Category Archives: Doctrine of Man

“Sin makes earth a suburb of hell” by Horatius Bonar

“The history of six thousand years of evil has been lost on man. He refuses to read its awful lesson regarding sin, and God’s displeasure against the sinner, which that history records. The flood of evil that has issued forth from one single sin he has forgotten.

The death, the darkness, the sorrow, the sickness, the tears, the weariness, the madness, the confusion, the bloodshed, the furious hatred between man and man, making earth a suburb of hell,—all this is overlooked or misread; and man repels the thought that sin is crime, which God hates with an infinite hate, and which He, in His righteousness, must condemn and avenge.

If sin is such a surface thing, such a trifle, as men deem it, what is the significance of this long sad story? Do earth’s ten thousand graveyards, where human love lies buried, tell no darker tale? Do the millions upon millions of broken hearts and heavy eyes say that sin is but a trifle? Does the moaning of the hospital or the carnage of the battlefield, the blood-stained sword, and the death-dealing artillery, proclaim that sin is a mere casualty, and the human heart the seat of goodness after all?

Does the earthquake, the volcano, the hurricane, the tempest, speak nothing of sin’s desperate evil? Does man’s aching head, and empty heart, and burdened spirit, and shaded brow, and weary brain, and tottering limbs, not utter, in a voice articulate beyond mistake, that sin is Guilt, that that guilt must be punished,—punished by the Judge of all.”

–Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness; or, How Shall a Man be Just with God? (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1874/1993), 9-10.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Doctrine of Man, Horatius Bonar, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sin

“The horror! The horror!” by Joseph Conrad

“I had a vision of him on the stretcher, opening his mouth voraciously, as if to devour all the earth with all its mankind. He lived then before me; he lived as much as he had ever lived—a shadow insatiable of splendid appearances, of frightful realities; a shadow darker than the shadow of the night, and draped nobly in the folds of a gorgeous eloquence.

The vision seemed to enter the house with me—the stretcher, the phantom-bearers, the wild crowd of obedient worshippers, the gloom of the forests, the glitter of the reach between the murky bends, the beat of the drum, regular and muffled like the beating of a heart—the heart of a conquering darkness.

It was a moment of triumph for the wilderness, an invading and vengeful rush which, it seemed to me, I would have to keep back alone for the salvation of another soul. And the memory of what I had heard him say afar there, with the horned shapes stirring at my back, in the glow of fires, within the patient woods, those broken phrases came back to me, were heard again in their ominous and terrifying simplicity.

I remembered his abject pleading, his abject threats, the colossal scale of his vile desires, the meanness, the torment, the tempestuous anguish of his soul. And later on I seemed to see his collected languid manner, when he said one day, ‘This lot of ivory now is really mine. The Company did not pay for it. I collected it myself at a very great personal risk. I am afraid they will try to claim it as theirs though. H’m. It is a difficult case. What do you think I ought to do—resist? Eh? I want no more than justice.’…

He wanted no more than justice—no more than justice. I rang the bell before a mahogany door on the first floor, and while I waited he seemed to stare at me out of the glassy panel— stare with that wide and immense stare embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe. I seemed to hear the whispered cry, ‘The horror! The horror!’”

–Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (New York: Penguin Books, 1899/2007), 91-2.

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“The folly of human conceits” by Carl Sagan

On February 14, 1990, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft, having completed its primary mission, to turn around to photograph planet Earth from the edge of our solar system, nearly 4 billion miles away. Caught in the center of scattered light rays from the Sun, planet Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. This grainy photo of Earth has become known as the "pale blue dot."

On February 14, 1990, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft, having completed its primary mission, to turn around and photograph planet Earth from nearly 4 billion miles away. Caught in the center of scattered light rays from the Sun, planet Earth appears as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. This grainy photo of Earth has become known as the "pale blue dot."

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you have ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived here– on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on that scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

–Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (New York: Random House, 1994), 6-7.

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Filed under Book of Psalms, Doctrine of Man, Quotable Quotes, Worldliness, Worldview