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Title: The Ascent of the Soul
Author: Bradford, Amory H.
Language: English
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THE ASCENT OF THE SOUL

BY

AMORY H. BRADFORD, D.D.


AUTHOR OF
   "SPIRIT AND LIFE,"
   "HEREDITY AND CHRISTIAN PROBLEMS"
   "THE GROWING REVELATION,"
   "THE AGE OF FAITH"
   "MESSAGES OF THE MASTERS," ETC.



  NEW YORK
  THE OUTLOOK COMPANY
  1902

  Copyright, 1902
  By The Outlook Company


  Mount Pleasant Press
  J. Horace McFarland Company
  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania



To The Memory of My Father

    _That each, who seems a separate whole,
       Should move his rounds, and fusing all
       The skirts of self again, should fall
    Remerging in the general Soul,

    Is faith as vague as all unsweet:
       Eternal form shall still divide
       The eternal soul from all beside;
    And I shall know him when we meet._

                    --_In Memoriam._



INTRODUCTION


The purpose of the following chapters will be evident to all who may
care to peruse them. I have endeavored simply to read the soul of man
with something of the care that one reads a book containing a message
which he believes to be of importance.

While one class of scientists are seeking to explore the physical
universe, another class, with equal care, are studying the human spirit,
and, already, startling discoveries have been made. My work is in no
sense new in kind, but it is such as one whose whole time is devoted to
dealing with the inner life would naturally give to such a subject. It
hardly needs to be added that my method is practical rather than
speculative. I am more interested in helping the ascent of the soul
than in accounting for its origin. In carrying out my plan I have
considered the following subjects: The nature and genesis of the soul,
its awakening to a consciousness of responsibility, the steps which it
first takes on its upward pathway, the experience of moral failure, its
second awakening, which is to an appreciation that the universe is on
its side, the part of Christ in promoting its awakening, the sense of
spiritual companionship by which it is ever attended, the discipline of
struggle, and the nurture and culture best fitted to promote its growth.
I have also sought to read some of the prophecies of the soul, and have
found them all pointing toward a continuance of its being beyond the
event called death, and toward the fullness of Christ as the goal of
humanity. I have found a place for prayers for the departed even among
Protestants of the strictest sects.

A study of the soul, like a study of history, inspires optimism. It is
hard to believe that it could have been intended first for perfection
and then for extinction. It is equally difficult to believe that any
soul will, in the end, be "cast as rubbish to the void."

In these studies I have tried ever to be mindful of my own limitations,
and not to forget that a fraction of humanity can never hope to
comprehend the fullness of truth. Of that side of the spiritual sphere
which has been turned toward me, and of that alone, have I presumed to
write. All that I claim for this book is that it is the contribution of
one, anxious to know what is true, toward a better understanding of a
subject which is daily receiving wider recognition and more thorough
consideration.

AMORY H. BRADFORD.

MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY,
_August 30, 1902._



CONTENTS                              Page


The Soul                                 1

The Awakening of the Soul               25

The First Steps                         47

Hindrances                              71

The Austere                             97

Re-Awakening                           125

The Place of Jesus Christ              151

The Inseparable Companion              181

Nurture and Culture                    209

Is Death the End?                      237

Prayers for the Dead                   265

The Goal                               289



THE SOUL


    It is no spirit who from heaven hath flown
    And is descending on his embassy;
    Nor traveler gone from earth the heaven t'espy!
    'Tis Hesperus--there he stands with glittering crown,
    First admonition that the sun is down,--
    For yet it is broad daylight!--clouds pass by;
    A few are near him still--and now the sky,
    He hath it to himself--'tis all his own.
    O most ambitious star! an inquest wrought
    Within me when I recognized thy light;
    A moment I was startled at the sight;
    And, while I gazed, there came to me a thought
    That even I beyond my natural race
    Might step as thou dost now:--might one day trace
    Some ground not mine; and, strong her strength above,
    My soul, an apparition in the place,
    Tread there, with steps that no one shall reprove!

                      --Wordsworth.



I

_THE SOUL_


Subjects which a few years ago were regarded as the exclusive property
of cultured thinkers, are now common themes of thought and conversation.
Psychology has been popularized. Materialistic doctrines are at a
discount even in this age of physical science.

It is difficult to explain the somewhat sudden appearance of intense
interest in questions which have to do with the life of the spirit; but,
whatever the theory of its genesis, there is no doubt of its presence.
This, therefore, is a favorable time for a somewhat extended study of
the stages through which we pass in our spiritual growth. I shall
endeavor to use the inductive method in this inquiry, and trust that I
am not presumptuous in giving to these essays the title,

    THE ASCENT OF THE SOUL.

The phrases, "The Ascent of Man" and "The Descent of Man" are familiar
to all readers of the literature of modern science. One of the most
eminent of American writers on science and philosophy too soon taken
from his work, if any act of Providence is ever too soon, has made a
clear distinction between evolution as applied to the body and as
applied to the spirit. In lucid and luminous pages he has taught us that
evolution, as a physical process, having culminated in man can go no
further along those lines; that henceforward "the Cosmic force" will be
expended in the perfection of the spirit, and that that process will
require eternity to complete.

More perspicuously than any other author, John Fiske has introduced to
modern English thought the conception of the ascent of the soul,
considered in its relation to the individual and to the race.

This subject naturally divides itself into two departments, viz.--the
ascent of each individual soul and, then, the far-off perfecting of
humanity. I shall make suggestions along both lines of inquiry. I do not
know of any writer who has, in a compact form, presented the results of
such studies, although there have been illustrations, especially in
literature, which indicate that many thinkers have had in mind the
attempt to trace and describe the progress of the soul from its bondage
to animalism toward its perfection and glory in the freedom of the
spirit.

Goethe, in "Faust," has made an effort to follow the process by which a
weak woman and a weaker man, ignorant of the forces struggling within
them and susceptible to malign influences from without, through
terrible mistakes and bitter failure, at length reach the heights of
character.

The Trilogy of Dante is a study of the soul in its slow and painful
passage from hell, through purgatory, to heaven. Perhaps, however, the
noblest and truest effort in this direction to be found in the world's
literature is "The Pilgrim's Progress," in which a man of glorious
genius and vision, but without academic culture, reflecting too much the
crude and materialistic theology of his time and condition, follows the
progress of a soul in its movement from the City of Destruction to the
City Celestial. The City of Destruction is the state of animalism and
selfishness from which the race has slowly emerged; and the City
Celestial is not only the Christian's heaven, but also the state of
those who, having escaped from earthliness, having conquered animalism
and risen into the freedom of the spirit, breathe the air and enjoy the
companionship of the sons of God.

It is my purpose in a different way to attempt to trace some of the
steps of what may be called the evolution of the spirit, or, in the
light of modern knowledge, the growth of the soul as it moves upward. At
the outset I must make it plain that I am speaking of evolution since
the time when man as a spirit appeared. Given the spiritual being, what
are the stages through which he will pass on his way to the goal toward
which he is surely pressing?

Just here we should ask, What do we mean by the soul? The word is used
in its popular sense, as synonymous with spirit or personality. Man has
a dual nature; one part of his being is of the dust and to the dust it
returns; the other part is a mystery; it is known only by what it does.
Man thinks, loves, chooses, and is conscious of himself as thinking,
loving, choosing. The unity of this being who thinks, loves, chooses in
a single self-consciousness constitutes him a spirit, or personality;
and that is what the word soul signifies in its popular usage. There is
another technical definition which may be true or false but which is of
no importance in our study.

The problem of life is the right adjustment of spirit and body, so that
the former shall never be the servant but always the master of the
latter.

We are on this earth, in the midst of darkness, with nothing absolutely
sure except that in a little while we must die. We are two-fold beings
in which there is war almost from the cradle to the grave, and that war
is caused by the effort of the body to rule the soul and of the soul to
conquer the body.

At the gates of this mystery we continually do cry, and little light
comes from any quarter; indeed, it may be said no light except that of
the Christian revelation, and the, as yet, not very pronounced
prophecies of evolution.

One of the questions, which in all ages has been most persistently
asked, concerns the origin of the soul. Perhaps, in reality, that is no
more mysterious than the genesis of the body; but the body is material
and we live in a world of matter, and it is comparatively easy to see
that our bodies are from the earth which they inhabit. Our souls,
however, are invisible, immaterial, ethereal. There is no evident
kinship between a thought and a stone, between love and the soil which
produces vegetables, between a heroic choice and the stuff of the earth,
between spirit and matter. Well, then, whence does the soul come?

It will be interesting at least to recall a few of the many answers
which have been given to this inquiry.

One theory of the genesis of the soul is called Emanation. That means
that in the universe there is really but one source of spiritual being,
one Infinite Spirit, and that all other spiritual beings have proceeded
from Him as the rays of light are flashed from the sun; and that, in
time, all will return to Him again and be absorbed in the being from
which they have come. Thus all spirits are supposed to have proceeded
from one source--God. As all natural life in the end is but a
manifestation of solar energy, so all human beings are supposed to be
only bits of God, for a time imprisoned in bodies, and some time to
return to the Deity and be absorbed in Him, or in it.

Another answer to the question as to the soul's origin is that of
Preëxistence. This may be called the Oriental theory, for almost the
whole Orient holds this view. The substance of the teaching is suggested
by Wordsworth, in his "Ode to Immortality," in the following lines:

    "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
      The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar."

Many Occidentals have believed in preëxistence. One of the most
intelligent persons whom I have ever known once affirmed that she had
had thoughts which she was sure were memories of events which had
occurred in a previous life. This answer only pushes the question one
stage further back, and leaves us still inquiring, Where do the souls of
men originally come from?

Another answer to our question affirms that every individual soul is
created by God whenever a body is in readiness to receive it--that when
a body is born a soul is made to order for it. An old poet wrote as
follows:

    "Then God smites His hands together
    And strikes out a soul as a spark,
    Into the organized glory of things,
    From the deeps of the dark."[1]

[Footnote 1: W.R. Alger, "History of the Doctrine of a Future Life,"
page 10.]

The Greek myth of Prometheus is an illustration of this teaching, for
"Prometheus is said to have made a human image from the dust of the
ground, and then, by fire stolen from heaven, to have animated it with a
living soul."[2]

[Footnote 2: W.R. Alger, "History of the Doctrine of a Future Life,"
page 10.]

Another answer teaches that all human souls have been derived by
heredity from that of Adam. This is a speculation found in medieval
theology, and in the Koran.

A fanciful theory suggests that all souls have been in existence since
the universe was formed; that they are floating in space like rays of
light; and that when a body comes into being a soul is drawn into it
with its first breath, or first nourishment. This is pure imagination,
but intelligent and earnest men have believed it to be the true solution
of the problem.

One other answer to this question of origin teaches that souls are
propagated in the same way and at the same time as bodies; that when a
human being appears he is body and spirit; that both are born together,
both grow together; and then, some add, both die together, while others
believe that the spirit enters at death on a larger and freer stage of
existence.

I have recalled these speculations concerning the soul in order to show
that in all ages this question has been eagerly put and reverently
pressed. How could it have been otherwise? And what more convincing
evidence of the spiritual nature of man could be desired than that he
asks such questions? Would a figure of clay ask whether it were the
abode of a higher order of being? Dust asks no questions concerning
personality; but intelligence can never be satisfied until it knows the
causes of things.

What is the teaching of the New Testament concerning this subject? The
attitude of Jesus toward all the great problems was the practical one.
He attempted to shed no light on causes, but ever endeavored to show how
to make the best of things as they are. Whence came the soul? we may ask
of Him, but He will tell us that a far more important inquiry is, How
may the soul be delivered from imperfection, suffering, and sin, and
saved to its noblest uses and loftiest possibilities?

The reality of spirit is everywhere assumed in the teaching of Jesus,
but nowhere does there appear any effort to throw light on the mystery
of its genesis.

The distinction between spirit and body is indicated by the
Transfiguration, the Resurrection, the narratives of the continued
existence of Jesus after His Crucifixion, by many references to the
heavenly life, and by the appeals and invitations of the Gospel which
are all addressed to intelligence and will. The presence of Jesus in
history is an assertion of the spiritual nature of man. Various
philosophers have tried to satisfy the desire for light on the question
of the origin of personality; but Jesus has told us how, being here, we
may break our prison-houses and rise into the full freedom and glory of
the children of God. While inquirers have been seeking light, Jesus has
brought to them salvation; while they have fruitlessly asked whence they
came, Jesus has told them whither they are going.

The real problem of human life is not one which has to do with our
birth, but with our destiny. We know that we think, choose, love; we
know that we are self-conscious; we feel that we have kinship with
something higher than the ground on which we walk. The stars attract us
because they are above and have motion, but the earth we tread upon has
few fascinations.

Jesus has responded to the essential questions: For what have we been
created? What is our true home? What is the goal of personality? By
what path does man move from the bondage of his will, and the limitation
of his animalism toward the glorious liberty of the children of God, and
toward the fullness of his possible being?

We are thus brought face to face with other questions of deep importance
What part do weakness, limitation, suffering, sorrow, and even sin, play
in the development of souls? Is it necessary that any should fall in
order that they may rise? Did John Bunyan truly picture the ascent of
the soul? Does its path, of necessity, lead through the Slough of
Despond, through Vanity Fair, by Castle Dangerous, and into the realm of
Giant Despair?

Must one pass through hell and purgatory before he may enjoy the
"beatific vision?" Are temptation, sin, sorrow, and even death, angels
of God sent forth to minister to the perfection of man? or are they
fiends which, in some foul way, have invaded the otherwise fair regions
in which we dwell?

These are some of the questions to which we are to seek answers in the
pages which are to follow. I am persuaded that, as the result of our
studies, we shall find that the same beneficent hand which led the
"Cosmic process" for unnumbered ages, until the appearance of man, is
leading it still, that far more wonderful disclosures are waiting for
the children of men as they shall be prepared to receive them, and that
the glory of the "Spiritual Universe," as it approaches its
consummation, when compared with the finest growths of character yet
seen, will transcend them as the ordered creation, with its countless
stars, transcends the primeval chaos.

In the meantime it is well to remember a few very simple and
self-evident facts. One of these is that human souls must vary, at
least as much as the bodies in which they dwell. Individuality has to do
with spirits. We think, love, and choose in ways that differ quite as
much as our bodily appearance. There is no uniformity in the spiritual
sphere;--this we know from its manifestations in conduct and history.
One man is heroic and another tender, one a reformer and another a
recluse, one conservative and another radical. The same Bible has
passages as widely contrasted as the twenty-third and the fifty-eighth
Psalms, and characters as unlike as Jacob and Jesus. Indeed, may it not
be assumed that physical differences are but expressions of still more
clearly marked differences in spirits? If this is true it will follow
that, as we move toward the goal of our being, while all will be under
the same good care, we will move along different, though converging,
paths. There are many roads to the "Celestial City" and, possibly, some
of them do not lead through the Slough of Despond, or go very near to
the realms of Giant Despair.

I cannot leave this part of my subject without dwelling for a moment
upon two thoughts which to me seem to be full of significance.

This wonderfully complex nature of ours,--this power of thinking,
choosing, loving, these mysterious inner depths out of which come
strange suggestions, and within which, all the time, processes are
carried on which may rise into consciousness and startle with their
beauty or shame with their ugliness--does no suggestion come from it
concerning its origin and destiny? Until they pass mid-life few men
realize the terrible significance of the command of the oracle at
Delphi, "Know Thyself." Who is not surprised every day at what he finds
within himself? It sometimes seems as if two beings dwelt in every body,
one in the region of consciousness, and one down below consciousness
steadily forging the material which, sooner or later, must be forced up
for the conscious man to think about.

In proportion as we know ourselves more accurately it becomes
increasingly evident that as spirits we are allied to the great Spirit.
Few who earnestly think can believe that their power of thought could
have grown out of the earth; few when they love can believe that there
is no fountain of love, unlimited and free; and few, when they choose
one course and refuse another, would be willing to affirm that they are
without the power of choice, and have no destiny but the grave. In other
words, is not the fact that we are spirits all the proof that we need to
have of the Father of Spirits? Is not a single ray of light all the
evidence which any one needs of the reality of the sun? Is not the
presence of one spiritual being a demonstration of a greater Spirit
somewhere? Every soul indicates that, whatever the process by which it
has reached its present development, it came originally from God. "In
the beginning God" is a phrase which applies to the spiritual as well as
to the material universe.

The soul is not only a witness concerning its own origin, but it is also
a prophecy concerning its destiny. The more thoroughly it is studied the
more convincing becomes the evidence that it must some time reach its
perfected state. The perfection of intelligence, love, and will require
endless growth. The great words of Pascal can hardly be recalled too
frequently:

"Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. It
is not necessary that the entire universe arm itself to crush him. A
breath of air, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But were the
universe to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which
kills him, because he knows that he dies; and the universe knows nothing
of the advantage it has over him."

We can as yet hardly begin to comprehend that for which we were
created;--now we see through a glass darkly. A caterpillar on the earth
cannot appreciate a butterfly in the air. Jesus was the typical man, as
well as the revelation of God. St. Paul has set our thoughts moving
toward the "fullness of Christ" as the final goal of humanity. We may
not, for many milleniums, know all that is contained in that phrase "the
fullness of Christ;" but no one ever attentively listened to the voices
which speak in his own soul, no one has even asked himself the meaning
of the fact that nothing earthly ever completely satisfies, no one ever
saw another in the ripeness of splendid powers growing more intelligent,
loving, and spiritually beautiful, without feeling that if death were
really the end no being is so much to be pitied as man, and no fate so
much to be coveted as a short life in which the mockery may go on.

Our souls themselves assure us that they have come from a fountain of
spiritual being--that is, from God; and they are also prophecies of a
perfection which has never yet been realized on the earth and which will
require eternity to complete. But all are not conscious of themselves as
spiritual beings and children of eternity, and many come slowly to that
consciousness. Our next inquiry, therefore, will concern the Soul's
Awakening.



THE AWAKENING OF THE SOUL


    There's a palace in Florence, the world knows well,
    And a statue watches it from the square,
    And this story of both do our townsmen tell.

    Ages ago, a lady there,
    At the farthest window facing the East
    Asked, Who rides by with the royal air?

           *       *       *       *       *

    That selfsame instant, underneath,
    The Duke rode past in his idle way
    Empty and fine like a swordless sheath.

           *       *       *       *       *

    He looked at her, as a lover can;
    She looked at him as one who awakes:
    The past was a sleep, and her life began.

         --_The Statue and the Bust._ Browning



II

_THE AWAKENING OF THE SOUL_


The process of physical awakening is not always sudden or swift. The
passage from sleep to consciousness is sometimes slow and difficult. The
soul's realization of itself is often equally long delayed. The effect
of eloquence on an audience has often been observed when one by one the
dormant souls wake up and begin to look out of their windows, the eyes,
at the speaker who is addressing them. In something the same way the
souls of men come to a consciousness of their powers and, with
clearness, begin to look out on their possibilities and their destiny.

The prodigal son in the parable of Jesus lived his earlier years without
an appreciation either of his powers or possibilities. When he came to
himself this appreciation flashed upon his will and he turned toward his
father.

Two chapters of this book will have to do with thoughts suggested by
this "pearl of parables," viz., the Soul's Awakening and its
Re-awakening. Before this young man decided to return to his father he
knew himself as an intelligent and as a responsible being; the power of
choice was not given him then for the first time. Long ere this he had
decided how he would use his wealth. He knew the difference between
right and wrong. He was intellectually and morally awake before he saw
things in their true relations. "The wine of the senses" intoxicated
him; the delights of the flesh seemed the only pleasures to be desired.
At first he did not discover the essential excellence of virtue or the
sure results of vice. Later, when he saw things in a clearer light,
their proper proportions and relations appeared, and he came to himself
and made the wise choice.

In this chapter we are to study the process of the soul's awakening to a
consciousness of its powers, and in a subsequent chapter that
re-awakening which is so radical as to merit the name it has usually
received, viz., the new birth.

There is a time when the soul first realizes itself as a personality
with definite responsibilities and relations. This experience comes to
some earlier, and to some with greater vividness, than to others. So
long as we are blind to our powers, responsibilities, relations, we can
hardly be said to be spiritually awake. He only is awake who knows
himself as a personality; who has heard the voice of duty; who, to some
extent, appreciates the fact that he is dependent on a higher
personality or power; and who recognizes that he is surrounded by other
personalities who also have their rights, responsibilities, and
relations. I think, I choose, I love, I know that I am dependent upon a
Being higher than myself. I see that I am related to other personalities
with rights as sacred as my own, and, therefore, that I must choose,
think, love so as to be acceptable to the One to whom I am responsible,
and harmonious with those by whom I am surrounded.

The soul's awakening is primarily a recognition and an appreciation of
its responsibility. It may think, choose, love, without realizing
responsibility, and, therefore, live as if it were the only being in the
universe; but the moment it recognizes responsibility it also discerns a
higher Person, and other persons, since responsibility to no one, and
for nothing, is inconceivable.

The soul's awakening, therefore, carries with it the idea of obligation,
and that includes the recognition of God, of duty, of right and wrong,
in short, of a moral ideal. I do not mean to insist that every one
appreciates all that is implied in consciousness of responsibility.
There are degrees of alertness, and some men are wide awake and others
half asleep.

However it may have come to its self-realization, that is a solemn and
sublime moment when a human soul understands, ever so dimly, that it is
facing in the unseen Being one on whom it knows itself to be dependent;
and when it discerns the hitherto invisible lines which bind it to other
personalities, in all space and time. At that moment life really begins.
Henceforward, by various ways, over undreamed-of obstacles, assisted by
invisible hands, hindered by unseen forces, in spite of foes within and
enemies without, the course of that soul must ever be toward its true
home and goal, in the bosom of God.

The difficulties in the way of such a faith for the thoughtful and
sensitive are many and serious. Not all blossoms come to fruitage; not
all human beings are fit to live; processes of degeneration seem to be
at work in nature, in society, and in the individual life.

Apparently true and time-honored interpretations of Scripture are quoted
against the faith that in some way, and by some kind of discipline, the
souls of men will forever approach God; while the belief of the church,
so far as it has found expression in the creeds is urged in opposition.
But when I see how timidly the creeds of the church have been held by
many in all ages, how large a number of the most spiritual and morally
earnest have questioned them at this point, and how often they have been
rejected in whole, or in part, by those who have dared to trust their
hearts; when I remember that the Scripture quoted as opposing is
susceptible of another interpretation, when I remember that blossoms are
not men, and, most of all when I see the God-like possibilities in
every human being, I cannot resist the conviction that every soul of man
is from God, and that, sometime and somehow, it may be by the hard path
of retribution, possibly through great agonies and by means of austere
chastisements and severe discipline as well as by loving entreaty, after
suffering shall have accomplished all its ministries it will reach a
blissful goal and the "beatific vision."

The awakening of the soul is its entrance upon an appreciation of its
powers, relations, possibilities, and responsibilities.

What awakens the soul? The answer to that question is hidden. The wind
bloweth where it listeth. Elemental processes and forces are all silent
and viewless. The stillness of the sunrise is like that of the deeps of
the sea. No eye ever traced the birth of life, and no sound ever
attended the awakening of the soul; and yet this subject is not
altogether mysterious. A few rays of light have fallen upon it. I
venture suggestions which may help a little toward a rational answer to
this question.

The soul awakens because it grows, and its growth is sure. Everything
that is alive must grow; only death is stationary. It is as natural for
us sometime to know ourselves as having relations both to the seen and
the unseen as for our bodies to increase in stature. The Confession of
Augustine[3] is true of all, "Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart
is restless until it repose in Thee."

[Footnote 3: Confessions. Book I, 1.]

The soul turns toward God as naturally as children turn toward their
parents. I know no other way of explaining the fact that in all ages the
majority of the people have had faith in some kind of a deity; and that,
widely as they differ as to what is right, all feel that they should
follow their convictions of duty. The various ethnic religions, however
repulsive, cruel, and vile some of their teachings may be, all indicate
a realization of dependence, and all, in some way, bear witness to man's
longing for God. Augustine was right--"The heart is restless until it
repose in Thee."

The healthful soul will always move along the pathway of growth. The
next stage in its evolution after its birth is its awakening. Its
progress may be hindered, but it cannot be prevented, and it may be
hastened.

The means by which a soul comes to its self-realization has been a
favorite study with poets, dramatists, and novelists. Marguerite, in
"Faust," was a simple, sweet, sensuous, traditionally religious girl
until she was rudely startled by the knowledge that she was a great
sinner; that moment the scales began to fall from her eyes. In her,
Goethe has shown how one class of persons, and that a large class, come
to self-realization.

Victor Hugo, in a passage of almost unparalleled pathos, has pictured in
Jean Valjean a kind of big human beast who, when half awake, steals a
loaf of bread to save others from starving, but who is startled into
fullness of manhood by the sympathy and consideration of the good Bishop
whose silver he had also stolen.

Hawthorne, in Donatello, has pictured a beautiful creature fully
equipped with affections, emotions, passions, but with little
consciousness of responsibility, until the fatal moment in which a crime
illuminates his soul like a flash of lightning.

Such experiences are not to be compared with those of the prodigal son
or of Saul. Before the one was reduced to husks, or the light blazed
upon the other, they felt the obligation to do right. The prodigal chose
pleasure with his eyes wide open and Saul was, mistakenly but truly,
trying to do God's will even when he assisted in the stoning of Stephen.

Hugo, Goethe, and Hawthorne have accurately delineated single steps in
the growth of the soul. They have shown how the process of the soul's
awakening may be, and often has been, hastened. It may be hindered by
false ideals and a vicious environment, and it may be hastened by lofty
ideals and a holy environment.

Dr. Bushnell, in his lectures on Christian Nurture, has said that the
formative years of every man's life are the first three. Is he correct?
I am not sure, but there can be no doubt but what with a good
environment the consciousness of moral obligation will be very early
developed.

The soul cannot long be imprisoned. The consciousness of "ought" and
"ought not" will break all barriers as a growing seed will split a
rock; and, when that stage of growth appears, the soul knows itself.

When the soul is finally awakened, when it realizes that it is
indissolubly bound to a larger personality in the unseen sphere; when it
finds that it is tied to other souls, and that it cannot escape from its
responsibility for itself and them,--what then? Then the struggle of
life begins. The awakening is to a realization of conflict with the seen
and unseen environment, with forces within and fascinations without.
When Paul speaks of the law as the minister of death, he simply means
that law introduces an ideal, and ideals always start struggles. Law is
something to be obeyed. It is sure to antagonize the animal in man. When
our possibilities dawn upon us, in that moment there comes the feeling
that they should be our masters. Then the lower nature resists and
becomes clamorous. Duty calls in one direction and inclination impels
in another. The period of ignorance has passed. Weakness and
imperfection remain, but not ignorance. There is a conflict in the soul.
The law in the members wars against the law in the mind. We feel that we
ought to move upward, but unseen weights press heavily upon us, and to
rise seems impossible.

Between God calling from above and animalism from below the poor soul
has a hard time of it. The morally great in all ages have become strong
by overcoming their fleshly natures. They have risen on their dead
selves to higher things. The vision of God has reached them even in
their prison-houses; and it has broken their chains and they have begun
to move toward Him. To the end of the chapter they have had a long
fight, and not seldom have been sadly worsted. Goethe and Augustine,
Pascal and Coleridge, DeQuincey and Webster--how the list of those who
have had to fight bitter battles for spiritual liberty might be extended
I and many have not been victorious before the shadows have lengthened
and the day closed. Should they be blamed or pitied? Pitied, surely, and
for the rest let us leave them to Him who knoweth all things. "Vengeance
is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Men have nothing to do with
judgment; the final word concerning any soul will be spoken only by Him
whose vision is perfect. "Steep and craggy is the pathway of the gods,"
and steep and craggy is the path by which men rise to spiritual heights.

He who is sensitive to life can hardly survey this universal human
struggle with undimmed eye or with unquestioning faith. The young are
driven here and there by heartless and, sometimes, almost furious
passions; some are weak and fall because they are blind, and others
because they love and trust; and many who desire to do good mistake and
choose evil. The strong often try to run away from themselves but can
find no solitude in which to hide; and all the time right and truth
shine in the darkness like stars. What shall we say of these confusing
conditions? To ignore them is foolish; to insist that the struggle is
but a delusion is nonsense. The only sane course is to face facts and
adjust our theories to them.

The battle between duty and inclination, between the ideal and the
actual, will continue as long as life in the body endures. It is not an
unmixed evil. In the end right is never worsted. The way that leads to
holiness is long and sometimes bloody; but it always develops strength
and courage. The fight, for each individual, will be ended only by the
full and perfect choice of truth and virtue, which are always the will
of God. The victory will be secure long before it is fully won. Enough
for us to know that conformity to the will of God at last will be the
end of strife.

It is not well to be overmuch troubled when we see those whom we love
fighting a hard battle against inherited tendencies and an evil
environment, for the fight, however fierce, is a good sign. Those alone
are to be pitied who are drifting, and not resisting. Progress is ever
by a steep and spiral pathway. Sometimes the face of the ascending soul
is toward the sun and sometimes it is toward the darkness. No man can
deliver his friend from the forces which oppose him. Each must conquer
for himself and none can evade the conflict. From the hour when the soul
awakens to a consciousness of its powers and possibilities, its
movement, in spite of all hindrances and difficulties, must be to the
heights. Those only need cause anxiety who are not yet awake; or who,
having been awake, have turned backward instead of pressing onward.

We are now face to face with a momentous inquiry. When the soul is
awake, when it realizes something of its descent from God and of its
relation to Him and to other souls, what should be its environment?
Intelligent and otherwise sane people at this point have been strangely
insane and blind. We are always affected by influence more than by
teaching. Education by atmosphere is quite as effective as education by
study. Involuntarily all become like their ideals. Personalities absorb
characteristics from surroundings as flowers absorb colors from the
light. The awakened soul, therefore, from the first should have a
spiritual environment. Parents and friends should be helps, not
hindrances, to its progress. I once read a letter from one who had
changed an old for a new home. The letter was full of aspiration for the
best things, of thoughts about God and the spiritual verities. It was
not difficult to see that the new home in its reverence for truth, its
loyalty to right, its reaching for reality, was providing the same good
influence as the old one. If, in the environment, truth and duty are
honored, virtue reverenced, God worshipped sincerely and devoutly,
manhood held to be as sacred as deity, the unseen and spiritual never
spoken of unadvisedly or lightly, courage always found hand in hand with
character, the soul will never long fight a losing battle.

The home should be organized to promote, as swiftly as possible, the
awakening of the souls of the children; and, from the moment of this
awakening, everything should be planned to help their growth. The books
on the tables should tell the life-stories of those who have bravely
fought and never faltered. Biographies of men like Wilberforce and
Howard who have lived to help their fellow-men; and of women like
Florence Nightingale and Lady Stanley, who have regarded their social
gifts and ample wealth as calls to service; histories of charities,
intellectual development and noble achievement, pictures like Sir
Galahad and The Light of the World are potent forces in the formation of
character. The ideal side of life should ever be presented in its most
attractive form to the awakened soul in its near environment. Because
the ideal culminates in the religious, and the feeling of moral
obligation rests at last upon the conviction that God is, and that He is
not far from any one, Jesus, in all the beauty and pathos of His earthly
career, in all the tragic grandeur of His death and glory of His
Resurrection, in all the nearness and helpfulness of His continuing
ministry, should be the subject of frequent, earnest, honest, sane, and
sympathetic conversation.

The awakened soul needs first of all an environment which will be
favorable to its growth. Its development then will usually be steadily
and swiftly toward God and conformity to His will. There ought to be no
need of any re-awakening. If the soul opens its eyes among those who
reverence truth and righteousness, who guard virtue and revere love, to
whom God is the nearest and most blessed of realities, and Jesus is
Master, Saviour, and daily Friend, its growth toward the spiritual goal
will be as natural and beautiful as it will also be swift and sure.



THE FIRST STEPS


    No mortal object did these eyes behold
    When first they met the placid light of thine,
    And my soul felt her destiny divine,
    And hope of endless peace in me grew bold:
    Heaven-born, the soul a heav'nward course must hold;
    Beyond the visible world she soars to seek
    (For what delights the sense is false and weak)
    Ideal form, the universal mould.
    The wise man, I affirm, can find no rest
    In that which perishes: nor will he lend
    His heart to aught which doth on time depend.
    'Tis sense, unbridled will, and not true love,
    Which kills the soul: Love betters what is best,
    Even here below, but more in heaven above.

    --_Sonnet from Michael Angelo._ Wordsworth



III

_THE FIRST STEPS_


The first movements of the awakened soul are difficult to trace.
Observation, painstaking and long-continued, alone can furnish the
desired information. In the attempt to recall our own experiences there
is always a possibility of inaccuracy. Bias counts for more in
self-examination than in an examination of others. There is also danger
of confusing religious preconceptions with what actually transpires.
What we have been led to imagine should be experienced we are very
likely to insist has taken place. The truth concerning the Ascent of the
Soul will be found in the conclusions of many observers in widely
different conditions.

The soul awakens to a consciousness of its responsibilities and to a
knowledge that it is in a moral order from which escape is forever
impossible. This is our point of departure in this chapter.

The new-born child has to become adjusted to its physical environment,
to learn to use its powers, to breathe, to eat, to allow the various
senses to do their work. In like manner the newly awakened soul has to
become adjusted to the moral order. The moral order is the rule of right
in the sphere of thought, emotion, and choice. It is the government of
the soul as the physical order is the government of the body. It may be
best explained by analogy. There is a physical order ruled by physical
laws. If those laws are obeyed, strength, health, sanity result; but if
they are disobeyed, the consequences, which are inevitable and
self-perpetuating, are weakness, disease, insanity. If one violates
gravitation he is dashed in pieces; if he trifles with microbes their
infinitesimal grasp will be like a shackle of steel. No one can get
outside the physical universe and the sweep of its laws.

There is also a right and a wrong way to use thought, emotion, will. The
mind which has hospitality only for holy thoughts will become clearer,
and its vision more distinct; but the mind which harbors impure
thoughts, gradually, but surely, confuses evil with good, obscures its
vision, and becomes a fountain of moral miasm. If we choose to recall
and to retain feelings that are animal, and are the relics of animalism,
the natural tendency toward bestiality will gather momentum; but if
emotion is turned toward higher objects, and we are thrilled from above
rather than lulled from below, the sensibilities become sources of
enduring joy. The moral order is like the physical order in its
universality and in the remorselessness of the consequences which follow
choices.

How does the soul become adjusted to the moral order? This question is
difficult to answer. At the first there is sight enough to see that one
course is right and another wrong, but the vision is indistinct.
Gradually the ability to make accurate discriminations increases, and,
with time and other growth, the faculty of vision is enlarged and
clarified.

The first step in the Ascent of the Soul is the development of ability
to discriminate between right and wrong. The powers of the soul are
enlarged and vivified with the bodily growth, but whether there is any
necessary connection between the growth of the one and that of the
other, we know not. This alone is sure--clearer vision, with
ever-increasing distinctness, reveals the certainty that moral laws are
universal and unchangeable. The process of adjustment to the moral
order is partly voluntary and partly involuntary. It is hastened by the
hidden forces of vitality, and it may be hindered by its own choices. As
a human being who refuses to eat will starve, so a soul which turns away
from truth will starve. The law in one case is as inexorable as in the
other. This consciousness of the moral order is sometimes dim even in
mature years because neglect always deadens appreciation. Paul said that
the law is a schoolmaster leading to Christ. By that he intended to
teach that we must realize that we are under moral law before we can
know that its violation will result in a state of ruin needing
salvation. First that which is natural, then that which is spiritual.
The phrase "natural law in the spiritual world" means that the
consequences following right and wrong are as inevitable and essential
in the realm of spirit as in that of matter.

The progress of the soul is dependent on the realization that there is
a moral quality in thoughts, emotions, choices; that the consequences
following them grow out of them as flowers from seed, and that they
determine not only the character but the happiness and welfare of the
one exercising them.

The next step in the upward movement of the soul is the realization of
its freedom. It is possible for one to know that he is under law,
without at the same time appreciating that he is free to choose whether
he will obey. I may see a storm sweeping toward me and know that behind
it is resistless force, and know, also, that to step outside the track
of that storm is impossible; and it is conceivable that a soul may know
itself as able to think, feel, act, and, at the same time, be under the
dominion of forces before which it is powerless. The practical question,
therefore, for all in this human world is not, are there spiritual
laws? but, may we choose for ourselves whether we will obey or disobey
them? Until the soul knows itself to be free to choose, there will be no
deep feeling of obligation, without which there can be no motive
impelling toward the heights. Here also we walk in the dark. The genesis
of the consciousness of freedom has never been observed. DuBois-Reymond
has called it one of "the seven riddles of science." We are no nearer
the solution of the problem than were our fathers a thousand years ago.
But one thing at least we do know: He who believes himself to be a
puppet in the hands of unseen forces will never fight them. If freedom
is a fiction the universe is not only unmoral, but immoral. The final
argument for freedom is consciousness. I know I could have chosen
differently from what I did. But how do I know? The process cannot be
pushed farther back. Consciousness is ultimate and authoritative. But
what then shall be said of heredity? A child when first born is little
but a bundle of sensibilities. Its growth seems to be but the unfolding
of inherited tendencies. Every man is what his ancestors have made him
plus what he has absorbed from his environment. How can we say then that
any are free? That man who is surly, uncomfortable, ugly, as hard to
endure as a March wind, is but the extension of his father. When one
knows the elder it is difficult to do otherwise than pity the younger.
He is but living the tendencies which were born in him and which are an
inseparable part of his nature. He cannot be genial and urbane. Are not
some born moral cripples as others are born with physical deformities?
Are not some spiritually deaf, dumb, and blind from birth? It cannot be
doubted. We are all more or less what our fathers were, but our
surroundings do much to modify us. Many men seem to be driven on wings
of passion, as leaves by tornadoes; and yet we know that we are free,
and that all life and conduct, individual and social, must be ordered on
that hypothesis. Teach men that they are not free, and anarchy and chaos
will quickly follow. No freedom? Then there is no obligation. No one
feels that he ought to do what he cannot do, and no one will try to do
what he does not feel that he ought to do. If men are but machines,
moving only as the power is turned on, there is no moral quality in any
action. If we live in a moral world, whether we can understand it or
not, we must be free to choose for ourselves. The possibility of the
soul's expansion depends on its freedom. There is no right and no wrong,
no truth and no error, if it is a slave to the inheritance with which it
was born. What gives to the invitations of Jesus a quality so serious
and so solemn is the fact that they may be rejected. The power of
choice is the most sublime endowment which man possesses. When we have
learned to know ourselves as free a long step forward has been taken.
The soul grows by a right use of the power of choice.

How may it be adjusted to this knowledge? It will undoubtedly grow to
it, but the process will be slow. It may, however, be hastened by a use
of the experience of others. No man should be allowed to begin the
battle of life as ignorant as his father was. Each new soul should have
the benefit of the experience of all who have lived before. Children
should be taught by example and conversation, in the home and the
school, that the beginning of wisdom is a right use of the experience of
others. However this lesson may be learned, and however swift may be the
process of growth, the next step in the soul's progress, after its
realization that it is in a moral order, must be its adjustment to the
fact that it is a free agent and sovereign over its own choices.

No man is ever forced into any course of conduct. Character is the
resultant of many choices rather than of necessity. The moral law may be
obeyed or it may be violated. Its seat is, indeed, in the bosom of God.
It is the only guarantee of individual progress and social harmony. Its
sway is without bound and without end. To know how to live in a moral
world, and how best to use the gifts of liberty, is a subject for an
eternity of study. That this consciousness of freedom comes slowly is an
immense blessing; otherwise the soul would be dazed as, for the first
time, it looked around on the solemnities and splendors of the spiritual
universe; and be overwhelmed as it realized, at the very beginning of
its career, that it was endowed with a sovereignty as mysterious and
potent as that of God.

The next step in the upward movement of the soul is appreciation of a
moral ideal. That is a solemn and sublime moment when the newly awakened
soul realizes that it dwells in a moral order and is free to make its
own choices. But another moment is equally thrilling--that in which, in
faint and scarcely audible accents, it catches the far call of the goal
toward which, henceforward and forever, it must move. It now knows not
only that there is a difference between right and wrong, but that there
are mysterious affinities between itself and truth and right. Later the
sound of that far-away voice will become more distinct. But in its
infancy the soul is more or less confused. It hears many sounds and does
not always know how to distinguish between siren voices and those which
prophesy its destiny. It also has to learn to distinguish truth and
right. The task of making moral discriminations is not easy at any time.
Amid a babel of noises to detect the one clear call which alone can
satisfy is almost impossible. The mistakes, therefore, are many, but
even by mistakes the soul learns to distinguish the true from the false.
But how is it to be taught to appreciate that one voice only in all that
confusion of strange sounds should be heeded, and all the rest
disregarded? The same answer as before must be given. This knowledge,
also, will come in large part with the years. It seems to be the cosmic
purpose to provide fresh light with every new step of progress. No one
is ever left in total darkness. As the soul advances it learns to
distinguish between the voices which speak to it. The necessity of
growth is the angel of the Lord whose ministries and prophecies are the
hope and glory of the race. Growth may be hindered, but it can never be
banished from the universe. It moved in chaos, and never faltered in its
march, until under its beneficent leading all things were seen to be
good. It led the cosmic movement until man appeared; and now it has
taken man in hand, with all the vestiges of animalism clinging to him,
and it will never leave him as he rises toward the perfection and glory
of God. The law of growth answers most if not all of our questions. The
soul of man must grow. With its growth will come vision, strength, and
progress toward its goal.

But growth is not all. The voices to which we choose to give heed will
sound most distinctly in our ears. Here we face a fact which is often in
evidence. The earth and animalism will never cease to make appeal to our
senses, while at the same time voices from above will call from their
heights to our spirits. To distinguish between desire and duty, between
truth and tradition, between the spiritual and the animal, is a step
which has to be taken, and which is taken whether we appreciate how or
not. By the pain which follows wrong choices, or by the intuitions of
the spirit, the soul comes to realize that its obligation is always in
one direction; that its choice ought to be in favor of the morally
excellent. But how shall it discern the morally excellent? The process
of learning will be a long one, and never fully completed on the earth.
This is a realm that poets and dramatists, who are usually the
profoundest and most accurate students of life, have not often tried to
enter. Such questions can be answered only after careful and
long-continued inductive study. Moralists are usually content to stop
short of this inquiry. How the soul comes to learn that it is obligated
to truth and right we may not fully know; but that it does learn, and
that no step in all its development is more important, there is no
doubt. In His dealing with this question Jesus preserves the same
attitude as toward all subjects of speculation. I came not to explain
how life adjusts itself to its environment, He seems to say, but to give
life a richness and a beauty which it never had before; I came not to
answer questions, but to save to the best uses that which already
exists. Nevertheless, the question as to how the soul is taught to
distinguish the morally excellent is of serious importance. If we do not
recognize the sanctity of truth and right we may not give them
hospitality; and we may not appreciate their sanctity if we are ignorant
of what gives them their authority. How, then, does it learn what truth
and right are? Are there any clearly defined paths by which this
knowledge may be reached? Is not truth a matter of education? And is
there any absolute right? A Hindoo Swami, of the school of the Vedanta,
lecturing in this country, solemnly assured an intelligent audience
that there is no sin; that what is called sin is only the result of
education; that what is vice in one place may be virtue in another; and
that in the sphere of morals all is relative and nothing absolute. Then
there is no wrong, for wrong and sin are closely related; and no right
because if right is not a dream it implies the possibility of an
opposite. There is little permanent danger from such shallow theories.
The peril from confusion is greater than from denial. But even confusion
at this point is not long necessary because in every soul there is a
voice which men call conscience, which never fails to impel toward the
true and the good. Conscience may be likened to a compass whose needle
always points toward the north. When it is uninfluenced by distracting
causes conscience always shows the way toward truth and right. The
Spartans believed that lying was a virtue if it was sufficiently
obscure; and a Hindoo woman who throws her child to the god of the
Ganges does so because she is deeply religious. Are not such persons
conscientious? Yet they perform acts which are in themselves wrong? Of
what value, then, is conscience? That they are both conscientious and
religious I have no doubt. It is their misfortune to be ignorant. The
light appears to be colored by the medium through which it passes, and
yet it is not colored; and conscience seems to approve what is wrong,
and yet it never does. It always impels toward the right, but men often
make serious mistakes because of their ignorance. The needle in the
moral compass is deflected by selfishness or false teaching. The Hindoo
mother might hear and, if she dared to listen to it, would hear a deeper
voice than the one calling her to sacrifice her child--even one telling
her to spare her child. She has not yet learned that it is always safe
to trust the moral sense. Superstitions are not conscience; they are
ignorance obscuring and deadening conscience. Every man is born with a
guide within to point him to paths of virtue and truth, and one of the
most important lessons which the growing soul has to learn is that when
it is true to itself it may always trust that guide. The call of his
destiny finds every man, and, when he hears it, he asks: How may I reach
that goal? It is far away and the path is confused. Then a voice within
makes answer, and, if he heeds that, he will make no mistake. That
voice, I believe, is the result of no evolutionary process, but is the
holy God immanent in every soul, making His will known. Evolution
gradually gives to conscience a larger place, but there is no evidence
that it is produced by any physical process. It may be hindered by
physical limitations, but it can be destroyed by none. Why are we so
slow in learning that conscience, being divine, is authoritative and may
be trusted? I know no answer except this: We so often confuse ignorance
with conscience that at last we conclude that the latter is not
trustworthy. But there we mistake. It is trustworthy. It never fails
those who heed its message. That realization may now and then come
early, but it seldom comes all at once. Nevertheless it is a step to be
taken before the progress of the soul can be either swift or sure.

The moment that the soul realizes that God is not far away, but within;
that all the divine voices did not speak in the past, but that many are
speaking now; that whosoever will listen may hear within his own being a
message as clear and sacred as any that ever came to prophet or teacher
in other times, it will begin to realize the luxury of its liberty, and
something of the grandeur of its destiny. Truth and right are not
fictions of the imagination, they are realities opening before the
growing soul like continents before explorers. They always invite
entrance and possession. They have horizons full of splendor and beauty
and music. They alone can satisfy. But the soul has not yet fully
escaped from the mists and fogs and glooms of the earth. It is
surrounded by those who still wallow in animalism, and the sounds of the
lower world are yet echoing in its ears. But at last its face is toward
the light; the far call of its destiny has been heard; it knows itself
to be in a moral order; it is assured that, however closely the body may
be imprisoned, no bolts and no bars can shut in a spirit; that before it
is a fair and favored land, far off but ever open; and, best of all,
that within its own being, impervious to all influences from without, is
a guide which may be implicitly trusted and which will never betray. Why
not follow its suggestions at once and press on toward that fair land
of truth and beauty which so earnestly invites? Ah! why not? Here we are
face to face with other facts. There are hindrances, many and serious,
in the pathway of the soul, and they must be met and forced before that
land can be entered. This is the time for us to consider them.



HINDRANCES


    And many, many are the souls
    Life's movement fascinates, controls;
    It draws them on, they cannot save
    Their feet from its alluring wave;
    They cannot leave it, they must go
    With its unconquerable flow;

           *       *       *       *       *

    They faint, they stagger to and fro,
    And wandering from the stream they go;
    In pain, in terror, in distress,
    They see all round a wilderness.

    --_Epilogue to Lessing's "Laocoon"._ Matthew Arnold



IV

_HINDRANCES_


When the soul has heard the far call of its destiny and realizes that it
may respond to that call, and that it has, in conscience, a guide which
will not fail even in the deepest darkness, it turns in the direction
from which the appeal comes and begins to move toward its goal. Almost
simultaneously it realizes that it has to meet and to overcome numerous
and serious obstacles. To the hindrances in the way of the spirit our
thought is to be turned in this chapter.

The moral failure of many men and women of superb intellectual and
physical equipment is one of the sad and serious marvels of human
history. What a pathetic and significant roll might be made of those
who have been great intellectually and pitiful failures morally! It has
often been affirmed that Hannibal might have conquered Rome, and been
the master of the world except for the fatal winter at Capua. Antony,
possibly, would have been victor at Actium if it had not been for
something in himself that made him susceptible to the fascination of the
fair but treacherous Egyptian queen. Achilles was a symbolical as well
as an historical character. There was one place--with him in the
heel--where he was vulnerable, and through that he fell. Socrates was
like a tornado when inflamed by anger. Napoleon laid Europe waste and
desolated more distant lands, but he was an enormous egotist and morally
a blot on civilization.

The life-history of many of the poets is inexpressibly sad. Chatterton,
Shelley, Byron, Poe--their very names call up facts which those who
admire their genius would gladly conceal. Many artists are in the same
category. It explains nothing to ascribe their moral pollution to their
finer sensibilities, for finer sensibilities ought to be attended by
untarnished characters. It is, perhaps, best not even to mention their
names lest, thereby, we dull the appreciation of noble masterpieces
which represent the better moods of the men. One of imperial genius was
a slave to wine, another to lust, another was too envious to detect any
merit in the work of others of his craft. There are statesmen of whose
achievements we speak, but never of the men themselves; and there have
been ministers of the Gospel, unhappily not a few, who have suddenly
disappeared and been heard of no more. Into a kindly oblivion they have
gone, and that is all that any one needs to know. What do such facts
signify? That many, or most, of these men have been essentially and
totally bad? Or that they are moral failures? They signify only that
they have not yet risen above the hindrances which they have found in
their pathways. The world knows of the temporary obscuration of a fair
fame; it does not see the grief, the tears, the gradual gathering of the
energies for a new assault upon the obstacles in the road; and it does
not see how tenderly, but faithfully, Providence, through nature, is
dealing with them. Some time they will be brought to themselves--The
Eternal Goodness is the pledge of that. It is not with this unseen and
beneficent ministry of restoration, however, that I am now dealing, but
with the awful wrecks and failures which are so common in human history,
and concerning which most men know something in their own experiences.
How shall they be explained?--since to evade them is impossible. In
other words when a man is awake, when he feels that he is in a moral
order, is free, and hears the call of his destiny, why is his progress
so slow and difficult? No one has ever delineated this period in the
soul's growth with greater vividness than Bunyan. The Valley of
Humiliation, the Slough of Despond, Giant Despair, Doubting Castle are
all pictures of human life taken with photographic accuracy. What are
some of these hindrances?

The soul is free, but its abode is in a limited body. The movement of
the soul is swift and unconstrained as thought. It is not limited by
time. It may project itself a thousand years into the future or travel a
thousand years into the past; but it dwells in the body and is more or
less restrained by it. Bodily limitation narrows experience and compels
ignorance. It makes large acquaintance impossible. The flowers beneath
the ice on the Alps are small; the flowers of the tropics have the
proportions of trees. Thus environment modifies growth. The body cannot
put fetters on the will, but it may hold in captivity the powers which
acquire knowledge, withhold from the emotions persons worthy of
affection, and make the range of objects of choice poor and pitiful. The
soul has often been compared to a bird in a cage,--fitted for broad
horizons but confined within narrow spaces. This hindrance is a very
real one. The man who grows swiftly must be in the open world with
beings to love and to serve ever within his reach. Hence the life beyond
death is often called the unhindered life because of its freedom from
the body. The old story of "Rasselas" is symbolical. In the Happy Valley
a man might be as good, but he could not be as great and wise, as in the
larger world. The soul will meet fewer temptations there, but those it
does encounter will be more insistent and harder to escape. He who would
respond to a call to service must needs have about him those whom he
may serve. Large views are for those who are able to rise to the
heights. He who lives in a cave may be true to his little light, and
surely is responsible for no more, but he will see far less than the one
whose home is on the mountaintop. Thus even bodily limitations, to which
are attached no moral qualities, are hindrances to the growth of the
being, whose destiny is not only purification but expansion:--its
movement is not only toward goodness but also toward greatness; not only
toward virtue but also toward power.

The animal entail is one of the greatest mysteries of our mortal life.
The soul in its moments of illumination feels that it is related to some
person like itself, but far higher, and aspires to it. Sir Joshua
Reynolds' figure of "Faith" in the famous window in the chapel of New
College, Oxford, suggests the attitude of the newly awakened soul. In
freshness and beauty it is turning toward the light. But in human
experience something occurs which Sir Joshua has not tried to depict. A
clammy hand reaches up from the deeps out of which rise suffocating
clouds, and that pure spirit finds itself enveloped in darkness and
fastened to the earth. The humiliation is complete. What has occurred?
Only what has happened again and again; and what will continue to happen
for no one knows how long. The animal has gotten the better of the
spirit. The soul has sinned--for sin is little, if anything, but a
spirit allowing itself to return to the fascinations of the animal
conditions out of which it has been evolved, and from which it ought to
have escaped forever. The animal entail is the chief hindrance to the
aspiring spirit. The animal lives by his senses. He is content when they
are satisfied. It can hardly be said that animals are ever happy.
Happiness is a state higher than contentment. Paul said he had learned
in whatsoever state he was to be content, but even he never said that in
all states he had learned to be happy. Animals are contented when their
senses are gratified and they are savage when their senses are
clamorous. Lions and bears are dangerous when they are hungry, and cruel
when other desires are obstructed.

Whatever the theory of evolution, from the beginning of its upward
movement, the nearest, most potent, and most dangerous hindrance to the
soul is this entail of animalism, which it can never escape but which it
must some time conquer. The spirit and the body seem to be in endless
antagonism, and yet the body itself will become the fair servant of the
soul when once the question of its supremacy has been determined. The
tendency to revert to animalism has been vividly depicted by the poets,
and the clamorous and insistent nature of the passions portrayed by the
artists.

The liquor in the enchanted cup of Comus may be called "the wine of the
senses." Its effect is thus described by Milton. Comus offers

           ... "To every weary traveler
    His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
    To quench the drought of Phoebus; which, as they taste
    (For most do taste through fond, intemperate thirst)
    Soon as the potion works, their human countenance,
    The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
    Into some brutish form of wolf or bear,
    Or ounce or tiger, hog or bearded goat."

A famous passage from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"[4] represents Actæon as
changed into a stag; but, if I read the fable aright, the glimpse of
Diana in her bath, while not an intelligent choice, was more than a mere
accident--it was the uprising of innate sensuality; for even the Greek
gods were supposed to have had senses.

[Footnote 4: Addison's translation, Book III, pages 188-198.]

    "Actæon was the first of all his race,
    Who grieved his grandsire in his borrowed face;
    Condemned by stern Diana to bemoan
    The branching horns and visage not his own;
    To shun his once-loved dogs, to bound away
    And from their huntsman to become their prey;
    And yet consider why the change was wrought;
    You'll find it his misfortune, not his fault;
    Or, if a fault it was the fault of chance;
    For how can guilt proceed from ignorance?"

The story of Circe is the common story of those who have yielded to the
flesh. The companions of Ulysses visited the palace of Circe, were
allured by her charms, and the result is read in these words:

    "Before the spacious front, a herd we find
    Of beasts, the fiercest of the savage kind.
    Our trembling steps with blandishments they meet
    And fawn, unlike their species, at our feet."

The strong words of Milton are none too strong:

    "Their human countenance
    The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
    Into some brutish form."

A common subject with artists has been the temptations of the saints.
They have fled from luxury, and what they supposed to be moral peril,
but have found no solitude to which they could go and leave their bodies
behind. In the silences faces have appeared to them full of alluring
entreaty, and more than one anchorite has found to his sorrow that he
carried within himself the cause of his danger.

A singularly vivid painting represents one of the saints in the desert,
and clinging to him, with their arms around his neck, are two figures of
exquisite physical beauty. Their charms are so near and perilous that
the pale and haggard man in desperation has shut his eyes, and in this
extremity, with his one free hand, is frantically clinging to a cross.
The artist has accurately depicted the condition in which the soul finds
itself as it begins its growth;--its chief enemies are those of its own
household.

Happy indeed is it for all that none see at the first the obstacles in
their way. Faint and far shines the splendor of the goal; the hindrances
are reached one by one, and each one, for the moment, seems to be the
last.

But close and persistent as is the animal entail, it is not
unconquerable. Many a Sir Galahad, and many a woman fair and holy as his
pure sister, have lived on this earth of ours. They were not always so;
and their beauty and holiness are but the outshining of spiritual
victory.

Is this environment of evil necessary to the development of the soul? We
may not know; but we do know that it can be conquered, and some time and
somehow will be conquered; and that then men, like ourselves, grown from
the same stock, evolved from the lower levels, will constitute "the
crowning race."

    "No longer half akin to brute,
    For all we thought and loved and did,
    And hoped, and suffered, is but seed
    Of what in them is flower and fruit."

These are a few samples of the hindrances which the soul must face in
its progress through "the thicket of this world." But these are not all.
Hardly less serious is the ignorance which clothes it like a garment. It
comes it knows not whence; it journeys it knows not whither, and
apparently is attended by no one wiser than itself.

Hugo's awful picture of a man in the ocean with the vast and silent
heavens above, the desolate waves around, the birds like dwellers from
another world circling in the evening light, and the poor fellow trying
to swim, he knows not where, is not so wide of the mark as some
thoughtless readers might suppose.

The soul is ignorant and timid, in the vast and void night, with its
environment of ignorance and of other souls also blindly struggling. At
the same time there is the consciousness of a duty to do something, of a
voice calling it somewhere which ought to be heeded, and of having
bitterly failed.

The solitariness of the soul is also one of the most mysterious and
solemn of its characteristics. The prophecy which is applied to Jesus
might equally be applied to every human being: He trod the wine-press
alone. In all its deepest experiences the soul is solitary. Craving
companionship, in the very times when it seeks it most it finds it
denied. Every crucial choice must at last be individual. When sorrows
are multiplied there are in them deeps into which no friendly eye can
look. When the hour of death comes, even though friends crowd the rooms,
not one of them can accompany the soul on its journey. It seems as if
this solitariness must hinder its growth. Perhaps were our eyes clearer
we should see that what seems to retard in reality hastens progress. But
to our human sight it seems as if every soul needed companionship and
coöperation in all its deep experiences; and that the ancients were not
altogether wrong in their belief in the presence and protection of
Guardian Angels. But something more vital and assuring than that faith
is desired. It is rather the inseparable fellowship of those who are
facing the same mysteries and fighting the same battles as ourselves;
but even that not infrequently is denied.

Is this all? There is another possibility which observation has never
detected and which science is powerless to disprove. Can we be sure that
no malign spiritual influences hinder and bewilder? We cannot be sure.
The common belief of nearly all peoples ought not to be rudely brushed
aside. No one willingly believes in lies nor clings to them when he
knows that they are lies. Superstitions always have some element of
truth in them, and the truth, not the error, wins adherents. The most
that we can say, at this point, is that we do not know. It is possible
that the common beliefs of many widely separated people have no basis
in fact, that they are born of dreams and delusions; and, on the other
hand, it is equally possible that the spaces which we inhabit, but which
we cannot fully explore, have other inhabitants than our vision
discerns, and that those beings may help and may hinder us in our
progress. It is not wise to dogmatize where we are ignorant. While the
scales balance we must wait.

Are the hindrances in the path of the soul without any ministry? That
cannot be; for then they are exceptions to the universal law, that
nothing which exists is without a purpose of benefit.

All the analogies of nature indicate that human limitations are intended
to serve some good end, since, so far as observation has yet extended,
it has found nothing which is caused by chance. Emerson says, "As the
Sandwich Islander believes that the strength and valor of the enemy he
kills passes into himself, so we gain the strength of the temptations we
resist;"[5] and St. Bernard says, "Nothing can work me damage except
myself; the harm that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a
real sufferer but by my own fault."[6]

[Footnote 5: Essay on Compensation.]

[Footnote 6: Quoted by Emerson in Essay on Compensation.]

And St. John says, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the
tree of life."[7]

[Footnote 7: Revelation 2:7.]

The mission of the austere is the development of strength. Concerning
this suggestion we shall inquire later. The souls which have reached the
serene summits have ever been those which have most resolutely faced the
obstacles in their pathways. Even apparent hindrances always exercise a
beneficent ministry. As Jesus was made perfect by the things which He
suffered, so, in the Cosmic plan, all souls must come to strength and
perfection by the difficulties which they overcome and the enemies which
they subdue.

What should be the attitude of the soul in view of the hindrances by
which it is environed? It should be taught to fight them at every point.
Nowhere is the kindness of nature more evident than in the patience and
persistence with which this instruction is conveyed.

Nature withholds her favors until they are earned. New light comes only
to those who have used-the light they had. Strength is developed by
resistance. Growth is for those who place themselves where growth is
possible. Nature gives the soul nothing, but she always waits to
coöperate with it. This lesson was impressed long ago. It ought never to
require new emphasis. Let the younger study the experiences of their
elders. They will be saved many failures and much pain. The soul can
never be coerced, but it may be taught. Milton has enforced this great
lesson in Comus:

          "Against the threats
    Of malice or of sorcery, of that power
    Which erring men call Chance, this I hold firm--
    Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt,
    Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled;
    Yet, even that which mischief meant most harm,
    Shall in the happy trial prove most glory;
    But evil on itself shall back recoil,
    And mix no more with goodness, when at last
    Gathered like a scum, and settled to itself,
    It shall be in eternal restless change
    Self-fed, and self-consumed; if this fail
    The pillar'd firmament is rottenness
    And earth's base built on stubble."

No one should believe, after all the growth of the ages, that the soul
was made to be imprisoned in a fleshly prison. It was intended that it
should burst its barriers and press toward the light. There is an
eternal enmity between the serpent and the soul, and the serpent's head
must be bruised, but the soul resisting all the forces and fascinations
of the flesh, rising on that which has been cast down to higher things,
slowly but surely, painfully but with ever added strength moves toward
the ideal humanity which has never been better defined than as "the
fullness of Christ."

Meanwhile it is well to reinforce our faith by remembering that it is
written in the nature of things that truth and goodness must prevail.

This is a moral universe. Error never can be victorious. It may be
exalted for a time, but that will be only in order that it may be sunk
to deeper depths. Evil and error are doomed and always have been. Evil
is moral disease, and disease always tends toward death, while life
always and of necessity presses toward larger, more beautiful, and more
beneficent being.

Here let us rest. Many things are dark and impossible of explanation,
but we have already been taught a few lessons of superlative importance.
We have learned that the soul is made for the light; that it can be
satisfied only with love and truth; that every hindrance may be
overcome; that the animal was made to be the servant of the spirit; that
the body makes a good servant but a poor master; that strength comes to
those who refuse to submit to the clamors of appetite: thus we have been
led to see something of the way along which the soul has moved from
animalism toward freedom and victory.

And we have learned one thing more, viz., that the Over-soul is not a
dream, but a reality; that the individual may be in correspondence with
the Over-soul and from it be continually reinforced. Or, to put our
faith in sweeter and simpler form, we have learned by experience which
cannot be gainsaid that God is a personal spirit, interested in all that
concerns His children, and anxious for their growth; and that He can no
more allow His love for them to be defeated than He could allow the
suns and planets to break from their orbits. How much more is a man
than a sun! Therefore, since God is in His heaven, all must be right
with the world and with man, and some time all the hindrances will be
changed into helps, all obstacles be converted into strength, and "all
hells into benefit."



THE AUSTERE


    We cannot kindle when we will
    The fire which in the heart resides;
    The Spirit bloweth and is still,
    In mystery our soul abides.
    But tasks in hours of insight will'd
    Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.

    With aching hands and bleeding feet
    We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
    We bear the burden and the heat
    Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
    Not till the hours of light return,
    All we have built do we discern.

    --_Morality._ Matthew Arnold.



V

_THE AUSTERE_


The soul has discovered that it is in a moral order, that it is a free
agent, and that it has mysterious affinities with truth and right. It
has taken a few steps, and with them has learned that its upward
movement will not be easy.

It next discovers that it has no isolated existence, but that it is
surrounded by countless other similar beings all indissolubly bound
together and having mutual relations. With the dawn of intelligence
comes the realization of relations. This realization is dim at the
first, but it is very real. Soon the soul learns that the relations
between it and other souls are so intimate that the interest of one is
the interest of all. Appreciation of relations is a long advance in the
movement upward, and it necessitates other knowledge. The realization of
relations leads, necessarily and swiftly, to the consciousness of
responsibility. The process of this growth cannot be described in
detail, but the path is clearly marked and its milestones may be
numbered. Each soul is always in a society of souls. Each one,
therefore, affects others, and is affected by them. It is free and,
therefore, responsible for the influence which it exerts. Moreover, it
is bound to other souls by love, and love always carries with it the
possibility of sorrow; for sorrow is usually only love thwarted. It is
not far from the truth to say that when there is no love there is no
sorrow, and that the possibilities of sorrow are always increased in
proportion to the perfection of being.

In time the soul finds itself not only one among myriads of souls, but
it realizes that its relations to some are more intimate than to
others. It needs not to seek the causes of this fact, since it cannot
escape from the reality. Thus it finds itself in families, in tribes, in
nations, in social groups where the bonds are strong and enduring.

Some souls, more capacious than others, have a richer and more varied
experience, and thus inevitably become teachers. The process goes on,
and, with both teachers and scholars, the horizon expands and the
strength increases with each new day. The soul has found that it is not
a solitary being dazed and saddened by the consciousness of its powers,
but that it is in a society in which all are similarly endowed, and that
all are pressing toward the same goal. It has discovered that its growth
is hastened, or hindered, by its environment; and that the spiritual
environment is ever the nearest and most potent.

Each new step in this pilgrim's progress reveals something more
wonderful than the opening of a continent. It is an entrance into a
larger and more complex world. A strange fact now emerges. Every
enlargement of being, either of faculty or capacity, is attended by pain
either physical or mental. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth," seems
to be a universal law rather than an isolated text. All life is
strenuous because it is always attended by growth. The soul moves not
only onward but upward, and climbing is always a difficult process.

Before a second step is taken the soul begins to experience suffering
and sorrow; and as its growth advances it never afterward, so far as
human sight has penetrated, escapes from them. Why are they allowed? and
what purpose do they serve?

The soul exists in a body, and the body is the seat of sensations. Those
sensations, whether pleasing or painful, belong to the physical organs,
but they affect the spirit, and escape from them is impossible. Pain has
a perceptible effect on the soul, even though the latter has no other
relation to the body than that of tenant to a house. It suffers because
of the intimate relations which it sustains to the organs through which
it works.

The individual soul is related to other souls. Therefore it has plans
and purposes concerning them, and it has affinities which are
inseparable from existence in society. Those purposes and affinities may
be gratified or thwarted. The soul sometimes finds a response from the
one whom it seeks and sometimes it does not. Pain belongs to the body,
and sorrow is an experience of the soul.

The body is in constant limitations, subject to diseases and accidents,
and the soul is affected by all that the body feels. Because of these
intimate relationships the soul is limited by ignorance, and defeated in
its purposes. It becomes attached to other souls, and those attachments
are either rudely shattered or roughly repulsed, and, consequently, the
life of the soul is as full of sorrow as is a summer day of clouds.

It faces its hindrances and rises by overcoming them. It finds pain
besetting nearly every step of its advance, and the constant shadow of
its existence is sorrow. Along such a pathway it moves in its ascent
and, in spite of all opposition, it is never permanently hindered; while
sorrow and suffering continually add to its strength. The austere
experiences through which all pass hasten their spiritual growth. They
are ever ministers of blessing; they pay no visits without leaving some
fair gifts behind.

Questions arise here which it is difficult to answer. Why are such
ministries needed? Why could not the ascent of the spirit be along an
easier pathway? Why should it be necessary to write its history in tears
and blood? Inquiries like these are insistent. Optimism assumes that the
end always justifies the means, even when we are in the dark as to why
other means were not used; and that it is better to comfort ourselves
with the beneficent fact than to refuse to be comforted because we may
not penetrate the depths of the Cosmic process. The emphasis of thought
may well rest here. The austere is never merely the severe. What seems
to human sight to be evil and only evil, always has a side of benefit.
The soul is purified and strengthened as it rises above animalism; it is
made courageous by bodily pain; tears clarify its vision. Even Jesus is
said to have been made perfect by the things which He suffered. The
universal characteristic of life is growth, and growth ever reaches out
of old and narrow toward new, larger and better environment.

The soul needs strength, vision, sympathy, faith. These qualities are
the fruit of experience. Muscle is converted into strength by use; and
its use is possible only as it finds something to overcome. Vision is
largely the fruit of training. The man on the lookout discovers a ship
ahead long before the passenger on the deck. That fine accuracy of sight
has come to him as he has battled with the tempests, and learned to
distinguish between the whiteness of flying foam and the sunlight on a
sail. Clearness of spiritual vision is acquired in the same way. He who
can see even to "the far-off interest of tears" has been taught his
discernment by reading the meaning of nearer events.

Sympathy is the art of suffering with another without the definite
choice to do so. One soul spontaneously enters into the condition of
another and bears his pains and griefs as though they were his own; that
is sympathy. But who ever bore the griefs of another before he himself
had felt sadness? Sympathy is a fruit that grows on the tree of sorrow.
So intensely is this felt that even kindly words in hours of deep trial
are ungrateful if they come from one who had had no hard experience of
his own. In proportion as one has borne his own griefs he is presumed to
be able to bear the griefs of others. He who has passed through the
valley of the shadow, and who knows the way, is the only one whose hand
is sought by another approaching the same valley. No human
characteristic is more beautiful, or more appreciated, than sympathy;
but its genuineness is seldom trusted unless the one offering it is
known to have suffered himself.

Jesus is said to have been a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,
and, therefore, has led the long procession of the broken-hearted
toward hope and peace. There is no other place known among men for the
cultivation of sympathy except the school of suffering.

If possible, faith even more than sympathy is dependent on struggle.
There is no other conceivable means by which it can be acquired. It
cannot be imparted. No multiplying of words increases faith. If one has
been in the blackest darkness and some way, he knows not how, has been
led out into light, it will be easier for him to think that the same
experience may be realized again. If every sorrow has had in it some
hidden seed of blessing; if the overcoming of hindrances has ever
increased strength; if at the very moment that calamity seemed ready to
destroy the storm has blown around, and this has occurred again and
again, it is impossible to refrain from expecting, or at least hoping,
that behind the darkness an unseen hand is making things to work for
good. Faith is essential to courage. He never cares to struggle who
knows that failure is just ahead. Courage is required as the soul
progresses, and becomes more deeply conscious of the mysteries and
enemies by which it is surrounded. Faith results from the experience of
beneficent leading. If one has been guided by love through many periods,
and if that love has always been found waiting for its object on every
corner of life, it will, ere long, be expected, watched for, and
trusted.

Strength, vision, sympathy, courage, the fair attributes of the soul,
all appear as it overcomes difficulties, fights doubts, goes deep into
sorrow, and thus learns to realize that it is being led. It is easy to
see how sorrow, pain, and death in the older legends and poetry were so
often spoken of as beneficent angels. They are like those Sisters of
Charity who hide beneath their long black bonnets serene and angelic
faces. The austere in human life has never yet been explained, but it
has been justified millions of times, and will be justified every time a
human soul rises toward the goal for which all were created and toward
which all, slowly or swiftly, are moving.

These conclusions have many confirmations, and with some of them it will
be worth while to spend a little time. Every thinking man's experience
assures him that he grows by overcoming. Emerson has finely said that we
have occasion to thank our faults, by which he means limitations; and he
has also reminded us that the oyster mends its broken shell with pearl.

We do not like overmuch to read with care our own experiences; but, when
we are honest, we see that every struggle has left a residuum of added
strength, that every loss has been a gain, that every calamity has
opened doors into a larger world, and that what has been dreaded most
has really most enriched us. Experience is a wise teacher.

History confirms the witness of experience. The strong man has always
gained strength by struggle. The story of a few of the preëminent
teachers is impressive reading. Mahomet knew the bitter pangs of
poverty; Epictetus was a slave; Socrates was regarded as a fanatic, if
not a lunatic, by most of the people of Athens; Siddhartha is said to
have been a useless and luxurious young man until, wearied with the
monotony of his father's palace, he ventured into the larger world and
saw wherever he went poverty, sickness, death. He was startled into
activity by the want, woe, and misery through which his pathway led.

Nearly all moral and spiritual leaders have had to suffer and thus grow
strong. Mere genius has done little for human progress. It has made
physical discoveries, but seldom touched the sphere of the soul. Elijah
heard the voice of God in the midst of the terrors of the wilderness in
which he was ready to die; Isaiah shared the usual fate of reformers and
spoke his message into the ears of those who returned insult for
warning. The story of Job is a long tragedy,--the world's tragedy, the
tragedy of the soul in all ages. What deeps of anguish Dante fathomed
before he could begin to write! Who can read the story of "Faust," as
Goethe has interpreted it, without feeling that in it he has given the
world in thin disguise much of his own life-story? Shakespeare alone, of
men of genius of the first rank, seems to have learned comparatively few
of his lessons in the school of suffering. But, possibly, if more were
known of Shakespeare, it would be found that Lear, Macbeth, and Hamlet
are but the expressions of lessons learned as he fought life's battle.

The "In Memoriam" of Tennyson, the "De Profundis" of Mrs. Browning, and
the rich and glorious music of Robert Browning could have come only from
souls which had been profoundly moved by grief and pain. All men listen
most attentively to those who have gone farthest into the dark shadows.

The austere in human experience always accomplishes a purpose of
blessing; and the soul comes into such an environment, not for the
purpose of being humiliated, but in order that its strength may be
developed, its sight clarified, and its powers perfected.

Thus we reach a rational basis for optimism. It has been said that
optimism must not only show that beneficent results are being
accomplished in human life, but it must also justify the means by which
such results are achieved. It is not enough to show that all will be
well in the end; it must be shown that even grief, pain, loss, and
death are ordained to be the servants of man. This is evident to all who
allow themselves to reach to the deeper meanings of their limitations
and sufferings.

Opposite conclusions have been reached by some of those who have studied
the hard and harsh phenomena of human life. The dreamy Hindu mind at
first seemed to discern the truth that suffering is but the under side
of blessing, and the hymns of the Vedas are full of hope and
anticipation of better times; but, under the stress of prolonged
disappointment and measureless calamities, bewildered in his attempt to
explain the mystery of suffering, the Hindu at last came to deny its
reality. But no bitter trials can be escaped by denial, and in India,
to-day, disappointment and calamity are no less frequent than in elder
ages. Refusal to believe in darkness effects no change in a midnight.
The negation of precipices makes the ascent of a mountain no easier,
and the denial of sickness, sorrow, and death deliver none from their
presence. On the other hand, the very rocks that are the most difficult
to scale will lift the climber toward an ampler horizon; and he who
places his feet upon his temptations and sorrows will see in his own
life the increasing purpose that widens with the suns.

Slowly, and over many obstacles, the soul rises from its humiliation and
presses toward the heights, and every forest passed and every mountain
scaled adds to its stature, to the swiftness of its advance, and to the
glory of its vision.

The teaching of Jesus concerning the ministry of the austere has greatly
changed the popular estimate of the value of many of the experiences
through which men pass. Sorrow, pain, and death were formerly regarded
as enemies, and only enemies, and they are still so regarded where the
full force of His message is either not welcomed or not understood. The
common opinion in many quarters, even to this day, is that suffering is
either a hideous mistake in the universe, an awful nightmare, or a cruel
mockery. Paul, using language as men used it in his time, spoke of death
as an enemy. That he was speaking popularly, rather than technically, is
evident because he also said that the sting of death--that which made it
dreaded--is sin. Jesus, however, justified the method by which men are
perfected; and His teaching harmonizes with what may be learned by a
reverent scrutiny of the nature of things. The more carefully "the
Cosmic process" is studied, the clearer it becomes that events are so
ordered that, sooner or later, everything helps toward richer and better
conditions. A tidal wave or a pestilence may seem to be inexplicable,
but even pestilence teaches men habits of thrift and cleanliness, and
tidal waves warn them of their points of danger.

What has made the average of human life so much longer than it was
formerly? That very mysterious pestilence has turned attention toward
its causes, and thus the race has been made cleaner, purer, more fit to
endure. Why do men live in houses with scientific plumbing, fresh air,
and have well-cooked food? Because that fierce teacher, pestilence, has
taught them that any other course means weakness and death. Whom nature
loveth she chasteneth is a truth as clearly written in human history as
"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" is written in the Bible. The true
attitude toward the austere, for a philosophic as for a Christian mind,
is one of complacency. Every severity is intended for benefit. By wars
the enormity of war is made evident. By disease the necessity for
observation of the laws of health is emphasized. Even death, in the
order of things, at last is a blessing, for one generation must give
place to another, or the evils that Malthus feared would be quickly
reached. Moreover death, in its proper time, is only nature's way of
giving the soul its freedom. Hindrances in its path do not indicate the
presence of an enemy but of a friend who discovers the only sure way of
securing its finest development. The cultivation of the philosophic and
Christian temper, which are practically the same, would make this a
happier world. We could endure trials with more courage if we would but
remember that they are as necessary to our growth as the cutting of a
diamond is necessary to the revelation of the treasury of light which it
holds.

The heights of character are slowly reached, and, usually, only by the
ministry of the austere; but once they are reached the horizon expands,
and the soul finds in the clearer light peace if not joy.

This course of reasoning does not make the mistake of regarding sin as
less than dreadful. Every sin has hidden in its heart a blessing; but
sin as such is never a blessing. It may be necessary for Providence to
allow a spirit to sink again into animalism in order that it may be
taught its danger, and made to realize that only through struggle can
its goal be reached--but the animalism in itself is never beneficent.

When we say that the process by which a man rises may be justified, we
do not mean that all his choices are justifiable. The process of his
growth provides for his fall, if he will learn in no other way, but it
does not necessitate his fall; that is ever because of his own choice. A
spirit may choose to return to the slime from which it has emerged. That
choice is sin, but it can never be made without the protests of
conscience which will not be silenced, and it is by those protests that
a man is impelled upward again, and never by the sin in itself. No one
was ever helped by his sin, but millions, when they have sinned, have
found that the misery was greater than the joy, and this perpetual
connection of sin and suffering is the blessed fact. Sin is never
anything but hideous. The more unique the genius the more awful and
inexcusable his fall. Even out of their sins men do rise, but that is
because there sounds in the deeps of the soul a voice which becomes more
pathetic in its warning and entreaty, the more it is disregarded. Those
who desire to justify sin say that it is the cause of the rising. It may
be the occasion, but it is never the cause. The occasion includes the
time, place, environment,--but the cause is the impelling force; and sin
never impels toward virtue. Satan has not yet turned evangelist.

Because in the past the soul has risen, one need not be unduly
optimistic to presume that, in spite of opposition, it will meet no
enemies which it will not conquer, and find no heights which it will not
be able to scale. Prophecy is the art of reading history forward. The
spirit having come thus far, it is not possible to believe that it can
ever permanently revert to the conditions from which it has emerged;
neither can we believe that it will fail of reaching that development of
which its every power and faculty is so distinct a prophecy.

No light has ever yet penetrated far into the mystery of human
suffering, sorrow, and sin. Why they need to be at all, has been often
asked, but no one has furnished a reply which satisfies many people.
With the old insistent and pathetic earnestness millions are still
"knocking at nature's door" and asking wherefore they were born. Hosts
of others are looking out on desolation and grief, thinking of the tears
which have fallen and the sobs which are sure to sound in the future,
and asking with eager and pleading intensity, why such things need be.
Out of the heavens above, or out of the earth beneath, no clear answer
has come.

As we wonder and study, still deeper grows the mystery. Three courses
are open to those who are sensitive to the hard, sad facts of the human
condition. One is to say that all things in their essence are just as
they seem; that sorrow, sin, death none can escape, that they are evils,
and that a world in which they exist is the worst of possible worlds,
and that there is neither God nor good anywhere. Then let us eat and
drink, for to-morrow we die, and the quicker the end the sweeter the
doom.

Another way is simply to confess ignorance. Out of the darkness no
voice has come. The veil over the statue of the god of the future has
never been lifted, and inquiry concerning such subjects is folly. To
this I reply agnosticism is consistent, but it is not wise. Because it
cannot explain all things it turns from the clues which may yet lead out
of the labyrinth.

The other course, and the wiser, is to use all the light that has yet
been given and from what is known to draw rational conclusions
concerning what has not yet been fully revealed. Deep in the heart of
things is a beneficent and universal law. In accordance with that law
hindrances are made to minister to the soul's growth, the opposition of
enemies is transmuted into strength, and moral evil resisted becomes a
means of spiritual expansion and enlightenment.



THE RE-AWAKENING


          I, Galahad, saw the Grail,
    The Holy Grail, descend upon the Shrine:
    I saw the fiery face as of a child
    That smote itself into the bread, and went;
    And hither am I come; and never yet
    Hath what my sister taught me first to see,
    This Holy Thing, fail'd from my side, nor come
    Cover'd, but moving with me night and day,
    Fainter by day, but always in the night....

           *       *       *       *       *

          And in the strength of this I rode,
    Shattering all evil customs everywhere,
    And past thro' Pagan realms, and made them mine,
    And clash'd with Pagan hordes, and bore them down,
    And broke thro' all, and in the strength of this
    Come victor.

    --_The Holy Grail._ Tennyson.



VI

_THE RE-AWAKENING_


As despondency and a feeling of failure comes to every soul with the
realization of its mistakes and sins, so there will some time come to
all a period of Re-awakening. This statement is the expression of a hope
which is cherished in the face of much opposing evidence. Nevertheless,
that this hope is cherished by so many persons of all classes is a
credit to humanity. It is difficult to believe that in the end an
infinitely wise and good God will fail of the achievement of His purpose
in regard to a single one of His creatures.

The saddest fact in the ascent of the soul is sin. However it may be
accounted for, it cannot be evaded, but must be honestly and resolutely
faced. Sin is the deliberate choice to return to animalism, for a
longer or shorter time, by a being who realizes that he is in a moral
order, that he is free, and who has heard the far-off call of a
spiritual destiny. It is the choice, by a spirit, of the condition from
which it ought to have forever escaped. Imperfection and ignorance are
not, in themselves, blameworthy and should never be classified as sins.
Weakness always palliates a wrong choice. An evil condition is a
misfortune; it does not justify condemnation. Sin always implies a
voluntary act. That all men have sinned is a contention not without
abundant justification. The better the man the more intensely he is
humiliated by the consciousness of moral failure.

After long-continued discipline, after much progress has been made, the
soul again and again chooses evil; and, after it ought to have moved far
on its upward career, it is found to be a bond-slave of tendencies
which should have been forever left behind. This is the solemn fact
which faces every student of human life. It is not a doctrine of an
effete theology but a continuous human experience. The consciousness of
moral failure is terrible and universal. This consciousness requires
neither definition nor illustration. Experience is a sufficient witness.
Who has been able exhaustively to delineate the soul's humiliation?
Æschylus and Sophocles, Shakespeare and Goethe, Shelley, Tennyson, and
Browning have but skimmed the surface of the great tragedy of human
life. Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Faust, and Wilhelm Meister, Beatrice Cenci,
the sad, sad story of Guinevere, and the awful shadows of the Ring and
the Book--how luridly realistic are all these studies of the downfall of
souls and the desolation of character! If they had expressed all there
is of life it would be only a long, repulsive tragedy; but happily
there is another side. To that brighter phase of the growth of the soul
we turn in this chapter.

What is the difference between the awakening of the soul and its
re-awakening? Are they two experiences? or different phases of the same
experience? The awakening is nearly simultaneous with the dawn of
consciousness. It is the adjustment of the soul to its environment--the
realization of its self-consciousness as free, as in a moral order, and
as possessing mysterious affinities with truth and right. This
realization is followed by a period of growth, during which many
hindrances are overcome, and in which the ministries of environment,
both kindly and austere, help to free it from its limitations and to
promote its advance along the spiritual pathway. But while the soul
dimly hears voices from above it has not yet, altogether, escaped from
the influence of animalism. It dwells in a body whose desires clamor to
be gratified. It is like a bird trying to rise into the air when it has
not yet acquired the use of its wings. Malign influences are still about
it, and earthly attractions are ever drawing it downward. It falls many
times. I do not mean that it is compelled to fall, but that, as a matter
of fact, its lapses are frequent and discouraging. In the midst of this
painful movement upward, there sometime comes to the soul a realization
of a presence of which it has scarcely dreamed before. It begins to
understand that it is never alone, that its struggle is never hopeless
because God and the universe, equally with itself, are concerned for its
progress. It is humiliated by its failures, but it has learned that,
however many times it may fail and however bitter its disappointment, in
the end it must be victorious because neither principalities nor powers,
neither things on the earth nor beyond the earth, can forever resist
God. Thus hope is born, and he who one moment cries, Who shall deliver
from this body of death? the next moment with exultation exclaims, I
thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The light which shines into the soul from Jesus Christ is the revelation
of the coöperation of the Deity, and of the forces of the universe, with
every man who is moving upward. The realization that, however deep the
darkness, humiliating the moral failure, constant and imperious the
solicitations of animalism, "the nature of things" and the everlasting
love are on the side of the soul is its re-awakening.

It now not only knows that it is free, in a moral order, and that voices
from a far-off goal are calling it, but also that those who are with it
are more than those who can be against it. Thus hope, confidence, power
to resist, and faith even in the midst of failure dawn, and will never
be permanently eclipsed. The re-awakening of the soul is now complete.

This experience is traditionally called conversion. It is usually
associated with an appropriation of the teaching of Jesus Christ, and
inevitably follows an appreciation of His words and His work. But all
the revelations of the Christ have not been through the historic Jesus.
In every land, and in every age, souls have come to this new
consciousness. It was said of Isaiah that he saw the Lord; and of
Melchizedek that he was the priest of the most high God. The former was
a Hebrew, but the latter was not in what was to be the chosen line of
succession. The assurance that they are never alone has found many in
what has seemed impenetrable darkness, and they have risen and moved
upward. Instances of this kind are not limited to Christian lands,
although they are most common where the Christian revelation is known.
I cannot doubt that those who have not had this vision on the earth will
have it some time and somewhere. The Divine power and purpose to save,
and to save to the utter-most, are revealed with perfect clearness in
the teachings of Jesus Christ. Nothing could be more explicit than His
message that God loves all men, and that it is His will that all should
repent and come to the knowledge of the truth.

This stage of advance may be called the crisis in the ascent of the
soul. Before this it has moved slowly and with faltering steps.
Henceforth it will move more confidently and swiftly. But that does not
mean that it will find that hindrances are all removed, or that no
unseen hand will draw it downward. Some of the bitterest hours are to
follow--days and, possibly, longer periods of spiritual obscuration;
darkness like that of Jesus in which He cried, "My God, my God, why hast
Thou forsaken me." Who can explain the appalling humiliation of a man
when, as if a star had fallen from heaven, he sinks into awful and
inexplicable selfishness or sensuality? It is not necessary that we
explain, but we should remember that the goodness of God has so ordered
things that even disgrace may lead to stronger faith, clearer vision,
and tenderer sympathy.

Austere ministries are still needed; only fire will consume the dross.
The re-awakening of a soul is not its perfecting; but it is its
realization that the process of perfecting must go on, and will go on,
if need be along a pathway of shame and agony, until all that attracts
to the earth and sensuality has disappeared, and the spirit, like a bird
released, rises toward the heavens.

The law that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he reap will never be
transcended, and if an enlightened spirit ever chooses to sink once more
into the slime it may do so; but it will at the same time be taught
with terrible intensity the moral bearing of the physical law that what
falls from the loftiest height will sink to the deepest depth.

At last the soul realizes that it is in the hands of a sympathetic,
holy, and loving Person, a Being who cannot be defeated, and who, in His
own time and way, will accomplish His own purposes. That vision of God
is the re-awakening, an inevitable and glorious reality in spiritual
progress.

What are the causes of this re-awakening? The causes are many and can be
stated only in a general way. Moreover, spiritual experiences are
individual, and the answer which would apply to one might not to
another.

The shock which attends some terrible moral failure, not infrequently,
is the proximate cause of the re-awakening of the soul. There is a deep
psychological truth in the old phrase, "conviction of sin." Men are
thus convicted. Some act of appalling wrong-doing reveals to them the
depths of their hearts and forces them in their extremity to look
upward. Hawthorne, in his story, "The Scarlet Letter," has depicted the
agony of a soul, in the consciousness of its guilt, finding no peace
until it dared to do right and to trust God. In the "Marble Faun," in
the character of Donatello, the same author has furnished an
illustration of one who was startled into a consciousness of manhood and
responsibility by his crime. It is the revelation of a soul to itself,
not of God to the soul. In Donatello we see a soul awakened to
self-consciousness and responsibility, but in "The Scarlet Letter" we
have the example of a man inspired to do his duty by the revelation of
God. Adoniram Judson was brought to himself by hearing the groans of a
dying man in a room adjoining his own in a New England hotel. Luther
was forced to serious thought by a flash of lightning which blinded and
came near killing him. Pascal was returning to his home at midnight when
his carriage halted on the brink of a precipice, and the narrowness of
his escape aroused him to a realization of his dependence upon God. The
sense of mortality, and the wonder as to what the consequences of
wrong-doing in "the dim unknown" may be, have been potent forces in the
re-awakening of souls.

Still others have been given new and gracious visions of "the beauty of
holiness." They have seen the excellence of virtue, and in its light
have learned to hate the causes of their humiliation, and to press
forward with courage and hope.

Speculations concerning the causes of this spiritual change are easy,
but they are of little value. Observation has never yet collected facts
enough to adequately account for the phenomena. Probably the most
complete and satisfactory answer that was ever given to such questions
was that of Jesus when He was treating of this very subject: "The wind
bloweth where it listeth, thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not
tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth."

The mystery of the soul's re-awakening has never been fathomed.
Sometimes there has been flashed upon conscience, apparently without a
cause, a deep and awful sense of guilt. Whence did it come? What caused
it? Calamities many times sweep through a life as a tornado sweeps over
a field of wheat, and when they have passed there is more than an
appreciation of loss; there is a vision of the soul's unworthiness and
humiliation. Again death comes exceedingly near, and, in a single hour,
the solemnities of eternity become vivid, and the soul sees itself in
the light of God. And again, the essential glory of goodness is so
vividly manifest that the soul instinctively rises out of its sin, and
presses upward, as a man wakens from a hideous nightmare. The more such
phenomena are studied, the more distinct and significant do they appear
and the more impossible becomes the effort to explain them. They may be
verified, but they can never be explained. They are the results of the
action of the Spirit of God on the spirit of man. Is this answer
rejected as fanciful or superstitious? Then some of the most brilliant
and significant events in the history of humanity are inexplicable.

What caused the revolution in the character of Augustine by which the
sensualist became a saint? Was it the study of Plato? or the prayers of
Monica? or the preaching of Ambrose? We know not; rather let us say it
was the Spirit of God. Who can define the process by which Wilberforce
was changed from the pet of fashionable society to one of the heroes in
the world's great crusade against injustice and oppression? Such
inquiries are more easily started than settled. I repeat, the only
rational and convincing word that was ever spoken on this subject is
that of Jesus. The Spirit of God, whose ministry is as still as the
sunlight, as mysterious as the wind, and as potent as gravitation, was
the One to whom He pointed.

How has this epoch in the ascent of the soul been treated in literature?
I refer with frequency to the literary treatment of spiritual subjects
because poets, dramatists, and writers of fiction, more than any other
class of authors, have studied the soul in its depths, in its
inspirations, and in the process by which it rises and presses toward
its goal.

The illustrations of this subject in the Scriptures are almost idyllic
in their simplicity and beauty. There is more than flippancy in the
remark that Adam's fall was a fall upward. The statement is literally
true. The fall was no fiction, but a condition of enlightenment and
growth. The exit from Eden was the beginning of the long, hard climb
toward the City of God.

The very moment when Isaiah saw Uzziah, the king, stricken with leprosy,
he saw the Lord.

The classical delineation of a soul attaining the higher knowledge is
that of the prodigal son, who, when he came to himself, saw clearly that
his father was waiting to welcome him.

The "Idylls of the King" are a kind of "Pilgrim's Progress." In various
ways they trace, and with matchless music rehearse, the growth of souls
and their victories over spiritual enemies. One of the most pathetic
stories ever told is that of the beautiful Queen Guinevere, who by shame
and agony learned that "we needs must love the highest when we see it;"
and who never appreciated the great love in which she was enfolded
until Arthur, "moving ghost-like to his doom," had gone to fight his
last great battle in the west.

The world owes George MacDonald gratitude it will never repay;--such
spiritual souls are never paid in the coin of this world. In "Robert
Falconer," he taught his time with a lucidity and sweetness that none
but Tennyson and Browning have equaled, and that not even they have
surpassed, that a "loving worm within its clod were lovelier than a
loveless God upon his Throne," and in "Thomas Wingfold" he has traced
with epic fidelity the growth of a soul from moral insensibility to
manly strength and vision. The description of the process by which
Wingfold is brought to see that he, a teacher in the church, is a fraud
and a hypocrite, and by which he is then lifted up and made worthy of
his vocation as a minister of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God is
a wonderful piece of spiritual delineation.

With Guinevere the external humiliation was an essential stage in her
soul's development; but with Wingfold there was no public
disgrace,--only the not less poignant shame of a man who, looking into
his own heart, finds nothing but selfishness and duplicity. His
condition was a matter between himself, his friend, and his God; but
none the less the humiliation was the means by which his soul's eyes
were opened and his heart fired with a passion for reality.

One result of the soul's re-awakening is the realization that it has
relations to God and that they are at once the nearest, the most vital,
and the most enduring of all its relations. Before, it had felt the call
of duty and had recognized that it had affinities with truth and right;
but now it has come into the consciousness of sonship. God is not
distant and unrelated, but near and personally helpful. In a very real
sense He is Father. He is interested in the welfare of His children; and
His will has now become the law of their lives. The first awakening is
to the consciousness of a moral order and of freedom; the second
awakening is to the consciousness of God and of a near and vital
relation with Him. The path of progress is still full of obstacles;
there are still attractions for the senses in animalism and
solicitations from something malign outside; but never again will the
soul be without the realization that it is in the hands of a
compassionate, as well as a just, God. I am inclined to think that the
elder Calvinists were right in their contention that when the soul has
once come to this saving knowledge of God it can never again "fall from
grace," or from the consciousness of its relation to the One mighty to
save. This does not mean that there may not be repeated and awful moral
lapses. The soul's realization of God does not imply that it has become
perfected. It has taken a long step in its ascent; it is now conscious
of its destiny, and of the power which is working in its behalf; but far
away stretch the spiritual heights and, before they can be reached, many
a cliff must be scaled and many a glacier passed; and few reach those
altitudes without many a savage fall, and without frequent hours of
weariness, doubt, and despair. The sufferings and the chastisements of
those who have come to this altitude often increase as the vision
becomes clearer.

The difference between the former condition and the present is this: in
the former there was growth toward God without the conscious choice of
God; but in the latter the soul sees and chooses for itself that toward
which it has, heretofore, been impelled by the "cosmic process."

That is a solemn and glad moment when, in the midst of the confusion,
the soul hears faint and far the call of its destiny; but the one in
which it realizes that it is related to God, and chooses His will for
its law, is far more glad and solemn. That consciousness may be
obscured, but never again will it utterly fail. The soul that knows that
it came from God, and is moving toward God, never can lose that
knowledge, nor long cease to feel the power of that divine attraction.

A practical question at this stage of our inquiry concerns the relation
of one soul to another. May those who have realized this experience help
others to attain to it so that the process may be hastened and made
easier? Must those who have been enlightened wait for those who are dear
to them to be awfully humiliated by sin, or terribly crushed by sorrow,
before the light can fall upon their pathway? Is there no way by which
a soul may be brought to the knowledge of God except by bitter trials?

One individual may help another to acquire other knowledge,--must it
make an exception of things spiritual? That cannot be. What one has
learned, in part at least, it may communicate to another, and the
constant and growing passion with those who know God is to tell others
of Him. All plans of education should include the communication of the
highest knowledge. He who seeks the physical or mental development of
his boy and cares not to crown his work by helping him to a realization
that he is a child of God, and a subject of His love, has sadly
misconceived the privilege of education. All curricula should move
toward this consciousness as their consummation and culmination.
Geology, biology, physiology, the languages, philosophy, the science of
society should be so studied as to lead directly to Him in whom all
live and move and have their being. The home, the school, the church
should be organized so as to obviate, in great measure, the necessity of
learning the deepest truths in the school of suffering.

No holier privilege is given to one human soul than that of whispering
its secret into the ears of another who has not yet attained the wisdom
which comes only by living.

God be merciful to the parent who is anxious about the mental culture of
his child and never tells him of the deeper possibilities of his life,
or never repeats to him the messages which he has heard in silent and
lonely hours. The growth of a soul in the knowledge of God may be
measured by the intensity of its desire to help other souls to the same
knowledge.

What will the re-awakened soul do? It will be as individual and
distinctive in its action as before. The divine life in the souls of
men manifests itself in ways as various and numerous as solar energy is
manifested in nature. Variety in unity is the law of the spirit. Every
person will be led to do those things, to hold those beliefs, and to
minister in the ways for which he has been prepared.

The experience of one can never be made the model for another, and the
message which the Spirit speaks in the ears of one may never be spoken
in the ears of another. Uniformity is neither to be expected nor to be
desired. The soul which realizes that it belongs to God will choose to
live for Him, and in its own way will forever move toward Him.
Henceforward His will will be its law. This is all we know and all we
need to know.



THE PLACE OF JESUS CHRIST


    I say, the acknowledgment of God in Christ
    Accepted by thy reason, solves for thee
    All questions in the earth and out of it,
    And has so far advanced thee to be wise.

    --_A Death in the Desert._ Browning.


    'Tis the weakness in strength that I cry for! my flesh that I seek
    In the God-head! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
    A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
    Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
    Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!

    --_Saul._ Browning.



VII

_THE PLACE OF JESUS CHRIST_


In the ascent of the soul do light and power come to its assistance from
outside and from above? Is evolution alone a sufficient guarantee that
it will some time reach its goal? These are not so much questions of
theory as of fact, and as such will be treated in this chapter.

Light and power have come to the race in its struggles upward from one
source as from no other. In history one figure appears colossal and
unique. Whether we classify Jesus Christ with men, or regard Him as a
special divine manifestation is of little consequence in our inquiry. If
He is the consummate flower of the evolutionary process, then, because
of some unexplained influence, that process reached a degree of
perfection in Him that it has reached in no other. If it pleased God in
a single instance to hasten the process, the result is not less
inspiring and illuminating than it would have been if the divine purpose
had been directly and instantly accomplished. The teachers and leaders
have ever been helpers of their fellow-men. In evolution, as in the race
of life, some always move more swiftly than others; and those who are
far in advance may, if they choose, become the servants of those who
move more slowly. One Being has appeared in the midst of the ages who is
so far superior to all others that He may be regarded as the revelation
of the soul's true goal, but who is, at the same time, so unlike others
as to convince many, at least, that He is also the revelation in
humanity of a higher power which is cooperating with the soul in its
ascent.

In this chapter no attempt will be made to meet the various questions
that the formal theologians have raised. I cannot feel that such
subjects as "satisfaction," "expiation," "plan of salvation" are of any
practical importance, and I leave them to those who care for them. In
the meantime let us ask, What aid does the soul need in its passage
through its life on the earth? It needs light and power. We do not
meditate long on the soul's advance without realizing that it has been
constantly reinforced from outside itself. This phase of our subject
will be considered in the chapter on "The Inseparable Companion."

It may, I think, be said that what the soul needs more than anything
else is light, and that all necessary light has been furnished. Jesus
said, "I am the Light of the World." That statement is literally true.
There may be room for perplexity as to the credibility of parts of the
New Testament, and as to what is called the miraculous element in
history. There is also room for difference of opinion as to the nature
of the person of Jesus, and as to His supernatural mission; but few
would deny that, if they could feel sure that He was actually from
above, they would accept His message because it contains all the ethical
and spiritual knowledge that men need in their earthly lives.

A single assumption is made at the beginning of our study. It is as
follows: What satisfies our minds and hearts, in their hours of deepest
need and brightest illumination, should always be accepted as true until
it is proven to be false.

The profoundest subjects of thought and life are illuminated by the
ministry and the teaching of Jesus Christ. The last word concerning
these subjects has not yet been spoken. Even our Bible is but a
collection of scattered rays of the true light. What vaster revelations
may come to men in future ages no one can predict. As growth goes on,
the soul will be fitted to receive messages which it could not now
understand; but all that men need to know in their present stage of
development is clearly revealed in the teaching, and the example, of the
Man of Nazareth and Calvary. He is the brightest light on the deepest
and darkest problems.

Let us try to understand and define the place of Jesus Christ in the
ascent of the soul.

Jesus Christ has given the world a rational and satisfying doctrine of
God. Other teachers have tried to answer the inquiry, Does God exist?
Jesus treated that question as an astronomer treats the sun. No sane
scientist would fill his pages with speculations as to the reality of
the sun. It moves and shines in the heavens; beginning with that fact,
the astronomer asks concerning the function which the sun performs in
the solar system and in the universe.

Jesus discarded speculation and found the key to the doctrine of God in
the family, the simplest and most elemental of human institutions. There
may be wide differences concerning the nature of government, the
sanctions of law, etc., but there is no room for debate concerning the
meaning of the parental relation. It interprets itself. Tell a child
that a man is his father, and he can be told no more. The name
interprets the relation. In earlier times the vastness of the creation
was but dimly appreciated, and then the idea of God was equally
contracted. Jesus taught that the Deity, whether the conception of Him
was small or large, was to be interpreted in terms of fatherhood. What
an ideal father is to his family God is to the race and to the universe.
That meant one thing when the father was little more than the protector
of a tribe; it means something greater, but not essentially different
now. The conception of the universe is one of the most revolutionary
that ever entered the human mind. The conception of a tribe is larger
than that of a family; of a nation larger than that of a tribe; of the
race larger than that of the nation; but the conception of the universe,
with its myriads of worlds and possible multiplicity of races, is the
amazing contribution which science has made to the thought of to-day.
While the conception of the Deity has been enlarged the principle of
interpretation remains unchanged. Are we thinking of Jehovah the God of
Israel? He is the Father of the tribe. Has our idea expanded so as to
include all the nations? God is the Father not of a limited number but
of all that dwell upon the earth. Has the horizon been lifted to take in
heavenly heights? Are we now thinking of immensities, eternities, and
the cosmic process? The teaching of Jesus is not transcended; we still
continue to interpret in terms of fatherhood, and say all time, all
space, all men, all purposes and processes in the infinities and
eternities are in the hands of the Father. But when we have ascended to
such a height what does the word Father mean? Exactly the same in
essence that it meant in the humblest of Judean households among which
Jesus moved. The father there was the one who made the home, sustained
it, defended it, watched over it by day and by night; in exactly the
same way the followers of Jesus think of the Spirit who pervades all
things. He creates, He cares for, He defends, He provides, He loves, He
causes all processes to work for blessing to the intelligent beings who
are His children.

Jesus in a peculiar way identified himself with the Deity. That does
not mean that all the divine omnipotence and glory were in that Man of
Nazareth, but it does mean that all of the Deity that could be expressed
in terms of humanity were visible in Him, so that those who saw Jesus
saw God as far as He could be manifested in the flesh. Beyond that veil
were abysses and heights of being which could not be expressed in human
terms; but in all the spaces we may dare to believe that there is
nothing essentially different from what was revealed in that unique Man.
A bay makes a curve in the Atlantic seaboard; its shallow waters are all
from the deeps of the sea. Tides that move along all the seas, and
forces which reach to the stars, fill that basin among the hills. The
bay is the ocean, but not all of it; for if we were to sail around the
earth we should find the same body of water reaching out to vaster
spaces.

Even so the person of Jesus included all of God that humanity can
contain, but Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Gethsemane and Calvary were to the
Deity as some land-locked harbor to the immensities of the universe. In
Him love reached to enemies, to the outcast, to those who had been
called refuse and rubbish, to men of all classes in all the ages, to
lepers, beggars, criminals, lunatics, harlots, thieves, little children;
those who appreciated and those who hated alike were all included in the
infinite purpose of blessing.

Those who have seen the love of Jesus, and its ministries, have seen the
Father; but beyond the love of Galilee and Calvary reach depths of love
which even the cross is powerless to express. Divine sympathy and divine
affection bind all men in a universal family; this we know, and this is
all we know.

That teaching is so simple that a child can understand it; so profound
that no philosopher has ever transcended it; and so satisfying that
neither child nor philosopher would have it changed either as to its
simplicity or its fullness.

Jesus furnishes the light which the soul needs on the nature of man.
Wonderfully has Holman Hunt elaborated this truth in his picture "The
Light of the World." The ideal humanity never had more beautiful
expression than in that great sermon in color. The poise of the figure
of Jesus indicates strength and self-control; the thorns on the brow
tell their story of sorrow and pain; the hand at the door shows that one
man at least is mindful of the welfare of His brother; the radiance on
the face and the inspiration in the eyes are the outshining of the
goodness which dwells within; while the light from the whole person,
which reaches far into the gloom, shows that the more nearly perfect the
being the more beneficent and beautiful his influence must be. Is Jesus
Christ the brightness of the Father's glory? He reveals also the beauty
and helpfulness, the love and the service of the ideal man. He is the
pattern of our common humanity. Are we in the midst of a process of
evolution? And is the man that is to be still far in the distance? When
he shall walk this earth he will be the spiritual reproduction of Jesus,
changed only to meet the requirements of other times and new conditions.

The revelation of the ideal humanity was hardly less revolutionary than
that of the enlarged universe. Formerly men were regarded as things,
commodities to be bought and sold, creatures without souls, objects to
be used. But Jesus taught that all men are children of God; therefore
that they have the very life of God; therefore that they are created for
His eternity, and will forever approach His perfection. This vision of
the perfected race has been at work changing national boundaries,
destroying hoary institutions, undermining thrones, and making a new
world. A glance shows the revolutionary quality of His teaching. Slavery
was the curse of every land. With force on the one side and weakness on
the other oppression was inevitable. Jesus taught that even weakness may
be divine, and lo! from every civilized land slavery has already gone,
and from the world it is fast disappearing.

According to the orthodox economic doctrine, supply and demand was the
law that should govern the relation between employer and employee. The
largest profit and the smallest wages was the watchword. As the teaching
of Jesus has penetrated further into the dealings of man with man
employers are beginning to realize that labor has to do with human
beings; that manhood is enduring and that conditions are ephemeral; and
that whosoever oppresses his brother, even in the name of economic law,
at last will have to reckon with the Almighty. Thus a new and more
beneficent social order is slowly but surely emerging.

The doctrine of the survival of the fittest is, even now, applied to men
where the teaching of Jesus that Providence has made a way for the
survival of the unfit is unknown or ignored. In all lands the revelation
in Jesus of the ideal manhood, and of the destiny toward which all men
are moving is changing and glorifying human society. He is the one whom
"the low-browed beggar," and the criminal with a vicious heredity, are
some time to approach. Is it difficult to select the one phrase of all
human utterances which has exerted the largest influence in ameliorating
the human condition? Would it not be,--"Inasmuch as ye did it unto one
of the least of these, ye did it unto Me." The identification of
humanity with Deity, the revelation of the divine in the human, the
solemn truth that no one can injure or neglect his brother without, at
the same time, violating all that is sacred and holy in the universe is
the culminating point in the revelation of man to himself. In the light
which Jesus sheds on humanity all men appear in their enduring rather
than their transitory relations.

The life and teaching of Jesus make the awful and insoluble mystery of
suffering endurable. He satisfies no curiosity on this subject. Why
suffering is permitted He does not tell us. He never allowed himself to
be diverted from His one purpose, which was not to solve problems but to
improve conditions. If any one approaches the New Testament expecting to
find an answer to his speculative questions he will be disappointed; but
if he asks, How may I so use the conditions in which I am placed that
they will minister to my spiritual purification and power? he will
receive a definite and satisfying reply. Why need sorrow, suffering,
sin, and death invade the fair realm into which man has been born? Other
teachers seek to answer this question but Jesus is silent. How may
sorrow, suffering, and even moral evil be made ministers of an upward
movement? On this subject Jesus speaks with a tone of authority. Among
the world's teachers He was the first to declare that while austere
experiences are not good in themselves they may, uniformly, become means
of moral and spiritual progress. The sweet may always be found in the
bitter. Sorrow may always be made a blessing. Tears never need be
wasted. Struggle always adds to strength; and sympathy is multiplied
when one bears the grief and carries the burden of another.

Do not brood over what you are called to endure, but seek for the
secret of spiritual help which is hidden within, and you will find that
on every grief and every pain you may rise, as on stepping-stones, to
higher things.

Jesus was the supreme optimist. Those who study life and history in the
light which shines from Him see that no human being walks with aimless
feet. They do not think of men as unrelated units, but as bound by love
to one another, and as living under the eye and in the strength of God.
In that light sorrow and pain may be justified, even though in
themselves they are hateful. The poison which destroys life, if rightly
used, will save life.

Apart from God and His purpose of love, nothing is more to be dreaded
than pain; but in His hands pain becomes the servant and not the master
of men.

I can think of nothing more dreary than the study of human life and
history apart from the interpretations put upon them by Jesus. Then one
generation seems to follow another, and the long procession, even though
the character of those composing it steadily improves, always ends at
the same goal,--the grave. Millions live and die like the beasts that
perish. They aspire, struggle, and are determined to rise, but just when
they are fitted to endure, and to enter upon ampler spheres of service,
the curtain falls on the tragedy, the stage scenery is changed, a new
company of players takes their places, and the farce, for it is a farce
as well as a tragedy, goes on from century to century, and there is no
meaning in anything. If that were the true interpretation of life, on
earth's loftiest mountain there might well be raised a temple in honor
of death; and around it all the races of men be invited to join in the
chorus, "Happy is the next one who dies!"

But a better interpretation of human life's mystery has been given.
Jesus looked over its apparent desolation and confusion and poured upon
it divine light. He taught that it is not the Father's will that even
one should perish. Men are not being ground in an infinite mill, but
they are being refined and purified by the only processes which will
develop in them both strength and beauty. Out of confusion harmony will
come, and out of the battle of the elements peace will dawn at last.

To those who know that pain and sorrow are ministers of strength and
sympathy, that by them narrow horizons are widened and deserts made to
blossom, human life does not seem so confused and terrible as it has
sometimes been pictured. Jesus makes evident the upward movement of the
race, and shows, let me repeat, that it is "under the eye and in the
strength of God." He was made perfect through suffering. The thorns on
His brow tell their own pathetic story. The passion vine above His head,
and beneath His feet, indicate that even His sufferings are not without
a purpose of blessing, and therefore are fully justified.

And now we approach the saddest of all the dark experiences through
which the soul passes,--the mystery of sin. Of its enormity I have
already spoken; but what about its origin, its uses, and its
continuance? The question of its origin Jesus does not even mention. It
is not recognized as having any uses. It may be made an occasion of
good, but it is never ordained in order that good may come. Hardly any
other subject occupies so large a place in the teachings of Jesus. It
was said of Him, "His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His
people from their sins;" and of Him Paul wrote, "God commendeth His love
toward us in that when we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

The terrible blight of moral evil, whatever its genesis, cannot be
explained away. Jesus passed by all other questions and devoted the
largest part of His ministry, as a teacher, to showing how the soul may
escape from the power, and be delivered from the bondage, of sin. This
is the practical problem. As one surveys the race the imperative inquiry
concerns deliverance. What light does Jesus shed upon this mystery? He
shows that sin is an incident in the ascent of the soul, and not an end;
that it is hateful and unnatural; and that all the strength and goodness
of God are pledged to its removal. The soul will be allowed to be in
bondage only so long as is necessary for its complete emancipation.
Moral evil is tolerated at all not because it is a good in itself, but
in order that the soul may learn that its safety and strength are to be
found only in conformity to the will of God.

Jesus reveals the way of escape and thus confers upon the race the
greatest of possible blessings. This he does by the revelation of the
Fatherhood of God, which is not only compassionate but also holy.
Because God is the Father of all souls, when any one ceases to do evil
and begins to do well, or in other words repents, he finds a welcome and
help waiting for him. And Jesus clearly indicates, also, that in the
constitution of the soul, and in the inexorableness of moral law, there
is a deep remedial agency which is ever active, giving no individual
rest until it finds it in God. The tragedy of the cross was preeminently
a revelation. The cross is the manifestation, in terms of human life, of
the passion of the universe and of God. There must be suffering in all
who are good, until sin disappears.

The cross is the revelation of the Eternal God in sacrifice for the
redemption of souls in bondage to selfishness and animalism. Jesus
taught that sin is to be abolished. By means of the revelations of
holiness, the sacrifices of love, the remedial agency in the universe,
and by His own new life the forces of evil are to be broken, and the
soul allowed to enter into its freedom as a child of God. This is not a
subject for definition and dogmatism. The greatest things cannot be
defined, but they may be appropriated. The light, the air, gravitation
and all elemental forces transcend definition. The love of God revealed
on the cross is too holy and too transcendent for "scheme and plan." It
may be accepted in a spirit of worship, but it can be comprehended no
more than the process by which rain and soil are transmuted into
nourishment, and light into physical strength and beauty. The cross is
the pledge of the redemption of the soul through the love and power of
God; and beyond that we have no knowledge except that wherever that
cross has been lifted up men have been drawn unto truth and virtue, love
and brotherhood.

More than poetry and sentiment has found expression in a popular hymn
which thrills with a power which has been verified again and again in
human history:

    "In the cross of Christ I glory,
        Towering o'er the wrecks of time
     All the light of sacred story
        Gathers round its head sublime."

Jesus has furnished no clew to the origin of moral evil, but He has
given to the hope that it is to be overcome in the individual, the race,
and the universe, the testimony of His teaching and the emphasis of His
death.

Which is the greater mystery, life or death? A satisfying answer is
impossible, since we cannot think of one without thinking of its
opposite. What is life? Whence is it? Why is it? Such are some of the
questions which arise and elicit no response when one meditates upon the
mystery of living. What is death? What purpose does it serve? Is it an
end or a beginning? Such are some of the inquiries which cannot be
escaped when one, for even a few moments, looks, as all some time must
look, on the still and peaceful face of one who has ceased to breathe.
Who shall answer our questions? Of all who have attempted to fathom
these depths One alone has brought a message which is satisfying both to
the minds and hearts of those who think. Does any light from Jesus
penetrate the mystery of death? What others have groped after he has
declared. He taught that the universe is like a house of many rooms, and
that dying is but passing from one room to another. In His own
experience He illustrated His teachings. He ministered to His
disciples; He communed with those whom He loved until their hearts
burned within them. Then He disappeared and has been seen no more. But
why did He appear at all after death? Was it not to confirm the message
of the Transfiguration that those who seem to die only change the mode
of their existence, and continue their companionships and ministries
even after they have laid aside their bodies?

In the passage in the Gospel of Matthew, which may be called the parable
of the judgment, Jesus taught that the moral order is not changed by the
transition from bodily to disembodied existence. The thoughts which men
think, and the actions which they perform, affect the substance of the
soul. Evil works misery and virtue leads to happiness beyond the grave
as well as here. Seed sown on the earth may grow to its harvest in the
ages that lie beyond.

This is all the light on this subject that we need now. Death removes
no one beyond the watch and care of the infinite love. In the home of
the Heavenly Father His children pass from place to place, as He calls.
Jesus appeared to those who loved Him, and was recognized by them, and
that indicates that, whatever the changes of the future, the spiritual
body will be recognized by all who love.

The moral order is universal, and no change will touch the everlasting
distinctions between right and wrong, or diminish the obligation to
choose the right and refuse the wrong.

These are some of the lessons which are impressed upon us as we meditate
upon the life and teachings of Jesus and their relation to the ascent of
the soul.

He is the light of all souls. Into the darkness His glory has been
extending and expanding from His own time until now. If we may judge
the future from the past, it is easy to believe that this radiance will
not fail from among men until all realize that life and death, time and
eternity, humanity and history, are beset behind and before by the
Divine Fatherhood; that the goal of the race is the fullness of Christ;
that the severest experiences sometimes achieve the best results; that
sin will not forever darken the history of humanity; that death is a
passage not an abyss; an opening not a closing; a beginning not an
ending; and that beyond stretch opportunities of limitless life and
immortal growth.



THE INSEPARABLE COMPANION


    The prayers I make will then be sweet indeed,
    If Thou the Spirit give by which I pray:
    My unassisted heart is barren clay,
    Which of its native self can nothing feed:
    Of good and pious works Thou art the seed,
    Which quickens only where Thou say'st it may
    Unless Thou show to us Thine own true way,
    No man can find it: Father! Thou must lead.
    Do Thou, then, breathe those thoughts into my mind
    By which such virtue may in me be bred
    That in Thy holy footsteps I may tread;
    The fetters of my tongue do Thou unbind,
    That I may have the power to sing of Thee,
    And sound Thy praises everlastingly.

    --_Sonnet from Michael Angelo._ Wordsworth.



VIII

_THE INSEPARABLE COMPANION_


As the soul moves along its upward pathway it gradually becomes
conscious of many inspiring truths. Among the most delightful and
helpful of these is the fact that it is never alone, but is one of a
great company all pressing toward the same goal and all passing through
substantially the same experiences. In the midst of these
companionships, which are variable, and of these experiences which can
seldom be predicted, it slowly becomes aware that there is one
companionship which is constant, beneficent, and singularly
illuminating. The realization of this fellowship is intensely
individual. Of it others may speak, but concerning it they can give
little information. The full consciousness is always a personal one.
Having once enjoyed communion with the Over-soul it is difficult to
imagine that any are ever without this supreme spiritual privilege.
Sometimes the sense of spiritual coöperation is so vivid and continuous,
so compassionate and helpful, as to be almost startling--in those
moments when it seems to beset us behind and before. The process by
which a soul becomes conscious that it is forever attended by a
companion, whose one object seems to be to help it toward the spiritual
heights, will repay the most careful examination. To that delightful and
difficult study we will now turn.

Before it has advanced far on its pathway the soul becomes painfully
aware of the dangers by which it is surrounded and of the obstacles
which it must overcome. The road before it seems to be infested with
enemies. Its defeats are frequent and humiliating. It learns much by
experience; but the more it learns the clearer it seems to discern the
difficulties which it must meet. In the midst of the confusion and
failure it slowly becomes aware that warning voices are speaking, and
that they are loudest when moral peril is near. This is one of those
simple facts which may be verified by every thoughtful man, but which no
thoughtful man would ever dream of trying to explain. So simple and
elemental is this truth that it may best be enforced by commonplace
illustrations, and by something like a personal appeal.

A very distinguished man was one day walking with a friend along a
street in Edinburgh, when they came to one of the numerous wynds which
lead from the main thoroughfare into the midst of huge and gloomy
buildings. There the man stopped and asked to be excused while he
entered the wynd. Returning, after a moment, he explained his act by
saying that, in his young manhood, he had been tempted to do something
which would have wrecked his life. Just as he came to the place that he
had visited there sounded in his ears such a vivid warning as made it
morally impossible for him to proceed on his course of wrong-doing. He
felt sure that that voice was from above, for his whole nature, until
that instant, seemed to have been set on what would have led to moral
ruin.

Another person testified that he was once on the verge of doing what
would have brought him undying disgrace when, as if she had been drawn
out of the air, his mother stood before him, looking reproachfully at
him. Thus the fascination of temptation was broken by what he always
believed to have been a veritable spiritual presence.

Another experience is perfectly attested. A man in a distinguished
position did wrong, and was in peril of still greater wrong when
something, he could not have explained what, not only warned him but
kept warning him and following him so that he could not escape. If he
closed his eyes his danger became more vivid; if he stopped his ears
voices of reproach found their way in. He loved his wrong and would move
toward it, but then invisible hands seemed to hold him back until the
time of danger was past, and he was confirmed in right ways. Such
experiences are too numerous and varied to be doubted. No facts are
better attested. It may be said that they are only the usual warnings of
conscience. Be it so. Then what is conscience? The factors in the
problem are not materially changed, for the phenomena of conscience are
as remarkable, constant, and verifiable as light and heat. Most men who
have recorded their experiences, and who have observed with care the
workings of their own faculties, have been conscious of being attended
by some invisible presence warning them against evil. The explanation of
this phenomenon may be left for later consideration.

Closely allied to warnings against moral danger, which are so vivid as
sometimes to be almost audible, are the evidences of what may be called
spiritual protection. The idea of guardian angels and tutelary deities
arose naturally and inevitably. Many who have been astonishingly
delivered from spiritual peril have been able to find no other
explanation of their escape. Those who receive the confidences of their
fellow-men have little difficulty in believing such a story as was once
confided to me. An able and prominent man who had, resolutely as he
thought, turned from a course of conduct which threatened disaster,
found himself drawn toward the evil from which he supposed that he had
been forever delivered. The attraction seemed to be resistless. Again
and again he was on the verge of falling when the fall would have been
ruin. Then something made it morally impossible for him to enter upon
the path which he had determined to follow. The means used to dissuade
him were various. Sometimes a friend would call, then a duty would
intervene, then some obligation would press until, to use his own way of
phrasing it,--"it seemed as if some unseen person who could read my
thoughts and desires was walking by my side and, as fast as I was in
danger of yielding to evil, ordering events so as to prevent me from
doing what I wanted to do."

Few men who are trying to live on spiritual levels would hesitate to
acknowledge that they have been the subjects of similar protection. The
peculiar feature about it all is that the agents used are so often
entirely unconscious of the influence which they are exerting. An
unseen hand seems to be guiding our moves on the chess-board of life, so
as to check us every time that we are inclined to play falsely. I do not
mean that all are persuaded toward virtue, but I do mean that enough are
protected from moral evil and spiritual peril to justify the belief that
such ministries are around all; and that those who choose to do wrong do
so in the face of spiritual appeals which, if they would but give them
heed, would make resistance of evil easy and successful. If any one who
reads these words doubts my conclusions, let him study his own life,
with a little care, and learn for himself whether there are not many
hours in which he is almost persuaded to accept the ancient doctrine of
guardian angels.

This phase of the spiritual experience is rendered still more vivid when
we remember that the souls of men are perpetually dissatisfied with
present attainments, and ever eager in their efforts to explore the
unseen. The history of human thought, if it could be written, would show
that the mind has never been satisfied with what it has possessed, and
that each new glimpse of truth has stimulated still more ardent inquiry.
The more it is pondered the more impressive this fact becomes. The soul
seems to have had just before it, in all the stages of its development,
a spiritual forerunner opening a way into larger and fairer realms. This
consciousness is not akin to a passion for wealth. A man with enormous
riches often ceases to acquire, and devotes himself to the enjoyment of
what he possesses; but who ever heard of a thoughtful man who felt that
he might cease investigating and devote himself to the pleasures of
knowledge? Such instances there may have been, but they are not numerous
and have never been recorded.

Of course there are many, who in no true sense can be called seekers
after truth, who do not trouble themselves with questions about the
Unseen. They chew the cud of custom with all the placidity of
good-natured oxen. They do not live,--they simply exist. It is possible
for any man to shut his eyes to the light, but that does not banish the
light. It envelops him, and pours its splendors around him, regardless
of his wilful blindness. Millions are so engrossed with selfishness, or
animalism, that they catch the accents of no spiritual message, but
those appeals are never hushed. The deafness of the multitudes who will
not hear does not prove that no voices are calling.

In some way men have been kept dissatisfied with their ignorance and
persistent in their search for truth. I make no distinction between
sacred and secular here because all truth is sacred. Scientist and
theologian alike have to do with reality. Whether we examine the tracks
of an extinct animal on ancient rocks, or bow our heads in prayer, we
are facing a real world which is steadily enlarging. For centuries men
have sought the causes of things; they have been made to feel that they
ought to do right, and then have been inspired with a passion to
discover the right. This is very wonderful. The being who has almost
limitless powers of physical enjoyment, whose senses are exquisitely
fitted for pleasure, is not satisfied with pleasure, but, in obedience
to unseen attractions, ever seeks for higher things. Whence does this
eagerness come? Is it from man himself? Then our problem is great
indeed, for, at one and the same time, something within himself impels
him upward, and another something drags him downward. But the point for
special consideration now is that the soul is never satisfied with
anything but truth, that the history of thought is the record of the
search for truth, that every new discovery has acted as a stimulus to
still more ardent exploration, and that the search is always for
elemental realities, the causes of phenomena, for "things as they are."
The promise of Jesus was fulfilled long before it was spoken. Some one,
in all the ages, has been leading into truth and showing things to come;
and the process was never more evident than after all these years of
intellectual and spiritual progress. I say some one has led. By that I
mean a personal spirit, unseen, but ever present; for how could he whose
home is in the mire be supposed, steadily and unwaveringly, to reach
toward the skies unless there was some attraction in the skies? The only
attraction for one spirit is another spirit. This age-long, unwavering
passion for truth and progress, the wisest of men have believed to have
been inspired by Providence or God or by guardian angels--which after
all are only other ways of stating the doctrine of Jesus concerning the
Holy Spirit.

Another phase of this subject is the power, which has seemed to come
from outside the soul, to sustain and help those who have been called to
endure bitter and long-continued sorrow and pain. Those who feel
themselves to be weak as water under the stress of severe trial, almost
without previous suggestion, assume the proportions of heroes. They
endure and suffer with patience what would crush those who are only
physically brave and strong. A woman who seemed to have few resources in
herself, suddenly lost four children. In speaking of it, she very simply
but forcefully, said: "I could never have endured it myself." She
believed that her fragility had been reinforced by one stronger than
herself. Exceptional physical courage will account for deeds of amazing
heroism like that displayed at the sinking of the Merrimac in the
harbor of Santiago. Some persons are thus gifted by nature, as others
have a poetic temperament. But exhibitions of physical valor, stimulated
by the consciousness of world-wide applause, are very different from the
patience with which weak persons accept heavy burdens without a murmur,
and carry them apparently without assistance, sustained only by the
consciousness of being right.

How shall we explain the singular devotion of Monica to Augustine? By
mother-love? But mother-love might have been content with the greatness
of her son, and his regard for her. She bore on her heart "the salvation
of his soul," and would not cease in her quest for his spiritual
welfare. A profligate father, the degraded ideals which justified vice,
distances which seemed to be almost world-wide, did not daunt her.
Without haste and without rest she sought to bring her gifted son to
his Saviour. He had fame, and at least all the wealth that he needed,
but Monica never faltered in her prayers, or in her service, until her
son bowed before the cross, albeit for years she carried a heavy heart.

The age of martyrdom has passed but not the age in which men of vision
and strength have to serve their fellow-men with neither pecuniary
compensation nor expressed approval. And yet the number is steadily
increasing who quietly undertake herculean tasks for their fellow-men,
knowing that they will be neither appreciated nor understood, but,
instead, will have to suffer social ostracism, which is sometimes quite
as hard to endure as physical martyrdom. When a strong and earnest man
undertakes a service in which he must be misunderstood, and seldom if
ever applauded, when he chooses suffering with joy in order that he may
serve others, when he is willing to accept discomfort, social hunger,
physical pain, and without complaint continue in such a path, although
opportunities of worldly emolument and honor make their appeals to him,
it is difficult to explain the phenomena by simply saying that he is
finding strength in some hitherto unknown chamber of his own
personality. It would be easy to make a list of illustrations, long and
pathetic, of those who have patiently endured tribulation, who have
accepted heavy burdens and carried them without flinching that others
might be relieved, who have had physical deformity, depression of mind,
and pain of body, and yet who have never faltered as to their duty even
when the way was dark. The world's noblest heroes are to be found among
those who suffer but still endure and aspire in the night and silence,
clinging to duty when no one understands, and much less approves. Such
heroisms need explanation, and they have it in the inspiration and the
regeneration which are mediated by the Inseparable Spiritual Companion.

Phenomena like those of which I have thus far been speaking have been
observed in every age and every land. Some like Socrates have felt
themselves warned against evil courses; others like Augustine have been
protected from moral and spiritual death; others like Sakya-Muni have
been led to give up wealth and power for truth and service; others, who
could draw upon no hidden source of strength, have been sustained in the
midst of trials which have seemed heavy enough to crush; and, most
wonderful of all, in spite of all vices and crimes, all darkness and
ignorance, all bondage to ignoble ideals and slavery to commercialism
and pleasure, the race of man has never been content with things as they
have been. As the moon draws the tides by unseen attractions, so by
unseen attractions the souls of men have been made dissatisfied, and
drawn toward truth and beauty, love and holiness; and this desire for
some better country has never been absent. The passage from Egypt to the
promised land is the eternal parable of humanity, which is always
getting out of some Egypt, with its slavery and tyranny, and pressing
toward some intellectual and spiritual Canaan. This is one of the most
marvelous facts in the history of our race--its discontent with things
as they are, its faith in something better, and the perfect confidence
with which it embarks on unknown seas in its search for ampler and
fairer worlds.

The history of the past is the record of the weak receiving strength, of
the wicked being made uncomfortable in their wickedness, of limited and
provincial creatures reaching out to broad and high horizons, of
weakness, suffering, agony, willingly endured in the confidence that
relief and blessing will come at last, though far off, to all.

Moreover, there is no indication of any cessation of such phenomena. In
these days, when we say that no man should be asked to affirm anything
which he cannot verify, voices of warning and entreaty are vivid, the
consciousness of protection is distinct, support in trial is frequent,
and the evidence that some force, or some person, is steadily leading
humanity toward truth and righteousness is as convincing and constant as
ever.

What shall be said of these facts which are so numerous and so evident
as to make an effort at classification and explanation imperative?

Four answers to this inquiry are possible. Is the old doctrine of
Guardian Angels true? Possibly we may be, individually, under the care
of spiritual beings who are appointed for that service. That conviction
often prevails, although so far as I have observed, not usually in
association with perfect sanity. A man of noble bearing and grave and
solemn manner who was talking about using the telephone for
trans-Atlantic communication, once declared that all men living now are
under the leadership of those who have gone, and that the great of other
times are continuing their work through those now on earth. He added: "I
am confident of my success for I am the representative in these days of
Sir Isaac Newton." Subsequent events proved that Sir Isaac Newton must
have lost most of his common sense since his departure from the earth,
or he would have chosen a more rational representative.

This theory in no way solves the problem before us, but rather
complicates it, because it does not explain how the relation of souls is
adjusted. That there may be some truth in this speculation may be freely
granted. One text at least appears to give it a little confirmation:
"Are not their angels ministering spirits sent forth to minister to such
as shall be the heirs of salvation." That seems to teach that some who
have never dwelt in earthly bodies are the appointed ministers of those
who live on the earth.

Many other persons dismiss this subject by saying that all souls, like
all objects in nature and events in history, are parts of an everlasting
and universal process, and that speculation is useless and a weariness
to the flesh. That is the easiest way out of the difficulty, but it can
be taken only by ignoring the facts. Are all ideas concerning spiritual
ministry delusions? Then how shall we account for the imagination which
is capable of giving birth to such magnificent dreams? And we may
venture to ask also--Who started this movement in which we are all
involved? How comes it that in this cosmic loom such a wondrous fabric
is being woven, if there is no pattern, and no weaver, and will be no
one to enjoy the work when it is finished?

Possibly no one is warned against sin, impelled toward virtue, supported
in sorrow, led into larger visions of truth; and, possibly, truth and
right are also dreams, and the mind itself a delusion; and, possibly,
there is nothing but delusion. Then all study and struggle are useless;
let us go to sleep. But, some one else says, perhaps the phenomena of
which you speak are, in one sense, realities but caused by reactions of
the soul on itself. First it imagines that some spiritual leadership is
desirable, and then it concludes that that leadership is discernible. In
other words, sorrow, sin, relief, joy, truth, right, are only
imaginations born of other imaginations. If any are satisfied with such
reasoning the task of enlightening them is hopeless.

There is another explanation of the sublime, ancient, and world-wide
facts which are before us. It is the answer of Jesus, which is simple,
profound, rational, and satisfying. He told His disciples, when they
were grieving that they should see Him no more, that they would always
have with them the Spirit of Truth who would convict of sin, show things
to come, and lead into all truth. That Spirit in the Scriptures is
called by one of the sweetest and dearest names in the languages of
men--the Comforter. Some have wrongly imagined that the New Testament
teaches that the presence of the Comforter is a new event in human
history. Not so. The Spirit of Truth inspired and sustained the Apostles
and Martyrs as He had sustained the Patriarchs and Prophets and the same
Spirit which is represented as descending upon Jesus at His baptism
brooded upon the face of the waters when the earth was without form and
void.

Jesus teaches that God, as a Spirit, has never been absent from His
creation and never out of touch with the spirits of men. In the
beginning He created; later He inspired, supported, taught, comforted;
and always and everywhere He is present to sustain, to lead, to comfort,
to help, to save, and to bless. How simple, rational, and satisfying is
this interpretation of the phenomena of human history!

We study our own spiritual experiences and discover that when we have
been in danger of being contented with moral failure we have been made
ashamed and disgusted by it; that when we have been on the verge of
yielding to temptation we have been strangely and almost preternaturally
protected; that when sorrows have come which would have crushed our
unaided strength we have experienced strange peace and have had
undreamed-of strength; and that never for a moment have we found rest or
peace except as they have come to us in hand with truth and right. A
wider study shows us that our experiences are in harmony with the common
human experience. All forces and all events, in all ages, have been
working for the welfare of individuals, society, the whole world. A
steady, unfailing, universal attraction has been drawing the human race
away from animalism, error, sorrow, war, separation and division, toward
righteousness, truth, love, brotherhood, the life of the Spirit, and the
unity and happiness of the children of God.

That attraction is interpreted by Jesus in a simple and beautiful way.
He has taught us that the same Being who created the universe, and who
has revealed and is revealing Himself in creation, in history, and in
the earthly ministry of the Christ, is now, always has been, and always
will be in the most intimate, personal, and loving relations with men.
He warns them against evil, protects them in danger, comforts them in
sorrow, lifts their thoughts and desires toward the true, the beautiful,
and the good; and what He is doing for individuals He is also doing for
humanity and the universe. This is the culmination of the Christian
Revelation. This is to be the consummation and splendor of the Kingdom
of God. All the disciples of Jesus are followers of the Spirit of Truth.
The Spirit of Truth is the inspiration of all that is vital and enduring
in literature, art, government, society; and each individual, and "the
whole cosmic process" are being led by Him toward the beatitude of the
Children of God.



NURTURE AND CULTURE


    O happy house! whose little ones are given
       Early to Thee, in faith and prayer,--
    To Thee, their Friend, who from the heights of heaven
       Guards them with more than mother's care.
    O happy house! where little voices
       Their glad hosannas love to raise,
    And childhood's lisping tongue rejoices
       To bring new songs of love and praise.

    O happy house! and happy servitude!
       Where all alike one Master own;
    Where daily duty, in Thy strength pursued,
       Is never hard nor toilsome known;
    Where each one serves Thee, meek and lowly,
       Whatever thine appointments be,
    Till common tasks seem great and holy,
       When they are done as unto Thee.

    --_O Happy House._ Karl J.P. Spitta.



IX

_NURTURE AND CULTURE_


In the ascent of the soul two forces are ever at work: one is internal
and the other external. The internal is that which promotes growth; it
is resident within the soul, and, while it may be modified by
conditions, it is in no sense dependent on them. But environment is a
potent factor in all progress. Life necessitates growth, but environment
determines the end toward which it will move. Environment in large part
is composed of the circumstances into which we are born, of the
spiritual companionship from which none can escape, and of the training
which is provided by parents and friends. So much of the environment as
is furnished by others we will call nurture, and those influences and
instruments of advancement which the soul chooses for itself we will
call culture. This discrimination is not entirely accurate, but it is
sufficiently so for our present purpose. It at least indicates the lines
along which our thought will move. According to this definition nurture
has to do with that period of our existence when we are not able wisely
to make choices for ourselves. It is for those persons who are in
infancy and early youth, and also for those whose normal development has
been thwarted or hindered. The influences of the home, and of the church
so far as they are related to its younger members, are in the line of
nurture rather than of culture.

Culture, on the other hand, is something which a responsible being seeks
for himself, to the end that his power may be increased and his
faculties have harmonious development.

The soul grows according to its innate tendencies; it is also subject
to attractions from without. All souls are bound together; and all,
whether they wish or not, vitally and permanently affect those by whom
they are surrounded. Hence nurture and culture alike are both conscious
and unconscious.

The growth of the soul is largely affected by the nurture which it
receives. This is usually provided for it by parents, or by those who
take the places of the parents; and, where possible, their unwearying
efforts should be to remove all obstacles from the pathway of their
children, to surround them with a pure and helpful environment, and to
provide them with such training as will make their progress inevitable
and easy. The importance of wholesome domestic influences cannot be
exaggerated. Their part in the formation of character is greater than
that of all others, because they touch the powers and faculties of the
child during those years in which it is most plastic. Neither the
school nor the university can ever entirely counteract the effect of the
home. The whole period of childhood is one in which the soul is under
tutelage, and in which more is done for it by others than by itself. It
can no more select its own environment than it could have chosen its
parents, or the time and place of its birth. For a few years it is
utterly dependent. The question as to how its growth may most wisely be
promoted is, therefore, one of surpassing importance.

The object of nurture is to provide an unhindered path along which the
soul may move, to bring into full and free exercise all the powers which
it possesses, and to secure for them development and harmony. To insure
for each individual soul in the struggle of life a fair opportunity to
be itself is the end of nurture. Emerson has said that at birth every
child is loaded with bias, and that the purpose of culture is to remove
all impediment and bias, and to secure a balance among the faculties so
as to leave nothing but pure power. The same may be said as to the
object of nurture. Since impediment and bias are never a part of the
essence of the soul, the statement that the aim of nurture is to furnish
a full and free opportunity for each individual to secure a normal
development is, practically, identical with what Emerson has said of
culture.

What are the agencies which have most to do with promoting the ascent of
the soul? The first is atmosphere. In a bright, clear, sunshiny
atmosphere the body attains its most healthful growth. So with the soul.
Atmosphere is one of those intangible things that every one understands
and no one can easily define. It is composed of a thousand different
elements. The atmosphere of a household is the spirit by which it is
pervaded. Are all reverent, earnest, cheerful, optimistic? Do love and
mutual helpfulness prevail? Do the members of the family live as if God
were a near and blessed reality, and right and duty were more sacred
than life? Then there will be an atmosphere of hopefulness, devotion,
service, reverence, pure religion, which will affect all as sunlight and
air, unconsciously but evidently, grow into the beauty and fruitfulness
of meadows and gardens. The rare spirituality, the urbane manner, the
exquisite regard for others, the dignity and deference which are found
in some persons have no explanation except that they have been absorbed
from the households in which their early lives were passed. Nurture is
chiefly a matter of mental and spiritual atmosphere. Attraction is
always stronger than compulsion. A child born into conditions in which
love prevails, where truth, duty, honor, are reverenced, and where all
dwelling together seek the highest things, will need neither instruction
in morals nor motives in religion. It will naturally turn toward truth
and righteousness. It will revere virtue and worship God as inevitably
and spontaneously as it breathes. We are all influenced more by the
words which we hear and the examples which we see than by the lessons
given us to learn, by the spirit of a man, or an institution, rather
than by rules. Persons show the conditions in which they have been
reared by their choice of words, their bearing, the subjects of their
conversation, by their mental and spiritual attitude. Reverence is
seldom found except in an atmosphere of reverence, and sincerity grows
among those who are sincere. It is a moral necessity that some men
should be earnest and enthusiastic, and impossible for their neighbors
to be other than cringing and mean. The largest element in environment
is atmosphere, and in the development of character environment is quite
as potent as heredity. Indeed, in the sphere of the spirit, as in that
of the body, heredity is always modified by environment. The chief
factor in nurture, therefore, is atmosphere. If that is healthful,
growth will be toward beauty and strength; if that is malarial, no
antiseptic force but the grace of God will be able to counteract its
influence.

Next to atmosphere as an element in nurture I place ideals. For these
children are usually dependent on their elders. They reverence what they
are taught to revere. Ideals are placed before them by example and by
precept. Children grow like those whose deeds attract them, and they
seek those ideals toward which they are most wisely directed. Laws are
never as potent in the formation of character as examples. Men are made
brave by the sight of bravery, and honorable by contact with those who
will swear to their own hurt and change not. There is deep philosophy in
the saying that the songs of a people influence their institutions and
history more than legal enactments, for songs are usually of bravery, of
love, of victory. They create ideals; they excite enthusiasm. The
Marseillaise and The Watch on the Rhine send thrills through the blood
of those who hear them because in the most vivid way they suggest
patriotism and heroism. A good man inspires goodness. Philanthropy makes
others philanthropic. One courageous act sometimes makes heroes of a
hundred common men. If a father would have his son physically brave, and
he is a wise parent, he will not waste time in urging him to undertake
some forlorn hope, but he will read to him the story of the Greeks at
Thermopylæ, of Marshal Ney at Waterloo, of Nathan Hale and his holy
martyrdom, of Nelson at Trafalgar. If he would have that son a helper
and servant of his fellow-men he will tell him the story of Pastor
Fliedner and his work at Kaiserwerth, of Florence Nightingale at the
Crimea, of Wilberforce and Buxton, Whittier and Garrison in their
efforts to awaken their fellow-men to the enormity of human slavery. The
strongest force for making a young man brave and generous, honorable and
Christian, is the example of a father possessing such qualities. Men are
usually like their ideals, and their ideals in large part are created by
the examples of those who are most admired and loved.

But example is not all. Training also does much. Conduct is but the
expression of thought. If one can determine what shall be the subject of
another's thinking, he will have gone a long way toward fixing his
character. This is a fact which deserves more attention than it has yet
received in plans for the education of the people. Parents have no
holier privilege than that of directing the thought of their children.
By their own conversation, by the friends whom they invite to their
homes, by the books which are given a place on their tables, by the
amusements to which they take their families, they determine for them
the channels in which their minds shall run. As a man thinketh in his
heart so is he. Boys usually dwell upon the same subjects as their
fathers, unless the fathers by skilful conversation are able to hide the
subjects to which they give most time. Children usually admire what
their parents admire, and shun what they shun. The organic unity of the
household is a large factor in individual and social progress. Both by
direct effort, and by the indirect operation of example, it furnishes
subjects for the youthful mind. The personality, whose seat is in the
will, is never determined, but it is very largely influenced both by the
example of those who are admired and by the thoughts which they
suggest.

Environment in large part is composed of atmosphere, example, and
ideals. All these are provided for the growing child by others. He has
little or no voice in saying what they shall be. And environment has
more to do with the progress of the soul toward full and free
self-expression even than what is called education. Education is more by
atmosphere, example, and mental suggestion than by teachers and
text-books. When we speak of nurture we usually think of the period of
discipline in school and church; but we often make the mistake of not
taking into account the fact that the most effective training is seldom
that which comes directly from teachers. It is rather that which is
derived indirectly from the atmosphere, example, and ideals by which the
child is surrounded in his home. If I could determine those for a child
I should dread very little any malign force in the shape of an
incompetent teacher. Schools, in reality, are only for the unfinished
work of the homes. They may make the child better than his home, and
they may undo the good work which it has done; but, usually, what the
home is the child will be some time.

The agencies of nurture, by which a soul is helped on its upward
pathway, are atmosphere, example, ideals, and direct training. Of these
the least important is the last, although the value of that is
self-evident. By the intellectual and spiritual air that we breathe, by
the sight of heroic and consecrated service, by the possibilities of
noble achievement the best that is in a man or a boy is usually drawn
out. Afterward the teacher may take him in hand and, by training, remove
the impediment and bias and thus make a balance in the faculties, or
take out of his way the obstacles which oppose his progress; but he
seldom does very much toward determining the direction in which the
child will move. That is decided by others in the years which are most
plastic. The soul naturally, and inevitably, grows toward truth and God.
How could it be otherwise, since its being is derived from Him? But a
part of the mystery of growth is the influence of environment, and early
environment is almost altogether composed of the circumstances and
influences into which one is born.

The question of nurture, therefore, is of vital importance. What shall
one generation do for those which are to come after it? Each soul may
hinder or help the growth of countless other souls. The influence of
those nearest is always most potent for good or ill. Impediment is
increased, and bias exaggerated, by evil example. The effort to rise
becomes easy when the way is seen to be full of those whom we love and
honor going before us toward the heights, and it is difficult when no
familiar face is seen. Nurture is not so much a matter of teacher and
text-book, of church and catechism, as of atmosphere, example, and
inspiration. It is the effect of the contact of one pure and noble soul
upon another; it is something which father, mother, and friends give to
the child; it is the result of the spirit in which they impart
instruction and of the reverence and consecration which shine from their
lives.

The best and only enduring nurture is that of a sweet, serene,
optimistic, and thoroughly Christian environment. With that, inherited
tendencies toward weakness and evil will go of themselves,--indeed will
seem never to have had existence.

But all too soon the time comes in which the soul faces its own
responsibility, and realizes that it must choose for itself what its
course shall be. It has learned, if it has observed, that there is ever
with it an unseen leadership, and it has heard, faint and far, the call
of a noble destiny. What shall it now do for itself? Shall it choose
simply to exist? Shall it yield to the limitations and solicitations of
the body? or, shall it seek to prepare itself by discipline, and the
cultivation of right choices, for the goal whose intimations it has
heard? Nurture, if it has been wise, has been the forerunner of culture.
Atmosphere and example have inspired lofty ideals, but those ideals, if
they are to be realized, will require training. Matthew Arnold, quoting
Bishop Wilson, has said that culture "is a study of perfection." In
other words, it is the means which are used for the perfection of the
soul. Shall we choose to leave ourselves to grow like trees in a forest,
however they may, or shall we seek those conditions which will make
progress sure and swift? Culture is always a matter of choice; and it is
vastly more than anything which can be taught in the college or
university. The cultured man is he who has learned so to use the forces
and conditions of life as to make them minister to his perfection. The
one most cultured may come out of a factory, and the man of least
culture may be found in a university. Indeed colleges and universities,
not infrequently, are haunts of provincialism and of dread of
enthusiasm. The object of culture is the perfection of the spirit to the
end that all that hinders, or limits, may disappear and only pure power,
clear vision, and full self-realization remain. Those whose growth is
most evident are ever eager to use all experiences as means of progress.
They study books in order that they may better understand what others
have thought concerning the mystery of existence; they discipline their
minds in order that they may the better serve their fellow-men; they
seek fineness of manner and beauty of expression to the end that their
utterance of truth may be more persuasive and convincing. Culture and
the discipline of life are identical. Consequently, the wise man chooses
to put himself where he will best be taught by the events through which
he passes, by what he sees, and by what he may learn from others. It
matters little who have been the teachers, or what have been the
schools,--the real teacher is always life, and the real university is
the human experience.

I do not make light of the benefit which may be derived from books and
institutions of learning, but I do insist on the recognition of the
deeper fact that the lessons which no one can afford to neglect are
those which can be taught only by overcoming obstacles. We can learn how
to live only in the school of life. The most vital books are always
those which tell us what others have done, and of the paths by which
they have been led to power. What shall the soul do for itself in order
that it may promote its own growth? It must first recognize where the
sources of knowledge and strength are to be found, and then put itself
where it will feel the touch of the vitality which can come only from
other souls. Quickly enough every man reaches the time in which he may
determine his own environment. When we are young others choose our
circumstances for us, but when we become older we select them for
ourselves. That means much. No monarch is mighty enough to compel me to
associate with those who will hinder my progress. He only is a slave
whose mind and will are in bondage. My body may be with boors but, at
the same time, my spirit may be holding companionship with seers and
sages. I may be compelled to work in a mine like John the Apostle, but
I, too, like him may hear One speaking whose voice is as the sound of
many waters, and whose eyes are like a flame of fire. Our real
associates are ever our spiritual companions; and no one can force
another to hold fellowship with those who are either intellectually or
spiritually uncongenial.

And we also select our own subjects of thought. Who can govern the
thinking of another? At the very moment when one, who is stronger, is
rejoicing in what seems his supremacy, our thoughts may be ranging
through the spaces, and finding companionships among the stars. And we
choose our own examples. In youth they were put before us according to
the will of others, but later our heroes come to us at our bidding, and
no one can shut the gates against them. Whom shall we admire? Let them
be men of the spirit, who have sought truth and hated lies, "who have
fought their doubts and gathered strength," who would rather suffer
wrong than do wrong. The perfection of being is the end of effort,
therefore we will read what will best help our growth in vision, in
moral earnestness, in spiritual sensibility; therefore our books shall
treat of subjects which will ennoble; our amusements shall be pure and
clean; and our chief companionships shall be with the prophets and
masters, the noble and the good, because by associating with them we
shall become like them.

Intellectual acuteness, mastery of faculty, elegance of expression, are
something very different from insight into the meaning of life. The
cultured man is he who has learned his relations to his fellow-men, who
recognizes his obligations toward them; and his relations to the unseen
and his duty toward it.

Discipline which will produce such results will ever be sought by the
awakened soul. It will be satisfied with nothing less.

The relation of nurture and culture to the ascent of the soul is now
evident. Both are the agencies by which all impediment and bias are to
be removed, and by which the soul is to come to the realization of pure
power. They are the means by which complete self-realization is to be
attained; they are the study of perfection. Nurture is what is done for
the soul by parents and friends in its plastic years; culture is the
means which the soul chooses in order that its growth may be hastened.
Nurture is chiefly promoted by lofty examples, noble ideals,--in short,
by beneficent environment; but culture is attained by the conscious
effort of the individual, by his own choice of healthful environment,
worthy example, inspiring companionships, and, perhaps still more, by
long and patient study of the facts of our mortal life, of the
revelations which have come from the unseen, and of the prophecies of
the future which are within the soul. There is a deep and almost
terrible significance in the text, "No man liveth to himself." Every
person is independent and free and yet is bound to every other. Most
delicate and vital of all human relations is that of parent and child.
How far one may be responsible for the other may be difficult to decide,
but that the one influences the other, inevitably and forever, is beyond
question. In many ways the child is what he is made by the parent.
Therefore the welfare of the child as a spirit, and not merely as a
body, should be a continual study. He who has dared to become a parent
can never honorably shirk the duty of nurture. The connection between
souls is a great mystery, but the mystery does not lessen the
obligation. We are responsible not only for the existence of our
children, but equally for their growth. It is the parent's privilege to
make sure that they start on the journey of life properly equipped, and
with no undue obstacles in their pathway--to make them realize that they
are not only his children but also children of God; and that they are to
live not only in time but in eternity.

The training of the body is needful, and that of the mind still more so,
but that of the spirit is absolutely essential to its welfare. Therefore
plans and provisions for nurture first, last, and always should be to
the end that the soul may realize that it is from God, and that its goal
and glory are union with Him.

And those who realize that they are free, that they are in a moral
order, that a noble destiny awaits them, should make everything in
thought, in study, in association, in companionship, bend toward the
perfection of being, the development of power, and the realization of
the life of the spirit. Nurture does much for every man, his parents
and friends also do much but, at last, when all mysteries are disclosed
and self-revelation is complete, it may be found that each one does
quite as much for himself as any one else, or every one else, does for
him.



IS DEATH THE END?


    It's wiser being good than bad;
       It's safer being meek than fierce;
    It's fitter being sane than mad.
       My own hope is, a sun will pierce
    The thickest cloud earth ever stretched;
       That after Last, returns the First,
    Though a wide compass round be fetched;
       That what began best, can't end worst,
       Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst.

    --_Apparent Failure._ Browning.



X

_IS DEATH THE END?_


We have been studying the ascent of the soul in the successive stages of
its development, from the dawn of consciousness to the measure of
progress which our race has now attained. But a dark shadow falls across
that history. No one has yet lived who has reached what all have
believed to be the fullness of his possible development. At a certain
period in physical history what we call death intervenes, and we are
left wondering as to whether that is the end of all, or whether the soul
persists and continues its advance unhindered by bodily limitations.
That death is the end of the body, in its present form, no one doubts;
but whether the relations of the soul to the body are so intimate and
enduring that what vitally affects one affects the other is a subject
concerning which there has been eager and constant inquiry, and but
little real knowledge. Job's question, "If a man die shall he live
again?" is the common question of humanity. The importance of the
subject is attested by the prominence which it has always had in human
thought. Philosophers have given it foremost place in their
speculations. Science, while seeking to explore every part of the
physical universe, never escapes from the fascination of this question.
Is the death of the body the end of the spirit? Or, if we have not
sufficient material for a positive statement, is there enough to make a
strong affirmation of probability? We are facing the deepest mystery
which is ever presented to thinking men. Heretofore we have been trying
to follow a history clearly marked in the progress of humanity; now we
can only balance probabilities. But all that has been learned concerning
the nature and development of the spirit of man not only warrants, but
compels, the belief that death is not the end of the soul; and that to
assert that it is, is to deny the revelations of the universe, and to
insist that there is nothing but irony and mockery where there ought to
be reason and wisdom. In treating this subject I can but repeat thoughts
which have been emphasized again and again; but it is so vital, and so
near to the welfare of all, that old arguments become new, and interest
in them increases, the more frequently they are emphasized.

On what do we base our faith that the soul exists after death? That it
does is clearly the faith not only of religious teachers but of many of
the latest and most eminent scientists. Many expounders of evolutionary
philosophy unite in telling us that "the cosmic process" having reached
man, a spiritual being, can go no further in the physical order; that
evolution will never produce a higher being than a spirit, but that the
"cosmic" force will still persist and be utilized in the expansion and
perfection of spirits.

In treating this subject little attention will be given to the
scriptural argument, for there is little if any difference of opinion
concerning the teaching of Jesus and that of the writers of the New
Testament. They are united and consistent in assuming the persistence of
being. That belief underlies all their appeals to the solemn sanctions
of the moral law which they derived from the future life. Jesus himself
said, "If it were not so, I would have told you;" and nearly, if not
quite all the Apostles base their warnings and their invitations on
motives which reach beyond the death of the body. The masters of other
religions have been equally positive. In some form or other they have
asserted the continued existence of the spiritual nature in man.

But we turn, for the moment, from these and consider such evidence as
may be derived from the soul itself, and from what is known of its
progress.

There is no evidence that when the body dies the soul dies with it. It
may not be possible to prove the reverse; all that we know is that the
vital functions cease, and that the body decays. No eye ever saw the
soul, and no dissection ever discovered the place of its dwelling. Is
that ethereal something which we call soul simply the result of the
organization of atoms? Or is the body like a house in which a spiritual
tenant dwells? At least this may be affirmed: No one has yet been able
to prove that the soul and body die together. Then there is no
reasonable presumption against the continuance of being. No spirit, so
far as we know, has returned to the earth in visible form, and spoken
its message; and yet, for aught we know, we may be surrounded every day
by spiritual beings, moving unseen along the avenues upon which we walk,
and entering without invitation the houses which we inhabit. At this
point it is enough simply to grant that presumptions are, perhaps,
evenly balanced. If one asks for proof that the spirit persists, the
only reply must be a Socratic one--Can you prove that it is vitally
connected with the body?

Belief in the existence of the soul after death seems to be an innate
belief. It has been ascribed to the influence of the superstition about
ghosts; but that superstition is only an unscientific form of the larger
faith in the persistence of being. Where did this conviction originate?
We think only of such things as have been experienced. No thought is
ever entirely original. Even imagination cannot create anything
absolutely unlike anything which ever existed. All the fabled beings
who, according to the ancient mythology, filled the spaces and waters,
were but human creatures adapted to imaginary environments. Faith in the
existence of the soul after death could not have originated in the soul
itself; to believe that would be to contradict the laws of thought. It
seems to have been born with the soul, and yet not to be a part of it.

The common conviction of continuance of being can be explained only on
the assumption that it is an innate idea. That this assumption starts,
perhaps, quite as many questions as it settles may be granted.
Nevertheless, it is the only way in which this fact in mental and
spiritual history can be accounted for.

Not only is belief in persistence of being innate, but it is also
universal. It has been found in every land, in every time, in every
religion. Dr. Matthewson has finely argued that the savage worships a
fetish because he is seeking something which does not change[8]. He
knows that he dies; he worships that which he thinks does not die. A
piece of wood or a stone, at first, seems to him more enduring than a
man; therefore he worships the fetish. Gradually his eyes are opened and
he realizes that the man is more enduring than the thing. Then the
object of his worship is lifted from something material to a spiritual
being. The belief in immortality is coterminous with belief in the
Deity; the two forms of faith are always found together. The cultured
Greek, the mystic Egyptian, the idealistic Indian, the savage who
inhabits the forests of Africa, or who formerly dwelt in the forests of
America, alike have believed in some land of spirits to which their
loved ones have gone and to which they themselves, in turn, will also
go. Every age and every time, alike, have borne witness to the strength
and vitality of this faith.

[Footnote 8: Distinctive Messages of the Old Religions, p. 9.]

But still more convincing to me than any of the suggestions which have
gone before, is the fact that it is irrational to suppose that the soul
dies with the body. If that were true, how could we account for the
enormous waste in discipline and culture, in education and affection?
What is the meaning of the love that binds human beings together, if
after a short "three-score-and-ten career" it utterly ceases to be, and
being and affection alike go into oblivion? How can our systems of
education be justified, if the soul is perfected only to be destroyed?
On everything else man spends time, labor, affection in proportion to
the possibility of its endurance. He never seeks that which he knows
will be taken from him and destroyed as soon as it is perfected. An
artist would not spend a lifetime on a picture, or a sculptor in
finishing a statue, if he knew that when his work was completed it would
be instantly sunk in the depths of the sea. We devote a large part of
our lives to education; we cultivate our minds; our affections are
disciplined; we spend time, money, labor for years for the culture of
our children; can it be that all this preparation is for something which
never can be realized? In the midst of the loftiest manifestations of
the soul's power the body ceases to be. With indescribable bravery a
warrior lays down his life, a fireman rescues a child from a burning
building, a life-boatman goes through the surf to a sinking ship, and,
at that very moment when he proves himself best fitted to live, death
comes and he is seen no more. It cannot be proven that this is not the
end, but it is not reasonable to believe that this is the end. If it is,
human life is utterly without significance, and he is most to be
commended who quickest escapes from its misery and mockery.

Moreover the inequalities of the human condition are strangely
prophetic. Much has been made of this argument in the past,--Job and
Socrates both felt its force.

The value of it has often been discredited, but without reason. How
shall the bitter injustice which is frequently found on the earth be
explained? Some have an abundance of wealth, some have literally
nothing. Some enjoy the best of health and strength all their days,
while others pass their years in suffering and trial. Some are
surrounded by families and fairly revel in love and friendship, and
others lead lonely lives toward a welcome end. Some are strong and
brave, and able to act a part in the drama of life; others are weak,
obscure, unknown, and, for aught that they or we can see, might as well
have never been. The law of heredity sweeps down from the past and
brings a terrible legacy to many who spend all their days in trying to
escape from what has been forced upon them. What shall we say concerning
those who are born in lust and must live in the midst of the vice of a
great city, and who, in turn, give birth to a lustful and vicious brood?
Have they had a fair chance? Will their children have? Such questions
have puzzled the most earnest thinkers of all time, and there has seemed
to be but one explanation. Job seemed to be in darkness, until at last
there flashed upon his mind this question, which is also a modified
affirmation, "If a man die shall he live again?" If he live again, then
it is possible that what seems to be unjust may be righted; and those
who have known only suffering and pain during their dwelling in the
flesh, may some time enter into the fruition of their discipline in the
joy and victory of the endless life. The more this argument is pondered
the stronger its force becomes. It carries conviction to all who are
deeply sensitive to the common human experience, and who at all
understand the misery and the suffering of human existence. One in the
fullness of his physical strength may think little about it, but that
deformed girl who asked her mother after service one Easter Day,
"Mother, is it true that in heaven I shall be as straight as you and
father?" is a type of millions of others. Some suffer in body and some
in mind; some have a heredity of insanity or vice--they are born with
shackles on their faculties. If they ever have a fair chance to grow
noble and beautiful, morally and spiritually, it must be after their
bodies have been laid aside. It cannot be said that they do not now
desire benefit and blessing, but it is evident that it is impossible for
their longing to be gratified. The conviction that this is a moral and
rational universe compels us to believe that some time and somewhere
those who suffer will escape from their pain, that those who are
burdened with the evil that has been inherited from past generations
will rise above it, and that the soul will be given an unhindered
opportunity for growth and advancement. The inequalities in the human
condition almost compel us to believe that the death of the body cannot
be the end of the spirit.

A little light on this subject comes from the faith of the world's
greatest teachers. As there are, now and then, those who see farther
than others with the physical eye, so there have been a few teachers who
have been rightly called seers, because their eyes have penetrated
farther into the mysteries of the universe than have those of their
fellow-men. Among the seers of the ages, I think that the two whom all
would recognize as being preëminent are Socrates and Jesus--the one the
finest flower of the intellectual development of Greece, and the other
the consummation of the hopes and visions of the most spiritual people
that the world has ever known. Both Socrates and Jesus believed in God,
and both have taught the world, with no uncertain sound, of their faith
in immortal life. The latter was clearly an axiom with Jesus, for He
said to His disciples in effect, "If there had been any question about
it I would have told you;" and almost with his last breath Socrates
compelled his disciples to think of him as immortal, for he told them
that, though his body might be buried anywhere, he defied both friend
and foe to catch his soul. Socrates and Jesus represent the belief of
the world's greatest seers.

The deep and abiding confidence of the teachers, who increasingly
command our admiration as the years go by, is not to be entirely
disregarded. We may care little what those tell us who walk by our sides
in the dark valleys or on the dusty plains; but there are others who
have climbed to the crests of the loftiest mountains, and who have
looked into a world of which we have only dreamed. When they come down
we listen because we know that they have had visions. Even so it is in
our intellectual life. A few men have risen above the common levels of
humanity, as the Alps above the plains of Lombardy. They have spoken
concerning what they have seen. They have had glimpses of God--the soul
of the universe, and of the persistence of individuals in the realm that
lies beyond the grave. I might not let my faith be determined by their
testimony alone, but when what they say is confirmed by many other
voices speaking in the soul, and sounding through the history of the
world, it is easy to believe that they have spoken of things which have
been revealed to them.

Another confirmation of our conviction of the reality of life after
death may be stated as follows: It is not possible for us to think of
the heroes and singers of the ages as having less endurance than the
words which they have uttered and the deeds which they have performed.
Milton's and Shakespeare's bodies have long been dead. The great
dramatist has recorded a dire curse on any one who should move his
bones. In the chancel of the Church of the Holy Trinity at
Stratford-on-Avon those bones are supposed to rest. But the plays that
Shakespeare wrote are still the wonder of the world, and the glory of
the English race. Is it possible to believe that the man was less
enduring than his work? Is it possible to believe that Shakespeare's
plays and Milton's epic will exist, perhaps, for a thousand years, while
the dramatist himself has utterly ceased to be? You open a neglected
drawer of your desk and come suddenly upon a letter written by a friend
of half a century ago; the paper is a little soiled, but as firm as
ever; the ink is hardly faded; the words are all clearly formed and full
of inspiration; and you hold that letter in your hand and ask yourself,
"Was the man who penned these lines less enduring than the paper on
which he wrote, or than the ink with which he wrote?" Such questions are
not arguments, and yet they have the force of arguments. It is not
possible in our better moments to feel that the great and good, by whom
this world has been lifted to its present condition, have gone entirely
into nothingness.

It was said of our Lord, "It was not possible that such a man should be
holden of death." And it is not possible for us to believe, in our
inmost souls, that those who become a part of our being, whose love is
of more value to us than our own lives, whose memory is the dearest
treasure that we possess, by some accident, a taint in the food or the
water, can utterly pass from existence. If it were possible to believe
that, then the most miserable creature on the earth would be man, for he
would know of his greatness, and know also that his greatness is a
mockery and a sham. In hours of doubt, let us lean hard upon the
question, "Is it possible that those with whom we have walked and
worked, conversed and communed, and by whom we have been helped and
blessed, should forever cease to be, while the houses in which they
live, and the tools with which they labor, will endure for generations?"

The soul is full of prophecies. Only as there may be continuance of
being can these prophecies have fulfillment. The feeling of dependence,
the desires for friendship which are never satisfied, the powers of
body and of mind which are capable of a development which they never
receive on earth, are prophecies of a life beyond death. Not the least
among the reasons for our belief that death is not the end of the soul
is the fact that the soul itself is a prophecy of its own immortality.

It is always best to believe the best. This world and human life may be
interpreted on the materialistic hypothesis; then matter is all and
death is the gloomy _finale_ to the tragedy of existence. Or they may be
interpreted according to the spiritual hypothesis; then within the body
dwells the spirit; then the latter is but a tenant of the former. If the
house is destroyed the tenant goes elsewhere. If we interpret the world,
and human life, according to the materialistic theory all the beauty and
joy of existence on the earth will disappear. We will then live for a
little time; and our loves, our disciplines, and our victories alike
will be only delusions soon to be mercifully ended by death. Possibly
that is true; but, if it is true, then this universe is the embodiment
of the most dismal, desolate, and diabolical thought that it is possible
for a human being to conceive. On the spiritual hypothesis all
experiences are intended for the perfection of the soul. Bodily
limitations, physical sufferings, animal solicitations, may all be used
so as to promote the development and perfection of the spirit. When the
body can do no more the soul will emerge purified and strengthened by
contact with that which is physical. It will then move from the narrow
quarters in which it has dwelt into some larger and fairer room in the
great palace of God. Once more, I confess, we cannot demonstrate the
truth of this faith, but it is always best for ourselves and for the
world to believe the best. With this faith human life is nobler, and
human effort more persistent and enduring than it would be without it.
At the end "the finished product" will be larger, and more perfect, if
there is something to strive for than if hope is destroyed the moment
that aspiration is born. I should be willing to rest my faith in
immortality upon this one argument. A rational being should be satisfied
only with a rational answer to his questions; a moral being should be
satisfied only with a moral solution of his problems. This universe is
neither rational nor moral if the soul ceases to be at the death of the
body. On the other hand, if the soul passes into another and ampler
sphere all the mysteries are explained, and there is meaning even in the
darkest passages of human experience. All things work together for good
to those who are willing to be led toward the higher things.

These are some of the reasons, with which all thinking persons are
familiar, for believing that the soul continues its growth after the
body has been laid aside. Evolution has opened a new vista in human
thought. There had been vague suggestions of it before, but evolution
has done much to confirm faith by its clear and strong testimony. It
prophesies the eternal growth of the spirit. These prophecies are
harmonious with those of the soul, and with the positive teachings of
the Christian revelation. This then is our conclusion:--in the process
of time, in accordance with natural law, our bodies will be laid aside,
some in one way and some in another, but the soul that has dwelt in
these bodies will become free. In ways of which we know not, and of
which it would be presumption to speak, its perfecting will be
continued. What teachers will take it in hand then is beyond our
knowledge; but we are confident that its individual existence will
continue, that its perfection will be along moral and spiritual lines,
that it will grow forever and forever in intelligence, in love, in the
power of rational choice, and into harmony with Him from whom it has
come and whose glory will be its perfection. To believe less would be to
refuse to listen to the voices which speak within and the voices which
speak without,--it would be to believe in an irrational and immoral
universe rather than a rational and moral one.

Our souls have a right to be heard, and their prophecies have in them an
element of certainty. He who listens to the voices which speak within
will never believe that the death of the body is the end of his personal
being. The suggestion of a state of existence from which sin, sorrow,
and death shall be forever absent, into which there shall enter nothing
that maketh a lie, and where sacrificial love is the everlasting light,
is the highest and most satisfying ideal for human life that has ever
been spoken or imagined; and that which completely satisfies the heart
cannot at the same time be repudiated by the intellect.

Let us, therefore, reverently confess that we believe in "the life
everlasting."



PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD


    Thy voice is on the rolling air;
       I hear thee where the waters run;
       Thou standest in the rising sun,
    And in the setting thou art fair.

    What art thou then? I cannot guess;
       But tho' I seem in star and flower
       To feel thee some diffusive power,
    I do not therefore love thee less:

    My love involves the love before;
       My love is vaster passion now;
       Tho' mixed with God and Nature thou,
    I seem to love thee more and more.

    Far off thou art, but ever nigh;
       I have thee still, and I rejoice;
       I prosper, circled with thy voice;
    I shall not lose thee tho' I die.

       --_In Memoriam._ Tennyson.



XI

_PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD_


The wisest of men have little to guide them when they approach that
mysterious realm from which no traveler has ever returned. With humility
and the consciousness that we must, at the best, walk in the twilight, I
take up one of the most mysterious and fascinating of themes. No one has
any right to speak positively on such a subject, and I shall not do so.
Those who have the assurance of sight when they write about what lies
beyond the grave are both to be envied and to be pitied,--envied because
of their confidence, pitied because they may be self-deceived.

Let me make my exact purpose as plain as I can by an illustration. A
dear friend, one with whom you have associated for years, enters the
silent life. The morning following, as has long been your custom, you
offer your prayers to the Heavenly Father, and, as usual, mention that
friend by name. Suddenly you stop and say to yourself, "I can no more
offer that petition, for my friend is now beyond the need of my poor
prayers." Then, suddenly and swiftly, come the questions, Although my
friend is called dead is he any less alive than when he was in the body?
Will not all that constituted his personality continue to grow in the
future as in the past? Does the death of the body do anything more than
change the mode of the spirit's existence? And the result is that you
say to yourself, "I will continue to pray for my friend, for, if he is
alive now, every reason which led to prayers before his death justifies
their continuance."

From more than one person I have heard words similar to these which I
have put into this hypothetical form; and because of these expressions
of sane and sacred experience I am led to ask my readers to follow me in
the consideration of a subject which is seldom mentioned, except with
incredulity, by most Protestants.

No one who may not appreciate the importance of this subject should be
either troubled or heedless. We learn our lessons concerning the
profounder mysteries simply by living. No one can be blamed for not
appreciating what he is not yet, either intellectually or spiritually,
ready to receive. Providence takes good care of us. When we are prepared
for the reception of any truth it usually finds us.

This subject has been regarded with suspicion by two classes of
thinkers: Protestants who have revolted from the extent to which praying
for the dead has been carried in the Roman Catholic Church, and the
much smaller number who hold what they delight in affirming is "the true
theology," and who have insisted that when men die their state is
irrevocably and forever fixed, the good going at once into the perfect
bliss of heaven and the wicked into the suffering of hell.

It will be more profitable for us to deal with the positive side of our
subject than to attempt to clear away misconceptions and half truths.

What is meant by prayers for the dead? Exactly the same as prayers for
those in the body. When the body dies the soul, or the essential man, is
not touched by death. The personality is that which thinks, chooses,
lives. Your mother is not the form on which your eyes rested, or the
arms which encircled you, but the thought, the devotion, the affection
concealed, yet revealed, by the body, and which use it for their
instrument. In reality we never saw our dearest friends; what we saw
was color, form, but never the spirit. That is disclosed through the
body, but is not identified with it. Now just as we have prayed for a
mother, or a child, or a friend whose physical form is familiar, but
whose personality we have seen only in its revelations, so we continue
to pray for that loved one which we do not see any more, or any less,
after what is called death.

In other words, instead of thinking of any as dead, we think of all as
alive, although many of them are in the unseen sphere. Love and sympathy
have never been dependent on the body except for expression, and there
is no evidence that they ever will be. Sympathy and affection, thought
and will, are matters of spirit; and why may not spirit feel for spirit
and minister to spirit, when the body is laid aside? Your hands, your
feet, your lips did not pray for your child; your spirit prayed for his
spirit, and now that his body is laid aside, like a worn-out garment,
you may keep on doing just what you did before. This is what is meant by
prayers for the dead.

I am well aware that it may seem to some that these statements rest
largely on assumptions, but they are not baseless assumptions. One other
assumption must be made before we can proceed in our study, and that one
is the truthfulness of the Christian teaching that death is not
cessation of being, but only the decay of the bodily organism.

How may prayers for the dead be justified? Are they taught as a duty in
the Scriptures? The privilege rests not so much on particular
exhortations as upon the whole Christian teaching concerning
immortality. God is the God of the living. Bishop Pearson in his
exposition of the Apostles' Creed has an impressive passage, which I
quote: "The communion of saints in the Church of Christ with those who
are departed is demonstrated by their communion with the saints alive.
For if I have a communion with a saint of God, as such, while he liveth
here, I must still have communion with him when he is departed hence;
because the foundation of that communion cannot be removed by death. The
mystical union between Christ and His Church ... is the true foundation
of that communion.... But death, which is nothing else but the
separation of the soul from the body, maketh no separation in the
mystical union, no breach of the spiritual conjunction, and consequently
there must be the same communion, because there remaineth the same
foundation."[9]

[Footnote 9: Quoted in Welldon's "Hope of Immortality," page 332.]

Jesus taught that death is but a change of the form of existence. On the
Mount of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah appeared alive, and as
interested in human affairs. If death is not cessation of being, but
only a change in the form of its manifestation, why should we think
that human sympathy ends when breathing ceases, and why should we
conclude that mutual service may be rendered impossible by "a snake's
bite or a falling tile." Tennyson in "In Memoriam" gives the Christian
doctrine exquisite expression,

    "Eternal form shall still divide
    The eternal soul from all beside;
    And I shall know him when we meet."

Jesus teaches the reality of immortality He represents those gone from
us as not dead but as still living and still interested in human
affairs. If His teaching is true, is it not as reasonable to try to
serve those of our loved ones who are out of the body as those who are
in the body? So far as we can see, the only way in which we can serve
them is by prayer, although they may, possibly, minister to us in other
ways.

If immortal existence means the possibility of unceasing growth, then
every reason which prompts prayer for those who are bodily present
remains a motive when they have entered the state which is purely
spiritual.

But what efficacy will prayers for the dead have? My answer is two-fold.
All the efficacy that prayer ever has. If death is relative only to a
single state of existence, and if those whom we call dead are living,
and still free agents, then they may still choose good and evil, and
they may still grow toward virtue. Choice always implies a possibility
of freedom; and freedom is a necessity when there is moral
responsibility. If prayer helps any one, why not those who have passed
from our sight? Surely we must believe them still to possess the power
of choice and, therefore, that of choosing evil as well as good.

You ask why pray at all. My answer is simple and free from all attempts
at casuistry: simply because we must. Prayer is not so much a Christian
doctrine as a human necessity. It is as natural as breathing. By prayer
I mean not only spoken petitions but, equally, the longing and pleading
of the soul, either blindly or intelligently, for things which are
beyond our reach, and which only a higher Power can provide. Those
longings may have formal expression, and they may not. Prayer so far as
it is petition is the soul pleading with the Unseen for what it deeply
desires. I do not suppose that God needs light from any mortal man, but
all men do need many things from Him, and, as naturally as children
present their desires to earthly parents, even though they know them to
be already favorable, we go with our deeper needs to our Heavenly
Father.

Much time has been wasted in trying to formulate a rational basis for
prayer. When a child in the smaller family no longer asks his father to
accede to his wishes, when he no more pleads with his father for his
brother or his sister, then it will be time enough to inquire if, in the
larger family which we call humanity, we may do without prayer. Until
then let us believe,

    "More things are wrought by prayer
    Than this world dreams of."

Leaving now the apologetic side of the subject, which is alluring, we
observe one evident blessing which always attends praying for the dead.
It keeps ever before our minds the thought that they are actually alive.
It makes the doctrine of the communion of saints a sacred reality. If I
may in this essay be allowed to assume a hortatory tone I will say, if
you have been in the habit of praying for your friend, do not give it up
simply because he has ceased to breathe. As regularly as ever continue
to pray for him, and he will be to you more than a memory. What would
have been but an occasional remembrance will then be a daily communion;
and what would have been only formal praying to God will be an hour, or
a moment, of association with those who will grow nearer and dearer, and
not farther and vaguer, with the passing years. The hour of devotion
will thus be hallowed, because it will be a holy tryst with absent
friends, as well as a time for making our requests known to our Heavenly
Father. Who can exaggerate the delight and benefit of such an exercise?
What sources of strength are to be found in spiritual association with
our beloved! If we are thus helped why should we presume that they may
not also, by such sweet hours, be strengthened for their duties? I know
this may seem fanciful. I ask no one to follow me who is not ready to do
so. I do not speak dogmatically, but with great earnestness, when I say
that prayer for our beloved after they are gone is a privilege and a
help--I would fain believe both to them and to us.

But it may be objected that the moral state of men is fixed at death,
and that nothing that we or they can do can influence it by a hair's
breadth. That this has been a popular opinion is true; and it is equally
true that many have supposed that all who have had faith on the earth
are in bliss; and that all who have been without faith are in misery;
and that the beatitude of all the good is equal and alike, and that the
misery of all unbelievers is the same.

Such inferences, though held by many for whose scholarship and character
I have profound reverence, seem to me to be contrary to Scripture, to
the analogies of nature, and to the moral sense. Such a theory is
contrary to Christian Scriptures; for the parable of the talents shows
that some will have greater and some lesser reward; and the parable of
Dives and Lazarus has relation only to Hades, or to the state which in
the thought of that time intervened between death and the judgment.

This theory is contrary to the analogies of life on earth. Here change
indicates not a finality but a new opportunity. Every crisis of life is
an opening into a newer and larger world. Why should we say that what we
call death, alone of all the changes through which we pass, leads to
that which is unchangeable?

The theory is contrary to the moral sense of all earnest souls. Who does
not have to compel himself to believe, and that with difficulty, that
death determines forever the fate of all, and that there is neither
possibility of progress nor of going backward after the body is laid
aside?

Let me quote a noble passage from Bishop Welldon: "But if a variety of
destinies in the unseen world, whether of happiness or of suffering, is
reserved for mankind, and yet more, if the principle of that world is
not inactivity but energy or character or life, it is reasonable to
believe that the souls which enter upon the future state with the taint
of sin clinging to them, in whatever form or degree, will be slowly
cleansed by a disciplinary or purifactory process from whatever it is
that, being evil in itself, necessarily obstructs or obscures the vision
of God." He continues, "And this is the benediction of human nature, to
feel that, as souls upon earth are fortified and elevated by the prayers
offered for them in the unseen world, so too by our prayers may the
souls which have passed behind the veil be lifted higher and higher into
the knowledge and contemplation and fruition of God."[10]

[Footnote 10: The Hope of Immortality, page 337.]

We do not know that death forever determines the condition of the soul.
On the other hand, as I grow older, the idea seems to me to be opposed
to Scripture, to the analogies of nature and history, to reason, and to
the universal moral sense.

If any one should object to prayers for the dead because the privilege
and duty seem so distinctively a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church,
my only reply is that we should never ask who are the advocates of any
teaching, but, only, is it true? Each branch of the church emphasizes
some phase of truth. The Roman Church has given more prominence to
prayers for the dead than Protestants, and because of that it will have
the gratitude of many honest souls who cannot believe that they are
entirely and forever severed from those whom they have loved and still
love.

I am well aware that there are many difficult questions concerning this
subject which it is impossible for me to answer. Some truths are clearly
revealed and of others we have only glimpses. Concerning some we feel
more than we know, and feelings which are not selfish are prophetic.
What an earnest and inquiring spirit feels must be true is quite as
likely to be found true as conclusions which seem to have been reached
by a process of faultless logic.

I fully believe that we are justified in praying for those who have
departed this life, that the good may grow better, that the clouds which
obscure the vision of the unbelieving may be removed, that all taints of
animalism may be washed away; and that we should pray even for the
wicked, that the disciplinary processes through which they are passing
may some time and somehow lead them to submit their wills to the love
and truth of God. We may pray for our loved ones, not simply by way of
asking something for them, but in order that there may be a meeting
place,--a time for communion and fellowship between those here and those
beyond the veil. That meeting place must be found in our common
approach to God.

Does this teaching seem mystical and fanciful? What if it does? It is in
line with the human heart's deepest desires, and with the soul's
immortal aspirations. What they most earnestly affirm in their hours of
deepest need, and highest illumination, cannot be altogether without
foundation in reason and in the Scriptures.

The unity of life cannot be too strongly emphasized. Life is one. It is
all under the eye and in the strength of God. It has to do with spirit;
death, if there is any such thing, has to do with matter. Spirits always
grow because they always live. The universe is not composed of two
hemispheres, in the upper one of which are to be gathered all the good
and in the lower all the evil. It is saner and better to believe that
the universe is a sphere in which, in their own places, are all the
spirits of men, some beautiful with the holiness of God; some only
beginning to rise toward Him, like seed that has broken the soil and
begun to move toward the light; and still others like seed whose
possibilities are all hidden, but which are not destroyed and which some
day also will hear the divine call, feel the touch of God's light, and
begin to move toward Him.

We live in the midst of mystery. In the future we shall probably find
that our best attempts at rational answers to many questions have gone
wide of the mark. The most that any of us can do is to be true to
ourselves, and to respond to every call from above. In the midst of the
gloom of mortal existence it is safe to follow our hearts.

We long to commune with those who have gone, to help them and to be
helped by them. This longing is natural and rational. That it is not
without reason is proved by the example of our Master, who, after His
death, is represented as ministering to those whom He loved, and who, we
are told, ever liveth to make intercession for us.

What our hearts desire, what harmonizes with reason, what is confirmed
by the revelations and example of our divine Teacher, will persuade none
far from the path which leads to light and felicity.

Those whom men call dead, it is best to believe, have but entered upon
another phase of the eternal life of the spirit.

The Roman Church has an act or service called "The Culture of the Dead."
It means the "practice of the presence" of those who, though gone from
us, in spirit are with us. The Creed has an article which reads, "I
believe in the communion of saints." The Christian year has one day
called "All Saints' Day." We shall not be far from the traditions of
the church when we pray for our beloved, whether they be in the body or
out of the body.

Those who would realize the beatitude of this privilege should remember
the truth in this stanza from "In Memoriam:"

    "How pure at heart and sound in head,
       With what Divine affections bold,
       Should be the man whose thought would hold
    An hour's communion with the dead."



THE GOAL


    But Thee, but Thee, O Sovereign Seer of time,
    But Thee, O poet's Poet, Wisdom's Tongue,
    But Thee, O man's best Man, O love's best Love,
    O perfect life in perfect labor writ,
    O all men's Comrade, Servant, King, or Priest,--
    What _if_ or _yet_, what mole, what flaw, what lapse,
    What least defect or shadow of defect,
    What rumor, tattled by an enemy,
    Of inference loose, what lack of grace
    Even in torture's grasp, or sleep's, or death's,--
    Oh, what amiss may I forgive in Thee,
    Jesus, good Paragon, thou Crystal Christ?

    --_The Crystal._ Sidney Lanier.



XII

_THE GOAL_


If the cosmic process in the physical sphere culminated with the
appearance of man, and if, since that culmination, its movement has been
toward the perfection of the soul, it is fit and proper that this book
should end with a study of the goal toward which the human spirit is
pressing. Is it possible for us, with our limitations, to have an
adequate conception of the man that is to be "when the times are ripe"
and the "crowning race" walks this earth of ours?--or, if not this
earth, at least, dwells in the spiritual city? The fascination of this
subject has been widely recognized. The answer must be secured from many
sources. Only in imagination can we follow the lines along which the
spirit will move in the far-off ages, and yet our conclusions will not
be wholly imaginative, for the direction in which those lines are
tending is clearly perceived. Under the circumstances, therefore,
imagination may not be an untrustworthy guide. We are now to deal with
prophecies, some of them easy and some of them difficult to read. But
reading prophecies is not prophesying. I shall not prophesy, but rather
endeavor to understand and to interpret a few of the many voices which
have spoken, and are speaking, on this subject.

The soul is itself a prediction of what it is to be. It utters a various
language.

The growth of intelligence is prophetic. Savage tribes suggest the
original condition of primitive man. The pigmies in Africa afford hints
of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. From such as they, and from lower types
still, the race has slowly and painfully risen. In them a certain rude
intelligence appears. They have cunning rather than reason. They are
half akin to brute and half akin to man. A kind of selfish intelligence
characterizes their thinking. They lack a sense of proportion and
relation. Before the ant a man looms as large as a mountain before us.
An insect does not see things as they are but as they seem to it. Growth
in intelligence necessitates a truer appreciation of proportions and
relations. The pigmy also sees little but himself, but years and
experience leave behind them wisdom. The civilized races have all risen
from barbarism and savagery--that is, from a state of imperfect thinking
as well as of imperfect loving and choosing. Experience and culture
bring larger knowledge and a more equable balance of the faculties. No
man should be measured by his achievement in any one field of endeavor.
He may paint like Titian and be as voluptuous; he may write tragedies
like Shakespeare and have no logic; he may be a gatherer of facts like
Darwin and have no power of philosophic analysis. The intellect grows
steadily toward perfection of vision and logical strength, and also and
quite as significantly, toward harmony in the development of all the
powers of thought.

The contrast between the selfish cunning of an African pigmy and the
large and noble minds which are steadily multiplying, is a prophecy of
the man who will dwell on this earth when the vision is clear and the
power of rational judgment is perfected.

The prophecy of the soul is not less evident in the emotional nature. At
first the soul is either so imperfect, or so limited by the body, that
it seems to be nothing but a creature of emotions. It loves, but its
affections are selfish and egotistic. What may be called the epochs in
its growth are finely treated by Coleridge in "The Ancient Mariner" and
by Tennyson in "In Memoriam." The Ancient Mariner felt only selfish
affection. He had no love for "being as being." He killed the albatross
with as little heed as he disregarded his fellow-men; but the ministries
of his misery were multiplied until, at length, he was able to see
something beautiful even in the writhing green sea-serpents that
followed the ship of death on which he sailed. That was the first sign
of the larger interest which had long been growing within him, and which
was to continue to grow until he could say,

    "He prayeth best who loveth best
    All things both great and small."

"In Memoriam" is the record of the expansion of a soul through its
increase in love. At the beginning of his grief the poet sings,
dolefully and hopelessly, through his tears,

    "He is not here; but far away
       The noise of life begins again,
       And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
    On the bald street breaks the blank day."

But the soul is growing secretly and surely as wheat grows in winter.
The Christmas bells ring out their music and at first are almost hated,
but they break through the shell of sorrow and let in a faint echo of
the world's great suffering and the world's great joy. Thus human
sympathy is enlarged just a bit. In successive years the music of the
Christmas bells is heard more distinctly, the sorrow of the world
becomes more audible, sympathy reaches farther. At last the poem which
began with a _miserere_ ends with a marriage, and he who could at first
write that dreary line,

    "On the bald street breaks the blank day"

testifies to the beneficence of the path in which he had been led in
this wise and beautiful stanza,

    "Regret is dead, but love is more
       Than in the summers that have flown,
       For I myself with these have grown
    To something greater than before."

From dwelling in a prison with grief as a jailer he has caught a vision
of the,

    "One far off divine event
    To which the whole creation moves."

This expansion of the soul is not difficult to follow. Traces of it may
be seen in the enlarged sympathy, the growing brotherhood, and in the
rapidly increasing conviction that even nationalities are only temporary
expedients for bringing the day when love shall be the universal law.
The charities and philanthropies which are blossoming in every city and
country district, the consciousness of responsibility for the poor and
weak, the angel songs which are heard in the midst of battle, and the
gradual disappearance of war, are all vague but true prophecies of what
the soul will be when love is perfected. The knowledge of past progress
is an inspiration, and the imagination of what will be a glorious hope.

A single clause in the Apocalypse has long seemed to me as fine a
statement of the condition which will prevail, when this prophecy is a
reality, as could be phrased,--"The Lamb is the light thereof." Light is
the medium in which objects are visible, and the Lamb is the symbol of
sacrificial love. The great dreamer, in his vision, beheld a time when
spirits would see in sacrificial love as now we see physical objects in
the medium of light. To those who have studied the expansion of
individual souls, and who then have contrasted the selfishness of
earlier social conditions with the love of men as it is revealed in the
laws, institutions, ministries of to-day, this dream of the Apostle
rises in the distance as a new continent to a voyager over the wide and
desolate ocean.

Equally prophetic is the advance which has been made from the passion
of savage barbarism, or infantile wilfulness, to the moral reason of the
present day as seen in the highest types of humanity in civilized lands.
Wilfulness characterizes the childish nature and passion the savage
nature. But with the growth of the soul choices are differentiated from
impulses, and more and more regularly are inspired by intelligence and
unselfish affection. This progress toward intelligent and unselfish
choice distinguishes the movement toward civilization. Here, again, the
advance made by the individual soul and by the race are equally
prophetic. With the years the choices become more rational and loving.
Time mellows all men somewhat, and forces a little wisdom into the
hardest heads. Even slight growth prophesies that which shall be swifter
when conditions are more favorable.

The soul is a prediction of clearer vision, truer thought, more
unselfish love and wiser choices. It is a prophecy of the perfect man.

History is also prophetic of larger souls. The stream of human history,
after it has been followed backward a few thousand years, leads into the
region of legend and myth--that is, to a time when history could not be
written because there was no writing, and when all truth was conveyed in
symbolical forms. That means toward a time of narrow experience, and of
knowledge far more limited than the present. Memory, in those days, was
enormously and abnormally capacious and retentive, but there was no
appreciation of humanity. Few lessons from the experiences of others
were possible, because the mind was filled with merely tribal legends.
What was called early civilization was only relatively splendid. There
was unsurpassed poetry but no science, ample brawn but diminutive brain,
much passion but little love. Out of the darkness of the past the stream
of history, very narrow and shallow at first, has emerged and steadily
expanded and deepened. Men are now equally intense but far clearer in
vision, nobler in purpose, and purer in character. Their laws year by
year have become more humane, their sympathies less contracted, their
institutions more civilized. Nature's secret drawers have been unlocked.
We are sometimes told that science has added much to the store of man's
knowledge but nothing to the strength of his mind or the nobility of his
character. That is a serious mistake. With the enlarged visions of the
universe, with clearer conceptions of our cosmic relations, with the
national neighborliness which is now a necessity, the capacity and the
quality of the soul must change. Nay, it has already changed, for we
inhabit the same lands over which savages formerly roamed, and we find
in the earth and air what they never found; and when we look up into the
great wide sky and say, "The Heavens declare the glory of God," we are
not thinking of a tribal Deity, or a partial, and more or less
passionate, monarch enthroned in the midst of his splendors, but of the
King Eternal, immortal, invisible. Knowledge tends to enlarge the mind
by which it is acquired. All faculties are strengthened by use.

History has moved along a bloody pathway, or, to revert to the figure of
a stream, is indeed a river of "tears and blood." The horrors of the
process by which the race has been lifted can hardly be exaggerated. I
do not forget them while I put stronger emphasis on the fact that the
outcome of all the struggle of individuals, the conflict of classes, and
the wars of nations has been a nobler and purer quality of soul,--not
less heroic but more sacrificial, not less strong but far more virtuous.

The growth of the individual soul is mirrored in the progress of the
race. When we have learned to read aright the history of the world, we
are informed as to the interior forces which have made civilization.
Events are expressions of thoughts; institutions are manifestations of
soul. If there has been progress in institutions there must have been an
equal progress in the souls which are the real forces by which progress
is always won. As history has been the evolution of humanity toward
finer forms, so it is the assurance that the forces which have been at
work in the past will not cease, but steadily continue until "the pile
is complete." The perfect society will be composed of perfected
individuals. History as prophecy is harmonious with soul as prophecy.

The future state of the soul has been the subject of rare fascination
for the world's great thinkers. Nearly all religions have a forward
look. "The Golden Age" lies far in the distance, but it has commanded
the faith of all the seers. It has sometimes been a dream concerning
individuals, and again a vision of the perfected society, but in reality
the two are one, for the social organism is but a congeries of
individuals. Bacon dreamed of New Atlantis, Sir Thomas More saw the fair
walls of Utopia rising in the future, Plato defined the boundaries of
the ideal Republic, Augustine wrote of the glories of the _Civitate
Dei_, and Tennyson with matchless music has sung of the crowning race:--

    "Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
      Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
      Ring out the thousand wars of old,
    Ring in the thousand years of peace.

    Ring in the valiant man and free,
      The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
      Ring out the darkness of the land,
    Ring in the Christ that is to be."

The common characteristic of these social ideals is their dependence on
the culture of individuals. With the incoming of "the valiant man and
free," the man of "larger heart and kindlier hand," there is a
reasonable hope that the darkness of the land will disappear.

With that deep look into the inmost secrets of human experience which
sounds strangely autobiographical, Browning wrote in "Rabbi Ben Ezra,"

      "Praise be thine!
      I see the whole design,
    I, who saw power, see love now perfect too;
      Perfect I call thy plan;
      Thanks that I was a man!
    Maker, remake, complete,--I trust what Thou shalt do!"

      "Therefore I summon age
      To grant youth's heritage,
    Life's struggle having so far reached its term;
      Thence shall I pass, approved
      A man, for aye removed
    From the developed brute; a god though in the germ."

Those last lines condense Browning's creed concerning man. He is "for
aye removed from the developed brute," and is "a god in the germ."
Browning holds that while in the future there will surely be expansion
of soul, evolution as a physical process is at an end. Henceforward
there will be no passing from one species to another. Species have to do
with physical organisms, not with spirits. Soul in man is but God "in
the germ."

Emerson and Matthew Arnold have written much about education. The one
foretells a day when the soul, after mounting and meliorating, finds
that even the hells are turned into benefit; and the other makes his own
the thought of Bishop Wilson that culture is a study of perfection, and
that the soul must ever seek increased life, increased light, and
increased power.

Education is the word of the hour and of the century. It is believed to
be the panacea for all ills, individual and social. But, precisely, what
does this passion for education signify if not that, either
intelligently or otherwise, all believe in the perfectibility of the
soul, and that it will have all the time that it needs for the process.
The absorbing devotion to intellectual training suggests the inquiry as
to whether many who affirm that they are agnostic concerning immortality
are not in reality earnest in their faith; for why should they seek the
culture of that which fades, as the flowers fade; when it approaches
life's winter? But, whether faith in continuance of being is firm or
frail, few doubt the perfectibility of spirit, because, beyond almost
all things, they are seeking its perfection. Literature, which is but
the thoughts of the great souls of successive periods recorded,
prophesies a day when all that hinders or taints shall be done away, and
when the divine in the germ shall have grown to large and fair
proportions. If there were no other light the outlook would still be
inspiring. It is well sometimes to ask ourselves what we were made to
be--not these bodies which are clearly decaying--but these spirits
which seem to grow younger with the passage of time. I have sometimes
thought that the very idea of second childhood is itself a prophecy of
the soul's eternal youth. Certain it is that we are the masters of the
years. The oldest persons that we know are usually the youngest in their
sympathies and ideals. Sorrow and opposition should not destroy, but
only strengthen the spiritual powers. Intelligence grows from more to
more. The sure reward of love is the capacity and opportunity for larger
love. Virtuous choices gradually become the law of liberty. These facts
are index fingers pointing toward large and loving, strenuous and
sympathetic manhood. And toward such human types, as a matter of fact,
the race has been moving. The expectation of the seers and prophets,
also, has been of a golden age in which all souls will have had time,
and opportunity, of reaching the far-off but splendid goal. Believing,
as we do, that death is never a finality, but that it is only an
incident in progress; that instead of being an end it is only freedom
from limitation, we find ourselves often vaguely, but ever eagerly,
asking, To what are all these souls tending? Toward a state glorious
beyond language to utter we deeply feel. But has no clearer voice
spoken? At last we have reached the end of our inquiry. If any other
voices speak they must sound from above. We stand by the unseen like
children by the ocean's shore. They know that beyond the storms and
waves lie fair and wealthy lands, but the waters separate and their eyes
are weak. So we stand before the future, and ask, Toward what goal are
all this education, experience and discipline tending? Are they
perfecting souls which at last are to be laid away with the bodies which
were fortunate enough to win an earlier death? It would be impiety to
believe that. Then indeed should we be put to "permanent intellectual
confusion." If all the voices of the soul are mockeries, then life is
worse than a mistake--it is a crime.

The solution of the mystery is now before us. The man that is to be has
walked this earth, and wrought with human hands, and lived and labored
and loved, and passed into the silent land. Is Jesus the unique
revelation of the divine? There may be many to question that, but there
are few, indeed, who doubt that He embodied all of the perfect humanity
which could be expressed within the limitations of the body. He
represented Himself as essential truth and very life. He condensed duty
into such love as He manifested toward men. He embodied the heroism of
meekness, the courage of self-sacrifice, the vision of goodness. He was
an example of all that is strong, serene, sacrificial, in the midst of
the lowest and most unresponsive conditions. So much we see, and the
rest we dimly, but surely, feel.

It was reserved for Paul, in a moment of inspiration, to put into a
single phrase a description of the goal of the human spirit, as
something which may be forever approached but never reached, in these
words, "Till we all attain unto the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ." The fullness of Christ! That is the soul's final
destiny. It was the far call of that goal which it faintly heard at its
first awakening and which has never entirely ceased to sound in his
ears. Who shall explore the contents of that great phrase? It is a
subject for meditation, for prayer, but never for discussion. He who
approaches it in a controversial spirit never understands it. What are
the qualities of the character of Christ? Some of them lie on the
surface of the story. He never doubted God, or, if so, but for a single
moment; He was unselfish; He lived to love and to express love; He had
some mysterious preternatural power over nature--such, perhaps, as
science is approaching in later times; kindness, sympathy, helpfulness,
purity, shone from His words and actions. He declared that the privilege
of dying to save those who despised Him was a joy. He lived in the
limitations of the human condition and, therefore, on the earth only
hints of "His fullness" are discernible. The full revelation is to be
the endless study of those who are able to see and to appreciate things
as they are. But we may ask ourselves whither these lines tend. When the
intelligence, the love, the compassion, the mercy, the purity, the moral
power and spiritual grandeur which only in dim outline are revealed in
the Christ, have perfect manifestations, what will the vision be? The
very thought transcends the farthest flights of the poet's imagination
and the most daring speculations of philosophers. In "the fullness of
Christ" is the soul's true goal. For that all men, and not the elect
few, were created. That is the revelation of the divine plan for
humanity. Toward that evolution has been slowly, and often painfully,
pressing from those dim æons when the earth was without form and void.
When man appeared as the flower of all the cosmic process he started at
once toward this goal. And with great modesty, and simply because I
believe in God and that His love cannot be defeated, I dare to hope
that, sometime and somehow, after all the pains of retribution and moral
discipline have done their inevitable work, after all the fires of
Gehenna have consumed the desire to sin, after Hades and Purgatory have
been passed, the souls which, for a time, have dwelt in these mortal
bodies, purified and without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, will be
given the beatific vision and permitted to realize the height and
depth, the length and breadth of "the fullness of Christ."

    "That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows,
    Or decomposes but to recompose,
    Become my universe that feels and knows."



INDEX


Achilles, 74.

Actæon, 82.

Adam's fall, 142.

Adjustment to environment, 50, 52.

Adjustment to knowledge of freedom, 58.

Æschylus, 129.

Ambrose, 140.

Ancient Mariner, 295.

Angelo, Michael, 48, 182.

Animal entail, 79.

Arnold, Matthew, 72, 98, 226, 306.

Atmosphere in nurture, 215.

Attraction vs. Compulsion, 216.

Augustine, 34, 35, 140, 196, 199, 304.

Austere experiences, 97.

Awakening vs. Re-awakening, 147.


Bacon, Lord, 304.

Bernard, St., 90.

Books, The most vital, 229.

Browning, Robert, 26, 113, 129, 152, 238, 305, 314.

Browning, Mrs. E.B., 113.

Byron, Lord, 74.

Bunyan, John, 16.

Bushnell, Horace, 37.

Buxton, Sir Thomas Fowell, 220.


Cenci, Beatrice, 129.

Chatterton, 74.

Circe, 83.

Comforter, The, 205.

Companionship, Spiritual, 183.

Comus, 81, 92.

Conscience, 67, 187.

Conversion, 133.

Creationism, 11.

Crisis in Ascent of the Soul, 134.

Cross, The revelation of divine sacrifice, 175.

Culture, 212.

Culture, a study of perfection, 226.

Culture and life, 227.

Cultured man, The, 231.


Dante, 6.

Death, Light on, 176.

Death of the body, 239.

Diana, 82.

Donatello, 137.

DuBois-Reymond, 55.


Edinburgh, Incident in, 186.

Education, prophecy of soul's growth, 306.

Emerson, 214, 215, 306.

Emanation, 10.

Environment, Influence of, 218.

Environment, of what composed, 222.

Epictetus, 111.

Evolution and Immortality, 241.

Experience, Individual, 150.

Expiation, 155.


Falconer, Robert, 143.

Faust, 5, 35, 129.

Fetish worship, 245.

Fiske, John, 5.

Fliedner, Pastor, 220.

Freedom, Realization of, 54.


Galahad, Sir, 85.

Garrison, William Lloyd, 220.

God, Rational doctrine of, 157.

God revealed in Christ, 161.

God cannot be defeated, 136.

Goethe, 5.

Golden Age, 303.

Grace, Falling from, impossible, 145.

Grail, The Holy, 126.

Growth a means of knowledge, 61.

Guardian angels, 88, 201.

Guinevere, 129, 143, 144.


Hale, Nathan, 219.

Hamlet, 129.

Hannibal, 74.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 36, 137.

Helps in trial, 195.

Heredity, 56.

Heroism in silence, 198.

Hesperus, 2.

Hindu Swami, 64.

Hindu mother, 66.

Hindrances, Ministry of, 89.

History, Prophetic, 300.

Hope for all, 32.

Hugo, Victor, 36, 86.

Hunt, Holman, Light of the World, 163.


Ideals, Influence of, 218.

Ideal Man seen in Jesus Christ, 164.

Idylls of the King, 142.

Immortality, Ode to, Wordsworth, 10.

Immortality in the New Testament, 242.

Immortality in the ethnic religions, 242.

Immortality, belief in, innate, 244.

Immortality, belief in, universal, 245.

Immortality, unbelief in, irrational, 247.

Immortality and the great teachers, 252.

Inequalities in human condition, 249.

In Memoriam and Growth of the Soul, 295.

Intelligence, Growth in, prophetic, 292.

Isaiah, 142.


Jesus the Soul's goal, 310.

Jesus the Supreme Optimist, 169.

Judson, Adoniram, 137.


Kaiserwerth, 220.


Lanier, Sidney, 290.

Learning by experience should be unnecessary, 148.

Life the best teacher, 228.

Life, Unity of, 284.

Life's mystery illumined, 171.

Light of the World, Hunt's, 163.

Luther, Martin, 138.


Macbeth, 129.

Macdonald, George, 143.

Mahomet, 111.

Malthus, 118.

Man, light on his nature, 163.

Manhood, The ideal, 166.

Marble Faun, 137.

Marseillaise, The, 219.

Matthewson, Dr. Geo., 245.

Marguerite, 35.

Melchizedek, 133.

Milton, John, 82, 83, 92, 255.

Moral order, 51.

Morally excellent, the, how discern, 63.

Moral failure, 73, 129.

Moral evil inexplicable, 173.

More, Sir Thomas, 304.


Napoleon, 74.

Nelson, Lord, 220.

New College, Oxford, 70.

Newton, Sir Isaac, 202.

Ney, Marshal, 219.

Nightingale, Florence, 220.

Nurture, 211.

Nurture, part of parents in, 214.

Nurture, vitally important, 224, 225.


Optimism, 105.

Optimism, Rational basis of, 113.

Over-soul, 94, 184.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, 82.


Parents' duty to children, 149.

Pascal, 21.

Paul, 80.

Pearson, Bishop, 272.

Personality, 29, 270.

Pigmies, 293.

Pilgrim's Progress, 6.

Plato, 140.

Plan of salvation, 155.

Poe, Edgar A., 74.

Prayer, 276.

Prayers for the dead, objections, 269.

Prayers for the dead, definition, 270.

Prayers for the dead, how justified, 272.

Preëxistence, 10.

Prodigal Son, 27, 28.

Prometheus, 12.

Prophecy, 121.

Protestants and doctrine of prayers for the dead, 269.


Rabbi Ben Ezra, 305.

Re-awakening of the Soul, 130.

Re-awakening vs. Awakening, 147.

Responsibility, 30.

Resurrection of Christ, 14.

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 79.

Ring and the Book, 129.

Roman Church and prayers for the dead, 282.


Sakya Muni, 199.

Santiago, 196.

Satisfaction, 155.

Saul, Browning's, 152.

Scarlet Letter, The, 137.

Self-realization, 31.

Shakespeare, 112, 129, 255.

Shelley, 74, 129.

Siddhartha, 111.

Sin always evil, 119.

Sin a reality, 127.

Sin, Mystery of, 172.

Socrates, 74, 111, 199, 253.

Sophocles, 129.

Soul, Solitary, 87.

Souls in society, 103.

Soul, what awakens, 34.

Soul, definition, 7.

Soul, origin, 9.

Soul, limited by body, 77.

Soul, full of prophecies, 257.

Spartans, 65.

Spirit evidence of being of God, 20.

Spiritual protection, 188.

Spirits attract spirits, 194.

Spirit, The Eternal, 206.

Spitta, Karl J.P., 210.

Subconscious action, 20.

Sympathy, definition, 106.

Sympathy, results from severe experience, 109.

Suffering no mistake, 116.

Suffering made endurable, 167.


Temptations of saints, 84.

Tennyson, 85, 113, 126, 129, 274.

Thoughts important in character, 230.

Training an element in nurture, 220.

Transfiguration of Christ, 14.

Truth, Search for, 191.

Truth finds those prepared for it, 269.


Ulysses, 83.

Universe, Moral, 93.

Universe, The idea of, 159.

Utopia, 304.


Vedas, Hymns of, 114.


Warning voices, 187.

Watch on the Rhine, 219.

Welldon, 273, 280, 281.

Whittier, John G., 220.

Wilberforce, William, 140, 220.

Wilson, Bishop, 226, 306.

Wingfold, Thomas, 143.

Wordsworth, 2, 10, 48, 182.





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