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out, . . . for Herod will kill thee”: “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected"; with which his great apostle could say, in full view of his troublous career foretold by the Holy Ghost, “ Yet none of these things move me.” It enabled the great Reformer in the midst of dire confusion to enjoy his home, and the great Chevalier, when ordered to a needlessly fatal exposure, to go saying, “My life is my country's, and my soul I commend to God.” It sustained the great Protector, in the form of a Scripture promise, under what he used to say was "a burden too great for man,” and it “once did save my life.” It made the great Baptist missionary, still without a convert, pronounce the prospect to be “bright as the promise of God.” It endowed our great martyr President, under his infinitude of cares, with an infinitude of patience, and often an outburst of mirthfulness misunderstood. What is more, it has enabled many a humble saint, some Phebe Brown or Thomas Cranfield, to keep on in his weary round of daily toil and trial rejoicing
Character brings steadiness in emergencies. See Gordon go calmly to his immolation in Khartoum, and Stanley once sit still with nine gun barrels pointed at his body; see “ Havelock's saints," the men that never quailed, and Cromwell's Ironsides, his “gathered church,” the troops that never were defeated. When the great Mexican invader landed in early summer in a wealthy land and a genial climate with nine hundred
men all armed to the teeth, he had to sink his nine vessels to hold his men back from their native Spain. When, a hundred years later, a hundred and two men, women, and children landed helpless in midwinter on a bleak, storm-swept coast, welcomed by showers of Indian arrows, and in four months laid forty-four of their number beneath the sod, they saw their one vessel sail for the old home and not one of them took passage. “Great peace have they which love thy law."
Such a spirit is that which by its steadiness faces difficulties. In a mixed world the straight course is not always the popular course; and it seems to be a growing law of the age that the man who in any line succeeds becomes a target for the men who fail. But the well-compacted character which encounters the opposition is the force to meet it. For against a man armed with "the breastplate of righteousness and the shield of faith” the fiery darts of the wicked drop shattered and quenched. One who watches the course of human affairs will read that in all such encounters, even in business schemes, much more in the higher activities, opposition as such, sheer and simple, base and baseless, in the long run is a boomerang that recoils on the head of the hurler. I read not long ago that a certain man took a certain place “to put down ” a certain other man; but if I read aright, it worked the other way. So Haman undertook to put down Mordecai ; but Haman himself was put down, or rather hung up.
But in all this we do not forget the difference between the fine fervor of firmness and a weak and
wicked willfulness; between a Daniel and a Darius; between the prompt decision of an Abigail and the dogged obstinacy of a Nabal. The one is as clearsighted as it is transparent; the other as blind as it is turbid. The one is peace; the other stagnation. The one is a fortress; the other a prison.
Great confidence and tranquillity have they who have honestly and wisely chosen and firmly grasped their general or their special work, and who go resolutely on, casting no look backward or sidewise, but only onward and upward. Such a quiet satisfaction may be rare and difficult in times of restlessness and complaint, of questionings and intermeddlings, of uprisings and upheavals, of cavilings and captiousness; but it is like the diamond or the emerald, all the more precious for its rarity. It is a self.poise that rests on the sterling qualities of mind and heart, sometimes seen in men in public spheres, but oftener far in those who
“ Along the cool sequestered vale of life"
Have “ kept the noiseless tenor of their way."
III. Character commands respect and honor. No doubt men yield a transient and surface homage to lower qualities. The moneyed man commands obsequiousness while the money flows; but if that be all, the coffin lid shuts off alike the money and all the money bought. “How does he cut up ?” was the inquiry once made over the remains of such a porcine man. Rank and place for a time impress the populace. They rush to see an emperor or a president, but they are quick to admire an Augustus and curse a Tiberius, to see the disparity between a Jackson and a Johnson. The British queen holds her subjects' hearts far more by her womanly and motherly qualities than by her exalted rank. The men of rank now feel constrained to show by their good services the utility of their nobility. A Prince of Wales must to some degree verify the motto of his crest: “I serve." Great place but exposes the small soul. The modern display of the moral bankruptcy of that marvelous man, the first emperor of the French, is making sad havoc with the bright image that once captivated every youthful imagination. “ Not even the genius of Carlyle can canonize the cynical egotism and reckless rapacity of Frederick the Second.
Literature brings higher honors ; but not brilliancy alone. It must be gold, and not tinsel. To lay hold on humanity it must speak to humanity, and it must, therefore, speak from a true and deep humanity. Tricks of speech and contortions of thought, vagaries and conceits, “storm and stress,” mock sentiment and mechanical emotion, specious and spurious thinking pass with their authors to oblivion. The thin romance, laden it may be with epigrams, though floated by all the breath of the publisher, the paid journalist, and the hired critic, soon sinks. Such things fall around as thick as autumnal leaves in Vallombrosa, and like leaves they blow away. The tales that both realize and idealize our very life, histories that seize the spirit
of the times, musings and reasonings that utter the best voices of the heart, the poetry, idyllic, epic, tragic, or lyric, that tells the best meditations of man to his fellow man these immortalize their author. It may be but one thing -- the high and true thing – in which the whole man has uttered himself — some massive argument, a great "Analogy or some simple song of Home, sweet home.” It speaks to mankind.
A worn and weary woman in a western city, loaded down with family cares and poverty, writes a tale not only bright with thought and keen with observation, but glowing with philanthropic fire, tender with a woman's sympathies, vitalized with a mother's love, and throbbing with a Christian heartbeat, and she emerges from poverty and obscurity to competence and fame. But what is it that in the visit to a foreign land not only opens the doors of wealth and rank but throngs the thoroughfares and halting places with humble crowds eager to catch a sight of that modest face and brings the street greeting from strange voices : “Ye're welcome to Scotland !”? It was not so much the novelty of the plot, the strangeness of the scenes, or the brilliancy of the writing as the fullness of the inner life, the powerful portraiture of “God's image carved in ebony,” the masterly touch of the deepest chords of human feeling, the swelling undertone of soul that was in it.
If this hold good of the life's utterances, much more of the life itself. Even here every man is ultimately to be weighed and estimated by his character. In due