Monday, March 15, 2010

the sentiment of devotion...

I have written before of this central Boston Unitarian virtue, balance. It is perhaps one their most characteristic traits. Henry Ware Jr. speaks of this balance in Chapter 5 of his "Progress of the Christian Life.:"

"In order to the successful use of the means of religious progress, so that they shall truly operate to a religious growth, it is essential so to employ them as to create an equal, healthy development of the character in all its parts, so as to avoid the inconsistency and distortion which are the co sequence of too exclusive devotion to some, and the comparative neglect of others. A perfectly well proportioned religious character is rarely to be found; but for that very reason it should be the more anxiously desired.

Character is constituted of the state of the mind and affections, and the habits of life. These ought all to be in harmony with each other, — directed by the same principles, exhibiting the same features, wearing the same complexion. If they disagree, there is a painful discordance perceived; something is wrong; there is neglect of duty, blame somewhere.

Now, the means of cultivating and perfecting the right state of mind and affections are, primarily, meditation and prayer, and those mental exercises of contemplation, self-examination and study, by which the soul is directly wrought upon and raised to a spiritual fervor. Thus it approaches to God, cherishes holy and benevolent desires, and comes to love and enjoy the things that are unseen and eternal. And when, from the seasons of contemplation and thought, the man goes into the scenes of active life, he carries with him this propensity to goodness, these desires to do well. He goes with a mind imbued with the sentiment of devotion, and the spirit of dutifulness."


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