BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
38: OF THE GOOD GOVERNMENT OF OURSELVES IN OUTWARD THINGS,
AND OF HAVING RECOURSE TO GOD IN DANGERS
SON, thou oughtest diligently to aim at this, that in every place, and
in every action or external occupation, thou be inwardly free, and
master of thyself; and that all things be under thee, and not thou
That thou mayst be lord and ruler of thine actions, and not a slave or
But rather a freeman and true Hebrew, transferred to the lot and to the
liberty of the sons of God.
Who stand above things present, and contemplate the eternal; who with
the left eye regard things passing, and with the right those of Heaven.
Whom things temporal draw not away to adhere to them; but they rather
draw these things to subserve well the end for which they were ordained
by God, and appointed by that sovereign Artist, Who has left nothing
disordered in His whole creation.
2. If, likewise, in all events, thou depend not upon things as they
appear outwardly, nor regard with a carnal eye things seen and heard,
but if instantly, on every occasion, thou enter, like Moses, into the
tabernacle to consult the Lord, thou shalt sometimes hear the Divine
answer, and shalt return instructed about many things present and
For Moses always had recourse to the tabernacle for the deciding doubts
and questions, and fled to the aid of prayer for succor against the
dangers and wickedness of men.
So must thou, in like manner, fly to the closet of thy heart, and there
most earnestly implore the Divine assistance.
For therefore, as thou readest, were Josue and the children of Israel
deceived by the Gabaonites, because they did not first consult the
Lord; but, too easily giving credit to pleasant words, were deluded
with counterfeit piety.
EXTERIOR occupations oftentimes withdraw the soul from within,
and hinder it from being recollected, and from keeping itself in the
presence of God, particularly when we give ourselves wholly to them,
and reserve not for God the freedom of our hearts. But when we only
lend ourselves to exterior employments, and give ourselves, while
performing them, to the accomplishment of the will of God, Who requires
them of us, then we do not become dissipated, but in the diversity of
our employments we do the one thing
which is to seek to please God. The desire to please God should include
every other desire, and constitute our peace and happiness. No exterior
actions can distract that soul Which reduces all to unity-----
is, which seeks only to please God and finds it all in Him.
I AM well aware, my God, that the peace of the soul in this
life is not what it will be in the next; for in eternity we shall enjoy
the certainty of pleasing Thee, and of possessing Thy love; but in
time, we can be certain of neither. Ah! how hard and painful is this
uncertainty to a soul that loves Thee, O God, and loves but Thee alone!
If Thou wilt not assure me that I love Thee, grant at least that I may
live as though I were sure I did love Thee, that thus Thou mayst have
all the satisfaction of my love, and I, all the merit of it. Amen.