The Imitation of Christ

The Imitation of Christ

Introduction by: Leo Sherley-Price
Translator: Leo Sherley-Price

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140440270
  • 224 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • 18 and up


One of the most influential and well-loved books of Christianity, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis appears here in Penguin Classics in a new translation by Robert Jeffery, with an introduction by Max Von Habsburg, notes, a chronology and further reading. The Imitation of Christ is a passionate celebration of God’s love, mercy and holiness, which has stimulated religious devotion for over five hundred years. With great personal conviction and deep humanity, Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) demonstrates the individual’s reliance on God and on the words of Christ, and the futility of a life without faith, as well as exploring the ideas such as humility, compassion, patience and tolerance. Thomas spent some seventy years of his life in the reclusive environment of monasteries, yet in this astonishing work he demonstrates an encompassing understanding of human nature, while his writing speaks to readers of every age and every nation. Thomas à Kempis was born at Kempen near Dusseldorf in 1380. He received the priesthood in 1413. Thomas wrote many other devotional works besides The Imitation of Christ, his masterpiece, as well as biographies of Gerald Groote and Florentius Radewyn. He died in 1471. The Very Revd Robert Jeffery was born in 1935 and ordained in 1959. He has written on matters of Church history, spirituality, mission and ecumenism. In 1978, he became Archdeacon of Salop, and was Dean of Worcester from 1987-96 and subsequently Canon and Sub-Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. He retired in 2002 and is an Hon Doctor of Divinity of Birmingham University. Max von Habsburg is the author of Catholic and Protestant Translations of the Imitatio Christi 1425-1650 (2011).

Table of Contents

The Imitation of ChristIntroduction
The Chapters of the First Book: Counsels on the Spiritual Life
1. On the Imitation of Christ
2. On Personal Humility
3. On the Teaching of Truth
4. On Prudence in Action
5. On Reading the Holy Scriptures
6. On Control of the Desires
7. On Avoiding Vain Hope and Conceit
8. On Guarding Against Familiarity
9. On Obedience and Discipline
10. On Avoiding Talkativeness
11. On Peace, and Spiritual Progress
12. On the Uses of Adversity
13. On Resisting Temptations
14. On Avoiding Rash Judgments
15. On Deeds Inspired by Love
16. On Bearing with the Faults of Others
17. On the Monastic Life
18. On the Examples of the Holy Fathers
19. On the Practices of a Good Religious
20. On the Love of Solitude and Silence
21. On Contrition of Heart
22. On Human Misery
23. A Meditation on Death
24. On Judgment, and the Punishment of Sinners
25. On the Zealous Amendment of our Life

The Chapters of the Second Book: Counsels on the Inner Life
1. On the Inner Life
2. On Humble Submission to God
3. On the Good and Peaceful Man
4. On Purity of Mind and Simplicity of Purpose
5. On Knowing Ourselves
6. On the Joys of a Good Conscience
7. On Loving Jesus Above All Things
8. On Close Friendship with Jesus
9. On the Lack of All Comfort
10. On Gratitude for God’s Grace
11. On the Few Lovers of the Cross of Jesus
12. On the Royal Road of the Holy Cross

The Chapters of the Third Book: On Inward Consolation
1. How Christ Speaks Inwardly to the Soul
2. How Truth Instructs us in Silence
3. On Humble Attention to God’s Word
4. On Truth and Humility
5. On the Wonderful Effect of Divine Love
6. On the Proof of a True Lover
7. On Concealing Grace under Humility
8. On Humility in the Sight of God
9. How God Alone is our True End
10. On the Joy of God’s Service
11. On Control of the Heart
12. On Learning Patience
13. On Obedience, after the Example of Christ
14. On the Secret Judgements of God
15. On the Ordering of our Desires
16. How True Comfort is to be Sought in God Alone
17. How we must put our Whole Trust in God
18. How Sorrows are to be Borne Patiently
19. On Enduring Injuries, and the Proof of Patience
20. On our own Weakness, and the Trials of This Life
21. How we must Rest in God Alone above all Things
22. On Being Mindful of God’s Blessings
23. On Four Things that Bring Peace
24. On the Evils of Curiosity
25. On Lasting Peace and True Progress
26. On the Excellence of a Free Mind
27. How Self-Love Hinders our Search for God
28. Against Slander
29. How we should Bless God in all Trouble
30. On Asking God’s Help, and the Certainty of his Grace
31. On Forsaking Creatures to Find the Creator
32. On Self-Denial, and Renunciation of our Desires
33. On Inconstancy of Heart
34. On God’s Graciousness to Those who Love Him
35. How There is no Security from Temptation
36. Against the Vain Judgments of Men
37. How Surrender of Self Brings Freedom of Heart
38. On the Right Ordering of Our Affairs
39. How we should not be Over Anxious
40. How Man has no Personal Goodness of which to Boast
41. On Contempt for Worldly Honours
42. That our Peace cannot Depend on Man
43. A Warning against Vain and Worldly Learning
44. On Avoiding Distractions
45. How we should not Believe all we Hear
46. On Putting our Entire Trust in God
47. How Burdens must be Borne to win Eternal Life
48. On Eternity, and the Limitations of This Life
49. On the Desire for Eternal Life, and the Wonder of God’s Promises
50. On Trust in God in all Trouble
51. How when we Lack Strength for Higher Work we should Undertake Humble Tasks
52. How no Man is Worthy of God’s Comfort
53. How God’s Grace is not Granted to the Worldly-Minded
54. On the Contrary Workings of Nature and Grace
55. On the Corruption of Nature, and the Power of Grace
56. How we must Follow Christ’s Way of the Cross in Self-Denial
57. That we should never Despair
58. How we may not Inquire into the Unsearchable Judgments of God
59. That we should Hope and Trust in God Alone

The Chapters of the Fourth Book: On the Blessed Sacrament
1. On the Deep Reverence with which Christ should be Received
2. On the Great Goodness and Love of God in this Sacrament
3. On the Value of Frequent Communion
4. On the Many Blessings Granted to the Devout Communicant
5. On the Dignity of the Sacrament, and of the Priestly Office
6. On Preparation for Communion
7. On Self-Examination, and the Purpose of Amendment
8. On the Offering of Christ on the Cross
9. How we mustOffer Ourselves wholly to God, and Pray for all Men
10. That Holy Communion is not to be Lightly Foregone
11. How the Body of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are most Necessary to the Faithful Soul
12. On the Need for Careful Preparation to Receive Christ in Holy Communion
13. How the Devout Soul should Sincerely Desire Union with Christ in his Sacrament
14. On Ardent Desire for the Body of Christ
15. How Devotion is Won by Humility and Self-Denial
16. How we should Declare our Needs to Christ, and Ask his Grace
17. On Ardent Love and Eager Desire to Receive Christ
18. How we should Approach Christ’s Sacrament Humbly, Submitting Reason to Holy Faith