Of Inordinate Affections,
Vain Hope and Pride,
And Too Much Familiarity
OF INORDINATE AFFECTIONS
1. Fly the tumult of the world as much as thou canst; for the talk of worldly affairs is a great hindrance, although it be done with sincere intention; for we are quickly defiled, and enthralled by vanity. The man that is not perfectly dead to himself is quickly tempted and overcome in trifling things. The weak in spirit, and he that is carnal and prone to the things of sense, can hardly withdraw himself altogether from earthly desires. Therefore he is often afflicted when he goeth about to withdraw himself from them, and is easily angered when he is opposed.
2. And if he hath followed his appetite, he is presently disquieted with remorse; for that he hath yielded to his passion, which helpeth him not to obtain the peace which he sought. Therefore true quietness of heart is gotten by resisting our passions, not by obeying them. There is no peace in the heart of a carnal man, nor in him that is given to outward things, but in the spiritual and devout man.
OF VAIN HOPE AND PRIDE
1. He is vain that putteth his trust in man, or in creatures. Be not ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ nor to be esteemed poor in this world. Presume not upon thyself, but place thy hope in God. Do what lieth in thy power, and God will assist thee. Trust not in thine own knowledge, nor in the skill of any living creature, but rather in the grace of God, Who helpeth the humble, and bringeth down those that are proud.
2. Glory not in wealth if thou have it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God Who giveth all things, and Who desireth to give thee Himself above all. Esteem not thyself for the height of thy stature nor for the beauty of thy person, which may be disfigured and destroyed by a little sickness. Please not thyself in thy natural gifts or wit, lest thereby thou displease God, to Whom appertaineth all the good whatsoever thou hast.
3. Esteem not thyself better than others, lest in the sight of God, Who knoweth what is in man, thou be accounted worse. Be not proud of well-doing ; for the judgment of God is different from the judgment of men,and that often offendeth Him which pleaseth them. If there be any good in thee, believe that there is much more in others, that so thy mayest preserve humility. It hurteth thee not to submit to all men. But it hurteth thee most of all to prefer thyself to any of them. The humble enjoy continual peace, but in the heart of the proud is envy, and frequent indignation.
OF TOO MUCH FAMILIARITY
1. Lay not thy heart open to everyone but treat of thy affairs with the wise, and such as fear God. Converse not much with the young, nor with strangers. Flatter not the rich; neither do thou appear willingly before the great. Keep company with the humble, with the devout, and with the virtuous; and confer with them of things that edify. Be not familiar with any woman but commend all good women in general to God. Desire to be familiar with God alone and His Angels, and avoid the acquaintance of men.
2. We must have love towards all, but familiarity with all is not expedient. Sometimes it falleth out, that a person unknown to us is much esteemed, from good report; but whose presence notwithstanding is not grateful to the eyes of those who see him. We think sometimes to please others by our society, but we rather displease them with those bad qualities which they discover in us.
Editor’s Note: Today’s reflection is an excerpt from the “Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis.
Art: Little Sister’s Evil Hour, artist unknown, illustration from book “Pathway of Life” by Dr. Talmage, 1888, meets public domain criteria; Young Girl Singing in a Mirror, Jean-Ètienne Liotard, 18th century, PD-US; The Bower Garden, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1859, PD-US published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923; all three Wikimedia Commons.