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noble sentiments have gone through his head, he imagines himself noble. Because he has listened to pious sentiments with joy, he thinks himself pious. Because, away from the rush of life, the stress of business, the temptations of the shop and street, the parlor and kitchen, he approves of righteousness, purity, generosity, patience, he thinks himself to have those qualities. But we all approve good in the abstract. It by no means follows that all the young ladies who admire the heroines of their novels are capable of being heroines themselves. All sentiment must be brought to the test of action. Hearing good things and talking well, require to be supplemented by work; for we really do not know any truth to be true until we have applied it.
The divine power of truth can only be realized when it is put into action. If we are hearers, but not doers, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.' We carry the truth, then, in our memory, perhaps to reproduce on great occasions. But we have not ate it, nor drank it, and so made it a part of ourselves. Jesus said, “You must eat me and drink me, or I shall not help you." We must eat and drink all truth, if it is to do us any good. Else we are only forgetful hearers. Until we have put a truth into action, we do not really know it. The artist may study colors and forms forever ; but until he tries to paint a picture he is only a dilettante artist. The carpenter may hear lectures on the use of tools, but till he learns to use them we do not call him a carpenter. The youth who graduates in a law-school, full of the theory of law, is not yet a lawyer. Do anything, and you come to know it, and then truth becomes knowledge and creates love.
We have in Boston a “Free Religious Association,” as it is called. Yet true religion is always free, and always sets us free. It is a law of liberty ; liberty and law in one.
Religion is the source of all real freedom, for true freedom is not wilfulness, but self-direction. And we can only direct ourselves when we have some rule or law by which to direct ourselves; some aim of life, and some method by which to pursue that aim. But if we pursue earthly ends, we cannot be wholly free. The politician whose aim is earthly office or power, must make himself the servant of the people, or of party leaders ; it will not do for him to go his own way. Thus also the ambition for position in society; for literary success, for wealth, for popularity ; all take away something of our freedom. But religion emancipates us by making us servants of conscience, and so setting us above human praise or censure. That is the first law of religious liberty. Then it emancipates us again when it makes us love goodness and right. This is the perfect law of liberty. Conscience breaks every other chain but its own. Love takes off that chain, also.
The rule for strengthening the memory, then, so that we shall not be forgetful hearers, is, first, to give our atten tion to what we hear, to put our mind into it. A common phrase in English is “to mind a thing," meaning "to remember it.” Another meaning of mind is to obey. “ Mind your father and mother, child ! To put our mind seriously into anything, leads, first to memory; next, to action. And this action, if we continue therein, becomes at last interesting for its own sake, and so we make it a part of ourselves. We eat it and drink it, and it enters into our life, and life's most secret joy, so that finally we become “ blessed in our deed.” Thus continued, persistent attention, given to what is true and right, leads to action; and persistent, continued action, leads to love. And love sets us free, uniting law and liberty, and causing us to be blessed in our deed.
Put your mind, then, into your duties, if you wish to re
member them, and to enjoy them. Learn to believe in them, and not to do them merely because they are duties. When we do our work, do any work, thus, earnestly, it becomes an object of love. So our rule for the mnemonics of morality has an addition to it, and it now reads, “Whatyou attend to
will remember ; whatever interests you, you will attend to; and whatever you do with your whole soul, that
will come to take an interest in.” Whoever, says the text, is a doer of the word, and not a hearer only, is blessed in his deed ; that is, he enjoys it. He enjoys doing it, he takes an interest in it; it become a part of his life. Do with your might whatever your hand finds to do. Put your heart and thought into it, not merely the ends of your fingers. Then you grow, by degrees, to love it, and when you love to do your work, your work will be its own reward, and its own satisfaction.
MERCY AND TRUTH MEETING TOGETHER.
“ MERCY AND TRUTH HAVE MET TOGETHER."
ONCE read in the papers extracts from a sermon preach
ed in San Francisco, by Horatio Stebbins, on the character and career of a great California banker. It was an acute and fair analysis of the man and the influences which made him what he was. It recognized his manliness, generosity, brilliant and keen faculties ; spoke with tenderness of his faults : but distinctly saw his limitations. In the face of a community full of admiration for energy and enterprise, Mr. Stebbins pointed out the essential weakness and littleness of this splendid materialism, this blind worship of the senses. He considered the typical Californian, made by California, and with clearness and a directness which no one could misunderstand, told Californians how their own lives, their own defects and dangers, were manifested in this splendid specimen of a man in whom “ the whole universe of things tapered the wrong way.”
It required great courage to say all this in San Francisco, and when I read it, I said to myself, “ Here, for once, mercy and truth have met together ; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Here is a man who speaks, as the day of judgment may be expected to speak, with a light which will illuminate the darkest corner of the soul an infinite, divine light, made tender by an infinite, divine love." It is very
seldom that we hear things said in this way.
We hear indiscriminate flattery and eulogy on one side, indiscriminate condemnation and criticism on the other. But once in a while there comes a voice like this, strong and calm, without passion, without prejudice, finding more good in a man than his best friends ever saw, saying better things in his praise than his warmest admirers know how to say ; but then bringing him to the bar of absolute truth and right, and showing, so that all men see it, his essential radical defects. As we listen, we know that it is not the critic who condemns ; it is Truth itself which sentences ; as Jesus said, “I judge him not ; but the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day."
This last day, this day of judgment, is not always postponed until the end of the world. There comes a last day, a winding up, in this life, to many men, and things. Falsehoods and shams glitter and shine for their hour ; but finally their last day comes; then they explode and disappear. But it is well when they disappear, that some voice at once friendly and honest, shall indicate the lesson written in their history. Cold, hard, merciless severity will not do ; weak, passionate sympathy will not do. But truth spoken in love is what purifies the air and makes the world healthy again.
Theodore Parker was not usually thought to put much mercy into his judgments. He was often terribly severe on those who took views opposed to his own. But on one occasion, at least, mercy and truth met together in his final criticism on a great opponent. When Daniel Webster died, not one of his idolatrous admirers painted the splendid faculties and original majesty of his mind as did Theodore Parker. He described him as Milton described the Prince of Hell :
li With Atlantean shoulders fit to bear