Solitude and Silence
From the Imitation of Christ
The Love of Solitude and Silence
Seek a proper time to retire into thyself, and often think of the benefits of God.
Let curiosities alone.
Read such matters as may rather move thee to compunction than to give thee occupation.
If thou wilt withdraw thyself from superflous talk and idle visits, as also from giving ear to news and reports, thou wilt find time sufficiient and proper to employ thyself in good meditations.
The greatest saints avoided the company of men as much as they could and chose to live to God in secret.
2. "As often as I have been amongst men" said a philosopher, "I have returned less a man;" this we often experience when we talk long.
It is easier to keep retired at home than to be able to be sufficiently upon one's guard abroad.
Whosoever, therefore, aims at arriving interior and spiritual things, must, with Jesus, go aside from the crowd.-JOHN V. 13.
No man is secure in appearing abroad, but he who would willingly lie hid at home.
No man securely speaks but he who loves to hold his peace.
No man securely governs but he who would willingly live in subjection.
No man securely commands but he who has learned well to obey.
3. No man securely rejoiceth unless he hath within him the testimony of a good conscience.-2 COR. I. 12.
Yet the security of the saints was always full of the fear of God.
Neither were they less careful or humble in themselves, because they were shining with great virtues and graces.
But the security of the wicked arises from pride and presumption; and will end in deceiving themselves.
Never promise thyself security in this life, though thou seem to be a good religious man, or a devout hermit.
4. Oftentimes they that were better in the judgement of men have been in greater danger by reason of their too great confidence.
So that it is better for many not to be altogether free from temptations but to be often assualted; that they may not be too secure lest, perhaps, they be lifted up with pride, or take more liberty to go aside after exterior comforts.
Oh how good a conscience would that man preerve, who would never seek after transitory joy, nor ever busy himself with the world!
Oh how great peace and tranquility would he possess, who would cut off all vain solicitude, and only think of things of God, and his salvation, and place his whole hope in God!
5. No man is worthy of heavenly comfort who has not diligently exercised himself in holy compunction.
If thou wouldst find compunction in thy heart retire into thy chamber, and shut out the tumult of the world, as it is written: "Have compunction in your chambers." -PS. IV. 5. Thou shall find in thy cell what thou shalt often lose abroad.
Thy cell, if thou continue in it, grows sweet; but if thou keep not to it it becomes tedious and distasteful. If in thy beginning of thy conversion thou accustom thyself to remain in thy cell and keep it well it will be to thee afterwards a dear friend and a most agreeable delight.
6. In silence and quiet the devout soul goes forward and learns the secrets of the Scriptures.
There she finds floods of tears, with which she may wash and cleanse herself every night, that she may become more familiar with her Maker, the farther she lives from all the wordly tumult.-PS. VI.
For God with His holy angels will draw nigh to him who withdraws himself from his aquaintances and friends.
It is better to lie hidden and take care of one's self than neglecting one's self to work even miracles.
It is commendable for a religious man to go seldom abroad, to fly being seen, and not desire to see men.
7. Why wilt thou see what thou must not have? "The world passeth away and the concupiscience thereof."-JOHN II. 17.
The desires of sensuality draw thee abroad, but when the hour is past what dost thou bring home but a weight upon thy conscience and a dissipation of heart.
A joyful going abroad often brings forth a sorrowful coming home; and a merry evening makes a sad morning.
So all carnal joys enter pleasantly but in the end bring remorse and death.
What canst thou see elsewhere which thou seest not here? Behold the heavens and the earth, and all the elements; for of these are all things made.
8. What canst thou see anywhere which can continue long under the sun?
Thou thinkest perhaps to be satisfied, but thou canst not attain to it.
If thou couldst see all things at once before thee what would it be but a vain sight?-ECCLES. I. 14.
Lift up thine eyes to God on high and pray for thy sins and negligences.-ECCLES. III. 4; PS. CXXII. 1.
Leave vain things to vain people, but mind thou the things which God hath commanded thee.
Shut thy door upon thee, and call to thee Jesus thy beloved.
Stay with Him in thy cell, for thou shalt not find such great peace anywhere else.
If thou hadst not gone abroad, nor hearkened to rumors, thou hadst kept thyself better in good peace; but since thou art delighted sometimes to hear news thou must thence suffer a disturbance of heart.