May 17, 2008

Thomas Á Kempis on Spiritual Reading

One of the men in a Bible study that I lead recently gave me a devotional book with daily readings from classical Christian writings. The first reading I turned to was from Thomas Á Kempis (adapted by John Wesley).

Read to despise exterior things and to give thyself to the interior.

Assign some stated time every day for this employment of spiritual reading; so far as you possibly can, keep this exercise in inviolable.

Prepare yourself for reading, by purity of intention and by fervent prayer to God, that he would enable you to see his will, and give you a firm resolution to perform it.

Be sure to read, not cursorily or hastily, but leisurely, seriously, and with great attention; with proper pauses and intervals, and that you may allow time for the enlightening of the divine grace. To this end, recollect, every now and then, what you have read, and consider how to reduce it to practice.

Further, let your reading be continued and regular, not rambling and desultory. To taste of many things, without fixing upon any, shows a vitiated palate, and feeds the disease which makes it pleasing. Whatsoever book you begin, read, therefore, through in order.

Labor to work yourself up into a disposition correspondent with what you read; the reading is useless which only enlightens the understanding, without warming the affections. And therefore intersperse earnest aspirations to God, for His heat as well as His light. Select also any remarkable sayings or advices, and treasure them in your memory.

Conclude all with a short prayer to God, that from your reading He might sow seeds in your heart and that it may bring forth fruit.

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