Culture and restraint - by Hugh Black (1901) ebook

Culture and restraint 

Culture and restraint

The problem suggested by the opposing ideals of culture and self-denial is no academic one, but in some form or other is a very- real and practical difficulty, which demands some solution from every one. Should a man obey his nature or thwart it, seek self-limitation or self-expansion? 

In some moods it appears to us as if the best attitude, as it is certainly the easiest way to peace, is to accept simply what seem the surface facts of our nature, and give up the long passion of the saints after the unattainable. 

Yet in other moods we recognise that life gains in dignity and solemn grandeur, when a man realises even once that for him in the ultimate issue there are in all the world only God and his own soul. We no sooner take up one of the positions than doubts pervade the mind as to its sufficiency. If we say that the secret of life is just to accept our nature, and seek its harmonious unfolding, immediately the question arises, whether self-culture is not only a subtle form of self-indulgence. 

If again we make renunciation the infallible method, we cannot keep out the question, whether it is not moral cowardice, that we refuse to live the larger life and to wield the wider power which culture seems to offer. 

The counsels of the great teachers also are varied and conflicting on this problem. Some say with assurance that " self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting," and that no human capacity was given to be renounced; others declare passionately, " Thou must go without, go without — that is the everlasting song which every hour all our life through hoarsely sings to us." Even if we do not trouble much about the general statement of the problem, and are not con- cerned about a plan of life that shall commend itself to reason and to conscience, we do not escape the many practical difficulties in many things on the border-line about which there is often no clear guidance, such as amusements, and our attitude towards certain kinds of art and literature. 

Needless to say, the two voices represent the problem of all religion, namely, how faith stands to the world, with its ordinary life, and ties, and business, and pleasures. The problem varies with the ages with their different tone and quality, and varies even with each separate soul with its special temperament and environment, but it is an everpresent problem. 

 book details :
  • Author: Hugh Black
  • Publication date: 1901
  • Company: Fleming H. Revell

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