Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Deep thoughts and hard questions

Why does man not do the things which Christ enjoins, and which can give him the highest earthly felicity—the felicity he has ever longer to attain? The answer as usually given, with slight variations of expression, is that the doctrine of Christ is indeed sublime, and its fulfillment would establish the kingdom of God on earth, but it is difficult, and therefore impracticable.

It is in the nature of man to strive after what is best. Each doctrine of life is but a doctrine of what is best for man. If men have pointed out to them what is really best for them, how come they to answer that they wish to do what is best, but cannot?


If 'hard' means that it is hard to give up the momentary satisfaction of our desires for some great and good end, why do we not say, as well, that it is hard to plough the ground in order to have bread; to plant apple trees in order to have apples?

Every being endowed with the least germ of reason knows that no great good can be attained without trouble and difficulty. And now we say that though Christ's doctrine is sublime, we can never put it in practice, because it is hard to do so. Hard, because its observance would deprive us of what we have always possessed.

Have we never heard that it may be better for us to suffer and to lose, than never to suffer and always to have our desires satisfied?

(Leo Tolstoy, What I Believe, pp 106-108)

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