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Beauty of Religion
While religion may, at first glance, seem restrictive it is important to realise that there is a natural beauty in doing what is right. Restraining ourselves against certain temptations is the only way that we can lead a peaceful and pleasant existence.
The contentment of a clear conscience is one of the purest forms of happiness known to man. When we do what is wrong, our conscience confronts us and makes us feel a horrifying sense of shame and guilt.
"If in the course of the day we have swerved in any respect from the rules which our Conscience prescribes to us; if we have either exceeded or relaxed in our frugality; if we have either exceeded or relaxed in our industry; if, through passion or inadvertency, we have hurt in any respect the interest or happiness of our neighbour; if we have neglected a plain and proper opportunity of promoting that interest and happiness; it is this Conscience who, in the evening, calls us to an account for all those omissions and violations, and his reproaches often make us blush inwardly both for our folly and inattention to our own happiness, and for our still greater indifference and inattention, perhaps, to that of other people." (Adam Smith)
It is only when we turn away from our life of sin that we can enjoy the comforts of a quiet conscience.
Virtue not only keeps our own conscience clear, it also benefits our friends, family and neighbours, who will repay us for our kindness and hospitality.
"No benevolent man ever lost altogether the fruits of his benevolence. If he does not always gather them from the persons from whom he ought to have gathered them, he seldom fails to gather them, and with a tenfold increase, from other people. Kindness is the parent of kindness; and if to be beloved by our brethren be the great object of our ambition, the surest way of obtaining it is, by our conduct to show that we really love them." (Adam Smith)
By living a life of service rather than greed we can embrace the greatest joy of human life, love. It is only by putting others first that we can really enjoy time spent in the company of our companions.
When a whole country experiences a revival of religion there is a great improvement in the society of that land. The virtues encouraged by religion are of great benefit to the whole of civilisation.
"That the tendency of virtue to promote the order of society, when we consider it coolly and philosophically, reflects a very great beauty upon it, cannot be called into question. Human society, when we contemplate it in a certain abstract and philosophical light, appears like a great, an immense machine, whose regular and harmonious movements produce a thousand agreeable effects. As in any other beautiful and noble machine that was the production of human art, whatever tended to render its movements more smooth and easy, would derive a beauty from this effect, and, on the contrary, whatever tended to obstruct them would displease upon that account: so virtue, which is, as it were, the fine polish to the wheels of society, necessarily pleases; while vice, like the vile rust, which makes them jar and grate upon one another, is as necessarily offensive." (Adam Smith)
A life of religious virtue is not a wretched existence of unhappiness, rather it is the means by which we, and all of those around us, may grow and prosper in love and peace.
Besides the benefits which we derive from the practise of virtue, there are great comforts from believing in an Almighty God, who watches over us as a Father cares for his son.
When we trust on the All-powerful Author and Judge of the Universe, we can rest on a sure foundation. We know that even if evil triumphs for a moment, it will not prosper for long. If we trust and obey then we know that while our friends may let us down, God will never leave us nor forsake us.
"He by whom God is thus known perceiving how He governs all things, confides in Him as his guardian and protector, and casts himself entirely upon His faithfulness, - perceiving Him to be the source of every blessing, if he is in any strait or feels any want, he instantly recurs to His protection and trusts to His aid, - persuaded that He is good and merciful, he reclines upon him with sure confidence, and doubts not that, in the divine clemency, a remedy will be provided for his every time of need." (John Calvin)
When we trust in God we can look to the future and have a sure confidence that everything will work out. We will call to mind that great promise which says that all things will work together for the good of those who love God.
With confidence we can look to tomorrow, not knowing what will happen, but knowing that it is all for the best that it should happen.
"The idea of that divine Being, whose benevolence and wisdom have, from all eternity, contrived and conducted the immense machine of the universe, so as at all times to produce the greatest possible quantity of happiness, is certainly of all the objects of human contemplation by far the most sublime. Every other thought necessarily appears mean in the comparison." (Adam Smith)
Not only can we trust in God to help us tomorrow, and for years to come, we also know that when our time on this Earth is at an end He will bring us to Him, to be with Him for all eternity.
A sure and firm faith in God is not only natural, but it brings contentment, comfort and confidence to anyone who holds it.