« AnteriorContinuar »
ment to the wider outlook of the religious life. For these last no prospect of further change is in any degree alarming. Let men think their honest utmost, and let knowledge grow from much to more: nothing can alter the basis of righteousness, which is the unchangeable will of God: nothing can destroy the beauty of human service except a grudging spirit; nor can anything disturb that peace which arises from the consciousness of wishing and striving to be at one with him. Personally I will rejoice in the freedom which these great changes have wrought. It vastly more than compensates for the pain and loss endured in the process. He who has sustained the ages in their upward endeavours, and has given of his spirit to all races of men and their children, is still the same in whom all live and move and have their being. And in proportion as we are true to that spirit shall we be brought into the unity of righteousness and brotherly goodwill, which is, in short, the very kingdom of God.
GOD'S PART AND OURS1
THERE was a time when this earth was uninhabited by human beings, and such a time may come again. Whether life will be extinguished by a grand catastrophe or by a slow decline of the sun's heat, and whether the end is to come in ten thousand, or ten million years, are questions we can more easily ask than answer. But it seems reasonable to suppose that the object for which the earth exists, whatever it is, will be fully accomplished. Is it not also reasonable to believe that the human race has not been created in vainthat the object of our existence, whatever it is, will be fully accomplished ? For we are obliged to contemplate life on earth as having had a beginning, and as likely to have an end. More closely home comes the fact that for each of us the entrance upon this stage of being and the exit from it can never be far apart. Will the object of our individual existence be accomplished ? It seems idiotic to doubt that there is such an object. Can we help asking, What are we here for ? Is there any wise and worthy purpose behind your life and mine ? And what is to come of it ? Our existence seems involved in a vast maze of things and connected with a long chain of causes and events. Are we merely being played with by pitiless or Puckish natural forces ? Are we
1 By C. Gordon Ames.
But eddies of the dust,
Ah! if we could know or if we could restfully believe that the Power which brought us here really means something good, really has a large plan and provisions for us, and really cares for our present and lasting welfare, how gratefully we might
accept this strange gift of life, and how comfortably we might occupy our seats on the planet as it 'plunges eyeless on for ever!'
In all our higher moods, what we most deeply want is to feel assured that we are being prepared for a worthy destiny by changes for the better going on within ourselves. Make us sure of that, and all misgivings will give place to peace and joy. If day by day, or even year by year, I am able to see that I am becoming a nobler kind of being, it will be impossible to doubt that the laws and forces by which I live are entirely friendly, so that they can be for ever trusted. Why do we not always feel this happy confidence? Why cannot all mankind feel this way? Perhaps we can find out why. But, first, why do we suffer this sense of incompleteness and selfsatisfaction ? Why are
we doomed to feel that we are capable of becoming and doing and enjoying immensely more than we have yet attained ? The question ought to be its own answer. We ask it because we aspire, because we are inwardly in motion, because we are made to grow in wisdom and goodness. “The hope of a wise heart is prophecy.' It is as if a voice whispered in the heart of the egg, as it thrills to the brooding warmth, 'You shall yet be a bird !' or in the seed, as it is stirred by the touch of the sun's ray, 'You shall yet be a tree!'
Here is the patience of the saints, or of those who are in the way of becoming saints. It is ‘ the patience of hope.' They have learned to trust the purpose of good which is within and behind their personal life ; in other words, they believe in God. This is the joyful cry and uplift of the Hebrew who wrote the one hundred and thirty-eighth Psalm : • The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever. Forsake not the works of thine own hands. And this is Paul's encouragement to his struggling brethren at Philippi, ‘Being confident that he who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.' Behind the dialect of Jew or Christian is the strong, steady beat of