BLTC Press Titles

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The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Of the imitation of Christ

by Thomas (à Kempis)


E that followeth Me, saith the Lord, shall not walk in darkness1. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how necessary it is that we should imitate His life and conduct, if we wish to be truly enlightened, and set free from all blindness of heart. What higher employment can we have therefore, than to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ ?

2. The teaching of Christ is beyond all human teaching ; and he who has the Spirit will find therein the hidden Manna2. Yet many hear the Gospel continually and are little moved by it, because they have not the Spirit of Christ. He who would thoroughly understand Christ's word must endeavour to copy the example of Christ's life.

3. What profit is there in disputing subtilly conconcerning the Trinity, if you lack humility, without which you cannot please the Trinity? In truth, subtle words do not make a man holy and just, but a life of piety makes him dear to God. I would rather feel contrition, than be able to define it. If you know the

1 S. John viii. 12. 2 Rev. ii. 17.

14 BOOK I.

whole Bible by heart, and have all human learning besides, what is the profit of the whole without the love and favour of God? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity1, except to love God and serve Him alone. The highest wisdom is to despise the world and to seek the kingdom of heaven.

4. It is vanity to seek perishing riches, and to set our hopes upon them. It is vanity to pursue honour, and to seek to become great. It is vanity to give way to the lusts of the flesh, and to love those things which must bring misery upon us. It is vanity to wish that our lives may be long, and to be careless whether they be good. It is vanity to think wholly concerning the present life, and not make provision for the life to come. It is vanity to love the things which quickly pass away, and not set our hearts upon joys which are at God's right hand for evermore.

5. Never forget that saying of the Preacher, The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing*. Study to draw away your heart from the love of things seen and temporal, and to fix it upon things unseen and eternal. For they who are satisfied with the pleasures of sense defile their own consciences, and lose the favour of God.

CHAP. II. ON HUMILITY. 1. All men are naturally desirous of knowledge; but what is the value of knowledge without the fear of God? In truth the rudest peasant who serves God is more to be envied than the proudest philosopher, who considers the courses of the stars, but neglecTs Him. He who knows himself thoroughly, is vile in his own eyes, and thinks little of human praise. What shall it profit me in the sight of God, who judges according to works, if I should know all that can be known in this world, and have no charity.

1 Eccles. i. 2. * Eccles, i. 8.

i. Beware then of a too great hankering after knowledge, for the pursuit of it is distracting and delusive. They who have much knowledge are tempted to display it, and to delight in being spoken of as superior men. Yet there are many things, which it profits the soul little or nothing to know; and he is anything but a wise man, who gives more attention to these than to the things which are to his eternal profit. Many words do not satisfy the soul, but a holy life refreshes the mind, and a pure conscience gives confidence before God.

3. The greater and better your knowledge, the heavier will be your judgment; unless you also live a more holy life. Do not allow yourself therefore to be puffed up by any art or science, but rather tremble at the thought of your responsibility. If you fancy that you know much, bear in mind that there is much more which you do not know. Be not high-minded, but fear1. Why should you desire to be preferred to others, when there are so many superior to yourself? If you would learn anything and know anything to good purpose, allow yourself without murmuring to be neglected and to be held in small repute.

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