Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
From: "The Religious Discipline of Life" cont.
"If the thoughts, which may be expressed in words, are to be thus guarded, the Temper and Feelings, which are often so indefinable in language, require a no less anxious guardianship. In the perplexities and trials of daily life, in the conflict with the various tempers and frequently perverse dispositions of those around us, in the little crosses, the petty disappointments, the trifling ills which are our perpetual lot, we are exposed to lose that calm equanimity of mind which the Christian should habitually possess. We are liable to be ruffled and irritated, and to feel and display another spirit than that gentleness which ' bears all things and is not easily provoked.' The selfishness of some, the obstinacy of other?, the pride of our neighbor, the heedlessness of our children, and the unfaithfulness of our dependents, tire our patience, and disturb our self-possession; while bodily infirmity and disordered nerves magnify insignificant inconveniences into serious evils, and irritate to peevishness and discontent the temper which duty calls to cheerfulness and submission. Some are blessed with a native quietness of temperament which hardly feels these hourly vexations. But of some they form the great trial, and peculiar cross; they can bear any thing better. And to all persons they constitute an exposure full of hazard, and demanding cautious vigilance. The very spirit and essential traits of the Christian character require watchfulness against them, and imply conquest over them. The humility, meekness, forbearance, gentleness, and love of peace ; the long- suffering, the patience, the serenity, which form so lovely a combination, which portray a character that no one can fail to admire and love ;—these are to be maintained only by much and persevering watchfulness.
Without this, the most equable disposition by nature may become irritable and unhappy. With it, under the authority and guidance of Christian faith, the most unfortunate natural temper is subdued to the gentleness of the lamb. Without it, the internal condition of man is restless, rebellious, full of wretchedness, having no peace in itself, and enjoying nothing around. With it, the aspect of the world becomes changed ; every thing is bearable, if not pleasant; the sweet light which beams within, shines on all without, making pleasant the aspect of all men, and smoothing the roughnesses of all affairs."
May your rough places be made smooth. Blessings
Saturday, June 27, 2009
"Emerson was among the earliest students of Oriental scriptures, from which some of the finest passages were inserted in the " Dial." In the paper which we have been mainly reading, " Thoughts on Literature," he writes: " The Bible is the most original book in the world. This old collection of the ejaculations of love and dread, of the supreme desires and contritions of men, proceeding out of the region of the grand and eternal, by whatsoever different mouths spoken, and through a wide extent of times and countries, seems, especially if you add to our canon the kindred sacred writings of the Hindoos, Persians, and Greeks, the alphabet of the nations."
Friday, June 26, 2009
Today, Henry Ware Jr. tells us to mind our thoughts...
"You perceive, then, how the Christian life must consist in watchfulness and self-discipline ; how it must be your great business to keep a faithful guard over yourself, that, both in mind and conduct, nothing may exist contrary to the spirit and precepts of Jesus Christ.
First of all, this guard is to be placed upon the Mind. It is an intellectual, internal, spiritual discipline; the oversight and management of the thoughts and affections...
Is it not the mind which gives its moral complexion to the conduct? Is it not certain, that the same conduct which we applaud as indicating an upright character, we should disapprove and condemn, on discovering that it proceeded from base and improper motives?...
This implies several things. First, a careful guard over the Thoughts. It is in the heedless disregard of the thoughts that corruption often takes its rise. They are suffered to wander without restraint, to attach themselves without check to any objects which attract the senses, or are suggested in conversation, and to rove uncontrolled from one end of the world to another. How many hours are thus wasted in unprofitable musing, which leaves no impression behind! How much of life is made an absolute blank! Worse still, how often do sinful fancies, sensual images, unlawful desires, take advantage of this negligence to insinuate themselves into the mind, and make to themselves a home there, polluting the chambers of the soul, and rendering purity unwelcome! This is the beginning of evil with many a one, who, from this want of vigilance over the course of his thoughts, has surrendered himself to frivolity and sensuality, without being aware that he was in peril. Thoughtlessness, mere thoughtlessness, has left the door open to sin, and the same thoughtlessness prevents the detection of the intruder...
Let your morning and evening prayer be, that you may live thoughtfully. And when, in the business of the day, your hands are occupied, but your mind free to think, keep yourself attentive to your thoughts. Inquire frequently how they are engaged. Direct them to useful and innocent subjects. Think over the books you have been reading; rehearse to yourself the knowledge you have gained; call up the sermons you have heard ; repeat the passages of scripture you know. By methods like these, take care that even your empty hours minister to your improvement. Paley has truly observed, that every man has some favorite subject, to which his mind spontaneously turns at every interval of leisure; and that with the devout man the subject is God. Hence the watching over your thoughts furnishes you with a ready test of your religious condition; it exposes to you the firs) and faintest symptoms of religions decline, and enables you to apply an immediate remedy."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
V. The Religious Discipline of Life
Thus it is plain, that your chief business, as well as your great trial, in forming a Christian character, lies in the ordinary tenor of life. The World is the theatre on which you are to prove yourself a Christian. It is in the occurrences of every day, in the relations of every hour, in your affairs, in your family, in your conversation with those around you, in your treatment of them, and your reception of their treatment;—it is in these that you are to cultivate and perfect the character of a child of God. It is in these that your passions are exercised, and your government of them proved; in these that your command over that unruly member, the tongue, is made known ; in these that temptations to wrong doing and evil speaking beset you, and that you are to apply your religious principle in resisting them. In these it is, consequently, that you discover whether your principle is real and genuine, or whether it lies only in feeling and in words. In the quiet of your chamber, in the devout solitude of your closet, when the world is shut out, and your solemnized spirit feels itself alone with God, you may be so exalted by communion with Heaven, and by meditation on heavenly truth, that all things earthly shall seem worthless and paltry, and every desire be set upon things above. How often, at such times, does it appear as if the world had no longer any charms, as if its pleasures and pomp could never again entice or delight us! Our souls are above them. We have no more relish for them than have the angels. And if this were all which is required of us, if nothing opposed to this delightful frame of mind were ever to cross our path, the Christian prize would be already won. But, alas! jn the closet, and in the third heaven of contemplation, we can live but a small portion of the time. We must come down from the mount. We must enter the crowd and distractions of common life. We must engage in common and secular affairs. And there, how much do we encounter that is opposed to the calm and serene spirit of our contemplative hours! how much to irritate and disturb our quiet self-possession! how much to drive from our thoughts the subjects on which we have been musing! how much to revive the relish for transient pleasures and worldly enjoyments, and a love for the things which minister gratification to pride and to the senses! In the midst of these things, dangerous, enticing, seductive, you are to live and walk unchanged, unseduced, unde- fiied; your heart true to its Master, your spirit firm in its allegiance to God, and your soul as truly devout and humble as when worshipping at the altar. Is this easy ? I will not ask ; but is it not your great, your paramount, trial? Is it not here, that the very battle of your soul's salvation is to be fought ? Is not this, as I said, the very field of actual and decisive war, the very seat of the fearful and final campaign ? And the prayers and studies, and observances of your more special devotion, are they not the buckling on of the armor, and the refreshing and preparing of the soul for its real combat ?
Buckle up! and Blessings
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Ware has taken us thus far through what we are to seek, and the means by which we are to seek it. Today in Chap. 5, "The Religious Discipline of Life" the rubber hits the road:
THE RELIGIOUS DISCIPLINE OF LIFE.
Next to the means to be employed in the promotion of personal religion, we must attend to the oversight and direction of the character in general. The means of which we have taken notice, consist of a series of special and stated exercises, whose object is to prepare us for the right conduct of actual life; and they may be compared to the daily drill of the soldier, by which he is made ready for the field. Watchfulness and self- discipline belong to all times and occasions, and may be compared to the actual use which the soldier makes of his preparation in the camp and the field...
Why you are to be always watchful over yourself, is easily perceived. In this world of sensible objects and temporal pursuits, you are constantly exposed to have your thoughts absorbed by surrounding things, and withdrawn from the spiritual objects to which they should be primarily attached. You are incited to forget them, to slight them, to counteract them. The engagements, the anxiety, hurry, and pleasures of life, thrust them from your thoughts; and desires, propensities, passions, are excited quite inconsistent with the calm and heavenward affections of Christ. All these tendencies in your situation are to be resisted...
Now, while your mind is warm with its early interest in divine things,—now, while they press upon you in all their freshness,—now, take heed that you do not concentrate that interest, and use all its strength, in the luxury of devout musing or the excitements of study and devotion ; but carry it into your whole life; let it be always present to you in all you do, in all you say; let it form your habitual state of feeling, your customary frame of mind and temper. Make it your constant study that nothing shall be inconsistent with it, but every thing partake of its power. This is the watchfulness in which you must live. This is the purpose for which you must exercise over yourself an unremitting and ever-wakeful discipline; seeing to it, like some magistrate over a city, or some commander over an army, that all your thoughts, dispositions, words and actions be subject to the law of God, and the principles of the Christian faith."
Easiest thing in the world...Blessings
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
"...endeavour, in every number of the Miscellany, to introduce one or more essays, entirely free from controversy, which shall have for their sole purpose the excitement and exercise of the pious affections, and the inculcation of the pure and holy morality of the Gospel. And it is our earnest prayer to God, that they may be productive of good"
I found this poem, a fine exposition of the Boston Unitarian position, in v. 4 from 1823:
"Rules for long Life
The following energetic lines are by Thomas Randolph, a poet who wrote with considerable reputation near the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Take thou no care how to defer thy death,
And give more respite to this mortal breath.
"Would'st thou live long? the only means are these,
'Bove Galen's diet, or Hippocrates'.
Strive to live well; tread in the upright ways;
And rather count thy actions than thy days.
Then thou hast lived enough amongst us here,
For every day well spent I count a year.
Live well; and then, how soon soe'er thou die.,
Thou art of age to claim eternity.
But he that outlives Nestor, and appears
T'have past the date of grave Methuselah's years,
If he his life to sloth and sin doth give,
I say he only was, he did not live."
Monday, June 22, 2009
Happy Birthday and Blessings
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
One of his most accessible essays, it is full of wisdom and, unfortunately, some of his more negative provincialism. As usual, I focused on the former, including this on living in neighborhoods...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
We are told that we care very little about faith. " Unitarians," it is said, " talk about goodness; hope to be saved by their own good works, their own good temper;" or, when the charge is more mildly brought, it is said we exaggerate the importance of righteousness, and therefore underrate the necessity of faith. With all modesty, and yet with all firmness, such as belongs to the subject, would I deny this allegation. I say we do not undervalue faith, but we hold it to be essential to a religious experience and to a happy life. Now there are two kinds of faith, and we believe in the necessity of both kinds.
We believe, then, in the importance of faith, and we show you its twofold nature. We stand where Paul stood, when he said that " a man is justified by faith," — that is, made acceptable before God, and led by the Divine goodness toward righteousness, in consequence of his belief in, and use of, the great Christian ideas; and we stand where James stood, when he said that the mere mental reception of such ideas was insufficient, and that we must show their reality and their power in good works."
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Rom. viii. 6: "To be spiritually minded is life."
It is the office of Religion to excite and cultivate these interior senses. Religion opens and purges the eye of the soul, enables it to hear spiritual truths, and causes them to be felt. Its chosen province is the soul. Its kingdom is within us, its rule is spiritual, its subject is what the apostle Peter styles the hidden man of the heart. Wonder not that man often seems to be, and is, unconscious of the elements that lie in his soul as the life of the plant in the seed, which, apparently destitute of a vital principle, needs only heat and moisture to stimulate it into action. The vital principle of religion must be excited by causes that are without it, that yet combine themselves with it. The spiritual nature must be unfolded and exercised upon suitable objects of thought, affection, desire, hope. These it does not find in human society, nor among sensible things. They are revealed and embraced through faith. By this, man is introduced to a new society, and to the knowledge of higher relations than those of time. As he becomes more conversant with the beings and hopes of a spiritual world, their relative importance grows in his estimation. His affections fasten themselves with strength on worthy objects. He perceives that he stands in the midst of infinite relations. There is a light within him brighter than the rays of the sun, and in this light he beholds spiritual and everlasting things."
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Our life is embosomed in mystery, the universe is wrapped in a garment of mystery. The unknown infinitely exceeds the known; the incomprehensible outweighs beyond all comparison the intelligible. To some persons this is an unpleasant fact. Yet, properly regarded, it would give them great comfort. Religion conducts us to the borders of mystery. Whatever direction we pursue in our religious inquiries, we are soon brought to a pause by limits which we cannot pass. With some persons this is a special occasion of surprise, disappointment, and complaint, while it should, on the contrary, strengthen their faith and enliven their gratitude...
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
"GREAT PRINCIPLES IN SMALL MATTERS." (1849)
Luke xvi. 10: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."
One of the most remarkable peculiarities of our religion is its connection of the sublimest truths with the most common details of life. The revelation of the Christian faith, how grand ! the duties of the Christian life, how simple...
In the life of Jesus, that best commentary upon his religion, we find the same union of great principles with the incidents of daily life. It is the character of Jesus that gives grandeur to the situations in which he is placed, not the situations that make the character appear extraordinary. He never sought to draw attention to himself by an unusual manner of life; he affected no dignity, studied no arts of impression, and in his outward relations exhibited no desire to be unlike the men among whom he lived...
These domestic affairs, this worldly business, must not be neglected, but they must be Christianized, spiritualized, beatified. Christianity is a religion for the earth and the world, for home and society, a religion which the statesman, the merchant, and the day-laborer, the rich man, the poor man, the sick man, the mother, the girl, the child, must all feel in its continually restraining, moulding, and quickening influence, as they fulfil the engagements of their several positions...How? By bringing great principles into connection with little matters...
The idea of duty our religion binds in with all our mental and physical experience. For, in revealing the moral character of our present life, the responsibleness under which we are placed in the midst of the circumstances that surround us, the obligation to make every thing subservient to the growth and perfection of character, it compels the true disciple, the man who believes with a steady faith, to recognize a law that touches on every relation and act of his being. He can do nothing so small that it has not a moral value...
We may now perceive both the justice and the extent of the law of which our text is the expression, " He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much ; " a law inseparable from the rectitude of the Divine Providence, and conducive to the welfare of man. I will but add two brief remarks, which are suggested as of most practical value. First, in regard to ourselves. Let it be our object to establish Christian habits. Our habits constitute our character. Let them be pervaded and moulded by the religion of Christ. Let our faith become habitual, our piety habitual, our benevolence habitual. Let duty become a habit. Then shall we be safe; then will life be pleasant and holy.
Secondly, in regard to our children. Let us implant in them right principles. They must form their own habits, but we can fix their principles. Out of the latter will arise the former. Let us establish in their hearts the great principles of piety and duty, and they will be prepared to meet the temptations and bear the responsibilities of life.
With good habits growing out of right principles in ourselves, and right principles growing up into good habits in our children, why should we not be as happy as in this life of vicissitude man can ever be ? We shall have nothing to fear on this side the grave, since we shall be prepared for all change in outward condition by the inward stability we shall maintain. Nor shall we have reason to dread what we may encounter hereafter; since, having been faithful in that which is least, as it arose under the various relations of life, we shall receive the approbation of Him whose welcome voice shall pronounce the sentence: " Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Have a wonderful Sabbath. Blessings
Saturday, June 6, 2009
4. Fourthly, We believe in the divinity of his doctrine. What he taught originated with and came from God. He said, " My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me." — "I have not spoken of myself; but the Father, who sent me...
5. Fifthly, We believe in the divinity of his works. Jesus performed miracles, which no unaided man could perform. They were proofs, because effects of supernatural power. He said, " The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."...
6. Sixthly, We believe in the divinity of that fulness which the Scriptures ascribe to him,— fulness of spiritual gifts and blessings, flowing from God through him to the race. He himself was not the source of them; but, as we are told in sacred writ, " it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell." The inestimable benefits of the gospel which come to us by Jesus Christ could have had their ultimate source in no created being. They are to be traced through the Son of God to God himself, and are the riches of his infinite grace. The fulness of the Saviour was divine, not as self-produced, but as supplied by the great and good Being who is above all...
Friday, June 5, 2009
DIED JUNE 24, 1866.
"Pastor, Teacher, Parent, Guide, and Friend,
As o'er thy life-like, sainted form we bend,
We grieve, with heart-struck grief, to feel and
know That e'en the best must leave us here below.
Strong in the faith, the pulpit for thy throne,
To wisdom's flowery fields, in peace to feed ;
Pitied the poor, and sent forth angels fair,
Thursday, June 4, 2009
MATTHEW XVIII. 21-2. THEN PETER CAME TO HIM AND SAID 'LORD, HOW
OFTEN SHALL MY BROTHER SIN AGAINST ME, AND I FORGIVE HIM? TILL SEVEN TIMES?'
JESUS SAITH UNTO HIM, "SAY NOT UNTO THEE UNTIL SEVEN TIMES—BUT UNTIL SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN.'
"...the meaning obviously is, that we are to set no bounds to a forgiving temper; that we must never be weary of receiving the returning brother. And this, as for many other reasons, so especially from the conviction that we continually need for ourselves the mercy of our heavenly Father, and are required to be imitators of Him, who is long-suffering to us-ward, abundant in goodness, and even 'waiteth to be gracious."...
1. Take now the question as proposed by Peter to his Lord, 'How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?' And before we attempt to answer it, let us revolve in our own breasts such inquiries as these. 'How often do I need the forgiveness of God and of my fellow creatures, and what would be my condition if forgiveness were refused to me?...He may not indeed, as we have all the while been supposing, have committed any flagrant enormities. He may be pure from the greater transgressions. But he may know of himself what he cannot know of another, that even his lesser offences are attended with many aggravations; that he may have sinned against light and knowledge and numberless advantages, which his neighbor or his friend, who has offended him, may never have enjoyed. And when he realizes that all his dependence must be upon the mercy of his God; that without that mercy, as declared by the son of his love, Jesus Christ, he must be helpless and miserable, how can he refuse to exercise charity for his brother...
III. From the frequent occasions for the exercise of forgiveness, we may easily deduce the wretchedness as well as baseness of an unforgiving temper. It dooms a man to endless contests. It may keep his soul in a continual tempest. By the constitution of our nature, suffering is connected with all sin, but especially with the sins of malice and ill-will. He that yields himself to his rancorous feelings, and cherishes anger in his breast, he who suffers his imagination to feed itself upon the wrongs he has received, or only thinks ho has received—that man is the destroyer of his own happiness. 'To him,' as saith God of the wicked, there is no peace...
IV. Should I speak of the fitness and reasonableness of this virtue, I should ask you to observe, how well suited it is by its very nature, and in all its influences to the nature and condition of man; how reasonable and how becoming, that creatures as we are, frail, sinful and dependant, should not only be humble before God, but kind to our fellow-men, pitiful and tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Jesus Christ hath forgiven us...
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
His conversation and conduct are complete specimens of what may be called coolness and soundness of mind, qualities indispensably necessary in one who would do good to the best effect, without defeating his own purposes by precipitancy, or endangering his life by imprudence. He discovers at all times a disposition to avoid dangers where it was consistent with his duty, but he encounters the most dreadful hazards when the destination of his Heavenly Father made it necessary for the accomplishment of his purposes...
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
"MISAPPREHENSIONS AS TO THE NATURE OF RELIGION.
In these words are described, with much truth and conciseness, the nature and the effect of religion. It consists in the practice of righteousness, and it is accompanied with a spirit of peace and joy, resulting from an habitual confidence in God, the author of all moral and religious happiness... that contented and joyful state of mind, which belongs to a man of real devotion, who possesses confidence towards God, and that filial spirit which makes duty easy, afflictions light, death harmless, futurity promising, and the whole course of the Christian life cheerful, active, and full of expectation...
The spirit of Christianity is that which is peculiar and essential to it, and which may exist where its forms are impracticable, and where the terms of belief are not defined. It is that which constitutes a man a Christian always, and everywhere ; in his church or in his family, in his prayers or his pleasures, in the fullness of his strength or in the last fainting exercises of his expiring life.
1. The spirit of our religion is, first, then, a spirit of faith. This always has been, and always must be the earliest principle of a religious character. For it approximates what is remote, it illustrates what is obscure, makes us see what is invisible, feel what is intellectual, realize as present what is actually future, and receive as strictly certain, what is in truth only highly probable. As the apostle says, it is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen and future. The spirit of faith is also a spirit of confidence in God, like that of a child in the paternal character of a father, or like that of a pupil in the superior wisdom and information of a master. The Christian feels the highest trust in the wisdom of God, and a tranquillizing persuasion of the benevolence of his designs