Saturday, February 09, 2008
John Romita Jr.
Technorati Tags:comics. comic art, comic books. artists, thor
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Friday, February 08, 2008
Learning From The Past
Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my ow thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date has is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also a "period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.Forget the details here of who and what the discussion is about, and let's focus on the generalized take-aways
- Sometimes intellectual activity is as subject to fashion as are lapels
- The "intuitively obvious" stuff is usually where that fashion lies
- Therefore, much that passes for presumed knowledge today is just fashionable bunk.
Now that, dear friends is one heck of an indictment. There is a corollary to this thinking that I also find interesting - that much of what has happened in the past is not worth our attention today, simple because it is past.
I am tempted to use this as a basis to attack much of today's "conventional wisdom," but that is too easy. I wish to focus instead on the corollary.
Think about religion for a minute. More than almost any other human activity, it preserves knowledge and wisdom through time. It certainly has done so longer than anything else. As an institution that is what the church is really all about - the preservation of the information about what we believe. We do that in any number of ways, from writing to sacrament, to in some cases, art. Why do we fail to grasp this?
Why does each age feel it must reinvent the wheel? In part because we confuse message and media. But the problem is that those two things are not entirely inseparable.
Let me give you and example from my experience. Quantum mechanics. Mathematics is a form of media, it communicates any numbers of things very efficiently and in ways that cannot be done otherwise. Quantum mechanics is elegant and completely sensical mathematically. However, when one attempts to describe quantum mechanics in English (or French, or Russian, or German or...) much of it sounds just flat out silly.
Why do biblical scholars work so hard to learn biblical languages? Same reason.
Yes, we need to communicate the gospel to modern ears, but part of that means we need to teach modern ears and eyes how to understand old media, or else we risk losing the message in the new media.
Technorati Tags:message, media, old, new, c.s. lewis
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
"I am going to eat you for lunch!", said the fox.
"Wait!", replied the rabbit, "You should at least wait a few days."
"Oh yeah? Why should I wait?"
"Well, I am just finishing my Ph.D. thesis."
"Hah, that's a stupid excuse. What is the title of your thesis anyway?"
"I am writing my thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.'"
"Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit."
"Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come to my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch."
"You are really crazy!" But since the fox was curious and nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit into its hole. The fox never came back out.
A few days later, the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to eat her.
"Wait!", yelled the rabbit,"you cannot eat me right now."
"And why might that be, you fuzzy appetizer?"
"I am almost finished writing my Ph.D. thesis on 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves."
The wolf laughed so hard that it almost lost its hold on the rabbit. "Maybe I shouldn't eat you, you really are sick in the head, you might have something contagious," the wolf opined.
"Come read for yourself, you can eat me after that if you disagree with my conclusions." So the wolf went to the rabbit's hole and never came out.
The rabbit finished her thesis and was out celebrating in the lettuce fields. Another rabbit came by and asked, "What's up? You seem to be very happy."
"Yup, I just finished my dissertation."
"Congratulations! What is it about?"
"It is titled 'The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves"
"Are you sure? That doesn't sound right."
"Oh yes, you should come over and read it for yourself."
So they went together to the rabbit's hole. As they went in, the friend saw a typical graduate student abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial dissertation was in one corner, on the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left was a pile of wolf bones, and in the middle was a large, lip-licking lion.
The moral of the story:
The title of your dissertation doesn't matter. All that matters is who your thesis advisor is.
Technorati Tags:joke, humor, friday humor, thesis
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Mark's observation, which my story evidences:
In my whole life, I've never met anybody who minded it when someone offered to pray for them. It's the least offensive way a Christian can share their love of Jesus Christ. (Assuming, of course, that they will follow through on the offer and actually pray for the person!)Why do you think that is? I think there are two possibilities. The first is that political correctness demands that the other not quash your faith expression. There is some validity to that. Even people who are really anti-religious would hesitate to be quite this in-your-face about it.
But more, and especially in trouble situations like hospital rooms and funeral parlors, even non-believers are looking for "insurance." The old war-trench conversion? I think there is more there than that. I think it is a matter of that sense of God that is discussed early in Romans. People seem to instinctively know there is "something to" prayer. I think it takes and act of will and a bit of self-denial to be a deeply functioning atheist, even agnostic.
I also think this phenomena says something about how we reach people for Jesus. Genuine evangelism is visceral. When we are looking to really change lives, we need to look for that same spark in them that accepts prayer in this way and cultivate. We don't need a specific formulation of understanding, a mandated posture of humility, we need to reach the spark in each of us that says there us "something to" all this, then we need to nurture it.
This is relational, it won't happen through TV, it won't happen through magic words, properly spoken at the proper time. It will happen because people are good enough friends with people to know when it is the correct time to pull that string.
Have you made a friend today? Have you prayed with them?
Technorati Tags:prayer, evangelism, truth
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Art And Faith
For example this picture immediately to the left depicts Moses leading the Israelites across the parted Red Sea, and to the left of that is the Garden of Eden.
Pretty much since the beginning of time artists have been depicting scenes from the Bible - there is nothing new in that at all. So why did these cause me to stop an think a bit?
My guess is the photo realism. A painting is one thing, clearly an artist's conception of how something looked. But these, absent labeling, could confuse the gullible. In fact, I expect to see them show up on some durn fool web site as "evidence" of the truth of scripture before too very long.
Of course, the debate about what constitutes art and what is idol has raged in the church for centuries. I guess this is just a new chapter in that never-ending saga.
What do you think?
Technorati Tags:art, idol, photo-realism
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
- Christian Work is Excellent
- Christian Work is Ethical
- Christian Work is Evangelistic
- Christian Work as Reflection on Vocational Essence
This last one takes a little explaining:
It is not just the way we work, but what we do for work that can glorify God. There is work that is inherently good, a product of creation, and work that is inherently bad, a product of the fall. There is society-building work, and there is society-destroying work. In short, it is good to work, but not all work is good.A little explaining maybe because it is a little silly? Creation reflects the very nature of God because it is, by definition, His creation. This is reaching for something that I am not sure is there.
Work as reflection on vocational essence is simply working with the nature and character of God in view. The attributes of God are reflected in the very warp and woof, in the essence of our work. Gardening reflects God's life-giving creativity. Computer based work relies upon binary code, a sequence of ones and zeroes that enables our computers to function. In essence, computer work reflects order, order that reflects the orderly nature of God. Orderly computers can be used to crank out pornography or care for hospital patients. Nevertheless, the essence of what computers do in our work still reflects the orderly character of God. Another word for this approach to work is theological integration.
It is in his summary, where the author examines how over emphasis on any one of these points can lead to problems, that the author begins to hit his real stride:
Finding our worth in our work, however excellent, ethical, evangelistic, or theologically integrative, is spiritual suicide. Willy Loman built his worth on his work, its failure and success. Acceptance by others and significance based on their perception of our work does not satisfy. In fact, it displaces Jesus from his rightful place as our Lord.As a young man, I remember pondering much that this, apparently, young man is pondering. As someone eligible for AARP, I find a bit of a smile enter my mouth as I examine his thoughts.
Jesus came to transform US, and when we allow ourselves to be so transformed, what we choose to do as an occupation will naturally reflect that transformation.
Work on being God's man or woman in whatever you do. Other questions will resolve themselves in the goodness of God's timing.
Technorati Tags:job, work, vocation, sanctification
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Monday, February 04, 2008
I Have To Vote In The Primaries Tomorrow....
At Granger, we are continually discussing how to help our believers in their spiritual development. How do we feed them when they are spiritual infants? How do we help them learn to feed themselves as they grow in their faith?He then looks at some online community building software and wonders:
I wonder if there is a similar tool for spiritual growth we could develop that would offer the same thing?Two comments I have about all this. The first is, are we really supposed to figure out how to "feed ourselves?" We are people of community with each other and with God. We are to supposed to plug-in to something for a bit and then move on individually.
Which brings me to the second point, online discipling will never work because all that can be offered online are resources, not ourselves.
Consider the fact of the incarnation. God had to be among us. It was not enough that he sent us some resource, like forgiveness - HE HAD TO BE HERE.
How can we do less?
The internet is valuable for many things, but it cannot replace a relationship.
Technorati Tags:community, growth, discipleship, internet
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Sermons and Lessons
John Henry Jowett, Congregational divine, was born at Barnard Castle, Dur¬ham, in 1864, and educated at Edinburgh and Oxford universities. In 1889 he was ordained to St. James ‘s Congregational Church, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and in 1895 was called and began his pastorate of Carr’s Lane Congregational Church, Birmingham, where he took first rank among the leading preachers of Great Britain. He is the author of several important books.
Rejoicing in hope. - Romans 12:12.
That is a characteristic expression of the fine, genial optimism of the Apostle Paul. His eyes are always illumined. The cheery tone is never absent from his speech. The buoyant and springy movement of his life is never changed. The light never dies out of his sky. Even the gray firmament reveals more hopeful tints, and becomes significant of evolving glory. The apostle is an optimist, “rejoicing in hope,” a child of light wearing the “armor of light,” “walking in the light” even as Christ is in the light.
This apostolic optimism was not a thin and fleeting sentiment begotten of a cloudless summer day. It was not the creation of a season; it was the permanent pose of the spirit. Even when beset with circumstances which to the world would spell defeat, the apostle moved with the mien of a conqueror. He never lost the kingly posture. He was disturbed by no timidity about ultimate issues. He fought and labored in the spirit of certain triumph. “We are always confident.” “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” “Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’’
This apostolic optimism was not born of sluggish thinking, or of idle and shallow observation. I am very grateful that the counsel of my text lifts its chaste and cheery flame in the twelfth chapter of an epistle of which the first chapter contains as dark and searching an indictment of our nature as the mind of man has ever drawn. Let me rehearse the appalling catalog that the radiance of the apostle’s optimism may appear the more abounding: ‘‘Senseless hearts,’’ ‘‘fools,’’ “uncleanness,” ‘‘vile passions,” “reprobate minds,’’ ‘‘unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful.’’ With fearless severity the apostle leads us through the black realms of midnight and eclipse. And yet in the subsequent reaches of the great argument, of which these dark regions form the preface, there emerges the clear, calm, steady light of my optimistic text. I say it is not the buoyancy of ignorance. It is not the flippant, lighthearted expectancy of a man who knows nothing about the secret places of the night. The counselor is a man who has steadily gazed at light at its worst, who has digged through the outer walls of convention and respectability, who has pushed his way into the secret chambers and closets of life, who has dragged out the slimy sins which were lurking in their holes, and named them after their kind - it is this man who when he has surveyed the dimensions of evil and misery and contempt, merges his dark indictment in a cheery and expansive dawn, in an optimistic evangel, in which he counsels his fellow-disciples to maintain the confident attitude of a rejoicing hope.
Now, what are the secrets of this courageous and energetic optimism? Perhaps, if we explore the life of this great apostle, and seek to discover its springs, we may find the clue to his abounding hope. Roaming then through the entire records of his life and teachings, do we discover any significant emphasis? Preeminent above all other suggestions. I am impressed with his vivid sense of the reality of the redemptive work of Christ. Turn where I will, the redemptive work of the Christ evidences itself as the base and groundwork of his life. It is not only that here and there are solid statements of doctrine, wherein some massive argument is constructed for the partial unveiling of redemptive glory. Even in those parts of his epistles where formal argument has ceased, and where solid doctrine is absent, the doctrine flows as a fluid element into the practical convictions of life, and determines the shape and quality of the judgments. Nay, one might legitimately use the figure of a finer medium still, and say that in all the spacious reaches of the apostle’s life the redemptive work of his Master is present as an atmosphere in which all his thoughts and purposes and labors find their sustaining and enriching breath. Take this epistle to the Romans in which my text is ~found. The earlier stages of the great epistle are devoted to a massive and stately presentation of the doctrines of redemption. But when I turn over the pages where the majestic argument is concluded, I find the doctrine persisting in a diffused and rarefied form, and appearing as the determining factor in the solution of practical problems. If he is dealing with the question of the “eating of meats,” the great doctrine reappears and interposes its solemn and yet elevating principle: “destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died.” If he is called upon to administer rebuke to the passionate and unclean, the shadow of the cross rests upon his judgment. “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price.” If he is portraying the ideal relationship of husband and wife, be sets it in the light of redemptive glory: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it.” If he is seeking to cultivate the grace of liberality, he brings the heavenly air around about the spirit. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” It interweaves itself with all his salutations. It exhales in all his benedictions like a hallowing fragrance. You can not get away from it. In the light of the glory of redemption all relationships are assorted and arranged. Redemption was not degraded into a fine abstract argument, to which the apostle had appended his own approval, and then, with sober satisfaction, had laid it aside, as a practical irrelevancy, in the stout chests of orthodoxy. It became the very spirit of his life. It was, if I may be allowed the violent figure, the warm blood in all his judgment. It filled the veins of all his thinking. It beat like a pulse in all his purposes. It determined and vitalized his decisions in the crisis, as well as in the lesser trifles of the common day. His conception of redemption was regulative of all his thought.
But it is not only the immediacy of redemption in the apostle’s thought by which I am impressed. I stand in awed amazement before its vast, far-stretching reaches into the eternities. Said an old villager to me concerning the air of his elevated hamlet, ‘‘Ay, sir, it’s a fine air is this westerly breeze; I like to think of it as having traveled from the distant fields of the Atlantic!” And here is the Apostle Paul, with the quickening wind of redemption blowing about him in loosening, vitalizing, strengthening influence, and to him, in all his thinking, it bad its birth in the distant fields of eternity! To the apostle redemption was not a small ‘device, an afterthought, a patched-up expedient to meet an unforeseen emergency. The redemptive purpose lay back in the abyss of the eternities, and in a spirit of reverent questioning the apostle sent his trembling thoughts into those lone and silent fields. He emerged with whispered secrets such as these: “fore-knew,” “foreordained,” “chosen in him before the foundation of the world,” “eternal life promised before times eternal,” “the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Brethren, does our common thought of redemptive glory reach back into this august and awful presence? Does the thought of the modern disciple journey in this distant pilgrimage? Or do we now regard it as unpractical and irrelevant? There is no more insidious peril in modern religious life than the debasement of our conception of the practical. If we divorce the practical from the sublime, the practical will become the superficial, and will degenerate into a very lean and forceless thing. When Paul went on this lonely pilgrimage his spirit acquired the posture of a finely sensitive reverence. People who live and move beneath great domes acquire a certain calm and stately dignity. It is in companionship with the sublimities that awkwardness and coarseness are destroyed. We lose our reverence when we desert the august. But has reverence no relationship to the practical? Shall we discard it as an irrelevant factor in the purposes of common life? Why, reverence is the very clue to fruitful, practical living. Reverence is creative of hope; nay, a more definite emphasis can be given to the assertion; reverence is a constituent of hope. Annihilate reverence, and life loses its fine sensitiveness, and when sensitiveness goes out of a life the hope that remains is only a flippant rashness, a thoughtless impetuosity, the careless onrush of the kine, and not a firm, assured perception of a triumph that is only delayed. A reverent homage before the sublimities of yesterday is the condition of a fine perception of the hidden triumphs of the morrow. And, therefore. I do not regard it as an accidental conjunction that the psalmist puts them together and proclaims the evangel that “the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy.” To feel the days before me I must revere the purpose which throbs behind me. I must bow in reverence if I would anticipate in hope.
Here, then, is the Apostle Paul, with the redemptive purpose interweaving itself with all the entanglements of his common life, a purpose reaching back into the awful depths of the eternities, and issuing from those depths in amazing fullness of grace and glory. No one can be five minutes in the companionship of the Apostle Paul without discovering how wealthy is his sense of the wealthy, redeeming ministry of God. What a wonderful consciousness he has of the sweep and fullness of the divine grace! You know the variations of the glorious air: “the unsearchable riches of Christ”; “riches in glory in Christ Jesus”; “all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ”; “the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering.” The redemptive purpose of God bears upon the life of the apostle and upon the race whose privileges he shares, not in an uncertain and reluctant shower, but in a great and marvelous flood. And what to him is the resultant enfranchisement? What are the spacious issues of the glorious work? Do you recall those wonderful sentences, scattered here and there about the apostle’s writings, and beginning with the words “but now”? Each sentence proclaims the end of the dominion of night, and unveils some glimpse of the new created day. “But now!” It is a phrase that heralds a great deliverance! “But now, apart from the law the righteousness of God hath been manifested.” “But now, being made free from sin and become servants to God.” “But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ.” “But now are ye light in the Lord.” “Now, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” These represent no thin abstractions. To Paul the realities of which they speak were more real than the firm and solid earth. And is it any wonder that a man with such a magnificent sense of the reality of the redemptive works of Christ, who felt the eternal purpose throbbing in the dark background and abyss of time, who conceived it operating upon our race in floods of grace and glory, and who realized in his own immediate consciousness the varied wealth of the resultant emancipation - is it any wonder that for this man a new day had dawned, and the birds had begun to sing and the flowers to bloom, and a sunny optimism had taken possession of his heart, which found expression in an assured and rejoicing hope?
I look abroad again over the record of this man’s life and teachings, if perchance I may discover the secrets of his abiding optimism, and I am profoundly impressed by his living sense of the reality and greatness of his present resources. “By Christ redeemed!” That is not a grand finale; it is only a glorious inauguration. “By Christ redeemed; in Christ restored”; it is with these dynamics of restoration that his epistles are so wondrously abounding. In almost every other sentence he suggests a dynamic which he can count upon as his friend. Paul’s mental and spiritual outlook comprehended a great army of positive forces laboring in the interests of the kingdom of God. His conception of life was amazingly rich in friendly dynamics! I do not wonder that such a wealthy consciousness was creative of a triumphant optimism. Just glance at some of the apostle’s auxiliaries: “Christ liveth in me!” “Christ liveth in me! He breathes through all my aspirations. lie thinks through all my thinking. He wills through all my willing. He loves through all my loving. He travails in all my labors. He works within me ‘to will and to do of his good pleasure.’” That is the primary faith of the hopeful life. But see what follows in swift and immediate succession. “If Christ is in you, the spirit is life.” “The spirit is life!” And therefore you find that in the apostle’s thought dispositions are powers. They are not passive entities. They are positive forces vitalizing and energizing the common life of men. My brethren, I am persuaded there is a perilous leakage in this department of our thought. We are not bold enough in our thinking concerning spiritual realities. We do not associate with every mode of the consecrated spirit the mighty energy of God. We too often oust from our practical calculations some of the strongest and most aggressive allies of the saintly life. Meekness is more than the absence of self-assertion; it is the manifestation of the mighty power of God. To the Apostle Paul love exprest more than a relationship. It was an energy productive of abundant labors. Faith was more than an attitude. It was an energy creative of mighty endeavor. Hope was more than a posture. It was an energy generative of a most enduring patience. All these are dynamics, to be counted as active allies, cooperating in the ministry of the kingdom. And so the epistles abound in the recital of mystic ministries at work. The Holy Spirit worketh! Grace worketh! Faith worketh! Love worketh! Hope worketh! Prayer worketh! And there are other allies robed in less attractive garb. “Tribulation worketh!” “This light affliction worketh.” “Godly sorrow worketh!” On every side of him the apostle conceives cooperative and friendly powers. “The mountain is full of horses and chariots of fire round about him.” He exults in the consciousness of abounding resources. He discovers the friends of God in things which find no place among the scheduled powers of the world. He finds God’s raw material in the world‘s discarded waste. “Weak things,” “base things,’’ ‘‘things that are despised,’’ “things that are not,” mere nothings; among these he discovers the operating agents of the mighty God. Is it any wonder that in this man, possessed of such a wealthy consciousness of multiplied resources, the spirit of a cheery optimism should be enthroned? With what stout confidence he goes into the fight! He never mentions the enemy timidly. He never seeks to underestimate his strength. Nay, again and again he catalogs all possible antagonisms in a spirit of buoyant and exuberant triumph. However numerous the enemy, however subtle and aggressive his devices, however towering and well-established the iniquity, however black the gathering clouds, so sensitive is the apostle to the wealthy resources of God that amid it all he remains a sunny optimist, “rejoicing iii hope,” laboring in the spirit of a conqueror even when the world was exulting in his supposed discomfiture and defeat
And, finally, in searching for the springs of this man’s optimism, I place alongside his sense of the reality of redemption and his wealthy consciousness of present resources his impressive sense of the reality of future glory. Paul gave himself time to think of heaven, of the home of God, of his own home when time should be no more. He loved to contemplate “the glory that shall be revealed.” He mused in wistful expectancy of the day “when Christ who is our life shall be manifested,” and when we also “shall be manifested with him in glory.” He pondered the thought of death as “gain,” as transferring him to conditions in which he would be “at home with the Lord,” “with Christ, which is far better.” He looked for “the blest hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” and he contemplated “that great day” as the “henceforth,” which would reveal to him the crown of righteousness and glory. Is any one prepared to dissociate this contemplation from the apostle‘s cheery optimism? Is not rather the thought of coming glory one of its abiding springs? Can we safely exile it from our moral and spiritual culture? I know that this particular contemplation is largely absent from modern religious life, and I know the nature of the recoil in which our present impoverishment began. “Let us hear less about the mansions of the blest and more about the housing of the poor!” Men revolted against an effeminate contemplation, which had run to seed, in favor of an active philanthropy which sought the enrichment of the common life. But, my brethren, pulling a plant up is not the only way of saving it from running to seed. You can accomplish by a wise restric¬tion what is wastefully done by severe destruction. I think we have lost immeasurably by the uprooting, in so many lives, of this plant of heavenly contemplation. We have built on the erroneous assumption that the contemplation of future glory inevitably unfits us for the service of man. It is an egregious and destructive mistake. I do not think that Richard Baxter’s labors were thinned or impoverished by his contemplation of “The Saint’s Everlasting Rest.” When I consider his mental output, his abundant labors as father-confessor to a countless host, his pains and persecutions and imprisonments, I can not but think he received some of the powers of his optimistic endurance from contemplations such as be counsels in his incomparable book. “Run familiarly, through the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem; visit the patriarchs and prophets, salute the apostles, and admire the armies of martyrs; lead on the heart from street to street, bring it into the palace of the great king; lead it, as it were, from chamber to chamber. Say to it, ‘Here must I lodge, here must I die, here must I praise, here must I love and be loved. My tears will then be wiped away, my groans be turned to another tune, my cottage of clay be changed to this palace, my prison rags to these splendid robes’; ‘for the former things are passed away.’” I can not think that Samuel Rutherford impoverished his spirit or deadened his affections, or diminished his labors by mental pilgrimages such as he counsels to Lady Cardoness: “Go up beforehand and see your lodging. Look through all your Father’s rooms in heaven. Men take a sight of the lands crc they buy them. I know that Christ hath made the bargain already; but be kind to the house ye are going to, and see it often.” I can not think that this would imperil the fruitful optimisms of the Christian life. I often examine, with peculiar interest, the hymn-book we use at Carr’s Lane. It was compiled by Dr. Dale. Nowhere else can I find the broad perspective of his theology and his primary help meets in the devotional life as I find them there. And is it altogether unsuggestive that under the heading of “Heaven” is to be found one of the largest sections of the book. A greater space is given to “Heaven” than is given to “Christian duty.” Is it not significant of what a great man of affairs found needful for the enkindling and sustenance of a courageous hope? And among the hymns are many which have helped to nourish the sunny endeavors of a countless host.
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.
What are these, arrayed in white,
Brighter than the noonday sun~
Foremost of the suns of light,
Nearest the eternal throne.
Hark! hark, my soul! Angelic songs are swelling
O‘er earth‘s green fields and ocean‘s wave-beat shore
Angelic songs to sinful men are telling
Of that new life when sin shall be no more.
My brethren, depend upon it, we are not impoverished by contemplations such as these. They take no strength out of the hand, and they put much strength and buoyancy into the heart I proclaim the contemplation of coming glory as one of the secrets of the apostle’s optimism which enabled him to labor and endure in the confident spirit of rejoicing hope. These, then, are some of the springs of Christian optimism; some of the sources in which we may nourish our hope in the newer labors of a larger day: a sense of the glory of the past in a perfected redemption, a sense of the glory of the present in our multiplied resources, a sense of the glory of to-morrow in the fruitful rest of our eternal home.
Let not our hearts be desolate;
But, strong in faith and patience, wait
Until He come!