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TAKE TIME. BE PATIENT.
silent and slow. Nothing starts suddenly into being; nothing arrives instantly at perfection; nothing falls instantly into decay. The germination of the seed, the growth of the plant, the swelling of the bud, the opening of the flower, the ripening of the fruit, are all the results of slow and silent operations. Still slower is the growth of the majestic forest. And the trees of greatest worth, which supply us with our choicest and most durable timber, have the slowest growth of all. And so it is with things that live and move. Their growth is silent as the grave. And man, the highest of created beings, advances to maturity most tardily of all. Our development is so gradual, that the changes we undergo from day to day are imperceptible. And the development of our minds is as gradual as the growth of our bodies. We gather our knowledge a thought, a fact, a lesson at a time. We form our character, a line, a trace, a touch a day.
Society is subject to the same law. Churches and nations are collections of individuals, each changing slowly, and must therefore themselves change more slowly still. You cannot force the growth of a single plant or animal at pleasure; still less can you force at will the advancement or improvement of society. You may change a nation's laws and institutions suddenly, but the change will be of no service, so long as the minds of the people remain unchanged.
All the great beneficent changes of Nature are gradual. How slowly the darkness of the night gives place to the morning dawn, and how slowly the grey dawn of the morning brightens into noon! How slowly the cold of winter gives place to the warmth of spring and summer. How slowly the seed deposited in the ground springs up, putting forth first the blade, then the ear, and then the full ripe corn in the ear. And how slowly we grow up from babyhood to manhood, and how slowly we pass on from early sprightly manhood, to the sobriety and wisdom of age. And how slowly the nations advance in science, in arts, and in commerce; in religion, and morals, and government. And so it is in all the works of God. Even the startling phenomena presented by the earth's surface, which earlier philosophers supposed to be the result of violent
and sudden convulsions, are now regarded as the result of the slow and ordinary action of natural powers. Leisurely movement is the eternal and universal law. And it is no use complaining; you cannot alter it. You cannot make a hen hatch her eggs in less than three weeks, do what you will. You may crack the shells, thinking to let the chickens out a little earlier; but you let death in, and the chickens never do come out at all. "The more haste the less speed." I have had proof of this more than once in my own experience. I once lived in a house terribly infested with rats, and I wanted to get rid of them as quick as I could, for they were a great nuisance. But I was in too big a hurry to succeed. One night I heard a terrible splashing in the water-tub in the cellar. "That's a rat," said I, "I'll dispatch that, anyhow:" and I took the lighted candle and poker, and hastened into the cellar, thinking to kill the creature at once. When the rat saw me with candle and poker, it made an extra spring, completely cleared the edge of the tub, and got safe away into its hole. I was in such a hurry to kill it, that I saved its life. When I got to it, it was drowning itself as nicely as it could do; and if I had had patience to wait, it would have been dead in ten minutes. But because I would not wait, and let it die quietly, it would not die at all. And it may be living now for anything I know, and may have bred a hundred other rats since then, and all because I would not give it time to die in peace. There are rats. everywhere still. There are rats in the Church, rats in the State; rats in palaces, and rats in hovels. There are rats of despotism and tyranny, rats of slavery and war, rats of rebellion and anarchy. There are rats of superstition and idolatry, rats of heresy and infidelity, rats of intemperance and licentiousness. And it is right to try to kill them off. But we had better go to work carefully. We cannot put things right in an instant. And when wicked laws, or vicious principles have received their death blow, we had better give them time to die in quiet. Haste and impatience may spoil all.
12. Though unbelief may not always be a sin, it is always a great calamity. As we have said, its tendency is always to immorality, and immorality always tends to
NOTHING IS RIGHT TO THE INFIDEL.
misery and death. Byron perished in his prime, and his short life and his untimely death were both unhappy. Unbelievers are seldom happy in their domestic relations. And in cutting themselves off from God, they reduce the noblest affections of their souls to starvation. They have no suitable exercise or gratification for their natural instinctive gratitude, their reverence, or their love. They have nothing in which they can securely trust. Even their family and social affections often decline and die.
Many unbelievers are poor, and infidel poverty is always envious. The world is a very trying one to unbebelievers: hardly anything pleases them; and nothing pleases them long. Rulers do not please them: they are despots and tyrants. Their fellow subjects do not please them they are cowardly slaves. Their masters do not please them: they are extortioners. Their men do not please them they are knaves. The rich do not please them: they are leeches, caterpillars, cormorants. The poor do not please them: they are mean, deceitful and dishonest. Religion does not please them; it is superstition: and philosophy does not please them; it is a bore and a sham. Priests do not please them; they are cheats: and the people do not please them; they are dupes. The climates do not suit them: they are too hot, or too cold; too damp, or too dry; and the seasons do not please them-they are always uncertain, and seldom right. The world at large disgusts them: it takes the part of their enemies. It favors the religious classes, and mocks and tortures the infidel philosopher. Their bodies are not right; they are always ailing, and threatening to give way: and their minds are not right; they are never contented and at rest. There is nothing right in the present; and there is nothing promising in the future. They think themselves the wisest people in the world, yet people in general regard them as fools; and they themselves can see that their fancied wisdom does not prove their friend.
They can give no explanation of the mysteries of the universe. They cannot account for the facts which geology reveals with regard to the natural history of the globe. They cannot account for the mechanism of the heavens, or the chemistry of the earth. They cannot account for life,
organization, or intelligence. They cannot account for instinct. They cannot account for the marks of design which are everywhere visible in Nature, nor for the numberless wonders of special arrangement and adaptation manifest in her works. They cannot account for the difference between man and the lower animals. Animals can indulge themselves freely and take no harm; man cannot indulge himself freely without misery and ruin. Animals can be happy without self-denial; man cannot. Man excels in the gift of reason, yet commits mistakes, and perpetrates crimes, which we look for in vain among the beasts of the field. Man, with a thousand times more power than the brutes, and with immensely greater capacities and opportunities for happiness, is frequently the most miserable being on earth. On the supposition that man was made for a different end, and endowed with a different nature from the brutes on the supposition that man was made for virtue, for piety, for rational, religious self-government, for voluntary obedience to God, for the joy of a good conscience, for heaven-in a word, on the supposition that the Scriptural and Christian doctrine about man is true, all this is explained; but on the infidel theory all is a torturing, maddening mystery.
And let infidels do what they will, and say what they please, the world at large will hold to the religious theory. Mahometans, Pagans, and Christians all insist that man is made for higher work, and meant for a higher destiny, than the lower animals. The Christian theory is accepted by the highest of our race. They regard it with the deepest reverence. The books that unfold it they regard as divine. They read them in their families. They read them in their temples. They teach them in their schools. They publish them in every language: they send them round the globe. In England and America, the first of the nations, you see them everywhere. You meet with them in hotels, in boarding-houses, at railway stations, and on steam packets; in asylums and infirmaries; in barracks and in prisons; in poor-houses and in palaces; in the drawing-rooms of the wealthy, and in the hovels of the poor. The greatest scholars and rarest geniuses devote their lives to the diffusion of their doctrines;
A LOOK AT JESUS.
and there is no probability of a change. If Christianity be false, the world is mad: if it be true, the case of the infidel is deplorable in the extreme.
And that many portions of the Christian system are true, is past doubt. They carry the evidence of their truth on their very face. And other portions admit of easy proof. The truth of many Christian doctrines can be proved by experience. And the rest are probable enough. There is nothing absurd, nothing irrational in Christianity. The teachings of Christ are the perfection of goodness. They are the perfection of wisdom and beauty. Even Goethe could say, "The human race can never attain to anything higher than Christianity, as presented in the life and teachings of its Founder." And again he says, "How much soever spiritual culture may advance, the natural sciences broaden and deepen, and the human mind enlarge, the world will never get beyond the loftiness and moral culture of Christianity as it shines and glistens in the Gospels."-Farhenlehre, iii. 37.
And nothing can be more true.
Look for a few moments at Christ and Christianity. And, first, what is Christ as presented in the Gospels? 1. He is, first, holy, harmless, undefiled; a lamb without blemish and without spot. This is the lowest trait in His character. Yet it is a great thing for any one to remain innocent in a world like this, with a nature like
2. But He was, second, an example of the highest moral and spiritual excellence. He was devout, pious, resigned, towards His Heavenly Father. He was full of benevolence towards men. He did good. The happiness of mankind was the end, and doing good the business, of His life. He had no other object. He paid no regard to wealth, to power, to pleasure, or to fame. He was so fixed and single in His aim, that there is no room for mistake. To do good, to bless mankind, was His meat and drink.
3. And He did good to men's bodies as well as to their souls. While He taught the ignorant, and reformed the bad, and comforted the penitent, He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, bread to the hungry, and life to the dead.