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“Meekness is love in school, and temperance is love in training” (Dwight Lyman Moody).
IT TAKES “TRAINING” (1) TO BE GOOD AT WHAT WE DO, (2) TO ENJOY WORTHWHILE PLEASURES, AND EVEN (3) TO EXERCISE HONORABLE CHARACTER TRAITS. Love, for example, seems to be a fairly spontaneous thing, but even it has to be schooled and trained. As Moody says, meekness is its school and temperance is its training.
The word “training” is actually an interesting word. Its basic idea is that of following. A railway “train” is a succession of cars that follow one another in a line, the “train” on a wedding gown follows wherever the bride goes, and so forth. So to “train” something is to teach it to follow obediently. The difference between a concert violinist’s fingers and mine is that by long discipline and government his have been taught to follow the dictates of his mind very precisely. I might hear the same notes in my mind and even order my fingers to play them — but my fingers are unruly. They haven’t been taught to follow such difficult instructions.
Much more important than any kind of physical training is the training of our minds and spirits. To be constructively useful, these helpers have to be trained. Specifically, they have to be trained to serve the interests of our principles and our conscience. And really, that’s what life consists of, isn’t it? It’s a training ground where we learn the disciplined use of our endowments. As C. S. Lewis said, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction, and it’s not so bad.” And on this point, I also like what Aldous Huxley said, “Of the significant and pleasurable experiences of life only the simplest are open indiscriminately to all. The rest cannot be had except by those who have undergone a suitable training.”
But whether or not we recognize it, we are training ourselves. By our habitual practices, we are ingraining certain traits within us, for better or worse. And mark it well: if it’s by nothing more than negligence and laziness that we’re training ourselves, we need not think that we’ll eventually enjoy the benefits of a better kind of training.
“A man can seldom — very, very seldom — fight a winning fight against his training” (Mark Twain).