Friday, June 26, 2009

polluting the chambers of the soul...

I am very curious as to how those who happen to read the excerpts on this blog approach them. Is it largely an historical or academic exercise? Do you find the Boston Unitarians moralistic? Or does an occasional statement drive you to contemplation?
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."

Blessings

3 comments:

Kari said...

Hi B.U.! I read these as spiritual piece to my day, and they give me some history on the way. As a live long UU I should know more, but I don't, so this is good for me to learn.
And I got your message at the LREDA booth, my colleague said "someone stopped by with a message from Boston Unitarian, he says he'll see you soon for latfe and l something else"! You're on, now you have to come to the Minneapolis GA for lefse and lutefisk!

-k

Sian said...

I too approach it with a bit of both. I don't come here every day, so it's not daily for me. But I find reading from these gentlemen (and lets face it, there are few gentlewomen) fascinating. The tradition of our faith in the 19th century is mostly known through events - rarely do we get a glimpse of their inner spiritual work. Its really lovely!

I find some of the work a bit too "pious" (for lack of a better word) for me, but I just take it for what it is. There are also times when I'm blown away by the use of language and imagery. I am greatful this is my chosen faith.

:-)

Sian

Emma said...

I read these because I am so woefully weak on our denominational history. I am pleased when so much of it seems new and relevant. I guess it is an academic exercise...

This one I was thinking, he's taking life way to seriously. However, it is good to think about what one is thinking about and direct it towards the things you wish you were thinking about instead.

I appreciate the writing too. I am believing that perhaps that kind of speech is unfortunately lost to us, so we can only read and wish that such beautiful speech was available to us today.