London: Printed by H. Lownes, and R. Young, 1628.
Duodecimo: 2 books in 1 vol.: 12.8 x 7.2 cm. , 277,  p. I. A-O12 (B12 blank). II. A6 (A1 blank), B-K12, L6
SEVENTEENTH EDITION (1st 1580) of Thomas Rogers’ translation of the “Imitatio Christi”, bound together (as often) with his translation of “Soliloquium Animae”. All editions are rare (see below.)
Bound in contemporary blind-ruled calf (corners bumped and worn, small defects to spine, leather of hinges cracked but firm) with the initials A.N. and an attractive floral ornament tooled in gold on the boards. Internally, both books are in fine condition with trivial faults as follows: I. (“Imitatio”): Clean tear to leaf with woodcut, no loss. Small worm-trail on same leaf and t.p. with slight loss. Leaves C2 and F8 with clean tears (no loss), light stain to margins in sig. L. II. (“Soliloquium”): Sm. paper flaw in leaf C3, light stain to sig. E, clean tear to G1, no loss. Provenance: Inscription to blank recto of first leaf, Eliz. Wichcot’s Book, 1728”.
“Written between 1390 and 1440, the ‘Imitatio Christi’ (Imitation of Christ) is a devotional book that, with the exception of the Bible, has been considered the most influential work in Christian literature. Although its authorship is a matter of controversy, the book is linked to the name of Thomas à Kempis (Thomas of Kempen). Whatever the identity of the author, he was a representative of the ‘devotio moderna’ and its two offshoots, the Brethren of the Common Life and the Congregation of Windesheim.”(EB) The ‘Imitation’ would later influence Ignatius of Loyola (who modelled his ‘Spiritual Exercises’ on it, and inform the Counter Reformation.
This translation of the “Imitatio Christi”, by the religious controversialist and Church of England clergyman Thomas Rogers (ca. 1553-1616), was extremely popular, as attested by the 19 editions of it that were published between 1580 and 1640. All editions are very rare. 6 editions are known in a single copy, 4 editions are known in 2 copies, 1 in 3, 2 in 4, 2 in 5, 1 in 6, and 2 (including ours) in 8. Rogers’ translation of the “Soliloquium Animae” appeared in only 7 editions, of which this is the 5th or 6th.
“Thomas à Kempis’ name is inextricably linked with the ‘Imitatio Christi’. There are numerous theories around its composition, with some attributing it to Groote himself and some to Kempis around roughly 1420, while others maintain Kempis only codified common patterns of devotional teaching from notes taken by other members of the ‘Devotio moderna’ (see below) tradition sometime around 1441. The final form of ‘Imitatio Christi’ included four different books: the first addressing threats to the spiritual life entitled ‘helpful thoughts for the life of the soul’; a second on the basic spiritual virtues, ‘interior life’; a much longer, more extensive third book dealing with trials of the spiritual life, ‘internal consolation’; and a fourth on sacramental devotion, ‘invitation to Holy Communion.’
“While the identity of its author will never be entirely certain, the text laid out the deeply penitential, sacramental, Christocentric vision of spiritual contemplation and discipline originating with Geert Groote and shaping the Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life, the Augustinian Canons Regular of Windesheim, and the ‘Devotio moderna’.”(Concordia Seminary Library exhibition, The Reformation at 500)
“The ‘Devotio moderna’ was a religious movement within Roman Catholicism from the end of the 14th to the 16th century stressing meditation and the inner life, attaching little importance to ritual and external works, and downgrading the highly speculative spirituality of the 13th and 14th centuries. Devotio moderna (Latin: “modern devotion”) originated in the Netherlands and spread to Germany, northern France, Spain, and possibly Italy. Gerhard Groote, father of the movement, founded the Brethren of the Common Life; after his death, disciples established a house of Augustinian Canons at Windesheim (near Zwolle, Holland). These two communities—the former living in the world, the latter monastic—became the principal exponents of devotio moderna. The ‘Imitation of Christ’, traditionally attributed to Thomas à Kempis, is a classic expression of the movement.”(EB).
ESTC S534; STC (2nd ed.), 23984