Friday, November 03, 2006

Temperance

I feel the need to balance yesterday's post with some passages from Elizabeth Prentiss' Stepping Heavenward.
These passages start out with Katy, the main character, deciding that "I never mean to read worldly books again, and my music and drawing I have given up forever."

* * *

Mother asked me last evening to sing and play for her. I was embarrassed to know how to excuse myself without telling her my real reason for declining. But somehow she got it out of me.
"One need not be fanatical in order to be religious," she said.

"Is it fanatical to give up all for God?" I asked.

"What is it to give up all?" she asked in reply.

"Why to deny one's self every gratification and indulgence in order to mortify one's natural inclinations and to live entirely for Him." (Katy replied.)

"God is then a hard Master who allows His children no liberty," she replied. "Now let us see where this theory will lead you. In the first place, you must shut your eyes to all the beautiful things He has made. You must shut your ears to all the harmonies He has ordained. You must shut your heart against all sweet, human, affections...."

* * *

"I see how it is," she said. "You have forgotten that body of yours, of which I reminded you, and have been trying to live as if you were all soul and spirit. You have been straining every nerve to acquire perfection, whereas this is God's gift and one that He is willing to give you, fully and freely."

* * *

"Here is the rock upon which you split," she returned. "You speak of going back to your music as if that implied going away from God. You rush from one extreme to another. The only true way to live in this world, constituted just as we are, is to make all our employments subserve the one great end and aim of existence, namely, to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. But in order to do this we must be wise taskmasters and not require of ourselves what we cannot possibly perform. Recreation we must have. Otherwise, the strings of our soul, wound up to an unnatural tension, will break."

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow - combined with yesterdays post, this has hit me hard. It's given me quite a lot to think about - especially being mindful of keeping the tension. How do I do that? It's something I'm going to be seeking, believe me.
Thanks!

Roberta said...

Both your last post, with the John Piper article, and this post with the SH quotes were very good and timely for me.
Thank you for sharing them. :)

Andrea said...

Elise and Roberta~

Timely for me as well. It's so hard to find the balance, right?