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Posted March 1, 2005

Thomas a Kempis on the Virtue of Knowledge

Knowledge: Limitation on Its Value
"There are many things the knowledge of which is of little or no profit to the soul." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 8)

Knowledge: As Related to Holiness
"The more knowledge one acquires the more serious the judgment of one's soul unless one's life also increase in holiness with the increase of knowledge. Do not become proud as your knowledge increases but rather be fearful as to how you use this knowledge in carrying out God's will." (Thomas a Kempis; p.9)

Knowledge: Beware of Pride
"Regardless of how much knowledge you may possess, never forget the infinity of the things you may be ignorant of."

Knowledge: A True Knowledge of Self, the Highest Science
"To truly know ourselves and have a true realization of the lowliness, the baseness, the meanness that we are potentially capable of is a high science of the soul." (Thomas a Kempis, p. 9)

Knowledge: Learning, Cautions
"Never read anything that you may appear more learned or more wise. Study rather to mortify your vices, for this will be more profitable to you than knowing about many profound questions of knowledge. Woe to them that inquire of many people after many curious things, and are but little curious of finding out ways in which they can serve Me." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 304)

Knowledge: Our Best Teacher
"The Lord says:'I am He that in an instant elevates a humble mind to comprehend more reasons of the eternal truth than could be acquired by ten years' study in schools. I teach without noise of words, without confusion of opinions, without ambition of honor, without contention of arguments. I teach to despise earthly things, to loathe things present, to seek and relish things eternal, to fly honors, to endure scandals, to repose all hope in me, to desire nothing out of Me, and above all things, ardently to love Me. If one loves Me entirely, I will teach him divine things and he will speak wondrously.'" (Thomas a Kempis; p. 305)

Knowledge: Avoidance of Excessive Curiosity
"It is not prudent to dispute of mysteriously profound questions of life, nor of the hidden judgments of God; why this man is left thus, and this other is raised to so great a grace, or why this person is so much afflicted and that other so highly exalted. These questions are above the reach of man's reasoning powers, nor can any reason or discourse penetrate into the judgments of God. When, therefore, the enemy suggests to you such things as these, or you hear of curious persons inquiring into them, answer with the prophet: 'You are just, 0 Lord, and your judgment is right. Your judgments are to be feared Lord, not to be searched into; for they are incomprehensible to human understanding.' In like manner, do not inquire nor dispute concerning the merits of the saints, which of them is more holy than the other, or which is greater in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 368)

Knowledge: A Healthy Perspective
"Learning in and of itself is a worthy thing ordained by God, but a good conscience and a virtuous life are always to be preferred before it." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 13)

Knowledge: A Perspective
"One's life should be a living book of love, not a display of books one has read. He is very learned indeed who does the will of God and renounces his own will, who looks upon all earthly things as nothing that he may gain Christ."

Knowledge: Through Reading
"Let not the authority of the writer influence you regardless of his prestige, great or small, but let the love of pure truth lead you to read." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 18)

Humility: Virtue is to be Preferred Over Excessive Learning
"It means very little if one can discourse extensively of the Holy Trinity but be lacking in humility, for sublime use of words do not make a person holy but a virtuous life makes one dear to God. Thus, it is better to show compunction, that is, sorrow for the sufferings and weaknesses of others, than to be able to define the word compunction." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 5)

Humility: Perspectives in Life
"A humble farmer who loves God is better than a proud philosopher who neglecting his soul intently studies the universe." (Thomas a Kempis; p. 8)