September 27, 2005

More from R. L. Dabney (1820–1898) on Meditation

Time must be allowed in sacred seasons for divine truth to steep the heart with its influence. Our hurry and externality has impoverished our graces. Solitude is essential to the health of the soul. Is not our modern life far too hurried? Surely we are in too much haste to be rich; we are too strange to self-communion; our very education is too stimulating and mercenary; and while we degrade the heavenly minister, science, to material uses, we teach our young men to forget that the true, the beautiful, and the good are in themselves the happy heritage of the soul. The clangor of our industry and the dust and glare of our skill have repelled the heavenly Dove and exhaled the dews of his grace our of our life. How woeful is the waste of our holiness and happiness by this mistake! Let us, then, learn to commune with our own hearts and be still.

Sacred meditation explains the delight which every true believer takes in prayer and praise. These acts of worship are sweet to him, because they are simple and direct acts of communion with God; because they present his perfections as the immediate objects of adoring thought and love. And the indifference of the major part of men to these exercises shows how shallow and external is their religious life. Unless the acts of direct homage to God are rendered tolerable by the material charms of music, they are regarded as but irksome preludes, detaining men from the sermon (the only part of the service which concerns them), hinderances which they must endure as decently as they may. In these simple ascriptions to God of his known perfections, there is nothing to entertain them, nothing to pique their curiosity, nothing upon which the edge of their acumen can be whetted, nothing of which to prate after they withdraw. Had these men stood where Isaiah was when he heard the Seraphim proclaim, " Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory," while the temple was filled with smoke, and the solid pillars of its door vibrated with the thunder of their tones, they would only have said in their hearts, "Well, what of that? We knew it before." The triteness of such a doxology would quite have fatigued them!

Yet is praise the occupation of heaven, and its words, if only the heart make melody along with them, are the noblest utterance of the human tongue. If they are level to a child, they are also the highest language of angels.
Robert L. Dabney, “Meditation A Means of Grace,” in Discussions: Evangelical and Theological (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 1982), 1:653.

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