But it happens that many, from frequent hearing of the Gospel, are conscious of little longing for it, because they have not the spirit of Christ. But he who wishes fully and with relish to know the words of Christ, must be zealous to bring his whole life into conformity with him.Thomas a’ Kempis
It is vanity to hope for long life and to take little thought for a good life. It is vanity to attend only to the present life, and not look forward to things to come. It is vanity to love that which passes with all speed away, and not to be hastening thither where endless joy abides.
“Know heaven to be the only treasure and labor to know also what a treasure it is. Be convinced once that you have no other happiness, and then be convinced what happiness is there. If you do not soundly believe it to be the chiefest good, you will never set your heart upon it; and this conviction must sink into your affections; for if it be only a notion, it will have little power. As long as your judgments undervalue it, your affections will be cold towards it. If your judgments once prefer the delights of the flesh before the delights in the presence of God, it will be impossible for your heart to be in heaven. As it is the ignorance of the emptiness of things below that makes men so over value them, so it is ignorance of the high delights above, which cause men to so little care about them. If you see a purse of gold, and believe it to be nothing but stones, it will not entice your affections to it. It is not a thing’s excellency in itself, but it is excellency known that provokes desire. If an ignorant man sees a book containing the secrets of arts or sciences, yet he values it no more than something common, it is because he knows not what is in it: but he that knows it, highly values it; his very mind is set up on it.”Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest
What first piqued your interest in C.S. Lewis?
What first piqued your interest in Chopin? In sunsets? In astronomy? In Audrey Hepburn? The question does not need to be asked by anyone who has answered it. The thing itself, the object, Lewis’s mind and spirit, the truths and goodnesses and beauties in his writings, rather than any psychological, individual, “felt need” on my part or any sociological relevance or fashionableness on the part of the society or culture I came out of.
My college roommate credited Lewis, especially Mere Christianity, with saving his faith. When I tried it, it was like Augustine’s first reading of the Bible: “Oh, I know all that; that’s too easy for me.” Like the Bible, and like a human face, the book is deceptively simple on its surface but inexhaustible in its depths. Once we have grown some depths of maturity and overcome superficiality and superciliousness and adolescent arrogance, we love it. It’s the second book I mention, after the Gospels, when people ask me what to read to understand Christianity.
The Problem of Pain was actually the first Lewis book I read, as a college freshman. I didn’t understand it all the first time, but I did understand that the reason I didn’t understand had nothing to do with Lewis, but only with me. Here was the clearest, most direct, honest, intelligent, reasonable answer I had ever seen (and almost 50 years later it remains that!) to the most difficult problem in the world.
Take God in Christ for your only rest, and fix your heart upon him above all. May the living God, who is the portion and rest of his saints, make our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving him and delighting in him may be the work of our lives; and that neither I nor you may ever be turned from this path of life… The saint’s rest is the most happy state of a Christian. It is the perfect endless enjoyment of God by the perfected saints…Richard Baxter