Who could have guessed that a book written almost 600 years ago by a monk for other monks would become one of the most popular Christian devotionals worldwide, second only to the Bible? Today, The Imitation of Christ is still as much a handbook for Christian growth as it was when it was first published in 1427. The author, a devout Augustinian monk named Thomas à; Kempis, couldn't possibly have predicted its far-reaching impact. Here is an excerpt from this classic work.

The First Chapter…Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth

He who follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.

The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

This is the greatest ...

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