BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 3: OF THE GOOD PEACEABLE MAN
FIRST keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to bring others to peace.
The peaceable man does more good than one that is very learned.
The passionate man turneth even good to evil, and readily believeth evil.
The good peaceable man turneth all things unto good.
He that is in perfect peace suspecteth no man.
But he that is discontented and disturbed is agitated by various suspicions; he neither hath rest himself, nor suffereth others to rest.
Many a time he saith what he ought not to say, and leaveth undone that which it were best for him to do.
He considers what others ought to do, and neglecteth that which he is bound to do himself.
Have, therefore, a zeal in the first place over thyself, and then mayst thou also justly exercise zeal towards thy neighbor.
2. Thou knowest well how to excuse and gloss over thine own deeds, but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others.
It were more just for thee to accuse thyself, and to excuse thy brother.
If thou wishest to be borne with, bear also with others.
See how far thou yet art from true charity and humility; which knoweth not how to feel anger or indignation against anyone but one's self.
It is no great thing to associate with the good and the gentle: for this is naturally pleasing to all, and everyone preferreth peace and loveth best those that have like sentiments.
But to be able to live peacefully with the hard and the perverse, or with the undisciplined and those who contradict us, is a great grace, and a highly commendable and manly thing.
3. Some there are who keep themselves in peace, and have peace also with others; and there are some who neither have peace themselves, not leave others in peace; they are troublesome to others, and still more troublesome to themselves.
And there are those who keep themselves in peace, and study to restore peace to others.
Nevertheless, all our peace in this miserable life must be placed rather in humble endurance than in not experiencing oppositions.
He who best knows how to endure will possess the greater peace.
Such a one is conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the friend of Christ and an heir of Heaven.
GRANTING the principle laid down in this chapter, that true peace consists much more in humbly submitting to what is contrary to our inclinations, than in meeting with nothing to thwart them, we must resolve to keep peace in contradictions, and to be calm in the midst of storms, patiently and meekly enduring persecution and all the evil that others may do or say against us. A soul that is truly humble complains only of itself; it endeavors to excuse others, while it blames itself, and is angry with no one but itself. I am resolved, therefore, to live in peace with God, by obeying Him in all things; in peace with my neighbor, by not censuring his conduct or interfering with his affairs: and in peace with myself, by combating and subduing, on all occasions, the emotions and repugnances of my heart.
THOU hast said, O Lord, by the mouth of Thy Prophet, "Seek after peace and pursue it"-----that is, cease not to seek it until thou hast found it. Only Thou, my Jesus, canst bestow it upon me, for Thou alone didst accomplish my peace and reconciliation with Thy Father upon the Cross. I have long sought to live in peace with Thee, with my neighbor, and with myself; but my infidelities, my selfish feelings, and the sallies of passion are causes of perpetual trouble to my soul, and hinder me from tasting its sweets. O my Savior, Thou Who didst calm the tempests, Thou Whom the winds and the sea obeyed, calm the agitations of my troubled soul, which can nowhere find true repose but in Thee. Grant that, resigning myself in all things to Thy blessed will, I may find peace and happiness in being, doing, quitting, and suffering whatever Thou shalt appoint. Amen.