Wednesday, March 10, 2010

expression of the religious heart...

Henry Ware continues on the importance of the means of religion...

"Now, religion is a certain state of mind, heart, and character; but if there be no manifestation of this state in action, neither the individual himself nor other men could be assured of its existence and reality. But what are the expressions, what the manifestations, of religion? The most natural, perhaps the most spontaneous, the most indubitable, is prayer. It is the expression of the religious heart to its God. It is the language of the devout mind. It is the action of the pious spirit. I cannot conceive, therefore, that any one should esteem prayer simply a means of religion. It is a part of religion. It is an inalienable concomitant. And it is represented, throughout the Scriptures, more frequently as an essential act of religion, — inseparable from and inherent in a devout character, — than as a means of increasing the devotional temper, or of spiritual improvement.

The same is true concerning the Christian ordinances. To express faith and newness of spirit by baptism, and to commune with the Savior at his table, are in themselves religious actions. To read the Scriptures, and devoutly meditate on the truth of God, and worship in his house, and listen to the preaching of his word, are religious acts, expressions of a religious character, no less than means of increasing in Christian knowledge and holiness.

It is, therefore, far from true that, in neglecting religious observances, we merely postpone the means to the end. They constitute, in their very nature, parts of that which we seek to achieve. They are natural expressions, manifestations, of the religious character; and one can hardly be authorized in imagining himself to possess that character, if it do not thus display itself."

(painting:  Old Man in Prayer by Rembrandt Harmensz)

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