Despising all Vanities *
1. He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ, which teach us to imitate His life and manners, if we would be truly enlightened, and delivered from all blindness of heart. Let therefore our chief endeavour be to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ.
2. The teaching of Christ exceeds all the doctrines of holy men; and, he that hath the Spirit will find therein the hidden manna. But it happens that many, who often hear the Gospel of Christ, are yet but little affected because they have not the Spirit of Christ. But whosoever would fully and feelingly understand the words of Christ, must endeavour to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ.
3. What will it avail thee to engage in reasonings concerning the Trinity, if thou be void of humility and art, therefore, displeasing to the Trinity? Surely great words do not make a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God. I had rather feel compunction than know the definition of it. If thou knewest the whole Bible by heart and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it profit thee without the love of God, and without grace? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, except to love God, and only to serve Him. This is the highest wisdom, by contempt of the world to tend towards the kingdom of Heaven.
4. It is, therefore, vanity to seek after riches which perish, and to trust in them. It is vanity also to strive after honours and to climb to high degree. It is vanity to follow the desires of the flesh, and to labour for that for which thou must afterwards suffer most grievous punishment. Vanity it is to desire to live long, and not to be careful to live well. It is vanity to mind only this present life, and not to make provision for those things which are to come. It is vanity to love that which speedily passeth away, and not to hasten thither where everlasting joy awaiteth thee.
5. Call often to mind that proverb, “The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” Endeavour, therefore, to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things, and to turn thyself to the invisible. For they that follow their lusts stain their own consciences, and lose the grace of God.
* From The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis published by James Finch and Co, Ltd, London, 1901.
Art: Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, Heinrich Hoffmann, 1 June 1889, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.