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Title: Levels of Living - Essays on Everyday Ideals
Author: Cope, Henry Frederick, 1870-1923
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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LEVELS OF LIVING

Essays on Everyday Ideals

by

HENRY FREDERICK COPE

Author of "The Modern Sunday-School
in Principle and Practice"



New York ---- Chicago ---- Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London And Edinburgh
Copyright, 1908, by
Fleming H. Revell Company
New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue
Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street



  To My Wife

  Not in the sentiment of dedication alone,
  offering to you what I may have done, but
  in simple acknowledgment of obligation
  to you

    Elizabeth

  best gift of God and inspiration of man



Under the title of "A Sermon For To-day" these short essays, on the art
of every-day living in the light of eternal life, were published by
_The Chicago Sunday Tribune_, through a series of years, and were
regularly printed in the Sunday editions of a group of the great
dailies.  The short sentences were also published with the Sermons
under the head of "Sentence Sermons."  The courtesy of _The Chicago
Daily Tribune_ in permitting the publication of these "sermons," with
such changes as have seemed best, is gratefully acknowledged.



CONTENTS


     I.  THE HIGHER LEVELS
         The Real and the Ideal--The Bread of Life--Life's
         Unvarying Values.

    II.  INVISIBLE ALLIES
         More than a Fighting Chance--The Unseen
         Hand--The One in the Midst.

   III.  THE SOVEREIGNTY OF SERVICE
         Self and Service--My Soul or My Service?--The
         Satisfaction of Service.

    IV.  THE RIGHT TO HAPPINESS
         The Power of Happiness--The Secret of
         Happiness--The Folly of Anxiety.

     V.  THE CURRICULUM OF CHARACTER
         The Great School--The Purpose of the
         Course--The Price of Perfection.

    VI.  THE AGE-LONG MIRACLE
         The Sufficient Sign--Behold the Man--The
         Life that Lifts.

   VII.  SEEING THE UNSEEN
         The Sense of the Unseen--The Brook in the
         Way--That Which Is High.

  VIII.  SOURCES OF STRENGTH AND INSPIRATION
         Strength for the Daily Task--The Sense of
         the Infinite--The Great Inspiration.

    IX.  FINDING FOUNDATIONS
         The Passing and Permanent--Facing the
         Facts--The Real Foundation.

     X.  THE PASSION FOR PERFECTION
         The Great Search--The Hunger of the Ages--The
         Sole Satisfaction.

    XI.  THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
         The Law of Selection--The Fallacy of
         Negation--The Secret of All.

   XII.  DIVINE SERVICE
         The Ideal Service--The Orthodox Service--The
         Heavenly Service.

  XIII.  OUR FATHER AND OUR FELLOWS
         The Primary Reconciliation--Faith in Our
         Fellows--The Law of Forgiveness.

   XIV.  MEN AND MAMMON
         Riches and Righteousness--Religion and
         Business--The Moral End of Money-Making.

    XV.  THE EVERY-DAY HEAVEN
         The Beauty of Holiness--The Gladness of
         Goodness--The True Paradise

   XVI.  TRUTH AND LIFE
         Religion of a Practical Mind--The Head
         and the Heart--New Truths for New Days.

  XVII.  THE FRUITS OF FAITH
         Root and Fruit--The Orthodox Accent--The
         Business of Religion.

 XVIII.  THE FORCE OF FAITH
         "The Victory that Overcometh"--Fear
         and Faith--Faith for the Future.

   XIX.  HINDRANCES AND HELPS FROM WITHIN
         Worry--A Cure for the Blues--The Gospel of Song.

    XX.  DOES HE CARE?
         The One at the Helm--The Shepherd and
         the Sheep--The Father's Care.



I

The Higher Levels

  _The Real and the Ideal_
  _The Bread of Life_
  _Life's Unvarying Values_


_The ideal is the mold in which the real is cast._

_Half of success is in seeing the significance of little things._

_He finds no weal who flees all woe._

_You do not make life sacred by looking sad._

_Sympathy is a key that fits the lock of any heart._

_Soul health will not come by taking religion as a dose._

_Many a cloud that we call sorrow is but the shadow of our own
selfishness._

_To live wholly for possessions is to paralyze the life to the
possibility of permanently possessing anything._

_It takes more than willingness to be nothing to make you amount to
something._

_This is never a wrong world to him who is right with its heart._


THE REAL AND THE IDEAL

It is probable that from the age of sixteen up to thirty Jesus of
Nazareth spent His life in mechanical toil; He made wooden plows, ax
handles, and yokes; He served as a carpenter.  Then for three years He
gave Himself to the ministry of ideal things, exclusively to the
service of the spirit.

There is a wonderful satisfaction in making things, in looking over
some concrete piece of work accomplished when the day ends.  It is a
satisfaction that belongs to the artisan.  Is it not probable that many
said that it was a great pity when Jesus gave up so useful a trade as
His?  To them He seemed to be but chasing the rainbow.

But to-day who possesses a single one of the things that young
carpenter made?  And did we possess them all what better off would the
world be?  Yet, on the other hand, how ill could this world afford to
lose what He gave it by those three years of the service of the ideal.

In our age of things we so easily forget how large is the place of the
ideal and the spiritual.  Ever estimating our assets in the concrete,
we fail to recognize that our real wealth lies in thoughts and things
abstract.  The permanent possessions of humanity are spiritual.  Not
acres nor armies, not banks nor business make a nation, but mighty,
compelling ideals and traditions.

Jesus, Shakespeare, Browning, Lowell, Emerson left no goods and
chattels, no bonds and mortgages; they left inspirations; they
bequeathed ideals; living first for the soul, their souls survive and
remain to us all.  The truly great who still stand after the test of
the years are those who have lived for the spirit.

This is as true of the worker and the warrior as of the philosopher and
poet.  All were inspired by glowing visions; they set their affections
on things above the trifles for which we struggle and spend ourselves.
They endured as seeing glories to us invisible; therefore their names
endure.

The great undertakings of our own day are possible only under spiritual
inspirations.  No rewards of money only can induce a man to steadfastly
conduct affairs of great moment and enterprise; he is buoyed up by a
great hope; often the very greatness of the task and the sense of
serving great ends carry him on; always he sees the worth in the ideal
rather than the wage.

We must learn to measure life with the sense of the infinite.  We must
not think that a man has failed because he has not left burdened
warehouses and bonds.  We must cease to think that we can tell whether
work be high or lowly by the size of the wage.  We need eyes to see the
glory of the least act in the light of the glowing motive.

A new estimate is placed on each act when it is measured not by bread
alone but by the things of the soul.  The mother's care of the
children; the father's steady humble toil for them, the faithful
watching over the sick, the ministry of the lowly, all have a new glory
in the light of the love that leads the way and the spirit that guides
those who do the least of these things.

We need to learn for ourselves what is the work that endures.  It is a
good thing to lay a course of bricks so that it shall be true, but of
greater value to the world than the wall that stands firm is the spirit
that forces the man to build aright.  No man can do even this without
an ideal set in his heart, and when the wall shall have fallen the
world shall still be enriched by his ideal.

Too many of us are fretting because we are not getting on in the world.
Seeing the apparent ease with which some acquire fortune, we become
discontented with our small gains.  We talk as though fortunes and
follies, money and lands were the only things worth while.  Yet we know
better, for we all find our real joys in other things.



THE BREAD OF LIFE

There are lives that have bread in abundance and yet are starved; with
barns and warehouses filled, with shelves and larders laden they are
empty and hungry.  No man need envy them; their feverish, restless
whirl in the dust of publicity is but the search for a satisfaction
never to be found in things.  They are called rich in a world where no
others are more truly, pitiably poor; having all, they are yet lacking
in all because they have neglected the things within.

The abundance of bread is the cause of many a man's deeper hunger.
Having known nothing of the discipline that develops life's hidden
sources of satisfaction, nothing of the struggle in which deep calls
unto deep and the true life finds itself, he spends his days seeking to
satisfy his soul with furniture, with houses and lands, with yachts and
merchandise, seeking to feed his heart on things, a process of less
promise and reason than feeding a snapping turtle on thoughts.

It takes many of us altogether too long to learn that you cannot find
satisfaction so long as you leave the soul out of your reckoning.  If
the heart be empty the life cannot be filled.  The flow must cease at
the faucet if the fountains go dry.  The prime, the elemental
necessities of our being are for the life rather than the body, its
house.  But, alas, how often out of the marble edifice issues the poor
emaciated inmate, how out of the life having many things comes that
which amounts to nothing.

The essential things are not often those which most readily strike our
blunt senses.  We see the shell first.  To the undeveloped mind the
material is all there is.  But looking deeper into life there comes an
awakening to the fact and the significance of the spiritual, the
feeling that the reason, the emotions, the joys and pains that have
nothing to do with things, the ties that knit one to the infinite, all
constitute the permanent elements of life.

Because man is a spirit his life never can consist wholly in things; he
must come into his heritage of the soul wealth of all the ages; he must
reach out, though often as in the dark, until across the void there
come voices, the sages and the seers, the prophets, and the poets
speaking the language of the soul.  In these he finds his food nor can
his deeper hunger be assuaged until it thus is fed.

Because man is a spirit and gradually is coming into the dominant
spirit life in which things shall count for less and thought and
character for more, he seeks after his own kind.  The deeps of life
have their relationships.  The spirit of man cries out after the father
of spirits.  By whatever name men have called the most high they ever
have sought after Him, the eternal, who would be one with them in soul,
in all that is essential and abiding in being.

Every religion, every philosophy, every endeavour after character and
truth is but the cry of humanity for word with God.  Hearing His word
on any lip the heart of man answers with joy.  The words of eternal
truth have been the food of the great in all ages.  Fainting in the
fight the message from the unseen, the echo of everlasting verities,
has revived their spirits; they have fought the fight that despises
things and seeks truth.

Who would not exchange a mess of pottage for the benediction from a
father's lips?  Who is so dead he no longer finds more satisfaction in
truth and love and beauty than in food or furniture?  And why are we so
foolish as to seek to satisfy ourselves with things that perish, while
down to the least blade of creation earth is laden with unfading riches
and God is everywhere?

If we might but learn this lesson, we people of the laden hand and the
empty heart, that since life is more than digestion and man more than
beast or machine, since determining all is the spiritual world, they
only are wise who set first things first, who use the garnered
experience of the past and the opportunities of the present to the
enriching of the soul, who listen among all the voices of time for the
words that proceed from the lips of Him who inhabiteth eternity.



LIFE'S UNVARYING VALUES

Life is the business of learning to use things as tools, the real as
the servant of the ideal, to make conditions even better that character
may grow the more, to serve in the making of things and the enduring of
things under the inspiration of the full and glorious purpose of life,
the realizing of the best for ourselves, the rendering of our best to
others.

Only an age that has lost both heart and intellect--the divinely given
measuring rods of life--will think of estimating a life by the money
measure.  It is a shallow world that knows a man as soon as and only
when it has scheduled his marketable assets; nor is it a happy augury
for a nation when it acquires the habit of estimating its men by the
length of the catalogues of their possessions.

A period of outer prosperity is always in danger of being one of inner
paralysis.  Luxury is a foe to life.  Character does not develop
freely, largely, beautifully in an atmosphere of commercialism.  A
moral decline that but presages enduring disaster is sure to succeed
the supremacy of the market.

The great danger is that we shall set the tools of life before its
work, that we shall make life serve our business or our ambitions
instead of causing ambitions, activities, and opportunities all to
contribute to the deepening, enriching, and strengthening of the life
itself.  In the details of making a living it is easy to lose sight of
the prime thing, the life; it is easy to forget that the great question
is not, what have you? but, what are you?

Life cannot consist in things any more than silk can consist of
shuttles, or pictures of brushes and palettes.  Life is both process
and product; but things and fame and power are no more than the tools
and machinery serving to perfect the product.  Life must consist in
thoughts, experiences, motives, ideals--in a word, in character.  A
man's life is what he is.

But what a man is will depend on what he does with the things he has or
may have.  Let him once set the possession of things as his loftiest
ideal, let this avarice of things enter the heart and speedily the love
of the good will leave.  To that god all honour, all truth loving, all
gentleness and humanity are sacrificed.  When possession becomes life's
ruling passion it doesn't take long for principle to be forgotten.

The danger to-day is not that our people will fail in the world's
contests because they lack either money, mind, or muscle.  We are in
little danger from illiteracy or from business incompetency; but we are
in danger from moral paralysis, due to undue pressure on the money
nerve.  We have talked before the youth in the home and amongst
ourselves on the street as though the only thing worth living for was
money, as though they alone were great who had it and they only to be
despised who had it not.

The danger is neither in our market, our commerce, nor our laws; the
danger is in our own hearts.  No matter how world-potent our
merchandise, how marvellous our mechanical and material powers, how
brilliant our business strategy, all will not avail to silence the
voice, "Thou fool, this night thy soul is required of thee."  Then
whose shall these things be?

We need, not fewer things, not the return to an age of poverty or
dreary destitution; we need more power over things; to let the man, so
long buried beneath the money and the lands and houses, come to the
top; to set ourselves over our things; to make them serve us, minister
to our lives and our purposes in living.

There must be an elevation of standards, the institution of new
valuations, clearer, nobler conceptions of what living means.  Boys and
girls must be taught from the beginning that life is more than
self-serving, more than fame or glory; it is the service of humanity.
A passion for humanity will cure the passion for gold, will teach the
true value of life as something that only the infinite can estimate and
will give to the heart those true riches that do not tarnish and that
cannot be stolen.



II

Invisible Allies

  _More Than a Fighting Chance_
  _The Unseen Hand_
  _The One in the Midst_



_Logic may illumine, but love leads._

_The religion that produces no sunshine is all moonshine._

_Imaginary evils have more than imaginary effects._

_He who lays out each day with prayer leaves it with praise._

_Light from above is for the path below._

_Singing of heaven gives no certainty of singing in heaven._

_It is better to have your bank in heaven than your heaven in a bank._

_The burdens of earth demand that our hearts be nourished with the
bread of heaven._

_There are too many hungry for love for any ever to talk of suffering
from loneliness._

_The man who lives with God does not have to advertise the fact._


II

MOKE THAN A FIGHTING CHANCE

Who has not cried out, in haste but still in anguish: "Alas!  All
things are against me; foes are many and friends there are none!"  The
roads to pessimism are many; but surely this is the shortest one, to
get to think that life is but a conflict waged single-handed against
great odds, a long story of struggle, difficulties, pains,
disappointments, temptations, failures, wounds, ending only in death.

Even though you escape that chronic jaundiced view of life there are
seasons of depression when it seems easy to get out of bed on the wrong
side and to plow all day into stumps instead of in the good, clear
ground.  Ever we need the vision that Elisha of old gave to his young
man, to see the hills about us alive with our allies.  Otherwise it is
easy to conclude the fates fight against us.

How slight is the evidence on which men base their gloomy conclusions!
The pessimist always argues from a single instance to a general law.
If he strikes a poor peach on top he throws the whole basket away--or
sells them as soon as he can.  He insists on sitting square on the
cactus bunch when there is only one on the whole bench-land.  He then
becomes an authority on cactus.  If he can discover a few foes on the
horizon he is blind to a regiment of friends close at hand.

But the seers, our poets and teachers, have a wider vision; they seek
the glory rather than the gloom and they tell us that every man has
more friends than foes.  This is the song of those who told us long ago
of Providence, the one who backs a man up and fights on his side and
furnishes him in the hour of need.  This is the song of Lowell,
Tennyson, Whittier, and Browning.  Life is not a lone-handed fight
against unnumbered foes; it is not a losing fight to any who will fight
it well.

Every force in this world works with the man who seeks the good.  This
is a right world and only he who fights the right faces the
unconquerable.  A man may meet rebuffs, battle's tides may sweep back
and forth, but in the end, as it has ever been in all the long story of
man's conflict with nature, so in the conflict with every other foe, he
is bound to win.  This is as true in the individual life of every
fighter as nature and history show it to be in universal life.

On our side there is the great world of the unseen.  Little do we know
of it, but still that little gives us confidence to believe it is
peopled with our allies.  Our fairest hopes of good angels may be
delusions as to details, but they are essentially true, being born of
an eternal verity.

The gospel of good hope declares there is One over all, the friend of
all; greater is He that is with you than any against you; greater is He
than your temptations, your adversaries, your difficulties, and your
sorrows.  This was what the great Teacher came to tell men, that God
was on their side, seeking to help them, loving, caring, coöperating,
leading them into the life of victory over every enemy.

Let a man face life in this confidence and he is invincible.  He goes
forth and an unseen army goes with him.  He gains the seer's vision to
see even the plotting of the enemy and the forces that fight against
him all working for his good.  From many combats he gains strength for
the decisive struggle.  All things work together for good.  He serves
the right, the truth, the things that are eternal; he fights for
character, for manhood, and the good; and the eternal forces that rule
the universe fight by his side.  He beholds the hills full of the hosts
of heaven; though he has no time to enjoy the vision he knows they are
there, his allies, his assurance of ultimate victory.



THE UNSEEN HAND

The mightiest and the eternal forces fight ever on the side of the
right.  True, things do not always look that way.  Sometimes Napoleon's
sneer about God being on the side of the largest battalions seems to
have truth in it.  But ere long we see the large battalions swept away
before the strange, unaccountable, and irresistible power of an
insignificant body having truth and God on its side.

The man who takes up the struggle for truth, who puts his hand to the
sword for the oppressed, for the right, finds himself holding a
two-handled weapon, and if he grasps firmly the one hilt it is as
though there were an omnipotent hand grasping the other.  He who fights
worthily, in fitting battle, never fights alone.

It is not that some omnipotent person steps down from a throne in the
heavens and plunges into the battle; it is that every time a man steps
out for right and truth he places himself in accord with eternal
spiritual forces that give themselves to him and his work.  It is not
that God comes to fight for a man so much as that a man finds himself
fighting beside God; entering this battle, he sees that where he
thought none had been serving heaven had long been waging the contest.

It is so easy, like old Elijah, to think that you alone are left to
witness for truth, to feel the loneliness of standing for things noble
and worthy, to become oppressed with the hopelessness of the minority
in which you find yourself.  When real and concrete things press upon
us and their uproar is in our ears we become deaf and blind to the
greater forces that from the beginning of time have been working for
the best.

Every great reform has looked like a losing movement; it has begun with
most insignificant minorities; it has met with violent and
well-organized opposition; its supporters have often been
faint-hearted, and yet ultimately it has overcome always.  As men have
fought on they have found an unseen hand grasping the sword beside
theirs.

We all need this sense of God with us, helping us in our lives.  This
gives courage and confidence.  It does not mean weak reliance upon
heaven to do things for us; it means entering on the things that look
impossible because we know that, if they are right, every great force
in the universe will coöperate with us.

This is the fine sense in which the human enters into partnership with
the heavenly.  This determines whether we may call our work divine or
not.  It is to be judged, not by whether it is pleasant or looks
respectable, but by whether it is the work in which we know the Lord of
all can lay His hand to the tool or weapon alongside of our hands.

With a consciousness like this, one attempts anything.  The practical
question is not, "Can this be done?" but "Ought this to be done?"  "Is
it such a task as will enlist the coöperation of the eternal spirit of
truth and right?"  With the cry of Gideon on their lips, men have fared
forth facing fearful odds; their hands have fallen from their swords,
but the unseen hand has carried them on until the cause has won.

The Almighty, who would have love and peace and righteousness to
prevail, needs your hand for His sword; the sword of the Lord is vain
without Gideon.  Ideals and spiritual forces may exist, but men must be
their realizations, their visible hands.  God's work waits for you to
put your hand to the sword; you will find His already there.

This helping hand is always unseen; spiritual things are often
apparently unreal.  God cannot be reduced to figures nor to material
elements.  This hand that works with ours may mean one thing to one and
another to another.  What we all need is to simply grasp the great fact
of the spiritual forces that strengthen every good resolve, that give
vigour in every good work, and give victory at last to the right.



THE ONE IN THE MIDST

There are always a thousand blind men to one who can see.  All have
eyes, but not all have vision.  The things we most need and the things
for which we most long are often nearest to us, while we, with eyes
fast shut, grope our way to the place where we think they ought to be.
The best things are the things we miss.  The crowd by the fords of the
Jordan was longing to see the Messiah; yet of them all there was only
one, the son of the desert, who saw that He was actually with them
already.  John had eyes that pierced the husk of things.  He looked on
this son of the carpenter and a thousand years of prophecy sank into
insignificance beside its fulfillment; the multitude became as nothing
beside the all glorious Son of Man.  He alone knew his Lord, because he
alone looked with eyes of love.

John announced the sublime central truth that all the world's great
seers have declared; God is in His world.  Man is an animal who seeks
God; he finds Him when his eyes are opened.  Some are looking for Him
in the records of His ways with men; many are hoping to see Him in some
other world; a few see Him by their side.

Some, priding themselves on their spiritual vision, and boastingly
describing God as He was or God as He will be, have eyes of stone when
it comes to seeing God as He is.  They do not stop to think that we
want a God in the present tense--a God in our homes, on our streets, in
our affairs.  And others say, this thing is unthinkable, for, if you
say that this is a spiritual presence, you at once remove the whole
question from touch with real things.

They forget that the most real things lie beyond the senses.  Who ever
saw mother-love?  Yet who will not believe in it?  Ambition, affection,
pity, memory, hope; these are the real things, the lasting things;
these are the spiritual things.  No one ever saw these things, and yet
they can be seen everywhere; it only needs the vision; we all have seen
them at times.

There are the selfish, gross, and sensual who tell us there is no love
in the world; and there are those to whom every common bush is aflame
with God.  So hearts that have forsaken the good see nothing but a
God-forsaken world; and, in this same world, hearts that are lifted up
find Him everywhere, they see Him in the movements of history, in the
forces of nature, they hear Him in the hum of commerce and in the
silence of the fields, in every human voice they catch His tone.  He is
ever in the midst.  He is more than a force, a dream, a thought.  He is
to men to-day what He was to men when He walked their streets and
touched their sick; all that we think He would have been in that long
ago He is to-day.

Personal?  Yes, that He may reach persons, for we cannot know
impersonal love or impersonal help.  His personality turns the universe
from an institution into an organism.  Yet more than personal; this one
in the midst is infinite; He is the whole where we are but fractions.
But He does not hide Himself in His infinity; He is "among you," with
men.  Not by descent into the grave of the past, nor by ascent into
heaven do we find Him; He is here, on every hand.  This it is that
transforms individual character, to know that He is by my side; this it
is that solves our problems, to see Him linking my fellow to me; this
it is that gives strength, to hear His voice; this it is that gives
hope, to know He is working with us; this it is that makes burdens
bearable, to know that He is sympathetic and strong.  This one in the
midst explains suffering, inspires heroism, is the promise and the
potency of all the possibilities of the sons of men.



III

The Sovereignty of Service

  _Self and Service_
  _My Soul or My Service_
  _The Satisfaction of Service_


_The fruits of sacrifice become the roots of love._

_A tin halo makes a fine trap for a man to tangle himself in._

_It takes the base line of two worlds to get a correct elevation of any
life._

_Life is always a dull grind to the man who thinks only of the grist._

_Knocking the saints will not open the doors of paradise._

_Capacity for that heaven comes from creating this one._

_Another man's burden is the Christian's best badge._

_The only way to lift life is to lay life down._

_It doesn't take long to choose between a sinner who swears once in a
while and a saint who makes every one swear all the while._

_You cannot lift folks while you are looking down on them._


III

SELF AND SERVICE

There is such a thing as supremely selfish self-denial.  A man retires
into the monk's pietic seclusion; he isolates himself from interest in
the world battles; he shuts himself from sympathy with the struggles of
business, civil, and even social life.  To him these things are carnal.
He is engrossed with the complication of interpretations of languages
long dead, or with visions of an unknown heaven, and this, he thinks,
is living the life of self-denial.

The denial of self is not the death of self; it is the leading of the
best self into larger life.  It is not the dwarfing of the life; it is
its development into usefulness.  It is not the emasculation of
character; it is the submission and discipline of the life to new and
nobler motives.

He best denies himself who best develops himself with the purpose of
serving his fellows.  What Jesus meant was that if any man would be one
of His he must cease to make his own selfish pleasures, ambitions, and
passions the end of his living; he must make the most of himself that
he might have the more to give to the service of mankind; he must make
the one motive and end of his life the benefit and help of every other
man.

That kind of a life means a change of centre.  Instead of regarding the
universe as revolving about itself it sees that self as but part of the
great machinery of life, planned and operating for the good of all.  A
man begins to deny himself as soon as he begins to love another.  Even
a yellow dog may act to deflect the heart from its old self-centre.
The love of kin and family, of friends, and associates all serve to
strengthen the habit of self-denial.

The fewer people a man takes into his plan of life the more likely is
he to be selfish.  But some lives are but the more selfish because they
take in all mankind and look on them as designed to contribute to their
single enriching.  That kind of a life commits suicide; ever grasping
and never giving it dies of plethora.  It had never learned that
strange secret of the best self-development, sacrificing service.

We need to guard ourselves against the delusion that the denial of
oneself means the impoverishment of the life.  There can be no true
giving of the life in service unless there is a wise enriching of the
self, a thorough fitting for that service.  The more of a man you are,
the brighter your intellect, the broader your sympathies, the better
your service to the world may be.  The sloth that sinks the soul in
indifference to its own development is the most sinful of all forms of
selfishness.

This way of denial is more, the Master tells His disciples, than an
emptying of the life.  If some of the cares of self are cast out the
burdens of others more than take their place.  It is a full life,
overflowing with the interests, the fears, loves, hopes, and longings
of other lives.  It bears the cross, not of an ornamental,
vanity-serving glory, but the cross of a world's sin and sorrow.

Each man must carry his cross not on his breast but on his heart and
brain.  It is what he can do, what he can plan, suggest, undertake
towards saving this world.  The cross of discipleship will be to some
statesmanship, to others science, to others the daily service of a home
or the work in the shop; it is the kindly word, the cheering look, the
lift by the way; it is whatever is done in unselfish desire to make
life better, to bring men nearer to one another and to the Father of
all.

You have only to look at the great Teacher to know what self-denial and
cross bearing really mean, and you have only to follow Him to fully
carry out their principles.  To Him they meant the life of doing good,
of seeking the sorrowing, befriending the forsaken, helping the
helpless.  They who follow Him lead the world; they who seek to
minister instead of being ministered to are the world's masters.  The
value of every life must be measured at last not by what it has
gathered to itself but by what it has given for the enriching and help
of the whole life of the world.



MY SOUL OR MY SERVICE

There is no more subtle temptation than that which sets the soul as a
hindrance to the service we should render.  A surprise awaits him who
carefully will compare the emphasis laid upon the individual soul and
its salvation by the modern church with the place given this in the
teachings of the Bible.  Perhaps he will find in modern preaching, with
its insistent appeal to men to save their own souls, an explanation of
prevalent selfishness.  The moral effect of urging a man to save his
soul is not much better than that which comes from advising him to save
his skin at any cost.

The most serious objection ever made to religion is that it produces a
narrow, self-centred type of mind.  That type of religion cannot be
right, regardless of its doctrinal orthodoxy, which produces a wrong
type of men and women.  But may not failure here be accounted for by
the selfish basis on which men build the plea for what they call
personal salvation?

What could be more selfish than this continual appeal to fear, this
urging of men to escape from punishment, to make sure of a house in the
heavenly city, this offering of crowns and perpetual rest, plenty and
peace, this emphasis on the great object of saving your own soul?  It
is opposite directly to what the great Teacher told men.  Did He not
say that the man who would save his own life should lose it?

The concentration of mind on the self, whether in the name of religion
or in any other name, is but moral suicide.  People who have no other
object in life than that of saving their own souls are but little
better than those whose whole object is to fatten, protect, and keep
safe their bodies.

But Christianity must be perverted greatly to make it teach men to set
their own interests first.  It is the religion of the other man.  Its
appeal is not to the love of self, but to the love of society.  It
offers a way of salvation, not as a thing desirable for your exclusive
use, but as the pathway for all lives, for all the people.  Its tree of
life is not for a single pair, but for the healing of the nations.

True religion is not in self-centred culture, but in the culture of all
through the service of the single ones and the culture of the one
through his service for all.  Only in the atmosphere of service does
the soul grow, expand, and find itself.  To live in a circle is to die;
it is the centrifugal life that finds salvation.  They court death who
seek only their own lives; they find life who, disregarding death and
loss, seek only to make others live.

Religion is not simply a cure for my ills.  True, it does cure many of
them, but only that I may be better able to do its work.  It is a great
cause, a mighty project, commanding the noblest enthusiasms and the
highest efficiency of effort, the project of bringing this whole world
to salvation.  And that not the salvation of a mental condition but of
the perfection of its whole being, the realization of its highest
possibilities, the full noontide of the day of God.

Is not this enough to satisfy any man and to call forth the best in
him, that he should in some way serve this glorious ideal?  Is not this
man's purpose in this world even as it was the purpose of the one who
called Himself the Son of Man?  What nobler summary could any life have
than His, that He went about doing good?  How quickly would that
kingdom of heaven come if this were the program of every life!

Let but a man do his duty towards this shining ideal, let him but be
lifted up, carried along in the mighty enthusiasm it ought to engender,
and his own soul, his own development, his character perfection will
take care of itself.  No man ever did any great work without becoming
greater himself, and greatness never was found in any other way.  This
is an unvarying law.  Service is the secret of culture.

The pious hypochondriac is sure to be a sickly soul.  The best thing
you can do for your soul is to forget that you have one, just as the
healthy man forgets he has a heart or liver.  The self-forgetting
service is the secret of happiness, of full finding of self.  Freedom
in self-giving brings fullness in living.

In the right life the hour of prayer, the quiet thought, the search for
abstract truth, may all have their place; but it is only the place that
the wise workman gives to his meals.  He does not live for these
things; they are but ministrants to his work.  He uses everything that
will make him a better workman; but not because he sees the workman as
his end.  He forgets himself in the perfection of that he seeks to
make.  The saving of the soul, the culture of the self, as an end is
shame and suicide; as a means to service it is life and peace and
perfection.



THE SATISFACTION OF SERVICE

A man always thinks more of his work than of his wages.  He would never
be content to toil day in and day out but for the thought that somehow
to some one his work was worth while.  Neither wages, nor salary, nor
any other cash consideration would of itself be sufficient to satisfy
him.  The workman is proud of the product of his hands; his reward is
in that he has made; the good shepherd thinks more of the flock than of
their fleece or his pay.

Satisfaction in work can only come from service rendered.  Whether a
man be plowing or preaching, sweeping the streets or building empires,
his work is only worthy if his motive be the good he is doing, the
value of the work itself.  We call the man who preaches a minister, a
servant.  There is no more honourable title, but it belongs to every
one who seeks to do any worthy work in the world.

The purpose of living is service, therefore the business of religion
must be the cultivation of proficiency in service.  The work of
Christianity is to teach men how to be most valuable and useful as
children and parents, as neighbours and citizens, how to make the most
of their lives and to do the most with them.  It aims to bring the race
to its highest efficiency.

Religion reveals to man the worth-while object of all his endeavours,
to work as a servant for others.  Never was Jesus more glorious than
when He stooped to lift the palsied, to heal the sick, to feed the
hungry.  He found His right to rule men by His exercise of the
privilege of serving them.  The sheep belong to the good shepherd
because he gives his life to them.

This marks the true follower of the great Teacher to-day; his business
is to serve, he makes living an investment for humanity.  He is
commanded to lose his life, to be willing to give up, to sacrifice all
in self-denial, to take his cross and suffer persecution and loss in
this way of walking after his Master.

But he is not told to throw his life away as a worthless thing.  He is
to lose it as the seed is lost in the sowing, as the money in the
investing; to sacrifice it as the tool is sacrificed to that which it
is carving.  He who would be of real service to the world must
cultivate the best in himself.  If living is seed sowing, then the seed
must be good or the harvest will be thin.

True altruism finds right expression first in self-care.  It is a man's
business to be strong, healthy, sane, trained, developed; to be the
best kind of a man, complete in all his faculties, that he may have the
more to offer to the service of his fellows.  There is no merit in
offering the wrecked body and soured mind.  If you are going to give
your life to the world you must make it worth the giving.

Heaven's work demands the finest tools.  Nothing is too good for the
service of humanity.  There is a good deal more religion in the honest
attempt to make the most of yourself, to keep health, to secure
education and culture, in order that you may have the larger, better,
wealthier self to use in service than in unending ascetic exercises,
prayers, devotions, meditations, mumbling, or visions of things
spiritual.

The only way you can prove the genuineness of your religion is by your
gifts to the children of God, your own brothers about you.  There is no
gift that begins to compare in value with a well-trained,
well-equipped, strong and clean life.  We cannot all give gold or
lands, or even learning to men, but we can all give lives, and that
which heaven and earth both have a right to expect is that we shall
give the best lives we can.



IV

The Right to Happiness

  _The Power of Happiness_
  _The Secret of Happiness_
  _The Folly of Anxiety_


_Happy is that happy makes._

_Heaven leaves the heart when hatred enters._

_The man who is so wise that he never laughs is the greatest of fools._

_When your face spells failure it's no use talking of the glory of your
faith._

_To set a child towards gladness is to incline him towards God._

_The graces do not grow in gloom._

_There's no argument equal to a happy smile._

_Stealing sorrow is as much a sin as acquiring stolen joys._

_Life's music is never perfect without the chord of pain._

_Happiness is never found by dodging my neighbour's sorrows._


IV

THE POWER OF HAPPINESS

Instead of the strength of your faith being marked by the length of
your sighs, the genuineness of your religion is to be known by its
joyfulness.  The same God who gives the sunlight and the smiling
fields, who makes the brooks to laugh through the meadows and the stars
to sing at night, would rather see smiles than frowns on the faces of
His children.  His glory is not in gloom but in gladness.  He designed
this world for happiness, and religion is but the pursuing of His plans
for the good of His children.

That which is holy must be happy.  Artificial sadness is always sinful.
A church is not sacred because it looks like a sepulchre; music is not
sacred because all the spring is taken out of it.  You do not keep a
day sacred to divine ends by making it dismal.  It is a religious duty
resting on all to cultivate happiness, to make this world less sad.

No matter how sincere a man may be, if his sanctity results only in
sorrow to others its satisfaction to him must count for nothing.  There
is a great deal of piety that needs an operation to cut the bands that
bind its heart and reduce the inflammation of its spleen.  Happiness is
the very health of religion.  If religion does not give right relations
to those things that determine the tone and colour of life it is a
failure.

But true happiness can never be selfish.  It grows only by giving.  No
one can eat a feast by himself.  Happiness is not found on lonely
mounts of vision.  It is a fair, refreshing stream that flows through
the dusty ways of daily life.  Its waters are never so sweet and cool
to you as when you seek them for others.  None ever find it who go only
with their own pitchers.  The reason so many would-be saints are sad is
because they will not be other than selfish.

It is not strange that men who love this heaven-born life of ours
should turn away from the religion that represented every happy, joyous
human thing as an enormous offense against its God.  Once men gathered
together every dark and depressing thought and thing and said these
constitute the divine in this world; they looked out through the smoked
glasses of sanctimony and declared that every glad, generous hearty
impulse and action must be evil because such things gave happiness.

The old boundary line between the pain that was piety and the pleasure
that spelt perdition has almost passed away.  Men now know that there
is pain and loss in the way of sin, that the way of the transgressor is
hard; they learn by tasting that the fruits of righteousness are joy
and peace.  The age demands what the Lord of all has ever intended,
that religion should send men on their way with the vigour of happier
hearts, with the upwelling love for men that should drive the squalor,
misery, despair, and heart-aches of sin before it.

Life has its work and it has its sorrows; but they ought both to be for
its enriching.  The business of religion is to teach us that
understanding and adjustment of life which will make it a feast of fat
things, to teach us that the God of all desires the good of all.  The
more true piety--the seeking for the loving will of the all wise and
loving--there is in this world the more pleasure there will be in it.

This happiness is the cure for the madness that some call pleasure.
Life is a mockery indeed to those whose only hope is for the hours of
leisure in which to drink the deadening drafts of excitement, the
lethal cup that only hides life's misery by paralyzing the faculties
against the possibilities of real pleasure.  If men might only hear
again the call of Him who bade the weary and heavy laden to come; if
they might but know that His way of life can give strength, rest,
peace, joy, what an enriching life might have.

Make life happier and you will make it holier.  Make it full of
pleasure--not that of a fool's paradise--but that of peace with
heaven's plans, with the joy of knowing that over all is infinite love,
the strength that comes from knowing right is invincible, the tender
and sweet joys that spring up at the touch of human love.  Go your ways
to make them paths of gladness, to show love shining through sorrow, to
give love in the name of the Lord of love and yours shall be religious
service indeed.



THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS

How did your Puritan forefathers dispose of the text which in their day
read, "A merry heart is a continual feast."  Did they explain it away
by saying that the man was made anyway for fasting and not for
feasting?  Perhaps underneath their austere exterior they, after all,
knew something of deep joys and unfailing sources of refreshing
happiness.

In their teaching they made the mistake of insisting that it was
necessary to seem sad in order to please the Most High.  We make the
mistake of being sad in order to please ourselves.  Their misery at
least had the grace of a high motive; ours is born of a short-sighted
selfishness that grasps at the shadow of a fleeting satisfaction and
loses the substance of lasting joy.

Happiness is the highest aim of life, higher than holiness or
usefulness, because it must include both.  To us it is so unfamiliar
that we do not know it from frivolity; we seek the excitement of some
pleasing sensation, and, rising to its stimulus, we fall afterwards
into the reaction of misery.  Happiness is the poise, calm, strength,
and spring of the life fully in harmony with all things good and true.

Nothing praises God better than a happy disposition.  Many have thought
to give Him glory by learned treatises on His majesty and mystery.  But
a little child, so happy that he only can kick and crow, praises the
Almighty more effectively and even devoutly than does the theologian
who only can offer his bloodless speculations.

The great Father gives His children a world brimming over with joy,
with laughing meadows, with smiling morns, with rippling bird song, and
to man He gives faculties of immeasurable happiness.  Life is learning
the law of happiness and practicing its use and service.

But what is the secret of happiness?  How can we learn to be happy when
life has so much to make us sad?  The praise of happiness does not take
away the fact of sorrow or solve its dark problem.  There remain the
million aching hearts and all the griefs of a world.  True.  God forbid
that we should lose our sorrows; that were to make this a sad world
indeed.  Our cares are but part of joy's curriculum.  Learning their
lesson, bearing their load is essential to deep, lasting happiness.

It is not the life of the butterfly experience that is firm, calm,
serene in times of storm and stress.  It is the life that by loads of
care has been forced to strike its roots down to the rocks.  There are
some lives that seem to run over with a happiness that is full of
refreshing to all who know them, and these have come out of great
tribulation.

At first the multiplication table is a burden; later, when mastered, it
becomes a wonderful bearer of burdens.  To wear a careworn, fretful
look, to go through life shedding misery, is to confess that we have
not learned our lesson, that we are dunces in life's school.

The secret of happiness is in grasping the significance of living, to
learn that we live for things other and higher than those mad follies
and fading prizes for which men sell their bodies and souls and fret
out their nerves and hearts.  No man can be happy whose heart is set on
the changing fashion of things or who looks for satisfaction in things.

The lover is happy because he has discovered his prize and is
enthralled by a pursuit that makes all other things seem mean and
paltry.  Men are happy in proportion as they yield themselves to the
best, as they tune their hearts to strike the highest key of their
lives.  Paul is happier in the dungeon, where he can be true to his
ideal, than Nero on the throne without one.

There is feast in days of famine for those who have the inner eyes for
the riches of life.  You always can find in this world what your heart
is looking for.  But you cannot satisfy your heart on everything you
may chance to find, and until the heart is satisfied and the deeper
needs of the life are met there is no happiness.

The search for happiness is not altogether selfish.  Few things can we
do that will help others more than the cultivation of serene strength
and cheer in ourselves.  Not the soulless, set smile, but the strength
and sympathy that flow from a life fixed in confidence in eternal right
and good and unfailing love.



THE FOLLY OF ANXIETY

The great Teacher does not say that we are not to be thoughtful, or
provident; but He insists that no event can be provided for by anxiety,
by fretting over it before it comes.  Half the people on our streets
look as though life was a sorry business.  It is hard to find a happy
looking man or woman.  Worry is the cause of their woebegone
appearance.  Worry makes the wrinkles; worry cuts the deep,
down-glancing lines on the face; worry is the worst disease of our
modern times.

Care is contagious; it is hard work being cheerful at a funeral, and it
is a good deal harder to keep the frown from your face when you are in
the throng of the worry worn ones.  Yet, we have no right to be
dispensers of gloom; no matter how heavy our loads may seem to be we
have no right to throw their burden on others nor even to cast the
shadow of them on other hearts.

Anxiety is instability.  Fret steals away force.  He who dreads
to-morrow trembles to-day.  Worry is weakness.  The successful men may
be always wide-awake, but they never worry.  Fret and fear are like
fine sand, thrown into life's delicate mechanism; they cause more than
half the friction; they steal half the power.

Cheer is strength.  Nothing is so well done as that which is done
heartily, and nothing is so heartily done as that which is done
happily.  Be happy, is an injunction not impossible of fulfillment.
Pleasure may be an accident; but happiness comes in definite ways.  It
is the casting out of our foolish fears that we may have room for a few
of our common joys.  It is the telling our worries to wait until we get
through appreciating our blessings.  Take a deep breath, raise your
chest, lift your eyes from the ground, look up and think how many
things you have for which to be grateful, and you will find a smile
growing where one may long have been unknown.

Take the right kind of thought--for to take no thought would be
sin--but take the calm, unanxious thought of your business, your
duties, your difficulties, your disappointments and all the things that
once have caused you fear, and you will find yourself laughing at most
of them.  In some you will see but friends in disguise, and in others
puny foes decked out as giants.  But begin to dread them, brood over
them, look at them with eyes prejudiced with fear, and the least
difficulties rise like mountains.  In winter some people worry
themselves into malaria over the mosquitoes they may meet next summer.

Mistaken ideas of religion are responsible for a great many of the
unnecessary wrinkles on the human face.  Too many have thought it would
be impossible to be happy in two worlds, and so, having elected
happiness in the one which they thought would last longest, they have
no choice but to be unhappy in this one.  In fact, some seem to suppose
that the greater their misery here the more intense will their bliss be
there.  If heaven is to be bought that way certainly many are paying
full price for it.

Burdens we all must bear; but they need not break us.  Sorrows we all
must share; but they need not unmake us.  They will not if we have
learned the Teacher's secret of living; He, the man of sorrows, was the
man who could bequeath to His friends His joy.  To Him life lost its
anxiety, because the chief things of life were not food or raiment, or
even social standing, but manhood and unselfishness to men, and the
possibilities of these were as easily realized in need and adversity as
in riches and prosperity.



V

The Curriculum of Character

  _The Great School_
  _The Purpose of the Course_
  _The Price of Perfection_


_A good many resolutions die of heart failure._

_No man possesses more religion than he practices._

_When men say "our faults" they usually mean yours._

_There are no delights in the worship that dodges duty._

_When fear gets into the pulpit faith goes out of the pews._

_It's not the man with a putty backbone who is most truly resigned to
the will of God._

_When a man buys a horse on its specifications he is likely to call his
folly faith and its consequences the dispensation of Providence._

_It is folly to hope to have a clean heart when you pay no attention to
what enters its doorways._

_Some folks think they have the house of character because they possess
the plans of virtue._

_It is folly to talk of being guided by the light of your conscience
when you take pains to keep it in the dark._


V

THE GREAT SCHOOL

With all our learning the greatest lesson before us is this one of
living right, of finding our full heritage and filling our places as
men and women in this world.  If our systems of education fail to teach
us how to live they fail altogether.

The great need of our day is that we shall train the conscience to
right moral judgment, that we shall educate all for the business of
living, and that we shall so educate all that we shall not only have a
generation of bright, smart, money-making or fame-making machines, but
that we may have clean, upright, truth-loving, self-reverencing,
God-fearing men and women.

There is little likelihood that America will fail for lack of business
ability.  The danger is that we shall fail at the point of character;
that we shall fail where failure is fatal to every other kind of
success.  This is the crucial point.

We do well to perfect the plans by which we teach men the encyclopedia
of their bodies, their country, the world and its history.  But we
cannot forget, and recent events have reminded us with a terrible note
of warning, that no amount of knowledge constitutes any sort, even the
feeblest kind, of guarantee as to rectitude of life.

If you neglect the heart, the will, and conscience, if you neglect the
knowledge of and training in right relations with men, reverence and
right relations to the most high, your culture of the intellect is
worse than waste; it is the perfecting of the poison of our social
life; it is the whetting of the edge of a man's villainy and grossness.

Above all other things, the most desirable is that men shall love truth
and hate a lie; that they shall love honour and truth so much more than
fame, power, or possessions that never for an instant will these weigh
in the scale against the former.  But for long it has been thought that
this choice flower of nobility grew by chance; the culture of the soul
was so mysterious as never to be brought under scientific law.

If a man grew up to be good it was due either to accident or to
miracle.  The realm of character has been the last to come under the
reign of law.  Now we recognize that we must learn to live as truly as
we must learn to read, and that the culture of the soul must profit by
the wondrous strides that all educational science has made; that all
our efforts to produce character must be so wisely directed that we
shall secure the best and most enduring results.

One message comes from the lips of every seer, from every page of
history.  It is that the man or the nation alone is wise, alone finds
enduring life, who sets before commercial supremacy or political power
or fame in learning the glory of righteousness, the beauty of practical
holiness.  Their wealth lies beyond corruption and their days know no
end who are wise and rich in the things within.

The greatest service we can render our day is by giving it the riches
of worthy living, by setting before ourselves the production of high
character through all life's processes of learning, and by bringing in
every way we may to an age engrossed in selfishness and commercialism
the significance of the call of character.

No wonder it sometimes seems to us that we have forgotten to smile;
that our faces are so drawn with the tense struggle of life that we
have lost sight of the meaning of happiness.  How can we be happy
unless we shall set our whole lives in harmony with the things that are
fundamental and eternal?

We must learn to order our lives, not as machines to be driven at the
top of their efficiency in the money mill, but as part of the great
life of the spiritual world, as inheritors of things divine, sublime,
and glorious, as possessors of the joy that made the morning stars sing
together and the beauty that paints the evening red.



THE PURPOSE OF THE COURSE

The early question of the old creeds, "What is the chief end of man?"
was conceived in a spirit more practical than academic.  It was the
voice of the constant inquiry as to the purpose of living.  But the
answer given by the creed lacks the assurance of a moral conviction; it
fails to find any response in us.  "To glorify God and to enjoy Him
forever" may be the portion of angels, but honest men have to confess
that they have no great desire to be angels, yet.

The emphasis of the creed with that as its basis practically was on
dying rather than on living; it owed whatever grip it had on men to the
promise it held, to those who were in the midst of the sordid round of
tasks or the dull, heavy grind of poverty, of a felicitude that knew
neither hunger, fear, nor pain; it offered a heaven forever to those
who could endure a hell for a short time.

The logical consequence was to make dying the chief end of living.  Who
cannot remember being told to despise the present, to consider how
brief it is, like a cloud before the dawn of the endless day?  It was
compared to the short waiting outside some door beyond which was
warmth, cheer, and unending bliss.  So that the pious soul thought of
life only in terms of waiting, watching, enduring.  Piety became
positive only in prospect, negative in the present.

To say to a man, be patient with wrong and oppression to-day and you
will be prospered tomorrow, is to teach him to compound a felony, to
wink at the despoiling of the earth by the iniquitous for the
consideration of a title to the riches of heaven.  It is to lose sight
of the fact that unless the life finds itself now it never will find
itself, that to dwarf a soul to-day is to dwarf it forever.

"Then," says the practical man, "this means that we can ignore the
future; we must make the most of the present; get all you can; keep all
you get; the whole purpose of life is to make a good living, to enjoy
yourself."  This is only the swing of the pendulum away from the old
thought.  The ideal of the present day is material advantage.  The
chief end of man is to make money.  If once he was the slave of an
unjust order, he now is the slave of an unworthy appetite.

Living only for wealth or for wages is not living at all.  Who knows
less of life than the slave of modern commercialism, the man who lifts
his eyes no higher than the pay roll, or the ticker tape?  It is better
to be the victim of a delusion that gives some happiness, that gives
some fortitude, and to live the simple life of the poor than to be the
slave bound to the wheel of modern social greed and money madness.

Life itself is the object of living; the chief end of man is to become
glorious as his ideal of God is glorious, to realize the highest that
comes to him in the song of poet, the vision of seer, the hope of his
own heart.  The money, the acres, the resources are the tools for the
development of life.  This world is a workshop; it has failed utterly
if it produces nothing but an array of machines and a heap of shavings;
it must turn out the finished product of men.

Are you living thus for life, or are you living to do no more than make
a living?  We need to educate our children to set honour, truth,
justice, a high life, before all things, to prize noble attainments so
that they shall not be content with the lesser prizes of prosperity in
things, so that whether we win or lose in the markets of the world we
shall stand rich and glorious in manhood, finding the ends of life in
the achievement of high character and finding in commerce but the
servant of character.



THE PRICE OF PERFECTION

Gold may depreciate, stocks rise or fall, and business values change so
as to leave the market in panic, but every man on the street or in the
store knows that one value forever remains permanent, unvarying, and
that is character.  Every other asset may be swept away and success
still achieved if this remain; every other aid may be at its best and
failure only await him who lacks the wealth of character.

Character is that of which reputation is but the echo, often mistaken
and misleading.  Character is the last, the ultimate, value of life.
It is the trend of the whole being towards the best.  It is the passion
and power that holds one true despite all persuasion.

It is the one thing worth having, because upon it all other values
depend.  The wealth of the whole world still leaves poor him from whom
the soul, the power to appreciate, the purity of heart which sees God
and the good, the peace and quietness of a good conscience, have fled.
When we turn away from our fighting for fame and our grinding for gold
long enough to think, then we know that the things within determine
wholly the value and reality of all things without.

The wise ever have set this treasure above all others.  Happy the
people that love righteousness more than revenue, the way of virtue,
the clear eye, the upward look, and the approval of a good conscience
above all other prosperity or advantage.  The days of national
greatness ever have been those when the things that make manhood bulked
far above all other considerations.  Alike to people and individuals,
the imperishable value ever has been that of character.

This asset comes not to a man by accident.  He who is rich in
character, whose success in many ways is built upon his resources in
this way, does not just simply happen to be good, true, and square.
There is a price to character; it costs more than any other thing, for
it is worth more than all other things.  Essentially it never is
inherited, but always acquired by processes often slow and toilsome and
at great price.

If you would be perfect you must pay the price of perfection.   Unless
the passion of life is this perfection it never will be your
possession.  Dreams of ideal goodness only waste the hours in which it
might have been achieved.  No man ever finds character in his sleep.
The education of the heart is a thing even more definite than the
education of the head.  The school of character has an infinite variety
of courses and an unending curriculum.

Folks who are sighing for goodness usually go away sorrowful when they
learn what it costs.  But life ever is putting to us just such tests as
the wise teacher put to the rich young man.  You say you desire
character, the perfection of manhood or womanhood above all other
things; do you desire this enough to pay for it your ease, your coveted
fame, your cherished gold, perhaps your present good name and peace of
mind?  Is the search for character a passion or only a pastime?

This does not mean that this prize of eternity falls only to those who
devote themselves wholly to self-culture, to the salvation of their own
souls.  The best lives have thought little of themselves, but they have
lived for the ends of the soul, to help men to better living, to save
them from the things that blight and damn the soul.  Like the Leader of
men they have found the life unending by laying down their lives,
paying the full price, selling all in order that right and truth and
honour and purity, love and kindness and justice might remain to man.

The world's wealth depends not on what we have in our hands, nor even
on what we can carry in our heads.  It depends on the things that we
have and the beings we are in our hearts.  Fools we are who live only
to make a living, houses, shelter, food, rags, and toys, who might live
to make a life, and to mold lives, to earn the riches and honour
enduring; who have not learned the gain of all loss that leads the
heart to look up, the joy of all sorrow that sweetens the soul, and the
profit from every sacrifice that is a paying of the price of perfection.



VI

The Age-Long Miracle

  _The Sufficient Sign_
  _Behold the Man_
  _The Life that Lifts_


_Silent goodness speaks loudest._

_Our loads lift us up to strength._

_Life grows as love is given._

_From the grind of drudgery comes at last the glorious divine spark._

_The spirit of the father never works separation in the family._

_That day best fulfills its purpose which is a preparation for the
next._

_The proof of a faith is not in its prestige, but in its present power._

_Things divine are not defended by dodging._

_It is the heart that gives ease to any work._

_The door of truth never opens to the key of prejudice._

_Love never knows how much it gives nor what it costs._


VI

THE SUFFICIENT SIGN

The scribe and the Pharisee are still with us.  "Establish the
credibility of the miracles of Jesus, or, better still, let Him work a
miracle to-day, and we will believe," they say.  This age is credulous;
it hungers to believe the extraordinary.  Yet, while it is running
after folly, it is blind to the most extraordinary fact, the most
stupendous miracle that ever took place, although it goes on right
before its eyes and is open to every kind of proof.  It cannot see the
miracle of Jesus in the world to-day, the miracle beside which all the
works He did in His lifetime sink into insignificance.

Here is the sign to-day offered to the skeptic: Once, nearly twenty
centuries ago, a young preacher travelled and taught through the
villages and by the wayside in an obscure oriental country.  He
addressed a subject race, insular in their prejudices, lacking in
political genius and in artistic culture.  He lived in days calculated
to chill the most fervid religious enthusiasm.  He was at first ignored
and then hated by His own people; the religious leaders became His
implacable foes.  His work ended in apparent failure, in a death of
shame.

But that was not the end.  It is strange that the world remembers
anything about that young preacher; but stranger still is the fact that
to-day He influences more than half the population of the globe,
surpassing all other teachers, more people are under His sway now than
the whole world held when He lived.  These millions make Him the object
of their worship and devotion; in His name they gather regularly all
over the world, without regard to language or race.

More than this, this one whom the wise men of His day ignored has been
the inspiration of the works of genius and art, of the deeds of
heroism, of the lofty endeavours of the world since He died.  He has
changed the mind.  He has changed the appearance of the world; by Him
nations have fallen and risen.  The humble, the despised, the rejected
has become the world's hero, the mightiest of all the sons of men, the
saviour of His race.

Once He touched a few who were blind and lame and they were healed;
to-day in His name, in every city, a thousand suffering ones are made
whole.  Science does the work; but the opportunity for its development
and the inspiration for its application came from Him.

Nor is this all.  He made the world to see; He touched the blind eyes
of the people, as they groped in superstition, and has given them
sight; He has made the ages, once limping and halting, to arise and
march forward with magnificent tread; He found the world a babel of
jarring voices and fretting purposes, and His touch gave peace and
singleness of purpose until men could discern that "through the ages
one unceasing purpose runs."  He did for man and mind what was first
done for matter, brought the cosmos out of chaos.  This is the miracle
indeed.

It goes right on before our eyes.  They take His name to a dead people,
and soon there is life there.  Light, and love, and larger life spring
up everywhere in His name.  From this modern miracle of the power, the
growing authority, the kingship of the once despised Jesus we cannot
escape; we are perforce participants in its benefits; it conditions all
our lives.

If all the gospel stories could be proved myths and the miracles but
inventions, there would still remain the greater, the insuperable
miracle of the world's picture of the perfect and all glorious
personality of Jesus and the fact of His preëminent power in the world
to-day.  This is the sign He gives this age, and to this the open mind
answers: "Thou art the Christ, the saviour of the world."



BEHOLD THE MAN

The two words, "Ecce homo," contemptuously spoken by the cynical Roman
governor contained the highest tribute that had been given to Jesus.
How empty appear all the high sounding titles, such as king and
emperor, beside this significant one of Man.  How sad and self-damning
the bitter railing of His enemies in the light of that serene dignity.
How puerile the bickering over words and ways of worship, and all the
wrangling that blinded them to the heavenly radiance of that all
glorious manhood.  The wonder of Jesus is not in the deeds He did, but
in the being He was.  And the wonder of His being is not in that it
offers elements for arguments as to a divine personality, but it is
that of a simple, clear, sublimely perfect manhood.  It is upon this
perfection of personal character that His abiding claim to divinity
must rest; it depends not on His birth but on His being.

There is something strange about the perversity with which the church
has emphasized the least attractive aspects of its master's person.
The preachers have scolded men for not coming to church, and when they
did come they offered them pictures of an emaciated, effeminate being
for their adoration.  With them the painters have conspired to set on
canvas and in church window representations from the reality of which
we would turn with repulsion or on which we would look with pity.

If Jesus is to be the leader of men He must go before them.  He must
stand in the front, not set there by artificial arguments as to His
right to rule over men, but there because He belongs there, first
because He is first in all that makes manhood; He is king because He
can, and because He has overcome in life's great conflict.

If He is to show us the way we should go He must walk in that way; He
must be flesh of our flesh, true man, knowing the full fellowship of
our lives.  If He was born with a halo; if He lived on angel's fare; if
somehow He belongs to another world and His perfections are not those
of our nature, then, almighty as He may be as a leader for beings of
another world, He has no value to us.

But men have ever set aside the weavings of minds so absorbed in the
wonder of their speculations that they could not see the truth.  They
have seen through the dreamings of poets, painters, and preachers, who
pictured only their sickly ideals.  And, instead of their caricatures,
men have held in their hearts a man, one of their own.  And this true
fellow, brother and friend, has spurred them to noble deeds and lofty
living.

Perfection is seen in strength, not in weakness, in virility and not in
tears, in majesty, the majesty truly of meekness, but not of a maudlin,
mooning etherealism.  The revelation of the perfect man cannot come in
a form that a child will pity; it will be admirable from all points of
view.  It is the heroic rather than the esthetic we must admire.

The men who followed that one long ago did so not because they had
heard arguments as to His divine claims, but because they were drawn by
the heavenly power of His manhood.  This it is that wins men ever, the
magnetism of manhood.  The force of a great life is mightier than any
of the things it does.  There is about this leader, Jesus, that which
compels us to greatness, spurs us to strife for our better selves,
strengthens to sacrifice and to service for our fellows.

It matters little whence a life like this has come; the greater
question is where does it lead us.  Childish minds spend time on the
genealogical trees of the giants; the wise men follow them.  The value
of the life of the great Teacher does not depend on our ability to
comprehend it biologically or arrange it chronologically, but on our
vision of its moral and manly perfections and on the power these
attributes have over our lives.

This world will be little helped by the most irrefutable syllogism
concerning the peculiar nature and separate exclusive divinity of its
great religious Teacher.  But lives will be lifted everywhere in the
measure that they see the man in Him who taught us of God.  For men
need not so much a God who has come down as a man who has attained to
God, not a descent, but an ascent, one who is the life and the truth
because He is the way which they may tread up to the glory that is
their heritage and the God who is their own.



THE LIFE THAT LIFTS

To any save the few in the group of His friends that statement of Jesus
that being lifted up He would draw all men to Him must have sounded
like the ravings of one deluded.  It has taken the centuries to show
that He was right.  He was right in His estimation of His life's end;
it was a lifting up.  His enemies thought it a casting down, a defeat;
He knew it to be a triumph.  Sorrow, injustice, oppression, hatred, the
things that seem to crush are the things that elevate.  Only by
opposition has any life discovered power.  The fiercer blow these winds
the firmer grows the tree.  Out of the petty persecutions, the
countless meannesses, the littleness of those who oppose him the great
soul builds its greatness.  It is, and ever has been by a cross that
men are lifted up.  History abounds with prisons, gibbets, and crosses
which have become thrones of eternal glory.

Whether we shall be cast down or lifted up depends upon ourselves;
neither enemies nor adverse circumstances have the power to do this.
The soul that seeks the stars builds its staircase out of the stones
flung by the persecutor, out of the rocks of difficulties.  If your
heart is great, my brother, nothing can keep you from greatness; if it
is mean, no amount of o'ervaulting ambition can make you other than a
little, obscure man, as truly lost on the peak as you would be at the
base.

Jesus died a failure; His friends were few, and the best of them
thought His life a mistake.  It takes more than the span of our lives
to measure their size.  It is better that a great soul should be called
a failure than that it should die a shrivelled success.  Earth measures
by what the hands hold; heaven by the heart.  The hands at last lose
their grasp, but the heart wealth goes on from more to more.  This it
is that is worth while.

Jesus was right when He said that He would draw all men to Him.  Then
it sounded like folly; to-day it demonstrates His divine insight.
Lifted up in shame the riches of His life were revealed.  After all,
the best in us answers to the best; it is love that leads.  In the end,
goodness, truth, gentleness, sincerity have the greatest attraction for
men.  Jesus is known and loved by millions who never heard of Nero or
of Augustus.  Their glory was that of circumstance; His that of
character.  His life lifts.

This it is that most helps the world; not learning, but a life; not
power or position, but simple passion for men; not riches, but wealth
of the inner life.  You may not found a university or build libraries
or hospitals, or even write books or preach sermons.  But every one may
do the principal thing that Jesus did.  That was to live a life amongst
men of love for them, of simple kindnesses, of God-seeking aspiration,
of white sincerity.  The race needs not so much men who will shake it
with their power or dazzle it with their learning as it needs men and
women who will lift it with the quiet earnestness and sincerity of
their lives.  Herein is lasting greatness and true power, to live as He
lived, to love as He loved, true to God, to yourself, and to your
fellows, seeking the best and giving of your best.

Service and sacrifice are the things that lift to the supreme places;
the lower you stoop in helpfulness the higher you are lifted in lasting
glory.  And they are lifted to heaven, they achieve immortality, they
can never die who were willing to die if death lay in the path of duty,
to be sacrificed if sacrifice was part of their service.



VII

Seeing the Unseen

  _The Sense of the Unseen_
  _The Brook in the Way_
  _That Which is High_


_The song of sympathy never comes until the singer has been to the
school of sorrow._

_True spirituality can see the altar in the cookstove and the washtub._

_People who are always off the key are never content out of the choir._

_The only version of the Bible authorized by heaven is that on two
feet._

_Every life must have days in the desert but it does not need to build
its house there._

_Many a man thinks he is patient with pain when he is only perverse in
eating pickles._

_No man knows how much religion he has until he goes of fishing alone
where mosquitoes are many._

_There are too many people to whom God has given wings who are
complaining of corns._

_It is some consolation to know that when you aim at nothing you are
sure to hit it._

_If you have large reserves of religion you will not be without the
small change of kindness._


VII

THE SENSE OF THE UNSEEN

When the practically-minded man Paul writes of looking at the things
which are not seen his words sound like either fantasy or folly.   Yet
it is plain fact, practical, and certainly essential to any success.
He is blind who can see only with his eyes, and he only is sensible who
knows there are many things beyond his senses.  Practical men consider
all the factors to every problem, and things are not less real to them
because they may chance to be intangible.

The unseen things are imminent to us always.  There are many things not
yet pigeonholed by our science nor catalogued by our philosophies.  You
can dissect a daisy and enumerate its parts; but you never know a daisy
until you have seen the unseen things thereof, until you have felt the
subtle appeal of its beauty.  Bobbie Burns saw more of the daisy than
the greatest botanist without his spiritual eyes.

The danger is that in our hard workaday we shall forget the reality of
the unseen, we shall get to think that gold and steel and land are the
only real things, and we shall shape ourselves by the blind and base
creed of gold, and steel, and land.  How easy it is to measure every
man by his possessions in tangible things.  How easy to make these our
chief end in life, to slight the real prizes, the unseen wealth that
lies so close at hand or already possessed, while we rush and strive
for the rainbow of riches.

Deep within us we know that he is rich, and he alone, who has wisdom,
love, patience, who possesses friends, who creates kindly thoughts,
whose life with simple joy abounds.  Once again and often do we need to
see Bunyan's picture of the man bending over his refuse, gathered with
the muck rake, and heedless of the angel holding the crown that only
waits his taking.

A man is wealthy according to what is within him.  His greatness is of
the things that are unseen.  There are limits to the possession and the
use of the things that are seen; but who shall set a limit to a man's
possible wealth in love and honour, in wisdom and integrity, in all the
things that make up the soul of man?  Few are the things that a man may
hold for his own all the days of his life, and fewer still are those he
may grasp with pleasure when the hands are falling helpless by his
side.  But many are the riches he may have to hold forever in the
things of the unseen.  Many a man walks through the fields penniless
and yet richer far than their owner; to him the birds sing, for him the
flowers bloom, to his eyes there are beauties in the blue beyond all
words, and all the loveliness of the fair land lifts his heart within
him.  The other man who holds the title deeds sees nothing beside them.
Possession is wholly a matter of appreciation.  The earth is the Lord's
and He gives it to those who have eyes to see.

It is the eye to see the unseen that gives wealth to the seen.  Values
depend on vision.  Appreciation does not prevent possession; it makes
the possession actual.  And the vision of the realities behind things
keeps a man from the sense of destitution when all things are taken
from him.  He cannot be destitute.  He may lose all his fellows, but he
cannot be friendless; the Father of Spirits cannot lose him, nor can he
be cut off from fellowship with those who die no more.

The seeing eye is the stimulus to the worth while endeavour.  The
inventors who have enriched the world endured derision seeing the
things invisible to others.  The truth is that it is the unspiritual
world that makes the least progress in things material.  The men of
faith and vision are back of all advance.  They have endurance,
patience, and strength.  The sense of another world where motives are
rightly measured, the sense of a great cloud of worthy witnesses to
other eyes invisible, the sense of reward in the very service itself,
rewards intangible yet most real, the joy of sacrifice and service;
these all enable one to push on, to toil, to endure.  Then, long
afterwards, the dull, weary world sees and understands.



THE BROOK IN THE WAY

Alongside every highway runs the brook whereof a man may drink often if
he will and drinking lift up his head.  Its little song we scarce hear
in the rush of our businesses; its refreshing we forget even though our
throats be parched with the dust of our petty affairs.  Yet it is ever
there, cool, refreshing, this world of spirits and ideals.

Nature has a prodigal way of scattering rivulets down the hillside and
along the pathways, little heeding whether men walk there or not.  The
practical eye sees waste; these streams might have been made to turn
wheels; the needs of the traveller, weary with the way, might be met by
faucets at regular intervals.

It is well for us all that the power of the practical man finds its
limitations, else all poetry would have gone from the world, and great
and glorious as might have been our physical perfections our bodies
would be but the empty habitations whence souls had long since fled.
The utilitarian would have stolen from us the bliss of the deep draft
from the pebbly brook.

The man who is proud of being practical tells us we are wasting time
and nervous energy in stopping to think of ideal things; we must take
the world as we find it, he says, forgetting how fair and poetic we
once found it and how bleak and ugly we are likely to leave it.  But to
him trees are always lumber, grass and flowers but hay, bird songs
spell poultry, wind and waters energy.  Many are too busy making things
ever to enjoy anything that is made.

In this steel age it may seem folly and waste to stop and think of
sacrifice and courage and love, to admire and answer to the thrill of
human passions; but alas for him who never sees the light of heaven in
another's tear, nor hears the brush of angels' wings when men and women
fly to their fellow's aid.

If you haven't time in your busy life to turn aside to drink of the
brook of human affection, to look deep into the eyes of friendship, to
sympathize, to comfort, to taste this strange sweet and bitter cup of
our common fellowship, then is your heart going dry and thirsty and
life becoming a whitened road that knows no wells or springs.

But something there is in man that calls for drafts at yet deeper
streams than these.  Foolish and unlearned he may be, ignorant of the
wise conclusions of philosophers who have looked into these things with
their lanterns, but through the ages he has been drinking eagerly at
the waters of eternity.  In every man there is a thirst after the deep,
immeasurable things divine; the deeper the nature of the man the
greater his necessity for drinking often here.

The consciousness of the great life that embraces all life, the sense
of its nearness to us all, has been a perennial refreshing to all great
hearts.  In some way to bring the life into touch with the infinite is
to take down its limitations, break its barriers, and give it a sense
of infinitude, to lift up the head in vision of the divinity of our
lives and of every life.  We who walk in the dust often need to be
filled with the divine lest we become ourselves but dust.

This world of things is hungry for the life that is more than things,
the life of the spirit; that is why so many love to sing of heaven and
dream of a fair world peopled by strange and glorious celestial ones.
Heaven is nearer than we think; like the brook by the way, the life of
the spirit flows beside this life; happy they who drink of its waters,
who already enter into eternity, who find strength for this life's way
and work by the contact with the life that is life indeed.

Is it any wonder that life is a wearisome thing, a dead drag, when you
are starving its very sources?  You neglect the soul at the peril of
all.  So anxious are you to run this race that you have no time to
allow him who rides in the chariot to drink of the water of life.  This
is not utilitarianism; this is suicide from the centre out.

The most practical common sense demands that you feed the inner places
of your life, the heart that has gone so long thirsty and longing for
love, for things too deep for words, for things that cannot be used and
cannot be quoted in dollars.  Give your inner life its deep drafts of
the infinite life and your outer life shall take its place and do its
work in the world.



THAT WHICH IS HIGH

There are two ways of viewing the oncoming years, as burdens or as
opportunities, with fear or with expectation.  The days of the new year
may loom up as a series of unwelcome tasks to be unwillingly done or as
so many invitations to attempt and achieve great things.  The
difference between these two points of view marks the difference
between enduring life and finding the life that endures.

The wise preacher of long ago caught sight of one of these distinctions
that cut clear through to the roots of things.  He says that the sign
of old age is that a man is "afraid of that which is high."  When
courage and ambition have gone old age and decrepitude have entered in,
no matter whether a man be eighteen or eighty.

He alone has youth, he alone has life before him, who can still catch
the vision of the ideal, of that which is high, who can lift up his
eyes beyond the horizon of practicabilities and precedents and see the
things not yet realized.  There is a time when men must dream dreams
and see visions, when they must feast on noble purposes or die so far
as the inner spirit and all that makes real living is concerned.

If you find the will becoming dull and listless, with no quickening of
the pulses, but only apathy or a sneer for the high purpose or the
great promise, it is but a sign of the approach of senility, of the
failure of the powers.  When the ambition can be satisfied with the
less while the greater is before it, when things low and base are
preferred to things high, afar off, and difficult to attain, the heart
is dying already.

Cherish as the spark of life the aspiration to have and do and be the
best.  Yet who is there does not know the paralyzing chill that the
sneer of the philistine or even the memory of our own many failures can
give when great possibilities offer themselves to us?  How easily enter
in the cold considerations that deaden our aspirations; how subtle the
temptation to be content with the condition that involves neither toil
nor pain.  How hard to realize that this is an invitation to death.

To all men comes the thrill of the passion to do some great thing, to
give to our world some worthy service.  To yield to this is to keep the
heart young, is to defy time, to conquer the years.  Whether the coming
days shall bend the back with their burdens or shall nerve and
strengthen the life does not depend on whether they have cares or joys
in them, but on whether they find us responsive to the call of noble
things.

No man can afford to let a pure and lofty impulse die, nor, for fear of
failure or of ridicule, to become afraid or ashamed of his ideals.
Living is more than a dull feeding at tables or troughs, more than
shelter and sleep; it is growing, climbing, becoming, finding higher
levels and seeing yet higher before.

Nor is this all; the spirit of greatness finds ample play in daily
duties.  The success of the year does not depend on whether you can do
things that shall amaze men to-day or make your name known forever, but
upon whether into all the things you do, lowly, humdrum, commonplace as
they may seem to be, the daily duties of home or shop or store, the
care of the baby, or the running of a typewriter, there shall enter the
great and high motive.

This is what we all need, the high vision of the lowly things, the
sight of the fact that the least piece of work is an essential part of
the service of the whole universe, that a man serves the Divine not by
wearing a black coat but by doing, as in God's name, with high motives
the least duties that may be his.  It is not place nor authority nor
wage that makes the work high or low; it is the spirit of the service
and the part it plays in the world's great business of perfecting
humanity.

Would you ward off old age, cherish vitality and give value to your
days, seek the things that are above, the life that serves some worthy
end.  One is young as long as his heart leaps responsive to a noble
call.  But he who lives to pleasure, to the satisfaction of self, who
has shut his eyes to the high things that call for self-denial, for
toil and loss, is dead already.



VIII

Sources of Strength and Inspiration

  _Strength for the Daily Task_
  _The Sense of the Infinite_
  _The Great Inspiration_


_Living heartily is one secret of living happily._

_Life is early blighted if it knows no clouds._

_You can tell the character of any age by the place it gives to
character._

_There is little danger in the discontent with conditions that is
equalled by discontent with character._

_Heart health never comes so long as the hand is kept on the pulse._

_Feed on garbage and you soon lose faith in good things._

_The fruitful life seeks showers as well as sunshine._

_It's hard for a man who has ground of his nose on the money mill to
smell a taint on anything._

_Many a man goes back by trying to put up a good front and nothing
more._

_Every life is worth the love it gives._


VIII

STRENGTH FOR THE DAILY TASK

It is the dull grind and monotony of life that makes it so hard to bear
for the ninety-nine per cent. of us.  Sometimes it seems as though we
spend all our days toiling, wearing strength, and hope, and heart away
for no other end than to gain just bread and shelter so as to keep the
machine in condition for further toil.

How hopeless is the outlook of many a life!  The mother with the weary
round of home duties day after day, the father who goes to the same
task year after year, seeing the same people, doing the same things,
and coming home at the day's end with the same weariness, only
augmented as age makes itself felt--all who toil feel at times these
depressing limitations.

Little wonder that lives snatch at every fleeting, alluring promise of
relief, through amusement, through anything that offers change and
excitement.  Little wonder that, robbed of opportunity for vision, they
foment blind discontent, so that we all feel there is a mighty
substratum of wretchedness and of menace lying under our social order.

Yet there are few lives, perhaps no worthy ones, without tasks that
often seem monotonous and become matters of dull grinding that bring
weariness and longing for relief.  All worth while work involves much
tediousness, painstaking exertion.  All great things stand for so much
life poured out, and life is never poured out without pain and loss.

The stern Puritan was doubtless wrong when he saw nothing in life but
repression and stern duty, but he was nearer right than he who looks
only for frivolity and amusement.  Life is too large a business to be
always light and trivial.  Yet we must not allow its high purposes to
be thwarted by robbing ourselves and our fellows of all joy and
brightness and converting life into dull, mechanical servitude.

How may we find that proportion of toil and relief, that happy mixture
of duty and delight that shall make life not only endurable but also
useful, fruitful, and enjoyable?  For it is man's duty to be happy;
otherwise he can never be useful in any high or valuable sense.

It would be easy to try to give comfort by the philosophy which sees
the fine fruitage that is coming from to-day's stern discipline.  That
fair fruitage is coming, but the trouble is it is too far off to give
us much comfort now; we want something nearer and more easily
apprehended.  Then, too, the truth is no high fruitage will ever issue
from a life crushed by slavish subjection.

After all, what life is to every one of us depends not on the demands
of outer circumstances, but on the development of the life within.  The
heart determines the worth and beauty of life.  It makes all the
difference whether the physical determines its circumference or whether
you have an intellect that is reaching out to the things unmeasurable
and a soul that grows into glory indescribable.

You can tie a great soul down hand and brain to a loom or a machine and
he will still see his visions and dream his deep, refreshing dreams;
you can set the brutish being down in a gallery of the world's
treasures of art and beauty and he will think of nothing and see
nothing but bread and beer.

We must do our dull and heavy tasks, but we can do them and not be
crushed by them so long as within there are fragrant memories, high
aspirations, great thoughts; so long as the task does not set the
boundary of the life.  And it is the cherishing of these eternal riches
within that lifts any life and makes it worthy of higher tasks.

We need to seek out the springs of noble thoughts, to find in the
riches of the world's literature, in music, and in beauty of art the
food for that inner life in the strength of which, drawing often on its
secret resources, we can go many days through the desert of toil.

The wise life uses every opportunity of refreshing; it drinks of every
spring of the up-welling waters of life; it seeks communion with every
great soul.  Holidays and rest days are to it times of replenishing
when the eyes that ache from bending over the machine or desk lift
themselves to the eternal hills and the heart turns to the things that
are infinite.



THE SENSE OF THE INFINITE

One does not have to believe in the same kind of a god as did the seers
and singers of long ago in order to obtain the spiritual values which
they found in the thought of his nearness to them.  David and Browning,
Isaiah and Whittier, with all the centuries between them, still come to
the same thought--we know that Thou art near.

Through all ages and in all peoples this sense of that which is other
than ourselves, from which our highest good comes, towards which our
ideals and aspirations strain, the ultimate force of our being, this
feeling after the infinite is universal.  It is the essential and
determinative mark of every religion.

When those singers of long ago tried to express their sense of the
infinite life and love they used words which make it appear that they
thought only of some being larger, mightier, wiser than themselves,
yet, after all, like themselves, a great man deified because He was
great.  Perhaps that really was their conception; still, we use
precisely the same language, even though our ideas are entirely
different.

It makes relatively little difference what their conceptions were, so
far as ours are concerned.  Their words are not accurate, detailed pen
pictures of some being who can be described or photographed.  No man
has seen the infinite at any time.  The great thing is that ever and
everywhere men find themselves with a hunger after this sublime unseen.

One may use terms of personality and another terms of power; to one the
infinite may be but a local deity; to another, that which embraces all
spirit and being, and each may have all of the divine his heart is
capable of containing.   Here none may dogmatize for others.

Religion does not depend on uniformity of conceptions of the divine.
It depends more upon universality of consciousness of the infinite and
openness of mind and life to whatever we may feel and know, from any
source or through any means whatsoever, of that life or energy which
lies back of all life and energy, of that love and light which cheer
and lighten every son of man.

Definitions determine nothing, but they do work great damage when minds
capable of being stereotyped to them agree to impose those definitions
on their fellows as final, authoritative, and essential to their
welfare.  The divine is neither infinite nor sublime when you can say,
Here are His lineaments and He has no other likeness or appearance.

To the question, How shall we think of the divine? there can be but one
answer--in higher, wider, deeper, nobler, purer ways than yesterday.
The conception must be a developing one.  A man's spiritual capacities
develop as his inner vision becomes more keen.  The soul takes wider
flight, and in our deep thoughts we discover that which language cannot
compass.

There are those who think they must be atheists because they cannot
believe in the God of the Hebrews, the God of the Old Testament--a
limited personality.  But the genuine atheists are more likely to be
those who are without a sense of the divine, because they have taken
definitions and descriptions prepared by others instead of seeking
truth for themselves.

We are but poor learners of those ancient teachers if we have not
discovered that their greatest lesson to us is not truth, as they had
found it, but the blessing of the persistent search after truth.  To
cherish as final past presentations of truth is to be false to its
present possibilities.

We do not need to worry over definitions of the divine.  We do need to
cultivate the temper of mind and the sensitiveness of spirit that will
save us from blindness to the higher facts of life, that will save us
from the blasting whirlwind of materialism, with its sense of nothing
but a soulless world of things.

We need to avoid the mind that shuts the divine up in some far off
heaven to be reached only by formal telephony called prayer; that fails
to see the infinite in all things--in sunlight and flower, in
children's laughter, and in misery's wail, in factories and stores, as
well as in churches.  We need the mind that argues not about
omnipresence, but in duty and delight cries, Always and everywhere,
Thou art near.


THE GREAT INSPIRATION

Christianity is distinguished and dominated by the ideal of the life
and character of Jesus of Nazareth; it is a philosophy and a system of
individual and social ethics under the inspiration of a glowing ideal.
No matter how greatly its people may differ on other points, all are
agreed in recognizing in Jesus the fairest of the sons of men.

There never was a time when the thought of this life was more potent
than it is to-day.  Men think of Him as a fellow being, one who went
about doing good, who looked out on life with the windows of His soul
unsullied and who lived out ever the holiest and highest that came to
Him.

The thought of such a one has become so real to men that they do not
stop to argue about His existence, as once they did.  If it was
possible indisputably to disprove the historic Christ men still would
cherish, as highly as ever, the ideal, the vision of such a life, and
in their hearts would know that such a picture could only have been
born of such a person.

This goodly, glorious man no longer is one who now sits on the throne
of heaven.  Men are not particularly concerned as to whether He is
artistically glorified and perpetuated by some divine decree.  He has
crowned Himself in the glory of a pure and beneficent character; He has
perpetuated Himself in human loves and admiration.

Because He once showed Himself as the friend of all, the pure, high
souled friend of the down-trodden and the outcast, the strong,
invigorating friend of the rich and successful, He to-day walks by many
a man as His unseen friend, and in busy mart or office men feel the
presence of a heavenly guest.

Once men made that life the centre of dispute; they sought to prove His
divinity by His unlikeness to ordinary humanity.  But the facts
defeated them.  This man whom men so learned to love that they became
willing to die for Him was in all respects a man.  His life is worth so
much to us because He was so much like us.

It has come as a new revelation to the world that the supreme religious
soul of the ages should be so tenderly, naturally human.  We cry
"Father!" with a new sense of relationship and fellowship when we see
the likeness of the father in the face of such a son.

We are coming to believe that just what the great friend of mankind was
so is the great father of us all to us all, that just as the Son of the
most high moved amongst men seeking to help, cheering, comforting,
loving, so is the eternal spirit moving in our world, going about doing
good.

Once every effort of the theologian was bent to setting this majestic
figure apart from mankind to secure Him sovereignty over us by
separation from us.  How different is that from the simple pictures
drawn of Him, from the naturalness of His life, from the love which He
had for homes and human friendships, from the life which earned the
illuminating rebuke of being called a friend of sinners.

It is a good thing for us all often to remember that there has been
such a life, that one born in poverty and unknown, far removed from
centres of culture and wealth, living the hard life of a peasant,
knowing all our temptations and weaknesses, yet should open His life so
fully and completely to spiritual influences as to become to all the
ages the greatest of all spiritual leaders.

What one has done another may do.  What He has been we may be.  He but
shows the possibility of any life.  He had no advantage over us; we
know no disadvantages against which He did not have to strive.  The
divine heights have been scaled by human feet; His footprints beckon us
on.



IX

Finding Foundations

  _The Passing and Permanent_
  _Facing the Facts_
  _The Real Foundation_


_Things not right can never be religious._

_Bigotry puts blinders on the best of men._

_Submission is the first step to sovereignty._

_The principle of expediency expels all other principle._

_Quiet lives are often eloquent._

_The love of wealth steals wealth of love._

_It's the common virtues that make uncommon saints._

_Many a man is shouting his convictions to drown the voice of
conscience._

_A little learning is dangerous if you are planning to get to heaven by
degrees._

_When a man gets over anxious about the gnat it's time to hang on to
the camel._


IX

THE PASSING AND PERMANENT

When the walls are being rebuilt it is easy to imagine that the
foundations are being destroyed.  Old creeds pass away, but truth
remains; if they were true in their day they do but give place to the
larger truth of the new day.  We need to distinguish between the
turmoil attendant to the process of building and the beauty of the new
temple that arises.

The old folks hear the new truths and ask, where are the foundations
gone?  The young hear the discussion between the old and the new and
ask, is there anything settled, anything worth believing?  What are the
permanent elements in religion on which the life may build while the
things that are but temporary are adjusting themselves?

It would be the height of folly to assert that there is no change.
Some say that we must believe precisely the same things as our fathers
believed.  To do so would be to be false to our fathers, for they
refused to accept the traditions of their elders.  The landmarks we
leave behind once were far in front of the seekers after truth.

Truth never changes but our vision is ever enlarging.  The road
remains, but the traveller moves on.  With the living every day has
some new light.  Creeds are crystallized statements of truth; truth is
vital and cannot be contained in unchanging forms.  Credulity blindly
accepts yesterday's picture of truth; faith, with open eyes, seeks
to-day's truth itself.

Skepticism is much less sinful than credulity.  The sloth of the man
who will not examine things, will not prove them, who prefers to buy
his garments of truth ready made, results in what is worse than
unbelief, and that is blind belief in the false.  It is a religious
duty to question every teaching, to prove all things.

How may we find those things that are certain?  How may we discover the
truth for our day, the truth upon which we may build?  Surely there are
some things fixed and certain, there is somewhere pole star and
compass.  How may we find that truth which belongs to our day and in
which we may have the confidence that our fathers had in their truth?

The test of the vital truths is a practical one.  Only those truths are
vital which concern the present business of living in all its wide
sweep.

It is a matter of indifference what we may think of the colour of
angels' hair or the number of strings to their harps; it is a vastly
different matter what we may believe as to moral obligations, human
rights, and duties.

The test of creed is an ethical one.  What things work out best in
living, what are the ideals, doctrines, beliefs that make the noblest
characters and the most useful citizens, the best sons, and daughters,
and parents, and neighbours?  What are the things that help me most in
my life, the things that give me moral stimulus and bracing, the things
that lead me to covet the best?

The way to find the truth is to do the truth; only the truth that we
can do is worth discussing.  If you will give yourself to the business
of living the truth you have you soon will have the living truth for
this new day.

Too many people are holding up as saving doctrines matters of
philosophy and speculation, matters of childish curiosity, because it
is easier to hold these things theoretically than to hold living truth
practically.  The truths that save men are the ones that change their
characters; the great authorized and divine translation of the Bible is
its translation into present day lofty living.

Build your life on the belief in goodness, in eternal, infinite
goodness as the order of the universe, on the superiority of love to
hatred, on the final victory of love and goodness, on the ideal of this
great human family of ours that shall come to live in unity and
brotherliness, and so fulfill the will of the infinite father of all.
These things work well.



FACING THE FACTS

This is the age of the dominance of science.  When a man asks, What
shall I believe? only one answer can be returned: Believe the things
that are.  An age now past found it easy to believe that it believed
what it was told, even the things that it knew were not so.  But to-day
at least has the merit of finding no merit in that form of
self-deception.

The passion for absolute truth and rightness is one of the noblest that
can spring up in any breast; it is a ripe fruit of religion.  The
scientist, by his devotion to exact facts, to pure truth, is the
religious man of our day, and the schools become religious educators in
their power to instill a primary love for truth and to lift up ideals
of exactness and equity.

When we translate religion into terms of life, into actuality as
contrasted with imagination, we begin to discover the necessity for
foundations deeper than legend or romance.  So long as a man's religion
consisted in what he might picture in glowing colours of imagination on
the canvas of fancy about his past or future he did not need to take
his designs from facts.

But when religion becomes the science of right living, the process of
securing right social relationships and character as the expression of
ideal personal and individual character, it is evident that in such a
work religion must proceed on ascertained, indisputable verities.

We may be satisfied with myths as to the ordering of the first family,
and we may leave to the play of fancy the specifications of an ideal
heaven; but when we begin to order our own families and adjust our
social and civic affairs we are compelled to wait for principles based
on facts, for truth.  Religion thus becomes a science.

Much eloquence was spilled over the conflict between religion and
science.  It was only a conflict between the old religion and its new
form, between the gray dawn and the growing day.  Our fathers were not
wilfully false, holding on to darkness when the light came; but they so
long had held sacred the pictures seen in twilight they were loath to
give them up for those of the full day's printing.

The most damaging infidelity is the lack of faith in truth, the fear
that it might not be safe to allow all the facts to be known.  He who
in the name of religion seeks to prevent our seeing and accepting the
full facts is religion's greatest foe.  Only the full truth can set us
fully free, intellectually, spiritually, morally.

Why should we fear the light of investigation on the things of
religion?  There is more sacredness in simple truth than in secrecy.
It were better to be lost forever seeking truth than saved by
sophistry.  How foolish to attempt to adjust our lives by laws built
out of speculation, to attempt to steer by a compass when there is no
pole of truth?

In to-day's changing tides of thought, when the old faiths seem
slipping away, when we wonder why we have lost the simple faith of our
own youth or our father's, looking for some firm ground for our feet,
we do well to set them down on nothing but facts, to discriminate among
the sands of time and the alluvial deposits of tradition till we find
the rock of truth.

But facing the facts we find everywhere one writ large, over all one
great principle of unchanging law, one great purpose moving through all
nature and all history, and what we once only dared to hope and dream,
that back of all there throbs infinite love and there rules infinite
wisdom, now is attested by the impressive array of the witnesses of
science.

Truth always is safe.  The holiest error must be born of hell.  We can
make no mistake in refusing to go beyond truth, and we will find that
she leads to the ordering of life according to eternal laws, to the
doing of duties and finding of sweet joys as old as the hills and as
unchanging; she will lead in the paths of rightness.

Some day our race will know all the alphabet of nature and be able to
read the story of the unchanging goodness; some day we shall comprehend
the wavering handwriting of history; some day we shall catch the
harmony of love and law; we shall know the full truth that is religion;
shall know things as they are and be what we should be.



THE REAL FOUNDATION

A good many thousand sermons have been preached on the parable of the
houses built on sand and on rock, probably nearly all of them with the
intent to prove that the way to build the life on a rock foundation is
to pass through the experience known as conversion, obtain saving faith
and join the church.  This is typical of a popular way of interpreting
the scriptures: First, determine what you wish them to mean and then
make them mean that.  The purpose being to persuade people to join the
church, then by hook or crook that duty must be discovered in every
divine precept.

But this is simply to ignore the plain words of the great Teacher.   It
would be impossible to clarify His statement: "If any man hears and
does the things I have been teaching he is like one who builds on a
rock."  One thing marks the rock founded life, the doing of Christly
deeds.  The course of conduct, the kind of character He has just
outlined in the sermon on the mount gives the established staple
character.

The enduring life is not built on dreams.  Many people think that their
lives are rock founded because they have a nebulous admiration for the
moral teachings of Jesus.  On the whole they admire the sermon on the
mount; having taken the trouble to say as much as this they sit back
with the comfortable feeling that they have set themselves right with
the universe, that the Almighty will be delighted with their
indorsement.

One of the most dangerous hypocrites is the easy-going, thoughtless
being who fancies that the indorsement of a duty is equivalent to the
doing of it.  He evaporates his convictions into compliments instead of
crystallizing them into conduct.  So far from being built on a rock he
floats around like a wisp of hay in a high wind.  A butterfly might
better hope to drill and quarry out a foundation than he.  Besides
this, his hypocritical praise of right precepts makes them only
offensive to those who might desire to practice them.

Others imagine that an intellectual assent to certain statements
concerning the church or the Bible or Jesus is sufficient to fix the
life in stability.  But the great Teacher does not place the emphasis
so much on what men may think of His character or mission, nor even on
their honest opinions on the theories of the past and the future, which
have delighted mental gymnasts since the world was young, to Him the
great differentiating fact touches those dynamic convictions that are
determining your conduct this day.

He places conduct before creed.  He long ago took that method of
teaching which modern pedagogy approves.  He taught religion by the
manual method.  Instead of saying, as theologians do, first comprehend
these doctrines and then you will be able to do them, He says, first do
these things, practice My precepts, and they will ere long become plain
to you.  Men learn religion by doing.  Begin to do the right and you
will get the reason; get the rule through the example.  Deeds are the
solvents of doctrines.

The house of life is built differently from any other; we get the plans
by erecting the structure.  In the realm of character it is houses
rather than architecture we need.  Build but one hour's conduct
squarely on the plain, cogent teachings of the man of Nazareth and you
will serve the world better than if you gave a lifetime to the
explanation of His words.

Doctrines are but teachings intended to be done into deeds.  Doing them
you gain a larger peace of mind and sense of stability of life than in
any other way.  If you want the equilibrium of faith you will find it
by simply laying life's daily details on the plain foundation of His
principles.  Nothing could be plainer; there are no hair-splitting
metaphysics, no subtle questions of policy here; do these things and
the heart finds calm, the life certitude, the soul satisfaction.



X

The Passion for Perfection

  _The Great Search_
  _The Hunger of the Ages_
  _The Sole Satisfaction_


_Pain is the parent of power._

_Marking time leaves no mark on time._

_The proof of love is loving the unlovely._

_Truth never is found by twisting the facts._

_Wings come not to those who refuse to walk._

_An ideal usually is what we want the other man to be._

_There is no righteousness without some self-respect._

_You cannot lead men to the divine by crawling in the dust._

_The real saints have no time to write their autobiographies._

_When a man boils over quickly you soon find out what is in him._

_True piety simply is the prosperity of the eternal things in a man._

_The world never will be won from the love of evil until we make the
good lovely._


X

THE GREAT SEARCH

The cry, "How may I be right?" is the cry of the ages.  Human history
is the record of our attempt to answer it.  Man is naturally a truth
seeker, and this is the search of all truly great souls.  The enduring
monuments of literature are those that have in some measure answered
this question.  All things that have been worth while have helped us to
know and to realize the right.  Health, happiness, freedom, morality,
all are but parts of the right; all are but sections of the sublime
whole for which man ever seeks.  The search manifests itself in
different ways; it may be as science, the passion for the knowledge of
the right relations of things; as justice, for right relations amongst
men; as philosophy, as ethics, as religion.  Back of all our life is
the instinct of progress; we push towards the perfect.  And perfection
we now know rests not in more things but in bringing all the things
that are into right relations with one another.

The idea that any man can be right regardless of others we scout as
absurd.  The ideal civilization we work for here, even the heaven we
long for, is simply a condition of living where the things that
separate, despoil, and introduce discord are no more.  The hope of the
race is to be in right relations with all things.  All the great
religions are as the footprints of peoples who have sought the truth
that would lead them to be right and just with one another, with the
world, and with the great unseen powers behind all being.  Our
universal sense of wrongness is but part of our passion for rightness.

The sense of imperfection and the desire for improvement have marked
all religions that have influenced men.  In the Jew this desire for
righteousness was supreme.  Job is but a type.  Coming to himself
amongst the ruin of all the things he counted most precious, he forgets
their loss in his desire to solve the great problem, What is right and
how may I reach it?  Somewhere he knows there is a solution to all the
riddles of his friends and the questions of his own heart.  An orderly
universe is not crowned by a being whose life must ever remain an
unsolved riddle.  Men are not adrift in a fog with no hope of taking
bearings.  If men have marked the natural world with lines of latitude
and longitude for the guidance of its travellers, the moral world is
not without its markings.

Job's very question contains the only answer that has ever satisfied
man.  God Himself is the great meridian of all morality.  From Him we
may measure all relationships and get them right.  That is the
essential message of the Bible; it strikes that first of all in "In the
beginning God----"  Every life is right in the measure that it adjusts
itself to the unvarying will; amongst the nations they have the kingdom
who do His will.  The world has made progress in precisely the
proportion that this will has been realized.  The promise of the
present is that this great standard, this universal law by which all
may find the right, has been made known to all through a life.  One of
our own has set forth God.  One has lived who has shown us how to live.
For every problem there is now an example of its solution.  For every
difficulty there is something better far than a declaration of duty;
there is the great Doer of the deed.  He has come near to man that men
might come near to one another.  He reveals the right.

Yet we must not allow His perfection to make Him unapproachable.  He is
only an example as long as His example is attainable.  His divinity
does not depend on His distance from us but on the degree in which He
lifts us, inspires us towards the height He has gained.



THE HUNGER OF THE AGES

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for
they shall be filled," is the central beatitude; in a measure it
embraces all the others, for every virtue they inculcate is included in
righteousness.  But it is often rejected as impracticable because
fanciful teachers who substitute subtle definitions for simple duties
have twisted its plain words until righteousness is made something so
unreasonable as to be repulsive to a right mind.  As a matter of fact,
it means no more than rightness; the hunger and thirst for
righteousness is but the earnest, supreme desire and endeavour to be
right and to do right at all times, the appetite for the right.

Theological righteousness may mean some strange imputed quality laid on
a man like a cloak to cover his real condition or a bill of health
given to a sick man.  But men who live next to real things care nothing
one way or the other for theoretical rightness; they want the real
article.  And a right man will not be satisfied to have even the Most
High think of him as being perfectly right when he knows he falls far
short of it.  He would rather be the faltering pursuer of actual
rightness than the possessor of a hypothetical, ascribed perfection.

The great Teacher cares nothing about imaginary virtues; He praises
those who ardently seek the real ones.  He knows that in the market of
character cash alone is currency; here you cannot draw checks on some
other person's deposits.  To Him it is better by far to die facing the
right than to live in smug content with borrowed merits.  This world
will never be content with a gospel that offers only vicarious virtues;
at its heart it knows too well its need of the genuine usable ones; it
has at least the dormant faculties of an appetite for rightness.

And all this world story is but a record of the struggle for rightness.
All human progress is but its fruitage.  In every age there have been
glorious souls who have made this passion a thing that glowed in their
lives and became a light to their day.  In every man the divine
discontent that divides him from the animal is the sign of this desire
in some form; it shows man seeking to find more perfect, more nearly
right relations with the things about him.  As the things about him
come to include God and heaven and things unseen so will his search for
rightness become wider and deeper and more spiritual.  Every form of
spiritual aspiration, every religion, no matter how uncouth and
strange, is still the soul of man seeking right relations to the
infinite.

What a glorious thing is this passion for the right; what visions it
has seen, what strength it has given to their realization.  It is the
great tide that, moving restless and resistless in our bosoms, has
carried us on towards God.  We cannot but believe it is born of him.
It does not originate in him, for it disturbs his peace, it stirs him
from sloth, it spurs him to new and often unwelcome endeavours.  It
ever holds before him the shining possibility of a perfect being in a
perfect world.

No wonder Christ used the figure of hunger and thirst.  Literal
appetites have been the motives back of the world's struggle for
physical rightness; yet these cravings have not been more general or
more forceful than those of the soul.  But for hunger and thirst man
would have lived in perfect content with the form and facts of life as
he found them; progress, all that we call civilization, would not have
been.

Man is happy in proportion as necessity compels him to heed these
cravings.  So is it in the moral world; the struggle has been our
salvation.  To cease to strive for rightness is to cease to live.
Individually and nationally they are happy who accept the rigorous
climate of lofty ethical ideals, who are not content to take life as
they find it, but who seek to cultivate flowers and fruits of paradise
on the sterile, rocky soil of the human heart.  This is the life that
Jesus shows, the life that seeks and finds the truth, that with
passionate ardour seeks right relations both with His fellows and with
His Father.  Out of the fullness of experience, in the midst of His own
struggle He encourages all who strive; they shall be satisfied.  No
ideal, no noble passion, no glorious sacrifice, no honest endeavour for
the right was ever in vain; the soul finds itself in seeking the
supreme good.



THE SOLE SATISFACTION

Through the ages men have waited for voices to speak from out the great
unknown.  Answering to this universal longing for larger light, to this
search for truth, there has been the conviction that, where our own
scanty knowledge ended, there something akin to revelation would give
us light.  We have been listening for voices that would speak with an
authority transcending that given to our fellows.

Cold reason may mock at revelation, but the soul struggling in
darkness, baffled by its problems, lost in the night, still looks up
and hopes.  For what awaits us but despair if the mysteries of the
universe are forever sealed, our questions forever unanswered, and no
higher appeal to be known than that to our own selfish interests?  It
is not strange that men have heeded those who, though often mistaken or
but impostors, have cried, "Thus saith the Lord!"

It would be strange if in a world of spirits there might be no
communication of spirit.  If the fairest thought of our era is that
which was given us when man was taught to think of the omnipotent as
father, it would be strange if there should be no way by which such a
father might speak to his children.  Such a world would contradict all
our best instincts.  Such a world would mean that man was better than
his maker.

The divine voice speaks, but we too often listen in the wrong
direction.  It falls not from the skies; it comes not in strange,
unusual ways of visions and portents.  But it is ever speaking through
the things of daily life; it is ever revealing truth and beauty to the
inner ear, for it comes not from without but springs up within; heard
by the heart rather than by the ear.

The best things have not dropped down; they have grown up.  Life is not
from without, but from within.  God speaks not in thunders, but in the
hopes and the longings of hearts.  Even the voice we hear in the
sighings of the wind or the message we read in the rays of setting sun
must be in us before it means aught to us.

The ten commandments owe their force not to any writing on stone but to
their writing on our hearts; to them the soul of man answers
affirmatively.  The only moral code we can follow is that which speaks
with the authority of a conscience convicted.  That does not mean that
man is his own God, nor that he knows no law higher than himself; it
does mean that by the laws of spiritual development the law is being
written on every heart.

Every real revelation is a divine revelation, since all truth is
divine.  Once we thought the scientist the enemy of religion; now we
know that whenever science lays bare one of the facts of the universe
we do but look on what the finger of the Infinite has written.  When
religion fights truth simply because truth speaks an unfamiliar tongue
or fails to respect her traditions, she is fighting against God Himself.

Our need is not some strange, awe-inspiring voice that shall break the
silence of the midnight sky; our need is an ear trained to hear, a
spirit to understand and reverence the sublime voices that are ever
speaking in our world, the voices of the beauty of nature, the joy of
living, the stories of every-day divine heroism, the forces that are
making a new world to-day as truly as ever one was made long ago.

The life of our day has not less of the divine than the life of long
ago; but the message is harder to read; it is for an educated race; it
is spiritual rather than merely material; it is from within; it is
found in every good impulse, in every outgoing sympathy, in the
kindling of eye as friend greets friend, in the good that men are
doing, in the toleration that is becoming wider, the love stronger
between man and man.

God speaks to men now as He spoke to Moses or to David, though the
manner may have changed.  But the poor in spirit, those with whom pride
of the past has not served to make them unwilling to learn, these hear
the voice; the pure in heart see Him; the seekers after truth find Him,
and to all He comes in the thrilling moment or in the quiet hour when
the voice of the heart makes itself heard.



XI

The Price of Success

  _The Law of Selection_
  _The Fallacy of Negation_
  _The Secret of All_


_No life is lost that is lived for love._

_The only wealth you can possess is that you have in the heart._

_Love never knows hardship, even when it meets it._

_When men pray for harvest they often get a plow._

_A man's holiness is to be measured by the happiness he creates._

_The only way to reach heaven is by attempting to realize heaven now._

_Whatever is saved by selfishness is lost to the true self._

_One of the worst offenses against humanity is the pretense of
divinity._

_Weapons that fly off the handle have little effect on the walls of
sin._

_Many a man thinks that taking a lease on a front pew gives him a
freehold on a corner lot in heaven._

_Success is not in an endeavour to do a great things but in repeated
endeavours to do greater things._


XI

THE LAW OF SELECTION

Jesus said, "If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and
cast them from thee," but this age finds it hard to accept that saying.
It asks, If we are to throw life away why should it have been given to
us?  Why this selfhood with its passions, its surging desires, its
great longing to be untrammelled and free if all is to be restrained
and the passions are to be perpetually denied?  If religion means, as
some plainly have said, doing the things you don't want to do and
leaving undone those you desire, then it is a mockery, a contradiction
of our lives and natures.

Therefore there exists another philosophy which says, boldly: Live out
all that is in you; do all the things you want to do; your passions in
themselves are sufficient justification for their gratification.  They
say man is free; therefore, let him realize himself by giving free and
full expression to every thought, inclination, appetite, and
possibility within him.

When the average man puts the two philosophies in contrast he is likely
to conclude that the path of self-denial, of stern repression, is the
mistaken one; for, he will say, does it not contradict nature?--does it
not involve the repression of natural instincts and make all life a
perpetual fight against ourselves, a waste of forces, instead of, as it
should be, a plan by which a man might find success through the
realization of the best in himself?

But let another test be put to this philosophy--the test of life.  How
does it work out?  What are the best lives, the lives that are richest
and that have most enriched the world?  Are they those that have given
free rein to every fancy, that have nurtured and brought to fruitage
every growth of the heart's garden, whether it be thistle, brier, or
poison root, or fair, nutritious product?  Are they those that have
given the tiger and the beast of prey free and full range of the life?

There is striking unanimity in the answer.  The rich and the enriching
lives have been those that have come by the path of the cross; they
have learned repression, practiced denial, and suffered death.  In
every sphere the lights that have illumined the way of man's advance
have not been the dancing flames of selfish, sensual passion but the
consuming of the bodies of the martyrs and heroes, either burning in
their passion for others or denying and losing all rather than denying
truth and light.

The law runs through all; if you would have a perfect flower you must
deny existence to many weeds, you must repress the rank growth, you
must pluck off many a leaf and nip many a bud that the one may come to
the fullness of its beauty.  Through the grain of character goes the
wise husbandman, and death is in his hand--the death of the less
worthy, the harmful, and the enemy that life may abound yet more and
more in that which is worthy.

In those fields where all things grow in their own way the weeds become
the standard for all; license brings all down to the level of the
lowest.  But life is not license--it is choice, selection, sacrifice,
death.  Pain is the only price at which perfection may be purchased.
Self-realization comes not by permitting all things to have their way
but by subjecting all parts to the securing of that high end.

It is but cowardice that cries for the so-called natural outworking of
everything within man; it seeks to save the labour of weeding, the pain
of cutting here and pruning there.  It asks only to be left alone.  But
that way lies the deepest pain of all, the pain of a life where there
is nothing but tangles of weeds--no flowers, no capacities for joy, no
power to will, no eye to see the good and true and beautiful.

No; the great Teacher was right when He called for self-denial and
self-victory.  He only is great, he alone has found life who has
learned to bring all his parts and faculties into service, who brings
all his body and self into subjection that all may be keen and well
kept tools in the work he is doing as a servant of his brothers and his
age.  This service gives the supreme and sufficient motive for the
suppression and elimination of all things that might hinder; the
development of the best self for the best service by means of the
cutting off of anything that might hinder or thwart the high and holy
service purposes of a life.



THE FALLACY OF NEGATION

The ancient law that nature abhors a vacuum holds true in the moral
realm.  The heart of man is never long empty.  And yet the whole scheme
of modern ecclesiastical regulation of life is built on the plan of
making a man holy by emptying him of all evil and stopping there,
leaving a negative condition, without a thought of the necessity of
filling the void.

So long have we been trained in this that we are all a good deal more
concerned about the things we ought not to do than about the things we
ought to do.  We spend our days nipping off the buds of evil
inclinations, pulling up the weeds of evil habits, wondering how it
happens they multiply so fast, forgetting altogether the wiser plan we
would adopt with weeds and briers in our gardens.

There are many who still think of the pious man as one who succeeds in
accomplishing the largest number of repressions in his life, the ideal
being the colourless life, never doing a thing that is wrong or subject
to criticism.  The energy of many a life is being spent in a campaign
against a certain list of proscribed deeds.  Blessed is the
man--according to their beatitudes--who has the largest number of
things he does not do.

But if rightness is abstinence from evil, then a lamp-post must always
be better than a man, for it justly can lay claim to all the negative
virtues.  What an easy way of life is this, simply to find out the
things we know other people like to do and to determine that if we only
can leave them undone we are holy in the sight of heaven.

But not only is this a way of folly, it is a way of positive harm, a
way fatal at last to the true life.  To do no more than to turn out one
set of devils only is to invite other and worse devils into the heart.
To seek emptiness only is to invite yet more iniquity.  An empty heart
is as dangerous as an empty hour.

Emptiness is not holiness, it is idiocy.  There cannot be an empty
heart.  To take a bad thing away from a man gives an opportunity for a
worse thing to enter unless you simply choke the bad by implanting the
good.  Some of the most dangerous people are those who feel pious
because they can say, We never did any harm.

Religion often has come to mean only a multitude of repressive
regulations, apparently a scheme for making others abstain from those
things for which we have no appetite.  Little wonder that children feel
only repulsion for a church which seems to take delight in finding
impiety in every natural pleasure; that men turn from a path which,
according to its prospectus, promises nothing but pain, privation, and
emptiness.

We do not object to the pain and privation provided they have their
purpose.  But all nature objects to a course of life that maims,
pinches, and restricts without corresponding and compensating
development and liberty somewhere.  We fight against every law of life
and court the ways of death so long as we endeavour to develop
character by putting it into bandages, leading strings, and legal
restrictions.

There is evil to be eliminated; there are thousands of things we ought
not to do.  But the best way to get rid of the tares is to sow good
wheat in abundance.  The way to avoid the things we ought not to do is
to do the things that ought to be done.  The empty life is a standing
invitation to temptation; the busy man seldom finds the devil's card
left at his door.

Live the life above the things you would overcome.  It never has been
found necessary to pass a law prohibiting the president from playing
marbles; larger interests fill his life so that these things do not
even occur to him.  Give a man a great work to do and you will save him
from a thousand temptations to do small and unworthy things.  Do not
allow the modern conception of religion as gloom and denial to keep you
from that which is your right as a spiritual being, the strength, joy
and beauty of the divine life.

Holiness of life is not in innocence of evil but in positive
forcefulness for good; not in doing as little harm as we can, but in
filling the whole life with worthy, helpful, uplifting deeds.  The good
life not only has no debts--it has large assets, deep and lasting
value; it enriches all life.  It offers to the world not barren land
claiming the virtue of freedom from the thorn and the brier, it crowns
all with the abundance and glory of fir and myrtle.



THE SECRET OF ALL

The words hold a large place in every alert life: Happiness, Health and
Heart; some may put them Success, Strength and the Soul.  It is easy to
recognize the importance of the first two; that of the third is more
remote.  Some have imagined that religion emphasizes the last alone and
ignores the other two.

Evidently it is a legitimate thing for the Christian to pray for
prosperity; and it is right for him to try to answer his own prayers.
Poverty is no proof of piety.  Nothing about God is or can be
poverty-stricken.  He gives us a rich and glorious world, prolific in
its resources; its life is rich and prosperous.  Nature is running
over, fairly rioting in splendour and wealth.  The Creator has given
man this garden of glory that he might enjoy it.  It is a sin not to
enter into its possession; he is dead already who does not desire
prosperity, who no longer seeks success in life.  It is an easy matter
for the man who has made an all around failure to talk about the
dispensations of Providence and the compensations of the future.
Prosperity is always a sin to the man who lacks the pluck to secure it.

Yet many who seem to have failed may have succeeded best of all.
Prosperity often comes in strange packages; it may even be labelled
Adversity.  Not all will succeed according to popular standards.  Many
will be more fortunate; they will win the riches of influence,
friendship, family, thought, knowledge, love, character.  It is not the
things we have that make us rich; it is the amount of life we are
capable of enjoying.  The soul determines prosperity.  It is the
energizing spirit of man, stirring him out of the ignoble dust,
creating the desire for more of the things of life and then for more of
life itself.  It determines values.  It has a way of reversing things
so that one man gets more out of a dollar book than another gets out of
a million dollar bond.  It alone gives appetite and appreciation, and,
without these, though there may be many possessions, there is no
prosperity.

What is true of prosperity is true also of health.  Happily the days
are gone when sickness passed for saintliness.  No longer is red blood
counted a foe of righteousness.  We are getting back to the simpler,
earlier thinking.  It is not only right to seek health; it is wrong not
to.  The haggard face no longer indicates the holy heart; it is likely
to evidence the opposite.  We are getting over the notion that God is
glorified by ruining the fair temple He has given us.  Men no longer
count on being beautiful angels in the skies because they have looked
like walking sepulchres on our streets.  It is an imperfect holiness
that does not have health.  Health, that is physical prosperity, is a
duty.

And here, also, the soul is central.  The clean heart, pure thoughts,
controlled appetites, aspiring hopes, these make health.  Evil temper,
lust, worry, care, envy, these are the soul processes that disturb the
life and destroy health.  Happiness is health, and happiness is wholly
of the heart.  The soul is but the sum of all the things within, the
force that moves all things in life; if within the man looks up, then
he lives up; if the soul droops, he decays.  What you are within
determines what you are without; he who is poor in heart, in this inner
life, will be poor in prosperity and weak in health, no matter how much
he possesses.  But he who with his soul takes in the world of beauty,
of love, of joy, who reaches out to heaven and God, all these things
are his and he is rich and strong indeed.



XII

Divine Service

  _The Ideal Service_
  _The Orthodox Service_
  _The Heavenly Service_


_Kindness is the evidence of kingliness._

_The surest way to impoverish your heart is to hoard up your love._

_A really smart man will refrain from saying things that smart._

_Many a prayer for vision ought to be changed to a petition for
vertebra._

_The damning doubts are those that deter us from good deeds._

_The leaders of men are not the ones who are trying to get ahead of
their fellows._

_Folks who are too good for anything are good for nothing._

_It's hard to steer a straight course if your conscience is in your
pants pocket._

_You do not have much faith in your Father unless you have some in His
family._

_No man can have a place in the kingdom of heaven who is complacent to
the ills of earth._


XII

THE IDEAL SERVICE

Never was the greatest of all greater than when He put about Him the
badge of the servant.  His example has made the towel, the apron, the
badge of true honour.  Nothing could have surprised those men who were
quarrelling over their precedence more than that their great Master
should stoop to perform this menial service of washing their feet.
Like many who call themselves His to-day they strove over chief seats,
honours, titles, and dignities.  They were seeking the chief places and
by their strife showing themselves fit only for the lowest.  Nowhere is
the sense of honour more easily slain than in the search for honours.

The only dignity that really adorns a man is that which comes without
his demanding it.  How often have the servants of the meek and lowly
Jesus turned the world away from Him by their examples of vanity,
greed, lust for power, their pomp and pride of self-glory.  They who
were sent to be the shepherds of men have fleeced the flock for their
own adorning and then fought amongst themselves to see who should wear
the choicest robes.  History has shown that they were wrong and their
Master was right.  The greater their greedy ambition the greater their
shame; the higher the place they have claimed the lower has been that
which the voice of humanity has awarded them.

On the other hand there shine forth those who have followed Him in
lowly service; theirs is the honour to-day.  Because He took upon Him
the form of a servant then now is the kingdom and the power and the
glory His.

So it has always been, sovereignty comes by way of service; heaven and
earth unite in honouring those who have not scorned the humble place of
helpfulness.  John says that it was because Jesus was conscious of His
divine origin and His glorious destiny that He took the towel and did
the work of the slave.  Only those who realize their true greatness can
ignore the littleness of man's petty dignities, can lose all sense of
stooping, of condescension when they serve others, and so can be of
service to mankind.  A man proves that he is the son of a heavenly
Father by his service for his least brother.  When that dignity, heaven
born, is in a man's heart there is nothing in the dirt he may touch by
deeds of kindness that can defile him; contact does not contaminate.

Love never thinks of any of its services as loathsome.  That from which
a superficial dignity would revolt love does with rejoicing.  It thinks
nothing of the honour or the dishonour, but only of the helpfulness it
may render.  It is not asking whether men are approving or whether
promotion is coming.  It needs no promotion or approval; the work
itself is the highest reward; the service elevates to the loftiest of
all positions.

The world's sovereigns are its servants.  He makes an alliance with God
who helps a fellow man.  Work is that by which the Creator has lifted
man above the creatures of the field, and the work that sacrifices that
it may serve is that by which God lifts man to Himself.  The heavenly
gate may be shut to robes and miters, epaulettes and crowns; but it
shall be open wide to that great throng who bear the stains of toil,
who have served their fellows, who wear the apron of sacrificing
service; and the Son of the carpenter shall lead them in.

This is a working world; its Maker is pictured as a worker; there is no
better evidence of religion than willingness to serve.  Work determines
a man's worth to the world.  And religion must be known by the things
it does, and not, as many have fondly supposed, by the dreams it has.



THE ORTHODOX SERVICE

This is a working world, with no place for the idler, whether he be
high or low, rich or poor.  The measure of a man is the service he
renders humanity.  Actions are measured by the same rule.  The value of
religion to life, its right to time and place, is measured by this,
Does it help or inspire men to service, does it increase the quantity
or improve the quality of the work that they do for their world?

Men rightly ignore the piety that satisfies itself with platitudes on
the duties of others, or with philosophical speculations on problems
which, if they were accurately solved, would contribute nothing either
to our peace, our possessions, or our personal characters.  Yet, how
many imagine that they are profoundly pious because they cherish
properly indorsed opinions, duly certified as to their antiquity.

They who profess to follow the Man of Nazareth cannot do it by sitting
in their pews or kneeling at their altars; they cannot do it by
dreaming of a place of bliss or picturing one of torment.  One of the
first lessons He gives His disciples is that it is not he that speaketh
the word, but he that doeth the will, who is pleasing to God.

Nor do men do His will in any important or complete sense by going to
church or serving in its meetings or on its committees.  When a man is
ordained to divine orders, that is, to give himself wholly to do the
will and work of the Most High, it is said that he becomes a minister.
If "minister" means anything at all it means servant, one who works for
others, who ministers to them.  The Master spoke of Himself as being
among men as one who served them.  The only orthodox service is the
service of humanity.

This is religion, such a consciousness of the reality of the Infinite
Spirit that you will steadily do the things that that spirit of love is
doing in this world, ministering to men, binding up the broken in
heart, lifting the lame, and leading the wandering, feeding the hungry
and clothing the naked, bringing light and love and cheer to those that
sit in darkness, you will become feet and fingers to God.

One does not need to wait for a special garb to do this religious work;
one does not need to wait for formal ordination; whoever loves men
already is divinely ordained to serve them.  One does not need to wait
for a church or a special organization; the sufficient motive is deep,
sacrificing love; the method will be just what the Master's was, to go
where men are and help them.

After all, what this world needs is not so much that men shall go to
their fellows with money, with clothes, or even with employment; it
needs that they shall just go to them.  The good mixer, who mingles
with men, who knows how they live, and what they think, how they
suffer, and what they feel, if, going amongst them, he carries a clean
heart, a love for his fellows, a firm faith in heaven, and hope for
men, is doing them more good by his presence than he who may send
carloads of goods.

Men did not need that Jesus should wear a label saying that the Most
High was with Him; the more He mingled with men, the more clearly they
saw He belonged to God.  What He was willing to do for them showed that
they, too, were the children of the Most High.  If any man would have
that infinite presence with him, if he desires the deep sense of the
spiritual, let him seek it not in closet or convent, but in the touch
of hand and in the sight of the face of friend and fellow being.

Many of us are worried at times because our lives seem wasted in doing
little things; we would become immortal by saving our powers for some
great deed.  We need to remember Him whom the world most easily
remembers and most highly honours, the Man of Nazareth, whose life was
spent in trivial services, doing the next thing that came to hand,
helping ordinary people in every-day needs.  Yet God was with Him, as
He ever is with those who love their fellows in sincere service.



THE HEAVENLY SERVICE

It seems easy to see something peculiarly holy, something deeply
religious in the occupations and acts of the priesthood or the
ministry.  But thinking of these as religious and of such service as
divine we fall into the habit of thinking that they alone, in all the
world of action, are divine.  We set on one side of life the religious
service limited to these formal acts and on the other side what we call
the secular life and service.

We have sacred days, sacred deeds, sacred callings, religious services;
all separate from the rest of life, belonging in a department, a
pigeon-hole, by themselves.  Whatever is not of these is of the world,
worldly, secular, lacking in the peculiar aroma of sanctity that
attaches to the church or the profession of religion.

There are many who desire to do some religious work; who fain would
engage in divine service.  There is in almost every breast a desire to
do something high and holy, something that is not necessary,
utilitarian, with some other motive than bread-winning.  But there
seems to be no opportunity; such deeds are supposed to belong to
special callings; one must be ordained to do divine service.

The truth is, divine service is the duty and high privilege of every
human being; we all are divinely called to the ministry; the service of
God and humanity belongs to us all.  We must not wait for ordaining
hands nor ecclesiastical robes nor for the environment of official
sanctity.  Every impulse to do good, to show human love, and do loving
service is a commission from high heaven.

The good Master invites men and women to His kind of service, the
highest and holiest known to all the ages.  He never was separated to a
clerical calling; He did not wait for an ordaining council nor did He
confine His divine service to prayer and praise or to the activities of
the church ritual.  His divine service was the service of the sons of
men, the going about doing good.

Heavenly work is not work for some far off heaven; it is the work of
making this present earth like heaven.  The work of God is not working
for an absent deity; it is doing the work that the God of all love
would do in this world; it is being feet and fingers, voice and lips to
the great Spirit who is over and in us all.  It is making that spirit
of love real, actual, concrete to our fellows.

The holiest work in this world may be done in the humblest places; the
most divine service may not be in the cathedral but in the cottage; the
angels may pass by the intoning choir to listen to a mother's crooning
cradle song or to watch the patient service, the loving kindness shown
in washing the faces or wiping away the tears of dirty and destitute
children.

The holy service which will fill your heart with joy and give you the
unfading crown of eternity, never will be done if you are waiting for
some ecclesiastical uniform to do it in.  Whatever is done in the
spirit of the infinite love, in the spirit of the great Master, that
truly is divine and glorious.

It is the good work that is glorious.  It is a thing more truly divine
to do well your daily duty, to put out good, honest work, than it is to
wear a clerical garb or perform professional religious duties.  The
honour, the worthiness, the glory of your work may be measured by the
spirit in which it is done and by its helpfulness and worth to the
world.

All life becomes glorious as we see that even in the least of our daily
tasks we may be doing the will of God, that it may be just as necessary
a part of the divine service that I should serve at a desk, a counter,
or a machine, should sweep a room or tend a child as that another
should preach or pray.  For the great Master of all who knows all our
work, measures it all, not as we do; He sees the glory of the cup of
cold water and the divinity of the commonplace.



XIII

Our Father and Our Fellows

  _The Primary Reconciliation_
  _Faith in Our Fellows_
  _The Law of Forgiveness_


_Sorrow is sympathy's school._

_Love makes the heaviest load seem light._

_To be willing to be saved alone is to be lost._

_The truly godly see something divine in all._

_Your appreciation may be another's inspiration._

_Kindness is the sign of divine kinship._

_You cannot knit the souls of men with soft sawder._

_You cannot be a leader and lose sight of those who are to be led._

_The shortness of the day excuses no man from greatness of endeavour._

_When a man thinks of nothing but his sins and failures he will have
nothing else to think of._

_Lots of people who talk of their lives as blue are only colour blind,
they either are green or yellow._

_He is only shortsighted who pronounces the world bad after looking in
his own heart._

_Many a man is waiting for an inspiration who would find success at
once if he was not so afraid of a little perspiration._


XIII

THE PRIMARY RECONCILIATION

Men in the days of the great Teacher were as we are to-day, prone to
compound for the neglect of duties near at hand by the adoration of
spiritual delights far off.  They talked about getting right with God
while they continued to do wrong to men.  The problem of the hypocrite
who is so thrilled with the delights of heaven that he scorns earthly
duties and decencies is not a new one.

How easy it is to substitute syllogisms for service, to think that we
do our duty by describing it, so to exhaust oneself in pleasant and
seductive dreams of a distant heaven that we have no power left to
apply to the problems of a needy present-day world.

The mockery of religion to-day is that men and women are going to the
churches, singing themselves into ecstatic complacency and imaginary
harmony with their God while their greed is crushing the hearts of the
helpless and they are blinding themselves to the world's gloom and pain
that unhindered they may enjoy spiritual delights.

Things cannot be right in our relations to the Father of spirits until
they are made right in our relations with our brothers in the flesh.
In Christianity social righteousness is basic to spiritual blessing.
The ideal kingdom waits for ideal conditions and relations amongst its
subjects.

The way to the Father lies through the brother.  If you would learn to
love God--and how indefinite and idealistic that seems to most of
us--the lesson is simple, first learn to love His other children,
especially the helpless, needy, and wronged.  Delights high and
spiritual always will be remote until duties near at hand are done.

The revival we most of all need to-day is a revival of the social
conscience, the recognition of the fact that we can offer no gift
acceptable, in the temple of worship or the place of prayer, until we
have washed our hands from the blood of our fellows, that we can pay
nothing to God until we have in earnest set about paying our debts to
men.

Anxious, perhaps, to claim our rights as children of the Father in
heaven, we have forgotten that that title is promised to the
peacemakers.  What avail is it to pray, Thy kingdom come, if we block
its advent by cherishing enmity in our hearts?  What use is it to carry
hearts torn with malice, souls sunken in selfishness, and spirits torn
with pride and covetousness to the place that belongs to the meek and
lowly?

Many a man is going to church and coming away empty in heart; perhaps
he has given up any hope of finding solace in religion, who would find,
as it were, the windows of heaven opened up if he should give himself
for an hour to making some other helpless lives happy, to righting some
wrong or bringing some joy to lives embittered and oppressed.

The pathway to God is a plain one, strikingly lacking in romance, with
no attendant visible angelic choir.  It is the doing of whatever duty
or kindness I owe to those near me, the breaking down of walls of
prejudice--spite fences built in ignorance and hatred--the learning to
love and help, the seeking of peace, good feeling, and harmony with all
men.

This does not mean that all must become professors of sociology; the
study of social theories often is a substitute for the practice of
social duties; but that we must seek out the good in men, we must set
ourselves right with them, we must discharge all our responsibilities
towards men before we can realize God.  The kingdom comes as we
recognize the kingliness in all the sons of the kingdom, as we express
our faith in God by friendship for our fellows.



FAITH IN OUR FELLOWS

Poor Peter has never been much of a favourite with the preachers; he
was so thoroughly unstable, unideal.  But the people have always had a
tender feeling for him, partly because he was a fisherman, partly
because he was so much like the rest of us.  Nothing is more striking
in the life of Jesus than His affection for ordinary men.  The cultured
Pharisees, the philosophical Sadducees seem to have much less
attraction to Him than the rude fisherman and the toiler.  These men
were often weak, sometimes cowardly, obstinate, dull, mediocre; yet He
committed His kingdom to them; He believed in them.  Before they had
faith in Him He had faith in them; and that ultimately made them men.

It sounded much like cruel sarcasm when He told that weak, vacillating
Simon that he was a rock.  Those who knew Peter best must have smiled;
he was more like a jellyfish.  But Jesus could see the best that was in
a man.  He detected the hidden good even in Peter.  He proves His own
goodness by His faith in the good in every man.

Somewhere in every man there is some good.  Overlaid it may be by
passion, by habits, by prejudice grown out of wrong and suffering
perchance; but still it is there.  Faith in this and sympathy, these
are the golden keys that unlock the doors to where the good lies buried.

The saviours of society have always been those who looked for the best
in it.  If you go through life seeking the beast in man, you will find
it, and the chances are it will devour you; if you look for the beauty
that is from above you will find it, and it will bless you.  It is just
as necessary to have faith in man as it is to have faith in God.  If
men cannot become good, then there is no God in the sense of a power
that makes for goodness.  The optimist not only believes in the best,
he creates the better.

Some there are who reluctantly admit that God is a little better than
they are, though that may be due to His circumstances, but they have
never imagined for an instant that any one else is at all good.
Believe that men are wholly bad and they will not disappoint you.
Every man somehow responds to the expectations of others.  You had
better damn a man than despair of him.  Neither a church nor an
individual can help this world when they have more confidence in the
power of evil to become all pervasive than in the power of the Most
High to make His purposes felt in every heart as truly as He makes His
sun to shine on the just and the unjust.  The church first consigns men
to perdition and then wonders why they are reluctant to walk with it
the other way.  So long as you have faith in total depravity you will
find some facts to substantiate it.

But there is a better way.  Sympathy with men will do more for them
than sermons on their sins.  Look for the best in them and you will
find things better than you expected.  There are flower beds as well as
garbage heaps in every heart; at least, there are spots where seeds of
the fairest flowers of heaven may be sown.

You do not have to be a fool to have faith in your fellows.  You do not
need to take the padlocks off your house; but you do need to take them
off your heart.  There may be those whom it would be wrong to trust
with your cash box; but it is a greater wrong to withhold from them
your kindness.  You can show them that you believe the best instead of
the worst of them.

The great Teacher told men that He came not to condemn but to give
life.  His followers have too often occupied themselves wholly with
condemnation and then wondered that their sentences saved none.  Every
soul knows its own sentence; what it needs to feel is that God and all
good men are with it, helping it to shake off that sentence, to arise
and return to the Father, that, instead of all things conspiring to
keep a man down, there is a cloud of witnesses cheering him on, a
mighty choir invisible inspiring his heart.  And there is nothing any
man can do of greater worth to the world than to cheer on another by
his faith in him, his high expectation of him, his wise blindness to
some little faults, and his propagating approval of the least
beginnings of any good.  Men are the saviours of men by their faith in
men.



THE LAW OF FORGIVENESS

A silly interpretation often leads to the utter rejection of a law.
Sentimentalists have caused men of sense to pronounce Christ's law of
forgiveness an impractical one.  Yet we indorse it every time we utter
the Lord's prayer, and still we hope to be forgiven whether we find it
possible to forgive or not.  If this law means the mental flabbiness
that sends bouquets to bloody criminals and petitions the pardon of
murderers and the release of the foes of humanity, we must reject it as
the utterance of one unacquainted with the rugged facts of life.

But forgiveness and pardon are two different things; forgiveness is
between man and man; pardon is a matter of executive power.  You can
forgive a child and still punish him.  The forgiveness that does away
with consequences would make this an immoral world.  No greater wrong
can be done to a man than to protect him from the deserts of his evil
deeds.  This is as unjust as to withhold the rewards of the right.

The difference between the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth and the law of the great Teacher lies largely in the spirit of
dealing with the offenses.  The old spirit was that of getting even
with the wrongdoer.  His act was largely regarded from the personal
standpoint; a crime was individual and not social.  Revenge followed
wrongdoing.

But Jesus says it is better to lift a man up than to get even with him.
It is better to help men to the right than to satisfy your desire for
revenge.  Forgiveness is more than saying, "Go without punishment";
rather it says, "Come learn a better way; live without sin."
Forgiveness takes malice from the mind of the offended; it substitutes
for it the motive of friendship for the offender.

Revenge says, "I will make it worse for you than you have made it for
me."  Sentimentalism says: "Let the poor victim of circumstances go;
send him a rosewater spray and an embroidered text and he won't do it
again."  But love, she of the clear eye and the steady hold, takes him
by the hand in silence, lifts him up, and leads him, perhaps by paths
of pain, to his better self.  Love puts his sins behind her back and
teaches him to face her way.  Love lets the wrong teach its own lesson,
bear its own fruit.  And in her labour for him she forgets her own pain
and loss caused by his offense.

The best way to forgive a burglar would not be to let him out of jail,
but to teach him the laws of property, to train him in the self-respect
that would lead to industry, to make him a brother and a fellow worker
among men instead of an outcast and a social parasite.  The test of any
forgiveness is its helpfulness, the manner in which it wipes out the
enmity of the victim and turns the guilty into better ways.

Many say, I can forgive, but I cannot forget.  No one asks you to
forget; but you cannot fully forgive unless you will forego the feeling
of enmity and the desire for revenge.  You cannot make any one forget
that which he has once known; but you can substitute helpfulness for
hatred and restoration for revenge.  True love simply discounts the
past as a ground for present action; it refuses to determine its
personal bearing and deeds in to-day by the other's ill deeds of
yesterday.

All we are asked to do is to forgive as we are forgiven.  Our hope is
that when we have fallen our friends will not lose their faith in us
nor entirely forsake us, that they will give us another chance; not
that they will shield us from the fruitage of our follies and our
falseness, but that they will not shut us off forever from their faces.

So far from forgiveness being the weakness of the thoughtless, it is
the helpfulness of the strong and the wise.  To forgive a man will not
mean to escape from the trouble of securing his punishment; it will not
mean the weak complaisance of indolent tolerance.  It will mean thought
for his weakness, taking up his burden, doing the brother's part for
him, the endeavour to do for him what we would like to have the Father
of us all do for us all.



XIV

Men and Mammon

  _Riches and Righteousness_
  _Religion and Business_
  _The Moral End of Money-Making_


_Better a sweet failure than a sour success._

_An itching palm causes a crook in the fingers._

_Many a moral squint comes from a money monocle._

_The fortunate people are those who believe they are._

_We are always building bridges for things with wings._

_The best way to wipe out a friendship is to sponge on it._

_Many a man thinks he is pious when he is only petrified._

_A little plain honesty is worth untold professional holiness._

_The religion that runs to fever usually evens up with chills._

_Nothing is easier than being benevolent with other people's money._


XIV

RICHES AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

Let no man take it, that the statement on the inaccessibility of heaven
to the rich involves the opposite, how easily shall they that have
nothing enter in.  The people who have lived pulseless lives are apt to
point to their poverty as the proof of their piety.  But righteousness
is neither a matter of riches nor of rags.  The great Teacher glorifies
neither.  The qualifications for citizenship in His kingdom strike
deeper than that.

His words have nothing to do with the bitter envy of the demagogue who
denounces those who have earned that for which he would not labour.  He
measures men not by that they have but by that they are.  He looks
through both the fine linen and the tattered rags to the man.  Money
interests Him only as it affects character.  The question of riches and
poverty is not a matter of housing and eating, but what a man does for
himself and his world with that which he has.

Riches of themselves do not bar a man from heaven; but they full often
eat into his heart, become of absorbing interest, and so effectually
and forever blind the inner vision to the best things.  It is not that
heaven has shut its gates, but that the love of money, the selfishness,
born of cupidity, has paralyzed those spiritual senses by which he
might have found his way therein.

The possession of wealth is not a sin; to some it has come almost
without effort, even against their wills; but it does constitute one of
the most severe tests that can be set before a soul.  It increases the
difficulties of the right life, because it enlarges so greatly the
responsibilities.  The greater the wealth the greater the trust laid
upon a man as the steward of the produce of the earth.

The principle holds of all possessions; all are tests of character.  A
man can love gold just as ardently when he has but a grain as when he
has possessions beyond computation.  A single dollar, laid on the
heart, can shut out the light of heaven as effectually as can a
million.  The relation between riches and righteousness is not
determined by the balance in the bank, but by the balance that a man
succeeds in maintaining in his heart between his own interests and the
trusteeship which possession places upon him.

Money makes men as well as unmakes them.  The burdens, the tests, the
responsibilities it entails, the temptations it presents, all form part
of life's great lesson.  Out of the struggle between self and the
service we owe the world, out of the keen fighting against
covetousness, and the battle against the debasing tendencies of the
love for gold and the greed for gain arise the giants--or fall the lost
souls.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus and faced his test; the demand that
he should sell all and give to the poor simply put his heart on trial;
it set before him the great choices; it decided as to the things which
he held first.  To him the possession of things was more than the
possibilities of using them in service; before the great test he fell.

It is just as easy and often fully as dangerous to set your heart on
the gold you haven't got as it is to fall into the snare of the miser.
Everything depends on the place you give to riches in your life.  One
man seeks them as a prize to be won and enjoyed for his own
gratification, his own glory and fame; another seeks them only as
larger avenues to usefulness, and to him riches come as tools, as
servants, as possibilities of making his life count for more.

Some men die with their houses full of tools unused; they have made the
fatal mistake of setting their hearts on the tools instead of on the
work.  Others come to their accounting possessing as many tools, but
all of them shining from hard use, and counting as their treasures not
the tools but the things produced, the good accomplished.  Wealth is
for work and the work is for the making of the man.  They enter the
kingdom who are kingly, whether they learned the royal lesson and
acquired the heavenly character through the school of poverty or that
of riches.



RELIGION AND BUSINESS

The question, can a man be a Christian and succeed in business, though
old, is still asked every day.  There are yet a great many who regard
religion and business as conflicting pursuits, and they attempt a
compromise by the clear-cut division of time into business hours and
church time.  Others are answering this question in the negative.
"Look at me," they say.  "I have always been pious and honest, and
therefore I have failed to make money or achieve success; religion does
not pay."

If the question means, can a man take out his backbone and succeed in
business, there need be no hesitancy as to the answer.  If becoming a
Christian means the elimination of all virility from the character, the
substitution of soft soap and sawder for strength and diligence,
religion cannot be regarded as a help in business.  There are too many
people who think that sloth is a sign of spirituality and that you
cannot be a saint unless you have softening of the brain.

But it is simply whether you can keep your whole life, in the market or
out, up to the level of a certain ideal, whether you can be honest,
true, fair-minded, unselfish, merciful, and kind and at the same time
do the work and meet the exigencies of modern commercial and industrial
strife.  It is whether you can measure steadily towards heaven's ideal
while mastering earth's daily duties.

The question is either a reproach to religion or to business.  It is
assumed by many, with especial conviction by those who know business
only by reputation, that it demands the sacrifice constantly of honour,
truth, mercy, and every other virtue.  The man who thinks that he is
pious because he is pulseless, draws a fancy picture of red-blooded men
fighting, intriguing, slaying, like demons new from the pit; and that,
he thinks, is modern business.

Strife is everywhere.  If religion means sequestration from temptation
we need to pray to be delivered from it.  There is as much danger of a
man's losing his character, selling his soul, in the church as in the
market.  The temptation to the merchant to misrepresent his goods for a
larger profit is not greater than that which comes to the minister to
magnify his abilities for an increase in fame.

Things honourable are the same everywhere; they are written deep within
us, and by them church and mart both are judged.  Every man knows that
the chief business of life, whether through commerce, toil, study,
recreation, or worship, is to develop the best life, to make of himself
a true, full grown man, who shall render to this world a full man's
service.

Business is a more effective school of character than any other we
have.  If some of the standards of that school have been unworthy--and
who shall say they have not?--it is our duty to revise them, to make
them higher; not to abolish the school, not to stay away from it
because it is imperfect, but to make it fit to serve its true purpose.

Business always will be immoral as long as it is an end in itself.  The
product is greater than the machine, the making of character greater
than the mechanism by which we make a living.  The serious danger comes
when a man begins to lay his soul on the counter, when he reverses the
course in this school of character and makes the end serve the means,
when he sacrifices honour, truth, and the soul that business may
succeed.

Only failure lies that way.  No business ever became permanently great
by making its people small.  Success here is to be measured by the
soul.  No matter what a man may be doing he must keep himself above his
task.  The work must serve the worker.

The question is whether we are serving business or it is serving us.
If a man lives for his wage he will sacrifice everything to get it, but
if he works that he may find life, then he will ever refuse to lose the
things of which life is made in the pursuit of success.  He knows he
does not have to make money, but he does have to make manhood.  That is
the end both of religion and of business.



THE MORAL END OF MONEY-MAKING

There are those who talk of money and business as though these were
necessarily and intrinsically evil.  It is often supposed that capacity
for goodness is established by incapacity for business, while those to
whom poverty seems inevitable find consolation in regarding it as
evidence of piety.

Large numbers of otherwise sensible people feel that there is some
unavoidable conflict between the ideal and the real, between what they
call the sacred and the secular, between the things they would like to
do and to be and the things they actually have to do as part of their
daily affairs and duties.

Probably the greater number try to meet the difficulty by dividing
their lives and interest into separate parts.  They say, business is
business; religion is another thing altogether; I will work hard and
honestly at my business and look forward to the comforts and pleasures
of religion and ideal things.

So it happens that there are those who feel that to speak of religion
on a week-day reveals a lack of the sense of the fitness of things,
while other good people are quite sure that it is a wholly irreverent
thing to speak of business on a Sunday.  We tend to dwell alternately
in two sets of apartments, the practical and the pious.

Even where there are no such sharp lines through the life we feel that
manufacture and the market, money-making, and trading tend to blunt the
finer sensibilities and act as a hindrance to the realization of our
ideals, while, on the other hand, we are sure that the life of ideals
is unfitted for business.

The result of this separation and apparent antagonism is that we cannot
develop our lives symmetrically; we are torn by conflicting purposes;
we fail to see any ideal ends in business or to find any practical
values in religion.  Religion without business tends to dreamy,
purposeless moral enervation; business without ideal ends and aims to
grossness and materialism.

We need to spiritualize all our acts, our whole lives, our business,
our work, our pleasures, by giving them moral intent and value, so as
to unify the sacred and the secular, the utilitarian, and the ideal by
making each serve the other.

It does not make so much difference whether a man is engaged in
money-making or in writing poems and picturing the fair dreams of
better things; the question is this, is the money-making for the sake
of the money or for some high and worthy end?  What is the motive that
impels either the dealer in dollars or the dealer in dreams?

Our ideals, visions, aspirations, and our religion become most damaging
if they fail to find expression in conduct and work; lacking the
practical, they result in a character that is satisfied with
contemplating the good instead of realizing it.  The man who sinks his
soul in dollars may personally be no worse than he who allows it to
atrophy while he dreams.

Here in religion are the dynamic and the motives that bear men on and
buoy them up to do the toil, bear the burdens, stand in the fight of
daily living; here are the visions that lift our eyes from the desk and
the machine, from profits and discounts, and help us to see the worthy
prizes of life.

No man could become a saint by separating himself from this world's
turmoil and reading his Bible alone; neither can any man find strength
and stability for life's business and battle, find satisfaction in its
service and rewards, unless he sees through its dollars and its dirt
the moral ends of all this world's work.

This noisy mill of daily living may be the greatest blessing we know;
it is the opportunity for the expression of our highest ideals, for the
translation of religion into terms of daily living; it is the place
where character is molded by its stress, its calls to the strong will,
and its manifold opportunities for the service of all mankind by each
man in his place.



XV

The Every-Day Heaven

  _The Beauty of Holiness_
  _The Gladness of Goodness_
  _The True Paradise_


_Self shrinks the soul._

_The keen eye needs the kindly heart._

_There's no argument equal to a happy smile._

_Imaginary evils have more than imaginary effects._

_You never find truth by losing the temper._

_Menial work may be noblest service._

_They who live off the flock are never willing to die for it._

_The life that would be fruitful seeks showers as well as sunshine._

_Kindness makes all kin._

_All we get from heaven we owe to earth._

_Pain is a small price to pay for the joy of sacrifice._

_He who gives on feeling generally begrudges in fact._

_Every loss met by love leads to gain._

_The long look within ourselves will cure us of a lot of impatience
with other folks._

_The last person to enter heaven will be the one whose religion has all
been in the first person singular._

_We often talk a good deal about the salvation of souls in order to
escape service for the salvation of society._

_Much that is called orthodoxy is scepticism at heart, fear to examine
the foundations lest there are none._


XV

THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS

Religion ought to be the most natural, desirable, and attractive thing
to man, for it simply stands for the development of the best in us, the
coming into the full and rich heritage that is ours as spiritual
beings, and the realization of our highest possibilities of character
and service.  He who ignores religion is cutting himself off from the
best and most beautiful possibilities in his life.

Some have talked of the necessity of making religion attractive.  It
does not have to be made attractive; there is nothing more desirable
than the peace, the power, and prosperity of the real life which it
confers.  It is the imitation, the false and prejudiced presentation of
religion that men endeavour to dress up attractively.  In that they
never succeed, for cramping the soul and twisting the intellect ever
are opposed by the best in us.

From the caricature of religion we turn with loathing.  Mummeries and
mockeries, fads and forms leave us empty and impatient.  The heart of
man goes out to things fair, lovely, joyous, and uplifting, and they
who find no God in the elaborate sermon or the service in the church
somehow are thrilled with the feeling of the divine and inspiring in
the woods and field and mountains.

All things good, all things attractive and lovely, uplifting and
sublime have but one source.  They touch our hearts because they come
from the heart of all being; they reach our spirits because they are
spiritual.  Deep calls unto deep when the divine in man answers to the
divine in the world without, in human affections, in noble aspirations,
and in glorious deeds.

Too long have we believed that only the unpleasant, the gloomy, and
repellent could be right or religious.  There is a type of conscience
that determines action by the rule that if a thing is pleasant or
beautiful it must be sinful and wrong.  To such souls it is a sin to be
sunny in disposition, to delight in the Father's fair world, with its
glowing riches and bounty dropping daily from His hand.

It would be safer to say that sin must be somewhere lurking wherever
there is deformity, pain, or discord--that, as a common phrase has it,
the bleak and barren is the evidence of that which is forsaken of God.
Things desolate are not divine.  Religion is not repression but
development into a fullness and beauty far beyond our dreams.

It is a good thing to see the divine in all things fair and lovely; to
take them as evidences that the love that once pronounced this world
good in its primeval glory still is working, still is seeking to enrich
our lives and lead them out in fullness of joy.  Why should not we,
like the poets and preachers of ancient Israel, taste again of the
gladness of living.

Character may need for its full development the storms and wintry
blasts of life, but it needs just as truly and just as much the
sunshine, the days when the heart goes out and joins in the song of
nature, when something leaps within us at the gladness of being alive,
and we drink in of the infinite love that is over all.

Just as the sun seems to call the flowers out of the dark earth and
draw out their beauty, calls forth the buds and brings the blossom into
perfect fruit, so there is a spirit of divine life in our world calling
us out to the best, seeking to woo us to the things beautiful.  Man
needs not to repress his life, but to learn to respond to every worthy
impulse, every high hope, to find the life beautiful.

The beauty of holiness is the beauty of character.  It is the
adjustment of life to nature and neighbour and heaven so that strength
and harmony ensue, so that duty becomes a delight, labour a song of
praise, and out of life's burden and battle the beauties of godliness,
of love, and tenderness, joy and gratitude begin to bloom.

Lay hold on everything good and true, on all things glad and elevating;
cherish every fair thought and aspiration; learn to see the essentially
religious in whatever lifts up life, in whatever helps humanity, and so
make life rich in heavenly treasure and glowing with the glory of other
worlds.



THE GLADNESS OF GOODNESS

Life's poverty is due, not to what we have had and lost, not to what
has been withheld or taken from us, but to the good which we might have
had which we  carelessly have passed by.  No others despoil us as we
despoil ourselves by our blindness and indifference to the wealth of
our own lives and the beauty ever close at hand.

We who scurry over land and sea, who dig, and toil, and fret to find
happiness, come back at last to learn that the sweet-faced guest has
been waiting close by our door all the time.

He perishes in the pitiless snows who, blind to the good and the glory
in every valley and hillside, heeds only the impulse to climb and find
the good in some remote height.  Ambition and pride lift ever new peaks
ahead only to mock him when at last, worn, spent, and empty in heart,
he falls by the way.

The old theology talked much of a heaven far away, to be attained in
the remote future; the new theology often seems inclined to ignore any
heaven, but what the hearts of men need is the sense of the heaven that
is all about them, the God who ever is near, and the blessedness even
now attainable.

Some live in the past, complacently contemplating the glories that once
were theirs or their ancestors'; some live in the future, dreaming of
felicities yet to be; but they are wise only who live to the full in
the present, who catch the richness and beauty, all the wealth that the
passing hour or the present opportunity may have.

He is truly godly who sees God in all things, in the affairs of this
day, in the faces of living men, in the flowers and fields, who sees
all the divine wonder and beauty of life, and not he who sees the Most
High only in some legendary past or in a strange, imaginary future.

No man becomes strong by reminiscence of his breakfast or dreaming of
his next meal alone; each portion of time must have its own fitting
food.  The soul of man never can find its fullness through either
history or prophecy; it needs the sense of the spiritual in this
living, pulsating, matter-of-fact present.

This world is slovenly, sinful, and evil because so many of us are
content with the past or the future, with myth or with imagination, and
fail to demand the development of the good that is our heritage to-day.
The better day comes not by dreams, but by each man doing the best he
can and securing all the good he can for his own day.

We need to give up the plan of saving the world by the piety of
postponed pleasures and to find the fullness of life in the present, to
get below the surface of things and discover life's real riches, to
interpret this daily toil and struggle, and all this world of ours, in
terms of the divine and infinite.

How much it would mean to our lives if we might learn, instead of
sighing for the impossible, to get all the sweetness and joy that is in
the things we have, how rich we would find the common lot to be, how
many things that now seem dreary and empty would bloom into new beauty.
In a child's smile, a wild flower's fragrance, a glint of sunlight,
things possible to all, we would find joys unspeakable and full of
glory.

This does not mean dull content with things as they are; it does mean
the development of the faculties of appreciation, the growth of the
life in power to see, the development of vision.  It means the
transformation of the dull earth with the glory of the ideal.

Some day, when we look back over our lives, how keen will be our regret
as we realize what we have missed, how we have spurned the substance of
life's lasting treasures, human loves, friendships, every-day beauties,
and happiness, while chasing the shadows of imaginary joys.



THE TRUE PARADISE

The religion that has relations only to heaven and angels, or only to a
supreme being remote and detached from daily life and from our families
and friends, our business and affairs, issues in personal selfishness
and is one of the causes of social disorganization and need.

It postpones to that dim future the problems that ought to be solved in
the present.  It promises those who are broken with the injustice and
greed of their fellows a place where right would prevail and rest would
be their portion in the future.  It shifts to an imaginary and ideal
world all the perplexities and wrongs of the real present world.

That kind of teaching ingrained in generations accounts for the dull
patience, the stolid, brute-like content of the peasant in Europe; he
is born a bearer of burdens, a tiller of the soil, to walk bent and
never look up; it is all endurable because it is all so short; he some
day will be better off than kings and emperors are now.

But as the generations are born the inspiring vision of that future
loses its force; the ideals are gone and the children come into the
world with their fathers content with their present condition, but
devoid of aspiration and also devoid of their father's faith in the
compensations of the future.

Then comes the reaction.  Some daring spirits assert that if there is
any good, if there is equity and rights, men ought to enter into and
enjoy them here and now.  And some who catch the vision of a God of
real love are unwilling to believe that He keeps from His children the
present joys of His home; they invite to a present heaven.

Then how easy it is to fall into the error of seeking only a material
present-day paradise, to live as if the only things worth living for
were food and clothes and pleasant circumstances.  Better a worthy,
beautiful ideal afar off than an unworthy and debasing one already
realized.  The heaven that so many are seeking will but bring all men
to the level of the brute.

The danger is that we shall miss the real benefit of this great truth
that whatever good is designed for man may be realized in large measure
while he lives and shall make his good to consist only in goods.
Better conditions of living easily become the foe of the best.  Heaven
is not meat and drink; it is the better heart.

Making houses and lands the supreme end of living is little better than
looking forward to harps and crowns.  It is easy, being freed from
slavery to a superstition to relapse into slavery to our lower selves.
We are in danger of living for a living instead of for our lives.  We
are "on the make" instead of being engaged in making manhood.  We are
digging the lead of commercial advantage with the gold shovels of
character.

We may be measured by our own measurements.  In sermons and orations we
assure ourselves that we are a great people because we have here so
many acres, so many millions of bushels of corn and of wheat, so high
wages, so vast financial resources.  We are living in the glut of
things and setting these things as the end of living.

All this does not mean that prosperity is wrong; it does not mean that
misery or poverty is a virtue.  The danger is not in our many acres,
our high wages, our millions of money; the danger is that these are the
ends instead of the means; that we are existing for our living; that we
make the man the tool of his money instead of the money being the
making of the man.

Every man has in his breast the keys to his own heaven.  If he will he
may find the riches of character; he may enter into the paradise of a
mind at peace; he may taste of the divine joys of serving his fellows;
he may, in thought, commune with all the good and great; he may hear
the morning stars sing together.

The eternal crown of glory is the crown of character.  The streets
paved with gold are the fair, clear ways of virtue.  The harps of whose
music we never weary are the strings of sympathy and love and pain;
these make the heavenly harmony.  The angels are in the faces we learn
to love.  These make heaven when we see them in the light of the
presence of eternal love.



XVI

Truth and Life

  _Religion of a Practical Mind_
  _The Head and the Heart_
  _New Truths for New Days_


_A life is an empty lamp without the oil of love._

_The only way to have happiness as a permanent guest is to keep your
door open to the helpless._

_Self shrinks the soul._

_It is much easier to get interested in art doilies for Hottentots than
it is to be simply human to the washerwoman at home._

_Whoever helps us to think kindly of another aids the coming of the
kingdom of heaven._

_You are not likely to cheer the hearts of men by looking down in the
mouth yourself._

_No man climbs to the Father by treading on his brother._

_Many things may keep you from the triumphs of life but only
selfishness can keep you from the victories of love._

_The child of heaven always sees something of heaven in the child._

_There are too many people trying to clean up the world by scalding
their neighbours._


XVI

RELIGION OF A PRACTICAL MIND

Is there a faith for the practically minded man and woman?  Or is
religion exclusively for the dreamers and those who are contented with
sentiment and feeling?  These people of action, who measure by results,
who have no life to waste on things not evidently useful; these who
feel so intensely the needs of humanity that they have no time to waste
in anything other than work--is there a religion for them?

But religion is not a form of life nor a point of view for one kind of
people alone; it is the spirit of higher things coming into the lives
of all kinds of people.  Its expression will depend on the temperament
of the individual.  It may lead some to sing hymns, but it will
certainly compel others to build houses and to care for the sick and
needy.

In a world of men and affairs no man is actually religious unless his
faith is finding some practical expression, and the greatest need of
our day is that our hard-headed men and women who do things shall
become inspired with the spirit and ideas of religion and shall do
those things which religion's spirit of love and service would indicate
as needing to be done.

Pious people are deluding themselves if they think that they are
cultivating the religious life and meriting the rewards of faith by
simply sitting in church and feeding themselves on beautiful sentiments
and thrilling visions, or even by vigorously attacking all those who
dare to differ from them in matters of religious philosophy.

Nor can religion find full expression in harking back over the
centuries and elucidating the mysteries of ancient miracles or tracing
the history of ancient peoples.

If as much brain and energy had been given to solving the problem of
society and leading men into the way of right living to-day as have
been given to digging into the historical and philological problems of
Scripture this world would be a better world by far.  We must let the
dead past bury its dead.  Stay not weeping by the tomb of yesterday; do
the work of to-day.

There will be much more real religion in the intelligence, care, and
sacrifice applied to the problem presented by the millions coming in at
the gates of our country than in the most pains-taking study of the
emigration of a horde of Israelites millenniums ago.  This is what the
practical man feels; there is so much to be done, why waste time in
dreaming of how things once were done or in wishing for a world where
no need or sorrow exists?  Therefore, he is apt to say, in the business
of bringing things to pass religion has no place; it is only for the
dreamers.

Yet no one needs religion more than the man who would do any worthy and
lasting work in the world.  Indeed, the possibility of such a work will
not dawn upon him unless some of the spirit of religion and the
possession of desire to do great and worth while things is evidence of
the heavenly flame within.  Any work for the sake of humanity needs a
wider vision than that of its own field.  Courage fails and hope dies
if we see only the dismal problem; if we have only the practical
outlook.  Some vision of the ideal must enter into all great work; one
must learn to see humanity in the light of divinity.

It is a good thing to be able to see the Divine in the commonplace, the
hand of Providence in American history, the work of the Most High as
recorded in the daily papers, as well as in the Gospels; to do our work
whether it be laying railroad track, selling dry goods, making or
teaching or trading, as part of the service necessary to bring in the
better day.

Here is the religion of the practical mind, to express by the service
of heart and brain and hand the belief that he has in the possibilities
humanity, the hope that he has of a fairer, sweeter, nobler age than
this, to make real the world's best ideals.  So, seeking to bring to
earth the best that heaven has dreamed, men have found themselves
lifted into the light of infinite truth and love.



THE HEAD AND THE HEART

There are temperamental types which never reach any conclusion by pure
reasoning; intuitions, emotions, and inspirations take the place of
intellectual processes.  It would be the height of folly to attempt to
make such natures reduce their religion to syllogisms, or to ask them
to bring to the bar of the head all the findings of the heart.

The emotional nature does not comprehend the manner in which the
average mind must wait for its own light.  These souls that move by
great tides often reach sublime heights.  The world would be poor,
indeed, without their all-compelling enthusiasms, their glorious
visions, and their dominant convictions.  But such ones must not forget
that there is no royal road to truth; that human nature is not cast in
one single, unvarying mold; diversity is not necessarily heresy.

There are other natures, not less necessary to the world, not less
glorious in their records of leaders, martyrs, and masters of men.
These are those that find truth by the slow steps of reasoning; that
seek the way of right, with hearts of reverence and feet of faith, in
the light of the faculties heaven has given them.  They do not feel,
they do not understand the winds that, sighing round them, convey such
mighty meaning to other souls; they cannot buy progress at the price of
blindness.  They are the intellectual type.

The conclusion that the emotional type must, after all, be the right
one is a common one.  This is because it makes the most noise and the
most easily apprehended demonstration.  And, therefore, some tell us
that the man who seeks to find the way of truth by the light of the
intellect must, without fail, wander into the pit of error; that the
only way to come to religious truth is to shut the eyes of the mind and
yield to emotion.

The thinker constantly is being warned that he cannot apprehend God
with his intellect; that he cannot see the way to heaven with the eyes
of reason.  He is urged to give up the use of his head that he may
develop his heart.  He even is told that faith is incompatible with
reason, and love with logic.  So strong is the emphasis on this that he
is led to suspect that indolence is seeking to deify ignorance, and
that men whose intellectual faculties have atrophied by their
subjection to the emotional now are envious of those who retain the
power to think clearly, and would have them also deprived of these
powers.

Nothing could be more clearly opposed to the way of truth than the
notion that religion can be bought only at the price of reason, or that
the consequence of using the intelligence is the losing of the power of
affection for the divine, the good, and the true--of the warmth of
heart and feeling that often determine character and conduct.

If the faculties are God given they are given for working purposes.  If
man has a mind and yet may not think concerning the deepest and highest
things of his own nature and destiny, then the giving of that mind or
the permitting it to develop is the most cruel mockery known to human
history.

But the simple law of nature that every faculty has some purpose, that
no power is without its duty, is the answer to all this.  The mind is
as sacred as the heart; it is as much a sacred duty to think as it is
to aspire.  There is nothing too holy for men to think about, to reason
about.  The mind must serve the truth--must with reverence lead to
larger truth.

No man is religious who represses any of his reasoning faculties.
Every one of the higher powers must be brought to their greatest
perfection.  Not by dwarfing but by developing themselves do men
glorify their Creator.  Just as the finest tree in the forest speaks
most eloquently of the bounty and beauty of nature, so does the
gigantic intellect glorify the intelligence that ordered its being.

Fear not to think of sacred things; nothing is sacred because it is
mysterious; reverence does not dwell apart from reason.  Faith does not
reach its perfection in the fool; it shines most glorious where wisdom
dwells.  There still are the superstitious souls who confound darkness
with divinity; who cry aloud against the light of knowledge.  But they
can no more stay the discovery of truth than the bats can hold back the
dawn.



NEW TRUTHS FOR NEW DAYS

There are many who think they must live without religion because they
cannot be content with the views held by their fathers.  The facts on
which the faith of the past was based have come into the light so that
the modern man, examining them, finds himself in all honesty compelled
to question them and often ultimately to call them fables.

The attempt to answer the questions of the clear-eyed modern scientific
mind by accusing it of inherent antagonism to religion is cheap and
ineffectual.  There are honest doubters who at the same time are
earnest seekers after truth, who desire the best, who are willing to
pay any price for personal character and social righteousness.

It is because such men are honest that they refuse to be bound by
creeds they cannot believe and to buttress beliefs they cannot indorse.
No greater loss could come to character than to insist that we shall
act and speak a lie in order that the body of religious teaching shall
remain undisturbed.  The heresy we most need to fear is that which
blatantly declares one thing while at heart fearing that another is
true.

The old generation in religion is accusing the new of treason to faith
and the new is accusing the old of blindness to truth.  When the father
says to the son, "Believe this or be lost," the son answers that he
rather would be lost in company with truth and honesty of conscience
than be saved at the cost of both.

But do these divergencies mean that the man of the modern mind must
give up religion and that those who hold to the traditional views can
find no fellowship with those who see new light?  This is more than an
academic question; it presses on every man who, finding in him the
universal thirst for religion, finds also standing before the living
waters him who says, "You can drink only out of this cup handed down
from the fathers; you can approach only on speaking our shibboleth."

Our fathers looked on religious truth as something complete and
unchangeable, once for all delivered to the saints.  But they forgot
how different was the truth, as they saw it, from its vision as given
to their fathers.  Every age tends to look upon itself as the final
goal and on its views as the last possible statement of truth.

Yet how clearly does the past teach us that our vision of truth is ever
changing.  The science of to-day will be largely the folly of
to-morrow.  Truth, in any realm, is a country whose boundaries lie ever
before us, whose geography each age must write anew.  Truth is a road,
not a terminus; a process of search and not the thing discovered alone.

He only is religious really who opens heart and mind to the increasing
vision of truth, in whom religion is not a cut and dried, fixed and
unchanging philosophy, but to whom it is a method and motive for
living, a process of adjusting himself to all his world in the full
light of all the truth that can come to him.

There is a religion for the man who must deny many things that once
seemed essential to religion; for the man who feels compelled to doubt
all things; it is the religion of the honest, open souled, unreserved
search for truth and the translation of that truth as it is known into
character, and living.

If the setting of the face towards truth means breaking through ancient
theology it also will mean bringing us face to face with the infinite.
It is a good thing to lose the symbol if we only will seek for the
substance.  The heart of man cries out for the reality that lies back
of all our words and for the realization of our doctrines in deeds.

When the test of trouble comes, when earth is a desert and the heavens
are brass, we find our refreshing, we find the real resources of
religion not in doctrinal statements, not in formal creeds, but in that
creed which experience has written on our hearts, in the consciousness
of an eternal love not demonstrated by logic, in the sense of the unity
of ourselves and our race with the infinite and divine.

Every day must have its new creed, its enlarging vision of truth, but
back of all lies truth itself, the reality upon which our fathers
leaned and the unfailing springs where they were refreshed and the
glowing visions that led them on.  In that reality lies every man's
religion.



XVII

The Fruits of Faith

  _Root and Fruit_
  _The Orthodox Accent_
  _The Business of Religion_


_Killing hope is moral suicide._

_Sow happiness and reap heaven._

_Every man is made up of many men._

_You cannot travel towards heaven with your back turned to honour._

_Earthly prudence is a large part of heavenly providence._

_Homes are often closest knit about some grave of separation._

_Your credit in heaven depends on earth's debts to you._

_To attempt a great work is to become a great worker._

_The practice of happiness does much for the power of holiness._

_No man ever found this world a weary place who had a worthy work to
do._

_It's no use talking about the religion in your heart if it is not
visible in your home._


XVII

ROOT AND FRUIT

There is honest inquiry rather than querulous criticism in the
question, often asked, Why does not religion produce a higher and
stronger type of moral character?  Enthusiasm for the teachings of
Christ often is cooled by contact with some flabby-willed,
narrow-minded professed follower of those teachings.

It is a common saying with business men that it is hard to find a man
of absolute integrity, one who even measures up to the standards of
commercial honour among those who are religious, either by vocation or
avocation.  At any rate, it is true that a certificate of religious
affiliations by no means is equivalent to a guarantee of high moral
worth.

Yet it is easy to arrive at wrong conclusions when judging the effect
of religion on personal character as tested by daily business and
living.  One is in danger of judging from exceptions.  We may remember
as a religious person the man who makes the loudest protestations of
his piety and fail to recognize the religious sources of strength in
the quieter one of whose sterling qualities we need no persuasion.

When religion has little root it often springs up with a rapid
self-assertive growth; but it withers even more quickly under the
scorching sun of the market and business affairs.  It also would be the
height of folly to conclude that religion contributed nothing to a
man's moral worth, because the morally worthless seek to hide their
nakedness by wearing it as a cloak.

If we stop to think of the strong men and women we know, of those whose
integrity is undoubted, whose character wealth constitutes the real
reserve and bulwark of our business stability, we shall find that they
are controlled by religious ideals and principles, that the strength
and beauty which we admire in them in itself is religion.

They may have or may not have ecclesiastical affiliations; these are
but incidental.  They do have religion.  Somehow we feel that their
actions rise not from superficial wells of policy or custom but from
deep springs that go back into the roots and rock of things.  They look
out on life with eyes that see beyond questions of immediate and
passing advantage; they see visions and ideals; they are drawn on by
lofty aspirations.

The recognition which we accord to real worth, to high, and noble, and
strong manhood and womanhood, with the scorn we have for the canting
weakling, is but part of our discrimination between a living, deep
religion expressed in conduct and a mask or pretense adopted for profit
or convenience.

Still there are many good people, sincere in their religious
professions, who practically are no good at all when they come to some
strain on conscience, or some real test in life.  Is it not because in
their minds religion never has been related to conduct?  They are
grounded on the eschatology of Christianity but not on its ethics.

It is possible to go through a full course of religious instruction in
the regularly appointed agencies of many churches and to come out with
clear-cut conceptions of heaven and angels, but with the most misty and
even misleading conceptions of right relations among men, of honesty,
and justice, and truth.

The schools teach us about the stars and the earth, about men dead and
beasts living; the church teaches us of saints and seraphs, and about
an ancient literature; but who shall teach us and our children the art
of living, the laws of human duties?  Of what value is all our
knowledge unless we get the wisdom of right living?

No man is saved until he is made strong, sane, useful, and reliable.
The most irreligious thing in this world is a religion that makes
people think that an imputed or technical salvation absolves them from
the necessity of practical salvation, the working out of the best and
noblest in their lives.  Religion without morality is a mockery.

Real religion is the secret and source of the highest, strongest,
cleanest character.  It furnishes the life with motives mightier than
any considerations of advantage or profit; it ties the soul up to
eternal and spiritual verities; it refreshes the heart as with living
waters when life seems all desert; it sets the heart in step with the
Infinite One who marches on through the ages.



THE ORTHODOX ACCENT

Perhaps the chief damage done by the confusion of tongues at Babel was
that it tended to a multiplicity of words.  Whether it was so before
that time or not, it is certain that ever since there has been a
constant likelihood of religion and every other good thing being
drowned in floods of rhetoric.  Where there are ten ways of saying a
thing it is so much easier to use them all than to do the thing in the
one way in which it may be done.  Words become the chief enemies of
works.  A volume containing all the words of the great Teacher would
look mighty insignificant beside the ponderous tomes of the modern
exponents of His teachings.  That is because the minister has become
the preacher.

The tendency also is for laymen to prove their piety by becoming
teachers.  It is so in every direction.  Reforms dissipate into theses;
it is always easier to make speeches on the city beautiful than it is
to refrain from throwing the refuse in the street.  We are all talking
about what ought to be done.  Perhaps some leader will arise and
institute the order of the practicers.

Dreamers, philosophers, thinkers, writers have poured forth their
floods upon a thirsty world.  But the only words that have been worth
anything to mankind have been those that have grown out of the
speaker's soul as it has been molded by his living and doing.

Because talking is so easy to the knowing ones it is not strange that
they should water their stock of superstitious prestige with the less
knowing ones from their reservoir of words.  Then it is the most
natural thing for the glib man to set up the thing he can do most
easily as the thing essential to salvation, and thus a shibboleth
becomes the saving sign.

But salvation does not depend on any shibboleth.  No man is going to
fail of seeing the Most High because he cannot render the precise name
by which one race chose to call Him, nor will the sun cease to shine
upon him should he seek the highest good in other ways than names.  The
heart of the universe asks not that we be consistent with the
syllogisms of the past, but that we be true to the truth we know
ourselves.

Every man has some creed back of every deed; but when he puts his creed
up in front his deeds soon die.  Where words reign they soon reign
alone, with nothing but words to serve them.  Orthodoxy is so general,
because it is so easy and so meaningless.  Catch the accent and you are
orthodox.  But if heaven is to be won by an accent most honest men
would rather pay board, somewhere else.

No life can be interpreted in language alone.  The church is but an
obscuration on Christianity when it meets only to analyze the life of
its Lord and never to exemplify His deeds.  What must heaven think to
see a thousand able-bodied men and women gather in a beautiful building
to sing hymns of praise to their Diety [Transcriber's note: Deity?] and
to listen to arguments about His divinity while, within block of them,
there are, in sickness and squalor, distress and sorrow, the ones to
whom He sent these people to minister?  The doctrines manufactured
about Him have hidden the directions given by Him.

The trouble is not that we have too much doctrine so much as that we
have the wrong kind.  The Master's great teaching was, Do the divine
things, and the divine truths will take care of themselves.

The kingdom will never come until His will is done.  Half-tones of
heaven will not keep people warm in winter; it is half tons of coal
they need.  The world will believe in any church that tries to do good.
But the church does not believe in itself yet; half the people are
strenuously endeavouring to fool themselves into what they call
spiritual warmth.  What they need is plain Christian perspiration.  No
man really credits his own religion until he converts it into reality.

But the man who prides himself on his heterodoxy is often equally
guilty here.  He ridicules the old type of piety and thinks to improve
on it with new sets of phrases.  All these critics have is new
arrangements of words.  Even the man who rejects all religion satisfies
himself with the cant phrase of irreligion.

We need most of all to treat religion as sensibly as we do business, to
leave the science to those interested while we give ourselves to the
practice of its art, the doing of its deeds, the living its life.



THE BUSINESS OF RELIGION

Any religion that will not stand the strain of modern business may have
been good for some other age; but it is valueless in this one.  The
test of your piety is not peace in the pews of the church, but power
and direction in the stress of the market, its adaptability to your
activities as well as your meditations.

The problem of the reconciliation of business and religion is not
nearly so complex as we would believe.  The people who are saying it is
impossible to be upright and get on in the world mean that it is
impossible to be honest and to gain all the questionable advantages on
which they have set their hearts.  When a man says that religion and
business will not work in harmony he either has a wrong brand of piety
or a false conception of business.

Religion is built for business.  The only creed that is worth a
moment's thought is a working creed, that is, one that gets into
action.  Religion is not the mere acceptance of a speculative
philosophy of this and other worlds.  It consists in principles,
ideals, and motives which dominate conduct.  It is more concerned with
the kind of a world you are making here than with the conceptions you
may have of a world beyond.

Religion is more than an institution; it is a course of life.  It has
to do with the church only in so far as the church serves its purposes.
It is more concerned with what a man pays his employees than with what
he puts into the plate at the collection.  The man who can put all his
piety into the prayer-meeting and the services of the church never has
enough seriously to embarrass him under any circumstances.

If for your religion you have adopted principles of high living; if you
have set the worth of the soul above all other things; if you have
determined to frame your life according to the golden rule of the great
Teacher, and, with Him as hero and ideal, are seeking to do good to
others and make this world a better place for us all, with less of sin
and sorrow and more of joy and love, you will make your business as
well as your praying the servant of these ends.

But if you have said that you wish to do these things, that you wish to
live the pure and beneficent life while in your heart your sole desire
is to get riches, to gain fame, to secure power, then there is bound to
be conflict between the religion you profess and the business that
possesses you.

Everything depends on the purposes of living, on the things a man
really and deep within himself sets first in his life; he will follow
those things no matter what other professions he may make.  Business as
a servant deserves our allegiance and devotion; business as a master is
the most evil and soul devastating thing in this universe.

There is the most perfect harmony; there is relatively easy settlement
of problems and difficulties if but this principle be adopted; that you
have taken as your chief business in life the ends of true religion,
the development of character and the service of humanity, and, with
this purpose, the daily toil, the opportunities and enginery of your
trade or profession shall be made to serve these higher ends.

Religion then becomes the motive in business and business the
manifestation of religion.  A man serves the Most High in his office
with the same devotion and elevation of spirit as a priest at the
altar.  He is doing a great work, because the spirit is great.  In
questions of conscience he can afford to lose everything except the
great end; he will not sacrifice the lesser to the greater.



XVIII

The Force of Faith

  "_The Victory that Overcometh_"
  _Fear and Faith_
  _Faith for the Future_


_Some talk so hard about duty they have no strength left for deeds._

_When a good man gets down in the dirt some one is sure to stumble over
him._

_Many a man who would make a first-class lighthouse is wasting his life
trying to be a fog-horn._

_The mournful saint works a good deal more harm than the cheerful
sinner._

_The faith that shows up strong on the fence may fail altogether when
it gets on the field._

_It's not the man who says the loudest amen who makes the most
impression on heaven._

_There are too many folks trying to meet the world's hunger for love
with essays on affection._

_Lots of people let their daily manna spoil while they pray for butter
and sugar to spread on it._

_People who lay their sins on the old Adam are not anxious to have
their successes attributed to him._

_Many a man thinks his life is clouded over when the truth is he is
burying his head in the steam of his own sighings._


XVIII

"THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH"

You cannot believe little things and do great ones; you cannot believe
in half successes and accomplish whole ones.  A man's faith sets the
boundaries of his work.  He will do what he believes and accomplish
what he believes can be accomplished.  Mountains are not subdued by men
who stand discouraged at a mole-hill.  A man must conquer the fatigues
of the way in his own heart or he will never set out on the road.

Back of all free action lies some creed, some conviction.  All great
battles have been fought and either lost or won in the heart.  The
simple or stubborn confidence that leads to all-conquering effort, this
is faith, the vision that vitalizes.  The eye of faith sees the prize
at the end long before it is reached; the eye of fear looks so closely
at the difficulties and dangers of the course that the prize is not
seen at all.

There is a good deal of fatalism seeking to pass as faith.  People say
we must have faith in God; let things take their course and they will
come out all right.  The church long commended the slothful who let
things drift, and called their laziness resignation.  But faith feels
the certitude of a harvest because it has first diligently plowed and
sown and because of the goodness that has ever brought the seed-time
and the harvest.

Superstitious credulity is not faith.  It is more than the foresight
that feeds on visions of a future heaven; it is the clear eye that
looks keenly at the things of to-day.  No truth is the better for being
taken on trust; it cannot be possessed until it is known, not on the
authority of another but on your own experience.  No man ever became a
martyr for a truth he received at second hand.

Only a first hand faith is a force in the world.  It is born of life;
it determines life.  Your faith forms you.  If you do not believe men,
how can you be a man?  If you do not believe in things better, nobler,
purer, how can you move towards them?  If at bottom your faith is in
things mean, sordid, sensual, base, then thither turns your life, and
no extraneous efforts, no badges, buttons, or creeds can change its
course.

You can measure a man's weight in this world, by the strength and
clearness of his convictions.  Poor you may be, friendless, alone,
weak, unlearned; but all this can be overcome if bright in the heart
there burns the unquenchable flame of some great passion, some high
faith.  Given this fire within them, all the tools shall be found, but
without it the finest endowment of brain and body is valueless.

Given but some great principle, some purpose that becomes a holy
passion, something that leads you, like one of long ago who
"steadfastly set His face to go up to Jerusalem," then all power is
yours.  The man who has faith to remove mountains always finds the
picks and the steam shovels somewhere.  He takes the tools he has,
though they may seem but toys beside his task, and lo! some morning
when the dreamers awake the mountain is no longer there.  Faith has had
her perfect work.

It is faith that gives fortitude, faith that gives force.  The dreamers
of dreams have ever been, after all, the doers of the great deeds.
Seeing the things that are not seen is the secret of doing the things
that remain to be seen.

No worthier word was ever said of the divine Man than that which spoke
of Him as the leader and completer of faith.  So great a work was
possible only with sublime confidence in the glorious possibilities of
mankind, only with unshakable assurance that all that was good and true
in the universe was working with Him for the good of all.  With Him
faith was an eye that saw man's hidden good, a hand that grasped the
infinite might moving for the best.



FEAR AND FAITH

To many faith simply means denying the reason and relying on emotion.
They have what is called saving faith and are able to feel that the
Almighty forgives their wrong-doings, ceasing to be angry with them;
their faith being perfect when it takes away fear of punishment.  To
these faith is that which they pay in the form of credence to whatever
is ecclesiastically asserted in exchange for the complaisance of diety
[Transcriber's note: deity?].

Those who deny all religion assert that it is founded on fear.  There
is enough in that assertion to give it the colour of truth.  Yet fear
of the unseen is but the survival of savagery.  Faith founded on fear
becomes servile, debasing, superstitious.  If religion has no higher
motive than that of fear, the trembling and dread before some great
omnipotent unknown, it can give the world neither help nor uplift.

What is there in God to fear?  Is the Lord of life also the foe of our
lives?  Is the author of a world so fair and lovely, inviting us to joy
and inspiring with feelings of pleasure, the foe of happiness?  Has He
made the world a paradise and planted in man's breast the seeds of
kindness, gentleness and sweet thoughts only to glower over His world
in hatred and to damn it with dread of Himself?

All things that can be known argue the goodness of the unknown.  As
soon as a man learns to live with nature he loses his fear of forest,
beast, and sea.  Familiarity breeds confidence, affection and
reverence.  Only the remote and unfamiliar fill us with dread.  The
city bred tremble in the woods at night, where the native feels himself
amongst well loved friends.

In the same manner the fear of the divine, born of unfamiliarity,
instead of being an evidence of reverence or of religion, becomes the
mark of ignorance and cowardice.  Rectitude of conduct, resulting
wholly from regulating oneself as under an all-seeing critical eye and
in dread of a far-reaching devastating hand, cannot produce enrichment
of character.  Hatred never gave birth to holiness.

The souls that in all ages have lived nearest to things spiritual, that
have most enriched the world with thoughts, whose inner visions pierced
our outer clouds, seeing something of the glory of the infinite,
brought back no pictures of a face austere, of a cruel despot, or of
aught for love or truth to fear.

True faith instead of being a compromise to allay our fears of unknown
ills and calamities, ever has been the fearless, reverent search for
the face of the infinite.  It does not say: "I believe that God will
let me alone because I did those prescribed things"; rather it says: "I
cannot be satisfied alone and apart from Him, the source and sole
satisfaction of all life."

Science with its passion for truth, art with its passion for beauty,
ethics with its passion for rightness, are all but parts of true
religion, the soul's passion for the infinite heart and mind in which
all ideas of truth and beauty take their rise and find their full
realization.

The soul of man never has ceased to cry out for the living God; the
religion of fear has given it no satisfaction.  Its followers have been
too busy building themselves shelters from the heaven they dread,
shelters that become as leaden shields shutting out the eternal
tenderness and beneficence.  No man ever found the celestial city or
its glorious king so long as he regarded his religion as a cyclone
cellar.

To those who, with eyes of reverence, seek to find the good in all
things here, believing that love is better and mightier than hate, that
whatever is good, kindly, tender, pure, and ennobling in us, is but the
reflection from the glory of the infinite, traces in our dust by which
we find our way to Him who inhabits eternity, these, through eyes of
faith, have found a presence beyond description or definition.

Fear sets afar off a mighty monarch; faith finds near at hand one whom
it calls "Father."  Fear shrinks from the impending wrath, love rests
in the unchanging goodness.  Fear imagines a throne and flaming sword;
faith has confidence in a better day ever dawning, in the triumph at
last of right, in the reality of an incomprehensible love that sings in
its joy, soothes in its sorrow, strengthens in its discipline, a life
and love nearer and more real than any of the other facts of living.



FAITH FOR THE FUTURE

You cannot tell much about a man's faith by his willingness to deal in
futures without any foundation in fact.  And yet no man is ready to
face the future unless his heart is nerved by a high and worthy faith.
This alone can give strength to look down the coming days and to take
up their tasks.

None of us can know what these new days hold for us; fear readily
conjures up pictures of disaster.  But because of certain sublime
confidences we hold we banish our fears, shake off our sloth, and
gladly step out into the unknown and untrodden country of to-morrow.

Faith is the force of all the ages.  It accounts for the past; it
enters and determines the future.  Because certain men in days gone by
believed certain things intensely; because they were thrilled by great
visions, by glorious ideals, history was wrought out in the forge of
their convictions, under the hammer of their wills.

No great things are done except by the power of faith, under glowing
hopes and compelling convictions.  It is her faith in her boy's future
that makes the mother willing to suffer, keeps her patient, that buoys
up the father in the strife and weariness of life.  No man or woman is
doing anything that makes the world richer for mere bread and butter;
some purpose and vision is behind the worthy work.

It is because somehow we believe, no matter how we may phrase the
belief, that destiny is behind this strange weaving we call life that
we are content to seem to be the shuttles jerked hither and thither.
We bear the ills of to-day because we dimly see the glorious goal of
the good of all.  We do a full day's work only as we see somehow an
eternal wage.

It makes little difference what creed a man may hold, for that has
become almost wholly a matter of philosophical speculation regarding
things unknown and often unimportant, but it makes all the difference
what measure and quality of faith he has, whether he feels the force of
great aspirations and is controlled by eternal principles.

It may belong to few of us to be heralded as heroes, and the judgment
of history may confer on none the martyr's crown, but the hero's joy
and the martyr's glory are in the heart of every one who boldly reaches
up to and lives out the highest he conceives, for he will not do that
without sacrifice and pain on his side nor without enriching for
mankind on the other.

The largest faith may be manifest in the lowliest places.  When all the
work of the ages appears, when the weaving of the centuries is turned
with its finished side towards us, we may see that the man who has laid
the brick or fed the furnace or the woman who has washed and cooked in
the home and tended the little ones, doing these things for love, has
shot the most glowing colours into the great fabric.

It is not the thing you do so much as the spirit in which you do it
that makes it great or small.  Faith determines this spirit, for faith
is that which fashions the ideal of the one we love, the ideal we serve
and for which we joyfully suffer.  The prophet whose burning words
cannot forget lives by the faith in a vision broad and sweeping; but
not less is the faith of the humble toiler who lives each day by the
vision of his home and fireside.

Nor is this all.  It is faith that draws on life's invisible sources of
power and refreshing; it is faith that finds inner contact with the
invisible.  How empty is life if it hold nothing but things; how hungry
grows the heart fed only on cold facts.  For each day as it comes we
need to be able to draw on the deep springs of the water of life, the
springs from which our fathers drank and found strength to lay the
foundations of our day.

Faith is not the blind confidence that, somehow, Providence will send
us daily bread.  It is the faculty by which the heart eats of the bread
of heaven, by which it comes into fellowship with the great and
immortal of all ages, by which it walks with Jesus of Nazareth and
every spirit like His and learns to read life as love law and see it as
leading to eternal good.



XIX

Hindrances and Helps from Within

  _Worry_
  _A Cure for the Blues_
  _The Gospel of Song_


_Airing our aches will never heal them._

_This would be a sad world but for our sorrows._

_A merry heart kills more microbes than any medicine._

_It is always a pleasure to boost another sinner down._

_We make mistakes; other people commit sins._

_Nothing worries worry worse than work._

_A little modesty often hides a lot of vanity._

_He whose life leads nowhere is never late in getting there._

_Love runs over but it never gives over._

_Never put off to-morrow the meanness you can put off to-day._

_Happiness rests on thoughts and not on things._

_He who has friends only to use them has them only to lose them._

_To-morrow's burden is the only one that breaks the back of to-day._


XIX

WORRY

Worry is wicked because it causes weakness.  It robs the life of its
powers; it thwarts our possibilities.  Anxiety is wrong, not because it
indicates infidelity as to the wise and loving providence overruling
life, but because it is a criminal waste of life's forces, it prevents
our doing our own work, and it irritates and hinders others.

What a great cloud would be lifted from our world if all the needless
fears and frowns were chased away.  One scowling man, going to his work
worrying over it, will spread the contagion of apprehension and
cowardly fretfulness through almost every group with which he mingles.
Our mental health has as much to do with our success and happiness as
any other thing.

The fog that bothers us most of all is that we carry on our faces, that
which rises from our heart fears.  Once savage man lived in perpetual
fear of innumerable malignant spirits; civilized man lives in fear of
invisible and imaginary accidents.  For every real foe that has to be
faced we fight out hypothetical battles with a dozen shadows.

Worry is a matter of outlook and habit.  It depends, first of all, on
whether you are going to take all the facts into account and look on
life as a whole, or see only the dismal possibilities.  Then it depends
on whether you will yield continually to the blue moods that may arise
from apprehension or from indigestion until you have become colour
blind to all but the blue things.

How trivial are the things over which we worry, by means of which we
cultivate the enslaving habit of worry, whether we will catch the
approaching car or the one that will come two minutes later, whether it
will rain when we want it to shine, or shine when we want it to rain.

How ineffective it all is.  Whoever by worrying all night succeeded in
bringing about the kind of weather he wanted?  More than that, it is
fatal to successfully accomplishing those things that do lie within our
power.  The worry over catching a train or doing a piece of work so
agitates the mind and unsettles the will that it reduces the chances of
efficiency.

But there are larger causes of worry than these, sickness, loss,
impending disasters.  Yet how futile to help and how potent to increase
these ills is worry.  The darkest days and the deepest sorrows need
that we should be at our best to meet them.  To yield to fear and
fretting is to turn the powers of heart and brain from allies to
enemies.

No occasion is so great or so small that we can afford to meet it
either with fear or without forethought.  The imperative obligation to
make the most of our lives is not met by apprehending the worst, but by
doing the best we can.  We have no right to give to forebodings the
time and force we need for preparing for and actually meeting our
duties.

The best cure for worry is work.  In the larger number of instances if
we but do our work well we shall have no need to worry over the
results.  Much of our fearful fretting is but a confession of work illy
done and the apprehension of deserved consequences.

Then faithful work by absorbing the thought and energies cures the
habit of worry.  It is the empty mind that falls first prey to
foreboding, and is most easily filled with the spectres of woe.  Do
your work with all your might; let it go at that, knowing that no
amount of further thought can affect the issue of it.

No matter how dark the way, how empty the scrip, the cheerful heart has
sunshine and feasting.  And this not by a blind indifference, a
childish optimism, but by the blessed faculty of finding the riches
that are by every wayside, of catching at all the good there is in
living.  If you would dispel your gloom and depreciate your burdens,
begin to appreciate your blessings.  Do your best, seek out the best,
believe in the best, and the best shall be.



A CURE FOR THE BLUES

There is an honest confession, and one that proved to be good for the
soul of the man who made it, in the Seventy-seventh Psalm.  Asaph, the
singer of that song, had had a bad spell of the blues.  He was nervous,
sleepless, fretful, full of vague regrets and querulous complainings.
He had reviewed the whole troop of his imaginary miseries, and wound up
by wondering whether God really cared anything about him.  One might
well believe that he had been taking in altogether too many social
functions.  Whatever the cause, he had come to an exceedingly
disagreeable condition.

Despite the fact that many suppose that saintliness is never fully
achieved unless the whole nature be soured, it still remains true that
of all the blights upon this earth, few are more contrary to the will
of a God of love and sunshine than the disposition that abides in the
chronic blues.  It lives on regrets for the good things that might have
been and dreadings of the evil things that yet may be.  It is either
complaining or criticising.

Their gall enters the hearts of such people.  They who look within and
see nothing but bitterness, when they look without find a film over
their eyes that colours their whole world, until they lose faith in God
and hope for man.  Then they lay the blame on their circumstances, or,
worse yet, on what they call an "All Wise Providence," whom they
imagine to be as bitter against them as they are against the world.

This attitude soon becomes fixed.  Unconsciously it is cultivated.
Then friends and members of the family turn with loathing from the
atmosphere of chronic pessimism; the habitué has become a cuttlefish
among his fellows, only emanating floods of inky misery.  He wonders
why things do not come his way; why business associates desert him and
troubles assail him more and more.  The truth is that imaginary
troubles tend to become real, and fortune never smiles on a man who
turns a sour face towards her.

Character is contagious.  Even if we had the right to enjoy our own
misery we have no right to infect our neighbours with it.  You are
bound by social obligations as well as by selfish reasons to cure the
blues every time you have them.

And there is a remedy.  Asaph began to cure himself when, instead of
saying, "All things are against me," he said, "This is my infirmity,"
my fault; I am enough to turn a beehive sour.  His cure was almost
perfect when he said, "I will remember the years of the right hand of
the Most High."  The cure for the blues is simple, then.  First, own up
to it that the largest part of your miseries comes out of your own
mind, out of your distorted views of things.  Then begin to thank God
for His goodness, call to mind the many things for which you should be
grateful.

To remember our mercies is to bury our miseries.  There is a lot of
good in this old world and they get it who go for it.  There is
something good in every man; the best people find the best in people.
After all, our lives are determined not by the things about us but by
the things we invite into us.  It is impossible to keep that man blue
who persistently looks for the bright side of things, or to keep him
poor or sad who is affording a welcome to every good thing, every
happy, cheering thought.  Soon the man who lives like that gets so busy
keeping track of his own and other people's happiness that he forgets
to think whether he is happy or not, just as a healthy man forgets to
count his pulse or his respirations.  So, if you are tempted to feel
blue, remember it is a sin to nurse your sadness; it is a duty to
cultivate happiness.



THE GOSPEL OF SONG

Singing cures sighing.  Lift up a note of praise and you can raise the
heaviest off and roll it clean off the heart.  Christianity is a
religion of song.  Its forerunner, Judaism, left the ages the rich
legacy of the Psalms.  Its founder, when he knew that death was
imminent, sang one of those ancient songs with his friends.  His
followers early gathered for worship in song.  Peter beguiled prison
hours with hymns.  Meeting in the catacombs, the early Christians made
the galleries echo with their praise.

To-day every revival is but a wave of song.  The successful churches
know the inspirational and the ethical power of good hymns.  The
decline of many a church may be traced to the exclusion of the people
from their share in the worship, to the attempt to praise God by proxy,
or to substitute an artistic exhibition for an act of exaltation.

Not only in public worship, but in private life, hymns and songs have a
significant influence.  It is always easy to remember rhymed forms of
truth; happy the heart with a store of good hymns; it is provisioned
for many a long voyage.  When the light burns low the heart is
illumined by the memory of choice thoughts expressed in poetry, by
songs sung long ago.  When the burden seems all too heavy, and the
traveller would fain lie down in despair, he remembers some word of
cheer, some stanza from another pilgrim's song, and he is strengthened
for the road.

Christianity is a singing religion, because it is a happy religion.  It
came to end the gloom of this world.  The song must take the place of
the sigh.  Happiness must rule the utterance.  Even a hearty whistle
may be a wonderful means of grace.  Every natural expression of
happiness becomes a religious act.  The flowers praise the gardener by
being beautiful and fragrant, and men praise God by being happy.

Song is a creator of happiness.  You cannot sing songs of joy and
nourish jealousy or hatred.  A song of gratitude for things you have
will often chase away the clouds of gloom over those you dread.  It is
a sin to be sad when you might as well be glad, and it is a sin to be
silent when you might as well be singing.

One song may surpass many a sermon in its power over a life.  Great
songs have sung men into battle and stiffened their melting hearts.
Great songs have touched our clay and thrilled it to the divinely
heroic.  Songs sung in the stillness of the evening over the baby's
cradle have ever been the mother's consecration for all her sacrifice.
Hymns bring back hallowed memories; a strain of song will touch a chord
no syllogism could sound; the simple words of an old hymn bring comfort
and new hope to hearts broken and crushed.

We may not all make sermons, but we can all sing songs.  To make the
good singer there is needed not the artist but the heart.  Sing away
the gloom; sing in the gratitude, the joy, and love, and strength; sing
in the courage, the aspiration and hope.  Men may reject our sermons,
but they will rejoice in our songs, for they are theirs also.  The
creeds change, but the old hymns stand.

Store your memory with the songs that time has tried.  The thoughts
that were meat and strength to others shall be your bread in desert
days, your light in darkness.  Praise God by a life of happy praise.



XX

Does He Care?

  _The One at The Helm_
  _The Shepherd and The Sheep_
  _The Father's Care_


_Faith's fervour is more than effervescence._

_The lights of the world are not advertising signs._

_Sow the sand and you reap only cinders in your eyes._

_No man ever broke his back under his brother's burden._

_The fear of reputation is often taken for the love of righteousness._

_You cannot cure your sorrows by taking them out in a wheel chair._

_A niggardly purse in the pocket becomes a thorn in the side._

_Tears over yesterday's broken toys blind us to today's treasures._

_Things do not prove themselves sacred by segregating themselves from
secular concerns._

_Heaven intrusts no great cargo to the vessel that spreads its sails to
every wind that blows._

_When a man is getting fat out of the fall of others he is sure to be a
warm advocate of their right to be free to fall._

_Many a man will be surprised when he gets to heaven to find how large
a place his little kindly deeds occupy in its history._


XX

THE ONE AT THE HELM

Danger tears away our disguises.  In hours of peril the true man
appears, and at such times, if ever, the man speaks the truth.  Fearing
the boat was sinking, the disciples had little thought of the dignity
or the divinity of the one who lay asleep in the helmsman's place.
Rudely they awaken Him with their indignant cries, wondering why one
who had spoken such wondrous words before seems indifferent now to
their danger.  "Carest Thou not that we perish?" they cry.

Every man who has been accustomed to take God for granted has used
almost the same words at some time in his life.  The hour of tempest,
when the uncontrollable waves of trouble and winds of adversity seemed
ready to overwhelm him, when he had done all that mortal might do, then
it seemed as though this God to whom he had prayed so often, of whom he
had learned to think as part of his life, was absent or indifferent.

It is the question of every soul in sorrow or testing, "Does God care
anything about me?"  It is more than a speculative inquiry then.
Theologians may have drawn up their specifications of the Most High,
and, in the peaceful ways of their lives, they may be satisfied with
their handiwork.  But when, even into their cloistered walks, some
great sorrow or grim death has come stalking, then, with dry lips and
moist brow they cry, "Master, are you asleep?  Do you not care?"

What is there at the helm of this great ship of life?  Is there any one
or is it steered automatically, blindly holding its way and heeding
neither waves nor rocks nor other craft?  Has this universe a heart or
only an engine at its centre?  The inquiry becomes pressing and
pertinent, indeed, when inexplicable distress and anguish that seem all
unnecessary break down all the man's strength and courage.

A man can no more content himself with a far off being, sitting in the
heavens in royal state, winning reverence by remoteness, than his own
children would be satisfied to know him only as a sovereign.  He craves
the friendship of that one; he longs for compassion, sympathy,
assistance such as friend gives to friend; in a word, he looks for
love.  You cannot love an absentee God any more than you can love an
abstraction or a theory.

But the need of one who will come close into our lives, who aids in the
hour of extremity, does not meet itself.  The fact remains that often
we seem to be left to the mercy of the tempest; the elements do their
worst and no hand is lifted and no voice is heard that still the waves.
Full often the storm seems to finish its work and only clinging to the
wreckage or swept on the waves do we come into port.

Is there any answer to the great question, Does any greater one care
for our lives?  If we are looking for an answer as susceptible to
demonstration as a mathematical proposition we are doomed to
disappointment.  It is possible to believe in providence without being
able either to prove or fully comprehend it.  The child must become the
parent before he can understand the ways of the father or mother with
him; yet he can know their love before he can comprehend their ways.

Nothing could do more harm than to have the absolute assurance that an
almighty friend would fly to our aid and protection in every time of
danger or need.  A friend whose power relieved us from the necessity of
prudence or courage or endeavour would be a foe indeed.  The All Wise
loves man too well and too wisely to make plain always His ways of
caring for him and His purposes of protection.

The furrowed faces and whitened heads of men may be the will of love as
truly as the smooth ways of ease and complacency.  There is one at the
helm, but His concern is more for the making of strong sailors than for
the securing of smooth sailing.  The best evidence of the care of the
Most High for all the sons of men is not in the immediate unbaring of
His arm for their protection, but rather in the manner in which He
causes the wind and the waves, the struggle with the tempest, the need
for the nerving of the soul in the hour of peril all to work out His
will, the will of great love, the bringing of the mariner to His
likeness in character and soul.



THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP

Millions have lived and died in faith in that word, The Lord is my
Shepherd; nations have sung its strain into the strength of their
being.  The picture of the one who leads His flock, who carries the
lambs in His arms, appeals to all; yet who has not some time, perhaps
often, questioned: After all, is there any one who cares; is there any
eye to see or heart to heed if I--or, indeed, all men--should faint or
fall by the way?

Perhaps there are some who no longer find aught beyond an imagery of
poetic beauty in the old strain, who even feel that it would be
retreating intellectually to conceive of an infinite heart that broods
over men or a hand that helps.  They tell us that science has wiped out
the possibility of such an one as this great Shepherd of the flock of
humanity.  Yet even they are not dead to this great thought that so
long stirred men's souls and made them brave, ready to sacrifice, to
die.

The truth is, the singer of long ago was but giving expression, in
figures familiar to him, of a truth we all apprehend with greater or
less clearness, one that alone gives strength, hope, and faith to our
hearts, the conviction that back of all the warring purposes and
jangling discords of our lives and our world there is reason, and
order, and beneficence.

The science that seemed to wipe out the conception of a mighty Creator
who fashioned the first man with His fingers, but emphasizes with a
stress that grows from day to day the fact that this universe is not
without order, its forces as sheep without a shepherd; that the stars
are not wandering, nor the least atom without guidance; that, as one
put it long ago, all things work together for good.

If the remotest particle of matter is bound up with the mighty laws of
the universe, guided, governed, led to its appointed end, bound to
serve its purpose, shall we not have faith that the law that guides the
atom and holds the planet, pervades all the universe and takes us in
its mighty grasp?

Not with doubt but with larger meaning and deeper assurance may I sing,
"The Lord is my shepherd," thinking not only of one who takes up my
little life and carries it, but of the great fact of all life under
law, law divine, all pervading, moving in majesty on to the completion
of its purposes.  I may not know what the Shepherd looks like; I may
have lost my old simple pictures of personality and appearance; the
larger fact grows too great for fixed words.

This is to see the guidance of the Shepherd in the great things of our
world as well as in the little.  It is a strange, a poor religion that
believes that providence will send a man his dinner but never gives a
thought to the great purposes working out through all the strife of our
common life, through our industrial, social, and political problems,
nor remembers that life is more than meals or millinery.

There is the large faith which we need for all times, to believe that a
plan is being wrought out behind all the seeming chaos, that there is a
purpose even though we cannot yet trace its lines, to be willing to go
on doing our work, laying down our lives, because the great world needs
us; the Shepherd cannot bring His flock to the green pastures and the
still waters unless we live and labour and die.

There is only one solution to all the mystery of our lives, the riddle
of history and the universe; it is the spirit solution, that we are but
the offspring, as all things are but the creation of Spiritual forces;
that we are working out spiritual destinies, the green pastures and the
still waters are but emblems of felicities and beauties beyond our
tongue, the full orbed glory of the soul to which the Shepherd leads by
toilsome mountain ways or dreary desert trails; but at last we come to
the house of the Lord, where we may dwell forever.



THE FATHER'S CARE

Formal creeds have little to say of the belief in the overruling care
of the All Father.  Perhaps the belief is so nearly universal as to be
without the range of debate so dear to creed makers.  Yet at all times,
in all lands, man, whether the savage, the oriental mystic, or the
cool-headed Christian, in various ways and with different phrases, has
recognized the hand that, from behind the scenes, touched his affairs
and often seemed to order his life.  Whether it be the hand of force or
of friend, the fact has been felt.

True, the laziest man is apt to have the readiest sense of the
intention of Providence to care for him, to send him bread well
buttered; the foolish and thoughtless depend on heaven to do their
thinking, and many court bankruptcy while praying for solvency.  But
the improvidence of man does not disprove the providence of God.  So
far from encouraging sloth and recklessness this truth provokes to
progress by the assurance of the coöperation of infinite powers with
our best endeavours.

It is a thought we cannot escape; the all wise must be the all loving.
The spirit at the centre of all must embrace all within the circle of
his love; and that love will not lie quiescent, helpless when its
objects are in distress, in perplexity, or need, when it might succour,
save, or suggest the way of success.  If there is a heart of love there
is a hand of help.

Yet it seems too great a thought.  What are we but dust on the wheels
of the universe?  Often do our fainting hearts question whether there
be any, outside our own little circle, who care whether we suffer,
whether we succeed.  Can it be that the petty affairs of a life that
passes like the hoar frost before the morning sun can even interest,
still less call forth the aid, of the one in whom we all live and move
and have our being?

Despite all questionings men will ever go on praying to that one; they
will turn to an ear that hears, they will seek a heart that feels, and
look for hands reached out in hours of necessity.  Experience indorses
their faith.  Nearly all can look back and see where destiny has seemed
to breathe upon them; their old plans wilted, and new ones, and new
ways sprung up, bearing other and fairer flowers than they had ever
dreamed; a mighty, mysterious power had intervened.

What does it all mean?  That we are but puppets in these strange unseen
hands; that we can neither will nor work for ourselves?  No; it but
means what poets sang long ago when, seeking after that which far
transcends all thought and all imagery, they cried, "Surely Thou art
our Father."  That which was best in them, the holy fire of fatherhood,
became a mirror in which they saw the infinite.

From the source of all life, humanity has learned the great lessons of
family care and provision.  All that is good in our families is true of
this great family of all mankind.  The great purpose of this family, as
of all families, is the development of the highest, fullest life in its
members.  Fatherhood regards the provision of food, clothing, and
shelter but as incidental to the great purpose of training the children.

This is the purpose of the Father of us all, to develop the best in us.
When our weak hearts cry for ease, for rest, for pleasures, He sends
the task, the sorrow, the loss.  When we think all life's lessons well
learned He sends us up to higher grades with harder tasks.  Yet ever
over all is the pitying, compassionate yearning of a father's heart
that never forgets the weakness of the child.

Wisely the father's love seems to hide its working.  Like all things
deep and sublime it passes comprehension; it may often seem like
indifference.  All the child can do is to bend every effort to do his
best, to work out the father's plan so far as he knows it, to know,
through all, that God is good.  Then, when the child grows to the man,
the man towards the divine, the things that seemed strange are made
plain in the light of the Father's face.





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