Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The following piece by Martineau, considers the paradox of those who are most holy, who may have the most sense of guilt. 

  "And hence, strange as it may seem, it is not the guilty that know the most guilt: it is the pure, the lofty, the faithful, that are for ever haunted by the sense of sin, and are compelled by it to throw themselves upon a love they never doubt yet cannot claim. To thoughtless observers of human nature this always seems the paradox of piety; that none burst into such passionate confessions as those who apparently have nothing to confess; that the more faithful they become, the less assuredly have they peace with themselves; that the further they retreat from the power of evil, the more does its sorrow sit upon their brow. 
Why do you hear from Fenelon words of humiliation that never escape a Richelieu? 
Why are the prayers of prophets and the hymns of saintly souls so pathetic in their penitence, so full of the plaintive music of baffled aspiration, like the cry of some bird with broken wing? It is because to them the truly infinite nature of holiness has revealed itself, and reveals itself the more, the higher they rise; because in its secret breathings to their hearts they recognize, not any romance of their own, but the communing Spirit of the living God." James Martineau.

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