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every righteous cause. Here in America, above all, the new age approaches offering opportunity. Here only a beginning has been made; we have but felled the forest, and drained the marsh, and bridged the river and built the road; but cleared the wildwood and made wholesome the atmosphere for a more fortunate race, whom occasion shall invite to greater thoughts and more godlike deeds. We stand in the front rank of those who face life, dowered with all the instruments of power which the labors of the strongest and wisest in all time and place have provided.
We might have been born savages or slaves, in a land of cannibals or tyrants; but we enter life welcomed by all that gives worth and joy, courage and security to man. There is inspiration in the air of America. Here all is fresh and young, here progress is less difficult, here there is hope and confidence, here there is eagerness to know and to do. Here they who are intelligent, sober, industrious and self-denying may get what money is needed for leisure and independence, for the founding of a home and the right education of children,-the wealth which strengthens and liberates, not the excess which undermines and destroys. The material is good but in so far as it is a means to spiritual good. The power to think and appreciate the thoughts of others, to love and to be happy in the joy, the courage, the beauty, and the goodness of others, lifts us above our temporal environment, and endows us with riches of which money can never be the equivalent. A great thought or a noble love, like a beautiful object, bears us away from the hard and narrow world of our selfish interests, dips us in the clear waters of pure delight, and makes us glad as children who lie in the shade and catch the snowy blossoms as they fall.
No true man ever believes that it is not possible to do great things without great riches. When, therefore, we say with Emerson, that America is but a name for opportunity, we do not emphasize its material resources or the facility with which they may be made available. He who knows that the good of life lies within and that it is infinite, capable of being cherished and possessed more and more by whoever seeks it with all his heart, understands that a little of what is external is sufficient and is not hard to acquire. He, therefore, neither gives himself to the pur
suit of wealth or fame or pleasure or position, nor thinks those fortunate who are rich in these things. He feels that the worst misfortune is not the loss of money or friends or reputation, but the loss of inner strength and wholeness, of faith in God and man, of self-respect, of the desire for knowledge and virtue. The darkened mind, the callous heart, the paralytic will—these are the root evils. Is man a real being, with an element of freedom, responsibility and permanence in his constitution, or is he but a phantom, a bubble that rises and floats for a moment, and then bursts in the boundless inane, where all things disappear and are no more? This is the radical question, for if the individual wholly ceases to be at death, the race itself is but a parasite of a planet which is slowly perishing; and life's formula is—from nothing to nothing. But nothingness is inconceivable, for to think is to be conscious of being: something exists; therefore something has always existed. Being is a mental conception; and when we affirm that it is eternal we affirm the eternity of mind, that mind is involved in the nature of things. It is the consciousness of this that makes it impossible for the soul to accept a mechanical theory of the universe or to rest content with what is material. It is akin to the infinite Spirit, and for man opportunity is opportunity to develop his true self, to grow in wisdom and love. What he yearns for in his deepest heart is not to eat and drink, but to live in ever-increasing conscious communion with the vital truth which is the soul's nourishment, the element in which faith and hope and freedom thrive.
The modern mind, having gained a finer insight into the play of the forces of nature, which are ceaselessly being transformed into new modes of existence, seems threatened with loss of the power of perceiving the Eternal. But this enfeeblement and perturbation are temporary, and on our wider knowledge we shall build a nobler and more glorious temple wherein to believe and serve, to love and pray. That man, who lives but a day and is but an atom, should imagine that he partakes of the attributes of the eternal and absolute Being, would seem to be absurd. None the less all that is most real and highest in him impels to this belief. To lose it is to lose faith in the
meaning and worth of life; is to abandon the principle that issues in the heroic struggles and sufferings, by which freedom, civilization, art, science, and religion have been won and secured as the chief blessings of the race. It is not possible to find true joy except in striving for the infinite, for something we have not yet, which we can never have, here at least. Hence, whatever purpose a man cherish, whatever task he set himself, he finds his work stretching forth endlessly. The more he attains the more clearly he perceives the boundless unattained. His success is ever becoming failure, his riches poverty, his knowledge ignorance, his virtue vice. The higher he rises in power of thought and love, the more what he thinks and loves seems to melt away and disappear in the abysmal depths of the All-perfect Being, who is forever and forever, of whom he is born, and whom to seek through endless time were a blessed lot. It is the hope of finding Him that lures the soul to unseen worlds, lifts it out of the present, driving it to the past and the future, that it may live with vanished saints and heroes, or with the diviner men who yet shall be.
The best moments are those in which we stay within ourselves, alone with God and all His world of truth and beauty. This is the sage's delight; this the student's. This is the ever-welling source of joy for all who cherish the soul and bear it company. This is the solitude which for open minds and pure hearts is peopled with high thoughts and blissful yearnings. In the crowd, in the society even of one or two these heavenly visitations never or seldom come. By the harvest we reap from the inner eye's contemplations we are nourished and strengthened to bear and do our share in the sufferings and achievements of the wise and good. Lovers themselves feel most the blessedness of love when they are parted, left to visions and dreams of the ideals by which they are haunted.
“Where a man can live, he can also live well; but he may have to live in a palace," says Marcus Aurelius, implying that right life is most difficult in high places. Why, then, should we wish to dwell in a great city or to have great wealth or notoriety? These things are distractions and hindrances. They draw us from out the depths of the soul and thrust us into the midst of noise and confusion, of
strife and envy, or they lead us into the pitfalls of sensuality, taking us away from ourselves to make us the sport of the mob of time-servers and idlers. To live for an hour alone with God gives us a more intimate sense of the value and sacredness of life than to dwell for years in the company of worldlings. O highest and best, source of all, of all father, guide, and nourisher, from out the midst of infinite mystery and suffering we look to Thee! On Thee our faith and hope and love, on Thee our need and despair still call. We cannot grasp Thy being or comprehend Thy ways. We can but know Thy truth, Thy goodness, and Thy beauty. It is enough: Thou art with us; in Thee we live. What Thou doest is eternally right; on Thee we throw the burden of our lives. Thou art, Thou hast ever been, Thou shalt be forever; Thou holdest us in Thy sight whether we live or whether we die.
The measure of the value of opportunity is its influence on religious and moral life. We are athirst for God, and finding Him not we harden to mere materialists, or sink into lethargy, or drown consciousness in the sloughs of sensuality. In the end, each one has but himself, and if God be not in that self, he is poor and wretched, though he possess a universe; for with a few spadefuls of earth on his head it will all be over, forever. The vanity, the nothingness of the individual, when his existence is thrown against the background of eternity and infinity, is appalling, but when it is lifted into the light and life of the Almighty Father, who is truth and love and righteousness, it acquires divine meaning and worth.
To throw away life is the greatest crime we can commit. It is our duty to live; therefore it is our duty to live in ever-increasing completeness of faith and love, of wisdom and power; for if we cease to grow, we begin to die. The body indeed is doomed to decay, but the soul was made to rise toward God throughout eternity. The only right opportunities, then, are those which help to make us god-like-strong, patient, active, fair, wise, benevolent, useful, and holy.
Genuine progress is spiritual. The man has higher value than the machine. Nietsche holds that it would be right and admirable to sacrifice all men actually existing, if it were possible thereby to originate a stronger species.
This, he says, would be real progress. But if there is no divine Being, no immortal life, this mightier superhuman, who would also have keener insight, would but see more clearly the misery and futility of existence. Let us rather listen to Matthew Arnold, when he declares that whatever progress may be made in science, art, and literary culture, however much higher, more general and more effective than at present the value for them may become, Christianity will be still there, as what these rest against and imply; as the indispensable background, the three-fourths of life. It is only when we walk in the spirit and follow in the footsteps of the Son of God, that we come to understand that life is opportunity, rich as earth, wide as heaven, deep as the soul.
We weary of everything,-of labor, of rest, of pleasure, of success, of the company of friends, and of our own, but not of the divine presence uttering itself in hope and love, in peace and joy. They who live with sensual thoughts and desires soon come to find them a burden and a blight; but the lowly-minded and the clean in heart, who are busy with whatsoever things are true and fair and good, feel themselves in a serene world where it is always delightful to be. When we understand that all is from God and for Him, and turn our wills wholly to Him, trouble, doubt, and anxiety die away, and the soul rests in the calm and repose that belong to whatever is eternal. He sees all and is not disturbed. Why should we be filled with apprehension because there are ripples in the little pond where our life-boat floats?
Since He has made us for everlasting bliss, He has made us to be happy now in the work that lies at our hand or in the sorrow and suffering we must bear. Whatever brings a high thought or a gentle or a generous mood is consecrated as though wafted to us from the wings of angels. Had we the power to gratify every wish and whim, human life would become impossible. God's love is as manifest when He hems us in as when He enlarges the bounds in which He permits us to move.
We ask blindly for many things, when all that we need is that He guide us. “Thy will be done,” is the sum of all true worship and right prayer. The rest is aside from the divine purpose, and could it be realized would make the world