Wednesday, January 14, 2009

True religion a single thing...

Probably the most difficult part of following the path of the religious life is carrying the practices that we may have into daily living. The quiet calm of the meditative moment is soon forgotten in the car on the way to work (or even earlier) and the resolution to "love our neighbors" dissolves in the coffee line...
Henry Ware addresses this in his concluding section on Prayer.

"If, therefore, after having made some effort after a spirit of devotion, in pursuance of the course recommended, you find, as men sometimes do, that you derive from it neither improvement nor satisfaction, I recommend to you to examine whether you are really in earnest; whether you do, actually in your heart, desire religious improvement; whether, in short, there is not in you a lurking preference for your present state of mind, and an attachment to some passion, taste, or pursuit, incompatible with a zealous devotedness to Christian truth, and a suitable attention to the discipline which it demands.
Secondly, take heed that you do not allow yourself to fancy, that an observance of these or similar rules constitutes all your duty under this head. Do not forget, that the devotion which Christianity teaches is nothing less than perpetually thinking, feeling, and acting, as becomes a child of God,—a perpetual worship. This is the end at which you are to aim;—an end, however, which is not to be attained without the use of means; and the directions in the preceding pages are designed simply to point out some of the means. Some persons do not need such directions. For them they are not designed. But there are others to whom they must be welcome and wholesome. Let such use them, but without forgetting that they are means only. Let them guard, from the first and always, against the idea, that the practice of these will secure the great object, without any further exertion or sacrifice ; that to be devout men, they have only to observe stated seasons, and perform stated acts. There cannot be a more pernicious error. It is at variance with the whole nature and spirit of Christianity. God is to be served by the entire life; by its actions as well as its thought, its duties as well as its desires, its deeds as well as its feelings.
...it is easier to be religiously disposed for an hour a day, when reading the Bible or kneeling at the altar, than it is to be so during the many other hours which are full of the world's temptations, and when all the irregular passions are liable to be excited. Remember, then, to try your prayers by your life; you may know how sincere they are, by their agreement or disagreement with your habitual sentiments and conduct. Regulate your life by your prayers; in vain do you think yourself religious, if you go with holy words and humble confessions to the Divine presence, but at other times live in thoughtlessness and sin. True religion is a single thing.
Blessings

3 comments:

David G. Markham said...

Hi BU:

Another great quote from H. Ware.

I am very reasurred to read such material on a UU blog. It strengthens my faith and resolve to move forward in my own spiritual development.

Thanks for posting this,

David Markham

David G. Markham said...

Hi BU:

Do you have a citation for the Ware quotes you are using? Can I get a copy of the book?

Thanks for the info.

All the best,

David Markham

boston unitarian said...

Hi David,
And your kind words help give me encouragement to keep posting. Thank you. Ware's Formation of the Christian Character can be found at Google books (http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=PkQWAAAAYAAJ&dq=henry+ware+formation+of+the+christian+character&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=AMqSg0Rl4y&sig=xj6LkWxPSYORRmq4UMK5e7JcUM4&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result) and often at used book places such as Alibris. Many blessings!