Monday, September 8, 2014

Of gratitude for the grace of God. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 2, Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Of gratitude for the grace of God
Why seekest thou rest when thou art born to labour? Prepare
thyself for patience more than for comforts, and for bearing the
cross more than for joy. For who among the men of this world
would not gladly receive consolation and spiritual joy if he
might always have it? For spiritual comforts exceed all the
delights of the world, and all the pleasures of the flesh. For
all worldly delights are either empty or unclean, whilst
spiritual delights alone are pleasant and honourable, the
offspring of virtue, and poured forth by God into pure minds.
But no man can always enjoy these divine comforts at his own
will, because the season of temptation ceaseth not for long.
Great is the difference between a visitation from above and
false liberty of spirit and great confidence in self. God doeth
well in giving us the grace of comfort, but man doeth ill in not
immediately giving God thanks thereof. And thus the gifts of
grace are not able to flow unto us, because we are ungrateful to
the Author of them, and return them not wholly to the Fountain
whence they flow. For grace ever becometh the portion of him who
is grateful and that is taken away from the proud, which is wont
to be given to the humble.
I desire no consolation which taketh away from me compunction,
I love no contemplation which leadeth to pride. For all that is
high is not holy, nor is everything that is sweet good; every
desire is not pure; nor is everything that is dear to us pleasing
unto God. Willingly do I accept that grace whereby I am made
humbler and more wary and more ready to renounce myself. He who
is made learned by the gift of grace and taught wisdom by the
stroke of the withdrawal thereof, will not dare to claim any good
thing for himself, but will rather confess that he is poor and
needy. Give unto God the thing which is God’s, and ascribe to
thyself that which is thine; that is, give thanks unto God for
His grace, but for thyself alone confess thy fault, and that thy
punishment is deserved for thy fault.
Sit thou down always in the lowest room and thou shalt be
given the highest place. For the highest cannot be without
the lowest. For the highest saints of God are least in their own
sight, and the more glorious they are, so much the lowlier are
they in themselves; full of grace and heavenly glory, they are
not desirous of vainglory; resting on God and strong in His
might, they cannot be lifted up in any wise. And they who
ascribe unto God all the good which they have received, “seek not
glory one of another, but the glory which cometh from God only,”
and they desire that God shall be praised in Himself and in all
His Saints above all things, and they are always striving for
this very thing.
Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt
be worthy to receive greater. Let the least be unto thee even as
the greatest, and let that which is of little account be unto
thee as a special gift. If the majesty of the Giver be
considered, nothing that is given shall seem small and of no
worth, for that is not a small thing which is given by the Most
High God. Yea, though He gave punishment and stripes, we ought
to be thankful, because He ever doth for our profit whatever He
suffereth to come upon us. He who seeketh to retain the favour
of God, let him be thankful for the favour which is given, and
patient in respect of that which is taken away. Let him pray
that it may return; let him be wary and humble that he lose it

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