Sunday, June 5, 2011

the pulse beats of devotional feeling...

This,the first part of Andrew Preston Peabody's "The Discipline of Life," (from the volume "Christian Belief and Life" 1875) an excellent warning not to miss the forest through the trees...

"THE DISCIPLINE OF LIFE. "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."—Psalm cxxxviii.8.
A FRIEND said to me one Sunday, on the way from church, " How sad it is that we cannot devote ourselves more constantly to our own spiritual culture! There are so many utterly unspiritual things to be done or gone through with, that it is really very little time that we can give to the great work of this life, — our preparation for a higher and better life." This would have been well said, were it not that the very condition of things complained of is a providential necessity, of God's appointment, and therefore undoubtedly better for us than any method that we might deem preferable. If the soul and God and heaven are not fictions, we are constrained to believe that the Divine Providence orders our discipline here with a view to our surest nurture and our highest good, that its school is our best school, its designated way the best way for us.
I doubt whether the concentrated devotion to the soul for which the devout often yearn is the fit mode of educating the soul. Probably, even to the most religious mind, the cloister has never been so favorable to the growth of piety as the duties of an active life or of a Christian home would have been. A good man somewhat given to cant, meeting Wilberforce one day, said to him, "Brother, how is it now with your soul?" and was shocked beyond measure by the philanthropist's reply, "I have been so busy about those poor negroes, that I had forgotten I had a soul." Yet there can be no doubt that by means of "those poor negroes " Wilberforce's soul had been growing a great deal faster than that of his friend, who had perhaps spent half his time in counting the pulse-beats of devotional feeling."


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