Imitation of Christ,
by Thomas á Kempis: Book 1, Chapter 18, cont.
suffered want, but within they were refreshed with grace and Divine consolation.
They were aliens to the world; they seemed as nothing and the world despised
them; but they were precious and beloved in the sight of God. They persevered
in true humility, they lived in simple obedience, they walked in charity
and patience, and so every day they advanced in spirit and gained great favor
with God. They were given for example to all religious, and ought more to
excite us to advance in good, than the number of lukewarm to induce us to
grow remiss. Oh! how great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning
of their holy institute! Oh, how great was their devotion in prayer, how
great was their zeal for virtue! How vigorous the discipline that was kept
up, what reverence and obedience, under the rule of the superior, flourished
in all! Their traces that remain still bear witness, that they were truly
holy and perfect men who did battle so stoutly, and trampled the world under
their feet. Now, he is thought great who is not a transgressor; and who can,
with patience, endure what he has undertaken. Ah, the lukewarmness and negligence
of our state! that we soon fall away from our first fervor, and are even
now tired with life, from slothfulness and tepidity. Oh that advancement
in virtue be not quite asleep in thee, who has so often seen the manifold
examples of the devout!
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