Imitation of Christ
Of a low estimation of self in the sight of God
I will speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. If I count
myself more, behold Thou standest against me, and my iniquities
bear true testimony, and I cannot gainsay it. But if I abase
myself, and bring myself to nought, and shrink from all
self-esteem, and grind myself to dust, which I am, Thy grace will
be favourable unto me, and Thy light will be near unto my heart;
and all self-esteem, how little soever it be, shall be swallowed
up in the depths of my nothingness, and shall perish for ever.
There Thou showest to me myself, what I am, what I was, and
whither I have come: so foolish was I and ignorant.(1) If I am
left to myself, behold I am nothing, I am all weakness; but if
suddenly Thou look upon me, immediately I am made strong, and
filled with new joy. And it is great marvel that I am so
suddenly lifted up, and so graciously embraced by Thee, since I
am always being carried to the deep by my own weight.
2. This is the doing of Thy love which freely goeth before me and
succoureth me in so many necessities, which guardeth me also in
great dangers and snatcheth me, as I may truly say, from
innumerable evils. For verily, by loving myself amiss, I lost
myself, and by seeking and sincerely loving Thee alone, I found
both myself and Thee, and through love I have brought myself to
yet deeper nothingness: because Thou, O most sweet Lord, dealest
with me beyond all merit, and above all which I dare ask or
3. Blessed be Thou, O my God, because though I be unworthy of all
Thy benefits, Thy bountiful and infinite goodness never ceaseth
to do good even to ingrates and to those who are turned far from
Thee. Turn Thou us unto Thyself, that we may be grateful,
humble, and godly, for Thou art our salvation, our courage, and
(1) Psalm lxxiii. 22.
That all things are to be referred to God, as the final end
"My Son, I must be thy Supreme and final end, if thou desirest to
be truly happy. Out of such purpose thy affection shall be
purified, which too often is sinfully bent upon itself and upon
created things. For if thou seekest thyself in any matter,
straightway thou wilt fail within thyself and grow barren.
Therefore refer everything to Me first of all, for it is I who
gave thee all. So look upon each blessing as flowing from the
Supreme Good, and thus all things are to be attributed to Me as
2. "From Me the humble and great, the poor and the rich, draw
water as from a living fountain, and those who serve Me with a
free and faithful spirit shall receive grace for grace. But he
who will glory apart from Me, or will be delighted with any good
which lieth in himself, shall not be established in true joy, nor
shall be enlarged in heart, but shall be greatly hindered and
thrown into tribulation. Therefore thou must not ascribe any
good to thyself, nor look upon virtue as belonging to any man,
but ascribe it all unto God, without whom man hath nothing.
I gave all, I will receive all again, and with great strictness
require I the giving of thanks.
3. "This is the Truth, and by it the vanity of boasting is put to
flight. And if heavenly grace and true charity shall enter into
thee, there shall be no envy, nor straitening of the heart, nor
shall any self-love take possession of thee. For divine charity
conquereth all things, and enlargeth all the powers of the soul.
If thou art truly wise, thou wilt rejoice in Me alone, thou wilt
hope in Me alone; for there is none good but one, that is God,(1)
Who is to be praised above all things, and in all things to
(1) Luke xviii. 19.
That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God
Now will I speak again, O my Lord, and hold not my peace; I will
say in the ears of my God, my Lord, and my King, who is exalted
above all, Oh how plentiful is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid
up for them that fear Thee!(1) But what art Thou to those who
love Thee? What to those who serve Thee with their whole heart?
Truly unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of Thee,
which Thou bestowest upon those who love Thee. In this most of
all Thou hast showed me the sweetness of Thy charity, that when I
was not, Thou madest me, and when I wandered far from Thee, Thou
broughtest me back that I might serve Thee, and commandedst me to
2. O Fountain of perpetual love, what shall I say concerning
Thee? How shall I be unmindful of Thee, who didst vouchsafe to
remember me, even after I pined away and perished? Thou hast had
mercy beyond all hope upon Thy servant, and hast showed Thy grace
and friendship beyond all deserving. What reward shall I render
Thee for this Thy grace? For it is not given unto all to
renounce this world and its affairs, and to take up a religious
life. For is it a great thing that I should serve Thee, whom
every creature ought to serve? It ought not to seem a great
thing to me to serve Thee; but rather this appeareth to me a
great and wonderful thing, that Thou vouchsafest to receive as
Thy servant one so poor and unworthy, and to join him unto Thy
3. Behold all things which I have are Thine, and with them I
serve Thee. And yet verily it is Thou who servest me, rather
than I Thee. Behold the heaven and the earth which Thou hast
created for the service of men; they are at Thy bidding, and
perform daily whatsoever Thou dost command. Yea, and this is
little; for Thou hast even ordained the Angels for the service of
man. But it surpasseth even all these things, that Thou Thyself
didst vouchsafe to minister unto man, and didst promise that Thou
wouldest give Thyself unto him.
4. What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy manifold
mercies? Oh that I were able to serve Thee all the days of my
life! Oh that even for one day I were enabled to do Thee service
worthy of Thyself! For verily Thou art worthy of all service,
all honour, and praise without end. Verily Thou art my God, and
I am Thy poor servant, who am bound to serve Thee with all my
strength, nor ought I ever to grow weary of Thy praise. This is
my wish, this is my exceeding great desire, and whatsoever is
lacking to me, vouchsafe Thou to supply.
5. It is great honour, great glory to serve Thee, and to despise
all for Thy sake. For they shall have great grace who of their
own will shall submit themselves to Thy most holy service. They
who for Thy love have cast away every carnal delight shall find
the sweetest consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter the
narrow way of life for Thy Name's sake, and have put away all
worldly cares, shall attain great liberty of spirit.
6. Oh grateful and delightsome service of God, whereby man is
made truly free and holy! Oh sacred condition of the religious
servant, which maketh man equal to the Angels, well-pleasing unto
God, terrible to evil spirits, and acceptable to all faithful
ones! Oh service to be embraced and ever desired, in which the
highest good is promised, and joy is gained which shall remain
(1) Psalm xxxi. 21.
That the desires of the heart are to be examined and governed
"My Son, thou hast still many things to learn, which thou hast
not well learned yet."
2. What are they, Lord?
3. "To place thy desire altogether in subjection to My good
pleasure, and not to be a lover of thyself, but an earnest seeker
of My will. Thy desires often excite and urge thee forward; but
consider with thyself whether thou art not more moved for thine
own objects than for My honour. If it is Myself that thou
seekest, thou shalt be well content with whatsoever I shall
ordain; but if any pursuit of thine own lieth hidden within thee,
behold it is this which hindereth and weigheth thee down.
4. "Beware, therefore, lest thou strive too earnestly after some
desire which thou hast conceived, without taking counsel of Me;
lest haply it repent thee afterwards, and that displease thee
which before pleased, and for which thou didst long as for a
great good. For not every affection which seemeth good is to be
forthwith followed; neither is every opposite affection to be
immediately avoided. Sometimes it is expedient to use restraint
even in good desires and wishes, lest through importunity thou
fall into distraction of mind, lest through want of discipline
thou become a stumbling-block to others, or lest by the
resistance of others thou be suddenly disturbed and brought to
5. "Sometimes, indeed, it is needful to use violence, and
manfully to strive against the sensual appetite, and not to
consider what the flesh may or not will; but rather to strive
after this, that it may become subject, however unwillingly, to
the spirit. And for so long it ought to be chastised and
compelled to undergo slavery, even until it be ready for all
things, and learn to be contented with little, to be delighted
with things simple, and never to murmur at any inconvenience."
Of the inward growth of patience, and of the struggle against
O Lord God, I see that patience is very necessary unto me; for
many things in this life fall out contrary. For howsoever I may
have contrived for my peace, my life cannot go on without strife
2. "Thou speakest truly, My Son. For I will not that thou seek
such a peace as is without trials, and knoweth no adversities;
but rather that thou shouldest judge thyself to have found peace,
when thou art tried with manifold tribulations, and proved by
many adversities. If thou shalt say that thou art not able to
bear much, how then wilt thou sustain the fire hereafter? Of two
evils we should always choose the less. Therefore, that thou
mayest escape eternal torments hereafter, strive on God's behalf
to endure present evils bravely. Thinkest thou that the children
of this world suffer nought, or but little? Thou wilt not find
it so, even though thou find out the most prosperous.
3. "'But,' thou wilt say, 'they have many delights, and they
follow their own wills, and thus they bear lightly their
4. "Be it so, grant that they have what they list; but how long,
thinkest thou, will it last? Behold, like the smoke those who are
rich in this world will pass away, and no record shall remain of
their past joys. Yea, even while they yet live, they rest not
without bitterness and weariness and fear. For from the very
same thing wherein they find delight, thence they oftentimes have
the punishment of sorrow. Justly it befalleth them, that because
out of measure they seek out and pursue pleasures, they enjoy
them not without confusion and bitterness. Oh how short, how
false, how inordinate and wicked are all these pleasures! Yet
because of their sottishness and blindness men do not understand;
but like brute beasts, for the sake of a little pleasure of this
corruptible life, they incur death of the soul. Thou therefore,
my son, go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself from thine
appetites.(1) Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee
thy heart's desire.(2)
5. "For if thou wilt truly find delight, and be abundantly
comforted of Me, behold in the contempt of all worldly things and
in the avoidance of all worthless pleasures shall be thy
blessing, and fulness of consolation shall be given thee. And
the more thou withdrawest thyself from all solace of creatures,
the more sweet and powerful consolations shalt thou find. But at
the first thou shalt not attain to them, without some sorrow and
hard striving. Long-accustomed habit will oppose, but it shall
be overcome by better habit. The flesh will murmur again and
again, but will be restrained by fervour of spirit. The old
serpent will urge and embitter thee, but will be put to flight by
prayer; moreover, by useful labour his entrance will be greatly
(1) Ecclesiastes xviii. 30. (2) Psalm xxxvii. 4.
Of the obedience of one in lowly subjection after the example of Jesus Christ
"My Son, he who striveth to withdraw himself from obedience,
withdraweth himself also from grace, and he who seeketh private
advantages, loseth those which are common unto all. If a man
submit not freely and willingly to one set over him, it is a sign
that his flesh is not yet perfectly subject to himself, but
often resisteth and murmureth. Learn therefore quickly to submit
thyself to him who is over thee, if thou seekest to bring thine
own flesh into subjection. For the outward enemy is very quickly
overcome if the inner man have not been laid low. There is no
more grievous and deadly enemy to the soul than thou art to
thyself, if thou art not led by the Spirit. Thou must not
altogether conceive contempt for thyself, if thou wilt prevail
against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou inordinately lovest
thyself, therefore thou shrinkest from yielding thyself to the
will of others.
2. "But what great thing is it that thou, who art dust and
nothingness, yieldest thyself to man for God's sake, when I, the
Almighty and the Most High, who created all things out of
nothing, subjected Myself to man for thy sake? I became the most
humble and despised of men, that by My humility thou mightest
overcome thy pride. Learn to obey, O dust! Learn to humble
thyself, O earth and clay, and to bow thyself beneath the feet of
all. Learn to crush thy passions, and to yield thyself in all
3. "Be zealous against thyself, nor suffer pride to live within
thee, but so show thyself subject and of no reputation, that all
may be able to walk over thee, and tread thee down as the clay in
the streets. What hast thou, O foolish man, of which to
complain? What, O vile sinner, canst thou answer those who
speak against thee, seeing thou hast so often offended God, and
many a time hast deserved hell? But Mine eye hath spared thee,
because thy soul was precious in My sight; that thou mightest
know My love, and mightest be thankful for My benefits; and that
thou mightest give thyself altogether to true subjection and
humility, and patiently bear the contempt which thou meritest."
Of meditation upon the hidden judgments of God, that we may not
be lifted up because of our well-doing
Thou sendest forth Thy judgments against me, O Lord, and shakest
all my bones with fear and trembling, and my soul trembleth
exceedingly. I stand astonished, and remember that the heavens
are not clean in thy sight.(1) If Thou chargest Thine angels
with folly, and didst spare them not, how shall it be unto me?
Stars have fallen from heaven, and what shall I dare who am
but dust? They whose works seemed to be praiseworthy, fell into
the lowest depths, and they who did eat Angels' food, them have I
seen delighted with the husks that the swine do eat.
2. There is therefore no holiness, if Thou O Lord, withdraw Thine
hand. No wisdom profiteth, if Thou leave off to guide the helm.
No strength availeth, if Thou cease to preserve. No purity is
secure, if Thou protect it not. No self-keeping availeth, if Thy
holy watching be not there. For when we are left alone we are
swallowed up and perish, but when we are visited, we are raised
up, and we live. For indeed we are unstable, but are made strong
through Thee; we grow cold, but are rekindled by Thee.
3. Oh, how humbly and abjectly must I reckon of myself, how must
I weigh it as nothing, if I seem to have nothing good! Oh, how
profoundly ought I to submit myself to Thy unfathomable
judgments, O Lord, when I find myself nothing else save nothing,
and again nothing! Oh weight unmeasurable, oh ocean which cannot
be crossed over, where I find nothing of myself save nothing
altogether! Where, then, is the hiding-place of glory, where the
confidence begotten of virtue? All vain-glory is swallowed up in
the depths of Thy judgments against me.
4. What is all flesh in Thy sight? For how shall the clay boast
against Him that fashioned it?(2) How can he be lifted up in
vain speech whose heart is subjected in truth to God? The whole
world shall not lift him up whom Truth hath subdued; nor shall he
be moved by the mouth of all who praise him, who hath placed all
his hope in God. For they themselves who speak, behold, they
are all nothing; for they shall cease with the sound of their
words, but the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.(3)
(1) Job xv. 15. (2) Psalm xxix. 16. (3) Psalm cxvii. 2.
How we must stand and speak, in everything that we desire
"My Son, speak thou thus in every matter, 'Lord, if it please
Thee, let this come to pass. Lord, if this shall be for Thine
honour, let it be done in Thy Name. Lord, if thou see it good
for me, and approve it as useful, then grant me to use it for Thy
honour. But if thou knowest that it shall be hurtful unto me,
and not profitable for the health of my soul, take the desire
away from me'! For not every desire is from the Holy Ghost,
although it appear to a man right and good. It is difficult to
judge with certainty whether a good or an evil spirit move thee
to desire this or that, or whether thou art moved by thine own
spirit. Many have been deceived at the last, who seemed at the
beginning to be moved by a good spirit.
2. "Therefore, whatsoever seemeth to thee desirable, thou must
always desire and seek after it with the fear of God and humility
of heart, and most of all, must altogether resign thyself, and
commit all unto Me and say, 'Lord, thou knowest what is best; let
this or that be, according as Thou wilt. Give what Thou wilt, so
much as Thou wilt, when Thou wilt. Do with me as Thou knowest
best, and as best shall please Thee, and as shall be most to
Thine honour. Place me where Thou wilt, and freely work Thy will
with me in all things. I am in Thine hand, and turn me in my
course. Behold, I am Thy servant, ready for all things; for I
desire to live not to myself but to Thee. Oh, that I might live
worthily and perfectly.'"
A PRAYER TO BE ENABLED TO DO GOD'S WILL PERFECTLY
3. Grant me Thy grace, most merciful Jesus, that it may be with
me, and work in me, and persevere with me, even unto the end.
Grant that I may ever desire and wish whatsoever is most pleasing
and dear unto Thee. Let Thy will be mine, and let my will alway
follow Thine, and entirely accord with it. May I choose and
reject whatsoever Thou dost; yea, let it be impossible for me to
choose or reject except according to Thy will.
4. Grant that I may die to all worldly things, and for Thy sake
love to be despised and unknown in this world. Grant unto me,
above all things that I can desire, to rest in Thee, and that in
Thee my heart may be at peace. Thou art the true peace of the
heart, Thou alone its rest; apart from Thee all things are hard
and unquiet. In Thee alone, the supreme and eternal God, I will
lay me down in peace and take my rest.(1) Amen.
(1) Psalm iv. 9.
That true solace is to be sought in God alone
Whatsoever I am able to desire or to think of for my solace, I
look for it not here, but hereafter. For if I alone had all the
solaces of this world, and were able to enjoy all its delights,
it is certain that they could not endure long. Wherefore, O my
soul, thou canst be fully comforted and perfectly refreshed, only
in God, the Comforter of the poor, and the lifter up of the
humble. Wait but a little while, my soul, wait for the Divine
promise, and thou shalt have abundance of all good things in
heaven. If thou longest too inordinately for the things which
are now, thou shalt lose those which are eternal and heavenly.
Let temporal things be in the use, eternal things in the desire.
Thou canst not be satisfied with any temporal good, for thou wast
not created for the enjoyment of these.
2. Although thou hadst all the good things which ever were
created, yet couldst not thou be happy and blessed; all thy
blessedness and thy felicity lieth in God who created all things;
not such felicity as seemeth good to the foolish lover of the
world, but such as Christ's good and faithful servants wait for,
and as the spiritual and pure in heart sometimes taste, whose
conversation is in heaven.(1) All human solace is empty and
short-lived; blessed and true is that solace which is felt
inwardly, springing from the truth. The godly man everywhere
beareth about with him his own Comforter, Jesus, and saith unto
Him: "Be with me, Lord Jesus, always and everywhere. Let it be
my comfort to be able to give up cheerfully all human comfort.
And if Thy consolation fail me, let Thy will and righteous
approval be alway with me for the highest comfort. For Thou wilt
not always be chiding, neither keepest Thou Thine anger for
(1) Philippians iii. 20. (2) Psalm cii. 9.
That all care is to be cast upon God
"My Son, suffer me to do with thee what I will; I know what is
expedient for thee. Thou thinkest as a man, in many things thou
judgest as human affection persuadeth thee."
2. Lord, what Thou sayest is true. Greater is Thy care for me
than all the care which I am able to take for myself. For too
insecurely doth he stand who casteth not all his care upon Thee.
Lord, so long as my will standeth right and firm in Thee, do with
me what Thou wilt, for whatsoever Thou shalt do with me cannot be
aught but good. Blessed be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in
darkness: blessed also be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in light.
Blessed be Thou if Thou vouchsafe to comfort me, and always
blessed be Thou if Thou cause me to be troubled.
3. "My Son! even thus thou must stand if thou desirest to walk
with Me. Thou must be ready alike for suffering or rejoicing.
Thou must be poor and needy as willingly as full and rich."
4. Lord, I will willingly bear for Thee whatsoever Thou wilt have
to come upon me. Without choice I will receive from Thy hand
good and evil, sweet and bitter, joy and sadness, and will give
Thee thanks for all things which shall happen unto me. Keep me
from all sin, and I will not fear death nor hell. Only cast me
not away for ever, nor blot me out of the book of life. Then no
tribulation which shall come upon me shall do me hurt.
That temporal miseries are to be borne patiently after the
example of Christ
"My Son! I came down from heaven for thy salvation; I took upon
Me thy miseries not of necessity, but drawn by love that thou
mightest learn patience and mightest bear temporal miseries
without murmuring. For from the hour of My birth, until My death
upon the Cross, I ceased not from bearing of sorrow; I had much
lack of temporal things; I oftentimes heard many reproaches
against Myself; I gently bore contradictions and hard words; I
received ingratitude for benefits, blasphemies for My miracles,
rebukes for My doctrine."
2. Lord, because Thou wast patient in Thy life, herein most of
all fulfilling the commandment of Thy Father, it is well that I,
miserable sinner, should patiently bear myself according to Thy
will, and as long as Thou wilt have it so, should bear about with
me for my salvation, the burden of this corruptible life. For
although the present life seemeth burdensome, it is nevertheless
already made very full of merit through Thy grace, and to those
who are weak it becometh easier and brighter through Thy example
and the footsteps of Thy saints; but it is also much more full of
consolation than it was of old, under the old Testament, when the
gate of heaven remained shut; and even the way to heaven seemed
more obscure when so few cared to seek after the heavenly
kingdom. But not even those who were then just and in the way of
salvation were able, before Thy Passion and the ransom of Thy
holy Death, to enter the kingdom of heaven.
3. Oh what great thanks am I bound to give Thee, who hast
vouchsafed to show me and all faithful people the good and right
way to Thine eternal kingdom, for Thy way is our way, and by holy
patience we walk to Thee who art our Crown. If Thou hadst not
gone before and taught us, who would care to follow? Oh, how far
would they have gone backward if they had not beheld Thy glorious
example! Behold we are still lukewarm, though we have heard of
Thy many signs and discourses; what would become of us if we had
not such a light to help us follow Thee?
Of bearing injuries, and who shall be approved as truly patient
"What sayest thou, My Son? Cease to complain; consider My
suffering and that of My saints. Thou hast not yet resisted unto
blood.(1) It is little which thou sufferest in comparison with
those who have suffered so many things, have been so strongly
tempted, so grievously troubled, so manywise proved and tried.
Thou oughtest therefore to call to mind the more grievous
sufferings of others that thou mightest bear thy lesser ones more
easily, and if they seem not to thee little, see that it is not
thy impatience which is the cause of this. But whether they be
little or whether they be great, study to bear them all with
2. "So far as thou settest thyself to bear patiently, so far thou
dost wisely and art deserving of the more merit; thou shalt also
bear the more easily if thy mind and habit are carefully trained
hereunto. And say not 'I cannot bear these things from such a
man, nor are things of this kind to be borne by me, for he hath
done me grievous harm and imputeth to me what I had never
thought: but from another I will suffer patiently, such things as
I see I ought to suffer.' Foolish is such a thought as this,
for it considereth not the virtue of patience, nor by whom that
virtue is to be crowned, but it rather weigheth persons and
offences against self.
3. "He is not truly patient who will only suffer as far as
seemeth right to himself and from whom he pleaseth. But the
truly patient man considereth not by what man he is tried,
whether by one above him, or by an equal or inferior, whether by
a good and holy man, or a perverse and unworthy; but
indifferently from every creature, whatsoever or how often soever
adversity happeneth to him, he gratefully accepteth all from the
hand of God and counteth it great gain: for with God nothing
which is borne for His sake, however small, shall lose its
4. "Be thou therefore ready for the fight if thou wilt have the
victory. Without striving thou canst not win the crown of
patience; if thou wilt not suffer thou refusest to be crowned.
But if thou desirest to be crowned, strive manfully, endure
patiently. Without labour thou drawest not near to rest, nor
without fighting comest thou to victory."
5. Make possible to me, O Lord, by grace what seemeth impossible
to me by nature. Thou knowest how little I am able to bear, and
how quickly I am cast down when a like adversity riseth up
against me. Whatsoever trial of tribulation may come to me, may
it become unto me pleasing and acceptable, for to suffer and be
vexed for Thy sake is exceeding healthful to the soul.
(1) Hebrews xii. 4.
Of confession of our infirmity and of the miseries of this life
I will acknowledge my sin unto Thee;(1) I will confess to Thee,
Lord, my infirmity. It is often a small thing which casteth me
down and maketh me sad. I resolve that I will act bravely, but
when a little temptation cometh, immediately I am in a great
strait. Wonderfully small sometimes is the matter whence a
grievous temptation cometh, and whilst I imagine myself safe for
a little space; when I am not considering, I find myself often
almost overcome by a little puff of wind.
2. Behold, therefore, O Lord, my humility and my frailty, which
is altogether known to Thee. Be merciful unto me, and draw me
out of the mire that I sink not,(2) lest I ever remain cast down.
This is what frequently throweth me backward and confoundeth me
before Thee, that I am so liable to fall, so weak to resist my
passions. And though their assault is not altogether according
to my will, it is violent and grievous, and it altogether
wearieth me to live thus daily in conflict. Herein is my
infirmity made known to me, that hateful fancies always rush in
far more easily than they depart.
3. Oh that Thou, most mighty God of Israel, Lover of all faithful
souls, wouldst look upon the labour and sorrow of Thy servant,
and give him help in all things whereunto he striveth.
Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude, lest the old man, this
miserable flesh, not being yet fully subdued to the spirit,
prevail to rule over me; against which I ought to strive so long
as I remain in this most miserable life. Oh what a life is this,
where tribulations and miseries cease not, where all things are
full of snares and of enemies, for when one tribulation or
temptation goeth, another cometh, yea, while the former conflict
is yet raging others come more in number and unexpected.
4. And how can the life of man be loved, seeing that it hath so
many bitter things, that it is subjected to so many calamities
and miseries. How can it be even called life, when it produces
so many deaths and plagues? The world is often reproached
because it is deceitful and vain, yet notwithstanding it is not
easily given up, because the lusts of the flesh have too much
rule over it. Some draw us to love, some to hate. The lust of
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, these
draw to love of the world; but the punishments and miseries which
righteously follow these things, bring forth hatred of the world
5. But, alas! an evil desire conquereth a mind given to the
world, and thinketh it happiness to be under the nettles(3)
because it savoureth not nor perceiveth the sweetness of God nor
the inward gracefulness of virtue. But they who perfectly
despise the world and strive to live unto God in holy discipline,
these are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to all
who truly deny themselves and see clearly how grievously the
world erreth, and in how many ways it is deceived.
(1) Psalm xxxii. 5. (2) Psalm lix. 16. (3) Job xxx. 7.
That we must rest in God above all goods and gifts
Above all things and in all things thou shalt rest alway in the
Lord, O my soul, for he himself is the eternal rest of the
saints. Grant me, most sweet and loving Jesus, to rest in Thee
above every creature, above all health and beauty, above all
glory and honour, above all power and dignity, above all
knowledge and skilfulness, above all riches and arts, above all
joy and exultation, above all fame and praise, above all
sweetness and consolation, above all hope and promise, above all
merit and desire, above all gifts and rewards which Thou canst
give and pour forth, above all joy and jubilation which the mind
is able to receive and feel; in a word, above Angels and
Archangels and all the army of heaven, above all things visible
and invisible, and above everything which Thou, O my God, art
2. For Thou, O Lord, my God, art best above all things; Thou only
art the Most High, Thou only the Almighty, Thou only the
All-sufficient, and the Fulness of all things; Thou only the
All-delightsome and the All-comforting; Thou alone the altogether
lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the Most Exalted and
Most Glorious above all things; in Whom all things are, and were,
and ever shall be, altogether and all-perfect. And thus it
falleth short and is insufficient whatsoever Thou givest to me
without Thyself or whatsoever Thou revealest or dost promise
concerning Thyself, whilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed:
since verily my heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely content,
except it rest in Thee, and go beyond all gifts and every
3. O my most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most holy lover of my
soul, Ruler of this whole Creation, who shall give me the wings
of true liberty, that I may flee to Thee and find rest? Oh when
shall it be given me to be open to receive Thee to the full,
and to see how sweet Thou art, O Lord my God? When shall I
collect myself altogether in Thee, that because of Thy love I may
not feel myself at all, but may know Thee only above every sense
and measure, in measure not known to others. But now I ofttimes
groan, and bear my sad estate with sorrow; because many evils
befall me in this vale of miseries which continually disturb and
fill me with sorrow, and encloud me, continually hinder and fill
me with care, allure and entangle me, that I cannot have free
access to Thee, nor enjoy that sweet intercourse which is always
near at hand to the blessed spirits. Let my deep sighing come
before Thee, and my manifold desolation on the earth.
4. O Jesus, Light of Eternal Glory, solace of the wandering soul,
before Thee my mouth is without speech, and my silence speaketh
to Thee. How long will my Lord delay to come unto me? Let Him
come unto me, His poor and humble one, and make me glad. Let Him
put forth His hand, and deliver His holy one from every snare.
Come, Oh come; for without Thee shall be no joyful day or hour,
for Thou art my joy, and without Thee is my table empty. I am
miserable, and in a manner imprisoned and loaded with fetters,
until Thou refresh me by the light of Thy presence, and give me
liberty, and show Thy loving countenance.
5. Let others seek some other thing instead of Thee, whatsoever
it shall please them; but for my part nothing else pleaseth or
shall please, save Thou, my God, my hope, my eternal salvation.
I will not hold my peace, nor cease to implore, until Thy grace
return, and until Thou speak to me within.
6. "Behold, here I am! Behold, I come to thee, for thou didst
call Me. Thy tears and the longing of thy soul, thy humbleness
and contrition of heart have inclined Me, and brought Me to
7. And I said Lord, I have called upon Thee, and I have longed to
enjoy Thee, being ready to reject everything for Thy sake. For
Thou didst first move me to seek Thee. Therefore, blessed be
Thou, O Lord, who has wrought this good work upon Thy servant,
according to the multitude of Thy mercy. What then hath Thy
servant to say in Thy presence, save to humble himself greatly
before Thee, being alway mindful of his own iniquity and vileness.
For there is none like unto Thee in all marvels of heaven and
earth. Excellent are Thy works, true are Thy judgments, and by
Thy Providence are all things governed. Therefore praise and
glory be unto Thee, O Wisdom of the Father, let my mouth and my
soul and all created things praise and bless Thee together.
Of the recollection of God's manifold benefits
Open, O Lord, my heart in Thy law, and teach me to walk in the
way of Thy commandments. Grant me to understand Thy will and to
be mindful of Thy benefits, both general and special, with great
reverence and diligent meditation, that thus I may be able
worthily to give Thee thanks. Yet I know and confess that I
cannot render Thee due praises for the least of Thy mercies. I
am less than the least of all the good things which Thou gavest
me; and when I consider Thy majesty, my spirit faileth because of
the greatness thereof.
2. All things which we have in the soul and in the body, and
whatsoever things we possess, whether outwardly or inwardly,
naturally or supernaturally, are Thy good gifts, and prove Thee,
from whom we have received them all, to be good, gentle, and
kind. Although one receiveth many things, and another fewer, yet
all are Thine, and without Thee not even the least thing can be
possessed. He who hath received greater cannot boast that it is
of his own merit, nor lift himself up above others, nor contemn
those beneath him; for he is the greater and the better who
ascribeth least to himself, and in giving thanks is the humbler
and more devout; and he who holdeth himself to be viler than all,
and judgeth himself to be the more unworthy, is the apter for
receiving greater things.
3. But he who hath received fewer gifts, ought not to be cast
down, nor to take it amiss, nor to envy him who is richer; but
rather ought he to look unto Thee, and to greatly extol Thy
goodness, for Thou pourest forth Thy gifts so richly, so freely
and largely, without respect of persons. All things come of
Thee; therefore in all things shalt thou be praised. Thou
knowest what is best to be given to each; and why this man hath
less, and that more, is not for us but for Thee to understand,
for unto Thee each man's deservings are fully known.
4. Wherefore, O Lord God, I reckon it even a great benefit, not
to have many things, whence praise and glory may appear
outwardly, and after the thought of men. For so it is that he who
considereth his own poverty and vileness, ought not only to draw
therefrom no grief or sorrow, or sadness of spirit, but rather
comfort and cheerfulness; because Thou, Lord, hast chosen the
poor and humble, and those who are poor in this world, to be Thy
friends and acquaintance. So give all Thine apostles witness
whom Thou hast made princes in all lands. Yet they had their
conversation in this world blameless, so humble and meek, without
any malice or deceit, that they even rejoiced to suffer rebukes
for Thy Name's sake,(1) and what things the world hateth, they
embraced with great joy.
5. Therefore ought nothing so much to rejoice him who loveth Thee
and knoweth Thy benefits, as Thy will in him, and the good
pleasure of Thine eternal Providence, wherewith he ought to be so
contented and comforted, that he would as willingly be the least
as any other would be the greatest, as peaceable and contented in
the lowest as in the highest place, and as willingly held of
small and low account and of no name or reputation as to be more
honourable and greater in the world than others. For Thy will
and the love of Thine honour ought to go before all things, and
to please and comfort him more, than all benefits that are given
or may be given to himself.
(1) Acts v. 41.
Of four things which bring great peace
"My Son, now will I teach thee the way of peace and of true
2. Do, O my Lord, as Thou sayest, for this is pleasing unto me to
3. "Strive, My Son, to do another's will rather than thine own.
Choose always to have less rather than more. Seek always after
the lowest place, and to be subject to all. Wish always and pray
that the will of God be fulfilled in thee. Behold, such a man as
this entereth into the inheritance of peace and quietness."
4. O my Lord, this Thy short discourse hath in itself much of
perfectness. It is short in words but full of meaning, and
abundant in fruit. For if it were possible that I should fully
keep it, disturbance would not so easily arise within me. For as
often as I feel myself disquieted and weighed down, I find myself
to have gone back from this teaching. But Thou, Who art
Almighty, and always lovest progress in the soul, vouchsafe more
grace, that I may be enabled to fulfil Thy exhortation, and work
out my salvation.
A PRAYER AGAINST EVIL THOUGHTS
5. O Lord my God, be not Thou far from me, my God, haste Thee to
help me,(1) for many thoughts and great fears have risen up
against me, afflicting my soul. How shall I pass through them
unhurt? how shall I break through them?
6. "I," saith He, "will go before thee, and make the crooked
places straight."(2) I will open the prison doors, and reveal to
thee the secret places.
7. Do, Lord, as Thou sayest; and let all evil thoughts fly away
before Thy face. This is my hope and my only comfort, to fly
unto Thee in all tribulation, to hope in Thee, to call upon Thee
from my heart and patiently wait for Thy loving kindness.
A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MIND
8. Enlighten me, Blessed Jesus, with the brightness of Thy inner
light, and cast forth all darkness from the habitation of my
heart. Restrain my many wandering thoughts, and carry away the
temptations which strive to do me hurt. Fight Thou mightily for
me, and drive forth the evil beasts, so call I alluring lusts,
that peace may be within Thy walls and plenteousness of praise
within Thy palaces,(3) even in my pure conscience. Command Thou
the winds and the storms, say unto the sea, "Be still," say unto
the stormy wind, "Hold thy peace," so shall there be a great
9. Oh send forth Thy light and Thy truth,(4) that they may shine
upon the earth; for I am but earth without form and void until
Thou give me light. Pour forth Thy grace from above; water my
heart with the dew of heaven; give the waters of devotion to
water the face of the earth, and cause it to bring forth good and
perfect fruit. Lift up my mind which is oppressed with the
weight of sins, and raise my whole desire to heavenly things;
that having tasted the sweetness of the happiness which is from
above, it may take no pleasure in thinking of things of earth.
10. Draw me and deliver me from every unstable comfort of
creatures, for no created thing is able to satisfy my desire and
to give me comfort. Join me to Thyself by the inseparable bond
of love, for Thou alone art sufficient to him that loveth Thee,
and without Thee all things are vain toys.
(1) Psalm lxxi. 12. (2) Isaiah xlv. 2. (3) Psalm cxxii. 7.
(4) Psalm xliii. 3.