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THE IMITATION OF CHRIST

Book Two

by Thomas a Kempis
Translated by Rev. William Benham


THE SECOND BOOK

ADMONITIONS CONCERNING THE INNER LIFE


CHAPTER I



Of the inner life



The kingdom of God is within you,(1) saith the Lord.  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.



2. 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.(2)  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.



3. 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 to-day, may to-morrow 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,(3)  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.



4. 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.



5. 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.



6. 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 convience or inconvience, 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.



7. 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 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.



8. 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.



(1) Luke xvii. 21.   (2) John xiv. 23.   (3) Hebrews xiii. 14.





CHAPTER II



Of lowly submission



Make no great account who is for thee or against thee, but mind

only the present duty and take care that God be with thee in

whatsoever thou dost.  Have a good conscience and God will defend

thee, for he whom God will help no man's perverseness shall be

able to hurt.  If thou knowest how to hold thy peace and to

suffer, without doubt thou shalt see the help of the Lord.  He

knoweth the time and the way to deliver thee, therefore must thou

resign thyself to Him.  To God it belongeth to help and to

deliver from all confusion.  Oftentimes it is very profitable for

keeping us in greater humilty, that others know and rebuke our

faults.



2. When a man humbleth himself for his defects, he then easily

pacifieth others and quickly satisfieth those that are angered

against him.  God protecteth and delivereth the humble man, He

loveth and comforteth the humble man, to the humble man He

inclineth Himself, on the humble He bestoweth great grace, and

when he is cast down He raiseth him to glory: to the humble He

revealeth His secrets, and sweetly draweth and inviteth him to

Himself.  The humble man having received reproach, is yet in

sufficient peace, because he resteth on God and not on the world.

Reckon not thyself to have profited in anywise unless thou feel

thyself to be inferior to all.





CHAPTER III



Of the good, peaceable man



First keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to be a

peacemaker towards others.  A peaceable man doth more good than a

well-learned.  A passionate man turneth even good into evil and

easily believeth evil; a good, peaceable man converteth all

things into good.  He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of

none, but he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many

suspicions, and is neither quiet himself nor suffereth others to

be quiet.  He often saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth

what it were more expedient for him to do.  He considereth to

what duties others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is

bound himself.  Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then

mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour.



2. Thou knowest well how to excuse and to colour thine own deeds,

but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others.  It would be more

just to accuse thyself and excuse thy brother.  If thou wilt that

others bear with thee, bear thou with others.  Behold how far

thou art as yet from the true charity and humility which knows

not how to be angry or indignant against any save self alone.

It is no great thing to mingle the good and the meek, for this is

naturally pleasing to all, and every one of us willingly enjoyeth

peace and liketh best those who think with us: but to be able to

live peaceably with the hard and perverse, or with the

disorderly, or those who oppose us, this is a great grace and a

thing much to be commended and most worthy of a man.



3. There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also

with others, and there are who neither have peace nor suffer

others to have peace; they are troublesome to others, but always

more troublesome to themselves.  And there are who hold

themselves in peace, and study to bring others unto peace;

nevertheless, all our peace in this sad life lieth in humble

suffering rather than in not feeling adversities.  He who knoweth

best how to suffer shall possess the most peace; that man is

conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the friend of Christ,

and the inheritor of heaven.



CHAPTER IV



Of a pure mind and simple intention



By two wings is man lifted above earthly things, even by

simplicity and purity.  Simplicity ought to be in the intention,

purity in the affection.  Simplicity reacheth toward God, purity

apprehendeth Him and tasteth Him.  No good action will be

distasteful to thee if thou be free within from inordinate

affection.  If thou reachest after and seekest, nothing but the

will of God and the benefit of thy neighbour, thou wilt entirely

enjoy inward liberty.  If thine heart were right, then should

every creature be a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine.

There is no creature so small and vile but that it showeth us the

goodness of God.



2. If thou wert good and pure within, then wouldst thou look upon

all things without hurt and understand them aright.  A pure heart

seeth the very depths of heaven and hell.  Such as each one is

inwardly, so judgeth he outwardly.  If there is any joy in the

world surely the man of pure heart possesseth it, and if there is

anywhere tribulation and anguish, the evil conscience knoweth it

best.  As iron cast into the fire loseth rust and is made

altogether glowing, so the man who turneth himself altogether

unto God is freed from slothfulness and changed into a new man.



3. When a man beginneth to grow lukewarm, then he feareth a

little labour, and willingly accepteth outward consolation; but

when he beginneth perfectly to conquer himself and to walk

manfully in the way of God, then he counteth as nothing those

things which aforetime seemed to be so grievous unto him.





CHAPTER V



Of self-esteem



We cannot place too little confidence in ourselves, because grace

and understanding are often lacking to us.  Little light is there

within us, and what we have we quickly lose by negligence.

Oftentimes we perceive not how great is our inward blindness.  We

often do ill and excuse it worse.  Sometimes we are moved by

passion and count it zeal; we blame little faults in others and

pass over great faults in ourselves.  Quickly enough we feel and

reckon up what we bear at the hands of others, but we reflect not

how much others are bearing from us.  He who would weigh well and

rightly his own doings would not be the man to judge severely of

another.



2. The spiritually-minded man putteth care of himself before all

cares; and he who diligently attendeth to himself easily keepeth

silence concerning others.  Thou wilt never be spiritually minded

and godly unless thou are silent concerning other men's matters

and take full heed to thyself.  If thou think wholly upon thyself

and upon God, what thou seest out of doors shall move thee

little.  Where art thou when thou art not present to thyself? and

when thou hast overrun all things, what hath it profited thee,

thyself being neglected?  If thou wouldst have peace and true

unity, thou must put aside all other things, and gaze only upon

thyself.



3. Then thou shalt make great progress if thou keep thyself free

from all temporal care.  Thou shalt lamentably fall away if thou

set a value upon any worldly thing.  Let nothing be great,

nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable unto thee,

save God Himself or the things of God.  Reckon as altogether vain

whatsoever consolation comes to thee from a creature.  The soul

that loveth God looketh not to anything that is beneath God.  God

alone is eternal and incomprehensible, filling all things, the

solace of the soul, and the true joy of the heart.





CHAPTER VI



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.(1)  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.



2. 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.



3. 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:(2) 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.



4. He that seeketh no outward witness on his 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.(3)  To walk inwardly with God, and not to be

held by any outer affections, is the state of a spiritual man.



(1) Isaiah lvii. 21.   (2) 1 Samuel xvi. 7.

(3) 2 Corinthians x. 18.





CHAPTER VII



Of loving Jesus above all things



Blessed is he who understandeth what it is to love Jesus, and to

despise himself for Jesus' sake.  He must give up all that he

loveth for his Beloved, for Jesus will be loved alone above all

things.  The love of created things is deceiving and unstable,

but the love of Jesus is faithful and lasting.  He who cleaveth

to created things will fall with their slipperiness; but he who

embraceth Jesus will stand upright for ever.  Love Him and hold

Him for thy friend, for He will not forsake thee when all depart

from thee, nor will he suffer thee to perish at the last.  Thou

must one day be separated from all, whether thou wilt or wilt

not.



2. Cleave thou to Jesus in life and death, and commit thyself

unto His faithfulness, who, when all men fail thee, is alone able

to help thee.  Thy Beloved is such, by nature, that He will

suffer no rival, but alone will possess thy heart, and as a king

will sit upon His own throne.  If thou wouldst learn to put away

from thee every created thing, Jesus would freely take up His

abode with thee.  Thou wilt find all trust little better than

lost which thou has placed in men, and not in Jesus.  Trust not

nor lean upon a reed shaken with the wind, because all flesh is

grass, and the goodliness thereof falleth as the flower of the

field.(1)



3. Thou wilt be quickly deceived if thou lookest only upon the

outward appearance of men, for if thou seekest thy comfort and

profit in others, thou shalt too often experience loss.  If thou

seekest Jesus in all things thou shalt verily find Jesus, but if

thou seekest thyself thou shalt also find thyself, but to thine

own hurt.  For if a man seeketh not Jesus he is more hurtful to

himself than all the world and all his adversaries.



(1) Isaiah xl. 6.





CHAPTER VIII



Of the intimate love of Jesus



When Jesus is present all is well and nothing seemeth hard, but

when Jesus is not present everything is hard.  When Jesus

speaketh not within, our comfort is nothing worth, but if Jesus

speaketh but a single word great is the comfort we experience.

Did not Mary Magdalene rise up quickly from the place where she

wept when Martha said to her, The Master is come and calleth for

thee?(2)  Happy hour when Jesus calleth thee from tears to the

joy of the spirit!  How dry and hard art thou without Jesus!  How

senseless and vain if thou desire aught beyond Jesus!  Is not

this greater loss than if thou shouldst lose the whole world?



2. What can the word profit thee without Jesus?  To be without

Jesus is the nethermost hell, and to be with Jesus is sweet

paradise.  If Jesus were with thee no enemy could hurt thee.  He

who findeth Jesus findeth a good treasure, yea, good above all

good; and he who loseth Jesus loseth exceeding much, yea, more

than the whole world.  Most poor is he who liveth without Jesus,

and most rich is he who is much with Jesus.



3. It is great skill to know how to live with Jesus, and to know

how to hold Jesus is great wisdom.  Be thou humble and peaceable

and Jesus shall be with thee.  Be godly and quiet, and Jesus will

remain with thee.  Thou canst quickly drive away Jesus and lose

His favour if thou wilt turn away to the outer things.  And if

thou hast put Him to flight and lost Him, to whom wilt thou flee,

and whom then wilt thou seek for a friend?  Without a friend thou

canst not live long, and if Jesus be not thy friend above all

thou shalt be very sad and desolate.  Madly therefore doest thou

if thou trusteth or findest joy in any other.  It is preferable

to have the whole world against thee, than Jesus offended with

thee.  Therefore of all that are dear to thee, let Jesus be

specially loved.



4. Let all be loved for Jesus' sake, but Jesus for His own.

Jesus Christ alone is to be specially loved, for He alone is

found good and faithful above all friends.  For His sake and in

Him let both enemies and friends be dear to thee, and pray for

them all that they may all know and love Him.  Never desire to be

specially praised or loved, because this belongeth to God alone,

who hath none like unto Himself.  Nor wish thou that any one set

his heart on thee, nor do thou give thyself up to the love of

any, but let Jesus be in thee and in every good man.



5. Be pure and free within thyself, and be not entangled by any

created thing.  Thou oughtest to bring a bare and clean heart to

God, if thou desirest to be ready to see how gracious the Lord

is.  And in truth, unless thou be prevented and drawn on by His

grace, thou wilt not attain to this, that having cast out and

dismissed all else, thou alone art united with God.  For when the

grace of God cometh to a man, then he becometh able to do all

things, and when it departeth then he will be poor and weak and

given up unto troubles.  In these thou art not to be cast down

nor to despair, but to rest with calm mind on the will of God,

and to bear all things which come upon thee unto the praise of

Jesus Christ; for after winter cometh summer, after night

returneth day, after the tempest a great calm.



(2) John xi. 28.





CHAPTER IX



Of the lack of all comfort



It is no hard thing to despise human comfort when divine is

present.  It is a great thing, yea very great, to be able to bear

the loss both of human and divine comfort; and for the love of

God willingly to bear exile of heart, and in nought to seek

oneself, nor to look to one's own merit.  What great matter is

it, if thou be cheerful of heart and devout when favour cometh to

thee?  That is an hour wherein all rejoice.  Pleasantly enough

doth he ride whom the grace of God carrieth.  And what marvel, if

he feeleth no burden who is carried by the Almighty, and is led

onwards by the Guide from on high?



2. We are willing to accept anything for comfort, and it is

difficult for a man to be freed from himself.  The holy martyr

Laurence overcame the love of the world and even of his priestly

master, because he despised everything in the world which seemed

to be pleasant; and for the love of Christ he calmly suffered

even God's chief priest, Sixtus, whom he dearly loved, to be

taken from him.  Thus by the love of the Creator he overcame the

love of man, and instead of human comfort he chose rather God's

good pleasure.  So also learn thou to resign any near and beloved

friend for the love of God.  Nor take it amiss when thou hast

been deserted by a friend, knowing that we must all be parted

from one another at last.



3. Mightily and long must a man strive within himself before he

learn altogether to overcome himself, and to draw his whole

affection towards God.  When a man resteth upon himself, he

easily slippeth away into human comforts.  But a true lover of

Christ, and a diligent seeker after virtue, falleth not back upon

those comforts, nor seeketh such sweetness as may be tasted and

handled, but desireth rather hard exercises, and to undertake

severe labours for Christ.



4. When, therefore, spiritual comfort is given by God, receive it

with giving of thanks, and know that it is the gift of God, not

thy desert.  Be not lifted up, rejoice not overmuch nor foolishly

presume, but rather be more humble for the gift, more wary and

more careful in all thy doings; for that hour will pass away, and

temptation will follow.  When comfort is taken from thee, do not

straightway despair, but wait for the heavenly visitation with

humility and patience, for God is able to give thee back greater

favour and consolation.  This is not new nor strange to those who

have made trial of the way of God, for with the great saints and

the ancient prophets there was often this manner of change.



5. Wherefore one said when the favour of God was present with

him, I said in my prosperity I shall never be moved,(1) but he

goeth on to say what he felt within himself when the favour

departed: Thou didst turn Thy face from me, and I was troubled.

In spite whereof he in no wise despaireth, but the more instantly

entreateth God, and saith, Unto Thee, O Lord, will I cry, and

will pray unto my God; and then he receiveth the fruit of his

prayer, and testifieth how he hath been heard, saying, The Lord

heard me and had mercy upon me, the Lord was my helper.  But

wherein?  Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy, Thou hast put

off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.  If it was thus

with the great saints, we who are poor and needy ought not to

despair if we are sometimes in the warmth and sometimes in the

cold, for the Spirit cometh and goeth according to the good

pleasure of His will.  Wherefore holy Job saith, Thou dost visit

him in the morning, and suddenly Thou dost prove him.(2)



6. Whereupon then can I hope, or wherein may I trust, save only

in the great mercy of God, and the hope of heavenly grace?  For

whether good men are with me, godly brethren or faithful friends,

whether holy books or beautiful discourses, whether sweet hymns

and songs, all these help but little, and have but little savour

when I am deserted by God's favour and left to mine own poverty.

There is no better remedy, then, than patience and denial of

self, and an abiding in the will of God.



7. I have never found any man so religious and godly, but that he

felt sometimes a withdrawal of the divine favour, and lack of

fervour.  No saint was ever so filled with rapture, so

enlightened, but that sooner or later he was tempted.  For he is

not worthy of the great vision of God, who, for God's sake, hath

not been exercised by some temptation.  For tenmptation is wont

to go before as a sign of the comfort which shall follow, and

heavenly comfort is promised to those who are proved by

temptation.  As it is written, To him that overcometh I will

give to at of the tree of life.(3)



8. Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to bear

adversities.  And temptation followeth, lest he be lifted up

because of the benefit.  The devil sleepeth not; thy flesh is not

yet dead; therefore, cease thou not to make thyself ready unto

the battle, for enemies stand on thy right hand and on thy left,

and they are never at rest.



(1) Psalm xxx. 6.  (2) Job vii. 18.  (3) Revelation ii. 7.





CHAPTER X



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.



2. 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.



3. 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

to 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,(1) 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.



4. Sit thou down always in the lowest room and thou shalt be

given the highest place.(2)  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 vain-glory; 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.



5. 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

not.



(1) Matthew xxii. 21.   (2) Luke xiv. 10.





CHAPTER XI



Of the fewness of those who love the Cross of Jesus



Jess hath many lovers of his heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of

His Cross.  He hath many seekers of comfort, but few of

tribulation.  He findeth many companions of His table, but few of

His fasting.  All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to

undergo anything for His sake.  Many follow Jesus that they may

eat of His loaves, but few that they may drink of the cup of His

passion.  Many are astonished at His Miracles, few follow after

the shame of His Cross.  Many love Jesus so long as no

adversities happen to them.  Many praise Him and bless Him, so

long as they receive any comforts from Him.  But if Jesus hide

Himself and withdraw from them a little while, they fall either

into complaining or into too great dejection of mind.



2. But they who love Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not for any

consolation of their own, bless Him in all tribulation and

anguish of heart as in the highest consolation.  And if He should

never give them consolation, nevertheless they would always

praise Him and always give Him thanks.



3. Oh what power hath the pure love of Jesus, unmixed with any

gain or love of self!  Should not all they be called mercenary

who are always seeking consolations?  Do they not prove 

themselves lovers of self more than of Christ who are always

seeking their own gain and advantage?  Where shall be found one

who is willing to serve God altogether for nought?



4. Rarely is any one found so spiritual as to be stripped of all

selfish thoughts, for who shall find a man truly poor in spirit

and free of all created things?  "His value is from afar, yea

from the ends of the earth."  A man may give away all his goods,

yet that is nothing; and if he do many deeds of penitence, yet

that is a small thing; and though he understand all knowledge,

yet that is afar off; and if he have great virtue and zealous

devotion, yet much is lacking unto him, yea, one thing which is

the most necessary to him of all.  What is it then?  That having

given up all things besides, he give up himself and go forth from

himself utterly, and retain nothing of self-love; and having done

all things which he knoweth to be his duty to do, that he feel

that he hath done nothing.  Let him not reckon that much which

might be much esteemed, but let him pronounce himself to be in

truth an unprofitable servant, as the Truth Himself saith, When

ye have done all things that are commanded you, say, we are

unprofitable servants.(1)  Then may he be truly poor and naked in

spirit, and be able to say with the Prophet, As for me, I am poor

and needy.(2)  Nevertheless, no man is richer than he, no man

stronger, no man freer.  For he knoweth both how to give up

himself and all things, and how to be lowly in his own eyes.



(1) Luke xvii. 10.   (2) Psalm xxv. 16.





CHAPTER XII



Of the royal way of the Holy Cross



That seemeth a hard saying to many, If any man will come after

Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me.(1)

But it will be much harder to hear that last sentence, Depart

from me, ye wicked, into eternal fire.(2)  For they who now

willingly hear the word of the Cross and follow it, shall not

then fear the hearing of eternal damnation.  This sign of the

Cross shall be in heaven when the Lord cometh to Judgment.  Then

all servants of the Cross, who in life have conformed themselves

to the Crucified, shall draw nigh unto Christ the Judge with

great boldness.



2. Why fearest thou then to take up the cross which leadeth to a

kingdom?  In the Cross is health, in the Cross is life, in the

Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross is heavenly

sweetness, in the Cross strength of mind, in the Cross joy of

spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross

perfection of holiness.  There is no health of the soul, no hope

of eternal life, save in the Cross.  Take up therefore, thy cross

and follow Jesus and thou shalt go into eternal life.  He went

before thee bearing His Cross and died for thee upon the Cross,

that thou also mayest bear thy cross and mayest love to be

crucified upon it.  For if thou be dead with Him, thou shalt also

live with Him, and if thou be a partaker of His sufferings thou

shalt be also of His glory.



3. Behold everything dependeth upon the Cross, and everything

lieth in dying; and there is none other way unto life and to true

inward peace, except the way of the Holy Cross and of daily

mortification.  Go where thou wilt, seek whatsoever thou wilt,

and thou shalt find no higher way above nor safer way below, than

the way of the Holy Cross.  Dispose and order all things

according to thine own will and judgment, and thou shalt ever

find something to suffer either willingly or unwillingly, and

thus thou shalt ever find thy cross.  For thou shalt either feel

pain of body, or tribulation of spirit within thy soul.



4. Sometimes thou wilt be forsaken of God, sometimes thou wilt be

tried by thy neighbour, and which is more, thou wilt often by

wearisome to thyself.  And still thou canst not be delivered nor

eased by any remedy or consolation, but must bear so long as God

will.  For God will have thee learn to suffer tribulation without

consolation, and to submit thyself fully to it, and by

tribulation by made more humble.  No man understandeth the

Passion of Christ in his heart so well as he who hath had

somewhat of the life suffering himself.  The Cross therefore is

always ready, and every where waiteth for thee.  Thou canst not

flee from it whithersoever thou hurriest, for withersoever thou

comest, thou bearest thyself with thee, and shalt ever find

thyself.  Turn thee above, turn thee below, turn thee without,

turn thee within, and in them all thou shalt find the Cross; and

needful is it that thou everywhere possess patience if thou wilt

have internal peace and gain the everlasting crown.



5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear thee, and will

bring thee to the end which thou seekest, even where there shall

be the end of suffering; though it shall not be here.  If thou

bear it unwillingly, thou makest a burden for thyself and greatly

increaseth thy load, and yet thou must bear it.  If thou cast

away one cross, without doubt thou shalt find another and

perchance a heavier.



6. Thinketh thou to escape what no mortal hath been able to

avoid?  Which of the saints in the world hath been without the

cross and tribulation?  For not even Jesus Christ our Lord was

one hour without the anguish of His Passion, so long as He lived.

It behooved, He said, Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead,

and so to enter into his glory.(3)  And how dost thou seek

another way than this royal way, which is the way of the Holy

Cross?



7. The whole life of Christ was a cross and martyrdom, and dost

thou seek for thyself rest and joy?  Thou art wrong, thou art

wrong, if thou seekest aught but to suffer tribulations, for this

whole mortal life is full of miseries, and set round with

crosses.  And the higher a man hath advanced in spirit, the

heavier crosses he will often find, because the sorrow of his

banishment increaseth with the strength of his love.



8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise afflicted, is not

without refreshment of consolation, because he feeleth abundant

fruit to be growing within him out of the bearing of his cross.

For whilst he willing submitteth himself to it, every burden of

tribulation is turned into an assurance of divine comfort, and

the more the flesh is wasted by affliction, the more is the

spirit strengthened mightily by inward grace.  And ofttimes so

greatly is he comforted by the desire for tribulation and

adversity, through love of conformity to the Cross of Christ,

that he would not be without sorrow and tribulation; for he

believeth that he shall be the more acceptable to God, the more

and the heavier burdens he is able to bear for His sake.  That is

not the virtue of man, but the grace of Christ which hath such

power and energy in the weak flesh, that what it naturally hateth

and fleeth from, this it draweth to and loveth through fervour of

spirit.



9. It is not in the nature of man to bear the cross, to love the

cross, to keep under the body and to bring it into subjection, to

fly from honours, to bear reproaches meekly, to despise self and

desire to be despised, to bear all adversities and losses, and to

desire no prosperity in this world.  If thou lookest to thyself,

thou wilt of thyself be able to do none of this; but if thou

trustest in the Lord, endurance shall be given thee from heaven,

and the world and the flesh shall be made subject to thy command.

Yea, thou shalt not even fear thine adversary the devil, if thou

be armed with faith and signed with the Cross of Christ.



10. Set thyself, therefore, like a good and faithful servant of

Christ, to the manful bearing of the Cross of thy Lord, who out

of love was crucified for thee.  Prepare thyself for the bearing

many adversities and manifold troubles in this wretched life;

because so it shall be with thee wheresoever thou art, and so in

very deed thou shalt find it, wherever thou hide thyself.  This

it must be; and there is no means of escaping from tribulation

and sorrow, except to bear them patiently.  Drink thou lovingly

thy Lord's cup if thou desirest to be His friend and to have thy

lot with Him.  Leave consolations to God, let Him do as seemeth

best to Him concerning them.  But do thou set thyself to endure

tribulations, and reckon them the best consolations; for the

sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared

with the glory which shall be revealed in us,(4) nor would they

be even if thou wert to endure them all.



11. When thou hast come to this, that tribulation is sweet and

pleasant to thee for Christ's sake, then reckon that it is well

with thee, because thou hast found paradise on earth.  So long as

it is hard to thee to suffer and thou desirest to escape, so long

it will not be well with thee, and tribulations will follow thee

everywhere.



12. If thou settest thyself to that thou oughtest, namely, to

suffer and to die, it shall soon go better with thee, and thou

shalt find peace.  Though thou shouldest be caught up with Paul

unto the third heaven,(5) thou art not on that account secure

from suffering evil.  I will show him, saith Jesus, what great

things he must suffer for My Name's sake.(6)  It remaineth,

therefore, to thee to suffer, if thou wilt love Jesus and serve

Him continually.



13. Oh that thou wert worthy to suffer something for the name of

Jesus, how great glory should await thee, what rejoicing among

all the saints of God, what bright example also to thy neighbour!

For all me commend patience, although few be willing to practise

it.  Thou oughtest surely to suffer a little for Christ when many

suffer heavier things for the world.



14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to lead the life of

a dying man.  And the more a man dieth to himself, the more he

beginneth to live towards God.  None is fit for the understanding

of heavenly things, unless he hath submitted himself to bearing

adversities for Christ.  Nothing more acceptable to God, nothing

more healthful for thyself in this world, than to suffer

willingly for Christ.  And if it were thine to choose, thou

oughtest rather to wish to suffer adversities for Christ, than to

be refreshed with manifold consolations, for thou wouldest be

more like Christ and more conformed to all saints.  For our

worthiness and growth in grace lieth not in many delights and

consolations, but rather in bearing many troubles and

adversities.



15. If indeed there had been anything better and more profitable

to the health of men than to suffer, Christ would surely have

shown it by word and example.  For both the disciples who

followed Him, and all who desire to follow Him, He plainly

exhorteth to bear their cross, and saith, If any man will come

after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow

Me.(7)  So now that we have throughly read and studied all

things, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.  We must

through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.(8)



(1) Matthew xvi. 24.   (2) Matthew xxv. 41.   (3) Luke xxiv. 46.

(4) Romans viii. 18.   (5) 2 Corinthians xii. 2.

(6) Acts ix. 16.   (7) Luke ix. 23.   (8) Acts xiv. 21.














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