On January 9, 1777, Francis Asbury, who would become a bishop in Methodist Church, wrote in his journal: “My soul lives constantly as in the presence of God, and enjoys much of His divine favor. His love is better than life!”
Hmmm . . .
While I can certainly agree on the last part of that statement about the love of God being better than life, I have a much harder time with the “my soul lives constantly as in the presence of God” part. That is a much harder thing to accomplish, it seems to me. Of course, Asbury exhibited a dedication to his ministry and to God that most of us living today do not come close to emulating. The following paragraph (found here) demonstrates some of the religious fervor and devotion he demonstrated upon coming to America in 1771.
In no time [Asbury} reflected the practicality of American life, putting behind him the old world’s concern for pretentious titles and social position. Concerning slaveowners who would not free black serfs he announced without hesitation, “God will depart from them.” A minister was someone who did the work of the ministry and was manifestly used of God in that work; to forsake the ministry for a less rigorous job and expect to retain “Reverend” was ridiculous. Ordination at the hands of the church conferred nothing; it merely acknowledged that someone had been ordained at God’s hand already. At the same time he was upset at the scarcity of qualified preachers, and startled that many without qualification assumed none was needed. Like Wesley before him, Asbury insisted that those claiming a call to preach must study five hours per day — or return to shop and farm. When resisted by older ministers whose ardour had diminished and who preferred to minister amidst comfort, Asbury stated, “I have nothing to seek but the glory of God; nothing to fear but his displeasure…. I am determined that no man shall bias me with soft words and fair speeches.” He sought no comfort for himself as he preached everywhere: a widow’s rented room, a tavern, a cabin filthy as a stable, an orchard, a paper-mill, a crowd at a public hanging, a wagon carrying men to their execution.
In his lifetime Asbury crossed the Allegheny mountains over 60 times in order to make his rounds as bishop. He ultimately travelled over 300,000 miles, preached over 16,500 sermons, and ordained over 4,000 Methodist preachers during his lifetime. During his last seven years he could not, due to illness, stand to preach, and in his final two years he had to carried by others since he could no longer walk.
And to think, I was just complaining a couple of hours ago that I was feeling tired.
In other news from the day:
1908 – Simone de Beauvoir, French feminist writer, was born. A few quotes follow.
“Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself.”
“Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male.”
One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.
2006 – “The Phantom of the Opera” became the longest-running show in Broadway history, surpassing “Cats,” which ran for 7,485 performances. Personally, I do not know which of these musicals is worst.