Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 20

The Confession of Our Own Infirmity and the Miseries of This Life


I WILL confess against myself my injustice. I will confess to You, O Lord, my infirmity.

It is oftentimes a small thing which casts me down and troubles me.

I make a resolution to behave myself valiantly; but when a small temptation comes I am brought into great straits.

It is sometimes a very trifling thing from which proceeds a grievous temptation.

And when I think myself somewhat safe, I find myself sometimes, when I least apprehend it, almost overcome with a small blast.

Behold, then, O Lord, my abjection and frailty every way known to You.

Have pity on me and draw me out of the mire, that I stick not fast therein, that I may not be utterly cast down forever.

This it is which often drives me back and confounds me in Your sight, to find that I am so subject to fall and have so little strength to resist my passions.

And although I do not altogether consent, yet their assaults are troublesome and grievous to me, and it is exceedingly irksome to live thus always in a conflict.

Hence my infirmity is made known to me, because wicked thoughts do always much more easily rush in upon me than they can be cast out again.

Oh, that You, the most mighty God of Israel, the zealous lover of faithful souls, would behold the labor and sorrow of Your servant, and stand by me in all my undertakings.

Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude, lest the old man, the miserable flesh, not fully subject to the spirit, prevail and get the upper hand, against which we must fight as long as we breathe in this most wretched life.

Alas! what kind of life is this, where afflictions and miseries are never wanting: where all things are full of snares and enemies.

For when one tribulation or temptation is gone another cometh: yea, and while the first still lasts, many others come on and these unexpected.

How can a life be loved that has such great bitterness, that is subject to so many calamities and miseries.

How can it be called life since it begets so many deaths and plagues?

And yet it is loved and many seek their delight in it.

Many blame the world that it is deceitful and vain, yet they are not willing to quit it, because the concupiscence of the flesh overmuch prevails.

But there are some things that draw them to love the world – others to despise it.

The concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, draw to the love of the world; but the pains and miseries, which justly follow these things, breed a hatred and loathing of the world.

But alas! the pleasure of sin prevails over the worldly soul and under these briers she imagines there are delights; because she has neither seen nor tasted the sweetness of God, nor the internal pleasures of virtue.

But they that perfectly despise the world and study to live to God under holy discipline, experience the divine sweetness that is promised for those who forsake all; and such clearly see how grievously the world is mistaken and how many ways it is imposed upon.

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