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THE king of dramatists wrote the Book of Job, and brought it to the last act like a master of his art. The hero of the tale does not rise to the eloquence of his God, but comes at last to a whisper. Glory encircles the result of his intense suffering and silences the cry of pain, when he humbly smites his breast and says, “I know that Thou canst do everything." It may be whisper and muffled tone, but that is the eloquence of religion; that is the answer to every pang of pain; that is harmonious music on the repaired chords of the soul. A right view of God is essential to a right understanding of life. He can do everything, but the impulse is eternal love. God is Almighty, but it is the almightiness of love. This is the conclusion of experimental religion, and not of intellectual religion. This is the wrought-iron which cannot be broken.
This great truth is elemental in the solution of the problem of pain.
A celebrated artist painted Napoleon crossing the Alps; it was very beautifully and skilfully executed, and won for him the highest praise from the public. Napoleon was seated on a fine white horse, which proudly pranced along with head erect and with dilated nostrils, while the soldiers had bright uniforms and their muskets and cannon shone and glittered as if on dress parade. Napoleon, when shown the picture, remarked about the beauty of it, but said: "It does not tell the truth, for instead of riding a white horse, I sat on a mule, and the soldiers' uniforms, cannon, and musketry were soiled, torn, broken, and altogether they presented a most deplorable condition." The painter had sacrificed truth for beauty.
Pain is one of the chief elements in the composition of human life. We must not sacrifice the fact for the sake of desire. Facts are stubborn things, but wisdom and heroism never ignore them. The fact of human pain is ever before us the most stubborn. We cannot deny it. To attempt such folly is neither philosophy nor religion. There is no victory in denial of man's sorrows in life's economy.
Sufferings are real, and ten thousand witnesses agree together. The pallid face, the tottering step, the weakening shoulder, the wrinkled brow, the contorted limb, the blind eye, and palsied hand bear unchallenged testimony. The heart's pain is carried in every expression and motion. It is the science of a madman to question the stern reality. As man goes up toward kingship he goes toward the possibility of pain. As sensitiveness increases, capacity to suffer increases. The lower the animal life the less of pain until it reaches the vanishing point, while in man it attains its full strength. In the highest and most cultivated nature is found the climax of ability to suffer. As manhood increases, this possibility augments. He stands at the summit of the animal creation and his mechanism of nerves subjects him to the greatest ravages of disease and sorrow. One of the penalties of getting nearer to God is susceptibility to pain. Pain has enveloped some lives and, apparently, left them without the brightness of a single gleam of hope. Cloud after cloud, and the whole horizon covered. Pain, through heredity, and accident, and ignorance, and strain, and even self-sacrifice, has been their birthright. Physical suffering, intellectual suf
fering, and heartache to the breaking point. Affections strained and mind worried within a house. falling to pieces.
There are so many sources and springs of pain in human life. Even society gives the earnest and sympathetic man moments of deepest suffering. He appropriates its sorrows unto himself. He bears the burdens of others according to the highest law of the world. Poverty, and distress, and crime are messengers from his world carrying pain to his life. Even the home is a channel of sorrow as well as of joy. If happiness is increased in the sanctity of a good home, the possibility of sorrow increases in the same ratio. You can purchase love only at the hand of possible pain. Within the circle of the fireside stands the shadow of accident, and loss, and suffering, and death. Years may pass by under the brightness of a clear sky. The circle of the family is unbroken and death is such a stranger that he seems to be unreal, because unknown; but some bright day the sky darkens and the clouds are transformed into his black chariot, and his destination is that home. The charmed circle is broken. Changes are many, and startling, and rapid now in the family record. The joy of the house is silenced, and the
colors of the wardrobe are changed. The romp of the children is no longer heard, and life is a blank without them. Oh! the pangs of pain at the thought of the little grave; the tops, and strings, and dolls stored away forever. No pain on earth like that pain; it cuts the deepest and last the longest. There is no sound so sweet but the screw
of the casket grates through it. Human pain, poignant and piercing, is destined in some form to reach all men. Hopes withered, cradles emptied, friendships fractured, resources vanished, health broken, ideals unrealized, ambitions shattered, all enter into the catalogue of the methods of pain; so hard, so stern, so relentless, so severe. Many members of the human family have not seen a well day throughout life. They have worn a path in the carpet from the couch and the chair to the medicine-closet. The most familiar words in their vocabulary are bottle, and draught, and spoon, and glass, and powder, and pill; backache, headache, sideache, heartache are the closest companions of most men and women. The hardest battle is against ill temper and irritability born of disease. The whole road seems to be filled with obstacles and the air charged with exhaustion. Digestion,