The Imitation Of Christ (Translated by Rev. William Benham) - Content Christianity - Books
And if thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thy foot cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life halt, rather than having thy two feet to be cast into hell.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell;                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.               
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The Imitation Of Christ (Translated by Rev. William Benham)
   

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

The treatise "Of the Imitation of Christ" appears to have been originally written in Latin early in the fifteenth century. Its exact date and its authorship are still a matter of debate. Manuscripts of the Latin version survive in considerable numbers all over Western Europe, and they, with the vast list of translations and of printed editions, testify to its almost unparalleled popularity. One scribe attributes it to St. Bernard of Clairvaux; but the fact that it contains a quotation from St. Francis of Assisi, who was born thirty years after the death of St. Bernard, disposes of this theory. In England there exist many manuscripts of the first three books, called "Musica Ecclesiastica," frequently ascribed to the English mystic Walter Hilton. But Hilton seems to have died in 1395, and there is no evidence of the existence of the work before 1400. Many manuscripts scattered throughout Europe ascribe the book to Jean le Charlier de Gerson, the great Chancellor of the University of Paris, who was a leading figure in the Church in the earlier part of the fifteenth century. The most probable author, however, especially when the internal evidence is considered, is Thomas Haemmerlein, known also as Thomas a Kempis, from his native town of Kempen, near the Rhine, about forty miles north of Cologne. Haemmerlein, who was born in 1379 or 1380, was a member of the order of the Brothers of Common Life, and spent the last seventy years of his life at Mount St. Agnes, a monastery of Augustinian canons in the diocese of Utrecht. Here he died on July 26, 1471, after an uneventful life spent in copying manuscripts, reading, and composing, and in the peaceful routine of monastic piety.

With the exception of the Bible, no Christian writing has had so wide a vogue or so sustained a popularity as this. And yet, in one sense, it is hardly an original work at all. Its structure it owes largely to the writings of the medieval mystics, and its ideas and phrases are a mosaic from the Bible and the Fathers of the early Church. But these elements are interwoven with such delicate skill and a religious feeling at once so ardent and so sound, that it promises to remain, what it has been for five hundred years, the supreme call and guide to spiritual aspiration.

Contents

Contents

Book One - Admonitions Profitable For The Spiritual Life

1 Of the imitation of Christ, and of contempt of the world and all its vanities

2 Of thinking humbly of oneself

3 Of the knowledge of truth

4 Of prudence in action

5 Of the reading of Holy Scriptures

6 Of inordinate affections

7 Of fleeing from vain hope and pride

8 Of the danger of too much familiarity

9 Of obedience and subjection

10 Of the danger of superfluity of words

11 Of seeking peace of mind and of spiritual progress

12 Of the uses of adversity

13 Of resisting temptation

14 On avoiding rash judgment

15 Of works of charity

16 Of bearing with the faults of others

17 Of a religious life

18 Of the example of the Holy Fathers

19 Of the exercises of a religious man

20 Of the love of solitude and silence

21 Of compunction of heart

22 On the contemplation of human misery

23 Of meditation upon death

24 Of the judgment and punishment of the wicked

25 Of the zealous amendment of our whole life

Book Two - Admonitions Concerning The Inner Life

1 Of the inward life

2 Of lowly submission

3 Of the good, peaceable man

4 Of a pure mind and simple intention

5 Of self-esteem

6 Of the joy of a good conscience

7 Of loving Jesus above all things

8 Of the intimate love of Jesus

9 Of the lack of all comfort

10 Of gratitude for the Grace of God

11 Of the fewness of those who love the Cross of Jesus

12 Of the royal way of the Holy Cross

Book Three - On Inward Consolation

1 Of the inward voice of Christ to the faithful soul

2 What the truth saith inwardly without noise of words

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

4 How we must walk in truth and humility before God

5 Of the wonderful power of the Divine Love

6 Of the proving of the true lover

7 Of hiding our grace under the guard of humility

8 Of a low estimation of self in the sight of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 That true solace is to be sought in God alone

17 That all care is to be cast upon God

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

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

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

21 That we must rest in God above all goods and gifts

22 Of the recollection of God's manifold benefits

23 Of four things which bring great peace

24 Of avoiding of curious inquiry into the life of another

25 Wherein firm peace of heart and true profit consist

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

27 That personal love greatly hindereth from the highest good

28 Against the tongues of detractors

29 How when tribulation cometh we must call upon and bless God

30 Of seeking divine help, and the confidence of obtaining grace

31 Of the neglect of every creature, that the Creator may be found

32 Of self-denial and the casting away all selfishness

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

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

35 That there is no security against temptation in this life

36 Against vain judgments of men

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

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

39 That man must not be immersed in business

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

41 Of contempt of all temporal honour

42 That our peace is not to be placed in men

43 Against vain and worldly knowledge

44 Of not troubling ourselves about outward things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

54 Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace

55 Of the corruption of Nature and the efficacy of Divine Grace

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

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

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

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

Book Four - Of The Sacrament Of The Altar

1 With how great reverence Christ must be received

2 That the greatness and charity of God is shown to men in the Sacrament

3 That it is profitable to Communicate often

4 That many good gifts are bestowed upon those who Communicate devoutly

5 Of the dignity of this Sacrament, and of the office of the priest

6 An inquiry concerning preparation for Communion

7 Of the examination of conscience, and purpose of amendment

8 Of the oblation of Christ upon the cross, and of resignation of self

9 That we ought to offer ourselves and all that is ours to God, and to pray for all

10 That Holy Communion is not lightly to be omitted

11 That the Body and Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are most necessary to a faithful soul

12 That he who is about to Communicate with Christ ought to prepare himself with great diligence

13 That the devout soul ought with the whole heart to yearn after union with Christ in the Sacrament

14 Of the fervent desire of certain devout persons to receive the Body and Blood of Christ

15 That the grace of devotion is acquired by humility and self-denial

16 That we ought to lay open our necessities to Christ and to require His Grace

17 Of fervent love and vehement desire of receiving Christ

18 That a man should not be a curious searcher of the Sacrament, but a humble imitator of Christ, submitting his sense to holy faith

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Translated by Rev. William Benham

Project Gutenberg Etext "Imitation of Christ", by Thomas A Kempis

Project Gutenberg
P. O. Box 2782
Champaign, IL 61825

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