Thursday, September 4, 2014

Of the joy of a good conscience. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 2, Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Of the joy of a good conscience
The testimony of a good conscience is the glory of a good man.
Have a good conscience and thou shalt ever have joy. A good
conscience is able to bear exceeding much, and is exceeding
joyful in the midst of adversities; an evil conscience is ever
fearful and unquiet. Thou shalt rest sweetly if thy heart
condemn thee not. Never rejoice unless when thou hast done well.
The wicked have never true joy, nor feel internal peace, for
there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.[Isaiah 57:21] And if they
say “we are in peace, there shall no harm happen unto us, and who
shall dare to do us hurt?” believe them not, for suddenly shall
the wrath of God rise up against them, and their deeds shall be
brought to nought, and their thoughts shall perish.
To glory in tribulation is not grievous to him who loveth; for
such glorying is glorying in the Cross of Christ. Brief is the
glory which is given and received of men. Sadness always goeth
hand in hand with the glory of the world. The glory of the good
is in their conscience, and not in the report of men. The joy of
the upright is from God and in God, and their joy is in the
truth. He who desireth true and eternal glory careth not for
that which is temporal; and he who seeketh temporal glory, or who
despiseth it from his heart, is proved to bear little love for
that which is heavenly. He who careth for neither praises nor
reproaches hath great tranquillity of heart.
He will easily be contented and filled with peace, whose
conscience is pure. Thou art none the holier if thou art
praised, nor the viler if thou art reproached. Thou art what
thou art; and thou canst not be better than God pronounceth thee
to be. If thou considerest well what thou art inwardly, thou
wilt not care what men will say to thee. Man looketh on the
outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart:[1 Samuel 16:7] man
looketh on the deed, but God considereth the intent. It is the
token of a humble spirit always to do well, and to set little by
oneself. Not to look for consolation from any created thing is a
sign of great purity and inward faithfulness.
He that seeketh no outward witness on his own behalf, showeth
plainly that he hath committed himself wholly to God. For not he
that commendeth himself is approved, as St. Paul saith, but whom
the Lord commendeth.[2 Corinthians 10:18] To walk inwardly with God,
and not to be held by any outer affections, is the state of a spiritual man.

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