Tuesday, March 2, 2010

eager and panting for success...

Henry Ware Jr. begins his "Progress of the Christian Life" with a discussion of common errors held by many respecting the acquisition of Christian Character.  This from Chapter One:

"Nothing can be plainer than that the Christian character is a thing to be acquired and to be improved; yet it is evident that many do not so regard it. If we may judge from their conduct, the number is not small of those who esteem it something which belongs to them just as the body does, and to be kept alive and in health just like that, by living along from day to day, as the circumstances of each day may suggest, but not to be the subject of any special regard...

It is not so in other matters. We look around us on the community, and we see it in a state of commotion and advancement. Its prosperity is a wonder to us, and that prosperity is progress. Every one is pushing forward. Every one is eager and panting for success...

This is common. But meantime — even if they account themselves Christians, and remember that they have an eternity as well as a family to provide for — they have not dreamed of exhibiting any proportionate advancement of character ; it has not occurred to them that their piety should have grown with their estate; that their charities should have been as much greater than formerly as their income has become larger; that, as they have been rising in the world, they should have risen also toward heaven. In the eye of the world, they are better dressed and better lodged, and they move in a more fashionable and intellectual circle; but in the eye of God, in their preparation for heaven, they are just where they were...

How salutary might it prove to every one whom Providence has blessed with an increase of goods, if, at every enlargement of his style of living, he should devote one day to searching into his spiritual progress, and resolve never to erect a new house, or introduce a higher indulgence to his domestic economy, until he could honestly say, that he was as much improved in character as in fortune!...

Amid this universal and earnest struggle for the outside life, the inner life is neglected ; and very good men are entirely content to be no better, who could ill brook to be no richer...

Blessings

2 comments:

David G. Markham said...

Dear BU:

Very interesting idea that Henry Ware, Jr. preaches that we should attend as much and our ambition should be focused on the inner as well as the outer life.

His offering the reward of heaven for such effort is no longer supported much by UUs I have heard, because the focus now days is on the here and now, making heaven on earth.

Spiritual rewards are intrinsic and are an end in themselves not a means of getting to heaven afte one's death.

I like his idea though that we can become more satisfied and fulfilled if we focus as much if not more on the development of our Christian character as on our upward social mobility.

And what then are the rewards of the spirit?

All the best,

David Markham
Brockport, NY

boston unitarian said...

Hi David,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
—Galatians 5:22-23
Sounds good to me! Thanks as always and
blessins, BU