Words from J.H. Jowett, written in 1910:
It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows by the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if it be a man’s ambition to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is perfectly simple — let him shed his ambitions in every direction, let him cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and let him assiduously cultivate a little life, with the fewest correspondences and relations.
By this means a whole continent of afflictions will be escaped and will remain unknown. Cultivate negations, and large tracts of the universe will cease to exist. For instance, cultivate deafness, and you are saved from the horrors of discords. Cultivate blindness, and you are saved from the assault of the ugly. Stupefy a sense, and you shut out a world. And, therefore, it is literally true that if you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass.
And, indeed, that is why so many people, and even so many professedly Christian people get through life so easily, and with a minimum acquaintance with tribulation. It is because they have reduced their souls to a minimum, that their course through the years is not so much the transit of a man as the passage of an amoeba.
They have no finely organized nervous system, or they have deadened and arrested the growth of one nerve after another; they have cut the sensitive wires which bind the individual to the race, and they are cosily self-contained, and the shuddering sorrow of the world never disturbs their seclusion. Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side.
As soon, therefore, as a man begins to enlarge his life, his resistances are multiplied. Let a man tear out of his soul the petty selfish purpose and enthrone a world purpose, the Christ purpose, and his sufferings will be increased on every side. Every addition to spiritual ambition widens the exposure of the soul, and sharpens its perception of the world’s infirmity and the sense of its own restraints.
— John Henry Jowett (1864 – 1923), The School of Calvary, chapter 4.