Home  »  Harvard Classics, Vol. 7, Part 2  »  Book III: On Inward Consolation

Thomas à Kempis. (b. 1379 or 1380, d. 1471). The Imitation of Christ.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Of Four Things which bring Great Peace

Book III: On Inward Consolation

“MY Son, now will I teach thee the way of peace and of true liberty.”   1
  2. Do, O my Lord, as Thou sayest, for this is pleasing unto me to hear.   2
  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.”   3
  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.   4
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.   6
  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.   7
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 calm.
  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.   9
  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. 5 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.   10
Note 1. Psalm lxxi. 12. [back]
Note 2. Isaiah xlv. 2. [back]
Note 3. Psalm cxxii. 7. [back]
Note 4. Psalm xliii. 3. [back]
Note 5. Psalm cxxii. 7. [back]