Sunday, January 18, 2015

Of the neglect of every creature, that the Creator may be found. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Book 3, Chapter 31


Chapter 31: Of  the neglect of every creature, that the Creator may be found.

O Lord, I still need more grace, if I would arrive where neither
man nor any other creature may hinder me. For so long as
anything keepeth me back, I cannot freely fly unto Thee. He
desired eagerly thus to fly, who cried, saying, Oh that I had
wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest.
What is more peaceful than the single eye? And what more free
than he that desireth nothing upon earth? Therefore must a man
rise above every creature, and perfectly forsake himself, and
with abstracted mind to stand and behold that Thou, the Creator
of all things, hast among Thy creatures nothing like unto
Thyself. And except a man be freed from all creatures, he will
not be able to reach freely after Divine things. Therefore few
are found who give themselves to contemplation, because few know
how to separate themselves entirely from perishing and created
For this, much grace is necessary, which may lift up the soul
and raise it above itself. And except a man be lifted up in the
spirit, and freed from all creatures, and altogether united to
God, whatsoever he knoweth, whatsoever even he hath, it mattereth
but little. He who esteemeth anything great save the one only
incomprehensible, eternal good, shall long time be little and
lie low. For whatsoever is not God is nothing, and ought to be
counted for nothing. Great is the difference between a godly
man, illuminated with wisdom, and a scholar learned in knowledge
and given to books. Far nobler is that doctrine which floweth
down from the divine fullness above, than that which is acquired
laboriously by human study.
Many are found who desire contemplation, but they do not
strive to practice those things which are required thereunto. It
is also a great impediment, that much is made of symbols and
external signs, and too little of thorough mortification. I know
not how it is, and by what spirit we are led, and what we who
would be deemed spiritual are aiming at, that we give so great
labour and so eager solicitude for transitory and worthless
things, and scarcely ever gather our senses together to think at
all of our inward condition.
Ah, me! Forthwith after a little recollection we rush out of
doors, and do not subject our actions to a strict examination.
Where our affections are set we take no heed, and we weep not
that all things belonging to us are so defiled. For because all
flesh had corrupted itself upon the earth, the great deluge came.
Since therefore our inmost affections are very corrupt, it
followeth of necessity that our actions also are corrupt, being
the index of a deficient inward strength. Out of a pure heart
proceedeth the fruit of good living.
We demand, how much a man hath done; but from how much virtue
he acted, is not so narrowly considered. We ask if he be strong,
rich, handsome, clever, whether he is a good writer, good singer,
good workman; but how poor he may be in spirit, how patient and
gentle, how devout and meditative, on these things many are
silent. Nature looketh upon the outward appearance of a man,
grace turneth its thought to the heart. The former frequently
judgeth amiss; the latter trusteth in God, that it may not be

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