Imitation of Christ - Chapter 13

• March 11th, 2007


Of resisting temptation

So long as we live in the world, we cannot be without trouble and

trial.  Wherefore it is written in Job, The life of man upon the

earth is a trial.(1)  And therefore ought each of us to give heed

concerning trials and temptations, and watch unto prayer, lest

the devil find occasion to deceive; for he never sleepeth, but

goeth about seeking whom he may devour.  No man is so perfect in

holiness that he hath never temptations, nor can we ever be

wholly free from them.

2. Yet, notwithstanding, temptations turn greatly unto our

profit, even though they be great and hard to bear; for through

them we are humbled, purified, instructed.  All Saints have

passed through much tribulation and temptation, and have profited

thereby.  And they who endured not temptation became reprobate

and fell away.  There is no position so sacred, no place so

secret, that it is without temptations and adversities.

3. There is no man wholly free from temptations so long as he

liveth, because we have the root of temptation within ourselves,

in that we are born in concupiscence.  One temptation or sorrow

passeth, and another cometh; and always we shall have somewhat

to suffer, for we have fallen from perfect happiness. Many who

seek to fly from temptations fall yet more deeply into them.

By flight alone we cannot overcome, but by endurance and

true humility we are made stronger than all our enemies.

4. He who only resisteth outwardly and pulleth not up by the

root, shall profit little; nay, rather temptations will return to

him the more quickly, and will be the more terrible.  Little by

little, through patience and longsuffering, thou shalt conquer by

the help of God, rather than by violence and thine own strength

of will.  In the midst of temptation often seek counsel; and deal

not hardly with one who is tempted, but comfort and strengthen

him as thou wouldest have done unto thyself.

5. The beginning of all temptations to evil is instability of

temper and want of trust in God; for even as a ship without a

helm is tossed about by the waves, so is a man who is careless

and infirm of purpose tempted, now on this side, now on that.

As fire testeth iron, so doth temptation the upright man.

Oftentimes we know not what strength we have; but temptation

revealeth to us what we are.  Nevertheless, we must watch,

especially in the beginnings of temptation; for then is the foe

the more easily mastered, when he is not suffered to enter within

the mind, but is met outside the door as soon as he hath knocked.

Wherefore one saith,

Check the beginnings; once thou might'st have cured,

But now 'tis past thy skill, too long hath it endured.

For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestion, then the

strong imagination, afterwards pleasure, evil affection, assent.

And so little by little the enemy entereth in altogether, because

he was not resisted at the beginning.  And the longer a man

delayeth his resistance, the weaker he groweth, and the stronger

groweth the enemy against him.

6. Some men suffer their most grievous temptations in the

beginning of their conversion, some at the end.  Some are sorely

tried their whole life long.  Some there are who are tempted but

lightly, according to the wisdom and justice of the ordering of

God, who knoweth the character and circumstances of men, and

ordereth all things for the welfare of His elect.

7. Therefore we ought not to despair when we are tempted, but the

more fervently should cry unto God, that He will vouchsafe to

help us in all our tribulation; and that He will, as St. Paul

saith, with the temptation make a way to escape that we may be

able to bear it.(2)  Let us therefore humble ourselves under the

mighty hand of God in all temptation and trouble, for He will

save and exalt such as are of an humble spirit.

8. In temptations and troubles a man is proved, what progress he

hath made, and therein is his reward the greater, and his virtue

doth the more appear.  Nor is it a great thing if a man be devout

and zealous so long as he suffereth no affliction; but if he

behave himself patiently in the time of adversity, then is there

hope of great progress.  Some are kept safe from great

temptations, but are overtaken in those which are little and

common, that the humiliation may teach them not to trust to

themselves in great things, being weak in small things.

(1) Job vii. 1 (Vulg.).   (2) 1 Corinthians x. 13.


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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 12

• March 4th, 2007


Of the uses of adversity

It is good for us that we sometimes have sorrows and adversities,

for they often make a man lay to heart that he is only a stranger

and sojourner, and may not put his trust in any worldly thing.

It is good that we sometimes endure contradictions, and are

hardly and unfairly judged, when we do and mean what is good.

For these things help us to be humble, and shield us from

vain-glory.  For then we seek the more earnestly the witness of

God, when men speak evil of us falsely, and give us no credit for


2. Therefore ought a man to rest wholly upon God, so that he

needeth not seek much comfort at the hand of men.  When a man who

feareth God is afflicted or tried or oppressed with evil

thoughts, then he seeth that God is the more necessary unto him,

since without God he can do no good thing.  Then he is heavy of

heart, he groaneth, he crieth out for the very disquietness of

his heart.  Then he groweth weary of life, and would fain depart

and be with Christ.  By all this he is taught that in the world

there can be no perfect security or fulness of peace.

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Why I believe . . .

• February 19th, 2007

Sun Storm

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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 11

• February 19th, 2007


Of seeking peace of mind and of spiritual progress

We may enjoy abundance of peace if we refrain from busying

ourselves with the sayings and doings of others, and things which

concern not ourselves.  How can he abide long time in peace who

occupieth himself with other men's matters, and with things

without himself, and meanwhile payeth little or rare heed to the

self within?  Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall have

abundance of peace.

2. How came it to pass that many of the Saints were so perfect,

so contemplative of Divine things?  Because they steadfastly

sought to mortify themselves from all worldly desires, and so

were enabled to cling with their whole heart to God, and be free

and at leisure for the thought of Him.  We are too much occupied

with our own affections, and too anxious about transitory things.

Seldom, too, do we entirely conquer even a single fault, nor are

we zealous for daily growth in grace.  And so we remain lukewarm

and unspiritual.

3. Were we fully watchful of ourselves, and not bound in spirit

to outward things, then might we be wise unto salvation, and make

progress in Divine contemplation.  Our great and grievous

stumbling-block is that, not being freed from our affections and

desires, we strive not to enter into the perfect way of the

Saints.  And when even a little trouble befalleth us, too quickly

are we cast down, and fly to the world to give us comfort.

4. If we would quit ourselves like men, and strive to stand firm

in the battle, then should we see the Lord helping us from Heaven.

For He Himself is alway ready to help those who strive and who

trust in Him; yea, He provideth for us occasions of striving, to

the end that we may win the victory.  If we look upon our

progress in religion as a progress only in outward observances

and forms, our devoutness will soon come to an end.  But let us

lay the axe to the very root of our life, that, being cleansed

from affections, we may possess our souls in peace.

5. If each year should see one fault rooted out from us, we

should go quickly on to perfection.  But on the contrary, we

often feel that we were better and holier in the beginning of our

conversion than after many years of profession.  Zeal and

progress ought to increase day by day; yet now it seemeth a great

thing if one is able to retain some portion of his first ardour.

If we would put some slight stress on ourselves at the beginning,

then afterwards we should be able to do all things with ease and


6. It is a hard thing to break through a habit, and a yet harder

thing to go contrary to our own will.  Yet if thou overcome not

slight and easy obstacles, how shalt thou overcome greater ones?

Withstand thy will at the beginning, and unlearn an evil habit,

lest it lead thee little by little into worse difficulties.  Oh,

if thou knewest what peace to thyself thy holy life should bring

to thyself, and what joy to others, methinketh thou wouldst be

more zealous for spiritual profit.

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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 10

• February 12th, 2007


Of the danger of superfluity of words

Avoid as far as thou canst the tumult of men; for talk concerning

worldly things, though it be innocently undertaken, is a

hindrance, so quickly are we led captive and defiled by vanity.

Many a time I wish that I had held my peace, and had not gone

amongst men.  But why do we talk and gossip so continually,

seeing that we so rarely resume our silence without some hurt

done to our conscience?  We like talking so much because we hope

by our conversations to gain some mutual comfort, and because we

seek to refresh our wearied spirits by variety of thoughts.  And

we very willingly talk and think of those things which we love or

desire, or else of those which we most dislike.

2. But alas! it is often to no purpose and in vain.  For this

outward consolation is no small hindrance to the inner comfort

which cometh from God.  Therefore must we watch and pray that

time pass not idly away.  If it be right and desirable for thee

to speak, speak things which are to edification.  Evil custom and

neglect of our real profit tend much to make us heedless of

watching over our lips.  Nevertheless, devout conversation on

spiritual things helpeth not a little to spiritual progress, most

of all where those of kindred mind and spirit find their ground

of fellowship in God.

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Are we Looking?

• February 11th, 2007


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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 9

• February 10th, 2007


Of obedience and subjection

It is verily a great thing to live in obedience, to be under authority, and not to be at our own disposal. Far safer is it to live in subjection than in a place of authority. Many are in obedience from necessity rather than from love; these take it amiss, and repine for small cause. Nor will they gain freedom of spirit, unless with all their heart they submit themselves for the love of God. Though thou run hither and thither, thou wilt not find peace, save in humble subjection to the authority of him who is set over thee. Fancies about places and change of them have deceived many.

2. True it is that every man willingly followeth his own bent, and is the more inclined to those who agree with him. But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby.

3. Ofttimes I have heard that it is safer to hearken and to receive counsel than to give it. It may also come to pass that each opinion may be good; but to refuse to hearken to others when reason or occasion requireth it, is a mark of pride or wilfulness.

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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 8

• February 9th, 2007


Of the danger of too much familiarity

Open not thine heart to every man, but deal with one who is wise and feareth God. Be seldom with the young and with strangers. Be not a flatterer of the rich; nor willingly seek the society of the great. Let thy company be the humble and the simple, the devout and the gentle, and let thy discourse be concerning things which edify. Be not familiar with any woman, but commend all good women alike unto God. Choose for thy companions God and His Angels only, and flee from the notice of men.

2. We must love all men, but not make close companions of all. It sometimes falleth out that one who is unknown to us is highly regarded through good report of him, whose actual person is nevertheless unpleasing to those who behold it. We sometimes think to please others by our intimacy, and forthwith displease them the more by the faultiness of character which they perceive in us.

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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 7

• February 6th, 2007


Of fleeing from vain hope and pride

Vain is the life of that man who putteth his trust in men or in any created Thing. Be not ashamed to be the servant of others for the love of Jesus Christ, and to be reckoned poor in this life. Rest not upon thyself, but build thy hope in God. Do what lieth in thy power, and God will help thy good intent. Trust not in thy learning, nor in the cleverness of any that lives, but rather trust in the favour of God, who resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.

2. Boast not thyself in thy riches if thou hast them, nor in thy friends if they be powerful, but in God, who giveth all things, and in addition to all things desireth to give even Himself. Be not lifted up because of thy strength or beauty of body, for with only a slight sickness it will fail and wither away. Be not vain of thy skilfulness or ability, lest thou displease God, from whom cometh every good gift which we have.

3. Count not thyself better than others, lest perchance thou appear worse in the sight of God, who knoweth what is in man. Be not proud of thy good works, for God's judgments are of another sort than the judgments of man, and what pleaseth man is ofttimes displeasing to Him. If thou hast any good, believe that others have more, and so thou mayest preserve thy humility. It is no harm to thee if thou place thyself below all others; but it is great harm if thou place thyself above even one. Peace is ever with the humble man, but in the heart of the proud there is envy and continual wrath.

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Imitation of Christ - Chapter 6

• February 5th, 2007


Of inordinate affections

Whensoever a man desireth aught above measure, immediately he becometh restless. The proud and the avaricious* man are never at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the multitude of peace. The man who is not yet wholly dead to self, is soon tempted, and is overcome in small and trifling matters. It is hard for him who is weak in spirit, and still in part carnal and inclined to the pleasures of sense, to withdraw himself altogether from earthly desires. And therefore, when he withdraweth himself from these, he is often sad, and easily angered too if any oppose his will.

2. But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination, immediately he is weighed down by the condemnation of his conscience; for that he hath followed his own desire, and yet in no way attained the peace which he hoped for. For true peace of heart is to be found in resisting passion, not in yielding to it. And therefore there is no peace in the heart of a man who is carnal, nor in him who is given up to the things that are without him, but only in him who is fervent towards God and living the life of the Spirit.

*having or showing an extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

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