Temptation

Natural men desire to know God and some part of his will and law, not out of a sense of their practical excellency, but a natural thirst after knowledge: and if they have a delight, it is in the act of knowing, not in the object known, not in the duties that stream from that knowledge; they design the furnishing their understandings, not the quickening their affections,—like idle boys that strike fire, not to warm themselves by the heat, but sport themselves with sparks; whereas a gracious soul accounts not only his meditation, or the operations of his soul about God and His will, to be sweet, but he hath a joy in the object of that meditation. Many have the knowledge of God, who have no delight in him or his will.

You and I toiling for earth may at the same time be toiling for heaven, and every day's work may be a Jacob's ladder reaching up nearer to God.

It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavor to apply to the problems of the present precisely the qualities which in other crises enabled the men of that day to meet those crises.

The snow covers many a dunghill, so doth prosperity many a rotten heart.

By the very constitution of our nature moral evil is its own curse.

Contemplation is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.

The contemplative is the man not who has fiery visions of the cherubim carrying God on their imagined chariot, but simply he who has risked his mind in the desert beyond language and beyond ideas where God is encountered in the nakedness of pure trust, that is to say in the surrender of our poverty and incompleteness in order no longer to clench our minds in a cramp upon themselves, as if thinking made us exist.

There is another self, a true self, who comes to full maturity in emptiness and solitude – and who can of course, begin to appear and grow in the valid, sacrificial and creative self-dedication that belong to a genuine social existence. But note that even this social maturing of love implies at the same time the growth of a certain inner solitude. Without solitude of some sort there is and can be no maturity. Unless one becomes empty and alone, he cannot give himself in love because he does not possess the deep self which is the only gift worthy of love. And this deep self, we immediately add, cannot be possessed. My deep self in not ‘something’ which I acquire, or to which I ‘attain’ after a long struggle. It is not mine, and cannot become mine. It is no ‘thing’ – no object. It is ‘I’.

You cannot be a man of faith unless you know how to doubt.

This perpetual struggle between the magician and the religionist goes on in the mind and heart and will of every man of us. It goes on until it is rightly resolved, until man reborn into a mature religion ceases to try to coerce his God, and says humbly with Dante, “In thy will is our peace.” Religion, then, is not a matter of turning God to account in the realiza­tion of our own desires. Religion is trying to dis­cover what God is about and then offering oneself to the Eternal Goodness, “as a man’s hand is to a man.” “It is not in man,” says a modern thinker, “to make religion what he will have her be, but only to become what religion is making him.”

Perhaps, then, it is to save a man from the defeat and disillusionment of childish magic that there stands in our Bible that old story of the temptation of Jesus. Its ramifications and restatements are legion. Thou shalt not use thy God to get thy way. Thou shalt not coerce the Infinite to further the headstrong passing whim of the finite. Thou shalt not break the laws of health and then cajole thy God into working thee a miracle of healing. Thou shalt not let thy mind rot in idleness and then look for a sudden in­spiration given by reality. Thou shalt not spend thine all upon the world that passes away and ask thy God at thy latter end to give thee the sudden boon of a credible immortality. Thou shalt not take this attitude at all, using the Most High as an amplifier and emergency device for realizing thy soli­tary and selfish will. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

We are being told on all sides that religion is now breaking down, that its beliefs are an outworn delu­sion, and that all thoughtful men are being liberated into a perfect skepticism. That is not what is hap­pening. What is happening is this, men are dis­covering again what they have discovered often be­fore and then have forgotten, that magic will not work. But religion as a final attitude and reference of the finite human spirit towards its infinite universe remains and always must remain. It is the disposi­tion of those disciplined natures of whom we say that they are pure in mind and heart and will.

The true alternative to the outworn magic of primitive peoples is not the modern magic of persons disciplined in the applied sciences or the “new thought.” It is no solution of the ultimate moral and intellectual problem to trade self-will from the left hand of primitive magic to the right hand of applied science. What matters is a changed disposition and reference in this whole final commerce of man with his universe. Call it pure religion or pure science, the name does not matter. The one thing needful is that temper and disposition towards the will of God which we find in Jesus, Bernard, Pascal and Lister alike.

The true alternative to the outworn magic of primitive peoples is not the modern magic of persons disciplined in the applied sciences or the “new thought.” It is no solution of the ultimate moral and intellectual problem to trade self-will from the left hand of primitive magic to the right hand of applied science. What matters is a changed disposition and reference in this whole final commerce of man with his universe. Call it pure religion or pure science, the name does not matter. The one thing needful is that temper and disposition towards the will of God which we find in Jesus, Bernard, Pascal and Lister alike.

The men who returned from the third attempt to climb Mount Everest, made in the summer of 1924, have told us that from now on the character of the endeavor is clearly defined in advance. One of them has recently said that the higher altitudes, from 22,000 to 28,000 feet, reached by the last party, were attained not by sportsmen and scientists break­ing the mountain to their intention, but by men who had come to feel towards the mountain an almost mystical relationship. He said that the mountain itself, with its tremendous appeal, must take men to the top, and that only a spirit, which for the want of any other accurate word must be called religion, would ever carry men the last exacting two thousand feet.

What he seems to mean is that, in the presence of that imperious and majestic reality, the cheap coercive attempt to conquer the world must always break down, and that only something like the spirit of worship can draw and lift men at the last. The climbing of Mount Everest has ceased to be purely a geographical, political, and physiological problem. It has passed, as every great human endeavor must finally pass, into the realm of religion. And only the man whose peace is found in the imperious will of that terrific reality will ever stand upon its summit.

After he had dragged the blankets out of the empty tent at Camp VI, high up on the shoulder of Everest, and had laid them in a “T” on the snow to tell the watchers below that there was no trace of Mallory and Irvine, Odell closed the flap of the tent and began the third retreat to India. “I glanced up,” he says, “at the mighty summit above me, which ever and anon deigned to reveal its cloud-wreathed features. It seemed to look down with cold indiffer­ence on me, mere puny man, and to howl derision in wind gusts at my petition to yield up its secret—the mystery of my friends. What right had we to ven­ture thus far into the holy presence of the Supreme Goddess, or much more to sling at her our blasphe­mous challenges. If it were indeed the sacred ground of Chomo Lungma—the Goddess Mother of the Mountain Snows—had we violated it, was I now violating it? Had we approached her with due rev­erence and singleness of heart and purpose?”

That, in modern parable, is the crux of the tempta­tion in the wilderness. Magic in us dies and religion is born with that question which, if rightly answered, prefaces the true reference of the soul to God. What right have I to make trial of my God? Have I vio­lated his holy being with my self-will? Have I ap­proached him with due reverence and singleness of mind and heart?

Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

In my own country for nearly a century I have been nothing but a nigger.

Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have -- by disrupting that order -- a way of surprising.

The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly the same, that it may always be considered, in algebraic language as a given quantity.

O curse of marriage! That we can call these delicate creatures ours, and not their appetites. I had rather be a toad, and live upon the vapour of a dungeon, than keep a corner in the thing I love for others' uses. Othello, Act iii, Scene 3

For a long time - always, in fact - I have known that life here on earth is not what I needed and that I wasn't able to deal with it; for this reason and for this reason alone, I have acquired a touch of spiritual pride, so that my existence seems to me the degradation and the erosion of a psalm.

Let us... quietly accept our times, with the firm conviction that just as much good can be done today as at any time in the past, provided only that we have the will and the way to do it.

I am concerned here exclusively with the problem of helping people in the non-modern sector… because all successes in the modern sector are likely to be illusory unless there is also a healthy growth—or at least a healthy condition of stability—among the very great numbers of people today whose life is characterized not only by dire poverty but also by hopelessness.

History is not an accident. Events are foreknown to God. His superintending influence is behind the actions of his righteous children. Long before America was even discovered, the Lord was moving and shaping events that would lead to the coming forth of the remarkable form of government established by the Constitution. America had to be free and independent to fulfill this destiny.