Thursday, March 11, 2010

calm peace, rather than a tumultuous delight...

Before moving to Massachusetts, we lived in New York state, within a short walk of the Hudson River.  Our front porch afforded a wonderful view of Storm King Mountain which became for me the natural representation of calm contentment.  Henry Ware Jr. speaks of this state in Chapter 4 of his "Progress of the Christian Life"

"Among the hindrances against which the young Christian may need to be put on his guard, we may mention, next, that arising from false expectations respecting the enjoyment of a religious life. The opening views of a religious existence are like those of youth, bright with vague anticipations of the future, full of gay dreams, romantic and visionary expectations. It is the youth of the soul, excited, ardent, confident, and painting the future in colors too uniformly gorgeous to be true. Not that any extravagance of expectation can exceed the actual happiness which the Christian realizes in his established faith. Young Christians do not, for they cannot, expect too much; but they expect — as the Scripture says " they ask — amiss." They err as to the nature more than as to the degree of enjoyment. They look for it in excitement, in strong emotion, in ecstasy, in rapture. They expect to be forever in the same glowing frame of bliss in which they are now, while the subject is all new and their feelings all fresh...

It becomes important, therefore, that the beginner should understand the nature both of Christian duty and of Christian happiness, that he may count the cost before he begins, and not fail through false and unreasonable expectations.
Let him consider, then, that Christian duty is conformity to a law, and Christian happiness the result of that conformity. This law governs the affections, as well as the conduct; determines the whole state of mind and feeling, as well as of life; and it is only when mind and feeling are conformed to this law that the man is in the way of Christian duty, — only then, therefore, that he is to expect happiness. And what happiness? That which belongs to the consciousness of having done duty ; that which grows out of and appertains to the state of mind which is attained; — and that will be, of course, satisfaction, contentment, rather than ecstasy. The consciousness of being right, the assurance of the favor of God, — these, being abiding and habitual impressions on the mind, are likely to produce a calm peace, rather than a tumultuous delight."

(Painting: "Storm King" by Homer Dodge Martin)

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