James Allen: The life triumphant

A powerful quote provided by “reid” at TBR.cc, which I’ve been thinking about for a few days,

Faith is the grey dawn which precedes the full and perfect day of knowledge. Without it there can be no attainment of strength, no permanent security of heart…They who have no faith in the triumph of good ignominiously succumb to the elements of evil. And this must be so; for he who does not elevate good, elevates evil, and, among seeing evil as the master of life, he receives the wages of evil.

There are those who, having yielded to defeat in the battle of life, talk thoughtlessly about the wrongs they have suffered at the hands of others. They believe – and try to make others believe – that they would have been successful, or rich, or famous but for the treachery and villainy of those about them. They tell, for the thousandth time, how they have been deceived, defrauded, and degraded by others. They imagine that they themselves are all trust, all innocence, all honesty and good nature, and that nearly everybody else is all that is bad and malicious. They tell how they would have been just as prosperous and honoured as others if they had been as selfish as those others; and that their great drawback, and the chief source, in themselves, of their failures, is that they were born with too great an endowment of unselfishness. Such self-praising complainers cannot distinguish between good and evil, and their faith in human nature and the goodness of the universe is dead. Looking upon others, they have eyes for evil only; looking upon themselves, they see only suffering innocence. Rather than discover any evil in themselves, they would have only humanity bad. In their hearts they have the wretched Demon of Evil as the Lord of Life, and see in the course of things only a selfish scramble in which the good is always crushed and evil rises triumphant. Blind to their own folly and ignorance and weakness, they see nothing but injustice in their fate, nothing but misery and wretchedness in their present condition.

He who would have even a useful and successful life – much more so a spiritually noble and victorious one – must at once root out and cast away this wretched condition of mind that negatives all that is good and pure, and gives the pre-eminence to all that is base and impure…The man who believes that evil is more powerful than good, and that bad men have the best of life, is still involved in the elements of evil; and, being so involved, he suffers – must necessarily suffer – defeat.

This puts me in mind of Psalm 37:

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

And Psalm 73:

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?”
This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me
till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

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