A man is a fool who sits looking backward from himself in the past. Ah, what shallow, vain conceit there is in man! Forget the things that are behind. That is not where you live. Your roots are not there. They are in the present; and you should reach up into the other life.
As the reflections of our pride upon our defects are bitter, disheartening, and vexatious, so the return of the soul towards God is peaceful and sustained by confidence. You will find by experience how much more your progress will be aided by this simple, peaceful turning towards God, than by all your chagrin and spite at the faults that exist in you.
To bear adversity with meek submission to the will of God; to endure chastisement with all long-suffering and joyfulness; to appear cheerful amid surrounding gloom, hopeful amidst desponding circumstances, happy in God when there is nothing else to make us happy; he who does this has indeed made great advances in the divine life.
Progress, in the sense of acquisition, is something; but progress in the sense of being, is a great deal more. To grow higher, deeper, wider, as the years go on; to conquer difficulties, and acquire more and more power; to feel all ones faculties unfolding, and truth descending into the soul,this makes life worth living.
The life of a godly man is like a river, not like a stagnant pool or a dead sea. It is ever in motion, sometimes sparkling in the sunbeam, and sometimes shivering in the clouds; sometimes chanting through scenery as beautiful as Eden, and sometimes moaning through districts of miserable desolation; sometimes clear as the day, and sometimes black as the night. Still it is ever moving to its ocean destinyprogress is its law, infinitude is its home.
You are born supernaturally through faith, by the grace of God, into the kingdom of righteousness; but you are born a little babe, that is all; and if you make any progress from that point on, it must be by work, by sacrifice, by the practice of Christian virtues, by benevolence, by self-denial, by resisting the adversary, by making valiant war for God and against sin; and on no other basis, am I authorized in giving you a hope that you may come to manhood in Christ Jesus.
Spirituality is best manifested on the ground, not in the air. Rapturous day-dreams, flights of heavenly fancy, longings to see the Invisible, are less expensive and less expressive than the plain doing of duty. To have bread excite thankfulness and a drink of water send the heart to God is better than sighs for the unattainable. To plow a straight furrow on Monday or dust a room well on Tuesday or kiss a bumped forehead on Wednesday is worth more than the most ecstatic thrill under Sunday eloquence. Spirituality is seeing God in common things, and showing God in common tasks.
Voices of the glorified urge us onward. They who have passed from the semblances of time to the realities of eternity call upon us to advance. The rest that awaits us invites us forward. We do not pine for our rest before God wills it. We long for no inglorious rest. We are thankful rather for the invaluable training of difficulty, the loving discipline of danger and strife. Yet in the midst of it all the prospect of rest invites us heavenward. Through all, and above all, God cries, Go forward! Come up higher!