Thursday, September 07, 2017

I know some people consider Christianity to be a life of sacrifice, resisting the pleasures of life by a determined effort. Helping others out of duty to a God who expects that we should give up all of life's joys for His sake and to avoid His wrath. The following piece by Martineau explains this misconception better than I have ever heard before.

   "To look at the Christian conflict from without, you might suppose that it was achieved by lashing the soul to intense volition, by an ever-hastening never-resting agility, by breathless eagerness to mount the height. An energy so great seems to strain all the powers of Resolve: a victory so arduous over ease and passion has in it a royal air of mastery: an aspiration so lofty appears to set the eye on what is distant and toil for it with determined vow. 

Yet, if you will look within, you will find quite another mood of mind from this; not rigid purpose, but pliant affection; not kingly command, but docile submission; not even any passion for far-off excellence, but a willing heart for the duty that is near. The spirit of highest heroism before men stands as a little child before the face of God. 

 When the Christian lady, endowed with whatever is choicest in the gifts of nature and the enrichments of life, exchanges the cultivated home for the noisome hospital, pledges the highest accomplishments to the lowliest charities, carries gentle graces and clear faculty into the presence and service of wounded and fevered exiles, and lives only to see and do what few men, in their strength and hardihood, would dare approach: we ask ourselves with reverent wonder, how a resolution so magnanimous could declare itself at all, and how sacrifice so costly can bear the constant drain. 

Perhaps the struggle we imagine never has been there. Perhaps the difficulty, the reluctance, the stern mustering of conquering force, are all a dream. Perhaps there has only been a simple yielding up of self to the asking look of God, a dropping of all resistance, an acquiescence in the molding touch and pressure of the divine will. 

The originality and greatness of such minds arise not from supernatural effort, but from unreserved surrender: they do not determine wither they will go, but only say, 'Yes,' withersoever they are led: they do not fret to find the way or complain because they cannot trace it far, but, hand in hand with an everlasting Guide, set a foot of firm content on the next ground that he may show.

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