BY THOMAS A KEMPIS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1941
CHAPTER 4: THAT WE OUGHT TO WALK
BEFORE GOD IN TRUTH AND HUMILITY
SON, walk before Me in truth; and always seek Me in the simplicity of thy heart. He that walketh before Me in truth shall be secured from evil incursions, and the Truth shall deliver him from seducers, and from the detractions of the wicked.
If the truth shall have made thee free, thou shalt be indeed free, and shalt make no account of the vain words of men. Lord, it is true as Thou sayest: so; I beseech Thee, let it be done unto me. Let Thy Truth teach me, let it guard me, and preserve me unto a saving end.
Let it deliver me from all evil affection and inordinate love, and I shall walk with Thee in great freedom of heart.
2. I will teach thee, saith the Truth, those things that are right and pleasing in My sight.
Think on thy sins with great displeasure and sorrow; and never esteem thyself to be anything on account of thy good works. Of a truth thou art a sinner, subject to, and entangled with many passions.
Of thyself thou always tendest to nothing, speedily dost thou fail, speedily art thou overcome, speedily disturbed, speedily dissolved.
Thou hast not anything in which thou canst glory, but many things for which thou oughtest to abase thyself; for thou art much weaker than thou canst comprehend.
3. Let nothing, then, seem much to thee of all that thou doest.
Let nothing appear great, nothing valuable or admirable, nothing worthy of esteem, nothing high, nothing truly praiseworthy or desirable, but that which is eternal.
Let the eternal Truth please thee above all things, and thine own exceeding great vileness ever displease thee.
Fear nothing so much, blame and flee nothing so much, as thy vices and sins, which ought to displease thee more than the loss of anything whatsoever.
Some persons walk not sincerely before Me; but, led by a certain curiosity and arrogance, desire to know My secrets, and to understand the high things of God, neglecting themselves and their own salvation.
These often, when I resist them, fall into great temptations and sins through their pride and curiosity.
4. Fear the judgments of God, dread the anger of the Almighty; yet presume not to examine the works of the Most High, but search diligently thine own iniquities, in how great things thou hast offended, and how much good thou hast neglected.
Some only carry their devotion in their books, some in pictures, and some in outward signs and figures.
Some have Me in their mouths, while there is little of Me in their hearts.
Others there are who, enlightened in their understanding, and purified in their affection, always pant after the things eternal; are unwilling to hear of earthly things, and grieve to be subject to the necessities of nature; and such as these perceive what the Spirit of Truth speaketh in them; for it teacheth them to despise the things of the earth, and to love the heavenly things; to disregard the world, and day and night to aspire after Heaven.
NOTHING can more effectually teach thee what thou art, than the consideration of thy many miseries. As thou becomest convinced of thine evil inclinations, so wilt thou not elevate thyself by thoughts of vanity or self-complacency. Happy then the soul that knows itself, that knows and bewails its own miseries, weakness, and evil inclinations. It is this which subjects it to God, and obliges it to have frequent recourse to Him, and to humble itself under His all-powerful hand. The continual danger it apprehends of yielding to temptation keeps it in a state of perpetual dependence upon Him, and of sincere and constant deprivation for His sake. Be determined, then, willingly to receive from the hand of God whatever trials He is pleased to send thee, to enter into His designs, and to submit to His good pleasure.
As I am sensible, O God, that nothing is more pleasing to Thee than the disposition of a soul which depends upon Thee in all things, and which applies itself to know and to do Thy will, so the grace which I now ask of Thee is that I may be docile to Thine inspirations, and faithful in following them. I well know that Thou requirest of me a sincere and constant adherence to Thy service, an exact fidelity to my duties, and an absolute conformity to Thy blessed will. I know that Thou requirest me to direct all my actions by an interior spirit, and a real desire of pleasing Thee. This, above all things, I ask of Thee, my God, to be employed only on Thee and for Thee, to esteem nothing but what is eternal, and to reckon as nothing all that passes away with time. When, O God, shall an interior life, a life of death to all things, a life hidden with Jesus Christ in Thee, become my portion, as it is now my desire? Unite my soul intimately to Thyself, captivate and confirm my heart in Thy love, both for time and eternity. Amen.