Friday, September 16, 2011
the essential characteristic...
"How little meaning (for most) have the Saviour's words, " Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Not they who act justly and righteously as a matter of expediency, but they who love it for its perceived, intrinsic excellence, —love it as the artist loves what is beautiful, —love it as the sensualist loves his pleasures, — hunger and thirst for it, and must have its presence within them, or die. Instead of our having any just sense of the Gospel doctrine of life, even the prevailing religious creeds of the world fix the attention on a life in a manner external to the soul, a mere continued existence, and a bliss showered on it from without. They treat of salvation; but often it seems as if it were a salvation of man in his sins, rather than from his sins. As if, were it not for future perdition, the attempt to attain the virtues of the Gospel were an unbearable cross. How little do they give the impression, that in these very spiritual excellences, in this love of them, and in their exercise, in their self-controlling and inspiring presence, is itself the eternal life! That Christ came to impart an'd awaken this life, and that his death becomes our life only as it touches our hearts and awakens in them a spirit like his own, — that then, and then only, are we sharers in the life of Christ, — is "this believed ? Were it believed with anything like the intelligent sincerity with which men believe in the worth of intellectual education, of worldly success, or of good repute among men, the millennium would have come. And yet, if there be any meaning in Christ's words, the first step in religion is the perception of the nature of this spiritual life,—the life described in the Bible as that of faith, — a regenerate and sanctified life...
In a word, to sum up what has been said, — the essential characteristic of the eternal life in the soul is the love of truth and good, and thus of God who is the true and good, and of Christ in whom God is manifest. This is the life of the angels which inspires them in their ministries. It is the heavenly life. It is the bond which unites all the hierarchies of the celestial world. He who hath it has affinities with all the pursuits and pleasures of that sacred nature. The pomps and passions of earth turn back from the closed portals of heaven. No bribes gain admission there. No forms or shows avail. But he who hath in him the eternal life, though a beggar naked and maimed and blind, before him heaven's gates open of themselves. He is no stranger there, for the life that is in him finds there its true sphere and companionship."
Posted by slt at 8:30 AM
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