Sunday, December 21, 2014

Of the recollection of God's manifold benefits. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 22


Chapter 22: Of the recollection of God's manifold benefits.

Open, O Lord, my heart in Thy law, and teach me to walk in the
way of Thy commandments. Grant me to understand Thy will and to
be mindful of Thy benefits, both general and special, with great
reverence and diligent meditation, that thus I may be able
worthily to give Thee thanks. Yet I know and confess that I
cannot render Thee due praises for the least of Thy mercies. I
am less than the least of all the good things which Thou gavest
me; and when I consider Thy majesty, my spirit faileth because of
the greatness thereof.
All things which we have in the soul and in the body, and
whatsoever things we possess, whether outwardly or inwardly,
naturally or supernaturally, are Thy good gifts, and prove Thee,
from whom we have received them all, to be good, gentle, and
kind. Although one receiveth many things, and another fewer, yet
all are Thine, and without Thee not even the least thing can be
possessed. He who hath received greater cannot boast that it is
of his own merit, nor lift himself up above others, nor contemn
those beneath him; for he is the greater and the better who
ascribeth least to himself, and in giving thanks is the humbler
and more devout; and he who holdeth himself to be viler than all,
and judgeth himself to be the more unworthy, is the apter for
receiving greater things.
But he who hath received fewer gifts ought not to be cast
down, nor to take it amiss, nor to envy him who is richer; but
rather ought he to look unto Thee, and to greatly extol Thy
goodness, for Thou pourest forth Thy gifts so richly, so freely
and largely, without respect of persons. All things come of
Thee; therefore in all things shalt thou be praised. Thou
knowest what is best to be given to each; and why this man hath
less, and that more, is not for us but for Thee to understand,
for unto Thee each man’s deservings are fully known.
Wherefore, O Lord God, I reckon it even a great benefit, not
to have many things, whence praise and glory may appear
outwardly, and after the thought of men. For so it is that he who
considereth his own poverty and vileness, ought not only to draw
therefrom no grief or sorrow, or sadness of spirit, but rather
comfort and cheerfulness; because Thou, Lord, hast chosen the
poor and humble, and those who are poor in this world, to be Thy
friends and acquaintance. So give all Thine apostles witness
whom Thou hast made princes in all lands. Yet they had their
conversation in this world blameless, so humble and meek, without
any malice or deceit, that they even rejoiced to suffer rebukes
for Thy Name’s sake, and what things the world hateth, they
embraced with great joy.
Therefore ought nothing so much to rejoice him who loveth Thee
and knoweth Thy benefits, as Thy will in him, and the good
pleasure of Thine eternal Providence, wherewith he ought to be so
contented and comforted, that he would as willingly be the least
as any other would be the greatest, as peaceable and contented in
the lowest as in the highest place, and as willingly held of
small and low account and of no name or reputation as to be more
honourable and greater in the world than others. For Thy will
and the love of Thine honour ought to go before all things, and
to please and comfort him more, than all benefits that are given
or may be given to himself.

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