תמונות בעמוד


in the sky, and the grasses, trees, and flowers upon the earth: it should see pictures of heroic men and beautiful women, and should be taught to admire the beauty of the body : it should hear pretty verses and be told sweet tales, and have its life set as far as possible to music, and that, I repeat, not out of fondness merely or to make life pleasant, but purely for purposes of education and development: for beauty opens all the senses, and puts the human being in possession of himself and of the world. We are told it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth ; but if true it is a treacherous truth. It is not good for a man to be bowed, and broken, and wearied, and soured at the start. People who, out of mistaken views of duty, bring children up on hard lines, often put into their very blood a chill that is never conquered by its native glow. I think it was Sir Charles Lyell who told of a rich man who apologised for giving at first a poor subscription to a good cause, by saying that, in early life he had been very poor, and he had never got the chill of poverty out of his bones. It is so with other things

There are men who find it hard to love anything, or to be enthusiastic about anything, or to find much delight in anything, simply because they missed the gate Beautiful when they were young. Take, then, your child daily to the gate that is called Beautiful, and teach it to ask alms there, that so it may gather knowledge, wisdom, goodness, and beauty : and one day it shall walk erect, and enter into the temple to praise God with the rest.

So should it be with the sick, who greatly need to be carried daily to the gate Beautiful. But, as a rule, we

besides money.

take the very opposite course, and make what is called, with grim truthfulness, “the sick room," a doleful place for sights and sounds. No one needs beauty and cheerfulness so much as the sick one, but no one gets so little. Our sympathy is too apt to express itself in sighs, and our sorrow in tears. We are apt to shut out God's daylight, and forget the flowers, and banish music, and leave the poor patient to look on vacant walls. All the light that the sick one can bear, soft and pleasant music, if it can be borne, bright eyes and smiling faces, fresh flowers though they be only homely buttercups and daisies, the gossip and cheery news of the day,—these should come to the “sick room.” Take the medicine bottles out of sight, say as little about the ailment as possible, “babble of green fields,” and, in a word, take your sick one daily to the gate that is called Beautiful.

And finally, it should be so with the dying, as far as possible. And yet we have this nearly all to learn : for Death is still to us life's great enemy, horror, and despair. We make the place of the great transition a place of mourning and misery, and often oppress the dying with a distress that otherwise would not be felt. It is a very beautiful and suggestive fact that, as a rule, the depression and gloom at the hour of death are not with the departing one but with the bystanders. Sir Benjamin Brodie tells us that in all his large experience he never knew but two instances of fear of death in the dying. Why, then, should we make hideous what God has made bearable or beautiful? The gate of death is God's gate also, and the tired pilgrim-lame and worn-should be laid before it as before the last gate Beautiful.

Ah me! when shall we achieve the great victory, and learn at last to be Christians after Christ's fashion? When shall we see that even the gate of death, before which we lay our loved ones down, is like the gate of life—God's gate Beautiful? . If we believed all that Jesus did, we should see this, and we should carry our dear ones in our arms and lay them down before that glorious gate, and bow our heads with reverent love as it opened to let them in. When shall we believe these things? I will tell you when :—we shall believe them when we believe in God, and trust Him all in all, for the life that now is, and for all that lies beyond.


T is when we become conscious of the deepest things


brooding over us of the Infinite—the Unseen: and it is out of this consciousness that every glow of longing for God has come, and every gleam of faith, ay! and every throb of fear. There is a tremendous distance between the ugly idol which the savage has scooped out of a tree or cut out of a stone, and the invisible Deity whom the saint has idealised out of his own pure spirit. Between the two, what vast regions of thought and feeling lie!—what footmarks of travel and struggle are to be seen! We might almost say, that these two objects of sight or thought mark the boundaries of human history; for, in the past, history only begins when the conception of Deity. has dawned; and, in the present, it can truly be said, in spite of atheistic boasts and materialistic claims, that the very highest and farthest reaches of human progress have been attained by those in whose hearts the love of God and the poetry of religion are a sustaining and enlightening power.

And yet, these two conceptions of God, that are so widely sundered, spring from one and the same spiritual consciousness; and, indeed, may often be seen mingling and existing side by side. The ugly idol, I have said,


marks the farthest boundary line of human history in the past; and the spiritual ideal Deity of the saint marks the highest point of human advancement attained in the present: and yet, though countless ages and all the mighty movements of mankind lie between the two boundary points, the idol of the savage and the ideal of the saint are continual neighbours, and, even in the Christian Church they not only co-exist side by side but melt and merge into one another in the most mysterious and bewildering

In the Catholic Church we have not a little that looks singularly like idolatry, and in the Protestant Church we have even more that looks like demon worship; and, in the very name of Christ, the old Paganisms are not only revived but outdone. Hence the need for a definite meaning for this word "God.” But, by a definite meaning I do not mean a definite description of Deity, for “who by searching can find out God?” The meaning which I think we can attach to the word is one that is compatible with the extremest reverence, the profoundest spirituality, and the tenderest humility.

Avoiding, then, the assumptions and dogmatisms of the creeds, we may be content, I think, to say that the word “God” describes for us the highest possible conception of greatness, wisdom, love, and continuity of power. It does not matter whether we personify that conception, or preserve

it as an ideal too vast and too mysterious to be bounded by personality; neither does it matter whether we localize it or leave it to occupy the universe: the main thing is the conception itself; and, in relation to the conception, the main thing is the clear grasp of the idea of


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