Tuesday, August 9, 2011

plaguy hard work getting to heaven...

Henry Bellows on Practical righteousness continued...

"Let me...exhort you to go home with it deeply impressed upon your minds, that if you want to advance the kingdom of Christ, it must be by producing a higher practical righteousness among yourselves and in your community, in your business, in your homes, and in your church relations, than prevails very extensively or very satisfactorily in any sect or among any body of Christians. We have the deepest necessity at this particular era and time for girding ourselves up for a battle for that only issue that is above all other issues, — the issue between good and evil. There is no other issue worth mentioning, — neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither Orthodox nor Heterodox; but between good and evil we must make our election and declare our choice. We must put our foot upon the evil in men's lives, whether they be high or low, whether they be in the pulpit or among the people, — wherever it be, in God's name and in the name of his Christ, we must put our foot upon moral evil and crush it down with the weight of our lives and with the full force of our example.
I was going down the other day to consecrate a hall which our distinguished patriarch in letters, William C. Bryant, had just presented to the town of Ruslin. Behind me were two men — they were farmers — talking upon the subject of religion; and it was a great comfort to me to know that plain men, in their intercourse with each other in the vehicles of daily business, do sometimes come down to this subject. One of them was saying to the other: "I don't go to church any longer. The fact is, I don't see much difference amongst these fellows. One is about as good as another. One says one thing and another says t'other thing. I don't see as it makes much difference in their living. I have made up my mind to do about as well as I know how, practice the golden rule, and trust the Lord for the rest." "Well," says the other man, "that is all very good doctrine if you do as well as you know how; but I don't believe you will." "I think," said he, "and I have been watching folks a good deal, that some kind of a form, even if it is foolish, is better than none, to help a man to be about right, and I advise you to go to church." "Well," said he, "there is something in that. I will think of it." Well, but he turned on the other man and said: "The golden rule, anyhow, will save anybody. If a man does to his neighbor as he would have the neighbor do to him, you may be sure that is a good thing anywhere, and will save him in any climate and in any world." "You are right," said the man, "but show me the fellow." We are so much occupied in speaking about the end, and, in having satisfied ourselves about the end at which we are all aiming, —the keeping of the golden rule, and the keeping of the commandments, the two great pillars of the law, — that we sometimes think that the road may take care of itself, and that if we keep the end in view it does not matter much whether we busy ourselves to walk in it or not; and we think somehow that the recognition of certain high truths and the perception of the right end is going to save us in spite of ourselves. I tell you it is plaguy hard work to get to heaven; it is plaguy hard work to keep the commandments; it is plaguy hard work either to love God or man down to the bottom of one's soul, and out to the uttermost rim of one's life and character. As Shakspeare, who said every thing, once said through the mouth of Portia: "If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces." "If wishes were horses beggars would ride." And a great many people think that because they see what is to be done, and acknowledge what is to be done, the thing will do itself, without their bringing their stubborn, their reluctant wills to bear upon it, with all the power and force which they can command, by the prayers of the night and the morning, and by the communion of their spirits with the only strengthening Source of life and of thought, God Almighty."


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