Monday, March 22, 2010

get to work...

A happy birthday to Ephraim Peabody who was born on this day in 1807.  See here for more on Peabody with whom I began my Lenten season.  Henry Ware is my current companion through the season and today in the final complete chapter of his unfinished, "Progress of the Christian Life" he moves from describing errors that hinder that progress, to "maxims" that advance it...

From Chapter 6:


Ware begins with with maxim that the religious life must have a beginning and then says...

"Next to this purpose, religious progress demands effort. The purpose must not die in inaction ; it must not, as, alas ! is too frequently the case, waste itself in reverie and musing. That dreamy state of the mind, which loves to dwell in contemplation, — to sit with the eyes half closed and gaze on the visions of glory which the fancy brings before it, — to think of the admirable things that may be done, and the grand designs which it would be delightful to accomplish, — is an unprofitable state, and does little to advance the character. It is likely to enervate rather than to improve it. No purpose is of any value which does not ripen into action; and the ever-present purpose of Christian progress is nought, unless accompanied by ever active effort.

Inaction is the death of all virtue, the palsy of the character. It accounts satisfactorily for the backwardness and meanness of Christian men in Christian attainments. One might almost fancy, from the sluggishness with which men hold their faith, that, in adopting the gospel as their hope and rule, they had simply placed themselves on board some convenient vessel sent for their deliverance, and now were quietly to float down the gentle stream to the great city of their rest; instead of which, all experience and all revelation teach them, that they are embarked on a wide and perilous ocean, where they must watch and toil, and where they can make no progress except they make effort.

Our infatuation on this point is dreadful. Nothing else comes without labor and perseverance. Learning, accomplishments, distinction, wealth, — they are all earned ; and no man who desires them hesitates to pay for them the full price, enormous as it sometimes is, at which alone they can be possessed. But that greatest and highest attainment, a perfect human character, is to come of itself. The calm peace of self-government,— the holy luxury of heavenly-mindedness — the lofty and complacent dignity of spiritualized affections — the honor of being like God, and glory of entering with Jesus Christ into immortal purity and love, — this we expect to obtain by wishing: this vast acquisition, this unlimited and illimitable boon, we look at, we admire, we long for, we do not doubt we shall possess; and yet we make for it nothing like the effort which we make to get bread for our children and ornaments to our houses."


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