Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The silent lives...
"A man is dissatisfied with his religious state. He desires more religious life. Where shall he look for it?— I answer, from Christian fidelity in the circle of his daily cares and duties. A Christian principle is established in the soul by being obeyed in practice, and his place of obedience is of course where his duties and temptations lie. He may derive from other sources occasional impulse and instruction, but the obedience must be along the daily path of life. The husbandman goes abroad sometimes to gain information, he tries experiments; but he depends for his harvest on his steady labor...
A man must not look, for his means of doing good to others, to making a few addresses on this or that great reform, — to entering great organizations, — to great, conspicuous, and exceptional acts, — nor to occasional acts of generosity. These are indeed necessary in their place, but the great good which he may wish to do must be done by his habitual life spent amidst its common cares. A man promotes by word and act som% great moral enterprise, and yet, after all, to how little will it amount. But behold him in his daily walk. Here, every day, he comes in contact, in his business, with various persons, in a way which shows the real principles on which he acts, — children, young persons, or those of mature years, like himself. He may say nothing, but it is seen that he will not do a questionable act for the sake of personal gain. He will practise on no man's ignorance. He will take no advantage of men's necessities. Where it is to his loss, he is seen to be as strictly just and true and faithful as when it is for his gain. In all his dealings he is governed by Christian principle. Perhaps he does not at all attempt directly to make others better: he is only a good man himself. And yet, were he to devote himself to some great and extraordinary moral or religious enterprise, he probably would not do so much to raise the moral condition of man as he will by this practice of Christian principle amidst those common duties and temptations where the characters of men are tried. The little child sees his course, and involuntarily respects it, and it becomes a standard by which he will judge of the propriety of actions. The young man, whose principles were not bad, but unsettled, takes courage for the right. Those that do business with him, if for nothing else except that he may respect them, will more or less adopt his principles. Unjust and hard and discreditable customs are shamed away, and grow obsolete. Thus, often, the silent lives of individuals in time raise the character of a whole community."
Posted by slt at 1:28 PM
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