The Following of Christ, Book I, Chapter II

cover of the ebook 'The Following of Christ'Of having an humble sentiment of one’s self

1. All men naturally desire to know; but what doth knowledge avail without the fear of God?

Indeed an humble husbandman, that serveth God; is better than a proud philosopher, who, neglecting himself, considers the course of the heavens.

He, who knows himself well, is mean in his own eyes, and is not delighted with being praised by men.

If I should know all things that are in the world, and should not be in charity: what help would it be to me in the sight of God, who will judge me by my deeds?

2. Leave off that excessive desire of knowing: because there is found therein much distraction and deceit.

They who are learned, are desirous to appear and to be called wise.

There are many things, the knowledge of which is of little or no profit to the soul.

And he is very unwise who attends to other things than what may serve to his salvation.

Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life gives ease to the mind; and a pure conscience affords a great confidence in God.

3. The more and better thou knowest, the more heavy will be thy judgment, unless thy life be also more holy.

Be not therefore puffed up with any art or science; but rather fear upon account of the knowledge which is given thee.

If it seems to thee that thou knowest many things, and understandest them well enough: know at the same time that there are many more things of which thou art ignorant.

Be not high minded, but rather acknowledge thy ignorance.

Why wouldst thou prefer thyself to any one, since there are many more learned and skilful in the law than thyself?

If thou wouldst know and learn any thing to the purpose: love to be unknown, and esteemed as nothing.

4. This is the highest and most profitable lesson, truly to know, and to despise ourselves.

To have no opinion of ourselves, and to think always well and commendably of others, is great wisdom and high perfection.

If thou shouldst see another openly sin, or commit some heinous crime, yet thou oughtest not to esteem thyself better: because thou knowest not how long thou mayest remain in a good state.

We are all frail: but see thou think no one more frail than thyself.