The manuscript of De Imitatione Christi (Wikipedia)
From The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
“Blessed…O Lord, is the man you teach from your Law” (Psalm 94:12). Happy is the one who learns the truth, not in words that pass away, but as it actually is. Our opinions and our own senses often deceive us, and we discern very little… It is great folly to neglect the things that are profitable and necessary, and to give our minds to things that are irrelevant and harmful.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it; and no knowledge of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil; or knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. Many err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well. Oh, if men only bestowed as much labor in the rooting out of vices and the planting of virtues as they do in proposing questions, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, nor so much looseness among us, nor such laxity in religious devotion. Surely, when the day of judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done (Matthew 25); not how well we have spoken, but how well we have lived.
Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning? Others have already taken their places; others who do not even think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be something; but now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory of the world passes away! (Eccl. 2:11)… How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too little care for serving God.
Do not yield to every impulse and suggestion, but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God’s will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Good men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, for they know that human frailty is prone to evil, and will likely sin in speaking. It is great wisdom to not act rashly (Proverbs 19:2), or to cling obstinately to one’s opinion; and to not believe everything people say, or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard.
John 8:12 — When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
O God, you who are the truth, make me one with you. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in you is all that I desire. Let the learned be still. You alone speak to me. AMEN.
–Thomas a Kempis