Imitation of Christ: Book 3

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST

By Thomas a Kempis

THE THIRD BOOK

ON INWARD CONSOLATION

CHAPTER I

Of the inward voice of Christ to the faithful soul

I will hearken what the Lord God shall say within me.(1) Blessed
is the soul which heareth the Lord speaking within it, and
receiveth the word of consolation from His mouth. Blessed are
the ears which receive the echoes of the soft whisper of God, and
turn not aside to the whisperings of this world. Blessed truly
are the ears which listen not to the voice that soundeth without,
but to that which teacheth truth inwardly. Blessed are the eyes
which are closed to things without, but are fixed upon things
within. Blessed are they who search inward things and study to
prepare themselves more and more by daily exercises for the
receiving of heavenly mysteries. Blessed are they who long to
have leisure for God, and free themselves from every hindrance of
the world. Think on these things, O my soul, and shut the doors
of thy carnal desires, so mayest thou hear what the Lord God will
say within thee.

2. These things saith thy Beloved, “I am thy salvation, I am thy
peace and thy life. Keep thee unto Me, and thou shalt find
peace.” Put away thee all transitory things, seek those things
that are eternal. For what are all temporal things but deceits,
and what shall all created things help thee if thou be forsaken
by the Creator? Therefore put all things else away, and give
thyself to the Creator, to be well pleasing and faithful to Him,
that thou mayest be able to attain true blessedness.

(1) Psalm lxxxv. 8.
CHAPTER II

What the truth saith inwardly without noise of words

Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.(1) I am Thy servant; O give
me understanding that I may know Thy testimonies. Incline my
heart unto the words of Thy mouth.(2) Let thy speech distil as
the dew. The children of Israel spake in old time to Moses,
Speak thou unto us and we will hear, but let not the Lord speak
unto us lest we die.(3) Not thus, O Lord, not thus do I pray,
but rather with Samuel the prophet, I beseech Thee humbly and
earnestly, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Let not Moses
speak to me, nor any prophet, but rather speak Thou, O Lord, who
didst inspire and illuminate all the prophets; for Thou alone
without them canst perfectly fill me with knowledge, whilst they
without Thee shall profit nothing.

2. They can indeed utter words, but they give not the spirit.
They speak with exceeding beauty, but when Thou art silent they
kindle not the heart. They give us scriptures, but Thou makest
known the sense thereof. They bring us mysteries, but Thou
revealest the things which are signified. They utter
commandments, but Thou helpest to the fulfilling of them. They
show the way, but Thou givest strength for the journey. They act
only outwardly, but Thou dost instruct and enlighten the heart.
They water, but Thou givest the increase. They cry with words,
but Thou givest understanding to the hearer.

3. Therefore let not Moses speak to me, but Thou, O Lord my God,
Eternal Truth; lest I die and bring forth no fruit, being
outwardly admonished, but not enkindled within; lest the word
heard but not followed, known but not loved, believed but not
obeyed, rise up against me in the judgment. Speak, Lord, for Thy
servant heareth; Thou hast the words of eternal life.(4) Speak
unto me for some consolation unto my soul, for the amendment of
my whole life, and for the praise and glory and eternal honour of
Thy Name.

(1) 1 Samuel iii. 9. (2) Psalm cxix. 125. (3) Exodus xx. 19.
(4) John vi. 68.
CHAPTER III

How all the words of God are to be heard with humility, and how
many consider them not

“My Son, hear My words, for My words are most sweet, surpassing
all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of this world.
My words are spirit, and they are life,(1) and are not to be
weighed by man’s understanding. They are not to be drawn forth
for vain approbation, but to be heard in silence, and to be
received with all humility and with deep love.”

2. And I said, “Blessed is the man whom Thou teachest, O Lord,
and instructest him in Thy law, that Thou mayest give him rest in
time of adversity,(2) and that he be not desolate in the earth.”

3. “I,” saith the Lord, “taught the prophets from the beginning,
and even now cease I not to speak unto all; but many are deaf and
hardened against My voice; many love to listen to the world
rather than to God, they follow after the desires of the flesh
more readily than after the good pleasure of God. The world
promiseth things that are temporal and small, and it is served
with great eagerness. I promise things that are great and
eternal, and the hearts of mortals are slow to stir. Who serveth
and obeyeth Me in all things, with such carefulness as he serveth
the world and its rulers?

Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, saith the sea;(3)
And if thou reason seekest, hear thou me.

For a little reward men make a long journey; for eternal life
many will scarce lift a foot once from the ground. Mean reward
is sought after; for a single piece of money sometimes there is
shameful striving; for a thing which is vain and for a trifling
promise, men shrink not from toiling day and night.”

4. “But, O shame! for an unchangeable good, for an inestimable
reward, for the highest honour and for a glory that fadeth not
away, it is irksome to them to toil even a little. Be thou
ashamed therefore, slothful and discontented servant, for they
are found readier unto perdition than thou unto life. They
rejoice more heartily in vanity than thou in the truth.
Sometimes, indeed, they are disappointed of their hope, but my
promise faileth no man, nor sendeth away empty him who trusteth
in Me. What I have promised I will give; what I have said I will
fulfil; if only a man remain faithful in My love unto the end.
Therefore am I the rewarder of all good men, and a strong
approver of all who are godly.

5. “Write My words in thy heart and consider them diligently, for
they shall be very needful to thee in time of temptation. What
thou understandest not when thou readest, thou shalt know in the
time of thy visitation. I am wont to visit Mine elect in twofold
manner, even by temptation and by comfort, and I teach them two
lessons day by day, the one in chiding their faults, the other in
exhorting them to grow in grace. He who hath My words and
rejecteth them, hath one who shall judge him at the last day.”
A PRAYER FOR THE SPIRIT OF DEVOTION

6. O Lord my God, Thou art all my good, and who am I that I
should dare to speak unto Thee? I am the very poorest of Thy
servants, an abject worm, much poorer and more despicable than I
know or dare to say. Nevertheless remember, O Lord, that I am
nothing, I have nothing, and can do nothing. Thou only art good,
just and holy; Thou canst do all things, art over all things,
fillest all things, leaving empty only the sinner. Call to mind
Thy tender mercies, and fill my heart with Thy grace, Thou who
wilt not that Thy work should return to Thee void.

7. How can I bear this miserable life unless Thy mercy and grace
strengthen me? Turn not away Thy face from me, delay not Thy
visitation. Withdraw not Thou Thy comfort from me, lest my soul
“gasp after thee as a thirsty land.” Lord, teach me to do Thy
will, teach me to walk humbly and uprightly before Thee, for Thou
art my wisdom, who knowest me in truth, and knewest me before the
world was made and before I was born into the world.

(1) John vi. 63. (2) Psalm xciv. 13. (3) Isaiah xxiii. 4.
CHAPTER IV

How we must walk in truth and humility before God

“My Son! walk before Me in truth, and in the simplicity of thy
heart seek Me continually. He who walketh before Me in the truth
shall be safe from evil assaults, and the truth shall deliver him
from the wiles and slanders of the wicked. If the truth shall
make thee free, thou shalt be free indeed, and shalt not care for
the vain words of men.”

2. Lord, it is true as Thou sayest; let it, I pray Thee, be so
with me; let Thy truth teach me, let it keep me and preserve me
safe unto the end. Let it free me from all evil and inordinate
affection, and I will walk before Thee in great freedom of heart.

3. “I will teach thee,” saith the Truth, “the things which are
right and pleasing before Me. Think upon thy sins with great
displeasure and sorrow, and never think thyself anything because
of thy good works. Verily thou art a sinner, liable to many
passions, yea, tied and bound with them. Of thyself thou always
tendest unto nothing, thou wilt quickly fall, quickly be
conquered, quickly disturbed, quickly undone. Thou hast nought
whereof to glory, but many reasons why thou shouldest reckon
thyself vile, for thou art far weaker than thou art able to
comprehend.

4. “Let, therefore, nothing which thou doest seem to thee great;
let nothing be grand, nothing of value or beauty, nothing worthy
of honour, nothing lofty, nothing praiseworthy or desirable,
save what is eternal. Let the eternal truth please thee above
all things, let thine own great vileness displease thee
continually. Fear, denounce, flee nothing so much as thine own
faults and sins, which ought to be more displeasing to thee than
any loss whatsoever of goods. There are some who walk not
sincerely before me, but being led by curiosity and pride, they
desire to know my secret things and to understand the deep things
of God, whilst they neglect themselves and their salvation.
These often fall into great temptations and sins because of their
pride and curiosity, for I am against them.

5. “Fear thou the judgments of God, fear greatly the wrath of the
Almighty. Shrink from debating upon the works of the Most High,
but search narrowly thine own iniquities into what great sins
thou hast fallen, and how many good things thou hast neglected.
There are some who carry their devotion only in books, some in
pictures, some in outward signs and figures; some have Me in
their mouths, but little in their hearts. Others there are who,
being enlightened in their understanding and purged in their
affections, continually long after eternal things, hear of
earthly things with unwillingness, obey the necessities of nature
with sorrow. And these understand what the Spirit of truth
speaketh in them; for He teacheth them to despise earthly things
and to love heavenly; to neglect the world and to desire heaven
all the day and night.”
CHAPTER V

Of the wonderful power of the Divine Love

I bless Thee, O Heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ,
for that Thou hast vouchsafed to think of me, poor that I am. O,
Father of Mercies and God of all comfort,(1) I give thanks unto
Thee, who refreshest me sometimes with thine own comfort, when I
am unworthy of any comfort. I bless and glorify Thee
continually, with thine only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, the
Paraclete, for ever and ever. O Lord God, Holy lover of my soul,
when Thou shalt come into my heart, all my inward parts shall
rejoice. Thou art my glory and the joy of my heart. Thou art my
hope and my refuge in the day of my trouble.

2. But because I am still weak in love and imperfect in virtue, I
need to be strengthened and comforted by Thee; therefore visit
Thou me often and instruct me with Thy holy ways of discipline.
Deliver me from evil passions, and cleanse my heart from all
inordinate affections, that, being healed and altogether cleansed
within, I may be made ready to love, strong to suffer, steadfast
to endure.

3. Love is a great thing, a good above all others, which alone
maketh every heavy burden light, and equaliseth every inequality.
For it beareth the burden and maketh it no burden, it maketh
every bitter thing to be sweet and of good taste. The surpassing
love of Jesus impelleth to great works, and exciteth to the
continual desiring of greater perfection. Love willeth to be
raised up, and not to be held down by any mean thing. Love
willeth to be free and aloof from all worldly affection, lest its
inward power of vision be hindered, lest it be entangled by any
worldly prosperity or overcome by adversity. Nothing is sweeter
than love, nothing stronger, nothing loftier, nothing broader,
nothing pleasanter, nothing fuller or better in heaven nor on
earth, for love was born of God and cannot rest save in God above
all created things.

4. He who loveth flyeth, runneth, and is glad; he is free and not
hindered. He giveth all things for all things, and hath all
things in all things, because he resteth in One who is high above
all, from whom every good floweth and proceedeth. He looketh not
for gifts, but turneth himself to the Giver above all good
things. Love oftentimes knoweth no measure, but breaketh out
above all measure; love feeleth no burden, reckoneth not labours,
striveth after more than it is able to do, pleadeth not
impossibility, because it judgeth all things which are lawful for
it to be possible. It is strong therefore for all things, and it
fulfilleth many things, and is successful where he who loveth not
faileth and lieth down.

5. Love is watchful, and whilst sleeping still keepeth watch;
though fatigued it is not weary, though pressed it is not forced,
though alarmed it is not terrified, but like the living flame and
the burning torch, it breaketh forth on high and securely
triumpheth. If a man loveth, he knoweth what this voice crieth.
For the ardent affection of the soul is a great clamour in the
ears of God, and it saith: My God, my Beloved! Thou art all
mine, and I am all Thine.

6. Enlarge Thou me in love, that I may learn to taste with the
innermost mouth of my heart how sweet it is to love, to be
dissolved, and to swim in love. Let me be holden by love,
mounting above myself through exceeding fervour and admiration.
Let me sing the song of love, let me follow Thee my Beloved on
high, let my soul exhaust itself in Thy praise, exulting with
love. Let me love Thee more than myself, not loving myself
except for Thy sake, and all men in Thee who truly love Thee, as
the law of love commandeth which shineth forth from Thee.

7. Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong,
patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, manly, and never
seeking her own; for wheresoever a man seeketh his own, there he
falleth from love. Love is circumspect, humble, and upright; not
weak, not fickle, nor intent on vain things; sober, chaste,
steadfast, quiet, and guarded in all the senses. Love is subject
and obedient to all that are in authority, vile and lowly in its
own sight, devout and grateful towards God, faithful and always
trusting in Him even when God hideth His face, for without
sorrow we cannot live in love.

8. He who is not ready to suffer all things, and to conform to
the will of the Beloved, is not worthy to be called a lover of
God. It behoveth him who loveth to embrace willingly all hard
and bitter things for the Beloved’s sake, and not to be drawn
away from Him because of any contrary accidents.

(1) 2 Corinthians i. 3.
CHAPTER VI

Of the proving of the true lover

“My Son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love.”

2. Wherefore, O my Lord?

3. “Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy
undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The
strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the
evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so
in adversity I do not displease.

4. “The prudent lover considereth not the gift of the lover so
much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more
than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved.
The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every
gift.

5. “All is not lost, though thou sometimes think of Me or of My
saints, less than thou shouldest desire. That good and sweet
affection which thou sometimes perceivest is the effect of
present grace and some foretaste of the heavenly country; but
hereon thou must not too much depend, for it goeth and cometh.
But to strive against the evil motions of the mind which come to
us, and to resist the suggestions of the devil, is a token of
virtue and great merit.

6. “Therefore let not strange fancies disturb thee, whencesoever
they arise. Bravely observe thy purpose and thy upright
intentions towards God. It is not an illusion when thou art
sometimes suddenly carried away into rapture, and then suddenly
art brought back to the wonted vanities of thy heart. For thou
dost rather unwillingly undergo them than cause them; and so long
as they displease thee and thou strivest against them, it is a
merit and no loss.

7. “Know thou that thine old enemy altogether striveth to hinder
thy pursuit after good, and to deter thee from every godly
exercise, to wit, the contemplation of the Saints, the pious
remembrance of My passion, the profitable recollection of sin,
the keeping of thy own heart, and the steadfast purpose to grow
in virtue. He suggesteth to thee many evil thoughts, that he may
work in thee weariness and terror, and so draw thee away from
prayer and holy reading. Humble confession displeaseth him, and
if he were able he would make thee to cease from Communion.
Believe him not, nor heed him, though many a time he hath laid
for thee the snares of deceit. Account it to be from him, when
he suggesteth evil and unclean thoughts. Say unto him, ‘Depart
unclean spirit; put on shame, miserable one; horribly unclean art
thou, who bringest such things to mine ears. Depart from me,
detestable deceiver; thou shalt have no part in me; but Jesus
shall be with me, as a strong warrior, and thou shalt stand
confounded. Rather would I die and bear all suffering, than
consent unto thee. Hold thy peace and be dumb; I will not hear
thee more, though thou plottest more snares against me. The Lord
is my light and my salvation: whom then shall I fear? Though a
host of men should rise up against me, yet shall not my heart be
afraid. The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer.’(1)

8. “Strive thou like a good soldier; and if sometimes thou fail
through weakness, put on thy strength more bravely than before,
trusting in My more abundant grace, and take thou much heed of
vain confidence and pride. Because of it many are led into
error, and sometimes fall into blindness well-nigh irremediable.
Let this ruin of the proud, who foolishly lift themselves up, be
to thee for a warning and a continual exhortation to humility.”

(1) Psalms xxvii. 1-3; xix. 14.
CHAPTER VII

Of hiding our grace under the guard of humility

“My Son, it is better and safer for thee to hide the grace of
devotion, and not to lift thyself up on high, nor to speak much
thereof, nor to value it greatly; but rather to despise thyself,
and to fear as though this grace were given to one unworthy
thereof. Nor must thou depend too much upon this feeling, for it
can very quickly be turned into its opposite. Think when thou
art in a state of grace how miserable and poor thou art wont to
be without grace. Nor is there advance in spiritual life in this
alone, that thou hast the grace of consolation, but that thou
humbly and unselfishly and patiently takest the withdrawal
thereof; so that thou cease not from the exercise of prayer, nor
suffer thy other common duties to be in anywise neglected; rather
do thy task more readily, as though thou hadst gained more
strength and knowledge; and do not altogether neglect thyself
because of the dearth and anxiety of spirit which thou feelest.

2. “For there are many who, when things have not gone prosperous
with them, become forthwith impatient or slothful. For the way
of a man is not in himself,(1) but it is God’s to give and to
console, when He will, and as much as He will, and whom He will,
as it shall please Him, and no further. Some who were
presumptuous because of the grace of devotion within them, have
destroyed themselves, because they would do more than they were
able, not considering the measure of their own littleness, but
rather following the impulse of the heart than the judgment of
the reason. And because they presumed beyond what was
well-pleasing unto God, therefore they quickly lost grace. They
became poor and were left vile, who had built for themselves
their nest in heaven; so that being humbled and stricken with
poverty, they might learn not to fly with their own wings, but
to put their trust under My feathers. They who are as yet new
and unskilled in the way of the Lord, unless they rule themselves
after the counsel of the wise, may easily be deceived and led
away.

3. “But if they wish to follow their own fancies rather than
trust the experience of others, the result will be very dangerous
to them if they still refuse to be drawn away from their own
notion. Those who are wise in their own conceits, seldom
patiently endure to be ruled by others. It is better to have a
small portion of wisdom with humility, and a slender
understanding, than great treasures of sciences with vain
self-esteem. It is better for thee to have less than much of
what may make thee proud. He doeth not very discreetly who
giveth up himself entirely to joy, forgetting his former
helplessness and the chaste fear of the Lord, which feareth to
lose the grace offered. Nor is he very wise, after a manly sort,
who in time of adversity, or any trouble whatsoever, beareth
himself too despairingly, and feeleth concerning Me less
trustfully than he ought.

4. “He who in time of peace willeth to be oversecure shall be
often found in time of war overdispirited and full of fears. If
thou knewest always how to continue humble and moderate in
thyself, and to guide and rule thine own spirit well, thou
wouldest not so quickly fall into danger and mischief. It is
good counsel that when fervour of spirit is kindled, thou
shouldest meditate how it will be with thee when the light is
taken away. Which when it doth happen, remember that still the
light may return again, which I have taken away for a time for a
warning to thee, and also for mine own glory. Such a trial is
often more useful than if thou hadst always things prosperous
according to thine own will.

5. “For merits are not to be reckoned by this, that a man hath
many visions or consolations, or that he is skilled in the
Scriptures, or that he is placed in a high situation; but that he
is grounded upon true humility and filled with divine charity,
that he always purely and uprightly seeketh the honour of God,
that he setteth not by himself, but unfeignedly despiseth
himself, and even rejoiceth to be despised and humbled by others
more than to be honoured.”

(1) Jeremiah x. 23.
CHAPTER VIII

Of a low estimation of self in the sight of God

I will speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. If I count
myself more, behold Thou standest against me, and my iniquities
bear true testimony, and I cannot gainsay it. But if I abase
myself, and bring myself to nought, and shrink from all
self-esteem, and grind myself to dust, which I am, Thy grace will
be favourable unto me, and Thy light will be near unto my heart;
and all self-esteem, how little soever it be, shall be swallowed
up in the depths of my nothingness, and shall perish for ever.
There Thou showest to me myself, what I am, what I was, and
whither I have come: so foolish was I and ignorant.(1) If I am
left to myself, behold I am nothing, I am all weakness; but if
suddenly Thou look upon me, immediately I am made strong, and
filled with new joy. And it is great marvel that I am so
suddenly lifted up, and so graciously embraced by Thee, since I
am always being carried to the deep by my own weight.

2. This is the doing of Thy love which freely goeth before me and
succoureth me in so many necessities, which guardeth me also in
great dangers and snatcheth me, as I may truly say, from
innumerable evils. For verily, by loving myself amiss, I lost
myself, and by seeking and sincerely loving Thee alone, I found
both myself and Thee, and through love I have brought myself to
yet deeper nothingness: because Thou, O most sweet Lord, dealest
with me beyond all merit, and above all which I dare ask or
think.

3. Blessed be Thou, O my God, because though I be unworthy of all
Thy benefits, Thy bountiful and infinite goodness never ceaseth
to do good even to ingrates and to those who are turned far from
Thee. Turn Thou us unto Thyself, that we may be grateful,
humble, and godly, for Thou art our salvation, our courage, and
our strength.

(1) Psalm lxxiii. 22.
CHAPTER IX

That all things are to be referred to God, as the final end

“My Son, I must be thy Supreme and final end, if thou desirest to
be truly happy. Out of such purpose thy affection shall be
purified, which too often is sinfully bent upon itself and upon
created things. For if thou seekest thyself in any matter,
straightway thou wilt fail within thyself and grow barren.
Therefore refer everything to Me first of all, for it is I who
gave thee all. So look upon each blessing as flowing from the
Supreme Good, and thus all things are to be attributed to Me as
their source.

2. “From Me the humble and great, the poor and the rich, draw
water as from a living fountain, and those who serve Me with a
free and faithful spirit shall receive grace for grace. But he
who will glory apart from Me, or will be delighted with any good
which lieth in himself, shall not be established in true joy, nor
shall be enlarged in heart, but shall be greatly hindered and
thrown into tribulation. Therefore thou must not ascribe any
good to thyself, nor look upon virtue as belonging to any man,
but ascribe it all unto God, without whom man hath nothing.
I gave all, I will receive all again, and with great strictness
require I the giving of thanks.

3. “This is the Truth, and by it the vanity of boasting is put to
flight. And if heavenly grace and true charity shall enter into
thee, there shall be no envy, nor straitening of the heart, nor
shall any self-love take possession of thee. For divine charity
conquereth all things, and enlargeth all the powers of the soul.
If thou art truly wise, thou wilt rejoice in Me alone, thou wilt
hope in Me alone; for there is none good but one, that is God,(1)
Who is to be praised above all things, and in all things to
receive blessing.”

(1) Luke xviii. 19.
CHAPTER X

That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God

Now will I speak again, O my Lord, and hold not my peace; I will
say in the ears of my God, my Lord, and my King, who is exalted
above all, Oh how plentiful is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid
up for them that fear Thee!(1) But what art Thou to those who
love Thee? What to those who serve Thee with their whole heart?
Truly unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of Thee,
which Thou bestowest upon those who love Thee. In this most of
all Thou hast showed me the sweetness of Thy charity, that when I
was not, Thou madest me, and when I wandered far from Thee, Thou
broughtest me back that I might serve Thee, and commandedst me to
love Thee.

2. O Fountain of perpetual love, what shall I say concerning
Thee? How shall I be unmindful of Thee, who didst vouchsafe to
remember me, even after I pined away and perished? Thou hast had
mercy beyond all hope upon Thy servant, and hast showed Thy grace
and friendship beyond all deserving. What reward shall I render
Thee for this Thy grace? For it is not given unto all to
renounce this world and its affairs, and to take up a religious
life. For is it a great thing that I should serve Thee, whom
every creature ought to serve? It ought not to seem a great
thing to me to serve Thee; but rather this appeareth to me a
great and wonderful thing, that Thou vouchsafest to receive as
Thy servant one so poor and unworthy, and to join him unto Thy
chosen servants.

3. Behold all things which I have are Thine, and with them I
serve Thee. And yet verily it is Thou who servest me, rather
than I Thee. Behold the heaven and the earth which Thou hast
created for the service of men; they are at Thy bidding, and
perform daily whatsoever Thou dost command. Yea, and this is
little; for Thou hast even ordained the Angels for the service of
man. But it surpasseth even all these things, that Thou Thyself
didst vouchsafe to minister unto man, and didst promise that Thou
wouldest give Thyself unto him.

4. What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy manifold
mercies? Oh that I were able to serve Thee all the days of my
life! Oh that even for one day I were enabled to do Thee service
worthy of Thyself! For verily Thou art worthy of all service,
all honour, and praise without end. Verily Thou art my God, and
I am Thy poor servant, who am bound to serve Thee with all my
strength, nor ought I ever to grow weary of Thy praise. This is
my wish, this is my exceeding great desire, and whatsoever is
lacking to me, vouchsafe Thou to supply.

5. It is great honour, great glory to serve Thee, and to despise
all for Thy sake. For they shall have great grace who of their
own will shall submit themselves to Thy most holy service. They
who for Thy love have cast away every carnal delight shall find
the sweetest consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter the
narrow way of life for Thy Name’s sake, and have put away all
worldly cares, shall attain great liberty of spirit.

6. Oh grateful and delightsome service of God, whereby man is
made truly free and holy! Oh sacred condition of the religious
servant, which maketh man equal to the Angels, well-pleasing unto
God, terrible to evil spirits, and acceptable to all faithful
ones! Oh service to be embraced and ever desired, in which the
highest good is promised, and joy is gained which shall remain
for evermore!

(1) Psalm xxxi. 21.
CHAPTER XI

That the desires of the heart are to be examined and governed

“My Son, thou hast still many things to learn, which thou hast
not well learned yet.”

2. What are they, Lord?

3. “To place thy desire altogether in subjection to My good
pleasure, and not to be a lover of thyself, but an earnest seeker
of My will. Thy desires often excite and urge thee forward; but
consider with thyself whether thou art not more moved for thine
own objects than for My honour. If it is Myself that thou
seekest, thou shalt be well content with whatsoever I shall
ordain; but if any pursuit of thine own lieth hidden within thee,
behold it is this which hindereth and weigheth thee down.

4. “Beware, therefore, lest thou strive too earnestly after some
desire which thou hast conceived, without taking counsel of Me;
lest haply it repent thee afterwards, and that displease thee
which before pleased, and for which thou didst long as for a
great good. For not every affection which seemeth good is to be
forthwith followed; neither is every opposite affection to be
immediately avoided. Sometimes it is expedient to use restraint
even in good desires and wishes, lest through importunity thou
fall into distraction of mind, lest through want of discipline
thou become a stumbling-block to others, or lest by the
resistance of others thou be suddenly disturbed and brought to
confusion.

5. “Sometimes, indeed, it is needful to use violence, and
manfully to strive against the sensual appetite, and not to
consider what the flesh may or not will; but rather to strive
after this, that it may become subject, however unwillingly, to
the spirit. And for so long it ought to be chastised and
compelled to undergo slavery, even until it be ready for all
things, and learn to be contented with little, to be delighted
with things simple, and never to murmur at any inconvenience.”
CHAPTER XII

Of the inward growth of patience, and of the struggle against
evil desires

O Lord God, I see that patience is very necessary unto me; for
many things in this life fall out contrary. For howsoever I may
have contrived for my peace, my life cannot go on without strife
and trouble.

2. “Thou speakest truly, My Son. For I will not that thou seek
such a peace as is without trials, and knoweth no adversities;
but rather that thou shouldest judge thyself to have found peace,
when thou art tried with manifold tribulations, and proved by
many adversities. If thou shalt say that thou art not able to
bear much, how then wilt thou sustain the fire hereafter? Of two
evils we should always choose the less. Therefore, that thou
mayest escape eternal torments hereafter, strive on God’s behalf
to endure present evils bravely. Thinkest thou that the children
of this world suffer nought, or but little? Thou wilt not find
it so, even though thou find out the most prosperous.

3. “‘But,’ thou wilt say, ‘they have many delights, and they
follow their own wills, and thus they bear lightly their
tribulations.’

4. “Be it so, grant that they have what they list; but how long,
thinkest thou, will it last? Behold, like the smoke those who are
rich in this world will pass away, and no record shall remain of
their past joys. Yea, even while they yet live, they rest not
without bitterness and weariness and fear. For from the very
same thing wherein they find delight, thence they oftentimes have
the punishment of sorrow. Justly it befalleth them, that because
out of measure they seek out and pursue pleasures, they enjoy
them not without confusion and bitterness. Oh how short, how
false, how inordinate and wicked are all these pleasures! Yet
because of their sottishness and blindness men do not understand;
but like brute beasts, for the sake of a little pleasure of this
corruptible life, they incur death of the soul. Thou therefore,
my son, go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself from thine
appetites.(1) Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee
thy heart’s desire.(2)

5. “For if thou wilt truly find delight, and be abundantly
comforted of Me, behold in the contempt of all worldly things and
in the avoidance of all worthless pleasures shall be thy
blessing, and fulness of consolation shall be given thee. And
the more thou withdrawest thyself from all solace of creatures,
the more sweet and powerful consolations shalt thou find. But at
the first thou shalt not attain to them, without some sorrow and
hard striving. Long-accustomed habit will oppose, but it shall
be overcome by better habit. The flesh will murmur again and
again, but will be restrained by fervour of spirit. The old
serpent will urge and embitter thee, but will be put to flight by
prayer; moreover, by useful labour his entrance will be greatly
obstructed.”

(1) Ecclesiastes xviii. 30. (2) Psalm xxxvii. 4.
CHAPTER XIII

Of the obedience of one in lowly subjection after the example of Jesus Christ

“My Son, he who striveth to withdraw himself from obedience,
withdraweth himself also from grace, and he who seeketh private
advantages, loseth those which are common unto all. If a man
submit not freely and willingly to one set over him, it is a sign
that his flesh is not yet perfectly subject to himself, but
often resisteth and murmureth. Learn therefore quickly to submit
thyself to him who is over thee, if thou seekest to bring thine
own flesh into subjection. For the outward enemy is very quickly
overcome if the inner man have not been laid low. There is no
more grievous and deadly enemy to the soul than thou art to
thyself, if thou art not led by the Spirit. Thou must not
altogether conceive contempt for thyself, if thou wilt prevail
against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou inordinately lovest
thyself, therefore thou shrinkest from yielding thyself to the
will of others.

2. “But what great thing is it that thou, who art dust and
nothingness, yieldest thyself to man for God’s sake, when I, the
Almighty and the Most High, who created all things out of
nothing, subjected Myself to man for thy sake? I became the most
humble and despised of men, that by My humility thou mightest
overcome thy pride. Learn to obey, O dust! Learn to humble
thyself, O earth and clay, and to bow thyself beneath the feet of
all. Learn to crush thy passions, and to yield thyself in all
subjection.

3. “Be zealous against thyself, nor suffer pride to live within
thee, but so show thyself subject and of no reputation, that all
may be able to walk over thee, and tread thee down as the clay in
the streets. What hast thou, O foolish man, of which to
complain? What, O vile sinner, canst thou answer those who
speak against thee, seeing thou hast so often offended God, and
many a time hast deserved hell? But Mine eye hath spared thee,
because thy soul was precious in My sight; that thou mightest
know My love, and mightest be thankful for My benefits; and that
thou mightest give thyself altogether to true subjection and
humility, and patiently bear the contempt which thou meritest.”
CHAPTER XIV

Of meditation upon the hidden judgments of God, that we may not
be lifted up because of our well-doing

Thou sendest forth Thy judgments against me, O Lord, and shakest
all my bones with fear and trembling, and my soul trembleth
exceedingly. I stand astonished, and remember that the heavens
are not clean in thy sight.(1) If Thou chargest Thine angels
with folly, and didst spare them not, how shall it be unto me?
Stars have fallen from heaven, and what shall I dare who am
but dust? They whose works seemed to be praiseworthy, fell into
the lowest depths, and they who did eat Angels’ food, them have I
seen delighted with the husks that the swine do eat.

2. There is therefore no holiness, if Thou O Lord, withdraw Thine
hand. No wisdom profiteth, if Thou leave off to guide the helm.
No strength availeth, if Thou cease to preserve. No purity is
secure, if Thou protect it not. No self-keeping availeth, if Thy
holy watching be not there. For when we are left alone we are
swallowed up and perish, but when we are visited, we are raised
up, and we live. For indeed we are unstable, but are made strong
through Thee; we grow cold, but are rekindled by Thee.

3. Oh, how humbly and abjectly must I reckon of myself, how must
I weigh it as nothing, if I seem to have nothing good! Oh, how
profoundly ought I to submit myself to Thy unfathomable
judgments, O Lord, when I find myself nothing else save nothing,
and again nothing! Oh weight unmeasurable, oh ocean which cannot
be crossed over, where I find nothing of myself save nothing
altogether! Where, then, is the hiding-place of glory, where the
confidence begotten of virtue? All vain-glory is swallowed up in
the depths of Thy judgments against me.

4. What is all flesh in Thy sight? For how shall the clay boast
against Him that fashioned it?(2) How can he be lifted up in
vain speech whose heart is subjected in truth to God? The whole
world shall not lift him up whom Truth hath subdued; nor shall he
be moved by the mouth of all who praise him, who hath placed all
his hope in God. For they themselves who speak, behold, they
are all nothing; for they shall cease with the sound of their
words, but the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.(3)

(1) Job xv. 15. (2) Psalm xxix. 16. (3) Psalm cxvii. 2.
CHAPTER XV

How we must stand and speak, in everything that we desire

“My Son, speak thou thus in every matter, ‘Lord, if it please
Thee, let this come to pass. Lord, if this shall be for Thine
honour, let it be done in Thy Name. Lord, if thou see it good
for me, and approve it as useful, then grant me to use it for Thy
honour. But if thou knowest that it shall be hurtful unto me,
and not profitable for the health of my soul, take the desire
away from me’! For not every desire is from the Holy Ghost,
although it appear to a man right and good. It is difficult to
judge with certainty whether a good or an evil spirit move thee
to desire this or that, or whether thou art moved by thine own
spirit. Many have been deceived at the last, who seemed at the
beginning to be moved by a good spirit.

2. “Therefore, whatsoever seemeth to thee desirable, thou must
always desire and seek after it with the fear of God and humility
of heart, and most of all, must altogether resign thyself, and
commit all unto Me and say, ‘Lord, thou knowest what is best; let
this or that be, according as Thou wilt. Give what Thou wilt, so
much as Thou wilt, when Thou wilt. Do with me as Thou knowest
best, and as best shall please Thee, and as shall be most to
Thine honour. Place me where Thou wilt, and freely work Thy will
with me in all things. I am in Thine hand, and turn me in my
course. Behold, I am Thy servant, ready for all things; for I
desire to live not to myself but to Thee. Oh, that I might live
worthily and perfectly.’”

A PRAYER TO BE ENABLED TO DO GOD’S WILL PERFECTLY

3. Grant me Thy grace, most merciful Jesus, that it may be with
me, and work in me, and persevere with me, even unto the end.
Grant that I may ever desire and wish whatsoever is most pleasing
and dear unto Thee. Let Thy will be mine, and let my will alway
follow Thine, and entirely accord with it. May I choose and
reject whatsoever Thou dost; yea, let it be impossible for me to
choose or reject except according to Thy will.

4. Grant that I may die to all worldly things, and for Thy sake
love to be despised and unknown in this world. Grant unto me,
above all things that I can desire, to rest in Thee, and that in
Thee my heart may be at peace. Thou art the true peace of the
heart, Thou alone its rest; apart from Thee all things are hard
and unquiet. In Thee alone, the supreme and eternal God, I will
lay me down in peace and take my rest.(1) Amen.

(1) Psalm iv. 9.
CHAPTER XVI

That true solace is to be sought in God alone

Whatsoever I am able to desire or to think of for my solace, I
look for it not here, but hereafter. For if I alone had all the
solaces of this world, and were able to enjoy all its delights,
it is certain that they could not endure long. Wherefore, O my
soul, thou canst be fully comforted and perfectly refreshed, only
in God, the Comforter of the poor, and the lifter up of the
humble. Wait but a little while, my soul, wait for the Divine
promise, and thou shalt have abundance of all good things in
heaven. If thou longest too inordinately for the things which
are now, thou shalt lose those which are eternal and heavenly.
Let temporal things be in the use, eternal things in the desire.
Thou canst not be satisfied with any temporal good, for thou wast
not created for the enjoyment of these.

2. Although thou hadst all the good things which ever were
created, yet couldst not thou be happy and blessed; all thy
blessedness and thy felicity lieth in God who created all things;
not such felicity as seemeth good to the foolish lover of the
world, but such as Christ’s good and faithful servants wait for,
and as the spiritual and pure in heart sometimes taste, whose
conversation is in heaven.(1) All human solace is empty and
short-lived; blessed and true is that solace which is felt
inwardly, springing from the truth. The godly man everywhere
beareth about with him his own Comforter, Jesus, and saith unto
Him: “Be with me, Lord Jesus, always and everywhere. Let it be
my comfort to be able to give up cheerfully all human comfort.
And if Thy consolation fail me, let Thy will and righteous
approval be alway with me for the highest comfort. For Thou wilt
not always be chiding, neither keepest Thou Thine anger for
ever.”(2)

(1) Philippians iii. 20. (2) Psalm cii. 9.
CHAPTER XVII

That all care is to be cast upon God

“My Son, suffer me to do with thee what I will; I know what is
expedient for thee. Thou thinkest as a man, in many things thou
judgest as human affection persuadeth thee.”

2. Lord, what Thou sayest is true. Greater is Thy care for me
than all the care which I am able to take for myself. For too
insecurely doth he stand who casteth not all his care upon Thee.
Lord, so long as my will standeth right and firm in Thee, do with
me what Thou wilt, for whatsoever Thou shalt do with me cannot be
aught but good. Blessed be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in
darkness: blessed also be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in light.
Blessed be Thou if Thou vouchsafe to comfort me, and always
blessed be Thou if Thou cause me to be troubled.

3. “My Son! even thus thou must stand if thou desirest to walk
with Me. Thou must be ready alike for suffering or rejoicing.
Thou must be poor and needy as willingly as full and rich.”

4. Lord, I will willingly bear for Thee whatsoever Thou wilt have
to come upon me. Without choice I will receive from Thy hand
good and evil, sweet and bitter, joy and sadness, and will give
Thee thanks for all things which shall happen unto me. Keep me
from all sin, and I will not fear death nor hell. Only cast me
not away for ever, nor blot me out of the book of life. Then no
tribulation which shall come upon me shall do me hurt.
CHAPTER XVIII

That temporal miseries are to be borne patiently after the
example of Christ

“My Son! I came down from heaven for thy salvation; I took upon
Me thy miseries not of necessity, but drawn by love that thou
mightest learn patience and mightest bear temporal miseries
without murmuring. For from the hour of My birth, until My death
upon the Cross, I ceased not from bearing of sorrow; I had much
lack of temporal things; I oftentimes heard many reproaches
against Myself; I gently bore contradictions and hard words; I
received ingratitude for benefits, blasphemies for My miracles,
rebukes for My doctrine.”

2. Lord, because Thou wast patient in Thy life, herein most of
all fulfilling the commandment of Thy Father, it is well that I,
miserable sinner, should patiently bear myself according to Thy
will, and as long as Thou wilt have it so, should bear about with
me for my salvation, the burden of this corruptible life. For
although the present life seemeth burdensome, it is nevertheless
already made very full of merit through Thy grace, and to those
who are weak it becometh easier and brighter through Thy example
and the footsteps of Thy saints; but it is also much more full of
consolation than it was of old, under the old Testament, when the
gate of heaven remained shut; and even the way to heaven seemed
more obscure when so few cared to seek after the heavenly
kingdom. But not even those who were then just and in the way of
salvation were able, before Thy Passion and the ransom of Thy
holy Death, to enter the kingdom of heaven.

3. Oh what great thanks am I bound to give Thee, who hast
vouchsafed to show me and all faithful people the good and right
way to Thine eternal kingdom, for Thy way is our way, and by holy
patience we walk to Thee who art our Crown. If Thou hadst not
gone before and taught us, who would care to follow? Oh, how far
would they have gone backward if they had not beheld Thy glorious
example! Behold we are still lukewarm, though we have heard of
Thy many signs and discourses; what would become of us if we had
not such a light to help us follow Thee?
CHAPTER XIX

Of bearing injuries, and who shall be approved as truly patient

“What sayest thou, My Son? Cease to complain; consider My
suffering and that of My saints. Thou hast not yet resisted unto
blood.(1) It is little which thou sufferest in comparison with
those who have suffered so many things, have been so strongly
tempted, so grievously troubled, so manywise proved and tried.
Thou oughtest therefore to call to mind the more grievous
sufferings of others that thou mightest bear thy lesser ones more
easily, and if they seem not to thee little, see that it is not
thy impatience which is the cause of this. But whether they be
little or whether they be great, study to bear them all with
patience.

2. “So far as thou settest thyself to bear patiently, so far thou
dost wisely and art deserving of the more merit; thou shalt also
bear the more easily if thy mind and habit are carefully trained
hereunto. And say not ‘I cannot bear these things from such a
man, nor are things of this kind to be borne by me, for he hath
done me grievous harm and imputeth to me what I had never
thought: but from another I will suffer patiently, such things as
I see I ought to suffer.’ Foolish is such a thought as this,
for it considereth not the virtue of patience, nor by whom that
virtue is to be crowned, but it rather weigheth persons and
offences against self.

3. “He is not truly patient who will only suffer as far as
seemeth right to himself and from whom he pleaseth. But the
truly patient man considereth not by what man he is tried,
whether by one above him, or by an equal or inferior, whether by
a good and holy man, or a perverse and unworthy; but
indifferently from every creature, whatsoever or how often soever
adversity happeneth to him, he gratefully accepteth all from the
hand of God and counteth it great gain: for with God nothing
which is borne for His sake, however small, shall lose its
reward.

4. “Be thou therefore ready for the fight if thou wilt have the
victory. Without striving thou canst not win the crown of
patience; if thou wilt not suffer thou refusest to be crowned.
But if thou desirest to be crowned, strive manfully, endure
patiently. Without labour thou drawest not near to rest, nor
without fighting comest thou to victory.”

5. Make possible to me, O Lord, by grace what seemeth impossible
to me by nature. Thou knowest how little I am able to bear, and
how quickly I am cast down when a like adversity riseth up
against me. Whatsoever trial of tribulation may come to me, may
it become unto me pleasing and acceptable, for to suffer and be
vexed for Thy sake is exceeding healthful to the soul.

(1) Hebrews xii. 4.
CHAPTER XX

Of confession of our infirmity and of the miseries of this life

I will acknowledge my sin unto Thee;(1) I will confess to Thee,
Lord, my infirmity. It is often a small thing which casteth me
down and maketh me sad. I resolve that I will act bravely, but
when a little temptation cometh, immediately I am in a great
strait. Wonderfully small sometimes is the matter whence a
grievous temptation cometh, and whilst I imagine myself safe for
a little space; when I am not considering, I find myself often
almost overcome by a little puff of wind.

2. Behold, therefore, O Lord, my humility and my frailty, which
is altogether known to Thee. Be merciful unto me, and draw me
out of the mire that I sink not,(2) lest I ever remain cast down.
This is what frequently throweth me backward and confoundeth me
before Thee, that I am so liable to fall, so weak to resist my
passions. And though their assault is not altogether according
to my will, it is violent and grievous, and it altogether
wearieth me to live thus daily in conflict. Herein is my
infirmity made known to me, that hateful fancies always rush in
far more easily than they depart.

3. Oh that Thou, most mighty God of Israel, Lover of all faithful
souls, wouldst look upon the labour and sorrow of Thy servant,
and give him help in all things whereunto he striveth.
Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude, lest the old man, this
miserable flesh, not being yet fully subdued to the spirit,
prevail to rule over me; against which I ought to strive so long
as I remain in this most miserable life. Oh what a life is this,
where tribulations and miseries cease not, where all things are
full of snares and of enemies, for when one tribulation or
temptation goeth, another cometh, yea, while the former conflict
is yet raging others come more in number and unexpected.

4. And how can the life of man be loved, seeing that it hath so
many bitter things, that it is subjected to so many calamities
and miseries. How can it be even called life, when it produces
so many deaths and plagues? The world is often reproached
because it is deceitful and vain, yet notwithstanding it is not
easily given up, because the lusts of the flesh have too much
rule over it. Some draw us to love, some to hate. The lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, these
draw to love of the world; but the punishments and miseries which
righteously follow these things, bring forth hatred of the world
and weariness.

5. But, alas! an evil desire conquereth a mind given to the
world, and thinketh it happiness to be under the nettles(3)
because it savoureth not nor perceiveth the sweetness of God nor
the inward gracefulness of virtue. But they who perfectly
despise the world and strive to live unto God in holy discipline,
these are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to all
who truly deny themselves and see clearly how grievously the
world erreth, and in how many ways it is deceived.

(1) Psalm xxxii. 5. (2) Psalm lix. 16. (3) Job xxx. 7.
CHAPTER XXI

That we must rest in God above all goods and gifts

Above all things and in all things thou shalt rest alway in the
Lord, O my soul, for he himself is the eternal rest of the
saints. Grant me, most sweet and loving Jesus, to rest in Thee
above every creature, above all health and beauty, above all
glory and honour, above all power and dignity, above all
knowledge and skilfulness, above all riches and arts, above all
joy and exultation, above all fame and praise, above all
sweetness and consolation, above all hope and promise, above all
merit and desire, above all gifts and rewards which Thou canst
give and pour forth, above all joy and jubilation which the mind
is able to receive and feel; in a word, above Angels and
Archangels and all the army of heaven, above all things visible
and invisible, and above everything which Thou, O my God, art
not.

2. For Thou, O Lord, my God, art best above all things; Thou only
art the Most High, Thou only the Almighty, Thou only the
All-sufficient, and the Fulness of all things; Thou only the
All-delightsome and the All-comforting; Thou alone the altogether
lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the Most Exalted and
Most Glorious above all things; in Whom all things are, and were,
and ever shall be, altogether and all-perfect. And thus it
falleth short and is insufficient whatsoever Thou givest to me
without Thyself or whatsoever Thou revealest or dost promise
concerning Thyself, whilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed:
since verily my heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely content,
except it rest in Thee, and go beyond all gifts and every
creature.

3. O my most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most holy lover of my
soul, Ruler of this whole Creation, who shall give me the wings
of true liberty, that I may flee to Thee and find rest? Oh when
shall it be given me to be open to receive Thee to the full,
and to see how sweet Thou art, O Lord my God? When shall I
collect myself altogether in Thee, that because of Thy love I may
not feel myself at all, but may know Thee only above every sense
and measure, in measure not known to others. But now I ofttimes
groan, and bear my sad estate with sorrow; because many evils
befall me in this vale of miseries which continually disturb and
fill me with sorrow, and encloud me, continually hinder and fill
me with care, allure and entangle me, that I cannot have free
access to Thee, nor enjoy that sweet intercourse which is always
near at hand to the blessed spirits. Let my deep sighing come
before Thee, and my manifold desolation on the earth.

4. O Jesus, Light of Eternal Glory, solace of the wandering soul,
before Thee my mouth is without speech, and my silence speaketh
to Thee. How long will my Lord delay to come unto me? Let Him
come unto me, His poor and humble one, and make me glad. Let Him
put forth His hand, and deliver His holy one from every snare.
Come, Oh come; for without Thee shall be no joyful day or hour,
for Thou art my joy, and without Thee is my table empty. I am
miserable, and in a manner imprisoned and loaded with fetters,
until Thou refresh me by the light of Thy presence, and give me
liberty, and show Thy loving countenance.

5. Let others seek some other thing instead of Thee, whatsoever
it shall please them; but for my part nothing else pleaseth or
shall please, save Thou, my God, my hope, my eternal salvation.
I will not hold my peace, nor cease to implore, until Thy grace
return, and until Thou speak to me within.

6. “Behold, here I am! Behold, I come to thee, for thou didst
call Me. Thy tears and the longing of thy soul, thy humbleness
and contrition of heart have inclined Me, and brought Me to
thee.”

7. And I said Lord, I have called upon Thee, and I have longed to
enjoy Thee, being ready to reject everything for Thy sake. For
Thou didst first move me to seek Thee. Therefore, blessed be
Thou, O Lord, who has wrought this good work upon Thy servant,
according to the multitude of Thy mercy. What then hath Thy
servant to say in Thy presence, save to humble himself greatly
before Thee, being alway mindful of his own iniquity and vileness.
For there is none like unto Thee in all marvels of heaven and
earth. Excellent are Thy works, true are Thy judgments, and by
Thy Providence are all things governed. Therefore praise and
glory be unto Thee, O Wisdom of the Father, let my mouth and my
soul and all created things praise and bless Thee together.
CHAPTER XXII

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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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,(1) and what things the world hateth, they
embraced with great joy.

5. 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.

(1) Acts v. 41.
CHAPTER XXIII

Of four things which bring great peace

“My Son, now will I teach thee the way of peace and of true
liberty.”

2. Do, O my Lord, as Thou sayest, for this is pleasing unto me to
hear.

3. “Strive, My Son, to do another’s will rather than thine own.
Choose always to have less rather than more. Seek always after
the lowest place, and to be subject to all. Wish always and pray
that the will of God be fulfilled in thee. Behold, such a man as
this entereth into the inheritance of peace and quietness.”

4. O my Lord, this Thy short discourse hath in itself much of
perfectness. It is short in words but full of meaning, and
abundant in fruit. For if it were possible that I should fully
keep it, disturbance would not so easily arise within me. For as
often as I feel myself disquieted and weighed down, I find myself
to have gone back from this teaching. But Thou, Who art
Almighty, and always lovest progress in the soul, vouchsafe more
grace, that I may be enabled to fulfil Thy exhortation, and work
out my salvation.

A PRAYER AGAINST EVIL THOUGHTS

5. O Lord my God, be not Thou far from me, my God, haste Thee to
help me,(1) for many thoughts and great fears have risen up
against me, afflicting my soul. How shall I pass through them
unhurt? how shall I break through them?

6. “I,” saith He, “will go before thee, and make the crooked
places straight.”(2) I will open the prison doors, and reveal to
thee the secret places.

7. Do, Lord, as Thou sayest; and let all evil thoughts fly away
before Thy face. This is my hope and my only comfort, to fly
unto Thee in all tribulation, to hope in Thee, to call upon Thee
from my heart and patiently wait for Thy loving kindness.

A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MIND

8. Enlighten me, Blessed Jesus, with the brightness of Thy inner
light, and cast forth all darkness from the habitation of my
heart. Restrain my many wandering thoughts, and carry away the
temptations which strive to do me hurt. Fight Thou mightily for
me, and drive forth the evil beasts, so call I alluring lusts,
that peace may be within Thy walls and plenteousness of praise
within Thy palaces,(3) even in my pure conscience. Command Thou
the winds and the storms, say unto the sea, “Be still,” say unto
the stormy wind, “Hold thy peace,” so shall there be a great
calm.

9. Oh send forth Thy light and Thy truth,(4) that they may shine
upon the earth; for I am but earth without form and void until
Thou give me light. Pour forth Thy grace from above; water my
heart with the dew of heaven; give the waters of devotion to
water the face of the earth, and cause it to bring forth good and
perfect fruit. Lift up my mind which is oppressed with the
weight of sins, and raise my whole desire to heavenly things;
that having tasted the sweetness of the happiness which is from
above, it may take no pleasure in thinking of things of earth.

10. Draw me and deliver me from every unstable comfort of
creatures, for no created thing is able to satisfy my desire and
to give me comfort. Join me to Thyself by the inseparable bond
of love, for Thou alone art sufficient to him that loveth Thee,
and without Thee all things are vain toys.

(1) Psalm lxxi. 12. (2) Isaiah xlv. 2. (3) Psalm cxxii. 7.
(4) Psalm xliii. 3.
CHAPTER XXIV

Of avoiding of curious inquiry into the life of another

“My Son, be not curious, nor trouble thyself with vain cares.
What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.(1) For what is it to thee
whether a man be this or that, or say or do thus or thus? Thou
hast no need to answer for others, but thou must give an answer
for thyself. Why therefore dost thou entangle thyself? Behold,
I know all men, and I behold all things which are done under the
sun; and I know how it standeth with each one, what he thinketh,
what he willeth, and to what end his thoughts reach. All things
therefore are to be committed to Me; watch thou thyself in godly
peace, and leave him who is unquiet to be unquiet as he will.
Whatsoever he shall do or say, shall come unto him, for he cannot
deceive Me.

2. “Trouble not thyself about the shadow of a great name, nor
about the friendship of many, nor about the love of men towards
thee. For these things beget distraction and great sorrows of
heart. My word should speak freely unto thee, and I would reveal
secrets, if only thou didst diligently look for My appearing, and
didst open unto Me the gates of thy heart. Be sober and watch
unto prayer,(2) and humble thyself in all things.”

(1) John xxi. 12. (2) 1 Peter iv. 7.
CHAPTER XXV

Wherein firm peace of heart and true profit consist

“My Son, I have said, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give
unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you.(1) All men
desire peace, but all do not care for the things which belong
unto true peace. My peace is with the humble and lowly in heart.
Thy peace shall be in much patience. If thou heardest Me, and
didst follow My voice, thou shouldest enjoy much peace.”

2. What then shall I do, Lord?

3. “In everything take heed to thyself what thou doest, and what
thou sayest; and direct all thy purpose to this, that thou please
Me alone, and desire or seek nothing apart from Me. But,
moreover, judge nothing rashly concerning the words or deeds of
others, nor meddle with matters which are not committed to thee;
and it may be that thou shalt be disturbed little or rarely. Yet
never to feel any disquiet, nor to suffer any pain of heart or
body, this belongeth not to the present life, but is the state of
eternal rest. Therefore count not thyself to have found true
peace, if thou hast felt no grief; nor that then all is well if
thou hast no adversary; nor that this is perfect if all things
fall out according to thy desire. Nor then reckon thyself to be
anything great, or think that thou art specially beloved, if thou
art in a state of great fervour and sweetness of spirit; for not
by these things is the true lover of virtue known, nor in them
doth the profit and perfection of man consist.”

4. In what then, Lord?

5. “In offering thyself with all thy heart to the Divine Will, in
not seeking the things which are thine own, whether great or
small, whether temporal or eternal; so that thou remain with the
same steady countenance in giving of thanks between prosperity
and adversity, weighing all things in an equal balance. If thou
be so brave and long-suffering in hope that when inward comfort
is taken from thee, thou even prepare thy heart for the more
endurance, and justify not thyself, as though thou oughtest not
to suffer these heavy things, but dost justify Me in all things
that I appoint, and dost bless My Holy Name, then dost thou walk
in the true and right way of peace, and shalt have a sure hope
that thou shalt again behold My face with joy. For if thou come
to an utter contempt of thyself, know that then thou shalt enjoy
abundance of peace, as much as is possible where thou art but a
wayfaring man.”

(1) John xiv. 27.
CHAPTER XXVI

Of the exaltation of a free spirit, which humble prayer more
deserveth than doth frequent reading

Lord, this is the work of a perfect man, never to slacken his
mind from attention to heavenly things, and among many cares to
pass along as it were without care, not after the manner of one
indifferent, but rather with the privilege of a free mind,
cleaving to no creature with inordinate affection.

2. I beseech Thee, my most merciful Lord God, preserve me from
the cares of this life, lest I become too much entangled; from
many necessities of the body, lest I be taken captive by
pleasure; from all obstacles of the spirit, lest I be broken and
cast down with cares. I say not from those things which the
vanity of the world goeth about after with all eagerness, but
from those miseries, which by the universal curse of mortality
weigh down and hold back the soul of thy servant in punishment,
that it cannot enter into liberty of spirit, so often as it
would.

3. O my God, sweetness unspeakable, turn into bitterness all my
fleshly consolation, which draweth me away from the love of
eternal things, and wickedly allureth toward itself by setting
before me some present delight. Let not, O my God, let not flesh
and blood prevail over me, let not the world and its short glory
deceive me, let not the devil and his craftiness supplant me.
Give me courage to resist, patience to endure, constancy to
persevere. Grant, in place of all consolations of the world, the
most sweet unction of Thy Spirit, and in place of carnal love,
pour into me the love of Thy Name.

4. Behold, food and drink and clothing, and all the other needs
appertaining to the support of the body, are burdensome to the
devout spirit. Grant that I may use such things with moderation,
and that I be not entangled with inordinate affection for them.
To cast away all these things is not lawful, because nature must
be sustained, but to require superfluities and things which
merely minister delight, the holy law forbiddeth; for otherwise
the flesh would wax insolent against the spirit. In all these
things, I beseech Thee, let Thy hand guide and teach me, that I
in no way exceed.
CHAPTER XXVII

That personal love greatly hindereth from the highest good

“My Son, thou must give all for all, and be nothing of thine own.
Know thou that the love of thyself is more hurtful to thee than
anything in the world. According to the love and inclination
which thou hast, everything more or less cleaveth to thee. If
thy love be pure, sincere, well-regulated, thou shalt not be in
captivity to anything. Do not covet what thou mayest not have;
do not have what is able to hinder thee, and to rob thee of
inward liberty. It is wonderful that thou committest not thyself
to Me from the very bottom of thy heart, with all things which
thou canst desire or have.

2. “Why art thou consumed with vain sorrow? Why art thou wearied
with superfluous cares? Stand thou by My good pleasure, and thou
shalt suffer no loss. If thou seekest after this or that, and
wilt be here or there, according to thine own advantage or the
fulfilling of thine own pleasure, thou shalt never be in quiet,
nor free from care, because in everything somewhat will be found
lacking, and everywhere there will be somebody who opposeth thee.

3. “Therefore it is not gaining or multiplying of this thing or
that which advantageth thee, but rather the despising it and
cutting it by the root out of thy heart; which thou must not only
understand of money and riches, but of the desire after honour
and vain praise, things which all pass away with the world. The
place availeth little if the spirit of devotion is wanting; nor
shall that peace stand long which is sought from abroad, if the
state of thy heart is without the true foundation, that is, if it
abide not in Me. Thou mayest change, but thou canst not better
thyself; for when occasion ariseth and is accepted thou shalt
find what thou didst fly from, yea more.”
A PRAYER FOR CLEANSING OF THE HEART AND FOR HEAVENLY WISDOM

4. Strengthen me, O God, by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit. Give
me virtue to be strengthened with might in the inner man, and to
free my heart from all fruitless care and trouble, and that I be
not drawn away by various desires after any things whatsoever,
whether of little value or great, but that I may look upon all as
passing away, and myself as passing away with them; because there
is no profit under the sun, and all is vanity and vexation of
spirit.(1) Oh how wise is he that considereth thus!

5. Give me, O Lord, heavenly wisdom, that I may learn to seek
Thee above all things and to find Thee; to relish Thee above all
things and to love Thee; and to understand all other things, even
as they are, according to the order of Thy wisdom. Grant me
prudently to avoid the flatterer, and patiently to bear with him
that opposeth me; for this is great wisdom, not to be carried
by every wind of words, nor to give ear to the wicked flattering
Siren; for thus do we go safely on in the way we have begun.

(1) Ecclesiastes ii. 11.
CHAPTER XXVIII

Against the tongues of detractors

“My Son, take it not sadly to heart, if any think ill of thee,
and say of thee what thou art unwilling to hear. Thou oughtest
to think worse of thyself, and to believe no man weaker than
thyself. If thou walkest inwardly, thou wilt not weigh flying
words above their value. It is no small prudence to keep silence
in an evil time and to turn inwardly unto Me, and not to be
troubled by human judgment.

2. “Let not thy peace depend upon the word of men; for whether
they judge well or ill of thee, thou art not therefore any other
man than thyself. Where is true peace or true glory? Is it not
in Me? And he who seeketh not to please men, nor feareth to
displease, shall enjoy abundant peace. From inordinate love and
vain fear ariseth all disquietude of heart, and all distraction
of the senses.”
CHAPTER XXIX

How when tribulation cometh we must call upon and bless God

Blessed be thy name, O Lord, for evermore, who hast willed this
temptation and trouble to come upon me. I cannot escape it, but
have need to flee unto Thee, that Thou mayest succour me and turn
it unto me for good. Lord, now am I in tribulation, and it is
not well within my heart, but I am sore vexed by the suffering
which lieth upon me. And now, O dear Father, what shall I say?
I am taken among the snares. Save me from this hour, but for
this cause came I unto this hour,(1) that Thou mightest be
glorified when I am deeply humbled and am delivered through Thee.
Let it be Thy pleasure to deliver me;(2) for what can I do who am
poor, and without Thee whither shall I go? Give patience this
time also. Help me, O Lord my God, and I will not fear how much
soever I be weighed down.

2. And now amid these things what shall I say? Lord, Thy will be
done. I have well deserved to be troubled and weighed down.
Therefore I ought to bear, would that it be with patience, until
the tempest be overpast and comfort return. Yet is Thine
omnipotent arm able also to take this temptation away from me,
and to lessen its power that I fall not utterly under it, even as
many a time past thou has helped me, O God, my merciful God. And
as much as this deliverance is difficult to me, so much is it
easy to Thee, O right hand of the most Highest.

(1) John xii. 27. (2) Psalm xl. 16.
CHAPTER XXX

Of seeking divine help, and the confidence of obtaining grace

“My Son, I the Lord am a stronghold in the day of trouble.(1)
Come unto Me, when it is not well with thee.

“This it is which chiefly hindereth heavenly consolation, that
thou too slowly betakest thyself unto prayer. For before thou
earnestly seekest unto Me, thou dost first seek after many means
of comfort, and refresheth thyself in outward things: so it cometh
to pass that all things profit thee but little until thou learn
that it is I who deliver those who trust in Me; neither beside Me
is there any strong help, nor profitable counsel, nor enduring
remedy. But now, recovering courage after the tempest, grow thou
strong in the light of My mercies, for I am nigh, saith the Lord,
that I may restore all things not only as they were at the first,
but also abundantly and one upon another.

2. “For is anything too hard for Me, or shall I be like unto one
who saith and doeth not? Where is thy faith? Stand fast and
with perseverance. Be long-suffering and strong. Consolation
will come unto thee in its due season. Wait for Me; yea, wait; I
will come and heal thee. It is temptation which vexeth thee, and
a vain fear which terrifieth thee. What doth care about future
events bring thee, save sorrow upon sorrow? Sufficient for the
day is the evil thereof.(2) It is vain and useless to be
disturbed or lifted up about future things which perhaps will
never come.

3. “But it is the nature of man to be deceived by fancies of this
sort, and it is a sign of a mind which is still weak to be so
easily drawn away at the suggestion of the enemy. For he careth
not whether he deceive and beguile by true means or false;
whether he throw thee down by the love of the present or fear of
the future. Therefore let not thy heart be troubled, neither let
it be afraid. Believe in Me, and put thy trust in My mercy.(3)
When thou thinkest thyself far removed from Me, I am often the
nearer. When thou reckonest that almost all is lost, then often
is greater opportunity of gain at hand. All is not lost when
something goeth contrary to thy wishes. Thou oughtest not to
judge according to present feeling, nor so to take or give way to
any grief which befalleth thee, as if all hope of escape were
taken away.

4. “Think not thyself totally abandoned, although for the time I
have sent to thee some tribulation, or have even withdrawn some
cherished consolation; for this is the way to the Kingdom of
Heaven. And without doubt it is better for thee and for all My
other servants, that ye should be proved by adversities, than
that ye should have all things as ye would. I know thy hidden
thoughts: and that it is very needful for thy soul’s health that
sometimes thou be left without relish, lest perchance thou be
lifted up by prosperity, and desirous to please thyself in that
which thou art not. What I have given I am able to take away,
and to restore again at My good pleasure.

5. “When I shall have given, it is Mine; when I shall have taken
away, I have not taken what is thine; for every good gift and
every perfect gift(4) is from me. If I shall have sent upon thee
grief or any vexation, be not angry, nor let thy heart be sad; I
am able quickly to lift thee up and to change every burden into
joy. But I am just and greatly to be praised, when I do thus
unto thee.

6. “If thou rightly consider, and look upon it with truth, thou
oughtest never to be so sadly cast down because of adversity, but
rather shouldst rejoice and give thanks; yea, verily to count it
the highest joy that I afflict thee with sorrows and spare thee
not. As My Father hath loved Me, so love I you;(5) thus have I
spoken unto My beloved disciples: whom I sent forth not unto
worldly joys, but to great strivings; not unto honours, but unto
contempt; not unto ease, but to labours; not unto rest, but to
bring forth much fruit with patience. My son, remember these
words.”

(1) Nahum i. 7. (2) Matthew vi. 34.
(3) John xiv. 27; Psalm xiii. 5. (4) James i. 17.
(5) John xv. 9.
CHAPTER XXXI

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
things.

2. 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 fulness above, than that which is acquired
laboriously by human study.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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
deceived.
CHAPTER XXXII

Of self-denial and the casting away all selfishness

“My Son, thou canst not possess perfect liberty unless thou
altogether deny thyself. All they are enslaved who are
possessors of riches, they who love themselves, the selfish, the
curious, the restless; those who ever seek after soft things, and
not after the things of Jesus Christ; those who continually plan
and devise that which will not stand. For whatsoever cometh not
of God shall perish. Hold fast the short and complete saying,
‘Renounce all things, and thou shalt find all things; give up thy
lust, and thou shalt find rest.’ Dwell upon this in thy mind,
and when thou art full of it, thou shalt understand all things.”

2. O Lord, this is not the work of a day, nor children’s play;
verily in this short saying is enclosed all the perfection of the
religious.

3. “My son, thou oughtest not to be turned aside, nor immediately
cast down, because thou hast heard the way of the perfect.
Rather oughtest thou to be provoked to higher aims, and at the
least to long after the desire thereof. Oh that it were so with
thee, and that thou hadst come to this, that thou wert not a lover
of thine own self, but wert ready always to My nod, and to his
whom I have placed over thee as thy father. Then shouldest thou
please Me exceedingly, and all thy life should go on in joy and
peace. Thou hast still many things to renounce, which if thou
resign not utterly to Me, thou shalt not gain what thou seekest.
I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou
mayest be rich,(1) that is heavenly wisdom, which despiseth all
base things. Put away from thee earthly wisdom, and all
pleasure, whether common to men, or thine own.

4. “I tell thee that thou must buy vile things with those which
are costly and great in the esteem of men. For wonderfully vile
and small, and almost given up to forgetfulness, doth true
heavenly wisdom appear, which thinketh not high things of itself,
nor seeketh to be magnified upon the earth; many honour it with
their lips, but in heart are far from it; it is indeed the
precious pearl, which is hidden from many.”

(1) Revelation iii. 18.
CHAPTER XXXIII

Of instability of the heart, and of directing the aim towards God

“My Son, trust not thy feeling, for that which is now will be
quickly changed into somewhat else. As long as thou livest thou
art subject to change, howsoever unwilling; so that thou art
found now joyful, now sad; now at peace, now disquieted; now
devout, now indevout; now studious, now careless; now sad, now
cheerful. But the wise man, and he who is truly learned in
spirit, standeth above these changeable things, attentive not to
what he may feel in himself, or from what quarter the wind may
blow, but that the whole intent of his mind may carry him on to
the due and much-desired end. For thus will he be able to remain
one and the same and unshaken, the single eye of his desire being
steadfastly fixed, through the manifold changes of the world,
upon Me.

2. “But according as the eye of intention be the more pure, even
so will a man make his way steadfastly through the manifold
storms. But in many the eye of pure intention waxeth dim; for it
quickly resteth itself upon anything pleasant which occurreth,
and rarely is any man found altogether free from the blemish of
self-seeking. So the Jews of old came to Bethany, to the house
of Martha and Mary, that they might see not Jesus, but Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.(1) Therefore must the eye of
the intention be cleansed, that it may be single and right, and
above all things which come in its way, may be directed unto Me.”

(1) John xii. 9.
CHAPTER XXXIV

That to him who loveth God is sweet above all things and in all
things

Behold, God is mine, and all things are mine! What will I more,
and what more happy thing can I desire? O delightsome and sweet
world! that is, to him that loveth the Word, not the world,
neither the things that are in the world.(1) My God, my all! To
him that understandeth, that word sufficeth, and to repeat it
often is pleasing to him that loveth it. When Thou art present
all things are pleasant; when Thou art absent, all things are
wearisome. Thou makest the heart to be at rest, givest it deep
peace and festal joy. Thou makest it to think rightly in every
matter, and in every matter to give Thee praise; neither can
anything please long without Thee but if it would be pleasant and
of sweet savour, Thy grace must be there, and it is Thy wisdom
which must give unto it a sweet savour.

2. To him who tasteth Thee, what can be distasteful? And to him
who tasteth Thee not, what is there which can make him joyous?
But the worldly wise, and they who enjoy the flesh, these fail in
Thy wisdom; for in the wisdom of the world is found utter vanity,
and to be carnally minded is death. But they who follow after
Thee through contempt of worldly things, and mortification of the
flesh, are found to be truly wise because they are carried from
vanity to verity, from the flesh to the spirit. They taste that
the Lord is good, and whatsoever good they find in creatures,
they count it all unto the praise of the Creator. Unlike, yea,
very unlike is the enjoyment of the Creator to enjoyment of the
Creature, the enjoyment of eternity and of time, of light
uncreated and of light reflected.

3. O Light everlasting, surpassing all created lights, dart down
Thy ray from on high which shall pierce the inmost depths of my
heart. Give purity, joy, clearness, life to my spirit that with
all its powers it may cleave unto Thee with rapture passing man’s
understanding. Oh when shall that blessed and longed-for time
come when Thou shalt satisfy me with Thy presence, and be unto me
All in all? So long as this is delayed, my joy shall not be
full. Still, ah me! the old man liveth in me: he is not yet all
crucified, not yet quite dead; still he lusteth fiercely against
the spirit, wageth inward wars, nor suffereth the soul’s kingdom
to be in peace.

4. But Thou who rulest the raging of the sea, and stillest the
waves thereof when they arise, rise up and help me. Scatter the
people that delight in war.(2) Destroy them by Thy power. Show
forth, I beseech Thee, Thy might, and let Thy right hand be
glorified, for I have no hope, no refuge, save in Thee, O Lord my
God.

(1) 1 John ii. 15. (2) Psalm lxviii. 30.
CHAPTER XXXV

That there is no security against temptation in this life

“My Son, thou art never secure in this life, but thy spiritual
armour will always be needful for thee as long as thou livest.
Thou dwellest among foes, and art attacked on the right hand and
on the left. If therefore thou use not on all sides the shield
of patience, thou wilt not remain long unwounded. Above all, if
thou keep not thy heart fixed upon Me with steadfast purpose to
bear all things for My sake, thou shalt not be able to bear the
fierceness of the attack, nor to attain to the victory of the
blessed. Therefore must thou struggle bravely all thy life
through, and put forth a strong hand against those things which
oppose thee. For to him that overcometh is the hidden manna
given,(1) but great misery is reserved for the slothful.

2. “If thou seek rest in this life, how then wilt thou attain
unto the rest which is eternal? Set not thyself to attain much
rest, but much patience. Seek the true peace, not in earth but
in heaven, not in man nor in any created thing, but in God alone.
For the love of God thou must willingly undergo all things,
whether labours or sorrows, temptations, vexations, anxieties,
necessities, infirmities, injuries, gainsayings, rebukes,
humiliations, confusions, corrections, despisings; these things
help unto virtue, these things prove the scholar of Christ; these
things fashion the heavenly crown. I will give thee an eternal
reward for short labour, and infinite glory for transient shame.

3. “Thinkest thou that thou shalt always have spiritual
consolations at thy will? My Saints had never such, but instead
thereof manifold griefs, and divers temptations, and heavy
desolations. But patiently they bore themselves in all, and
trusted in God more than in themselves, knowing that the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us.(2) Wouldst thou
have that immediately which many have hardly attained unto after
many tears and hard labours? Wait for the Lord, quit thyself
like a man and be strong; be not faint-hearted, nor go aside from
Me, but constantly devote thy body and soul to the glory of God.
I will reward thee plenteously, I will be with thee in
trouble.”(3)

(1) Revelation ii. 17. (2) Romans viii. 17.
(3) Psalm xci. 15.
CHAPTER XXXVI

Against vain judgments of men

“My Son, anchor thy soul firmly upon God, and fear not man’s
judgment, when conscience pronounceth thee pious and innocent.
It is good and blessed thus to suffer; nor will it be grievous to
the heart which is humble, and which trusteth in God more than in
itself. Many men have many opinions, and therefore little trust
is to be placed in them. But moreover it is impossible to please
all. Although Paul studied to please all men in the Lord, and to
become all things to all men,(1) yet nevertheless with him it was
a very small thing that he should be judged by man’s
judgment.”(2)

2. He laboured abundantly, as much as in him lay, for the
building up and the salvation of others; but he could not avoid
being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore he
committed all to God, who knew all, and by patience and humility
defended himself against evil speakers, or foolish and false
thinkers, and those who accused him according to their pleasure.
Nevertheless, from time to time he replied, lest his silence
should become a stumbling-block to those who were weak.

3. “Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that
shall die? To-day he is, and to-morrow his place is not found.
Fear God and thou shalt not quail before the terrors of men.
What can any man do against thee by words or deeds? He hurteth
himself more than thee, nor shall he escape the judgment of God,
whosoever he may be. Have thou God before thine eyes, and do not
contend with fretful words. And if for the present thou seem to
give way, and to suffer confusion which thou hast not deserved,
be not angry at this, nor by impatience diminish thy reward; but
rather look up to Me in heaven, for I am able to deliver thee
from all confusion and hurt, and to render to every man according
to his works.”

(1) 1 Corinthians ix. 22. (2) 1 Corinthians iv. 3.
CHAPTER XXXVII

Of pure and entire resignation of self, for the obtaining
liberty of heart

“My Son, lose thyself and thou shalt find Me. Stand still
without all choosing and all thought of self, and thou shalt ever
be a gainer. For more grace shall be added to thee, as soon as
thou resignest thyself, and so long as thou dost not turn back to
take thyself again.”

2. O Lord, how often shall I resign myself, and in what things
shall I lose myself?

3. “Always; every hour: in that which is little, and in that
which is great. I make no exception, but will that thou be found
naked in all things. Otherwise how canst thou be Mine and I
thine, unless thou be inwardly and outwardly free from every will
of thine own? The sooner thou dost this, the better shall it be
with thee; and the more fully and sincerely, the more thou shalt
please Me, and the more abundantly shalt thou be rewarded.

4. “Some resign themselves, but with certain reservations, for
they do not fully trust in God, therefore they think that they
have some provision to make for themselves. Some again at first
offer everything; but afterwards being pressed by temptation they
return to their own devices, and thus make no progress in virtue.
They will not attain to the true liberty of a pure heart, nor to
the grace of My sweet companionship, unless they first entirely
resign themselves and daily offer themselves up as a sacrifice;
without this the union which bringeth forth fruit standeth not
nor will stand.

5. “Many a time I have said unto thee, and now say again, Give
thyself up, resign thyself, and thou shalt have great inward
peace. Give all for all; demand nothing, ask nothing in return;
stand simply and with no hesitation in Me, and thou shalt possess
Me. Thou shalt have liberty of heart, and the darkness shall not
overwhelm thee. For this strive thou, pray for it, long after
it, that thou mayest be delivered from all possession of thyself,
and nakedly follow Jesus who was made naked for thee; mayest die
unto thyself and live eternally to Me. Then shall all vain
fancies disappear, all evil disturbings, and superfluous cares.
Then also shall immoderate fear depart from thee, and inordinate
love shall die.”
CHAPTER XXXVIII

Of a good government in external things, and of having recourse
to God in dangers

“My Son, for this thou must diligently make thy endeavour, that
in every place and outward action or occupation thou mayest be
free within, and have power over thyself; and that all things be
under thee, not thou under them; that thou be master and ruler of
thy actions, not a slave or hireling, but rather a free and true
Hebrew, entering into the lot and the liberty of the children of
God, who stand above the present and look upon the eternal, who
with the left eye behold things transitory, and with the right
things heavenly; whom temporal things draw not to cleave unto,
but who rather draw temporal things to do them good service, even
as they were ordained of God to do, and appointed by the Master
Workman, who hath left nought in His creation without aim and
end.

2. “And if in any chance of life thou stand not in outward
appearances, nor judgest things which are seen and heard by the
fleshly sense, but straightway in every cause enterest with Moses
into the tabernacle to ask counsel of God; thou shalt hear a
divine response and come forth instructed concerning many things
that are and shall be. For always Moses had recourse to the
tabernacle for the solving of all doubts and questionings; and
fled to the help of prayer to be delivered from the dangers and
evil deeds of men. Thus also oughtest thou to fly to the secret
chamber of thy heart, and earnestly implore the divine succour.
For this cause we read that Joshua and the children of Israel
were deceived by the Gibeonites, that they asked not counsel at
the mouth of the Lord,(1) but being too ready to listen to fair
speeches, were deceived by pretended piety.”

(1) Joshua ix. 14.
CHAPTER XXXIX

That man must not be immersed in business

“My Son, always commit thy cause to Me; I will dispose it aright
in due time. Wait for My arrangement of it, and then thou shalt
find it for thy profit.”

2. O Lord, right freely I commit all things to Thee; for my
planning can profit but little. Oh that I did not dwell so much
on future events, but could offer myself altogether to Thy
pleasures without delay.

3. “My Son, a man often striveth vehemently after somewhat which
he desireth; but when he hath obtained it he beginneth to be of
another mind, because his affections towards it are not lasting,
but rather rush on from one thing to another. Therefore it is not
really a small thing, when in small things we resist self.”

4. The true progress of man lieth in self-denial, and a man who
denieth himself is free and safe. But the old enemy, opposer of
all good things, ceaseth not from temptation; but day and night
setteth his wicked snares, if haply he may be able to entrap the
unwary. Watch and pray, saith the Lord, lest ye enter into
temptation.(1)

(1) Matthew xxvi. 41.
CHAPTER XL

That man hath no good in himself, and nothing whereof to glory

Lord, what is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man
that Thou visitest him?(1) What hath man deserved, that Thou
shouldest bestow thy favour upon him? Lord, what cause can I
have of complaint, if Thou forsake me? Or what can I justly
allege, if Thou refuse to hear my petition? Of a truth, this I
may truly think and say, Lord, I am nothing, I have nothing that
is good of myself, but I fall short in all things, and ever tend
unto nothing. And unless I am helped by Thee and inwardly
supported, I become altogether lukewarm and reckless.

2. But Thou, O Lord, art always the same, and endurest for ever,
always good, righteous, and holy; doing all things well,
righteously, and holily, and disposing all in Thy wisdom. But I
who am more ready to go forward than backward, never continue in
one stay, because changes sevenfold pass over me. Yet it quickly
becometh better when it so pleaseth Thee, and Thou puttest forth
Thy hand to help me; because Thou alone canst aid without help of
man, and canst so strengthen me that my countenance shall be no
more changed, but my heart shall be turned to Thee, and rest in
Thee alone.

3. Wherefore, if I but knew well how to reject all human
consolations, whether for the sake of gaining devotion, or
because of the necessity by which I was compelled to seek Thee,
seeing there is no man who can comfort me; then could I worthily
trust in Thy grace, and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.

4. Thanks be to Thee, from whom all cometh, whensoever it goeth
well with me! But I am vanity and nothing in Thy sight, a man
inconstant and weak. What then have I whereof to glory, or why
do I long to be held in honour? Is it not for nought? This also
is utterly vain. Verily vain glory is an evil plague, the
greatest of vanities, because it draweth us away from the true
glory, and robbeth us of heavenly grace. For whilst a man
pleaseth himself he displeaseth Thee; whilst he gapeth after the
praises of man, he is deprived of true virtues.

5. But true glory and holy rejoicing lieth in glorying in Thee
and not in self; in rejoicing in Thy Name, not in our own virtue;
in not taking delight in any creature, save only for Thy sake.
Let thy Name, not mine be praised; let Thy work, not mine be
magnified; let Thy holy Name be blessed, but to me let nought be
given of the praises of men. Thou art my glory, Thou art the joy
of my heart. In Thee will I make my boast and be glad all the
day long, but for myself let me not glory save only in my
infirmities.(2)

6. Let the Jews seek the honour which cometh from one another;
but I will ask for that which cometh from God only.(3) Truly all
human glory, all temporal honour, all worldly exultation,
compared to Thy eternal glory, is but vanity and folly. O God my
Truth and my Mercy, Blessed Trinity, to Thee alone be all praise,
honour, power, and glory for ever and for ever. Amen.

(1) Psalm viii. 4. (2) 2 Corinthians xii. 5.
(3) John v. 44.
CHAPTER XLI

Of contempt of all temporal honour

“My Son, make it no matter of thine, if thou see others honoured
and exalted, and thyself despised and humbled. Lift up thine
heart to Me in heaven, and then the contempt of men upon earth
will not make thee sad.”

2. O Lord, we are in blindness, and are quickly seduced by
vanity. If I look rightly within myself, never was injury done
unto me by any creature, and therefore I have nought whereof to
complain before Thee. But because I have many times and
grievously sinned against Thee, all creatures do justly take arms
against me. Therefore to me confusion and contempt are justly
due, but to Thee praise and honour and glory. And except I
dispose myself for this, namely, to be willing that every
creature should despise and desert me, and that I should be
esteemed altogether as nothing, I cannot be inwardly filled with
peace and strength, nor spiritually enlightened, nor fully united
to Thee.
CHAPTER XLII

That our peace is not to be placed in men

“My Son, if thou set thy peace on any person because thou hast
high opinion of him, and art familiar with him, thou shalt be
unstable and entangled. But if thou betake thyself to the
ever-living and abiding Truth, the desertion or death of a friend
shall not make thee sad. In Me ought the love of thy friend to
subsist, and for My sake is every one to be loved, whosoever he
be, who appeareth to thee good, and is very dear to thee in this
life. Without Me friendship hath no strength or endurance,
neither is that love true and pure, which I unite not. Thou
oughtest to be so dead to such affections of beloved friends,
that as far as in thee lieth, thou wouldst rather choose to be
without any companionship of men. The nearer a man approacheth
to God, the further he recedeth from all earthly solace. The
deeper also he descendeth into himself, and the viler he
appeareth in his own eyes, the higher he ascendeth towards God.

2. “But he who attributeth anything good to himself, hindereth
the grace of God from coming to him, because the grace of the
Holy Ghost ever seeketh the humble heart. If thou couldst make
thyself utterly nothing, and empty thyself of the love of every
creature, then should it be My part to overflow unto thee with
great grace. When thou settest thine eyes upon creatures, the
face of the Creator is withdrawn from thee. Learn in all things
to conquer thyself for thy Creator’s sake, then shalt thou be
able to attain unto divine knowledge. How small soever anything
be, if it be loved and regarded inordinately, it holdeth us back
from the highest good, and corrupteth.”
CHAPTER XLIII

Against vain and worldly knowledge

“My Son, let not the fair and subtle sayings of men move thee.
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.(1) Give ear
to My words, for they kindle the heart and enlighten the mind,
they bring contrition, and they supply manifold consolations.
Never read thou the word that thou mayest appear more learned or
wise; but study for the mortification of thy sins, for this will
be far more profitable for thee than the knowledge of many
difficult questions.

2. “When thou hast read and learned many things, thou must always
return to one first principle. I am He that teacheth man
knowledge,(2) and I give unto babes clearer knowledge than can
be taught by man. He to whom I speak will be quickly wise and
shall grow much in the spirit. Woe unto them who inquire into
many curious questions from men, and take little heed concerning
the way of My service. The time will come when Christ will
appear, the Master of masters, the Lord of the Angels, to hear
the lessons of all, that is to examine the consciences of each
one. And then will He search Jerusalem with candles,(3) and the
hidden things of darkness(4) shall be made manifest, and the
arguings of tongues shall be silent.

3. “I am He who in an instant lift up the humble spirit, to learn
more reasonings of the Eternal Truth, than if a man had studied
ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words,
without confusion of opinions, without striving after honour,
without clash of arguments. I am He who teach men to despise
earthly things, to loathe things present, to seek things
heavenly, to enjoy things eternal, to flee honours, to endure
offences, to place all hope in Me, to desire nothing apart from
Me, and above all things to love Me ardently.

4. “For there was one, who by loving Me from the bottom of his
heart, learned divine things, and spake things that were
wonderful; he profited more by forsaking all things than by
studying subtleties. But to some I speak common things, to
others special; to some I appear gently in signs and figures, and
again to some I reveal mysteries in much light. The voice of
books is one, but it informeth not all alike; because I inwardly
am the Teacher of truth, the Searcher of the heart, the Discerner
of the thoughts, the Mover of actions, distributing to each man,
as I judge meet.”

(1) 1 Corinthians iv. 20. (2) Psalm xciv. 10.
(3) Zephaniah i. 12. (4) 1 Corinthians iv. 5.
CHAPTER XLIV

Of not troubling ourselves about outward things

“My Son, in many things it behoveth thee to be ignorant, and to
esteem thyself as one dead upon the earth, and as one to whom the
whole world is crucified. Many things also thou must pass by
with deaf ear, and must rather think upon those things which
belong unto thy peace. It is more profitable to turn away thine
eyes from those things that displease, and to leave each man to
his own opinion, than to give thyself to discourses of strife.
If thou stand well with God and hast His judgment in thy mind,
thou wilt verily easily bear to be as one conquered.”

2. O Lord, to what have we come? Behold a temporal loss is
mourned over; for a trifling gain we labour and hurry; and
spiritual loss passeth away into forgetfulness, and we rarely
recover it. That which profiteth little or nothing is looked
after, and that which is altogether necessary is negligently
passed by; because the whole man slideth away to outward things,
and unless he quickly recovereth himself in outward things he
willingly lieth down.
CHAPTER XLV

That we must not believe everyone, and that we are prone to fall
in our words

Lord, be thou my help in trouble, for vain is the help of man.(1)
How often have I failed to find faithfulness, where I thought I
possessed it. How many times I have found it where I least
expected. Vain therefore is hope in men, but the salvation of
the just, O God, is in Thee. Blessed be thou, O Lord my God, in
all things which happen unto us. We are weak and unstable, we
are quickly deceived and quite changed.

2. Who is the man who is able to keep himself so warily and
circumspectly as not sometimes to come into some snare of
perplexity? But he who trusteth in Thee, O Lord, and seeketh
Thee with an unfeigned heart, doth not so easily slip. And if he
fall into any tribulation, howsoever he may be entangled, yet
very quickly he shall be delivered through Thee, or by Thee shall
be comforted, because Thou wilt not forsake him that trusteth in
Thee unto the end. A friend who continueth faithful in all the
distresses of his friend is rare to be found. Thou, O Lord, Thou
alone art most faithful in all things, and there is none other
like unto Thee.

3. Oh, how truly wise was that holy soul which said, “My mind is
steadfastly fixed, and it is grounded in Christ.”(2) If thus it
were with me, the fear of man should not so easily tempt me, nor
the arrows of words move me. Who is sufficient to foresee all
things, who to guard beforehand against future ills? If even
things which are foreseen sometimes hurt us, what can things
which are not foreseen do, but grievously injure? But wherefore
have I not better provided for myself, miserable that I am? Why,
too, have I given such heed to others? But we are men, nor are
we other than frail men, even though by many we are reckoned and
called angels. Whom shall I trust, O Lord, whom shall I trust
but Thee? Thou art the Truth, and deceivest not, nor canst be
deceived. And on the other hand, Every man is a liar,(3) weak,
unstable and frail, especially in his words, so that one ought
scarcely ever to believe what seemeth to sound right on the face
of it.

4. With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to beware of
men, and that a man’s foes are they of his own household,(4) and
that we must not believe if one say unto us Lo here, or Lo
there.(5) I have been taught by my loss, and O that I may prove
more careful and not foolish hereby. “Be cautious,” saith some
one: “be cautious, keep unto thyself what I tell thee.” And
whilst I am silent and believe that it is hid with me, he himself
cannot keep silence concerning it, but straightway betrayeth me
and himself, and goeth his way. Protect me, O Lord, from such
mischief-making and reckless men; let me not fall into their
hands, nor ever do such things myself. Put a true and steadfast
word into my mouth, and remove a deceitful tongue far from me.
What I would not suffer, I ought by all means to beware of doing.

5. Oh, how good and peacemaking a thing it is to be silent
concerning others, and not carelessly to believe all reports, nor
to hand them on further; how good also to lay one’s self open to
few, to seek ever to have Thee as the beholder of the heart; not
to be carried about with every wind of words, but to desire that
all things inward and outward be done according to the good
pleasure of Thy will! How safe for the preserving of heavenly
grace to fly from human approval, and not to long after the
things which seem to win admiration abroad, but to follow with
all earnestness those things which bring amendment of life and
heavenly fervour! How many have been injured by their virtue
being made known and too hastily praised. How truly profitable
hath been grace preserved in silence in this frail life, which,
as we are told, is all temptation and warfare.

(1) Psalm lx. 11. (2) St. Agatha.
(3) Psalm cxvi. 11; Romans iii. 4. (4) Matthew x. 17, 36.
(5) Matthew xxiv. 23.
CHAPTER XLVI

Of having confidence in God when evil words are cast at us

“My Son, stand fast and believe in Me. For what are words but
words? They fly through the air, but they bruise no stone. If
thou are guilty, think how thou wouldst gladly amend thyself; if
thou knowest nothing against thyself, consider that thou wilt
gladly bear this for God’s sake. It is little enough that thou
sometimes hast to bear hard words, for thou art not yet able to
bear hard blows. And wherefore do such trivial matters go to
thine heart, except that thou art yet carnal, and regardest men
more than thou oughtest? For because thou fearest to be
despised, thou art unwilling to be reproved for thy faults, and
seekest paltry shelters of excuses.

2. “But look better into thyself, and thou shalt know that the
world is still alive in thee, and the vain love of pleasing men.
For when thou fleest away from being abased and confounded for
thy faults, it is plain that thou art neither truly humble nor
truly dead to the world, and that the world is not crucified to
thee. But hearken to My word, and thou shalt not care for ten
thousand words of men. Behold, if all things could be said
against thee which the utmost malice could invent, what should it
hurt thee if thou wert altogether to let it go, and make no more
account of it than of a mote? Could it pluck out a single hair
of thy head?

3. “But he that hath no heart within him, and hath not God before
his eyes, is easily moved by a word of reproach; but he who
trusteth in Me, and seeketh not to abide by his own judgment,
shall be free from the fear of men. For I am the Judge and the
Discerner of all secrets; I know how the thing hath been done; I
know both the injurer and the bearer. From Me went forth that
word, by My permission this hath happened, that the thoughts of
many hearts may be revealed.(1) I shall judge the guilty and the
innocent; but beforehand I have willed to try them both by a
secret judgment.

4. “The testimony of men often deceiveth. My judgment is true;
it will stand, and it shall not be overturned. It commonly lieth
hid, and only to few in certain cases is it made known; yet it
never erreth, nor can err, although it seem not right to the eyes
of foolish men. To Me, therefore, must men have recourse in all
judgment, and must not lean to their opinion. For there shall no
evil happen to the just,(2) whatsoever may be sent to him by God.
Even though some unjust charge be brought against him, he will
care little; nor, again, will he exult above measure, if through
others he be clearly vindicated. For he considereth that I am He
who try the hearts and reins,(3) who judge not outwardly and
according to human appearance; for often in Mine eyes that is
found blameworthy which in the judgment of men is held worthy of
praise.”

5. O Lord God, O Judge, just, strong, and patient, who knowest
the frailty and sinfulness of men, be Thou my strength and my
whole confidence; for my own conscience sufficeth me not. Thou
knowest what I know not; and therefore ought I under all rebuke
to humble myself, and to bear it meekly. Therefore mercifully
forgive me as often as I have not done this, and grant me the
next time the grace of greater endurance. For better unto me is
Thine abundant pity for the attainment of Thy pardon, than the
righteousness which I believe myself to have for defence against
my conscience, which lieth wait against me. Although I know
nothing against myself, yet I am not hereby justified,(4) because
if Thy mercy were removed away, in Thy sight should no man
living be justified.(5)

(1) Luke ii. 35. (2) Proverbs xii. 21. (3) Psalm vii. 9.
(4) 1 Corinthians iv. 4. (5) Psalm cxliii. 2.
CHAPTER XLVII

That all troubles are to be endured for the sake of eternal life

“My Son, let not the labours which thou hast undertaken for Me
break thee down, nor let tribulations cast thee down in any wise,
but let my promise strengthen and comfort thee in every event. I
am sufficient to reward thee above all measure and extent. Not
long shalt thou labour here, nor always be weighed down with
sorrows. Wait yet a little while, and thou shalt see a speedy
end of thine evils. An hour shall come when all labour and
confusion shall cease. Little and short is all that passeth away
with time.

2. “Do earnestly what thou dost; labour faithfully in My
vineyard; I will be thy reward. Write, read, sing, weep, be
silent, pray, endure adversities manfully; eternal life is worthy
of all these conflicts, yea, and of greater. Peace shall come in
one day which is known to the Lord; which shall be neither day
nor night,(1) but light eternal, infinite clearness, steadfast
peace, and undisturbed rest. Thou shalt not say then, Who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?(2) nor cry out, Woe is
me, for my sojourning is prolonged,(3) because death will be
utterly destroyed, and there shall be salvation which can never
fail, no more anxiety, happy delight, sweet and noble society.

3. “Oh, if thou sawest the unfading crowns of the Saints in
heaven, and with what great glory they now rejoice, who aforetime
were reckoned by this world contemptibly and as it were unworthy
of life, truly thou wouldst immediately humble thyself even to
the earth, and wouldst desire rather to be in subjection to all,
than to have authority over one; nor wouldst thou long for
pleasant days of this life, but wouldst more rejoice to be
afflicted for God’s sake, and wouldst esteem it gain to be
counted for nought amongst men.

4. “Oh, if these things were sweet to thy taste, and moved thee
to the bottom of thine heart, how shouldst thou dare even once to
complain? Are not all laborious things to be endured for the
sake of eternal life? It is no small thing, the losing or
gaining the Kingdom of God. Lift up therefore thy face to
heaven. Behold, I and all My Saints with Me, who in this world
had a hard conflict, now rejoice, are now comforted, are now
secure, are now at peace, and shall remain with Me evermore in
the Kingdom of My Father.”

(1) Zechariah xiv. 7. (2) Romans vii. 24. (3) Psalm cxx.
CHAPTER XLVIII

Of the day of eternity and of the straitnesses of this life

Oh most blessed mansion of the City which is above! Oh most
clear day of eternity which the night obscureth not, but the
Supreme Truth ever enlighteneth! Day always joyful, always
secure and never changing its state into those which are
contrary. Oh would that this day might shine forth, and that all
these temporal things would come to an end. It shineth indeed
upon the Saints, glowing with unending brightness, but only from
afar and through a glass, upon those who are pilgrims on the
earth.

2. The citizens of heaven know how glorious that day is; the
exiled sons of Eve groan, because this is bitter and wearisome.
The days of this life are few and evil, full of sorrows and
straits, where man is defiled with many sins, ensnared with many
passions, bound fast with many fears, wearied with many cares,
distracted with many questionings, entangled with many vanities,
compassed about with many errors, worn away with many labours,
weighed down with temptations, enervated by pleasures, tormented
by poverty.

3. Oh when shall there be an end of these evils? When shall I be
delivered from the wretched slavery of my sins? When shall I be
mindful, O Lord, of Thee alone? When shall I rejoice in Thee to
the full? When shall I be in true liberty without any
impediment, without any burden on mind or body? When shall there
be solid peace, peace immovable and secure, peace within and
without, peace firm on every side? Blessed Jesus, when shall I
stand to behold Thee? When shall I gaze upon the glory of Thy
kingdom? When shalt Thou be to me all in all? Oh when shall I
be with Thee in Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared from the
foundation of the world for them that love Thee? I am left
destitute, an exile in a hostile land, where are daily wars and
grievous misfortunes.

4. Console my exile, mitigate my sorrow, for towards Thee all my
desire longeth. For all is to me a burden, whatsoever this world
offereth for consolation. I yearn to enjoy Thee intimately, but
I cannot attain unto it. I long to cleave to heavenly things,
but temporal things and unmortified passions press me down. In
my mind I would be above all things, but in my flesh I am
unwillingly compelled to be beneath them. So, wretched man that
I am, I fight with myself, and am made grievous even unto myself,
while the spirit seeketh to be above and the flesh to be beneath.

5. Oh how I suffer inwardly, while with the mind I discourse on
heavenly things, and presently a crowd of carnal things rusheth
upon me whilst I pray. My God, be not Thou far from me, nor
depart in wrath from Thy servant. Cast forth Thy lightning and
scatter them; send out Thine arrows,(1) and let all delusions of
my enemy be confounded. Recall my senses unto Thyself, cause me
to forget all worldly things; grant me quickly to cast away and
despise the imaginations of sin. Succour me, O Eternal Truth,
that no vanity may move me. Come unto me, O Heavenly Sweetness,
and let all impurity flee from before Thy face. Pardon me also,
and of Thy mercy deal gently with me, whensoever in prayer I
think on anything besides Thee; for truly I confess that I am
wont to be continually distracted. For often and often, where in
the body I stand or sit, there I myself am not; but rather am I
there, whither I am borne by my thoughts. Where my thought is,
there am I; and there commonly is my thought where that which I
love is. That readily occurreth to me, which naturally
delighteth, or pleaseth through custom.

6. Wherefore Thou, who art the Truth, hast plainly said, Where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also.(2) If I love
heaven, I gladly meditate on heavenly things. If I love the
world, I rejoice in the delights of the world, and am made sorry
by its adversities. If I love the flesh, I am continually
imagining the things which belong to the flesh; if I love the
spirit, I am delighted by meditating on spiritual things. For
whatsoever things I love, on these I readily converse and listen,
and carry home with me the images of them. But blessed is that
man who for Thy sake, O Lord, is willing to part from all
creatures; who doth violence to his fleshly nature and crucifieth
the lusts of the flesh by the fervour of his spirit, so that with
serene conscience he may offer unto Thee a pure prayer, and be
made worthy to enter into the angelic choirs, having shut out
from himself, both outwardly and inwardly, all worldly things.

(1) Psalm lxxi. 12. (2) Matthew vi. 21.
CHAPTER XLIX

Of the desire after eternal life, and how great blessings are
promised to those who strive

“My Son, when thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness to be
poured into thee from above, and longest to depart from the
tabernacle of this body, that thou mayest contemplate My glory
without shadow of turning, enlarge thine heart, and take in this
holy inspiration with all thy desire. Give most hearty thanks to
the Supreme Goodness, who dealeth with thee so graciously,
visiteth thee so lovingly, stirreth thee up so fervently, raiseth
thee so powerfully, lest thou sink down through thine own weight,
to earthly things. For not by thine own meditating or striving
dost thou receive this gift, but by the sole gracious
condescension of Supreme Grace and Divine regard; to the end that
thou mayest make progress in virtue and in more humility, and
prepare thyself for future conflicts, and cleave unto Me with all
the affection of thy heart, and strive to serve Me with fervent
will.

2. “My Son, often the fire burneth, but the flame ascendeth not
without smoke. So also the desires of some men burn towards
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from the temptation of
carnal affection. Thus therefore they are not acting with an
altogether simple desire for God’s glory when they pray to Him so
earnestly. Such, too, is oftentimes thy desire, when thou hast
imagined it to be so earnest. For that is not pure and perfect
which is tainted with thine own self-seeking.

3. “Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to thyself,
but what is acceptable and honourable unto Me; for if thou
judgest rightly, thou must choose and follow after My appointment
rather than thine own desire; yea, rather than anything that can
be desired. I know thy desire, and I have heard thy many
groanings. Already thou longest to be in the glorious liberty of
the children of God; already the eternal home delighteth thee,
and the heavenly country full of joy; but the hour is not yet
come; there remaineth still another season, even a season of
warfare, a season of labour and probation. Thou desirest to be
filled with the Chief Good, but thou canst not attain it
immediately. I AM that Good; wait for Me, until the Kingdom of
God shall come.

4. “Thou must still be tried upon earth, and be exercised in many
things. Consolation shall from time to time be given thee, but
abundant satisfying shall not be granted. Be strong therefore,
and be thou brave both in working and in suffering things which
are against thy nature. Thou must put on the new man, and be
changed into another man. Thou must often do what thou wouldst
not; and thou must leave undone what thou wouldst do. What
pleaseth others shall have good success, what pleaseth thee shall
have no prosperity. What others say shall be listened to; what
thou sayest shall receive no heed. Others shall ask and receive;
thou shalt ask and not obtain. Others shall be great in the
report of men, but about thee shall nothing be spoken. To others
this or that shall be entrusted; thou shalt be judged useful for
nought.

5. “For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with sadness;
and it is a great thing if thou bear it silently. In this and
many like things the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be
tried, how far he is able to deny himself and bring himself into
subjection in all things. Scarcely is there anything in which
thou hast need to mortify thyself so much as in seeing things
which are adverse to thy will; especially when things are
commanded thee to be done which seem to thee inexpedient or of
little use to thee. And because thou darest not resist a higher
power, being under authority, therefore it seemeth hard for thee
to shape thy course according to the nod of another, and to
forego thine own opinion.

6. “But consider, My Son, the fruit of these labours, the swift
end, and the reward exceeding great; and thou shalt find it no
pain to bear them then, but rather the strongest solace of thy
patience. For even in exchange for this trifling desire which
thou hast readily forsaken, thou shalt always have thy will in
Heaven. There verily thou shalt find all that thou wouldst, all
that thou canst long for. There thou shalt have all good within
thy power without the fear of losing it. There thy will, ever at
one with Mine, shall desire nothing outward, nothing for itself.
There no man shall withstand thee, none shall complain of thee,
none shall hinder, nothing shall stand in thy path; but all
things desired by thee shall be present together, and shall
refresh thy whole affection, and fill it up even to the brim.
There I will glory for the scorn suffered here, the garment of
praise for sorrow, and for the lowest place a throne in the
Kingdom, for ever. There shall appear the fruit of obedience,
the labour of repentance shall rejoice, and humble subjection
shall be crowned gloriously.

7. “Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of all men;
nor let it trouble thee who said this or who ordered that; but
take special heed that whether thy superior, thy inferior, or thy
equal, require anything from thee, or even show a desire for it;
take it all in good part, and study with a good will to fulfil
the desire. Let one seek this, another that; let this man glory
in this, and that man in that, and be praised a thousand thousand
times, but rejoice thou only in the contempt of thyself, and in
Mine own good pleasure and glory. This is what thou art to long
for, even that whether by life or by death God may be ever
magnified in thee.”(1)

(1) Philippians i. 20.
CHAPTER L

How a desolate man ought to commit himself into the hands of God

O Lord, Holy Father, be Thou blessed now and evermore; because as
Thou wilt so it is done, and what Thou doest is good. Let Thy
servant rejoice in Thee, not in himself, nor in any other;
because Thou alone art the true joy, Thou art my hope and my
crown, Thou art my joy and my honour, O Lord. What hath Thy
servant, which he received not from Thee, even without merit of
his own? Thine are all things which Thou hast given, and which
Thou hast made. I am poor and in misery even from my youth
up,(1) and my soul is sorrowful unto tears, sometimes also it is
disquieted within itself, because of the sufferings which are
coming upon it.

2. I long after the joy of peace; for the peace of Thy children
do I beseech, for in the light of Thy comfort they are fed by
Thee. If Thou give peace, if Thou pour into me holy joy, the
soul of Thy servant shall be full of melody, and devout in Thy
praise. But if Thou withdraw Thyself as too often Thou art wont,
he will not be able to run in the way of Thy commandments, but
rather he will smite his breast and will bow his knees; because
it is not with him as yesterday and the day before, when Thy
candle shined upon his head,(2) and he walked under the shadow of
Thy wings,(3) from the temptations which beset him.

3. O Father, righteous and ever to be praised, the hour cometh
when Thy servant is to be proved. O beloved Father, it is well
that in this hour Thy servant suffer somewhat for Thy sake. O
Father, evermore to be adored, as the hour cometh which Thou
foreknewest from everlasting, when for a little while Thy servant
should outwardly bow down, but always live inwardly with Thee;
when for a little while he should be little regarded, humbled,
and fail in the eyes of men; should be wasted with sufferings and
weaknesses, to rise again with Thee in the dawn of the new light,
and be glorified in the heavenly places. O Holy Father, thou
hast ordained it so, and so hast willed it; and that is done
which Thou Thyself hast commanded.

4. For this is Thy favour to Thy friend, that he should suffer
and be troubled in the world for Thy love’s sake, how often
soever, and by whomsoever and whosoever Thou hast suffered it to
be done. Without Thy counsel and providence, and without cause,
nothing cometh to pass on the earth. It is good for me, Lord,
that I had been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statutes,(4)
and may cast away all pride of heart and presumption. It is
profitable for me that confusion hath covered my face, that I may
seek to Thee for consolation rather than unto men. By this also
I have learned to dread Thine unsearchable judgment, who
afflictest the just with the wicked, but not without equity and
justice.

5. Thanks be unto Thee, because Thou hast not spared my sins, but
hast beaten me with stripes of love, inflicting pains, and
sending troubles upon me without and within. There is none who
can console me, of all things which are under heaven, but Thou
only, O Lord my God, Thou heavenly Physician of souls, who dost
scourge and hast mercy, who leadest down to hell and bringest up
again.(5) Thy discipline over me, and Thy rod itself shall teach
me.

6. Behold, O beloved Father, I am in Thy hands, I bow myself
under the rod of Thy correction. Smite my back and my neck that
I may bend my crookedness to Thy will. Make me a pious and lowly
disciple, as Thou wert wont to be kind, that I may walk according
to every nod of Thine. To Thee I commend myself and all that I
have for correction; better is it to be punished here than
hereafter. Thou knowest all things and each of them; and nothing
remaineth hid from Thee in man’s conscience. Before they are,
thou knowest that they will be, and Thou needest not that any man
teach Thee or admonish Thee concerning the things which are done
upon the earth. Thou knowest what is expedient for my profit,
and how greatly trouble serveth unto the scrubbing off the rust
of sin. Do with me according to Thy desired good pleasure, and
despise not my life which is full of sin, known to none so
entirely and fully as to Thee alone.

7. Grant me, O Lord, to know that which ought to be known; to
love that which ought to be loved; to praise that which pleaseth
Thee most, to esteem that which is precious in Thy sight, to
blame that which is vile in Thine eyes. Suffer me not to judge
according to the sight of bodily eyes, nor to give sentence
according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to
discern in true judgment between visible and spiritual things,
and above all things to be ever seeking after the will of Thy
good pleasure.

8. Oftentimes the senses of men are deceived in judging; the
lovers of the world also are deceived in that they love only
visible things. What is a man better because by man he is
reckoned very great? The deceiver deceiveth the deceiver, the
vain man the vain, the blind man the blind, the weak man the
weak, when they exalt one another; and in truth they rather put
to shame, while they foolishly praise. For as humble St. Francis
saith, “What each one is in Thine eyes, so much he is, and no
more.”

(1) Psalm lxxxviii. 15. (2) Job xxix. 3. (3) Psalm xvii. 8.
(4) Psalm cxix. 71. (5) Job xiii. 2.
CHAPTER LI

That we must give ourselves to humble works when we are unequal
to those that are lofty

“My Son, thou art not always able to continue in very fervent
desire after virtues, nor to stand fast in the loftier region of
contemplation; but thou must of necessity sometimes descend to
lower things because of thine original corruption, and bear about
the burden of corruptible life, though unwillingly and with
weariness. So long as thou wearest a mortal body, thou shalt
feel weariness and heaviness of heart. Therefore thou oughtest
to groan often in the flesh because of the burden of the flesh,
inasmuch as thou canst not give thyself to spiritual studies and
divine contemplation unceasingly.

2. “At such a time it is expedient for thee to flee to humble and
external works, and to renew thyself with good actions; to wait
for My coming and heavenly visitation with sure confidence; to
bear thy exile and drought of mind with patience, until thou be
visited by Me again, and be freed from all anxieties. For I will
cause thee to forget thy labours, and altogether to enjoy eternal
peace. I will spread open before thee the pleasant pastures of the
Scriptures, that with enlarged heart thou mayest begin to run in
the way of My commandments. And thou shalt say, ‘The sufferings
of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.’”(1)

(1) Romans viii. 18.
CHAPTER LII

That a man ought not to reckon himself worthy of consolation, but
more worthy of chastisement

O Lord, I am not worthy of Thy consolation, nor of any spiritual
visitation; and therefore Thou dealest justly with me, when Thou
leavest me poor and desolate. For if I were able to pour forth
tears like the sea, still should I not be worthy of Thy
consolation. Therefore am I nothing worthy save to be scourged
and punished, because I have grievously and many a time offended
Thee, and in many things have greatly sinned. Therefore, true
account being taken, I am not worthy even of the least of Thy
consolations. But Thou, gracious and merciful God, who willest
not that Thy works should perish, to show forth the riches of Thy
mercy upon the vessels of mercy,(1) vouchsafest even beyond all
his own deserving, to comfort Thy servant above the measure of
mankind. For Thy consolations are not like unto the discoursings
of men.

2. What have I done, O Lord, that Thou shouldst bestow any
heavenly comfort upon me? I remember not that I have done any
good, but have been ever prone to sin and slow to amendment. It
is true and I cannot deny it. If I should say otherwise, Thou
wouldst rise up against me, and there would be none to defend
me. What have I deserved for my sins but hell and everlasting
fire? In very truth I confess that I am worthy of all scorn and
contempt, nor is it fit that I should be remembered among Thy
faithful servants. And although I be unwilling to hear this,
nevertheless I will for the Truth’s sake, accuse myself of my
sins, that the more readily I may prevail to be accounted worthy
of Thy mercy.

3. What shall I say, guilty that I am and filled with confusion?
I have no mouth to utter, unless it be this word alone, “I have
sinned, Lord, I have sinned; have mercy upon me, forgive me.”
Let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence
I shall not return even to the land of darkness and the shadow of
death.(2) What dost Thou so much require of a guilty and
miserable sinner, as that he be contrite, and humble himself for
his sins? In true contrition and humiliation of heart is
begotten the hope of pardon, the troubled conscience is
reconciled, lost grace is recovered, a man is preserved from the
wrath to come, and God and the penitent soul hasten to meet each
other with a holy kiss.(3)

4. The humble contrition of sinners is an acceptable sacrifice
unto Thee, O Lord, sending forth a smell sweeter far in Thy sight
than the incense. This also is that pleasant ointment which Thou
wouldst have poured upon Thy sacred feet, for a broken and
contrite heart Thou hast never despised.(4) There is the place
of refuge from the wrathful countenance of the enemy. There is
amended and washed away whatsoever evil hath elsewhere been
contracted.

(1) Romans ix. 23. (2) Job x. 20, 21. (3) Luke xv. 20.
(4) Psalm li. 17.
CHAPTER LIII

That the Grace of God doth not join itself to those who mind
earthly things

“My Son, precious is My grace, it suffereth not itself to be
joined with outward things, nor with earthly consolations.
Therefore thou oughtest to cast away all things which hinder
grace, if thou longest to receive the inpouring thereof. Seek a
secret place for thyself, love to dwell alone with thyself,
desire the conversation of no one; but rather pour out thy devout
prayer to God, that thou mayest possess a contrite mind and a
pure conscience. Count the whole world as nought; seek to be
alone with God before all outward things. For thou canst not be
alone with Me, and at the same time be delighted with transitory
things. Thou oughtest to be separated from thy acquaintances and
dear friends, and keep thy mind free from all worldly comfort.
So the blessed Apostle Peter beseecheth, that Christ’s faithful
ones bear themselves in this world as strangers and pilgrims.(1)

2. “Oh how great a confidence shall there be to the dying man
whom no affection to anything detaineth in the world? But to
have a heart so separated from all things, a sickly soul doth not
yet comprehend, nor doth the carnal man know the liberty of the
spiritual man. But if indeed he desire to be spiritually minded,
he must renounce both those who are far off, and those who are
near, and to beware of no man more than himself. If thou
perfectly conquer thyself, very easily shalt thou subdue all
things besides. Perfect victory is the triumph over oneself.
For whoso keepeth himself in subjection, in such manner that the
sensual affections obey the reason, and the reason in all things
obeyeth Me, he truly is conqueror of himself, and lord of the
world.

3. “If thou desire to climb to this height, thou oughtest to
start bravely, and to lay the axe to the root, to the end that
thou mayest pull up and destroy the hidden inordinate inclination
towards thyself, and towards all selfish and earthly good. From
this sin, that a man loveth himself too inordinately, almost
everything hangeth which needeth to be utterly overcome: when
that evil is conquered and put under foot, there shall be great
peace and tranquillity continually. But because few strive
earnestly to die perfectly to themselves, and do not heartily go
forth from themselves, therefore do they remain entangled in
themselves, and cannot be raised in spirit above themselves. But
he who desireth to walk at liberty with Me, must of necessity
mortify all his evil and inordinate affections, and must cling to
no creature with selfish love.”

(1) 1 Peter ii. 11.
CHAPTER LIV

Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace

“My Son, pay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of Grace,
because they move in a very contrary and subtle manner, and are
hardly distinguished save by a spiritual and inwardly enlightened
man. All men indeed seek good, and make pretence of something
good in all that they say or do; and thus under the appearance of
good many are deceived.

2. “Nature is deceitful and draweth away, ensnareth, and
deceiveth many, and always hath self for her end; but Grace
walketh in simplicity and turneth away from every appearance of
evil, maketh no false pretences, and doeth all entirely for the
sake of God, in whom also she finally resteth.

3. “Nature is very unwilling to die, and to be pressed down, and
to be overcome, and to be in subjection, and to bear the yoke
readily; but Grace studieth self-mortification, resisteth
sensuality, seeketh to be subdued, longeth to be conquered, and
willeth not to use her own liberty. She loveth to be held by
discipline, and not to have authority over any, but always to
live, to remain, to have her being under God, and for God’s sake
is ready to be humbly subject to every ordinance of man.

4. “Nature laboureth for her own advantage, and considereth what
profit she may gain from another; but Grace considereth more, not
what may be useful and convenient to self, but what may be
profitable to the many.

5. “Nature willingly receiveth honour and reverence; but Grace
faithfully ascribeth all honour and glory to God.

6. “Nature feareth confusion and contempt, but Grace rejoiceth to
suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

7. “Nature loveth ease and bodily quiet; Grace cannot be
unemployed, but gladly embraceth labour.

8. “Nature seeketh to possess things curious and attractive, and
abhorreth those which are rough and cheap; Grace is delighted
with things simple and humble, despiseth not those which are
rough, nor refuseth to be clothed with old garments.

9. “Nature hath regard to things temporal, rejoiceth in earthly
lucre, is made sad by loss, vexed by any little injurious word;
but Grace reacheth after things eternal, cleaveth not to those
which are temporal, is not perturbed by losses, nor embittered by
any hard words, because she hath placed her treasure and joy in
heaven where nought perisheth.

10. “Nature is covetous, and receiveth more willingly than she
giveth, loveth things that are personal and private to herself;
while Grace is kind and generous, avoideth selfishness, is
contented with a little, believeth that it is more blessed to
give than to receive.

11. “Nature inclineth thee to created things, to thine own flesh,
to vanities and dissipation; but Grace draweth to God and to
virtues, renounceth creatures, fleeth from the world, hateth the
desires of the flesh, restraineth vagaries, blusheth to be seen
in public.

12. “Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in which the
senses may have delight; but Grace seeketh to be comforted in God
alone, and to have delight in the chief good above all visible
things.

13. “Nature doeth everything for her own gain and profit, can do
nothing as a free favour, but hopeth to attain something as good
or better, or some praise or favour for her benefits; and she
loveth that her own deeds and gifts should be highly valued; but
Grace seeketh nothing temporal, nor requireth any other gift of
reward than God alone; neither longeth she for more of temporal
necessities than such as may suffice for the attaining of eternal
life.

14. “Nature rejoiceth in many friends and kinsfolk, she boasteth
of noble place and noble birth, she smileth on the powerful,
flattereth the rich, applaudeth those who are like herself; but
Grace loveth even her enemies, and is not lifted up by the
multitude of friends, setteth no store upon high place or high
birth, unless there be greater virtue therewith; favoureth the
poor man more than the rich, hath more sympathy with the innocent
than with the powerful; rejoiceth with the truthful, not with the
liar; always exhorteth the good to strive after better gifts of
grace, and to become by holiness like unto the Son of God.

15. “Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of trouble; Grace
beareth want with constancy.

16. “Nature looketh upon all things in reference to herself;
striveth and argueth for self; but Grace bringeth back all things
to God from whom they came at the beginning; ascribeth no good to
herself nor arrogantly presumeth; is not contentious, nor
preferreth her own opinion to others, but in every sense and
understanding submitteth herself to the Eternal wisdom and the
Divine judgment.

17. “Nature is eager to know secrets and to hear new things; she
loveth to appear abroad, and to make experience of many things
through the senses; she desireth to be acknowledged and to do
those things which win praise and admiration; but Grace careth
not to gather up new or curious things, because all this
springeth from the old corruption, whereas there is nothing new
or lasting upon earth. So she teacheth to restrain the senses, to
shun vain complacency and ostentation, to hide humbly those
things which merit praise and real admiration, and from
everything and in all knowledge to seek after useful fruit, and
the praise and honour of God. She desireth not to receive praise
for herself or her own, but longeth that God be blessed in all
His gifts, who out of unmingled love bestoweth all things.”

18. This Grace is a supernatural light, and a certain special
gift of God, and the proper mark of the elect, and the pledge of
eternal salvation; it exalteth a man from earthly things to love
those that are heavenly; and it maketh the carnal man spiritual.
So far therefore as Nature is utterly pressed down and overcome,
so far is greater Grace bestowed and the inner man is daily
created anew by fresh visitations, after the image of God.
CHAPTER LV

Of the corruption of Nature and the efficacy of Divine Grace

O Lord my God, who hast created me after thine own image and
similitude, grant me this grace, which Thou hast shown to be so
great and so necessary for salvation, that I may conquer my
wicked nature, which draweth me to sin and to perdition. For I
feel in my flesh the law of sin, contradicting the law of my
mind, and bringing me into captivity to the obedience of
sensuality in many things; nor can I resist its passions, unless
Thy most holy grace assist me, fervently poured into my heart.

2. There is need of Thy grace, yea, and of a great measure
thereof, that my nature may be conquered, which hath alway been
prone to evil from my youth. For being fallen through the first
man Adam, and corrupted through sin, the punishment of this
stain descended upon all men; so that Nature itself, which was
framed good and right by Thee, is now used to express the vice
and infirmity of corrupted Nature; because its motion left unto
itself draweth men away to evil and to lower things. For the
little power which remaineth is as it were one spark lying hid in
the ashes. This is Natural reason itself, encompassed with thick
clouds, having yet a discernment of good and evil, a distinction
of the true and the false, though it be powerless to fulfil all
that it approveth, and possess not yet the full light of truth,
nor healthfulness of its affections.

3. Hence it is, O my God, that I delight in Thy law after the
inward man,(1) knowing that Thy commandment is holy and just and
good; reproving also all evil, and the sin that is to be avoided:
yet with the flesh I serve the law of sin, whilst I obey
sensuality rather than reason. Hence it is that to will to do
good is present with me, but how to perform it I find not.(2)
Hence I ofttimes purpose many good things; but because grace is
lacking to help mine infirmities, I fall back before a little
resistance and fail. Hence it cometh to pass that I recognize
the way of perfectness, and see very clearly what things I ought
to do; but pressed down by the weight of my own corruption, I
rise not to the things which are more perfect.

4. Oh how entirely necessary is Thy grace to me, O Lord, for a
good beginning, for progress, and for bringing to perfection.
For without it I can do nothing, but I can do all things through
Thy grace which strengtheneth me.(3) O truly heavenly grace,
without which our own merits are nought, and no gifts of Nature
at all are to be esteemed. Arts, riches, beauty, strength, wit,
eloquence, they all avail nothing before Thee, O Lord, without
Thy grace. For the gifts of Nature belong to good and evil
alike; but the proper gift of the elect is grace–that is, love–
and they who bear the mark thereof are held worthy of everlasting
life. So mighty is this grace, that without it neither the gift
of prophecy nor the working of miracles, nor any speculation,
howsoever lofty, is of any value at all. But neither faith, nor
hope, nor any other virtue is accepted with Thee without love and
grace.

5. O most blessed grace that makest the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, and renderest him who is rich in many things humble in
spirit, come Thou, descend upon me, fill me early with Thy
consolation, lest my soul fail through weariness and drought of
mind. I beseech thee, O Lord, that I may find grace in Thy
sight, for Thy grace is sufficient for me,(4) when I obtain not
those things which Nature longeth for. If I be tempted and vexed
with many tribulations, I will fear no evil, while Thy grace
remaineth with me. This alone is my strength, this bringeth me
counsel and help. It is more powerful than all enemies, and
wiser than all the wise men in the world.

6. It is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the solace of anxiety, the banisher of
sorrow, the deliverer from fear, the nurse of devotion, the
drawer forth of tears. What am I without it, save a dry tree, a
useless branch, worthy to be cast away! “Let Thy grace,
therefore, O Lord, always prevent and follow me, and make me
continually given to all good works, through Jesus Christ, Thy
Son. Amen.”

(1) Romans vii. 12, 22. 25. (2) Romans vii. 18. (3) Philippians iv. 13.
(4) 2 Corinthians xii. 9.

CHAPTER LVI

That we ought to deny ourselves, and to imitate Christ by means
of the Cross

My Son, so far as thou art able to go out of thyself so far shalt
thou be able to enter into Me. As to desire no outward thing
worketh internal peace, so the forsaking of self inwardly joineth
unto God. I will that thou learn perfect self-denial, living in
My will without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the
way, the truth, and the life.(1) Without the way thou canst not
go, without the truth thou canst not know, without the life thou
canst not live. I am the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the
Truth which thou oughtest to believe; the Life which thou oughtest
to hope for. I am the Way unchangeable; the Truth infallible;
the Life everlasting. I am the Way altogether straight, the
Truth supreme, the true Life, the blessed Life, the uncreated
Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know the Truth, and
the truth shall make thee free,(2) and thou shalt lay hold on
eternal life.

2. “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.(3) If
thou wilt know the truth, believe in Me. If thou wilt be
perfect, sell all that thou hast. If thou wilt be My disciple,
deny thyself. If thou wouldst possess the blessed life, despise
the life which now is. If thou wilt be exalted in heaven, humble
thyself in the world. If thou wilt reign with Me, bear the cross
with Me; for only the servants of the cross find the way of
blessedness and of true light.”

3. O Lord Jesu, forasmuch as Thy life was straitened and despised
by the world, grant unto me to imitate Thee in despising the
world, for the servant is not greater than his lord, nor the
disciple above his master.(4) Let Thy servant be exercised in
Thy life, because there is my salvation and true holiness.
Whatsoever I read or hear besides it, it refresheth me not, nor
giveth me delight.

4. “My son, because thou knowest these things and hast read them
all, blessed shalt thou be if thou doest them. He who hath My
commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I
will love him, and will manifest Myself to him,(5) and I will
make him to sit down with Me in My Father’s Kingdom.”

5. O Lord Jesu, as Thou hast said and promised, even so let it be
unto me, and grant me to prove worthy. I have received the cross
at Thy hand; I have carried it, and will carry it even unto
death, as Thou hast laid it upon me. Truly the life of a truly
devoted servant is a cross, but it leadeth to paradise. I have
begun; I may not return back nor leave it.

6. Come, my brothers, let us together go forward. Jesus shall be
with us. For Jesus’ sake have we taken up this cross, for Jesus’
sake let us persevere in the cross. He will be our helper, who
was our Captain and Forerunner. Behold our King entereth in
before us, and He will fight for us. Let us follow bravely, let
no man fear terrors; let us be prepared to die bravely in battle,
and let us not so stain our honour,(6) as to fly from the cross.

(1) John xiv. 6. (2) John viii. 32. (3) Matthew xix. 17, 21.
(4) Matthew x. 24. (5) John xiv. 21. (6) 1 Mac. ix. 10.
CHAPTER LVII

That a man must not be too much cast down when he falleth into
some faults

“My Son, patience and humility in adversities are more pleasing
to Me than much comfort and devotion in prosperity. Why doth a
little thing spoken against thee make thee sad? If it had been
more, thou still oughtest not to be moved. But now suffer it to
go by; it is not the first, it is not new, and it will not be the
last, if thou live long. Thou art brave enough, so long as no
adversity meeteth thee. Thou givest good counsel also, and
knowest how to strengthen others with thy words; but when
tribulation suddenly knocketh at thine own door, thy counsel and
strength fail. Consider thy great frailty, which thou dost so
often experience in trifling matters nevertheless, for thy soul’s
health these things are done when they and such like happen unto
thee.

2. “Put them away from thy heart as well as thou canst, and if
tribulation hath touched thee, yet let it not cast thee down nor
entangle thee long. At the least, bear patiently, if thou canst
not joyfully. And although thou be very unwilling to hear it,
and feel indignation, yet check thyself, and suffer no unadvised
word to come forth from thy lips, whereby the little ones may be
offended. Soon the storm which hath been raised shall be
stilled, and inward grief shall be sweetened by returning grace.
I yet live, saith the Lord, ready to help thee, and to give thee
more than wonted consolation if thou put thy trust in Me, and
call devoutly upon Me.

3. “Be thou more calm of spirit, and gird thyself for greater
endurance. All is not frustrated, though thou find thyself very
often afflicted or grievously tempted. Thou art man, not God;
thou art flesh, not an angel. How shouldst thou be able to
remain alway in the same state of virtue, when an angel in heaven
fell, and the first man in paradise? I am He who lifteth up the
mourners to deliverance, and those who know their own infirmity I
raise up to my own nature.”

4. O Lord, blessed be Thy word, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What should I do in my so great tribulations
and anxieties, unless Thou didst comfort me with Thy holy words?
If only I may attain unto the haven of salvation, what matter is
it what things or how many I suffer? Give me a good end, give me
a happy passage out of this world. Remember me, O my God, and
lead me by the right way unto Thy Kingdom. Amen.
CHAPTER LVIII

Of deeper matters, and God’s hidden judgments which are not to be
inquired into

“My Son, beware thou dispute not of high matters and of the
hidden judgments of God; why this man is thus left, and that man
is taken into so great favour; why also this man is so greatly
afflicted, and that so highly exalted. These things pass all
man’s power of judging, neither may any reasoning or disputation
have power to search out the divine judgments. When therefore
the enemy suggesteth these things to thee, or when any curious
people ask such questions, answer with that word of the Prophet,
Just art Thou, O Lord, and true is Thy judgment,(1) and with
this, The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous
altogether.(2) My judgments are to be feared, not to be disputed
on, because they are incomprehensible to human understanding.

2. “And be not given to inquire or dispute about the merits of
the Saints, which is holier than another, or which is the greater
in the Kingdom of Heaven. Such questions often beget useless
strifes and contentions: they also nourish pride and vain glory,
whence envyings and dissensions arise, while one man arrogantly
endeavoureth to exalt one Saint and another another. But to wish
to know and search out such things bringeth no fruit, but it
rather displeaseth the Saints; for I am not the God of confusion
but of peace;(3) which peace consisteth more in true humility
than in self-exaltation.

3. “Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection to these
Saints or those; but this is human affection rather than divine.
I am He Who made all the Saints: I gave them grace, I brought
them glory; I know the merits of every one; I prevented them with
the blessings of My goodness.(4) I foreknew my beloved ones from
everlasting, I chose them out of the world;(5) they did not
choose Me. I called them by My grace, drew them by My mercy, led
them on through sundry temptations. I poured mighty consolations
upon them, I gave them perseverance, I crowned their patience.

4. “I acknowledge the first and the last; I embrace all with
inestimable love. I am to be praised in all My Saints; I am to
be blessed above all things, and to be honoured in every one whom
I have so gloriously exalted and predestined, without any
preceding merits of their own. He therefore that shall despise
one of the least of these My people, honoureth not the great;
because I made both small and great.(6) And he who speaketh
against any of My Saints speaketh against Me, and against all
others in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

They are all one through the bond of charity; they think the
same thing, will the same thing, and all are united in love one
to another.

5. “But yet (which is far better) they love Me above themselves
and their own merits. For being caught up above themselves, and
drawn beyond self-love, they go all straightforward to the love
of Me, and they rest in Me in perfect enjoyment. There is
nothing which can turn them away or press them down; for being
full of Eternal Truth, they burn with the fire of
inextinguishable charity. Therefore let all carnal and natural
men hold their peace concerning the state of the Saints, for they
know nothing save to love their own personal enjoyment. They
take away and add according to their own inclination, not as it
pleaseth the Eternal Truth.

6. “In many men this is ignorance, chiefly is it so in those who,
being little enlightened, rarely learn to love any one with
perfect spiritual love. They are still much drawn by natural
affection and human friendship to these or to those: and as they
reckon of themselves in lower matters, so also do they frame
imaginations of things heavenly. But there is an immeasurable
difference between those things which they imperfectly imagine,
and these things which enlightened men behold through
supernatural revelation.

7. “Take heed, therefore, My son, that thou treat not curiously
those things which surpass thy knowledge, but rather make this
thy business and give attention to it, namely, that thou seek to
be found, even though it be the least, in the Kingdom of God.
And even if any one should know who were holier than others, or
who were held greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven; what should that
knowledge profit him, unless through this knowledge he should
humble himself before Me, and should rise up to give greater
praise unto My name? He who considereth how great are his own
sins, how small his virtues, and how far he is removed from the
perfection of the Saints, doeth far more acceptably in the sight
of God, than he who disputeth about their greatness or
littleness.

8. “They are altogether well content, if men would learn to be
content, and to refrain from vain babbling. They glory not of
their own merits, seeing they ascribe no good unto themselves,
but all unto Me, seeing that I of my infinite charity have given
them all things. They are filled with so great love of the
Divinity, and with such overflowing joy, that no glory is lacking
to them, neither can any felicity be lacking. All the Saints,
the higher they are exalted in glory, the humbler are they in
themselves, and the nearer and dearer are they unto Me. And so
thou hast it written that they cast their crowns before God and
fell on their faces before the Lamb, and worshipped Him that
liveth for ever and ever.(7)

9. “Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, who know
not whether they shall be worthy to be counted among the least.
It is a great thing to be even the least in Heaven, where all are
great, because all shall be called, and shall be, the sons of
God. A little one shall become a thousand, but the sinner being
an hundred years old shall be accursed. For when the disciples
asked who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, they
received no other answer than this, Except ye be converted and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as this little child,
the same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”(8)

10. Woe unto them who disdain to humble themselves willingly with
the little children; for the low gate of the kingdom of Heaven
will not suffer them to enter in. Woe also to them who are rich,
who have their consolation here;(9) because whilst the poor
enter into the kingdom of God, they shall stand lamenting
without. Rejoice ye humble, and exult ye poor, for yours is the
kingdom of God if only ye walk in the truth.

(1) Psalm cxix. 137. (2) Psalm xix. 9.
(3) Corinthians xiv. 33. (4) Psalm xxi. 3. (5) John xv. 19.
(6) Wisd. vi. 8. (7) Revelation iv. 10; v. 14.
(8) Matthew xviii. 3. (9) Philippians ii. 21.
CHAPTER LIX

That all hope and trust is to be fixed in God alone

O Lord, what is my trust which I have in this life, or what is my
greatest comfort of all the things which are seen under Heaven?
Is it not Thou, O Lord my God, whose mercies are without number?
Where hath it been well with me without Thee? Or when could it
be evil whilst Thou wert near? I had rather be poor for Thy
sake, than rich without Thee. I choose rather to be a pilgrim
upon the earth with Thee than without Thee to possess heaven.
Where Thou art, there is heaven; and where Thou are not, behold
there death and hell. Thou art all my desire, and therefore must
I groan and cry and earnestly pray after Thee. In short I can
confide fully in none to give me ready help in necessities, save
in Thee alone, O my God. Thou art my hope, Thou art my trust,
Thou art my Comforter, and most faithful in all things.

2. All men seek their own;(1) Thou settest forward only my
salvation and my profit, and turnest all things unto my good.
Even though Thou dost expose me to divers temptations and
adversities, Thou ordainest all this unto my advantage, for Thou
are wont to prove Thy beloved ones in a thousand ways. In which
proving Thou oughtest no less to be loved and praised, than if
Thou wert filling me full of heavenly consolations.

3. In Thee, therefore, O Lord God, I put all my hope and my
refuge, on Thee I lay all my tribulation and anguish; because I
find all to be weak and unstable whatsoever I behold out of Thee.
For many friends shall not profit, nor strong helpers be able to
succour, nor prudent counsellors to give a useful answer, nor the
books of the learned to console, nor any precious substance to
deliver, nor any secret and beautiful place to give shelter, if
Thou Thyself do not assist, help, strengthen, comfort, instruct,
keep in safety.

4. For all things which seem to belong to the attainment of peace
and felicity are nothing when Thou art absent, and bring no
felicity at all in reality. Therefore art Thou the end of all
good, and the fulness of Life, and the soul of eloquence; and to
hope in Thee above all things is the strongest solace of Thy
servants. Mine eyes look unto Thee,(2) in Thee is my trust, O my
God, Father of mercies.

5. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly blessing that it may
become Thy holy habitation, and the seat of Thy eternal glory;
and let nothing be found in the Temple of Thy divinity which may
offend the eyes of Thy majesty. According to the greatness of
Thy goodness and the multitude of Thy mercies look upon me, and
hear the prayer of Thy poor servant, far exiled from Thee in the
land of the shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of
Thy least servant amid so many dangers of corruptible life, and
by Thy grace accompanying me, direct it by the way of peace unto
its home of perpetual light. Amen.

(1) Luke vi. (2) Psalm cxli. 8.

This concludes Book 3 of the Imitation of Christ. Click on the following link to go to Book 4.