« 上一頁繼續 »
pressing apart the bud and you destroy its very life. The flower of life is lost under the hand of hurry. It is the foul assassin of many of the best elements in manhood. These false methods of action are covered in bright garments, and do not lose their sinfulness in their deception. They are large factors in the waste of life. There is an abundance for all men, but the failure lies in the wrong use of it or the carelessness with which men regard it. There is an abundance of force in the world, but the waste of it is startling and the possibilities in it overwhelming. If this vast amount of energy in business and social life and the arts and education and everything was centred upon the highest ends of life, what magnificent and enduring results would be obtained. So much of it is lost by being thrust into secondary purposes and shackled to the lower ideals. If coöperation could achieve their combination for the sublimer ends, there would be a revolution at once. There is enough wasted love and sympathy to drive the darkness and want from every cheerless home in the land. There is enough strength in the schemes and plans and contrivances of business and politics and professions to change the whole condition of society
if used for unselfish and higher purposes. The noise, and excitement, and strain, and expenditure is where men are scrambling for riches and not in search of truth and character. Oh, what sinful waste! The momentary prize is the power which makes the zeal and effort. It is the trifles of a day which secures the expense of force and energy. The enthusiasm of the Stock Exchange would save the city. The supreme need is the harnessing of all these mighty forces in human society for the noblest ends and not allow this continuous and increasing waste on the secondary things. It is not a lack of force. It is a failure in direction. Unused or misused force is one of our greatest faults, and presents itself as one of the greatest problems. A conservative, and candid, and critical reviewer said of Sir David Wilkes's life: "He did nothing but paint." He had reached prominence and fame at the age of twenty-one, but he simply lived in the narrow circumference of his studio. His motives did not grasp greatness, and he only touched the surface of the world. His paintings were skilfully worked out, but they lacked in breadth, and depth, and mystery, and suggestiveness. There is something more to great art than
canvas and paint, and even skill. There is an insight, and purpose, and sympathy with the world and mankind. A great artist's world is larger than his studio, and his fellow men are more than machines, but this criticism does not only apply to a painter, but to every man everywhere who adopts the same principles. Many lives are surrendered to one thing, and that is the centre of every circle. A life of power is an inclusive life, not exclusive. The whole world lies within its vision, and the interests of humanity are its interests. Any profession, of business, or home which shackles the heart and fastens it down by these invisible chains to its own interests is dwarfing and paralyzing in its effect. There is something beyond the material for every man who develops genuine manhood and enlarges his outlook and character. If a business. ends in making money, it dulls the faculties and creates sordidness. Pecuniary gain is secondary to the man himself. That is only paint, and does not change the heart of the world. Life is ever dull and common when opportunities for good are scorned and pathways to nobility are shunned. A paint-brush, or a pen, or a broom should be moved according to the eternal laws of sacrifice, and sur
render, and sympathy, and salvation. Even the ordinary becomes the extraordinary, and the lowly rises to the exalted, and the common creates the uncommon, and everything on earth has the touch of heaven upon it. The artist everywhere is the man who does more than paint. There is more materialism about us than we imagine. It is a practical kind of materialism in which we permit the temporal, and visible, and secondary things to have precedence over the eternal, and unseen, and spiritual. We use the muck-rake when we ought to use the telescope. Most men have false standards of life. They use wrong premises and make false estimates.
Carlyle's severest critic was an old parish roadman at Ecclefechan.
Been a long time in this neighborhood?" asked an English tourist.
"Been here a' ma days, sir."
"Then you'll know the Carlyles?"
"Weel that! A ken the whole of them. There was, let me see," he said, leaning on his shovel and pondering; "there was Jack; he was a kind o' throughither sort o' chap, a doctor, but no a bad fellow, Jock-he's deid, mon."
"And there was Thomas," said the inquirer eagerly.
"Oh, ay, of coorse, there's Tam-a uselss munestruck chap that writes in London. There's naething in Tam; but, mon, there's Jamie, owre in the Nowlands-there's a chap for ye. Jamie takes mair swine into Ecclefechan market than any ither farmer i' the parish."
Most men reach that same conclusion concerning their brother man. He lives in a higher realm, and they are content to live in the lower, and waste the best of life. The noblest is created out of that which is ignoble. No man has the right to use his strength for any other purpose than the highest. He wastes that which is most sacred, and loses its reward. Every step in the earthly life of the Son of God was toward Calvary. "He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem." Every minor event went into this larger purpose. Every miracle and work had its bearing in the one direction. He never lost a moment or an atom of strength in the lesser things. The ultimate was his object. He was lifted up only upon the cross. The sacrificial element was the controlling force. That one point in His life was the centre of that beautiful mosaic.