exalted. These things pass all
man’s power of judging, neither may any reasoning or disputation
have power to search out the divine judgments. When therefore
the enemy suggesteth these things to thee, or when any curious
people ask such questions, answer with that word of the Prophet,
Just art Thou, O Lord, and true is Thy judgment, [Psalm 119:137] and with
this, The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous
altogether.[Psalm 19:9] My judgments are to be feared, not to be disputed
on, because they are incomprehensible to human understanding.
“And be not given to inquire or dispute about the merits of
the Saints, which is holier than another, or which is the greater
in the Kingdom of Heaven. Such questions often beget useless
strifes and contentions: they also nourish pride and vain glory,
whence envyings and dissensions arise, while one man arrogantly
endeavoureth to exalt one Saint and another another. But to wish
to know and search out such things bringeth no fruit, but it
rather displeaseth the Saints; for I am not the God of confusion
but of peace;[1 Corinthians 14:33] which peace consisteth more in true humility
than in self-exaltation.
“Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection to these
Saints or those; but this is human affection rather than divine.
I am He Who made all the Saints: I gave them grace, I brought
them glory; I know the merits of every one; I prevented them with
the blessings of My goodness.[Psalm 21:3] I foreknew my beloved ones from
everlasting, I chose them out of the world; they did not
choose Me.[John 15:19] I called them by My grace, drew them by My mercy, led
them on through sundry temptations. I poured mighty consolations
upon them, I gave them perseverance, I crowned their patience.
“I acknowledge the first and the last; I embrace all with
inestimable love. I am to be praised in all My Saints; I am to
be blessed above all things, and to be honoured in every one whom
I have so gloriously exalted and predestined, without any
preceding merits of their own. He therefore that shall despise
one of the least of these My people, honoureth not the great;
because I made both small and great.[Wisdom 6:8] And he who speaketh
against any of My Saints speaketh against Me, and against all
others in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
They are all one through the bond of charity; they think the
same thing, will the same thing, and all are united in love one
to another.
“But yet (which is far better) they love Me above themselves
and their own merits. For being caught up above themselves, and
drawn beyond self-love, they go all straightforward to the love
of Me, and they rest in Me in perfect enjoyment. There is
nothing which can turn them away or press them down; for being
full of Eternal Truth, they burn with the fire of
inextinguishable charity. Therefore let all carnal and natural
men hold their peace concerning the state of the Saints, for they
know nothing save to love their own personal enjoyment. They
take away and add according to their own inclination, not as it
pleaseth the Eternal Truth.
“In many men this is ignorance; chiefly is it so in those who,
being little enlightened, rarely learn to love any one with
perfect spiritual love. They are still much drawn by natural
affection and human friendship to these or to those: and as they
reckon of themselves in lower matters, so also do they frame
imaginations of things heavenly. But there is an immeasurable
difference between those things which they imperfectly imagine,
and these things which enlightened men behold through
supernatural revelation.
“Take heed, therefore, My son, that thou treat not curiously
those things which surpass thy knowledge, but rather make this
thy business and give attention to it, namely, that thou seek to
be found, even though it be the least, in the Kingdom of God.
And even if any one should know who were holier than others, or
who were held greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven; what should that
knowledge profit him, unless through this knowledge he should
humble himself before Me, and should rise up to give greater
praise unto My name? He who considereth how great are his own
sins, how small his virtues, and how far he is removed from the
perfection of the Saints, doeth far more acceptably in the sight
of God, than he who disputeth about their greatness or
“They are altogether well content, if men would learn to be
content, and to refrain from vain babbling. They glory not of
their own merits, seeing they ascribe no good unto themselves,
but all unto Me, seeing that I of my infinite charity have given
them all things. They are filled with so great love of the
Divinity, and with such overflowing joy, that no glory is lacking
to them, neither can any felicity be lacking. All the Saints,
the higher they are exalted in glory, the humbler are they in
themselves, and the nearer and dearer are they unto Me. And so
thou hast it written that they cast their crowns before God and
fell on their faces before the Lamb, and worshipped Him that
liveth for ever and ever.[Rev. 4:10; 5:14]
“Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, who know
not whether they shall be worthy to be counted among the least.
It is a great thing to be even the least in Heaven, where all are
great, because all shall be called, and shall be, the sons of
God. A little one shall become a thousand, but the sinner being
an hundred years old shall be accursed. For when the disciples
asked who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, they
received no other answer than this, Except ye be converted and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as this little child,
the same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”[Matt. 18:3]
Woe unto them who disdain to humble themselves willingly with
the little children; for the low gate of the kingdom of Heaven
will not suffer them to enter in. Woe also to them who are rich,
who have their consolation here;[Philippians 2:21] because whilst the poor
enter into the kingdom of God, they shall stand lamenting
without. Rejoice ye humble, and exult ye poor, for yours is the
kingdom of God if only ye walk in the truth.

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