Sunday, June 28, 2015

  "It was a fine saying of the good priest George Herbert, when reproached with doing an act of kindness to a poor man considered beneath the dignity of his office --- that the thought of such actions “would prove music to him at midnight.”

Dr. Arnold.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

  The following piece by James Martineau, speaks to us who have not attained the high and mystical experience with God: we have not taken heaven in a single bound, but neither are we content with a secular life separated from the divine. We pursue God but fumble and stumble along the way looking for helps. In this piece he suggests an intermediate path where we draw on the Christian history to help us kindle our weak faith and gain hope by the successes of others.

  "There is an intermediate realm, or rather an intervening path that spreads from the one extreme to the other, and it has with it stages of sweet rest for weary souls, and many loving helps on the way from earth to heaven. For the Christian with weak faith or just beginning the journey and cannot take the whole distance at a bound, God has prepared, between the natural and the spiritual, the heroisms, the martyrdoms, the sanctities of History. If we cannot live in the high realms of spirituality at first and being alone with God is difficult, we may at least live with those, through books etc., who have lived with Him; and find in our admiring love for their purity, their truth, their goodness, an intercession with his pity on our behalf. To study the lives, to meditate on the sorrows, to commune with the thoughts of the great holy men and women of this rich world, is a sacred discipline, which helps us as we begin our walk of faith and deserves at least to rank, so to speak, as the forecourt of the temple of true worship, and may train the spiritual tastes, before we pass the very gate of heaven. It strengthens what is weak in our souls by the sympathy of the ages: it relieves the sense of our life's littleness by showing us the possibilities of greatness. Above all, it corrects and inverts our delusive estimates of what is solid and powerful in this world.
In our individual experience we are ever tempted to think nothing real, nothing positive and practical, except our material business, the visible produce of our pains, the outward administrations of our life; while the inner and ideal life is deemed so unsubstantial a dream that those who speak of it are supposed to be beating the air or speaking of the unattainable. But the experience of the nations and history of the ages reverses and contradicts this. The glories of the past are not in huge businesses and trades, or fine properties, nor the laws and rites and institutions which in their day kindled the passions of the public: these, chafed into dust by the moldering hand of time, successively fall away with the earthly conditions from which they come; while the mere impulses of expression, through which affection and admiration pour themselves forth and heart appeals to heart, mold themselves into imperishable Arts, taking form and tones in color and language; and precisely the most ethereal and interior of thoughts, which visit us only in evanescent gleams, or of something terrible in sin, of something infinite in duty, of a possible union with God through love and a mastery of life through entire surrender to Him, these prove the most permanent realities of history; constructing themselves into faiths which have been the cradle of nations and the divine nurse of the most vivifying individual minds."
Photo by Sara Treanor. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

"The real business at hand for Christians is not heaven, but holiness. The issue may be left in the Leader's hands: the duty of the soldiers is to stand where they are placed, and strike as long as they see a foe. Until the trumpet shall sound, calling the weary to rest, our part is to fight. Woe to the deceiver who fraternizes with the enemy, or strikes with half his force a feeble blow! 
The kingdom of heaven is within you; within you, therefore, its battles must be fought and its victories won. Strike, and spare not for their crying. It is not a languid expectation of an easy heaven; it is a battle that is before us today. He is the best soldier in the warfare who hates most his Sovereign’s enemy and his own. Polluting lust is the spark that kindles hell: there is no other way of being saved from that burning than by stamping out the embers of sin that lie hidden in the ashes of your own heart.
"The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." God will subdue the adversary; but he will subdue him under your own feet."
Arnot, photo by Elizabeth Bailey.

Monday, June 15, 2015

 "So, however, are men made. Creatures who live in confusion; who, once thrown together, can readily fall into that confusion of confusions which quarrel is, simply because their confusions differ from one another; still more because they seem to differ! Man’s words are a poor exponent of their thought; nay their thought itself is a poor exponent of the inward unnamed Mystery, wherefrom both thought and action have birth. No man can explain himself, can get himself explained; men see not one another, but distorted phantasms which they call one another; which they hate and go to battle with: for all battle is well said to be misunderstanding." 
Carlyle, photo by 

  The following quote talks about that moment when an almost mystical clarity comes to us and we see our selves, our life and pursuits in a truer light than ever before. We see our vanities in living color and then we gain a glimpse of God like never before that offers an opportunity, if taken, to change everything, or if not taken, to fall back into mediocrity.

   "There are times, I suppose, to every thoughtful person, when the impression of the littleness in his actual life comes upon him with a startling force. Maybe by a touch of sorrow from the memory of a faded form of old affection, or a poet's strain at which some high enthusiasm vibrates in the heart again, a night upon the mountain or the ocean where a Presence greater than the whole field of worlds is felt in the rush of the waters and the silence of the air, or the sight of some secret sufferer who meekly bears a cross unknown to us and surprises us into the humbling discovery, that we have been dead to the sublimities that lie as a cloud of glory around us and within us. Something deeper than the senses show or the hand can touch gleams upon us everywhere; an expressiveness behind the features of life and nature which we had never seen before; and scenes quite often looked at now seem to look at us, and with the living light of a Divine eye. Something that was eternal we had always supposed that there must be; now we find that there is Some One who is eternal; and the drawing near to him, the penetration to him through his universe, the saying of a true word, the lifting of a clear face, to him, appears to have a meaning we did not suspect. Compared with this meaning, how poor seems all that we had taken to be most real! How empty the contents of our busiest day, too troubled about many things to leave any opening for the one thing needful!
If this arousing of the soul is not faithfully followed up, habit will reassert its power, and contradict the divine call by a positive relapse; and an utter skepticism of everything infinite will ensue, and the mind will look back on its only waking experience as nothing but a brilliant dream.
But, if, by perpetuity in the change, this proves to be a true regenerative hour, the opposite effect will follow. Finite things well be despised and disbelieved; will suffer vengeance for their long tyranny, and be spurned as mere deceptive shows; and the more intense their despotism has been, the more thorough will be the renunciation of their sway. When the scales first fall from the eyes of one who has been living for the moment, that which lies before his astonished view is the eternal depth of God, towards which the currents of a resistless spirit appear to draw him." James Martineau.