Monday, August 24, 2009
consider the lilies...
Part three of James Freeman Clarke's sermon on "The Two Handles" (see the last two posts) and a discussion of one the the most beautiful and difficult teachings in scripture...
"We are troubled, some of us, every day, by the question, " Shall I do this, or not ? Shall I do this thing, or another ? " You will commonly find that each of these questions has two handles—the handle of duty, and that of pleasure ; the handle of right, and that of expediency ; the handle of gratification, and that of usefulness to others; the handle of custom, and that of personal conviction. All depends on this — on which handle do we take hold. It seems wise and safe and prudent to do as others do; to consult the probabilities of success or failure ; to do what all men will approve ; to do what we shall enjoy doing ourselves. But no one can tell, but he who tries it, what a contentment there is when we simply decide to do what is right, whether others will hear, or whether they will forbear ; what a satisfaction comes to those who go the way where their own soul calls them, though they go wholly alone ; what peace there is in the heart when we have once made up our minds to listen to the small and still voice of God speaking to the conscience ; what ample compensation there is when we take life by this handle — compensation in a certain solid assurance of rocky foundations beneath our feet...
Every to-morrow has two handles as we go to meet it — the handle of anxiety, and that of trust. Pagan and Christian wisdom agree in teaching us that we ought not to be anxious. "As to what the morrow may bring, do not trouble yourself," says Horace. " Let the morrow take thought for the things of itself," says Jesus. And yet we allow our days to be spent in anxious thoughts, our hearts to be corroded with care, all the joys of life turned to gloom, all its sunshine shaded by this anxiety. How shall we live? How shall we provide for our children ? How shall we meet our engagements ? And then, to these anxieties, we add others about our soul; and the Church teaches us to be anxious about the other world, in addition to our anxieties about this. And so black Care rides behind the horseman, and modern civilization seems darkened more than ever before by these gloomy shadows thrown up from below the horizon by the clouds which hang above the setting or rising sun.
But "consider the lilies, how they grow;" "consider the birds, how they build their nests; "...How little we really need of all these supposed necessities of civilization ! You go from homes full of various comfort and ornament, and spend a month in the Adirondack woods, sleeping on a bed of spruce boughs, eating trout from the lake and mush from the pan, and you say, " This is true life; I never knew what it was to live before." Now you are taking life by the right handle, cutting down your necessaries to the lowest mark, and then having the luxuries of sky and lake, forest and waterfall, peaceful days, and sweet sleep in the open air ; yet you come home and forget all this experience, and calmly resume the whole burden of anxiety, and become the slaves of routine, of housekeeping, of living in a certain style in which other people live ; and the Sermon on the Mount goes for nothing.
Consider the lilies, how they grow !"
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Thank you, lovely post.
Post a Comment