Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #38 --- Ideals
Quotations on Ideals
Ideals are stars that guide us safely on the voyage to eternity.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 17, 1933.
In all the world’s progress, never has the vision of man found a better inspiration, a greater measure of comfort and assistance, than in recourse to the Divine Ideal.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., March 14, 1937.
You are not little and of no account as long as you cling to the beauty and high nobility of your ideals; for so long are you one of God’s friends.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., May 8, 1932.
Ideals are the leaven of life.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., June 5, 1932.
Ideals, though they may go begging here, are the only things we can carry with us from this world.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 12, 1943.
Religion is the development of ideals into realities.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 11, 1967.
Ideals are the only stars which we may grasp, this side of heaven.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 22, 1957.
One should not be impressed by materialism which sets a premium on ideas and a discount on ideals.
---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., June 2, 1963.
Your ideal may easily become your idol, unless your ideal is Christ.
---Elijah Powell Brown, Natchitoches Populist, Natchitoches, La., March 18, 1898.
Life’s reals depend on religious ideals.
---Elijah Powell Brown, The Press-Democrat, Hennessey, Okla., April 10, 1903.
Blessed is the man who does not draw his ideals from his idols.
---Elijah Powell Brown, Aberdeen Herald, Aberdeen, Wash., April 23, 1903.
A high ideal is a standing invitation to reach a more exalted position.
---Elijah Powell Brown, Juniata Sentinel and Republican, Mifflintown, Pa., Jan. 25, 1899.
True happiness is not in the possession of things, but in the possession of ideals.
---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 6, 1931.
Whatever there is of real help in religion is due to a man’s devotion to his ideals.
---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Feb. 13, 1937.
No man can produce great work who has not been inspired by a great ideal.
---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 24, 1929.
The flowers of faith and love make beautiful the path of ideals.
---Frank Milton Bristol, Lockport Daily Journal, Lockport, N.Y., May 26, 1898.
Spiritual experiences and spiritual ideals are but imitations of the better things that God opens before us.
---A.W. Ryan, Duluth Herald, Duluth, Minn., Jan. 29, 1917.
Ideals of honesty, purity, industry, of service and sacrifice are like plants. They grow only when they have sun, light and favoring soil. To cultivate our ideals we must live in a Christian atmosphere, and energize our purposes with a strong will. Then the stumbling block will become a stepping stone to success.
---Abram Duryee, Christian Intelligencer, New York, N.Y., April 28, 1920.
Ideals do not die. They drop some seeds which bye and bye send forth new growth. What we have to do is to be true to the best in us, live as near to our ideal as we can, and care not what the world’s verdict may be. True living is never wasted. Noble purposes are never sterile.
---Miles Hanson, El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, April 21, 1917.
The thoughts that sway our minds, the ideals that thrill us, leave their traces upon our countenances and modulate our services and shape our designs. Spirit molds matter as a sculptor shapes his model. Faithfulness to eternal principles of right cannot fail to product a true man. Let us formulate a firm purpose to live up to the highest capacity of our character for good.
---Leonard Marbury, Alexandria Gazette, Alexandria, Va., April 10, 1894.
It should be your aim to make of your life a journey toward the ideal; to live with gratitude, with devoutness, with gentleness and courage. Then add to it the humility which kneels, and the charity which gives, and you have the whole wisdom of the children of God.
---George F. Butler, Hays Free Press, Hays, Kan., May 20, 1920.
To join opportunity, vocation and truth together requires a high ideal. Every ideal that is high and worthwhile is summed up in that saying of Jesus Christ that He was to do the will of His Father who sent Him.
---Nelson Kellogg, Vermont Phoenix, Brattleboro, Vt., June 23, 1916.
We need to have something of the buoyancy and joyousness of life, healthful, normal life in our souls, and until one brings himself under the influence of ideals of truth and of beauty and of duty and of God and of all those things that make up the invisible religious environment, he can never know what elasticity of step means or buoyancy of heart means.
---E.L. Powell, Dakota County Herald, Dakota City, Neb., April 2, 1909.
Faith, the appropriation of the ideal, is the secret of a successful and inspiring life.
---E.L. Powell, Dakota County Herald, Dakota City, Neb., June 18, 1909.
Life is controlled by ideals. Jesus recognized this law when He declared, “And if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.” He, the highest and holiest of mankind, and the express image of the Godhead, could transform men to His image if He could be raised as the ideal of life.
---O.L. Smith, Daily Ardmoreite, Ardmore, Okla., March 30, 1915.
The danger in life in having ideals is in not being able to accept all that is really good in our ideal and leaving the bad alone. We will not be the right kind of ideal if we ourselves are not exemplary. … Be pure in thought, word, and deed, true to your conscience, and to God, and you will be somebody’s ideal—an inspiration to a noble life.
---George Albert Smith, The Acorn, Ogden, Utah, March 1904.
All people should have high, divine aims in life and should always seek the best of things. Very often many people have no aim whatever. There should always be a definite aim in the moral sense, and in the community in which we live our influence in the home and in all of our doings should be to the highest of ideals.
---Edward J. Knight, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1, 1908.
We should cultivate a love for ideals. We should nurture idealism. A people that has lost its ideals is a people that is spiritually dead. And a people that is losing its ideals is a people that is spiritually dead to the extent that it has lost its ideals. Our ideals are our visions of a higher life. We cannot afford to have those visions blurred or blotted out by anything—not excluding money.
---Wickes Wamboldt, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., March 17, 1936.
I believe that deep down in your heart, where you seldom go yourself, perhaps—deep down in your heart, there is a desire for God’s great blessings. You have in your mind an image of the kind of man, the kind of woman, you would like to be. We call such an image in the mind an ideal. There is the ideal of your better self—stronger, wiser, calmer, more cheerful and happy, more useful and true. When you sit down by yourself you realize how far you fall short of that ideal. As you struggle toward it you fail. Then then you begin to long for help. Now God put that picture of a better self in your mind on purpose that He might may you desire to improve. And He wanted you to desire in order that you might pray. And He wanted you to pray in order that He might answer your prayer. In every aspiration, in every struggle for improvement, God is with you. God is your Father, and you are His child. You may be an unnatural child, an ungrateful child, a rebellious child—but you are His child still. He made you, and He made you to progress and to improve.
---William Goodell Frost, The Citizen, Berea, Ky., Jan. 3, 1901.
Ideas and ideals that are grounded on truth cannot be shaken to utter ruin. Men and nations who dictate false ideologies with a high hand, do not possess the future. Their power dies with them. On the other hand, those individuals and nations who build on moral and spiritual truths that enlighten rather than enslave; that offer freedom rather than subjugation, tolerance instead of blind fanaticism, cooperation rather than regimentation–these will survive when all else has fallen.
—Floyd W. Cooper, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Fla., Oct. 11, 1959.
The way to fulfill destiny is to strive earnestly to live an ideal life.
—Phil Conley, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., March 25, 1948.
Blessed is the man who is inspired by heroism by devotion to a great cause. ... Life becomes cheap and debased to the man or woman without high ideals or interest in high and noble enterprises.
—William Bayard Craig, San Antonio Daily Express, San Antonio, Texas, May 3, 1909.
The right ideal, with an unswerving determination, means achievements both in material and spiritual things; a wrong ideal, with the same dogged determination, means disaster. Watch your ideals, for they determine your success or failure.
—B.J.W. Graham, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 2, 1916.
There is an image in you that may become Godlike if it only surrender to the ideals presented to your minds by the Spirit of Jesus.
—Howland Hanson, The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, June 13, 1910.
Work out your ideals through study and perhaps through hardships for it often takes sacrifice. Get in contact daily with God in prayer. Try for the sake of fellowman, for God, to fill the greatest niche in life that can be yours. Place your life and talents at the disposal of God that through you may be worked out things that will redound blessings to mankind and to God.
—E.F. Hayward, The Monroe News-Star, Monroe, La., May 27, 1929.
God hides some great ideal in every human soul.
—E.L. Hurley, Dillon Tribune, Dillon, Mont., Jan. 23, 1925.
Progress in high achievement is impossible to the man whose ideals are low. Christ, the perfect man, is the Christian’s ideal. Eliminate the ideals of Christianity from society and the world would become a vast burying ground of pleasure-loving gentlemen, whose outstanding characteristics are greed, tyranny and debauchery. Without Christ men go unrestrained.
—S.A. Hayworth, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 7, 1906.
The characteristic of a commendable ideal is that it is always just out of reach, and the endeavor to apprehend it gives strength to the spiritual muscles.
—H.S. Jenison, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 11, 1922.
Jesus Christ announced when He come to the world in a very clear and distinct manner that his object in coming was to bring life and life more abundantly. I cannot conceive of a life gaining in abundance and greatness that has not in itself some lofty ideal. Life in its largeness and greatness is not a conglomeration of accidents; it is never obtained by drifting with the tide, but, on the other hand, he who excels must do it by following the well-regulated system of life laid down and given as a pattern in Jesus Christ.
An ideal is defined as that which is conceived or taken as a standard of excellence or an ultimate object of attainment. The matter of righteousness is nothing more than conformity to a right standard. A right life is nothing to lead to Jesus Christ, and the deduction is that a man who has Jesus Christ for his ideal is a man that has truth. No man can ever attain much in this life without an ideal, the ideal must be found and you must not make a mistake in finding the same, and when you have found it, then labor toward it. If you live in harmony with truth, you will reach your ideal. ... When you first begin life, you will never be able to interpret the fullness of an ideal, it naturally changes and adjusts itself as you are able to grasp the better things of life, but every man must have his ideal and labor to its end.
—J.O. Shelburne, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 2, 1908.
The most strategic point in all your life is the realm of your ideals and desire. The best measure of what you are destined to become is not your possessions nor talents but your visions and goals, for towards these you will develop throughout the years. If you fail or meet tribulation you will be energized by these to arise again. This is why so many of meager education and circumscribed opportunity amount to so much. Their riches lie in their overtowering purpose. This is why so many who are born to wealth or who have much of education and talent never attain to more than mediocrity. They have no spur of aim.
Routine living is God’s great school for the unfolding of strength and worth. The deception of daily life is that it is permitted to seem commonplace and thus its dangers and doors leading into a brighter tomorrow are unheeded. Each of us have our feet placed in roads enough to lead us to real living of human worth but we see only commonplace paths of constant effort instead of highways leading upwards. It is when we have a definite goal that we travel constantly and cheerfully. Look first to the man and woman you wish to be and the work you desire to perform, for then from any condition you will commence to develop in power and joy.
—John Edward Carver, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, June 30, 1930.
An ideal is above price. It means the difference between success and failure--the difference between a noble life and a disgraceful career--and it sometimes means the difference between life and death. Have you noticed the increasing number of suicides? I speak not of those sad cases in which the reason dethroned leaves the hand no guide, but rather of those cases where the person who takes his life finds nothing worth living for. When I read one of these cases I ask myself whether it is caused by a false ideal of life. If one measures life by what others do for him he is apt to be disappointed, for people are not likely to do as much for him as he expects. One of the most difficult things in life is to maintain the parity between one's opinion of his own merits and the opinion that others have of him. If, I repeat, a man measures life by what others do for him, he is apt to be disappointed, but if he measures life by what he does for others there is no time for despair. If he measures life by its accumulations, these usually fall short of his expectations, but if he measures life by the contribution which he makes to the sum of human happiness, his only disappointment is not finding time to do all that his heart prompts him to do. Whether he spends his time trying to absorb from the world, only to have the burden of life grow daily heavier, or spends his time in an effort to accomplish something of real value to the race, depends upon his ideal.
The ideal must be far enough above us to keep us looking up toward it all the time, and it must be far enough in advance of us to keep us struggling toward it to the end of life. It is a very poor ideal that one ever fully realizes, and it is a great misfortune for one to overtake his ideal, for, when he does, his progress stops.
The ideal is permanent; it does not change. Therefore it is so important that the ideal shall be a worthy one. ... The ideal dominates the life, determines the character and fixes a man's place among his fellows.
There is this difference between the ideal and the other things of value, namely, that an ideal cannot be patented or copyrighted. We often see things that we cannot hope to possess, but there is no ideal, however, high, that cannot be ours if we desire it. The highest ideal of human life that this world has ever known was furnished by the life of the Man of Galilee.
—William Jennings Bryan, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 24, 1913.
A human life, although it has physical aspects, is essentially a process of development which, in its higher stages at least, is determined by an ideal. This life-shaping ideal is, of course, not arbitrary or irrelevant, but springs from the constitution; it is an anticipation of a more complete stage of development, the perceived goal of tendencies already at work, the foreseen destiny of the life process. This feature of development is itself an important factor in development, for in man, growth becomes conscious; he is no longer merely pushed up but climbs up and strives to realize the human ideal. ... He is a worshiper of heroes and gods who are symbols of his own capabilities. They are normally what he needs them to be, his own higher powers developed to the limit. His admiration for them is a condition of his normal development; for, once they see their way, when through a vision of their ideal good they become surer of their poorer attraction, the process of life is accelerated, potentialities become actualities and latent powers are realized. ... Through our visions of perfection we are lured up and on and enabled to be what without them we could never be. The supreme human need, therefore, is for a comprehensive and truly representative ideal in the pursuit of which our race may attain its highest development and most complete self-expression.
—George R. Dodson, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 3, 1914.
If ideals are so potent and so mighty in the formation of character, how vital it is that one's ideals be the right sort. The German poet has wisely said, "Whatsoever we greatly admire and profoundly desire to become, that, in some measure we already are." Ideals will lower or elevate, save or down. ...
Our ideals ought to be our better selves. The radical difference between a bad man and a good man lies in what he thinks. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. The boundary line between vice and virtue lies in the design of one's heart. The germ cell to a man's character is his ideal, his purpose, his answer to the question, "What makes life worth living?"
One's ideals ought to be free from the taint of the low and sensuous; if not, he is liable to claim license for occasional indulgences, and in this way lie manifold perils and vain regrets. He who wastes his substance in riotous living will have neither heart nor strength for the serious tasks of life. He that idles in the morning sippeth sorrow at twilight. If you flirt with the Delilah of sin, she will shear off the locks of your strength and the Philistines of your lusts will put out the eyes of your moral sense and make you to grind at the mill of despair in the Gaza of hell. The essential value of an ideal lies in the fact that it makes the man. And we need men. The great crying need of this age, and of every age, has been the death-defying courage of true men.
—F.S. Droner, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 26, 1915.
There are two planes on which the mind can dwell, and they are usually called the idealistic and the materialistic. The ideal plane is the upper plane, while the material is the lower. In the idealistic all the tendencies of the mind move towards the qualities of superiority and worth. All the desires for the higher and the better, all thoughts are created after the likeness of our higher conceptions of the perfect, the true, and the superior. To live in such an attitude is to be an idealist, and this is the true meaning of idealism. An idealistic mind is a mind that is constantly ascending and thus taking a larger and more beautiful view every day of the richness and splendor of real existence. The materialistic mind is the descending mind, the mind that is losing ground, and that is daily being overcome more and more by its own perverted and materialistic habits. But to live in the upper story, is to keep the mind concentrated upon the great possibilities that are latent within us, and to desire with the whole heart the daily realization of more and more of the wonders that are in store for those who are steadily pressing on towards greater things. Naturally, living in the upper story of the mind will lead us to an attitude of superiority and supremacy. We should train ourselves to feel that we are superior beings (not poor miserable sinners), superior to everything that pertains to personal existence, such as life, pains, weakness, mistakes and failures. Here we should remember that the consciousness of superiority does not produce vanity and egotism. When a person has really become conscious of the superiority of his being, there is no need for display. It will show in the mind and in the work, and actions speak more eloquently than words. The reason why superiority is so important, is because it unites the mind with everything in the life that has quality, and thereby gives everything in the mind and personality the stamp of greater worth.
—William T. Goulee, Autumn Leaves, Lamoni, Iowa, March 1917.
Failure to realize our ideals may be owing to the ideals themselves being badly conceived, or to our failure to perform in support of them, due to inherent weakness or to conditions over which we had no control.
An ideal which has been hastily erected without due consideration for all of the exigencies which may arise, to say nothing of the strength and will power necessary to surmount all the ordinary obstacles to be encountered, will not often be realized. On the other hand, the attainment of an ideal may be within our power, but through failure to work toward such attainment we will not succeed.
One reason why we do not succeed when the goal is within our reach is because there is some weakness in our will power which allows us to be diverted off course. In other words, we lack perseverance. The remedy for the fault, of course, lies in training the will. And, strange as it may seem to some who are naturally strong willed, the will can be trained. The fundamental rule for the training of the will is this: "Do the thing you dislike to do (if it is morally right), and do it as though you love to do it." A sick will can be cured and a weak will can be strengthened.
Another reason we sometimes fail to reach our goal is the fact that we encounter obstacles over which we have no control. This is often a very good and sufficient reason, but before we give up when such an obstacle confronts us we must be sure that we cannot overcome it. Here again comes a test of the will. Many a mountain which at a distance appears too steep and rough to be climbed will be found to be readily scaled after one crosses the foothills. Quite often, if analyzed, our difficulties will be found to consist entirely of the little things, the foothills, which, being closest to us, appear the greatest. There are obstacles over which we have no control, but before we give up we should be sure they cannot be surmounted.
The ideals we erect, if we faithfully perform in support of them, will determine our achievements and practices; if they are low and easily attained, our progress will be slight; if they are high, yet attainable, our progress will be great.
—Howard W. Harder, Autumn Leaves, Lamoni, Iowa, December 1920.
Someone has called ideals one's better selves, which is perhaps the truest definition which could be given. At any rate, they seem to be the output of equal parts of the divine faculty, imagination, and the greatest spiritual faculty, faith, and maintained by the highest, noblest courage.
It is common to distinguish the ideal by opposing it to the real, but this is confusing from a moral standpoint, at least, as these two sometimes coincide, as do facts and truth. Then let us say, not in a dogmatic way, mind you, but only that we may realize something definite from the lesson, that the real is expressed in facts--useful and harmful, great and trivial, all kinds, but ever insistent, indisputable facts. The ideal has as its source truth, and is related to the real or facts just so much as the command of St. Paul to the Philippians is followed.
There is nothing in life--no phase of it or relation or condition--but we can better it by idealization; that is, by raising the standard and striving to live up to it--by infusing truth into it. ...
All great souls, whether artist, author, reformer, inventor, have given to us the ideal in their works--they are revelators who take us away from naked facts and stern reality and selfish interests, into the realm of truth, where we can be healed by "whatsoever is honest, and lovely, and pure, and just, and are of good report and have virtue and praise in them."
—Eva Hockaday, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 2, 1914.
Every man is in a real sense a god over his own realm of being. His destiny is not determined by fate, but by his life decisions. Man is responsible for the destiny of life. Man at his advent into this principality of life, over which he has been appointed ruler, is placed in a neutral position between two possibilities, the possibility of creating a character noble or ignoble. Man chooses his field of possibilities and with the magic wand decision brings worlds of experience into existence.
There are four fundamental problems confronting man in this task of destiny making. He must choose his ideals. As is a man's habitual ideal so is his universal experience becoming. ... Purpose is the tribunal before which ideals must come before they are accepted. Ideals sail into the harbor of life, purpose accepts some cargoes and rejects others. It is natural for the purpose to choose the lofty ideals of life.
When we approach the problem of emotions we get down to the substrata of human character. Back of purpose which chooses ideals is the field of emotions which generate purpose.
In this task of destiny making we cannot overlook the problem of impulses. Man is the ruler over his realm of life, but he is vitally influenced in his decisions by these great powers which are constantly teaching his life. It is only as man is obedient to the voice of God, adjusts his life to God's program, responds to the influence from God's heart, that he can hope to attain a worthwhile destiny.
—Henry Johnson, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., April 4, 1921.
An ideal is a conception in the concrete of the highest excellency to which one would aspire; it is that perfection which the soul of man cries out for, hopes for, and has faith that he will some day attain.
—Robert L. Judd, Instructor, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1932.
It is ideals that make the man. The past has taught its lesson and gone, and the present is but a moment, so that the future is the all important part of life. What it will bring depends very largely indeed upon what we are striving for, that is to say, upon our ideals. Ideals not only make men but they make nations. If they are high and lofty they conduce to contentment, happiness and prosperity, and if low, to discontent, misery and crime. High ideals are impossible without moral culture. We cannot tell right from wrong by instinct. A thing which may appear to be a heinous wrong to one man may not appear so to another. It is necessary to be taught what is right and what is wrong and how to avoid the wrong.
—James R. Kinealy, The Catholic Tribune, St. Joseph, Mo., June 24, 1909.
Ideals make up a large part of a man’s life. Nothing is more real to me than my hopes, my yearnings, my dreams and my aspirations. They enter into the very warp and woof of my character, and appear to me to be the eternal realities. I mean by an ideal a standard of excellence. Ideals visit every life, and especially do they give warmth and radiance to youth and childhood. How cruel and barren would our life be were it not for these golden ideals that gild our early years. Were it not for these, existence would be an arid waste, and the future would shut down before us, a black, ominous, curtain of mystery.
We are the architects of our fortunes. Will sets as king, and his sovereign power controls all natural law, and modifies all human relations. Whatever our lives today, we are responsible for them. It is true that heredity pushes us from behind with a frightful pressure, and stern environment seems hopelessly to shut us in, but human will, reinforced by divine grace, is able to rise above all external influence.
—Frank Cummins Lockwood, Salt Lake Herald, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 23, 1896.
Our ideals are constantly demanding sacrifices as we climb toward the unrealized.
—H.W. Knickerbocker, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Nov. 7, 1927.
I have found nothing in my experience quite so fascinating as those conferences with parents and children, in which we were considering the school and the course of study for the boy or girl. Of course, the discussion always revolved around the question what the boy or girl wanted to do in life. The preparation must fit one for his life's work. Certainly education should prepare one for the kind of life one wants to live. All of this was important, and not for a moment did I discount its importance, but I did try to lead the way from what the boy was going to "do," to a consideration of what he was going to "be." People are so apt to take that for granted. "Of course we want him to be a good an." Here is a definite weakness in character building--there is no definite idea of what we mean by a "good man," and no well-defined plan for realizing an ideal.
I am very fond of dogs, and find it fascinating to play with them and watch them. There are good dogs and bad dogs. But dogs are the result of heredity, and of their masters. A dog cannot choose what sort of dog he will be, because he cannot picture to himself what kind of dog which he would like to be. Now a man is the only kind of animal which can picture to himself the kind of person he would like to be. In other words he can choose an ideal man–his definition of the man he wants to be--and holding that before his vision, work toward its realization. And we ought to understand that without such an ideal, and determination to reach the ideal, a good character cannot be built.
Those whom we call bad men in the world are not those who have determined to be bad. I seriously doubt if any man ever did determine beforehand to be bad. A bad man is a failure. He is one who failed to choose to be a good man. Bad people are the victims of their surroundings, the creatures of circumstances. They form their habits, opinions and ambitions from the people with whom they come in contact. Following the course of least resistance, they act largely upon the instincts, impulses, and appetites of the moment. They are not necessarily degraded, or vicious people. They may be innocent of all the acts which are usually called sins. They have simply failed to vitally influence the world for good. They have failed to serve mankind by making some contribution of worth to society.
This is not the usual view. "Goodness" is too often the negative–what one does not do–innocence, and the bad is positive. So I am insisting that the determination to be good must be more than a determination not to be bad. How much of the moral training is expressed in the admonition: "now don't be bad." So much of the preaching is in terms of "don't." There is a profound truth in the old proverb: "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do." Yes, not only the hands, but the whole life must be full of something worthwhile.
How foolish it would be to give instructions to an architect in terms of how not to build your house. No composer has ever given music to the world by trying to avoid discords, nor does the artist paint with a vision in his soul of a horror from which his spirit flees. It is equally foolish to attempt to carve one's character out of a conception of what one ought to be. ...
But it is not enough simply to say that I choose to be a good man. No artist can sit down and say, "Lo, I will paint a beautiful picture." He strives to paint the picture--the one which he sees first in his spirit. Every tine and tone and proportion is clear and distinct in his imagination. So the composer hears the throb of his sympathy within, and it is this and this only which he must translate upon his score. Thus one must in some way see the man he wants to be. He must see that man in terms of a son, a father, a neighbor, or a citizen. He must be able to see something of the service that man may render to others, and that service must lay hold of his imagination and his ambition. Life then proceeds from within.
The Christian religion is unique in that it is not an ethical code, or a series of commands. It is the revelation of a beautiful attractive life, in terms of human environment and experience. It is an invitation: "Follow me." Jesus is more than a revelation of God. He is God revealed in human life and human problems, and every virtue revealed in the character of Jesus is capable of being expressed in any man. Indeed he reveals to me my highest possibility. It is this vision of one's best revealed in Jesus, which produces that profound dissatisfaction with one's self as he is. Then comes that turning around: "I don't want to be what I am, but to be what I can be, revealed in Him."
Then life becomes the positive effort to be. It is no frightened flight from a wrath to come, but a race toward a definite goal. It is no dodging of a dreaded devil, but a following in the footsteps of Him who revealed the "beauty of Holiness."
—M. Ashby Jones, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., April 16, 1939.
The real nature of an ideal is that it seeks to become real. Otherwise it has no meaning or value. Remove the element of will from an ideal and you destroy it. It has no longer any significance whatever. This is a world of struggling values. we must piece it out as best we can. He is the best idealist who can harness the forces of life in such a way as to drive through to some objective. The test of an ideal is that you can get somewhere with it. The only way to know if it is a good ideal is to try it on. It is good if its total result is satisfactory. If your theories of life will not carry you through throw them away and harness up some new ones. Don't play the sentimentalist and cry over the fact that this is a different world from what you thought. There is nothing pious or honorable in trying to believe things that are not true, however beautiful they may once have appeared.
An ideal is a symbolized impulse to larger life, and religion is our disposition to trust our ideals. It is the practical conviction that ideals count in this world. Any religious ideal that cannot in some way modify conduct is mere sentimentalism. Certainly what can never be ought not be. And the test of your belief in Jesus is whether or not you think His ideals are practicable, whether in your own consciousness the teaching of Jesus seeks to make itself real. ...
Religion is healthy, sincere, real, in just so far as its ideals are living issues. Religion is just as real to us at it makes the problem of living real. ...
There is a voice calling us and a yearning leading us over to something higher up; there is a something all compelling within this universe akin to our humanity, whose purposes are written in our noblest strivings. It is only for this moral will that the mystery of life exists as God, and it is on moral ground that we must believe in God.
—Everett Dean Martin, The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 20, 1911.
Every right life has its visions and ideals. The crisis must be revealed in every life sooner or later when surface thinking does not satisfy on the most profound subjects. Great inspirations have come as a result of the most adverse circumstances. There has been a mission in pain and affliction. The life inspired by the higher ideals looks back with disdain upon the old self.
Having a sense of our own need helps us to discover the needs of the world and to put one's self in the other fellow's place and lift his burdens.
The better and most real way in life is not one as may be found in the flowery lined plain, but as a ladder let down to us from heaven.
—E.L. Reese, The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 5, 1912.