Quotations for June, 1999
Tuesday, June 1, 1999
Feast of Justin, Martyr at Rome, c.165
Commemoration of Angela de Merici, Founder of the Institute of St. Ursula, 1540
To make the improving of our own character our central aim is hardly the highest kind of goodness. True goodness forgets itself and goes out to do the right thing for no other reason than that it is right.
... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), Christian Freedom in the Modern World, London: SCM Press, 1937, p. 27
(see the book; see also Eph. 4:15,16; 1 Pet. 1:13-16; more at Forget, Goodness, Truth, Unselfish, Weakness)
Wednesday, June 2, 1999
In the Old Testament, we find the idea that God enters into the sufferings of His people. “In all their afflictions, He was afflicted.” The relation of God to the woes of the world is not that of a mere spectator. The New Testament goes further, and says that God is love. But that is not love which, in the presence of acute suffering, can stand outside and aloof. The doctrine that Christ is the image of the unseen God means that God does not stand outside.
... B. H. Streeter (1874-1937), The Buddha And the Christ, New York: Macmillan Co., 1933, p. 224-225
(see the book; see also Isa. 63:8,9; 1 John 4:8; more at Affliction, God, Jesus, Love, Suffer)
Thursday, June 3, 1999
Feast of Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln, Teacher, 1910
Commemoration of Martyrs of Uganda, 1886 & 1978
Jesus calls us not only to repentance, to the “letting go” of the false gods we come to him with; but he goes one more difficult step further: he also calls us to believe in him alone as the decisive, absolutely unique, once-and-for-all, full revelation of God to man. This is extremely difficult for us, because Jesus was careful to give men no external guarantee that he was, in fact, God in the flesh. Otherwise, he realized, we would not be worshipping him, but would only be worshipping or trusting in the guarantee, whatever it might be.
... Robert L. Short (1932-2009), The Parables of Peanuts , New York: HarperCollins, 2002, p. 166
(see the book; see also John 10:37-38; more at Knowing God)
Friday, June 4, 1999
We have need of patience with ourselves and with others; with those below and those above us, and with our own equals; with those who love us, and those who love us not; for the greatest things and for the least; against sudden inroads of trouble, and under daily burdens; [against] disappointments as to the weather or the breaking of the heart; in the weariness of the body, or the wearing of the soul; in our own failure of duty, or others’ failure towards us; in every day wants, or in the aching of sickness or the decay of old age; in disappointment, bereavement, losses, injuries, reproaches; in heaviness of the heart, or its sickness amid delayed hopes... In all these things, from childhood’s little troubles to the martyr’s sufferings, patience is the grace of God, whereby we endure evil for the love of God.
... Edward B. Pusey (1800-1882), Parochial Sermons, v. II, London: Rivingtons, 1868, p. 80-81
(see the book; see also Col. 1:11,12; more at Weakness)
Saturday, June 5, 1999
Feast of Boniface (Wynfrith) of Crediton, Archbishop of Mainz, Apostle of Germany, Martyr, 754
This creaturely natural life [as opposed to life in union with God] is only a life of various appetites, hungers, and wants, and cannot possibly be anything else. God Himself cannot make a creature to be in itself, or in its own nature, anything else but a state of emptiness... The highest life therefore, that is natural and creaturely, can go no higher than this; it can only be a bare capacity for goodness and happiness, and cannot possibly be a good and happy life, but by the life of God dwelling in, and in union with it. And this is the two-fold life, that of all necessity must be united in every good and perfect and happy creature.
... William Law (1686-1761), The Spirit of Love [1752-4], in Works of Rev. William Law, v. VIII, London: G. Moreton, 1893, p. 43
(see the book; see also John 6:51; more at Emptiness, God, Goodness, Happiness, Life, Nature, Providence, Unity)
Sunday, June 6, 1999
Commemoration of Ini Kopuria, Founder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, 1945
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.
... Matthew Henry (1662-1714), An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments , v. 1-7,II.2
(see the book; see also Job 5:17-18; 8:1-7; Jas. 5:10,11; more at Affliction, Grace, Punishment, Sanctification, Sin, Trial, Weakness)
Monday, June 7, 1999
When the Bible speaks of “following Jesus,” it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind from all man-made dogmas, from every burden and oppression, from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience. If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ. But does this mean that we ignore the seriousness of His commands? Far from it! We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when His command, His call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety. Only the man who follows the command of Jesus single-mindedly, and unresistingly lets His yoke rest upon him, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way. The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 37
(see the book; see also Matt. 11:29-30; more at Anxiety, Burden, Commandment, Disciple, Obedience, Submission)
Tuesday, June 8, 1999
Feast of Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath & Wells, Hymnographer, 1711
Commemoration of Roland Allen, Mission Strategist, 1947
When we look at the history of the Church, at the reckless fashion in which we have squandered our strength and time in fratricidal struggles between sect and sect, in embittered bickerings over matters often of secondary moment, while the world about us lies unwon, and the Church’s great commission remains plainly unfulfilled, surely we can understand that outburst of Erasmus, when he cried that he wished that we would cease from our disputings altogether, and put all that energy and zeal that we are wasting upon them into the carrying of the Gospel to the heathen! Or recall the infinite pains that have been taken, down the centuries, to preserve minute orthodoxy in all points of mental belief while ugly evils flaunt along the streets and are accepted meekly as part of the makeup of things! Or recollect how easy it is to assume that we, ourselves, are Christian people. Why? Oh, well, just the usual reasons: we say our prayers, when we are not too sleepy; and we come to church, when there is nothing much to do; and so, of course, there is no doubt of it, although our tempers may remain uncurbed, and our characters are not the least like Jesus Christ’s, nor growing any nearer it! Do we not need that solemn warning that Christ gives us when He tells us bluntly that many people lose their lives and souls, because they are always laying the emphasis and stress on the wrong points?
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 236-237
(see the book; see also Matt. 23:13; Rom. 2:18; Phil. 1:9-11; more at Church, Historical, Sect, Sloth)
Wednesday, June 9, 1999
Feast of Columba, Abbot of Iona, Missionary, 597
Commemoration of Ephrem of Syria, Deacon, Hymnographer, Teacher, 373
Then are we the servants of God, then are we the disciples of Christ, when we do what is commanded us, and because it is commanded us.
... John Owen (1616-1683), V.3 in A Discourse Concerning Holy Spirit, bk. I-V , in Works of John Owen, v. III, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1852, p. 605
(see the book; see also Isa. 29:13-14; Luke 14:26,27; John 14:15; more at Obedience)
Thursday, June 10, 1999
Christianity is not a voice in the wilderness, but a life in the world. It is not an idea in the air but feet on the ground, going God’s way. It is not an exotic to be kept under glass, but a hardy plant to bear twelve manner of fruit in all kinds of weather. Fidelity to duty is its root and branch. Nothing we can say to the Lord, no calling Him by great or dear names, can take the place of the plain doing of His will. We may cry out about the beauty of eating bread with Him in His kingdom, but it is wasted breath and a rootless hope, unless we plow and plant in His kingdom here and now. To remember Him at His table and to forget Him at ours, is to have invested in bad securities. There is no substitute for plain, every-day goodness.
... Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901), Thoughts for Every-day Living, New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1901, p. 48
(see the book; see also John 15:4-6; more at Obedience)
Friday, June 11, 1999
Feast of Barnabas the Apostle
The essential amorality of all atheist doctrines is often hidden from us by an irrelevant personal argument. We see that many articulate secularists are well-meaning and law-abiding men; we see them go into righteous indignation over injustice and often devote their lives to good works. So we conclude that “he can’t be wrong whose life is in the right”—that their philosophies are just as good guides to action as Christianity. What we don’t see is that they are not acting on their philosophies. They are acting, out of habit or sentiment, on an inherited Christian ethic which they still take for granted though they have rejected the creed from which it sprang. Their children will inherit somewhat less of it.
... Joy Davidman (1915-1960), Smoke on the Mountain, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1955, reprint, Westminster John Knox Press, 1985, p.79
(see the book; see also Ps. 14:1-3; more at Apologetics)
Saturday, June 12, 1999
It is in vain, O men, that you seek within yourselves the cure for your miseries. All your insight only leads you to the knowledge that it is not in yourselves that you will discover the true and the good. The philosophers promised them to you, and have not been able to keep their promises... Your principal maladies are pride, which cuts you off from God, and sensuality, which binds you to the earth; and they have done nothing but foster at least one of these maladies. If they have given you God for your object, it has only been to pander to your pride; they have made you think that you were like Him and resembled Him by your nature. And those who have grasped the vanity of such a pretension have cast you down into the other abyss by making you believe that your nature was like that of the beasts of the field, and have led you to seek your good in lust, which is the lot of animals.
... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (Thoughts) , P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, #430, p. 142
(see the book; see also 1 Tim. 6:3-5; more at Sin)
Sunday, June 13, 1999
Commemoration of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Apologist and Writer, 1936
When a man listens to the voice of the tempter within him, he is inclined to do as others do, not to resist when the temptation seems great. But when he looks into the law of God and hears the words of Christ, his natural sense of right and wrong is restored to him, and he becomes elevated, purified, sanctified.
... Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), Sermons on Faith and Doctrine, London: John Murray, 1901, p. 259
(see the book; see also Mark 4:23; more at Sin)
Monday, June 14, 1999
Commemoration of Richard Baxter, Priest, Hymnographer, Teacher, 1691
It is sometimes said that even if no rules were laid down for the conduct of its affairs, the Church, being created by Jesus to “further the work of the Kingdom of God,” can be judged by the extent to which it is successful in continuing his work. This supposition rests upon a misunderstanding of what is meant by “the Kingdom of God” ... The Kingdom itself is not something to be “furthered” or “built” by men’s efforts. It is something which we are invited to recognize as already present, after a manner, in the life and work of Jesus. It is something to be inherited or entered into by those who believe. The Church’s task, in other words, is not to set the stage for a better world than this one but to draw the curtain from it, to reveal something that is already there.
... Nick Earle (b. 1926), What’s Wrong with the Church?, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1961, p. 14
(see the book; see also Matt. 18:3; Luke 17:20,21; John 18:36; Rom. 14:17,18; more at Church)
Tuesday, June 15, 1999
Feast of Evelyn Underhill, Mystical Writer, 1941
Christianity is a religion which concerns us as we are here and now, creatures of body and soul. We do not “follow the footsteps of his most holy life” by the exercise of a trained religious imagination, but by treading the firm, rough earth, up hill and down dale.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), The School of Charity, New York: Longmans, Green, 1934, reprinted, Morehouse Publishing, 1991, p. 52
(see the book; see also Heb. 12:3; more at Holiness, Imagination, Obedience, Religion, Work)
Wednesday, June 16, 1999
Feast of Richard of Chichester, Bishop, 1253
Commemoration of Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, Moral Philosopher, 1752
By giving humans freedom of will, the Creator has chosen to limit His own power. He risked the daring experiment of giving us the freedom to make good or bad decisions, to live decent or evil lives, because God does not want the forced obedience of slaves. Instead, He covets the voluntary love and obedience of sons who love Him for Himself.
... Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), Beyond Our Selves, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961, p. 26
(see the book; see also Gen. 1:27; Ps. 19:13; Isa. 1:18-20; 1 Cor. 8:2-3; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 5:1; 1 John 4:16; more at Free will, Freedom, Slave, Son)
Thursday, June 17, 1999
Commemoration of Samuel & Henrietta Barnett, Social Reformers, 1913 & 1936
It should be noted, at least by those who accept Christ’s claim to be God, that he by no means fits into the picture of the “mystic saint.” Those who are fascinated by the supposed superiority of the mystic soul might profitably compile a list of its characteristics and place them side by side with those of Christ. The results would probably expose a surprising conclusion.There is, in fact, no provision for a “privileged class” in genuine Christianity.
... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), Your God is Too Small , Simon and Schuster, 2004, p. 56-57
(see the book; see also Matt. 20:26; 23;8; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 3:28,29; more at Jesus)
Friday, June 18, 1999
The Christian message is not an exhortation—“try hard to be good.” Good advice, but there is no saving gospel in that.
... Halford E. Luccock (1885-1960), Marching Off the Map, NY: Harper & Bros., 1952, p. 110
(see the book; see also Rom. 9:31-33; Eph. 2:8,9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 3:4-7; Jas. 2:10; more at Gospel)
Saturday, June 19, 1999
Commemoration of Sundar Singh of India, Sadhu, Evangelist, Teacher, 1929
I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions in the course of the day besides my dinner. I want a form for setting out upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting, or a solved problem. Why have we none for books, those spiritual repasts—a grace before Milton—a grace before Shakespeare—a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading [Spenser]?
... Charles Lamb (1775-1834), The Essays of Elia, E. Moxon, 1840, p. 59
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:13; more at Humor)
Sunday, June 20, 1999
In quite recent times we seem to have entered a particularly dangerous new phase of anthropological aberration, namely, a queer combination of nihilism and deification. Theoretically, man is said to be nothing but an animal with a highly developed cerebrum. At the same time, it is believed of this man that he is capable by science and technical devices of achieving whatever he wants. The deification which might have been thought to be finally overcome, returns as it were from behind, in the form of a deification of technical creativity to which not much less than omnipotence is ascribed. After mankind has done away with the pseudo-religion of race and blood, it is faced with the even greater danger of a technocratical pseudo-religion. There is no room for human personality, freedom and justice in either of these new religions of divine man. But the most dangerous of all must be the one which makes man at the same time nothing and God.
... Emil Brunner (1889-1966), The Scandal of Christianity, London: SCM Press, 1951, reprint, John Knox Press, 1965, p. 70
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 3:18-20; more at Religion)
Monday, June 21, 1999
We may all be inclined to think of man’s countless foolish and selfish intentions, his twisted and mischievous words and deeds. From all these, sin can be known, as a tree can be known from its fruits. Yet these outward signs are not sin itself, the wages of which are death. Sin is not confined to the evil things we do. It is the evil within us, the evil which we are. Shall we call it our pride or our laziness, or shall we call it the deceit of our life? Let us call it for once the great defiance which turns us again and again into the enemies of God and of our fellowmen, even of our own selves.
... Karl Barth (1886-1968), Deliverance to the Captives, Harper, 1961, p. 146
(see the book; see also Rom. 5:8-11; more at Sin)
Tuesday, June 22, 1999
Feast of Alban, first Martyr of Britain, c.209
It is an abuse to confess any kind of sin, mortal or venial, without a will to be delivered from it, since confession was instituted for no other end.
... François de Sales (1567-1622), Introduction to the Devout Life , London: Rivingtons, 1876, p. 112
(see the book; see also Ps. 41:4; Jas. 5:16; 1 John 1:8-10; more at Confession, Deliverance, Repentance, Sin)
Wednesday, June 23, 1999
Feast of Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, c.678
The soul which gives itself wholly and without reserve to God is filled with His own Peace; and inasmuch as we are prone to grow like that to which we are closely united, the closer we draw to our God, so much the stronger and more steadfast and more tranquil shall we become.
... Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803), The Hidden Life of the Soul, London: Rivingtons, 1870, p. 2
(see the book; see also Jas. 4:7-8; more at Obedience)
Thursday, June 24, 1999
Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist
Keep clear of concealment, keep clear of the need of concealment... It is an awful hour when the first necessity of hiding something comes. The whole life is different thenceforth. When there are questions to be feared and eyes to be avoided and subjects which must not be touched, then the bloom of life is gone.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), The Light of the World, and Other Sermons, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1904, Sermon VI, p. 96
(see the book; see also Mark 4:22; more at Attitudes)
Friday, June 25, 1999
Let us pardon those who have wronged us. For that which others scarcely accomplish—I mean the blotting out of their own sins by means of fasting and lamentations, and prayers, and sackcloth and ashes—this it is possible for us easily to effect without sackcloth and ashes and fasting, if only we blot out anger from our heart, and with sincerity forgive those who have wronged us.
... St. John Chrysostom (345?-407), in “To those who had not Attended the Assembly,” A, Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, v. IX, New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889, p. 232
(see the book; see also Col. 3:12-13; more at Fasting, Forgiveness, Heart, Prayers, Sin, Sincerity)
Saturday, June 26, 1999
In all our criticism and near-despair of the institutional Church, it should never be forgotten that many powers and possibilities really exist in it, but often in captivity; they exist as frozen credits and dead capital.
... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity, London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 176
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 9:24-27; more at Church)
Sunday, June 27, 1999
If thou desirest to be safe, turn at once in thy emptiness to God. If thou hast been inconsistent, how canst thou better become consistent again than in God only? How canst thou better escape death than by the true, real Life, which is God Himself?
... Johannes Tauler (ca. 1300-1361), The Inner Way, Sermon XVI
(see the book; see also Ps. 71:1-3; more at Death, Emptiness, God, Inconsistency, Life, Safety, Weakness)
Monday, June 28, 1999
Feast of Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Teacher, Martyr, c.200
We need not despair of any man, so long as he lives. For God deemed it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit evil at all.
... St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Expositions on the Book of Psalms, v. II, Oxford: Parker, 1848, Ps. 37, sermon 1, vs. 19, p. 27
(see the book; see also Ps. 37:19; Matt. 7:11; 2 Cor. 4:7-10; more at Sin)
Tuesday, June 29, 1999
Feast of Peter & Paul, Apostles
No man can be without his god. If he have not the true God to bless and sustain him, he will have some false god to delude and to betray him. The Psalmist knew this, and therefore he joined so closely the forgetting the name of our God, and holding up our hands to some strange god. For every man has something in which he hopes, on which he leans, to which he retreats and retires, with which he fills up his thoughts in empty spaces of time, when he is alone, when he lies sleepless on his bed, when he is not pressed with other thoughts; to which he betakes himself in sorrow or trouble, as that from which he shall draw comfort and strength—his fortress, his citadel, his defence; and has not this a good right to be called his god? Man was made to lean on the Creator; but if not on Him, then he leans on the creature in one shape or another. The ivy cannot grow alone: it must twine round some support or other; if not the goodly oak, then the ragged thorn; round any dead stick whatever, rather than have no stay or support at all. It is even so with the heart and affections of man; if they do not twine around God, they must twine around some meaner thing.
... Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-1886), Sermons Preached in Westminster Abbey, New York: W. J. Widdleton, 1860, p. 252
(see the book; see also Ps. 44:20-21; more at Weakness)
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
I think, there is no great reason to doubt, but that the blessed spirits above, who continually behold the face of their Father, are still writing after this copy which is here propounded to us, and endeavouring to be “perfect as their Father which is in heaven is perfect,” still aspiring after a nearer and more perfect resemblance of God, whose goodness and mercy is far beyond and before that of any creature, that they may be for ever approaching nearer to it, and yet never overtake it.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. VI, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon CXXX, p. 305-306
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:48; 18:10; Luke 6:36; more at Knowing God)
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