Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Permanent Bias Toward God

From Chapter lll of Henry Ware's "Formation of the Christian Character"

Deep religious impressions are always accompanied by a sense of personal unworthiness, and not unfrequently commence with it. It is man's acquaintance with himself, which leads him most earnestly to seek the acquaintance of God, and to percieve the need of his favor...He sees at one view all his past sins, open and secret, his thoughtlessness, ingratitude, negligence, and omissions, his depraved inclinations, evil desires, and cherished lusts, which no one else knows, and which no one else could compare, as he an, with his privileges and obligations...And in such a comarison, at such a moment, he cannot but regard himself as most unworthy and depraved...But such a state of mind as I have described, though not by no means universal...and cannot be regarded as essential...But however this may be, and however the humiliation of one may wear a different complexion from that of another, it is a state of mind sincere and heartfelt in all, to be studiously cherished, and to be made permanent in the character... In the beginning of the Christian life, this feeling assumes the form of anxiety, as it afterward leads to watchfulness...This is a most reasonable solicitude. What can be more reasonable than such a solicitude for the greatest and most lasting good of man?...Remember that much depends, I might say, every thing depends, on the use you make of this your present disposition. Be faithful to it, obey its promptings, let it form in you the habit of devout reflection and religious action, and all must be well...Be sensible, therefore, that this is a critical moment in the history of your character...For now it is, in all probability, tha the bias of your mind is to be determined for good or evil. Be sensible, then, how necessary it is that you keep alive, and cultivate by all possible means, this tenderness of heart...For you are engaging in a great work, the giving your heart a permanent bias toward God, and it ought not to be inturrupted."

It is language that is, no doubt, difficult for many liberal religionists to listen to these days but I find it deeply true. What drives us to a spiritual search but a lack of completeness, or a sense of something not right. As Ware knows, it may be dramatic and it may simply be a feeling of anxiety, of restlessness, irritability, or dis-ease...When it arises, it must be protected, cultivated and grown or wither and die. What do you think?
ps. Many thanks to the Eclectic Cleric for sharing the fruits of his scholarship on the Ware family (see comment on God Bearers post, Nov. 2nd-I enourage everyone to read it!) I will have more concerning your comments on the Personality of the Deity at a later date. Blessings


Robin Edgar said...

So why is it that there seems to be a permanent bias against God and against God believing people in so many Unitarian*Universalist congregations? Why is it that neither God, nor God believing people, are all that welcome in so many U*U "Welcoming Congregations"?

slt said...

Thank you for your comment. While I agree that it can seem a "bias against God" exists in Unitarian Universalism, I think it is often more apparent than real. People are searching for a deeper meaning and they want to do it together.
This blog does not seek to fight those battles but only to lift up in a positive way, a life and a path that has been deeply enriching for me. If it proves to be so for others...well that would be wonderful. God Bless