Puslapio vaizdai

immunity. "He who by force of will or of thought is great and overlooks thousands, has the responsibility of overlooking. With every influx of light, comes new danger. Has he light? he must bear witness to the light, and always outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction, by his fidelity to new revelations of the incessant Soul." "Everything has two sides, a good and an evil." Thus in circumstances, all things balance and a perfect compensation is maintained.

But there is a deeper fact in the Soul than Compensation, to wit, its own nature. The Soul is not a Compensation but a Life. The Soul is. Under all this running sea of Circumstance whose waters ebb and flow with a perfect balance, lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being." Here is the true sphere of gain and loss: the Heaven and Hell where all inequalities are balanced.

Not less sure than the laws of the material are those of the spiritual world. Good and evil have their invariable consequences. Though we do not always see it with our eyes, crime is unfailingly punished. The superstitious fancy that roofs will fall on people for their wickedness, and that famines and floods are sent to punish sinful nations. But this is not God's fashion. He does not hurl brickbats at those who offend, like an enraged boy. Has the man or the nation offended? Then it is already punished! If the righteous suffer in their purses it is not because they are victims of God's injustice, and their Righteousness is not thus shown to be wasted. For in the nature of the Soul the adjustment is made. Virtue is the growth of the Soul,

Ivice its decrease.

The wealthiest man, if he be

small-souled, is a poor creature. The drivelling drunkard, however rich in goods and chattels, does not claim a moment's envy. Men would rather be the martyr with no place to lay his head, than such as he with all his luxuries.

But, it is objected, we see men go on all their lives falling deeper and deeper into sin, who apparently never, even for one moment, feel contrition. The rackings of Conscience, which we read about in books, seem to occur but seldom in real life, and then they do not attack the most hardened reprobates. The suffering is lessened as the sin increases. It appears, therefore, that if a man will but be wicked enough, he escapes all retribution, and, to square the account, there should be some punishment awarded him hereafter.

Each being must follow its nature. The animals in our fields, basking in the sun, and tranquilly chewing the grass, are they not happy? Yet their happiness is not such as any man would envy. The man too debased even to be reached by remorse, is not seriously an object of envy to anyone. Instead of envy, he commands our deepest pity; so steeped in sin as to be beneath repentance! What would he not give, could he but come to himself, to be capable even of these gnawings of conscience, to be able to know and feel enough of what is true and beautiful and good that he would desire and strive to attain it. The blind man who never saw the sun, is happy, we may say; yet, if he had but the dimmest perception of what blessedness it is to see, he would bear much suffering and anguish that his eyes might be opened.

Would we say of him, even while he yet suffered under the surgeon's instruments, that he was not more truly blessed than when, in those former days, he did not even want to see?

The nature of the Soul shines out in all our acts, and men, when they consider it properly, concern themselves with nothing else. It is not the landed estates and the gold that they grudge to see in unworthy hands. They only grudge these things so long as they regard them as tokens of true and abiding benefit. So soon as they learn to distinguish the true from the apparent, they no longer seek these material possessions for their own sake, and they no longer say that justice is not done because other men have more than they. Nor do they really respect men for their possessions. As long as the possessions stand to them in the light of beauty, they admire; but let the owner of them prove himself mean or vile, and all he has will not save him from contempt.

Thus is Justice done, not in some distant Heaven and Hell, but here and now. In the Eternal Courts there is no blundering. All things work together to bless goodness and to ban sin. There is no true gain, no true Happiness but Virtue. Let a man sin and a sudden and terrible manifestation of Divine wrath is not needed to condemn him. The Avenger, though silent, is swift and sure. The sinner himself may think that he has escaped all penalties, and take his undiscovered treachery and his accumulated stocks and shares as confirmation. But he errs greatly. All the sweetness of sincerity, the love and trust which cannot live in an atmosphere of deceit,

go to cancel his gains. Gold will not build up his Soul. Ten times his stocks and shares will not recompense him. He has no immunity.

As with vice, so with Virtue. The practice of Righteousness means the growth of the Soul. What satisfaction is there to compare with that of sacrifice rightly performed, of a sincere self-devotion to duty and to the calls of affection? Men perform what are termed acts of self-sacrifice, who give up their possessions to their fellows and endure hardship and toil to benefit mankind. These are often said to bereave themselves; but, in reality, they do not. What to them is this gift of money or material in comparison with their satisfaction in giving? What is the advantage to the receiver in comparison with the joy there is to the creator of the pleasure? He gives the small and wins the infinite: most blessed that he can thus luxuriate in goodness, that he is no longer dependent on money, fine clothes, and worldly goods for his Happiness.

The story of the lives of Heroes teaches us that this is true. At the moment of the deed it may not be quite clear that, really, the sacrifice is not of self but simply of Circumstance; but look back into history and try to conceive a Hero changed into a man of the world-"successful" as we would say and there is no longer any question at all. Theodore Parker, buffeted, persecuted, hated and malignedLatimer burned at the stake-St. Stephen stoned— Jesus crucified try to picture them in circumstances that could honestly be called happier. The heart revolts against the thought. All wealth and power would have been misery in comparison with what

they had. Happiness is not the absence of pain and, though they toiled and suffered, they chose the better part.

In the light of these truths, the Preacher, with his vision of Heaven and Hell, fails altogether to convince us. Pearly gates and golden harps would never repay martyrdom if martyrdom were really loss, and all the terrors that Dante has depicted would never be a true punishment for sin, and would never cancel the profits of sin, if sin were really gain. We wait for no distant Judgment Day for our awards. God's methods are surer. The penalties lie in the very deeds themselves. The keenestwitted sinner cannot defraud the Eternal, and the most hardly-persecuted creature never left the world with God his debtor.

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