Imitation of Christ
Thomas á Kempis (Excerpt)
Chapter 15

Book Three
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Of Good Government in Things External, and of having Recourse to God in Dangers


My son, towards this thou oughtest with all diligence to endeavour, that in every place, and in every external action or occupation, thou mayest be inwardly free, and thoroughly master of thyself; and that all things be under thee, and not thou under them; that thou be lord and master of thine own actions, not a slave or a hireling. Rather thou shouldest be as a freed man and a true Hebrew, passing over into the lot and freedom of the sons of God; who stand upon things present, and contemplate things eternal; who look on transitory things with the left eye, and with the right on the things of Heaven; whom temporal things draw not to cleave unto them; rather they draw temporal things to serve them well, in such ways as they are ordained by God, and appointed by the great Work-master, who hath left nothing in His creation without due order.

If too in every event thou stand not in outward seeming, nor with a carnal eye survey things seen or heard, but presently in every affair dost enter with Moses into the Tabernacle to ask counsel of the Lord, thou shalt sometimes hear the Divine Oracle, and shalt return instructed concerning many things, both present and to come. For Moses always had recourse to the Tabernacle for the dissolving of doubts and questions, and fled to the help of prayer, for support under dangers and the iniquity of men. So oughtest thou in like manner to take refuge within the closet of thine heart, very earnestly craving the divine favour. For we read, that for this cause Joshua and the children of Israel were deceived by the Gibeonites, because they asked not beforehand at the mouth of the Lord, but trusting too easily to sweet words, by feigned piety were deluded.

Chapter Thirty-Nine: That a Man should not be Fretful in Matters of Business

My son, commit always to Me thy cause, I will dispose well of it in due time. Wait for My ordering of it, and thou shalt find thy good therefrom.

O Lord, most cheerfully do I commit all unto Thee, for my thinking can little avail. Would that I did not so much dwell on future events, but gave myself up without reluctance to Thy good pleasure.

My son, oftentimes a man vehemently struggleth for somewhat he desireth, but when he hath attained unto it, he beginneth to be of another mind; for the affections remain not firmly around the same thing, but rather drive us from one thing to another. It is no very small thing for a man to forsake himself even in things that are very small.

The true profiting of a man is the denying of himself; and a man that hath denied himself is exceeding free and secure. But the old Enemy, who always setteth himself against all that are good, ceaseth at no time from tempting, but day and night plotteth grievous lyings-in-wait to cast the unwary, if he can, headlong into the snare of deceit. Watch ye, and pray, saith the Lord, that ye enter not into temptation.

Imitation of Christ, Thomas á Kempis, 1900.

To read the entire work, visit Wheaton College. They have an excellent collection of Christian philosophy online.

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RESOURCE: World Civilizations
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