Of the Imitation of Christ

Of the Imitation of Christ

by Thomas à Kempis


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As Thomas a Kempis, a serene and devoted man of God, walked in the Lord's presence, he discovered priceless steps to becoming more like Christ daily. In Of the Imitation of Christ, which has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible, the author presents timeless principles for living the Christian life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780879830359
Publisher: Keats Publishing, Inc.
Publication date: 02/28/1973
Series: Pivot Family Reader Ser.
Pages: 240

About the Author

Thomas à Kempis (1379–1471) was a German monk who emphasized withdrawal from the attractions of the world.
Born in the Rhineland town of Kempen, he attended a school at nearby Deventer in Holland that had been started by Gerard Groote, founder of the Brothers of the Common Life. These were men devoted to prayer, simplicity, and union with God. When Thomas was nineteen, he entered the monastery of Mount St. Agnes, which the brothers had recently started near Zwolle in Holland. He spent the rest of his long life behind the walls of that monastery.
Thomas devoted himself to prayer, study, copying manuscripts, teaching novices, offering Mass, and hearing the confessions of people who came to the monastery church. He wrote a number of sermons, letters, hymns, and information about the lives of the saints. Thomas is most famous for Of the Imitation of Christ, a little instruction book on how to love God.

Read an Excerpt


HE THAT FOLLOWETH ME, shall not walk in darkness" (John 8:12), saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished how we ought to imitate His life and manners, if we would be enlightened and delivered from all blindness of heart. Let therefore our chief endeavor be to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Christ exceeds all the doctrine of 'holy men; and be who has the Spirit will find therein "the hidden manna" (Rev. 2:17). But many who often bear the Gospel of Christ have little desire for it, because they "have not the Spirit of Christ" (Rom. 8:9). But whosoever will fully and with relish understand the words of Christ must endeavor to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ. What does it avail to discourse profoundly of the Trinity if you are void of humility and are thereby displeasing to the Trinity? Surely profound words do not make a man holy and just; but a virtuous life makes him dear to God. I would rather feel contrition than know the definition thereof. If you knew the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would all that profit you without love (I Cor. 13:2)? "Vanity of vanities . . . all is vanity" (Eccles. 1:2), except to love God and to serve Him only. This is the highest wisdom, by the contempt of the world to press forward toward heavenly kingdoms. Therefore it is vanity to seek after perishing riches and to trust in them. Also it is vanity to hunt after honors and to climb to high degree. It is vanity to follow the desires of the flesh, and to long after that for which you must afterward suffer grievous punishment. It is vanity to wish to live long, and to be careless to live well. It is vanity to mind only this present life, and not to foresee those things which are to come. It is vanity to set your love on that which speedily passes away, and not to hasten to where everlasting joy abides. Call often to mind that proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing" (Eccles. 1:8). Endeavor therefore to withdraw your heart from the love of visible things, and to turn yourself to things invisible. For they that follow their own sensuality defile their consciences, and lose the grace of God.

Table of Contents

Book 1Admonitions Useful for a Spiritual Life
Chapter 1.Contempt of All the Vanities of the World11
Chapter 2.Humble Conceit of Ourselves13
Chapter 3.Doctrine of Truth14
Chapter 4.Forethought in Actions17
Chapter 5.Read the Holy Scriptures18
Chapter 6.Inordinate Affections19
Chapter 7.Vain Hope and Pride20
Chapter 8.Shun Familiarity21
Chapter 9.Obedience and Subjection22
Chapter 10.Avoid Superfluity in Words23
Chapter 11.Obtain Peace, and Progress in Grace25
Chapter 12.Profit of Adversity27
Chapter 13.Resist Temptations28
Chapter 14.Avoid Rash Judgment31
Chapter 15.Works Done for Love32
Chapter 16.Bear with the Defects of Others34
Chapter 17.A Retired Life35
Chapter 18.Examples of the Fathers36
Chapter 19.Exercises of a Religious Person39
Chapter 20.Love of Solitude and Silence41
Chapter 21.Contrition of Heart45
Chapter 22.Human Misery47
Chapter 23.Meditation on Death50
Chapter 24.Judgment, and the Punishment of Sinners54
Chapter 25.Zealous Amendments of Life57
Book 2Admonitions Pertaining to Inward Things
Chapter 1.The Inward Life63
Chapter 2.Humble Submission66
Chapter 3.A Good, Peaceable Man67
Chapter 4.Simplicity and Purity69
Chapter 5.Consideration of Oneself70
Chapter 6.The Joy of a Good Conscience72
Chapter 7.The Love of Jesus Above All Things74
Chapter 8.Familiar Converse with Jesus75
Chapter 9.Want of All Comfort78
Chapter 10.Gratitude for the Grace of God81
Chapter 11.Lovers of the Cross of Jesus83
Chapter 12.The King's Highway of the Holy Cross85
Book 3Internal Consolation
Chapter 1.Christ Speaks to the Faithful95
Chapter 2.The Truth Speaks Inwardly96
Chapter 3.The Words of God to Be Heard with Humility98
Chapter 4.Live in Truth and Humility Before God101
Chapter 5.The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love103
Chapter 6.Proving a True Lover106
Chapter 7.Conceal Grace Under the Guard of Humility109
Chapter 8.A Mean Conceit of Ourselves112
Chapter 9.All Things to Be Referred unto God113
Chapter 10.Despise the World and Serve God115
Chapter 11.Our Hearts Examined and Ruled117
Chapter 12.The Growth of Patience in the Soul119
Chapter 13.Obedience in Humble Subjection121
Chapter 14.The Secret Judgments of God122
Chapter 15.His Will in Everything124
Chapter 16.True Comfort Found in God Alone126
Chapter 17.All Anxieties Cast on God127
Chapter 18.Temporal Miseries Borne Patiently129
Chapter 19.Endurance of Injuries. Who Is Patient?130
Chapter 20.Acknowledge Infirmity and the Miseries of Life132
Chapter 21.Rest in God Above All Things135
Chapter 22.God's Manifold Benefits138
Chapter 23.Inward Peace140
Chapter 24.Avoid Curious Inquiries143
Chapter 25.Peace of Heart and True Spiritual Progress144
Chapter 26.A Free Mind Won by Humble Prayer146
Chapter 27.Private Love Hinders the Chiefest Good147
Chapter 28.The Tongues of Slanderers150
Chapter 29.Call Upon God When Tribulation Comes151
Chapter 30.Seek Divine Aid, and Recover Grace152
Chapter 31.Disregard of Creature155
Chapter 32.Self-denial157
Chapter 33.Inconstancy of Heart, and Final Intention159
Chapter 34.God Is Sweet to Those Who Love Him160
Chapter 35.No Security from Temptation162
Chapter 36.The Vain Judgments of Men164
Chapter 37.Resignation to Freedom of Heart165
Chapter 38.Good Government, and Recourse to God in Danger167
Chapter 39.Not Fretful in Business168
Chapter 40.Man No Good of Himself169
Chapter 41.Contempt of All Temporal Honor171
Chapter 42.Our Peace Not Set on Men172
Chapter 43.Against Vain and Worldly Knowledge174
Chapter 44.Not Drawing Trouble from Outward Things176
Chapter 45.Credit Not Given to All, and Man Prone to Offend in Words177
Chapter 46.When the Arrows of Words Assail180
Chapter 47.Grievous Things Endured182
Chapter 48.Day of Eternity, and Life's Restrictions184
Chapter 49.Desire of Eternal Life, and Rewards Promised187
Chapter 50.A Desolate Man Ought to Offer Himself into the Hands of God191
Chapter 51.Words of Humility195
Chapter 52.Unworthy of Comfort, Deserving of Stripes196
Chapter 53.The Grace of God Apart from Earthly Things198
Chapter 54.Nature and Grace200
Chapter 55.Corruption of Nature; Efficacy of Divine Grace204
Chapter 56.Deny Self and Imitate Christ207
Chapter 57.When Man Falls209
Chapter 58.God's Secret Judgments211
Chapter 59.Hope and Trust in God Alone213
Book 4A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion
Chapter 1.The Emblems of Christ Received with Reverence219
Chapter 2.Goodness and Love of God Exhibited in This Sacrament223
Chapter 3.Profitable to Communicate Often226
Chapter 4.Benefits Bestowed228
Chapter 5.Dignity of the Sacrament and Priestly Work231
Chapter 6.Spiritual Exercise Before Communion232
Chapter 7.Searching Our Own Conscience233
Chapter 7.Searching Our Own Conscience233
Chapter 8.The Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and Resignation of Ourselves235
Chapter 9.Offering Ourselves Wholly to God236
Chapter 10.Communion Not to Be Taken Lightly239
Chapter 11.The Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures Necessary241
Chapter 12.Prepare with Great Diligence244
Chapter 13.Seek Union-with Christ in the Sacrament246
Chapter 14.The Desire of the Devout247
Chapter 15.The Grace of Devotion249
Chapter 16.Make Known Our Needs to Christ251
Chapter 17.United with Christ253
Chapter 18.Humility and Faith in the Holy Sacrament Prescribed255

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