Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

How hateful is the light of day to me, And all the weary tasks of daily life

November 17, 2009

How hateful is the light of day to me,
And all the weary tasks of daily life.
Without the faith, which ever led me on,
And gave me hope through thickest clouds of pain!

Bertrand Russell, on giving up faith in God

in Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell (vol.1), p.40

The leg does not feel the chains when the mind is in heaven

October 30, 2009

140-230 AD Tertullian, encouraged a group of local Christians who were languishing in a Roman dungeon with these words, “Blessed ones, count whatever is hard in this lot of yours as a discipline of your powers of mind and body. You are about to pass through a noble struggle, in which the living God is your manager and the Holy Spirit is your trainer. The prize is an eternal crown of angelic essence-citizenship in the heavens, glory everlasting.” He also told them, “The prison does the same service for the Christian that the desert did for the prophet. Our Lord himself spent much time in seclusion so he would have greater freedom to pray and so he would be away from the world…. The leg does not feel the chains when the mind is in heaven.

Tertullian To the Martyrs chaps. 2, 3

Everything, forsooth, is true and nothing is false! Everybody is right and nobody is wrong! Everybody is likely to be saved and nobody is to be lost!

October 21, 2009

The tendency of modern thought is to reject dogmas, creeds and every kind of bounds in religion. It is thought grand and wise to condemn no opinion whatever, and to pronounce all earnest and clever teachers to be trustworthy, however heterogeneous and mutually destructive their opinions may be. Everything, forsooth, is true and nothing is false! Everybody is right and nobody is wrong! Everybody is likely to be saved and nobody is to be lost! The atonement and substitution of Christ, the personality of the devil, the miraculous element in Scripture, the reality and eternity of future punishment, all these mighty foundation–stones are coolly tossed overboard, like lumber, in order to lighten the ship of Christianity and enable it to keep pace with modern science. Stand up for these great verities, and you are called narrow, illiberal, old–fashioned and a theological fossil! Quote a text, and you are told that all truth is not confined to the pages of an ancient Jewish book, and that free inquiry has found out many things since the book was completed! Now, I know nothing so likely to counteract this modern plague as constant clear statements about the nature, reality, vileness, power and guilt of sin. We must charge home into the consciences of these men of broad views and demand a plain answer to some plain questions. We must ask them to lay their hands on their hearts and tell us whether their favorite opinions comfort them in the day of sickness, in the hour of death, by the bedside of dying parents, by the grave of a beloved wife or child. We must ask them whether a vague earnestness, without definite doctrine, gives them peace at seasons like these. We must challenge them to tell us whether they do not sometimes feel a gnawing “something” within, which all the free inquiry and philosophy and science in the world cannot satisfy. And then we must tell them that this gnawing “something” is the sense of sin, guilt and corruption, which they are leaving out in their calculations. And, above all, we must tell them that nothing will ever make them feel rest but submission to the old doctrines of man’s ruin and Christ’s redemption and simple childlike faith in Jesus.

J.C.Ryle, Holiness, ch.1, ‘Sin’

My feelings were those of a man who should suddenly be told, that every friend he had in the world was dead

September 28, 2009

In a letter to Charles Simeon, Henry Martyn recounted the moment when the full realisation of leaving England to be a missionary in India hit him:

It was a very painful moment to me when I awoke, on the morning after you left us, and found the fleet actually sailing down the channel. Though it was what I had anxiously been looking forward to so long, yet the consideration of being parted forever from my friends, almost overcame me. My feelings were those of a man who should suddenly be told, that every friend he had in the world was dead. It was only by prayer for them that I could be comforted ; and this was indeed a refreshment to my soul, because by meeting them at the throne of grace, I seemed to be again in their society.

Henry Martyn, missionary, translator of the Bible into Hindi and New Testament into Persian. His memoir is highly recommended to inspire spiritual devotion.

From, John Sargent, The Life and Letters of Henry Martin, Banner of Truth, 1985, p.91

The life to come is more sweet, and the death to come is more bitter

September 26, 2009

(On John Hooper’s last night before martyrdom under Bloody Mary) Sir Anthony Kingston, whom he had once offended by rebuking his sins, came to see him, and entreated him, with much affection and many tears, to consult his safety and recant. ” Consider,” he said, ” that life is sweet, and death is bitter. Life hereafter may do good.” To this the noble soldier of Christ returned the ever memorable answer :  “The life to come is more sweet, and the death to come is more bitter.” Seeing him immovable, Kingston left him with bitter tears, telling him, ” I thank God that ever I knew you, seeing God did appoint you to call me to be His child. By your good instruction, when I was before a fornicator and adulterer, God hath taught me to detest and forsake the same.” Hooper afterwards said that this interview had drawn from him more tears than he had shed throughout the seventeen months of his imprisonment.

J.C. Ryle, Five English Reformers, Banner of Truth, 1994, p.55

The Pessimism of Pre-Socratic Thought

September 16, 2009

We are like the leaves that shoot in the spring-time of the flowers, when they grow quickly in the sunshine. Like the leaves, for a span of time we rejoice in the flowers of youth, taught by heaven neither good nor evil. On either hand are the black Fates, the one holding the fullness of miserable age, the other of death.

Mimnermus of Colophon [circ. 650-600), frag. 2. Source

Not only is life without hope, others saw the pursuit of knowledge as vain:

We men know nothing, and our thoughts are vain;

Theognis, Elegies 133. Theognis is believed to have died
after 490 B.C.

Socrates and Plato began a tradition of attempting answers in hope of finding meaning to life. But by the time of Christ pessimism has set in again:

Soon, very soon, thou wilt be ashes, or a skeleton, and either a name or not even a name; but name is sound and echo. And the things which are much valued in life are empty and rotten and trifling, and [like] little dogs biting one another, and little children quarreling, laughing, and then straightway weeping. But fidelity and modesty and justice and truth are fled.

Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Chapter 5, 33

We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars

September 15, 2009

We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde, Irish dramatist, novelist & poet (1854 – 1900)

Humanism – Its greatest hopes dashed by hard reality

August 28, 2009

H.G. Wells, writing in A Short History of the World (1937):

Can we doubt that presently our race will more than realize our boldest imaginations, that it will achieve unity and peace, and that our children will live in a world made more splendid and lovely than any palace or garden that we know, going on from strength to strength in an ever-widening circle of achievement? What man has done, the little triumphs of his present state…form but the prelude to things that man has yet to do.

But in 1939, in The Fate of Man, the optimism has gone:

There is no reason whatever to believe that the order of nature has any greater bias in favor of man than it had in favor of the icthyosaur or the pterodactyl. In spite of all my disposition to a brave looking optimism, I perceive that now the universe is bored with him, in turning a hard face to him, and I see him being carried less and less intelligently and more and more rapidly, suffering as every ill-adapted creature must suffer in gross and detail, along the stream of fate to degradation, suffering and death…the spectacle of evil in the world during the past half-dozen years the wanton destruction of homes, the ruthless hounding of decent folk into exile, the bombings of open cities, the cold-blooded massacres and mutilations of children and defenceless gentle people, the rapes and filthy humiliations and, above all, the return of deliberate and organized torture, mental torment and fear to a world from which such things had seemed well nigh banished has come near to breaking my spirit altogether.

By 1945, in Mind at the End of its Tether, he gives way to despair:

A series of events has forced upon the intelligent observer the realization that the human story has already come to an end and that Homo Sapiens, as he has been pleased to call himself, is in his present form played out.  The stars in their courses have turned against him and he has to give place to some other animal better adapted to face the fate that closes in more and more swiftly upon mankind.

Compassion Prompted by the Return of Jesus

August 26, 2009

I do not think in the last forty years I have lived one conscious hour that was not influenced by the thought of our Lord’s return.

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury

no one (says a biographer [Battiscombe?]) has “ever done more to lessen the extent of human misery or to add to the sum total of human happiness.

Shaftesbury reformed treatment of the insane, pioneered legislation against the exploitation of labour, sponsored low-cost housing for the urban poor, free education for destitute children etc.


August 26, 2009

In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks plays a guy named Chuck who is marooned on an island for four years after a plane crash. He has a dull routine every day, and finally he gives way to despair. He starts to commit suicide. But at the last minute that is thwarted.

The next day, after almost committing suicide, the tide brings in a piece of metal that he determines can be used as a sail for a raft to get him off the island. When that is completed he sails off, and 500 miles away he is rescued by a ship.

He had been on the island four years.

He gets back home and sees his fiancé. She has kept him alive in memory and, understandably, has married someone else. He is devastated!

But then he says at the end of the movie, “I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will come up …and you never know what the tide might bring in.” And just about that time a pretty girl comes by. Source

Hope springs eternal in the human breast

Alexander Pope