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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

THINK diligently upon the Lord Jesus Christ, that endured such opposition from sinners against Himself: that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. The Passion of Christ, brought back to memory, bestows many benefits on a man: and the more often and earnestly it is pondered: the more sweetly it savours, and the more deeply it moves. FOR IT IS AN INCENTIVE TO DIVINE LOVE: it is the teaching of patience: it is comfort in tribulation. It is the foe of dissipation: it is the subject of holy compunction: it is the exercise of interior devotion. It is the banishing of despair: it is the most certain hope of the pardon of sins: it is the profitable redemption of past evil days. It is a source of surpassing confidence in the hour of death, that a man despair not of himself: it is the appeasing of the severity of God in the judgement to come. It is the soothing of anxious trouble: it is the endurance of harsh reproach. It is the expulsion of evil thought: it is the restraint of temptation of the flesh. It is instruction in humble submission: it is ease in bodily sickness. It is the belying of worldly honour: it is the reproach of temporal abundance. It is the counsel of voluntary poverty: it is the renunciation of self-will: it is the cutting-off of superfluous want. It is the arousing of lukewarm life: it is the inflaming of fervent amendment. It is the gaining of fuller grace: it is the bringing of heavenly consolation: it is the proof of fraternal compassion. It is the preparation of divine contemplation: it is the increase of future blessedness. It is the easing of present pain: it is the purging of future fire: it is great satisfaction for daily sins. With these and very many other goods abounds and flourishes the Passion of Christ devoutly pondered; often read, carefully digested. This is very well known and savoured of the soul given to God, a stranger to the world, a friend of solitude: a warden of her own mouth, humble of heart, and at rest from cares. This holy remembrance is highly pleasing to God: it rejoices the angels, edifies men: purifies the conscience, drives away weariness, soothes pains, sweetens bitternesses: represses anger, curbs concupiscence. Truly the Passion of Christ is the hidden treasure of God, the fullness of every virtue, the perfection of the religious state; the summary of all holiness.

But, alas, how great is the ingratitude of man, how great the sloth of the human heart: how great its carelessness in remembering the benefits of God: which are such, so boundless and precious: that they cannot be computed, nor fully unfolded by any man. Return then to thy heart, O servant of Christ: and leaving aside vain and perishable things, recall the benefits of God, and chiefly meditate often and earnestly on the Passion of Christ: so that thereby THOU MAYEST BE MORE FERVENTLY INFLAMED UNTO HIS LOVE. Then thou shalt be acceptable to God, and in thy own heart very joyous and peaceful; if thou art mindful of the benefits of God, and devoutly render thanks to Him; from Whom thou hast received every good. THEN DOST THOU PROFITABLY SPEND THY TIME, WHEN THOU GRIEVEST FOR THY EVIL DEEDS: AND GIVEST THANKS FOR THE FAVOURS OF GOD. But for this thou shouldst grieve much, that never hast thou offered worthy thanks to God for His so immense blessings; nor yet art able to thank Him sufficiently: even if thou shouldst attend to nothing else. Thou shouldst, however, strive to raise thy heart to God: and, as much as thou canst, ponder God’s gifts with great attention. O how much He loved thee, Who hast shown such wonders in the beauty of creation: that thou mightest have ready matter in the sensible creatures of the world of constant thankfulness to God, Who created thee and those good things. Wherefore strive TO SERVE HIM WITH SOVEREIGN REVERENCE IN JOY OF HEART, as the holy angels in Heaven: as far as is possible in the frail body and in the state of the present life: which, compared with the blessedness to come, is rather to be called a prison of the soul. For God deigned to be made man, to suffer, be crucified, and die for this purpose; that by His Passion, cross and death, He might show thee, how much He loved thee: for whom He toiled and endured so much. Be not then ungrateful, nor unmindful of all those things, which the Lord Jesus did on earth: but carefully consider the mighty works of God, liberally wrought in favour of the whole human race. Who yet has promised much greater goods, and most certainly will bestow them in Heaven on thee: if only thou art grateful for present gifts, and remainest faithful in little even until death.

A great vice is ingratitude, and exceedingly blamable before God and man. For he is unworthy of a divine favour: who does not give thanks to God with a devout heart. Nor does he deserve to receive more, who praises himself in anything; or works carelessly, were it only one talent granted to him. It is certainly a great thing: that God should deign to give man anything. NOR SHOULD IT BE DEEMED LITTLE, WHICH THE LORD, SO GREAT AND HIGH ABOVE ALL, BESTOWS ON A MAN POOR AND A SINNER: who has nothing worthy to render in return. Let God then be loved much; let His praise be ever in thy mouth: and let a small thing be taken for great. Let all be rendered back to Him; let all be attributed to Him: Who certainly has given all, and has favoured one unworthy. Nor does God seek aught, save to be purely loved, and duly praised for all; so that by loving, praising, honouring, and returning thanks to Him above all: man may be for ever beatified in Him. Amen.

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