Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands."

Men have dreamed fascinating dreams of removing the disabilities and limitations of the world and the evils of life, without sorrow.
Poets have pictured earthly paradises, where life would be one long festival,---
"Summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea."

But vain are all such dreams and longings. They are of human, not of Divine origin, and spring from a root of selfishness and not of holiness.
They cannot be realized in a fallen world, full of sorrow because it's full of sin. All blessings in man's economy are got from pains. Happiness is the flower that grows from a thorn of sorrow transformed by man's cultivation. The beautiful myth which placed the golden apples of Hesperides in a garden guarded by dragons, is an allegory illustrative of the great human fact, that not till we have slain the dragons of selfishness and sloth can we obtain any of the golden successes of life. Supposing it were possible we could obtain the objects of our desire without any toil or trouble, we should not enjoy them. To benefit us really, they must be the growths of our own self-denial and labor. And this is the great lesson which the miracles of our Lord, wrought in the manner in which they were unfolded. They teach us that, in both temporal and spiritual things, we should not so throw ourselves upon that providence or grace of God as to neglect the part we have ourselves to act,-- that God crowns every honest and faithful effort of man with success: "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee."
Hugh Macmillan 1871

I think one of the most perplexing things in Christianity is learning when to let God and when to let man. Some things God will do and some things we will be left to do. If we believe God will do something, and then walk and labor in that belief, I think for the most part, we will not stray far from the path.