Thursday, August 21, 2014

Of the inward life. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 2, Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Of the inward life

The kingdom of God is within you, saith the Lord. [Luke 17:21] Turn thee
with all thine heart to the Lord and forsake this miserable
world, and thou shalt find rest unto thy soul. Learn to despise
outward things and to give thyself to things inward, and thou
shalt see the kingdom of God come within thee. For the kingdom
of God is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and it is not given to
the wicked. Christ will come to thee, and show thee His
consolation, if thou prepare a worthy mansion for Him within
thee. All His glory and beauty is from within, and there it
pleaseth Him to dwell. He often visiteth the inward man and
holdeth with him sweet discourse, giving him soothing
consolation, much peace, friendship exceeding wonderful.
Go to, faithful soul, prepare thy heart for this bridegroom
that he may vouchsafe to come to thee and dwell within thee, for
so He saith, if any man loveth me he will keep my words: and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our
abode with him. [John 14:23] Give, therefore, place to Christ and refuse
entrance to all others. When thou hast Christ, thou art rich,
and hast sufficient. He shall be thy provider and faithful
watchman in all things, so that thou hast no need to trust in
men, for men soon change and swiftly pass away, but Christ
remaineth for ever and standeth by us firmly even to the end.
There is no great trust to be placed in a frail and mortal
man, even though he be useful and dear to us, neither should
much sorrow arise within us if sometimes he oppose and contradict
us. They who are on thy side today, may tomorrow be against
thee, and often are they turned round like the wind. Put thy
whole trust in God and let Him be thy fear and thy love, He will
answer for thee Himself, and will do for thee what is best. Here
hast thou no continuing city, and wheresoever thou art, thou
art a stranger and a pilgrim, and thou shalt never have rest
unless thou art closely united to Christ within thee.
Why dost thou cast thine eyes hither and thither, since this
is not the place of thy rest? In heaven ought thy habitation to
be, and all earthly things should be looked upon as it were in
the passing by. All things pass away, and thou equally with them.
Look that thou cleave not to them lest thou be taken with them
and perish. Let thy contemplation be on the Most High, and let
thy supplication be directed unto Christ without ceasing. If
thou canst not behold high and heavenly things, rest thou in the
passion of Christ and dwell willingly in His sacred wounds. For
if thou devoutly fly to the wounds of Jesus, and the precious
marks of the nails and the spear, thou shalt find great comfort
in tribulation, nor will the slights of men trouble thee much,
and thou wilt easily bear their unkind words.
Christ also, when He was in the world, was despised and
rejected of men, and in His greatest necessity was left by His
acquaintances and friends to bear these reproaches. Christ was
willing to suffer and be despised, and darest thou complain of
any? Christ had adversaries and gainsayers, and dost thou wish
to have all men thy friends and benefactors? Whence shall thy
patience attain her crown if no adversity befall thee? If thou
art unwilling to suffer any adversity, how shalt thou be the
friend of Christ? Sustain thyself with Christ and for Christ if
thou wilt reign with Christ.
If thou hadst once entered into the mind of Jesus, and hadst
tasted yea even a little of his tender love, then wouldst thou
care nought for thine own convenience or inconvenience, but
wouldst rather rejoice at trouble brought upon thee, because the
love of Jesus maketh a man to despise himself. He who loveth
Jesus, and is inwardly true and free from inordinate affections,
is able to turn himself readily unto God, and to rise above
himself in spirit, and to enjoy fruitful peace.
He who knoweth things as they are and not as they are said or
seem to be, he truly is wise, and is taught of God more than of
men. He who knoweth how to walk from within, and to set little
value upon outward things, requireth not places nor waiteth for
seasons, for holding his intercourse with God. The inward man
quickly recollecteth himself, because he is never entirely given
up to outward things. No outward labour and no necessary
occupations stand in his way, but as events fall out, so doth he
fit himself to them. He who is rightly disposed and ordered
within careth not for the strange and perverse conduct of men. A
man is hindered and distracted in so far as he is moved by
outward things.
If it were well with thee, and thou wert purified from evil,
all things would work together for thy good and profiting. For
this cause do many things displease thee and often trouble thee,
that thou art not yet perfectly dead to thyself nor separated
from all earthly things. Nothing so defileth and entangleth the
heart of man as impure love towards created things. If thou
rejectest outward comfort thou wilt be able to contemplate
heavenly things and frequently to be joyful inwardly.

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