ePub 版

descendants of Jeshurun are not outside of the law of heredity. They still kick when they wax fat. It is a fatal mistake to suppose that circumstances are of more consequence than life. Pain is the teacher in life's school, and insists that the pupil shall learn his lesson, and chastises him when necessary. Pain is the guardian angel which stands by the side of bruises and cuts and says, "Come not here." It is a preventive and cautionary element in life. It furnishes the note of warning at the critical moment. Anguish follows disobedience for the sublimest purpose. Death stalks in the path and pain throws in his skeleton face the light so that men may flee from excess and sin. It is a perilous roadway over which we make the journey of life, and suffering reveals the precipices and chasms and lovingly places a fence at the edge. This is the meaning of thorns pricking, and nettles stinging, and hedges scratching. If man is to graduate into heaven and happiness he must pass through the school and learn of the appointed teachers. The goal is only reached by the pathway of sorrow. The upward way is the way of adversity. Every crowning point is some Calvary. Character and manhood are the resultant of suffering and pain. Iron is less

valuable than steel, but steel is only iron pushed through the fire. Trees gather their toughness

out of the storms and winds. Manhood stands in another forest, but under a similar law. Interpret the meaning of suffering and you discover God's goodness. Mercy is in the thorn as well as the


"Some time, when all life's lessons have been learned, And sun and stars forevermore have set,

The things which our weak judgments here have spurned,

The things o'er which we grieved with lashes wet,

Will flash befo us out of life's dark night,

As stars shine most in deeper tints of blue;

And we shall see how all God's plans are right,
And how what seemed reproof was love most true.”

[ocr errors]

We read God's sentences best when we read them through our tears. A tear is a telescope through which we see the distant and hidden stars. Time is required for many an explanation. We cannot speak fairly about a friend in a moment in which he has caused us grief or anxiety. Let a man speak who has passed the sorrow and seen something of its purpose. The moment of anguish should be the moment of silence. Wait; in the calm of the evening thought and feeling are vastly different from

the conditions of the heat at noon-tide. The circumstances of life and feelings of the heart are all changed by the shifting scenes of time. The questions are temporary which we thrust in the face of our trials. If the whole explanation lay within the narrow circle of man's drawing no argument can vindicate the larger part of life, but our pencils draw lines too short and mark the circumference of a small circle. The lines of God's map and the great sweep of God's eternity are essential to right judgment. We are too far away from some things to see them as they are. There are no mountains on the moon to naked vision, but nearness would reveal lofty peaks and deepest cañons. We need the astronomer's view of life. If the enemy thrust his sword of questioning and complaint at the heart and threaten the very life, slay him with the sharpened blade of time. In the next hour, or next year, or even beyond the grave, miracles and revolutions are to be wrought. Give God all the time He asks. If you fail in this you will be drowned under the cataract of question and be mangled in the whirlpool of unbelief. The eye can see the sapphire glory of the summer sky, but the hand cannot spoil or stain this fair revelation of God's infinity. But as

the hand has its limit, so the eye cannot pierce its boundary line. Our vision is limited. Our throats are stuffed with unanswered prayers and skeptical questions because of short-sightedness and impatience. The best elements in character are oftentimes secured by circular processes. It may seem a roundabout way, but God is after the result. If we could, by imagining ourselves good, secure goodness, this would be an easy method, but there is another process. We must all go through the mill. The green field of the springtime, with its violent border, is brought into ruin by the cruel plough. It appears as the work of a despoiler, but, in God's economy, it is the first step toward the golden harvest of autumn-time.

The owner of one of the finest diamonds in the world brought it to one of the most skilful cutters; a small black spot marred its beauty. He wanted this cut out, and waited for the decision of the artist whose skill and years gave him wisdom and right of decision. He examined it and said: "The spot lies in the girdle of the stone. If you wish perfect proportion, and brilliancy, and color, I must decrease the size." So he set his emery wheels to

grinding it. It was decreased, but now it gleams a rare and perfect gem of faultless radiance.

The whirling, grinding wheels of pain produce the diamonds of character. This is true, not only of a man's life but the life of the world. Under the present conditions there can neither be character nor civilization without pain. The battlefields, and blazing fagots, and flowing blood are the sources of liberty, and light, and salvation. The present is the child born in the travail and sorrow of the past. “That ye might be partakers of His holiness," is forever the divine purpose. A man's fortune may be in his pain and not in his possessions.

Sorrow made Bunyan a dreamer; and O'Connell an orator; and Bishop Hall a preacher; and Havelock a hero; and Kitto an encyclopædist. The pit was Joseph's pathway to a throne, and the lion's den separated Daniel from the sceptre. The breakers of Melita were Paul's benefactors and the fire was Polycarp's refiner. Angelo saw the block of rough stone, but he saw the angel, and his hammer and chisel struck hard and deep until the angel appeared. The angels of faith, and hope, and love, and peace, and patience, and service are all the re

« 上一頁繼續 »